Those rascally quanta!

This morning, Fr. Matt delivered a sermon that had several of us standing outside after church talking about it. Now, that happens…but this one really struck a chord. It was on a subject I’ve thought a lot about (and alluded to, just a bit, in previous posts) but it’s so nice to know that I’m not the only one wandering into what I’m calling the “physics of prayer.”

Like most of us, I hung onto my concrete childhood concepts of prayer. Asking God was like asking mom or pop.

girl praying

Somewhere in high school, I listened to my inner self that said that prayer could be something more, and could be found throughout everyday life…and of course, my cynical teen self didn’t buy everything from religion class, either. For example, I had never bought the Roman Catholic Doctrine of Transubstantiation. (Perhaps I had an overzealous religion teacher or two. Or three.) And when I heard the my catechism teacher explain that “Jesus could never deny His mother anything, so pray to Mary” I thought that was pretty much along the lines of “if daddy says no, go ask mama.”

As I reached young adulthood and attended a Jesuit university, my concept of prayer expanded to, well, “hanging out with Jesus” and trying to listen to the quiet voice of the Divine. The Zen courses I took at Loyola helped with that (as did my physics and philosophy classes), and partly because of Zen, the book The Dancing Wu Li Masters by Gary Zukav appealed to me. I finally read it in my late 20’s.

dancing wu li

Now, why hadn’t physics been like this in high school and college? The concepts were fascinating, and made actual sense. Yes, on the “macro” scale everything is totally different from the teensy-tiny-itsy-bitsy quantum scale. Those rascally little quanta! Just when you’re not looking, there they go…. but I digress.

Suddenly, the power of prayer and prayerful intention that I’d learned about and tried to practice in some fumbling way started to make some weird sort of sense.

In his sermon today, Fr. Matt spoke of this. He spoke of quantum entanglement. Put simply, quantum entanglement is when two particles interact at some point and then are separated…except that they can never be truly separate again. Their quantum state is such that they can no longer be described separately. It is as though they have a “forever connection,” and that connection is not dependent on space or time. (That’s my 2 cent summary of quantum entanglement; just don’t ask me to do the math.)

quantum formula

No, please do not ask me to do the math.

So what does this have to do with the power of prayer? Well, think about it, because at the very foundation of who and what we are is energy, and we are all “entangled.” Each encounter we have with another human being has an effect, however slight, on our spirit. How can it not?

I remember having this mind-blown feeling when I first learned about quantum entanglement. This meant that intercessory prayer had a legitimate foundation beyond “I don’t know why it works, but it does work.” Here was an explanation for the power of prayer, especially of group prayer and group intention.

My inner cynic/skeptic loved it. For the first time in my life, I realized that Transubstantiation seemed possible. Intention is critical. I’m not going to wander down a rabbit hole of discussion on under what exact circumstances Transubstantiation may actually occur. I’ll use the all-encompassing answer that I learned from the Sisters of Mercy: “It’s a mystery.” (This is why I prefer the explanation that Christ is uniquely present in the Eucharist.) Niels Bohr, one of the fathers of quantum theory, said something along the lines of “all the stuff we think is real is made up of stuff that isn’t real.” That’s not “new age woo-woo,” that’s a Nobel Prize winner. In physics.

niels bohr

Niels Bohr. (Image from famousscientists.org)

We don’t know exactly how the power and intentionality of prayer connects to quantum mechanics. There’s really no way to measure for this connection, either, unless you subscribe to superdeterminism, a group of theories that says that everything is determinable. Taking the quantum physics thing a step farther, Bell’s theorem says that basically…there’s no way to measure absolute outcomes in this quantum landscape because you can’t know all the variables; in other words, free will. (Take THAT, superdeterminism! It occurs to me that I am skating dangerously close to discussing Predestination and the paradox of free will. Physics, theology…is it really that different?)

Free will. Mystery. (Let’s not forget the Uncertainty Principle.) Starting to sound familiar?

No matter what we pray for, we – and the one(s) being prayed for – are dealing with free will. How do things happen? How are prayers answered? Why do we see those mind-boggling flashes of coincidence that Jung called synchronicity (meaningful coincidence)?

How many times have we been thinking of someone when they called us? How many times have we been reunited in a completely unexpected way with someone we haven’t seen in decades – right after we were thinking about them? I experienced synchronicity just yesterday when, at a luncheon, the keynote speaker used the very same quotation I was planning to use in my summary remarks.

