“Autumn Returns” by Doug Thorpe

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November 13, 2022

Autumn returns with the rain and cold. This time it seemed to happen overnight. I talk with my daughter over WhatsApp and—along with the beloved and very mobile grandson Walter—she shows me the blue skies, the red and golden leaves of Buffalo New York. The flames of autumn give way to grays and ash.

I’m pretty sure that I’m not the only one around here who welcomed the rain with a sense of relief—more so this year because of the oddly high temperatures we had into October. Now we relax a little, bid farewell to the fruits of summer and early autumn, and settle in with the wind and rain. It’s a time of endings, marked in particular by the Triduum of All Hallows, All Saints and All Souls, a time in the calendar to honor and remember those who have passed, the saints of our own lives and of the church.

Fittingly, Advent is just around the corner. The Oxford English Dictionary tells us that the word comes from the Latin, meaning to come to or towards, and more specifically “the arrival of a notable person or thing.” Out of the darkness, Advent affirms, comes new light—most generally in the form of the solstice, with days growing longer. For us. of course. that new light comes more specifically in the form of a child.

This fall I’ve been reading Karen Armstrong’s most recent book, Sacred Nature: How We Can Recover Our Bond with the Natural World. In the title chapter, she tells us the story of a group of seventeenth century Jesuit missionaries trying to explain the shape of the cosmos to a group of Chinese intellectuals, using a map of sorts that showed the earth, the planets and the location of God out at the edge of the universe in the form of the Primum Mobile. As Armstrong tells it, the Chinese were bewildered. Why should the deity whom the Jesuits called the “Lord of Creation” be content to be confined to a tiny sector of the universe that he had supposedly created? The Confucian scholar Fang Yishi (1611–71) concluded that the West was detailed in material investigation,” and deficient in comprehending seminal forces (qi). By qi, Fang was referring to the essence of Being—a force that the Chinese regarded as “unknowable,” the “recondite,” and the “uniting layers of mysteries.”

As Armstrong concludes, “when faced with the ultimate reality, [Fang] believed, humans must fall silent because it lies beyond the reach of verbal concepts.”

There is much about these ideas that I find compelling—this sense of a “basic ‘stuff’ or essence of the universe ... neither wholly spiritual nor wholly material,” as Armstrong describes qi. “It is ineffable; it is something that we cannot define or describe. It is not a god or a being of any kind; it is the energy that pervades all life, harmoniously linking the plant, animal, human and divine worlds and enabling them to fulfill their potential.” This is similar, she continues, to the Hindu concept of Rta, “best understood as ‘active, creative truth’ or ‘the way things truly are.’ Like qi and Dao, Rta was not a god but a sacred, impersonal, animating force. . . [which] could be experienced as the sublime whole, which flowed from itself expansively, bringing about the cosmos, humans, and the god themselves.”

We seem close, in a way, to the idea of the Holy Spirit, which similarly “flowed from itself expansively” and which mysteriously and invisibly moves through all things. On the other hand, we are far from the world of the prophet Jeremiah, from whom we’ve been hearing this fall, who claimed to speak as the voice of a very personal God who called his people back to a path of justice. We are also a long way from a child born in a cold barn in a small village in an insignificant country which was little more than a crossroads and was under the control of the military power of Rome. And yet that child is why we are here together as the community of Saint Mark’s, and within that community why we form the Creation Care Ministry. Seemingly impossibly and yet truly, we believe that this energy—this holy spirit—is fully manifested in the person of Jesus, who in turn inspires us in our justice work. Literally, he fills us with that same spirit. Like disciples going back in an unbroken chain two thousand years, we believe that we’ve been touched by that same energy, which we also experience directly and powerfully in creation: in the mountains, in a forest, by the ocean.

Yes, it’s autumn. We are moving steadily towards winter and into shorter, darker days. Yet the new year approaches in that same form of a child in whom we see all the hope of the world. And that same child awakens in us the knowledge that we too are that light—and that hope. May it continue to sustain us.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue,
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river shallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourne;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

 

—John Keats, To Autumn, September 19, 1819


Longtime Saint Mark's parishioner and former vestry member Doug Thorpe is Professor Emeritus of English at Seattle Pacific University.

Intersectionality and Environmentalism: A Reflection by The Rev. Edie Weller

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The Intersection Between Environmentalism, Racism, and Privilege

A Program at Town Hall Seattle on May 10, 2022

Reflections by The Rev. Edie Weller

Leah Thomas, author of The Intersectional Environmentalist: How to Dismantle Systems of Oppression to Protect People and Planet (2022), recently spoke with Hannah Wilson, Farm Manager at Yes Farm, leader of the Black Famers Collective and co-chair of the Environmental Justice Commission of the City of Seattle, as part of a program offered by Town Hall Seattle. Their conversation focused on Thomas’ work in the field of environmental justice with direct focus on intersectionality—how to understand and give voice to environmental issues and actions through multiple perspectives of race, gender, physical and cognitive ability, age and other factors. A video of their conversation is available here.

Thomas described her motivation to enter into environmental advocacy because she realized she saw little evidence of contributions to environmental science and sustainability by Black scholars and professionals. This was especially so during the crucial time of protests related to both racial justice and climate change in recent years.  

Here are some observations and recommendations from Thomas’ conversation with Wilson:

Education

Environmental science curricula in both predominantly Black and white academic programs need to be more inclusive and deepen their focus on intersectionality around topics of racial & social justice, environmental racism, and climate justice.

