Friday, August 31, 2007

Labor Day weekend!

Is it hot enough for ya? Well, I have retreated to as much air conditioning I can get to. I have been catching up on reading, I have started reading the Message Bible and am working my way backward starting with the last book of the O.T. and moving towards Genesis. It is so fun reading with new eyes. I am also working on writing and tidying up the work space here at home, and in honor of labor day weekend made some repairs and even installed a ceiling fan, I have also made plans to attend my parent's 50th wedding anniversary back in Massachusetts. The invitations are now out, so the details are falling into place, I just hope people can come, it is being held in my home town of Orange Massachusetts, at the Orange United Methodist Church. Okay have I mentioned Massachusetts enough yet?
I was saddened this week by the news of a member of Walnut UMC dying this week. Prabhu Rawate, who was undergoing treatment for cancer. This is the third person from the congregation this summer to enter the eternal home, Jackie Behrens and Enid Andrews died earlier this summer. I find it most difficult to be away during the time of a loss, visiting with the family. As a pastor, that is one of the most important times to offer care to those in the congregation. These three losses have caused me to realize how much I miss everyone at Walnut, and look forward to returning with a sense of renewal and revitalization. In the meantime now and everymore take good care of one another!

Monday, August 27, 2007


One of the themes that seems to be running throughout my summer is of isolation: Peace makers feel isolated, people feel isolated from God, those with HIV/AIDs feel isolated from support and help, I have often felt a sense of isolation in my life which prompted me to write this:

When you are not chosen
When you are labled
When no matter how you try
you fall short...of the expectations
you have of yourself

When you feel you are the only one who is
Isolation eats at the DNA which
binds us together
with one another
until we are unraveled, unnoticed

Isolation is taught
by those who want us to
forget our worth
so they can rule
the world we try to feel a part of.
Isolation is an illusion, a deception, a lie
We can never be isolated
community is woven into who we are

So the next time someone calls you
Clobber them with truth
YOU are not a label
YOU are not a number
YOU are not a disease
YOU are not a sexual preference
YOU are... in fact:
with a Creator who
HAS chosen us to love
one another with all our hearts, minds, and strength
One day at a time.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

TIme is moving fast!

Hello, sorry about not posting before this, my computer has bit the dust. The motherboard is now broken so although I can access my info, I can't use it for posting, so I am dependent on computer access from the family. Okay, I am still writing, and have started on the books I wanted to read. I have finished two books, one from Peter Lundel on Renewal and revival, and have found myself needing to spend more time in prayer. Today, I spend two hours for the first time in a long time, praying and writing to God, not for publishing but for my own renewal. This does not mean that I have stopped writing for publishing, it is just an addition. Also, I have been very aware of how out of shape I have become. Even with being able to rest, I am sore, I need to build more muscle so my arthritis will not bother me as much. So I have started practicing yoga to a tape, and this seems to be helping me become less sore and feel more in shape. I plan to keep walking as well, and will gradually increase the miles. I am up to two miles a day right now. I would like to be able to walk about 5 miles at a time. I am also eating better food now that I am home and can decide what to eat. I am back to taking more vitamins that were reccomended by my acupuncture consult at one fo the retreats I attended. I will be publishing more writings. I am glad to hear from you, so far it seems only three folks have been brave enough to post a reply, but if you are reading this, please let me hear from you either here or at my e-mail address. Blessings, Pastor Steve

