Archive for March, 2019

During Lent, St. John’s faith community is invited to journey into Owning Your Own Shadow: Understanding the Dark Side of the Psyche by acclaimed Jungian analyst and best-selling author Robert A. Johnson. This classic text provides powerful and accessible wisdom for “turning back” to our whole, true self during this Holy Season of “Metanoia.” Johnson writes, “To own one’s own shadow is to reach a holy place – an inner center – not attainable in any other way. To fail this is to fail one’s own sainthood and to miss the purpose of life.”

During my Curacy at St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church in Minneapolis, I had the privilege of studying this book at the invitation of the Rev. Susan J. Barnes: the Rector supervising my internships first as a transitional deacon and then as a curate. As a Priest in my first year of ministry I came to appreciate the importance of doing the essential “inner work” of owning my shadow as a daily spiritual discipline in order to cultivate resilience, authenticity, and wholeness as servant leader. I am continually challenged and inspired by Johnson’s invitation to people of faith, who together, “must restore the word religious to its true meaning; then it will regain its healing power. To heal, to bond, to join, to bridge, to put back together again — these are our sacred faculties.”

Members of St. John’s Men’s Group studied and discussed this book during their annual retreat in February, and St. John’s Thursday Book Group studied and discussed it in January and February. Here are some reflections on Owning Your Own Shadow from members of our Thursday Book Group:

Robert Johnson says that unless we own our shadow (and do conscious work on it), we will lay our shadow on others. Throughout history, human beings have “projected” their darkness onto other groups.  (Given the current divide in our country) I now see this problem in technicolor.  Ahh!!!  And I see the opportunity of digging for the “gold.” The Thursday Book Group is a place to be vulnerable, to share our experiences, to see something new and transformative – and perhaps, just perhaps, gain the courage to take action in an area that was previously hidden from our view. —Jill Thompson

In the second half of life. I find myself feeling incomplete. The construct of the shadow gives me a framework with which to seek completeness. Transforming conflict into paradox points a way forward. The religious experience is a way past the conflict rationality has trapped me in, letting me dwell in paradox to see a path forward.
—Dan Vogel

The mandorla, the space created when two circles overlap, is a powerful visual construct of healing in a world torn apart. This is a space of reconciliation and hope that will help me in moving forward to keep “the painful contradictions of life at bay.” I had not heard of this concept before. It will stay with me.
—Diane Wallace-Reid

Dave Borton shared the following prayer, whose author is anonymous, with our Book Group in response to the wisdom disclosed in Robert Johnson’s book. Perhaps, as a community of faith, we could each offer this prayer in our daily devotions during the Holy Season of Lent.

Lord, enlighten what is dark in me,

Strengthen what is weak in me,

Mend what is broken in me,

Heal what is bruised in me,

Revive whatever peace and love has died in me,

that in this journey through time and space

I may bring your healing and love to others. Amen.


-The Rev. Craig Lemming


Originally published in the March-April 2019 Evangelist.

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“Slow down, you move too fast.
You got to make the morning last.
Just kicking down the cobble stones.
Looking for fun and feelin’ groovy…”

Simon and Garfunkle

I sported band-aids on one knee or other on a regular basis from age three to ten. My mother said I bloodied my knees because I was always in a hurry. Running when I should be walking. Not paying attention. For the rest of her life, she remarked that I was “always so busy.” Sometimes I think this was a thinly-veiled compliment or even a sign of mild envy that I had a lot going on, but more often criticism that I was heedless somehow. I thought I was just excited about life and eager to get to the next thing.

In early and mid-adulthood, I was strictly a high-heels girl but this slowed me down not a whit. I trotted around Blake in my red leather pumps, sailed down the aisle at St. John the Baptist in my black patent leather Easter heels, and wore two-inch wedged sandals to the swimming pool with the kids. Loved them.

I’m a tall person so I definitely do not have Cinderella-feet. Growing up, I got the impression this was a shameful quality, and admit to resorting to buying shoes a half-size too small because my real size looked gigantic to my sensitive, teen eyes. Later, teaching Women’s Studies and studying the Chinese custom of foot-binding, I learned that the painful binding of young girls’ feet at age seven so they would be forever tiny and therefore sexy (each culture defines “sexy”), also slowed the women down in various ways. Who could run away or move rapidly towards anything when you could only mince along? So only rich women got their feet bound; the others had to work.

I decided I had woman feet, not girl feet and that my culture’s efforts to make women small and “cute” were not going to work on me! At one point, I informed the manager of the shoe department at a  local department store  that their policy of not carrying larger sizes for women was sexist and that women were taller (and therefore had larger feet) now and they could improve sales if they wised up.

