Monday, November 30, 2015


I made a run for it. Between the storms. But it never really stopped snowing --it wasn't that there was a front or anything. It's just that there were low clouds with enough moisture that there was a continual slather of snow flakes.

And the roads were treacherous. Slippery. I take a back road on the way home--it's paved, recently paved --it suffered a major slippage about a year ago, and part of the road ended up twenty feet down the hill. The earth moves as it freezes and unfreezes, or fills with water....

But it all seemed stable at the moment... it had been plowed, barely. I mean, it was Sunday afternoon, after all. There was snow on the road, and you could see where it had been compressed by other travelers --which likely meant that there was black ice under the compressed snow.

I was thankful for the 4-wheel drive. Two big trucks came up behind me. They passed me. But slowly. There was no way I was going to pull over or off the road --that would have been disaster. But I did slow way down and put on my blinker when we got to a straight part of the road. That's when they passed.

Two sheriff vehicles passed when I got back on a main road. Their lights were flashing. They popped their sirens. But they weren't going very fast either...

And when I got about 30 miles from home --I was going up that stretch of road where I got stopped for speeding within months of my arrival --I think of the young officer who stopped me and was so shocked it was me --I had just baptized his baby.... he let me off with a warning. I pray for him every time I go up that hill.

That's where it happened. I saw a car coming over the hill towards me, hit an icy patch --and bam, all over the road, on to the shoulder of the road --and she would have been able to manage it except for the two culverts...

The first one, shallower and broader, threw the car up in to the air. She landed nose first in the second one... at full speed. Watching the car in the air... it was an eternity. I cussed at the sight of it all... and then started praying. I nearly lost control of my vehicle as I tried to slowly pull off the road. The shoulder of the road was really bad --I hadn't even put on my brakes, it was just slippery.

I didn't know how long it would be before another car or truck passed us by.... I didn't have proper shoes on... I didn't have gloves... I had two blankets and my jacket and an apple... --I was taking inventory of resources.... and rehearsed again what I should put in a winter emergency kit....

I saw her pop out of the car and stand there shaking.... she went back in to the car, and came back out with her phone. She was in a light t-shirt. I started calling at her --she looked up, half wild eyes....  'my stuff is in trunk, my stuff is in trunk' she kept saying, waving her phone around.

I talked her away from the car, precariously stuck nose down, half on its side... 'Come up here, away from the car,' I said. I wanted to make sure she had no broken bones, no cuts --and if she went in shock, I didn't want to have to drag her up out of the culvert and down the highway to may car --parked about 50 yards away with my blinkers on --to slow other vehicles...

She kept spinning in the ditch, not listening. I started down the shoulder towards the culvert, kept talking to her... she was beginning to panic. A guy in a truck stopped. Between the two of us, we got her away from the wreck and up on the road. She was still spinning, trying to get service on her phone. The guy in the truck climbed up in the back of his truck and then on the roof of the cab --he got phone service there... called the cops. Spinning girl finally got reception on her phone --she called her mom.

'No mom, no mom, it's not like that,' she kept saying. It was obvious that the mom was freaking out --I could hear her... Then she called her friends for a ride. And her friend's brother. And was texting... crazy-like.

The guy in the truck waved good-bye and left... I kept trying to keep the young woman away from the wreck. She kept spinning and spinning. Then choking like she was going to vomit. The call her mom and hang up on her mom.... I knew it was shock. I retrieved her jacket and made her put it on.

Finally another guy came up. Big truck. BIG truck. Memorials on the back window. Two young men. He got her keys out of the wreck, and was able to pop the trunk open --it was filled with her clothes for her return to college.... I helped him put all her stuff in his truck. I noticed his rifle with a long scope tucked between the gear case and the driver's seat. I could hear myself thinking, 'he's gonna blow his own dang foot off.' And then, 'Nope, can't leave her alone.'

A lady in a van full of kids stopped. She came running over --identified herself as an EMT. 'No obvious injuries --she keeps trying to go in to shock,' I said, grateful for the help to this young woman's person. I finally got the phone away from her, to talk to her mom... it was her dad this time. I could tell he was in absolute panic mode.

'What is your name?' he kept asking me. I told him. And my phone number three times... finally I said, interrupting him --'she has no injuries. She keeps wanting to vomit. It's shock. We are keeping her warm and safe. How are you doing? --you must feel so upset and helpless.' He began to cry.... and then affirmed how upset he was. And then asked me to speak to the mom....

Joel and I had always remembered the receptions we got after we tried to run away the first time --and upon returning, first our parents hugged us in gratitude, and then threatened to spank us for running away... it was the Oh Good You've Survived And Now I'm Going to Spank You song and dance.

That was the mode of the parents --Oh Good You've Survived --and what did you do to cause this so I know how to punish you song and dance...

I told the mom I had seen the whole thing...  that it was a patch of ice... that she did all the right things in trying to manage a vehicle suddenly off the road and out of control, except that there was this pesky culvert that threw her up in the air and then nose first in to its cousin.... I talked her through the whole thing... from the beginning. And when I asked her how she was doing --that this was the type of phone call no parent ever wants, the flood gates opened...

Their daughter, their only child, two hours away, in the middle of an Indian Reservation... in an accident....

A couple --members of the church-- stopped... the back of their truck was filled with Christmas stuff... they rolled down their windows. 'Mother Margaret! That's not your car in the ditch is it? We got some chains, we can haul it out...' 'It's not my car, no!' I said. 'Beside, I don't think it would run even if we got it out.' We laughed, knowing that most of the folks we know would haul the wreck out of the ditch, and if it started, drive it as far as it would go any way... a little duct tape, plastic... you know....

And finally, after about 45 minutes, the sheriff arrived... he piled her in to his warm vehicle, talked her through it all... gave her the very rational and linear paperwork.... She had lost her keys and license --dropped them somewhere in the snow. The sheriff searched and found them.

The guy in the truck with the rifle said, 'Why did they send that guy?' 'God works in mysterious ways,' I said... and went to give the sheriff my name and number.

When I finally made it back to my little car, I threw myself in to my seat with gratitude --talking to Mr. Witty about it all. My first thought was that I hoped I could make it off the shoulder and back on the road without slipping in to the ditch myself... my feet were nearly frozen, my hands very cold.... I sat for a moment, thanking God for those who had stopped, for no serious injuries, for a car-seat butt warmer button to turn up high... it was 18 degrees out... and I wondered how I had kept as warm as I had....

As I drove up the hill, I hit the patch of ice, swerved and slid for a moment... and then continued home, hoping to get there before dark...

At prayer this morning (a portion of Psalm 34)
At all times I will bless the LORD;
whose praise shall ever be in my mouth.
I will glory in the LORD;
let the humble hear and rejoice.
Proclaim with me the greatness of the LORD;
let us exalt the Name of the LORD together.

I sought the LORD, who answered me
and delivered me out of all my terror.
Look upon the LORD and be radiant,
and let not your faces be ashamed.
I called in my affliction and the LORD heard me
and saved me from all my troubles.
The angel of the LORD encompasses the God-fearing,
and the LORD will deliver them.

