Liturgy – Kirsten Kettler

Hello, friends.

Let’s talk about liturgy.

Steamboat ESC talked about liturgy for our Tuesday Formation, and I found it interesting that I heard the word thrown around a lot in my life but I never really knew what it meant.

Liturgy is a particular form or way of worship in a church. I like to think of it as the flow of things. For example, some churches open with a worship band, enter a time of prayer, give the message, and then close with a last worship song.

Some churches are more traditional and structured in their liturgy and some are more relaxed and flexible, depending on where you go. The diversity in churches always amazes me.

After discussing all of this together, we took some time to stop and reflect. As I was journaling my thoughts, I thought about the liturgy of my daily life.

My typical day basically looks like this: I wake up, take the bus to work, work, take the bus home, make some dinner, and then try to do something fun or relaxing. In the middle of those things, I text friends, check social media, and play with the kids at the Boys and Girls Club.

It made me wonder, what does my liturgy, or flow of things, say about me? I think that how we spend our time reflects pieces of who we are.

Then I started freaking out. What if my liturgy doesn’t reflect upon me well?? I need to spend more time in prayer, more time reading the Bible!! (When my thoughts go this way I typically start thinking of how terrible of a Christian I really am.)

After taking the “phone a friend” option, and talking out how I felt, I realized that there is no “perfect” liturgy. There’s a diverse range of liturgies, all different and all (for the most part) good. I came to the conclusion that I think the flow of our lives should reflect God’s love for us.

With that in mind, I have a challenge for you (and me). How does your personal liturgy, the flow of your life, reflect God’s love?

I hope that you take the time to reflect on your life’s liturgy. It made me think about how I use my commute time, how I interact with others, and how much time I spend on social media.

Thanks for reading. 🙂

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The Power of Dignity – Anthony Suggs

Celebrant         Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity                              of every human being?

People               I will, with God’s help.

The Baptismal Covenant
Book of Common Prayer (Page 305) 

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines dignity as “the quality or state of being worthy, honored, or esteemed.” In my humble opinion, this definition of the word dignity needs a resurrection. We often use the word dignity as a synonym for pride or self-worth, as if dignity is something that depends on one’s ability to be self-sufficient and respectable. Our baptismal covenant as Episcopalians does not require that we only respect the dignity of the dignified, but of every human being. It’s one thing to say that you respect the dignity of everyone, but putting those words into action is something else entirely.

When we think of words like worth, honor, and esteem those in political power, celebrities, or those well respected by society often come to mind. We then think of grand gestures and ceremonies to further communicate just how dignified these powerful people are. But I’m not so convinced that dignity for every human being starts with grand gestures, if it even uses them at all. Dignity for every human being starts by preparing small things with great love, as if you are preparing for Christ himself.

Every Tuesday, St. Clare’s Ministries (hosted by St. Peter & St. Mary Episcopal Church) hosts a community meal for upwards of 150 people experiencing a range of situations from homelessness to food insecurity. St. Clare’s also provides a store in which clients can shop for clothing, shoes, and sanitary products at no cost to them. In preparing these aspects of the ministry, it is a constant process to instill dignity in every aspect of that preparation. There is a world of difference between rack of shirts thrown together hurriedly than one that is organized and neat. There is a world of difference between a blank table than one that is set with a tablecloth and flowers.

These small acts of love are what we can use to respect the dignity of every person we come into contact with in service. We can choose to do the bare minimum as if we are the only ones with dignity, or we can choose to take time to prepare for our beloved brothers and sisters. Having seen these decisions made on a daily basis by countless ministries, the choice is clear. Our clients, in the eyes of God, already exist in the quality or state of being worthy, honored, and esteemed. It is up to us to see what God sees and to act on that vision.

The Power of Purple and Blue Nail Polish – Olivia Collette

I used to love color. I lived my life in bright colors and bold patterns. My childhood bedroom was painted teal and my bed had a bright orange comforter on it. Nothing matched, and I loved it. My room felt like a place where I could be joyful and silly, and my friends and I loved playing there.

I used to wear mismatched socks. I always made sure to wear as many crazy colors and patterns as possible. No matter what outfit I was wearing, I always made sure my socks were visible. I told my mom that my socks were “my statement.”

I used to wear sparkly nail polish. More often than not, it was themed around whatever season it was, or some upcoming holiday. I loved looking at my nails and seeing bright colors and being reminded to be happy and cheerful.

I used to wear colorful clothes. In college, I had a pair of hot pink jeans. I loved those pants. They made me happy whenever I wore them, and I loved the idea that some of my brightness or happiness might rub off on someone else.

