One of my most influential mentors is  a man named Robert Burkhardt, the founding head of Eagle Rock School & Professional Development Center in Estes Park, CO. Robert was known on campus for his many sayings, which were on the tip of his tongue, ready to be offered to anyone and everyone for the purpose of building and strengthening community; they became part of the ethos and fabric of Eagle Rock, like the pinon- scented mountain air we breathed. Favorites included: “Find a need and fill it“; “Leave a place better than how you found it”; and “If you’re not part of the solution then you’re part of the problem.” Another favorite was “The only thing you can count on in life is change.”

Last Tuesday evening, another head of school, Mary Knott, spoke to a chapel-full of parents who have entrusted the early education and nurturing of their children to Redeemer Parish Day School. Mary’s talk focused on the gift of natural mindfulness that our young ones model and can teach us grown-ups. Little Maddie hasn’t yet learned how to be distracted by cell phones and multi-tasking and the latest headlines and the worries about tomorrow … and … and … and ….  She is fully present and engaged in whatever her play or task at hand is, whether drawing a picture or pretending she is flying; swinging on the swing set or scooping up sand in the sandbox. Often when we are not “fully present” ourselves in the presence of a beloved young one trying to get our attention, they will re-mind us, tugging on our clothing or repeatedly calling our name, bringing us back to the here and now.

On this Thursday before Labor Day weekend, most of us find ourselves once again on the brink of some kind of change: a change of seasons, a change of scenery, a change from summer-mode to fall schedules and fall routine. Some may find ourselves glancing longingly backwards, not quite ready to say farewell to summer; others may on the contrary be looking ahead with a measure of excitement and anticipation, ready for what the fall brings.

In his book Here and Now: Living in the Spirit, theologian Henri Nouwen writes: “God is a God of the present. God is always in the moment, be that moment hard or easy, joyful or painful.” In this season of change and amidst the “changes and chances of this uncertain world”, may we find life-giving ways to anchor ourselves in the Holy, being mindful of the gift of the present moment.

Looking forward to being present with you here at Redeemer!


That was the title of the article that caught my eye last week and captivated my curiosity! The commentary was an extensive summary from the well-known Pew Research Center which has just published the results of a new survey that tracts detailed data about church attendance. In recent years the percentage of US Adults who say they regularly attend religious services has been declining, while the share of Americans who attend only a few times a year has been growing. Let me offer a snapshot of the results but if you really want more details, the link to the complete report is (I must admit, I feel a bit geeky admitting that I found the full report fascinating!!)

Top Reasons US adults who attend at least once or twice a month give for choosing to attend religious services:

  • To Become Closer to God 81%
  • So children will have a moral foundation 69%
  • To make me a better person 68%
  • For comfort in times of trouble/sorrow 66%
  • I find the sermons valuable 59%
  • To be a part of a community of faith 57%
  • To continue family’s religious traditions 37%
  • I feel a religious obligation to go 31%
  • To meet new people/socialize 19%
  • To please my family, spouse or partner 16%

Top Reasons US adults who attend religious services a few times a year or less who say that they do not attend more because:

  • I practice my faith in other ways 37%
  • I am not a believer 28%
  • I have not found a church that I like 23%
  • I don’t like the sermons 18%
  • I don’t feel welcome 14%
  • I don’t have the time 12%
  • I am in poor health and it is difficult to get around 9%
  • There isn’t a church in my area 7%

There are several other tidbits of interest:

  • 8 in 10 regular attendees say they ‘always’ or ‘often’ experience a sense of God’s presence when they attend worship services. Nearly ¾ say they ‘always’ or ‘often’ fee; a sense of community with people who share their religion when they attend religious services and 6 in 10 say they feel a sense of connection to a longstanding tradition.
  • Catholics who attend Mass regularly are significantly less like than other Christian churchgoers to say that the sermons they hear are what keeps them coming back. Indeed, among those who attend church regularly, Protestants are roughly twice as likely as Catholics (71% vs. 36%) to say valuable sermons are a very important reason. David, Cristina and I are making note of that statistic!

I would be so interested in hearing your reaction to this summary….and if you were curious enough to click through to the full report. Lots to nibble on!

