Sunday, September 27, 2009

Notice

This evening, the sturdy pair of Levis
I wore every day for a year
& which seemed to the end in perfect condition,
suddenly tore.
How or why I don't know,
but there it was - a big rip at the crotch.
A month ago my friend Nick
walked off a racketball court,
showered,
got into his street clothes,
& halfway home collapsed & died.
Take heed you who read this
& drop to your knees now & again
like the poet Christopher Smart
& kiss the earath & be joyful
& make much of your time
& be kindly to everyone,
even those who do not deserve it.
For although you may not believe it will happen
you too will one day be gone.
I, whose Levis ripped at the crotch
for no reason,
assure you that such is the case.
Pass it on.

Steve Kowit, "A Book of Luminous Things: An International Anthology of Poetry" edited by Czeslaw Milosz: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1996

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Wind

Recently my daughter and I drove for 30 hours straight from the desert SW to the Windy City. It's curious to call and think of this city as windy, especially after living in the desert, where the winds can be intense. Every Spring the winds blow from the west, off the Pacific Ocean. High winds precede a change in the weather, usually for the cooler. High winds stir up dust. High winds bring in toxins from the copper mines. High winds rattle the house as they literally howl through the walls and windows. Sometimes there is a sustained wind of 20 miles an hour or more that lasts for several days. A sustained wind. Then there are the gusts that accompany those sustained winds. The sand and dust in those storms can be blinding, forcing cars off the road and traffic to stop. Everything feels a little bit dirty and gritty after those wind storms.

It's also true that in the Windy City the wind blows a lot. But there are also natural and human made structures that slow the wind down or divert it - trees and buildings and some very large lakes. True some days the wind blows in with a tornado, fierce, gray, and intense, for a short while. Rarely does the wind last for days, or an entire season (like Spring in the SW) and rarely is there a sustained wind of an intense nature. Yes, it's windy, but it's not the same.

Tonight I drove from the far northwest suburbs to the city after having Chinese food with my daughter and her colleagues. It was pouring rain, windy, misty, and dark. Especially on the highway where the higher speeds caused an upward spray of blinding rain making it very difficult to see and drive. Although I love the rain it is not something I see much of in the SW and rarely something I drive in. If I do it is usually a monsoon storm in the late afternoon, visibilty limited by rain, but not by darkness. So the drive back from dinner was a bit white-knuckled...with a deep inner chuckle at myself in recognition of how easy skills are lost when not used...

Wind: blows seeds and helps plants grow. Wind, brings in rain and washes away pollution and stagnant air. Wind brings forth changes in temperature and weather. On a hot day a gentle wind can offer some relief. On a winter day the wind can stir up a blizzard. Wind can destroy or build up.

Wind might be of the Holy Spirit. Pneuma, breath of God, Holy Wisdom.

Recently someone suggested that the movement at foot, of clergy "leaving," may be less about leaving/abandoning/giving up - and more about following the call of God to move forward. Perhaps propelled by the wind/spirit. Certainly there is something about this that feels much more about intuition and spirit and wind. And like I said, sometimes the wind feels wild and dangerous because of its intensity. But often what remains after is fresh and pure, more clear than before.

Late at night, driving in the rain through Oklahoma I heard this on the radio: "There is no wind so ill it fails to do a little good."

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Knowing how deeply our lives intertwine...

Knowing how deeply our lives intertwine,
We vow not to kill.

Knowing how deeply our lives intertwine,
We vow not to take what is not given.

Knowing how deeply our lives intertwine,
We vow not to engage in abusive relationships.

Knowing how deeply our lives intertwine,
We vow to not speak falsely or deceptively.

Knowing how deeply our lives intertwine,
We vow to not harm self or other through
poisonous thoughts or substance.

Knowing how deeply our lives intertwine,
We vow to not dwell on past errors.

Knowing how deeply our lives intertwine,
We vow to not possess any thing or form of life
selfishly.

Knowing how deeply our lives intertwine,
We vow to not harbor ill will toward any plant, animal, or
human being.

Knowing how deeply our lives intertwine,
We vow to not abuse the great truth of Three Treasures.*

Stephanie Kaza, Woman Prayers, edited by Mary Ford-Grabowsky: HarperSanFrancisco, 2003

(*In Buddhism the three treasures are, Buddha, the teachings (dharma), and community (sangha).

