Reflecting on Grief and Pastoral Care

I am a monthly contributor to the blog Antioch Session. Antioch Session is a collective blog run by Zach Hoag and Scott Emergy and hosts a number of great writers all who are writing as a means to advance what they consider to be “creative Christianity” around three key areas: Liturgical, Missional and the cultural.

For this month’s contribution, I wrote an article about some of my experiences of walking with others who are grieving. It’s a follow-up post from my May article on Antioch Session about the death of my friend and Quaker pastor Stan Thornburg, as well as my article in Friends Journal about the suicide of my step-father. I wanted to reflect on what I’m learning through all of this from a pastoral care perspective. What does it mean to walk with another who is grieving?

Here is an excerpt:

But I am learning that in order to genuinely care for others, I must work at how I carry and tend to my own pain. Doing the grief work around my step-dad’s death has opened up new ways of connecting with others in their pain. I have to remind myself that is okay to admit that I need care too. A “wounded healer,” as Nouwen calls it, must learn how to descend that staircase into those buried wounds, even though we are afraid. In doing so, our own pain can become a source of a healing for others and our sensitivity can, like a diving rod, guide us in toward where the true woundedness resides in others.

Continue reading by following this link: In the Deep End With Grief: Thoughts on Pastoral Care With Those Hurting Most.

Cornel West – Hope on a Tightrope


“The vocation of the intellectual is to turn easy answers into critical questions and to put those critical questions to people with power.”

“The quest for truth, the quest for the good, the quest for the beautiful, all require us to let suffering speak, let victims be visible, and demand that social misery be put on the agenda of those with power. So to me, pursuing the life of the mind is inextricably linked with he struggle of those on the margins of society who have been dehumanized.” –Dr. Cornel West in Hope on a Tightrope

You can find more quotes from the book on this blog.

Howard Thurman, The Inward Journey

“In the long way that we take in, in our growing up, in the vicissitudes of life by which we are led into its meaning and mystery, there are established for us, for each one of us, certain landmarks. They represent discoveries sometimes symbolizing the moment when we became aware of the purpose of our lives; they may establish for us our membership in the human frailty; they may be certain words that were spoken into a stillness within us the sound thereof singing forever through all the corridors of our being as landmarks; yes, each one of us has our own…”

Waking Up To The Gifts

There is another way to think about Zacchaeus’ story and that is it is a call to wake up to the gifts that are before us (see part one here).

Jesus helps to restore Zacchaeus to the community of the people of God, yes he humanizes him, and yes, he gives him back his dignity by showing that Zacchaeus is a far more complex and beautiful individual than any single-story can maintain.

But Jesus also accepts the gifts that Zacchaeus has been giving. Continue reading Waking Up To The Gifts

Friend In Residence at Earlham School of Religion

Wess Daniels I will be in Richmond, Indiana in a couple weeks as the Friend in Residence at Earlham School of Religion. If you’re in the area and want to participate it would be lovely to have you join us. I am really looking forward to being out there with Friends from all over.

Here is what they’ve put together by way of a public announcement:

C. Wess Daniels, minister of Camas Friends Church in Washington, will be joining ESR as our Fall 2014 Friend in Residence from October 7-11th. During his time at ESR, Wess will be presenting the program for Common Meal, bringing the message for programmed worship, and leading a workshop. In addition to these public events, he will also meet one-on-one with students, and enjoy fellowship with the ESR community and local Quakers.

Continue reading Friend In Residence at Earlham School of Religion

Listening From the Divine Perspective (Hosea 11)


“When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. The more I called them, the more they went from me; they kept sacrificing to the Baals, and offering incense to idols. Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk, I took them up in my arms; but they did not know that I healed them. I led them with cords of human kindness, with bands of love. I was to them like those who lift infants to their cheeks. I bent down to them and fed them.” (Hosea 11:1–4 NRSV)

This summer we are reflecting on the question how do we listen to God, and what happens to us when we do?

We have covered the topics of listing to God in Chaos, listening to God in the dynamic present, listening to God that moves us towards sympathy of the other person and last week Ashley Wilcox talked about a kind of listening to God that removes our fear.

Something that stood out to me about Ashley Wilcox’s message last week is that she said that some of us fear death and some of us fear life. And both of these fears are very real.

Our fear of death can be about where we go when we die, or if we go anywhere at all. It can be around the loss of loved ones. It can be about the death of our institutions, organizations, or even a way of life that we have become accustomed to.

Our fear of life is the fear of what might happen that we cannot control. The fear of what others might think of us. The fear of losing someone or something. The fear of not having enough. The fear of the toll of living. The fear of the big questions that go unanswered.

But Ashley said something else that has stuck with me. To paraphrase her, she said that convergent friends are friends who lean into both death and life with courage and perseverance. Continue reading Listening From the Divine Perspective (Hosea 11)