Saturday, August 30, 2008

G'wan. Go to church.

Okay --this Sunday is a really cool Gospel. Just after Peter gets handed the keys to the Church, Jesus tells Peter "Get thee behind me, Satan."

I just want to clear things up. Jesus would never ever ever say such a thing to Peter. What he REALLY said was, "Get thee behind me, SANTA!"

Now that we have that all cleared up, you can listen with ease to the line about losing your life to find it and all that.

G'wan, go to church!

Here's to LIFE! --the incredible lightness of being

From the Gospel this morning at morning prayer: (John 8:12) Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, 'I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.'

I know folks are worried about the hurricane looming in the Gulf. And I know that many of us are remembering those who died and those who suffered and suffer still from Katrina.

I am doing those things too, today. But today is also a day when I remember how lucky I am--because eleven years ago today is when I was given a diagnosis of stage 3breast cancer. A tumor the size of my thumb, and infiltration into my lymph nodes. I was facing surgery, chemo, radiation and a life expectancy of 5 years.

So, I did surgery, chemo and radiation. But die I did not. Three out of four --not bad, heh?!

There is a lot one goes through with just the diagnosis--all the mortality issues, much less disfigurement and the marathon of treatment. And it was hellish. (And I caution you, there is a picture at the bottom of this post which may be disturbing, so go no further if you are squeamish.)

But there are other things too, that happen--a clarity of what matters, the joy--sheer joy of life. And I received the bonus of community--those who were willing to carry faith for me when mine wore out, those who brought jokes and laughter, those who brought massage and other forms of healing touch, those who cooked and cleaned and phoned and tended and cared. And a husband who kept saying and doing the perfect things to and for me that kept me fishing and searching my soul.

But I also learned that one cannot stay at the edge of the cancer abyss--the questions of life and death must be softened with the details of every day life. And they were ultimately softened with the realization in a whole new way that even God has died--and we are called to follow, even there. My mantra became trust, trust, trust God. No matter what, trust God.

I do remember, though, that at the time, I wanted to remember, intimately and forever the feeling of sheer joy I felt at being alive. Some have tried to explain to me that what I was feeling was a survivor syndrome--it's the same reason people go make babies right after a disaster.... whatever. If you've ever had this feeling, you might agree with me that it feels like a gift from God.

So, I asked Joel to take a picture of me while I was experiencing this joy--this incredible joy. --I wanted proof of it for the rest of my life, so that when I got low, I could remember. So he did. And here I am, post-surgery, little tubes to drain the wounds, bandages--and in ecstasy.

Thank you to all who nursed me and cared for me.
And thank you God, for the incredible lightness of being.
And thank you God, for life. All of it.

Thank you.

Friday, August 29, 2008

GAFCON emissions continue

For an excellent analysis of the latest GAFCON emission, please visit Mark Harris at PRELUDIUM. This evening, I am just sad and disgusted. The GAFCON poo-poo caa-caa just strengthens my resolve to speak out against fundamentalism, in all its incarnations.

Do read the comment section, to see for yourself.... and, God bless Marc, whoever he is.

It's a girl!

Okay --McCain picked a woman. Good. Smart politics. Now maybe women can see that just being a woman ain't gonna cut it. Now maybe we can move beyond the gender issues to what she thinks and how much she buys in to the patriarchal power greed mongering war-bent culture that the conservatives would like to perpetuate.

In the meantime, I'm trying to write a cogent letter to our Bishops regarding the patriarchal power greed mongering hell-bent culture that some would like to perpetuate in the church.

Not that I'm not gulping or anything.... speaking to power.... but what was that Holly Near song -- "I am open..."

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Would that Augustine had had Peter's dream too

Okay, It's St. Augustine's day.... Just to be up-front, I have a really hard time with much that Augustine said and did. Like, he never married the woman with whom he fathered a child--perhaps because it was against the law for a "citizen" to marry a freed woman. And that he called his militia out against another sect of Christians--first Christian to use force against other Christians. And I have huge theological problems with the idea that we are all born essentially broken and distant from God --his "original sin" idea. And with the idea that there is another perfect realm (city) and this earth is a broken reflection of that realm, and only that other realm will ever be what God intends.... (talk about constructing dualisms--and so un-incarnational).

I know, I know.... there is much good Augustine said and did too, which is what makes him a patriarch of the Church. But you must understand, I don't especially like Thomas Jefferson either--an icon in American history, and particularly a demi-god here in Virginia. Perhaps because I was trained in an era of deconstructionist and even revisionist type history.... call it what you will. I call it an open eye.

And, please know that I do repeat the words of Augustine at the altar frequently, saying at the invitation to Communion -- 'See what you are; be what you eat.' A powerful invitation....

Perhaps if Augustine had heeded Peter's words, he might have married his child's mother and set a true Gospel example for the Church. (Acts 10:28 --from the second lesson from morning prayer today) and Peter said to them, "You yourselves know that it is unlawful for a Jew to associate with or to visit a Gentile; but God has shown me that I should not call anyone profane or unclean.

Would that our Bishops today would heed those words, heh?! Oh Lord, here comes the rant...

And for those who would keep the Anglican Communion together rather than receive ALL the baptized in full ministry in our churches--would rather adhere to a so-called Law rather than heal the whole body, here is this Gospel reading for the day:

(John 7:22) [Jesus said} Moses gave you circumcision (it is, of course, not from Moses, but from the patriarchs), and you circumcise a man on the sabbath. 23 If a man receives circumcision on the sabbath in order that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because I healed a man's whole body on the sabbath? 24 Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment."

Oh yeah. No one is profane or unclean. Healing on the sabbath--against the Law. Like the churches in TEC and Canada are doing a revisionist thing... a new thing. Nope. Just a Gospel thing.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

After Lambeth....

If you feel so moved, go read this Integrity ARTICLE and write your Bishop regarding your post-Lambeth perspective. The House of Bishops meets in September, so now is the time.

Yeah. I'll be writing.

The Gospel is not politically correct....

Lots of people don't like the Gospel of John. Really don't like it. And one of the reasons is that it speaks so rudely about "the Jews," and that these anti-Jewish statements have been used historically to persecute and murder Jews.

And they are right. The language about the Jews in this Gospel is awful. And inappropriate.

So what are we to do with language like this in the Gospel--particularly when it is read aloud in liturgy?

