...self care is never a selfish act- it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give it the care it requires, we do so not only for ourselves but for the many others whose lives we touch.

Parker J. Palmer, Let Your Life Speak

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Judging the Judge

With a superb cast, a tout story line with an amazing ending, The Judge delivers a wisely written drama about family dysfunction and healing, of choosing a spiritual legacy, not just how we wish to be remembered.
Hank Palmer, played by Robert Downey, Jr., is a crafty defense attorney. Although successful professionally with a pedigree from Northwestern Law, he is estranged from his wife. In fact, most of Hank's relationships suffer and have suffered for years: he is absent from his parents' lives as well as his two brothers'.  

My favorite for 2014!
Judge Joseph Palmer, Hank's father, is played brilliantly by Robert Duvall.  Much of the movie is about Duvall's character, why he is the way he is, which indirectly, tells us why Hank is Hank. It's only during the visit home for his mother's funeral that we have a sense of movement in the relationship between Hank and the Judge.

The Judge becomes a suspect in a hit and run fatality. But while Hank is at home and available, the Judge decides that a small town lawyer will defend him. Hank insists on defending his dad, and so the dance between these two characters really gets interesting.

There are many twists and turns in this father-son, attorney-client relationship, to see how the principled judge and less scrupulous son configure the defense of the case. There are other variables thrown  into the story, such as the Judge's drinking again after many years of sobriety and his declining health.

I'm reminded of something Robert Capon once wrote that has seared into my consciousness: everyone of us love our children- and all of us will screw them up in some way. It seems the movie does not miss this paradox in father-son relationships.

The most anecdotal, formulaic aspect of the was the treatment of Hank's romantic life: for the trouble in his marriage, there's the quick fix of another new romance waiting in the wings in the form of a high school sweetheart. No, it isn't the law of the universe- nor of real life- that there is or will be- anyone waiting to save us from the pain of a lost or broken love.   

Finally, The Judge crystallizes key questions about a good life and death: What do we want to remembered for? What quality of relationships are we  leaving behind? How will we close our accounts? How do we wish to die? How then shall we live- here now?  

Friday, October 10, 2014

A Peaceful Night and a Perfect End

May the Lord grant you a peaceful night
Compline reminds us to face our fears, give thanks for protection from harm, and pray for a restful sleep and good dreams, releasing our trust to the Almighty. Kenneth V. Peterson, Prayer as Night Falls.

My first experience of Compline was with a small group of clergy in a series of four retreat gatherings over two years. That experience  over 25 years ago created an appreciation for evening prayer that been renewed and deepened in the reading of Kenneth V. Peterson's excellent volume on experiencing compline entitled, Prayer as Night Falls (2013) 

This book is a well written weaving of Peterson's experience of singing in the St. Mark's Cathedral Compline Choir in Seattle since 1964. It includes the origins and development of the Office of Compline, from pre- St. Benedict to the present. The book is well referenced with notes and Appendices 1 and 2 provide the order of musical example for Compline. 

If you go to Peterson's website, you can find the churches that offer the service in the U.S. and Canada. In fact, I wrongly assumed that, as hard as it was to find a Vespers service in Houston, no Compline offering existed.

Beyond providing everything you would want to know about Compline's prayers and music, I find Peterson's themes of Compline to be nicely unfolded throughout the book: practicing vigilance, accepting mortality, the mystic path, beauty and seeking good, community and compassion, and finding lasting peace. Too, there is lovely poetry that Peterson uses to illustrate the spirituality of Compline, as well as the beautiful words to the hymns the St. Mark's choir uses. 

I loved exploring the Compline Psalms, and the book does provide a complete listing of all the Psalms that have been apart of Compline through the ages.     

The central virtue of Compline, Peterson, maintains, is faith and trust. In Compline, whether we experience it privately, in a small group such as a monastery, or in a church, we choose trust over fear and anxiety. No, the idea is not to get a measurable of "better sleep" over taking pills, etc.  But think of this: when Compline is used in monastic communities, it is the last word spoken or heard until daybreak. For most of us, we would have to replace our usual evening ritual with Compline and silence.

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Why Clergyspirit?

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Houston, Texas, United States
Welcome! I serve Chapelwood, a United Methodist Church in Houston, Texas. Clergy are frequently present for others, but no one can offer what we don't have.. That's why if you're a clergy person, you need someone who will listen to you. Not the next closest person available, but rather someone like a spiritual director, a therapist, a peer who can be fully present to you. I hope the links and posts you find here will give you ideas, humor, hope and encouragement. Scott Endress

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