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Showing posts from 2015

At the risk of being broken...

In June 1941 the United States shut down all visa applications for anyone entering the US who had close relatives in Germany. It was during this same time that Otto Frank was applying for visas for his family to come to the US. Otto Frank was the father of the Anne Frank, whose well read diaries depict the atrocities of Auschwitz and the holocaust. Think of how very different her story might have been if the US had granted her and her family visas.
Clara Williams was born in 1885. In 1928 she enrolled at New Mexico State University, taking only summer courses in order to teach black kids in the public school system during the school year. Because she was a black woman her professors at New Mexico State University would not allow her in the classroom, so she took notes from the hallway. She graduated nine years later with a Bachelor’s Degree in English at the age of 51.
This fall a couple of women started an online campaign called “Together Rising” to raise funds for Syrian refugees. Muc…

Brooding

Nearly thirty years ago, when Dan and I were new to church, if we skipped church for a couple of Sundays in a row we’d get a phone call from Masie. Those phone calls made me feel a little guilty, but that was my problem. Masie just called to see how we were and tell us he had missed us. It was a sweet gesture, one I came to appreciate.
Masie was a retired eye doctor, a Japanese American.  When he was a young man the US government uprooted Masie and his family and sent them to a Japanese relocation camp in Arkansas.  After the war he ended up in Illinois. He was a lifelong faithful Episcopalian. Divorced and remarried, he and his second wife were, for many years, denied communion in the Episcopal Church. Masie faced many challenges in his life, and shared these stories with some sadness. Nonetheless he chose to be gentle, welcoming, kind, and faithful. He was an active, vital member of that small church in Chicago until the day of his death.
Ten years later that church sponsored me wh…

Guns and Jesus

In 1968 my fifth grade class went camping for a couple of days at the end of the school year to mark the transition from elementary school to  middle school. It was on this camping trip that I learned to shoot a rifle. They taught me how to load it, aim and shoot it, and clean it.
In the 1980’s my dad worked in Puerto Rico but frequently travelled to Salt Lake City, sometimes with a lay-over in Chicago, where I lived. On one of these visits he had a duffel bag that he put through the checked baggage at the airport so it could go on to Salt Lake City while he stayed with me for a few days. The duffle bag contained some rifles and guns, used mostly for hunting, that he was transporting back to Utah. A friend of his was going to pick it up at baggage claim. I was shocked, but apparently it was no big deal, then. But, can you imagine anyone doing that today?
Many years ago when Dan’s father died Dan inherited his father’s World War II era gun. I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of having a gun…

Friday Five: Leftovers

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Deb, over at RevGals offers this Friday Five:

...being thankful is a spiritual discipline. So I invite you to list five things, people, events or pets that you are truly thankful for this year.

BONUS:As spiritual careGIVERS we often forget to plan time to care for ourselves and we end up getting the dregs of our energies and self-care. What are you doing to make sure you aren’t getting the LEFTOVERS of your schedule for self care?
1. On Nov. 5, 2002 we adopted Ruby (sorry for the scary dog eye glare...) she was a great dog. Playful, always happy, very attune to my feelings, a joy and a delight.  She died a few weeks ago, suddenly, at the age of 13, leaving me bereft. I am so grateful that she found us and for the gift she was in our lives. 

2. Then we were found by this pup:
We named her Delilah (Lila). She is sweet pup - playful, yet calm. She's been a source of healing and love in our family. And, oddly enough I realized that we adopted her on Nov. 5, 2015 - thirteen years to the …

Friday Five: Guilty Pleasures

Marie, over at RevGals offers this Friday Five meme, following the end of her favorite television show.

For today’s Friday Five, tell us about your guilty pleasures. TV Show: I always end up with a love/hate response to television shows, even ones I have watched for years. I just hate the way the writers will build a completely ridiculous story line, especially when most of the time the story line is engaging. I watch Scandal, Good Wife, Madam Secretary, and Grey's Anatomy. I also really LOVE Call the Midwife, when it runs in the spring.  Food: I'm not really big on any particular food. But I always need to have a good cup of coffee in the morning. When I developed acid reflux last year I had to change the kind of coffee I drink, no more high acid Mexican coffee, now I have to drink coffee grown in the Pacific or Indonesia (Sumatra, for example). Thankfully Sumatra is a really tasty roast. Reading Material: I am thick into the "Outlander" series....I've tried to rea…

Friday Five: Random!!