Access to environmental education at all levels should be a priority. Social media has a role to play in expanding access to multiple levels/cohorts of people (though this is not necessarily the primary teaching platform).

Hiring

Thomas advocates for increasing staff diversity (in terms of race and other dimensions) across every level of environmental organization, including academic programs. It’s not enough to have an officer for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. More opportunity needs to be given for BIPOC and other non-dominant voices to contribute to analysis, goal setting, community interactions, and overall action.

More established, white-led environmental organizations need to examine and confront their legacy of not hiring diverse staffs.

Funding

Thomas identified the need to broaden the funding of smaller environmental organizations (majority are non-profits), particularly those led by BIPOC staffs. She noted that 8 of the largest and best-known environmental organizations receive about 70% of grants and other funding, while Black-led organizations receive less than 2%. This distribution needs to shift to build capacity for action over a broader base.

Advocacy development:

Thomas and Wilson both advise getting to know local climate and environmental justice organizations and coalitions, as well as the issues most salient to that community or region. This will increase the capacity for advocacy as well as deepen relationships and coalition-building.

Thomas and Wilson both see a connection to disability justice, especially the need to include voices and ideas from those with ability issues who might not have an easy time physically participating in meetings or actions.

Both speakers were very clear that many serious environmental issues face BIPOC and other marginalized communities right now—action is needed to help people live healthy, productive lives now, not only in future (white) generations. The complexity of climate change and its impacts—and other environmental challenges—calls for an intersectional perspective and participation NOW!

White allies need to be aware and intentional in working with diverse communities:

  • Be aware of bringing a “white savior” attitude (that whites need to help/lead others in defining the critical areas of focus and action)
  • Recognize that there is always more to learn: be open to what BIPOC and others have to contribute from their own experience and priorities. Do not attempt to speak for communities that you aren’t actually a part of.
  • LISTEN to others and respect their right to give input into issues of deepest concern to them.

Resources

Black Nature – A poetry anthology of the Black community’s experiences in nature across the last century

Generation Green – Environmental Liberation, for and by Black people

The Intersectional Environmentalist Platform – resources to accompany Thomas’ book

A Complete video of this program – from Town Hall Seattle

“Moments in the Wilderness” by Doug Thorpe

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July 19, 2022

It’s an old game I’d often play with my students to jog them into writing, especially in Spring Quarter as we moved into May.  We all get a little restless indoors by this point in the academic year, sitting in a sterile classroom; we start to feel some warmth rising up from the earth and can imagine again a life beyond the rain and cold. So I’d ask: if you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would it be?  Tell me about it—make me feel it in your words.   

My own answer would vary. I dearly love the Gulf of Mexico and the beautiful white beaches of Siesta Key, just as at certain moments I might choose the Left Bank of Paris early in the morning as the bakeries were opening, or even certain quiet streets in the old city of Jerusalem at dusk. But it’s clear to me that my own preference finally lies with the Cascades.  So many memories up there—so many hikes and backpack trips with Judy and Kate over the years, and with the hope and expectation of more to come. And of course part of the pleasure is coming to know these places fairly intimately after numerous trips. For me the Cascades are specific: among many other sacred spots I think of Dishpan Gap, just north of  Lake Sally Ann on the Pacific Coast Trail (PCT), or Meandering Meadows, still further north by a few miles and a mile below the PCT, or Macalester Pass, a few miles north of Stehekin. 

Of course all of these spots are beautiful, but I could have chosen others which are clearly more picturesque. So what is it about these places? It’s certainly that sense of truly being out there—in the mountains, far from roads and cities, far from Starbucks—but it’s also being out there with people whom I love. And so the memories of those places are filled not just with glorious mountains and deep green valleys but with people.   

This awareness of mine may well mark a difference from when I first wrote about these mountains in a book called Rapture of the Deep: Reflections of the Wild in Art, Wilderness and the Sacred. Back then, fifteen or twenty years ago, I was focusing on the connection I felt between my experiences on these trips with Judy and Kate and what I knew from my life teaching great literature and from my experience with contemplative and mystical spirituality. All of these, I argued, have something to do with the kind of depth of power we feel in wilderness—in the mountains, the desert, the ocean—as Belden Lane has written about so often. In my Introduction to the book I talk about this literal and metaphorical place into which so many of us are drawn, where we might well feel both fear and wonder. Writing of the ancient Sumerian hero Gilgamesh, I say that (metaphorically) “he has known the rolling waters of the sea, the great silence of the mountains, and in those places has felt something so huge and beautiful that he’s ready to surrender everything to be part of it.” 

I still can feel this desire, and acknowledge that it remains central to my understanding of Christ and my own spiritual longings. But what’s curious is that, even as I look back through this book of mine, what moves me most are those passages where I’m with Judy and Kate. At the beginning of the first chapter, for example, I describe a moment with them on our first backpack trip when we did a loop around Stehekin, making our way to Macalester Pass where we spent a night in our family-sized tent. Kate was eight at the time; early in the morning I was out listening to the howling of wolves to the east of us and in my mind making some connections to those beautiful animals and my daughter. And then I wrote: I remember this moment nine months later as I stand on my front porch and watch my daughter walk down the sidewalk, lunch box in hand, to her carpool. She turns, smiles and waves, then vanishes from my sight. 

