Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Why Abbess instead of Mother Superior?

A number of us have been having a bit of fun over at Alan Hirsch's blog and in Comment # 17 Alan said:

Hey Pegs, instead of Abbess, perhaps Mother Superior is better. Just a thought! You really are superior!

And while I appreciate Alan’s kind words of encouragement, this seemed to be the right time to share a wee history lesson with those of you who have wondered about the whole “abbess” thing.

First of all, you will see that the role of Abbess is really the same as Mother Superior. However, I loved this part of the Wikipedia article:

Historically, in some Celtic monasteries abbesses presided over joint-houses of monks and nuns, the most famous example being St. Brigid's leadership in the founding of the monastery at Kildare. This custom accompanied Celtic monastic missions to France and Spain, and even to Rome itself. At a later period, in 1115, Robert, the founder of Fontevraud Abbey near Chinon and Saumur, France, committed the government of the whole order, men as well as women, to a female superior.

I was especially pleased to see that Robert of Arbrissel had the good sense to commit the governance of the entire order to a woman. And, having had the good sense to marry a forward-thinking Robert myself, this seemed especially fortuitous….

The article about the Fontevraud Abbey contains some important family history for me:

First this:

The abbey was a double monastery, with both monks and nuns on the same site. The order became an international success. There were several "Fontevrist" abbeys set up in England. Robert of Arbrissel declared that the leader of the order should always be a woman and appointed Petronille de Chemillé as the first abbess. She was succeeded by Isabella d'Anjou, the aunt of Henry II of England.

And then, this:

In the early years the Plantagenets were great benefactors of the abbey and while Isabella d'Anjou was abbess, Henry II's wife Eleanor of Aquitaine became a nun there.
This is all especially significant to me because my father’s family is able to trace our roots back through Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine…as well as through many other European Royal and Noble families—including many of the Saxon Kings, of whom Alfred the Great is one of my favorites.

And so it seemed appropriate to me that, as the fortunate wife of a mutuality-in-equality minded Robert, this Margaret (duly ordained to the Christian Ministry and descendent of Eleanor of Aquitaine) should be an Abbess instead of a Mother Superior.

And there you have it.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Anthem of the Purple Martyrdom....

The Abbess extends an invitation to dwell in this meditation with her...does anyone know if this piece has been put to music? I would love to sing this with my children.


Receive our thanks
for night and day,
for food and shelter,
rest and play.
Be here our guest,
and with us stay,

saranam, saranam, saranam.

For this small earth
of sea and land,
for this small space
on which we stand,
for those we touch
with heart and hand,

saranam, saranam, saranam.

In the midst of foes
I cry to Thee,
from the ends of earth,
wherever I may be,
My strength in helplessness,
oh, answer me!

saranam, saranam, saranam.

Make my heart to grow
as great as Thine,
so through my hurt
Your love may shine,
my love be Yours,
Your love be mine,

saranam, saranam, saranam.

For those who've gone,
for those who stay,
for those to come,
following the Way,
be guest and guide
both night and day,

saranam, saranam, saranam.

Thanks, Northumbria, for this wonderful resource. May God bless you for your hospitality.

UPDATE: 10/31/07 I looked at this today and a little tune began to form in my mind--this is very unusual for the Abbess--and so I made a little recording of it so I wouldn't forget it. I would share it with you, but am too inept to figure out how to do that...God is being both merciful to you and to me in this, most likely.... If you want to get the wav file and get out your guitar (or whatever instrument(s) you have) and collect some singers in order to do it up as an MP3 file, just let me know! That would be awesome!

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Caring, Compassion, and Charity Meme....

My friend and fellow Wikiklesia Contributor, Ed Brenegar, tagged me with a meme on Caring, Compassion, and Charity. The instructions were:

In a new blog post, list and write about the top 1 or 2 causes that simply make your palms sweat, your heart bleed, and send tears rolling down your cheeks. Make sure you tell everyone why this cause is so important to you as an individual.

