From the Interim Rector
How long, O Lord, will you forget me for ever?
How long will you hide your face from me? (Psalm 13.1)
I thought of this verse as I wandered around the house looking for a way to get my bearings, a way to live more gracefully and gratefully in this time of seclusion.
I’ve never been good on the telephone. Perhaps it’s because of my hearing loss, or more probably because I’m a kinesthetic learner: I need to be physically present and (usually) touching to fully connect. Whatever it is, chatting on the telephone doesn’t help with the aloneness. Zoom is better, but it’s hard to stay present and focused. I hardly ever watch television without doing something else at the same time: a crossword or Sudoku, sewing, something to keep my touchy feely self calm, so I’ve not learned how to truly focus on a screen.
I’ve also been thinking about how hard it is for some of us always, and others of us occasionally to worship online. We can’t participate as we usually do. At least with Zoom meetings we can generally add to the conversation. Someone told me they had learned the only way they could fully participate in FaceBook worship was to stand and kneel as well as sit. We do what we can, but it isn’t always enough. We are a people who understand the holiness of our bodies and for now, we cannot be fully present in our bodies either to worship or conversation. We aren’t using three of our five senses.
My friend, J, recently widowed, lives in a retirement community. Before Covid-19 she went out to lunch nearly every day and would often have a cocktail with friends in the evening. She’s an off the charts extrovert, so this shelter in place is hugely difficult for her. She says sometimes that sense of “how long, O God?” is overwhelming (as it was for the psalmist.)
Perhaps you too have these moments – even if you aren’t living alone. You may miss having other people in your lives. There was an evening this summer when it became overwhelming to me too. All of a sudden I began to cry. At first I didn’t know what was going on. Then I gave in to the sadness and grief. I paid attention to it. I sat with it. I went into the depths of it. I wrestled with it, and in the end, I found some peace. I claimed my blessing (so to speak.)
Today in thinking about this essay, I came across a lovely blog by Daniel Lopez about the Psalms of Lament and he helped me understand what had happened. Perhaps most important for me was I had fully acknowledged my pain. (I tend to avoid sadness.*) I really felt it. In so doing it no longer overwhelmed me. As a therapist repeatedly tried to teach me, I remembered I could indeed bear it. And somewhere in that revelation I saw God’s fingerprints. I wish I’d felt or perceived God’s presence, but that didn’t happen. I did see traces of God who was there. Like Elijah in the cleft of the mountain, I knew God present in the sheer silence. (I Kings 19.7-12)
Daniel Lopez points to Psalm 88.19b “My friend and my neighbor you have put away from me, and darkness is my only companion.” This is no easy answer, but Jesus promised the truth will set us free. Psalm 13 is more hopeful: “But I put my trust in your mercy; my heart is joyful because of your saving help.” As I faced the truth of my loneliness, I found I was somewhere between these two experiences and I was set free from its control over me. For the time being anyway.
I wish I had long term, dependable answers for this state of being, but unfortunately in all my years I have not found one. However, I am blessed that my faith isn’t about feelings or even thoughts or convictions, it’s about a way of being – of trusting the cosmos, the universe, God – and showing up for my life and my call to love fully. The psalms of lament help me through the tough times. Here are a few of them: Psalms, 13, 22, 42, 44, 88 – some are more dramatic than others. May they help you find the depths of your sorrow, or the sheer silence that is sometimes the voice of God.
In the meantime, take delight in God (Psalm 37.4) as you can: in moments of beauty, in good food, books, music, art, and in connections with those you love however you can. Be compassionate with yourself and others. Discover love in the depths of the
silence and solitude.
*Yes, I’m a 7 on the Enneagram – for those of you who like to think in those terms.
From the Vestry
Notes from the August Vestry Meetings
Your faithful All Souls Vestry met on August 6th for a special meeting to approve the final documents needed to give official closing to the Jordan Court project, and begin construction. If you happen to drive by All Souls, you will notice that the building is already surrounded by a metal fence, and contractors have begun inspections and abatement prior to demolition.
On August 19th, we met for our regular monthly meeting. As is accustomed, we began our meeting with a scriptural reflection, guided by chaplain Priscilla Camp. As Bishop Nedi Rivera mentioned in last week’s Pathfinder, we reflected on the gospel of last Sunday, engaging on the question “Who do you say I am? Who is Jesus for me?”
Marilyn Flood joined our meeting to talk about the Living Waters Capital Campaign. Back in March, when shelter-in-place orders came into effect, the Vestry recommended to the Capital Campaign team to pause the campaign, and come back in August to discuss whether we should combine efforts with the Stewardship campaign in the Fall. Given that we are still in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, this is still a difficult time to reactivate the campaign, so the Vestry agreed on remaining in pause until further notice. However, there are building improvements that still need to happen in the short-term, so the Capital Campaign team will come back to us to recommend how to fund those specific needs.
