Words for Journey, Words for Justice

Pat Hoffman Author, Chaplain, Presenter

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Thanksgiving 2017

Posted on November 24, 2017 at 1:20 PM Comments comments (1)

Eleven of us were together for Thanksgiving here in Pasadena, California. We were sharing stories, catching everyone up on each other’s lives. And before the meal we offered thanks. This thanks for love which binds us together extends to all our family and friends and those we don’t know. Thanks be to God.

 

Thanksgiving Prayer

2017

 We give thanks for love, which binds us together.

We give thanks for food, which strengthens us for the work of making love visible in the world.

 And we give thanks for celebrations, when we gather in gratitude.

 

Dancing with Jerry Perenchio

Posted on August 25, 2017 at 9:40 AM Comments comments (0)

Dad may have been worried about me as a brand new student, fifteen, at University High School in West Los Angeles. Almost all my friends had gone to Hamilton but the dividing line was Westwood Blvd. and we were three blocks west of the line.

The first school dance of the year was coming up and I didn’t have a date. Dad decided to set me up with Jerry Perenchio who was a student at UCLA and was booking bands out of Dad’s office in Beverly Hills.

The night of the dance arrived. It was held in the school gymnasium. My new girl friends were agog when I arrived with this handsome Italian dressed in a tuxedo, as I recall. I love ballroom dancing and remember this as a particularly enjoyable evening, spent with a handsome gentleman.

Jerry did not last long at the Jack Kurtze Agency. Dad was alarmed by Jerry’s proclivity to sell acts which were not under contract with the Kurtze Agency. But Jerry’s willingness to shoot high paid off for him later as he represented Henry Mancici, Johnny Mathis, Sergio Mendes and the Kingston Trio and screen stars including Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.

In the 1970s Perenchio joined with Norman Lear to produce some beloved television shows such as “The Jeffersons,” and “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman.” He came into my sites again when in 1992 he and his partners bought Univision, offering Spanish language programming.

When Jerry Perenchio died May 24, 2017, his obituary included praise for his life-long generosity and integrity. I had a private recollection of a young man willing to take a fifteen-year old to her high school dance.

 

Prayer for World AIDS Day 2016

Posted on December 1, 2016 at 12:05 PM Comments comments (0)


God of love,

 

We are remembering. Remembering those who have died of AIDS, people we loved.


 

Receiver of thanks,

We are grateful. Grateful that those of us living with AIDS have been given another year of life.


 

Source of hope,

On this World AIDS Day we are hopeful. Hopeful a new vaccine may work. Hopeful present mediciations will finally stop the spread of the virus.


 

As we move into another Christmas season, the 35th since the epidemic began, we are remembering. Remembering You were always with us in every act of love, every choice for caring, working, waiting, persisting, with us in gratitude and in hope.


 

May we stay near you now.


Pat Hoffman

December 1, 2016

Praying in Darkness

Posted on November 15, 2016 at 11:45 AM Comments comments (0)


We are searching for a way forward,


Moving in darkness,


Holding onto our memory of the topography of hope:


Seek justice. Love kindness. Walk humbly within what is Sacred.


We hold on to each other as we search for the next place to set our feet.


We are among the internally displaced,


Praying in darkness.



November 11, 2016

Pat Hoffman

 

Prayer for World Aids Day 2015

Posted on November 9, 2015 at 1:40 PM Comments comments (0)


PRAYER FOR WORLD AIDS DAY

December 1, 2015


We come to you,

With all that is on our minds about the virus, our hopes for a cure, our fears and

worries for the future.

How do we find you?

When we trust that you are with us,

Present in every act of kindness, patience, and generosity of spirit.

And we know you are in each one of us, just waiting for full discovery.

We come to you,

As caregivers whose work is hard.

We’re sometimes grieved and angry with the restrictions on funding,

and the continuous

flow of the newly diagnosed, and the disappointments we hand to

each other.

How do we find you?

In memorable moments of full engagement, when we forget the clock is ticking,

And it is just two people at their most authentic, and you are present.