Friday, August 17, 2007

Strength for the Journey

Hi folks, I have just returned from three mind blasting days with the Orange County Strength for the journey camp. This is the 15th year of the camp for people living with HIV/ AIDS. Ever since I have been serving on the Board of Congregational Development, and Jubilee Task Force, I have not had the opportunity to attend any of the four camps the Conference HIV/AIDS sponsors. I have been serving on this committee that seeks to support the work of the camps as well as educate the church about the issues related to HIV/AIDS. So this was a wonderful blessing to see how the camp is doing after I served on staff with Katherine Gara, and Jeff Notke 15 years ago. We have lost many campers and staff since we have started offering the retreat,yet I am glad to report it is going on strong. In fact, there has been full camps for the next 13 years, and this year 30 folks could not attend because it was full. The staff changes, and several years ago we lost Katherine due to a Brain Tumor. That next year the staff was not sure if they could carry on without her leadership. She was such a vital presence, and was passionate about offering unconditional love to those members of our society that were hurting. She was a preacher who inspired everyone who was fortunate to have worked with her. Now, as they gathered for the first campfire on the first night of the retreat, Jeff as Dean, her son Joel, and daughter in law Erika had mixed emotions as they faced doing a camp without her. Just then, a shooting star, the brightest they had ever witnessed crossed across the sky. They knew in that instant, that Katherine was with them and that they could continue the tradition she had started, offering a safe place for hurting souls. Now, as I visited the camp 13 years after I left to form a new camp, I was pleased to see the power of the retreat still working. The stories of how this camp has transformed lives still echo in my soul as I write this. I am tired by inspired by the courage of those I met and I know Katherine's halo is glowing with pride.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Assignment: Someone who taught you something

From Ghost Ranch, Abique New Mexico
"Out here in the outdoors, close to Philemont Scout Reservation I remember my Boy Scout troop leader: Mr. Raz short for a Polish name I could not spell. Mr. Raz was a naturalist at heart, who taught me to treat the outdoors as a place to respect. Mr. Raz worked in an office, I can't imagine him there, because he was so at home backpacking, or camping with us. Now knowing what I know about kids of that age I was, I have added respect for him. Mr. Raz never lost his cool, even when on our trip to New Mexico from Massachusetts, he had to stay in camp for a few days because his blood pressure had shot up due to the altitude. He rejoined us in a few days, happy and glad to see us. I would of been furious, after planning and training for a year, raising money for the trip, and then not to be able to go withy us. Mr Raz did not kill bugs or litter, he taught us to leave a place better thatn we found it, always put out your campfire and stay on the trail. He also taught me how to lead. It was on a particular camping jamboree that each troop was to send several 'volunteers' to help with various chores around the grounds. I got stuck with toliet duty. I couldn't figure out what I was chosen, wasn't I a good scout? Why would Mr Raz punish me? And if there was anything a teenage boy dreaded more but to have to clean toliets that other teenage boys had misused, I could not imagine it. Begrugingly I complied resenting every moment, hating the smell of bleach and ther various bathroom smells to upsetting to list. I stormed back to camp, and glared at Mr. Raz. Later as I complained about how I had been punished, ether by someone's counsel or my own self realization, the details are now too foggy to remember, I came to learn that to serve others was a priviledge and I was participating in making the jamboree experience more pleasent for others. That insight led me to volunteer for the next several years for the leadership corp, a select group of scouts who undertook the traffic control, cleaning, and security for this event. However, I did not get there on my own, Mr Raz had to reccomend me as someone who had the makings of a leader." (sorry about the spelling, my spell check is not working)

Sunday, August 12, 2007

ghost ranch writing class


The world still hurts
crisis everywhere
News a step away

Yet here and now
is a place aware
of how sacred
it is to be.

There is a well here

You and I can drink deeply anytime
and find our sacred voice

There is a well everywhere

You and I can drink deeply
and find our own voice
7-31-07 SPM

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Writing: Back in California

Well folks, I tried my best in New Mexico, but the internet was down a few days and the computers were being used everytime I had a free moment to try to use them. So let's pretend I am sending you these writings as though I am going through the week and you perhaps can get an idea of what my week was like. I was in the writing class: The hear and now; writing to the rythm of your world taught by Jane, a poet and writer. There were four people in the class which worked out wonderfully because we could spend time writing, and giving each other detailed notes about the other's work. I have been in classes so large you do not get much feedback. We met for three hours each morning, and we were given homework to work on the rest of the day. We had a joint class with another writing group on Wednesday, and then on Friday read our work for the whole Ranch, although not everyone could come due to conflicts so we had an audience of about 100. I will include later this week my reading. Okay, so enough details here is the first piece:

Ghost House


Seperately Good
together strong

creating a
sanctuary for writer's and painters alike

Six beams
secure the roof
creating coolness and shelter

From the storms that rage outside and in!
SPM 7-31-07