We are to own it. And sit and pray with it uncomfortably. Like a rock in our shoe. We are to look right into the light it sheds on our souls.

For me, I can hear the language about the "Jews" and replace it with "right-wing Christian fundamentalists," and the Gospel rings true. Because I believe the language about Jews in this Gospel was directed at those worried about the status quo, the rules and regulations, power structures, religious hierarchy, keeping everything safe and as it is --for me, that is what I hear. It has nothing to do with my present Jewish brothers and sisters, my older brothers and sisters who worship the God of Jesus, as I do, and have done so for thousands of years longer than my ancestors in faith.

And then I must hear myself--my own venom toward those whom, in Christ's name, I am called to love as he does. Called to love, passionately. And in my current context my own venom is awful and inappropriate, yet feels like it has a righteous urgency about it. At least, that is what I think.... and the venom gives me hole in my soul in which to weep, of which to repent, through which to work and hope.

The Gospel, if it is Gospel, is not sweetness and light--it is never politically or socially correct; it should expose us all, raw, venomous and jagged to the light of God. And the judgment is the same for all of us --Jew, right-wing Christian fundamentalist, lefty-liberal. The judgment is always the same--love heaped upon love.

It is also in the Gospel of John that give us the image: Christ reigns, eye wide open, from the cross.

Yes, there is a time to throw the tables around in the Temple; there is also the time to put our swords away. And sometimes that time happens in the same hour of the same day....and that is always a challenge.

Read the Gospel of John. Let its light shine in your innermost self.

(from today's readings for morning prayer)
John 7: 11 The Jews were looking for him at the festival and saying, "Where is he?" 12 And there was considerable complaining about him among the crowds. While some were saying, "He is a good man," others were saying, "No, he is deceiving the crowd." 13 Yet no one would speak openly about him for fear of the Jews.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Politics and Freedom of the Catalyst of Blessed Betrayal

So the Democratic Convention has begun.

There is something in me that fears and dreads all this political hoopla. I guess I can write those reactions up to the experience that I and many of my age carry-- that the first political process in which I participated was the election of '74 that elected good ol' tricky Dick Nixon--what with Watergate and all. While I did not vote for Nixon (yes, my parents raised me left, not right), I still felt the political betrayal of deceit to my bones. The Vietnam War did not help my trust of the government either. So that is the bed in which my political awareness was conceived. And even in this election, I am aware that I keep waiting for the other shoe of some type of betrayal to drop.

Given the Gospel lesson in morning prayer, I feel an invitation to view political betrayal in a new light--because I have pondered greatly on the great story of God planting a garden for us--the vision of all that could be, but a garden that was planted with a tree we should not touch and in which the snake lived. And, even amonst the disciples, the human snake in the garden God was cultivating--betrayal again.

John 6:66 Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him. 67 So Jesus asked the twelve, "Do you also wish to go away?" 68 Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God." 70 Jesus answered them, "Did I not choose you, the twelve? Yet one of you is a devil." 71 He was speaking of Judas son of Simon Iscariot, for he, though one of the twelve, was going to betray him.

God chose Judas. God chose the freedom of betrayal. So of course our government will betray us. Of course the Church will betray us. Of course.... we will betray.... sigh.

I am sure God does not choose betrayal--only the freedom for betrayal. There must be some great catalyst in the radical break which betrayal marks to what should or could be. A catalyst which breaks open the world and allows something else even more radical and wonderful and healing to happen. If we have have the eyes to see...

Monday, August 25, 2008

A Meditation on One Life on St. Bart's Day

Grandmere Mimi, in her blog, WOUNDED BIRD, has a post about the Rising Tide conference, a discussion about the future of her beloved New Orleans. Grandmere's post-conference REFLECTION included this comment:It may be hard for folks from other parts of the country to understand that what happens in Louisiana is not simply a local issue. Purely out of self-interest, if for no other reason, attention must be paid.

The conference presented the author, John Barry, and his book "Rising Tide."

This, and a "Nature" documentary on PBS Sunday night that discussed the disappearing sea-lion population (80% loss in the last 20 years) along the coast of Alaska really set me up to hear the Gospel reading from morning prayer this Monday morning in an emphatic way.

From the Gospel this morning: (John 6:53) So Jesus said to them, "Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.

Of course, some found this saying of Our Lord disgusting....I guess there have always been literalists among us.... and if you think about it, it is disgusting.... eating the flesh and drinking the blood of Jesus.... eeyuch....

So, what does the rising tide in New Orleans and disappearing sea-lions have to do with the flesh and blood of Jesus?

Because everything we touch, do, see, hear --it is all connected, all of the Body. There is nothing except by, through, with, in his flesh and blood. The disappearance of tidal wetlands and sea lions is not just a scientific, cultural or etc. problem. It is a theological problem.

Now, I know I will be accused of being pantheistic (God or gods everywhere) here... or at the very least panentheistic (God in all things).

So be it. Label me. Call me anything, but let us not ignore that we are destroying this planet, perhaps more quickly than we thought, and that our lives, wetlands, sea-lions, a human in Richmond, ...all are interconnected as one life, dependent upon each other.

Because all that is, is held in being by Our Lord. --all life is his life, his flesh and blood. There is nothing we can touch, do, see, hear that is not done in, by, with, through his Life.

So, by ignoring the rising tide and dying sea lions and global warming and all that--are we crucifying, once again, and in a cosmic scale, --are we crucifying him once again?

Chagall understood.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

G'wan. Go to church.

I mean --there's some really cool stuff in Gospel this Sunday --like having the power to decide what is let loose in heaven and what isn't --I mean, what kind of fun is that!!!

But, okay, today is Peter's day. For once, Peter gets it right and Jesus responds: "And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church"

Too bad Peter took the keys and ran with 'em.... setting up Bishoprics and all that kind of stuff... --I mean, what kind of fun is that?!!!

Pah! G'wan. Go to church. Don't let the Bishops win!

sticky rotten mud perspective

What a strange day, Friday.... It was like everyone was walking around with a pall over them. --coulda just been the mall....

We had some domestic errands to run, and did --but the faces of the people we encountered, their interaction with each other was like witnessing polluted mud. Everyone seemed, --not vacant, but like they had been distracted from potential life to pursue --run after dead-end gratification; --not good clean dirt, but sticky non-oxygenated can't get it off your shoes rotten mud.