I’ve written of some synchronistic events that clearly had a “God touch” to them. There’s the story of finding Nancy’s lost earring, and another one about finding my singing bowl.  I wrote about the power of joined intention at Pentecost.

I recently picked up another copy of one of the God Winks series by Squire Rushnell. I love his books about synchronistic God-winks. A departed friend, Janette, used to call such synchronicities “cosmic post-it notes.” These are those odd coincidences that let you know you’re on the right track (or gently steer you onto the right track).

christ project

What is the right track? Well, we all have a “Christ project.” (I used to hear it called “God’s plan,” but I really like “Christ project.”) How can I become more fully a part of the Body of Christ? This is my Christ project, and those God-winks are like…well, little cosmic post-it notes that remind me about my Christ project, and remind me what I’m supposed to be doing.

rascal quanta

Somehow, through quantum entanglement and through the ripples of energy sent forth by our actions, thoughts, prayers and love, we get back on track when we wobble. We hold each other up, and help each other out.

Following the terrorist bombing in Brussels last spring, I wrote about the power of prayer. News media was sneering about calls for prayer, but I posited that the need for prayer is real. It always is, and always will be; for through prayer we are entangled with others, and entangled with God, working on our Christ project.

We often use the term “quantum leap” thinking it is a huge jump. Well, it’s actually a miniscule jump on a subatomic level, but it results in a jump from one energy level to another. How does that fit with prayer, with being a part of the Body of Christ, and with our Christ Project?  I’ll leave you to ponder that – that, and the nature of those rascally quanta!

 

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What once was lost…

Sometimes I find things and am able to reunite them with the person that lost them. How did you find that!? I have no idea.

It’s happened off and on over the years. Is this what you’re looking for? I ask, holding up an object. Yes! But…I looked there! It’s not me, it’s gotta be a God-thing. Heck, I can’t even find my own keys half the time. It makes my day when I can help someone find something they thought was gone for good.

seriously lost

Within the past few weeks I’ve had three “reuniting” events. The first concerned a cell phone that I didn’t find – but I did find the owner.

My brother found the phone in the middle of the road. It wasn’t an iPhone, but clearly a nice, new smartphone. My husband walked into the house and said “Can you charge this enough so we can turn it on and see who it belongs to?” as the battery was dead.

He told me where they’d found it, and all any of us could think of was “oh, my heavens, someone put this on the bumper of their car and took off without realizing it…they’re gonna be so upset…” and the middle of a winding Louisiana 2-lane road isn’t exactly an easy stretch to retrace your steps. It’s a dreadful feeling. You lost your phone, your contacts are all on there, you might no longer have a landline, and this was NOT an inexpensive flip phone, either. lost phone contacts

It took a bit of doing. We had no charger that worked. By this time, friend and music partner Bubba had joined the find-the-owner crusade, and we decided to head to WalMart to see what kind of charger the phone WOULD take. Could we use a charger at their display to charge up the phone? No such luck. A kind sales associate told us it was a unique kind of charger, pointed out the only one in the store that would work.

I wound up purchasing the charger, keeping it long enough to charge the phone enough to turn on, then repackaged neatly and returned to the store. “Is there anything wrong with it?” the lady in customer service asked. “No, not a thing,” I replied truthfully. “It just didn’t work with my phone.” (True. It would NOT work with MY phone.)

The phone, of course, was passcoded so we couldn’t access any info about who the owner might be. However, we did figure out the service carrier – one I was unfamiliar with, but that had a local office – and the next morning saw me at the store, explaining to the manager that no, I didn’t want the phone unlocked, but I was hoping they could track down the owner through the SIM or serial number on the phone.

Here’s where it gets to be a God-thing. He powered up the lost phone I’d brought in, and while he was accessing the info in their computer system, the phone rang. Amazing Grace

It was the owner of the phone, who just so happened to try and call at that precise moment when the phone had been turned on. I didn’t realize this at first, I thought it was some higher-up customer service person at Metro PCS talking to the manager. I heard the manager say “no, she’s right here, she just brought it in…sure, hang on” and handed me the phone.

It was the lady who owned the phone! She was overjoyed to know that she would be able to get it back. Sure enough, it was a new phone – and she had been en route back to Lafayette from visiting family. She would have had to have retraced over 30 miles to search for her phone. In fact, they did retrace their route – I can only imagine my brother found it very shortly after it fell off the hood of her car, as it was unscathed except for a scratch on one corner of the case. I was overjoyed to have played a part in saving someone a lot of headache – in this case, there was a team of us trying to reunite the phone with its owner. We were ALL delighted that it was returned.

