For any who aren’t sports fans and don’t follow baseball, last night Aaron Judge swung a bat in Toronto and tied Roger Maris’ American League record of 61 home runs hit in one season, set 61 years ago in 1961. (And for more numerical synchronicity, Judge sports the number 99 on his jersey; Maris was number 9.) My husband David, a Yankees fan since childhood, and I were sitting on our living room couch watching when it happened, and were quickly joined by Ben, who sprinted upstairs from our basement to partake in the reveling over replays.

As Judge now needs just one more home run to break Maris’ record, I’ve found myself reflecting on the question: How does someone get to be That Good?? On top of his natural athleticism, Judge’s 6’ 7” and 285 lb frame clearly help him swing a bat with power and might. His parents, Patty and Wayne, who adopted him shortly after his birth, along with older brother John, prioritized education first over sports, pushing him to go to college before turning pro. Judge credits his mother for the moral guidance she gave him growing up: how to treat people with respect, know the difference between right and wrong, work hard and put in the effort to go the extra mile. And what about all the mentors and coaches he’s had along the way? Teammates? Friends?

But the words that keep arising in my consciousness are “practice”, “discipline” and “desire”. It takes lots and lots of practice, to be That Good. It takes the discipline of hours upon hours of repetition, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. And the desire to keep at it: to keep learning, keep growing, keep improving. Practice. Discipline. Desire.

And Love. Love of the sport. Love of the game. Love of that feeling of simply playing the game you love to play: the sheer joy and grace of it all.

I wonder what could happen, if we approached our invitation through baptism, to be followers of Jesus Christ, in the same way? With the same practice, discipline, desire and love? Could we be That Good?

The truth is, there is only one Aaron Judge, just as there was only one Roger Maris. But there is only one You, as there is only one Me.

Why not try to be the “best version” of You and Me, as followers of Christ, that We can be? Together in Christ. Amen.


Many years ago, long before I ever even considered religious work as a vocation, the rector of our church in Dallas, Fr. Matt, died suddenly of a heart attach at 59 years old.  He had supported, encouraged, and cared for our community for 16 years and so his sudden departure was a total and complete devastation for us.  Yet, even in this midst of this horrible situation, we were presented with a beautiful gift from G-D.  The interim who was placed in our midst by the Diocese, Fr. Larry, not only offered prayers and provided solace but made space for us to grieve and then to move from death to new life.  How?  By simply practicing what he preached.

Larry+ was big on TRUST in LIFE (what some would call Faith in God).  He really believed that “all is well,” and he encouraged us to be open & receptive to Everything as it presented itself to us.  I don’t think anyone in our congregation, including the youth and young adults expected to learn a new way of be-ing in the world, but that is exactly what Fr. Larry taught us.  He taught us how to begin to live in a new way that transformed the way we perceived and responded to life so that we could enjoy more peace, joy, and love and laughter even while recognizing that tears and sorrows were simply the other side of the same coin.

That was more than 20 years ago, and while on retreat this past week, I was able to consider just how much Fr. Larry’s lesson has evolved within me and my life.  Faith in G-D and trust that “all is truly well” is not something we wake up to and take on in its fullest for all times.  Rather, it is a developing process of unlearning and relearning through the circumstances and situations of Life.  Openness and Receptivity to LIFE is not possible without that Trust, however; trust that somehow and in some way…everything is as it should be.  “Everything Belongs” as Richard Rohr has said.

Our life’s journey is a journey into Christ-hood or the Christ within us.  I believe this is true for everyone regardless of religion, creed, or color because The Christ is NOT Jesus of Nazareth’s surname, but a Consciousness of which the divine and physical/material are ONE.  The Christ is the union of spirit and matter as ONE; a relationship of loving union in which we all get to participate …especially when we are open and receptive to it.

This is an important consideration for the times in which we live when it is easy to feel afraid, angry, despondent, or without hope.  Knowing that nothing separates us from the love of G-D in Christ is a powerful antidote to what ails us today.  (cf Ro 8: 38-39)   We, those of us who are members of the Episcopal branch of the Jesus movement, are challenged to live into this particular knowing with gratitude.  I challenge you to begin to live with more freedom; be open and receptive to life as it presents itself…and see what happens!