I have been pondering this, wondering what to say—waiting for the swirling mass of things that touch my heart to settle. And out of that mass, the one that floated to the top surrounds the dearth of truly Christ-like servant leadership in the church.

Not that there aren’t many fine leaders out there—laying down their lives and giving their all for the sake of the call. But there aren’t enough to go around—and too many of the ones we have don’t seem to be actively apprenticing those who will serve with them and rise up to take their places. (This post could probably be classified as a borderline R2A2…)

When I see leadership in the church that runs the gamut from spiritual neglect to spiritual abuse, my palms sweat with a mixture of pain and fear. Pain for clueless leaders doing the best they can without proper training or guidance—and for the many followers wounded by those who unwittingly misrepresent God’s will and God’s way. Fear for the damage done to both the leaders and followers who collectively make up Christ’s Bride—as well as to Christ’s reputation in the world.

My heart bleeds for church leaders, paid and volunteer, who are taken advantage of, used up, and discarded—exhausted, embarrassed, angry—with no thought as to how they might yet be able to serve in God’s Kingdom after they have somehow managed to fail. One after another they submit to this cyclical abuse out of ignorance and a faulty sense of loyalty…and then just seem to slink away, crushed. The walking wounded, collateral damage of the most tragic kind of friendly fire.

Tears roll down my cheeks as I watch them try to smile and rationalize how God has called them to something or somewhere else. And all the while they are held hostage to a mistaken sense of long-suffering and duty to keep a unified face—keeping up appearances, don’t you know.

Not that I don’t value unity, now. Far from it! What I don’t value is intimidation or domination or fear masquerading as unity…or love…or leadership. And, remember, I’m not talking about leaders who lose their First Love through pride and arrogance and ambition—intentionally and selfishly taking advantage of everyone and everything in order to get—and stay—on top.

I’m crying for the precious members of the Body of Christ who have been brainwashed into accepting this methodology as God-honoring and appropriate. The brothers and sisters who have abdicated their responsibilities as members of the Royal Priesthood of the Saints of God for the safety and comfort to be found along the path of least resistance called submission and obedience—to men rather than to God.

You may be thinking, “Gee, I thought this was supposed to be about caring and compassion and charity?” It is…but it’s more a story of Tough Love.

If you’ve been following my stories about Irina and the women political prisoners with her in the Small Zone, you may be able to understand that this is currently leading me to a boiling point concerning true love for your neighbor as your self. The kind that refuses to allow self and others to be treated contrary to God’s law. The kind that sees covenant-breaking as missing the mark—that’s right, as SIN!

The prisoners of the Small Zone were successful in breaking down their captors and gaining their freedom—and inspiring those around them in prison and in the free world—by being willing to stand together for each other against those who broke the law—the laws that applied to prisoners. When their rights were trespassed against, they banded together and agreed upon the action they would take—whether it be a hunger strike, letters of complaint, or smuggled news to the outside world.

I am not suggesting that the situation in most churches is this dire. Nor am I suggesting that the needed response from most church members be this intense. But I am suggesting that there needs to be a day of reckoning in churches where the leadership has been empowered by the members to neglect their responsibilities to truly love and equip the saints for the work of ministry in favor of out-sourcing, efficiency, balanced budgets and a façade of unity.

Jesus Christ, our Victorious Lord, has set us free from bondage to sin and death…and I weep for my brothers and sisters who have accepted the shackles of institutional and hierarchical ease and comfort built on intimidation and domination rather than embrace the dying to self that comes with learning to speak the truth in love.

Onto this river of burning tears, God has set afloat the vision for CovenantClusters—where loving and truth-speaking disciples equip disciples to make disciples. I am drawing up the plans to form the life and rhythm of the community, eager to welcome the companions God is preparing to join me in this journey. God help me build strong sails and learn to set them wisely so as to be propelled forward by the wind of the Holy Spirit…even as St. Brendan set out, praying: “O Christ, will You help me on the wild waves?”