Okay, so I was young….

Feet are often considered funny appendages: smelly feet, big feet, clumsy feet (falling over your own feet), awkward feet (putting “your foot in your mouth”). My dad’s side of the family had such wretched feet (bunions, corns, and all matter of deformities) that my brother and I would ask our aunts and uncle to take off their shoes so we could be horrified and scream — a breath-taking gesture of rudeness, in retrospect.

Then I had big-time chemotherapy.

It was five years ago and it wasn’t too bad, really; I was very lucky. Yet one of the after-effects has been with my feet. Neuropathy—periodic pain and numbness, usually experienced by much older people.

Of course, there are drugs. They help a lot except at unpredictable moments the numbness occurs and I have to stop and be mindful of where I put each foot so I don’t trip on my own feet. It’s embarrassing and maddening and yet a small price in the big scheme of things.

So now I move more mindfully, sometimes more slowly than I would like. I also notice more things, and feel more connected to other people for some reason, maybe because I can’t race by as quickly.

Feet aren’t funny to me anymore.

But I’m still “feeling groovy.”

Here is Bishop Steve Charleston’s meditation which sustains me more than I can say and I hope touches you as well:

“How must I look to you, O God, coming to you every Sunday, dressed in all my pomp and circumstance? Beneath my robes do you not see me, a little boy with a scraped knee, so proud he survived the loss of a tooth, with dirty fingernails and grass stains on his knees? As a child I began this journey. As a child I shall reach journey’s end. No need for vanity along the way. No need for pretense or ego or any of the brave fronts we put on to impress ourselves before time’s patient mirror. Beneath it all the One who made us, sees us for who we are and always shall be.”

Although I originally published this in 2012, i will again be referencing FEET and more in this Sunday’s sermon: March 24, 2019.

See you in church.



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The Annunciation by
Allan Rohan Crite

by Richard Gray, Director of Music

Although his life was short-lived, Austrian composer, Franz Schubert and his musical works were prominent in the bridge between the late-Classical era and the early-Romantic era. Majorities of those works were secular pieces for solo voice but he was also responsible for symphonies, sacred music and chamber music. His influences came from such composers as Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven and his music, while it started small in Vienna, became quickly noticeable and acknowledged by people such as Mendelssohn, Liszt and Brahms. Still to this day, he remains one of the most popular composers of the nineteenth century.

This Lenten Season and in acknowledgement of the Feast of the Annunciation, the adult choir and Artaria String Quartet will be offering Schubert’s Mass in G Major, or, Mass No. 2 as it has also been referred to. Of the masses that he composed, this is a relatively shorter one on a smaller scale for four-part chorus, three soloists and accompanied by organ and a string quartet. The piece contains beautiful harmonies, flowing melodies and energetic rhythms that capture the many wonderful sides of Schubert’s personality and style of composing. While soloists are present, Schubert’s emphasis is on the choir and its devotional atmosphere through the music.

Written in 1815, the mass consists of six movements: Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Benedictus and Agnus Dei. When our choir offers this work, you will hear each movement at its designated time during the service rather than as a whole. This is something new we are doing here at St. John’s rather than our usual Choral Evensongs, which highlight the Anglican tradition of worship. Our March event, known as a Solemn Evening Choral Eucharist, is similar to the structure we know on Sunday morning but elaborated. In addition to the Schubert, two other musical offerings will be a part of the service; Johannes Brahms’ Geistliches Lied (Let nothing ever grieve thee) to acknowledge the season of Lent and a Marian hymn sung by the choir and congregation that will celebrate the Feast of the Annunciation.

Being able to offer wonderful quality music within the context of worship is an experience like none other. St. John’s is blessed to have dedicated and talented musicians that make our ministry what it is. The rehearsal process alone is something that is exciting, to have the opportunity to spend time each week with groups of people who care deeply and work toward a common goal that is sacred music for our Lord.


Originally published in the March-April 2019 Evangelist.

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St. John’s Faith Formation 9:00 Sunday:

Three mothers lose children in this film. How is the death of a son or daughter the foundation of the movie – and of Christianity?

With Susan Sarandon, Sean Penn, directed by Tim Robbins; nominated for four Academy Awards with Sarandon winning as Best Actress. Based on a book by Sr. Helen Prejean, CSJ.

Since this movie was made in 1995, the world has exploded with violent crimes. Individually and as a society. How do we who follow Jesus regard those who have committed unspeakable crimes against society as well as those who have hurt us individually beyond measure? Can forgiveness be bought with the price of a confession?

“This movie ennobles filmmaking.” Roger Ebert, January 12, 1995

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