Sunday, September 20, 2020

For The Love of The Land. Rev. Karen Kerrigan


The Love of The Land 

An HOC Wisdom Reflection


   With great love and delight especially during The Season of Creation, we are invited to look around all that is and savor The 13.8 Billion Year Old First Book of Revelation. As we contemplate, we are blessed to enjoy and gain wisdom from all of nature, both here on earth and throughout the universe! This week we are focusing on The Lands of Mother Earth, from mountains to hills, from plateaus to canyons and from valleys and basins.  Let us consider the wonder of all the landscapes, from the powerful movements formed by tectonic plates underground to the very topsoil of which we depend upon. All these amazing land formations embody Divine Wisdom-Sophia as they encompass and maintain us in their embrace…

   For in a beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Ruach pulsed, hovered and fluttered over the nest of her creation!  And according to the first chapter of Genesis, when God gets around to bringing forth creatures, they will be made both female and male at the same time. Finally, humans are created both female and male simultaneously in the Divine Image. Therefore, whenever we use both feminine and masculine language for the Divine, we are not changing the original language but in fact we are restoring it.

   From these first episodes in the bible, we can conclude that God ecstatically loves, delights in and dwells in all of creation both the inanimate and animate alike. Although Genesis 2 has often been used to reinforce privileging androcentric hierarchies, let’s consider what the original Hebrew word “ha’adam” actually means from that section.  Ha’adam expresses that we humans are created from humus or soil.  In other words, we are earthlings, created from the earth, the ground or the dirt.

   For most of western history, these readings have been told from the lens of patriarchal structures that place humans above non-humans as well as men over women and children.   With the help of the enlightenment later, these stories have been applied to reduce the rest of nature as simply for our human resources to use and exploit however we want. Conveniently, the rest of the world was no longer thought of as the Sacred place where God dwells! Interpreting Genesis in this traditional way has placed privileged men over the rest of creation… but… it is not the only way to understand these foundational texts.

   Let’s have another look and rediscover that Genesis specifically names all of creation as good, as a matter of fact, very good.  Therefore, placing humans over non-humans and men over women goes against the bedrock of Genesis!

     Spotlighting for today, The Third Day of Creation, is where God says, “Let The Dry Land appear and it was called, earth!  God created this inanimate earth and saw that it was good!  Therefore, Land is in-on the continuously good acts of creation and not separate from them.  For our example I emphasize the topsoil of earth.  Recalling what I said previously, we humans were formed from this humus or the soil of the earth.  I invite us to consider how valuable this topsoil is from which we are made and where we shall return. Meditate on this fact… The topsoil has all the nutrients that plants need to survive.  Discern the prophetic wisdom found from combining this science and the Genesis writer. We humans come from this nutrient rich soil, just like the rest of the goodness of creation.  Ponder this fact… For plants to grow well, good topsoil is essential!.. Horticulturalists will recommend that if our soil composition, has not been found ideal, the remedy will be to add more good nutrients.  I propose from this factual organic insight that the same is true for our social relations both with the inanimate and animate of the earth alike. Earth grounds us in this most basic wisdom.  According to the first chapter of Genesis and modern science, whatever we do to the earth including the inanimate, we do to ourselves.  Remember that you come from the soil and onto the soil you shall return! The ground of the earth is both our mother that birthed us and our destiny which will finally receive us in her encompassing, grounding embrace… Amen.


Rev. Karen Kerrigan ARCWP FCM

Gathering Priest along
The Huron, Rouge & Detroit Rivers and
The Great Lakes Watershed.
Grateful Member of St. Peter’s Peace &
Social Justice Community, Detroit.
Contributing Weaver Priest with
Heart of Compassion International Community (HOC)


A River Between Us. Rev. Karen Kerrigan


A River Between Us

An HOC Wisdom Reflection



    We, Human Ones are invited to sit at the riverbank and hear our holy guide tell this vision of how God’s water broke and gushed forth in all four directions as it rose!  First, it is coming up to our ankles, next to our knees, further still to our waist and finally above our heads! But the Prophet Ezekiel does not stop there with this sacred water being very place-based. The visualizer goes on to say that this water would descend from the east to the west from the Sea Galilee (cupped hands and using close arms as Jordan) going all the way down the Jordan River to the “stagnant waters” which is likely a reference to The Dead Sea. And flowing in this very arid section to the southern most part of Israel that lastly becomes to The Gulf of Aqaba.

    In the scripture we read, We Human Ones, were told of a hope, that all this usually arid western-side of the Jordan, will have such an abundance of fish, that it will rival the fish of The Mediterranean Sea. Finally, back on the land, we are told of a balance of trees, bearing so much fruit for all 12 months on both sides of the river… What an incredible vision the prophet spoke to people who lived in that environment on the western side of the Jordan River. (pause)

    This same thirsty, parched region is the area that both Mary Magdalene and Jesus knew. I wonder what recognition events would happen for Mary Magdalene and Jesus if they could have traveled the very great distance and came here to be with us on either side of our Detroit River and Great Lakes Region? What would their conversations with us be like?

