From the Associate Rector
I was working in my garden last week when I noticed a raised clump of soil among the plants that were sprouting. Upon closer inspection I realized that under this soil was a young potato plant trying to break through; trying to crack the surface and feel the warm sun on its leaves. Lately I have been feeling a bit like that young potato plant: feeling weighed down by something, straining to break through and feel the sun on my own face. Maybe (probably… definitely) it’s because it’s been almost exactly one year since this pandemic began to cause widespread shelter in place orders and social distancing here in the US. One year of feeling held down under a burden almost too heavy to bear. One year of longing to feel the bright sun of normalcy on my face.
I’m reminded of a song that I love called “New Wine” that talks about how the difficult and painful seasons in our lives often lead to something new, something greater, especially when we are able to surrender to the idea that God might be working in this moment too, in the here and now, even as we are feeling pain and struggle. This song often plays on repeat in my house, car, mind, etc. when I find myself feeling weighed down and unable to break through. It helps me remember that when I can slow down and stop trying to skip over all the painful or uncomfortable tracks on my life’s album, that true transformation really becomes possible. I have known this to be true in my own life, and yet I still struggle to remember it when I find myself in one of these painful seasons.
I’m grateful to be a part of this community, and especially for the Lenten Reflections that All Soulsians have been writing through this season: they help remind me that I’m not alone in feeling down, in struggling through this long season. They also remind me that I’m not alone in my hope that something greater is coming. That new ground is breaking all around me every day and signs of new life emerge from under their heavy burdens.
The song says, “in the soil I now surrender, you are breaking new ground.” I wonder what new ground God might be breaking in your life?
Gratitude for my All Souls Parish Wilderness Guides
…the times when I’m most reluctant to just be with God in prayer…God is so darn adamant that I rest.
Annie Rovzar’s Lenten reflection quietly inhabits my wilderness on February 25th, the 8th day of Lent. I am so busy in the wild. Is God adamant I rest? I read on. Annie quotes John O’Donohue, and I stow away his words, alongside hers, as I pack my bag and book my lodgings.
Be excessively gentle with yourself. (John O’Donohue, via Annie)
The year has taken much from me: my father on April 2nd (suddenly, with a fall); and with him, the childhood home (a fall hazard for Mom, sold); and my parents’ dog (a relocation liability, rehomed). I am nearly dry-eyed in my management of tragedy. Almost a year has passed and here I am, having missed last year’s resurrection. What will I give up for Lent? Can’t I, instead, batten down, burrow deep, hide with the treasure that remains?
Often when I take time to be silent, I realize there really isn’t any hiding from God. (February 26, 9th day of Lent, Phil Brochard)
I show up for Sunday morning Zoom church. In pajamas, on the couch, our pup pillowed within the hollow of my knees. The rest of the family sleeps. I listen and wait, attentive to a stirring of grief.
And some days, many days, wilderness times, I come up dry. (March 2, 12th day of Lent, Jeannie Koops-Elson)
My mom is scheduled for surgery, and though I can’t be with her at the hospital or in her senior community, I am determined to be bookends for her on either side. My bags packed, my lodgings booked and I drive south, to my coastal hometown with no childhood house. The green hills of the East Bay roll away behind me and I fill hours and miles of arid fields and urban bypass with news stories and podcasts and worries of the world.
Learn to linger around someone of ease
Who feels as if they have all the time in the world. (John O’Donohue, via Annie)
The day before surgery I take Mom for her COVID test, and then to a small seaside market to gather a picnic lunch. All we need is a sandwich each, but she walks slowly up and down every aisle, far from the deli, wide-eyed and curious. “Look at how they have expanded this place! …They have pies from Julian, I’ll be… look at all the fresh flowers…” The smell of baking bread reaches me through double layers of mask. I slowly walk the aisles with my mom, step-by-step, a walking meditation, drawn deeply into a prayfull labyrinth. Somehow, for this afternoon, our clock has no hands, and my mom fills my wilderness with wonder.
That portal is an open heart... March 9th, 18th day of Lent, Jennifer Akiyama.
I’m back in the Bay Area, and my mom is recovering well. And I, too, am recovering well. I return daily to All Souls Lenten reflections, knowing fellow travelers—parishioner guides—can enter a portal they helped to open, and lead me through the wilderness.
Continuing to Serve our Community
Mobile Food Drive
My first Advent season at All Souls, the ingathering knocked me out. I remember going to Target and buying maybe five pairs of socks, and bringing them to church with me one Sunday morning. I asked a greeter where I should put them, and he told me to bring them up to the altar. A bit surprised by this instruction, (I had expected a bin somewhere in the church offices), I entered the Sanctuary and saw a veritable mountain of socks and other supplies piled behind the rail. I added my humble contribution to the offering, feeling a sense of joy at the difference our collective gift would make. I have witnessed many beautiful and sacred things at the All Souls altar, but that mountain of socks stands out.
When Advent ended, it felt funny to walk into church empty-handed, so every week when I did my grocery shopping, I started picking up items I could donate to the food pantry. My Sunday routine was pretty consistent: arrive a little early for the 9 a.m. service, decline the usher’s first offer of a program because my hands were full of boxes of pasta or jars of peanut butter, add my items to the basket in the Narthex, pick up my nametag, accept the second offer of a program, and hustle into my customary pew in time to hear Jamie’s beautiful prelude. Fairly quickly, leaning over to put my items in the food pantry basket began to feel as central to my spiritual practice as kneeling for confession or cupping my hands to accept Communion.
