Christy’s Corner: Praying Attention… A Way to Turn Everything Holy
As I left for vacation on August 13th there were many things on my heart and mind. The fire inspection had just occurred for the preschool and we were gearing up for the sanitation inspection. There was much discussion about how to best finish up our outside entrance and the impact on our security system and phone lines. In our world, nuclear threats seemed to be escalating from North Korea, wild fires all over the west and especially in British Columbia seemed out of control.
Closer to home I had been asked to be part of a group to help respond to a situation that occurred in Bandon, where a transgender woman had been fired from her job and held at knife point by a neighbor. The question that brought an eclectic group together the Saturday before I left was how do we ensure that Coos County and the community of Coos Bay and North Bend are safe for everyone? We all belong here. How do we make that a reality? Later that evening as I was literally packing for vacation and finishing up my sermon, bits and pieces of news were beginning to come in from Charlottesville. Something unprecedented was happening there as “Unite the Right” protests for white advocacy were occurring and it was becoming increasingly clear that racism is alive and well.
My heart was heavy in so many ways, and I knew that time away in my “soul spot” was just what I needed. It takes about 17 hours to get to Tofino, British Columbia including a two hour ferry ride. On the ferry I began to get caught up on some magazines. I read an article by Glennon Doyle that introduced me to the perfect expression for my time away, “Praying attention!”
“The secret of life is not about knowing what to say or do. It’s not about doing love or loss right. Life cannot be handled. The secret is simply to show up. It’s about witnessing it all, even the pain, and letting it touch you and make you not harder, but more tender. Showing up, feeling it all—this is my new kind of prayer. I call it praying attention, and it’s how, for me, everything turns holy.” Glennon Doyle-pg. 37, Oprah Magazine, August 2017
Praying attention! A God-centered way to turn everything holy. It was the perfect way for me to hold all that was going on, while being away in a remote spot where we are “unplugged” so to speak, without local news, papers or internet. My prayer to God was, “Lord, help me to pray attention” as I relax into the abundance and beauty of my “soul spot” a place that I have visited for 58 out of my 60 years.
My sermon on August 13th was about the need for all of us, as disciples of Jesus Christ to be” in the arena”, rather than observing from the bleachers outside the arena. I feel badly, that in my busy-ness to take care of details in preparation for vacation, I was not aware of the activities in Charlottesville that weekend. Since returning to the country and realizing all that has gone on, I wonder…in terms of taking an active stand to be committed to ending racism, what does it mean to “be in the arena?” What does it mean for me to “pray attention?” If racism in our country is in fact “baked in” to our organizations and institutions like salt in a cookie, how do we truly begin to dismantle it so that it no longer has a hold on us, our communities, and our nation?
When I was in seminary at Yale Divinity School I was asked to write a paper about a time that I experienced racism. I gave an example that I thought described the experience and how I had responded in a way that wasn’t racist. I still can see my professor’s comments on the paper. “Christy, even having the thoughts you describe without acting on them is racist!” Wow…I was stunned!
As I think about that now and wonder what needs to change in our society and in me, I realize that there is a part of all of us that is always in the process of being transformed, or made holy by God. For me I recognized this process earlier this summer when I went to the workshop at St. Paul’s in Salem, “God’s Love for the LGBTQ Community.” I learned more about sexual preference and gender identity and heard stories of people who have different gender identity than I do. I realized we were more similar than we were different. I was working hard to pray attention and I was in the process of being transformed. It happened again the week before I left for vacation as I heard of the attack on the transgender person in Bandon–for no reason other than being identified as a transgender woman… and now it’s happening for me in terms of racism. I’m praying attention, and it is hard, hard work!
