Monday, November 30, 2009

Every moment contains all that has ever been and will be

I just half-listened to the interview of Cornel West on the Today Show. He was promoting his new book, and he said something about being blues in his mind but jazz in his heart or the other way around.... remember, I was only half-listening. But what struck me was the way he described the blues --I heard 'the blues are --out of deep love --out of catastrophe.' And he was making gestures emanating from his gut. Oh man, I totally hear that.

Is it silly or is it arrogant to think --yah, I know exactly what he means.... and for me it is chant... different tonal quality, but straight out of the gut. Deep love --out of the cross. A human version of howling.

West is also known to say, "You can't lead the people if you don't love the people. You can't save the people if you won't serve the people." The Gospel in a nutshell. Whooops! There it is! Preach it Cornel!

The real task, as a Christian, is to enflesh that --to embody it --to incarnate love and service. Sounds so impossible and at the same time so possible.

And as I read the Eucharistic lections for St. Andrew's Day --which is today, the certainty of enfleshing faith --serving the people-- erupted within me with a new fervor and conviction. And the mental images which accompanied this reading...

For St. Andrew's Day (Deuteronomy 30:11-14) Moses said to the people of Israel: Surely, this commandment that I am commanding you today is not too hard for you, nor is it too far away. It is not in heaven, that you should say, "Who will go up to heaven for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it?" Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, "Who will cross to the other side of the sea for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it?" No, the word is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart for you to observe.

Jacob's ladder... it is not in heaven-- 'cause heaven is alongside us, accessible, a step away... and how many times did Jesus cross to the other side of the sea for us? Love enfleshed, come to serve. Said so. From the gut. From catastrophe.

If I could really enflesh song, I would want to sing like this:

Straight from the gut.

And I stop... why am I contemplating the cross at the beginning of Advent?

I guess because every moment contains all things. Alpha. Omega. Heaven. The intangible incarnate.
Maybe that is the dagger which pierced Mary's heart.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

G'wan. Go to church

Devastation. Nation against nation. People in great anguish. The end of the world as we know it. such is the Gospel for Sunday.

In the medieval period, the image below was considered a "harbinger" of the end of the world. It is called "Pope-ass." Interestingly, I found it at this site, Mute,, an article posted in August 2007 about the potential of a financial collapse... the end of the financial world as we know it.... Was anybody listening in 2007?

And, so... what is the Good News? --Well, we are supposed to stand up and raise up our heads... while everybody else is freaking out and dieing and distressed, we are supposed to be able to see our redemption drawing.


G'wan. Go to church. It takes practice to see God in all things in all times....

Dang. I've been too freakin' serious of late....
Holy Shmoley!!!! My beloved just surprised me with a bucket of hot water to soak my feet in...
That's too funny!!!
Today, the food pantry at the good congregation I serve will be open. We mostly serve the homeless at our pantry and it seems most of them know the 'routine.' We don't do the 'routine' --which is keeping names and numbers that we report to some government agency for statistics and tracking of benefits... we just give food away. But word is that more folks are showing up at our door with that 'deer in the headlights--never done this before' look.

The ministers who signed up for the food pantry today decided they would offer a hot meal to go along with the bag of food. Get the folks in the door, send them to the parish hall, sit 'em down --hot soup, warm bread, good folks.

Not because this is part of our 'program' --but because those who signed up for the pantry felt moved to do so.

At morning prayer (1 Peter 4:8-11) Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining. Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received. Whoever speaks must do so as one speaking the very words of God; whoever serves must do so with the strength that God supplies, so that God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ. To him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.

Would that this love and hospitality be found everywhere in the church. Regardless. Yah, most of our guests will have just recently been released from jail or various treatment/hospital situations... most of them have come begging at the door mid-week with some various tale spun. One guy even forgot that he had told us that his son had died, and then a month later brought his son begging with him. But, "love covers a multitude of sins."

As it has been said, "It is only because of your love that the poor will forgive you for giving them bread." Vincent dePaul. Now, there's something to think about.

Remember the King and Queen of Hawaii, Kamehameha and Emma in your prayers. Imagine --they offered universal health care and universal education to all....