Wearing a different “hat” (from the many that she so brilliantly and faithfully does), Marilyn Flood was also present on behalf of the Vocations Committee. She presented Ethan Lowery to be recommended for ordination as a Deacon, and Calvin Payne-Taylor to be endorsed as a postulant to Holy Orders. Both Ethan and Calvin had open and profound conversations with the Vestry, sharing their faith journey and deep sense of vocation, talking about the challenges and opportunities that the pandemic has brought to the Church as a whole, and to their ministries in particular. The Vestry unanimously and wholeheartedly endorsed both, expressing a shared sentiment that the gifts that Ethan and Calvin have brought to All Souls have been a source of blessing to this community. We all look forward to seeing them flourish in their ordained ministries in the near future.
Richard Lynch and Eric Legrand joined the meeting to talk about this year’s Fall Stewardship Campaign, and the ways in which many of its components will be adapted to our current virtual realities, in ways that will continue to be meaningful, life-giving and affirming of who we are as a community of faith.
Bishop Nedi Rivera gave her Interim Rector’s report. During the time that she has been with us, Nedi has had the opportunity to meet parishioners and do pastoral care, within the constraints of the pandemic. She also has accompanied our deacon, Dani Gabriel, to one of the homeless camps that All Souls provides food for. Nedi and Emily Hansen Curran and working on planning the Parish retreat, which will happen in some form, so stay tuned! Nedi is also participating in two Sacred Ground groups.
Finally, Laura Eberly guided us in reflection about personal prayer, which is one of the goals that the Vestry decided to focus on this year. After listening to a portion of the “Collective Day of Grief” prayer service, we focused our conversation about prayer practices through the lens of how those might be influenced by the pandemic and the current movements for racial justice.
Your prayers for the work of the Vestry are always welcome.
–Toni Martinez Borgfeldt
Parish Retreat 2020
Dear All Soulsians,
This year’s Parish Retreat will be one for the books for many reasons, but first and foremost because the Rev. Dr. Vincent Pizzuto of St. Columba’s in Inverness will be joining us as our retreat speaker this year! The theme this year is Creation and Incarnation, following our Justice & Peace team’s attention to climate justice in the 2019-20 academic Adult Formation year. From Fr. Vincent: “The Incarnation is not merely a human event, but one in which all of Creation is so thoroughly infused with the Divine that Christ might “be all and in all” (Col. 3:11). Building upon this scriptural imperative, Fr. Vincent will explore the cosmological implications of the Incarnation which underlie the urgency of Christian ecological discipleship in the world.”
The format of the retreat will be as follows:
- Fr. Vincent will first give a talk, starting at 10am on September 19th
- Followed by time in small groups (either in person or on Zoom––your choice), which will begin around 11:15a.
- Following the group discussions, you will be given some questions to walk with on your own for further reflection and prayer.
- Then, as we have done in the past, on Saturday evening Tim Ereneta will host a Talent Optional Show on Zoom (more details to come on that soon).
But this year’s retreat is also one for the books because the options for attendance will be different than any year before. Bear with me as I explain the three different options this year:
Option 1: Attend the Ranch for the full weekend. You may attend the retreat at the Ranch for the full weekend (with the restrictions the Ranch has set up for Covid-19––read here for more details). Given the restrictions listed on that link, the Ranch now has a much more limited maximum capacity and will not be able to handle our usual 145 person retreat. Who gets to attend the retreat in person this year? Unfortunately, that will depend on the timing of when you register as well as your family configuration given the rooms that the Ranch has available with the restrictions in place. This option will also cost a lot more than the other options. (to see the cost for a full weekend retreat at the Ranch and to register, click here. This option is first come, first served and you must register by next Thursday night, September 3rd. Friday morning the Ranch will open their registration (for whatever spots are left) to the general public.**
Option 2: Attend virtually, but have an in-person small group here in Berkeley. The second option is to attend Fr. Vincent’s talk virtually (on Zoom) from Berkeley and then meet up with a small group of All Soulsians somewhere outdoors here in town, distanced, and masked.
Option 3: Attend all parts virtually. This final option is to attend both the talk by Fr. Vincent on Zoom and to attend a small group discussion on Zoom.
I should mention that even though I included it in the Parish Retreat survey, day-tripping is no longer an option for this year’s retreat. (that revelation was found in part from your answers to the survey, so, thank you for helping me think through that!). To begin with, shared bathrooms are not allowed and day-trippers would rely on those. But second, as I mentioned before, the maximum capacity of the Ranch is very limited and will likely be reached by those staying over for the weekend.