I guess this is not a modern problem. I mean, in the readings for the day at morning prayer there is this: (John 6:49) Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. Wasn't the manna in the wilderness God-given? Is this just another Jesus-trumps-Moses saying, or is there more being said here?

Perhaps we all take God-given stuff and sustenance, even the Eternal Bread from heaven, and use it only to fill our gullets, use it only to get through the day.

So, my thought and meditation for this day --how can I/shall I love sticky rotten mud? --and is it better to be always hungry for Eternal Bread, than to eat my fill? --better to always give it away?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

"Moratorium not again..."

An excellent essay by Donald Schell can be found HERE. It is a good read on how we should not be silent and let this "Gospel moment" go into a moratorium.

Here is a taste of the essay to whet your tastebuds:

Our hundred-year moratorium of silence ended in the 1960’s when the Civil Rights movement awakened our church’s conscience. It was painful time for the church, because we were not of one mind, but conscience and conflict were no longer in hiding. From the 60’s Freedom Marches until today, we’ve been struggling to keep speaking, listening and talking; it’s clear that it will take a very long time to heal the wounds our century of silence inflicted on the church.

In 2008, American Episcopalians, legitimately confident in our proclamation of Jesus’ welcome to all and proud that our church is working for justice for our LGBT sisters and brothers, must learn from our own shameful moratorium that held our church together and silent before the Civil War and reunited it at the cost of most of its black membership after the War.

The Spirit of Truth challenges us to reject any more moratoria on truth telling. That’s all this moratorium would be – silence from and about the LGBT Anglicans throughout the Communion. But if we see our way to rejecting the moratorium, can we do it without self-congratulation and disdain for our brothers, Anglican bishops and church leaders who, at this moment, hear inclusion as a counterfeit Gospel?

On a personal note, I truly enjoyed being a seminary intern to Donald at St. Gregory's of Nyssa in San Francisco. I always found his observations to be astute, and his willingness to live on the edge refreshing.

Jesus Phreak --A Must See!

Dale Smith, a member of the congregation with whom I serve in Christ's name, should become world famous with this one folks. Really. He wrote and professionally produced this one-man play which ran in a local theater promotion last Lent. I invite you to watch the video below to get a taste of a FABULOUS PLAY....go ahead, and be surprised.

Go see the full teaser at the Jesus Phreak homepage.

Now, invite Dale to your church, club --He would love to bring this production to your convention, your college.... And I encourage you to bring him to your adult education class, your church, special function....

Preach it Dale! Preach it!

Complete, Cheerful, Evil....

Such is the contemplation of Blaise Pascal whose day we celebrate today. Okay --I can only read this in light of the present nastiness going on in the church:

Men never do evil so completely or cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction. Blaise Pascal.

Almighty God, who gave your servant Blaise Pascal a great intellect, that he might explore the mysteries of your creation, and who kindled in his heart a love for you and a devotion to your service: Mercifully give us your servants, according to our various callings, gifts of excellence in body, mind, and will, and the grace to use them diligently and to your glory, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

More thoughts on the SNAFU in the Courts in Virginia

We will be a better country when each religious group can trust its members to obey the dictates of their own religious faith without assistance from the legal structure of their country. Margaret Mead

There are two visions of America. One precedes our founding fathers and finds its roots in the harshness of our puritan past. It is very suspicious of freedom, uncomfortable with diversity, hostile to science, unfriendly to reason, contemptuous of personal autonomy. It sees America as a religious nation. It views patriotism as allegiance to God. It secretly adores coercion and conformity. Despite our constitution, despite the legacy of the Enlightenment, it appeals to millions of Americans and threatens our freedom.

The other vision finds its roots in the spirit of our founding revolution and in the leaders of this nation who embraced the age of reason. It loves freedom, encourages diversity, embraces science and affirms the dignity and rights of every individual. It sees America as a moral nation, neither completely religious nor completely secular. It defines patriotism as love of country and of the people who make it strong. It defends all citizens against unjust coercion and irrational conformity.

This second vision is our vision. It is the vision of a free society. We must be bold enough to proclaim it and strong enough to defend it against all its enemies.
Rabbi Sherwin Wine

When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross. Sinclair Lewis

The Courts in Virginia are determined to stick it to the Diocese

The Court has issued another ruling --refusing to reconsider its earlier Constitutional ruling that the State may decide whether or not a split has occured in our Diocese.... a real infringement in the separation of Church and State. Craziness in a State which claims Thomas Jefferson as a hero.

I wish we could send +Martin either back to England, or to Africa where he has staked his claim.....

for more information:

I am dismayed. Disheartened. Not surprised.

I haz a flavor

When Joel and I were first married, we had to be frugal--living on a part-time vicar's salary meant that we bought a chicken on Saturday for a Sunday night dinner, and then made the left-over meat last the rest of the week. Sometimes we ate only two meals a day to make it go in our budget.

One day Joel opened the fridge and said, we have one egg.... guess it's going to be a hungry day. He took a big swig of water and off he went to the church next door to work. (Yes, he was the vicar, not I.)

So, I took the one egg, boiled it, found a limp piece of celery in the back of the veggie drawer, mixed it with mayo and had us a little egg salad. When I brought the salad over to his little office he burst in to tears....(so he cries easily--I love that in him).

He believed it to be a miracle in the genre of the one found in the Gospel reading for the day--the sharing of a little bread abundantly.

In the Gospel of John, I have never thought the evangelist thought the loaves of bread were the focus. I am convinced, because of the grouping of bread stories here, that what is intended is to point out that Jesus is the true bread--the bread for the world, not the stuff that fills or doesn't fill our stomachs.

And, mind you, I haven't forgotten that it is very difficult to get beyond an empty stomach. When you are hungry, it is the hunger that matters. Really. But it seems that when we finally do get our fill, what we continue to lust after is to fill that hungry self. And many of us do just that--making an idol of bread, --of money, of power, or whatever it is that we feel we lack.

So it is with those who lust after what they believe Jesus brings--common bread, the right way of life, whatever. And then they idolize that thing in Jesus --or worse yet, they idolize Jesus because they see that thing as dependent upon Jesus.

The last thing in the world that Jesus wanted was power, dependency, idolatry --or anything in between. And it is the last thing he wanted for us. The good news is the line that follows the story of bread:

(from John 6) When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself.

