Saturday, July 23, 2016

a conundrum of falsehood.

--and, so... then.

...there was that.

I have never really trusted our government. Perhaps it is because as a young teenager I saw State police and the National Guard beat children and pregnant women. My Jr. High was purposefully bombed with tear gas. Lawful public protest was thwarted with violence.

And I saw the attempts at democratic reform, at war protests, concern for use of public and private "space" denigrated... demeaned. Called degenerate. And worse.

I have never expected politicians to be perfect or honorable. I remember when someone recoiled in horror when I shrugged my shoulders with regard to Tricky Dick's breaking and entering, to Mr. Clinton's sexual predation of women. I had said, 'I expect as much of politicians.'

--which is really, really sad.

So, I object when someone says I am an idealist and not a pragmatist when it comes to our political cesspool. I object when someone says I am in a political minority, I had my chance and have lost the popular vote and to just shut up and get on board to defeat Trump.

--because Trump is really, really bad.

Yes. He is really, really bad. I agree.

And yes, really, really dangerous, too.

Just as dangerous as a political party and therefor its candidate that purposefully works against the democratic process it is supposed to support. Thank you, Wikileaks....

AMONG THE NEARLY 20,000 internal emails from the Democratic National Committee, released Friday by Wikileaks and presumably provided by the hacker “Guccifer 2.0,” is a May 2016 message from DNC CFO Brad Marshall. In it, he suggested that the party should “get someone to ask” Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders about his religious beliefs.

From:MARSHALL@dnc.org
To: MirandaL@dnc.org, PaustenbachM@dnc.org, DaceyA@dnc.org
Date: 2016-05-05 03:31
Subject: No shit
It might may no difference, but for KY and WVA can we get someone to ask his belief. Does he believe in a God. He had skated on saying he has a Jewish heritage. I think I read he is an atheist. This could make several points difference with my peeps. My Southern Baptist peeps would draw a big difference between a Jew and an atheist.

Ahhhhh..... Tricky Dick is alive and well. And this time, his spirit has evolved --not just to undermine "The Other Candidate" of a different "party" --but for a "party" to eat its own young. Literally.

And everyone is in such a panic to defeat the Monster Cheeto-Man, there is not a word of outrage....

--and if one does voice outrage, the specter of fear which everyone is denouncing in the Republican forum, begins to take form and dance.... Vote for "Her" or we all die....

Yes. The fear is valid. The fear is real.

But where is the outrage? Where?

Reacting against or in an opposing fear does nothing. Except feed the hysteria and fear which has gripped us all. Why can folks see the fear gripping the Republicans, but not see the manipulation of a system to incite an even greater fear in the Democratic base?

I am not joining the band wagon. "She" will not save this nation from its own mistakes. Not when the "party" which is pushing her is as twisted in on itself as the next. Not in an era which creates boundaries to prevent a majority vote from meaning anything. Not in a time when hyperventilation about the Supreme Court nominees takes front seat to an election.

Not in a time when the poor keep getting poorer and the wealthiest keep getting more wealth.
Not in a time when the planet itself is threatened.
Not in a time when its okay to dismiss or even eat the young.
Not in a time when the employment of intellect is seen as treasonous.
Not in a time when education and health care are provided only to the rich.
Not in a time when the Electoral College will elect--not the popular vote of the people.

How is it okay to live under the dictatorship of a political party that squashes other voices and even dissent and pretends to adopt a "platform" which everyone knows can be ignored?

How is any of it okay?
Fear makes for deadly politics.
And we all know it was decided eight years ago that She would be given the nomination this year. No matter what.

Because, that's politics.

And I expect that of politicians.

At prayer this morning (Matthew 27:11-23)

Now Jesus stood before the governor; and the governor asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?”

Jesus said, “You say so.” But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he did not answer.

Then Pilate said to him, “Do you not hear how many accusations they make against you?” But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed.

Now at the festival the governor was accustomed to release a prisoner for the crowd, anyone whom they wanted. At that time they had a notorious prisoner, called Jesus Barabbas. So after they had gathered, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you, Jesus Barabbas or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” For he realized that it was out of jealousy that they had handed him over.

While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, “Have nothing to do with that innocent man, for today I have suffered a great deal because of a dream about him.”

Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus killed. The governor again said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.”

Pilate said to them, “Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?”

All of them said, “Let him be crucified!”

Then he asked, “Why, what evil has he done?”

But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!”

Hmmmmm.... yep. The Gospel observation of power and force. The Gospel observation of party politicking. The Gospel observation of majority rule when it is manipulated and driven by fear.

We will always choose death (fear, power).

We always have.

And love will always win.
And I refuse to be afraid.

But, perhaps in the face of such things, it is better to follow Christ's example, and not utter another word... because the arguments and questions are all a set up. A conundrum of falsehood.

--despite the outrage.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Do we think a repeat of fascism, McCarthyism and/or the French Revolution is not possible?

It is hot. Very hot. Triple digits. And we're in a drought --in some areas of South Dakota, a severe drought. We got the notice today with our water bill that water restrictions are now in place --even/odd watering days and no watering between 9am and 6pm....

Water is life.
The heat is dangerous.

Yesterday, I went on an early evening visit --about 8pm or so. (Sun is up until 9:30 or so...) The family had no air conditioner in the triple digit heat. 'Would you like one of mine,' I said. The big heavy one I usually put up in the kitchen window is sitting on the floor. I am making-do with one in the living room and a very small one in the bedroom. I've closed off the rest of the house --not cooling it.

'No--we would have to pay for the electricity it consumes, and we can't do that. It will cool off in a couple of days.' The kids had jumped around, exclaiming that they had just taken a really, really cold shower. Their hair was still wet, keeping them cool. The windows were all covered with towels and blankets, keeping out the radiant heat. The fan whirred in the corner, stirring a hot breeze.

I am grateful that the soup kitchen will happen today. It will give folks a chance to come in and cool off a little. I have noticed that some of the Tribal offices have hand-written signs out --come in, free cold water-- I am grateful for that. It is only supposed to get near 100 degrees today --a cooling trend in to the high 90s. I am grateful for that....

It is really too bad that the last 100 years of mining and ranching have made the rivers undrinkable and dangerous to swim in....

And, yet... that is not on any party platform as far as I can see.... No. Just greed and power.

And, I am so angry and so ashamed....
At all of it.

At prayer this morning (Matthew 26:69-75)

Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. A servant-girl came to him and said, “You also were with Jesus the Galilean.”

But he denied it before all of them, saying, “I do not know what you are talking about.”

When he went out to the porch, another servant-girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.”

Again he denied it with an oath, “I do not know the man.”

After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Certainly you are also one of them, for your accent betrays you.”

Then he began to curse, and he swore an oath, “I do not know the man!” At that moment the cock crowed. Then Peter remembered what Jesus had said: “Before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.

We are all in such denial....

--pretending that nothing is wrong....

The RNC promotes hatred of the so-called elites. And people of color. And women. And the world.
The DNC has gone deaf and blind to 45% of its constituents.

Do we think a repeat of fascism, McCarthyism and/or the French Revolution is not possible?

--sigh--














--well... it was only a little superior to the screaming heavy metal that came up...

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Love Supreme, Coltrane, Cornel West, Hedges, the Reservation and WWII concentration camps. Yep. One of those days....

We sat outside to drink our coffee. It was in the 70s already, and the day is headed for 100 degrees or more.... Joel was playing with the bird song app from the Department of Ornithology at Cornell University. It identifies birds, bird songs... we spotted the cardinals that are not supposed to be this far west, but there is was, bright red from the tree, shouting.

And then he listened to a recent short video of Cornel West, on police violence and Black Lives Matter.... He has gone to the Republican Convention, to protest. He says,

Well, there will never, ever be peace without justice. There will never be calmness without accountability. There will never be order without fairness. So when I hear the authorities call for peace and call for calmness and call for order, I say, yes, but it’s not the absence of tension.

