Thursday, July 7, 2016

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Holy happenings

At what point do you stop referring to them as ‘coincidences’ 
and acknowledge them for what they are?

We’ve been going to Rosebud for several years now 
and are blessed to have more people to catch up with 
than we have time to do said catching up.

Before we travel back, 
I generally send messages or emails to all the folks we’ve met over the years, 
letting them know when we’ll be back – 
but there are always some folks I don’t reach; 
people whose emails have changed, 
some who either don’t have computers
or only have sporadic access to them 
and some who no longer live on the reservation.

That lack of response doesn’t stop us from talking about them 
and remembering their contributions to our understanding
and appreciation of life on Rosebud.
This year, on the drive out, 
we talked about the construction manager of the past several years 
who had moved, with his wife, back to MN. 
I hadn’t even thought to contact him this year
since he lived off the reservation. 

Late Monday afternoon, 
seemingly out of the blue, 
I suddenly felt the need to go to the store for more taco seasoning.
I was increasingly and unexpectedly worried we wouldn’t have enough
for all the meat and, despite being told to ‘relax',
go “in a while” or closer to dinner, 
I jumped in the van and headed to the nearest store. 

I had gone not more than 2 blocks
when I spotted a familiar figure crossing the street.
It was Greg –
 in town for only 36 hours
to attend ‘a naming ceremony’ for a friends baby. 

We laughed at the odds of me finding him, 
walking in the street, 
at exactly that moment 
during his brief stay in town.

A quick visit back at the dorm to see everyone
led to him joining us for dinner – 
with us celebrating the news of HIS being a parent
of a 4 months old baby boy (Leum)!
On Tuesday, I was talking with the mother of one of our local workers, 
 getting to know her and her family better.
In the process, she was quizzing me
on our history and who we knew on the reservation. 
It’s basically their version of “Where did you go to high school?” – 
this “who do you know” lending credibility to our service
while testing us on the connections we’ve made 
and the extent of the ties we have in their community. 

In the course of that conversation, 
I mentioned that one of our favorite ‘partner families’ hadn’t responded to my email.
 I was worried because I knew
the family had recently gone through hard times, 
complete with custody changes; 
we just wanted to make sure they all knew
we were still praying for and loving them. 

The words were barely out of my mouth when her cell phone rang – 
and the name of our partner family dad, 
(incidentally and unbeknownst to me, 
her colleague and friend), 
displayed on her screen.
We both laughed as she answered the phone, 
saying “Hold on, I have a friend here who wants to talk to you” 
and then passed the phone to me.

He and his son joined us for dinner later that week - 
which was a relief
since we've watched Alan grow up since he was a toddler.
 He's now taller than I am, 
which isn't surprising since I'm shrinking, 
but still...
There are 2 grocery stores on the reservation.

The one closest to the dorm (Buches) is our usual ‘go to’ store for supplies.
We tried the ‘tribal store’ (Turtle Creek) several years ago 
when it first opened 
but the selection and prices were terrible 
and the quality of produce and meat seemed far inferior to the other store
closer in town.

One afternoon, as we were headed for our favorite store, 
I got this overwhelming  and unaccountable impulse to go to the ‘tribal store’.
It was completely random, had never happened before 
and there was no discernible reason for it to happen now. 

With apologies to the other ‘shopper’ with me, 
I suggested that we try the tribal store once more. 
While he looked quizzically at me, he didn’t care 
so we were soon headed in the opposite direction 
and, several blocks later, pulled into their lot.

While the other missioner worked the aisles, 
I stayed in the produce section
to take a quick picture of the updated selection
which actually looked great.
As I was framing the shot, 
I saw people approaching out of the corner of my eye.
I lowered my camera 
so as not to get some random family in the image
and invade their privacy – 
and found myself face to face with a partner family
who lives in the ‘Valley’ of the reservation 
with little internet access and no home computer.
(With 11 children and 2 grandchildren living with them,
who would have time to be on a computer anyway?!)
I half expected to hear “Joyous reunion in aisle 1” announced overhead 
as we embraced each other and spoke for several minutes;
each amazed at the timing that brought us each here at that very moment.
Char was taking a quick break to run over and order a Father’s Day cake for her husband. 
She intended to come earlier over her lunch break 
but a crisis at work had only just wrapped up, 
leaving her a 15 minute window before she had to get back.

We promised each other more time to catch up during 'the Fair'
in August.
One of our missioners brought along
some of his aunts ashes on Mission trip this year.
Evidently his "Aunt L" spent time on the Rosebud, 
loved it there and, upon her death earlier this year, 
family knew she’d love it if part of her returned
to where she’d found such peace and beauty.
Her nephew was happy to oblige.

