I am honored and humbled to serve as your New York State Chaplain. I ask for your prayers and assure you of mine. Our President, Jackie Clute, has challenged us to live each day with a spirit of kindness and generosity in our actions and interactions. We are also used to thinking of ourselves as strong women, as leaders who get things done. Can we be both? Yes, we can. Will it be easy? No, it will not. But we never have to do anything alone or under our own power. We have a God who walks with us, strengthens us, and nourishes us.
Margaret M. Anderton, MDiv DMin
click here to read the complete introduction letter
In Parker J. Palmer’s On The Brink of Everything, he writes, “I no longer ask what do I want to let go of and what do I want to hang on to… Instead I ask what do I want to let go of and what do I want to give myself to.”
For me (like most of us), this has been a year of massive changes: moving across the country, beginning seminary (and finishing my first semester), navigating family illnesses, surgeries, and deaths, deepening friendships, continuing my own internal growth, beginning work on my directorial debut, finishing a book, interviewing and meeting some of my heroes on the podcast, continuing to release my clinging hands from all that isn’t mine, and learning about what I want to give myself to.
Our time and attention is a treasure––a rare commodity that we delegate among the needs before and within us. Simone Weil says “Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity…. Absolutely unmixed attention is prayer.” This sentiment has brought me a lot of of comfort and consideration this year. The idea that our attention is an offering of prayer is a delightful way to remind oneself to be present but also a reminder of the eternal value of said presence. How has my drifting mind pulled me away from this prayerful attention in these days of technology and endless to-do lists? How have I missed the ability to give of myself in a way that cultivates love for the beloved human or moment before me?
Whether we like it or not, most of us find ourselves reflecting when we approach the New Year. We consider changes we’d like to make, we plan ahead for what’s to come, we consider letting go of what weighs us down… In doing so, I dare to think we create fertile ground for openness. And I often wonder how I can carry around this invisible fecundity with me throughout the year. There is an awe to the newness of a shiny new year––how can I give myself in openness to the awe instead of holding on to the hope of goals, changes, or desires?
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with carrying around hope, but it isn’t easy. In her OnBeing interview, author Rebecca Solnit shared, “hope is tough. It’s tougher to be uncertain than certain. It’s tougher to take chances than to be safe. And so hope is often seen as weakness, because it’s vulnerable, but it takes strength to enter into that vulnerability of being open to the possibilities.”
Perhaps there’s a place here where we can find ourselves in the middle of these things, after all, there’s nothing wrong with goals, changes, or desires (assuming they are hosting a means for greater love or deeper peace). Maybe, just maybe, there’s room for all of my wayward longings this year––if I can be in open-handed awe of their presence (or lack thereof) instead of being the clinging one breathless for control (I admit I’m much more prone to the latter!).
So, friends, as we all reflect on 2018 and the empty pages that rest before us in 2019, may we explore what is right for our own individual lives. I, for one, will try to boldly consider these things: Where do I need to let go? What do I want to give myself to? Where can I offer more unmixed attention? How can I remain open to the ever-present newness of each and every day? How can I live each day in greater wonder?
Wishing everyone deep love, bright light, vulnerable hope, unfathomable peace, and the courage for new beginnings in the new year
For a New Beginning
As this day begins Christ be with us,
Be in our hearts and in our minds,
Be in our souls and in our spirits,
Be in our thoughts and in our desires.
As this day begins Christ walk beside us,
Show us the love only you can give,
Show us the light only you can provide,
Show us the wholeness only you can reveal.
As this day begins Christ surround us,
Circle us with your presence,
Keep protection near and danger far,
Bring us the assurance of your love.
(Pause for a time of silent reflection on the glory of God.)
Lord, let us walk into this day
Your light before us,
Your shield behind us,
Your friends beside us.
Lord, let us walk into the coming days
Your life before us,
Your strength behind us,
Your love around us.
Lord, let us later walk from this place,
Your wisdom before us,
Your truth behind us,
Your breath within us.
Lord, let us walk into the world,
Gratitude in our hearts,
Thanksgiving on our lips,
Joy in our spirits.
Lord, let us walk into your loving presence,
In the name of the One who loves us,
In the name of the One who cares,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit, One in Three, Three in One.
I’m feeling harried and distracted:
So much happening on all sides
and inside, too…
I need help figuring things out:
what’s important and what’s not;
what’s a priority and what can wait;
the difference between what I need to do
and what I’d rather do…
So I offer you today, Lord,
the mixed up jumble
of my completed and my unfinished tasks,
my lists of things to do that don’t get done,
my false starts and unmet goals…
I offer you all the things I put off until tomorrow
and then put off again for the next day...
and the next…
I offer you my unkept promises,
my promises to slow down, be still,
to seek your wisdom,
to ask for your help…
Lord, stop me in my tracks today:
put the brakes on, take me aside
and sit me down 'til I take a deep breath
- or two or three…
Let me breathe in your presence,
let me lean on you
and rest by your side…
Refresh and restore me with your Spirit:
grant me serenity
and the peace that only you can give…
Help me discern what’s most deserving
of my time, my interest, my attention -
and what's not...
Help me see with your eyes
what I most need to see…
Help me know by your light
what you ask of me…
Help me do with my hands
what first needs doing…
And as I plan and schedule my week -
keep me open to how you’ll surprise me
along the way,
Help me do what you ask of me:
what will best serve you
and all whose paths cross mine…
Be patient with me, Lord:
be with me,
by my side,
Receive my daily offering, Lord,
and with your Spirit’s truth and wisdom
bless this day and night
and bless the week ahead...