It’s got to be the presence of that justice and accountability and that fairness. When I hear the authorities—even President Obama says, well, the attack on the police is an attack on all of us. I said, OK, but an attack on black people, especially black youth, is also attack on all of us.

If, in fact, the attack on the police is an assault on all of us, then when the police unfairly maims and murders civilians, the police is killing on behalf of all of us. Well, I don’t want the police killing on behalf of me. I want the police to be treated with respect and fairly, and I want black youth and brown youth, black men and black women to be treated fairly. And that’s why I came here to Cleveland.
....
You know, and, see, 49 years ago yesterday was the death of John Coltrane. And for me, that’s crucial, because it’s really about a love supreme, it’s really about the giant steps that we have to take. But we have to hit the streets. We’ve got to preserve the resistance and let the young folk know, see the tears of our dear sister, the aunt. You know, stop the killing. Stop killing black people. Stop killing working people. Because it’s not just a racial thing. They’re killing a lot of white brothers and sisters, too, but it’s disproportionately chocolate. And, yes, you’ve got to stop killing the police, but we’re in this together. We got social neglect. You’ve got economic abandonment. Every day, you’ve got poor black people who are wrestling with unbelievably oppressive conditions. And we’ve got to be able to speak candidly and honestly about that and come up with some ways of rechanneling a lot of this rage and anger.

Rechanneling the rage and anger... yes. I have come to know that rage... I bury the results... I see the results all around... and how, when the rage does not take an outward form of public violence, folks turn it on themselves (or family).... Suicide. Addiction. Physical and sexual abuse. Abandonment.

Coincidentally, Chris Hedges published an article on the writings from the Warsaw Ghetto, which were found shortly after WWII ended. Titled, "Writing as Resistance," Hedges explores why this endeavor is important to us, now, in this present day and time. (I think it also serves as an apologia in his function as a writer.) Hedges writes,

The cache of material, known as the Oyneg Shabes Archive, was buried by writers, led by the historian Emanuel Ringelblum, as German occupation forces were liquidating the ghetto. They meticulously documented all aspects of life in the ghetto and the annihilation of the Jews by the Nazis.

Writing was an act of resistance and faith. It affirmed the belief that one day, a day the writers knew they would probably never see, these words would evoke pity, understanding and outrage and provide wisdom. They struggled to make sense of the stark contrasts of good, evil and indifference. They explored what it meant to live a life of meaning in the face of death. They did not know if their writing would survive. Some of the archive was never found. They did not know who, if anyone, would read their work. But they wrote with a messianic fury. Their words were the last link to the living.

Dawid Graber hastily buried some of the archives in August 1942 as deportations in the ghetto were being accelerated—between July 22 and Sept. 12 some 300,000 Jews were driven out of the ghetto to the gas chambers at Treblinka. He wrote: “What we were unable to cry and shriek out to the world we buried in the ground. I would love to see the moment in which the great treasure will be dug up and scream the truth at the world. So the world may know all.” He ends with the words: “We may now die in peace. We fulfilled our mission. May history attest for us.”

Ringelblum formed his small army of writers clandestinely. Nazi discovery of any writer’s involvement meant his or her immediate execution or deportation to a death camp.

Resistance.... In the form of protest. In the form of desperate writing. Perhaps this is the rechanneling of that rage and anger... but only if someone notices and someone publishes and someone reads...

Resistance.... It is Pulitzer prize winner John Toland, in his book, "Adolph Hitler: The Definitive Biography" who makes the awful connection between Hitler and the Reservation system set up by our Federal Government....

“Hitler's concept of concentration camps as well as the practicality of genocide owed much, so he claimed, to his studies of English and United States history,” Toland wrote in his book, Adolf Hitler: The Definitive Biography. “He admired the camps for Boer prisoners in South Africa and for the Indians in the wild west; and often praised to his inner circle the efficiency of America's extermination—by starvation and uneven combat—of the red savages who could not be tamed by captivity.”

Genocide is genocide.... So the connections between Cornel West and his protests, Hedges and his writing, Hitler and the place I live and serve --and our current election...

--I can only think that those who remain silent, who remain passive... --well.... And this bit in Hedges article... we have a soup kitchen at the church...

Ringelblum, like Goldin and Auerbach, was acutely aware that the soup kitchen and other charities he helped organized “did not solve the problem [of hunger], it only saves people for a short time, and then they will die anyway. The [soup kitchens] prolong the suffering but cannot bring salvation. It is an absolute fact that the clients of the soup kitchens will all die if all they have to eat is the soup they get there and the bread they get on their ration cards.”

I see this. I feel this....

The archives detailed the depths to which people sank in the desperate struggle to survive, including the unearthing of corpses to extract gold teeth and steal burial shrouds. This dark descent is characteristic of all societies in disintegration. Those who rise above the mad scramble for survival, who assist the weak and the vulnerable, jeopardize their own existence. Few who live in stable societies see what lurks beneath the surface. The blindness of the comfortable makes the archives an important contribution to the understanding of the human condition.

--and this...

We all have the capacity for evil. The line between the executioner and the victim is razor-thin. Ringelblum and his writers warned us of how easy it is to surrender our better selves in the name of survival. They cautioned us against the danger of political ideologies, careerism, opportunism, the lust for violence and the loss of empathy. They excoriated those who survived at the expense of another. Ringelblum and his writers buried their records shortly before most of them were killed. In their final moments they cried out for us to be faithful to the good. They could not save themselves. But they could, they hoped, save us.

--Yes. Yes. Yes.

And what I drink from this cup this morning is the warning of how easy it is to surrender our better selves....

I will mock Trump. I will mock Clinton. I will mock my own privilege. I will. We face obliteration in global warming and economies that feed greed. We face continued oppression in liberal policies that favor the rich and deny the economic/social/spiritual violence against the poor. We face spiritual annihilation when we don't see our own families and kin in the faces of the perpetrators and victims of social violence.

Resistance. And faith.

And love. Even for our enemies...

At prayer this morning (from Romans 14)

We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.

(Huh. And I've been saying in in the plural because the BCP puts it in singular, masculine... huh. And there it is... dang it.)

And, lest we forget...

(beginning at Matthew 26:47)

While Jesus was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, arrived; with him was a large crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; arrest him.” At once he came up to Jesus and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him. Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you are here to do.” Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and arrested him. Suddenly, one of those with Jesus put his hand on his sword, drew it, and struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.



Amen.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Love. Suffering.

It is always, always, sorrowfully profound to bury someone. It is more so to bury an infant. One who never breathed the air. Never squinted in the sunlight, or moved its eyes to take in the colors. And movement.

This one was a twin, the other twin remaining still in the mother's womb. There were special prayers from the Traditionalists because of that, as twins are sacred. And the other might want to follow.

And because, in the liturgy nothing was ordinary, it was an extraordinary first funeral for M. So many exceptions. It was the Pipekeeper's family, after all.

I was thinking about all that as I was driving the distance to Rapid. The road had started ascending from the river bottom to the flats. The grains were already being harvested --so early, because of the drought conditions in so many places west of the River. I received a text message, and pulled off the road to read it and respond. And then I glanced out the window, preparing to pull back on to the road. And it was a field full of a plant I had never seen. Not sunflowers. Not grains. Not that funny red seedy thing... it didn't look like corn....

That was when I realized... it was corn. Shredded until it was unrecognizable. Whether it was the wind or the hail, I couldn't tell --it had happened long before I got there. Perhaps the day before when we got high winds (50mph+) and hail the size of quarters in Eagle Butte. But there it was. Acres upon acres upon acres, stretching to the horizon and beyond. Shredded.

Cut down before it came to fruition.
Like so much else.
In a week when so many were cut down.
So much death.
Every where.

