Saturday, April 19, 2014

be not afraid

Easter happens. Can't stop it. Whether we want it or not. Easter happens. Like heaven. Before us. Behind us. All around us. No one can 'refuse' or 'choose' Easter --because the one who holds all things in being, holds all things in being.

The angels words are for us all: Be not afraid.


To have the whole cosmos shift around us... yeah. To grasp new life... yeah. Pesky gardener.

I remember when Joel and I decided to walk through a 'new life' gate-- not just marriage, which was scary enough... but sobriety. Him needing it absolutely --me, in his honor at first, and then the revelation of me needing it absolutely. And it's not like we just walked in to it and everything was hunky dory. Nope. We had to participate in that transformation. And at times, it has been and continues to be freakin' hard work.

Skin-shedding work.

Actually, I think what happened is that we began to reject the paths that led to the gates of Hell... the gates that flashed in tempting neon colors "SUCCESS" and "POWER" and "IN CHARGE" --"GET YOURS HERE"...

--and every step we managed to take away from the seducing flashing lights, turn-around steps that led in to the desert, and down old less-traveled country roads --was an Easter step.

Eater happens. Can't stop it... and even if we had traveled through those neon gates, what one can't easily see is that the gates are rusted open, hinges broken... and the turf on the inside of hell no longer burns, but is full of rare gems like flowers... because the one who holds all things in beings went there too, and left signs and helping hands for a way out. Or through... and out the other side.

Not a circle of life. Not a cycle of life. Not a spiral... New life.

Because death and deadly things still exist. They are. But they don't rule.

Love. Mercy. Grace. A few of the faces of the Trinity. They rule. And have the last word.

Now. Always.

At prayer this morning (from Lamentations 3:58 or so)

I called on your name, O LORD,
from the depths of the pit;
you heard my plea, “Do not close your ear
to my cry for help, but give me relief!”
You came near when I called on you;
you said, “Do not fear!”

You have taken up my cause, O Lord,
you have redeemed my life.

Off I go.

Blessed Pascha to one and all!

Justin --git yo mess home.

Friday, April 18, 2014

--and we call it "Good" Friday...

...washed the feet of half the people there. And in my hurried white way, after I waited maybe two more minutes (which is forever, liturgically) and no one else came forward, I stood up, put things where no one would trip on them, and went to wash my hands... It was only after the service that somebody teased me --all the aunties were ready to get their feet washed, shoes off and everything, but you moved before they were done praying about who should go first.

Dang.

Somethings just take more time...

Praying about who should go first... love that.

We finished the Eucharist (Wopila Wakan Woecun) just as the sunlight was disappearing in to the night sky. It was time to strip the altar to prepare for Good Friday. I called the young man forward to put out the altar candles. I invited everyone who wanted to help to come forward. I stood back. The entire congregation came forward. The whole place was stripped and put away in minutes. The altar was washed. Black drapes on the cross. It was not pretty--done with an eye to draw one in to contemplation or give peace in one's prayers... it was stark. Naked.

Today, the wind is howling, making the storm windows clatter. But it is supposed to be warm, really warm.

And, today, we will read those awful words --of betrayal, hatred, deceit, fear and death. I will have to rehearse it all first, because each year I never really dwell on this day --it is always pushed aside in the rush to prepare for Easter. And, this year is not much different --because I am hard at work preparing for the Vigil already --and the baptisms already... . Only on the second step of four steps in preparing the Vigil bulletin... all the others are ready and printed... . Not folded, but printed... .

Today, those awful words... blaming the Jews for the death of Jesus. I can offer no consolation to the utter hatred and destruction that the reading of these words has fomented. Christians turning and crucifying --murdering Jews. None.

--except to say that each and every death is a sign that the Cross is alive and well among us. Religious righteousness is the ultimate denial of the Spirit. Christian. Jew. Muslim. Hindu. Buddhist. It does not matter who foments the pogrom at this point. Each have participated in the slaughter of the other at some point in time.

The words in Gospel today should sting --should make us cringe, weep, fall to our knees... if we don't hurt by the end of the story, then we don't get it. If we turn and exact righteousness of any kind against any of whatever --then we don't get it. If we try to explain away what's wrong, try to get people to remember Jesus was a Jew, or do anything to soften the story in any way --then we don't get it.

Today is brutal. Devastating. Gross. Ugly. Deadly. A day of placing blame --just like Eve did when she took the apple... a day of repenting like Judas did, and returning the thirty silver pieces --too little too late --a day of denial, like Peter... --a day of corruption, like the soldiers, just doing their job, following orders and having a little thoughtless dehumanizing fun doing it...

--it doesn't make a damned difference... we are all neck deep in the blood and muck... All. Of. Us.

I don't have the parts of the story read by individuals in character --nor do I force the congregation to shout 'crucify him.' The readers read a paragraph --so sometimes you hear the words of Jesus out of the mouth of a woman --sometimes you hear the words of hatred out of the mouth of a child, a respected elder --or even your own beloved. The story is shared. All of it.

This is not a day of moral disconnect. It is not a morality play. It is not the day to say who has suffered most, who has been most victimized, who is the biggest monster.

It is the day to remember corrupting power. The beast of majority rule. The devilishness of righteousness. And how we participate in each to destroy what is good and godly.

Today is brutal. Devastating. Gross. Ugly. Deadly.

If you are looking for beauty, you are in denial. If you are looking for a liturgy or a sermon to lighten the load, you are in denial. If you are looking to intellectualize it, you are in denial. If you are looking to teach a lesson about it, you are in denial.

If you are Christian and refusing to go to church today because it is too hard, I understand. Been there. Take the time to find your unresolved grief or disbelief.

If you are not Christian, pray for us. Pray for the families of the dead in the Korean ferry tragedy. Pray for the survivors. Pray for the people of The Sudan. Pray for the people of Ukraine. Pray for the children of Iraq and Afghanistan and the devastation they must bear for generations to come because of the actions of our government. Now do something about it.

Pray for yourself in your votes that got us in to Iraq and Afghanistan, or your unwillingness to not protest against the actions of torture or aggression that perpetuated our violent destruction in those places. Pray for our mother earth, and the continued assault on our environment --and all those ways you participate in its destruction, and what you have neglected to do or have decided you "can't" do to change our march towards an ugly, polluted, greedy death.

Today is not a day any one 'gets off the hook.' It's not a story about placing blame on someone else. Well, it is a story about placing blame on someone else... and our perpetual desire to find the escape hatch, the scapegoat...

It's The Story about us. All of us. Too ready to move quickly on to the next thing. Too ready to think we have it all together --too ready to think we're cool -or hot --or whatever the word is in this generation....

At prayer this morning (John 13:36-38)

Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?”

Jesus answered, “Where I am going, you cannot follow me now; but you will follow afterward.”

Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.”

Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Let's put it this way-- before the sun rises tomorrow, you will have denied me three times.”