The Abbess says a hushed "Amen" and, whom shall she tag? Ah, yes...these three will do nicely:

Matt Stone

Brad Sargent

Janet Woodlock

Righteously Ranting Abbess Alert—R2A2

I have been feeling the stirrings of the Holy Rebel that has manifested itself on more than one occasion over at TFW…in conjunction with all this processing about martyrdom and Irina and Grey and Purple. Two things have triggered it today. And since MO Blogger Glenn thinks I'm blogging like a wild woman, I'll try to live up to it....

[Whoa, stop the presses!


Please pause for a small moment of rejoicing with The Abbess, who has just figured out how to make links. :^)

Thank you...hope springs eternal that I'll get it together sooner than later!

And now, back to our regularly scheduled program.]

The first is a conversation about tempers and righteous anger resulting in comment #11 in this TFW thread. The second is a comment by Brad in my P2M3 Thread.

Okay…yes, I am an acronym freak—comes from all those years in aerospace, where you could have an entire conversation in acronyms. I’m just not up on all the blogospheric ones…but I’m trying to learn as I go. Feel free to help The Abbess along. ;^)

So, here are two of the ones I’m making up today:

R2A2 = Righteously Ranting Abbess Alert (This will become a new searchable category label.)

When you see a post begin with R2A2, it isn’t about R2D2’s sister or anything like that. It will, however, be something that I feel strongly about that will be focused on what I am going to do about it in my sphere of influence, rather than ranting about what someone else is, isn’t, or should be doing.

P2M = This represents the topic of the different threads in the Processing Purple Martyrdom series. If it has a number after it, that refers to the number in the series, as in the P2M3 thread linked above.

So stay tuned…take a look at the links above…and be prepared for the next R2A2!

Be blessed.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Processing the Purple Martyrdom 3

I finished Irina's amazing book, Grey is the Color of Hope, just before noon today…the boys are visiting Grandma and Grandpa today…and have a few more comments to share. I am, however, unwilling to share too much. It is important to read the book and experience it for yourselves.

And I can see that this will be a book to be added to the few that I read again and again, every few years. I have decided that this is a book for my eldest son to read. Irina’s horrific story is told gently enough not to be too overwhelming to my soon-to-be-teenager. And we have been struggling somewhat with the concept of need versus want…as well as the importance of the three brothers sticking together and loving one another.

What I find most striking about the “subversives” in Irina’s Small Zone is that as they engage in their hunger and work strikes, they do not judge those who do not participate, nor do they do physical damage to other people or their property. Their own bodies and possessions bear the brunt of the weight of their convictions—willing to suffer as doves and serpents. Harmless as doves, yes, but clearly as clever as serpents. “Heaping burning coals on their heads,” indeed!

If the Purple Martyrdom is the embracing of any and all weakness in order to be able to experience God's strength, then the willingness to view "annoyances" through different lenses presents a number of challenges to daily life.

Here’s an example of one of our more mundane issues that slapped me right in the face.


Dandelions? What?!

Yes, dandelions—those scourges of our well-manicured lawns. But also that most favorite bouquet from child to mother. And the source of so much running and blowing and squealing with delight as the tiny seed parachutes catch the wind and go on their way…mostly into the pristine yard of the neighbor….

The women in the Small Zone, as I mentioned previously, were not allowed a vegetable garden. They were also not allowed medicine. But as they quietly cultivated a variety of flowers, with illegal vegetables and herbs and other sources of nutrition hidden amongst them, they awoke one day to witness the arrival of a miracle—dandelions!

One of the older women had long taken to “…studying every blade and leaf growing in our small patch of earth, just in case it had any medicinal properties.” Considering the lowly dandelion, she “…had long known that there is hardly a more useful plant on earth.” This resourceful woman used every part of those “weeds” to enrich their lives, saying: “These plants are our lifeline.” (All references found on p. 262.) many times tears of shame have welled up in my eyes as I pondered their perspective in the midst of their pain...God have mercy on me.