Fast forward to this Thursday. I’m heading home from work (walking across the yard) for lunch, and I see one of our employees and my husband both searching for something. “What’s missing?” I said. “Hearing aid” said our employee.

Uh, oh. Those aren’t cheap. We started hunting. Another employee came to park a route car and started looking as well. I started praying for help; who wants to have to replace a $$$$ hearing aid? (In addition to St. Anthony, I believe there are “find-it” angels hanging around. I don’t know, I just ask for whatever heavenly aid is available.) We looked. And looked. And looked…. st anthony

Then, there it was. Sort of like picking pecans; suddenly, your eyes shift and you see what was hidden in plain sight. It was lying among the limestone, perfectly camouflaged.  All I saw was the tiny wire leading from the earpiece to the grey battery unit, but it was enough. It’s a God-thing, I said. Go figure.

Today, though, blew me away.

A few months ago, I found a gold earring in a parking lot. It was a coin, in a gold setting, a clip-on earring that had been somewhat squashed by a car wheel. Yikes! That probably has a story behind it, as I recognized the coin. earring upload

 

I contacted the stores adjacent to the lot, TJ Maxx and Stage. I spoke with the managers (or at least, that’s who I asked for) and explained what had happened. Had anyone contacted them concerning a lost gold earring? No? I left my contact information and stressed that this was the kind of thing that someone would be very upset to lose. I put an ad in the local paper….nothing. I tucked it away in my jewelry box, feeling that I needed to keep it safe, but handy, because there was someone out there looking for it.

After church today, I was walking out and stopped to talk to a fellow Epiphanite. As we talked, I noticed her earrings – wait a minute.

“Nancy,” I said. “Did you have an earring like that that you lost a while back?”

Her eyes grew big. “Yes! How did you know?” she asked.

“Because I have it!” I said.

It turned out that she loves these earrings, and after losing one, had finally gone to our local “can-do” jeweler (Allain’s Jewelers in New Iberia) to have one replicated. However, before doing so, she had retraced her steps, searching the parking lot and contacting TJ Maxx and Stage. Nope, no one had said anything about an earring! (That made me fume! Obviously, we’d spoken with two different people at both stores…but you’d think that someone would have at least posted a note on a bulletin board!)

“Now, you can have a matching necklace!” I said. There we stood, in the rain in front of Epiphany Church, with simultaneous jaw drops. We were BOTH thrilled to see God’s hand in this. “I almost didn’t wear these this morning” she said. “I usually don’t wear them to church.”

To me, all of these things are “nudges” from something beyond us. Sometimes we hear these nudges and act on them, sometimes we miss them – or, often, we hear them but don’t believe them or just think “that’s my imagination.” I have to trust that intuitive voice more often, the one that says “hang on to this…look here…go there….”

shhh angel

I told her and told her, so let’s see what she does now. Ya think she heard? 

The very best part of these stories is how blessed, humbled and happy I felt to play a small part in being God’s hands. Sure, it’s all material stuff. But a phone, a hearing aid, and a beloved earring ARE important, and it’s good to remember that we have Divine help with the “everyday” stuff as well as the “big” stuff. (It also feels good when I know that someone else is NOT going to have to go through the headache of replacing a phone or hearing aid.)

Now, before you think I have some superpower here with reuniting stuff with owners, let me assure you that I don’t. I’m still looking for my beloved Mont Blanc fountain pen, which has been missing for quite a while. And my keys. Anyone seen my keys? Crud, where’s my phone? My glasses? Now, where did I put my glasses?

wheres my glasses upload

Oh, wait. Um. Never mind…

The Gift of Skepticism

My faith is not blind.  It is perhaps too wide-eyed, too skeptical, and on occasion probably a bit too snarky.  I have tested many a belief against the cold bright light of rational thought. My cynicism has been a rocky road, and I have admired many people of deep faith and have wished that I, too, had the gift of faith.

Instead, I have the gift of skepticism.  I tend to “overthink,” to chew things up in my brain and consider them from many points of view.  Some great minds sharing this characteristic find careers in writing or philosophy.  The rest of us become garden-variety neurotics.

Today is Easter, the greatest celebration in Christianity, the foundation of our faith.  Christ died for our sins, and rose from the dead.