However, life, as it does, convinced me to change. I was suddenly “too old” for a teal bedroom with an orange comforter, or mismatched socks, or sparkly nail polish, or hot pink jeans. I felt like, since I was a “grown-up,” I was expected to dress and act a certain way. So I filled my room, my wardrobe, and my life, with more neutral, “adult” things. I missed color though. I’d gravitate toward a brightly colored shirt, or pants with a funky pattern, until I remembered that I wasn’t “supposed” to like those things. I would reach for a bright colored nail polish, and then convince myself that it wasn’t “mature” or “professional” enough. So I came to Denver for ESC, with a very neutral wardrobe, no bright, happy things to hang on the walls, and no sparkly nail polish. Because “that’s what adults do.”

Then we went on retreat. Call it divine intervention, fate, or sheer coincidence, but I ended up in a room with bottles of bright blue and purple nail polish and a few free minutes. Feeling comforted by the thought that I’d likely take the colors off my nails before being back in the “real world,” I painted my nails bright purple and blue. Confession: I was fully expecting to hate it. But shockingly, I didn’t. Every time I looked at my purple and blue nails, I felt a sense of joy and freedom. I loved seeing bright colors every time I looked down! And I felt a little like a rebel for wearing and enjoying something I felt so strongly I shouldn’t. I felt like me again.

It wasn’t until I reflected over why something as simple as the color of my nails had such a profound affect on me that I recognized this lack of color in my life. I realized I’d grown comfortable, although somewhat bored, in my neutral world. My lack of color had spilled over into other aspects of my life. I stopped playing as much, or allowing myself to enjoy certain things I used to love just because I thought I had no room for those things in my life. I realized I had shrunk myself to fit into the box I thought I was expected to fit in. I had this whole idea in my head of how I thought my life was supposed to go – things I was supposed to and not supposed to do, ways I supposed to and not supposed to act. I realized I almost decided not to even do ESC because I somehow convinced myself it wasn’t the most “logical” thing for my future career development. And then I decided that I’m done trying to fit myself into that box.

With my newfound confidence from my brightly colored nails, I did many more things on our retreat that I hadn’t done in a while. I wore a bright green (maybe yellow?) sweater, I sang out loud (in front of other people!!), and I even made (and enjoyed making) a collage. Creativity has never been one of my strong suits, so the collage was a pretty big deal for me! I loved every minute of it. It was liberating! I realized I could be an adult and still enjoy my life!

As I thought about my brief time in Colorado, I realized I’d actually played more over the past two weeks than I had in years. At the end of the retreat we listed personal goals and spiritual practices we wanted to include in our lives over the next year. I decided that one of my major personal goals was to get out of my perceived box. I’m done living my life based on how other people think I should act or dress or be. This year, I’m going to make laughter and play and color a spiritual practice. I’m going to go outside and play barefoot on the grass, I’m going to wear clothes with bold patterns, and make silly collages, and fill my life with all kinds of colors, and, of course, paint my nails bright purple and blue.

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A Very Belated Post Because It Was Lost in The “Drafts” Section of Our Blog- Sara Sweeney