For me, praying attention and being in the arena in terms of racism, means that my starting point has changed. Rather than denying it, my starting point will be acknowledging that I am racist. Instead of looking for all of those places where I support people of color, I will begin to look for places where I don’t. I’ll look for places where I have negative thoughts or privilege that hurt my brothers and sisters of color. I will be willing to ask for forgiveness, to stand up and speak out publicly, even if it means giving up things that benefit me and my family. Where do my attitudes, behavior and actions support racism? I will “pray attention” and show up in hopes of being able to do my part to show that we really do all belong here on this earth, and in our community of Coos Bay and North Bend.
The slogan of the Episcopal Church is “The Episcopal Church Welcomes You.” Earlier this year, our Vestry struggled with the question how do we ensure that is actually the case and we are as welcoming as we can be to anyone who comes through our doors? How do we ensure that Emmanuel is a safe place for everyone regardless of skin color, gender, sexual preference, economic status or belief? How do we truly respect the dignity of every human being recognizing all are created and loved by God. There is much work to do and I am choosing to begin with myself by praying attention. Will you join me? Together we can ensure that Emmanuel Episcopal Church truly welcomes YOU, regardless of any particularities.
Blessings to you and yours as we continue to do the work that God has given us to do!
1, 040 total years of wisdom from Emmanuel’s elders…
Thank you to everyone who attended our Senior Birthday Celebration and Community Gathering event. During the celebration, Christy asked each person to share what they had learned over the years that helped them along the way. Here is a collective 1,040 years of wisdom!
- Have more cats. Always eat a second slice of cake. Take more walks in the rain.
- In relationships, it is good to have a short memory.
- Your poor planning is not my emergency.
- Don’t put off until tomorrow.
- Keep your friends close and visit them often.
- Talk less – listen more.
- Laugh more. Find out more family history and write it down. Don’t put off doing anything that you want to do. Trust in the Lord.
- Don’t depend on others to always help you.
- Respect-Respect-Respect. Fight the good fight.
- Say I love you.
- Jesus loves me.
- Have as good a day as you can and do more things for other people.
- Do not let the past haunt you. Look to the future of the new generation.
- Always make more friends – life is better with friends and family. Try to talk to someone you don’t know.
Thank you, Teacher Cathy for all your hard work, compassion, love, and dedication for our Preschool!
Our returning Teacher Cathy recently shared the following about herself:
Prior to my teaching here at Emmanuel Episcopal Preschool almost 15 years ago, I was employed at Cartwheel’s Preschool, Hillcrest Elementary and Lighthouse After Care Program. My heart for children began many years ago as a 22 year old Sunday School Teacher in Lake Oswego. Through the years as we raised our three children, my husband and I enjoyed teaching Sunday school with all age groups, as well as helping in AWANA programs.
I truly love the opportunity I have been given here at Emmanuel Episcopal preschool. I love to help nurture the sweet and innocent little minds that come to us. The environment has been one that continues to bring great growth and happiness to all that attend our school. I find for me it is a great joy to pass on the love of God in such a wonderful setting. ❤ Cathy Bishop
With gratitude, the grounds work project is almost completed!
The yard project outside of the church office and entrance to the undercroft is almost completed. At the end of August, the contractors poured concrete. They had a few setbacks as there was water accumulation that needed to dry up before they could finish the project.
With gratitude, we thank everyone who has been a driving force to get this project done, for everyone who has gotten their hands dirty, and for the hard work of filling in the remaining edges with decorative rock. We are hoping to install bicycle racks in the future.
Remember Praying for Irina and Baby?
We offer many prayers each Sunday during our services but we don’t often hear the results. Meet Adrian Gregory James who is the son of Irina James, one of our preschool teachers who we have been praying for since he was the size of a peanut. Irina and her husband are so grateful for our prayers!
Preschool Sanitation Inspection Update… We passed!
Thank you to everyone who volunteered your time to deep clean the kitchen in the Undercroft in preparation for our Sanitation inspection. In addition to the deep cleaning, you might notice new oven covers and dish drying racks as a small part of our new, larger awareness of keeping our food preparation sites sanitized. This is a great benefit to the entire congregation and our Outreach goals, and we thank all our volunteers for their time!