Monday, September 14, 2009

Some days are like this....

Last night, one of my best friends and I were sitting in my living room and I said to her, I never want to live in a vegetative state, dependent on some machine and fluids from a bottle. If that ever happens, just pull the plug.
She got up, unplugged the computer, and threw out my wine.
She's such a bitch.


I got this from altarego

Dust

Matthew 10.14:If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town.


Mark 6.11:If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet...’


Luke 9.5:Wherever they do not welcome you, as you are leaving that town shake the dust off your feet....’


Luke 10.11:“Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off ... Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.”

I woke up with these passages of scripture playing over and over in my head

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Thirst

Another morning and I wake with thirst
for the goodness I do not have. I walk
out to the pond and all the way God has
given us such beautiful lessons. Oh Lord,
I was never a quick scholar but sulked
and hunched over my books past the
hour and the bell; grant me, in your
mercy, a little more time. Love for the
earth and love for you are having such a
long conversation in my heart. Who
knows what will finally happen or
where I will be sent, yet already I have
given a great many things away, expect-
ing to be told to pack nothing, except the
prayers which, with this thirst I am
slowly learning.
Mary Oliver: Thirst; Beacon Press Boston, 2006

The Color in My Life

is gone. I can't say much more than that.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Hot Summer

The Summer Day
Mary Oliver

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've been thinking a lot about my life these days. Or rather, I've been thinking about life, mine and others. Mostly I have been thinking about the intensity of anger I am experiencing in the world around me, and in the world beyond me. Personally I am not angry. I am saddened by the state of things, but I am not angry.

I feel as though I am walking through mud and wondering what has happened to this world we live in? Have we lost our ability to be people of grace? People of hope? People who, at the very least, are civil to one another?

When was the last time you experienced someone giving someone else "the benefit of the doubt?" The idea that, maybe just maybe, what I think is going is not actually going on? Or that sometimes people make mistakes but its not the end of the world? And what about compassion?

What are we going to do with this one wild an precious life? Me...I'm going to continue doing my level best to be kind and gracious to everyone - and trust me, these days, that is a major challenge.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Why Women's Rights Are the Cause of Our Time

A week ago the NY Times Magazine, which has taken to focusing the majority of the magazine on one topic, focused on the status of women in the world. Well, the third world, primarily. The lead article was written by a husband and wife team, 1990 Pulitzer Prize winners for reporting on China's Tiananmen Square democracy movement, a couple who have documented the crimes and cruelties of women and girls. This couple, Nicholas Kristof and Sheyl WuDunn have written a new book, to be pulished next month by Knopf, titled "Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. The editor of the NY Times Magazine, Gerald Marsorati, upon reading the manuscript of the book, was struck by the notion that this is the manifesto for our times, ergo an entire magazine devoted to it. You can read it here, if you haven't already.

Today, while riding the exercise bike, I read the Letters to the Editor from this weeks NY Times Magazine, letters that responded to the articles on the status of women. I was struck by two letters in particular: One that reminds us that micro loans are not a long term solution, there needs to be a consumer demand for product and industries and jobs (government created according to the letter writer) that enable women to rise, with greater stability, above the subsistence level.

The second letter asks us to point our lens not only at the status of women in developing nations, but to also point it directly at ourselves and expose the ongoing sexual harassment, assault, rape, and domestic battery.

I would also add, focus the lens on the continued gender inequality in the workforce. Any working woman knows that on some level men are still the preferred gender for whatever position the woman holds, except perhaps teaching in daycare centers, grammar school, and high school, nursing, and housekeeping. In those traditional positions women are still preferred, but highly underpaid.

On some level women, even in positions of leadership, are seen as "daughters who are supposed to be obedient and do what they are told." Women who truly have their own voice and strong leadership qualities are often viewed as, well that same term we use for female dogs.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

State ande Main

"I know my lines.....I just don't know the order they come in."
Alec Baldwin, State and Main

Friday, September 04, 2009

Friday Five: RechargedRecharging

Sally over at RevGals is wondering about what recharges us and offers this Friday Five Meme:

1. Is there a person who encourages and uplifts you, whose company you seek when you are feeling low? I am usually recharged by finding time for solitude and silence: When I am really worn I schedule a three day silent retreat. On a regular basis I find solitude in reading a book or the NY Times on the chaise in the backyard and then taking a good swim. I used to be recharged by walking through the beauty of our old dog park in Chicago - a good 45 minute walk where just the dogs and I could wander off. Here, though, with bobcats and coyotes, I rarely walk the dogs alone. (sad, really). I also like to sit outside in the morning with a cup of coffee and watch the sun rise over the mountains. And lastly, knitting restores me.