This was a moment in time that is now more than thirty years ago. It’s long gone, as of course we both—we all—will be long gone in what is really just a blink of an eye. And yet I’m convinced that in some other sense, or in some other understanding of time—Kairos versus Chronos—this moment endures. It’s these tiny threads of love, these connections we have to people and to places. Suddenly I’m aware that it’s not just the magnificent mountains that surround us here beside the Salish Sea that last, but—perhaps even more—it’s  the tiny mycorrhizae, those threads that weave all things together beneath the forest floor and, as we now know, that connect those trees into one magnificent community.   

Into, I might say, another part of the body of Christ. 

And so yes, I do still experience that fear and wonder up there at Dishpan Gap or camped down in Meandering Meadows or up at Macalester Pass; I still feel the sense of adventure setting out down a narrow mountain trail. All that I wrote about decades ago is still true to something in my own spiritual journey. But now, gratefully, gracefully, there’s also this—all those years and memories with friends and family, memories that I see now are their own form of mycorrhizae, spiritual threads woven through time and space connecting us to each other and back to parents and grandparents and forward to the generations still to come. “Fibres of love” Blake calls these connections, and like love, as love, they endure.

We are dust certainly enough, but we are also, as Joni said long ago, star dust.


Longtime Saint Mark's parishioner and former vestry member Doug Thorpe is Professor Emeritus of English at Seattle Pacific University.

Eat! Play! Love! 2022: Water of Life

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UPDATED WITH PHOTOS

THREE WEDNESDAYS: JUNE 22, JULY 27, and AUGUST 24, 5 P.M.–8 P.M., in Bloedel Hall and throughout the cathedral grounds. Registration requested. Fee: $10 in advance; $12 at the door.


UPDATE: On the Sunday following all three evenings (JUNE 26, JULY 31, and AUGUST 28) between the morning services at 10:10 a.m., participants in the Wednesday gathering will share some of what was presented and created at the event. Meet on the front patio. The gathering on July 31 will include the splash mat!  


First offered in the summer of 2019, Eat, Play Love (Not Your Average Bible Study) is an opportunity for all ages to share a meal, learn, explore, and have fun together at the cathedral. Now this offering returns for 2022!

Take a night off cooking and enjoy a delicious dinner prepared by our own Chef Marc Aubertin, then participate in a variety of creative and reflective activities, including the option to attend in-person Evening Prayer 6–6:30 p.m. The evenings end with a brief service of Compline in the Cathedral Nave.

This year, we will explore the theme "Water of Life" through three scripture stories (Creation, the Baptism of Christ, and The Woman at the Well) and respond to them creatively through activities such as music, art, and science. We'll also dive into justice-seeking as it relates to clean water and water access, both locally and globally.

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Climate Conversations

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FIRST TUESDAYS, BEGINNING JUNE 7, 5:30 p.m.–6:30 p.m., online via Zoom

Looking for practical ways to reduce your impact on the environment? Saint Mark’s Creation Care Ministry is hosting Climate Conversations about everyday things in our lives. These monthly conversations will be held on environmentally-friendly Zoom on the first Tuesday evening of each month from 5:30–6:30 p.m. Here’s the schedule for the next few months.

June 7What you can do about Food (with Marc Aubertin & Richard Hartung)

The slides from the presentation may be seen here.

July 5What you can do about Energy (with Richard Wesley & Richard Hartung)

The slides from this presentation may be seen here

August 2What you can do about Water

The slides from the presentation may be seen here.

September 5What you can do on the Carbon Tracker

The slides from the presentation may be seen here.
Video of this conversation may be seen here and below.

October 4What you can do about Transportation

The slides from the presentation may be seen here.
Video of this conversation may be seen here and below.

November 1: Investing with Your Values ( with Penelope Jackson & Richard Hartung)

The slides from this presentation may be seen here.
In addition, Penelope Jackson shared the following resources:
ESG (Environmental/Social/Governance criteria) FAQ
Responsible Investing Glossary
How to find an Investment Advisor
The Carbon Almanac
Video of this conversation may be seen here and below.

December 6: Creation Care Perspectives on Shopping at Christmas Time

As we head towards Christmas, it’s easy to get caught up in a cycle of decorating our homes and buying presents for family or friends with little concern for the environment. Taking a Creation Care perspective enables us to consider conservation and climate when we shop and give gifts or decorate in eco-friendly ways that help rather than harm the planet. We’ll discuss the impact of traditional shopping trends, the importance of giving eco-friendly gifts, how to select the right presents or experiences as gifts, and how a creation care perspective makes gifting more purposeful and meaningful.

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Made in Faith: Forum on Clothing and Sustainability

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UPDATED WITH VIDEO AND SLIDES

WEDNESDAY, MAY 11, 6:45-8:15 P.M., online via Zoom only

Join Creation Care for a special forum featuring parishioner Clara Berg, fashion historian and curator, and Richard Hartung, sustainable writer/blogger to discuss connections between clothing, the environment and our faith.

We'll share ways to buy less, choose well and make clothes last.


UPDATE: The slides form this presentation may now be seen here.

A video can be seen below:

Beekeeper Forum & Blessing of the Hives

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SUNDAY, MAY 29, 10:10–10:50 a.m., Bloedel Hall 

The cathedral beekeepers will share about their ministry and the current state of the bees who live on the roof above Bloedel, and we’ll conclude with a blessing of the hives.

Note: Doreen Tudor's birthday celebration, previously announced for this time, will be rescheduled for a later date.


See a video introduction to the beekeeping ministry from Fall 2020 below:

A Rogation Day Liturgy

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WEDNESDAY, MAY 25, 6:45–8:15 P.M., in person only, outdoors on the cathedral grounds

Rev. Stahlecker, Canon Rosario-Cruz, and Canon Barrie will lead this intergenerational, prayerful exploration of the tradition of Rogation days, an ancient practice, dating from the 5th century, of blessing and giving thanks for the earth which sustains us.

