Monday, June 30, 2008

Monday: A Day Off

So, Joel and I took advantage of a day off and decided to take a drive into the country. We dream about buying a piece of cheap land (preferably NOT next to a pig farm)and putting up a shed; storing our camping gear there and hanging out there as time allows. No phone. No --well you name it.

So we drove off and were on way-back country roads looking, looking, dreaming. Got out and walked around. We heard country noises --June bugs out in force, lazy flies (not like the fast city flies), and frogs. A sweet freshness of clean soil laden with green growing things. We got into a couple of thickets. Saw only one snake. A fawn and its mother. It was all glorious.

When we got back to the car, we did a quick survey for ticks--saw none. Got in the car, drove home in a thick wet storm. Got into a clearing, stopped by the Rivah. The James Rivah. Threw a stick in the water for our dog, Witty. Wet. Wet. Swim. Wag. O glory.

All in all, a wonderful day.

Got home, and Witty was still wet. So I carried him into the kitchen for a towel, turned him over--and he was covered with ticks. Picked three off, ran him upstairs for the humiliation of a bath. Found a tick on me--embedded in my groin. Took a bath too, in Witty's tick soap. Found three more ticks--two on Witty and another on me. Told Joel to stand still so that I could look him over. He had none, --he took the clothes in a heap downstairs to wash them. He came back up, and found a tick embedded in his leg. Jumped in the bath.

At this point, I am reminded of my grandmother's stories. She once told me that when she was young, they used kerosene to cure all ills. Stub your toe--wash it with kerosene. Got fleas--wash in kerosene. Got ticks--rub 'em with kerosene, worked better than a hot match head.... But she was born in a sod house in North Dakota. Guess kerosene was all they had.

I am grateful I do not have to bathe in kerosene. Quite frankly, I am afraid I would self-combust. Spontaneously. Or something.

Now we are brushing Witty with a fine toothed comb...our scalps too. Witty's had his Lime shot. Calling our doctor tomorrow to see what we should do.

Ahhh. The joys of a day in the country!

But I would do it again in a flash. Worth every minute.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

and, so, in the meantime

Why I'm Voting Republican
It's Sunday. Sunday.

Got up in the morning, brushed my teeth, combed my hair, went to church, preached, had company (Vestry and new members!) over for lunch--35 of us stuffed in to our little house. The church is alright, healthy. Compassionate. Excited. Alive.

Breathe.

And what was that out of Jerusalem? Good God.

St. Paul (God bless him on this day) said that we are alive in Christ and dead to sin. Who was it, Margaret of Kemp --or was it a desert father, I don't recall, that said being dead to sin means that we take no notice of sin, not that we ourselves would not sin. Sin just shouldn't ruffle us, any more than it ruffled Jesus. Except of course, when he threw the money changers out of the Temple. Well, maybe he wasn't ruffled, just cleaning house.

Hey. Come Lord Jesus. Clean house.

Patient endurance attains all things.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

System

Yesterday, the courts handed another victory to the 11 parishes in northern Virginia who wish to separate from the sinful Episcopal church (because of "gays"), allowing them to continue to pursue keeping the property they occupy based upon a law written during the civil war to allow southerners to separate from the Episcopal churches in the north in order to keep their slaves. (The irony is palpable.) Most surprising about this all is that the court actually decided that there was a schism in the church, just when GAFCon is wrapping up--no schism in sight. How does an American court get away with deciding that there has been a division in an international communion? How does a court get away with deciding anything in the internal affairs of a church?

Couple this internal and churchy difficulty with the probable disappearance of the entire polar ice cap this summer, a bearish economy, soaring energy costs and shortages, flooding threatening food crops, wars squandering lives abroad, and the poor who are always with us --what the hell are we doing? --where are we? Where is our soul? Why are we spending millions on property and preservation of an institution? (That, yes, I dearly love--but not at the cost of all the above, nor at the cost of the Gospel).

It is becoming increasingly clear to me how close and real the Gospel is--that those who struggle to preserve their lives, will lose it; and those who lose their lives will gain the kingdom... I know, a feeble paraphrase... but it is right enough. And in our current context, frightening. It is like the church has gone schizophrenic, protecting its presumed inheritance and losing its soul. It is like we have been caught unawares by the proverbial "system" --and are now trying to work within the system for change and protection. Just like the GAFConites are going to try to change the communion from within....the church has bought trying to change and heal the world through the existing system.

This week, exhausted with the three to four calls per day from persons desparately wanting and needing help and my inability to help except to give them granola bars, canned spaghetti and $10 of gas, I began to notice that all of them said they were referred by the social services division of the Commonwealth. So, the poor poor have been sent on a wild goose chase by the systems of the state to seek help from religious institutions--help which is supposed to be administered by the state for the benefit of its citizens. I wonder how much of what we pay in taxes, that are supposed to support our social systems, actually goes to pay for the salaries and health benefits for administrators rather than into real care for those caught in the cycle of poverty? It gets far too convoluted when it is these same systems of the state which allow courts to decide upon the internal affairs of these same religious institutions.... In this then, the care or more honestly the inadequate care of the poor, the church has become complicit in the antics of the state. No real change. Support of the status quo. Same ol' same ol'.