Translation: Tunkasila-Grandfather Tokaheya-First Cewakiyelo-I pray Mitakuye ob-With my relatives Wanikta ca- I will live, so Hoyewayelo-I send my voice (pray) Wakantanka-Great Power (God)

--and we call it "Good" Friday... .

Now, there's something to pray about.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

even at the grave we make our song

We buried her down in Cherry Creek. The air was thick and low with spirits --as it always is in Cherry Creek. If you pay attention, you can see them, running alongside the Creek up through the hills, by the trees in the Cheyenne River valley, in each draw crowded with shrubs and trees.

I was looking for stands of red willow as I turned the car slowly at the intersection in town --where the Creek and the River come together. Perhaps I needed to go over past the powwow grounds, out past the Roman Church. They had to move their cemetery because of flooding. That church used to be downtown, but all the houses that once stood around it were moved, and now it stands alone on the other side of the Creek.

Moving a house. That's so traditional here. Only, they used to be easier to move... .

As I drive around the bend, leading the procession that stretches a mile behind the hearse, I can see the fresh ragged heap of earth in our cemetery, standing ready by the open grave. There had been many, many tears in the church, open grief. An only child.

The dirt was dry on the road. It wafted up, fine and in great soft brown clouds. It's the best dirt on the whole Reservation. And we were going to plant a body in it. During Holy Week. Alleluia.

I recognized the area, the cluster of graves --each family with its own holy turf in this cemetery --well, all the cemeteries. We had buried another relative in this same area not too long ago. The grave had not yet collapsed on itself --the burial mound was still robust and tall. I remember the burial because there were so few men, and the women stepped up, grabbed the shovels, and finished filling in the grave. Not their job, but what else were they to do... ?

We said our prayers. The air was chill. Snow flurries. The coffin lowered adorned with the star quilt. The sound of the hammer hitting the nails as the plywood vault is closed.The men grabbed the shovels and began to fill in the grave. The sound of the first few shovel-fulls of dirt --a retort that takes the strength out of the knees of the family. It is hard work. To fill in a grave with a shovel. Hard work.

There was no drum to keep them going --so the people began to laugh, telling those jokes. When the grave was half full, the strongest man turns and says --okay folks, here's the way it is going to happen for me --put me in the hole and get a back hoe --two swipes and it's done.

Every one laughs. The younger nephew says --that won't be necessary --you'll fill the hole, there won't be any room left for the dirt.

And the laughter chases away the cold and who cares about the dirt which is now stuck between our teeth --and the joking cascades in to a constant song that catches on to the opening buds of every shrub, in the last bits of the dry wintered grasses that are suddenly green again at the roots --and the ancestors peering through the veil are satisfied. They are laughing, the ancestors nod to one another --they are laughing. That's what makes the star people want to be with us. Our laughter.

And I think: even at the grave we make our song, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.

At prayer this morning (Psalm 102 --revised, by me, because I'm here, and alive)

Creator, hear my prayer, and let my cry come before you; *
Don't hide your face from me in the day of my trouble.
Listen to me; *
when I call, answer me,
because my days drift away like smoke, *
and my bones are hot as burning coals.
My heart is like winter grass and is withered, *
--I forget to eat my bread.
Because 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 push me around all day long, *
and those who mock me have swear they will ruin me.
I have eaten ashes for bread *
and mixed 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, Creator, are for ever, *
--from age to age.
You will arise and have compassion on the place we live,
for it is time to have mercy upon it; *
yes, the time has come.
For your people love even its rocks, *
and are moved to pity even for its dust.

The nations shall know you with trembling, Creator, *
and all the rulers of the earth your glory.
For you, Creator, will build up the Prairie, *
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 Creator.

Because the Creator looked down from the holy place on high; *
and from the heavens beheld the earth;
and heard the groan of the captive *
and set free those condemned to die;
so they may sing about the Creator in this land, *
sing the praise of our God in the sacred places of our homeland;
When the peoples are gathered together, *
and everyone everywhere also, to offer the work of our hands to the Creator.

But the Creator 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, 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 those who work for you shall continue, *
and their offspring shall stand safe in your sight.”

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.

And all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.

Off I go.

Offering the work of my hands and heart, knowing that even my best shall need redeeming...

--and that this is the week we shall laugh at the tomb. And our ancestors will nod to each other in a certain joy on the other side of the veil. And the star people will want to be with us.

Amen.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

the stories we tell ourselves

You know that part in the story of raising Lazarus --where it says that Jesus felt a deep disturbance in his gut... just before he weeps...

That part of the story has been hanging around in my head... catching my by the heel as I walk in the yard... coming at me around the fence posts... . It has invoked prayer. Images. For me, this year, it has been the epitome of Holy Week. The deep disturbance.

As I looked out my window last night, I saw the full moon. Perhaps it had been fullest the night before --perhaps somewhere on this planet it had just become full --or it had just passed full... I didn't know. It was a ways above the dark horizon, and the street lights and security lights and the lights on the basketball court all tried to compete with its light.

There is a solemnity and weight to a full moon. There are many here trying to tell me about the significance of a blood red moon at this time of year, in the middle of the night. I listen, and want to pluck stars from the heavens and create a shining bouquet of wonder for them and say, Here, God loves you, there is no meaning to a blood red moon except the glory of God, really... but then I know that wouldn't work. A frontal assault on the poetry of meaning is rude and can't be heard. So I strive to listen for the deeper meaning.

The deeper meaning... It is not the usual cruel, angry fear. It is not the exhaustion of grief, or lack of wonder and joy.

Listening... It is powerlessness. Not willing surrender --but the oppressive powerlessness. The inability to dwell --to be any where else but in the Great Disturbance of the gut of beingness. The Great Disturbance just before the whole of Creation itself weeps.

The powerlessness, which if someone possesses the opposite of it and uses it, the subject of it becomes subhuman. Dismantled. A tsunami of degradation. Namelessness.

And, yesterday, there were too many articles about growing wealth inequality, taxes, the %1, that real income today is at its lowest since the 60s --that real wages have fallen in value to their lowest point in decades for all except the very wealthiest...

Powerlessness. It is all around here --that great disturbance in the gut... all the time. If something doesn't change, more and more of this Nation --no, the whole world, will be as it is here. I know this. The path we are on... and more and more frantic stories of blood red moons.

How to tell of the solemnity and weight as glory... not powerlessness, I ask myself. Glory. And the Great Disturbance are the birth pangs of weeping, yes --but also new life. A new life.

I can't tell it. I must live it. Striving to know the names of those who live on the streets --who cheat and kill for a meal or even a dollar or two. Striving to be quietly present to those who, because of my white face and white religion want me gone. Striving to be... I guess just being is enough, any where, any time.

Striving to pluck and gather stars for the brokenhearted... for those without hope.

Letting the great disturbance which roils in me become a well of creativity --and life. Turning the edge of sorrow not ever into the dull, coarse blade it already is --but in to pregnant labor...