   To begin with they might find some correlations in the pattern of the waters. In their case from The Palestine Region and ours from The Eastern Great Lakes Region.  Perhaps, Lake St. Clair may have reminded them of The Sea of Galilee.  They might sit with us recognizing, the willow and poplar trees. Probably, noticing that The Detroit River is much shorter than the Jordan but far deeper as it is navigable for Freighters. While their home river is only good for canoes and kayaks.  Correlating again, they could connect, The Dead Sea to Lake Erie, which has been officially a Dead Lake for much of my life.  No matter what else, Mary Magdalene and Jesus would both be astonished by how God’s water broke and gushed forth water all around our region!

   Although they may not like our cold weather, I can imagine them enjoying fishing for Walleye, Bass and Perch as that would be an interesting change from the tilapia, sardines and barbel, which is a type of carp, that they are used to.  While fishing with us, they might see how Herod Antipas’ City of Tiberius was an early forerunner of Detroit’s large industrial past and it’s selective gentrification for the privileged few now.  Mary Magdalene in particular would recognize how regular people are not receiving living wages in our times, is similar to how in her town of Magdala, regular people were not paid enough to salt, smoke and pickle the fish to be sent all over the Roman Empire in her day. She also would be able to imagine people commodifying and privatizing a vital water source to benefit only a few advantaged people, living far away from the source.

   This is where Jesus would speak out, as he hears us talk of federal troops being sent to Detroit. How reminiscent that would be of his beloved Capernaum that was permanently occupied by Roman Troops in his day.  Perhaps, we might have a new awakening, as we recall Jesus telling his co-residents to cast their nets on the other side of the boat and become fishers of people, building beloved communities of resistance instead of cooperating with empire!

    Continuing with my modern midrash, what would we say to Mary Magdalene and Jesus as they asked us about how white European Settlers, who only started coming to this area about 300 years ago, had driven the indigenous people so far away?  As two persons who lived their lives with their homeland being occupied by a foreign empire, both would find a lot in common with the stories of The Anishinaabe speaking peoples.  Like Jesus’ and Mary Magdalene’s indigenous stories, our Three Fires’ People have great narratives of migration in their native traditions.  The former from The Galilee have the story of The Exodus while the later from our region have the memories of their people moving west away from The Atlantic Ocean. With the Anishinabee, third group having a stopping point right here, in this area, on both sides of The Detroit River. 

     What would The Magdalene, Jesus and The Anishinabee converse with us about their respective wisdom traditions?  For starters, both the peoples of our lands and those of ancient Israel recognized their origins in the very breath of God… Our sage teacher Jesus would relate to the Anishinabee prophecy about how the world has become befouled and the water disrespected. All noting that humans have chosen materialism over spirituality. Both Jesus and Magdalene would be floored about how people in our region could disrespect such a great abundance of fresh sweet water! Our embarrassment could cause us hesitation about whether we should take them further north toward The St. Clair River and Lake Huron. As they would find an enormous quantity of water that our two special guests could not likely comprehend!

  Can you hear them both saying, you’ve gotta be kidding me!  The Holy Land is Not just way across the oceans, from where we come from!  No, The Holy Land is right here and her water continues to break, gushing forth, all around you in every direction, in so much plenty!  Take care of it.  Be like your indigenous people in this region who lived here starting 6000 years before we, Mary Magdalene and Jesus were born.  Take Care of your waters.  Clean them up!  And, just like you are God’s Beloveds,… water is a gift ..meant to meet the needs of all living beings.  It is not here to be privatized or commodified.  How fortunate you are to have all this fresh sweet water!

    Unlike The Prophet Ezekiel and John The Baptist, Jesus and Mary Magdalene did not teach us to wait for some outside God from on high to do all the repairing and restoring for us.  Mary Magdalene would remind us not to misuse our human powers but to transcend immature uses of them.  Jesus would remind us that the realm of the power to transform and transcend is within and amongst us as God works with us, co-creating right here and right now! 

    Like many who lived in Jesus’ and Mary Magdalene’s day, I believe that we are in a time of great awakening as the apocalyptic veil is being pulled back and the way things really are, are being exposed. But unlike many who interpret apocalyptic writing as being about destruction, Jesus’ and Mary Magdalene believed it was about transformation with life giving water, the tree of life and each of us as well. The Revelation writer, at the very end of the anthology we call the bible, spoke of an angel showing us The Water of The River of Life, where The Tree of Life is planted on both sides of it’s banks.  The sacred writer goes on to say that the leaves of the trees are for the healing of the nations.  Perhaps as the leaves are beginning to fall this year, we can imagine them as healing the nations on both sides of this river.  Can we recognize, that we The Human Ones on both riverbanks, are blessed to live on this great river of life? So be it! Amen

Rev. Karen Kerrigan ARCWP FCM

Gathering Priest along
The Huron, Rouge & Detroit Rivers and
The Great Lakes Watershed.
Grateful Member of St. Peter’s Peace &
Social Justice Community, Detroit.
Contributing Weaver Priest with
Heart of Compassion International Community (HOC)

In loving memory of Gerrie Kerrigan,
my mother, on her 8th anniversary of Resurrection.


Friday, August 14, 2020

Rev. Dr. Michele Birch-Conery, bishop arcwp: She Rises Again

 Rev. Dr. Michele Birch-Conery, bishop arcwp: She Rises Again by Rev. Dr. Barbara Billey, Heart of Compassion Faith Community, Windsor, ON, Canada 

Michele Birch-Conery, bishop arcwp

Hers is a story of biblical proportion. After two years of roller coaster health crises and rebound recoveries, Michele Birch-Conery, bishop arcwp escapes near death once again. This time the trajectory of her resurrection is much different both on the physical and spiritual plane.

