"So, no matter what the weather’s doing where you live, this time of year brings the beginning of school for most people. Unless you are in year round school, or homeschooling, or something else. Many folks I know say the beginning of school makes them feel like a new beginning, even if they are not in school themselves or have kids there. In fact, I did a little math at the beginning of the week and determined that, based on my career in higher education and when I entered first grade, I am entering the 44th Grade this year. So, for beginnings: Tell us five things that are new in your life, or that you would LIKE to have be new in your life. If that doesn’t work, how about things that you are ready to shed ... to make room for new things? Opening your hands to release, to see what God might put into them? So, go!"Five things that are new in my life:
In June, I moved to St. Louis from my hometown of Chattanooga, Tennessee. It's been a great adventure so far, as I settle into my new home and ... (ta-da!) ... make new friends!2. New friends
Evelyn, Betty, Sheila, Judy, Tomoko, Nancy, and Marilyn eat at my table at our "senior living" apartments. I've attended all sorts of activities so I'd get to know my new neighbors in the building. I've taken road trips with them and gone to all three "birthday bashes" in the three months I've lived here. And I've participated in resident council meetings. We didn't have anything like that where I used to live. These people are very active and involved, and I'm loving it!3. New study buddies
My way of continuing to learn and "be in school" is to gather a group of my new friends — and one old friend — into a book discussion and "teach" each other. We are currently studying Brian McLaren's 2014 book We Make the Road by Walking: A Year-Long Quest for Spiritual Formation,Reorientation, and Activation.
Because I'm in St. Louis and live only six or eight miles from Ferguson, I learned on the 20th of a call for clergy in vestments to gather in solidarity for prayer and witness. Local and statewide clergy would march to the county's Justice Center for a brief demonstration and prayer, and then the group would "caravan to Ferguson and consecrate the area with prayer and oil" so that our presence, prayers, and prophetic witness would make a difference. Oops! I just moved. I had kept one stole when I retired, a tapestry stole showing children of the world, but which box was it in? I got the invitation the day of the gathering and I didn't have time to search through boxes, so I went out and bought a new stole. It's tapestry, similar in color to the one of the children that I have, somewhere, not yet unpacked. And I did get it in time to march with the others, wearing my new clergy stole.5. New church
When I moved into my new home, in a new state, hundreds of miles from my last church, I set out to find a new church home. University United Methodist Church is only two and a half miles from home, has a clergywoman as new to St. Louis as I am, and (as an added plus) both she and her husband graduated from Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta -- just as I did. He teaches at Eden Seminary. The Rev. Diane Kenaston is wearing the white robe and stole in the top photo, and her husband Adam Ployd is the bearded man behind her. I was there, but only my left hand made it into the photo. I was just to the left of the picture, beside the man wearing the white shirt.