The service begins with a blessing of Leffler House gardens, followed by a procession with stations, and concludes with the Great Litany (including the Supplication for use "in times or national anxiety or of disaster")

The service leaflet for this liturgy may be seen here.

Group Viewing of “Our Blue Planet: Global Visions of Water” at SAM

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SATURDAY, MAY 21, 10 A.M. TO NOON, Seattle Art Museum

Come explore the vast connections of water in the context of artwork at a new exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum. A group from Saint Mark’s is planning to attend on Saturday, May 21 at 10 a.m. and then discuss the art afterward at SAM’s cafe, MARKET. Interested in meeting up? Email Wayne Duncan (duncan.sw@gmail.com) or Emily Meeks (emcmeeks@gmail.com).

This exhibit closes May 30, and It’s what SAM calls “an experiment in artistic activism.” On display are the works of 74 artists from 17 countries and seven Native American tribes. Visitors are greeted with a welcome in Lushootseed, one of many Coast Salish languages, by Ken Workman, a Duwamish Tribal Member and descendant of Chief Seattle.

Art by Coast Salish Artist Peter Boome on Exhibit in the Cathedral Nave

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ON EXHIBIT APRIL 24–JUNE 5, in the cathedral nave UPDATE: Now extended through JULY 10

SUNDAY MORNING FORUM WITH THE ARTIST: APRIL 24, 10:10 A.M., in Bloedel Hall

UPDATE: A complete video of the forum may be seen below.

OPENING RECEPTION: SUNDAY, APRIL 24, 12:30 P.M., cathedral nave

The Visual Arts Ministry of Saint Mark's Cathedral and Saint Mark's Creation Care Ministry are delighted to co-sponsor an exhibition of works by Peter Boome, Coast Salish Artist and member of the Upper Skagit Tribe of Washington State, April 24–June 5 in the cathedral nave. He works in a variety of mediums, and his exhibition at Saint Mark's will include both prints and paintings. Each of his works tells a story, and his exhibition at Saint Mark’s will explore themes including the connection between spirituality and natural world. Works on display in the nave will include new work created especially for this exhibition, a template for a mural on the Seattle waterfront displayed here publicly for the first time, large-scale works on canvas, and smaller prints and paintings. Works will available to be purchased from the artist.

Join the artist for a conversational forum at 10 a.m. between Sunday morning services on April 24, offered in person and online, and for the opening reception at 12:30 p.m. that afternoon. The reception will feature music by members of the Native Jazz Quartet.


Sunday Morning Forum with Peter Boome


About Peter Boome

Peter Boome is a member of the Upper Skagit Tribe of Washington State. He earned his AA from Northwest Indian College, his BAS and MES from the Evergreen State College, and his JD from the University of Washington School of Law.

Peter’s work has been aggressively sought after by collectors around the world. He has emerged as a leading Coast Salish artist, winning prestigious awards at shows such as Indian Market in Santa Fe, The Eiteljorg Museum in Indianapolis, the Heard Museum in Phoenix and many more. Peter has worked with both new and established indigenous artists from around the country and as far away as New Zealand.

His work has been displayed at institutions including the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, the Autry Museum in Los Angeles, and the Duwamish Longhouse and Cultural Center, and is part of the permanent collections of the Burke Museum and Washington State History Museum.

More of Peter's work can be seen and purchased on his website here.


This video from the Washington State Historical Society features footage of the artist at work at approx. 15'50".

The video interview below was recorded in August of 2021 by The National Museum of the American Indian.

Cathedral Commons—Middle East Children’s Alliance: The Maia Project

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UPDATE WITH VIDEO

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 20, 6:45 p.m.–8:15 P.M., in Bloedel Hall and via Zoom

Join Zeiad Shamrouch, Executive Director of the Middle East Children’s Alliance, as he discusses MECA’s Maia project, which is supported by Bishop Rickel and the Diocese of Olympia.

The Maia Project began in 2007 when the Student Parliament at the UN Boys’ School in Bureij Refugee Camp, Gaza were given the opportunity to choose one thing they most wanted for their school: They chose to have clean drinking water. The reason: 95% of Gaza’s water is unfit for human consumption. Since then The Maia Project has completed 73 water purification and desalinization projects, bringing clean water to 90,000 children in Gaza.

The Middle East Children’s Alliance is a nonprofit organization working for the rights and the well-being of children in the Middle East.

“Easter Uprising” by Doug Thorpe

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April 14, 2022

We will go into the future as a single sacred community or we will perish in the desert.
—Thomas Berry

People in Gaza rely on water from public filling stations.
Pollution on tap in Gaza

It’s Shrove Tuesday, aka Mardi Gras—the night before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. As I’m waiting for a friend, a message on my phone alerts me to the information that it’s World Water Day. Water scarcity in the West Bank and Gaza is an issue I’ve explored in some detail, beginning with my first trip to Israel-Palestine some ten years ago with friends from Earth Ministry.

The water situation there hasn’t changed much since then. As Amnesty International reports, soon after Israel occupied the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, in June 1967, the Israeli military authorities consolidated complete power over all water resources and water-related infrastructure in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). Of the water available from West Bank aquifers, Israel uses 73%, West Bank Palestinians use 17%, and illegal Jewish settlers use 10%. While 10-14% of Palestine’s GDP is agricultural, 90% of them must rely on rain-fed farming methods.

