Dear Folks,

We have an incredible new resource in Thomasina Wharton, as she brings a focus on spiritual direction to her role as Director of the Center for Wellbeing. Not surprisingly, several people have wondered, “But what is spiritual direction?” and “How is it different from seeing a therapist?”

For thousands of years mystics have discovered and refined practices that develop a relationship to God (or Spirit or Presence) and that deepen this connection within an individual. Spiritual direction, then, is an ancient path for seekers, religious and otherwise, who long to find themselves (or meaning or purpose) by searching for the divine. The practice might include periods of silence, intentional breathing, keeping a journal, walking as prayer, or inviting an image to speak.

Spiritual direction involves deep listening. The “answer” to whatever question one might bring is waiting to be discovered within the directee, by the directee. Because our lives are often chockablock full of distractions or appointments, what one is seeking can be obscured by words and old habits, or by the judgments we carry about the feelings we feel or the thoughts that we think. Deep listening honors the individual’s soul and trusts its capacity to embrace what it finds. It begins with the assumption that the divine is present and within, and eager to be found.

The spiritual director acts as a mid-wife—not causing the new birth or even bringing it—but present to the directee’s labor and encouraging it, knowing when to wait and when to push, creating as much safety as possible in an inherently risky situation. Spiritual direction is to “hold space” and time for the one who is giving birth and for the one who is being born. The director resists the temptation to control or manage the work that the directee has brought, choosing instead to tend a space of compassion for the directee to do what only she can do.

The goal of therapy is learn how to make healthy choices, to feel better or more empowered, to function and communicate more successfully. Barbara Brown Taylor speaks of therapy as offering tools to help us get out of our dark caves. The goal of spiritual direction, on the other hand, is to explore the meaning of one’s life, and particularly of our suffering, and to nurture one’s relationship to the divine. Taylor likens it to realizing that one is in a dark cave and wanting to go further in. Rather than offering external information or guidance, spiritual direction helps one listen to the Spirit within, believing that the knowledge one needs is already present in the directee.

If you want to reflect further on the possibilities of spiritual direction, contact Thomasina or me.


Last Friday over 500 of us gathered in church to celebrate the life of Kenzie Cheston, one of our beloved young people who died suddenly and unexpectedly over Labor Day weekend.

Amidst our shock, grief and heartbreak, we prayed and sang and wept out loud, together. Spirit spoke through scripture, liturgy and Rebecca’s homily; hymns, poetry and a violin. Grace and comfort soared through the voices of our young people, encouraged by Maggie Klaes and accompanied by Val Adelung on the piano, singing reassurance that we will encounter Kenzie in the “space between”. Parents-turned-ushers welcomed and greeted each person who came through our doors.

Our nave offered sanctuary to weary souls who came in need of respite, comfort and solid ground on which to stand, regardless of faith or creed, belief or non-belief. And the Good News that nothing —not even death — can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord was proclaimed, felt, and lived.

In a world and a culture that persist in the illusion that we are separate, that vulnerability is weakness, that we must “pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps” and “tough it out on our own”, and that death has the final word, the One whom we follow invites a different way of being and living:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”

As it turns out, we do this – we come to our Lord and find rest – by coming together and gathering in community; by being the hands and hearts and feet of the living Christ for one another. In times of joy and sorrow, celebration and grief, through all the changes and chances of this world — the rising and falling of people in power and of financial markets, of relationships that delight and disappoint, of dreams and goals achieved and lost, of our deepest selves lost and found, of loved ones living and dying — we embody Christ — “God With Us” — most powerfully when we are present with and for one another.

Deep inside, we know this: we cannot be fully human in isolation; we can only be fully human in community. The mercy, compassion and healing balm of God are embodied in and through us — in acts of kindness and connection, hands outstretched and arms open wide, hearts broken open and opening wider still. Yes, we need each other. And yes, we are stronger together.

So let us continue to walk beside Shannon, Jim, Clare, and so many others who are making their way through the valley of the shadow of death. Let us practice encountering Kenzie and our beloved departed in the Space Between. Let us keep gathering, inviting, extending hospitality, offering sanctuary, showing up and being fully present to, for, and with one another, so we may be the change in the world that we so desperately long to see.

Our very lives depend on it.


Dear all,

This Monday marked our first elementary school Chapel at PDS! The Redeemer Racers, grades 1-3, were all present. Three students from third grade carried the torches and cross as our inaugural acolytes; the first grade class wrote and shared prayers for our Prayers of the People; and the second grade – with help from a few additional third graders – helped tell our story. Together we learned new songs, practiced standing up and sitting down at different times, and started to get familiar with a new routine.