And I was reading, just the night before, about spiritual maturity and transformation. It was in a little xerox copy --something handed out in class in what seems an eon ago. I have no idea any more what book it came from... titled "Chapter Sixteen". I had gone through it with a yellow highlighter, and Joel had gone through it with a pen. It was all marked up, but still legible. It had resurfaced recently.

It began with a quote, "for love is as strong as death, the flash of it is a flash of fire, a flame of [the Name] himself." (Song of Songs, 8:6)

Followed by, "All humans born of women have a short life, and it is full of suffering." (Job, 14:1)

It began (pg 122)

Two universal and prime paths of transformation have been available to every human being God has created since Adam and Eve and the Stone Age: great love and great suffering. These are offered to all; they level the playing fields of all the world religions. Only love and suffering are strong enough to break down our usual ego defenses, crush our dual think, and open us up to Mystery. In my experience, they like nothing else exert the mysterious chemistry that can transmute us from a fear-based life into a love-based life. None of us are exactly sure why. We do know that words, even good words or totally orthodox theology, cannot achieve that by itself. No surprise that the Christian icon of redemption is a man offering love from a crucified position.

Love and suffering are a part of most human lives. Without doubt, they are the primary spiritual teachers... .

After reading just that, I had to put it down.... but, I picked it up again last night before bed, flipped a few pages further and searched in bits and pieces for the trajectory of the work... (pg 125-127)

Suffering, of course, can lead you in either of two directions: it can make you very bitter and close you down, or it can make you wise, compassionate, and utterly open, either because your heart has been softened, or perhaps because suffering makes you feel like you have nothing more to lose.
....
Great love has the potential to open the heart space and then the mind space. Great suffering has the potential to open the mind space, and then the heart space. Eventually, both spaces need to be opened, and for such people non dual thinking can be the easiest. People who have never loved or never suffered will normally try to control everything with an either-or attitude, or all-or-nothing thinking. This closed system is all they're prepared for. The mentality that divides the world into "deserving and undeserving" have never been let go of by any experience of grace or undeserved mercy. This absence leaves them judgmental, demanding, unforgiving, and weak in empathy and sympathy. They remain inside of the prison of meritocracy, where all has to be deserved. Remember, however, to be patient with such people, even if you are the target of their judgment, because on some level that is how they treat themselves as well. Authentic love is of one piece. How you love anything is how you love everything.

Love. And suffering.
Suffering. And love.

It is one thing to write of another's suffering. But another to even begin to fathom or regard our own. I stopped reading, and turned the light out. The dogs pushed against me, one on each side. (They are jealous of each other, and if one is at one shoulder, the other must be, too. And if one moves to my knee, the other must, too.) I slept. So profoundly I didn't even awaken all night. It was the dogs that roused me, later than usual. A tongue in one eye; the other hit my ear.

Eyes. Ears. The excited tromp up the stairs from the basement. Bells and whistles at the door to the yard. The hurried leaps down the stairs to the flowers and lawn. Full bore around the fence line. The rabbits scatter. The birds scream in chorus, "watch out! Watch out!" The sun is not yet fully over the horizon. The shadows are long and deep.

And this is restoration. This joy. This bounding. This trajectory. This is restoration. The garden of Eden rediscovered. There is too much suffering. Too many boundaries. Too much power. And in this moment, I must drink it all in. This nectar of a moment.

Love.
Suffering.
And joy.
That author didn't write of the joy that is in it all.

Joy.

For the joy set before him, he endured the cross, scorning its shame... (Hebrews, 12.2)

I haven't always like that line... but, this morning, I have entered that door....

At prayer this morning (beginning at Romans 13:8)

Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet”; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.

And, lest we forget (Matthew 26:36-46)

Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and agitated. Then he said to them, “I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and stay awake with me.”

And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.”

Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, “So, could you not stay awake with me one hour? Stay awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Again he went away for the second time and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.”

Again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. So leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words. Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.”

The betrayer. Who became bitter. And closed down. Trying to close down everything with an either/or attitude... looking for the deserving poor....

Amen.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

worthy of a tattoo

So...

--the sunrise was beautiful. Even through the hay harvest haze that is brimming just above the plains.

--and I felt the return of the pressure of the prayers for all the pastoral concerns here, so I spent the time looking at the sun rise through the hay haze and naming the concerns. Putting words to them. Not out loud. But like word clouds --some of them thin and horizontal, some of them lofty and billowy and vertical....

--and the coffee was good. Joel and I talked through video-chat. He remains in Rapid to keep the new shrubs and lawn we planted green enough through this drought.

--and instead of writing, I did the dishes. It was either do the dishes or wall up the kitchen... I am still realizing how much I am in recovery mode from Convocation, the Holy Walk (a different stress), and the unnecessary poopoo-caacaa the human condition seems to create in abundance.

Unnecessary being the key word there... the fabricated stuff, brought up and played out of our woundedness.

Fabricated stuff. Like stealth drones. Our own un-doing. Like watching a deer caught in a tangle of some sort, and the more it struggles, the worse it gets....

So... I did the dishes.

At prayer this morning (Romans 12:1-8)

I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God – what is good and acceptable and perfect.

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us; prophecy, in proportion to faith; ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.

Worthy of a tattoo....

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

on the side of the road

It was kind of startling. And not what I expected. It's been haunting me....

The wildflowers. Up on the flats, on the wide open windy part of the prairie, the wildflowers ran along the side of the road, laughing. Cone flowers. Echinacea. Red clover. Yellow clover. Blue clover. Morning glory. Prairie rose (variety of wild rose). Sun flowers. Oh the wild sun flowers. With heart shaped leaves. And there was a long purple/orange trumpet flower... that was a surprise. But not the thing that startled me.

I showed the children the parts of the flower --petals, stem, the pollen makers, the pollen receiver parts... they didn't know any of it. It was a joy to share what little I knew. The birds and the bee parts too.

Changing subjects, 'Look at that humongous bull' I had said. The boy responded, 'That's not a bull. It doesn't have horns.' I said, 'You can tell it's a bull because of the long things hanging down between his hind legs.' He said, 'But that one has a huge sack. Isn't that a bull?' I said, 'No-- that sack is full of milk. That's a cow and the babies drink there.' A calf demonstrated its milk tactics for us.

I was beginning to get nervous... 'See. That's a bull. Over there.' We were separated from the field by a fence. A thin barbed wire fence. Between us and two tons of testosterone primed muscle intent on only one thing. The boy finally saw it. Finally saw the difference. 'What IS that between his legs?' he asked.

I sighed. I fudged. 'I only know what we call 'em in California. Let's ask your grandfather what to call 'em around here.' So we did ask, when the truck caught up to us. The grandpa tried not to laugh too hard, letting the laughter air out through his nose. 'Balls,' he said. The boy repeated it to me, saying, 'that's what they are called around here.'

'Ahhhhh.... thank you,' I said. And turned to face the grandma, who was also trying not to laugh. I can only imagine that he was most likely only one of a very few 4th graders who didn't know about balls... and I adored him for it. That was a surprise. But not the thing that startled me.

This was on the second day of the walk. Up high on the flats. Where the wind can make the road, and probably even two ton bulls, disappear in no time at all....

On the third day of the walk, we were on the road between Red Scaffold and Cherry Creek. A mostly river-bottom road. Every now and then we had to climb a tall sometimes long ridge between the run-off ravines that emptied in to the river. But mostly, the road cut through the river valley right at the base of the hills, leaving the sloping valley to the small farms and harvest equipment.

And it was haying time --the trails of cut grass drying in contours the length of the valley. The road-side was not yet cut. And this was the startling thing... there were no wild flowers. None. Just different kinds of grasses. Shaggy types. Ragged types. Clean types. Golden types. Green types. Red types.

--but no wildflowers... where I had expected the most wildflowers, in the river valley. There were none.

Not even the morning glory.