And, it is the last day of our liturgical calendar! A New Year begins tomorrow!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Hear the Gospel anywhere

Damned if you do. Damned if you don't.

When I speak/act up/out --some people don't like it. --others say it's not enough.

At morning prayer (1 Peter 3:14-17) Do not fear what they fear, and do not be intimidated, but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence. Keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who abuse you for your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if suffering should be God's will, than to suffer for doing evil.

"Break on through to the other side...." If you think about it --that's another way to preach it.... yah, I can hear the Gospel there ---probably just about anywhere.... so should you. I mean, read this:

Do you know the warm progress under the stars?
Do you know we exist?
Have you forgotten the keys to the Kingdom?
Have you been borne yet & are you alive?
Let's reinvent the gods, all the myths of the ages
Celebrate symbols from deep elder forests
[Have you forgotten the lessons of the ancient war]

We need great golden copulations
The fathers are cackling in trees of the forest
Our mother is dead in the sea
Do you know we are being led to slaughters by placid admirals
& that fat slow generals are getting obscene on young blood
Do you know we are ruled by T.V.
The moon is a dry blood beast
Guerilla bands are rolling numbers in the next block of green vine
amassing for warfare on innocent herdsmen who are just dying

O great creator of being grant us one more hour to perform our art & perfect our lives
The moths & atheists are doubly divine & dying
We live, we die & death not ends it
Journey we more into the Nightmare
Cling to life our passion'd flower
Cling to cunts & cocks of despair
We got our final vision by clap
Columbus' groin got filled w/ green death
(I touched her thigh & death smiled)

We have assembled inside this ancient & insane theatre
To propagate our lust for life & flee the swarming wisdom of the streets
The barns are stormed
The windows kept & only one of all the rest
To dance & save us
W/ the divine mockery of words
Music inflames temperament
(When the true King's murderers are allowed to roam free
a 1000 magicians arise in the land)
Where are the feasts we were promised
Where is the wine
The New Wine
(dying on the vine)

Resident mockery
give us an hour for magic
We of the purple glove
We of the starling flight & velvet hour
We of arabic pleasures's breed
We of sundome & the night

Give us a creed to believe
A night of lust
Give us trust in the Night
Give of color hundred hues a rich mandala
for me & for you & for your silky pillowed house
a head, wisdom & a bed

Troubled decree resident mockery has claimed thee
We used to believe in the good old days
We still receive
In little ways the things of Kindness & unsporting brow
Forget & allow

Did you know freedom exists in school books
Did you know madmen are running our prisons
w/in a jail, w/in a gaol w/in a white free protestant maelstrom

We're perched headlong on the edge of boredom
We're reaching for death on the end of a candle
We're trying for something that's already found us

Wow, I'm sick of doubt
Live in the light of certain south
Cruel bindings the servants have the power
dog-men & their mean women pulling poor blankets over our sailors

I'm sick of dour faces staring at me from the T.V.
Tower, I want roses in my garden bower; dig?

Royal babies, rubies must now replace aborted
Strangers in the mud
These mutants, blood-meal for the plant that's plowed
they are waiting to take us into the severed garden

Do you know how pale & wanton thrillful comes death on a stranger hour
unannounced, unplanned for like a scaring over-friendly guest you've
brought to bed

Death makes angels of us all & gives us wings
where we had shoulders smooth as raven's claws

No more money, no more fancy dress
This other kingdom seems by far the best
until its other jaw reveals incest
& loose obedience to a vegetable law

I will not go
Prefer a feast of friends
To the Giant family

An American Prayer, Jim Morrison

Junkie. Freak. Genius. Gospel.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!!

The Collect Almighty and gracious Father, we give you thanks for the fruits of the earth in their season and for the labors of those who harvest them. Make us, we pray, faithful stewards of your great bounty, for the provision of our necessities and the relief of all who are in need, to the glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

(Joel 2:21-27) Do not fear, O soil; be glad and rejoice, for the LORD has done great things! Do not fear, you animals of the field, for the pastures of the wilderness are green; the tree bears its fruit, the fig tree and vine give their full yield. O children of Zion, be glad and rejoice in the LORD your God; for he has given the early rain for your vindication, he has poured down for you abundant rain, the early and the later rain, as before. The threshing floors shall be full of grain, the vats shall overflow with wine and oil. I will repay you for the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent against you. You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, who has dealt wondrously with you. And my people shall never again be put to shame. You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I, the LORD, am your God and there is no other. And my people shall never again be put to shame.