With Openness, Receptivity, and Love,
Freda Marie+

Dear all,

On Saturday, September 17, the Church remembers Hildegard of Bingen. Hildegard was a medieval woman of many gifts: mystic, visionary, poet, composer, visual artist, doctor, scientist, theologian, preacher, and abbess. She is also one of my all time favorite saints, and one whose work with the natural and spiritual worlds feels especially important today.

Hildegard was born in 1098 into a wealthy family in the German province of Rhenhessen. Hildegard was their 10th child, and when she was eight her family gave her to the anchoress Jutta, who lived at a Benedictine abbey nearby (an anchoress was a woman who lived in seclusion, often attached to a religious community). Jutta cared for and educated Hildegard until she was 18 and joined the Benedictine abbey as a nun.

For most of her life, Hildegard experienced intense visions. She wrote, “These visions which I saw I beheld neither in sleep nor dreaming nor in madness nor with my bodily eyes or ears, nor in hidden places; but I saw them in full view and according to God’s will, when I was wakeful and alert, with the eyes of the spirit and the inward ears.” To express them, Hildegard painted, composed music, and wrote poetry and accounts of the visions. (You can see examples of her paintings from her major text Scivias here and here, and listen to one of her musical compositions here.)

After Jutta’s death, Hildegard became prioress of her community, eventually founding and leading two independent convents. Though she lived during a time when male governance was the norm in matters of religion and state, Hildegard operated with authority within her spiritual communities and outside of them. She was recognized as a holy preacher as well as a mystic and made preaching tours through the Rhineland. Beyond her immediate area, Hildegard corresponded with and counseled kings, queens, popes, theologians, and clergy, sharing both spiritual insights and criticism. She died in 1179.

One of Hildegard’s legacies is the connection between the spiritual and natural worlds. In addition to the music, poetry, spiritual commentary, and visual art she left behind, she also wrote medical and pharmacological texts (which are incredible repositories of medieval medical knowledge). Hildegard understood humanity as co-creators with God in shaping the world. Human sin fractured the world, sending us out of harmony with God, but that sin did not “erase the original goodness and blessing of creation” (Ellsberg). Through Christ, Hildegard believed, we and all of creation find our way back to God and our original harmony. In all things, Hildegard saw viriditas, or greenness, shining through: the animating energy of life or grace of God.


We are in an age of disharmony with our natural world. Humanity has altered its patterns and courses, causing harm to nature and to our fellow people. The most vulnerable are at the greatest risk: not only to the impacts of inclement weather and natural disaster, but also to the public health, economic, political, and humanitarian crises that arise from climate change.

If you were at the 10 a.m. Eucharist on Sunday (or caught it on the live stream), you may have noticed that our altar frontal changed from Ordinary Time green to the quilted Creation frontal. In early fall, Christians around the world celebrate a Season of Creation, a time to reflect on God’s incredible gift, our place as part of it, and our care for it. As the season continues, I wonder: Where do you see Hildegard’s viriditas shining through? How are you connected with the world beyond yourself? How might you live in greater harmony with creation, and with God? What practical changes, big or small, can you make to co-create a world less bound by sin and more by Christ’s love?

I’ll leave you with Hildegard’s collect to help us on our way, a reminder of both the joy of our shared life and the action we are called to take:

God of all times and seasons: Give us grace that we, after the example of your servant Hildegard, may both know and make known the joy and jubilation of being part of your creation, and show forth your glory not only with our lips but in our lives; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


For more about Hildegard, check out:

Robert Ellsberg, All Saints: Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (The Crossroad Publishing Company, 2000), 405-6.

Holy Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints (Church Publishing Incorporated, 2010), 588-9.

Additionally, I just started reading God’s Hotel, by Victoria Sweet, which delves more into Hildegard’s medical work and its relationship to modern medicine.


Dear Folks,

How long does it take to establish a habit? Six weeks? Three months? A year? In the 1950’s, plastic surgeon Maxwell Maltz began to notice a pattern in his patients: after a body-altering procedure, the doctor found that it took 21 days for his patients to adjust to their new normal. He combined his patients’ experiences with his own and authored a book called Psycho-Cybernetics that became a blockbuster hit in the 1960’s—so popular that just about every self-help book for a generation quoted him. While current researchers call 21 days the minimum span of time for a change to take root, with the average new pattern of behavior taking a little over two months to be established, the phenomenon is demonstrably real and significant. We can learn new ways to be in the world in just a matter of months.