It takes time to get used to a new routine. We didn’t all know the words to our new songs in Chapel; it was confusing when to sit and when to stand. But that is the beauty of gathering every week, of sharing a new part of life – we learn and grow together. We teach each other as we go. As time passes, we find ourselves changed.

Chapel is not the only place where we experience this, of course. The move to a new school or a new job; a birth or a death; a change in commute that takes you through a new neighborhood or a different class schedule that has you sitting with different people at lunch – these are all moments in which change occurs. These changes may be big or small. They may be immediately noticed or take years to realize.

Here at Redeemer, we are being changed through the growth of the Day School. When David gives the announcements during church each week and welcomes the congregation, he reminds us that we know God better through one another. Each new person is an opportunity to know Christ in a new way. And that is true for all of the students, families, teachers, and staff that the Day School’s expansion brings. We are getting know God in new ways through each of them, learning and growing together, teaching each other as we go.

So when you pass by the learning cottage by the chapel or play on the playground, say a prayer for our friends at PDS. Pray for our whole community as it grows in new ways. We are getting to know God better through one another.


Dear Folks,

Nicholas Kristof writes today in the New York Times of a “loneliness epidemic,” citing arresting statistics about its impact on our souls and bodies. It turns out that being divided physically, politically, emotionally, and spiritually is making us sick. Are you surprised? And the solution isn’t for us to agree with our friends or opponents—the ones within you or close to home or across some tribal line—but to spend time together in consistent and committed ways… to create bonds across difference, to discover how much we have in common, to make space. Recalling the work of Robert Putnam, we’ve been “bowling alone” since at least the mid-1990’s, and the paucity of guilds and groups and gatherings for at least two generations has taken its toll. We need each other!

It’s a wake-up call, not unlike Moses’s experience last week with the burning bush. Moses is a fugitive from justice.  He has killed a man in Egypt and fled some 200 miles, to hide out, presumably for the rest of his life.  All things being equal, it’s a comfortable exile, and he has everything that he thinks he wants: a spouse, a child, plenty of land and livestock, working for his father-in-law.  But something makes him stop and look at this extraordinary sight, a bush that burns but is not consumed… some longing or anxiety, some sense of unfinished business or dreams deferred, some notion of things in the world not being right or a question about his success being all there is…  “Is this it,” he must have been wondering about the life he was living, as he shucked off his shoes.

Moses was 80 years old before he turned aside and noticed the burning bush, before he heard God’s voice clearly say, “You and your people are suffering and you need to help to set them (and yourself) free.”  There probably had been burning bushes along the way for Moses for decades, but only now did he turn and listen.  He finally woke up and noticed what had been true all along: a whole lot of people were hurting, including himself. Because his circumstances were fairly comfortable, Moses had been sleep-walking for years, but on this day he heard the voices within and without: “my people are living lives of quiet desperation,” or worse.

Moses discovers that it is never too late to address the ways that we are separated from each other. Are you willing to risk the same epiphany? Here’s the good news: the healing starts as soon as you commit to engaging with a small group of others.

At Redeemer this month we are inviting every person in the parish to join a House Meeting group: gatherings of 6-8 people who will commit to meeting with each other once/month, between now and May, facilitated by parishioners who are trained and supported by the clergy, following a simple agenda that includes some fellowship, food, and faithfulness. According to surgeon general’s statistics, we are ahead of the game by attending church, but being rooted in a group of accountability and affection can make a life-changing difference. Sign up here.


Sometimes I really do believe that we are all doing the very best we can and at other times, not so much.  I recently read an article about a woman who entered a fast-food restaurant and took issue with some of the employees who were speaking a language other than English to each other.  This did not interfere with the woman’s attempt to order or receive her meal, but it apparently interfered with her sense of propriety in “Mickey Dee’s.”  She proceeded to lambast the two people conversing with each other and the manager as well, for not forcing them to speak English only.  I wonder if that was her true best since their conversation was not directed to her nor intended to engage her.  It’s funny that I should have come across the story because it made me wonder about the way we think about and treat the average, nameless worker in our society, and the actual origins of the Labor Day holiday which we will celebrate next week.

In lots of ways, we take the holiday for granted, never really stopping to consider the honor and respect due the American worker for the material success of the United States.  This was true even after the first Monday in September had been declared a legal national holiday in 1894.  And still today, migrant workers remain one of the most disenfranchised groups within this country.

