Saturday, October 31, 2009
I have had an unusually busy week beginning with the Gathering of Leaders conference that I attended in Scottsdale. It was a great conference and I look forward to writing up my notes and a reflection on it. But first things first.
Today I have to Officiate at a wedding in Tucson for a delightful young couple. It will be a fairly fancy affair for this area. I look forward to that. Then tomorrow morning bright and early I hop in the car with Ollie, the giant puppy, to drive to Chicago where I will return him to his mom, my daughter.
So, travelling prayers please, that I can manage this drive to and from Chicago (3600 miles round trip) safely and without incident. Twitter me while I'm on the road or call if you know my number. I may need help staying awake...While in Chicago I'll see a few friends and family but I can't do much in just three days....
And I'll write about that conference when I return.
Friday, October 30, 2009
1) Your lifesaving food/beverage. Oh....most mornings it is a goooood cup of coffee. But sometimes it is that afternoon pick me up cup of tea. Other times it might be a glass of red wine. But as a general rule I drink a lot of lifegiving water, iced or not, depending on the weather.
2) Your lifesaving article of clothing. Some call it a dog-collar. I heard one person call it a bandit-collar. For me though, the clerical collar I wear has been a lifegiving symbol of my ministry. I don't need to wear "the collar" to feel like or priest or remember that I am one. But I wear it with a deep sense of gratitude for that which God has done in my life. The collar is a clear symbol of the ministry I do and love. I love what I have been called to do even though it can be really hard life draining work. When I wear the collar people know who I am and what I am there for, whether it is visiting someone in the hospital or officiating at a wedding or leading worship in church. I do tend to get a few second looks in the grocery store....
3) Your lifesaving movie/book/tv show/music. Dixie Chicks "Despite Our Differences" love that CD.
4) Your lifesaving friend. I have a couple: Kathryn, Joanne, Jeanette, on any given day, not necessarily in that order.
5) Your lifesaving moment. hum. my baptism at the age of nine. kneeling while the minister laid hands on my head and my new husband and prayed a blessing for our marriage - truly I will never forget that sense that the Holy Spirit was present. My marriage has been life saving and life giving - but by no means rosy. The births of each of my children - definitely.
Monday, October 26, 2009
Thursday night I will conduct a class at the "Back in the saddle" church on creating a facebook account and using facebook. We going to create a FB page for the church and help parishioners create a page so they can particapate. It's part of their marketing and growing the church strategy. We may also create a blog for posting Sunday sermons and other info, in addition to their website.
Friday I have a wedding rehearsal for a wedding on Sat. I'm officiating and the wedding of a delightful couple I have been counseling since August. It will be a black tie affair, and fun, I expect.
Sunday I head off for Chicago, driving my daughter's dog back to her. Except for the dog on the first leg of the trip, I will travel alone. That's making everyone a little nervous. I may have to stop in and visit friends along the way in Texas, Oklahoma, and Missouri. :-) Of course, I will have a BIG dog one way...
That's my week. Now off to do some yoga, finish packing and heading up to Scottsdale, AZ. What about your week?
Saturday, October 24, 2009
My family and I live in Green Valley, having moved there from Chicago about 2 years ago. It’s a big change for us, living in a small town in the middle of the desert instead of the hustle and bustle of a major Midwest city. There are some things we really like about where we live. For example, we live on the foothills of the Santa Rita mountains, just a few miles from Madera Canyon. The view out our backyard is spectacular and the birds at our feeders are plentiful and beautiful.
But there are many things we miss about Chicago. The restaurants, or more specifically a good Italian beef, is one thing. We also miss the variety of options on cable television. Where we are we do have cable, but it’s limited. The same movie will play over and over, days on end. Old movies. For example, about every three months one of the movie channels will play Clear and Present Danger, the movie version of the Tom Clancey novel that stars Harrison Ford. I’ve seen it so many times now I’d know it by heart, that is if I were really paying attention instead of knitting.
Ford plays the acting director of the C.I.A. who is caught and nearly murdered in a secret war between the President of the United States and the Columbian drug cartel. Living this close to Mexico we know a thing or two about drug cartels and the violence they bring. The conflict in the movie lies between those who see morality in shades of gray and Ford who thinks a person can know the difference between right and wrong, and that you must respond accordingly.
As the movie runs its course there is a scene where Ford, in the jungles of Columbia, realizes that he has been set up. He and a friend go deep into the jungle trying to rescue survivors of an American commando team. That this team exists, that they betrayed him, and that they now face destruction, have all been hidden from him for much of the movie. But now, knowing of their existence and need to be saved, Ford feels moral bound to save whomever he can find. As it turns out there is only one survivor left. Upon learning this the commando screams, “Who did this? Who is responsible?” Ford’s character steps forward and says, “I am.” It’s a powerful scene. He clearly is not responsible, he is a victim like the rest. But he is now risking his own life to try and fix what others have done.
