Wall Hangings

We really don’t care what’s hanging on your walls.  We care more about what’s hanging in your heart and spirit.

                                                Mike White, 8/26/17


I recently have completed a most excellent adventure.  Over the past 10 months, I have been a part of Cohort XI of the Neighborhood Leadership Development Program (or NLDP as we call it). The vision of the program “is to foster the growth of a new vanguard of engaged neighborhood leaders in the City of Cleveland who are prepared and committed to creating progressive change in a variety of areas throughout Cleveland and the region.”

I applied at the suggestion of my husband who saw their ad in a local neighborhood paper.  “This might be a good thing for you as a new resident to the area,” he said holding the paper out to me.  I will confess some hesitation—would they “take a chance” on a relatively new person?  What could I offer as a “newbie”?

I applied, interviewed and was accepted.  Our first gathering was Saturday, August 26, 2017.  And one of the first things Mike White said to the 23 of us gathered was “We really don’t care what’s hanging on your walls.  We care more about what’s hanging in your heart and spirit.”  I took that to mean the accolades or pictures with “famous” people.  I started thinking about what was hanging on my walls.  (as an aside, I only have what I would consider to be one “famous” picture—and it’s not even on the wall, but on the bookcase—a picture with Emily and Don Saliers taken at a Cathedral College course many years ago).

What is hanging on my walls and does it represent what is hanging in my heart and spirit?

There’s this picture:


A view from the balcony at Westminster Presbyterian Church, Charleston, SC

I spent a summer and a year with these good people while I was in seminary.  I learned a lot about what it meant to be a part of faith community as a leader.  They were very gracious and very patient as I “tried on the robe” of ordained ministry. What I learned there continues to influence and shape me.


There’s this picture:IMG_6687

Looking out on the Sound of Iona

Iona is my “thin” place—that physical place where there is not much space between this world and divine. Iona is the only place I have audibly heard the voice of God.  Time there with people there continues to ground me.

There’s this picture:IMG_6688

My brother-in-law gave this to me one Christmas.  I collect nativities and this is the only one I have that is painted.  That he thought of me and then put to paint to canvas is breathtaking.  I see it every time I walk in my office.  It always brings me a sense of calm.

And then there are these two:


Before this gig in Cleveland, I had the honor and privilege to be the pastor at Arlington Presbyterian Church in Arlington, VA.  Through an intentional discernment process, this community of disciples gave up their building so others could have a place to live.  The Washington Postcovered part of the journey.  From my perspective, they were stories too good not to keep.  Each time I see these, I am reminded of what discipleship, trust, risk and faith looks like.

A community that welcomed me, allowed me to fail, learn, and grow…

A place that is holy and divine and, in its setting, enables me to more clearly hear the voice of God…

A representation of the incarnation, the riskiest thing God ever did…

A community willing to discern, listen, and act…

I think my wall hangings capture my heart and spirit.


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