Michele was admitted to a long-term care facility in December 2019. The decision was made on an emergency basis, a choice between hospice and long-term care. Michele's health had significantly deteriorated after a recurrence in August 2018 of a childhood genetic condition called cyclic vomiting syndrome. The pain that accompanies such a condition is dire and often lasts for five days. Michele had to be hospitalized for dehydration and electrolyte imbalances several times since then. Nonetheless, she continued to serve in her capacity as a bishop with arcwp, sometimes teaching us how to pastor and to collaborate on her behalf through her physical challenges. The justice work of advocating for an elder as her power of attorney from the "outside" was another learning curve for me. 

By the fall of 2019, Michele's health was severely compromised. She wanted to die but was not convinced (nor her medical team) that this would happen in the mandated time frame of three months. On admission to long-term care, neither Michele, nor any of us, in the Heart of Compassion Faith Community (HOCFC) had anticipated the coming of the covid-19 pandemic.

Initially, our visits and her outings with us made the harsh realities of living in long-term care doable for Michele until persistent lockdowns and isolation from residents became the norm starting in March 2020; her lack of freedom was exacerbated by hearing loss and inability to see. How does one navigate a world where the sound of caregivers is muffled in a mouth trap mask and the barrier of plastic shields? Not to mention that eighty percent of residents with whom Michele lived had advanced dementia or other physical disabilities that made communication challenging.

In her usual easy-going manner, Michele used these early months as an opportunity to hone her contemplative prayer life and to work on her memoir by phone with me, until spring turned to summer and the hopes of the pandemic ending were nowhere in sight.

An ordained person wherever we go, Michele recounted to me by phone one morning that Harvey, a resident she had befriended had died. She had been matched at meals with Harvey, who apparently talked the entire time while she listened intently. Michele told me that at the end of every meal, unaware of Covid -19 restrictions about touch, she and Harvey shook hands. They had become friends over the past three weeks. On the morning of Harvey's death and before his body was taken away, Michele slipped into his room and gave him a blessing.

In early July, I could feel in Michele's voice that her spirit was waning. I asked, "What's important to you now?" "I spend every part of my day trying not to go insane," Michele replied. The social isolation was dreadful for her. I felt my heart sink with sorrow and knew that we had to get her out of there. Michele was more than willing.

And we did. Rhea, an eighty-two year old mother of six adult children, retired psychiatric nurse and member of HOCFC enthusiastically agreed to have Michele live with her. "It's the right thing to do," remarked Rhea. Other members of our faith community were overjoyed that Michele would be released. We all had missed her deeply. They agreed to help with food preparation, visits, appointments and the move. I secured community health support services and a wonderful medical doctor. Our arcwp priests from Michigan, Jeni Marcus and Karen Kerrigan offered our zoom celebrations, prayers and moral support.

Ordination Anniversary Celebrations

On the occasion of our priestly ordination anniversary celebrations on July 25th (near the Feast of Mary Magdalene) - Michele's 15th and my 5th - about thirty people from all over the world joined on Zoom with our faith community for our Word Wisdom Communion gathering to renew our commitments and to reflect on the many graces Sacred Presence has bestowed up on us. From her room at the long-term care facility, Michele offers us this wisdom.

"When I think of all of you doing studies about Mary Magdalene, nothing should be more relevant to our times. I think of Mary Magdalene teaching the apostles about what Jesus shared privately with her, as well as preparing them to continue their vocation as teachers of His Way.  She is a woman of our times. If there is any one person significant to those of us ordained as Roman Catholic women priests it is Mary Magdalene. I suggest she be named the patron saint of our movement. I see Mary Magdalene as someone who always maintains the peace, while being quietly vigilant about the needs of her companions and of the people of God. She was disappeared as have been many women of the Church. In her reappearance through contemporary feminist theologians and authors, her significant brings us hope for the future of women in the Church."

Michele Birch-Conery, bishop arcwp

On July 30th, Michele burst through the doors of the long-term care facility wearing a hot pink blazer and pushing her wheeled-walker. This was the first time outside of the building in six months. We happily travelled the twenty minutes to Rhea's apartment on the river where Michele would now live. Like the story in John's Gospel of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead (11:1-44), our Michele - wisdom elder, bishop and spiritual mentor - was returned to us and to herself.


As You Draw Nearer to Us - Ordination Anniversary Celebration Michele Birch-Conery, bishop arcwp (July 25, 2005) and Barbara Billey, priest arcwp (July 25, 2015)

Barbara Billey and Michele Birch-Conery, mixed media

"Where the mind is, there is the treasure (Gospel of Mary Magdalene 7:4)," recounts Mary Magdalene to her companions about what has been hidden from them. This is what Jesus tells
  her in a visionary encounter. 

My call to priesthood was birthed in silence of the heart. This sacred invitation came ten years ago in the summer of 2010 following a worship service at an Episcopal Benedictine Abbey in Three Rivers, Michigan. I was at the end of a ten-day silent retreat at nearby GilChrist, a contemplative retreat centre where I had gone for many retreats over the previous five years. I was getting into my car for the drive home to Windsor, Canada when a kindly man approached me with a question? Are you a priest? Without hesitation, I said, "No." In my heart, I heard ‘But I want to be.’ I felt a deep stillness and calm. Once I arrived home and began to share this new vision with family and friends the joyous madness began and has continued ever since.