What potentially precious, even life-saving, “dandelions” are you whining about, digging up, or poisoning in your yard? Lord, give us eyes to see your provision of grace, whatever our circumstances.

I’m still processing this…and thinking, especially, of Romans 8:28: "We know that God makes all things work together for the good of those who love Him and are chosen to be a part of His plan."

[New Life Version (NLV) Copyright © 1969 by Christian Literature International]

Random Pictures from Seabeck 4

Here we have new MOB Richard with Bill...

new MOB Brad with John Gilmore...

and the "interview" with Bill, Pete, Andrew and Alan

(with the only picture of Jeanette I have...)

[All the MOB (Missional Order Bloggers) are listed in my sidebar.]

Then we have more food, fellowship and fun...
but my eyes are too tired to figure out those who have been identified
and those who haven't...

Feel free to ID folks in the comments ;^)

I've been "Meandered"!

Wow...I've been "Meandered" by Scot McKnight over at Jesus Creed. I have come to understand what an honor this is...and the Abbess is truly honored! I'm even up at the top in the #3 spot. Wow, indeed!

Of course, I don't know how to do the whole "track back" thing, but here is the link if you want to see it with your own eyes:

Scot has been very kind to me over the months I've blog-clogged at his place...and it was a pleasure to be included in the Wikilesia Project's Volume One with him and so many other terrific brothers and sisters. He was especially kind in that he gave me a heads-up that I was on his "list" for this I could get my blog in order, as it were.

If only I was more adept and the technical nuances...sigh...just one more evidence of the Purple Martyrdom to which I have been called, I guess....the Abbess is honored, yes, but mostly humbled in that I don't know how to spread the news to my friends because I don't know how to do the whole track-back thing.

And that's just the way it should be!

So, since I am used to being paradoxical ;^), I sign of on this post:

Your humbly proud Abbess....

Friday, October 26, 2007

Processing The Purple Martyrdom 2

I’m in the middle of chapter 33 of Irina Ratushinskaya’s amazing book, Grey is the Color of Hope.

And, no, I don’t want to talk about what hasn’t been getting done around here while I’m reading….

I do, however, want to tell you that this story is the most amazing example of cHesed-based communitas I have ever heard...and I've heard a lot of them.

The Back to Jerusalem band’s story shows extreme love of God in the face of incredible persecution--laying down one's life for one's Lord; Irina’s book shows the power of the love that lays down one's life for one's friends …WOW!

I don’t have time to process more right now, but I wanted to share these two quotes:

From p. 225—“Strange things happen when you have nothing to depend on except God’s help.”

And from p. 238—“…the best way to retain one’s humanity in the camps: to care more about another’s pain than your own.”

That I have been able to read this book this quickly is a testament to its powerful story…this book is going on my recommended reading list for everyone who wants to understand the power of cHesed, the centrality of the concept of covenant to discipleship, and the amazing and rare gift that is this level of communitas.

Wow....Irina and the other women of the Small Zone, and their families, were a bigger part of what brought down the iron curtain than most realize.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Random Pictures from Seabeck 3


Front and center is TSK Andrew Jones...
help me with the name of the brother on the right!
The others have been identified in earlier pictures.

The Blind Beggar--Rich Meigs...

Here's Jim and Michael and Sara Jane and Imbi...

And Dan, Joanne, Rob, Troy and Len

"What is a CovenantCluster?"

This morning I received this question in a comment on the "Blogging Blues" thread...and I replied that this might be a good time to answer that general question for anyone else wondering that very same thing!

So here goes...