 One evening, we went to one of our favorite spots
along the Little White River 
 where another dear friend, 
and co-founder of the Adult Mission Trip,
 had some of his ashes scattered as well. 
(Hard, if not impossible, to believe it’s been 5 years!)

We listened to,
and sang along with,
the wonderful old favorites
“Down to the River to Pray”,
“Shall we gather at the River”
 and “Wade in the Water”.
 It was a lovely tribute to a woman we all wished we'd known
and a time for fellowship and deep reflection.
This past Sunday morning,
the day after our return,
as several of us headed in to the pews at Emmanuel for worship,
we were greeted with the sounds of the Prelude
"Down to the River to Pray".
The Postlude?
Glad you asked ...
"Wade in the Water"
There are many terms for these phenomena of synchronicity:
God winks etc.

I don't need a special trendy term for it.

I only know that there are times when the Holy Spirit practically swoops in
and I can sense His presence.

In those moments,
I see more clearly;
I marvel at the extraordinary miracles of life
cradled in ordinary moments.

What if we all stretched our eyes and hearts
to realize that an unseen God is at work
in all the seen and unseen parts of our lives?

Even when the way isn't clear,

when the sun finally sets on a painfully long day
 and even in the breath you just took.

For me,
these moments are reflections of Gods grace;
reminders that life is sprinkled with holy happenings.

We just need to recognize them.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Last post from South Dakota

 We finished our projects,
enjoyed vistas that seemed to go on forever
visited once more with old friends
 marveled at the vastness of Gods creation
 and were treated to one more spectacular sunset
at Ring Thunder.
We couldn't have asked for a better week.

This is what life is about: 
it is being sent on a trip by a loving God 
who is waiting at home for our return 
and is eager  to watch the slides we took 
and hear about the friends we made. 
When we travel with the eyes and ears of God who sent us, 
we will see wonderful sights, 
hear wonderful sounds, 
meet wonderful people ...
and be happy to return home.
Henri Nouwen.
 Leaving bright and early in the morning ...
there will be more stories to tell and pictures to share
but, for now,
it's time for lights out.

See you Sunday!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Dinner Party

 In last weeks Gospel, Jesus asks Simon, “Do you see her?” 
Which is also to say, “Do you see me
A prophet shouting loudly with his life, 
pointing the way to God’s lavish love and forgiveness.

Whether or not we really see each other, 
not as caricatures but as unique icons of God’s image, 
makes all the difference. 
Otherwise we miss the wondrous complexity of our human condition. 
We judge each other and hold back parts of ourselves for fear that we will reveal too much.  
Lavish love says we can be all of who we are. 
We can unlock our doors and let go of our most precious gifts. 
We can dare to see, really see, who is at the party.
 Kayla McClurg
I guess it's to be expected ...
the longer we come to Rosebud, 
the more people we know;
the more people we know,
the more people we want to catch up with while we're here -
people who want us to check in with them
and whose feelings are often hurt if we don't.

It's a strange dance that we never quite get right - 
trying to strike the right balance between
wanting and needing "to get something accomplished" -
some project, some task we've been asked to help with -
and being faithful to the reality of being called into relationship 
with our brothers and sisters in Christ  - 
the ones who just happen to live on the reservation.


"Community, I am beginning to understand, 
is made through a skill I have never learned or valued: 
the ability to pass time with people you do not and will not know well, 
talking about nothing in particular, 
with no end in mind, 
just to build trust, 
just to be sure of each other, 
 just to be neighborly. 
A community is not something that you have,
like a camcorder or a breakfast nook. 
No, it is something you do. 

And you have to do it all the time".
Wendell Berry

You can say that again, Wendell!

We practice every day on Rosebud.
To be honest, it can be exhausting.

Especially after a full day of working under the
relentless South Dakota sun.
  The work on the ball field was immediately appreciated!

As was helping the domestic violence shelter
plan for, purchase and install 
a "Peace Garden"

Creator of all races and ethnicities, 

help us see that a diverse community is the way 
to deepen our lives
and to know you more deeply.
Guide us to see that entering into a vital and just relationship 

with others who are different from us 

is the way to make ourselves whole.
Guard us from fear of the other,

from the fear that our own security is threatened 

if we become truly willing to make a place at the table for all.
Open us to live out what we profess to believe:
that our true security is in You
and in your call to justice and peace;
that we are a part of your global family;
that, because of your Incarnation,
the human dignity of everyone is sacred,

And that we are constantly called
to conversion and inclusive community.

We pray that you help us recognize any forms of racism in our hearts,

in our legal systems and social structures.

Forgive us our sins of exclusion.

Heal our souls and spirits.

Ground us in compassion for all through your grace.
Help us take the steps you call us to take

to build a more just community,

where difference is respected,

where we can all join hands

and rejoice in the common good.

Through the mercy of God, we pray.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Day 3 - How can it be Wednesday already?

Scenes from the day ...