Vision Statement for St. Paul’s, Marfa, Texas
St. Paul’s is an open, loving community
growing in the experience and understanding of the love of God,
acting to share the visible presence and compassion of Christ.
Mission Statement for St. Paul’s, Marfa, Texas:
Our mission is to be a welcoming, prayerful, caring community
actively sharing the love of God.

Values Statement for St. Paul's Marfa, Texas
To accomplish our mission, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church bases its decisions and actions on the following core values:

Love of God and neighbor by honoring the worth and dignity of every human being including ourselves.
Daily relationship with God all through our lives through prayer and service.
The importance of giving and receiving forgiveness through the generosity of the Holy Spirit.
We value continual learning.
We value the Episcopal tradition of communal worship.
Practicing hospitality by welcoming all and serving and sharing with our communities.
The stewardship of God’s creation and all its inhabitants.



Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent in the second Lent of the Great Pandemic of the early 21st century. 

As Diana Butler Bass confesses: "the whole thing is wearying. How is Ash Wednesday really all that different from any other day in this interminable pandemic? 

The entire year has felt like Lent, so today is just another ashy day."

Every time people put on a mask, many think of death and dying. In a year of a half-million deaths of other Americans and millions of people around the world, the Lenten discipline of contemplating mortality seems like one more painful day. 

Add to that all the climate-related crises of fire, ice, water, and wind that have killed far too many people this year, and we don’t need ashes to remind us that the world is heavy with sorrow, and that much that we love is being lost and is ending. Every single day is an exercise in mortality, as we see our dusty illusions of existence coming at us like a haboob in the desert. 

Frankly, Do we really need the church to remind us of death this season as we have been surrounded by it all year. We are covered in dust.

Dust. Ashes. I know these things. As a forestry major in college, I had to join firefighting teams in the many woods of our country.  I know what it is like to see a hillside on fire, to know when to run so one isn’t incinerated, to walk in ashy landscapes of death. Dust and ash aren’t merely reminders of death — dust and ash are death. 

Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

Dust may be our ending, but it was also our beginning. Dust and ash are the stuff of creation.

In Genesis 3:6-7 (a poetic account of the beginning), a spring wells up on the dusty earth. From the resulting clay, God fashioned a man, breathed on him, and thus created humankind: The Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being.

We know here in far West Texas that the deserts do bloom. Charred landscapes birth new forests. From dust and ash come flowers and trees and fruitful fields. Dust is not nothing; ash is not nothing. Dust and ash are necessary for life. Repentance isn’t the point. Recognizing the circle of creation, the connectedness of all existence — that is the point. 

Somehow, in this miserable pandemic, this endless season of death, even this dust and ash will become the humus of new life, a recreation of who we are, what we do, and how we love.

Lent is our time to prepare to carry the crosses of the world ourselves. The people around us are hungry; it is up to us to see that they are fed, whatever the cost to ourselves. Children around us are in danger on the streets; it is up to us to see that they are safe. The world seems to be at the mercy of US foreign policy, US economic policy and US militarism; it is up to us to soften the hearts of our own government so that the rest of the world can live a life of dignity and pride.

Lent puts options before us. We can choose to be open or hardhearted, attuned to God or closed to everything but the self, full of faith or drowned in despair, stagnant or full of life. Lent is a choice of directions: life or death

Being in the desert, we need to look for water in this dry land. I believe we have had quite enough of death. We need to be longing for life.

This Lent, let us await the spring rising from the parched ground, and wonder how we are being fashioned into a new people. We need to be looking for water in this dry land. Have we had enough of death......Maybe it's time to long for life. 


You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting --
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

— Mary Oliver, Wild Geese

I imagine Lent for you and for me as a great departure from the greedy, anxious antineighborliness of our economy, a great departure from our exclusionary politics that fears the other, a great departure from self-indulgent consumerism that devours creation. And then an arrival in a new neighborhood, because it is a gift to be simple, it is a gift to be free; it is a gift to come down where we ought to be. 

― Walter Brueggemann


Stay safe, warm and well.....Shalom,



Lenten Study
Beginning February 24th
Wednesday Nights @ 7 on Zoom
Link and information to come
The topic will coincide with the Stewardship program
during Lent

Mark your calendars

New Book for the Book Study
Beginning Today @ 4:00

An extraordinary story set in the first century about a woman who finds her voice and her destiny, from the celebrated number one New York Times bestselling author of The Secret Life of Bees and The Invention of Wings

In her mesmerizing fourth work of fiction, Sue Monk Kidd takes an audacious approach to history and brings her acclaimed narrative gifts to imagine the story of a young woman named Ana. Raised in a wealthy family with ties to the ruler of Galilee, she is rebellious and ambitious, with a brilliant mind and a daring spirit. She engages in furtive scholarly pursuits and writes narratives about neglected and silenced women. Ana is expected to marry an older widower, a prospect that horrifies her. An encounter with eighteen-year-old Jesus changes everything. 