And it haunts me. Why no flowers there? --where the resources are the best --where the trees grow --where the animals are fenced away --why...?

It was the third day of the walk. On that day, I was committed to praying for the present generations. (First day --praying for the Ancient Ones; Second day --praying for those I had buried that year; Third day --praying for the present generations; Fourth day --praying for the generations to come.)

And there were no wild flowers.

There was a dog. A ferrel dog, a little hungry and covered in ticks, but otherwise healthy. She must have been about six months old. She walked with us for 15 miles. We tried everything to shoo her away. She would hide from us, pretending to be gone, and then show up again. Suddenly. Wagging her tail. Nodding. Tried to put her in the car to take her to the vet, to get her a family. But she would have none of it. Tried to take her back to where she began to follow us. But she wouldn't let us put her with us on the trailer. She ran behind us for several miles back to where we began, until she disappeared in the grasses on the side of the road.

On the side of the road.
Where there were no wild flowers.
Only grasses.
And a wild dog.

And when we lost sight of the dog (we called her Percy, short for Perseverance), in the shadows which had begun stalking the heat of the day, in the shadows which were calling out to the cool of the evening to hurry, hurry, in the midst of the tall grasses along the road, on top of the wooden fence post which carried the barbed wire from one place to another, the small oddly shaped ground-burrowing owl perched. Praying for us, I thought. Hearing and gathering our prayers for the living generations, to take our prayers back in to the earth, in to the depths of the earth. Our mother earth.

In the very place where there were no wild flowers.
Only grasses.
And a wild dog.

It was startling. It haunts me.

Hinhan makhothila (ground owl), pray for us.

At prayer this morning (Matthew 25:31-46)

Jesus said, “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left.

Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’

Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’

And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’

Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’

Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’

Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

The burrowing owl is an endangered species... --suffering in the same way as the wildflowers...  --suffering in the same way as the People suffer.

...let us not pray with words only, but with all our heart, all our mind, all our strength... moving out of our comfort zones --which is really eternal punishment made all selfish, nice and cozy, and in to eternal life....

Amen.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Time. Again.

--and where have I been...

It feels like I have been more than half way round the moon and back.

Convocation --we hosted Convocation this year. The 144th annual meeting of Episcopal Native American Churches in this region. A couple hundred folks for a couple of days. Mostly outdoors under a tent. And an ordination. Whoot! I now have help on the ground, right beside me.

I hope and pray we will always be a blessing to each other.

Omani Wakan --the Holy Walk. The third year of walking and praying. Time alone, just taking one step at a time. Time to personally grieve those I have buried in the last year. Time to ponder the suffering. Time to enjoy the depth of companionship. Time to be healed by the earth and sky and wind. Time to be surprised. Walking. Praying. Circumambulating the entire Reservation. Dying. Resurrecting.

And. Now. It is time. Time again. To settle in to the routine of prayer. Which is the only constant. And not that I haven't had the routine of prayer in the last month. I have. But there has been very little time for reflection or listening. For tending to the wounds. For steeping in the joy. For being.

One of the challenges... At the cottage in Rapid, I planted seeds. Grass. Flowers. And I planted shrubs, bushes and vegetables. Usually, there would have been two rain storms a week to keep things going. But, not this year. A near drought. So, Joel has remained in Rapid in order to water. It doesn't appear as though we will be getting rain any time soon, either... --sigh--

So, I am here, with him. Going back to Eagle Butte tomorrow. Grabbing some hours with him. And will return to two funerals. Two infants...

At prayer (Matthew 25:1-13)

Jesus said, “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’

Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’

But the wise replied, ‘No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’

And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I do not know you.’

Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

---and don't go looking in the marketplace among the dealers in order to buy what will be given freely... --and know that there will always be those sitting outside the door who are unwilling to share... just sayin'....

Friday, June 17, 2016

these are our times; a choice between Clinton and Trump is a false choice

I listened... it was a book promotion on NPR. About the "redistricting" that happened after the 2010 elections. Redistricting that now allows a minority of conservatives to elect their candidates. All the way to the White House.

It was gross. Chilling. Establishing a legal anti-democratic process. A majority of Democratic votes, but because of the way the district lines were drawn, only Republicans get elected.

And Bill Moyers published this article on the "Dark Age of Unreason." He compares the rise of Trump to the McCarthy era... what did it take to take McCarthy down...

And we can hope there still remain in the Republican Party at least a few brave politicians who will stand up to Trump, as some did McCarthy. This might be a little harder. For every Mitt Romney and Lindsey Graham who have announced their opposition to Trump, there is a weaselly Paul Ryan, a cynical Mitch McConnell and a passel of fellow travelers up and down the ballot who claim not to like Trump and who may not wholeheartedly endorse him but will vote for him in the name of party unity.

As this headline in The Huffington Post aptly put it, “Republicans Are Twisting Themselves Into Pretzels To Defend Donald Trump.” Ten GOP senators were interviewed about Trump and his attack on Judge Curiel’s Mexican heritage. Most hemmed and hawed about their presumptive nominee. As Trump “gets to reality on things he’ll change his point of view and be, you know, more responsible.” That was Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah. Trump’s comments were “racially toxic” but “don’t give me any pause.” That was Tim Scott of South Carolina, the only Republican African-American in the Senate. And Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas? He said Trump’s words were “unfortunate.” Asked if he was offended, Jennifer Bendery writes, the senator “put his fingers to his lips, gestured that he was buttoning them shut, and shuffled away.”

No profiles in courage there. But why should we expect otherwise? Their acquiescence, their years of kowtowing to extremism in the appeasement of their base, have allowed Trump and his nightmarish sideshow to steal into the tent and take over the circus. Alexander Pope once said that party spirit is at best the madness of the many for the gain of a few. A kind of infection, if you will — a virus that spreads through the body politic, contaminating all. Trump and his ilk would sweep the promise of America into the dustbin of history unless they are exposed now to the disinfectant of sunlight, the cleansing torch of truth. Nothing else can save us from the dark age of unreason that would arrive with the triumph of Donald Trump.

This is the shadow face of unity... the dark cloud. Party unity before the good of the nation.

What's even more frightening is that Moyers draws a direct line between McCarthy and trump....
Cohn was chief counsel to McCarthy’s Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, the same one Welch went up against. Cohn was McCarthy’s henchman, a master of dark deeds and dirty tricks. When McCarthy fell, Cohn bounced back to his hometown of New York and became a prominent Manhattan wheeler-dealer, a fixer representing real estate moguls and mob bosses — anyone with the bankroll to afford him. He worked for Trump’s father, Fred, beating back federal prosecution of the property developer, and several years later would do the same for Donald. “If you need someone to get vicious toward an opponent,” Trump told a magazine reporter in 1979, “you get Roy.” To another writer he said, “Roy was brutal but he was a very loyal guy.”

Cohn introduced Trump to his McCarthy-like methods of strong-arm manipulation and to the political sleazemeister Roger Stone, another dirty trickster and unofficial adviser to Trump who just this week suggested that Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin was a disloyal American who may be a spy for Saudi Arabia, a “terrorist agent.”

Cohn also introduced Trump to the man who is now his campaign chair, Paul Manafort, the political consultant and lobbyist who without a moral qualm in the world has made a fortune representing dictators — even when their interests flew in the face of human rights or official US policy.

So the ghost of Joseph McCarthy lives on in Donald Trump as he accuses President Obama of treason, slanders women, mocks people with disabilities, and impugns every politician or journalist who dares call him out for the liar and bamboozler he is.

And these are our times.

But, I also stand cautioned in this against a false and dangerous "unity." Unity is what the Republicans have in their unwillingness to call Trump out. And I don't want it.

Just as in McCarthyism, any voice of opposition is considered a voice of dis-unity. Same is true in the Democrats... any voice of opposition against Clinton means you are an ignorant, un-seeing, inexperienced, naive, rebellious idiot who likes to blow up the whole thing and is willing to let Trump be elected.