Responsible is a word that has two meanings. One meaning is blamed ridden – “Who is responsible for this mess?” the other meaning connotes maturity “She is a responsible woman.” Perhaps this joke will help illustrate what I mean:
A mother heard the family cat yowl in pain. She knew where to look: she looked for her son Tommy, and said, "Tommy, stop pulling his tail."
Replied Tommy, "I'm not pulling his tail. I'm just standing on it. He's doing the pulling."
Drawing its meaning from “able to respond” - a responsible person takes action to do the right thing. Ford’s character is able to respond to the situation, he is response-able.
Our readings this morning, particularly Job and the Gospel, focus on responding. Job responds to God and Bartimaeus responds to Jesus, each becomes respone-able for their lives in relationship with God.
By the end of the story of Job we come to understand, as he does, that what matters is not where his suffering “came from” but where it can “go”. Richard Rohr in his book, Job and the Mystery of Suffering suggests that one of the words in the final Job chapter is perhaps misinterpreted. God reminds Job that God is the creator of all and that Job is part of God’s creation. As a result God is always in and with Job, through thick or thin, sorrow or joy, God is present. We then hear that Job repented IN sack cloth and ashes, but Rohr suggests that maybe Job repented FROM sack cloth and ashes. In repenting Job takes responsibility for his own life and he moves from a place of woe and self pity to a place of action and ultimately transformation.
The story of Bartimauus is a similar story of responding, and what can come from it. In the Gospel we have several examples of responding: first we have Bartimaeus who hears that Jesus is coming, his salvation is at hand. “Have mercy on me” Bartimaeus shouts. But the crowd responds by trying to stifle Bartimaeus’ shout.
An entire sermon could be preached on the response of the crowd trying to keep Bartimaeus from Jesus and Jesus from Bartimaeus, how they try to contain God’s mercy…the question we could ask ourselves is how might we, consciously or not, try to keep God contained? But that’s for another day.
The crowd fails and Jesus not only hears Bartimaeus but Jesus responds with a question. Like Job responding to God, Jesus’ question to Bartimaeus pushes him into action. Responding to God, taking action, moving beyond the walls we construct for our own lives and into what God desires for us transforms us.
God meets us in the midst of the chaos of our lives and calls us to respond. The response God desires is always the same: what ever the situation, what ever has happened, we are called to respond in a way that loves God, loves self, and loves others.
Doing this - responding with love - brings forth a new sense of order, and transforms us into a deeper faithful people in the process. From the beginning of creation we hear about God taking the chaos of this world and pulling from it that which can contribute toward a greater good, a new life, a new order. God does it with love and then calls us to do likewise.
Friday, October 23, 2009
That's why I didn't play the Friday Five....sigh.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
very late I have heard a kind of whispered sighing
like a night wind in pines or like the sea in the dark
the echo of everything that has ever
still spinning its one syllable
between the earth and silence
W.S. Merwin in "A Book of Luminous Things, An International Anthology of Poetry" Edited by Czeslaw Milosz 1996, Harvest Book
Monday, October 19, 2009
The article draws on Mother Theresa's memoir, her startling assertion that "The place of God in my soul is blank.....There is no God in me...I just hear my own heart cry out - 'My God' and nothing comes."
He offers this assessment: most contemplatives have discovered "The deeper you plunge into the depths of God, the more likely you are to experience how utterly inadequate is our human capacity for meeting and knowing God."
He then goes on to speak about the apophatic and kataphatic streams of mysticism - that there is no way to really know God or the way to know God is affectively as love.
Hinson writes: "Persons who want to just dabble in religious life and who have only a casual interest in God will not be likely to experience the 'darkness' and desolation' Jesus experience on the cross, 'My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me....or Mother Theresa knew as she immersed herself totally in ministering to 'the distressed Christ in his many disguises.' Like Mother Theresa and many another saint, you have to have known at some time in your life a sense of Presence, God's shekinah, in order to miss it."
And then ends with this:
"Thinking about this dark night causes me to ask another question. Given the fact that God is always beyond our knowing, should we not sometimes measure our faith by our sense of the absence of God as well as our sense of the presence of God?"
Twenty minutes of gentle postures work the tightness out of my lower back and shoulders. Twenty minutes of slow movement stretching my body awake. Twenty minutes later I lay on the floor, breathing. An invitation to meditate. An invitation to quiet. It's perfect.