Taste and see that the LORD is good;
happy are they who trust in the LORD!

This morning, it is supposed to snow some more --until tomorrow afternoon.... I pray that there are no power outages, that no one is without some kind of heat.... For the young woman and her parents. For those who stopped. For those who didn't, but drove by in the looky-loo way, craning their necks, gripping the steering wheel just a little tighter....

For all those on the road today... may they be safe.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

snow comin' down

I was thinking about driving back to the Rez today... but it's snowing really hard, and I don't think it's a good day to go out on the road. Some have told me it's bright sun shine in other places of the State... there we are.

I think the best Black Friday comment from Eagle Butte was with regard to the Family Dollar store there on the highway --a big call out to get in line --the towels were on sale, 2 for 1!

It made me laugh... but maybe that is so local, it is difficult to understand....

My heart breaks for the folks of Colorado Springs... and for all those who have suffered loss this weekend.

So... sayin' my prayers. Stay warm, dear friends.

(from 1 Peter 4)

Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining. Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received. Whoever speaks must do so as one speaking the very words of God; whoever serves must do so with the strength that God supplies....

Yep. That about sez it.

You can see the snow flakes against the brown of the house behind --snow coming down in the yard....

Friday, November 27, 2015

Food is an icon. All food is sacramental.

So... I was looking at my sunflowers in my header... it reminded me of the hot sun, the taste of the air, driving with M on that road... it was an icon of sort -a way "in".

But... there we are. We have received our first snow of the year. It has actually stuck around, which, I guess, means that the ground has begun to freeze. And all that....

This morning, the thermometer read  0(F). Yeah. Zero. It has now warmed up to 10. (For Celsius readers --that's -18 (minus eighteen) and -12, respectively.) That's cold. Two days ago, it was in the 50s, and we traveled and I forgot to put gloves in my pockets... so, now I am without gloves... which kind of prohibits going outside to play... because frostbite sets in in minutes at that temp.

So, I have decided not to regret forgetting my gloves... and enjoy being holed up, warm, full....

For the first time in YEARS we actually had an in-home sit-down dinner.... It wasn't full of the foods of our childhood --they are too diverse to bring to a table of two... foods like oyster pie, or tomato pudding, or on my side persimmon pudding, and mince meat pie --made from those wax-papered, dehydrated mix of fruits, fats, nuts and venison....

After my dad left us, my mom used to bake salmon --or she would make a fish stew....

Joel likes the stuffing I make --not a stuffing I ate as a child, I don't even know or remember where I picked it up --perhaps when I was studying colonial food ways.... It's made with cubed dried bread, onions, celery, garlic, apples, raisins (dried cranberries too), mushrooms and sausage.

I usually make cranberry sauce --with grated orange peel... I prefer a more bitter cranberry thang... but not this year.

This year, I did make the croutons for the stuffing from scratch --dem fine croutons. With bread from our favorite bread place --Great Harvest.

And the beans were perfectly blanched --oh, yeah, that's another of our food differences... Joel had never had beans that weren't boiled for hours in bacon fat until we were married... yesterday, I brought the water to a boil, stuck in the fresh beans, brought the water to a boil again and then turned the heat off... just barely cooked.

I took my beans out right away --I let Joel's beans sit in the water and continue cooking for another while... I think, for the first time ever, that Joel said his beans were done perfectly.... You CAN teach an ol' dog new tricks.

And we shared some Martinelli's Sparkling Cider... perfect.

So --I am saying my prayers... remembering... tasting the air... the stark, hard knock reality of those who have close to nothing --as the world measures-- is always around us... we can never forget or get truly comfortable... So, just taking some time to get fed --literally and in all those other ways-- so that we may turn and turn again...

At prayer this morning (from 1 Peter 3)

Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence.

Food is an icon.
All food is sacramental.

Thanks be to God.

Monday, November 23, 2015

there is a busy-ness... an excitement... a backdrop, a ground, an air of grief

The boys and the one grown uncle were running around, chasing each other, dodging behind the corner of the house and screaming filled with full volume laughter as we were leaving. It was very, very dark --only the light of the moon behind the low clouds to play whatever game it was they were playing.

I remembered that at one time, that would have probably been me... me and the all the boys... I adored playing with my dolls in the doll house, but I also loved a full-contact game. In the dark. So, I said a small prayer of thanksgiving....

I am sure there were a few basic rules to the game... but I am also quite sure there were times and places in this game where rules just didn't apply... there was way too much laughter --way too many shouts and screams --it was way too dark to play by the rules....

The great-great uncle had died late the night before --a man who had had a very large presence on the Reservation for a very long time. Usually, this would mean the family would stop this kind of activity... the playful gathering....

--but there had been great strife... conflict... and this kid needed a birthday party --a blowout-run-around-in-the-dark-screaming-you-are-the-most-important-person-in-the-world-to-us kind of party. So that is what was happening. With his favorite foods. From each of his grandmas.

He had greeted us, calling to us from the side door, saying, 'This way--Helloooo!' The front door had been blocked off --it wouldn't stay latched in the winds. So we tripped through the dark to the side door. The warm yellow brilliance of the open door pouring in to the cold and dark seemed ripped from a romantic story book illustration. 'I'm eight today,' he said. 'Oh!,' I said, pretending that I didn't know... 'Guess I'm happy I brought this!' and handed him the present of a fleece blanket we had brought.

And then the stream of children, covered in jam and fry-bread grease came running up to me, to hug me just below my middle.... an absolute delight--even the child who has just begun to walk and has been wary of me... and that is when the boys disappeared outside, and the girls ran down the hall to play some kind of game....

The women sat at the table. The men were watching the game. The house was bump butt-to-butt full, even with the boys outside running around. The laughter. The laughter....

When we got home, the light in our house seemed pale in comparison. Pale, like we are pale. Sometimes I forget --not who I am or where I am from or who my people are... but I forget how pale we are. Sometimes it is a shock when I look in the mirror.... Joel is always pinker. I have a blue-olive green tinge.

Pale-face. Sometime I wonder if that football team couldn't just do someone else the honor and rename their team, "Palefaces."

It is a week laden with dichotomy.... Yes, of course folks gather to give thanks to the Creator for all that they have, share a great meal together. But, the other stuff --the grieving for all that has been taken from them by brutal force --it isn't a superficial or close to the surface grief... it is blatant. So blatant it is hard to name...

Some of the elders do name it all --destruction of cultural ways by outlawing their religious practices and song and dance --destruction of culture by literally beating the language out of the mouths of children --destruction of the family by ripping children from their homes and placing them in violent and oppressive boarding schools --genocide in trench graves, disease, less than third rate medical care --broken treaties, dispossessed of their land --starved through the brutal near extinction of the buffalo.... and so much more....

Thanksgiving is bittersweet... the First Peoples had welcomed, fed, helped the strangers survive...

--and most families wouldn't have the means to put on a feast now, except that the Tribe has a program to deliver potatoes, canned yams and frozen turkeys to the neediest and the elderly....

One guy came to my door twice on Friday --looking for grease or oil to cook his potatoes in... 'I don't have that stuff,' I said. 'I boil my potatoes.'


