Listening In

I remember when I was in Sudan, some of my more colorful writings came when I was sitting in the pizza joint across from the All Saints Cathedral.

It was the interactions of the people that were sitting and talking together so animatedly.

Women, covered head to foot, and sometimes hands, used the same hands to underscore what they were saying. I always wondered if their gestures meant the same in Khartoum as they did in Wilmington. Most of the time I never found out.

Now, I sit in Borders hoping to see the same types of interactions. However, at this time of the morning, not much is happening. A few early morning risers, not much else.

Yikes. The entertainment has arrived. The same man, with two grown sons in tow, who frequents Starbucks, is talking and walking on his cell phone in the restaurant. His point of view about whether or not two beers are as bad as two pieces of cake, sin wise. Temple of the body stuff.

Too bad this grown man walks around with his pants handing over his temple butt.

I am attempting to open and use T Mobile Hotspot. It is like trying to enter Fort Knox. One little entry that they do not like, you have to start all over. It is truly giving me a headache. Now I'm on hold while they upgrade for the next 15 minutes.

I bet it's the NSA's fault.

After the news about the NSA and the spying on all of us, I am reminded about Sudan. At least there, everyone knew what was happening.

Sudani, the phone and Internet provider, listened to everything all the time on behalf of the government. We were told not to discuss politics, the US, Darfur, etc. They would be listening. All important conversations were conducted in person.

Now, I have returned and voila. Who would have thought that going to Sudan would be training for the US?

Maybe I should go back and provide black write-overs for the sensitive words.

Better yet after reading this delete the posting and rip out your tongue.


shaking up the walls

In Delaware, today was a scarf and sandal day.

It was 47 degrees. Compared to the 16 degrees several days ago, I am surprised that people were not opening their pools. The temperature on the third floor of the Bishop's office was 75 degrees before Jude opened the window.

Sandals with socks worn to work, became sandals during work.

So, it was fitting for me to head out at 2 PM dressed for two personalities.

At the end of this very emotional week, the body says slink into your comfy chair and write.

Doing so, my gaze falls to the left to a painting that is sitting on my floor. A Carolyn Blish. Child on beach.

Above that, leaning against the wall, is another brought back from Florida this past Christmas. My sister very graciously let me have it.

So, the past few weeks, about ten paintings have been moving room to room.

I am shaking up the walls and therefore, my perspective.

I do not subscribe to the notion that once a painting is hung, it must stay there forever. Nope.

If that were the case, who would ever see what hangs in the hall upstairs, or in my room, or guestrooms?

So, every so often, I move the paintings around. Those who visit get another treat.

And, I collect paintings like I do furniture. What I like I keep, what I do not, goes.

Moving things around, shakes things up. Makes me think that I have all new "stuff."

Of course, it looks a little untidy while I play. The important thing is that I am playing.

By divesting of excess "stuff", it opens walls and rooms to new possibilities.

Just like my soul.

My soul needs shaking up occasionally. To do so, I change my surroundings. Allow for new experiences and people.

Things get untidy for a while. Messy.

I remember when I was little, every time I played, I had to pick up.

Now that I decide what or who I play with, playtime is often very messy.

Who's got mud?


Lift Every Voice

This past Sunday, January 18, churches across the country gathered to honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King.

At the end of this blog entry, you will be able to hear my congregation, The Episcopal Church of Sts. Andrew and Matthew, belt out in strong and emotional voices the wonderful Lift Every Voice and Sing.

writes that
Lift Every Voice and Sing" (now also known as "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing") was publicly performed first as a poem as part of a celebration of Lincoln's Birthday on February 12, 1900 by 500 schoolchildren at the segregated Stanton School. Its principal, James Weldon Johnson, wrote the words to introduce its honored guest Booker T. Washington.

The poem was later set to music by Mr. Johnson's brother, John, in 1905. Singing this song quickly became a way for African-Americans to demonstrate their patriotism and hope for the future. In calling for earth and heaven to "ring with the harmonies of Liberty," they could speak out subtly against racism and Jim Crow laws—and especially the huge number of lynchings accompanying the rise of the Ku Klux Klan at the turn of the century. In 1919, the NAACP adopted the song as "The Negro National Anthem." By the 1920s, copies of "Lift Every Voice and Sing" could be found in black churches across the country, often pasted into the hymnals.

During and after the American Civil Rights Movement, the song experienced a rebirth, and by the 1970s was often sung immediately after "The Star Spangled Banner" at public events and performances where the event had a significant African-American population.

This past Tuesday, at the inauguration ceremony for President Barack Obama, the Rev. Joseph Lowery(former president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference) "used a near-verbatim recitation of the song's third stanza to being his benediction.

I have provided you the lyrics which you can use to follow along as my wonderful friends and family sing.

Lift every voice and sing,
'Til earth and heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of Liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise
High as the listening skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
Let us march on 'til victory is won.

Stony the road we trod,
Bitter the chast'ning rod,
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
Yet with a steady beat,
Have not our weary feet
Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?
We have come over a way that with tears has been watered,
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered,
Out from the gloomy past,
'Til now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.