With the full flex of the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century came 12-hour workdays, 7 days a week for the average American worker.  This included 6,7, and 8-year-old children.  The Haymarket riots in Chicago in 1886 are considered the origin of the labor movement.  The clash between the police and workers resulted in deaths and eventual arrest and capital punishment for at least four workers charged with being instigators of the rebellion.  I don’t believe any of us consider the enormous sacrifice that many of our national nameless ancestors encountered to allow us the privilege of celebrating Labor Day Holiday with food, fireworks, and fun.  And THAT is truly the RUB.

People like A. Philip Randolph, Cesar Chavez, Larry Itliong, and Dolores Huerta were paramount, especially for the many people of color who did the work that other Americans disdained to do.  How often do we eat a cucumber or anything else without giving thanks for the ones who prepared the soil, planted, harvested, and transported them all to market for the rest of us to purchase and consume?  We all need each other so where do we go when we forget this very significant fact?

The average worker in this country goes in to work to do the tasks assigned for the compensation agreed upon.  It is a strictly quid pro quo agreement.  Our personal likes and dislikes can certainly be rectified by withholding our business from some enterprises and patronizing others.  We have the human responsibility to do our personal best though, to honor other human beings who are just trying to do their personal best.  What if our judgment of the other is a projection of our own psyche through our own eyes?  After all, who was it who said, “why worry about a speck in the eye of a brother when you have a board in your own?”  And yes, the sword cuts both ways! 😊

I hope you will enjoy your Labor Day in gratitude with food, family, and fun…and fireworks if available.

Feeling Grateful for the opportunity to do my Best,
Freda Marie+

To everything – turn, turn, turn
There is a season – turn, turn, turn
And a time to every purpose under heaven

The song Pete Seeger wrote (based on Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8) and The Byrds  made famous in the 1960’s is on my mind-heart-soul.

It’s that time of year, when a familiar refrain I hear in conversations is “Where did the summer go?

While some of us are hanging on to and relishing every last drop of summer, others are already shifting gears to new school and program years. Teachers are getting ready to welcome students back, fall schedules are being put in place and dates marked on calendars.

Our church staff is getting ready to roll out our new house meetings next month (stay tuned for more details, coming soon!), and our Redeemer Parish Day School is blazing a trail with our first ever 3rd grade class learning and growing on campus.

Seasons are shifting in other ways too. Many of our beloveds continue to depart this earthly life, while others are preparing to go. Couples are getting ready to exchange vows and rings. Parents are inviting friends and family to come celebrate with us in church, to welcome their child as the newest member of “Team Jesus”.

And what about all that continues to shift and change in the world around us, in the wider communities of which we are a part?

Amidst all that is changing, all that is shifting, all that is turning, God Is. “Abide in me,” our Lord whispers, agitates, invites, reminds, “Abide in me.

At the end of last spring/beginning of the summer, a prayer-poem came to me that I shared with all of you. I’ve changed it, shifted it, turned it, so to speak, and I invite you to pray it with me, in a new way, once again.

Grace and peace, strength and courage, comfort and love to you, as we continue journeying along the way, together.

Grace at the threshold II

as we walk
across the threshold
behind us — what has been
before us — what has yet to be
let us be mindful
of what
we carry with us

like those
who are packing
our bags
to go
on pilgrimage

let us take time
to be still
to reflect
to envision

let us choose with intention

and take special care
that our compass
to the voice
of the One
who calls us forth

to be
to become
to embody
more fully
who we really are





A few weeks ago, I had the great privilege of celebrating three sacraments in one day. In the morning there were three baptisms, which Freda Marie+ and I shared, and afterwards I celebrated the Eucharist. Then, later that afternoon, I officiated a marriage here in our beautiful church. It was amazing, wonderful, awesome in the truest sense of those words – I was amazed, filled with wonder and awe. Being present to those three sacraments in quick succession made me more aware than usual of the presence of God among us. They heightened my sense of how we truly are the body of Christ, coming together to welcome new members, eat together, and celebrate the joining of two lives.

This is what the sacraments do. In the Episcopal Church, we understand that the sacraments are outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace. They help make us aware of God’s grace and presence through material signs and symbols. And that’s important, because sometimes that grace and presence can be easy to overlook, even though, I would argue, it’s always there. And we are so hungry for it!