We find you when we feel called to the work we are doing.

How do we thank you?

When we remember to offer gratitude that we are alive.

When we remember that every moment can be an occasion for thanks.

And then the gratitude we feel becomes a balm

that heals each of our broken places,

because it reminds us that we are one with you.

On this World AIDS Day we give thanks

for all who are in the AIDS affected community

those living and those we hold in memory.

Amen.

© Chaplain Pat Hoffman

 

 

Bowing before the Mystery

Posted on February 19, 2015 at 4:00 PM Comments comments (0)

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Come Holy Spirit

Posted on February 2, 2015 at 8:20 PM Comments comments (0)

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Learning About Bayard Rustin

Posted on August 25, 2013 at 10:00 AM Comments comments (0)

         “Bayard Rustin, what do you know about him, Cecil?” I said to my husband. “He was active in the Civil Rights Movement.  That’s about all I know.”  We were on our way to a 2 p.m. showing of the documentary, “Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin,” at Pasadena’s Allendale Branch Library, part of a 50th anniversary of the August 28, 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

          We had not been to this library before.  There was a tiny area with about sixty chairs squeezed in.  By two o’clock every seat was taken.  We fit right in with the older, white progressives, who predominated.  Several African Americans including Elizabeth, a soloist from our church, were sprinkled in. 

          Professor Peter Dreier from nearby Occidental College introduced the film with some background on Bayard Rustin: African American, raised by his grandparents in West Chester, Pennsylvania, a talented organizer committed to equality and justice, a key strategist in developing nonviolent tactics for the Civil Rights Movement, key organizer of the breathtaking 1963 March on Washington where Martin Luther King gave his “I have a dream” speech,and he was gay.  He was always kept in the background because of that.

          The film was feature length. As I came to know this man, Bayard Rustin, I became caught up in his extraordinary life:  a pacifist during WWII, for which he was sent to prison; his fearlessness at Civil Rights demonstrations in the South; his faithfulness in working for justice throughout his life; and his courage in being himself, a gay man, during the decades in which sex between men was illegal in every state of the Union.  In 1953, during a City crack-down, he was arrested in Pasadena.  By this point in the film I was in tears.  A man two rows ahead of me had pulled out a handkerchief and was wiping his eyes.  Other folks were crying, too. 

          When the program was over I felt a deep regret about how Rustin was treated in life; he died in 1983. I don’t know what others there will do, but I can honor Rustin by paying attention to the people and injustices Rustin cared about so passionately and keep forging links to his work. 

       

         

 

Transformational Hour

Posted on October 11, 2012 at 11:15 AM Comments comments (1)

Transformational Hour


This essay was featured on the Episcopal Divinity School blog established for progressive theology and critical thinking to transform the world.


You speak in my heart and say, “Seek my face.”

Your face, Lord, will I seek

You have been my helper;

Cast me not away; do not forsake me,

O God of my salvation.

Though my father and mother forsake me,

The Lord will sustain me.


(Psalm 27:8-10)


I open myself to wherever I am taken in this hour that I do not clock, and do not care if it becomes 80 minutes or more. I’m out of chronos time for a little while.

The entrance hymn begins. I turn and watch the approach of the acolytes carrying the cross, the candles, and waving banners. I hear the strong voices of choir members passing by and see and hear our pastoral leaders singing their way into the sanctuary. My whole self is caught up in the symbolic drama enacted down that aisle every Sunday. I often cannot sing the entire hymn because of tears.

During my first year at All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, California, I took the Collect for Purity home and memorized it. I felt there was something in it that I needed.

“Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy Name; through Christ our Lord.”

When my husband Cecil and I had moved to Pasadena in 2008 we were familiar with All Saints Church and I was drawn to join this church by the uniquely inclusive congregation and by the worship, which moved me in ways I did not understand. I only knew it met a deep inner need. On Sunday mornings at All Saints I experienced resting in God, who saw my open heart and the secret desires held there; who knew them in a way I did not yet know them. My heart told me I needed this place where I could relinquish control and let myself be carried into sacred space.

