Chosen Family

Recently we were asked to record why we have included the cathedral in our wills. The videographer brought gladiolas to the interview. We explained to him that we chose the community at St Mark’s to help us raise our kids since our families of origin were so far away.

Decades later, we keep this circle of mutual support going, across lifelong needs. For example, today after church, we checked the medical equipment closet to see if there was a walker we could borrow for my mother.

We love these people, the ones we know, the ones we don’t know yet. We include everyone. We describe ourselves as One Body.

And we want this intergenerational care to continue after we die.


Imagine a book club with no rules. As I understand it, there are only two Rules anyway, the rest are parables.

This is certainly true for our new book group. It is unfolding fluidly, like a story. For instance, we have our selection for the year—The Second Half of Life, Opening the Eight Gates of Wisdom by Angeles Arrien. Most of our members are virtual; some are super-virtual. There is no assigned reading. When we gather, we read a little of Arrien’s text out loud to each other. We share a meal and a bit about another book we are reading.

Today it went like this:

Mom – I really like doing this, over a nice lunch out. I hope we do this until I die.

Me – Well, most people as old as you are bed-ridden before they die.

Mom – What about the lucky ones who die in their sleep?

Me – You mean the ones who get seduced in their dreams to come over by those on the other side?

Mom – Yeah, like your Dad.

Me – Yeah, him.

Then we flipped forward to the introductory poems about the Gold Gate on pages 135 and 136. Mom read the short one and I read the long one.

Luscious. Talk about Thanks Giving.


Day 13

Photo by Rod Williams

To Come Home to Yourself

by John O’Donohue

May all that is unforgiven in you

Be released.

May your fears yield

their deepest tranquillities .

May all that is unloved in you

Blossom into a future

Graced with love.

Pilgrim Magic

Day 12

Call it what you like. Some of this borders on the unbelievable. Take today. We toured Durham Cathedral and celebrated Eucharist in an ancient stone chapel. Absolutely fantastic!

Afterwards at lunch, Mary asked, so what are you going to do with all this? What popped out was that I hoped we could incorporate more of the language of Celtic spirituality into our services at home. I help lead prayers on Thursday morning where we stick with the Book of Common Prayer for the most part. Sometimes though, we fold in the intercessory prayers from the Green Book and occasionally collects and canticles from Enriching Our Worship.

Imagine me, two hours later, alone in my room, rocking out to my EfM playlists as I packed. Then, poof!, I noticed it was almost seven o’clock in Seattle and time for Morning Prayer. I zoomed in and was asked to read a canticle. I chose one from our Pilgrim Prayer & Song Book, adapted from the Northumbria Community.

With tea in hand and biscuits nearby, I enjoyed the others. Now, afterwards, I am fortified to finish packing then join in our final meeting and celebratory dinner.

Even packing can be sublime.

Big Love

Day 11

It was bound to happen once. As we headed to York with its giant York Minster, I realized my phone was dead and I had forgotten to bring my USB cord for recharging on the bus.

Nonetheless, I’m certain my friends will send me photos of the ruins of Whitby Abbey glistening in the sunshine. What a sparkling day it was both around me and inside my heart.

My answer to the pilgrim’s morning question, “Why am I here today?”, was “Continuing much conscious gratefulness.” And as I fall asleep, the list of gifts tumbles out. It’s long and full of love. As I headed to a hot bath to seal the spectacular day, my 94-year-old mother called me (by her own initiative, I think!).

This is Big Love.