Author Archive | Megin Sewak

Spiritual Basements

March 17, 2017

Dear St. Stephen’s Family and Friends,

Basements were standard in the houses of my youth.  The two flat where my grandparents lived on the South Side of Chicago had a basement; a real basement with dirt walls, piles of coal and coal dust, narrow stairs to walk down, a healthy musty smell, and two bare electric lights.  Our family homes on the South Side also had basements, as did both our homes in Hinsdale.  My Mom was an ardent cleaner of basements.  Whenever she was stressed, blew her top, or felt overwhelmed by life, (I see this now; didn’t see it then), she cleaned the basement.  If I was the cause or recipient of her unhappiness, her move to the basement was sweet relief.  There was no telling how much time she would spend down there.  My guess; it all depended on precipitating causes.  She certainly had many to balance.  The metaphor didn’t strike me until many years later in life.

Psychology and spirituality both refer to the house as a metaphor for the self.  If your “house” has a basement, then going down to clean the basement was going down into those recluse and hidden parts of herself where she could be alone and address them in her way.  You know why I think this?  Because, fundamentally, the basement didn’t change very much!  There might be the occasional bag of items for Goodwill or a slight reorganization, but the actual cleaning fell to me.  The basement was her place to sit within those places of herself where only she and her God would be.

Lent is time to have courage to sit in our spiritual basements, which only we know.  Perhaps it’s time to give away a few items that are no longer needed and gather dust?  Perhaps it’s time to clean up some old gifts and find a new expression for them?  Perhaps it’s time to wipe clean the slate of sin, guilt, shame and resentment and prepare for walking back upstairs on Easter Day?  I don’t know.  You’ve got your basement and I’ve got mind.  Our spiritual houses are built upon them.  Jesus tells us in scripture that God built them and lives in them also so we have nothing to fear.  Time to clean the basement!

See you on Sunday.

Love and blessings,

Alvin+

Don’t Take Life for Granted

March 10, 2017

Dear St. Stephen’s Family and Friends,

I admit it: Lent evades me right now. The usual patterns are in place including an additional book on a spiritual concern (Come Be My Light by Mother Teresa) and no meat on Fridays (that isn’t the same as a fast) to remind me to give extra money to the poor and hungry and to remind me of putting my life in God’s hands. It seems my basic character defects are here to stay until God decides to remove them and my sins continue to be all too familiar; daily forgiven and daily familiar. This morning (Tuesday) all I wanted to do was read and rest and meditate. My good protestant work ethic would not allow that to happen so off to my lists about St. Stephen’s, NWPA, home, personal and a look at the end of the day showing what’s been checked off. Nothing wrong with getting things done; makes the world keep moving. Nothing wrong with reading and praying; feeds the spirit within. At the end of the day my heart is grateful for the gift of another day and a certain curiosity about what dreams will come in sleep and what adventures await tomorrow. Maybe Lent, more than any other season, reminds us to not take life for granted and to plumb the depths of each day, each relationship, each opportunity to love and serve God and others. Sounds good. See you on Sunday.

Love and blessings,

Alvin+

Vicar’s Voice – Pillars

March 3, 2017

Dear St. Stephen’s Family and Friends,

A good friend of mine, Dave Pepper of Pepper Construction in Chicago, has the responsibility for the major renovation of Wrigley Field, the home of the Chicago Cubs. There are many challenges to this undertaking but one that has metaphorical implications for us has to do with the steel structures that support the stadium. When Wrigley was first built, there was only one level of stands. Added to the first set of steel supports were the upper deck, lights, and skyboxes. All these additions took place without exploring the strength of the steel supports. As you can imagine, one of the key components in the renovation has been exposing the supports and insuring their strength going forward as essential to further expansion and growth.

A local church is similarly supported. What makes us thrive isn’t always clearly visible to us who are involved. The pillars that support St. Stephen’s are people and we lost two strong pillars of our community recently. Dick Bliley died on February 16 and Jess Thompson died on February 21. Both of them were strong and committed members of St. Stephen’s. You might not have met them as they worshipped at 8 AM on Sundays when they were in town and when health permitted. Their commitment, and the commitment of many others like them for decades, has insured that St. Stephens is alive and continuing to grow as a parish community. They are like the hidden steel pillars of Wrigley Field. They have been here for years, they show some wear and tear, they’ve upheld the church through good times and not so good times, and they held firm so whatever remodeling God has in mind for us will be built on the foundation they have set and for which they have our and my deepest gratitude.

Yes it’s time for the next set of pillars to be developed but they will be tied forever with the strength of those who have gone before; people like Dick Bliley and Jess Thompson.

Love and blessings,

Alvin+

1070 Dutch Road, Fairview, PA 16415 * 814.474.5490