Taking a total eclipse and a blood red moon, and marking it with a feast where even the darkest shadows may sit and eat in peace. Come, taste and see. It is love which bids you welcome.

At prayer this morning (Mark 12:1-11)

Then Jesus began to speak to them in parables. “A man planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a pit for the wine press, and built a watchtower; then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. When the season came, he sent a slave to the tenants to collect from them his share of the produce of the vineyard. But they seized him, and beat him, and sent him away empty-handed. And again he sent another slave to them; this one they beat over the head and insulted. Then he sent another, and that one they killed. And so it was with many others; some they beat, and others they killed. He had still one other, a beloved son. Finally he sent him to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But those tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ So they seized him, killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard. What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others. Have you not read this scripture:

‘The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
this was the Lord’s doing,
and it is amazing in our eyes’?”

Holy Week.

An impossible discipline.

A blood red moon.

Bouquets of stars in my hand.

The stories we tell ourselves....

The Great Disturbance.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

for the sake of the people

I had to call the Bishop's office yesterday, as I was running out the door to the funeral --I said, 'Word has it that we need more baptismal candles --I only have about 30 candles, and one family is presenting the Bishop with at least 17 candidates for baptism --we'll need more.'

I was hoping the Bishop could pick up a box in the cathedral store... but there were only a handful available there. 'Order some with overnight shipping,' M said... 'But our post office retail hours have been cut down to only about 20 hours a week --it's really hard to get there this week with two funerals and everything else...' 'No problem,' M says --'we'll order them here overnight, and the Bishop will bring them up...'.

I know M has about as much time in a week as I do --between zero and dream on... and, yet, she has never told me she doesn't have time for something... sometimes she has even surprised me and volunteered.

She. Is. The. Best.

And I never would have imagined a time or place where thirty baptismal candles wouldn't be enough.

Perhaps I shall get so wet myself, that I won't need to wash my alb after Easter... .

Yesterday at the funeral, somebody began speaking of the next funeral... 'Yes,' I said, 'Tuesday night and Wednesday --and then we have to prepare to bury Jesus on Friday.' I thought the table was going to bust with all the laughter. 'Oh yeah,' they said, 'that!' I was laughing too.

Oh yeah... but then I thought about it last night. I am not sure many believe that Jesus died --over out dead blech dead. D.E.A.D. Not asleep --but totally life-less. Not becoming some spirit... I do know the mythological tales of Jesus going down in to hell and gathering those who were up for a prison-break --ready for liberty. But, I think all our talk about life after death --life changed, not ended-- needs to be thrown in the bucket with the sour wine and gall... .

I do not think anyone can make room in their soul for God unless they can imagine and be willing to go to the place where they are nothing, blot, zero, nada --where they are not. And I think that is what Jesus did... Not my will, but yours, Father... .

And I think it is in death we finally get that chance... . To become nothing. As we were before we began.

And there is that little line in baptism... that we die, there, in the water... we become nothing. but. Christ. We are not spirits --but living flesh and blood... and we are not our own possession. We are like all the rest of creation. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or die... .

I wonder how many folks would line up and bring their children if I preached that --that baptism is death to the self... .

I came close to preaching that on Sunday... I got one of those pokes straight in my back between my shoulder blades, and opened my mouth. About translating Lakota --and how it couldn't be translated --one really just has to start thinking and being a different way --and how the old languages of the bible couldn't be translated either, we just have to start thinking and being a different way... for example, the entry in to Jerusalem --Jesus will enter our lives in the most unexpected ways --in absolute humility, riding like a woman on a donkey --because men rode horses, stallions... and there he was on a donkey with her foal... how unking-like. And that we can't hear 'And he will come again' in English and not think one thing... when in fact, in the old languages it was written in a present participle --He is coming again (and again and again).

And I spoke to them all about becoming really engaged in this week --in walking the way of the cross, practicing, knowing The Way, so that when it comes time to really have to carry the cross, they are spiritually, physically ready... .

And I spoke to them about going to Sun Dance almost twenty years ago --me, white, girl, Christian --seeing and not knowing what I was seeing, and then Lakota dancers offering their real live flesh and blood in piercing for the sake of the people --and I knew what I was seeing with that...

And then I spoke to the congregation --that all of them were engaged in the ministry of the eternal priesthood of Christ who offered his flesh and blood for the sake of the people --and that they were called in baptism to do that too... and that we were baptizing so many little ones this coming weekend, in to that same priesthood --and who would teach them? --who would know The Way?

--and then we were all fed food for the journey... grain and fruit, the very life of our mother earth which she holds in her abundant lap and is offered as the body of her son, his flesh and blood.

All of us seeds. All of us sowers. All of us grain. All of us bread.

All of us not living for ourselves, but for the sake of others.

But, first, we must know who we are... .

And then give who we are away. Completely. Totally. Over. Out. Done.

And trust God. Not ourselves. God.

At prayer this morning (Mark 11:27-32)

Again Jesus and the disciples came to Jerusalem.

As he was walking in the temple, the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders came to him and said, “By what authority are you doing these things? Who gave you this authority to do them?”

Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one question; answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin? Answer me.”

They argued with one another, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ But shall we say, ‘Of human origin’?” – they were afraid of the crowd, for all regarded John as truly a prophet.

So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.”

That might be the best answer around... . Not what we know, God, but that you know... .

But the chief priests, scribes and elders came to it by the avenue of fear... We must come to it by the avenue of trust. And love. And humility. The Way of the Cross.

For the sake of the people. All the people.
Amen.

Monday, April 14, 2014

I am who I am...

The lavender balloons, tied to candles or taped to the edges of things, floated in their helium way above the pictures and mementos. The laughter and conversations, less durable and at greater liberty than the balloons, flew to the beams and ceiling trusses and back around the eight-sided room before they were exhausted and nestled under the tables where the children would repeat them in their unconscious multi-fingered play.

I had gathered the lay readers to prepare for the wake service. As they were sorting the booklets, I went and spoke with family members. "AT&T was out --I couldn't get ahold of you," she said. "She was a Traditionalist, not a Christian --so tomorrow will only be a Traditional burial, and we wanted you here tonight so that the members of our family who are Christian will be able to pray in their way."

Stunned. All at once. At the openness --the graciousness of taking care of family members. No greediness in honoring God for the life of their loved one.

--and the crystal cross and and angels strewn across the tables, hung from the coffin, took on new meaning --not a statement of this one's faith, but gifts saying '--remember me' from family --gifts of the heart.

And stunned... because I have been asked to be there. To care for the people.

"Oh! I said. Thank you! I am so glad to know. That will change the way I pray."

The surprise flashed across their faces, "Really? Why?" Christian triumphalism and boarding schools have left deep wounds on so many --this way, or be damned... we will cut your hair, make you give up your language, your customs, the ways of your ancestors... .