Except inside of me, I am restless, not calm. Tears well up, but like the parched desert I am dry.
After yoga I read the NY Times article about the journalist who spent 7 months and 10days in Taliban captivity. I remember when Ryan was in the Army, stationed in this same area. I remember him telling us about the daily bombings to the army base, his constant fear. The heat, 120 degrees. The article will appear over several editions of the NY Times, which I may read online.... I go to breakfast, yogurt and a banana and coffee with honey and skim milk. I return and read and color mandalas.
And do more yoga. An hour this time. Strenuous. The room is getting hot. I close the door and window and turn on the air. And take a shower. Lunch is quiet, too. A salad with a side of salted nuts and raisins and iced tea. I return to my room and color the mandala some more.
The sun is blazing hot, the sky cloudless pale blue, 97 degrees, probably.
My spirit is restless. I think I'll take a walk. Perhaps the hot sun will dry the restlessness out of me, leaving me parched, but quiet?
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Upon arrival I unpack my art supplies, knitting, clothes, computer, and yoga DVD's. I change into yoga attire, spread out my mat, and put in PM Yoga. But for some reason my computer did not want to let me view this DVD. I kept getting a warning message about some copy write issue between the DVD and my computer. This has never happened before and so perplexed I pull the computer onto my lap and begin trying to figure it out. Turns out I need to update some piece of software.
Sitting on my yoga mat, on the floor, I was fiddling around with the computer, initializing the connection to the internet and so on. All of a sudden I see, out of the corner of my eye, the hugest, biggest, fastest
spider I have ever seen - and its CHARGING straight for me.
There I sit in on my mat on the floor, in skimpy yoga attire, no shoes... you bet I let out a yelp "ewwwwwww!!!!"
And then I dropped my lap top directly on it.
After a stunned second I cautiously lift the lap top. The spider is demolished into several pieces.
The computer is no worse for the wear.
Its a bit odd, starting this retreat, taking over what was clearly this spider's domain (who'd have known?) - and then proceeding to murder it. Or maybe I can settle for self-defense...
Sadly, if it really was a wolf spider then it wasn't poisonous and I might have been able to get it outside. Alas, there are so many poisonous creatures in the desert - I tend to kill first and identify later....
Friday, October 16, 2009
1. What is your favorite footwear at this time in your life? I wear strappy open toed kitten heels almost everywhere, that is when I'm working. When not working I wear a pair of Merrell sandals.
2. What was the craziest shoe, boot, or sandal you ever wore? In the early 1980's I bought a pair of ankle boots, suede, pointy toed, high heel...to wear with those skin tight straight leggings and long tops...
3. What kind of shoes did you wear in your childhood? keds or flip-flops or sandals.
4. How do you feel most comfortable? Barefoot, flip-flops, boots, or what? barefoot, except not here where there are dangerous things that crawl on the ground - like scorpions....here I wear flip flops.
5. What kind of socks do you like, if any? ankle socks, but in fun yarns....which are difficult to find, so now I am making my own socks...
Bonus: Anything you want to share about feet or footwear. Reflexology works under the premise that every organ in our body plus muscles, eyes, and our spine have a reflex point on the foot. Getting a foot reflexology treatment is like a whole body treatment. The same thing with our ears - the ears are a microcosm of the body with reflex points on the ear.
Lord, You have always given
Bread for the coming day,
and though I am poor,
Today I believe.
Lord, You have always given
strength for the coming day
And though I am weak,
Today I believe.
Lord, You have always given
Peace for the coming day,
and though I am of anxious heart,
Today I believe.
Lord, You have always kept
Me safe in trials,
And now, tried as I am,
Today I believe.
Lord, You have always marked
The road for the coming day
And though it may be hidden,
Today I believe.
Lord, You have always lightened
This darkness of mine,
And though the night is here,m
Today I believe.
Lord, You have always spoken
When time was ripe,
And though You be silent now,
Today I believe.
Years ago I purchased the Celtic Daily Prayer Book and prayed with it every day for a year. Since then I have prayed the prayers in this book off and on. Perhaps it is time I returned to using it daily.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Isn't is all relative, the pace at which life moves? For some, too slow, for others, too fast. For some change is exciting for others the most simplest of change is overwhelming and disorienting.(OK, this is me pondering, not a quote)
"Someone I loved once gave me
a box full of darkness.
It took me years to understand
that this too, was a gift."
Mary Oliver, "The Uses of Sorrow" in Thirst: Beacon Press 2006
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Oh my God, where are you?
I am lost and so alone.
Hear my prayer.
