Showing posts from August, 2007


Yesterday was my daughter's nineteenth birthday. Here are some pictures of her with her boyfriend who is now in Afghanistan. And her with her father before a horse show. Riding horses, working with horses, being with horses, is her life and love. Well besides Ryan and her family.

She's a wonderful dedicated young woman full of compassion and care and drive. Oh, and Ryan comes home for "vacation" in a month. (How does one go on "vacation" from combat and a war zone?)....

RevGals Friday Five: Season Change

It's Labor Day weekend here in the United States, also known as Summer's Last Hurrah. So let's say goodbye to summer and hello to the autumn. (People in other climes, feel free to adapt as needed.)

1. Share a highlight from this summer. (If you please, don't just say "our vacation to the Canadian Rockies." Give us a little detail or image. Help us live vicariously through you!) I did not go away for my vacation this year. Instead I took two off and stayed home. I did some much needed deep cleaning in my house, painted a few rooms, and played. Now as the busy-ness of my life ramps up I can be grateful for how clean and organized my large walk in closet is, or the fact the moving my bedroom furniture around prevents the hall light from shining in my face and waking me up when the kids stay up later than me. I am glad that the rooms that were painted look so clean and fresh and new. And, on my vacation I played with friends, went to Millennium Park several times.…

The Nominees for Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Chicago

After many months of interviewing and visiting the search committee for the Diocese of Chicago has posted its nominees for Bishop. You can check them out here.

I happen to know, or have met, three of the five. I think it's a good slate, a hopeful slate. It will be curious to see where the Spirit lead us. The election is in November.

Music Meeting

Our music ministry meeting went well.
1.We decided to proceed with the idea of using Cantors to support the congregational singing and to have a choir whenever we have a critical mass available.
2.We're going to create a schedule with set dates for a full choir (based on availability) and a rehearsed choral anthem! (Two-part).
3.We'll begin to sing the Psalms in Sept. We'll use one basic psalm tone technique through Pentecost, then increase the complexity for Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany, then increase the complexity again in Lent, and so on until we can sing them well.
4.We looked through all of our Hymn resources and selected hymns we like and can sing so I can catalogue them for use on a given Sunday.

All in all a good meeting.

However, no one has responded to me email about the essay, "This I Believe..."

I'm going to have nudge and niggle and prompt folks to understand this one. I'm sure they'll love it when it's done, it's just getting th…

Getting Ready for Fall

I am busy organizing and preparing for the fall start up of our program year at Small Church. Here are some of the things I am doing:

Revisioning our music ministry. We are going to begin to chant (again) the Psalms. I have found some sources that teach individuals and congregations how to do this using simple tones. ("Chanting the Psalms" by Cynthia Bourgeault, the book comes with a CD of her chanting). The idea is that we can move away from a monotone verbal recitation of the Psalms into a sung prayer. We are a small congregation but I am convinced we can sinng more and sing better if I just find the sources that will fit our ability. Generally speaking it isn't hymns from the 1982 Hymnal. On a good Sunday we have three people singing in our choir, many Sundays no one. Again this is because we are small and our parishioners travel for their jobs. I think we should, at the very least, have a cantor assigned for each Sunday who is prepared to assist the conregational sing…

Loving Makes Whole Again

A reflection on Luke 13:10-17

One of my greatest fears is that I will become a hunched over old woman. We see them all around us, a few people whose spines have degenerated and they can no longer walk up right. Men and women both suffer from this ailment. It looks terribly uncomfortable to walk, and painful to live with.

Whenever I see someone hunched over from spinal disease, I avert my eyes, I don’t want to stare. And as uncomfortable as this makes me today it was even worse for people in Jesus day.

A person with any ailment or disease was considered impure, unclean, and forbidden to be touched. These people were often banned to the outskirts of town, rejected by the community, viewed with disdain. Soon the person would become invisible. Certainly if one lived with the ailment for 18 years there would come a point when no one noticed the person any longer.

Think about it. How long does it take us to stop seeing things around us? How quickly does the extraordinary become ordinary and the…

RevGals Cultural Friday 5

I have spent the week at Summer School studying the Gospel and Western culture, we have looked at art, literature, music, film and popular culture in their myriad expressions. With that in mind I bring you the cultural Friday 5.