For me and for people who know and love me, the call to priesthood was inconceivable from its conception. My childhood play did not include enacting the role of a priest with my friends in the backyard, distributing cookie wafers for hosts or juice for wine. Although, I was educated in Roman Catholic (RC) schools, went to Mass every Sunday, and briefly, in my late teens, contemplated a consecrated life as a woman religious, I never dreamed of becoming a priest. How could I? I am a woman.

I wasn't interested in parish council, liturgical music or any other ministries of the Church; however, I sporadically was a minister of the Word and Eucharist. I was not an avid Bible reader who was drawn toward theology. I certainly was not a justice worker or activist. I was a psychotherapist with a passion for the soul life of persons and all forms of art, especially dance. I identified, as did many of my generation and younger, as "spiritual not religious." I went about my life being the best person I could be based on the values of love and care that my family and the Church had taught me.

In my youth and early adulthood, I enjoyed Mass at Blessed Sacrament Church where I was baptized and where I received all the Sacraments. The liturgy, especially the music and prayers, sometimes the homilies, inspired me. Probably like most RCs, my mind would wander. I was fulfilling my weekly obligation, because to not attend was considered a sin, even in the late 60s and early 70s of our post-Vatican Church.

My parents would drive my younger siblings and me from our middle-class, white neighborhood to where the Church was located in one of the poorer sections of the city. I really liked the priests, especially Fr. Joe who would rant about the latest bishop edict that didn't fit his notion of living Gospel values. My friend, Joanna was a music leader there. Fr. Joe was open to her subversive and frequent attempts to thread the Feminine Sacred through the music and liturgical movement. He rarely wore a chausable, most often baggy, cobalt blue sweat pants underneath an alb.  

Many good friends have been and currently are women religious and male priests. My passionate interest in the life of the soul and Buddhist practices held my attention more than my involvement in the Church. I was binary: Buddhist/Roman Catholic. In fact, there was a period of time in my 40s when I was so angry that women weren't included in positions of leadership that, in a radical act of defiance, I spent my Sundays walking in the cathedral of the forest near my home. At that time, I left corporate life as an Executive Director and for ten years, Pat St. Louis, a Sister of St. Joseph and I created a business called WellnessWorks where we designed experiences, whether retreats, programs or workshop, which integrated spirituality, creativity and psychology.

You can imagine how a call to priesthood in the RC Church would have been a dramatic turn that upset the status quo of my comfortable life and those who loved me. The vigor of push back from family and friends was unexpected. Although he did not object to me being a priest, my husband, Ken, who followed his own truth, could not in good conscience attend my ordination. He thought I should work for reform from the inside of the Church. My mother told me I should not go ahead with ordination if my husband was not supportive. They were accustomed to my various changes, but this one was way too far out for them, and deemed by some in my spiritual circles as a regression in my spirituality. All they could see was the confinement of my free spirit by a roman collar around my neck.  This was a very hard time. But, like my badass mother, I did what I needed to do: I was ordained Sat, July 25th, five years ago in Cardinal Place Chapel, a former chapel of the Sisters of the Holy Name of Jesus and Mary (SNJM).

"Where the mind is, there is the treasure (7:4)." In the Gnostic Gospel of Mary Magdalene, the mind was considered in the Greek philosophy and culture of the times to mean the heart. Now in my early fifties follow my heart I did and daringly tread the path to ordination and beyond. It's wild!  

If becoming ordained an RC woman priest isn't enough, the living out of this calling is another animal, an elephant, really. There are many mountains to climb and as far as I know elephants don't climb mountains.

One of the hardest surrenders of ordination: Loss of friends who could not participate in the Roman Catholic (RC) Church because of the patriarchal structures and the abuses of women, children and persons who are LBGTQIS. Even though we our faith community offered a refreshing new interpretation of our tradition, sadly, they were already lost to us. My hopes were also dashed when only a handful of the 130 people who attended my ordination chose to continue on as a faith community.

As I plod the mountain trails, I discovered many limits and learning curves. Some of the requirements of my vocation:

·      To be current on global and Vatican politics and to bear the heart-breaking inherent injustices of God's beloved creation;

·      To recreate liturgy and Word to be a contemporary expression of Divine Mystery in a model of priesthood that embraces Jesus' values for equality, justice and empowerment in our feminist, liberation, and evolutionary theologies;

To    To acquire a third graduate degree, a doctorate in ministry, in addition to completing the arcwp program of preparation;

·      To examine in myself and to let go of communication patterns that reek of patriarchy and domination in order to be a model and to not repeat the harm that has been done due to these practices by our patriarchal Church and sociopolitical institutions;

·      To live out a model of priesthood where we flatten out the hierarchy by sharing power and responsibility;

·      To be a computer geek who sometimes feels hermetically sealed to electronic devices; to balance work and family relationships; to listen to people who know a lot more than I do and, who with ease explicate three to four syllable words (I'm referring to Jeni and Michele);

·      To shift plans in order to be responsive in the moment to emerging pastoral needs;

·      To embrace and enact with others psyche-altering, untried models of collaboration and consensus ;

·      To endure my and others limits of aging and resources (human and financial) and to take care of ourselves and each other;

·      To love and to accept persons who are very different from me, and to collaborate with them in creating innovation in our praying and being;

·      To bear the hurt of family members who show no interest in this huge part of me that is a priest;

·      To wash and iron my vestments and table of worship cloths; with my husband to cook meals and to care for our home (unlike the priests who have their myriad assistants, paid and unpaid);  

·      To be publicly identified by a Church official in the diocese of London administration as "excommunicating myself" because Jesus did not ordain women (Jesus ordained no one);

·      To do all this for free; and

·      And, most importantly, to pull away from the 24/7ness of this vocation to pray, to rest and to play, and to be with the Holy One who sustains us all in our dreaming and doing. 