As the weeks have passed, and as I look ahead to the fall and the start of the program year, I am excited for more opportunities to recognize God’s presence within and among us. Instead of rose colored glasses, I want to wear sacramental glasses, to help me see God’s grace and presence. The world is not always rose colored – but God is present even in the midst of suffering and despair, and even in the most quotidian moments of life. This is part of the promise of the Incarnation and the Resurrection.

While visiting a friend last week, I came across a prayer that captures this with beauty and eloquence (and struck home for me personally).

And so my invitation to you as we get ready for the program year in September is to try out these sacramental glasses with me. How might your version of diaper changing be transformed when viewed a receptacle and reservoir of heavenly grace? And, if you, like me, sometimes need a reminder to see the grace and presence of God around you I would like to issue a second invitation: come to church.

Come on a Saturday evening or a Sunday morning to pray and sing and share the heavenly meal with the gathered body of Christ. Come to choir practice on Thursday evening to discover the harmonies that are created in song and in relationship. Come to a young adult group and explore who God is to you at this moment in life. Come to youth group and meet Christ through relationships new and old. Come to BUILD meetings and feel the power of the Holy Spirit as it works in our beloved Baltimore. Come, and let us remind one another of the grace of God that is offered freely every moment of every day and presence of God that is in and around us always.


P.S. “A Liturgy for Changing Diapers” is from Every Moment Holy: Volume 1.

Have you ever noticed how many times we are commanded in the Psalms to “Sing to the Lord”?

Psalm 105, the Psalm for this Sunday, exhorts us:

1 Give thanks to the Lord and call upon his Name; *
make known his deeds among the peoples.

2 Sing to him, sing praises to him, *
and speak of all his marvelous works.

3 Glory in his holy Name; *
let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.

How many times in important scriptural stories is a song mentioned as a response or integral part? Remember how Miriam danced and sang after the Israelites deliverance at the Red Sea, how the exiles sat by the waters of Babylon and wept and sang sad songs, and how Jesus and his disciples sang a song after the Last Supper before they went out to the garden to pray. Even today we punctuate birthdays and other significant events with songs, because music touches us in a place where other things cannot, and something special happens when we lift our voices together in celebration, in sorrow, or any other expression of human emotion.

It troubles me, then, when I see music programs in schools being cut. I don’t find it at all surprising that test scores in schools continue to fall, despite significant investment in STEM programs, when music and the arts have been taken out of the curriculum. If you look at most of the great scientists and thinkers, they were also artists and musicians. There is a good reason for this. We know that the brain has two hemispheres and that one side-the left side-is more analytical, and that the other side-the right side-is more creative. These great men and women used both parts of their brains, the creative and analytical, to make amazing discoveries.

It is imperative that both sides of the child’s brain are exercised and developed. Music, with its strong ties to mathematics, its recognizable patterns, and its creativity, provides training for both sides of the brain. Musical training gives experience with converting sound into symbol and symbol into sound, which reinforces language skills. We singers mostly sing poetry replete with metaphor, which opens our minds to deeper levels of meaning and expands our horizons. Singers in choirs also develop close ties with their fellow singers, increasing their sense of community and enhancing their understanding of teamwork.

Numerous studies have shown that participation in a choir has benefits for persons of all ages: for children and youth, the obvious developmental and socialization ones, and for adults a variety of mental and physical health benefits, including lowered blood pressure and decreased mental decline.

For all of these reasons, and many others, we offer opportunities for children, youth, and adults to begin, develop, and continue their musical experiences through a variety of choirs. The St. Gabriel Choir, for children aged 5 through 2nd grade concentrates on teaching good vocal practices, building music reading skills, and experiencing teamwork. The Choir School of Baltimore, for children in 3rd through 12th grades, employs RSCM Voice for Life training to acquire fluency in reading and understanding the fundamentals of music, developing healthy vocal skills, learning leadership techniques, and creating lasting friendships. The Redeemer Choir and the Connections Choir, offer adults the opportunity to continue their musical development with others who share their love of singing in vibrant community. You may contact Bert Landman or Robert Chrystal or visit the Redeemer website for more information about the choirs.

As we approach the new program year, encourage the children in your life to become involved in one of our choirs as a part of helping them become successful adults engaging all of their brains, bodies, and spirits. For those of us past 12th grade, there is also a place for you to continue your life-long journey of learning, leaning into healthy practices, and engaging your spirit.