My last post on hating God and everything being meaningless was dramatic and sarcastic- two things I love to be. Especially at the same time. Unfortunately, drama and sarcasm do not always compute through a screen, and it’s come to my attention how ungrateful or resistant my post might sound in response to the many, many people who have not only entered my life this year through the Colorado Episcopal Service Corps program, but have opened their homes, hearts and lives up to me as well.
In my own heart, it is not the case that I’ve overlooked or discarded any of these people or blessed circumstances at all. In fact, I think that BECAUSE of all the resources the CESC program has granted (a discernment team, a host family, a counselor, group therapist, one-on-one check-ins with the priest/program director, prayer partners) and the plethora of support and vulnerability that’s been shared with me over the last seven months, I’ve been able to explore my own doubts about Christianity, Christians, and even further– God. More than that, I’ve been allowed to do so with curiosity and boldness. I’ve been enticed to reckon with my faith so intimately that I’ve allowed myself to say and think, “I hate God” …you know, just to see what happens.
In fact, I think that BECAUSE of all the resources the CESC program has granted, and the plethora of support and vulnerability that’s been shared with me over the last seven months, I’ve been able to explore my own doubts about Christianity, Christians, and even further– God.
What is happening is some great articulation about why I’m uncomfortable being perceived as Christian.
I fear that outing myself as a Christian will signal to others I am like the other Christians in the world.
Such a label makes me imagine others imagining a version of me, Sara, wearing a cross necklace, driving and listening to KLOVE, and pinning prayers to my Pinterest Prayer board. Since I’ve actually done all those things, oh well.
My skin crawls thinking about how I relate to the born-agains. I’ve got role-models who are– Anne Lamott, for instance! But I’m just not as Jesusy as that.
I find myself consistently questioning how to project my faith, if I have one, and how I prefer others to perceive me.
Do I consider myself a Christian? Well, I certainly admire Christ. Do I agree with the church?? Well- what church? The Catholic Church? The Episcopalian church? The Analects of Confucius? And on that note– if I “project” a faith, or allege myself a particular denomination, then what do I even “project” or allege myself to? The writings of the 1,500 year old documents? The rituals and practices? The people in our own day and age who project or allege themselves to the same thing? None of these answers appeal to me- and none of my questions at present, are leading anywhere else concrete.
When I say God-loving Christians, I recall people who vocalize their understanding of and devotion to God to other people in an attempt to at best, invite others to adopt that same- or very similar understanding of God and at worst (and this is what I want no part of) a moralizing demand to follow God a certain way. I’m confident in saying that within this year and this program, I have NOT felt moralized to believe in God a certain way
This sharing of how we understand and experience God is wonderful. For instance, and I have many positive ones– a congregation member giving me the Jesus Calling book truly and deeply touched my heart… I felt like we were on a level of common ground, one in which I vocalized my struggles and doubts, and her responding, “hey, this helped me.” Kind of like when a friend hands you a bottle of ibuprofen because you mentioned you had a headache: you don’t have to take one, but you appreciate the gesture because you know the other person benefitted from the pills in the past and they just want your headache to go away like theirs did. I will add that with Jill– I appreciate the gesture, but more than that, the book has totally lessened my headache and given me something meditate on every morning.
I suspect my friends and family- or perhaps even acquaintances and strangers might consider ME a “God-loving Christian,” because I so often associate with folks who live their love for God out loud boldly, and because I admire many of these people and the fact that they live their faith so vocally. I am not one of those people– but in my post, I attempt to emulate vocalizing just where I’m at with God the way so many of the people I admire vocalize where THEY are at and how God or Christ or the Holy Spirit works in and for them.
At the crux of why I express such an aversion to associate with the “God-loving Christian” rather than a “God-questioning, God-hating, God-doubting, God-annoyed-by” Christian, is that I discern the perception of Christianity throughout the globe to be negative: exclusive, moralizing, many times violent. It is not so much and certainly not often that the individuals I encounter embody these negative traits (in fact, when I consider my own experiences it really seems inaccurate to have the aversion that I do). It’s the history I’ve read, the spiritual abuse that’s existed, and especially right now, the nation-wide exclusivity of “the other.”
What I do hold precious in my soul is the scope of mystery and vastness that a potential God, or spiritual entity has. I do not want the fierce moralization or the negative side I perceive about “God-loving Christians”  to limit that potential God’s abundant mystery and love for humankind.

Well, looks like this is the End. By Evan Brock

Hello there! How are you? I hope you are doing well. Oh me? Well, …I don’t know how to tell you this, but I am getting ready to move out of Steamboat Springs. As you are reading this I am attending St.Pauls for one last morning service and then will have one final meal with my house mates. After that I will drive to Denver to stay with some friends from the St. Columba house for one night , then I will begin my road trip back to Alabama.This will allow me to reconnect with old friends and family who I have not seen for awhile.

Why move? Why leave the beautiful setting that is Steamboat? To be honest I have another job starting in August. It is out state and will require me to arrive on July 28th. That seems a bit early, and you’re right. That is because I will serve with the Creation Care ESC program at Camp Mokule’ia in Hawaii. Essentially, I will have a 2 week vacation.

The work will be different. I will be living and working outside and I will share living space with 2 other ESC members, but we will be separated in yurts. The work is whatever the camp needs at that time; from sustainability projects to leading programs to different camp groups. The camp is remote so I won’t have instant access to Internet or cell service, as far as I know. But, there is a blog site for this program, so you’ll here from me again.

I will miss Steamboat and all it has offered me. I will miss living in Colorado and being a witness to its natural wonders. Friday was my last day at the Boys and Girls Club of Steamboat Springs. The day started like most days in the summer ,M,W,R,F I work 9:15-5:30 and T from 2-6, except that I was instructed to come to work early so that I can my supervisor where all my saved files were located on my work laptop. I did that, and then progressed throughout the day as if were normal. I was monitoring a gym game, I had lunch at the club, and I went on a field trip. Myself, and 3 other staff took a group of 35 kids to a local movie theatre to see Despicable Me 3. I was halfway paying attention because I was making sure the kids were behaving. Overall it was a good field trip.