AAEaster-Morning-Empty-

I will admit that for many years, my skeptic brain had a problem with that “rose from the dead” part.  “It’s a mystery,” the priests said.  “It’s faith,” the sisters said.  I felt guilty because I thought it seemed…a bit unreal.

I no longer feel that way.  Skeptic that I am, I believe in the Resurrection.  Not because I am blessed with the gift of faith, but because I am blessed – or cursed – with skepticism.

As much as I love to read about the subject, I cannot know how things were 2,000 years ago. Human nature, though, doesn’t change.  Fear, joy, courage, are pretty much timeless.

And you know what?  Something happened on the first Easter morning.  Something really big, really outrageous, mind-bending, life-changing, world-flipped-upside-down-thing happened.

AA Easter_Christ_is_risen

You see, anyone who had followed Jesus was in hiding.  Jesus was a criminal – a political one – and had died the most gruesome, painful, torturous death in the Roman world (which was pretty much everywhere).  Anyone associating with him or carrying on his message ran a very real risk of meeting the same end.

Do you have any idea how many “alternate theories” of the Resurrection I’ve come across?  It was a vision….mass hypnosis….hearsay….the evangelists were trying to sell the Jesus idea…etc.

Well, an urban legend is one thing.  Telling people that “this guy Jesus was dead, and now he’s ALIVE – I’VE SEEN HIM” under pain of death is something else entirely.

The evidence is plain as day, in the stories of the Resurrection, and in the fast spread of Christianity.  Sure, Paul helped – a lot.  But would Paul have been persecuting Christians in the first place if the sect hadn’t become such a big threat so quickly?

Then, as now, people love to hear and to spread a wild, outrageous story. (Even in pre-social media times!) However, people will abandon a wild story if faced with a choice between truth and torture.  Think about it: It doesn’t matter how much you might think something is true – you’re gonna wind up denying it if you’re faced with something as unpleasant as crucifixion (or stoning).

But the early Christians didn’t.  Jesus appeared to many after his resurrection, and, for want of a better term, they freaked out.  Wouldn’t you?

The actions of Jesus’ followers – to spread the news about his resurrection in spite of what could (and often did) happen to them – is this skeptic’s evidence.  The unstoppable Jesus movement is still alive today. I pray that we may all be infused with the love and passion of the early Christians who knew the Good News and were unafraid to share it.

The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Matthias: Lucky Dog?

The feast of St. Matthias was about a week ago (Feb. 24). Now, before you get this idea that I constantly know whose feast days are when…I don’t; but for some reason (probably because it’s near some important birthdays), I remember this one.

But who was Matthias? Well, some might say he was a “lucky dog.”

lucky-dog-2

Speaking of Lucky Dogs…

Here’s the setting: Jesus had just ascended into heaven. The Apostles who-once-were-twelve were now just eleven due to the suicide of Judas Iscariot. They chose to possible replacements, prayed about the situation, and then cast lots.

Matthias was the winner, and became one of the Twelve. He, like the other possible replacement (Joseph, called Barsabus or Justus), had been a follower of Jesus from the beginning of the ministry, but he lost the coin toss. Matthias won the Apostolic Lottery.

saint_matthias

St. Matthias

I wonder how Joseph/Barsabus/Justus felt about that. Did he take it in stride? Did he shrug it off? When disciples were sent out to the ends of the earth, did he remain sullen, thinking “OK, God, so I’m not good enough,” or did he say “put me in, coach?” Was he disappointed, even a little? Or did he breathe a silent sigh of relief, having a sense of the danger they were in? Did he fade into the dust of history?

Tradition says that Joseph Barsabus was one of the 70 disciples sent out to spread the news. Tradition also says that he became bishop of Eleutheropolis, an area in Palestine, and eventually was martyred. Matthias was also reportedly stoned to death (perhaps being chosen wasn’t so lucky after all). Both men were martyred for their faith, although neither knew what fate held on that day when the luck of the draw dictated who got an apostolic promotion (and probably a few more churches named after him).

How often do we face situations like that in our lives? Two equally deserving candidates are considered for a position. One receives a promotion, the other does not. Is it harder to bear when such things are based on pure luck? Do we see such luck as a statistical coin flip, or as Divine Intervention?

The way we answer that question has a lot to do with what we do with (and how we see) the lots drawn in life.

Joseph Barsabus could have slunk away in disappointment, saying ‘wow…God sure made that clear, I’m not wanted.” I have no way of knowing if he was a glass-half-empty or a glass-half-full kind of guy. Either way, the community of believers could have been supportive in this situation.