Consider how much changed through the pandemic: shut-downs, sheltering in place, masks and fist-bumps, distance learning, standing on decals spaced six feet apart, meeting outside, gathering on zoom, and live-streamed everything: concerts, lectures, seminars, and worship. With loved ones sick or dying or simply vulnerable, we established new patterns of learning and living, even loving—on the phone, through a window, side by side if we were lucky, but rarely cheek to cheek. Thank God for technology—where would be without phones and zoom—but we’ve grown accustomed to distance in some ways that don’t serve our humanity well.

Being in each other’s physical presence makes a difference, I believe. Consider this poem by Philip Booth, called Hope:

Old spirit, in and beyond me,
keep and extend me. Amid strangers,
friends, great trees and big seas breaking,
let love move me. Let me hear the whole music,
see clear, reach deep. Open me to find due words,
that I may shape them to ploughshares of my own making…

Love moves us amidst strangers, friends, great trees, and big seas breaking. We are made human in each other’s company, in the crucible of presence.

So, I have some things to ask of you.

Be together with us, physically present at worship once a week. Wherever you are on your journey of faith, you are welcome at God’s table, which we reassemble, set, and provision each time we gather for the Eucharist. Through it, the stories of scripture and the rhythms of the church year change us slowly and deeply. To meet your needs, we have indoor and outdoor options, small and large groups, quiet, musical, or boisterous. Whether Sunday morning, Saturday afternoon, or midweek, the circle is incomplete without you.

Seek to grow constantly, through small group discussions, rector’s Bible study, reading a book with others, anti-racism training, or one-on-one dialogues across difference. Take responsibility for your own development—emotionally, spiritually, and in service to others.

Engage with the community of Baltimore and Redeemer in actions that benefit the common good. Lead a small group discussion, sing in the choir, teach Sunday School, organize with BUILD, tutor at Govans, serve at the altar or with the flower guild or as a reader or at coffee hour…

Whatever our habits were before or through the pandemic, we are called now to new patterns of faithful living. Let love move us, let love keep and extend us, to build the church that the world needs in this moment. I’m looking forward to seeing you soon!


As we stand poised on the brink of a new program year and summer transitioning to fall, we are regathering and “re-emerging“, continuing to learn how to coexist with COVID. Schools are reopening and classes resuming. This past Tuesday morning, our parish hall was buzzing with the energy of parents from our Redeemer Parish Day School mingling over coffee. My own daughter Grace and son Ben are back at school (a senior in college and a freshman in high school … ummmm, where did the time go?!). Email boxes and calendars are filling up, invitations to various opportunities coming in.

For some, this shift in energy feels welcome, a longtime coming, and reenergizing: “Finally! Here we go!!” For others, it brings cause for even more pause, and feels a bit daunting and disorienting: “Oh my! Uh-oh, here we go??” Many of us, I imagine, may find ourselves somewhere on the spectrum between these two poles.

As I reflect on this shifting of tides and seasons, my seventh grade English teacher, Mrs. Brizendine, comes to mind and heart. Mrs. Brizendine wore a fun-loving, pseudo-mischievous grin and blue-rimmed glasses. She charged us a nickel every time we misused and abused the word “like” (“like, ummm, OMG!), and she would sit on the edge of her desk and run her thumb across the pages of the book we were reading, lifting it to her face and smelling its particular scent.

Her handwritten comments of “awkward” and “wordy”, scrawled in red marker on the margins of my papers, still draw my attention, in my memory; as does her enthusiastic exhortation to all of us students, to “show” her and not “tell” her, with our writing.

“Show me, don’t tell me! Show me what you mean, describe it to me! Engage all your senses with mine; paint a picture — an image — with your words. What does what you’re trying to describe sound like? Smell like? Feel like? What colors do you want me to see? Show me, don’t tell me …”

It was her counsel I recalled yesterday, in response to words I read, written by author Jack Kornfield: “In the end, these things matter most. How well did you love? How fully did you live? How deeply did you let go?” As I reread and digested these questions, Jesus’ voice in John’s gospel echoed alongside: “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (NRSV) or “I have come in order that you might have life — life in all its fullness” (Good News).

How well did you love?

How fully did you live?

How deeply did you let go?

“I have come in order that you might have life, life in all its fullness.”

As we discern how to move forward into a new season of journeying together, day by day by day  — What do I choose? What do I “put back” on my plate and on my calendar? What do I “let go”? — may Jack’s questions and Jesus’ voice guide us. And, as Mrs. Brizendine would say, “Show me, don’t tell me.”