3dogmom over at the RevGals blog offers this Friday Five. I haven't played in a long while... What is your “gotta go!” breakfast that you can grab and take with you in the morning when you’re in a rush? I don't usually grab a breakfast to go, I usually have a bowl of yogurt with a fresh banana and some granola or a bowl of steel oats for breakfast. But, if I really have to run I take a peanut butter sandwich on Ezekiel sprouted grain bread. There was a time when I drove to work and then I usually stopped off for a Starbucks latte and a scone. But that was also the season in my life when I gained 22 pounds. :-) 

When was the last time you had a fun evening out, and what did you do? I haven't been out for fun in awhile. However, on a trip to Baltimore for refugee training we spent an evening on the top floor of LIRS (Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services). It was a gorgeous night and from that floor we had a panoramic view of all of Baltimore, with an outdoor deck to enjo…

The Grief of our Corporate Souls

Can you help? 
This was the somewhat desperate question asked of me by the refugee resettlement agency. A family of six was scheduled to arrive within 24 hours and the house they were going to live in had not received clearance by the city inspectors. The family, a mother with four kids and a grandmother, were refugees from Rwanda who had fled to Cameroon. After years in a refugee camp they had been transported to the Sudan and were in route from the Sudan to Paris and then to Chicago, they’d be here the next day, after a grueling 36 hours of travel. The church and I, having participated in refugee resettlement for a couple of years, decided that we could house this family for a few days. It was summer, no Sunday School, and the building was mostly unused during the day. We set up six beds in one long room. Next door was a living room like space with a television. Downstairs was a fully stocked kitchen and bathrooms with showers. In short order we had everything ready, including food…

Why not me? And other thoughts on crap, God, and faith....

I am almost sixty years old and in the course of my life I have been blessed and I have experienced profound suffering. When the challenges last too long or are too intense I begin to wonder about God and faith and to question what I believe. 
No doubt, sometimes suffering happens because of my own foolishness. Sometimes I cause my own problems or I make them worse by my attitude or behavior. But, for example, when I hear someone blaming an individual for their life circumstances without recognizing the large socio-economic issues at play, such as when someone will suggest that people are poor because they are lazy or addicts, I think we need to be careful about judging others and casting blame. Sometimes suffering just happens, undeserved, unwarranted by anything a person has done or not done. Often, all of us in developed countries, because of how we live and what we eat, influence the global economy and contribute to poverty, immigration, and other social concerns. Sometimes there i…

Jesus asks, Who do YOU say I am?....

It’s never been easy, or simple, for me to answer the question that Jesus asks the disciples, “Who do YOU say I am?”


I’ve often wondered, “Who is Jesus to me?”
Messiah. Savior. Redeemer. Jesus. 
These words are heavy baggage in my lexicon. 
As a child I was taught about “right” and “wrong” and that God was counting every infraction. What I heard was, being a person of faith was all about “following THE rules.” The rules were not necessarily the ten commandments, and I didn’t even hear about the greatest commandment to love God, love self, and love neighbor, until I was an adult. What I learned was God was counting my sins and holding every one of them against me. So I better follow the rules or else.
My response to the idea that God was counting my sins and keeping track of every one of them, even the one’s that stayed in my head and were never said out loud or acted upon, was to try and be absolutely perfect.
As if perfection is possible.
The effort to follow the rules in order to …

The Syrophenician Woman: Pondering Racism and Reconciliation

This week our Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and our diocesan Bishop Wendell Gibbs invited all Episcopal Churches to participate in an ecumenical movement to work toward ending racism. We were asked to dedicate this day to pondering the sin of racism and how we can work for reconciliation.
Many years ago when I was in seminary the students and faculty had to participate in an anti-racism workshop. At the time anti-racism training was a new concept. One common refrain from a number of seminarians was, “I am not racist.” We all wanted to believe that and to believe that we really wanted equality and justice. The thing is, blatant racism is easily recognized and usually met with outrage, but more often racism appears in subtle ways, so systemic to our institutions, culture, faith, and politics that we fail to recognize it.
For example Christians often speak of the “dark night of the soul.” It’s meant to describe a desolate time when God feels distant and life feels particularly…

If I Think I'm Not Racist...one lesson of white girl growing up in the 1970's

The first time I flew on an airplane was the summer of 1971. I was fourteen years old and we were moving to Ft. Worth, Texas. My mother dressed us in matching outfits - she and I wore blue dresses with white stripes, white sandals and floppy white straw hats. My dad and brothers wore blue and white striped shirts with white pants and white shoes. There’s a photograph of all of us at O’Hare airport in Chicago waiting to depart. I barely remember sitting for that photo and I have no memory of the flight. Memory is curious that way, leaving out huge details of one’s life while other aspects remain in sharp detail. 
That year I was in the ninth grade and attended Southwest High School in Ft. Worth. I played bass clarinet in the school band, took Spanish which I loved and algebra which I hated. The whole school would turn out for football games and the stadium vibrated when we sang the school song, “Dixie” while the Confederate flag flew above us. 
Before moving to Texas I had only lived in …