Had I known what I was getting into would I have said yes?

Yes, I would have. Why? Because the vistas and views of this elephant-climbing-up-the mountain ordination are stunning. At every turn and around each bend is LOVE. Holy Presence draws nearer to me, sends me mountain-climbers to guide the way that have a lot more climbing experience than me. First, there are Jesus and Mary Magdalene, and then centuries of Christians who were persecuted because of their faith. Then there are our foremothers in the women priest movement, some with us today like Christine Mayr-Lumentzberger, bishop rcwp from Germany, one of the first women to be ordained a RC priest who with humility says, “I started the thing.”  When she became a bishop she ordained our Michele Birch-Conery, now bishop with arcwp from Canada. They with others placed their feet on the path to ordination, making it clearer for those of us who follow. They continue to mentor and encourage us along.

There are friends and family who stick with me, especially Ken who is helping where and how he is able to give space for the fuller realization of my vocation as a priest. There is the Sacrament of Holy Orders that holds all in a spiral of grace. 

And, finally I recognize a few members of the Heart of Compassion Faith Community who are at the heart and soul of our holy machinations and mischievous re-claimations of our rightful place at the table of worship and in the wider world.  Please raise your hand as I mention you.

Sr. Sue, a SNJM who somewhere in the year she studied creation spirituality with Matthew Fox proclaimed herself to him as the Goddess of Shit (fully divine and fully human). She is the co-foundress with me of the HOC starting seven years ago.  A retired teacher, minister of touch and spiritual director, she has dealt with a lot of shit in our growing pains in community and thrown a bit of her own around.

Kathy Wortony, a former SNJM and retired teacher who several years ago suffered a severe car accident and brain injury, advocates for persons with brain injury with the Brain Injury Association.

Sharon Beneteau, a former Sister of St. Joseph, a retired school teacher, member of the Catholic Women’s League and member of Women Making a Difference raises funds for clean water projects in Africa.

While being spiritual leaders and support persons with us, Sharon and Kathy advocate for our women priest movement on the inside of the institutional Church.

Rhea Lalonde is a retired psychiatric nurse and mother of six children. In pre-covid times, she shared her apartment in radical hospitality for house church and other gatherings. I recently told her my pain about the neglect of Michele's emotional well-being and her agony in social isolation within a long-term care facility. With support from HOC and local health care providers, I asked if Michele could live with her. Rhea immediately said yes. We will be moving Michele this coming Fri, July 31.

Along with my sister priests, Jeni Marcus and Karen Kerrigan, our HOC faith community, bishop Michele, my companions in the women priest movement and my husband, Ken, You, Sacred Presence raise me up so I can climb mountains. You raise me up to be more than I can be.

And now as You, Sacred Presence draw nearer to us, a new vision of faith community is coming toward us, where we are compelled to creatively embody Jesus' vision of open-heartedness, equality and justice through encounters that empower us in praying and contemplation, in sharing power and responsibility, in welcoming the unwelcomed, and in extending compassionate care to those among us in need.

As You, Sacred Presence draw nearer to us, You dance and sing us into more mad joy. Women are birthing the kin-dom of God into being. In our covenant with You, Divine Mystery we feel ourselves as Your garland of beauty and we are Your delight (cf. 61:5).

Sunday, August 9, 2020

There is a Remedy! Women and World Peace. 8 August 2020

There is a Remedy

Women and World Peace

August 8, 2020

Heart of Compassion International Community


   Three Belarusian women challengers have come together, doing what their menfolk could not do, by uniting their fellow citizens, to take on the man known as the last European dictator. Svetlana Tikhanovskaya is one of those women and she is running against this last tyrant for President of Belarus! Stay tuned as the election is Sunday August 9th.

    It goes without saying that, Mahatma Gandhi was not a warmonger. Furthermore, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was known as The Iron Lady.  So, generalizing that all men rattle the sabers of war and that all women are crucial peace negotiators and equity reconstructionist is simply fake news. Still, there is a key ingredient that research data shows will increase the likelihood of sustainable peace agreements and equitable restructuring in war’s aftermath. And studies show, that key ingredient is women! Not just any woman however, but those with real decision-making power in the spaces where rulings are made. And also, these women must be unfettered by other competing commitments. With so much at stake, I am sharing with you, what are some of the attributes that form peace making and equity restructuring platforms that are actualized, in women and in men of good will.