Now that I have explained the three options, I would love it if you filled out this initial registration form.
Thanks for understanding and rolling with the limitations and funkiness that are part of this year’s retreat. We are hopeful, as a staff team, that all of us will find a way to retreat with fellow All Soulsians in a way that is life-giving, meaningful, and which moves us closer to God.
**There is a chance that, even if you attend the Ranch in person, Fr. Vincent will not be there in person for the talk, meaning, you also would attend the initial talk on Zoom. Small groups at the Ranch will all be in person, however.
Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ)
Not “standing up,” not “speaking up,” but simply…. showing up, to listen, learn, and transform.
As many of us are learning or re-learning in our Sacred Ground groups, for too long white people in the U.S. have leaned on (or even demanded) that non-white people most affected by white supremacy and institutionalized racism educate and support them as they become aware of the affects, but feel like they have no idea how to fix things, even where to begin. In fact, white people can and do educate and support each other to become anti-racists, and SURJ’s mission is to facilitate just that.
Catalyzed by the police murders in 2016 of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, I attended an “intro” meeting hosted by SURJ, and joined soon after. The meeting was huge; over 400 people packed Ogawa plaza in downtown Oakland, and I was pleased to see nine other All Soulsians in attendance. I learned about the many chapters around the bay area, the partner organizations who lead the activities SURJ promotes, and who receive funds from our fundraising efforts, and the various opportunities offered.
A cornerstone of SURJ’s work is accountability through collective action, and we take direction from people of color. Some of our community accountability partners include Abundant Beginnings, AROC (Arab Resource and Organizing Center), APTP (Anti Police-Terror Project), The Ella Baker Center, Essie Justice Group, Initiate Justice, Sogorea Te’ Land Trust, and TGIJP (Transgender Gender-variant & Intersex Justice Project).
Since that first huge intro meeting, I have been active in the Communications Committee, a natural fit for my skill set. This committee supports the other committees in their various events and activities, including Mobilization, Policy, Fundraising, Queer/Trans, and Youth & Families. We meet twice a month, and I have worked on setting up and maintaining the website, creating graphics for social media campaigns, proofreading the newsletter, and editing photography. I even acquired a button-making machine, for campaigns or even on-the-fly at events in the before-time.
In addition to that work, I have also learned so much from a variety of SURJ-sponsored activities, including art builds (back when we made banners for street protests), direct action training, white fragility awareness explorations, bystander intervention training, and most significantly an in-depth multi-week reading and discussion series called Study & Action, which is very similar to our Sacred Ground program.
In past months, we have had an enormous increase in interest, and where last year’s intro meetings fell to lows of around 20-30 in attendance, we recently had to break out into multiple zoom calls of 500 people each! I was proud to witness our very own Laura Eberly expertly facilitate part of one of these enormous sessions. The impetus behind the increased interest is tragic, but we are so encouraged to have new people to help carry on this valuable work in our area.
I really appreciate SURJ’s values and processes. For an almost complete volunteer effort (there are a few paid positions for the national HQ), it’s impressive to see the consideration and maturity that the committees display. One value that particularly resonated for me is “calling in not out,” so rather than indulging in negative criticism of someone using problematic language or just “not doing it right” from one POV, we learn techniques of communicating so we have a community people actually want to be a part of, which will only further its effectiveness, rather than dissolve it.
If you’re interested in learning more about the different committees and activities of our local SURJ chapter, please write me and I’ll be happy to have a chat with you about it, socially distanced of course!
In the meantime, here are a few links to explore. At the very minimum, I strongly encourage you to sign up for SURJ’s newsletter, which comes out every Monday (signup is on the website, linked below). Assembled, edited, and proofed by my dedicated committee colleagues, the newsletter will keep you informed on all the upcoming local events and opportunities to support our partner organizations; even during Covid times, there are car caravans, petitions, policy work, and other remotely accessible ways to help and learn.
Sunday Live Streaming News
The live stream of Sunday services can now be accessed through our website (rather than simply on Facebook)! Click here to watch on Sunday morning.
Adult Formation Class this Sunday
No Adult Formation this Sunday. But come to the Adult Formation Rally Sunday Zoom call (after church this Sunday) to learn about the new Adult Formation program for 2020-21.
Children & Family News
We will be doing a children’s chapel program this Sunday at 9:30am via Zoom. It should last about 30 minutes. Please email Whitney Wilson for a link so your family can participate. We are hoping that this will give the kids a time together for their own “church” and a time to see their friends as well. Please email Whitney Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want a Zoom invite or have any questions.