What shall we do with these overwhelming and deadly challenges? What will happen if we really pull our heads out of the sand?

Earlier this week I stated that I was striving to get a good mantra deep into my soul --'let nothing disturb you' --and 'all shall be well' and let it be my method of being. Feh! Now I am ready to go radical... step outside the system.... go wild....

I'll let you know how it goes.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

and, so, in the meantime

Were we all holding our breath about GAFCon?

I, for one, am not disappointed that the GAFConites decided not to follow through on the promised schismatic tantrum. I don't feel well prepared to witness that fight. And on the other hand, I am discouraged that the GAFConites insist that they will reform the communion from within. I am exhausted and distracted with the vitriol.

And on the other hand, I am confident that Our Lord will and is already doing more than we can ask or expect with this conflict. But....

What to do in the mean time? I mean, my main mantra "all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well" is great for the end perspective. But the day to day stuff is so much more difficult.... Or is it? The pressures and perspectives which were the impetus for GAFCon (Gays are sinful and not worthy! and --the Bible, read only one way, is the rule) do seem to enter into my life and ministry in the church on a daily basis. Sometimes and mostly in a very destructive manner. So, --yesterday, when I was too discouraged, my beloved sent me the video in the column to the right, a musical rendition of St. Teresa's Nada te Turbe, --"Let nothing disturb you." Certainly a Christian mantra right from the heart of a Christian mystic, which, I hope, to employ for the mean time. I'll let you know how it goes....

or, in other words, leave it lay where Jesus flang it.

And, so, on to daily prayer: care for the sick, food for the drug addicts, crazies and jail birds that come to our door, companionship to the lonely, assistance to the trapped, a plausible model for our children, a compassionate presence in the face of death and disaster, and all those other simple things like water for all the living creatures like dogs and flowers which inhabit and share life with me, and to remember that gathering at the altar in Christ's name week in and out is indeed our salvation, our Passover, our ticket to freedom. In so many unname-able ways...

Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us all....

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Politics

So, Hillary gave the race to Obama. She is touting a race well run, history being made, cudo's all around, and now let's all get in line to win thing--let's all get behind Obama.

I don't believe a word of it. Mostly, I guess, because I just don't believe anything any politician says any more. --even Obama, it will be very interesting to see where and how he draws his lines in the sand, and who he leaves behind, and why.

I know I sound jaded. I was recounting my early political experience to my nephew, and as I listed the things that formed my political consciousness--, JFK, MLK, RK, Vietnam, Nixon, Watergate--not counting Reagan as governor of California and his destruction of public mental health systems and turning the state militia out on its own people.... and, yes, even Clinton's lies about oval office sex.... and where to begin with the current residents of the White House. ...I guess I am not surprised at my distrust.

But is this proper and appropriate--to be so very distrustful of politicians and politics? --of everything they say?

I think so. First, I think doubt and questions can open up discussion, and give us unexplored vistas. Second, there is history, and there is no time or place where politics has been conducted for the benefit of the people; it is always to the benefit of certain power. Third, there is Jesus; he loved the world, but not its systems: He rejected the feeding program of turning bread into stone; he rejected claiming governmental powers and nations; and he rejected throwing himself off the temple to the mercy of an idea of God as all powerful. He rejected working within the systems and status quo, and refused to see God except as he knew God--and, yes, he paid for it. All other things aside, it is my faith which causes me to approach politics and politicians with little faith.

I guess what I am trying to say is this: tomorrow we hear the Gospel of how Jesus called Matthew the governmental protection racketeer and tax collector out of a booth, ate with societal rejects, rejected the pharisees, healed a bloody woman and raised a girl from the dead.... he crossed so many boundaries. He broke so many rules and Laws, capital 'L' type Law. But he certainly wasn't out for himself, --he certainly wasn't being political.

The KINGDOM which Jesus came to point out to this world cannot be bought, isn't paid for, can't be earned. Some believe it was sold for a bag of coins. But it wasn't--that was just a high priest of this world buying a sacrificial lamb for the powers that be. That sure didn't work well for him. And mostly, the KINGDOM, it ain't political.

It ain't political because politics is about different people getting along together, forming systems and customs and laws. The KINGDOM ain't political because Jesus already drew lines in the sand to take the power away from the powerful stone throwers and let a powerless adultress come home. Because he and the adultress were not "other" --needing political strategies to live together; he and the adultress were and are one. In the KINGDOM, there is no "other."

We get a glimpse of the KINGDOM when we can look in the face of our enemy and no longer see an enemy, but someone to love. Only love.

Love has no politics.