When we returned to the club most of the kids went to the Computer lab to play games. This was around 3:30 and it lasted until 4:30. The last activity I was a part of was in gym. Thankfully, the games that block were games that I remember. For most of the year Gym was my biggest challenge so it seems fitting that it was my last. We played wall ball ,kick ball, and we had some time to play with scooters. Being that it was Friday the rest of the kids in other rooms came to the gym early for Open Gym. This was around 5:20. Soon, my time would end. As kids and more staff were in the gym I felt prompted to make sure that I didn’t leave anything at the work desk. I noticed on the laptop a note for me. This was from my supervisor, I will not say what it was about, that is personal. But there was nothing else left. I walked out of the office and noticed the janitor in the hallway. We chatted and exchanged our goodbyes, and then there was a kid who left the gym looking for a toy and need the janitors keys. I watched over the kid and of course nothing was there, this took close to 10 minutes. I walked back to the gym with the kid. Most of my stuff was put into my car earlier that day so there was not much left to take; it was 5:30. I said my goodbye to my other supervisor, who shook my hand and gave me a hug. I simply said thank you. When I was walking to my car she stuck her head out of the front door of the club saying that there is something she wanted to give me. I soon followed her to the back of the club. When I met her she gave me a poster that some of the kids wrote on Thursday. I didn’t read it yet, but I took it with me. Again, we said our goodbyes.

When I sat in my car I began to feel the emotions, but they didn’t surface. I drove by the front door of the club for seems to be the final time. I drove home like I normally do ,nothing exciting. Then I came in the door and one of my house mates clapped her hands. She told me “you did it”. I was reluctant to respond. With my poster in hand I sat on our couch and I began to unfold. I opened the poster and there was the message that made every emotion I had surface. The message read “ Goodbye Evan, We will miss you”. Surrounding that message were kids signatures. Looking at that message reminded me of the roller coaster of the 10 month experience at the club, both beginning, middle, and end. I am proud to say that everything at the club ended on a good note.

I still feel emotional. This blog will be posted on Sunday July 16th. That is my last official day as a member of Colorado ESC. Like the BGC there were ups, downs, and in betweens. But I am proud for stepping out of my comfort zone to moving to CO, I am glad that I met so many cool people, and I am proud to have served at the BGC. Maybe my faith is still unknown. There were other aspects of this year that took my energy and attention. But, maybe that is something I can work on next year. Thank you for this opportunity and thank you for tagging along this blog experience. I can say without a doubt that this year had left me transformed.

5 Reasons Why a Year of Service with Colorado Episcopal Service Corps is the Best Idea You Have Ever Had – Mariana Diaz

I have done three years of service now in three different cities in three different states. You probably think I am scared of joining the work force and you might be right. And as our economy continues to improve it might be easier for you to enter the workforce than it was for me in 2012. However, I am here to tell you that I would not change a thing. Yes I have accumulated very little wealth in the last few years, none at all actually, yet if I had the opportunity to do it all over again I would not do it any differently.

Here are 5 reasons why a year of service is the best idea you have ever had and why if you haven’t submitted your application to Colorado ESC you should probably stop reading this right now and do it:

1. Community 

“I know there is strength in the differences between us. I know there is comfort, where we overlap.” – Ani DiFranco

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When you hear living in community you might, like I did, think what the heck does that mean? Or you might have some idea because you come from a religious background, or maybe you did some really good research… anyway I don’t know what you think, but it probably is a little off base regardless.  Living in community is difficult. I won’t sugarcoat it. There will be times when you cannot stand the way a person breathes. However, it can be the most rewarding and enlightening part of your year.  I grew up in a house that was just my mom and I always praying for siblings my age to play with who would understand me. I can honestly say that in Esther, Becca, Veronica, and George I have found more love and empathy than I have found in my own family.

2. Connection. 

“Discovering our purpose in life is never complete unless we discover it in relation to the rest of the world around us…” Joan ChittisterpastedImage

In this modern age we are “connected,” to hundreds of people at any given moment and yet we are so far away from each other. Colorado ESC gives you the opportunity to meet people where they are. To see the humanity you share with people from all walks of life. At Urban Peak, a nonprofit who works with homeless youth and young adults, I have met some really incredible people.  The youth and young adults I have worked with are some of the most kind and caring people I have met by far despite the trauma that has upturned their lives. I remember being the only one at the housing site on a snow day and all the youth in the building coming to check on me throughout the day – telling me to go home because it was too dangerous to be out. I will carry the relationships  I have had the opportunity to build with them forever. They have taught me more about myself and who I want to be than many others I have encountered who might be more “similar,” to me.