If you are looking for some current information regarding Children’s Chapel or the upcoming Kids Book Club – check out the new additions to the All Souls website. The All Souls Website has been updated to include some new information and resources(including the links for all the storybook videos) for families. Here is the link: http://www.allsoulsparish.org/children-youth-and-families/childrens-virtual-formation-during-covid/
All Souls After Hours
This week’s After Hours will begin with a video compilation of All Soulsians at Work/School followed by a Zoom call where we’ll share information about formation for all ages for the 2020-21 academic year. You can find the link to the Zoom call here.
Evening Prayer via Zoom
Here is the link for the Thursday night BCP Compline https://schoolmint.zoom.us/j/7124066649?pwd=d0Z4c1RHeld0QllOLzdlS1IxK3FKZz09. For our safety online, the password needed to join the call is 329903.
All Souls Geek Squad
If you’re having any trouble with technology during this time of tech-only contact with others, we want to help! On the homepage of our website is a box with the words “Technical Help”. Click on that box and you will be taken to a form that you can fill out. Once you fill that out, we’ll have someone get in touch with you to help with your tech problems. You can also click here to access the form directly.
Check out Episode 19 of the Soulcast!
Ongoing Canned Food Drive
The ASP Food Drive continues to pick up and deliver food for the Berkeley Food Pantry on a weekly basis. Food contributors and drivers participate every other week. Please email Cathy: email@example.com for more information.
Wednesday 9am Service
Join the Zoom call here: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86087951049?pwd=THNxbjlqMm5zdjc5RGNLWkFrZk16QT09
Meeting ID: 860 8795 1049 Password: 520218
Rally Sunday is this Sunday, August 30th. We’ll have a special Prayers of the People with a Blessing of the Backpacks for students, teachers, and parents. Then stick around for a Zoom formation hour when we’ll launch our formation programs for the year! Click here for that. Parents of Youth (6th-12th grade), our new Associate Rector Maggie Foote will drop in to this call so that you can meet her and get to know her a bit. Don’t miss out!
All Souls at Work Video for Rally Sunday
Send in to Emily (firstname.lastname@example.org) a video or pictures of your kid’s first day of school, or a video of you and/or your family as they work from home this fall, or just a picture or video of you in your habitat this fall. Videos are due by Saturday, the 29th at 5p and must be 20 seconds or less or they will be edited to be so 🙂
Stories of All Souls
If you missed it, read this article by Emily Hansen Curran on a new writing project. In short, send in a short reflective story on the theme of DOORWAYS, to be published in the Pathfinder. Deadline for submission is Wednesday, September 2nd.
For many, many years now the men of All Souls have gathered on the last Monday of every month for a meal in the Parish Hall. Since the Shelter-in-Place they have continued to meet (via Zoom)! If you are interested in joining in on that Zoom call this Monday, August 31st, please see Kirk Miller (email@example.com) , Bob Cross (firstname.lastname@example.org), George Tharisayi (email@example.com), or John Cockle (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information.
Youth Group Kick-off!
This coming Sunday evening is the 2020-21 Youth Group Kick-off! If your kid is in the 6th-12th grade they are welcome to join us tonight for the first Youth Group of the year. Email Emily (email@example.com) to get the link.
Notes from the Children & Family Team
“And that is the very end of the adventures of the wardrobe. But if the Professor is right it was only the beginning of the adventures of Narnia.”
Those are the last words in “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” by CS Lewis and they were read via Zoom on Wednesday August 26th at about 4:40pm. This summer, a group of kids have enjoyed listening to this book being read to them each and every Wednesday afternoon at 4pm. We have done our book club over Zoom and spent time together listening, wondering, sharing, and laughing. To say it has been a highlight of my summer – would be an understatement!
I want to thank all our guest readers this summer who shared their voices and presence with the kids. Thank you to: Jeannie Koops-Elson, Alissa Hoffman, Phil Brochard, Jess Powell, Jen Dary, Tim Erenta, Maggie Cooke, Suzy Mead, Nedi Rivera, Toni Martinez-Borgfeldt, Richard Lynch, and Calvin Payne-Taylor. You all are outstanding!
And the best part – we are doing it again this Fall. We are going to start a new book Wednesday September 16th at 4pm and read/listen every Wednesday until Thanksgiving.
If you are feeling like you missed out on this special book club – you are in luck. If you go to the All Souls website – under Children/Youth/Families – there is a link for the Kids Book Club. (http://www.allsoulsparish.org/children-youth-and-families/kids-book-club/) You can go back and listen to each week’s readings yourself.
And really – what adult or child – couldn’t use a little bit of Narnia in their life right now.