Nothing should have such power or draw in our lives that it becomes our energy, our drive, our focus, (dare I say it) our worship. Nothing. Because Jesus didn't want us to worship him, to make him king; he wants us to be like him. To follow him. To be bread for the world. Too. Not just good bread--but great tasty bread.

What would that look like?

Let's all go be flavorful.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

So, just keep lovin' the hell out of 'em

From John 5: “You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that testify on my behalf. Yet you refuse to come to me to have life."

Dang, when I read this for Morning Prayer--all I could think about was the current controversy in our Churches about human sexuality. If this doesn't separate scripture from the living Word of God, nothing will. Those who hold up the Bible and then use it as a lethal weapon don't seem to understand that scripture is the amniotic fluid in which we are nurtured in order that we may emerge prepared to do that work which is given us to do--which is not to continue to live in the book, but to BE the language of the living God here and now and proclaim the love of God to all.

To continue to worship the Good Book means that you refuse to see God beyond its covers. It's called Bibliolotry --and it's a form of idolatry.

Those who point to scripture to condemn or glorify another do not know the living Christ. In Christ there is no condemntation.

'Nuff said.

Oh, and just in case you didn't know --I think Fundamentalism is a form of perverse patriotism....

Did the cartoonist intend to make Pat Robertson look like Bush? Hmmmm...

Here is the rest of that portion of the Gospel from John 5:
"I do not accept glory from human beings. But I know that you do not have the love of God in you. I have come in my Father's name, and you do not accept me; if another comes in his own name, you will accept him. How can you believe when you accept glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the one who alone is God? Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; your accuser is Moses, on whom you have set your hope. If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. But if you do not believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?”

So, just keep lovin' the hell out of 'em.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Holy, Holy, Holy Power

We are headed out to the beach again today --my last day of vacation.

But twice already today, the idea of "power" has come across my screen. One from a video of 10 points of power by Machiavelli... I will not link to it because it is too disgusting--it is what one might expect in a presentation of blatant power, how to get it, how to keep it. The other is actually found in the Lectionary today.

Power. What's there to say. Except that I am going to the beach and waves are powerful --and equally as ephemeral. Here. Gone.

Perhaps holy power is always ephemeral... given this quote from the Eucharistic lectionary for the day (Luke 24): When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight.

True holy power can never grasped or held. Perhaps this is why Jesus told Mary to not hold on to him when she freaked and grabbed his resurrected body in that garden. Perhaps that is why, when their eyes were opened and they knew who he was, he vanished.

Anyway --off to the beach. No acts of power for me today, okay God?!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

G'wan. Go to church.

No more crumbs under the table for these dogs.

This is as it is. And thank God for the Canaanite woman.

Padre Mickey Kicked My Ass!

Padre Mickey awarded me with the Kick-Ass Bloggers Award. So, first I must thank him, and then because I fear him, and I want to be like Franiam, I am following his instructions.

But first, all in my household decided that we should properly serenade Padre Mickey. So we gathered around the kitchen table and sang for him.

to the tune, "Michael Row the Boat Ashore"
Padre Mickey gave you
the Kick Ass Award.
Padre Mickey gave you
the Kick A-ass Award.

Now you must respond in kind
Yes you mu-ust.
Now you must respond in kind
Yes you mu-uuu-ust.

And then I performed my solo with the lights down low:

To the tune of Hymn 25 “O gracious light”

O Padre Mickey wa'cha do
you gave me the Kick-Ass 'Ward too,
how can I compare with all those dudes,
but here it is, the best I can do.

Hardly am I worthy of praise
but to you now my hands do raise
I am a novice next to you
but in your footsteps follow true.

I promise I will do my best
and you have put me to the test
but now I seek to cut and paste
and give 'em all a little taste.

And then we sang our finale:

To the tune of Hymn 89 "It came upon the midnight clear"
It came upon mid-august night,
that glorious Kick-ass Award,
from Padre bending h'ven and earth
to touch old harpy Marg.
“Just do it” he said emphatically,
“'cause Franiam made it rich.”
So here we stand and blog a song,
and all she can do is bitch.

For lo! The days are hastening on,
by bloggers seen of old,
when with the internet 'o-spheres,
shall come the time foretold,
when 'Wards shall over all the blogs
their ancient splendors fling,
and all the blogs pass on the 'Wards,
of which our Padre sings.

Huzzah!!! Hurrah!!!

and thank you Padre. Thank You!

And now, I must:
1) Choose five other bloggers that you feel are “Kick Ass Bloggers”
I choose Joel, johnieb, --oh man, I don't know five bloggers who haven't already received the Award!! Sigh.... But Padre Mickey did more than five, so it all comes out even.
2) Let them know that they have received an award. (Like Padre Mickey, I say, do I have to?--okay)
3) Link back to both the PERSON who awarded you and also to okay
4) Visit the Kick Ass Bloggers HQ to sign Mr. Linky and leave a comment.

And really Padre --this musical stuff is hard work!

The Lord is gonna trouble the water....

This last week, Joel and I took a ride down the back roads of Virginia. We ended up on a small road that dead-ended with a sign that said "free ferry." When we saw the ferry, a decrepit motor which pulled itself across on a submerged cable, we turned around.... We went down another road, attempting to find a bridge that would take us to a state park for a picnic. And found ourselves at another free ferry....

...equally decrepit which again pulled itself across this body of water on a submerged cable. It would hold two cars uncomfortably --with each car dangerously close to an open end of the ferry. Rather than turn around and burn more gas, we looked at each other and decided to risk it.

So we drove on to the ferry--thankfully the only car for this journey across the deep. The ferry man, who walked with a limp and had a bad arm, put a block under one of our front tires and instructed us to turn the motor off and put the parking brake on. We gladly did so. Mr. Witty, nervous because we had gone a little giddy, crawled up to nest in my lap. The ferry engine switched out of idle and began to drag us across the waters.

Oh my --what would happen if the cable broke--how far would we drift? Are the currents bad here? What would happen if the motor konked out--would we have to haul-to manually? The ferry man would know what to do, --yes? But he is physically challenged.... Sunday's Gospel of Jesus walking and calling across the water became exquisitely clear, and the dangers and risks of leaving the safety zone became tangible. --like, no way. I mean, wow. Yes, way, here we were in the middle of the river in our car... Lord, please don't trouble this water.... yep --I'm staying in the boat --Peter, you are braver and braver dude....