Name a

1. Book: "Broken We Kneel" by Diana Butler Bass

2. Piece of music: "I'm Not Ready to Make Nice" The Dixie Chicks

3. Work of art: All of the artwork I own was done by friends or local artists. Much of it photographs of trees, nature, hot air balloons. No specific reference to religion, faith, church...but for me, God is in them.

4. Film: Way too many, most of them implicit: The Freedom Writers, What Women Want, Crash - movies that show struggle and redemption, hope and transformation, what is possible even in our world today.

5. Unusual engagement with popular culture: Long before I became a priest I explored my faith through many new age practices - yoga, meditation, astrology, and massage therapy. I did it all as a person of faith - n…
(Job Before God)

I have spent most of this day in a futile attempt to write my sermon for Sunday. I have read, reflected, prayed, pondered, taken notes, thought I had an idea (once or twice) then changed my mind. I even fell asleep. (Sometimes ideas, direction, solutions come to me in my sleep). But alas. Nothing. Of course it doesn't help that we have torrential rain and severe thunderstorm or tornado warnings all around. Even sirens going off (not in my area, but I hear them off in the distance). None of my family is home. Son went to a friends after school. Daughter is at the barn working. Husband at the office. It's me and the dogs, the cats and the bird, and the flickering lights.

So, I think I am relatively safe from the worst of the storm which is traveling well south or north, I'm in the middle with just wind and rain. (back now 20 minutes later...the uh, wind got really bad, almost lost power a few times and wondered about the trees, thought for sure one of the was…

A Poem by Denise Levertov

For the New Year

I have a small grain of hope -
one small crystal that gleams
clear colors out of transparency.

I need more.

I break off a fragment
to send you.

Please take
this grain of a grain of hope
so that mine won't shrink.

Please share your fragment
so that yours will grow.

Only so, by division,
will hope increase,

like a clump of irises, which will cease to flower
unless you distribute
the clustered roots, unlikely source -
clumsy and earth-covered -
of grace.

this is a hint of my hope for the church program year ahead...and, well, my life in general. I need all the hope I can get. From me. And, from you.

Caller ID

After years of resisting this... I finally got caller ID. Can I just say how much I LOVE IT...

I love looking at the number and saying, "oh it's my daughter, son, husband, etc...".

or conversely, "It's a toll call, I am not answering this one..."

I don't know what to think, but it makes me sad

She was arrested last night after a year of hiding out. A year of making television and newspaper headlines, a symbol of the conflict in this country regarding undocumented immigrants. (A CNN report is here).

Admitedly I really do not know what to think. Except the way this country is going about it seems all wrong and inhumane. I realize that she has broken the law in the way she came here and lived. I also realize that desperate people do desperate things. And it seems so narrowly focused to make this about people who are just trying to have a chance at living a healthy life. I was appaled at one response on television which went something like, "Good. One down, thirteen million to go." We are a country built on the despair, the sorrow of people looking for a new life, new hope, a chance. So. It seems to me we ought to go about this differently.

For instance. Why not consider how we can work to help make living conditions in Mexico, and othe countrys, more sustainable an…

Passion Like Tongues of Fire

A reflection on Jeremiah 23:23-29 and Luke 12:49-56

Erin Gruwell was a high school English teacher for 9th and 10th grade students. She taught at Wilson High School in Long Beach, California, in the 1990’s following the worst outbreak of interracial gang fighting in that area.

A few days into the school year Gruwell and her students got into a discussion about racism, spurred on by a caricature of a black student with big lips, drawn by one of the kids in class. Gruwell compares this caricature with what the Nazi’s did to Jews, a degradation which led to the Holocaust.

Eventually this kind of discussion in her class helps Gruwell understand how these kids feel abandoned by adults and society, and how deeply fearful they are of one another, blacks of Hispanics, Hispanics of whites, and so on. The efforts to manage desegregation, balance school enrollment, and expand education opportunities have led to only deeper rivalry and anger. In large part this is because the school administrators…

Odd Synchronicity....

Can I just say it was odd meeting the widow today. On my anniversary knowing that her (their) anniversary is Sunday. Knowing that they, the man whose funeral I do tomorrow, whose life we celebrate, was married in this very church 18 years ago.