Part of the reason for this blog is to share/process a vision for establishing intentional, neo-monastic, self-replicating disciple-making communities where mentor families and apprentice families live in close proximity (not necessarily the same house, but as neighbors in a larger neighborhood) in order to learn together day by day the lessons of discipleship. In this way we invite the Holy Spirit into our midst to make us more and more like Jesus Christ in every possible way--with as much transparency and accountability and humility and inclusiveness as we can bear.

This "adaptive challenge" of living interdependently (with a focus on sharing resources for meeting true needs) in our individualistic society (which tends to confuse need with want) is what provides us with an environment where "communitas" can be formed (and reformed as adaptive challenges continue to present themselves).

Communitas is the strong bond that forms among those who have banded together in order to overcome a mutual adaptive challenge or accomplish a shared mission. It is different from common forms of community, which can be formed around anything from shared interests to friendship to fellowship to worship, but doesn't necessarily have a palpable sense of shared mission that embraces and transcends the diversity of its members. Jesus said that there is no greater love than that which is willing to give up one's very life for the sake of the other. He also said that the world would know his disciples by their loving each other in this very manner.

In my experience of being a Christ-follower these 42 years, the missing piece in readily making disciples who actually go on to make disciples comes from a lack of experiencing this kind of love in the context of our daily lives--and the various adaptive challenges that we face 24/7/365. Our 20th and 21st century lives have made little room for apprenticeship of any form, much less this most important one--especially since Future Shock is already here!

And so, we will form "Clusters" of families of mentors and apprentices who belong to God's New "Covenant" in Jesus Christ--thereby bringing Christ out of "church buildings" and into their neighborhood, where they "are" the living Church--day in and day out--for all to see and experience. In this way we become incarnational (giving "flesh" to the Christ who loves and lives in and through us by the power and leading of the Holy Spirit) as well as missional (joining with God in his mission of reconciliation of humans, who bear his very image, with himself and with each other).

I am very well aware that this is a huge, sweeping vision...and will be unpacking each of its components over the coming weeks (who knows how many?). I welcome your questions and comments, as always...but you may have to be patient with the process. You'll be hearing me repeat this phrase often: "Don't wait. Be patient." Don't wait to follow where God is leading you. Be patient as you walk with him along the path.

Thanks for journeying with me on this path.

Be blessed.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Blogging Blues...

My goodness! I need a blogging editor...or at least a proofreader... But, this seems to be the case with every blog I have read, so it must come with the territory. will be yet another piece of the Purple Martyrdom...the serving from brokenness I'm pondering.

I hope to have the various early posts all fixed now...and if you have read them in earlier versions, today might be a day to glance back over them to see what's been added, what's been changed, what's still misspelled... ;^)

Random Pictures from Seabeck 2

More pictures...Bill above...
three of our six sisters in these few shots...
I am present, but behind the camera...

Imbi and Sara Jane and Alan...

Pete and Brad and John G...

Len and Dan and Joanne...

Bob and Brad and Richard and--
forgive me, brother...I am so poor with names ;^(
...and John and Martin
(Someone help me with one more name!!!)

I'm fairly impressed I remember so many--
those who know me know the drill:
I remember my name and you remember you're name
and we don't do any guilt...
especially those who were less than faithful
with the wearing of the name badges!

Two more sets of pictures to come over the next few days.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Dwelling in the Word 1

Our instructions were to follow along until your imagination was captured and you were stopped. I was not used to this…and wondered whether it would happen to me. But, sure enough, it did.

By the time we left Seabeck, my copy of our Luke 10:1-12 passage was filled with notes….If I had known what was coming, I would have written in a different color each day…yet another missed opportunity. So it looks like Tuesdays may be my day for reporting on what I’ve been seeing during my time of dwelling.

I’ll start with some of my thoughts from last week…and we’ll go from there. You are welcome to journey with me…I’ve got seven different versions of the passage on the sidebar…and, as always, your comments are welcome.