(Matthew 6:25-33) Jesus said, "I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you-- you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, `What will we eat?' or `What will we drink?' or `What will we wear?' For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."

Get up. Have coffee. Go to church. Sing. Pray. Give thanks. --I am thankful that I am alive. I am thankful for Joel and Juan and the light they bear; I am thankful for Mr. Witty and all that he reveals of the Kingdom; I am thankful for all my sisters and brothers, for the congregation I love and serve, for the work I have been given.

So, today I will not preach at our informal service at church.... --I will ask everyone to share a word about that which they are thankful. And then we will offer it all to God.

So, for what are you giving thanks?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Israel of God

Wednesday. Day before Thanksgiving. Today, the day of James Otis Sargent Huntington of Boston, MA. I have no doubt that if, indeed, he is part of the Sargent clan of Boston as his name implies, then we are related --kissing cousins. Which means we are distant enough to legally kiss.... something like that.

Would that we could/would all know that in a very real way we are ALL related. We are one. One.

But my mind is drifting in and out of the holiday phase--the pressures that these holidays and the next four weeks put on folks, --emotional, psychic, monetary.... And I am already feeling that pressure--not of myself, but for those I love and serve. Because, we are one.

Huntington was moved to go from being a parish priest of a working-class congregation to found a monastic order (Episcopal --yes, we got monks and brothers, nuns and sisters-- ) and work primarily among the poor on the Lower East Side of New York City. Guess he felt that pressure --we are one-- if they suffer...

And in our home, my anxiety for Juan is ramping up too --his first hearing is next week, and then two on the following Monday, about 10 days from now. He could just be --poof-- taken. Not allowed clothes or money --nothing. Put in a holding cell until there are enough just like him to fill a plane.


Did you know that the Federal Government of our nation pays triple the going rate to house undocumented persons in jails and prisons!? So, if we the taxpayers will pay $100/day to house a thief or murderer, we will pay $300/day to house a Juan. A true incentive for local law enforcement, heh?

And we are one.
And I am not forgetting those of Uganda who only want to live an honest life... or the children who live on the north and east sides of this City... or the children of the west side who are isolated and alone despite the all the amenities....

Time to breathe. In. Out. Time to remember --we are one, we live in a new creation; those who know that live in peace and joy --the people of God, no matter what.

From the Eucharistic lectionary for Huntington (Galatians 6:14-16) May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is anything; but a new creation is everything! As for those who will follow this rule-- peace be upon them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.

James Huntington, 25 November 1935. James Huntington was born in Boston in 1854, studied at Harvard and at St Andrew's Divinity School in Syracuse, was ordained to the priesthood around 1880, and served a working-class congregation. After a few years, he felt called to found a monastic order for priests of the Episcopal Church, and with two companions he began working among poor immigrants on New York's Lower East Side. After a slow start, he with others became the Order of the Holy Cross, which now has a monastery in West Park, New York, and priests involved in parish work and social work scattered elsewhere. Huntington was Superior of the order for several non-consecutive terms, but devoted himself chiefly to preaching, teaching, and counselling until his death on 28 June 1935. Since this is the feast of Irenaeus of Lyons, he is commemorated on the anniversary of the receiving of his monastic vows by the Bishop of New York on 25 November 1884. (Keifer)

We are one.
Keep my heart fixed on thee, O Lord.... and move it as you will.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Living beyond the Law

There are a lot of very short Christians that sit in the back of the church with their parents. They are like popcorn at times. This last Sunday, one of them shouted 'alleluia' top volume five seconds after everyone else had done so. It filled the church with mirth. I loved it! Loved it! Not so sure what the parents thought.... let them read this:

At morning prayer ((Matthew 19:13-16) Then little children were being brought to him in order that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples spoke sternly to those who brought them; but Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs." And he laid his hands on them and went on his way.