RevGals Friday Five: Word Association Redux

This one is patterned off an old Friday Five written by Songbird, our Friday Five Creator Emerita:

Below you will find five words. Tell us the first thing you think of on reading each one. Your response might be simply another word, or it might be a sentence, a poem or a story.

1. vineyard grapes, wine

2. root solid, foundation, base

3. rescue God, move that rock

4. perseverance I'm tired of pushing it

5. divided a house divided, weak or strong? discuss!

(Each of these appears in one of the readings from this Sunday's lectionary.)

Twenty Two Years Married

On Friday, August 17, my husband and I will celebrate twenty-two years of married life. I'd like to say it's been many years of joy and bliss...but alas...that is not the case. We have probably spent more years pondering the purpose of our marriage and whether we ought to remain married than we've had years of being happy. It has been a rough go of it.

What has made it difficult? Well, a number of things. My mother. As I've mentioned in a previous couple of posts. Thankfully NOT his family, who have been wonderful, and who have been real family to me, us, our kids. No. The challenges have come from things like: alcoholism and, thankfully, recovery (not me); illness and death (FIL and BIL and my mother); finances - that's the big one. I keep thinking, it's only money - but the lack of really sucks. I mean REALLY REALLY REALLY...; and of course raising kids.

But through it all there has been: friendship, love, mutual support, kindness. We don't always see eye…

My Body is Wacked

Maybe some of you have this experience. As I get older I am having the MOST disconcerting mood swings. Actually, I wouldn't describe them as mood swings, more like the mood takes a nose dive, and then after a few days I'm myself again. But, while I'm living in the nose dive, life feels almost impossible, heavy, dark, depressing.

I'm an optimist. I usually feel pretty good and balanced, almost no matter what. You, know. I get sad when something saddens me, or glad when something makes me happy, the normal stuff of feelings.

But this last year, whoa. This is something else all together. And. I know why. (Hormones). And I know someday my body will move through this. And when I'm in that deep dark funk I can usually plod along, going through the motions of living, telling myself it will pass in a few days.

And it does.

Almost just like that. (snap fingers)

My chiropractor is working to balance this. Through acupressure he is trying to balance the imbalance. Recently I as…
As a general rule I am a perpetual optimist. No matter how bad life seems I still have hope that life will be better tomorrow, (what ever that means, when ever that comes, it's not literal).

But these last four years have been brutal. Really tough. I mean really tough...and actually, no end in sight for the "toughness"...


So the end result of all these years is...and the real potential of future years, I've lost my optimism.

Actually. I've lost hope.

Which may be even more tragic than losing optimism...

How do you preach when you have lost your sense of hope?

How do you console people when you have no sense of hope?

How do you proclaim the "Good News" when you don't even know the good news in your own life?

How do you do anything?

Every day I get out of bed, put one foot in front of the other, and go through the motions of living.

I clean my house.
I exercise.
I care for my family.
I care for my congregation.
I write sermons.
I preach for crying out loud...(…

Song of the Builders

Over at RevGals, in the comments for our sermon prep, we've talked about whether embers can be re-ignited, whether church communities can find passion again...

so I offer this poem. And for those of you tired of Mary Oliver, I apologize...she's just speaking to me these days....

Song of the Builders by Mary Oliver

On a summer morning
I sat down
on a hillside
to think about God -

a worthy pastime.
Near me, I saw
a single cricket;
it was moving the grains of the hillside

this way and that way.
How great was its energy,
how humble its effort.
Let us hope

it will always be like this,
each of us going on
in our inexplicable ways
building the universe.

for some, re-igniting the embers may feel like the work of this cricket, moving the grains of sand on a hillside - if the cricket paused to think about it the cricket would probably quit. But the cricket moves on inspiration and so should we...building the universe.

Back To Work

Woke up early to today to another thunderstorm. We've had more rain in the first two weeks of August than in the whole month. The grass, once brown and dried, has a green hue, like early Spring. The air has a coolness to it, perhaps a hint of fall? With the changing temperatures and changing season I too return from two weeks of vacation. On the agenda this week will be writing two sermons: one for a funeral on Saturday and the other for Sunday.

The funeral is for a man who died in July. He and his wife were married at "small church" in 1989. Later they moved to Texas, which is where she currently resides, and where he died. But the funeral will be here, at the church they were married. I've never met either of them, and no one at the church seems to remember them. Funerals like this one are easier on me, but a little odd, not knowing the couple nor the deceased.