Bottom line for David, Cristina and me, whatever reason YOU come to church, we are so grateful!!


Dear Folks,

The heat and humidity of summertime in Arkansas trained me to slow down between June and September.  There was still work to be done, for sure—meetings and deadlines still called, practices and performances continued apace, and camps began—but the weather forced us to change our patterns, grabbing everyone by the ankles around Memorial Day and not letting go for 12 weeks.  If I was going to run, I had to do it before 6:30 in the morning or after 9:00 p.m.  If my grandmother’s house needed to be straightened, she cleaned before breakfast.  The Farmer’s Market on Main Street in Little Rock thinned out considerably after 10:00 a.m., and the men on my father’s street work crews had to knock off by noon.  Except for downtown, midday streets were empty enough to hear crickets, or in some neighborhoods, the cycling of air conditioners.  With no electrical cooling, we sat on the back porch until late telling stories, and went to bed with ice cubes in our mouths.  This subdued rhythm got into my bones, long before I ever took a real summer vacation, and led me to appreciate the fruit that only quiet can bear.

I hope you have laid on your back at least once and watched the clouds form and dissolve.  I hope you have gotten up before the sun and listened to the city waking up, and stayed up late listening to the crickets or the radio or your people telling stories.  I hope you have let your mind wander and wonder, and that a way has opened through some old problem or hurt.  I hope you’ve taken a nap, and stared into space, and called an old friend.  I hope you’ve found time to read.  (If not, don’t worry… Labor Day is still weeks away!)

We have a screened in porch in the Adirondacks, and several rocking chairs, and between hikes and the lake, I read.  Here’s where my mind has wandered:

Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder, 2018 Pulitzer prize in biography by Caroline Fraser.  I didn’t read the “Little House” books as a kid or like the 80’s TV show of the same name, but I grew to love the young adult series when we read it aloud to Helena.  Wilder’s life was harder and grittier than the novels reveal, a “relentless struggle” of rootlessness and poverty.  In the biography, I was especially interested in the conflict between the mother and her daughter, Rose, and the evolution from the hardships the family experienced to the truth Wilder sought to convey in her fiction.

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America, by Erik Larson.  Larson’s detective work discovering a serial killer who lured his victims to the 1893 Columbian Exposition is riveting and awful, but I was more interested in how the World’s Fair came to be.  The monumental task of transforming swampy lakefront property into a stage set designed by Daniel Burnham and Frederick Law Olmsted was as riveting as the murder mystery.  The Exposition brought us Cracker Jack, Shredded Wheat, the Ferris Wheel, and a dazzling evening display that used more electricity than the entire city of Chicago.

I Make Cups by Ehren Tool.  Tool is a veteran of the first Gulf War, a Marine, and a peace activist who has made and given away over 18,000 cups since 2001.  He says the cup is the appropriate scale to talk about war, because they go into the world hand-to-hand, one story at a time.  Using his own memories and mementos sent to him by other veterans, Tool creates graphically challenging, sometimes disturbing vessels that are also quite delicate.  Tool writes, “I hope that some of the cups can be starting points for conversations about unspeakable things… between veterans and the people close to them… about war and its causes.”

Prodigal Father, Wayward Son: A Roadmap to Reconciliation by Gifford and Sam Keen.  Trading chapters, written as a conversation between a leader of the late 20th century “Men’s Movement” (see Fire in the Belly) and his middle-aged son, Sam and Gif finally address the pain and dis-connections in their relationship.  Healing comes when they each from his own perspective tell the “often told stories” that shaped them, which helps them remember the even more important stories they had forgotten.

Robert Lowell, Setting the River on Fire: A Study of Genius, Mania, and Character by Kay Redfield Jamison.  Jamison’s book is not a biography, but rather a study of how a person with an “extraordinary will, an unwavering sense of vocation, and a huge talent,” dealt with the fact that his artistic gift was also the source of his considerable suffering.  Lowell’s naturalistic and yet transcendent poetry is even more meaningful for Jamison’s research on the author’s bipolar disorder.

What are you reading?  What are the gifts that this summer is bearing?  I look forward to catching up.