   A good place to start this investigation is Our own Christian Tradition where, The Sixth Beatitude in Matthew’s Gospel says; “Blessed are the single-hearted for they shall see God.”  Mary Magdalene’s Gospel says; “It’s the eye of the heart, which is between the spirit and soul that perceives the vision.” Both evangelists are pointing to the need to do the spiritual work necessary to overcome the divided or split heart.  Mary Magdalene’s Gospel gives us a process for transforming the forces that can divide and split our commitments. According to The Magdalene, the inner powers one needs to renovate are; darkness, craving, ignorance, enslavement to the physical body, the false peace and the compulsion to rage. If only more people would tap into her ancient perennial wisdom! Unfortunately, spiritual processes are often thought of as, just for the indulgent individual and not for the good of the collective. But I can see that working Magdalene’s or other authentic spiritual programs can benefit the entire spectrum of human relationships and not just our personal ones.  Yet, there are prerequisites to the spiritual journey. One needs to have intentional willingness to divest oneself of those divisive attachments to do this inner work. Even before that comes, the need for real self-knowledge. Finally, the last essential component from what I can see is to construct narratives that affirm inner transformational efforts as vital for peace and equity throughout all our connections of human experience.  In other words, we need convincing arguments that time spent on authentic spiritual practices is what real strong people do. Authentic prayer and spiritual practices are not for wimps!

    Which leads me to introduce you to a Muslim woman named; Manal Omar who was born to Palestinian parents in Saudi Arabia and later immigrated to the United States.  Having a background like hers causes her to divest herself of other weighted alignments and loyalties, to a singular focus. on the project of sustainable peace and equity, for all in The Middle East. Regrettably, this isn’t the case for many who live in that part of the world.  As a matter of fact, she reports that the cause of peace, in The Middle East, has developed a bad name.  Omar acknowledges that currently, nation-states are not waging war the way they used to.  What is on the rise are violent extremists. While at the same time trust in nation-state governments has lessened dramatically.  In conditions such as these, groups of people become more fractured into what she calls sub-identities; religion, ethnic allegiances, job and economic loyalties which divide households and communities.  With all these active competing forces in mind, how does someone like Manal Omar remain optimistic?

    According to Omar, one of the remedies for these dangerous splits are women.  Why is that so? Well, for starters, you will find women know violence. Sadly, more women died, from violence against them, than all those who died during the wars of the 20th century! Those women have died from starvation, rape, honor killings, infanticide and other reasons.  Additionally, more than 4 million women world-wide, disappear each year! Manal remarks, that’s like the entire population of LA disappearing annually. Because women face the worst of the consequences of war and inequitable peace, they are amongst the first to take the steps to real peace-building and equitable restructuring in the aftereffects of conflict. 

    We know that it is not every woman, who is committed to cause of equitable peace. But don’t be discouraged by women not committed to real sisterhood though. The good news is, there are known attributes and characteristics that can be developed in and recognized by those women who activate them. True peace-building women are empowered integrated women who know their communities well.  They recognize when unsettling changes are happening in their region quickly. But what’s also key is that these empowered women are not vested in the competing conditions that benefit from conflict. It’s those empowered, integrated and unfettered women who are more likely to cross religious, ethnic and political boundaries.  Omar reports that it was women such as these, who were on the front lines of The Arab Spring actions that happened about a decade ago.  Interestingly, bold women acting in this way, will often energize the men in their groups, who are now ashamed by doing nothing, while their women are acting so brave. 

   Astonishingly, Omar Manal who is a Muslim woman asserts that we need to help these women to be fully embodied and integrated. And stunningly, it’s Omar who says, this includes the power of women’s sexuality.  Just like so many western spiritual leaders, Omar reports that full self-knowledge is essential.  Female sexual strengths are vital life force energies, that women for far too long, have been taught to suppress!  Suffocating women’s life force energy, according to Omar is like shutting down their inner GPS system! Even more so, suppressing them is like causing a drain, similar to the kind we know that leads to dead batteries in the car.  Be reassured by Omar, that one does not need to have sex, to be able to integrate this vital life force energy into our peace and equitable restructuring leadership. 

   To recap, there is a remedy to that which ails our world! That hidden remedy… in need of awakening is women! The question is, do women have the courage to consciously choose to transform our own inner competing forces?  Do we have the willingness to intentionally, cultivate our embodied, sexual and integrated selves?  We as women come out at these transformational tasks, with the embodied force that brings new life into this world. These energies are our birthright! Let’s awaken them! We can do this, not by replacing men of good will but by co-creating with them the sustainable and equitable future everyone longs for!  Amen

Rev. Karen Kerrigan ARCWP

Gathering Priest along The Huron, Rouge & Detroit Rivers and The Great Lakes Watershed.

Grateful Member of St. Peter’s Peace & Social Justice Community, Detroit.

Contributing Weaver Priest, Heart of Compassion International Community (HOC). Windsor/Detroit

MA (Special Education) MA (Reading Specialty)

Ignatian Spiritual Director, Extensive Centering Prayer Experience, Contemplative Activist.


From Co-Leader: Jen Harvey’s Reflection: Jen shared her experience of learning about Hiroshima and Nagasaki while visiting Japan.  She shared her richly detailed knowledge of going to memorial to Sadako Sasaki, who died from leukemia caused by radiation poisoning, 10 years after the bombing of Hiroshima 75 years ago. Sadako was taught by another patient at her hospital that making a thousand paper cranes would bring good wishes.  Sadako was able to construct about 675 paper cranes before she died at 12 years old.  People all over the world have been making paper cranes in her memory ever since. Jen named Sadako, “The midwife of peace in Japan!”

If you wish here are instructions to make paper cranes.

How to make origami paper cranes.

Materials: Paper, scissors, three markers or crayons: pink, blue and orange.