In addition to writing two sermons I also have to prepare the worship booklet for the funeral, the annouce…

Monday Morning Musings

Well. Vacation is over. This is, however my official day off, so I am not exactly back at work either. What am I thinking about on this day?

1. Trying to enjoy the moment. A quiet gentle cool breeze drifting in the open window. Three of my four beloved pets lying near by (both dogs, one cat).

2. The sun is shining.

3. After several weeks of re-doing her room my daughter is ready to put everything back in.

4. Which means I can do a quick cleaning and have my whole house in order.

5. I'm also going to exercise.

6. and read. (Anita Shreve, "Light on Snow".) (She's my latest favorite author, fiction. Not like Babrbar Kingsolver who pushes the way I think about life. Shreve has no "agenda" but to craft a well written, engaging story that keeps one hanging on uncertain of how the events she describes will turn out and what will happen to the characters. Usually about some unresolved life tragedy that needs to be worked out so the person can find wholeness again)....


Sunday Morning Special

This morning dawned bright, sunny, beautiful. I roused myself from bed about 7:30 following a fitful night of sleep (sigh, my usual these days) made worse by torrential rain and wind. As I walked downstairs for a cup of coffee the cats followed me, talking the entire way. "BREAKFAST." "BREAKFAST." My husband says, from the security of the bed, "Don't feed them."

He believes it's best not to indulge our animals in their "habits." Like their desire to annoy us with loud meows when they want to be fed. Actually one cat has loud voice, the other one, squeaks. Her little meows are so soft and squeaky I might miss them if I weren't listening. Anyway. My husband and I are at odds with this approach. He will wait a long while, listening to the talk and complaining of cats, before he gives in and feeds them. I just get it over with, then I have peace and quiet. I mean, they rely on us to feed them. They can't feed themselves (oh, if they …

Jumping to Conclusions

A few nights ago my daughter decided to make brownies. My daughter is almost 19, and making treats late at night is common for her. She often makes them, not for her family, but for her friends at the barn. The barn where she rides horses and trains and works. She is known for her fabulous brownies and chocolate chip cookies. But, we, her family, usually get nothing.

Well, except the dishes. It is quite common for her to leave the pans in the sink for me to clean up in the morning. It seems that it is enough for her that she has cleaned up the bowl and spoons, so the pan is just too much.

On this particular night I happened to have a headache so I got up late to take a Tylenol PM. And, of course, there in the sink was the pan, and the spatula. She was in the shower. So I left a note on her bed asking her to please clean up and leave the sink as clean as I had it, before she made brownies...

The next morning I awoke to find a note waiting for the told me, in no uncertain terms, t…

Gone Silent

Recently one of my blogger friends went silent. I hope to find voice in a new way; although it makes me sad that I cannot hear it. Sad because the silence, it seems, was induced by hurtfulness. Or a need to ponder life from another medium. Or something I know not. Whatever the cause, silence is the result, public silence, anyway.

So. I offer this poem. A tribute to a friend whose voice I hear only in my memories. I hope my friend is finding life full and rich and very much alive in other ways.

The Honey Tree (Mary Oliver)

And so at last I climbed
the honey tree, ate
chunks of pure light, ate
the bodies of bees that could not
get out of my way, ate
the dark hair of the leaves,
the rippling bark,
the heartwood. Such
frenzy! But joy does that,
I'm told, in the beginning.
Later, maybe,
I'll come here only
sometimes and with a
middling hunger. But now
I climb like a snake,
I clamber like a bear to
the nuzzling place, to the light
salvaged by the thighs
of bees and racked up
in the body of the tree.
Oh, a…

A Play Day In Chicago

This morning my husband and I had a leisurely morning then headed into Chicago. We went to Millenium Park and got to watch The Grant Park Orchestra rehearse Mahler's 5th. It was fabulous. In fact for all of the several hours we spent in the park we could hear the rehearsal....I know that everyone at the concert tonight is in for a fabulous performance.