This morning's reading of the Gospel for Morning Prayer wrapped up my dangerous waters meditations. Here was a man striving to get in the troubled water, like Peter, eager to get in the water and see what happens, stumbling toward the troubled water when the Lord moved it, always missing out. And Jesus says, water--who needs it; get up and walk.

Those things we seem to think we need to dare, to risk, to think --in order to get where we think we need to be.... no walking on water is necessary--no troubled water is necessary; the kingdom is already ours.

But, go ahead, risk it if you feel drawn--all puns considered.

John 5:2-9
Now in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate there is a pool, called in Hebrew* Beth-zatha,* which has five porticoes. 3In these lay many invalids—blind, lame, and paralysed.* 5One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. 6When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there a long time, he said to him, ‘Do you want to be made well?’ 7The sick man answered him, ‘Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; and while I am making my way, someone else steps down ahead of me.’ 8Jesus said to him, ‘Stand up, take your mat and walk.’ 9At once the man was made well, and he took up his mat and began to walk.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Hell yes! Let's do it.

Too many of our images of Mary are demure, passive, receptive.
Somehow, there just has to be something more.

Now, please, I am one of those who prays the rosary--I am a Christian because of Mary (but that's another story). So, I think the images get it wrong.

Somehow, I see Mary lifting her head after her initial fear of finding someone she did not expect in the room with her --somehow I see her lifting her head, a strong light in her eyes, and her saying --HELL YES! Let's do it!

May we all follow Mary in her example of being a God-bearer. May we all be as brave and receptive as she.

The Collect and readings for the day:
O God, you have taken to yourself the blessed Virgin Mary, mother of your incarnate Son: Grant that we, who have been redeemed by his blood, may share with her the glory of your eternal kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Isaiah 61:10-11
I will greatly rejoice in the LORD,
my whole being shall exult in my God;
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
For as the earth brings forth its shoots,
and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up,
so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise
to spring up before all the nations.

Psalm 34 or 34:1-9 Page 627, BCP
Benedicam Dominum

I will bless the LORD at all times; *
his praise shall ever be in my mouth.

I will glory in the LORD; *
let the humble hear and rejoice.

Proclaim with me the greatness of the LORD; *
let us exalt his Name together.

I sought the LORD, and he answered me *
and delivered me out of all my terror.

Look upon him and be radiant, *
and let not your faces be ashamed.

I called in my affliction and the LORD heard me *
and saved me from all my troubles.

The angel of the LORD encompasses those who fear him, *
and he will deliver them.

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

Fear the LORD, you that are his saints, *
for those who fear him lack nothing.

The young lions lack and suffer hunger, *
but those who seek the LORD lack nothing that is good.

Come, children, and listen to me; *
I will teach you the fear of the LORD.

Who among you loves life *
and desires long life to enjoy prosperity?

Keep your tongue from evil-speaking *
and your lips from lying words.

Turn from evil and do good; *
seek peace and pursue it.

The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, *
and his ears are open to their cry.

The face of the LORD is against those who do evil, *
to root out the remembrance of them from the earth.

The righteous cry, and the LORD hears them *
and delivers them from all their troubles.

The LORD is near to the brokenhearted *
and will save those whose spirits are crushed.

Many are the troubles of the righteous, *
but the LORD will deliver him out of them all.

He will keep safe all his bones; *
not one of them shall be broken.

Evil shall slay the wicked, *
and those who hate the righteous will be punished.

The LORD ransoms the life of his servants, *
and none will be punished who trust in him.

Galatians 4:4-7When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God.

Luke 1:46-55
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."

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Lambeth Wake: The Bishop has called me

So, during Lambeth I wrote A LETTER to my Bishops.

I got a reply from one of them immediately. He asked for our prayers as it was going to be a very difficult week for Americans at Lambeth....

Early this week I received a call at home from one of my other Bishops. I was not at home at the time of his call, but he left a message saying he had received my email, and graciously offered to discuss what had transpired at Lambeth. He hoped that would lessen the difficult burden of what had transpired.

I returned his offer to call and talk this morning....but was not able to connect with him personally. But I hope to. I intend to.

I am deeply grateful that my Bishops actually take the time to respond to my concerns. I am sure I am but a very small and distant voice in this Diocese. A "fringe" voice. But as I have thought and prayed over his offer to talk and what it is that is still disturbing me in the Lambeth wake, I have become less and less concerned at what some foreign Bishop said, didn't say, --punches pulled or not in media interpretation...

I have become more and more focused on what my Bishops alone did or did not say and do: I do not care for them to explain what was said or done, either for or with a foreign Bishop. I do care for those I know and love and with whom I serve and worship, and my Bishops must show in some measurable way that they too care for those for whom they are responsible and who have born the burdens of the words and deeds of the Church in their flesh and blood... There has not been one word of grace from the Bishops for our GLBT members and their families and friends. Not one word of hope or vision about the direction or intent of this Diocese. Barely an acknowledgement of how difficult it has been--the sacrifices (willing and unwilling) that have been made.

I have said it before; I say it again: I am tired, exhausted of the rhetoric. I am sick with the grandstanding, thievery and lies. I think we all are--it has become a nonsensical theater of power struggles, lording and maneuvering played out on the backs of the people they have been called to serve and lead into true servanthood.

And true servanthood is not any part of laying down who we are, giving up, denying of self--the very persons made in the image of God. True servanthood is an employing, a gracious pouring out, a giving-sharing of who we are to the glory of God.

That kind of pouring out is not possible when that same self is demeaned, denigrated or denied.

I pray that our Bishops speak and act. Soon. Sitting on this fence is pure hell. For everyone.

Mr. Witty goes to the ER--but all is well.

What a day!

We went to the beach, but had to leave in a hurry as Mr. Witty chewed once too often on a stick he fetched out of the water. He choked and gagged and wouldn't quit choking and gagging. When he was finally breathing again, after frantic fingers down the throat and pulling stuff out, we hitched everything back in the car and took off to find an emergency veterinarian's office--Witty was still pawing at his face and nose, obviously uncomfortable. We couldn't find him a doctor near the beach, drove back to see his own doctor--but they were too busy to see him today. So we called around until we found one to see him --they took him from us, which we hate, and in 5minutes came out with a big ol' chunk of wood. And Mr. Witty too.

Mr. Joel of course was a mess --burst in to tears when he saw the wood.... But all is well. No more sticks at the beach --sounds like a trip to the dog-toy store to find a floaty-retrievy kind of thingy to me.