I’ve not been to Gaza—it’s next to impossible to get in since its border has been controlled by Israel—but I have friends who endure the reality of life over there, where the water is essentially undrinkable, primarily because of the destruction of sewage plants during Israeli attacks. A recent report sums up the hard news.

We all have a chance to learn something about this through a Wednesday night forum on April 20th featuring staff from The Middle East Children's Alliance. They[1]  will lead a discussion about the Maia Project that brings clean water to schools in Gaza by installing filtration systems. It’s a project endorsed by our Bishop; members of the Bishop’s Committee and the Cathedral’s Mideast Focus Committee are working at raising awareness and funds.

It's all part of what we’re calling Mutual Ministry: the recognition that we do not work in silos but that, for example, Creation Care connects directly with issues of environmental injustice, which in turn connects with ongoing racial injustice. And all of it calls us because of a love for a world seeded into us by the love given to us by Christ.

There are no borders in the geography of Jesus.

The next night, Judy and I go to the Cathedral for the Ash Wednesday service and listen to Eliacin give the homily, where he beautifully connects the mark of ash on the forehead received tonight—from dust you came, to dust you return—to the mark of oil on that same forehead that will come for the newly baptized at the Easter Vigil. Which this year will include my grandson Walter, who will be baptized at the Vigil at Saint Mark’s in the Bowery in New York. The hand of the priest, flesh on flesh, the sign of the cross.

You are sealed by the Holy Spirit in baptism and marked as Christ’s own forever.

From death and a desert wandering to new life, rising up out of the waters in a resurrected body that is not simply one’s old body but is every body, everyone, the body of Christ, raised with Him, meaning that we’re alive in love, immortalized in and through love. The waters of baptism—often just a few drops, a handful—signify this love which cleanses and heals and, yes, restores.

We take water so much for granted until we don’t have it. But of course the beauty and power of water is at the heart of this new life, both literally in our bodily need but also aesthetically in its sheer beauty. One of the first places I felt something of this was on the Gulf Coast of Florida where my grandparents lived. At night, as a teenager, I’d leave our rented apartment and walk down to the beach and just sit there and stare out at the dark waves, the sky and stars. It was there that I first sensed that we are truly as wide as the sky.

That feeling remains every time I’m at the ocean or simply sitting at the shore of Puget Sound or a river in the North Cascades. It is as deep as the sky, older than the universe itself. What’s left is gratitude, because you know you’ve done nothing to deserve it. And you know that what you feel is a holy thing. The old life gone. Nothing left but grace.

Rising up from the ashes.

After all the years of laboring you arrive here, at this place, this Easter, with the memory of ash on your forehead, yourself as dust and yet with the love for a newly baptized grandson seeded deep inside the soil of your heart. Knowing that there is work to be done in the vineyard, in this wounded world, and knowing too that there are new generations preparing for the task. May there be rainfall and snow melt, flowing rivers and clean lakes, for those who follow us. May there be clean water.


Longtime Saint Mark's parishioner and former vestry member Doug Thorpe is Professor Emeritus of English at Seattle Pacific University.

Belden Lane at Saint Mark’s: Ravished by Nature’s Beauty

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UPDATED WITH VIDEO

FRIDAY, APRIL 22, 2022, 6:30–8:30 P.M.
and SATURDAY, APRIL 23, 9:30 A.M.–3 P.M., in person in Bloedel Hall or online via Zoom. Registration required.

An offering from The Wisdom School at Saint Mark's

Ravished by Nature’s Beauty—Longing for God

A two-part workshop led by Belden C. Lane

The Christian mystical tradition can be deeply earthy and sensual in its yearning for union with the Divine. Hildegard of Bingen and Teresa of Avila found a wondrous God in trees and flowing water. Catherine of Siena and Ignatius Loyola were drawn by the wild energy of fire and the darkness of the cave. These mystics call us back to a “Great Conversation” with the natural world, reconnecting our spiritual lives with the earth. Renowned theologian and best-selling author Belden Lane will guide this wholesome exploration through images, storytelling, poetry, and guided meditation.

The confluence of Earth Day, the Easter Season, and springtime delight affords a spectacular opportunity to engage in conversation with nature, and through it, with God. Dr. Lane will offer four reflections:

  1. The Great Conversation: Listening to Trees
  2. Wilderness, Storytelling, and the Power of Place
  3. Catherine and Teresa, Women of Spirit: Fire and Water (Feeding one’s Desire for God)
  4. Ignatius Loyola and the Cave as Teacher

Space and time are integrated to allow contemplative time in the urban green space, journaling, and plenary conversations. Fee is $60 which includes snacks and light breakfast and lunch Saturday for those in Bloedel Hall.

Advance registration required. Fee: $60. 

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“Lenten Thoughts” by Doug Thorpe

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February 23, 2022

A birch leaf held fast
In limestone ten million years
Still quietly burns,
Though claimed by the darkness.

 

Let earth be this windfall
Swept to a handful of seeds—
One tree, one leaf,
Gives us plenty of light.

 

John Haines, The Owl in the Mask of the Dreamer: Collected Poems

Lent. The word derives from the Old English lencten meaning spring season, perhaps derived from a related root meaning long, connected to the lengthening of days. Or, perhaps, to just how long it can take for spring to arrive in the north. Think of the melting of icicles off gutters, which I remember best from my childhood on the edge of Chicago when I used to delight in eating them like popsicles. Lent is no longer winter exactly, but in northern climates it’s also not that burst of energy that we associate with Spring, even though the spring equinox often occurs during Lent. Still, it’s during this liturgical season that somewhere below the surface of the earth things are beginning to quicken. Life returning—time itself is in motion again.