Use this youtube instructions to create your paper crane.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Another World is Possible Reflection 18 July 2020 HOC

Wisdom Sharing: Heart of Compassion (HOC) International Community
Sharon Beneteau- Homily Starter and Bakerwoman Reflection
Parable Reflection Homily- Karen Kerrigan

Another World is Possible Homily July 2020.
     What is God’s way of ruling like? Jesus, Our Sophia-Wisdom paradigm shifter, used simple, everyday experiences, from the lives of his peasant hearers, to encourage a re-imagining and a re-envisioning of the way society is set up, according to The Divine Householder’s collaborative style.  In describing a new vision of social order for community and all of humankind, Jesus challenged the listeners to reconsider the world to be, the way it, ought to be!...  Our Sage storyteller didn’t want the parables to be just listened to!  Rather the hearers are invited to be transformed from spectators into being one of Jesus’ accomplices in The Way.  Just as author and activist, Arundhati Roy says; “Another world is not only possible, she is on her way.  On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing….Hear her breathing… 
   So to, as we listen to and act upon Jesus’ stories, we can begin to hear her breathing as well!
    Hear this, Jesus says, God’s Reign is like a tiny mustard seed!...  Can you imagine the astonishment from the listeners?  After all, according to Jim Perkinson, the farmland owners, whom these peasants often day-labored for, knew their overseers wanted those dog-gone mustard plants out of their fields!  Why?... Because they only started, as tiny seeds but when they grew, they would take over the grounds and prevent the for-profit crops from growing as planned.  What was pesky weeds, that interfered with the cash crops to commercial landowners, was for peasants sometimes medicinal and sometimes spice.  And now for this marginal Rabbi was a way of describing God’s dream for society to be like just one…just one… of these little seeds. And somehow, Jesus was using what the hearers knew, about them, as a Divine model, for refashioning the structure of the way things are done, not only around here but also for the rest of the world! Even more incredible is the suggestion that somehow each one of them and each one of us are invited to be part of this way of reorganizing community and the world…
  How confrontational is this, to my world of excuses, for even a tiny seed can be a role model for God’s Reign!  That takes away any easy outs in this that say, I couldn’t possibly do it. Sorry,… for the inconvenience but just one of these little seeds are capable of producing a bush or tree as high as 30 feet. What does that say about each one of us as tiny seeds?  What more does it say about us if we choose to collaborate with God and each other?  What a vision!
      No wonder, Spiritual leader and Episcopal Priest Cynthia Bourgeault says that, parables are meant… to fry our sockets! And this next story was and is likely to do just that! For it was spoken to an audience living in total patriarchal societal arrangements!
    And it was in that context, where Jesus said,… The Reign of God is like a woman!  Now come on you can’t be serious Jesus!  What did I hear you say? The Reign of God is like a woman!  Well, who let that information get out and written down? And If that isn’t socket frying enough for you,  this model of the reign of God being like a woman…she’s is in the house! She’s in THE house…. Whose house do we find her being an active agent revealing the reign of God in? None other than, the Divine householder’s house! That’s where She has Divine agency in…She, has Divine Agency in that house!...  If that’s not outrageous enough!  Here she goes, with her little bit of leaven and she hides it in her 3 measures of dough….
    Before going further with that, let’s take a moment to imagine ourselves kneading the dough of the staff of life along with her…. Kneading bread dough along with her…  Let this action of kneading be a moment of reassurance that life goes on,.. even in times like now… where everything seems so chaotic and endangered!  Knead with her… and now we must wait with her!...  For this woman, like any baker after putting that yeast in the dough knows her efforts must stop for a while, like in a mini-sabbath she waits… For as a collaborator with God and nature she realizes, and hopefully lets us realize too, that this dough will not be rushed into rising!...It will not be hurried!...   Because the mixture of dough: leaven, flour and water must stand in a warm place and be covered until the whole of the flour is leavened, we too must stop…and wait… for God and creation to do THE work, collaboratively within and amongst us!  The Reign of God is like this woman who waited… and now, and now, she has enough bread to share with 100 of her neighbors. 
   What an epiphany vision that manifested after a long gestation period was that! After the even longer gestation period that we are in now, I can only imagine, what will manifest!  So too, let us be reassured in our prolonged COVID time of waiting that our little tiny seeds and our little bit of leaven, when we hold and behold them with God and each other, will bear the promise of the longed for future.  Let us be reassured that our little somethings that we do, do matter.  For the Reign of God is like a mustard seed and a little bit of yeast and like you, like me and like us when we collaborate and conspire with The Divine Householder and each other! What a vision to knead into our community and our world! Amen
Rev. Karen Kerrigan ARCWP FCM
Gathering Priest along
The Huron, Rouge & Detroit Rivers and
The Great Lakes Watershed.
Grateful Member of St. Peter’s Peace &
Social Justice Community, Detroit.
Contributing Weaver Priest with
Heart of Compassion International Community (HOC)
MA (Special Education) MA (Reading Specialty)
Ignatian Spiritual Director
Extensive Centering Prayer Experience
Contemplative Activist

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

One Body, Many Voices by Rev. Dr. Barbara Billey

One Body, Many Voices by Rev. Dr. Barbara Billey

Judy Chappus, artist

Since January 2020, I've been helping ARCWP bishop Michele Birch-Conery write her memoir. I'm fascinated by the precision with which she recalls narratives going as far back as her early childhood.