Their marriage evolves with love and conflict, humor and pathos in Nazareth, where Ana makes a home with Jesus, his brothers, and their mother, Mary. Ana's pent-up longings intensify amid the turbulent resistance to Rome's occupation of Israel, partially led by her brother, Judas. She is sustained by her fearless aunt Yaltha, who harbors a compelling secret. When Ana commits a brazen act that puts her in peril, she flees to Alexandria, where startling revelations and greater dangers unfold, and she finds refuge in unexpected surroundings. Ana determines her fate during a stunning convergence of events considered among the most impactful in human history. 

Grounded in meticulous research and written with a reverential approach to Jesus's life that focuses on his humanity, The Book of Longings is an inspiring, unforgettable account of one woman's bold struggle to realize the passion and potential inside her, while living in a time, place and culture devised to silence her. It is a triumph of storytelling both timely and timeless, from a masterful writer at the height of her powers.

The needs of paying the the church bills, funding our ministries, and proclaiming the Good News continues during this Pandemic. Please consider making a monthly gift.


THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!---to all of you who have contributed and continue to contribute to our virtual collection plate. Some of you have made it a monthly donation through our "Donate Button. Either way you have done is greatly appreciated. 

For those of you who have not checked out how easy it is to donate on line....
Go to our website- Go to the bottom and find the "Donate" --click on it and fill in the blanks.... OR go to and continue to support our mission and ministry. 

ALSO---Thank you, thank you, thank you for all who have mailed in pledges and donations

Things to do to benefit the church and the community during the Coronavirus Restrictions

1. THE MARFA FOOD PANTRY IS EMPTY! -  Keep bringing food donations...our doors are open 24 hours and you will find a basket at the back of the church.

2. Pray for Rudy and Allison.

3. Pray for our country.



The First Sunday in Lent
February 21, 2021

Genesis 9:8-17
Psalm 25:1-10
1 Peter 3:18-22
Mark 1:9-15

Lenten Reflection: Anywhere Else

i just realized
that in my imagination
the wilderness is always somewhere else;
a foreign landscape i actively have to enter
in the act of being faithful.
the wilderness is always where i am
right now
and faith is the courage to stay with it
when i’d rather pretend i am
anywhere else.
~ written by Cheryl Lawrie

Mark 1:12-15

The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert.

 to the desert 
 by the Holy Spirit,
Your only food,
the will of the Father,

you went.

Let your surrender summon us also:
 to your revolution of tenderness.
Help us listen to the
Holy Spirit.

Let it be our

Genesis 9:8-15

I set my bow in the clouds to serve as a sign.

A promise of love,
 the sign, the

to the heavens,
filling the

Its hues
all living things.

Thank you, dear Lord:
for earth, for skies, for rainbows
 and for every living creature
under the sun.

Help us care,
and teach everyone
to care for the common home that 
you have given to each and every one of us.

And thanks

for your promise
that you will
hold us

 in your loving arms


1 Peter 3:18-22

Put to death in the flesh, he was brought to life in the Spirit.

Holy Spirit,
help us 

Lenten task is 
to make room for you.  

Anne Osdieck
Genesis 9:8-17
Weather Forecast
God needed some way of remembering,
Or we needed some way of remembering
that God would remember,
Some sort of Post-It note,
"That pretty bow you tied around your finger"
As it's also been called,
A reminder that God would never smack us again,
Which shows up at the oddest times.
Yet many seem to have forgotten 
What sort of "us" is meant here.
It's you and me, yes;
But it's also "them" over there,
The people with different 
Looks and lives and even so-called beliefs,
Next door and across an ocean.
Oh - and every other living creature, too.
O God, I trust you remember the details.
But when will the rest of us remember 
That we're all in the same boat?
With the sun shining, I hope we get some rain soon.
Scott L. Barton

Lent, Wilderness, and Forty Days

It is my wilderness …
  a place to which I am being led.

