Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Angel Fish

Angel Fish

I was having a bad day as a volunteer guide at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  It wasn’t the thousands of guests or tens of thousands of fish.  They were just fine -  happy, curious, cute, inspiring.  What was getting on my nerves were a few of the (necessary) policies that guides must follow there – not a huge deal, things like schedules, territory, personalities, expectations.

Then I met the Franciscans, and my day was redeemed and transformed. 

My assignment that half hour was “Greet,” welcome folks as they walk in.  My above grumpiness meant I was not feeling very welcoming.  I told myself, “Just do the next right thing.”  I saw an older couple, woman in a wheelchair, staring with a confused look at our map and program guide.  OK, maybe I can help them find the otter exhibit and its special
“otter-vator” access to the second floor.  I approached, small talk re where are you from, can I help you find anything etc.

They seemed in no hurry to explore.  They said they were on a tour of the California missions and other coastal sites, like the Aquarium.  Oh, I asked, which has been your favorite mission?  (Good Aquarium staff teach us to take interest in the guests, listen, don’t just do an ichthyology lecture.)  I was still standing up while they told me about SF’s Mission Dolores, that their tour was from their Southern Cal parish, how they stayed last night at the St. Francis Retreat in San Juan Baptista.  Oh, I love that retreat center, I said, and decided to sit down on the bench next to these folks and the guy sat also.  How did you know about that retreat center?

Well, we are Lay Franciscans.  We follow Christ in the footsteps of Francis. 

Oh!  I am going to Assisi next month, I said, on retreat.  Gentle here, Streeter, stay with them, don’t talk too much about yourself or religion.   Oh, tell us more, they say, who are you going with, where are you staying?  Well I am a minister in the United Church of Christ and I’m going with 8 other UCC clergywomen.  Oh, make sure you go to…..and they told me some great stories of their several visits there. 

15 minutes later, after much talk on Francis, Clare, their church, various teachers we know in common, I said, well, you probably want to see some fish, can I help you find anything?  No, we are just going to wander, we’re in no hurry, it’s all a blessing. 

Yes, it was all a blessing.  A good travel rule – remember to slow down, listen, and sit with the strangers.  In that way we often meet angels, unaware.
Come on one of our Blue Theology service trips, retreats and pilgrimages in Pacific Grove, group or individual, and you will meet angels unawares.  I post these ocean devotionals every Wednesday here and at  Image is from a Francis coloring book!

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

May The Blue Circle Be Unbroken

May The Blue Circle Be Unbroken

These blue circles seem holy to me, like round icons of wet interconnections. 

-The 1972 iconic NASA photo of our blue planet.

-The “Blue Circle of Life” logo of the fantastic Ocean Conservancy.

-The blue heart logo from Wallace J Nichols’ Blue Marble Project - he has given away over a million blue marbles to remind us to care for our blue ocean planet.  (The Dalai Lama and the Pope have one, I carry mine in my purse.)

-The new logo of my beloved denomination, the United Church of Christ – it used to be red and black, but now it’s a blue circle and wave! 

In the Bible’s creation story in the Book of Proverbs, there’s another wet circle: “When God set the heavens in place, God drew a circle on the face of the deep.”

The geometry of water, our most basic and beloved blue, is a circle, not a square.  Water curves.  A puddle on the counter is round.  Rain drops are bulbous.  Ponds don’t have corners.  When I survey the wondrous Big Sur horizon, where ocean meets sky, there’s the faint hint of a curve, and the waves below curl to meet the shore.

For God so loved the ocean that God drew its circle, and the circular ocean gives us everlasting life.

The circle of God, the circle of water, the circle of ocean.  May the circle be unbroken.
I write these Blue Theology “Tide-ings” devotionals each Wednesday to celebrate ocean spirituality and stewardship, here and on Facebook.  This month our Blue Theology Mission Station in Pacific Grove is hosting four individuals and couples on “spiritual tours” of the Aquarium, with prayer and pilgrimage walk.  Fall is lovely on the Central Coast.  Be in touch.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

The Three R's

The Three R’s

RISE.  All Rise.  This coming Saturday Sept 8 let’s “RISE for Climate, Jobs and Justice.”  That’s the name of the movement and marches around our nation and world.  Get out and walk your talk.

RENEWABLES – that’s the goal.  Insist that our elected leaders commit to no new fossils fuels and a just and fair transition to 100% renewable energy.

RELIGION – In cities across the globe diverse faith leaders have organized congregations to take part in these marches and this movement, opening with multi-faith prayer services and heartfelt faithful singing on the marches.  Northern California folks contact the fabulous Jeff Spencer to sign up for the SF March.

I will be in Milwaukee on that day for church meetings, but I am hoping to disrupt the planned agenda and encourage 150 United Church of Christ retired pastors to leave the pension plan seminar and take to the streets – hold me in your prayers! 

The past two years I’ve gotten lots of exercise taking to the streets – these pics are from the 2017 Women’s March and 2018 March for the Ocean.

I’ve also marched down Market Street in the Science March and here in Monterey the March for Our Lives. 

If you are a religious person, wear your stole or church t-shirt, tell people God wants us to rise and renew. 

Rise, Renewable, Religion.

Rise, shine, for your light has come.

From Maya Angelou’s “Still We Rise:”

Out of the huts of history's shame
I rise
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I rise
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
I post these devotionals about ocean stewardship and spirituality every Wednesday here and on Facebook. Learn more about our Pacific Grove service trips and pilgrimages for all ages at