“What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? / The world would split open.”
Poet Muriel Rukeyser

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


I had my first latte over twenty eight years ago. At the time my roommate was a dancer and I was a lighting designer for dance. I lived in a building owned by a group of people, all friends and family, a co-op of sorts, most of us artists.

One warm summer night we had a party in the backyard. I wore a fun red strappy dress and we danced for hours to "Thriller." A few months later we had another party ringing in the "ominous" year of 1984, having fun but grateful that life was not really as George Orwell had written about.

Every morning we ground our beans and brewed our coffee on the stove top in an Italian espresso brewer using french roast coffee beans. In a small pan we scalded milk. The coffee was rich, flavorful, hearty. This is still one of my favorite ways to brew and drink coffee.

Years later, with the popularity of Starbucks, I found myself standing in line to buy my lattes - iced soy latte in the summer and mocha lattes in the winter. And spending a fair chunk of change for a coffee I could make myself. Lately I have returned to making my own coffee breverage.

I spent much of yesterday thinking about the events that have happened during my life time: the Kennedy's, Martin Luther King, Jr., NOW and MS magazine, struggles for equality of all people. In 1984 no one owned laptop computers and hardly anyone had a computer. The internet wasn't even conceived of. My husband and I were given our first cell phone in the late 1980's, part of his job - the phone was huge! Digital camera's, flat screen televisions, hybrid cars, a whole new world has evolved. I never imagined, in 1984, that I would one day be ordained an Episcopal priest. I had no idea that I would have on-line friends I had never met and an entire community of women religious formed on the internet....Or that I would be working hard on a project about language, creating a guide for healthy conversations about our experiences of God/self/others, and thinking about how our words really do matter.

My life was simple in 1983 and 1984. Life feels much more complicated today. Life IS more complicated. The dreams of those who imagined a healthier world, one that embraced equally, all people, have challenged the infrastructure of our society, for the better, I think. Over the years the dreams have been shattered and reconstructed. A simple life is more difficult to create if one wants to be invested in the complexities of the world we live in. As Christians, as people of faith, we are called to be invested in the world around us. Perhaps the call itself is simple, even with the complexity. It's a call for compassion, self awareness, other-awareness, kindness and love. It is not a call to conformity or uniformity, oppression or suppression. It's about justice, it's a call to live with our differences in ways that enables each to grow and become better because of our relationships with others.

For example, here is a comment from Facebook, just to stress the point:
"Last week we saw a white Catholic male Republican judge murdered on his way to greet a Democratic Jewish woman member of Congress, who was his friend. Her life was saved initially by a 20-year-old Mexican-American gay college student, and eventually by a Korean American combat surgeon, and this all was eulogized by our African American President." ~ Mark Shields, PBS (via Susan Russell)
and this one:
"When you listen generously to people they can hear the truth in themselves, often for the first time." ~Rachel Naomi Remen

Maybe it's about getting back to basics? Like coffee home-brewed -  basics. Maybe remembering to listen, with intention, listening and speaking from the heart, can blend humanity into something richer?