Tuesday, March 29, 2011

What I'm Reading

I have been on a book reading binge lately. My primary genre, a relatively new one for me, murder mysteries. I've read Julia Spencer-Flemming, all but the first two in the series - and now anxiously await her next book, which I heard is due this spring? I've also read the "Girl Who" trilogy - just awesome! And, a couple of Elizabeth George.

I've also read most of the Jennifer Weiner books, I have one left "Goodnight Nobody" which I will start today.

Other than fiction I've been reading Karen Armstrong, most recently "Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life." And, poetry - Mary Oliver and Denise Levertov, mostly.

So, tell me, what are you reading?

Friday, March 25, 2011

RevGals Friday Five Meme: Spiritual Disciplines Edition

Mary Beth, over at RevGals offers this Friday Five Meme:

For today's Friday Five, please share with us five spiritual practices or disciplines from your experience. They can be ones that you have tried and kept up with, tried and NOT kept up with, ones that you flirt with at various times, or even practices that you have tried and found are definitely NOT your cup of tea. Let us know what's worked for you...and not.

1. Silent prayer/meditation: My primary spiritual discipline, one I have practiced since I was 19 years old (so, uhm, 35 years, give or take a few years when I gave it up because I didn't think it helped me - only to find out it does help me feel focused, grounded, and clear-headed.)

2. Walking: When I am preparing a sermon or need to think something through in a deeper way I take a walk. Often I walk my dogs. My most favorite was walking my dogs at a big dog park in Chicago that had woods, fields, and a pond. My spiritual director used to comment on the section of Tobit 6.2:and the dog came out with him and went along with them. So they both journeyed along.

3. Yoga: I have practiced yoga for twenty five years. Sometimes my yoga practice is regular and consistent, and other times I set it aside for a year or so. Eventually I return to it and find it a wonderful way to stretch and strengthen as well as relax the tension I hold in my body. My spirituality is centered on holistic care of mind, body, and spirit. Prayer/meditation, reflecting on scripture, being attentive to the concerns of the world around me, and yoga help me with this.

4. Reflecting on scripture: reading in general is something I like to do and because what I read feeds my soul, reading is a spiritual discipline. But more specifically reflecting on scripture and preparing a sermon for Sunday morning is one a spiritual discipline that continues to open me up to the power of the Word to transform me.

5. Knitting Sometimes my knitting is a form of prayer - I pray while I knit. So far I have not made prayer shawls, but I have knit scarves/stoles for a mom whose son had brain cancer. My thought was that she could carry/wear the prayers with her to appointments and the hospital and whenever she needed to feel held in prayer. The scarf is made in a loose stitch with ribbon and a mixed texture yarn in her purple, her favorite color. She can wear it with her everyday clothes. And I knit prayer socks for the son who was struggling with chemo-related narapathy in his feet.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Monday Morning Musings: Big News Edition

I have accepted the call to serve as Rector at Christ Episcopal Church in Dearborn, Michigan...

My husband and I are very excited to join this community in ministry. In the meantime we have to prepare to move. Tentative move around end of April, start date May 2.

Other things I'm working on: My job as the Consultant to the Episcopal Church for the WordsMatter Project comes to an end March 31. I established a working group for the WordsMatter Expansive Language Project, we had our first WebEx call last week. I will continue to chair a working group and move the project along even as the main thrust of my work with this project is complete. This group will help move the project forward in new ways and places. I'm excited about the working group - some awesome folks are helping.

And, I'm thrilled to be moving back into parish ministry, especially with this congregation.

Saturday, March 19, 2011


I though I had found a swan
but it was a migrating snow-goose.

I thought I was linked invisibly to another's life
but I found myself more alone with him than without him.

I thought I had found a fire
but it was the play of light on bright stones.

I thought I was wounded to the core
but I was only bruised.

Denise Levertov "Life in the Forest" New Directions Publishing, 1978

Friday, March 18, 2011

RevGals Friday Five: Spring Forward!

Jan, over at RevGals offers this Friday Five:

Whether we liked it or not, we all "sprang forward" with the change to daylight savings time in the USA this past Sunday. There is lightness and brightness slipping in as spring approaches, so let us consider what is springing forth in our lives right now.