--and I know his woman has left him, is camped out in a trailer on the other side of town. Cooking in grease is probably all he knows how to do... or he only has a fry-pan....

This morning, I have already answered the phone six times... already talked with the Diocesan Treasurer --I was supposed to go testify before the City Council regarding an outrageous water bill... all of which stinks to high heaven... but, there is a wake service for a much beloved woman --and a comfort service for the great-great uncle.... I have tried... but I just can't seem to get the knack of being in three places at once.... So, I have decided not to try that....

There is a busy-ness... there is an excitement... there is a backdrop, a ground, an air of grief and oppression... in this time of holy-days....

At prayer this morning (Psalm 106:1-18)

Give thanks to the LORD, who is good,
whose mercy endures for ever.
Can anyone declare the mighty acts of the LORD
or show forth all God’s praise?

Happy are those who act with justice
and always do what is right!

Remember me, O LORD, with the favor you have for your people,
and visit me with your saving help;
That I may see the prosperity of your elect
and be glad with the gladness of your people,
that I may glory with your inheritance.

We have sinned as our ancestors did;
we have done wrong and dealt wickedly.
In Egypt they did not consider your marvelous works,
nor remember the abundance of your love;
they defied the Most High at the Red Sea.

But you saved them for your Name’s sake,
to make your power known.
The LORD rebuked the Red Sea, and it dried up,
God led them through the deep as through a desert.
The LORD saved them from the hand of those who hated them
and redeemed them from the hand of the enemy.
The waters covered their oppressors;
not one of them was left.
Then they believed the words of the LORD
and sang out songs of praise.

But they soon forgot the deeds of the LORD
and did not await divine counsel.
A craving seized them in the wilderness,
and they put God to the test in the desert.

God gave them what they asked,
but sent leanness into their soul.

They envied Moses in the camp,
and Aaron, the holy one of the LORD.
The earth opened and swallowed Dathan
and covered the company of Abiram.
Fire blazed up against their company,
and flames devoured the wicked.

Off I go...

Saturday, November 21, 2015

cry, cry birds

The dogs woke me up very early --restless, walking across the bed, talking to me in those funny little whispered not-growls. We stumbled down the dark hall, turned up the furnace, put on water for coffee... I glanced at the thermometer --thirteen degrees (F). So, I put on my coat as we went outside.

For the first time, the grass sparkled with frozen dew. It is aways breathtaking to walk out under the lofty weight of the stars, the naked branches reaching, the dark side of the moon shadowing the nearly full crescent...

This morning, Paeha is strangely silent, not doing his usual full-bore run, nose in the air, barking... perhaps he felt it too... that strangeness in the air... a bittersweet memory like the moon, only partially remembered....

Minutes later, in the dark, Paeha came running towards me... he wanted up, in my arms... so I lifted him and tucked him inside my coat, waiting for Mr. Witty to finish his rounds. I thought I heard something, a rustling in the leaves on the other side of the fence... but I couldn't see anything...

We came back in, put the coffee on... I could hear Joel stirring. When the coffee was done, I put on the flames in the fireplace, and called to him...

It seemed like a regular morning... an early winter morning... and then we heard it... the voice from the tree outside. 'It's a dove,' Joel said. 'Nope,' I said. 'It's an owl.' And we listened as it talked.

Then another owl, with a very deep and mysterious voice joined the first. 'That's too deep for a dove,' Joel said. 'Way too deep,' I returned.

The dawn was almost upon us. The light was just like the shadow light of the moon. I went in to the other room where I might be able to see the owls in the tree. I couldn't. So I went outside. I heard them, just above the house, but I couldn't see them. I heard them, again and again. And then I heard the owls moving north-west... off in to the dark.

I never saw them.... Some would say because there was nothing to see... they were spirits....

The songs... the words... some here believe that the Owl is a messenger of death. Some believe they are portents of disaster. Some believe they are only messengers. Some believe they are a 'medicine' even stronger than the eagle.

There is a song from the Korean drama we are watching, Six Flying Dragons... it was very much like the haunting song of the owls in the pre-dawn light...

“Song of the Green Mountains”
(청산별곡, 靑山別曲, Cheongsan Byeolgok)“
written by anonymous (Goryeo period folk song c. 900-1300)

살어리 살어리랏다 .
To live, I wish to live
靑山(쳥산)애 살어리랏다
In the green mountains I wish to live
멀위랑 ᄃᆞ래랑 먹고
Eating wild grapes and hardy kiwis
靑山애 살러리랏다.
In the green mountains I wish to live
얄리얄리 얄랑셩 얄라리 얄라
Yali Yali Yallasyeong Yallari Yalla
우러라 우러라 새여
Cry, cry, birds
자고 니러 우러라 새여.
Wake up, and cry, birds
널라와 시름 한 나도
With more worries than you
자고 니러 우니로라.
Upon waking I cry too
얄리얄리 얄라셩 얄라리 얄라
Yali Yali Yallasyeong Yallari Yalla

Cry, cry birds... wake up, and cry birds....

(The older man in the crowd is apologizing to the young man for his political scheme that is setting the stage for the shedding of innocent blood. Seeing the young man's sorrow, he is then spurred in to action to change course, fighting the "worm" that has invaded his heart allowing him to believe that the sacrifice of others will not help him create the world he wishes to create....)

Melancholy. The sorrow... in every people... in every generation....

I pray for the world this morning... for all who are fighting the "worm" --setting aside anger and revenge, unwilling to eat the rampant and dark bitterness... a path begun not in force or rage but in humility and forgiveness... and it is hardest of all to forgive our self....

Yes. Hardest of all to forgive our self... to change courses.

At prayer this morning (Matthew 18:21-35)

Then Peter came and said to Jesus, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.

“For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him; and, as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made.

So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt.

But that same slave, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat, he said, ‘Pay what you owe.’ Then his fellow slave fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he would pay the debt.

When his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. Then his lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he would pay his entire debt.

So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

Forgive.... what it the biggest pitfall to forgiveness?... Hmmm... fear.... And loss of a presumed control....

Hmmmm.... yeah.

Off I go.

--and, just because it came to mind...
And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them or their words. Do not be afraid, though briers and thorns are all around you and you live among scorpions. Do not be afraid of what they say or be terrified by them.... (Ezekiel 2:6)

Friday, November 20, 2015

I am like a sparrow

The wind has stopped
so now I am tethered
to the earth
no chance of a lift
to the next county
or even as far as the fence

yesterday, I came out
and the birds
on the shoulder of St. Francis
had taken flight
as far as the steps
he was on his back
taking a nap
it was clear to see
that no snakes
or even mice had chosen
to winter in the grass
under his feet

I left him
like that
cloud gazing
I should
for a moment
lie beside him
and look at the winter sky
in this windless moment
feel the earth on my back
we will see
the dragon chasing snow pearls
we will see the stars
even though it is day
I should help him stand again
before snow settles in his nose
and perhaps
I should carry
back to his shoulders
the little birds
that flew as far as the steps
with wings that will never
landlocked like me

until that day
when I am like a true sparrow
when even the thought of a bird
will make the very earth
lift in flight
wings everywhere

At prayer this morning (Psalm 102)

LORD, hear my prayer, and let my cry come before you;
hide not your face from me in the day of my trouble.
Incline your ear to me;
when I call, make haste to answer me,

For my days drift away like smoke,
and my bones are hot as burning coals.
My heart is smitten like grass and withered,
so that I forget to eat my bread.
Because of the voice of my groaning
I am but skin and bones.
I have become like a vulture in the wilderness,
like an owl among the ruins.
I lie awake and groan;
I am like a sparrow, lonely on a house-top.