"Out of courtesy and respect of her chosen path." Even more surprise. And we talked some more --I hadn't known that the Traditionalist holy man was supposed to have received the body... and I had just stepped in and done it, like a horse with blinders on, making my way blindly home. Or worse --like some deaf and blind ass... .

Why couldn't I make sense of the things I saw out of the corner of my eye --him standing there with sage, ready to pray... sometimes, I am so blind. So rude.

Humbled and grateful for the big hearts that asked me here, we begin to pray. The microphone doesn't work, and I tease them all saying that I thought only Episcopalians sat in the back of the room... but we do it all the old fashioned way --lifting our voices and slowing our cadence to allow each word its own space in the large hall.

When it comes time, at the end of the prayers, after the Baptist preacher gets up and goes on and on and then sings too many hymns and then goes on and on as he is wont to do, after we pray for the deceased, but most especially for ourselves in dealing with the grief and loss --I turn to the body to pray the prayer I do not know the name of that goes: Depart, O Christian soul, out of this world, in the Name of the Father who created you, in the Name of the Son who redeemed you, in the Name of the Holy Spirit who sanctifies you...

--and I begin... Depart, O soul, in the care of the One who created you... --may your guardian angels come, your ancestors, all those whom you love but see no longer, and may they lead you safely to that place where there is no sighing or crying, but only life eternal, and may you find your place at the table of the everlasting feast...

I had just read and talked about it --Isaiah, a Jewish prophet, had spoken of the Great Heavenly Feast. Christians take it and run with it --in that odd balance we hold of knowing Jesus was a Jew, but we are not, we look back, and then forward at another road... And the Traditionalist Lakota have that same vision of the Great Meal --the Milky Way being the fires of all the people, gathering, eating, laughing...

When we feed each other, when we sit at meals together --it's heaven on earth.

After the prayers, we shake hands, everyone... And I see the curious words floating above the heads of the lay readers. How can you pray like that. If you don't pray in the name of Jesus, are the prayers effectual. How can you, a Christian priest, not pray in the Name of Jesus. Don't the Traditionalist believe that Jesus is God... .

We talk at dinner. God knows who I am. God knows what I believe and who I trust. God knows who I follow. God knows how I pray. When we prayed together, all of us --we prayed in the Christian way; when I turned to the body to ceremonially send the spirit on its way, I did not say those Christian things out of courtesy and respect, because they wouldn't be true for this one...

There is still discomfort.

I got comfortable with this about ten years ago, I explain. It hasn't always been that way for me. But about ten years ago, when the war in Iraq and Afghanistan were are the very worst, another priest and I decided to do a pilgrimage and pray for the dead, pray for refugees, pray for the wounded, to pray for peace following in the steps of the Prince of Peace. We walked from Richmond, where we lived, to Washington DC --to the National Cathedral --and each step we took in those one hundred and fifty five miles represented about 100 people --dead, wounded or homeless. And most of those folks were not Christians. So, how could we pray for them and honor them in the best way? We went to the Islamic Center of Richmond and spoke with their leaders, told them our intent, asked permission to pray for the dead --and asked them how to do it best.

They were so grateful that we were going to walk and pray in that way. And they told us they would pray for us. But to use their prayers for the dead wouldn't be right, because those prayers were not of our Tradition. But to please use our prayers for the dead --but please, when it came time to pray for the Muslim dead, don't finish the prayer with 'In the Name of Christ'... we both went away a little stunned.

I continued the story --at first I was very uncomfortable with that request and couldn't imagine it... how could I pray in my Tradition without acknowledging my own voice --the living breath of Jesus praying. But in the weeks that followed and as I continued to struggle with my desire to pray in a good way and authentically, I came to know that whether I said the words out loud or not, my living breath did not change... and Jesus did not go around praying 'in the Name of Me'... So the five big words are not a magic incantation... and rather than open an unnecessary wound, I would trust God. I would trust God... .

I will never be done struggling with the way I pray... thanks be to God.

And I placed the napkin over the cake and macaroni salad and fry bread and sandwich and green marshmallow fruit salad... I knew this conversation was still very unfinished. And I pondered the great cost of choosing to be a Christian in a place where such faith was associated with murder, devastation and abuse. And the conscious choice of being a Christian brought such a great cost... and so my not praying aloud those words was a betrayal of sorts...  --brought from a foreign, unaffordable, elitist, intellectual landscape...

But I liken it to the way I didn't keep my eyes and ears open as we received the body... I had made assumptions that weren't true... . And all the signs were there. I just couldn't see them.

At prayer this morning (Mark 11:12-25)

On the following day, when they came from Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see whether perhaps he would find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. He said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it.

Then they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling and those who were buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves; and he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. He was teaching and saying, “Is it not written,

‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.”

And when the chief priests and the scribes heard it, they kept looking for a way to kill him; for they were afraid of him, because the whole crowd was spellbound by his teaching. And when evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city.

In the morning as they passed by, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. Then Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly I tell you, if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and if you do not doubt in your heart, but believe that what you say will come to pass, it will be done for you. So I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

“Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.”

--do not doubt in your heart...

I have no doubt that God knows and hears the prayers of my heart...

--and to whom does it make any real sense to pray "in the Name of..."

--wouldn't it be better, in today's language, to say... "we pray this as the living, breathing Body of Christ." Wouldn't that make more sense?

The audacity to pray in the Name of the one who said 'I am who I am' anyway... Sheeeesh.

Father, forgive us...

--sigh-- or something like that.

So, off I go....

Saturday, April 12, 2014

--choose to live....

So... where was I? What happened?

Joel heard the birds today, too, and commented. Yesterday, at one point, I went out and found clusters of tulip leaves and the slender showing of crocus --and another fragrant flower whose name I forget... today, even while the earth holds pools of melted snow, the temperature will rise to over 60 degrees... tonight it will snow.

I guess that will keep everyone happy.

And, the light that was shot out two weeks ago... by the young men over the back fence with a gun --and the guy that phoned me to tell me, and I knew already but said I wouldn't report it... --he reported it, and Tribal workers came yesterday to make it all right --replaced the bulb, cleaned it all up.

And, even so, yesterday was a challenge... .

Today, too, will be a challenge... how to heal grief that goes so deep. A memorial Eucharist.

I know how I began to heal from tragic grief --grief that went to my bones --grief that put a pall on the whole world. It didn't begin with my mind. It began with my body. Little by little. Walking here. Going to the gym and setting a goal --time and distance, and working towards it. Doing something constructive and finite --or even what I might call 'art' with my hands. My mind followed my body. Slowly.

Because my mind wanted to explain it all --figure it out. Make sense of it.

And there is no making sense of love. Or grief and loss. And death.

And grief and loss and death... is felt in the body, in the pit of the stomach, in the bowels, in the lungs. As is love.