  1. First, I was struck that they were to greet no one on the road. Seemed a bit unfriendly, at first, for a passage about hospitality. But it occurred to me that it just might be about focus and avoiding distractions. No wonder I would stop there! I mentioned to one of my new friends that my memoirs, were I to write them, would be titled something like: An Interrupted Life: What I did on the way to where I was going. Hmmm….

  2. Next, I stopped at “cure the sick who are there” and wondered to my partner, Bob, whether we have lost this nuance in our allegiance to modern medicine. He said that I would get along grand with his wife….and he wondered why we had sent his brother, Alan, off to the doctor for antibiotics without first gathering around him to pray. Many agreed…and we did just that later in the day when Alan returned to us. It’s not an either/or thing—prayer or medicine. It is an approach that includes the whole…and I’m not even going to touch the word “wholistic” or “holistic” today!

  3. I also stopped on “eat what is set before you” and all sorts of thoughts of my days in Thailand rushed back—sights and smells intact! I also thought about the theories floating around that suggest that meal times need to be times of peace, lest your body associate emotional pain and anxiety with something that you’re eating—triggering a future “allergic” reaction. Hmmm, again….

  4. Lastly, I was stopped at “Go on your way.” I had almost stopped here the first reading…with the focus on “go”—as in “get going” (which many others commented on), but this time I was stopped on “your”…as in my way may not be the same way as another. They were sent out two by two into every town and place…they didn’t go as a mob. Mob…interesting choice of words….

Today, however, I stopped on lambs being sent into the midst of wolves. It brings me back to the Purple Martyrdom I’ve been pondering. The going out in peace, knowing that you may be verbally chewed up…but not being allowed to carry a stick to beat off the attacking wolves. Many stopped at this phrase in Seabeck…and vulnerability was one of the things that we all realized was a part of this journey we were embarking upon. Jesus is our Shepherd...he will protect us and bind up our wounds along the way.

Interesting exercise, this dwelling on the Word.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Random Pictures from Seabeck

The bloggers gallery (L to R): Dan, Rick, Andrew, Brother
Maynard, Rob, Len, Bill and Mark

Alan, Tom, Bill and Rob

Rob, Brad and Tucker (?)

Photography is not my area of gifting...just get over it need to bring it up ;^)

I figure I'll just put up a couple of pictures a day and you can have a look...

I really wish we had taken a group picture with everyone...

I thought it, but never said it...sigh...

(I'm dying for a list of all the attendees to be published....)

These folks have been ID'd

There's Martin and Bob here...
help me with our other brother's
name, someone, please!!!

The right mix of Order and Chaos…

Part of my motivation for blogging is to bring a bit more order to my all-too-chaotic life. Not complete order, mind you…just enough order for relationships to thrive…with just enough chaos for imagination and creativity to inspire a bit of liminality-induced communitas.

Not constant chaos…not constant order…but the kind of ebb and flow of tides; the rising and setting of the sun; the changing of the seasons…different tempos, all—but not random thoughts.

So it seems to me that I will start by pondering five major themes on a regular—whatever that means ;^) —basis. Not quite sure of the how, but this is a overview of the what:

  • The Purple Martyrdom
  • Dwelling in the Word
  • Missional Order
  • CovenantClusters
  • Gardening with Abi

It is my hope that this intentionality will help keep my focus sharp (as in "short and sweet," HT WK, sister #4) and your interest keen. We are, after all, companions on The Way…and companions look out for each other’s best interests!

Be blessed.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Acting my way into a new way of Dwelling

The final morning at Seabeck we agreed upon an plan of action that each of us who committed to walk with Allelon toward a Missional Order would undertake.

This is my list of action items:
  • I will continue with The Daily Office (see below)
  • I will continue Dwelling in the Word at Luke 10:1-12
  • I will engage in hospitality--looking to welcome the "other"--asking the Holy Spirit to reveal "How shall I speak "shalom" to them?"
  • Journeying with the MO group...sharing our stories
I have linked to Pete Askew's community at Northumbria to continue The Daily Office he led us through each day we were together. This is a different kind of practice for me. I trust that the Lord will use it to bring me closer to him and my brothers and sisters in his Body.