When shelter-in-place began, I skeptically logged onto “Facebook church” and was surprised, relieved, and incredibly grateful to experience a powerful connection to God and to our All Souls community. But while I could kneel for confession and cup my hands during Communion, I deeply missed bending to add my cans or jars to our congregation’s food bank basket. What a blessing that some generous and enterprising All Soulsians came up with the idea of a mobile food drive. Now, every other Friday morning when I stoop to place a sack of groceries outside my gate for pickup, I picture Maggie Cooke adding it to a mountain of 700 other bags donated by parishioners since we began this practice. And I say a little prayer of thanksgiving– for the food I have myself, for the food I am able to offer, and for the gift of worshiping with the All Souls community.
If you would like to join the All Souls Parish food drive, please contact Cathy Goshorn at 925 788-0243.
Calling for Communications Skills of All Shapes and Sizes!
We are reaching out to the All Souls community for marketing, communications, technical and design talent to build a team of skilled individuals on whom the communications team can call to support their efforts. If you have any (or many) of the skills listed below and some time to bring them to bear, please sign-up here.
- Graphic design
- Email marketing
- Web design and development
- Content management
- Social media
Kieran King, Vestry member and Communications team liaison
Sunday Mornings: Join us at 9am on Zoom worship service. Or (and!) join us for the live stream of Sunday’s 11:15 service, which can be accessed through our website or by tuning into our All Souls Episcopal Parish Facebook page. Click here to watch on Sunday morning.
Additionally, this Sunday we are trying out live streaming our 11:15 service to a Zoom call, so that you can participate in church with fellow parishioners. Click here to get into the 11:15 Zoom call, and please send us a note this week about your experience with this new mode of virtual church!
Wednesday Mornings: 9:00am PDT
Join the Zoom call here: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86087951049?pwd=THNxbjlqMm5zdjc5RGNLWkFrZk16QT09
Meeting ID: 860 8795 1049 Password: 520218
Thursday Night Compline: 8:30pm PDT
Join Zoom Meeting: https://us04web.zoom.us/j/78630294068?pwd=cmdoenJYRWUwR2J6QkhxSHNsakt0UT09
Meeting ID: 786 3029 4068
7:30am Bible Study
This group of 9-13 regulars is still meeting regularly. We are open for anyone else seeking an early morning Bible study with rotating facilitators. In order to receive the Zoom link sent out each Saturday, just email firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to the list.
Reading Between the Lines Bible Study Contact Daniel Prechtel, email@example.com, to join that Zoom call at 10:10am.
Story With Story taught by Jeannie Koops-Elson and the Rev. Phil Brochard at 10:10 on Zoom (click here to enter the class) on February 21, 28, March 7 & 14.
The Bible is full of passages that seem to resonate with one another. The ancient stories of the people of Israel were the foundational texts of the people recording the stories and letters that became the New Testament. These authors seem to intentionally invoke and echo the older stories as they narrate the life of Jesus Christ and His Way. In this class, we will look at pairs of passages from the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament and through close reading and conversation, explore what new richness or understanding we uncover when we lay these stories alongside each other.
Missed the previous week’s class?? Not to worry, we’ve got you covered. We’ll be recording all of the Adult Formation offerings and loading them to the Adult Formation page of our website. Click here to get there and access the class recordings.
Children, Family & Youth News
Children’s Chapel meets Sundays via Zoom at 10:10! On Sunday, March 21st, there will be an outdoor Family Worship service in the courtyard at 3:00pm. Beginning on Palm Sunday, March 28th, we will resume outdoor Children’s Formation in the Courtyard at 10:10. If you’d like to receive updates about Children and Family Ministries, but do not subscribe to the Family Bulletin, please email Maggie Foote (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information.
Kid’s Book Club meets Wednesdays at 4:00pm on Zoom. We’re reading The Magic in Changing Your Stars by Leah Henderson. Hope to see you there!
Youth group will resumes meeting outdoors every other Sunday! Our next meeting will be Sunday, March 14th, at 3:00pm. Hope to see you all there, and if you have a young person in your household in grades 6-12, and do not receive updates about Youth Group events, please email Maggie at email@example.com to be added to the list!
Other News & Notes
Lent 2021 Practices
Click here to learn about what we’re up to this Lenten season and to participate with the daily Lenten reflections that our fellow parishioners are writing for us!
Check out Season 3: Episode 4 of the Soulcast!
Community Loom for the Reredos (aka the back wall in the church)
Our community loom for Lent is going to be out at the Spruce St steps all day on Saturday (see picture below). Come on by to spend a little time adding to it! Weaving can be a really lovely contemplative practice— it’s also very easy and forgiving, so no experience needed. We’re hoping this will be a collaborative piece that we build as a community over the weeks of Lent. While you’re here, write a prayer and tie it on our prayer arch. All materials are provided!
Stephen Ministry: We are here for you!
2020 was a challenging year, right?! Most of us have been struggling and overwhelmed. You are not alone. Stephen Ministers understand and are available to listen, support and pray for you. We can offer you a confidential caring relationship or an occasional phone call to help you through these ever-changing times. Contact Maggie Foote at (513) 309-1079 or Madeline Feeley at (510) 495-4512 so we can be there for you.
Summer Book Group
During the summer, All Soulsians select a book to read together and devote the 10:10 Sunday adult formation hour to discussing that book. The Adult Formation Committee requests your nominations for a book for Summer Book Group. Books may be fiction or nonfiction. After nominations are gathered, we will put nominees up for a parish-wide vote. Beginning in June 2021, all are welcome to join us in discussing the book during formation hour at 10:10 am. Help us pick the book by submitting suggestions either here or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
If you are able to help provide some meals for parishioners in need, please contact Cathy Goshorn to help out! We are in great need at this time to help care for each other––please consider helping other All Soulsians in need by providing meals or gift cards for meals. You can reach Cathy at firstname.lastname@example.org.