My enemies revile me all day long,
and those who scoff at me have taken an oath against me.
For I have eaten ashes for bread
and mingled my drink with weeping.
Because of your indignation and wrath
you have lifted me up and thrown me away.
My days pass away like a shadow,
and I wither like the grass.

But you, O LORD, endure for ever,
and your Name from age to age.
You will arise and have compassion on Zion,
for it is time to have mercy upon it;
indeed, the appointed time has come.
For your servants love its very rubble,
and are moved to pity even for its dust.
The nations shall fear your Name, O LORD,
and all the kings of the earth your glory.

For you, O LORD, will build up Zion,
and your glory will appear.
You will look with favor on the prayer of the homeless;
you will not despise their plea.

Let this be written for a future generation,
so that a people yet unborn may praise the LORD.
For the LORD looked down from the holy place on high;
and from the heavens beheld the earth;
To hear the groan of the captive
and to set free those condemned to die;
That they may declare in Zion the Name of the LORD,
and the praise of our God in Jerusalem;
When the peoples are gathered together,
and the realms also, to serve the LORD.

The LORD has brought down my strength before my time;
and shortened the number of my days;
And I said, “O my God,
do not take me away in the midst of my days;
your years endure throughout all generations.
In the beginning, O LORD, you laid the foundations of the earth,
and the heavens are the work of your hands;
They shall perish, but you will endure;
they all shall wear out like a garment;
as clothing you will change them,
and they shall be changed;

But you are always the same,
and your years will never end.
The children of your servants shall continue,
and their offspring shall stand fast in your sight.”

Off I go.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Preparing for Wounded Knee

It's nearly December...

This morning boasts 25 degrees on the thermometer --we've had 50mph winds for a day now, so I am sure that there are major windchill factors in play....

But, I already have had a knock on the door... this morning it was a man --lucky we heard him because he was knocking at one of the doors we have sealed up for the winter... and he wanted support for his riders for the Wounded Knee Ride...

On December 15, 1890, Sitting Bull was killed while being arrested for suspicion of being supportive of the Ghost Dance. He was killed just north of here --on what is now the Standing Rock Reservation.  In fear of further reprisals, his relatives --tiospiye-- numbering near 200 folks, fled south to shelter with Spotted Elk (Big Foot) at Green Grass here on the Cheyenne River Reservation. Joining them, they fled further south to Cherry Creek to shelter with Hump. Hump tried to convince them to stay --and some did. But 38 Hunkpapa from Standing Rock and most of Spotted Elk's relatives continued their run to safety on December 23 to join Red Cloud down on Pine Ridge.

And that is where they were murdered at Wounded Knee Creek on December 29....

Black Elk said,

I did not know then how much was ended. When I look back now from this high hill of my old age, I can still see the butchered women and children lying heaped and scattered all along the crooked gulch as plain as when I saw them with eyes young. And I can see that something else died there in the bloody mud, and was buried in the blizzard. A people's dream died there. It was a beautiful dream ... the nation's hope is broken and scattered. There is no center any longer, and the sacred tree is dead.

Nearly 100 years later, many folks here were having dreams... dreams of healing, dreams of remembering... and the Memorial Ride was born --retracing the steps of those who fled violence, murder and fear of reprisals... riding and walking the distance from Sitting Bull's murder to the murder of hundreds (estimate at 300) at Wounded Knee.

This year, that marks the 125th anniversary of Wounded Knee, the People are calling for global prayer for healing, for the end of mass murders, to remember Wounded Knee... all people, all Traditions....

To join them, register your site here.

I intend to join them in prayer.
Perhaps I will even volunteer....

At prayer this morning (Canticle: A Song of Wisdom, Wisdom 10:15-19,20b-21)

Wisdom freed from a nation of oppressors *
a holy people and a blameless race.
She entered the soul of a servant of the Lord, *
withstood dread rulers with wonders and signs.
To the saints she gave the reward of their labors, *
and led them by a marvelous way;
She was their shelter by day *
and a blaze of stars by night.
She brought them across the Red Sea, *
she led them through mighty waters;
But their enemies she swallowed in the waves *
and spewed them out from the depths of the abyss.
And then, Lord, the righteous sang hymns to your Name, *
and praised with one voice your protecting hand;
For Wisdom opened the mouths of the mute, *
and gave speech to the tongues of a new-born people.

Off I go.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

begin with our language

Police officers hunting suspects involved in the Paris terror attacks exchanged gunfire during an apartment raid in the suburb of Saint-Denis early Wednesday.

Hunting... ???

Hunting ???!!!

Not 'searching for', or anything like that... but hunting....

It's hunting season here... which means that we see carcasses in the back of pickups, or on trailers, legs splayed, gutted... blood....


The language we use is important... it reveals who we are.... People should not 'hunt' people....

I am grateful for the reminders that the most recent acts of mass murder on our turf (like the Boston marathon) were home-grown... and France is discovering that the murders committed this past week were also home-grown.

The poor, the racially oppressed, those who are given little to no stake in society --the spiritual and physical oppression perpetrated against them is being made manifest as they turn it around --give it back... in a violent and murderous way.

I am praying that France--and Europe for that matter, don't make the same mistakes we made... calling this act of mass murder 'war' when there is no nation, no State --but only a heavily armed, violent if not crazed gang with cells in every nation that is the perp....

Imagine trying to declare 'war' on gangs in our inner cities.... declaring war against one's own citizens establishes a civil war, heh? Can't we name them what they are --gangs?

I'm not the only one to think this...

Dangerous street gangs and violent extremist groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria both depend on recruiting disaffected youths with the promise of a sense of belonging. Because of those similarities, community leaders involved in the effort to fight extremism—many of whom gathered in Washington this week for the White House’s summit on the topic—are drawing lessons from the nation’s decades-old fight against gang violence.

After cities failed to arrest their way out of the problem of gang violence, law enforcement agencies such as the Los Angeles Police Department began taking a different approach. By engaging in “community policing” and shifting the focus from making arrests to building relationships, officers across the country learned to fight crime by finding allies in the community.

Paired with community outreach, devoting resources to educational and economic opportunities and, sometimes a little luck, the efforts worked in some communities. In Los Angeles, for example, the total number of homicides in 2012 was nearly half the number of gang homicides the city faced in 1992.