Facing evil with love

What is in the water in New Hampshire? Does New Hampshire just naturally produce good men?

Our good Bishop, +Gene Robinson, who keeps on the path of love despite what is hurled at him.... New Hampshire.... And Jonathan Myrick Daniels, ...New Hampshire.

I rest my case.

Jonathan Daniels is remembered in the church calendar today. When I was a school chaplain, I always taught the kids about Jonathan. Jonathan was a kid who got in trouble, wasn't sure about school, couldn't decide what to do, what path to take (military or something else). Kids love that--an undecided hero.

But honestly, what won me over about Jonathan was that he was won over as a Christian by the words uttered by women in the Bible, which is why the Magnificat is the selected reading for his day.

Google him. Learn about him. A kid who faced evil with love. He is remembered because he ultimately gave his life for another, faced evil with love... This is lifted from his VMI biography:

In August 1965 Daniels and 22 others were arrested for participating in a voter rights demonstration in Fort Deposit, Alabama, and transferred to the county jail in nearby Hayneville. Shortly after being released on August 20, Richard Morrisroe, a Catholic priest, and Daniels accompanied two black teenagers, Joyce Bailey and Ruby Sales, to a Hayneville store to buy a soda. They were met on the steps by Tom Coleman, a construction worker and part-time deputy sheriff, who was carrying a shotgun. Coleman aimed his gun at sixteen year old Ruby Sales; Daniels pushed her to the ground in order to protect her, saving her life. The shotgun blast killed Daniels instantly; Morrisroe was seriously wounded. When he heard of the tragedy, Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "One of the most heroic Christian deeds of which I have heard in my entire ministry was performed by Jonathan Daniels."

Indeed, this is an example of facing evil with love. But the story does not end there.

Ruby Sales continues the GOOD WORK.

This is the Collect for the Day, and the readings:

O God of justice and compassion, you put down the proud and mighty from their place, and lift up the poor and the afflicted: we give you thanks for your faithful witness Jonathan Myrick Daniels, who, in the midst of injustice and violence, risked and gave his life for another; and we pray that we, following his example, may make no peace with oppression; through Jesus Christ the just one, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Galatians 3:22-28The scripture has imprisoned all things under the power of sin, so that what was promised through faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed. Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian, for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.

Psalm 85:7-13 Page 709, BCP
Benedixisti, Domine

I will listen to what the LORD God is saying, *
for he is speaking peace to his faithful people
and to those who turn their hearts to him.

Truly, his salvation is very near to those who fear him, *
that his glory may dwell in our land.

Mercy and truth have met together; *
righteousness and peace have kissed each other.

Truth shall spring up from the earth, *
and righteousness shall look down from heaven.

The LORD will indeed grant prosperity, *
and our land will yield its increase.

Righteousness shall go before him, *
and peace shall be a pathway for his feet.

Luke 1:46-55
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."

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

If I climb up to heaven, you are there....

Yesterday morning, on a lark, we piled in the car and left the city for points unknown. We travelled on back country roads, and somehow ended up in Kilmarnock, VA --on what is called the northern neck, a peninsula between the Potomack and Rappahannock Rivers, in the Chesapeake Bay. We had packed a one-night overnight bag "just-in-case."

The Bay was close and beautiful. The rivers calm. The sky overcast which cut the summer heat and made the bugs sing on the wing. When it became obvious that we were not going to make it back home, we began looking for a place to spend the night.

The Holiday Inn wouldn't take our dog, Mr. Witty. We just don't stay in hotels that won't accommodate dogs.... they are usually too stuffy for us. The next closest hotel was about 15 miles back down the road....and I didn't like the looks of it... at all. I wouldn't LET my dog sleep there.

So we took off, decided to take another back road, and just let the evening unfold. Worse case scenario, we end up back at home at about midnight....

Just around the bend in Kilmarnock we came upon the Kilmarnock Inn.

We stayed in one of these little cottages behind the main inn. They loved Mr. Witty, and went all gooey over him. He returned the favor. The rooms were far more expensive and luxurious than we are used to --I mean details and special stuff and froo-froo puffy soft things we rarely treat to ourselves. And it included breakfast--fresh fruit and yogurt, fresh-squeezed OJ and french toast stuffed with fresh creme sauce with berries and maple syrup. Good coffee too. In this room. Decorated with Presidential place settings.

We saved Mr. Witty some goodies from the table. He was not allowed in this dining room. The Innkeeper assured us he would be, but for the State laws....

We are usually not so fancy--but this little break felt really good. I always feel guilty when we treat ourselves like this.... It did help me to relax and enjoy it by remembering what Mother Theresa said --something like 'when you find your self in the gutter, give glory to God; when you find your self in the palace, give glory to God.'

So, we gave glory to God, and enjoyed it all. I also found that the psalm for the day resonated--where can I go that you are not there also Lord?

Psalm 139:1-9 Page 794, BCP
Domine, probasti

LORD, you have searched me out and known me; *
you know my sitting down and my rising up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.

You trace my journeys and my resting-places *
and are acquainted with all my ways.

Indeed, there is not a word on my lips, *
but you, O LORD, know it altogether.

You press upon me behind and before *
and lay your hand upon me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; *
it is so high that I cannot attain to it.

Where can I go then from your Spirit? *
where can I flee from your presence?

If I climb up to heaven, you are there; *
if I make the grave my bed, you are there also.

If I take the wings of the morning *
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,

Even there your hand will lead me *
and your right hand hold me fast.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Scream boy, scream. Loose the bonds of injustice

We went to the beach yesterday. Not the ocean beach, which is fine here in Virginia, but to a less congested beach along the James River. We get to this beach by the Colonial Parkway, a purposefully undeveloped road which leads from Jamestown through Williamsburg and then to Yorktown --from settlement to the Revolution.

I love this beach because during the week there are very few people, and we can let Mr. Witty off the leash to chase crabs and leaves and sticks and whatever. The water in the James River is still salty at this point, and tidal, even though we are about 50 miles inland. The strip of green along the horizon is the south side of the James, just opposite Jamestown, really.

We were sitting on the beach, reading, dozing (yes Kirstin, in the shade of an umbrella and slathered with sun block) when we were joined by a couple of generations of a family of women (grandma, aunties, young mother) and one young boy who could not yet swim. They were pleasant, and the kid was obviously having a really good time. He was a little wary of the water --sharks and all, and would scream gloriously whenever he got wet above the belly.