What is that line--  "It is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all." Which leaves me wondering --is it because love and grief are so intertwined of the same root stock, having the same source? --or, perhaps, it is because we feel them so much the same... in our guts... they appear to have the same source... --or, it is because we are nothing without our bodies... .

No thing, nobody can restore what is lost. Only... the willingness to risk, embrace, and love again....

Where is the seed I might throw around on the path, among the rocks, in the weeds, in the waiting soil, that will take hold and grow in to that willingness... ?

I believe it happened in me... but there is no figuring it out. No road map. Few words. Perhaps it can only show in the ways I choose to live.

Or something like that.

Maybe that is what I say --choose to live... . Choose to live well. Choose to live by giving life away --choose to live by welcoming all, especially the stranger --choose to live in kindness, putting others first, though you yourself are beat about the edges --or beat even to your gut... . Choose to live.

At prayer this morning....

From Psalm 144

O LORD, what are we that you should care for us? *
mere mortals that you should think of us?
We are like a puff of wind; *
our days are like a passing shadow.

And this... (2 Corinthians ending with 4:18)

So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.

Off I go.

Peace out.

Friday, April 11, 2014

oooops

The bird is singing.

It is one of those mornings... sun streaming in the window right off the horizon... the bird... new green pushing up from the earth like nothing will ever stop it... coffee... .

It is one of those mornings I hope I can remember as I am dying... because... well... --not that there is any special hope or action or promise in this morning... merely that I am alive. An ordinary day. Ordinary life.

--as if, when it comes to life, there is ever anything just ordinary about it.

So, I want to remember. Like we do at the altar. Not looking back across the days, strung out like a string of pearls, reaching back. But remembering it and being in it, again and again....


oooops... gotta go.

peace out.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

always at home

In Starbucks. In Rapid. Spent the night in the hotel --and Starbucks is infinitely better than dinky cups of hotel coffee.

Joel was greatly relieved to have the stress test behind him... without a hitch. Results still forthcoming. Thank you for your prayers.

Our little house now has a footing. Whoooot!

Footings!
The big black pipe in the back is for the sump pump in case the basement ever floods. It will be cut off at basement floor level. We will have new sewer all the way to the street --which is good. The old Terra Cotta pipe was ready to collapse. And next year, when they put in new sewer in the street, we would have had to upgrade any way.

The wall forms are being made as we speak.

After nine months of waiting and waiting and waiting --this feels so good. Can you tell the house is only 600 square feet?! We are doubling its size with a full basement.... And a second bath downstairs.

Life is good.

As we got back to the hotel last night, I got a call on the phone --quick, hurry, TRB needs last rites --the doctor says call for a priest! I dropped Joel and the dogs off and hightailed it to the hospital. The nice lady behind the desk said, 'visiting hours are over.' 'Probably,' I said. 'But I'm a priest, really --and they've called me for last rites.'

I caught a glimpse of myself in the security mirror behind the reception desk... hair all wispy and standing out akimbo --old hand-me-down button up 501 Levis, a treasure, surely --a T-shirt... I could see why there was doubt in her eyes.

So, I found my way through the maze of hallways and elevators and nurses' stations. At the door to the room there was a big sign --No Entry, Danger-- So, the nurse came over and helped me with a mask, gloves, apron that covered my arms, hooked around my thumbs and went down past my knees. As I tied on my apron, I noticed that my boots were scuffed with mud.

Oh well.

I went in. TRB has lost all his hair. Lost half of one of his legs. His hand was covered in wounds and asphalt-like scabs. He looked at me.

'T, don't you recognize me?' I asked, laughing. I quickly pulled down my mask so he could see my face.

'Oh!' he said. 'I thought you were a doctor!' And we laughed.

'T,' I said. 'I heard a rumor you needed last rites. Are you dying?'

He laughed. 'I don't think so.'

I was greatly relieved. T is a humble, good, faithful, country man. Lives out by a creek. Watches the spirits and argues with the coyotes in all the hills around his house.

'I'm good and sick --but I'm not dying.'

'Glad to hear it...' And we talked. And talked. When he started not being able to hold his eyes open, I prayed for him... and left. 'Let's get you home before Easter,' I said.

'I would like that,' he said. And as I carefully stripped off the gown and gloves and mask, I wondered... home... the word used so much here and means what we would otherwise call 'heaven,' and that's not what I meant, and wondered what T heard. And I shuddered... . There I go again... being white, using white language with too many meanings... .

Language... . Like color. You may see what I see differently --but we might both call it red. But when it comes to something intangible, like heaven... . What do we mean? And I struggle with my intellectualized academic rationalizations all the time --thinking most of the time that 'heaven' is total loss and decomposition... but I speak a language of hope that there is something more --beyond imagination... beyond the hope I have language for... and, yeah... I know... a dangling preposition.

Language... . 'When in Rome...' seems so disingenuous. Inauthentic.

But --I do dream, imagine, see, think, speak in a different way than I ever have before.

And I'm not interested, really, in changing folks' idea of heaven any way... . Not any more. There are more important things to tend to than 'right thinking' --about so many things.

So, we will leave Rapid --and travel back to the wide open places where there is no place to hide from God. Or whatever image, word, thought one might have about the Source of All Life. And we are the offspring of that Source of All Life... intimately related. Beyond imagining. And we will all return to the Source. The Source is also our End.

Alpha and Omega.

Unless, of course, the Source is infinite --without end.... And who has words enough for that....

There we are.

At prayer this morning (2 Corinthians 3:18)

And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.

Reflected in a mirror.... hair akimbo, old jeans, t-shirt... striving to grow daily in to this weird vocation --well, maybe not weird... who has words to think or describe such an outrage as thinking one has been 'called' by the 'Source' to live in to anything...?

--and one day we shall see ourselves --and each other-- as we really are....

One people, with only one Word that holds us all in being --no matter what that beingness might look like... always at home.

That is my hope. Amen.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

aroma...

So... off to Rapid early this morning. Joel has to go in for a stress test on his heart. He's dreading it. But, it has been a couple of years. What he is really missing is his cup of coffee (because he can't have caffeine because of the test) --the aroma of mine is about to drive him crazy.

I'm done with --even printed and folded-- all the bulletins for Palm Sunday Eucharist, Palm Sunday morning prayer --including the Passion story for both... and Maundy Thursday. I'm nearly done with the Good Friday bulletin. Then on to the baptismal service, vigils and Easter morning.

Two calls yesterday. I have a memorial service on Saturday --parishioners of a relative who Walked with the Pipe who was buried last week, feel they need a service with communion --to impart their grief. In their Tradition. I will also do healing prayer at that service. Just feels necessary.

And I have a funeral with a Sunday night wake and funeral/burial on Monday. Where there were four sisters just a year ago, now there is only one --all of them in their 50's. This one will be hard.

So --a really busy ten days ahead.

And we will stop and visit our little house. Meet with the new contractor. He's done more in the last week... it's so exciting. Footing has been poured. Maybe basement walls today.