The church calendar follows this seasonal calendar, at least here in the northern hemisphere. We move from the celebration of Mary’s pregnancy on March 25, close to the spring equinox, to the birth nine months later on December 25—winter solstice, as light begins to overtake the darkness. Then we move quickly from birth and baptism to the 40 days of desert wilderness, also echoing the Israelites’ 40 years of wandering: Lent, with that underground sense of something still unknown coming—a wind, a belief in buried seeds. And just as Joshua crosses over the Jordan River into the Promised Land, so does Jesus—whose name echoes Joshua’s—arrive at last back in Jerusalem, David’s city, the spiritual center of the Promised Land.

And then suddenly it all seems to end. And then it doesn’t.

We’re in motion and yet also circling, since we do it every year, all praise to The Book of Common Prayer. Each of us is a year older, so that we’re moving forward through time even while the liturgy circles, so that simultaneously we feel ourselves caught within a linear process, time moving inexorably ahead, even while we stand outside of time. We are, in Christ, in time and freed from time.

There is no better expression of this, in my opinion, than the experience of celebrating Eucharist even as we are observing Lent—and yes, right up through Good Friday. So there we are, caught in this linear sequence that leads us inevitably to the cross and death, and yet in the very midst of that we are celebrating again this meal with Jesus, who is very much with us—not simply as a memory, but somehow here, now, even as He is with Mary Magdalene at the tomb and with those disciples on the road to Emmaus.

Very paradoxical. My non-logical literary mind loves it.

So too with the idea of the Kingdom: we affirm it as a future apocalyptic reality (and we finish the New Testament in linear fashion with a vision of the descent of the “New Jerusalem” among us), even as we accept Christ’s proclamation of a Kingdom already here, around us, among us, within us.

Clearly this is a Kingdom rather unlike Rome’s, or indeed unlike David’s.

Seasons come, seasons pass. We have a journey before us only to discover that there is nowhere we need to go.

Consider the story that Belden Lane (the cathedral’s guest this coming April) retells from Niko Kazantzakis. A pious monk saves up all his life to make the great pilgrimage to Jerusalem, where he will approach the Holy Sepulcher at last, circle it in ritual fashion three times, and only then be ready to return home and be ready to die, a transformed man. At last he has the money for the trip and he sets off, leaving his monastery for the first time in decades. But no sooner has he left than he comes upon a poor beggar who asks the monk where he’s off to. “Jerusalem,” proudly says the monk.

“And you have saved enough for this trip?” asks the beggar.

“Yes indeed—I have it right here in my satchel.”

The beggar then describes his plight: a wife and young child at home, no work, no food; indeed, they are on the very edge of starvation. After a moment’s silence the beggar looks at the monk: would you consider, he says, giving me your money and then walking around me three times before returning to your monastery?

The monk returns the gaze of the beggar and then slowly opens his satchel, hands over his life’s savings, circles three times around the man—and yes, returns to the monastery ready to die, a transformed man.

Lent. Yes, we have a long journey ahead of us. And yet—where is there to get to? Jerusalem? The Holy Sepulcher? Sometimes yes, absolutely, we need to go on pilgrimage. But, the story reminds us, ultimately there is nowhere else we need to go to follow this Way, recognizing that Christ himself is right here, directly in front of us in a world in need of all we’ve been saving up. And so we circle that holiness—in the liturgy and in the love we give away to family, friends, strangers, the broken earth itself. We return home and live out our days transformed, moving with the seasons even as we live, as Blake put it, in eternity’s sunrise.


Longtime Saint Mark's parishioner and former vestry member Doug Thorpe is Professor Emeritus of English at Seattle Pacific University.

Winter Solstice Poetry Reading with Creation Care

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UPDATED WITH POEMS AND SLIDES

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 19, 10:10 A.M., Bloedel Hall

Winter solstice brings the first day of winter and a return of more sunlight. Drawing from a selection of poems connected to light, parishioner and English professor Doug Thorpe will guide us in a time of reading and reflection to discover creation themes. A slideshow of light-inspired photos from Saint Mark's parishioners will also be shared.

Download the poems from the event here (pdf).

Download the slides from the program here (pdf),

The COP26 Experience: Heathy Skepticism and Abiding Faith—A Forum with Dr Lisa Graumlich

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UPDATED WITH VIDEO AND MATERIALS

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 1, 6:45–8:15 P.M, online only via Zoom

For two weeks in November many of us sat on edge of chairs following updates from the twenty-sixth Conference of the Parties (COP26), more commonly known as simply the climate summit. As it ended, many felt disappointed that our high hopes for an ambitious global plan of action were not fully realized. What happened? Where do we go from here? Please join us for a discussion with Lisa Graumlich who will reflect on her long-time engagement with climate change as well as her recent experience as a COP26 delegate on behalf of the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, participating virtually.

Saint Mark’s parishioner Dave Menz and Grace Episcopal parishioner John Kydd will also be sharing a few insights and photos about their experiences of being in Glasgow among the crowds.


Check out the following resources presented at the event:

Click here to read her letter from the first week of the conference, and here to read her article Loss and Damage: Why these two words hold the key to a just transition in a warming world on the Episcopal Church website.

