Dear Right Reverend J. Jon Bruno,
I trust that your Lenten season is off to a good and wholesome start and that this Ember letter will find you well.
It is a cool and balmy night here in the Berkeley hills and the only noises I heard on my evening walk were the scurrying of neighborhood cats and the trembling of leaves from the misty winds. While walking through clouds of gentle fog, I thought about what I wanted to share with you in this Ember Letter.
I knew I wanted to share with you my completion of the Intercultural Competency Training led by the deeply engaging Rev. Eric Law. The insights and skills he taught me have already proved effective, as I have put them to use among the members of my intentional community. I particularly appreciated Law’s “Cycle of Gospel Living” which continually calls the powerful to give up their power in order to give voice to the voiceless and empower the powerless.
I also wanted to share with you the invitation I received to present a paper at the College Theology Society in New Rochelle NY in early June. The paper I am presenting will attempt to dismantle anti-Semitic readings of the Fourth Gospel while also challenging Anselmian understandings of the Cross. So far, the paper’s working title is “The ‘Winnowed’ and ‘Gathered’ Community: Reading John 11:45-53 in Light of Mimetic Theory.” I am planning to fly back East a week before the conference in order to visit the Common Cathedral in Boston, which Rev. Won-Jae Hur has encouraged me to visit.
Also, I knew it would be important for me to tell you that I will be working to complete my Certificate of Anglican Studies at CDSP next Fall while co-teaching a class with Dr. Dan Joslyn-Siemiatkoski on the Jewish Mishnah, the Gospel of Matthew and Desert Spirituality. And, with the help of Rev. Nancy Eswein, I have decided to do my Field Education at St. Clement’s in Berkeley under the supervision of Rev. Bruce O’Neil, who is currently teaching a class on church administration at CDSP. I will have pastoral, liturgical and administrative responsibilities at St. Clement’s while also preaching at least once every six weeks and leading adult education classes.
Although I miss meeting with my former spiritual director Karen Kuchan, I also wanted to let you know that I have been enormously blessed with a new spiritual director in Rev. Daniel Prechtel, with whom I have been meeting now for more than a year.
On my walk, I knew I wanted to share all of these updates with you, but then I realized that what I really wanted to share with you was how much I was enjoying my walk! My spirit craves these nightly walks, which always help me to be present to my body and my spirit and to the world around me. It is often on these walks that I reflect most on my spiritual formation. I often wonder how the little events that I take for granted in my life are forming me and how even the beautiful Berkeley hills are molding my soul in ways I cannot yet understand. And it is on these walks that I often grow eager and excited about my future and about the ministries that God has in store for me.
I will be reflecting further on my formation during this Spring Break, when I will be staying three nights at St. Antony Coptic Orthodox Monastery in the Mojave Desert. I look forward to reading, praying, and learning more about the rich spiritual tradition of the Desert Fathers and Mothers, confident that this experience will deepen both my ministry and my studies.
As always, I continue to hold you, Father Michael Battle, and the Church of Our Saviour parish affectionately in my thoughts and prayers.
In Christ’s Love,