Sing to the Lord, all the whole earth. – Psalm 96:1b

~ Bert Landman
Organist/Director of Music Ministry

Have you ever made plans to do something important and some piece of the plan, namely another person, fails to play their part in your plan?  Even as I write this I am smiling to myself.  How often do we say that we are not God, yet act as if we are?

After taking a full day off for this one issue I had been working on for two months I discovered to my chagrin that my friend, Gregg, had not stepped up to the plate.  Now I don’t know about you, but when things are not going my way I can become an extremely intense and challenging woman.  So as I began to move into a “funk,” I remembered a new spiritual practice I had thought about attempting in a particularly trying moment like this one.

Being in a funk may feel good initially, but frankly I am no longer a low-density kind of person and acting angry, morose, and petulant accomplishes nothing for my soul.  Yes, I can tell when my feelings are out of concert with the true me; the Soul me or the Soul that I AM.          So, my experiment was to remind myself of who I am, what I am, and how I serve in LIFE.  At this stage of the game, outside in the heating waiting on Gregg who is not showing up—what else am I going to do?

After other members of my unsuccessful party had driven off, I promptly sat on a stoop of the building in SILENCE.  While sitting this way and simply observing cars and people, buildings and the sky, heat and the sounds of LIFE around me, a feeling of blessedness arose and right behind it— gratitude.  It felt good and not at all like the funk of just a few minutes past.  I then verbalized my truth I AM that to everything I was experiencing.  This brought me to an immediate inner peace and feeling of “rightness” about the moment I was in —including everything that had brought me to that particular moment.

As I left to return home, I surmised that I may not have accomplished the plan of the day, and so what?  The world did not stop turning, nor did the sky fall.  I am one with the Creator of the Cosmos; we all are and that is enough!  So, what have you been experimenting with this summer?

Still Smiling with Love,
Freda Marie+

Last week, Redeemer hosted our first week of Paul’s Place camp since the beginning of the pandemic. Approximately forty campers and five counselors from Paul’s Place; thirteen teenage counselors from Redeemer; three adult activity leaders; five intrepid adult kitchen helpers; one college camp director; Cristina; and I spent the week laughing, getting lost in the building, asking for more pizza, playing tag, saying thank you, talking, learning about our bodies, making art, reading, writing poetry, and dancing. It was fantastic!

This summer, our week’s theme was “Makers on the Move” (with a fantastic t-shirt designed by Perry Sovich!). The week started out with a trip to the Sankofa Children’s Museum of African Cultures on Monday, where we learned about the history, cultures, and geography of Africa. On Tuesday, back at Redeemer, the makers got to work. Each day campers went to different activities: Arts and Crafts, Creative Writing, Science, Physical Activity, Dance Practice, and Library. In Arts and Crafts they worked with Joan and Thomas to make paper bag puppets, worry dolls, and painted canvases with their own masterpieces. In Creative Writing, Cathy and Ben help them create their own super heroes with special powers (lasers and flying were there, but so were healing and empathy), back stories, and acrostic poems. In Science with Kate and Waverly, campers drew outlines of their bodies and filled them in, learning about ears, eyes, heart, lungs, and more.

And the campers weren’t just making – they were moving, too! Jay ran Physical Activity out on the front lawn – which made for excellent viewing from the church offices. The kids played all kinds of games, some of which led to water being dumped on their counselors! The Library, housed in the Chapel, provided a space for everyone to cool down – counselors read to their campers or supported them in independent reading. Finally, each team of counselors led their group in choreographing a dance for a competition on Friday. Competition was heated, but each team was awarded a certificate: for the most courageous, the most cooperative, the most community-oriented, and the most celebratory performance.

Courage, cooperation, community, and celebration were our themes for the week. At the beginning of each day, our wonderful storyteller, Tracy, would invite us into a story about the themes, encouraging all of us to embody them for the day. And camp requires all of them. It requires courage to step outside one’s comfort zone and try something new or meet new people. It takes cooperation to work as a team, whether your campers, counselors, or members of our kitchen crew. If we are oriented towards our community, we help grow it, taking care of each other. And what is camp without celebrating all the accomplishments of the week?! We celebrated our makers on the move on Friday with pizza for lunch, a tour of everyone’s art, creative writing, and science projects, and, of course, the dance performance.

None of this would have been possible without our volunteers and without the support of the Parish! Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who donated snacks, printed postcards, and made this week possible.


Counselors debriefing after a day at camp.


Campers listening to a story in morning meeting.


Members of the kitchen crew hard at work!


Lunch time!