It ain't necessarily so. And I do not yet know what I will do come November. Just sayin'.

Perhaps it will all be a moot topic any way, if Julian Assange hasn't become unhinged. He claims evidence of email manipulation and use for which the Obama administration has prosecuted and jailed others --most especially de-classifying text in order to email it... and how her actions as Secretary of State led to the emergence of ISIS (which is well documented in other places).

So. In the meantime... I have decided not to be a unity-monger. Some will say, ah! but, unity is a Christian ideal!!! You should at least be interested in unity because of your faith!!!!

Mmmmm.... nope. Unity is not a political coalition. It is not same-ness. The base root of unity is differentiation. Paul uses the idea of the body as an example of unity. We can't all be noses, can't all be ears, he shouts from the page. The foundation of unity is diversity.

It is from a place of faith that I will act. In diversity.

And, I can only say that I will strive to do my best --given what I see as a choice of dual evils in a political field that has already been manipulated with drawn boundaries beyond repair. Beyond a hope of democracy or the voice--the cry of the people actually being heard within the bastions of power and force.

But, thankfully, I am not without hope --I have the Gospel to show me not to rely upon governmental/political or religious authorities; none of those places are where I place my hope.

I place my hope in Christ. I can do no other.

At prayer this morning (from Romans 3)

But if our injustice serves to confirm the justice of God, what should we say? That God is unjust to inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way.) By no means! For then how could God judge the world?

But if through my falsehood God’s truthfulness abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner?

And why not say (as some people slander us by saying that we say), “Let us do evil so that good may come”? Their condemnation is deserved!

Oh Paul, Paul, Paul..... --but, I get it.

And a choice between Clinton and Trump is a false choice....

Please keep the family of 'M' in your prayers. May she rest in peace and rise in glory.

Amen.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

mud and light

I have picked the wild mint. Brought it in the house. The aroma is filling my head. My soul. Now, I will rinse it and hang it to dry. And give it to the elders. It's "medicine."

When we first started working on the yard, I smelled the mint while cutting the tall grass and weeds up our hill. When I learned what it looked like --most obvious clue is the square stems-- I began to cultivate it, allowing it to grow. I made small circles of stones around the little plants so I would not whack it down. Joel freaked out --it's gonna take over the whole yard --you can't get rid of mint. So, for two years I have watched it...

It doesn't have runners like the mint I have known. It propagates by seed. And one is supposed to harvest it before it blooms. So, this is the first year I have harvested it --leaving some of the tall stems covered in its buds.

It smells so good, I have wanted to pick it all... make a bed of it... and roll in it.

But, I won't.

--and just in case I haven't shown the progress in a while... here are my most recent garden shots. A year ago, this was all level mud....


the drought resistant grass is doing okay....


the kitchen garden progresses too. lots of herbs, two tomatoes, and two zucchini --from old fashioned seed.


a curly weeping willow --from a varietal called an "arctic willow"  which
means it's good to -30 degrees... so we can hope and pray...


I have begun to landscape the front --which will be "zero scaped" --all native
and drought resistant plants. The berm is made from concrete patio. It will,
God willing, keep street runoff and our neighbors yard from entering too close to the house.
The trench and ditch will collect water and return it to the earth. It will, one day,
have pipes under the sidewalk for when the water gets to the top.
The tornado storm we had on Monday filled it to the top!


the grass area and run off berm in the back yard. We've planted drought resistant and native plants all around.


the 'swale' is just barely visible in this picture. it captures run off from the hill behind us, slows it down, tries to get it
to return water to the earth, and directs it to the alley run off area of our neighborhood.


we planted a 'smoke bush' --purple foliage on the hill. That is one of the mint cultivars
behind it.

I am so grateful for this garden and house space. It releases the tremendous stress and sorrow I accumulate. Pilamayaye Wakantanka.

At prayer this morning (Canticle: Third Song of Isaiah, Isaiah 60:1-3,11a,14c,18-19)

Arise, shine, for your light has come, *
and the glory of the Lord has dawned upon you.
For behold, darkness covers the land; *
deep gloom enshrouds the peoples.
But over you the Lord will rise, *
and his glory will appear upon you.
Nations will stream to your light, *
and kings to the brightness of your dawning.
Your gates will always be open; *
by day or night they will never be shut.
They will call you, The City of the Lord, *
The Zion of the Holy One of Israel.
Violence will no more be heard in your land, *
ruin or destruction within your borders.
You will call your walls, Salvation, *
and all your portals, Praise.
The sun will no more be your light by day; *
by night you will not need the brightness of the moon.
The Lord will be your everlasting light, *
and your God will be your glory.

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.


Remembering those killed in Orlando, and all those who now suffer....

Monday, June 13, 2016

--because of religion --and kissing

--I saw the black, unmarked vehicle race through the parking lot as I was distributing communion. I paused and watched to make sure it didn't pull up by my door....

It didn't. They parked by the fence in the walkway of my side yard, the path to the neighborhood, just beyond the dumpsters. I watched the two women in the congregation get up and go outside to see what was going on. One of them was an ex-cop.

So, I continued with the prayers. The image from the movie, "The Mission," of the priest carrying the consecrated host through the mayhem of guns and bombs and blood and death was in my mind's eye. I saw the ambulance rush to the back of the parking lot. I saw it leave just as we thanked God for feeding us.

The burden of this violence, in my yard, in the church yard... --coupled with the headlines of the morning, of the murdered dead in Orlando....

Wakantanka, unsimala.
(Wah-KAHN-tahn-kah, UN-shee-ma-la.)
(Great Spirit, have mercy.)

My friends, processing the death and murder in Orlando aloud and online, mostly said they were not surprised. Shocked. Horrified. Grieving. Yes. But not surprised. I had written,
I hope and pray never to lose the sting of surprise and shock and bodily grief.... Because I have no tv or radio (unless I am in the car for the radio), I got the news of Orlando late this morning as I was saying my prayers and preparing for church --which does not mean to separate my self from the world, but to move in to it....

And as the headlines scrolled before me, of the Orlando murders, the wave of nausea began its convulsion at my feet and ran up my body through my head. I am surprised. And shocked. And grieved. And angry. And tormented.

And I choose this surprise, shock, grief, anger and torment. Because to do otherwise, to build a "thick" skin, to not be surprised and shocked, I fear to normalize this treachery, this murderous, ungodly destruction.

With over 60 funerals every year --mostly due to self-destructive accidents and habits, the results of despair, of poverty, of oppression, of genocide --I have vowed never to lose the feeling of the sting of outrage... the surge of surprise. The fire burning in my heart.

The hardest part for me is not being surprised, but to conform my rage to the liberty of love, to cut fringe on the compassion of grief, and curb my surprise and outrage to the discipline of the altar I serve... I love you __. I will see you and remember you as I break that bread this morning. And remember, always --Blessed are those who mourn....

But after the feast, and the laughter in the parish hall, and the news about the violence in the side yard subsided (a man beating a woman to a pulp, a member of the congregation had intervened, riding atop the perpetrator until the cops arrived, avoiding the wielded knife until the police and ambulance intervened), I came home and touched base with the headlines again --fifty dead now....

And I had to examine my inner self... it's not that I wasn't surprised after all... but had I really just taken in all this without missing a stride? Was I okay? Was I becoming immune, despite my best intentions?

I listened to myself saying --how the hell can they say it was the worst mass murder in US history --have they not heard of Wounded Knee?!

I said back to myself --that was official military action. Of course they "count" it differently; and if not, even so, the worst would be Gettysburg, thousands upon thousands upon thousands in just a few short hours....

And then I say back to myself --it's all the same. --it's all related. And I see it, the violence, thick within the human condition, growing like cancer, building upon itself, feeding itself....

Violence is learned. Violence is taught. Generation to generation. One to another.