And yesterday, being my day off, I didn't check my church email or phone --if it's an emergency folks know how to get in touch with me. But I did go on Facebook.... and there I saw a post about signing a petition at church this Sunday and at the World AIDS Day service on Tuesday with regard to the pending legislation in Uganda. It is so very wonderful to be with a people who undertake this kind of work without prompting.... well, I did send a letter out to the Vestry.... telling them what I was doing.... with contacts to urge them to speak as well....

And, I have chucked three letters to my Bishops. Three. The more I dig into this mess, the worse it becomes. The silence from the Episcopal church is horrific. The institutional consequences if we do speak are horrific. The consequences for just knowing someone who is gay and not reporting them are horrific. The way the culture wars in our neck of the woods have been played out globally are horrific.

The mind(s) that thought this mess up must be filled with such loathing, venom, rigidity....

And if the church hasn't spoken because its machinations are moribund and antiquated and lack a Resolution by General Convention.... it breaks my heart. It breaks my heart. I know there is no perfect institution, but for a people who are responsible for carrying the Gospel, sometimes we must sell all that we have and give it all away in order to follow Christ.

We are called to live beyond the Law --beyond the contract --beyond right and wrong and writ. If we can't do that, we will have lost it all....

Morning prayer continued (Matthew 19:17-22) Then someone came to him and said, "Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?" And he said to him, "Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments." He said to him, "Which ones?" And Jesus said, "You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; Honor your father and mother; also, You shall love your neighbor as yourself." The young man said to him, "I have kept all these; what do I still lack?" Jesus said to him, "If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me." When the young man heard this word, he went away grieving, for he had many possessions.

And, yes, I'm working on how to incorporate signing a petition in to liturgy....

Monday, November 23, 2009

Be afraid. Very afraid. You are not safe.

It's Clement today (c. 100 --now that's kinda early!). The church prays: Almighty God, you chose your servant Clement of Rome to recall the Church in Corinth to obedience and stability; Grant that your Church may be grounded and settled in your truth by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit; reveal to it what is not yet known; fill up what is lacking; confirm what has already been revealed; and keep it blameless in your service...

Good prayer. Sounds so nice. But, I am left confident that the obedience and stability --the grounded and settled-ness of which we pray is hardly of the easy sort --if you know what I mean. Obedience, stability, grounded and settled-ness of the Gospel sort puts one in a whole different rather wild garden....

Point in case --as best as I can put together, the pending legislation in Uganda is horrific. No brainer to speak against it. And yet, the Episcopal church has not yet spoken --as a matter of fact, the group that makes decisions for the church between conventions has had to schedule a post-Thanksgiving date to discuss it all by a conference call....


Well --upon a closer read of the text (yes, the link above will take you to a PDF of the text of the legislation), the real clincher about not speaking might be this ---if an institution or individual speaks in support of homosexuals or knows someone who supports or is a homosexual and doesn't report them to the state authorities, any where in the world, and then happens to go to Uganda, they can be arrested and imprisoned for at least 7 years.

That includes just talking about safe-sex.

So, if I am connecting the dots correctly, the Episcopal Church is not afraid of endangering the LGBTQ faithful in Uganda --it is afraid of endangering missionaries, nurses, doctors, relief workers, agricultural experts, priests, bishops and etc who might travel to Uganda.... because they might have association to someone or some institution who has in any way supported the rights of or extended care to homosexuals --bottabing-- prison for them.

Dr. Sylvia Tamale, law professor at Makerere University, says this: Furthermore, if your job is in any way related to human rights activism, advocacy, education and training, research, capacity building, and related issues this bill should be a cause for serious alarm. In a very undemocratic and unconstitutional fashion, the bill seeks to silence human rights activists, academics, students, donors and non-governmental organizations. If passed into law it will stifle the space of civil society. The bill also undermines the pivotal role of the media to report freely on any issue. The point I am trying to make is that we are all potential victims of this draconian bill. For the whole discussion go here.