Name 5 things that are springing forth, possibly including:

what you hope for
I can't say just yet, but yes, something I've been hoping for has happened. It's very exciting. But more than that, I really hope for some stability to settle over our world. I suspect we have always been a people who choose violence and war to get our way, but I just hope we can make greater efforts to minimize this and find other ways to resolve conflicts.

what you dread
I am saddened by the events in Japan and the impact on these people and the world, not to mention the on going issues in Haiti, Egypt, Libya, and other places around the world. I dread further collapses of nuclear facilities and economies and homes and work...so much tragedy everywhere.

what you observe
I observe some people choosing to be gracious and kind, mindful of their words, seeking compassion as a response to those who prefer to fuel fear and anxiety with words that distort reality. I observe that some of that fear-mongering energy is losing momentum.

what is concrete
Not much of anything is concrete, most of life is fluid, changing. Concrete for me? That God loves us, loves creation, and is forever working to restore the chaos, whether human-made or nature-caused, and bring forth order, peace, and well-being. I think God's desire for all creation is that.

what is intangible
Well, people often think that God's presence and God's response to us and the world is "intangible." Trusting God's faithfulness to us and all creation is one way we begin to see the movement of God. Looking back over our lives also helps, for it is often in hindsight that we can see God at work. More than once over the course of my life I have felt deep despair, lost in a wilderness of anxiety, worry, grief, certain that God had abandoned me....only to look back a year or two (or more) later and recognize God's work in my life...and when I do, all I can do is laugh in delight. Right? Intangible God? Yes, but not really....that's what faith is all about.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

A Prayer for Hope in the Wake of Disaster

O gracious God, who created this earth
who brought order out of chaos
who designed land and water
earth and sky and all creatures
be merciful in your grace once again
restoring order through the calamity
of the earthquake and tsunami that struck
disaster and took lives in Japan.

O gracious God, fill the hearts of those
who are unable to find their way home
who have lost food and house, family and friends,
fill their hearts with peace, despite all evidence
to the contrary. Fill broken spirits with grace through
the kindness of strangers, the love offerings of hand
and heart, through which you, O God, take action.

O gracious God, enable the people of the world
to take action, to find the lost, tend to the injured,
mourn the dead,. Help families and friends, neighbors
and co-workers as the shock wears off, help them
to find the help they need for food, water, housing, and
comfort. Help us know how to respond, effectively.

O gracious God, protect the people of Japan from
greater harm from radiation leaks and other post-earthquake
disasters. Still the troubled waters and shaking land and
trembling bodies. Still the traumatized spirits of human beings
and surround them with gentleness and kindness, provide for
their needs, help us, who live outside Japan, know how to help
those who live in Japan, that we can be the face of Christ, the
love of God poured out, in a time of brokenness and fear.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Monday Morning Musings

Last night I watched "Dateline." I never watch the news programs, tired of media portraits of social issues. But last night, before I could change the channel, I was caught up on the edition that dealt with teen bullying. In the kitchen making dinner, I was a captive audience, so to speak. But the article was well done and I'm glad I watched it.

I've written a lot about the human rights, social justice and injustice, and violence against women and children. On Facebook I posted a status update on the Charlie Sheen syndrome, and why many in society ignore the reality of his abusive behavior, and accepts his "bad boy" behavior with fascination. I encourage you to read this article from the NY Times, The Disposable Woman.

Yesterday I finished the "Girl Who..." series. Much violence and abuse against women and children in these books, but reflective of the real world. I appreciate the strong characters in this series, the systemic response to abuse, and the portrayal of dignity and integrity afforded the to women and men who worked for the resolution. I couldn't put the books down. I had to finish them. And now it will take me a day or two before I can move on to another book.

I have a big week ahead - preparing for and travelling to another time zone - for a two day job interview. I carry with me my passion for social justice, wondering how I am being called to live this out, how I am being asked to be the hands and heart of Christ.

That's what I'm musing about. You?

Saturday, March 05, 2011

What I Learned

Report on the 55th United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW) and the NGO parallel events including Anglican Women’s Empowerment (AWE), February 20-26, 2011: Anglican Women’s Empowerment AWE , Kim Robey, Chair. And, AWE at the UNCSW. My trip to NYC and the UNCSW was sponsored by AWE. Also sponsored was a woman from Haiti and a woman from the Philippines.

What I learned
In every workshop I attended at this UNCSW I learned that while nations and countries sign treatises and adopt laws, resolutions, and regulations pertaining to the equal access of women and girls to education, employment, and safety, there are no mechanisms in place to ensure the implementation of the treatises, laws, resolutions or regulations, nor process of accountability for living into them.

  • Laws that emphasize “Domestic” ie domestic violence tend to do four things:
    1. they perpetuate the idea that women are victims and therefore helpless,
    2. they minimize the role of the perpetrator
    3. they minimize the criminality of the violence perpetrated
    4. some societies over look issues of domestic violence because the culture believes that what happens in the home is private and should be managed privately

  • In other words laws need to be crafted that emphasize the criminality of the violence and perpetrator and eliminate the idea of the crime being “domestic.”