And then I realize. That's a form of denial. The mantra of, oh it's too big, what can I do...

And I wonder, what can I do.

Fifty dead now. Knife fights in my backyard. I read and listen to the online chant of prayers. They all seem soft and silly. Useless. I find the petitions --to hold Congress accountable for their inaction --to prevent assault weapons from being sold to the general public... I know they are all dead-ends (pun intended--like our law makers are going to pay heed to petitions).

What can I do.

There must be something.

Prayer without action is not prayer.

This morning, a new essay by Chris Hedges comes through my email. He's a good, old fashioned spittle-flecked prophet... "We Must Understand Corporate Power to Fight It." Obviously, he had written this essay before the murders in Orlando. I read it, hoping it will offer some new insight....

It didn't. But it did, because it scraped away the old dead flesh once again, and delved into the open wounds... and I am reminded once again as I write this, that Christ bore open wounds even in his resurrection body...

Hedges wrote
The promises made by the corporate state and its political leaders—we will restore your jobs, we will protect your privacy and civil liberties, we will rebuild the nation’s infrastructure, we will save the environment, we will prevent you from being exploited by banks and predatory corporations, we will make you safe, we will provide a future for your children—are the opposite of reality.

The loss of privacy, the constant monitoring of the citizenry, the use of militarized police to carry out indiscriminate acts of lethal violence—a daily reality in marginal communities—and the relentless drive to plunge as much as two-thirds of the country into poverty to enrich a tiny corporate elite, along with the psychosis of permanent war, presage a dystopia that will be as severe as the totalitarian systems that sent tens of millions to their deaths during the reigns of fascism and communism.

There is no more will to reform, or to accommodate the needs and rights of the citizens by the corporate state, than there was to accommodate the needs and rights of Jews in Nazi-occupied Poland. But until the last moment, this reality will be hidden behind the empty rhetoric of democracy and reform. Repressive regimes gradually institute harsher and harsher forms of control while denying their intentions. By the time a captive population grasps what is happening, it is too late.

I am sure the Roman citizenry of 2,000 years ago thought their government was too big to fail. Just as many of today's citizens of any empire must think....

He continues, saying,
Our corporate masters know what is coming. They know that as the ecosystem breaks down, as financial dislocations create new global financial meltdowns, as natural resources are poisoned or exhausted, despair will give way to panic and rage.

They know coastal cities will be covered by rising sea levels, crop yields will plummet, soaring temperatures will make whole parts of the globe uninhabitable, the oceans will become dead zones, hundreds of millions of refugees will flee in desperation, and complex structures of governance and organization will break down.

They know that the legitimacy of corporate power and neoliberalism—as potent and utopian an ideology as fascism or communism—will crumble. The goal is to keep us fooled and demobilized as long as possible.

The corporate state, operating a system Sheldon Wolin referred to as “inverted totalitarianism,” invests tremendous sums—$5 billion in this presidential election alone—to ensure that we do not see its intentions or our ultimate predicament.

These systems of propaganda play on our emotions and desires. They make us confuse how we are made to feel with knowledge. They get us to identify with the manufactured personality of a political candidate. Millions wept at the death of Josef Stalin, including many who had been imprisoned in his gulags. There is a powerful yearning to believe in the paternal nature of despotic power.

There are cracks in the edifice. The loss of faith in neoliberalism has been a driving force in the insurgencies in the Republican and Democratic parties. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, of course, will do nothing to halt the corporate assault. There will be no reform. Totalitarian systems are not rational. There will only be harsher forms of repression and more pervasive systems of indoctrination and propaganda. The voices of dissenters, now marginalized, will be silenced.

It is time to step outside of the establishment. This means organizing groups, including political parties, that are independent of the corporate political machines that control the Republicans and Democrats.

It means carrying out acts of sustained civil disobedience. It means disruption.

Oh! my.....

In this election cycle, there were many who blasted me for my support of Sanders, who claimed I just wanted to blow the whole thing up. A Sandernista. A Bernie Bro.

And now... I sit here wondering if they were right.

But as I look and see what's ahead --greater and greater cycles of violence and despair. --the poor becoming more numerous and the rich richer. --the destruction of economic safeguards. --the destruction of ecosystems. --the murder of hundreds each week --because of religion --and kissing. --the scapegoating of all kinds and sorts of human beings....

How can any thinking person not want to create massive obstructions in that path... and there does not appear to be any hope in changing the system from within....

But as Hedges says, it must be done nonviolently.

Which doesn't mean there won't be violence --oh, to the contrary. Those who hold the means, those who hold the power --economically and politically-- they will react violently.

It has always happened thus.
That is one of the major strands of the Gospel --in the Crucifixion.

And we are standing at the Cross Road.
Right now.
Right here.

Can the blood of the murdered testify to the awful reality that reform from within --attempts at reform of our current system has not worked --will not work? How many bills before our Congress, how many times, how many murdered? Children, even. And, can the bleeding wounds of our mother earth convince us to act? Without her, we cannot live at all....

At prayer this morning (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.”

I can only think of this:

“[God says] Discipleship is not limited to what you can comprehend - it must transcend all comprehension. Plunge into the deep waters beyond your own comprehension, and I will help you to comprehend even as I do. Bewilderment is the true comprehension. Not to know where you are going is the true knowledge. My comprehension transcends yours.”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

“If any man would come after me, let him deny himself." The disciple must say to himself the same words Peter said of Christ when he denied him: "I know not this man." Self-denial is never just a series of isolated acts of mortification or asceticism. It is not suicide, for there is an element of self-will even in that. To deny oneself is to be aware only of Christ and no more of self, to see only him who goes before and no more the road which is too hard for us. Once more, all that self denial can say is: "He leads the way, keep close to him.”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

“To be called to a life of extraordinary quality, to live up to it, and yet to be unconscious of it is indeed a narrow way. To confess and testify to the truth as it is in Jesus, and at the same time to love the enemies of that truth, his enemies and ours, and to love them with the infinite love of Jesus Christ, is indeed a narrow way. To believe the promise of Jesus that his followers shall possess the earth, and at the same time to face our enemies unarmed and defenceless, preferring to incur injustice rather than to do wrong ourselves, is indeed a narrow way. To see the weakness and wrong in others, and at the same time refrain from judging them; to deliver the gospel message without casting pearls before swine, is indeed a narrow way. The way is unutterably hard, and at every moment we are in danger of straying from it. If we regard this way as one we follow in obedience to an external command, if we are afraid of ourselves all the time, it is indeed an impossible way. But if we behold Jesus Christ going on before step by step, we shall not go astray.”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

“Cheap grace means grace sold on the market like cheapjacks' wares. The sacraments, the forgiveness of sin, and the consolations of religion are thrown away at cut prices. Grace is represented as the Church's inexhaustible treasury, from which she showers blessings with generous hands, without asking questions or fixing limits. Grace without price; grace without cost! The essence of grace, we suppose, is that the account has been paid in advance; and, because it has been paid, everything can be had for nothing. Since the cost was infinite, the possibilities of using and spending it are infinite. What would grace be if it were not cheap?...

Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.

Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble; it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him.

Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock.

Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: "ye were bought at a price," and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

We can't continue as we have been....

Food for thought. 'nuff said.