By the end of the afternoon, while the child had grown more confident that there were no sharks in the water, he had not yet given up his piercing yet still joyful screams. He was certainly not bothering us. Their radio was, but not his screams of joy and awe. However, I think some of the women in the family were finally scream-fried. Taxed to her limits, the eldest woman in the family stood by the waterside and shouted at him --"Quit screaming like a girl, or get out of the water."

I looked to Joel who quietly shook his head. So, I stood and walked down the beach with Mr. Witty instead.

I was, well, torqued, steamed, ready to scream. The gender violence done to girls in this woman's speech --the gender violence done to this young boy-- I hardly have the words to accommodate it. And then not to say anything at all....

This morning, I read the Collect for the Day: Life-giving God, you alone have power over life and death, over health and sickness: Give power, wisdom, and gentleness to those who follow the lead of Florence Nightingale, that they, bearing with them your presence, may not only heal but bless, and shine as lanterns of hope in the darkest hours of pain and fear; through Jesus Christ, the healer of body and soul, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen

My mother was a nurse, my grandmother an Army Nurse (Class of 1915--one of the first generation of formally trained Army Nurses at Walter Reed Hospital). Florence Nightengale was a torch bearer and liberator in my home. Especially because my grandmother, one of five girls, put herself through college to get her nursing degree--against her father's wishes; girls shouldn't have a higher education as it reduces their desirability as a wife.

As I contemplate the young boy and the family of women we encountered on the beach, I remember all those women who have gone before us, breaking down gender-roles and opening for us a broader path so that we all may live more fully in our vocations. And I remember what work we still have ahead of us. Father in heaven, heal us, bless us, body and soul.

And, all I can think today is, scream young boy, scream. And may it heal your family.

Thank you, Florence Nightengale, for your life of service.

Readings for the day:
Isaiah 58:6-11
Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of injustice,
to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them,
and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up quickly;
your vindicator shall go before you,
the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer;
you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am.

If you remove the yoke from among you,
the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil,
if you offer your food to the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the afflicted,
then your light shall rise in the darkness
and your gloom be like the noonday.
The LORD will guide you continually,
and satisfy your needs in parched places,
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters never fail.

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."

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Our Father's good pleasure to give us the kingdom: for St. Clare on her day.

Clare, and therefore Francis, hold a special place in my life as a Christian. They opened the door to true love for me.

I tried to join the Poor Clare's (Anglican) in Assisi. The attempt lasted about three weeks. The nuns laughed. I laughed.... talk about a misplaced vocation. But I did it because I was very young and couldn't fathom joining the armed forces, which seemed like the only viable alternative at the time.

The life I had imagined just wasn't going to happen. You see, I was madly in love with Brother Joel, Society of Saint Francis, and I had been in love with him for about seven years. But it seemed there was no hope in us making a life together as he was very committed to his Franciscan life--life vows and everything. I knew he loved me as passionately as I loved him; but there was nothing I would do or say to ask him to leave the Order. So, logically, perhaps my life as a nun might make it all come out even in heaven or something.

Well, heaven was laughing too. Because Joel and I have been married for about 27 years now. But our life together has been informed by the passionate devotion of both Clare and Francis. And I have no doubt of their passion for the vocation of one another. I think the Church believes that too --as is evident in the selection for the first reading:

Song of Solomon 2:10-13
My beloved speaks and says to me:
"Arise, my love, my fair one,
and come away;
for now the winter is past,
the rain is over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth;
the time of singing has come,
and the voice of the turtledove
is heard in our land.
The fig tree puts forth its figs,
and the vines are in blossom;
they give forth fragrance.
Arise, my love, my fair one,
and come away."

Sure, the Church interprets these songs as one who pants and longs for and pursues God. But they are love songs first, and how else are we to know the love of God except in flesh and blood. I was fascinated to find these images of Francis and Clare by the artist Arthur Boyd:

I think Boyd knew things about passionate love, and I think he got it right about Francis and Clare. At least, I hope so.

I mean, loving God as much as they seemed to do would certainly lead one to love what God loves....and love it as passionately. As delicately.

Which leads me to a very different place than the Collect for the Day might seem to lead:
O God, whose blessed Son became poor that we through his poverty might be rich: Deliver us from an inordinate love of this world, that we, inspired by the devotion of your servant Clare, may serve you with singleness of heart, and attain to the riches of the age to come; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

No, I pray that we may all have an inordinate love of this passionate and delicate a love for this world as Clare and Francis. And for all those little ones whom they loved.

I think the Church prays that too, secretly. I mean, just read these readings aloud, to someone else, and see what happens.
These are the other readings for St. Clare:

Psalm 63:1-8 Page 670, BCP
Deus, Deus meus

O God, you are my God; eagerly I seek you; *
my soul thirsts for you, my flesh faints for you,
as in a barren and dry land where there is no water.

Therefore I have gazed upon you in your holy place, *
that I might behold your power and your glory.

For your loving-kindness is better than life itself; *
my lips shall give you praise.

So will I bless you as long as I live *
and lift up my hands in your Name.

My soul is content, as with marrow and fatness, *
and my mouth praises you with joyful lips,

When I remember you upon my bed, *
and meditate on you in the night watches.

For you have been my helper, *
and under the shadow of your wings I will rejoice.

My soul clings to you; *
your right hand holds me fast.

Luke 12:32-37
Jesus said to his disciples, "Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
"Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit; be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks. Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes; truly I tell you, he will fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them."

Our Father's good pleasure is to give us the kingdom. Amen.

A Total Smackdown

Two really wonderful essays and reflections of Lambeth at DESERT'S CHILD by Katie Sherrod. Do go read them both-- Here is a teaser of the second....

I’m sitting in a departure lounge at Heathrow. It’s a strange in-between time – I’ve already mentally left England but have not yet begun traveling toward home.

So while I wait here are some rough draft reflections on Lambeth:

Rowan Williams did a very clever job of designing a conference that gave him everything he wanted – no resolutions, bishops who felt “closer” to one another, and – on the last day when they had been lulled into a sense of trust -- a total smackdown of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada.

The process may have been easier on the bishops than the brutal Lambeth of 1998, but the outcome is just as brutal for LGBT Anglicans.