2. How about a piece of music that either invigorates or relaxes you? I use music this way all the time. Except I have lost my iPod and have not been able to afford to replace it, so I am music-less these days.

3. Which book of the Bible do you most readily turn to for refreshment and encouragement? Is there a particular story that brings you hope? Romans 8:26-28: Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit* intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. We know that all things work together for good* for those who love God...


4. A bracing walk or a cosy fireside? Depends on the weather. Not much for freezing while I walk, but a nice chilly day is great for a walk. A cold day requires a fire, a cup of tea, and good book.

5. Are you feeling refreshed and restored at the moment or in need of recharging, write a prayer or a prayer request to finish this weeks Friday Five....

I am worn to about as thin a place
as one be.
My daily prayer is heavy with sadness -
Lord, why me?
Anger, mean spirited, hurtful, people
cannot see
The harmful effect of words and actions
sad, so sad
friends, family, a time of hope turned sour
people mad.
Books are written about this stuff, many
I know this
And still, and still it is so very hard
brokeness
A thin place where evil and grace abide
side by side.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Rain



A rare, or so it seems to me, rare, hurricane has blown up in the Pacific Ocean, right up along the Baja California. I worry for those who had to live through this storm on that thin strip of land....but on the other hand it has been really awesome to be upwind of the off shoots of the hurricane as they drift northward. The storm, now a tropical depresssion, is probably going to blow west, back into the Pacific, and therefore not afford either Arizona or California, the benefits of heavy rain held in the clouds of this storm. We, in the SW, could really use a lot of rain. But, that said...

Today some storm clouds blew over the mountains, clouds filled with so much moisture, the moisture was literally hanging in the air like steam. Mountains steaming....

And now, rain. A beautiful steady rain. And the air so cool that the air conditioning is turned off and the doors and windows are open...a cool (albeit humid) breeze blowing through, and the soft patter of rain wafts in....

It's difficult, if you have never lived in a place that can literally go 120 days or more without a cloud let alone rain, to understand how wonderful this is.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Finding Heaven in Mother Earth

A vein of sapphires
hides in the earth,
a sweetness in fruit;

and in plain-looking rock
lies a golden ore,
and its seeds,
the treasure of oil.

Like these,
the infinite
rests concealed in the heart.

No one can see the ways
of our jasmine-white Lord.

Mahadevi, India twelfth century
translated by Jane Hirshfield
Ford-Grabowsky, Mary: WomanPrayers, HarperCollins, 2003

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

A Story Jan shared...

"Some friends of mine, a pastor and his wife, moved to a new church a few years ago, based on a strong sense of call to that particular community. Their first year or two in the new parish were very difficult. Their house in the old community didn't sell for almost a year, causing quite a strain on the budget. And not long after arriving at the new church, they were embroiled in a church battle that had been brewing for many years, one that the pastor forced to the surface where people had to deal with it. The six months or so that they and the congregation spent working out that situation were as unpleasant a time as anyone could imagine, and the church nearly split in two. Some people did end up leaving the congregation, but the church resolved the problem and not only survived but flourished once this decades-old issue had been identified and repaired. The pastor and his wife had serious questions about their call amidst all the difficulties, but they persisted in their work with the congregation. In the end, the pastor turned out to have been just the right person to help the congregation expose the elephant in the middle of the room and banish it, which was essential to do if the congregation was to continue on and even grow. He and his wife came to realize that their sense of call had, indeed, been real. The results of their work there were the fruits of the Spirit. But it was very difficult to know that while they were in the midst of the anger and frustration of many in the congregation." (209-210)

Farrington, Debra K. Hearing with the Heart: A Gentle Guide to Discerning God's Will for Your Life. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2003. pg. 209-210.

The Aim of Life

Like most people, when I was in my twenties,  I was focused on trying to figure out my life. I struggled to figure out what I was going to...