On a recent Sunday, speaking with Cecil about my experience over three years now at the church, I heard myself saying that during worship I was able to feel vulnerable. Vulnerable. It was as though God had let me know the secret God had seen in my heart all along: my deep longing to be able to trust others, and to trust that God was there, and would be there in the multitude of ways God becomes present.

Family dysfunctions during childhood can rob us of the gift of vulnerability, the gift that we can trust others to care for us as children, and that we can trust that the grown-ups will take care of themselves. Growing up trusting grown-ups is a way we learn to trust God. I missed that.

By the age of ten, it was fixed in my mind that I should trust only myself. Others might help, but I couldn’t depend on them. These childhood ways of coping get set and years later, when all the people those coping strategies were about are gone, the strategies may continue.

God heard as I prayed the Collect each Sunday and God knew I desired to let go of the anxiety of trying to cover all the bases and plan ahead for every exigency.

I love kneeling at the rail, holding out my hands to receive the bread. It is a bodily act of vulnerability. Every week I get to practice trust before God and others. Kneeling, I hold out my hands and the portion I need is given to me. And during this act, hundreds of voices carry my spirit, just as my voice helps carry the spirit of others as they go to the rail.

God meets us as we are, complicated human beings with complex brains. I may need to kneel with hands out and receive the bread a thousand times before all those old brain connections turn off and new ones are made. I may need a thousand times of passing the peace before my whole self knows that when all those pew-mates turn to take my hand or give me an embrace I’m truly offered God’s peace in their presence. My practice is to receive it. Every future exigency is not in my hands alone.

Sometimes tears fill my eyes as we pray the post-communion prayer: “…you have fed us with spiritual food…Send us now into the world in peace, and grant us strength and courage…through Christ our Lord.” I feel fed and cared for and, with Christ’s help, prepared to take the shelter of the sanctuary with me in my heart for another week of seeking God’s presence in the world, and bringing it.


* Pat Hoffman has written books and articles on the church's need to be with the marginalized in movements toward justice. For permission to reprint, contact her at pathoffman.com.

Visiting the Old Neighborhood

Posted on April 23, 2012 at 8:10 PM Comments comments (0)

The house looks plain and more exposed than when we lived there. Back then, there was a huge carob tree on the parkway. I practically lived in that tree; every branch was designated a room. I only allowed Dorothy, a quiet, younger girl from two houses down, to climb the tree with me. The tree has been gone quite a while, cut down by the city for interfering with something or other. The orangeberry pittsporum that was in front of my bedroom window is gone too.  But the house looks neat and well-cared for. Did the shutters used to be baby blue?

 

We have the car idling right in front of the house. I ask Cecil to back up. I want to see the driveway. Isn’t that kind of odd? It looks just the same as when we moved there in 1946. The cement driveway runs along the south side of the house with the six foot wooden gate half way back, not flush with the front of the house or the back of the house but halfway between. I never thought about it as a kid, but now I notice this placement. 

 

But here was the main thing about the driveway. It was down this driveway, from the garage at the back, I rode my bike. It was old and clunky, with balloon tires and a basket in front. I named it “The Blue Streak.” It and an even older boys bike were left in the garage when our family bought the house. Martha, my older sister, and I now had our first bikes. I rode around the neighborhood feeling like a Cadilac owner, empowered and free. I was happy to ride to Odie’s Market at the corner of Exposition and Sepulveda to pick up things for my mother.

 

I would ride my bike to the gas station on Pico and carefully adjust the air in my tires. At home, I would wash my bike and polish its fading blue frame. Looking back I can see this innocent little blond girl loving her bike and caring for it like Daddy cared for his car.

 

By now, I notice someone is in the house and has turned off a light, probably to be able to look at us looking at the house, so I ask Cecil to slowly drive on up my old block.  I moved from that house sixty years ago when I was about fifteen. The memories swell my heart like sun-warmed yeast in dough.


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