   It is my forty days …
yes, my forty days
    to endure and to seek,
to trust and to pray,
  to be surrounded by
   very tending angels.
It is my aloneness,
    and wilderness and forty days.
I would hope that
   you too might allow it 
      if and when it comes …
      for there is a Holy Presence here.
 The wilderness is born
    out of a great silence 
    that hopes for a sudden glimpse
  of God in worship
    when all others around me
    are following their worship bulletins
      so carefully … so dutifully … 
      so worshipfully … so very well.

It is my wilderness.
    It is I who sing the hymns,
     with parched lips.
    It is I who reaches out for the morsels
       that the Spirit hands to me
       when I am so malnourished.

It is my wilderness.
It is I who listens for shouts 
   yet am satisfied
  with holy whispers.

It is my response to God to live into,
   not others to discourage.
The words, “Get thee behind me….”
  are on my lips, on guard and ready
  for one more attempt 
       to change direction.

It was my wilderness, 
… my forty days,
… my seeking, 
… my journey, 
… Your leading.

Holy One, you are in it all
   and in that, I do trust
   these unknown steps
  during these forty days.


Australian Wilderness

a perhaps pertinent poem for an Australian Lent.

A Nation of trees, drab green and desolate grey 
In the field uniform of modern wars, 
Darkens her hills, those endless, outstretched paws 
Of Sphinx demolished or stone lion worn away.
They call her a young country, but they lie: 
She is the last of lands, the emptiest, 
A woman beyond her change of life, a breast 
Still tender but within the womb is dry.
Without songs, architecture, history:
The emotions and superstitions of younger lands,
Her rivers of water drown among inland sands,
The river of her immense stupidity
Floods her monotonous tribes from Cairns to Perth. 
In them at last the ultimate men arrive 
Whose boast is not: 'we live' but 'we survive', 
A type who will inhabit the dying earth.
And her five cities, like five teeming sores,
 Each drains her: a vast parasite robber-state 
Where second-hand Europeans pullulate
Timidly on the edge of alien shores.
Yet there are some like me turn gladly home
From the lush jungle of modern thought, to find
The Arabian desert of the human mind, -
Hoping, if still from the deserts the prophets come,
Such savage and scarlet as no green hills dare 
Springs in that waste, some spirit which escapes 
The learned doubt, the chatter of cultured apes 
Which is called civilization over there.
- A. D, HOPE

A Sermon, A Poem, A Prayer? To Speak as Water

A dam in Pennsylvania. Photo by Erinn Fahey.

By Lydia Wylie-Kellermann
Preached at Day House Detroit Catholic Worker, February 18, 2018

Genesis 9:8-15
1Peter 3:18-22
Mark 1:12-15

Who am I?
I am fierce and gentle.
I am life and death.
I am ancient and new.
I am solid and fluid and gas.
I am in you and around you.
I am above you and below you.
I am the snow and the rain,
The creek, the stream,
the river, and the sea.

I’ve lost my natural curve
And the symbiotic relationship
With cedars and salmon and cat tails,
As I’ve been made straight
in cement canals and underground pipes.
My aqueducts have been pumped dry.
Powerful made powerless
By engineers and profiteers
And my clouds are growing heavy.

I have watched the humans
As their factories push out creatures to consume,
As the birds’ wings are too oil laden to fly
And the geese no longer know which way to fly
As the fruit buds bloom while the snow yet falls
As the ice chunks crash into the ocean
And my clouds are growing heavy.

As people freeze to death in tents beside the church
And die of thirst and disease
As the money rolls in profitizing
from the gift of my body.
My sister air has become poison in the lungs of children.
Metal runs through veins ruining the minds of the young.
And my clouds are growing heavy.

The rain and snow still fall covering the earth
But there is more weight in my flake
More rage in the wind
More tears in my downpours.
The sorrow is measured
in each millimeter of rise on the sea
And my clouds are growing heavy
Carrying the weight of this world

A long time ago, I spread across the plains
In a moment that held a similar pain
As brothers killed brother and war was created.
Creation groaned. God hung her head.
It was the two-legged beings
In their arrogance that forced the rain to fall.
Only creatures 2 by 2 were saved
Afloat my harboring seas.

Our tears let loose.
We raged and stormed and covered the earth
Watching life reach toward the sky begging for life.
I watched the cities drown
And the weapons sink below the sand.

I saw the few cry out “Oh Lord, what have we done?”
And others argue “We knew not what we’d done.”
But they knew
And my clouds were heavy.


At last the sun shown and my clouds were free
The rainbow appeared and God spoke
To humans, and eagles, and sparrows,
To the cows and goats,
To the ants, and centipedes, and frogs
To all the wild and wonderful beings.
“I establish my covenant with you:
Never again will all life be destroyed
by the waters of a flood;
never again will there be a flood
to destroy the earth.”