Oh my. God? Where am I?
My hope. My only hope.
Hear my cry, my plea
Hear my prayer.
In you I put my trust.
In you I lay my life.
You. My prayer.
Help me to love
You, neighbor, self.
hoping, more than
hope in you.
This day, yesterday
hear my prayer.
Friday, October 09, 2009
1. Here is one that I just wrote about: On my 51st birthday my family and I went to a sushi restaurant in the suburbs of Chicago. We had so much fun, laughing and eating. My gifts that night were all Japanese - a tea pot, a set of handleless cups, and tea. They are beautiful.
I barely had a chance to use them, here, after we moved. It was late winter, spring actually in the desert. So, for the most part they remained in their respective boxes in the cupboard.
I did use them last winter, almost every night. Sometimes while watching TV, sometimes while reading by the fire. Always with a sense of love, given by my family.
Now, tonight, it is cool enough to use them again. Along with Tension Tamer tea. Because unlike last winter, which had more than its fair share of tension, this winter will have probably have even more.
2. The day each of my children were born. I'll spare you the details.
3. The day my twin god daughters were born. The mom had been on bedrest for two months, a high risk pregnancy. Some of you may remember the story of their birth, the snow storm I drove through to get to the hospital, the all nighter we pulled, keeping mom comfortable, the intensity of those final hours, and then the births. I was in the birthing room, helping all along the way. Yes. Awesome.
Me, resting in the hospital about 4am...
The babies a few months afterward
4. The baptism of my god daughters - at a small church in Chicago by the Presiding Bishop herself. A totally awesome morning.
Me, the PB, and Baby Z.
5. Back in Chicago when I used to go to dog park with my dogs: Roxie and Ruby. Loved that dog park. It was many acres, a good 45 minute walk around, woods, lake, grasses. A great place to walk, think, pray, and enjoy my dogs.
Wednesday, October 07, 2009
(yeah, that was a real work out....LOL)
No, I've started riding an outdoor bike. I got the bike so I could do simple errands around town without using my car. But I also ride the bike around the neighborhood, just for exercise, and so I can actually ride it on those errands. In about 20 minutes I can ride up and down steep hills, from end of the area where I live to the other and back, and get a pretty good work out. By the time I'm finished I'm quite winded.
I ride the same route I walk when I take the dogs out. Clearly the walk takes longer than riding the bike...but also the route looks and feels different whether I'm hiking or biking. During the hike we are always on the look out for, well, natural wild life...bobcats, coyotes, snakes...that sort of thing. And occasionally we see them too, hunting under the scrub trees, looking for rabbits or ground squirrels.
Biking it is more arduous. The hills are steep. Going down hill is risky because of the speed but also the wind. The wind races across the arroyo and catches me as I coast at the bottom of a hill - hitting me from the side - and almost knocking me off balance.
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
It's a wonderful book filled with prayers and poems by woman around the world, focusing on the Millennium Development Goals. These eight goals, established by the United Nations in 1995, invite nations and people to work toward the eradication of extreme poverty, lack of education, health care, and gender inequality and work together for a sustainable environment. You can read more about them here.
Most every day I pick this book up and read a few of the prayers. Here is what I read this morning:
On the seventh day, He rested.
She swept up the scraps,
(saving those big enough to make ears or tails).
She polished the water
scrubbed the sky, and gave the birds song.
She saw that it was good.
Then she danced with the fields.
The wind, watching her, learned to comfort the grass.
Later pools of gold and lavender appeared in the sky
just where she had vanished.
Lynn Dean Hunter
Virginia Beach, Virginia, United States
Lifting Women's Voices
2009: the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society
Monday, October 05, 2009
What to do today? I thought I'd go for a bike ride, a long one. But the wind may make that impossible. Unless I want to be blown hinder and yon.
I have three big dogs, at the moment, and two of them are vying for the upper hand - the weimaraner one year old and 7 year old vizsla. They are cousins, genetically by breed, and have very similar personality characteristics. It's alternately funny and annoying. They spar. They do a lot of licking of each others mouths - some parental dominate thing, I think. They run through my small house attached to one another causing havoc along the way. They are noisy.
So, noise. A lot of noise in my environment today. Wind and dogs. And a mind that won't stop. My mind wakes me up at night as my unconscious self wrestles with the state my life is in right now. My sleeping pattern is off, a few hours here and there. It might be this way because of hormones. It could be other stuff.
Next week I may make a second trip to Chicago. To return my daughter's dog and to take my son back for a traffic court appearance. Yes, he got a speeding ticket while there over the summer. THAT will be an expensive 5 minutes in court....plus traffic school...sigh. Not to mention another long drive there and back.