3. Investment. 

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” – Ghandi

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A year of service is an investment in yourself.  I have so many friends who look at me and cannot comprehend how or why I would do what I do for so very little money. They are the same friends who are unhappy with their jobs and even their lives. In these last few years I have had the opportunity and most importantly the time to get to know who I am, what I love, what I value, who I want to be, and what I would never want to do even for a million dollars. Colorado ESC, especially, makes sure we are learning about who we are. Like I said before I have done several service programs– and despite their emphasis on developing leaders Colorado ESC is the only who truly invests in their corps members not just while they are in the program, but in the human beings/leaders we are going to one day become. The leadership of this program, Rebecca, Catie, the Board of Directors and I would even venture to say all of the stakeholders of Colorado ESC truly care about us and where we want to go.

4. Simplicity.

“It is not a daily increase, but a daily decrease. Hack away at the inessentials.” – Bruce Lee

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You have read all of this and are still are thinking “Mariana, you don’t get paid!” What if I told you that is one of the best parts? Money is a driving force in our world if you don’t have it you are looked at as less than. Many incredibly talented and brilliant people live in poverty and their voices will never be heard because of their lack of money. You will probably never be one of those people. However, in this year your eyes will be opened to the fact that you can be okay with very little, and that despite your lack of money you are still incredibly privileged.

5. Mountains. 

“Chasing angels or fleeing demons, go to the mountains.” – Jeffrey Rasley

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How could I write anything about why applying to Colorado ESC is a great idea without mentioning the natural beauty of Colorado? I couldn’t.  The Rockies will floor you every time. Not to mention the incredible sunrises and sunsets, the wildflowers, the lakes, the rivers, did I mention the mountains? The mountains remind me every time that humans are infinitesimally small in this big wide beautiful universe. Tiny flames that will undoubtedly burn out. That might scare the crap out of some of you, and I will remind you that a bit of fear is a good thing.  And some of you like me might find that awe inspiring. I look at the mountains and I am reminded that I have been given this incredible privilege to be here.

So what are you waiting for?

 

An Old and New Beginning: Veronica Farrell

The end of this service year is just one week away. This past month has been one of intense reflection and I have no idea how to put any of it into words.

Instead, I am posting a blessing we read during our first week orientation from John O’Donohue’s To Bless the Space Between Us. Finding this passage from the beginning of the year to re-experience has been helpful in my reflection. It’s amazing to recognize how different I am from one year ago, but how similar my situation is with a new beginning just around the corner. Comparing how I felt while reading the first blessing to how I feel while reading another blessing that is relevant to me now has been a great help as well. Further below is another blessing from O’Donohue’s book that I feel summarizes the work I want to continue once I’m away from the spiritual structure and support of this program.

 

For A New Beginning

 

In out-of-the-way places of the heart,

Where your thoughts never think to wander,

This beginning has been quietly forming,

Waiting until you were ready to emerge.

 

For a long time it has watched your desire,

Feeling the emptiness growing inside you,

Notice how you willed yourself on,

Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.

 

It watched you play with the seduction of safety,

And the gray promises that sameness whispered,

Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,

Wondered would you always live like this.

 

Then the delight, when your courage kindled,

And out you stepped onto new ground,

Your eyes young again with energy and dream,

A path of plenitude opening before you.

 

Though your destination is not yet clear

You can trust the promise of this opening;

Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning

That is at one with your life’s desire.

 

Awaken your spirit to adventure;

Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;

Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,

For your soul sense the world that awaits you.

 

 

For Presence

 

Awaken to the mystery of being here

and enter the quiet immensity of your own presence.

 

Have joy and peace in the temple of your senses.

 

Receive encouragement when new frontiers beckon.

 

Respond to the call of your gift and the courage to

follow its path.

 

Let the flame of anger free you of all falsity.

 

May warmth of heart keep your presence aflame.

 

May anxiety never linger about you.

 

May your outer dignity mirror an inner dignity of

soul.

 

Take time to celebrate the quiet miracles that seek

no attention.

 

Be consoled in the secret symmetry of your soul.

 

May you experience each day as a sacred gift woven

around the heart of wonder.

 

If you’d like to read more of O’Donohue’s blessings I highly suggest buying the book. If you want to really dive into understanding and living his blessings for a year with the support of some amazing people I highly suggest applying for Colorado Episcopal Service Corps. Really wanted to fit a little plug in!