It's Spring. It should be in the 70's today... which is shocking as all get out. I don't even know where a short sleeve shirt might be... . Maybe Mr. Witty hid one under the bed for me... .

So... off I go. Praying. As I stand. Sit. Walk. Work. Drive. Sing.

Yesterday --talking with someone who was concerned about thinking bad thoughts after the burial of a blood relative --bad thoughts after the burial of a blood relative will come back at you, the spirits are too close and listening to what you are thinking/praying... and this person said to me, as I was leading them to the door --'I want Father So and So to do my funeral. Want him to preside.'

My heart sunk a little --dear God... white woman pie in the face again... but relationships run deep here. I'm just temporary --no matter how long I stay here. And part of my work here is deepen those bonds to the glory of God.

 So, I said, 'Okay.'

He looked at me straight in the face --'and it's because I want you to sit as family, as one of my relatives.'

Stunned.

We shook hands. I told him I would be honored to do so.

Trying to... well...

At prayer this morning (2 Corinthians 2:14 – 3:6)

But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads in every place the fragrance that comes from knowing him.

For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life.

Who is sufficient for these things? For we are not peddlers of God’s word like so many; but in Christ we speak as persons of sincerity, as persons sent from God and standing in his presence.

Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Surely we do not need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you or from you, do we? You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all; and you show that you are a letter of Christ, prepared by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are competent of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our competence is from God, who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of letter but of spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

Geeeeeez..... I feel like I've never read that before. Thank you Paul.

All of us, ALL of us... ministers of a new covenant --aroma --competent...

I think Bonhoeffer has a nice cuppa with Paul every now and then --and someday, I would like to be close by to listen...

Or, maybe not. Maybe I will visit the other side of the mountain and meet all my relatives I never expected to have.

Same sky --different side of the mountain.

Off I go.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

every place in between

I've started the bulletins for Holy Week and Easter. Massive work. Loving it. And pulling up memories of some of the best liturgies I've experienced. Vigils with huge bon fires --one time I would love to stay around the fire instead of leaving it --one time in my life I would love to stay by the fire and hear the old old stories around the fire... and then process in to the church after baptisms out in the open and under the stars --in to the church to share bread and wine and a sumptuous feast at the Table...

I remember once at a Roman C. church, the resident brothers carried the fire in to the church, logs and flames and smoke in a metal pot that took six men to carry, and placed the whole flaming smoking thing in front of the altar... they must have put incense in the fire too, it smelled so good.

--my first vigil was with Joel at the Bishop's Ranch in northern California... it must have been in the Green or Zebra books and for trial use because it was before 1979 --oh, those radical Franciscans... and we stayed up until 2 or 3am, eating and laughing... so amazing after a month of bland Lenten food that inspired fasting.

I remember one year in central Oregon --it must have been 1996 or so --I stayed in a vigil in the church from Maundy Thursday all the way to the first Easter service on Saturday night. Holy time --first with the reserved sacrament, and then when that was consumed early on Good Friday, with no lights, minimal heat --like the empty tomb itself, until the light of the vigil fire was lit... That was the year that one of the more impoverished parishioners, who had been tossed about from hospital to one nasty care facility to another --who had had all her possessions (car, clothes, dishes --you name it) taken away from her by the State to prevent her from giving them away to her friends because the State decided they needed to protect her from her friends --she died on Good Friday... It was so... what are the words... Cross-like.

The images of the mind's eye from all these liturgies --visions, I guess someone would call it... they are still with me. Shape me.

I am so grateful for those experiences. I hope, always hope, to create liturgical spaces where the Spirit can move and inspire... one just never really knows... .

So, I am saturating the bulletins with prayer... praying, praying for the people --that their hearts be moved --that the startling revelation of Christ crucified and resurrected kick them in the pants, if you know what I mean.

And doing the bulletins interlaced with workaday life --I saw the young men with the air rifle --I saw them playing with it --I saw that they had shot out the security light behind the garage, shattering the globe and bulb... . A friend, who lives across the street behind our house, called me last night. 'You know those kids shot out your light?' 'Yeah, I saw 'em.' 'Did you report it?' 'No, I didn't report it. I don't want to start a war with those guys.' 'Did you go over and tell 'em to stop?' I started to laugh... 'I thought about it,' I said... 'But a white girl on the Rez doesn't go up to an Indian with a gun in their hands and tell 'em to stop what they are doing.'

I thought the ground was going to give way, he was laughing so hard. 'You should still report it.'

Honestly, I was glad they shot the light, not my windows... and, honestly, I had duct taped the globe of the lamp hoping to create a shade making the light shine only to the ground because the light was so so so bright it was like sunshine in my bedroom window, which is not good when one is trying to sleep...

As Joel said '--well, your prayers about less light were answered.'

Ya gotta be careful what ya pray for... .

Which brings me back to my kick in the pants prayers for Holy Week and Easter... why in the world would I pray for that!!! Okay --I'll revise it --acchhhhhh.... No. I'll just leave the whole thing up to God.

Yeah... .

At prayer this morning (1 Corinthians 14:40)

So, my friends, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues; but all things should be done decently and in order.

Oh dear Paul... you must have been an Episcopalian at heart.

Yes. Decently and in order.

Okay God. I'm changing my prayer tactics again... first, wild and wooly --second, go easy --third, thy will be done.

Or something like that. And every place in between.

Right.

Off I go.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Every chance we get

He said, 'I heard a stupid woman's sermon yesterday, and that has me going on Chrysostom's prayer.'

He always calls me 'stupid' when I've hit the ball well enough to get on base. It's become endearing. In the same way when he tells me he loves me, I always say, 'You better.' It makes us laugh.

I'm still drinking coffee. The sun is coming in the room. We have the fireplace on --not because it's really that cold out (high 30's) but because the furnace began to make a funny rattling noise, so, we haven't turned the furnace on since Friday when it began doing that...

He continues, reading... 'and you have promised through your well-beloved Son that when two or three are gathered together in his Name you will be in the midst of them... that's just not true! It is not Almighty God who comes in to our presence, but the Son... and not only that ----.' He begins the scriptural citations. And then moves on to Jesus standing before the tomb of Lazarus telling God that he knows God has already answered his petitions, but do this one in particular... in a weird mix of future and past tenses.

Not in my wildest dreams would I connect Chrysostom's prayer with the story of Lazarus. But, there it is. Joel had. But Joel had gone to morning prayer in Eagle Butte while I went to White Horse, first thing yesterday. And then I came back for him, and we drove out to On the Tree together, for Eucharist in the little church perched on the side of the river valley.

'Look,' I had said... 'Look, the huge chunks of ice are still there.' And he looked and gasped --he hadn't seen the truck-sized boulders of ice. Just where the river made a turn, it had thrown the ice boulders up in to the meadow.

I notice the clouds --they are not winter clouds any more... they, too, like discarded river ice, speak of Spring, of new life....