God of our weary years,
God of our silent tears,
Thou who has brought us thus far on the way;
Thou who has by Thy might
Led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee,
Lest, our hearts drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee;
Shadowed beneath Thy hand,
May we forever stand,
True to our God,
True to our native land.

As a special treat, I copies out "Lift Every Voice and Sing" and posted it as a separate file. It was the Offertory Anthem. You can hear it and download it at http://drop.io/SsAM_Worship/asset/lifteveryvoice. Very powerful and what a great anthem to hear as we anticipate tomorrow.


To Pray or Not to Pray

I have been feeling a little guilty about not ranting and raving over the fact that Pastor Rick Warren will be giving the inaugural prayer tomorrow.

I have not read all of his Purpose Driven Life, but my daughter and her father have read it together.

I really do not agree with a great deal of what Pastor Warren espouses, but I embrace the tension that his inclusion is creating.

When I was hired by Bishop Cabell Tennis, it took me a long time to embrace tension as a way of positive change. I used to run from tension and conflict. Cabby embraced it.

(Don't get me wrong, I still would rather have people getting along.)

Later on, I had the privilege of working along side The Rev. E. James Lewis. His gift to me was that embracing the teachings of Jesus should not be comfortable.

It should be difficult. It should be tiring. It should be challenging. And Jim taught me something else.

I need to know what the "other" opinions and teachings are. I need to find what is common between what, on the surface, is different.

In this month's Notes from under a Fig Tree, Jim tackles this subject as well. After reading it, I realized that he has taught me well. Here is a portion of what he wrote.

Melissa Ethridge To The Rescue

I believe that we are waking up from the spell
That those that profit from the fear
Cast so well
And good people of the earth now can tell
There is no us and them.

Those are a portion of the lyrics from Melissa Ethridge’s song, “What Happens Tomorrow.” Ethridge has a lovely voice. She is lesbian, with a partner and children. On top of that she is a breast cancer survivor. “The cancer,” she says, “gave me a lot of power. I learned that I’m a lovable human being and that I have a purpose. I wanted to show how if you walk through fear, you’ll find amazing stuff on the other side.”

Perhaps that walk through fear, along with her own self-discovered purpose in life, is what played a part in her decision to give public support for Rick Warren as the official pray-meister. Perhaps it helped that she met with Warren in her home and heard him say that he regretted the derogatory comments he made about gay people. Perhaps she came out in support of Warren because she met a human being capable of change, a leader able to help others change their minds. I think, also, that other barriers came down when Warren shared the fact that his wife was also a breast cancer survivor. And it certainly didn’t hurt when he told her that he owned all her records and loved her voice.

To all my readers who blanched at Obama’s selection of Rick Warren’s role, I can only say, take a deep breath and find a bridge over your fear. I believe the Obama circle will be large enough for some exciting tensions and, therefore, plenty of room for folks to experience a change of heart and a change of policy that will reflect the beliefs we care about. We have to confidently know that there is no way to turn back the mighty stream of justice that is destined to bring full rights to gay people, sustain a woman’s right to choice, and deliver a stem-cell policy that is sane and life-giving. We must embrace the conviction that there is a Spirit at work in us and in history—call it God’s Spirit, if you like—capable of changing the hearts and minds of people with differing views.

Call me crazy or a turncoat to the cause, but I think that Rick Warren will wind up as an ally, along with some of his followers. Lord knows, I’m not the man I used to be. I’ve undergone many changes in my life, and I’ll bet my readers also have undergone a few changes of heart over the years.

Yes I have.

Monday Musing

Sometimes ideas come in spurts, so much so that you all would think I do nothing on other days but avoid blogging.

Not so.

The problem is that the thoughts are coming more quickly. A result of the positive Spirit moving through America and the world.

I sit in Borders connected by TMobile Hotspot. It is snowing outside and looks beautiful. Not the bone chilling cold of the past few days.

Today we commemorate the birth of Dr. Martin Luther King.

I did not sign up to volunteer today. In all honesty, I had lost track of the reason for the day. And, I thought I would be attending a funeral in Watertown NY. However, the weather had a say in changing my plans. Beautiful here, but a killer farther north.

So, I am re-reading emails that came through last week, when work, church, and life seemed to be stockpiling in my mind and dragging down my spirit.

And, here it was.

A musing by my good friend, Cate. Her thoughts were written following the crash of the AirTran plane into the Hudson River. My river.

Here is what she wrote:


Yesterday afternoon my husband told me he had just heard that a commercial airplane made an emergency landing on the Hudson River having minutes before taken off from LaGuardia. I said, "Don't tell me anymore!" I am a white knuckle airplane passenger at best and with a trip planned for San Diego in April what I really wanted to do was stick my fingers in my ears and sing, "la, la, la, la, la," while my ex-pilot husband told me what I thought would be the gory details. As the story unfolded, I couldn't wait to turn on the evening news and tune in again this morning. I haven't been able to think about this event without tears in my eyes.
I was struck by the extraordinary skill and calmness of the crew and the amazing way the passengers handled the crisis. Even more remarkable were the first responders. Some were people trained for just such an event, but others were the crew of The Circle Line, my favorite ferry when I was a kid.
Yes, I'm a New Yorker. I grew up on the Hudson River north of Manhattan and though I moved to the country many years ago, I still have a majority of my relatives living in "The City".
I have been reflecting for the last 24 hours on how extraordinary New Yorkers are. I cried as I listened to eye witnesses, who were initially horror struck, flashing back to 9/11, and then experienced relief and joy that every single person on that aircraft was rescued.
I thought back to some of my experiences in the city since 9/11, little miracles, small, random acts of kindness that could go unnoticed were it not for the humility of the people involved.
Several years ago, I had a small experience that created a huge shift in my awareness of the scope of humility. I dropped my 80 year old father, teenaged son and husband off in front of my sister's building on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, while I drove around the block to park at her garage where she had made a reservation for our car for the weekend. The east/west streets are one way in the neighborhood. I pulled into the narrow entrance of the garage only to find that I was totally blocked. I had a garbage truck right behind me with cars behind it, and a car needed to be driven OUT of the parking garage before I could pull IN! I started to sweat and felt panicy, at a loss for what to do, as the other driver and garage attendants shook their heads at my stupidity. Suddenly I caught sight of a man directing traffic. He walked up the street and got the cars to back up one by one so the garbage truck could pull back and I could back up to let the car out. I opened my window to thank the man and he was gone. Completely vanished.
When I arrived at my sister's apartment and relayed the story and how astonished and grateful I felt, she looked at me right in the eyes and said, "Cate, that's how New Yorkers are, they just do what needs to be done and get on with it."
Listening to a first responder being praised this morning, a young man who was still stunned by yesterday's events, caused me to remember my little parking adventure. The first responder was humble. He would accept no praise for his acts of rescue, he simply remarked that this was what he's trained to do but hoped he would never need to use his training.
It is as though every one involved was on auto pilot, the kind of auto pilot we should all be on all the time. There was no question of helping, it was just done. One foot in front of the other. Done.
I wondered if it is unique to New Yorkers. Since 9/11. The courage. The humility. I still wonder.
Yet I know that we are all that. Each of us has the little hero and the big hero within us. We are all capable of random acts of kindness and large acts of heroism.
I am glad that if this accident had to happen, that The City, the Hudson River, got it. Lots of places can use a miracle, many people deserve a miracle. We all could use a little miracle in our lives. No better place to start.
How can you create a little miracle in your world? We have enough disasters and clearly need many more miracles. What would it take for you to step in to your hero self?
Mahatma Gandhi said: We must be the change we wish to see in the world.
President Elect Barack Obama said: We are the ones we have been waiting for.
What ARE we waiting for? Where will your random acts of kindness be today? And tomorrow?
Time to let your inner hero out.
Be the change.
The Moses Code: The Movie Some of the best known spiritual teachers are featured in this film that offers tools that show us how we can apply the Moses Code to our lives. The film draws upon our own "innate spiritual ability to produce miracles everywhere we go." Find your inner hero. Watch this movie and share it with the people you love.

Thank you for joining me today! Please share this with your friends and family by using the link below. If you would rather not receive my newsletters and promotions you can find a link below to unsubscribe.

Cate LaBarre
Mountain View Life Coaching
Call or write for a complimentary coaching session


My apology

To All My Friends in Sudan;

I humbly apologize.

I was naive.

I did not understand why you wanted to come.

In the age of travel, cell phone, the internet. Where we can communicate with each other simply by picking up the phone.

I, who was so discouraged with the America of the past eight years, could not understand why you wanted to come, come to a place with which I felt so discouraged.

At the end of my four months in Sudan, I was only beginning to understand, but not quite.

It took the election of Barack Hussein Obama to make me realize what WE are and what WE can become.

As I watched Delaware's favorite son, Joseph Biden, board the train in Wilmington and head to Washington, I was inspired anew.

As I listened to words from our President-Elect, I was inspired anew.

As I sat with my friends in church this morning, I was inspired anew. As we sang from Life Every Voice and Sing, I wept.

And, I was inspired anew.

And, as Bono now sings a song dedicated to Martin. I am inspired anew.

"Not just an American dream, an Irish, an African, an Israeli, a Palentinian, a European dream, Let Freedon ring. Every village and hamlet, state and city. Let Freedom ring."

When, Garth Brooks sang When the last thing we look at is the color of the skin and the first we look at is the heart within, we shall be free.

And now, he speaks. To thank us. For inspiring him.

Together we can carry forward the legacy of our forebearers.

Pete Seeger sings this land was made for you and me. Beyonce America the Beautiful.

I was naive. Please forgive.

I am inspired anew.


This is a new year?

So what is different?

It is going on 7 AM on Friday morning and am sitting in front of the TV watching Angel and switching between that and The Weather Channel and MSNBC.

So what is different?

I am going into work, after feeding the inside cats, the outside cat, filling the weatherized warer supply for the birds, and checking the bird feeders.

So what is different?

There are things I want to say here but will not.

So what is different?

War is raging in the Middle East.

So what is different?

Unemployment rises.

So what is different? You tell me.

That was my original ending.


A new day which gets longer each sunrise giving me an expanded opportunity to make changes.

So what is different?

The beginning.