“You can’t declare war on gangs, you can’t declare war on this ideology,” says Michael Downing, the deputy chief of the Los Angeles Police Department’s counter terrorism and special operations bureau. “But what you can do is develop a balance.”
One of the key factors in countering extremism is keeping it from happening in the first place through prevention. “We’ve got a lot of disengaged youth,” says Steve Weine, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Illinois at Chicago who researches anti-extremism. “They’re just ripe for being picked-off by recruiters.”
Salam Al-Marayati, president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, who also works on the Los Angeles program, has helped develop a model that helps community leaders focus on providing healthy alternatives and outlets for people who may feel cast out or may be at risk of feeling that way, while also working with people who may be on the path to extremism. It too, draws from efforts used to fight gangs, but Al-Marayati notes there are some major differences between those at risk of joining a gang and those in the Muslim community who could be lured into joining an extremist group.

For one, though the threat of ISIS brought the Muslim community to the center of the conversation on extremism, in the United States it’s not the only potential cause of terrorism. Experts note that there is also a threat of militia movements, such as the men behind the Oklahoma City attack, or those based on other ideologies, such as the anti-abortion beliefs of the man behind the Atlanta Olympics bombing.
Gangs. Based in ideology. That fall in to extremism.

Hate groups.... Southern Poverty Law Center tracks such groups/gangs. There are more that 1,600 such groups identified in the USA. Their recent article demonstrates that the anti-Syrian and anti-Muslim rhetoric began in such hate groups:

The campaign to connect the refugees to fears of Islamic terrorism has been under way in the United States for some time, manifesting itself in rural areas such as Twin Falls, Idaho, and Duncan, S.C. In addition to the involvement of anti-Muslim groups such as Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy and a number of notable “women against Islam,” the attempt to tie the refugees to terrorism also aroused the involvement of antigovernment extremists such as the “III Percent” movement in Idaho.

These trends reflect a tide of anti-Muslim hatred that has been rising in the United States in recent weeks, fueled in part by Islamophobic rhetoric used by several GOP presidential candidates. That culminated in candidate Donald Trump announcing that if he were elected, he would tell the Syrian refugees: “They’re going back!”

Those sentiments, however, gained real traction in the media and in the political world when it emerged that one of the killers involved in Friday’s Paris massacres was believed to have carried a Syrian refugee passport, suggesting that he had wormed his way into France among the tide of refugees hitting much of Europe in the wake of attacks by Islamic State (ISIS) forces in Syria. (It later emerged that the passport was only found near the attacker, and European authorities so far insist that all the attackers were European nationals.)

Nonetheless, the initial reports set off alarm bells in states where the anti-refugee campaign was already gaining momentum – notably such states as Alabama, Michigan, Florida and Idaho – and eventually induced 26 Republican governors (as well as the Democratic governor of New Hampshire) to announce on Monday that they were halting the further influx of refugees within their respective states.

“After full consideration of this weekend’s attacks of terror on innocent citizens in Paris, I will oppose any attempt to relocate Syrian refugees to Alabama through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program. As your Governor, I will not stand complicit to a policy that places the citizens of Alabama in harm’s way,” Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley announced.

"Following the terrorist attacks by ISIS in Paris that killed over 120 people and wounded more than 350, and the news that at least one of the terror attack suspects gained access to France by posing a Syrian refugee, our state agency will not support the requests we have received,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced in a statement.

“Given the horrifying events in Paris last week, I am calling for an immediate halt in the placement of any new refugees in Arizona,” announced Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey. “These acts serve as a reminder that the world remains at war with radical Islamic terrorists. Our national leaders must react with the urgency and leadership that every American expects to protect our citizens.”

However, as Think Progress’ Ian Milhiser explains, the governors lack the authority – which, under the Constitution, is clearly relegated to the president – to refuse the refugees. Moreover, as he notes, “President Obama has explicit statutory authorization to accept foreign refugees into the United States. Under the Refugee Act of 1980, the president may admit refugees who face ‘persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion’ into the United States, and the president’s power to do so is particularly robust if they determine that an ‘unforeseen emergency refugee situation’ such as the Syrian refugee crisis exists.”

And indeed, the Obama administration has held the line. Ben Rhodes, the White House deputy national security adviser, affirmed on Sunday that the country is still poised to take in migrants from the war-torn country.

"We're still planning to take in Syrian refugees," Rhodes said on Fox News Sunday. "We have very robust vetting procedures for those refugees. It involves our intelligence community, our National Counterterrorism Center, extensive interviews, vetting them against all information."

On Monday, the president, speaking to reporters in Turkey, called suggestions that only Christian refugees be admitted "shameful" and a "dark impulse."

"When I hear folks say, 'Well, maybe we should just admit the Christians and not the Muslims,' when I hear political leaders suggesting there should be a religious test for which person who's fleeing from a war torn country — that's shameful," Obama said. "That's not American. That's not who we are. We don't have religious tests to our compassion."

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas and a presidential candidate, announced that he intended to introduce federal legislation to shut down the Syrian refugee program. In the meantime, Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., called on President Obama to impose a moratorium on accepting Syrian refugees.

At the websites of the anti-Muslim organizations that first linked the Syrian refugees to Islamist terrorism, such as Refugee Resettlement Watch – run by anti-Muslim zealot Ann Corcoran – the mood was both celebratory (noting the “major breakthrough in garnering attention for this here-to-fore secretive refugee program”) and eager to exploit the situation: It posted a petition demanding Congress cut all funding for the Syrian refugee program.

Federal authorities indeed have identified gaps in the ability to complete background checks on Syrian refugees, but despite coverage from right-wing media suggesting that they pose a security risk, the reality is that these refugees will receive an extraordinary amount of screening before entering the U.S. relocation program. One study found that while the concerns about terrorism might be legitimate, the reasons for fear are wildly exaggerated, and in fact only fuel the potential for real terrorism further down the road.

"We are deeply concerned about the entire entire xenophobic, Islamophobic response to Syrian resettlement, and are certainly troubled about the growing role hate groups and extremists are playing in perpetuating anti-Syrian/anti-Muslim sentiment and their calls to action," Naomi Steinberg, director of Refugee Council USA, told Hatewatch. "I know that I personally fear that the events in Paris will be seen by some as an excuse to heighten their hateful rhetoric, which we know could lead, worst case scenario, to acts of violence targeting refugees and refugee champions. At the very least, this uptick in political rhetoric is helping to spread fear and making communities less secure and safe for all of us."
We must all think very carefully about our rhetoric... and "hunting" perpetrators of mass murder and declaring "war" are prime examples of that rhetoric.

I am begging, pleading, praying we don't make the same mistakes that we made under the Bush administration. If we go down that path again, I think war will be a contagion that will throttle every nation.... and that thought is absolutely terrifying.

At prayer this morning (Matthew 17:22-27)
As they were gathering in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised.” And they were greatly distressed.

When they reached Capernaum, the collectors of the temple tax came to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the temple tax?”

He said, “Yes, he does.” And when he came home, Jesus spoke of it first, asking, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tribute? From their children or from others?”

When Peter said, “From others,” Jesus said to him, “Then the children are free. However, so that we do not give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook; take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a coin; take that and give it to them for you and me.”
Then the children are free.

Yes... it is the "others" who pay....

--and in Christ there is no 'other'...

Let us work to make a world where there are no outsiders/insiders... let us make a world where there are no disenfranchised... let us begin with our language....