And after we had settled in to the parish house with the people, we had conversations about things the grandchildren had asked --are we zombies before we turn in to angels... that kind of question. But those questions spurred other questions amongst the grandparents, and now they were asking me --will we really see each other again?

--and the only answer I could give was, 'I trust Jesus when he said he goes before us to prepare a place for us.' What else was there to say... . And I spoke of the dream I had a year after my mother died, who called me on the phone to tell me she was handing out fish to a huge gathering, her favorite food to cook and eat in her hands, at The Great Feast. 'I've only had dreams like that --with that kind of clarity and gravity, four or five times in my life, and they have always been true, so I am going to trust it.'

And we talked about all those things that had been lost in the Christian Tradition regarding death --the prayers said as some one was actively dying, the prayers said at the time of death, the prayers said while washing the body. And the grandma said, 'We've been wondering if we should talk to you about some of the things we haven't been teaching our children. I was talking to K, and was wondering if we should talk to you. We used to gather for the ceremony a year after someone had died, have a big feed, comb the hair, and say prayers. Our grandma taught us, and we feel bad we haven't taught our grandchildren.'

I said, yes, of course. Of course you should.

'Even if the ceremony includes the pipe?' someone asked.

Yes. Of course. You should get together. Yes, of course you should pray with the pipe. You don't have to ask me --you don't have to ask me to be there. You should do it.

Sometimes it's hard being white on the Reservation. There are places and ceremonies to which I cannot go. Should not go. I remember worshiping with Joel in a black congregation, Episcopalian. And, yes we were welcomed. And, no... we were not. Having the white culture rubbed in their faces all week long, for them, church was a refuge, a haven from all that face rubbing and all else. And there we were... messing up the refuge.

And, I came to understand that. Even though it conflicted with my own upbringing --not to see race first. As a matter of fact, there was only one human race --the rest was superficial. But, I have come to know that difference is not superficial. And cultures under pressure need places and times without interference. Especially from people who will take what they see and run with it --exploit it... and that has been the history here --over and over again.

--and as hard and as difficult as it may be... I know there are times and places here, when and where I will not be invited... the past is too much with us.

Not to be included sucks. Not to be included because of who I am sucks even more. But I would die in that ditch defending their getting together without me. Rebuilding integrity --rebuilding autonomy --forming identity... yeah. I'm there.

The words we pray... how we pray... we are what we pray.

Reconciliation. The work of Lent. Getting a grip of sin. And then letting it go. Giving it to God.

I saw these pictures and testimonies today.... on reconciliation in Rwanda. (I'm glad the Daily Office picked them up too.) The perpetrators of murder and worse, and their victims, together. It's heartbreaking and powerful at the same time.

“Sometimes justice does not give someone a satisfactory answer — cases are subject to corruption. But when it comes to forgiveness willingly granted, one is satisfied once and for all. When someone is full of anger, he can lose his mind. But when I granted forgiveness, I felt my mind at rest.”

Our minds at rest. Yeah. That is what Lent is about.

And, then, yesterday, after all the talk about death and zombies and ceremonies around death... there was the gospel, the story of Lazarus being brought back from death by Jesus. After we talked through what we heard, I compared --preparing for Easter-- the resurrections of Jesus and Lazarus. Lazarus, in a tomb with a stone before the opening, comes out of the tomb still bound up in his death wrappings. Jesus has to tell others to 'unbind him.' Lazarus does a U-turn and "comes back" to life as we know it. He dies a mortal life again.

Jesus is unbound in the tomb, and does not "come back" to life as we know it. He goes right through death, and keeps going --and opens that gate to resurrection life for us. A resurrection life which we receive at baptism, and have right here, right now --no waiting 'until the end,' as Martha expects... right now.

Where, other than baptism, are those ceremonies? --those ceremonies where we remember we are unbound from the death we drag around with us? Where are those ceremonies that mark our new life here and now --the feast, the combing of the hair, the reconciliation with what was, with each other...

At prayer this morning (beginning at Mark 9:30)

They went on from there and passed through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know it; for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again.” But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him.

Joel's pursuit of Chrysostom and Lazarus.

The children's pursuit of zombies and angels.

The grandparent's pursuit of integrity.

My pursuit of sin and death and reconciliation.

Disciples. All of us. And I am quite confident we do not understand --nor do we ever understand fully.

But we are capable of entering. Of marking resurrection.

And we should. Every chance we get.

Amen.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

heaven's eyes

I made the schedule for Easter. At last.

Holy Week

Wednesday of Holy Week, April 16
6:30pm Evening Prayer, St. John’s, Eagle Butte

Maundy Thursday, April 17
6:30pm St. John’s Eagle Butte

Good Friday, April 18
Noon, St. John’s Eagle Butte
6:30pm St. John’s Eagle Butte

Easter Schedule

Baptismal Service, Saturday April 19
4pm St. John’s Episcopal Church, Eagle Butte

Easter Vigil, Saturday April 19
8pm Ascension, Blackfoot (Central Time)
10pm St. John’s Eagle Butte

Easter Sunday, April 20
10am St. John’s Eagle Butte
10am St Andrew’s Cherry Creek
11am Emmanuel, White Horse (Central Time)
1pm St. Peter’s Thunder Butte
2pm St. Thomas, On the Tree
4pm St. James, Bear Creek

The Bishop will be here --not as an "official" visit, but because this is where he wants to spend Easter. Whoot! And Joel is feeling pretty good recently --so, we'll have enough clergy --everyone will be put to work and seven out of the nine congregations here will have Wopila Wakan (Holy Thanks) --Eucharist. The two that won't have a service are because of access trouble --one is flooded out with rising spring waters, and the other... well, the absence of heat and electricity isn't the issue, it's bath rooms for the elders and all the halls in town are already rented.

By Easter Monday... --let's just say I won't feel the Resurrection until about Wednesday.

I am estimating that we will baptize between twenty five and fifty infants and children. More the following week.

Joel says, 'that's pretty incredible, huh?'

Yeppa. It is. I think I had participated in about twenty baptisms before I came here --one or two a year. Now, it's fifty or sixty a year. The really good news from here is that we baptize more than we bury.

Baptism. Adopted as God's own children. Not spiritual descendants of Moses who was given the Law, but spiritual descendants of Abraham, who acted in faith. No Law--just faith.

--and in faith, as we are covered in baptismal water... we die. Dead. Over. Out. Done. And as we take in the next breath, are anointed and shine with oil, we are resurrected in to Christ's resurrection life. Heaven at our hand. Alongside us. All around us.

Not a utopian ideal. We don't wake up to a world without sin. Sin itself was thrust upon the shoulders of The Man, who carried it, without remorse, in great pain, to and through death, the fear that shapes our lives --and even after the resurrection he bore open wounds in his flesh. All the way to heaven. Because heaven carries all things --even the open wounds of the sin of the world. For the love of us.