So.... I just gotta believe that not speaking out is not gonna save anyone. So.... speaking out will put us all in danger. Remember --the Bill is not just for persons in Uganda, but the whole wide world.

It puts us all in danger.

This is where that obedience, stability, grounded and settled-ness in the Gospel comes in. Let us speak, knowing the danger. And then, if indeed Uganda passes this horrid law, let us go and assume the danger, the risk --let us take the sin on our backs.... Yes, Bishops, you too.

Perhaps it is time to visit my friends in Mbarara. But, then, since I am a notorious and dangerous gay-lover, that would be putting them and their children in danger.... But, aren't they already...? I mean, he studied at that notoriously gay school in Berkeley... he is already suspect. Probably, already condemned.

From the Eucharistic lectionary (Luke 6:37-39) Jesus said, "Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back."

Perhaps the church should give itself up to this. We have been promised a full measure back... so what shall we fear?

Spell-check doesn't like no-brainer!
Go figure.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

G'wan. Go to church

From Pilate's wash stand:

G'wan. Go to church. And pray for Pilate who only saw a poor man without a people and betrayed by his own religious authorities.

And perhaps in doing so, we will remember what the Kingdom looks like.
God willing.


At morning prayer (Matthew 18:21-22) Then Peter came and said to him, "Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?" Jesus said to him, "Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times."

Forgiveness. Uughhhh. It's so freakin' difficult. Learning not to stuff self down --learning not to stuff someone else down. The terrain of forgiveness is not a flat plain--a leveling, a presumed equality. It is still mountainous.

But, forgiveness is to put God before one's eyes.

And let go.

So, how does one let go of violence to the soul and Spirit? Or bloody violence and death? Most of us, I think, will do it like one peels an onion, layer by layer and with tears. And, then, there is always the question of who provides and wields the knife. There are few among us who will fall off our horses wholesale, like Paul --but even then, there was a time of blindness for him, and the need to be dependent upon those whom he had injured.

And what to do with righteousness... the call, the vocation.... as in the work for equality? Especially when righteousness is subverted, made pornographic --like churches refusing to serve the marginalized by using the very words and actions of the marginalized. Or a church hierarchy confusing the ability and responsibility to speak in the name of peace and righteousness with permission to speak.

Yes. Pornographic. That's what it is --that is what these churches have done. Taking something good and wonderful and God-given and twisting it.

And, yet, we have been given that charge --not seven times, but as long as it takes. And, sometimes we forgive too soon....

So, today. Keep the focus. God before me.
And, I remind myself.... just like it takes a while to learn to walk, forgiveness is a process.

There is only one done deal. What dwells beyond Cavalry. And, God willing, that is the goal of all.

Friday, November 20, 2009

serpent or dove

Last night I attended a special tour and presentation --really a sales seminar for churches at a local TV station. They billed it as a way to 'increase our outreach.' --I knew they didn't mean outreach the way we mean outreach. They meant advertising --we mean service in Love to our Lord.

It was an interesting pitch --and OH so affordable! Only $400 a week with a six-month minimum!

Now, when they say affordable, I'm sure they mean it --when I say how affordable that is, please hear irony.

And, that's what gets me --so much of what we say in church language or with reference to the Gospel has to be heard differently to be understood. Sometimes it thrills me to find language which subverts and changes meaning --it can be liberating and radicalizing; and other times I find it distressing.... very distressing. I mean, the whole thing about the scandal of the cross, where Christians change the meaning of shame and death into glory and life.... And then there's a whole new tribe of folks who wear crosses, not because they are Christian, but they wear the cross with new meaning --new power, new associations. And it has nothing to do with the Gospel....

And part of me knows Jesus would be thrilled --that the assumptions of the institution we call church, which has been in power and has abused power and authority for such a very long time --that institution probably needs to have its symbols and associations and power subverted, exposed. (--and I think and hear, "Are you King of the Jews" Pilate asks.... and Jesus says, "You call me King... but my Kingdom is not of this world.")

I struggle with this. A lot. When I speak or do not speak, do I do that as Rector of St. Goodpeople, as a priest, as a legally married woman, as a childless mother, as a beloved child of God, as a citizen, as someone who hates what Christmas has become, as margaret? Is it even possible for me to separate those things....?