Processing "Purple Martyrdom"

I woke up this morning thinking about the implications of Purple Martyrdom…and I was struck by two things: my personal “purple” and CovenantClusters. And since they kind of go together, I thought I would tell a bit of that story.

My story is one of being called to a ministry of equipping while being broken. I was grateful that Bill (Rose-Heim) was willing to hear my story during our time at Seabeck, because I hadn’t really ever told the whole story in “3D”, as it were. Here’s some of the gist.

I can’t remember a time when I did not want to serve God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. Growing up in a church-planter’s home with a brother and four sisters, active involvement in ministry was part of all of our lives. Imagine my shock when I lived away from home for the first time (senior year of high school in Hawaii with aunt and uncle…story for another time) and was confronted with the “fact” that I was unable to continue to serve in my obvious gifts—because I was a girl.

I’m not going to go there this morning…but it was the first bit of brokenness: rejection.

Since God did not remove the desire to equip (nor the confirming gifts), I learned to do what I could when the opportunity presented itself. I learned at Seabeck that this is known as "making do."

The second area of brokenness had to do with perceived value. As the youngest of six, it’s hard not to want to be like your older siblings…and harder for others not to expect it. I happened to have outrageously gifted siblings. Each of them seemed to have some special ability that made them stand out.

I clearly remember the routine when I got to 9th grade. All four of my sisters had attended the same school. When teachers learned that I was “a Carter girl” they always asked, “Oh, and what do you do?” Hmmm…what did I do? Well I did a bit of everything…just not as well as any of them. It was the beginning of the realization that I was the dreaded cousin of the polymath: the jack of all trades—master of none. And so the next bit of brokenness: ordinariness—“nothing special.”

Being that I hadn’t yet internalized that I could not serve as my heart desired, and I wasn’t anything particularly special, I continued to study and serve wherever I could…which happened to be in lots of different places. Whatever needed doing I seemed to be able to figure out how to get it done. Nothing special, mind you….

And while I wasn’t looking, I turned into a young woman full of zeal for all the things of God…in a time and place where young men didn’t know quite what to do with such a young woman. I had dreamed of serving as a minister’s wife—it hadn’t yet occurred to me that there might be another outlet. Unfortunately, my piano skills weren’t quite up to snuff…and I was way too much “Mary” for any of the dynamic, up-and-coming young ministry-minded men. They loved to talk the deep things of ministry with me, but they wanted to marry a “Martha.” (Unintended pun, there….Mary--marry) Sharing the depth of brokenness from this realization is definitely something for another time.

So let’s introduce CovenantClusters…and Purple.

CovenantClusters is the vision I believe God entrusted to my combination of imagination and faith for a neo-monastic, incarnational-missional, intentional disciple-making community-planting movement. Not going to unpack that today—that’s part of the mission of this blog…

But have a closer look at the logo….

I noticed all the "colors" of martyrdom: “Red” in the cross—a symbol of martyrdom; “Green” in the leaves that enable the utilization of the sun’s energy; “White” all around--the extraction of the vine from an obvious “vineyard” or monastery; …and “Purple” in the fruit—meant to be crushed, its juice extracted from the pulp and turned into “new wine” for new wineskins.

Whoa…I’m gonna spend some time processing this before moving on. Your comments are, as always, welcome.

Be blessed…stay tuned!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

The Color of the Fourth Martyrdom

A bit of history is in order, I expect…some context for our journey together. Order…hmmm…that word seems to have a number of different meanings….

Where to start?

This link will take you over to the visitor’s page at my Wikidot site called The Abbey, where you can get a few hints about what is important to me: It won’t take long to read the one page there, but it may be helpful to do so. The rest of this post will be here when you return.