We at lunch at the Park Grill on Michigan Avenue, just south of Washington, in the park. I had a delicious pulled pork on a huge bun with sour cream and avocado, and an iced tea. My husband had turkey on whole wheat. (Mine was way better). We had a lovely day walking, looking at art, sculpture, urban water falls, and gardens. '

I have a bunch more books to read: poetry by Denise Levertov and Mary Oliver, another book by Judith Merkle Riley ("The Oracle Glass) and Anita Shreve ("Light on Snow"). So.

But, I am mourning a bit because I have to go back to work in 4 days (Tuesday). I've really enjoyed my vacation.

I …

RevGals Friday Five: Stress Buster

From RevGals

1. First, and before we start busting stress, what causes you the most stress, is it big things or the small stuff ? I have a lot of stress in my life right now, most of it financial. I don't want to go into the details, suffice it to say the four years have been very difficult. It's a BIG thing that is making all the small stuff feel difficult, like breathing.

2. Exercise or chocolate for stress busting ( or maybe something else) ? Both. I exercise in the morning and have chocolate in the afternoon.

3.What is your favourite music to chill out to? I like a lot of different types of music, just nothing to heavy and intense, no heavy metal, screaming punk, or what I call "heavy metal symphony"...otherwise I like a lot. coldplay is good, Celtic music, flute or piano, Dixie Chicks or Indigo Girls, Elvis Costello, Neil Young.

4. Where do you go to chill? A long walk with my dogs in the woods. Or on my deck with a glass of wine. Or in my reading room with a cup of…

A progressive poetry party....

kinda like a progressive dinner party, one course here, the next course can find another poem

Ghalib, a poet (1797-1869)

For the raindrop, joy is in entering the river -
Unbearable pain becomes its own cure.

Travel far enough into sorrow, tears turn to sighing;
In this way we learn how water can die into air.

When, after heavy rain, the stormclouds disperse,
Is it not that they've wept themselves clear to the end?

If you want to know the miracle, how wind can polish a mirro,
Look: the shining glass grows green in spring.

It's the rose's unfolding, Ghalib, that creates the desire to see-
In every color and circumstance, may the eyes be open for what

More Vacation?

This week my vacation has been:
Painting. My son's bedroom was last painted when we moved here 6 years ago. It was a light blue, nice for a 4th grader, but too young looking for someone who is a sophomore. So we painted it. We did a dark blue glaze over the pale blue on three walls. One small wall at the doorway is yellow and another wall is red. It's cool looking. He has a loveseat in his room that is slipcovered in red fabric. I'm going to go to IKEA and look for bed linens and curtains. IKEA's catalogue shows sheets in a rectangular patterned red, blue, green, yellow on white, which were the inspiration for the room. I may get those.

My daughter also decided to paint her room. She went from the funky tangerine on cream "sponge" colored walls with peach and cream chiffon swag curtains to pale yellow walls with white trim. She is refinishing her furniture in a glossy black. It will look really great when it's finished.

In the mean time, the house I worked …

On A Lighter Note: another Mary Oliver poem

Look and See

This morning, at waterside, a sparrow flew
to a water rock and landed, by error, on the back
of an eider duck; lightly it fluttered off, amused.
The duck, too, was not provoked, but, you might say, was

This afternoon a gull sailing over
our house was casually scratching
its stomach of white feathers with one
pink foot as it flew.

Oh Lord, how shining and festive is your gift to us, if we
only look, and see.

(Ok, so the picture is of a swan fishing, not an eider duck...)

Growing In , Growing Out, Growing Up

Many Mental Health workers use a manual called the DSM-IV to help diagnose clients or patients. This manual separates the various mental "illnesses" into categories. I have an MSW (Masters of Social Work) and have a DSM-IV somewhere on my bookshelf at the church office. The categories provide diagnostic criteria such as symptoms and length of time symptoms have manifested as well as frequency. Many mental "illnesses" have an organic nature. The cause of the illnesses has to do with either a genetic imbalance (such as Down's Syndrome) or a chemical imbalance. Chemical imbalances can cause a wide variety of complications from psychosis at one extreme to mild or severe depression on the other. Chemical imbalances can be helped, with the right medication and good therapy many people can live normal lives. Personality Disorders are another matter.

Personality Disorders such as Borderline and Narcissistic are not organic. These "illnesses" are caused by a t…

If My Mother Were Alive Today She'd Be 68...

So, since I am 50, that means my mother had me when she was 17. But, wait, it also means my mother got married at 15. Think about it.