Off I go. Another baptism today. A very, very young woman, hardly old enough to vote, was just diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Please keep her and her family in your prayers.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

little hatchlings of the Spirit

i saw him
his back
as he sang
the spirit grandfathers
the ancients ones
crowding all around him
while the family gathered
in grief
the open coffin
behind him.

i cannot recall when i knew it
as surely as the ground
will take us back
at our expiration date.
but i saw
he was wrestling with that call
that voice that one first hears
as a longing
a desire
a dream
that some how enters
between the ribs
and builds a messy nest
lodged between the shoulder blades
causing that dull throb
if you move too fast
or not fast enough.

i guess that is what i saw
looking at his back
as he sang.
that nest.

and when we talked
later
over the chili
and bologna sandwiches
and other funeral foods
i said i had seen it.

and he confessed.
yes.
and would dance
his first time
in the sun dance.

jesus died
sacrificed for all
his flesh and blood
for all time
i thought i shouldn't do it
the flesh offering
he said.

well,
i said
you can either join in the suffering
pick up your cross
at the cross

or you can try running from it.
like so many have done.
like so many have tried.
that's biblical, too.

and the spirit grandfathers
finished my bologna sandwich
when i didn't even notice.
the sun left us
and the veterans
played taps
and saluted
the one who has gone before us
and every one wept
in the close-knit darkness
as death crept on
in its futile journey
in to the bodies
of human beings
who carry nests
between their shoulders.

nests.
filled with longing.
desire.
a dream.
little hatchlings
of the Spirit.


At prayer this morning (Ecclesiasticus 31:3-11)

The rich person toils to amass a fortune,
and when he rests he fills himself with his dainties.
The poor person toils to make a meagre living,
and if ever he rests he becomes needy.

One who loves gold will not be justified;
one who pursues money will be led astray by it.
Many have come to ruin because of gold,
and their destruction has met them face to face.
It is a stumbling-block to those who are avid for it,
and every fool will be taken captive by it.

Blessed is the rich person who is found blameless,
and who does not go after gold.
Who is he, that we may praise him?
For he has done wonders among his people.
Who has been tested by it and been found perfect?
Let it be for him a ground for boasting.

Who has had the power to transgress and did not transgress,
and to do evil and did not do it?
His prosperity will be established,
and the assembly will proclaim his acts of charity.

Hmmmm....
off I go.


Monday, June 6, 2016

lemon cake is now a sacrament, too

I said, 'I have two confessions to make... the first is, I have trouble with these stories, about people coming back to life, only to die again. Imagine having to die twice--once is probably enough for any of us. But, these two boys died twice. These are not resurrection stories --these are coming back to life stories. I have trouble with these stories because I used to think that God was punishing me when my all my babies died --like the widow in the first story. And I also used to think that all my babies dying was the result of the lack of my faith --if I had only believed hard enough, there might have been another outcome. Either way, it was All. My. Fault. So, I have trouble with these stories about people coming back to life because of my own experience with death.'

'And my second confession is this-- the sermon I tried to preach this morning spilled out of my lips and fell on the floor and died an ugly death right in front of me. Right in front of every one. It is an awful feeling when that happens.'

They all laughed. We were gathered around in the small cabin, all the windows open, the make-shift altar in the center of the room, the children running in and out, playing and shouting and laughing and running. I kept looking out the window as I spoke, and the green of the grass, the movement of the wind caught in the tall grass, the hills, the river, the earthen cliffs, the shadows, the smell of the lemon cake on the table behind me --all so captivatingly beautiful, so exhilarating, that I wanted to press the whole thing in to my mind. I wanted to never forget.

Anamnesis. Without forgetting. Ever.

I continued. 'So, after that sermon fell out of my mouth and died, I went back to town to get gas, and at the gas station I met a young man who is a Traditionalist. I have gone to support him at Sun Dance. We get along. And he asked me how I was doing. So, I said I was frustrated --that I had preached a sermon that had hit the floor --I had preached on New Life, right here, right now, not waiting until we die-- that New Life is given to us, all the time. But nobody seemed to get it. But--- And he interrupted and said, oh, yes, I get it. Every time I wake up, it's new life. Every moment, it's new life. And I had spun around in the middle of the parking lot because a Traditionalist had understood. What God had put in to my heart to say about new life --he got it... A Traditionalist in the middle of the parking lot in Eagle Butte affirming my thoughts on Resurrection.'

They were all laughing. The women covering their mouths with their hands, their eyes dancing. God playing a joke on me. In the parking lot.

'So, what these stories are about isn't about coming back from the dead to the same ol' life. That should not be our focus. It is about New Life --putting God front and center.... no matter what.' And then we talked about the stories... they spoke up... making the whole story of life not about us, but when we are able to see God at work among us, not to focus on the event, on what just happened that opened our eyes, but to give continuous thanks and glory to the source of Life... no matter what. The woman and her son starving to death--give thanks to God first, and offer to the stranger what is keeping you alive. When your loved one recovers from sure death, do not run to them and tell them how much you love them--give thanks to God first. When your own messed up life with all its jagged edges reminds people of how you used to be and now you are living a different way--give thanks to God first....

--and the stories of our own lives... the laughter and the tears threatening to bust the walls down and expose us.

--and that feeling of light made manifest worked its way in and among us. And we shared bread and wine, the children lifting their dirt-lined hands above their chins. All the others smiling and laughing as they received the stuff that comes from the earth to feed us in body, mind and spirit.

The shadows grew longer. We shared soup. Fried chicken. Beans. Coleslaw. Lemon cake. The mosquitoes showed up for the feast. So before the sun surrendered fully to the horizon, we got into the cars and followed the various dirt and gravel roads back to where we began.

--and the funerals of the past week --the young man I had just buried, not yet even 25 --the elder, taking all the old stories and old ways with her, filled with regret that she had not shared the language with her children but she didn't want them to suffer what she had suffered by shaping their tongues that way, not even imagining the loss the they would suffer instead...

--all of the dead in the past few year --hundreds, literally, of burials...

--filled the shadows with their funeral processions, the drum echoing down the river valley... the lilting wail and 'li-li' effervescing as a paean cry.

Life. Interrupting. Death.

At prayer this morning (Matthew 15:21-28)

Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.”

But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, “Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.”

He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.”

He answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.”

She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”

Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.”

And her daughter was healed instantly.

Hey God!
     (Thank you.)

--and, by the way, lemon cake is now a sacrament, too... anamnetical...
...just sayin'...

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

--if you don't, what else is there?

And, so... I did that funeral. Those that sought to do the Traditional Lakota prayers and ceremonies, did so, quietly, and in their own way. And we said Christian prayers. Abundantly.

The dynamics of grief.

We carried her 160 miles to be buried. To rest beside her husband.

Afterwards, I went to our cottage in Rapid. I had a night's sleep and a few hours to put aside the grief...

--and then began the cascade of privilege... as a Diocesan discernment facilitator... for those who feel a call to ministry, lay or ordained. Hearing and seeing --witnessing the Spirit at work.

The discernment weekend began on Friday night at the Diocesan camp. There were so many of us that some of us slept in the cabins for the kids who come to summer camp. It had been a very, very, very long time since I had slept in a single bed --my feet hanging over the edge, my head banging the wall. Because, the first night, there were no pillows... and, it was a bunk bed....

Even so. It was startling. The openness. The vulnerability. All of us, wounded. Broken vessels. The Light and Life pouring through the shards of our lives. Making us whole. But only together.

And then the holiday. Holy Day. Of the war dead. All the flags. Graves. And broken hearts. For me, it is more spiritually exhausting than not. So. I unhooked from all media. I made a path through the wilderness of my yard, hauling yard upon yard of gravel. And, we planted a tree. Everyone should plant a tree. At least one a year.

Today, I return. To the next funeral. In that distant village where the creek and river meet. Where all the old things are made manifest. Run wild.

To return to the earth what comes from the earth. Afraid, but not afraid. Feeling the grief that is not my own; full of grief for the human condition. And the oppression and poverty that grind and chew lives already fragile.

And so I pray. (from Luke 1)

And Mary said,
"My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever."

It is Mary who convinced me to be Christian, in the light of the moon on a dreadful night when the world fell apart around me. From the light of that moon shining in the window she said, 'Choose love. Only love.'

And it is hard to know love and do love and be love. It is hard to choose love.