Please continue to hold the certification process in your prayers! Wed, Sept. 6th, at 11:00 is our Certification Site Visit and we are hopeful that we will be certified at that visit. Thank you to everyone who has helped prepare us and work towards certification in large and small ways!
Below: hand washing sinks have been installed and an air gap in order for us to meet compliance with the sanitation inspection to continue our preschool expansion.
Wednesday Services resume September 6th
As summer comes to conclusion and we return to fall schedules, Wednesday services will resume with the Holy Eucharist at 6:30 AM and H.E. and Healing Service with anointing at 12:00PM.
Welcome Back BB!
Sunday, September 10, 11:30 AM
As our program year begins, Join Us for an opportunity to gather together as a community with so much to look forward to this year at Emmanuel, including Betty Emmon’s 90th birthday! We’ll provide the hot dogs and hamburgers but please bring a side dish or with a cake to help us celebrate!
We welcome back our choir and contemporary group, and we give thanks for their ministry.
Lay Readers’ and Lectors’ Meeting and Update
Sunday, September 17th after the 10:00 AM service
Please save the date, and we will have more information to follow.
Saturday, September 23, 1:30pm – Celebration of Life for Michael Oxford
If you are able to help with providing cookies or refreshments for reception, please contact Sally Jaeggli or Nancylee Stewart. Thank you.
Bring Your Undies to Convention!
Every Friday night Rahab’s Sisters opens their doors at Saints Peter and Paul Episcopal on SE 82nd in Portland to provide radical hospitality to women marginalized by poverty, homelessness, sex work and substance use. At this year’s diocesan Convention, they’ll be collecting new women’s underwear for their guests.
For women living on the streets, clothing gets lost in sweeps, bags get stolen, and access to laundry facilities can be hard to come by. When you donate new women’s underwear to Rahab’s Sisters, you aren’t just giving clothes – you are giving dignity to women marginalized by homelessness and poverty.
All sizes, styles and fabrics are needed and appreciated. They go through medium sizes (7s and 8s) most quickly, but have guests all across the size spectrum. Next time you’re shopping for your own household, could you throw one or two packages of underwear in your cart? They’ll have a donation box at their exhibit table and look forward to seeing you there!
Please look in Emmanuel’s Narthex for the box to place your contribution of new ladies undies for Rahab’s Sisters.
Blessings, Terrye Laird
We All Belong Here: a Community Forum, on Building a Welcoming Inclusive Coos County
Sept. 21st, 6:30-8:30, Coos History Museum
Join us from 6:30-8:30 PM on Thursday, September 21st at the Coos History Museum for a forum about the ways that our county can come together and create a community where everyone can thrive.
In Coos County we’ve seen a rise in violence and harassment targeting our most vulnerable neighbors, including immigrants and people perceived to be immigrants, low-income and unhoused community members, and people of color and LGBTQI people. We are not alone in this problem: hate crimes are on the rise in this state and across the country, and we are still grieving for the lives lost in Charlottesville. This moment calls us to reach out to one another and fight for safety and human dignity for all.
This summer, a trans woman living in Coos County was threatened at knife-point by one of her neighbors. Join us to hear from her and others who are experiencing harassment simply for being themselves, and plan for how we will take action as a community to make Coos County a welcoming and inclusive place for everyone.
Do you have a story to tell? If you have experienced harassment or discrimination in our community and you are willing to share your story please let Christy know. We are hoping that individual stories will be an important part of this forum.
PFLAG Coos Bay/South Coast
Rural Organizing Project
Q&A of Coos County
Coos Diversity Poster
Coast Range Forest Watch
Coos County Youth Homeless Coalition Emmanuel Episcopal Church
Gloria Dei Lutheran Church
Indivisible of Coos County
Faith Lutheran Church
Human Rights Advocates of Coos County