“We All Have the Potential to Be Activists”—A Reflection by Anna Xie

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Heather Sutkus, a youth in the community of Saint Mark's and member of cathedral's Creation Care Ministry, wanted to share this essay written by her friend and classmate Anna Xie. Heather writes, “I chose Anna’s article because I was struck by how her experience of childhood was dramatically different from my own. Whereas I grew up unaware of the toll my lifestyle had on the environment, Anna had to live with the consequences every day.”


"We all have the potential to be activists."

by Anna Xie

“Don’t run,” my teachers told me, “Play walking soccer.” Or sometimes, “We have indoor recess.” Why? Because it was unhealthy for us to breathe. I spent the first 12 years of my life in Shanghai and Beijing, where the air quality made headlines around the world. Words like “beyond index” and “red alert” were frequently used.

In first grade, I had an assignment to go outside every night and record what I saw in the sky. But almost every night, I couldn’t see anything. I would write “too [sic] pollootd”. Six-year-olds should not have polluted in their daily vocabulary.

My name is Anna, I’m 16 years old, and I am a climate activist. I used to think pollution was just the way things were. That it’s normal to have air purifiers in every room. It’s common to get lingering sore throats when adjusting to polluted air. Of course, everyone has the air quality app right next to the weather one. Some places had it bad, like Beijing, and others had it better, like Seattle, where my family lived during the summer. The clean, crisp air in Seattle was a buffer. I believed everything was under control. I knew about the increasing threat of climate change, but it couldn’t possibly affect me. Besides, adults were on it.

But they aren’t. With climate change being the single largest threat to humankind and the World Health Organization’s projected 250,000+ climate-related deaths between 2030 and 2050, why isn’t everyone freaking out?

It’s time for sweeping, nationwide change and as youth, we need to be part of it. Our home and our dreams are at stake. My generation’s future does not extend beyond 2050. Babies born today will hardly be 30. Us young people are the largest stakeholders of all.

The horrifying thing is that we have solutions to solve the climate crisis. The tools are in our hands, but we just aren’t using them.

In 2019, I finally had enough. In Seattle, where I live full-time now, pollution is clouding the view of Mount Rainier and temperatures are climbing to record highs. Worldwide, this is only the beginning. It was time to do something. Not just for myself, but for people who aren’t as fortunate as I was to be able to move away from the pollution. I ended up joining my school’s environmental club, and after having a great experience there, I decided to go a step further and join an environmental organization. Naturally, I turned to Google, and looked up “environmental organizations to join.”

That search led me on a path to join Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL), a nonpartisan environmental organization advocating for national policies to combat climate change. It has been one of the most inspiring and educating decisions I have ever made. Through CCL, experienced members coached me on lobbying Congress and members of our local state legislature for the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, a bipartisan, market-based solution to lower emissions. Together with youth from around the state, I have organized local community events to bring even more youth into the climate movement. Because of CCL, I’ve met so many passionate climate activists, adults and youth.

The problem for youth is that many don’t think we can create change, but we can and we have. Thousands of youth-led climate movements around the world are gaining momentum. In September 2019, millions of young people held the largest ever global climate demonstration. Seeing people accomplish something amazing like that makes me optimistic and hopeful for the future.

However, we can’t do this on our own. Youth have the power to lift a movement up, but we need everyone to create lasting positive change. Everyone brings individual talents and assets to the climate movement. 

After starting a school bottled water ban campaign, it surprised me that discussion was taking place simply because I had an idea and said something about it. Imagine if today, we all spoke up for our home and our futures. We all have the potential to be activists. It just takes that one step. Wouldn’t it be something?


Anna Xie is a 16-year-old student at Mercer Island High School. 

Photo from the Climate Strike in London via Wikimedia Commons, CC-BY 2.0

Convention on Climate Change Events

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COP26 KICK-OFF: THURSDAY, OCTOBER 28, 10 A.M. PST, Register here

COP26 WORSHIP SERVICE: SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 8 A.M. PST, Register here

COP26 CLOSING EVENT: SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 8 A.M. PST, Register here 

UPDATE: The Episcopal Church's Creation Care office has published a piece by Dr. Lisa Graumlich titled COP26 — What to watch for? What to pray for?.

 


Attend Virtual COP26 Public Events

From October 31 through November 12, 2021, 120 political leaders will gather in Glasgow, Scotland, for the United Nations 26th Conference of Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP26), which feels to many like the last chance for coordinated global action to prevent the most catastrophic consequences of human-caused climate change. Saint Mark's Parishioner and American Geophysical Union president-elect Dr. Lisa Graumlich has been invited to be part of The Episcopal Church delegation to this potentially historic meeting. You are invited to register and attend the public events below.

 


Episcopal Climate Advocacy at the UN: COP26 Kick-Off with the Presiding Bishop’s Delegation  

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 28, 10 A.M. PST, Register here

Join the Episcopal Presiding Bishop’s Delegates to the United Nations 26th Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP26) and our partners for this public launch event! Participants will meet our delegates and get an introduction to global climate advocacy through a faith lens, just in time for the start of COP26 on October 31st, 2021. We will share Episcopal policy priorities and advocacy strategies, and invite the whole Episcopal Church to join in prayer and witness for this critical global conference.

 


Liturgy for Planetary Crisis: Episcopal Worship Service during COP26 

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 8 A.M. PST, Register here 

Please join in prayer and worship with our Episcopal Presiding Bishop’s Delegation and all who have been present in witness and advocacy at this global climate conference. This service is open to all and will focus on the need for swift, just action to bring us back into right relationships across the human family and with all of God’s creation. The liturgy will draw on our Episcopal tradition and beyond and will offer strength to the community at COP26.