The Guys At The Camp come to mind. How might they handle such a thing?

“Hey, man, it’s ok. You know we love you.”

“Look, you’re still coming with us on the road. Pack your stuff.”

“That Twelve stuff is symbolism for people who need that kind of thing. But there’s a lot of s**t to be done, and we’re counting on you. We NEED you. Um, and bring your tools.”

guys-at-the-camp-again

A Couple of The Guys At The Camp.  You never quite know how God is going to get someone to make a path for others…

“Yeah, man, there’s plenty of room in the boat. And if not, we’ll take Franz’s boat. Don’t worry about that, it’ll all work out.”

It’s great to have a strong inner core, that knowledge, that passion for doing and following a path no matter what obstacles fall into the way. We admire people who do that; they inspire us even as we might envy their focus. We want to be more like that – have more conviction, as my husband would say. But even the most dedicated and passionate among us can have their hesitations – and could use a boost.

Maybe it’s the “lucky dog” that needs encouragement – and maybe it’s just “one of the guys/girls” that could use a little encouragement to realize and utilize more of their gifts. I’m reminded of the ending of The Wizard of Oz, where Dorothy’s companions all learn they had everything they really needed and wanted all along – they just needed a little shove, acknowledgement, encouragement. What if Matthias was the guy who needed the encouragement, the designation?

couragelion

Be someone’s encouragement.

In the long run, both Matthias and Joseph used the gifts God gave them. They served Jesus and the early church by preaching the Gospel, telling the story of the resurrection and planting seeds of faith. They did what they were called to do, the best they could, and God took care of the rest.

No matter what our own individual gifts, experiences, wins and losses – we can do likewise. Each of us has a ministry of some sort; a calling to show the love of Christ in some way. Sometimes our call is to be the cheerleader or the wizard for someone else, at other times, another will do that for us. We do what we can, do it with love and passion, and let God take care of the rest.

A Rule of Life

I recently decided to begin the path to becoming an associate of the Community of St. Mary in Sewanee, Tennessee.  I met members of this order of Episcopal sisters through friends Diane Moore and Vickie Sullivan, and last spring, Joshua and I performed at a fund-raiser at University of the South for their Organic Prayer Intern Program.  We stayed with them for several days, and were wrapped in their hospitality and the rhythms of their convent life.  I wrote about the time in this post.

a_flowers-sewanee

In the garden at Community of St. Mary

As an associate of this Benedictine community, one writes one’s own Rule of Life, based on Jesus’ great commandment: you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind…you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

A Rule of Life.  I’ve been wondering about what exactly that might look like for me.  My initial responses to writing such a rule were akin to making New Year’s Resolutions – which I don’t make, by the way.  I exercise regularly,  my eating habits tend to be somewhat cyclical but generally healthy, and I usually have some inspirational reading at hand.

a_pax

Peace. Pax. At the Ave Maria Grotto, Cullman, Alabama

Then I thought a rule of life might resemble a Lenten discipline.  Well, maybe it does, but not of the “give up” type – at least, I hope not, because (with one notable exception) I haven’t given up anything for Lent in years.  I focus on doing something instead of not-doing-or-having something. (The one recent exception was when I gave up whining for Lent.  That was powerful, and had some long-lasting consequences.  A good thing.)

Then, inspiration came.  Back in January, I went on retreat with a retreat leader I’d met before, Pasha Hogan.  The retreat was hosted at a friend’s home, my friend Lyn who hosts the Sacred Center.

One thing that came clear for me during the retreat was that I really tend to put myself down.  “I don’t deserve it” is a mantra that I know is left over from childhood.  “Deserving” is ridiculous, anyway, in the face of divine grace and mercy – we don’t deserve any of that, but we get it anyway.

a_pond

I don’t deserve this scene from the yard, but I am grateful for it.

Who, then, do I think I am to think that I am apart from that?  Am I so specially dreadful that I am Uniquely Undeserving? Just who do you think you are?!?! Do you think you are in a special class of wretchedness?

Nah, I’m just your regular garden-variety wretch, thank you very much.  No special treatment here, just Standard Salvation.