Love, David

Freshly back from my 3 month sabbatical I want to share some perspective and random observations gained from my time away. I am so very appreciative of being given the time to step away from everyday life (at work and home!) to reflect and experience life in other countries and to just have some down time.  My sabbatical time included a two week cruise on the Seine from Paris to Normandy with my husband, Albert and a two week tour of Scotland, Wales and England with my daughter, Anna.

Much to my surprise, the two adventures I enjoyed the most were time on an organic farm in Normandy and a sheep dog demonstration in Wales. Who knew?!  On both excursions we were consistently surrounded by history and UNESCO sites and yet I was most captivated by experiences of living, growing and evolving.

In four weeks of traveling we encountered only one period of rain which lasted for about 3 hours one evening.  In both France and the UK we were told over and over by the tour guides how lucky we were to have such beautiful weather. Indeed we were! However, I did find myself hoping for at least one cool and overcast day in the UK.  Particularly in the UK, those native to the area reveled in the weather.  I often wonder how they feel about it now as the heat and lack of rain has continued unabated.

On both trips we encountered a new (to us) mode of energy conservation on our cruise ship and in the hotels in the UK. In order to turn on anything requiring electricity, your key card had to be inserted in a slot just inside the hotel room door. When you left your room and took the key with you, everything electric was shut down.  I could use that at home! I wonder why we don’t have a similar technology employed in our hotels on this side of the pond.

In England there was, of course, a lot of excitement about the Royal Wedding. Albert and I watched it from our hotel in Versailles while we were recovering from jet lag.  I loved seeing our presiding bishop, Michael Curry, preach and was feeling pretty good about being a member of his church. Apparently, that admiration was not widely shared in the UK.  Aside from his clearly non-British preaching style, he exceeded his time limit which upset the Brits no end! And from another perspective: Anna and I were driven to Heathrow Airport at the end of our trip by a native of Yorkshire whose father is from Jamaica and mother, from St. Kitts. Making conversation, I asked if he had watched the royal wedding. He pointed to his very dark skin and said “See this? Absolutely! The wedding was important for us.”  His response was unexpected and poignant.  Race relations are an area where work is needed regardless of which side of the ocean we live on.

After five weeks of sabbatical time, between trips, I suddenly realized that I felt a “lightening’. I can’t quite explain what that lightening was and still is but it was quite real and very welcome!  It helped me realize how much I needed the sabbatical and how grateful I am was the opportunity.  Many thanks to David for suggesting I take a sabbatical and to Barb, Darlene, Kathy and Mark for each minding parts of my job while I was away.  I’m now refreshed and happy to be back home and at work at Redeemer!


Everything that’s old is new again!  Aka Paul’s Place Camp year #25.

For kids, summer is about fun.  Dancing, climbing, playing – and maybe, just maybe, a little learning.   As our Paul’s Place campers consume volumes of lemonade to replenish their tired selves, they are actively engaged here at Redeemer doing both familiar (such as being greeted by Betsy) and brand new (climbing a rock wall) activities.

We are fortunate to have embarked on a partnership with River Valley Ranch and teamed up to provide a first-rate experience for the children of Paul’s Place.   This renewal experience is due to incredibly generous contributions from the Redeemer community in all different shapes and sizes.  Many parishioners have made generous monetary donations, and others have donated their time to work in the kitchen, hosted our partner staff as overnight guests at their homes, or volunteered their time to work directly with our campers.

As we’ve made our way through the week, there is also evidence that, along with the climbing and fun, there is a degree of learning going on as tradition would have it.  For example, a young man named Deonte, who is in 4th grade, said, “That was really empowering.  I feel like I can do anything now!” after watching a clip about a day in the life of a Navy Seal.

As a whole, our campers, counselors, and volunteers have had a wholesome and adventurous week.  Much of this has to do with our new camp partners and embarking on the journey of putting on a camp experience together.   Thankfully, the leadership at Redeemer was willing to go out on a limb and offer a slightly different camp experience this year.

As Derrick exclaimed yesterday, “I can’t wait ‘til tomorrow!”  This was inspiring to me, and I believe that’s an invitation for all of us to follow!