My rainbow was hung
Like a bow disarmed
Made of light and tears
As a reminder of the love of God
And the commitment of the world
To one another.

And my molecules smiled
for my being
Would destroy no more.
I was going to be who I was uttered
In spirit to be.
I was not a deadly weapon
But a divine wonder.
Life bearer, earthly beauty,
Healer, friend, and blessing.

“Never again will the waters
become a flood to destroy all life.”
That pigeon flew through space and time
From ark to Jordan’s shore
And I was remembered not as flood
But as a reminder of blessing, and life,
And the communion of
Creatures, creation, and Creator.
Many, “were saved through water.”

It was my waters that sent Jesus
Into the wilderness that day
Where the wild animals sat beside him
As he too struggled against the weight of the world.
He had known these truths
Since the day his parents were forced to
Swoop him from the barn and go home by another way
As murder and power raged once more.

#timesup he said
Emerging from the wild
“The time has come,”
For healing, repentance,
Resistance, and in the end
Like rainbow
With bow and cross hung high
Earthly or godly weapons no more.
A reminder of the power of life
And that death has no dominion.

Generations have been hatched and birthed
And turned back into ashes.
And my clouds grow heavy
With the tears of these ten thousand years.

In truth, there is a piece of me that longs to penetrate
The worm trails and arsenal tunnels again.
To let loose the devastation of my sorrow.
To heal this place with the soggy soil of flood.
And then to rise again with sunshine
and watch the early sprouts of new green
nourished by my tears of thanks.

But I still love this place and
Each intricately woven eco system-
The two legged and four legged and winged ones
That roam the mountains and the dessert,
That is, of course, why I carry the weight in my clouds.

So, I’ve been letting me tears fall
Gentle at first
In hopes that they might be enough,
I pray they be enough,
To remember the promise
In time to stop the flood.
Let me be,
Let you be,
Who we were each uttered
To be.

The Temptation of St. Anthony, Lucas van Leyden, c.1530
Are Van Leyden's demons cute or what?


And so we are tempted of Satan, tempted to give up, to despair.Tempted to cynicism. Tempted sometimes to cruelty. Tempted not to help others when we know we can, because, we think, what's the use. Tempted to banish from our life all that we really hold most dear, and that is love, tempted to lock ourselves up, so that when we pass by people feel, 'There goes a dead man.' And behind each and all of these temptations is the temptation to disbelieve in what we are, the temptation to distrust ourselves, to deny that is is the Spirit himself which beareth witness with our spirit. God in us.

-Harry Williams 1919-2006
True Wilderness
quoted from Celebrating the Seasons (Morehouse)



Why was he tempted? Because in him you were being tempted. Christ took his flesh from you and in return gave you the salvation that resides in him; he took your death for himself and gave you his life; he took the shame you deserved and gave you the honor that was his. Consequently, he took your temptation and gave you his victory. If we are tempted in him, we also overcome the devil in him.

-Augustine  354-430
Ennarrationes in Psalmos 60, 3(CCL 39:766)
quoted from The Liturgical Year: Lent and Holy Week, Adrian Nocent OS

Get Moving And Doing

When I am assailed with heavy tribulations, I rush out among my pigs rather than remain alone by myself. The human heart is like a millstone in a mill: when you put wheat under it, it turns and grinds and bruises the wheat to flour: if you put no wheat, it still grinds on, but then 'tis itself it grinds and wears away. So the human heart, unless it be occupied with some employment, leaves space for the devil, who wriggles himself in and brings with him a whole host or evil thoughts, temptations, and tribulations, which grind out the heart.

-Martin Luther 1483-1546
Table Talk


The Last Word

We have been called to heal wounds, to unite what has fallen apart, and to bring home those who have lost their way. Many who may seem to us to be children of the Devil will still become Christ’s disciples.

- Francis of Assisi  1181/1182-1226



Thankfulness and Celebration and News  

Thank you to Shere, Nancy A, Beth and Susan for enhancing our Ash Wednesday worship.
Thank you to Joni who will be leading our Stewardship program during Lent.

Thank you to everyone who continues to bring food supplies and masks to the church. It is greatly appreciated by the Marfa Food Pantry.

Thank you to all who have gone on line to our virtual collection plate and to those who have kept up your pledges and donations through snail mail.




The Rev. Michael Wallens
Vicar - Saint Paul's Episcopal Church
P.O. Box 175, Marfa, Texas 79843
Office - 915.239.7409  |  Cell - 214-862-7292

Parish website -
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