  • Civil Society is dependent upon citizens becoming aware of the issues of their culture and being willing to act on behalf of the less fortunate within that culture
  • Grassroots movements have power and can make a difference

  • Micro-credit resources to women need to minimize the reporting and pay-back process which is currently over-burdening women who do not have access to technology

  • Women need to become part of Peace Negotiations and Discussions – currently there are no women at the table, including none in the discussions taking place to restructure Egypt.

  • The “Feminization” of AIDS and poverty is minimizing the significance of these as global crises

  • Two-thirds of illiterate people world-wide are women

  • The key to economic growth is the access to QUALITY education AND employment of women and girls

  • War always plays out with increased violence toward women and children

  • War is expensive, violence toward women/children is not
    • Violence towards women/children, as a guerrilla tactic of war, is inexpensive
    • a frighteningly effective strategy
    • available 24/7

  • Corporations have an obligation, responsibility, and accountability to prevent and eliminate the prevalence of Internet Sex Trafficking of women and children

  • Craigslist had a multi-million dollar profit from hosting an “adult” section which perpetrated sex trafficking and violence against women – a grassroots protest movement caused Craigslist to eliminate the section

  • Prostitution is the “end point” of sex trafficking not the entrance point

  • Don’t call it “work” when talking about the sex trade. Women are never “sex workers” – a term that serves to legitimize a reality of oppression, violence, control, and the fear that one has no other choices in life. It also never really provides a viable income for the woman/child.

  • We need to work to abolish the sex-tourism trade
  • We need to hold the consumer of sex-tourism accountable for criminal acts

  • Regarding ecology – there is a direct link between the deforestation of the land and violence against women

Thursday, March 03, 2011

What To Know As You Prepare to Attend the UNCSW

How to prepare
Attending the UNCSW and the NGO parallel events is an amazing experience filled with more opportunities than one can possibly participate in. Here are some things I learned:

Acquire the NGO event and workshop schedule, available on line at the UNCSW website approximately a week before the event begins. Review the schedule and preplan the workshops and events you want to attend. Decide if you are going to focus on one theme, say issues around violence or issues around economic realities, or if you are going to aim for a wide range of learning opportunities. Plot out workshops that seem to meet your agenda.

Pre-register for the Ecumenical Women’s Orientation and the NGO orientation and any evening reception/dinner events that interest you.

Workshops begin at 8:00am and end at 7:30pm, running for 90 minutes with 30 minutes in between (8-9:30, 10-11:30 and so on). Workshops are offered in two primary locations, the United Nations Church Center on 44th Street and 1st Avenue (across from the UN) and at the Salvation Army on 55th and 3rd Ave. A few workshops are held in other locations, such as the NGO orientation which is held at the Salvation Army Headquarters, 120 West 14th Street.

At orientations and workshops people will give you flyers for additional NGO events and caucuses that may not be on the prepared NGO schedule.

Bring cash for taxis. A taxi from the airport will cost $30-50. You can also arrange for SuperShuttle to transport you. You can rent an entire van if you have enough riders or if you are travelling alone plan on extra time as the shuttle picks up and drops off other riders. My ride on SuperShuttle cost me $14.00 each way. I stayed at the Hilton Manhattan East (42nd and 2nd Ave) and I was the first person dropped off and the last person picked up for my rides between LaGuardia and Manhattan.

You will also need to take a taxi to the NGO orientation at the Salvation Army. It helps to share the ride with others, but plan on about $11.00 each way plus tip if travelling alone.

Public transportation by bus or subway requires a metro card which must be purchased at a subway station. Grand Central Station is about four blocks west of the UN, on 42nd street and Lexington.

Wear comfortable clothing that can be layered to adjust to NYC weather, which can change quickly. Remember to bring an umbrella.

Bring several pairs of shoes as you will walk a lot and your feet will need the variety.

If you are ordained wear your clerical collar, it helps to make the statement that ordained people care about this event and these issues, and are willing to be present.

Plan to arrive early enough to attend the Ecumenical Women’s Orientation, which may be held on weekend before the UNCSW begins.

Plan to attend the NGO orientation, which is also held on the weekend before the event begins.

Take the time to watch the opening session of the UNCSW available via webcam at the UN Church Center Chapel and at various NGO sites. I watched it at the Episcopal Church Center with members from AWE.

Find out where your NGO is organizing and plan to attend relevant events. My trip was sponsored by Anglican Women’s Empowerment (AWE) and we met daily at the Episcopal Church Center at 815 Second Avenue, about a block from the UN.

Homily for the Festive Eucharist at the closing of the Episcopal Women's Caucus

The readings that we chose for the service tonight were all picked specifically for this service because they lift up the role of women ...