I'm a poor historian. My mind mostly moves in fast-forward with more ideas that I'd like to manifest than my entire life will allow. My Mom was like this, too. She would ask about our plans for Christmas during our Canadian Thanksgiving dinner in mid-October. Before she died from cancer two years ago, I would ask her to tell me stories about my childhood, but she could only remember a few, like the time I didn't follow her command to stay away from the wringer washing machine (now I'm dating myself).

An ever precocious child, Mom was on the phone with a friend when I decided to see what would happen if I inserted the wet clothes into the wringer, as I had seen her do. Mom heard my screams and came running to my rescue soon after my left arm was being dragged along with the clothes into the vice grip of the wringer. This memory is sketched into my body as a skin graft under my arm. Other than this memory, Mom would usually make general statements like, "You were always ahead of your time: six years old going on sixteen.

As I approach July first, the second anniversary of her death, memories of Mom flash into my awareness in unexpected moments or as a visitation by her in dreams in the middle of the night. I feel pleasure in these recollections, sometimes grief and sorrow. I miss her.

In Deuteronomy (8:2-3, 14-16), Moses reminds his people of the hardships they had endured after their exodus from Egypt and the constancy of God with them. He tells them that they cannot live by bread alone, but "by every word that comes from the mouth of our God" (Deut. 8:3 ). In John's Gospel in the Bread of Life discourse, Jesus invites His companions to be nourished by Him: "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never thirst again" (6:35). Now as the Word made flesh we are reminded of our encounter with the Divine through Jesus.

Jesus also reminds us, "The person who takes this bread for her food will live from generation to generation" (Jn. 6:58b). Each time we share communion as the Body of Christ we are embedded in generations of tradition. At the epiclesis, we invoke the Holy Spirit to transform bread and wine, fruit of the earth and labor of our hands, into the "real presence" of Jesus, the Risen Christ. We are also praying for change in us. As Jesus did at His last meal with his friends on Passover, we say, "Do this in memory of me" (Lk. 22:19; 1 Cor. 11:24). This is a dangerous memory. Why?

In our Roman Catholic Womenpriest movement we realize the wholeness of the Sacrament of Word and Eucharist because all are welcome and no one is excluded because of gender, race, nationality, class, education, age, ability or sexual orientation. This is not true of the institutional, Roman Catholic Church. How then, can the "real presence" be present when not all are welcome to be fully present?

For many women and persons who are non-Catholic, non-believers or LBGTQIS, sacramental events in the institutional Church are occasions for profound segregation and alienation, far from the intended celebration of unity within diversity, as explicated by St. Paul. Our baptism, beginning in the early Church, acknowledges the full potential of women and all persons to live the new life of the Risen One. Through the gifts of Spirit, we fulfill the promise of our Creator as imaging this Divinity in our day-to-day human experience. How is this possible when the patriarchal system in which our sacraments are confected, solely by the privilege of a male priest, makes Word and Eucharist politically and socially oppressive?

If there is one grace from the Covid-19 pandemic it is our longing for connection and community. Our Heart of Compassion Faith Community has recently agreed to a radical vision where Word and Eucharist can truly nurture - all of us. Zoom technology has afforded us the opportunity to connect weekly and to unfold an experiment called Word, Wisdom and Communion.

In our Community's vision, all persons are welcome as spiritual leaders, whether ordained or non-ordained, believer or non-believer, Christian or another tradition. We flatten the hierarchy and denounce clericalism. Jeni Marcus and Karen Kerrigan from Southeastern, Michigan are also arcwp priests with us.

My sacrament of Holy Orders is expressed through being in collaboration with others to create encounters with the Sacred. I call myself a Weaver priest who promotes the empowerment of our spiritual leaders. This may take numerous forms such as being a consultant regarding scripture; offering suggestions about sacred arts; typing a celebration guide; being a Zoom moderator; giving pastoral presence ... praying always.

Word is shared as scripture, a poem, a song, a video clip or a piece of art. Wisdom is a valuing of all voices in response to the movement of our hearts in relation to the Word. Communion is shared equally by all voices during the entire celebration, especially in the epiclesis and memorial meal, with each person (not only the priest) making the liturgical gestures of lifting bread and cup. Some spiritual leaders may choose to favor an expression of Communion that is different than the Roman Catholic Eucharistic Rite or exclude this all together, under the assumption that when we gather we are symbolically in communion. Imagine the creativity and vast expressions of prayer that will be ushered in by our diversity. This is already evident!

Yesterday, I saw a sign while driving on the expressway. On top and at the bottom of capital letters 'JUNE 27' were the words 'A Miracle'. The smallest word in black at the bottom right corner of the sign was 'Unity'. I had seen this sign elsewhere earlier in the day. I wondered what the scripture reading is for June 27, the afternoon when our Community gathers for our Word, Wisdom, Communion celebration. I was overjoyed to read that Jesus says, "Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me, welcomes the One who sent me" (Matt. 10: 40 ). My husband later told me that on June 27 people are asked to put a can of food on their doorstep that will be picked up by volunteers and donated to food banks. Record collections of cans have occurred in other communities where this event has taken place.

We in our Heart of Compassion Faith Community are in miracles now. As we continue to deepen into our vision, I will forever remember this moment in our seven-year history as a time of becoming one body, many voices.

For The Love of The Land. Rev. Karen Kerrigan

  The Love of The Land   An HOC Wisdom Reflection 09.19.20    With great love and delight especially during The Season of Creation, we are ...