I’m still waiting for a better explanation than Williams was able to give me at the final press conference about what the theological and scriptural grounding is for asking an entire group of Christians to sacrifice their vocations and relationship on your behalf. Simply saying that sacrifice has to be voluntary and that the Communion is worth that sacrifice doesn’t do the job.

As a priest in the US said, “When I climb up on the cross, it’s sacrifice. When you put me up there, it’s murder.’

Clear enough for you?

Saturday, August 9, 2008

G'wan. Go to church.

From Romans --As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!"

And the Good News is that Jesus walked on water.... much more impressive than what those swimmers are doing at the Olympics.... so --go see and hear and know what real swimming is all about. G'wan. Go to church!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Lambeth and flying monkeys

So, while I've been doing the tango with grief in the dissolution of my mother's home, I have at the same time been processing my reflections on the Lambeth landscape. And somehow the whole process of reflection ends up at the OZ MUSEUM in some small town in eastern Kansas. In my journey from home to home, we stopped at the Oz museum...

Yes, Oz. Oz is all about finding out where home is--to find out you have carried the secret of home/courage/love/brains with you the whole time.... through the dangerous adventures which seeming strangers in positions of power, who are more like you than you can imagine, can try to exact from you, until one has the courage, brains, love and discipline to throw the curtain aside....

What does this have to do with my mother's house and Lambeth?

Oh, everything. The classic story of home, courage, brains, love, ---power struggles, of culture--counter culture, death, ghosts, goodness and the fragile but gloriously redeemed humanity seeking seeking seeking..... All of that was played out on the international stage of the Anglican communion, as classic as anything Shakespeare could have written; at the same time the classic story and power struggles were writ small in my own family.... and all that was needed --courage, brains, love and the knowledge of home were already in my pocket, in my person.... All the communion needs, it already faith, of course, because none of us has power to save ourselves...

....and yet, the wicked witch lives, yes?!

Well, wicked is wicked --Unless, of course, you read the new take on Oz, "WICKED" which posits that the so-called witch is not wicked at all, but was actually the true heroine trying to save the natives of Oz from the foreign imposters....

A wonderful twist to the story --and if you haven't read it, it's a really fun read. But it is also a Gospel-type story--where the "fringe" already own the the center, already walk in the light, already are at home, already know what it is to risk everything for what is right and good....risk everything for what is rightly theirs, heirs and inheritance.... blessed are you who mourn, blessed are you poor, blessed are you who are persecuted --for yours is the kingdom of heaven....

Much harder to live it than hear or read it.

A side thought, ...I have always thought that it is not the poor we should pray for on Sunday morning. We should pray for the rich, the powerful, those in power....

So, there's the story --in the Emerald City part of Oz, we have a powerful WIZARD who is afraid to come out from behind the curtain. He knows where he should be, but feels caught.... On the yellow brick road, those searching for the way home, already possess all that they need to get home. And the wicked witch is really a good witch, working for the dispossessed heirs.... And, in some necks of the woods, there are no unwelcome flying monkeys or other true children of Oz..... would that it were so everywhere.

A strange work of reflection, perhaps. But it is mine.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Home. Home. Home.
My beloved.
My dog.

And it took more than three clicks of my ruby-red slippers.

So tired.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

All is well, and all manner of things shall be well

We are now 50 miles or so east of St. Louis. A huge and terrific thunder and lightening storm greeted us as we crossed the Mississippi; best one ever.

There are parts of Utah that I think God has forgotten.

Kansas is not flat. Oz lives.

All is well, and all manner of things shall be well.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Leaving home to go home

We have left my native ground--the place of my ancestors. Moving east, but still in the west, the dry west. I am sitting in a hotel room in Elko Nevada; my sister is sleeping. We are at an elevation of more than 3,000 feet above sea level. It is hot; sage brush grows everywhere, perfumes the air, and there are no trees to speak of--no trees that exceed a height of three or four feet. The hills and mountains are nearly naked but for the sage. Water is scarce here--very little of it flows across the landscape. The mountains rise to about 9,000 feet or so... it's plainly gorgeous in a chaotic and wild way. Everything reaches for the heavens.

Tomorrow we cross the Continental Divide--water will no longer find its way to the Pacific --but will head to the Gulf and the Atlantic.


Leaving home to go home. I have been refreshed and reminded. Now I turn my eyes to points east and look forward to the soft air and gentler places of the South.

G'wan. Go to church.

From the Gospel this morning: Nothing left but two loaves and some fish....

This morning, I stand in the house my mother built--basically a one-room house built to give parties. I am on the West coast so it is still dark outside--yet my body is still in the eastern time zone and is asking for things that this time zone is not yet prepared to offer.... As I look around, one last time, this early morning hits home. Mom's house was always lively and full of color and even more excellent food. This morning it is cavernous, and has been "staged" by a real estate agent. The imagined or staged is never as good as what I might be tempted to call "real."

I am thinking that the bread received by the unwilling, doubting, unbelieving gathered in that open place was probably the best bread ever --real, live bread.

I am ready for a party and live bread. I am so hungry.....

Saturday, August 2, 2008

In Oregon. All packed. All is well.

I am living resurrection.
Thanks be to God!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Deadly Expectations

I had not expected that after six months, my mom's house would sell on her birthday.

I had not expected that I would spend two whole days rearranging our house this week, to make room for the stuff mom left me.

I had not expected that I would feel this grieved all over again at every pinch and wiggle through the final dissolution of her home.

I had not expected to find a story of the Resurrection at morning prayer.

But that is what is this morning.

All the wreck and ruin of daily life, all the expectations which remain unfulfilled, and yes it is only through that which I did not expect that I might be awake to the works of God.

Surely Mary and Mary did not expect to get their sandals blown off by an angel who told them the most unexpected thing on earth--that life belongs to Life, and that Jesus is gone before them, to meet them, "trampling down death by death and upon those in the tomb, bestowing life."

As I travel to the very place where my mother died, the cavernous shell of her home, I am hoping in faith to have my sandals blown off... but I do not expect it.... .

You know, the ancient icons spoke of all this comprehensively. This one, of the nativity, --there is the cave behind the mother and child --the womb of the tomb prefigured. The angels already at the ready. New life out of rock....always.

My mantra for this week, as I fly west and drive back the 3,000 miles or so: "Do not be afraid... He is going ahead of you."

Matt. 28: 1- 10 (NRSV)

After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, 'He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.' This is my message for you." So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, "Greetings!" And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me."