Although The Abbey is a closed mentoring site (more about that another time, I’m sure), I wanted to share this quote from St. Francis of Assisi that continues to inspire me—and is present on our home page. Anyone who has seen Volume One of the Wikiklesia Project: Voices of the Virtual World, would find it just before my chapter—Virtual Mentoring at The Abbey.

Where there is charity and wisdom,

there is neither fear nor ignorance.

Where there is patience and humility,

there is neither anger nor vexation.

Where there is poverty and joy,

there is neither greed nor avarice.

Where there is peace and meditation,

there is neither anxiety nor doubt.

This morning, however, I have been jolted to begin in an unexpected posture. My beloved AbbE gave me a copy of his favorite book—we do love reading at The Abbey—and hoped that I would be able to find some time to read at least some of it. (AbbE knows that reading time is a precious commodity at my home.) I picked it up this morning, just to have a look.

This book by Irina Ratushinskaya, entitled Grey Is the Color of Hope, must be something special for it to be AbbE’s favorite, so I was curious to see what was so special. I had to put it down after chapter nine and record my thoughts…and to dry my tears. How could it be that this was the perfect book for this time in my journey? AbbE would call it “Divine Dominoes”…

It is her prison memoirs—an extraordinary documentary of an experience of communitas whose watchword was “Back to freedom with a clear conscience.” I am wondering what things will go undone in my life while I finish it…or whether it will be something that I can only read here and there because it is too deeply painful. Time will tell. Stay tuned….

As I shared the beginning of the story with my husband, I was overwhelmed with emotion—much like I am as I type this now—with a sense of shame on behalf of a decadent and free Western Christendom that has forgotten the call to live such love that the laying down of one’s life for one’s friends is a blessed privilege.

At Seabeck this week I was introduced to concepts of the Red Martyrdom (shedding of blood and death), the Green Martyrdom (deprivation and isolation) and the White Martyrdom (forsaking the comfort of hearth and home). These are my definitions, now, so forgive me if they do not do justice to the proper depth or nuance.

And I wondered…is there another? A mixture of sorts? Where physical brokenness is evident without actual death…where deprivation and isolation exists in the midst of suburban consumerism…where the call to serve others matches the call to serve one’s own.

So I have decided that The Abbey…and this Abbess…would embrace the color of a fourth Martrydom—Purple. Purple is my favorite color. It also happens to be the color of royalty—suitable for those of the Royal Priesthood and adopted children of King, it would seem.

And purple is lovely next to grey….

Be blessed.

Friday, October 19, 2007

...and so it begins....

I have been a commentor on a number of blogs since January 29, 2007...with many a "too long" comment. Thanks to Alan Hirsh and the tribe at TFW and Scot McKnight and the family at Jesus Creed for the hospitality and patience with my blog-clogging. I'll still pop in...I just won't have to take up quite so much of your space! ;^)

Now, with the Missional Orders post-gathering processing beginning...and a sense that CovenantClusters will begin to take shape, I have decided to try my hand at targeted blogging.

This will not be a flashy will not be "the" blog to check out first thing each is not likely to ignite any comment fire-storms--but you never know. This is mostly for those of you who know me and are interested in what I'm thinking and you want to be my virtual companion on this journey into the unknown...and I welcome your company.

Companioning was a topic that came up frequently at Seabeck this past week...and I have often yearned for companionship in this journey these past 20 months. But it seems that I will be walking along a little longer with only God (not that I'm complaining, here...) and my virtual friends. We'll just continue to take it one step at a time.

I have some nice pictures from the Allelon Missional Gathering that I'll try to figure out how to post...and I'll use this space to try to collect my thought...and those of you who have (kindly? foolishly? jokingly?) suggested that I should have my own blog can spread the word.

But it's time to read to the boys...we're up to I Chronicles (yes, I've explained that this will all be vaguely familiar from I & II Kings...).