Experiencing another Holy Disturbance on the lake


I love living in the city. Between Buffalo and Philadelphia it’s been 3/4 of my life. I love people who learn how to share, the convergence of cultures, the creativity, and the ability to walk/bike to most places I go. I don’t love various forms of pollution we have to adapt to, especially light pollution. It makes the stars really difficult to see.

I learned three important disciplines that help me stay even though I’m privileged with the mobility to live in another context. The first is to take care of whatever creation I’m living on. That started as spider plants in the house, then growing herbs in pots and now into a backyard garden. Secondly, take advantage of the open/green space we have. Play outside. The third is to leave regularly and enjoy God’s creation in the larger region. This past week I got to enjoy two separate trips to the Poconos – one for a wedding and the other for a two-day mentalizing session with the other Circle of Hope pastors.


I took this pic while thinking about this stuff

My cell talked about two concepts that came to me during an hour chill session on the pastors’ trip while we met at Franny Lou’s Porch this morning. While sitting on the edge of a small lake yesterday, I enjoyed the stillness of the water. It reflected the glorious autumn spectacular of the trees as well as the sky full of chubby clouds. The reflection almost looked like the real thing until something would disturb the water. I think I can sometimes enjoy a copy or reflection of something so much that I almost think it’s the real thing. That might be like listening to a good podcast and imagining I’m in Antarctica or watching my indie sci-fi thrillers and wondering which one of us is a cyborg. While reflecting the Goodness of God is important, we need to experience God directly in order to make a good reflection.

I decided to experiment with the acorn sitting next to me, tossing it into the stillness and got a nice thumpk, producing a perfect circle that rippled out smaller and smaller. I imagined that ideas can be like that – those within the blast radius of it’s goodness feel the big waves, further away you don’t really get it. Experiencing the presence of the Holy Spirit is kind of like that, too. We all feel the Holy Disturbance at one point or another, but most of the time we stick to our conditioning and miss the big ripples. We can easily stay behind our screens, fixate on our anxieties, and keep the earbuds in while doing whatever we need to do for comfort and privacy. The ripple doesn’t move us.

When we learn to open ourselves to the experience of God’s Spirit through worship or prayer, we can become like water still enough to be moveable. We don’t just feel the little ripples or reflections, we experience something that makes us want to joyfully throw acorns.

As we gathered in our weekly face-to-face time, I think we all got some strength. It’s wasn’t just putting gas in the tank so we can do normal life, it’s being present to the reality that a once caged birds have been set free to fly and are soaring. It honestly excites me to worship together this Sunday, when Preston & Ellen have been developing a liturgy for us to be able to draw near to God together. I imagine 200+ covenant members getting together later this month for the Love Feast and my heart is further warmed. I want to live where the Holy Spirit is disturbing me and moving me. There’s nothing quite like the real thing.

Ethnicity/Immigration class blog #1

My prof for a class called Ethnicity and the Immigration Experience is having all the students write 2 posts per week about class topics.  I figured I might as well cross post to get rolling on my own blog again.

My father’s grandparents moved to the US from Eastern Europe around the beginning of World War I in 1914, identifying as Polish.  It was customary to treat immigrants according to ethnicity rather than country of origin.  Because of border disputes in the rise and fall of empires, Poland’s boundaries changed a lot between 1850-1950. My father’s paternal grandfather was given the name Szczesniak when he came through Ellis Island, likely because he was from the city of Szczecin.

My grandmother (whom we called Nani) Esther Pacynski lived on the same block on Clark St in the East Side of Buffalo, NY for her whole life.  She and my grandfather, Frederick Szczesniak (Dzia Dzia), met as kids in their local parish, St. Stanislaus.  It was one of the first Polish Catholic churches in the state of NY, founded in 1873. Both Nani & Dzia Dzia worshipped in Polish, went to Polish Catholic School (in Polish) and spoke to one another in Polish.  Although they learned some English in parochial school, Polish was more common to speak at home.
It was similar with their three sons, including my father.  They were tacitly encouraged to blend in and embrace the American identity.  Their neighborhood was still mostly Polish people with many Polish owned businesses but they spoke mostly English on the playground and in high school.   Outside of their little ghetto they only spoke English, dressed like Americans, and dated non-Polish women.  By the time they finished public high school, they had somehow become “more” than just Polish, they were white people.

Even though I lived on that block on the East Side until I was 10, I had a more “American” experience than previous generations on that side of the family.  I didn’t go to Polish school, Polish mass, or speak Polish beyond a few funny words to the old ladies.  It had only taken two generations for my brothers and I to have our primary identity become American, rather than Polish people living in the US.

Happy Dyngus Day!

With more polish people than usual in tow, we got to celebrate Easter with some fun traditions.  We at our usual breakfast meal on Saturday night (this time)… Barscz (famous soup), fresh kielbasa, fresh pierogi, hard boiled egg, gawumpki, cabbage & onions, horseradish, rye bread, and butter lamb.

Today is I think only the 2nd annual Dyngus Day parade in Buffalo.   Most of it happens in my old neighborhood.

Throw some water on someone today as a blessing for the year.

not the underdog?

Sorry to you sports haters, this begins with my love for the Phils and the Bills.

Phila won the division and goes into the post-season with the 2nd best record in the NL.  They are really good this year.  The Bills are 4-0 for the first time in 16yrs, and are might actually be the best team in the NFL (outside my head!).

(this is machine gun kelly and the late “Pit Bull” Mitch Frerotte in 1991)

I am having a minor crisis.  My teams always suck.  I stay with them for different reasons and always say that they are the best, etc, but when it comes down to it they are never actually the best-i just love them. Now that they are both doing really well, I feel strange about caring so much (geez, how post-modern am I?).

It makes me glad that God’s love for me doesn’t waver-even when I’m doing well!  It’s easy to need God when I’m down in the dumps, yet strangely more difficult when things seem like they are going along swimmingly.

I’m grateful for a life that never really gets easy, but is full of love.