Not because we we are loved by an angry God who demands death because of sin. But because scales have grown over our eyes... how else are we going to see it, see that we are loved beyond all measure, unless the mud and dirt of death are rubbed in our eyes... then... . Then.

Heaven in one hand, sin in the other.

I wonder... what sin looks like through heaven's eyes... . Our best work. Choked with sin. Like a cultivated field, wheat and weeds. Together.

In some places, special weeds are planted to turn good things back to the soil. Or, to keep the top soil from blowing away. Or, to keep the moisture from evaporating too quickly.

I wonder what sin looks like through heaven's eyes... .

Another thought... Baptism doesn't 'wash' away sin. It gives us what we need to deal with sin. Through baptism, we are introduced to a way of life that gives us perspective on sin.

At prayer this morning (from Mark 9)

And they brought the boy to Jesus. When the spirit saw Jesus, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth.

Jesus asked the father, “How long has this been happening to him?”

And he said, “From childhood. It has often cast him into the fire and into the water, to destroy him; but if you are able to do anything, have pity on us and help us.”

Jesus said to him, “If you are able! All things can be done for the one who believes.”

Immediately the father of the child cried out, “I believe; help my unbelief!”

Yeah... --help me in my doubts... help me continue to wash the mud and muck from my eyes so that I can see with heaven's eyes.

As to doubts... merely the nudge of the Spirit. Pushing us to deal with it... .

Off I go.

Friday, April 4, 2014

perhaps my love is changing

The inner stuff... self-condemnation, self-doubt, the regrets and burdens of the heart, playing the same old 'tapes' over and over again...

The inner stuff is like wet spring snow. It sticks every where and any where, and it doesn't matter how much you kick the boots, brush the pants, flick the gloves --it's still there. If you try to pinch it off whatever it is sticking to, it just turns to ice on the spot. And then you are really messed up. It sticks even longer.

The inner stuff... and it's Lent. It's been different for me this year. Usually I detest Lent and all its talk about sin and repentance. I have always felt that a focus on sin misses the boat of Christianity. Misses it entirely. Especially --most especially a focus on so-called 'personal' sin... as if that were possible in a world where everything is inexorably lifed --yeah, I just made that word up.

Lifed. Living, breathing the one Life together, past and present.

'Personal' sin, 'personal' salvation is not possible. At all. Because we are lifed.

So, confessing 'personal' sin is living in to the Great Lie. Recognition of what one has done --yeah. I'm all over that. And that's a tough a blast. But confession implies absolution... and absolution implies repentance... and repentance implies turning around, turning away from what one has done... .

But turning away from what one has done leaves everyone else behind in the muck you made... . Because just like we are all lifed, we are also all covered in each other's muck --our parents', our grandparent's, on and on --and what we have done in our own generation --our children are born in to it... .

And, we can be absolved until we are dead... but we are never really free of the stuff... .

Never.

So... I have hated Lent as a self-serving, self-centered, selfish, blinders on romp through the inner stuff that is like wet spring snow. Hated. Lent. A stupid, exhausting exercise.

But, it's been different this year. Lent. I am not fighting it. I am not entirely sure what has happened... but, it's like I have surrendered. I am so, so, so way more than nose deep in death, despair, violence, hatred, dysfunction --sin-- from this age and all the ages before... and, I am helpless against all the sin.

Helpless.

Not a giving-up-so-just-join-it helpless. But, I've put down the idea that I can make a difference.

Which is also a self-serving, self-centered, selfish, blinder kind of thing.

I cannot make a difference. I can't even help myself with all those things I need to do.

Not giving up. Just not fighting it all. Or, trying to fight it all. And wondering... . Wondering about this difference in me. It doesn't feel jaded. It doesn't feel beaten down. There is even a small bit of humor in it all. Well, actually, it sounds like my mother laughing. I recognize that it must be similar to those who enter an AA type program, where they know they will not have the 'power' to overcome their addiction and surrender to a higher power... .

Sin.

For the first time in my life, ever, I have enjoyed doing the Stations of the Cross --well, not 'enjoyed' --but there wasn't a constant commentary about how much I hated doing the Stations going on in my head.

For the first time in my life, ever, I have enjoyed doing Prayer A for the Eucharist --which leaves out everything else about salvation history except Jesus on the cross. (BCP p361) Bam --no creation, no prophets, no nothing --just straight to we were made for you, we could hardly care --bam: the cross. Whoooot. I earnestly believe the Resurrection to be the ultimate sign --but, there we are. No interior litany.

For the first time in my life I haven't begun my own frustrated interior litany at the mention of sin, repentance and absolution... .

And I'm curious, cautiously curious, as to where this where this will take me...

--wondering.

A Lent. With sticky wet snow. All around. And I'm not trying to brush it off or fight it in any way. I'm not ignoring it. But the inner stuff is quiet. In the full knowledge that I still feel quite clearly that worrying about sin in any way misses the Christian boat... It's not quiet Reflection I feel. It's surrender.

Or... maybe... I've really and truly just quit worrying about it... . Quit trying to make a difference with sin. Quit trying to make the church over in my own image. Or something like that.

Curious. Cautiously curious.

At prayer this morning (1 Corinthians 12:27 – 13:3)

Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? But strive for the greater gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.

If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Hmmmmm... I thought I have always loved sin in the truest way. Loved sin, because without it --well, we wouldn't be mortal human beings.

Perhaps my love is changing...

Perhaps... .

Thursday, April 3, 2014

a job I can actually finish

I don't have a funeral today.

I don't have a wake tonight.

I do not know of the need to do a comfort service... .

I am sitting with my feet up. There is a lot of snow out there. When the big machines arrived to plow the parking lot, I didn't even run out to make sure they wouldn't pile it all in my driveway --as they are sometimes want to do. I figured I didn't have the energy to interact with a snow plow and its driver this morning.

The Bible study lesson is already prepared for tonight. Got the video ready. I'm set.

We have a new contractor to work on our house --which is still up in the air... the other contractor really, really messed us up. Bad. So, I am hoping we will slowly recover from the damage done... . Dear God.

I am grateful. For this morning. For the people I serve. For my beloved. For the work I am called to do. For the opportunity to do it here. For my body --such as it is. For those who care and pray for us here. For my little dogs. For our new contractor.

Please pray for the eight families who had family members die this past week. Please pray for D,S,D,C,V,E,J,H,C,J --please pray for all those who suffer from addiction --please pray for all those who suffer the devastating effects of poverty and other forms of spiritual and physical degradation --please pray for the rich --for those who control and manipulate our social systems to their own benefit --for those who wantonly destroy our earth and water and air...

At prayer this morning (1 Corinthians 12:12-26)

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – Jews or Greeks, slaves or free – and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot would say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear would say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be?

But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many members, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.”

On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; whereas our more respectable members do not need this.

But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.


And, now, to clear my brain, I think I shall shove some snow around. Just for fun. And because it is a job that I can actually finish!

Peace out.