Friday, October 2, 2015



This blog entry is the one originally written for this morning.  For a response to yesterday's school shooting in Oregon, please see the entry after this one, posted also today.

My mom joined the gym when she was in her 80s.  Truth be told, it was something more like a rehab/physical therapy center, but it had all the bells and whistles:  treadmills, stationary bikes and an area with free weights.  It was called “Running Start.”  My mom went as the doctor ordered, and she was diligent about complying with his orders.  I loved it when I would visit and she would head out the door for her gym time, wearing her soft sweat-like pants and pullover top and her gym shoes… carrying a quilted Vera Bradley bag and smelling faintly of Chanel or her favorite- Red Door.   We talked, usually, on Sunday nights, and sometimes she would share stories of the gym; my favorite was when she shared that there was a “new woman” in the gym who “stole her (my mom’s) bike.”   We worked out how she could regain her favorite bike as I explained the gym-trick of draping your towel over the handlebars to “save ” your bike while you were in the locker room or getting a drink…   My mom had a spring to her step and sounded a little spunkier than usual when she’d been to the gym.  I think that it was good for her.

I did not grow up in a family where school athletics were a big deal.  My brothers were downhill skiers and had skateboards and, in the summer, water skis.   I joined in on the water skiing, but was more of a “music and art room” type during high school.  I didn’t go to football games and the cheerleader-scene didn’t really mesh with my more
“crunchy” views.  I wore Earth Shoes and Levi cords.  We drank hibiscus tea and sang Joni Mitchell tunes.   When I met my husband, I was introduced to a new culture.  His college roommates were soccer and lacrosse stars, and he played hockey.  Mouth guards, shoulder pads, hockey sticks and lacrosse balls were new to me.  The culture of working out, jogging for fun and waking at 4 AM for “ice time” was a novelty.  I watched from a distance for a long while.

In my early 40s, when our children were school-aged, I began going to a gym.  I discovered the social aspect of exercising with friends and the magic of endorphins.  More than the endorphins, though, I discovered the long-lasting effects of a morning trip to the gym that included a positive attitude, sense of accomplishment and well-being.

In the past few weeks we’ve been holding convocation meetings in our diocese to prepare for our Annual Convention.  Convention will be held on October 16-17 in Altoona.  We will worship together, enjoy the gathering of people from our 64 churches, celebrate the different ministries of our church and look to our future together.  Part of that future will be outlined in the budget for 2016… and part of it will be represented by a series of resolutions to come before us.  This year we have a large number of resolutions:  eight in all.  Three of them have been submitted by St. Stephen’s Cathedral and its dean, The Very Rev. Churchill Pinder.  These resolutions will ask us to consider how our congregations engage with our local communities, how we educate others and ourselves around the stewardship of our natural resources and work to preserve them.  They are good resolutions.  Five other resolutions will be presented that have grown out of the work of General Convention 78 of the General Church, held this past summer in Salt Lake City.  These resolutions include encouraging the development of church and school partnerships, developing a task force to organize our efforts and advocate in the area of racial equity, encouraging the development of a climate in our congregations to promote safe and careful handling of alcohol and  calling for the abolition of the death penalty (including affirming the  current moratorium in PA).  It’s a lot.

At one of our convocation meetings, one of the more senior clergy persons in the diocese noted the number of task forces to be formed  and initiatives that we were considering, and the amount of energy that it would take to accomplish this work.


And, in my experience, the output of energy yields more energy:

My mom’s quicker step and brighter voice on her “Running Start” days.
My own experience of increased liveliness and verve after a trip to the gym or an hour running by the river. 

Energy begets energy.

  Sarah Bernhardt, legendary French actress who led an exciting life and enjoyed a lively career is famous for saying, “Life begets life. Energy creates energy. It is by spending oneself that one becomes rich.”

I have great hopes for the work of our diocese.  The number of resolutions that we are being asked to consider at Convention indicate to me, already, an increased energy.   The lively conversations at our more recent convocation meetings in which we have discussed the resolutions display good energy.  I believe that as we choose to endorse these resolutions, God will raise up among us the right people to lead us into this important work.

Energy begets energy.  We need to invest in the work of God’s mission by risking a little-  a little of our time, our commitment, our energy. When we do, I believe that we will accomplish great things and the energy will return to us, for an even deeper engagement.

In all of this, there is a need for good nutrition.  An expense of energy- physical, psychic, spiritual- requires its own form of fuel… and so, caring for ourselves as we prepare to engage these tasks is important: physical food- good food- to nourish our bodies and sustain us for meetings, hands-on work and some evenings out.  Psychic nourishment of quiet, meditation, reduction in conflict and stress, to feed our souls’ centers.  And sacramental nourishment of worship, prayer, the Holy Eucharist and healing, to build us up spiritually for the work of the Kingdom.

Do we have energy enough?  I believe that we do. 

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