malcolm marler

on a mission to embody grace and compassion in all relationships

Month: May 2011

It’s Just Stuff?

This is the third in a series written by Malcolm Marler and Mary Bea Sullivan, husband and wife, about their journey as Mary, an author, prepares to go to Virginia Theological Seminary.  Malcolm is a director of pastoral care at a hospital in Alabama.

“She Said” by Mary Bea Sullivan

“They have met our counter-offer, but there’s one thing.” Malcolm was standing with the phone in his hand, having just hung up with our realtor.

“What’s the ‘one thing?'” I asked suspiciously. “They want the furniture.” He replied.

I stood dumbfounded. Sure, we had talked about selling the house furnished, but I hadn’t thought about that for a long time.  Besides, these guys were getting a great deal on this house, unfurnished. Not to mention, I was raised by a great negotiator and trained never to leave anything “on the table” in a deal. 

“Well, I want to keep the farmhouse table I bought in North Carolina.” I called to Malcolm who had left the room.  “And those blue chairs in the loft, I LOVE those chairs…And Kiki’s dresser, that is a NICE dresser…what about our bedroom furniture?  We bought that together.”

I began to scan the house in my head, perusing each room for special furniture to exclude from the contract. Malcolm returned to me and smiling said, “This is freedom baby!  Imagine how easy this move will be not worrying about lugging a bunch of furniture with us.  Besides, this is just stuff.”

Just stuff? I thought. This “stuff” is beautiful, we have celebrated Christmas sitting on this “stuff.”  We have come together as a family around the table, I have met with clients in those chairs, that rug was one of the first things I bought for myself after my divorce.  I wasn’t sure Malcolm really “got it,” but we decided to wait to reply to our real estate agent.  We were heading out for church anyway.

When we arrived at church our kind and caring priest, Bob Blackwell asked Malcolm how things were going with the house sale. Malcolm explained where we were in the process.  Bob smiled and said, “You may want to listen to the sermon today.”    Here’s the gist of what I heard from Bob’s lesson, “Let go…trust God will be there when you do…clinging holds you back…”

UGHH! I thought, Yeah, yeah, yeah, blah, blah, blah. I wanted to stand on my pew, turn my face toward the sky and yell, “Alright already I GET IT!”  But of course I just sat there and smiled as if all were well in my little, soon-to-be turned upside down world.

When have you resisted letting go of something dear?

How did it work out? Help me out here!

Thanks and Namaste.


Freedom from Stuff

This is the second in a series written by Malcolm Marler and Mary Bea Sullivan, husband and wife, about their journey as Mary, an author, prepares to go to Virginia Theological Seminary.  Malcolm is a director of pastoral care at a hospital in Alabama.

HE SAID… by Malcolm Lewis Marler

“It must be hard to leave such a beautiful place,” one friend recently wrote on my Facebook page.  “My prayers are with you.  Are you ok?”

Mary and I recently signed the papers to sell our house on Smith Lake in North Alabama. Hopefully we will close towards the end of June,.

This was my dream house that I built nine years ago.  I love the water.  The one-hour daily commute each way to work was worth it.

And then I fell in love with Mary Sullivan six months later.  She and Brendan and Kiki moved here from North Carolina and my house became our home.

I have enjoyed hundreds of sunsets, flowers, wildlife, and people that we shared in this place.  Mary and I have led spiritual retreats here.  We have broken bread around the table with family, old and new friends, and we have shared a glass of wine or iced tea on the deck.

And now we have sold this house with the furniture. Yep, everything.  We will take our clothes and a few other personal items, but more about that later. This life giving seed took root in a series I wrote over a year ago called my “Simplicity Journey.”

The impending freedom from all of the “things” that have “owned me” is life giving. We won’t have a mortgage or the responsibility to take care of so much stuff.  We hope to live more simply, faithfully, and generously.

Letting go of stuff allows many new dreams to flourish from unexpected places.  It is a wonderful new adventure.

This freedom is new for me. I am excited, my step is quicker, and my creative energy is flowing.  I don’t know where this is going to lead us. And I can’t wait to find out.

So my good friend, the answer to your question is, “No, it is not hard leaving this place.  Not at all.  Really.  The time is right.  It’s a different phase of my life.  I’m learning that home is not confined to a structure.  Life is about relationships.”

Have you ever experienced anything like this in your life?  Tell us about it.

Peace be with you.






He Said She Said

This is the first in a series written by Malcolm Marler and Mary Bea Sullivan, husband and wife, about their journey as Mary, an author, prepares to go to Virginia Theological Seminary.  Malcolm is a director of pastoral care at a hospital in Alabama.

She Said… by Mary Sullivan

Change she is a comin’–We have an offer to sell our lake home and will be moving to an unknown home in Birmingham next month.  We have unexpectedly taken responsibility for the care of a family member. And I am winding down my work in preparation for attending Virginia Theological Seminary in August.  Whew! That feels like a lot.

In the background of all this change is the ongoing state of emergency here in Northern Alabama from April’s tornadoes.  We are grateful our family and home were not affected, AND we are saddened by the devastation so many have experienced.

Both Malcolm and I enjoy writing as a way to find clarity and thought it would be fun to co-create a series about how we individually, and together, move through this time of transition and intention towards simplification–a kind of  “He Said, She Said” perspective. We have no agenda, or even the slightest hint of where this is leading.

We don’t know how often we will have time to post. We are simply taking a step and trusting Good will work through us–sometimes in spite of us.   That is one of the many things I love and enjoy about doing life with Malcolm, he has an adventurer’s heart.

Our hope and prayer is that this endeavor will lead us closer to God, each other, and life. If others benefit from, and contribute to the conversation, it will be even more meaningful.

We thought it would be way more fun and really cool if you came along. There are always people going though changes.  Maybe we could support one another along the way.

Welcome!  Your experiences, insights, and stories will surely add color to the landscape.

Riding Shotgun

This is the seventh in a series on My Faith Journey, and #27 in the series Lessons from My Father.

ri·ding shot·gun

To ride shotgun is to sit in the front passenger seat when riding in a car or other vehicle. It is also used to mean giving actual or figurative support or aid to someone in a situation or project, i.e. to “watch their back.”

My father (Lewis), and my mother, (Martha Lou), and my step mom (Jimmie Ruth) were riding shotgun in the car with me today.

This was happening even though all three are no longer living on this earth.

I took the day off from work to tend to some important family business in Birmingham, Cullman, and Jasper on this ninth day of May, 2011.

As I drove, I turned on one of my Pandora radio stations that plays old Christian hymns.  It took me back to my childhood and the early years of my faith development.  I began to sing out loud.  The words to songs I had not sung in decades flowed out of my mouth.  Harmony filled the car.

Don’t worry, I don’t mean my Father, Mother, and Step Mom were physically with me.  But their influence in my life certainly was.

I could hear their encouragement, “You can do this Malcolm.  Thank you.  We are with you.  You are doing the right thing.  You are not alone.”  Tears streamed down my face and my God it felt good to have a wet face and the company to witness it.

How about you?

Have you felt the presence of positive people in your life during difficult days?

Are you aware that you do not have to do this, whatever “this” is, alone?

Good, because even if the people don’t show up when you need them most, the Spirit who created you is as close as every note you sing, every breath you take, and every tear you share.

Thanks be to God.



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