I joke about the fact that in my growing up and college years, I had more religion classes and Religious Studies courses than most do unless they take holy orders.  I joke that it made me lose my religion!  The truth behind that joke, though, was that I felt so much focus on the fact that my mere existence was something to be ashamed of. That made no sense, because our human nature is to be – well, human – and therefore prone to mistakes.  Hopefully, this makes us learn from experience.  I was confused, as I would also hear that we were made in God’s image.

At some point, I started over by accepting only one premise: God loves us. God loves me. From that healing starting point, my faith and spirituality grew.

a_trace

On the path.  (Natchez Trace)

However, I realized that I sometimes just pay lip service to accepting forgiveness. I still need to forgive myself for not being perfect, AND forgive myself for expecting myself to be perfect!

So, my Rule of Life.  I based it on an adaptation of some things Pasha shared with us on retreat.

Just for today….
I accept myself as I am, allowing Divine Love to work through me
I am my own compassionate witness
I allow myself to make beautiful mistakes.
I ask for and receive Divine Help and Grace.

This may sound all about loving self, but I think it’s a total package – loving God, neighbor, self. If I don’t create time for my spiritual and creative life, I am only “a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.”  That segment from Paul’s letter is usually interpreted to be about loving neighbor and God, but I wonder – now that I think about it – if he wasn’t including love and caring for ourselves. How can we love God and neighbor as ourselves if we don’t love ourselves?

Accepting myself as I am, and accepting God’s forgiveness and help to do better, I become an open channel for Divine Love to work through me.  I feel gratitude. I feel blessed and want to share blessings with others.  As a beloved child of God, I recognize others as being the same, in spite of our differences. As a beloved child of God, I recognize that my body and mind and talents are all Divine Gifts (as is our earth).  We care for God’s gifts out of joy and gratitude, and share our talents and time from the same love-filled heart.

I invite you to do the same, just for today.  Accept and love yourself as you are, allowing Divine Love to work through you.  And see what happens.

The beauty of y’all

In choir practice this morning, Leon (who hails from Mississippi) made a comment about the word y’all, and how we just seem to forget that “you” can also be plural.

It made me think about a training class I’d attended earlier in the week.  The trainer was from somewhere “up north,” and said she hadn’t ever gotten used to saying y’all, so she hoped we were OK with “you guys.”

Sigh. Well, ok, but just not from my lips. Y’all is a lovely and infinitely useful word. You see, I am a Southerner.  I know that on the 8th day, God created coffee, crawfish and grits (in that order). And God looked at Creation, and said:

yall-look-good

Now…a couple of very important (and oft-misunderstood) points about the word y’all:

1) Y’all is a contraction of the words “you” and “all.”  Therefore, the correct spelling is not ya’ll, but rather y’all.

2) Y’all is not singular. Ever.  See #1 above.

The word y’all is much more pleasant to the ears than the term “you guys.” The former is a soft, easy short “a” sound, and the word rolls off the tongue like velvet, no matter how quickly or slowly it is uttered.  You guys, on the other hand, invites nasal sounds and even, depending on the speaker, a possible dipthong on the word “guys.”

I remember my shock in grade school when we were learning about contractions, and how to spell them…and that y’all was not a “real word.”  Excuse me? And as noted above, it is only plural, in spite of how it may be used in the singular by those trying to “speak southern” (bless their hearts).

yall-2

Y’all is not only polite; it is genuinely inclusive.  While “you” can be plural, it may be confusing when used in a group.  For example: “You come for gumbo this evening, OK?” This is fine if you are speaking to an individual without anyone else around.  However, if the invitation is uttered to a group that way, you may wind up with only one person showing up (and the rest of the group being insulted).

Y’all come for gumbo,” however, makes it quite clear. If you want to reiterate that the invitation is indeed meant for the group (in case there may be any doubt, or someone might think the invitation was for the individual and their family), “y’all all come” is perfectly acceptable, in spite of its apparent redundancy.  Think of all y’all and y’all all as slightly similar to using a reflective pronoun.

Y’all all come, make sure you bring your mom ‘n ‘em.” (Or you could say “papa ‘n ‘em” or “Marie ‘n ‘em” or whatever.) This means brings everyone y’all were just talking about, or “bring your usual entourage.” (It also means you made a whole lot of gumbo.)

I would love to see a southern revision of the Book of Common Prayer:

The Lord be with y’allAnd also with you. Lift up y’all’s hearts…

Y’all welcomes everyone with a smile.  It is itself an invitation to slow down, to relax, to breathe.  The Shema begins with the words “Hear, O Israel!” In the New Testament, Jesus uses those words when He proclaims the greatest commandments.  I think he was basically saying “all y’all listen!” While that may sound odd, it’s easier to imagine than his saying “OK, you guys…”

shalom-yall

Peace be with y’all…with all y’all.