It will be good, though, to get this puppy home. My daughter misses her dog. He misses her, and the household needs to return to some sense of normalcy.
The rest of my week includes:
a trip to the motor vehicles to get the title for a car we just bought - a 2000 Blazer. A truck really.
then a trip to Goodyear to get new tires and a battery for the truck.
a few doctor appt's
lunch with the rector of a church I'm going to be working for temporarily. It's unpaid ie non-stip, but an altar to serve and a place to preach on occasion. It's a great little place, looking forward to being there. More on that later...
and hopefully some bike riding. Or a lot of bike riding.
If the wind ever stops...
Sunday, October 04, 2009
at the time of death
hold us in your embrace, sustain us with your grace
Loving God, through times of great joy in life
healing of mind, body, or spirit
hold us in your embrace, sustain us with your grace
God of our mothers and fathers
God of bread and wine
God of morning and night
God of water, sun, earth, air
God of all
We give you thanks for all the gifts of life.
God of all
Bless our lives
bless those we love
animals of kinds
great and small
Help us to care for the earth, your own creation.
We ask this through the great love
of your son, our brother,
the vine, the branches,
the cup, the hand
Cross-posted at RevGalsBlogPals and RevGalsPrayerPals
Saturday, October 03, 2009
During that time, living in Chicago, I did not own a car. I took the "L" or I rode my bike. The "L" was easy, not far from anyplace I lived. But it was also dirty, crowded, and, well, late at night after a show, it was unsafe. Or rather, the walk from the "L" to my apartment was unsafe. Still, that's how I got around most of the time.
When I wasn't riding the "L" I was riding my bike. I had a cool 10 speed Motobecane Mirage:
In the summer I was prone to ride that bike to work, some 10 miles one way, along the shore of Lake Michigan. Chicago has some awesome bike paths along the lake and makes the ride glorious. Of course I also had to navigate city traffic from home to lake and lake to job....that was often hairy...
I have fond memories of racing that bike on a coolish summer night up the lake shore, speeding past couples out for a late night walk. Wooosh....exhilarating. I rode that bike on a long distance trip through Wisconsin. I rode that bike all over the place. Until it was stolen. Out of the basement.
When my kids were little I bought another bike, a cheap thing, a mommy bike. The gears were poor and the ride was ok. But it did the trick for riding around the suburbs with my kids.
Being here in the SW I have found myself yearning for another bike. A real bike. I don't intend to do heavy duty riding, like some folks around here, no off road mountain biking or mountain biking of any kind. I intend to ride around town and be good to the environment by not using a car for every little trip to the grocery store or for coffee or to go to the library.
So Thursday my husband and I went to the local bike store. I tried three or four bikes before I found one I liked. The most striking thing I noticed: bike are much more expensive now. And bikes are much more sophisticated: racing bikes, all terrain bikes, mountain bikes, road bikes....
I bought a road bike. It's silver and has 21 gears and shocks in the fork of the handle bar. It's heavier and bigger than my old 10 speed racer, but much nicer and a better ride than my old mommy bike. I road it home, yesterday, about 7 miles.
I had this fear that I'd forget how to ride the bike. But I didn't. It was a great ride.
Except for my knees, which felt as though they were going to spring loose like taut cables...and my cardiopulmonary system, which was definitely overworked.
The good news though is that today I am not sore. I look forward to building up my stamina and enjoying this bike.
Looking back at the past, reflecting on the many decisions I've made, some good, some not so good, is part of what I am doing these days. Building stamina is another thing I am doing. It could be that bike riding may enable this in some fine ways...
Friday, October 02, 2009
1. A place that holds a special memory?
This is a photo of the view from my backyard of a monsoon rain over the Santa Rita mountains. In the desert, rain is sign of God's grace. This place will always hold a special memory for me because of the panoramic view.
2. A song that seems to usher you into the Holy of Holies? Taize: sung prayer with candle light, plants, and an icon or two, especially:
3.A book/ poem/ prayer that says what you cannot?
The Summer Day
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
from New and Selected Poems, 1992
Beacon Press, Boston, MA
I love poetry, Mary Oliver in particular, has a wonderful way of bringing a deep faith into the ordinary.
4. How do you remind yourself of these things at times when God seems far away? I blog. Really. God has seemed so very far away for so long. Blogging connects me to people who are not in the same void I feel I am in, and by the love and grace of those I blog with, I continue to be reminded of God's abiding presence.
5.Post a picture/ poem or song that speaks of where you are right now in your relationship with God...
I'm in the desert and it's a little barren at the moment...