--or something like that....


(PS--I can't help but think this is one of the obvious places that Jesus is speaking in an ironic tone... either to go fishing and find a coin --yeah, right... or, if indeed the followers of Jesus thought of themselves metaphorically as 'fish' because they were 'fishers of men' --what was being said was --take the food out of their mouths and give it to the authorities... go fishing, and take it right out of their mouths --all that they need to live --right out of their mouths... talk about disenfranchisement....)

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Oh! There's a mountain.

Our first taste of true winter cold today...  26 (F) and a wind chill making it feel less than 20.... I checked the weather app, and it says to expect snow showers --although the sky is bright and clear... but I know how quickly that can change.

It smelled like snow last night --with the sky coming so close to earth... and the winds were rip-roaring in excess of 50mph....

And, I have been so tired... can't keep up... not happy about the things I have to keep letting go of to simply stay present....

But, there we are.

Now... at prayer, undivided, undistracted (Matthew 17:14-21)

When they came to the crowd, a man came to Jesus, knelt before him, and said, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly; he often falls into the fire and often into the water. And I brought him to your disciples, but they could not cure him.”

Jesus answered, “You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him here to me.” And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was cured instantly.

Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?”

He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.”

Well then... I must be of the faithless and perverse generation because I haven't been able to move mountains... yet.... But, I have learned to go around them with great skill and without losing my way.... Does that count?

Off I go.

Monday, November 16, 2015

just The Day


It's Joel's 71st birthday.
M'love --thank you for being alive (as they are wont to say in Korean dramas.)

And, it's my anniversary of ordination to the priesthood...
And, it's St. Margaret's Day.

Just a day to do some comfort cooking and the like.

So, saying my prayers.

(from Matthew 17 ending with verse 13)
As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, “Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

And the disciples asked him, “Why, then, do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?”

He replied, “Elijah is indeed coming and will restore all things; but I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but they did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man is about to suffer at their hands.”

Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them about John the Baptist.
What the hey --it's like, well, it's like I've never read that bit before....

So many questions...

And here m'love --just for you, you viking you...

Saturday, November 14, 2015


What is there to say about the awful and horrific events in Paris....

--except, Lord have mercy...

--except that those kinds of events are unfolding daily in the Middle East with drones and bombing raids, and we and our allies are the perps, and we have become numb to that reality...
--except that we, in so many ways, created this through our own war mongering...
--except that violence begets violence, and war makes war...

--and perhaps the only way to stop it is to stop it --to make weaponized warfare illegal...

--but, like, that's going to happen, heh?

So... I have a church meeting to go to... and we will not be untouched by the craziness... and there will be those who will conclude that the only reasonable end to this violence is to refuse all immigrants and bomb the hell out of wherever --and I will sit there, hopefully keeping my mouth shut, and thinking to myself, 'what Greek play was it in which all the women got together and refused to give the men any sex or cook food or anything and took control of the state treasury so long as the men were intent on making war? --oh, yeah-- Lysistrata.'


It does seem war is one big priapism. But, then again, mothers raise their children --preparing them...


At prayer this morning (Psalm 90)

Lord, you have been our refuge
from one generation to another.
Before the mountains were brought forth,
or the land and the earth were born,
from age to age you are God.

You turn us back to the dust and say,
“Go back, O child of earth.”
For a thousand years in your sight are like yesterday when it is past
and like a watch in the night.
You sweep us away like a dream;
we fade away suddenly like the grass.
In the morning it is green and flourishes;
in the evening it is dried up and withered.

For we consume away in your displeasure;
we are afraid because of your wrathful indignation.
Our iniquities you have set before you,
and our secret sins in the light of your countenance.
When you are angry, all our days are gone;
we bring our years to an end like a sigh.
The span of our life is seventy years,
perhaps in strength even eighty;
yet the sum of them is but labor and sorrow,
for they pass away quickly and we are gone.
Who regards the power of your wrath?
who rightly fears your indignation?
So teach us to number our days
that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.

Return, O LORD; how long will you tarry?
be gracious to your servants.
Satisfy us by your loving-kindness in the morning;
so shall we rejoice and be glad all the days of our life.
Make us glad by the measure of the days that you afflicted us
and the years in which we suffered adversity.
Show your servants your works
and your splendor to their children.

May the graciousness of the LORD our God be upon us;
prosper the work of our hands;
prosper our handiwork.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: *
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

A Requiem at its core is a prayer for rest, traditionally for the deceased. The five movements of Dan Forrest's "Requiem for the Living" (2013), however, form a narrative just as much for the living—and their own struggle with pain and sorrow—as for the dead.

The opening movement sets the traditional Introit and Kyrie texts—pleas for rest and mercy—using ever-increasing elaborations on a simple three-note descending motive.

The second movement, instead of the traditional Dies Irae, sets scriptural texts that speak of the turmoil and sorrow which all humanity faces while yet invoking musical and textual allusions to the Dies Irae. This movement juxtaposes aggressive rhythmic gestures with long, floating melodic lines, including quotes of the Kyrie from the first movement.

The Agnus Dei is performed next (a departure from the usual liturgical order) as a plea for deliverance and peace.

The Sanctus following it becomes a response to this redemption. The Sanctus offers three different glimpses of the "heavens and earth, full of Thy glory," all of which develop the same musical motive: an ethereal opening section inspired by images of space from the Hubble Space Telescope; a stirring middle section inspired by images of our own planet as viewed from the International Space Station; and a closing section which brings the listener down to Earth, where cities teem with the energy of humanity.

The Lux Aeterna which then closes the work portrays light, peace and rest for both the deceased and the living. Christ's words are the answer to the Introit's prayer for rest: "Come unto me all ye who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."
- Dan Forrest


Friday, November 13, 2015

freaked, racked, wracked and cracked...

The sun is up. It's warmed up to 23 degrees (F). It won't stay that cold --it's supposed to warm up to the 50s --it's a western sun, so it is a warm sun, even in the coldest bit of winter.

I remember the shock I felt when we first lived in New York City --and I went to the window on a January morning to feel the sun, and there was no warmth in it. Joel laughed and laughed at me.

In the west, even in the winter, the sun is warm....

And I am thinking this morning, that despite the cold --it's not like the mountain winters of the Pacific ranges, where snow piles up and stays all winter --four, five feet and more of snow pack. Well... at least when there isn't drought.... This will be my fifth winter here --and we do get good winter storms that dump loads of snow, but then the snow disappears.

Funny all that.... I wonder if it has been that way historically --or if this is a new trend because of global warming. I heard on NPR yesterday, as I was traveling for a wake, about an island People planning to leave their homes because there is no longer enough land to live upon --literally.

--and at the other wake earlier this week --for the young man who was murdered, the MC for the funeral was from a reservation in North Dakota where the gas/oil companies have come in and set up their derricks and pumps and fracked the earth --and he remarked how devastating it all was --and how the money from those wells had done nothing but divide families....

And later, closer to midnight, as I accompanied my silly little dogs out in to the danger of the night, the stars felt so close-- and I got the image in my mind's eye of our protective atmosphere just whooshing away and everything exploding....