But, if you don't, what else is there?
Amen.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

dystopia is us

It is bright and sunny. No clouds any where. It will pop up over 80 degrees today. For the first time in a very long time. It has already come close... close enough that two days ago, the first bloom of mosquitoes raged around us. Giving us welts. Getting too close to our mouths and eyes.

Last night, we went out, found pieces of cardboard from the garage. I had paid the guy to mow. Everywhere. So, he had even mowed the very steep hill in the side yard where I had encouraged the kids to play last week. But, last week, the grass and weeds were too long, and it was not good sliding, so they had rolled down the hill. There were no mosquitoes then.

Yesterday, armed with our cardboard, we went out to try the short grass. It was perfect. A perfect slide. But within seconds of standing there, the mosquitoes attacked. And we had to dance instead. Two slides down the hill and we were done... it was all we could take.

I ran for cover indoors... remembering that screens on windows didn't happen until about 100 years ago. How folks would put cheese cloth up in the openings, covered candlesticks and oil paintings from fly speck, covered chairs --every chair, took rugs outside to hang and beat with sticks and then to storage, putting woven grass down on the floor....

Bugs and weather formed a way of life.

And if one lived without a wooden floor, you scraped up the winter earth in your living spaces, sprinkled water, and tamped it down. Again. Burning green wood for lots of smoke. Smoke kept the bugs at bay. All summer.

There had to be more...to keep the bugs away... and we have lost the knowledge of it.

Living in our tight little controlled environments, we have lost the knowledge of a lot of things.

Joel got me watching a show --a fantasy TV series about human devolution --the polluted environment changes us in to monsters, and humanity as we know it disappears. Except one scientist realizes what's going on, and freezes himself and thousands of others, only to awaken to a world of fanged gut-eating humanoids and a small walled in town where he puts people and begins a human experiment of survival.

The monster is us.

Interestingly, the town is devoid of all human expressions of faith. No churches, synagogues, temples, mosques --no religious texts, habits or ceremony remembered or even missed....

There is nothing "other." Outside of. Beyond. Within. Except the monsters. And the wreckage of what we once were.

Dystopia.

Which, for many, seems to be the horizon, the distant reality, which is swiftly careening in upon us. Watching with horror as our political arena froths and bubbles... a stench of power and money and conceit spilling over in to our homes, our families, our relationships.

Trump is the embodiment of a whole sector of our citizenry --unthinking, except of themselves. Angry. Pumped up. Greedy. Intolerant. A billionaire power broker claiming he understands the working poor.

And Sanders embodies those who have been raging at the fringe. Always. The inheritor of abolitionists. Of suffragist movements. The Old Testament prophet warning of what's to come to those gathered in the halls of power. Throwing spittle every where. Who wants to listen to that....

And Clinton. Like Swiss cheese. Milky white and full of holes, expertly navigating a system of legalized corruption. While her own super pacs (having received millions of dollars from the health insurance industry) are striving to defeat the movement towards single-payer health care in Colorado, a movement supported by a majority of the people. Working against the people and for the corporations. And some say it couldn't happen.

The monster is us. Our political arena reflects us.

And then we try to blame each other for it... ripping at each other. Dismissing each other. Un-friending. Blocking. Not listening. Claiming young women must have finished off the media koolaid because they don't like Clinton. Claiming Sanders supporters just want to blow things up. And Trump supporters in such great denial...

--when, instead, we should be paying attention to the power brokers. We should be paying attention to what their money is buying. Because what they are buying is pollution, oppression, genocide, and the means to get more of what they want at our expense.

The historian in me knows that it has always been thus. But, still... it is now.

At prayer this morning (portions os 1 Timothy 1:18 – 2:8)

I am giving you these instructions, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies made earlier about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight, having faith and a good conscience. By rejecting conscience, certain persons have suffered shipwreck in the faith... .

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity. ....

I desire, then, that in every place the men should pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or argument.

And this.... (a portion of Matthew 12)

Jesus said, “Either make the tree good, and its fruit good; or make the tree bad, and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good things, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person brings good things out of a good treasure, and the evil person brings evil things out of an evil treasure. I tell you, on the day of judgment you will have to give an account for every careless word you utter; for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”


---hmmm... back to the bugs.... because without bugs, there is no fruit... ---hmmmm....

Monday, May 23, 2016

That flutter and clenching in your stomach

If ya don't preach what matters, ya ain't preaching....

So... preaching about the three persons of God... didn't matter... Trinity Sunday or not.

So... I found myself talking about what it means to live a Trinitarian life. I mean, because we are members of the Body of Christ. And we are the living flesh and blood of Christ. And at the same time, we are hid with Christ in God. Already.

Already.

So... knowing that we are caught up in God, through/with Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit --what does it mean to live a Trinitarian life.... Right here. Right now.

And, basically it means not choosing the dualism of This Or That... not choosing polarity... but always seeking the Third Way --or the Infinite Way.

Love or Hate... ... grace, reconciliation, compassion...
Death or Life... ... restoration, resurrection, eternal life...
In or Out... ... abundance, hospitality, generosity...
Good or Bad... ... mercy, forgiveness, service...

--a Trinitarian way of thinking, doing, being.

--and talking to someone who is telling me of a death... and I will preside at the funeral... and the arguments between the factions which have turned violent, deadly --hence the funeral. And my saying, you know, I cannot/will not choose sides. I will bury this one with dignity, no matter the wrongs. I will be with those others, over there, whom you hate and fear, no matter the wrongs. I am here. For all.

--and the rational terror creeps in, up the back of my neck. Gangs. Violence. Anger. Factions. Families. Drugs.

Yesterday, after all the prayers were said at the churches, after the visits were made, I took the back road home. Twenty miles of gravel. To slow me down. To remind me to watch the hills, the river valley. To see the meadowlarks and magpie. The red tailed hawk. Prong horn --who keep moving this way. So that I could stop and pray in the quiet dell where the altar and inipi sit. Hoping they were there, fire lit, ready to pray in that Other Way. But, even if they weren't....

I turned off the gravel road and went down the dirt road, in to the dell.  The sacred sage is beginning to peep above the grass. 'I was thinking of calling you,' he said. 'But I didn't know. So, I thought maybe I shouldn't call you.' And he grins and laughs, looking at the shadows, listening to the thunder that had swifted its way around us.

'I got your message,' I said. 'So I wasn't sure, but stopped by any way.' And we laughed. And I had no skirt, no t-shirt to wear. So, he gave me some of his trunks and I wore my shirt... and we entered the inipi just as the rain started.

It didn't pour. It rained just enough to make things damp. The Thunder Beings ran the other way down the valley, away from the setting sun. And we sat and talked, the child between us. We talked about the forces and powers around us. About being scared, but not being scared--doing what we had to any way.

And the child said, 'I don't understand. Being scared but not being scared. I don't get it.'

So, I said, 'You know how when you sit on top of that hill with your bike and you ride straight down the hill any way --you're scared, but you do it any way...'

'I'm not scared of that,' the child said.

'That flutter and clenching in your stomach,' I said.

'Oh. Yeah.'

'It's like that. Without the bike,' and I smile...

'Yeah. Okay.' And then the child began to sing. Skipping beats. And we closed the inipi door. And prayed.

And I was restored to light and life in sweat and dirt and dark and song and heat.

So, this morning... I will not be afraid, even though I am afraid.... And I will speak to both sides --cease and desist while we do this holy work. Of giving back to God what belongs to God. I am going to walk this way, here. Help me. Or not. But, I would do the same for you... no matter what.

And pray. Seeking the Third Way. With my eyes wide open.

At prayer this morning (from 1 Timothy)
Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it legitimately. This means understanding that the law is laid down not for the innocent but for the lawless and disobedient, for the godless and sinful, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their father or mother, for murderers, fornicators, sodomites, slave traders, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to the sound teaching that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.

I am grateful to Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because he judged me faithful and appointed me to his service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a man of violence.

But, I received mercy....


Amen, amen.