 


COP26 Closing Event: Report Back from the Presiding Bishop’s Delegation 

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 12, 11 A.M. PST, Register here 

As the 26th Conference of Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change draws to an end on November 12th, gather with Episcopal advocates and ecumenical partners for this closing event. Our Presiding Bishop’s Delegation will offer reports from their witness at the conference, as well as top line summaries from the negotiations. We will finish with a faith-led vision of the future for Episcopal advocacy around climate change.

19th Annual Community Multi-Faith Summit

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SUNDAY, OCTOBER 31, 2 P.M.

Faith—Science—Sacred Activism. Hear from leaders of various faiths, including First Peoples, Buddhist, Jewish, and Christian, as they share how their faith tradition calls them to act on climate change. And then join in the discussion with panelists about actions communities can take together to be part of hopeful solutions. This online-only event is co-sponsored by Saint Mark's.

Register here, or contact Marjorie Ringness or Libby Carr if you have questions.

View the PDF flyer here.

2021 St. Francis Day Outdoor Liturgy with Blessing of the Animals

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SATURDAY, OCTOBER 2, 2021, 4:30 P.M., on the outdoor labyrinth and front lawn

On Saturday, October 2, Saint Mark's will once again offer its beloved Saint Francis Day tradition. A few years ago this offering was moved from Sunday morning to Saturday afternoon, and the outdoor celebration has a truly festive community atmosphere. Dogs, cats, bird, bunnies, ponies, chickens, and all creatures great and small are welcome!

The event will again feature contributions from acclaimed Seattle musician James Falzone, and this year, music will also be offered by the young choristers of Choir School. The service will include prayers for healing humanity’s relationship with the earth, and for all the creatures who share the earth with us. Following the service, animals can receive an individual blessing from a priest if desired.

All are invited to attend, with or without their animal companions. Stuffed animals are also welcome to be blessed, as are photographs of pets who would not find attending the event a blessed experience.

Animals should remain leashed or kenneled. Following current recommendations regarding outdoor events with crowds, all attendees must remain masked at all times, and are requested to maintain social distance as much as possible. You are welcome to bring your own chair to use on the lawn, although chairs will also be provided.

UPDATE: Video may be seen below

Service Leaflet

Code Red For Humanity: Reflections on the IPCC Report 6th Assessment Report on Climate Change

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UPDATED WITH VIDEO OF THE EVENT

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 7 P.M. via Zoom

The recent IPCC report shows that heating from humans has caused irreparable damage to Earth that could worsen in the years to come. Come learn about causes, potential impacts and response options while reflecting how we may find hope in our collective efforts for change.

Saint Mark's parishioner and American Geophysical Union president-elect Lisa Graumlich will lead us in making sense of these findings and explore how we may move forward with this information.


Click here to download the slides from the presentation.

Click here to download a list of references and resources.

A video of the event can be seen below :

PLEASE NOTE: Like all cathedral gatherings, both in person and online, this event began with a Land Acknowledgment. However, it was inadvertently not recorded, and so does not appear in the video above. Saint Mark’s Cathedral acknowledges that we gather on the traditional land of the first people of Seattle, the Duwamish People, who are still here, and we honor with gratitude the land itself and the life of the Duwamish Tribe.

Autumnal Poetry Reading, hosted by Creation Care

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SUNDAY, OCTOBER 3, 10:10-10:50 A.M., Bloedel Hall

Fall is upon us with leaves changing, crisper nights, and fruits for foraging. Drawing from a selection of autumnal poems, parishioner and English professor Doug Thorpe will guide us in a time of reading and reflection to discover creation themes and connections.

View a PDF of the poetry read at the event here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Intergenerational Hike to Twin Falls

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UPDATE: Check out the Creation-themed liturgy shared at the event here, and some photos below: 

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 12, 2021,  2 –5:30 P.M.

Let’s hike together! All ages are welcome on this 3 mile roundtrip hike to Twin Falls as we take time to connect, move and pray in nature after church. We’ll meet at the trailhead at 2 p.m. and finish by 5:30 p.m. Bring your water, snacks and appropriate gear - we recommend good hiking shoes, layers, sunscreen and a hat.

Register to attend here!

Questions? Contact Emily Meeks (emcmeeks@gmail.com). 

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Special Parish Forum on the Statement of Lament and Commitment to Action

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UPDATE: This event has been rescheduled for November 17, 2021. Learn more and register here.


WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 15, 2021, 6:30–8 p.m.

Hybrid gathering: in Bloedel Hall and via Zoom (registration requested for either option so we can plan accordingly)

Earlier this year the Vestry unanimously adopted the Statement of Lament and Commitment to Action as a guide for our important work as individuals and community as we strive for justice and peace and respect for every human being. It is a substantial document with a broad range of statements leading to actionable ways we are called to live and act in the world. In the special parish forum, to which all are invited and encouraged to attend, we will reflect together, unpack the document, and break into groups which will focus on specific areas of work including

  1. Addressing Homeless and Hunger in Seattle,
  2. Cathedral innovations for Reparations,
  3. Racial Justice and Healing,
  4. Global Justice ministries,
  5. Immigration Ministries, and
  6. Networking with Affiliate Partners in Ministry.

Please register in advance using the form below, whether to plan to attend in person or online via Zoom. If you choose the online option, a Zoom link will be emailed to you directly in the days before the event.

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