--because that is what will happen if we don't quit... and the sun will either be too hot or too cold all the time....

Nobody liked it when President Jimmy Carter tried to push the nation in to solar power and using less gasoline half a century ago... but he was right. And here we are... still...

--and as always, it is the poor who will be displaced and who will suffer first... The People here, too.

But even here, the huge trucks that wreck the atmosphere are seen as necessary. For some, they are --cattle and some roads... but, cattle are one of the problems of global warming.... recognized as a problem even by the U.N.

The whole system is set against itself. Because instead of working with the natural systems, we set up our own systems, playing god....

There we are.

So... now... off to preside at a funeral... hoping we can change before it's too late, knowing we probably won't....

Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We are truly sorry and we humbly repent. For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and forgive us; that we may delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your Name. Amen.

--except that repenting part... which literally means doing a 180 and walking the other way...

At prayer this morning (Matthew 16:13-20)

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”

And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.
--it's difficult to know when to speak and when not to speak....

God help us all.

--and, I also heard this, as I was driving in the deepest dark of the prairie last night coming home from the wake...

--having been in a room filled with cowboys and cowboy songs... and I wanted to shake my shoulders and sing along, but the dangers of the night road --especially from deer-- prevented that... So, this morning, I will shake my shoulders and sing along....

thanks be to God... and praying that all those who see and know keep the pressure up to save our mother earth, because as she goes, so do we, because we are --earth to earth...

Heh... spellcheck doesn't recognize the word "fracked" and wants to replace it with freaked, racked, wracked and cracked...


Thursday, November 12, 2015

harassed by hope

"Harassed by hope," she said. "The people hope, and then they are let down --hope again and let down again --hope again and let down again --hope aging and let down again --over and over and over. So finally, they hate hope...."

It was a stunning line --'harassed by hope.' It resonated. It was given to us by the most recent Korean drama we are watching through the mouth of a peasant girl --Six Flying Dragons-- about a dynastic change in Korea... The Korean dramas we watch are full of the iconic ideological struggles regarding power, politics, sacrifice, and love that push us to think and see in different ways. And the stunning line --harassed by hope... is precisely one of those 'pushes'.

Yes. I know folks who are harassed by hope --and it's not that they've given up hope --it's that they can't afford to hope.... hope is an addictive elixir that has let them down so many times that to allow it back into their lives would only be enabling defeat again....

Yes. To hope is to enable defeat.

And it's not that they are without joy --to the contrary, there is plenty of joy. But joy is ephemeral, not something you can plan or invite --joy is like an unexpected gust of wind or a fragile wild flower that wilts if you touch it. You can't plan a party and expect joy to come in the room --that would to be full of hope... but when joy unexpectedly arrives, it is profound.

In the meantime... in case the relative shows up dead drunk, or there is a car accident, or grandma or baby or both get sick again, or there is a fight, or someone gets arrested.. --hope is cast away --unaffordable --hope only lets you down.

--all of which leads me to think that too many folks obliterate the difference between faith and hope. Faith is -ummmm- how best to put it... faith is like a monkey on your back... it's a conviction, seen, heard, known. Faith is life --when we put our faith in 'something' we bet our lives on it.

As St. Paul may imply --hope is not seen, heard or known... you can't hope for what you already see and know... hope is not something seen. Hope is not life....

St. Paul also implies that hope does not disappoint....

--all of which leads me to think that maybe I am confusing hope with 'wish' --no... I don't think so. But, unlike Paul, hope is, for me, not conviction.... Yeah, I think Paul's hope was conviction....

And, here... conviction is not hope....

--hope that is seen is not hope... (Romans 8:24)

I made Joel look up the Greek word for hope in the New Testament... its root means, 'what is for sure, expectation'...

So... St. Paul is giving us a koan --expect, but do not expect... --what is for sure, is not for sure...

Perhaps not being codependent to hope is merely to live in the moment... not to be run about by false pretexts....

Oh, sigh....

At prayer this morning (from Matthew 16 ending with verse 12)

When the disciples reached the other side, they had forgotten to bring any bread. Jesus said to them, “Watch out, and beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

They said to one another, “It is because we have brought no bread.”

And becoming aware of it, Jesus said, “You of little faith, why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not perceive? Do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? How could you fail to perceive that I was not speaking about bread? Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees!” Then they understood that he had not told them to beware of the yeast of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

The strangeness of faith... it is never about what we think it is about...

So, I guess hope is that way too....

Ash Wednesday [Part 1](T. S. Eliot)

Because I do not hope to turn again
Because I do not hope
Because I do not hope to turn
Desiring this man’s gift and that man’s scope
I no longer strive to strive towards such things
(Why should the aged eagle stretch its wings?)
Why should I mourn
The vanished power of the usual reign?

Because I do not hope to know again
The infirm glory of the positive hour
Because I do not think
Because I know I shall not know
The one veritable transitory power
Because I cannot drink
There, where trees flower, and springs flow, for there is nothing again

Because I know that time is always time
And place is always and only place
And what is actual is actual only for one time
And only for one place
I rejoice that things are as they are and
I renounce the blessed face
And renounce the voice
Because I cannot hope to turn again
Consequently I rejoice, having to construct something
Upon which to rejoice

And pray to God to have mercy upon us
And pray that I may forget
These matters that with myself I too much discuss
Too much explain
Because I do not hope to turn again
Let these words answer
For what is done, not to be done again
May the judgement not be too heavy upon us

Because these wings are no longer wings to fly
But merely vans to beat the air
The air which is now thoroughly small and dry
Smaller and dryer than the will
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still.

Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death
Pray for us now and at the hour of our death.

Because I cannot drink
There, where trees flower, and springs flow, for there is nothing again

--yeah... harassed by hope....

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

I can do no other

I don't think our government cares about our veterans. People care, but the government does not. If it did, the veterans wouldn't have to wait months/years for treatment --wouldn't have to beg for treatment.... There just wouldn't be so many hurdles to getting care.

My grandmother was a veteran --my mom's mom. A World War I Army nurse....

Elinor Lowell, about 1916

She was deaf.... from age 4. But she graduated UC Berkeley and enlisted, and no one even knew.

And my father served --in the Navy. As a ship's doctor. When I went to find his grave, we couldn't find him and couldn't find him --kept looking. After an hour, the Veteran's cemetery in Cheyenne, Wyoming finally found him --had him listed as "Sargent Alvin Hambly." His name was Alvin Sargent Hambly... Sargent being a family name, not a rank.... I think I remember being pretty upset that the Veteran's Administration couldn't even get his service or his grave correct...

Alvin Sargent Hambly, graduating UC Berkeley Medical School c.1944

My father pulling in a shark --serving as ship's doctor to Jacques Costeau on Clipperton Island

I don't think my dad ever recovered from serving in the waters around Japan... he self-medicated with alcohol...

St. Francis of Assisi was a veteran... that experience of war drove him in to a spiritual crisis....

