Monday, August 23, 2010


I have a confession to make:  I have been extremely cranky lately.

I would blame the heat and the humidity, but I know that's only part of it.  Another part comes out of the fact that I'm still adjusting to life without CPE.  I went from seeing a group of people that I loved and trusted every day to not seeing them at all.  I trained my body into a cycle where I could wake up multiple times a night and be wide awake for hours and it's hard to get myself out of that cycle and I'm not getting a ton of sleep.

Another part of my crankiness comes from the fact that I'm still working through the ordination process.  It's a prayerful and beautiful process, but it is also difficult, time consuming and at times can be confusing.

I am going through some massive transitions in my life.  I said to Bruce last night, "It feels so weird to not be starting school this year."  I spent 20 straight years of my life in school (22 if you count pre-school!).  I don't know what life means without school.

I worry about things like money.  I worry about things like our future.  I worry.  I try to pray.  I worry some more.  I force myself to pray.  Somehow I always end up worrying again.

At the same time, I'm trying to keep some perspective on life.  I try to put myself back in the halls of Grady Memorial Hospital, rushing to a call, meeting a devastated family for the first time, praying with them and with their loved ones and sitting in the awful silence of tragedy.  My life may be hard at times, but I've seen tragedy - I have so much to be grateful for.

And yet sometimes - despite what I've seen and my convictions about justice and about what really matters in life - I lose my perspective and I wallow.  I whine.  I stress out.  I snap at people who don't deserve it.

I was watching the season finale of Army Wives last night and there was a scene where two of the main characters were visiting the wife of a soldier who had just been killed in Afghanistan.  Claudia Joy - one of the "wives" - told her that they would be there for anything that she needed.  The woman said that what she needed was her husband, a father for her children.  She broke down sobbing.  Claudia Joy stood up from where she was sitting, slowly walked across the room, sat down next to her and began to rub her back.  Eventually the widow sobbed openly into Claudia Joy's arms.

The scene ended on my television screen, but it didn't end in my mind.  Because I've been there.  I was there all summer at the hospital.  There were so many times when I found myself making that same slow walk towards someone who was grieving, someone who had just heard bad news, someone who was waiting, someone who was facing a difficult decision.  I would sit next to them or kneel down in front of them, speaking softly.  I rubbed their backs; I let them cry out into my shoulder.  I prayed with them; I cried with them; I sat quietly with them and said nothing at all.

I was given the gift of perspective this summer.  But I don't know what to do with it.  That's what I went to bed thinking about last night.

Then I woke up this morning.  I raced to work to be there at 7 a.m., didn't have time to grab breakfast, was hungry, forgot my wallet and was starting to think about all that I had to do.  And just like that - my perspective was gone.

In a quiet moment once the students were settled in at orientation, I quickly skimmed the UCC's website for resources for some curriculum I am working on.  There was a tab that said "UCC Videos" and I clicked on it.  It brought me to the UCC's vimeo page - and the second video posted was Lynn Redgrave's Key Note Address from General Synod 2007.

For those of you who don't know, Lynn Redgrave - in addition to being a world-renowned actress and playwright - was a member of my church, a close family friend and a woman I admired and loved.  Lynn died on May 2nd after a 7 year battle with breast cancer.

In 2007 Lynn spoke at General Synod, the biennial meeting of my church's denomination, the United Church of Christ.  She spoke about her journey through breast cancer - from her diagnosis, through her treatment and into remission.  She found our church during that journey - and gave more to us and to our community than I can possibly put into words.

I loved to hear Lynn tell the story about her first visit to church.  She was feeling scared, lonely and broken down.  My mom stood up at the pulpit to start the service and - like she always does - said, "This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it!" and Lynn started to cry.

Seeing Lynn's face on the thumbnail for the video brought me back to the day she gave the speech.  My mom was introducing her, so we (my mom and I) were brought to the green room to see her about 30 minutes before she went on.  There were 10,000 people in the audience and as my mom made her introductions, Lynn and I stood off to the side and whispered to one another.  The crowd and the excitement didn't faze her (I was overwhelmed!) - and her story, eloquence and compassion brought people to tears.

I listen to her words now and all I can do is cry.  I have so much to be thankful for.  My life may not be easy, but it is a life that I have been given the opportunity to live.

When Lynn gave this speech she was in remission.  No one knew that in three short years we would be saying goodbye ...

Lynn Redgrave's keynote address, June 26, 2007 from United Church of Christ on Vimeo.

Her words sent chills up and down my spine:
"Now I know it’s not how long I live, but how I live each moment. And how I reach out to others."

The speech is a little long, but if you have about 25 minutes I would encourage you to listen.  If not, skip to the 21 minute mark where she reads the 23rd psalm.  Hearing those words spoke so eloquently by someone who I have since said goodbye to gives them a whole new meaning.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths
for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I fear no evil;
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff—
they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
my whole life long.

I have so much to be thankful for. My life may not be easy, but it is a life that I have been given the opportunity to live.  And I want to live, to love and to rejoice in all that I have.  And I will be okay.  God is with me.  Today, tomorrow and always.


Today, I have been given the gift of persepctive.


  1. Whoa!!! Amazing and beautiful words by an amazing and beautiful woman. My prayer is that you remember the words you wrote above and that they will carry you to complete your ordination process in God's time. I really believe that what you are going through now will be something you will be able to share to so many more young women and men who will face some of the same challenges you are going through right now... Hope we can do lunch when Brenda and I get back from vacation in a couple of weeks... Philippians 1:3-4

  2. You are so brave and so strong. Thank you for reminding me to keep things in the right perspective, which is not necessarily my perspective. As my dear friend Audrey, who is the pastor of a UM Mission that burned to the ground (arson) on Pentecost (horrifyingly ironic) keeps telling her congregation, "God is bigger!" God is bigger, sweet Sarah...find peace in that. That's what I strive for each and every day. Love you.

  3. This post made me cry! I watched Army Wives last night too and I cried and cried. Everyone needs a little perspective sometimes, thanks for the reminder :)

  4. I was there to hear to hear Lynne Redgrave give that speech in 2007. and you were just as eloquent yesterday as you struggled to give words to your CPE experience after church. I'm confident you will be a blessing to the church that eventually has the opportunity to call you.


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