For an interesting geographic discussion of the use of y’all, visit
http://www.floatingsheep.org/2014/05/hey-yall-geographies-of-colloquialism.html

One (not so) Little Word 2017

I’ve never before officially participated in the #onelittleword challenge.  There have been many times when I’ve set an intention for a specific period of time – whether a day, a week, a liturgical season…but not officially for the whole year.

Recently, though, one of my Sacred Sisters posted something about it on facebook.  We were semi-serious, as it was a stressful time and we were managing to laugh at the stress.

Then, I got to thinking.  I like this #OneLittleWord idea.  I’ve never been much for New Year’s Resolutions, but one word to sum up intentions for the year – I like it.  So, what’s my word?

What started as a joke actually has, after quite a bit of thought, become my word for 2017:  Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

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Seriously. This one not-so-little word pretty much sums up my intentions for 2017.  Before you click away from this page thinking I’m making fun of #onelittleword, I assure you I’m not. Let me explain: The word is an antidote. (If I’m making fun of anything, I’m making fun of myself.)

It was made popular in the movie Mary Poppins. This children’s classic (starring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke) was groundbreaking for its time with its use of animated sequences and live actors in the same scenes.  Mary Poppins had just won a horse race, and she’s asked for her response. There’s a word to sum it up, she says, and they break into song: Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! An amazing word to sum up an amazing feeling.

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Dick Van Dyke and Julie Andrews in Mary Poppins.

I want amazing – in 2017 and beyond. I want childlike awe, joy.  I want to dance and laugh about the good things in life, whether big or small – because there are always good things.  There are many negative things in the world, but there are always good things in God’s creation. I am realizing that the word is also a sort of shield for me. The littlest things can be good, joyful, worth laughing about.

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Talisman.

One day recently, a group of our Sacred Sisters met, prayed, and burned what we wanted to release from our lives. We sang together, and shared our words for the coming year.  I suddenly realized that I’d been thinking that I SHOULD have a sensible, serious word for the year – I don’t want anyone thinking I’m poking fun at the idea! But once again, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious danced in my brain, and I realized… it is my antidote for should.

You see, SHOULD is not the voice of conscience for me; rather, it is a hoax, a pretender, a thief.  It is sly, masquerading itself as good when it is, in truth, an attempt to derail my true self.

In prayer, I have asked that Divine Guidance use different terminology when nudging me to act or not act.  The results have been interesting.  My soul whispers “you might want to….” or “consider this…” I listen, I pray, I consider, and often act. However, if I hear “you SHOULD…” I take a very careful look at the suggestion, for should negates free choice. Should is coming from somewhere other than Divine Guidance.

I didn’t realize this particular characteristic of being an antidote of my chosen word until we stood at the fire pit and shared our words and how they came to us.

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Sometimes things just…pop into consciousness.

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. The word itself is nonsensical, meaning (according to various dictionaries)  “fantastic,” “awesome,” “something totally indescribable” or simply “the longest word you can come up with.”  Wikipedia (as well as a few other sites) break it down into roots, and come up with something along the lines of “atoning for educability through delicate beauty,” which to me sounds like something found on a poorly-translated fortune cookie.

Songwriters Robert and Richard Sherman have described the word as similar to one from their youth, and that the final form of the word as we know it came from their actual songwriting process. Ah!!

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Christmas Day 2016 in south Louisiana.  Don’t we all need some silliness at times?

So my “one not-so-little-word” for 2017 began life as a nonsense word, which was finalized in the craft of songwriting.  Through the magic of creativity, it took on a life of its own.  As a magical word, it becomes my shield.  It connects me to childlike wonder and reminds me to slow down to see the beauty in the world.   It reminds me that I don’t need to take myself so seriously. It reminds me to act out of love rather than out of rigid duty. It slays the shoulds.

The other day, after sharing my word (and reasons for it), we all broke into song:

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious
even though the sound of it is something quite atrocious
If you say it loud enough you’ll always sound precocious,
Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

…at which point, Patti and I started dancing and continuing with “dum diddle diddle ay dum diddle ar, dum diddle diddle ay dum diddle ar…”

I’m reminded that God has a sense of humor, and that yes, we are made in God’s image.

Here’s wishing you a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious year.