St. Martin or Tours (316-397) was also a veteran --and today is St. Martin's Day. Christianity was made legal in what... 313?!! He was drafted in to the Roman army, is famous for cutting his cloak in two in order to share it with a beggar --and he found he couldn't fight --that shedding blood was against his Christian conscience...
Martin determined that his faith prohibited him from fighting, saying, "I am a soldier of Christ. I cannot fight." He was charged with cowardice and jailed, but in response to the charge, he volunteered to go unarmed to the front of the troops. His superiors planned to take him up on the offer, but before they could, the invaders sued for peace, the battle never occurred, and Martin was released from military service.
My experience has left me to concur with St. Martin... and St. Francis.... I hate war. That does not mean I diss those who choose to go to war. But, it is not my way. And I cannot wrap my little brain around the violence, the degradation, the death... I do not see the purpose it serves --other than to line the pockets of the 1% with even more cash and power....

Maybe I cannot wrap my little brain around it because I see and know and witness the suffering every day --of Veterans returning, injured in body, mind and spirit...

--and the government for which they were willing to give their life should give them everything, anything, but instead...

So, I honor my Grandmother --who chose to serve in a healing way.

And I honor my Father --who chose to serve in a healing way.

And I honor the returning Veterans. However they have served.

And I hate war.

I hate it.

At prayer this morning (Matthew 15:29-39)

After Jesus had left that place, he passed along the Sea of Galilee, and he went up the mountain, where he sat down. Great crowds came to him, bringing with them the lame, the maimed, the blind, the mute, and many others. They put them at his feet, and he cured them, so that the crowd was amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the maimed whole, the lame walking, and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel.

Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat; and I do not want to send them away hungry, for they might faint on the way.”

The disciples said to him, “Where are we to get enough bread in the desert to feed so great a crowd?”

Jesus asked them, “How many loaves have you?”

They said, “Seven, and a few small fish.” Then ordering the crowd to sit down on the ground, he took the seven loaves and the fish; and after giving thanks he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And all of them ate and were filled; and they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. Those who had eaten were four thousand men, besides women and children. After sending away the crowds, he got into the boat and went to the region of Magadan.

Jesus. Healer. Feeding the thousands.
That is the way I choose.
I can do no other.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

oŋśiuŋla piye

She had been running as fast as she could, back and forth along the sidewalk in her rainbow-zebra tennis shoes. In the half-light of dusk, it seemed as though her noise and movement didn't travel far from her, but instead dropped to the earth by her feet. No one had a shadow at this point. Sun almost gone. Clouds.

We had talked about the geese. I don't think she had even seen them up in the sky. I told her they were announcing winter. 'Winter's coming; winter's coming--that's what they are saying. Then they will come back, flying the other way, saying 'Summer's coming, summer's coming.'

'Birds don't talk,' she said.

'Oh, yes, they do,' I said. 'You just have to listen.' She was too young to know her alphabet --I couldn't tell her they were flying in a 'V' formation. I had said they were pointing with their chins... The grandmas nearby heard that and laughed until their bellies shook. It's a joke around here. Lakota don't point with their finger--that's rude. They point with their chin --or in funnier moods, with their lips...

The child got bored trying to hear the geese. So she climbed up on the picnic table just beyond where I was standing by the door, waiting for the funeral procession. Waiting for them. Looking for the long string of car lights moving solemnly down the highway towards us. When that would happen, we would all draw in our breath and become silent. Quiet the running children. Become focused. Strengthen our knees. Straighten our shoulders for the weight of grief.

But in the meantime, we watched her, running solidly, without a shadow. Climb the picnic table. 'What is this?' she asked and grabbed the large can where folks had been throwing their cigarette butts. The other adults weren't within reasonable talking distance. They were all standing in clusters, away from the door of the community building.

So, I said, 'That's for cigarette butts.' And with a swift motion she dropped the can and wrinkled up her nose and forehead. 'Gross,' she said. Then she looked at me, stood straight up, and announced, 'You're weird.'

'Why am I weird?' I asked, laughing. 'Because you said that word.' And she silently said 'Bb-bah' in to the air. She jumped down off the bench. 'You're weird.'

'Well, what do you call 'em?' I asked. 'They're just cigarettes,' she said. 'They're not that word.'

'Sure they are,' I said. 'That's why they are so gross.' And I kept laughing at her horrified face, and she ran away, leaping over the cracks in the sidewalk. Don't break your mother's back....

One of the grandmas came and stood by me... 'So,' I said. 'She just called me weird because I said 'cigarette butts'!' We laughed, thinking about all those other words we have learned to use that our mothers and grandmothers told us never to use. 'Well,' the grandma said. 'You are weird.' And as we laughed, the string of funeral lights appeared over the horizon, coming towards us.

And as I prepared to receive the body, shifting from one foot to the other, clearing my head, I remembered that I was probably the only clergy person on the Reservation who comes to do this --to say the prayers to receive the body and begin the funeral liturgies when the wake and funeral are not at the church. I remembered Joel asking me why I did it, when it wasn't even the church building where the funeral was going to be held. 'Because,' I had said, 'the church isn't the building, it's wherever the people are gathered.'

As with many things, I have not ignored the fine print of the rubrics in our prayer book, but in practice here, morphed things... acclimatized what I do.... One of these days, God willing, I will have the time to not only write down what I do, but why....

I think I will have to, sooner rather than later, what with the advent of our second priest... she will be coming in the Spring. As soon as she graduates from seminary. At the least, I will strive to write what I do, what I say.... Why will come later. God willing.

And this morning, as I prepare to return to the funeral, to bury this young man who was murdered and left in an abandoned place, not found for weeks... I remember the young running girl, her aversion to that word, and all the even more horrid words she will learn in the course of her lifetime --'murder' probably being in the top ten... so much more horrid than 'butt.'

And then I remember and continue to hope that God will look at our sin in the same way I look at the word 'butt'.... Not that sin is of no account or does not have consequences... but that we have already lived with those consequences, and in the best way the account has been washed clean... and in God there is bountiful mercy, and we shall see as 'He' sees....

And I am hoping that I can make that thought more precise, more glorious... I am hoping to find the right words to say....

At prayer this morning (beginning at Revelation 18:9)
And the kings of the earth, who committed fornication and lived in luxury with her [Babylon], will weep and wail over her when they see the smoke of her burning; they will stand far off, in fear of her torment, and say,
“Alas, alas, the great city,
Babylon, the mighty city!
For in one hour your judgment has come.”

And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn for her, since no one buys their cargo anymore, cargo of gold, silver, jewels and pearls, fine linen, purple, silk and scarlet, all kinds of scented wood, all articles of ivory, all articles of costly wood, bronze, iron, and marble, cinnamon, spice, incense, myrrh, frankincense, wine, olive oil, choice flour and wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, slaves—and human lives.
“The fruit for which your soul longed
has gone from you,
and all your dainties and your splendor
are lost to you,
never to be found again!”

The merchants of these wares, who gained wealth from her, will stand far off, in fear of her torment, weeping and mourning aloud....

We glorify and lust after things that are not glory and will not bring peace. We condemn things which are not condemnation, and judge wrongly.

There is no health in us.

We are not even as wise as the geese who will travel away from that which will kill them....

Oh God. Oŋśiuŋla piye . Have mercy on us.

Have mercy.