It was 1957 in Salt Lake City, Utah. My mother was the oldest of 5 kids. Her parents were terrible drunks. I mean awful. Long weekend binges when they'd disappear and leave her in charge. She was deeply damaged from her parents behavior, in a way her siblings were not. She got the brunt of it.

So. She married at 15 to escape her home. Well, and for awhile she loved my father. He was two years older. They both graduated from high school, but with a family to raise. By the time my mother was 22 she had three kids and was divorced. A few years later she married again and had another child.

Over the years my family moved from Salt Lake City to Idaho to Wisconsin, to Texas, and finally to Illinois. During the years we lived in Idaho and Wisconin my mother was deeply depressed and addicted to valium. In those days the doctors did not know valium was addict…

Millenium Park

Last night I here:here. It's called Millenium Park and all summer long free outdoor concerts are held.

I took the train in and brought my 15 year old son and his friend along. We had a 10 block walk from the train station to the park through the city. I went to meet my friend from NYC and while she and I were listening to some fine Jazz and Blues my son was allowed to wander the park. He could go nowhere else and he had to meet me back at a specified location in one hour. He, of course, loved the freedom. I got to have some time with my friend, whom I only see once a year.

It was a great night, perfect weather.

During the walk I had all these memories: of the years I worked in the City. Of boat rides and train trips and various jobs. I've been here 35 years. I've known this friend for 27 of those years. Lots of memories. Good ones. Some of the memories were about how much nicer, cleaner, prettier the city looks. Live plants, trees, and flowers everywhere. It's really inc…

RevGals Friday Five: Pilgrimage

From the RevGals blog

1. Have you ever been on a pilgrimage? (however you choose to define the term) Share a bit about it. If not, what's your reaction to the idea of pilgrimage? I've gone a lot of retreats, all mostly local or within an hour drive. I've never gone on what I'd call a pilgrimage: a spiritual quest, a journey through my roots or a journey that is leading me some place new. If I ever have that opportunity I would love to go to: the Church of England ancient cathedrals (and do some genealogy), Iona (walk that "thin place" to island when the tide is out, Jerusalem (it is the Holy Land), Egypt (I have a fascination with pyramids and all things Egyptian).

2. Share a place you've always wanted to visit on pilgrimage. See above.

3. What would you make sure to pack in your suitcase or backpack to make the pilgrimage more meaningful? Or does "stuff" just distract from the experience? I always over pack. Too many clothes for every possible we…

Same Blog, new color scheme

Decided that my blog could reflect the dry hot summer days. Green grass turned amber, burnt for lack of water. Flowers drying in their pots. Hot and hazy. Not complaining, just sayin'....

More Praying

The very core
of my being
yearns to pray

I cannot.
Not with words
nor without words.

dried up
shriveled bone
how did I get here?

If I could
I'd pray for
those on the bridge.

those who died
those who lived
those who are lost

for the families
for the friends
for the community.

The images
rip me open
tears form deep

don't let me
start (crying)
I may not stop.

I wake up
4 in the morning

the images of
of broken lives

impale my soul
gasping for air
I cry out.

people die
who yearn to live

people live
yearn to die

it just is
it just

my soul
yearns to pray.
I cannot.


diane posted about the bridge collapse in Minneapolis. Pray for the suffering, the hurt, the worried, the dying, and those who have died.

Two More Days of Vacation: What I've Been Doing

Well. Not the most exciting vacation...but certainly productive.

Tuesday, according to plan I blogged. Then I exercised, Level One, so the easiest level. Then I cleaned by bedroom, including the big walk in closet, and rearranged the furniture. I mean, I CLEANED. Under, over, and in between, including curtains and all the bedding. So, very nice.

Poor Roxie, my older dog, the lab-mix...she was a little off from moving the furniture. Even though her dog bed stayed in its regular spot all the rest of the room changed. Now, instead of being at the foot of the bed she was next to my nightstand...she refused to sleep in her bed. But, thankfully, sometime in the middle of the night she "gave" in, I found her snug in her bed when I woke up this morning. To my surprise, Ruby, seemed unaffected. I would have guessed the opposite. Who, knows?

Then, despite my Friday Five, and because we are in a week long run of 90+ temperatures, I turned the A/C on.

Today I got up early and walked the dog…