Dear Right Reverend J. Jon Bruno,
I hope this Ember letter finds you well and that you are enjoying “the mystery of our redemption” on this Holy Cross Day. As I reflect on Christ’s power to draw all people to himself when lifted up from the earth, I recall the various gatherings that I have attended this season, which drew all kinds of people from far and wide.
One particular gathering centered on my friend Ed and his fiancé Ashley, who committed themselves to each other in the joyful sacrament of holy matrimony this summer. With great honor, I stood beside Ed as his Best Man while the Rev. Canon Anne Tumilty officiated the beautiful and Christ-filled wedding ceremony.
For several weeks, I gathered daily with a variety of students to study French and discover new insights by reading Scripture in a foreign language. After almost a month of study, I passed the foreign language competency exam, which will help me move forward in my doctoral program as well as help me enjoy future gatherings that include French speakers.
A couple weeks ago, more than fifty young adults gathered at the Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Marin County to practice Insight Meditation for a week. From 6 AM to 10 PM, we practiced silent meditation while sitting, walking, eating, and learning Qigong. Although I have attended several silent retreats at Catholic monasteries, I have never experienced a silence so extended and so devoid of social interaction. Moreover, I have never been more in touch with my body than I was at this retreat, where the focus of our meditation was on our breath and on the enjoyment of actually having a body.
For more than a year now, the same four students have been gathering around the cross of Christ once a week for meal and prayer: a Catholic woman, a former De La Salle Christian Brother, a member of the Covenant Church and an Episcopalian. We call our ecumenical intentional community the “Micah House” and this summer we were interviewed by Mark Killian from the University of Cincinnati. After completing his research, Mark will attempt to argue in his dissertation that Christian intentional communities are not limited to evangelical or post-evangelical groups, but include members from a wide variety of faith traditions, including Episcopalians!
A few days ago, Lutherans, Buddhists, Roman Catholics, Episcopalians and Episcopal priests all gathered to study “Comparative Theology as a Spiritual Practice.” Dr. Dan Joslyn-Siemiatkoski and I are co-teaching this course thanks to a Newhall Fellowship that I received this Fall. We will be learning an effective and respected method for interfaith learning while also exploring the spiritual dimensions of such interfaith encounters. The heart of the course will focus on Jewish-Christian relations.
Finally, I had the opportunity this last weekend to gather with Episcopalians at St. Clement’s in Berkeley to pray (using the 1928 prayer book!), to remember 9-11, to worship, and to eat hardy hot dogs and juicy watermelon. I look forward to my upcoming year at St. Clement’s and am particularly excited about preaching there this Sunday. I also look forward to delving further into my Anglican studies this year as I begin to pursue my Certificate and I am deeply thankful for your support in my education.
I was sorry to hear that Father Michael Battle has left Church of Our Saviour. I will continue to hold Father Michael and his family in my prayers while trusting that Father Gary Bradley will shepherd the parish with great love and care during this time.
I will begin sending copies of my Ember letter to Father Gary as I continue to uphold him, you, and the parish in my prayers and meditation.
In Christ’s Love,
 St. Clement’s in Berkeley (http://www.stclementsberkeley.org/) uses the 1928 Book of Common Prayer for their early service and the 1979 BCP (Rite I) for their later service. The rector, Rev. Bruce O’Neill, teaches church administration at CDSP and the assisting priest serves as the President and Dean of CDSP (The Very Reverend W. Mark Richardson, Ph.D).