And, probably.... honestly.... when I speak, margaret alone is usually subverting anything, everything.... she's so bad.... and I hope you understand when I say that....

And, what do I do being part of a church which won't speak to so many life and death Gospel-imperative things.... just so that we can all get along..... so that its words won't be subverted, misheard.... is it better to be unheard than not heard at all?

And, yeah, I'm thinking about +KJS and her silence on the legislation in Uganda right now. ....more than just Canada has spoken now...

Somehow, just somehow, I'm thinking it's better to be heard and risk subversion, being misunderstood or whatever... because even in subversion and misunderstanding, the Gospel will work its way. I mean, no one in Uganda has asked us not to speak, have they? ...what with all the power plays and subversive tactics employed by so-called-Christian conservatives who have carried our political 'culture wars' to Africa...

For the Eucharist to remember Edmund, martyr, 870 (Matthew 10:16) Jesus said to the twelve apostles, "See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of them, for they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues; and you will be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them and the Gentiles. When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

I wonder how long I'd last in Uganda.... I can hardly navigate the caacaa I know.... not worry about what I say? Are you kidding?!

Edmund didn't speak.... wouldn't take words back... and it still cost him his life. But, what if in speaking you risk some one else's life?

...dang. ....I'm neither serpent nor dove.... sigh.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Today we remember Elizabeth of Hungary (19 November 1231) ...princess of Hungary. She was concerned for the relief of the poor and the sick, and with her husband's consent she used her dowry money for their relief. During a famine and epidemic in 1226, while her husband was away in Italy, she sold her jewels and established a hospital where she nursed the sick, and opened the royal granaries to feed the hungry. After her husband's death in 1227, her inlaws, who opposed her "extravagances," expelled her from Wartburg. Finally an arrangement was negotiated with them that gave her a stipend. She became a Franciscan tertiary (lay associate) and devoted the remainder of her life to nursing and charity. She sewed garments to clothe the poor, and went fishing to feed them. (by James Kiefer)

--That last part is particularly charming... she "went fishing to feed them." Well, charming might not be the best word, --maybe heart-warming.... nah, that's too pasty. What gets right to the core of it all is the Collect which reads in part Elizabeth of Hungary recognized and honored Jesus in the poor of this world: Grant that we, following her example, may with love and gladness serve those in any need or trouble...

The emphasis is mine (--and a million things and words and images swirl in my mind's eye about the struggles and centrality of that emphasis in the way I understand my vocation).

What is also striking is the way Elizabeth had to fight so hard in order to care for the poor, the sick, the marginalized. (And, yes, in today's world right now we can read systems of capitalism when the poor are mentioned, health care when the sick are mentioned, and sexual minorities among the marginalized.) Is it just part of it "all" that those who feel 'called' have to fight with power and authority and privilege? --have to dislodge from so many cultural systems, no matter the era, culture or system? What is it that happens when the marginalized are cared for?

What happens is that the presumptions and assumptions about the rightness of our cultural systems have to face the light of day. And that can be ground-shaking and breathtaking. Facing death can do that too-- puts life itself in a whole new focus, with new priorities. And when one begins to challenge the rightness of our cultural systems, the brokers of the system, those who have the most invested or the most to lose will usually work to quash the challenge.

The hardest part for me is that I don't want to joust windmills, get picked up and thrown aside by the machinations of power brokers --the skill, patience and endurance it takes to persist in seeing Jesus in the marginalized is a difficult discipline. And, the other hardest part for me is knowing I have drunk and still drink from the cup of power brokers --as part of an institution of power (even as it falls into incredulity and irrelevance) --as part of privilege in so many ways....

Perhaps what moves me today is the way Elizabeth navigated between the windmill and those subject to its machinations.... and that she died at the age of 24 suffering from the very diseases she sought to alleviate, living with and among those in whom she saw Jesus. And what joy that must have been --to see Jesus.

From the Eucharistic lectionary (Matthew 25:38-40) 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.'

I guess the first discipline is disengaging from the windmill, or at least recognizing how and where one is engaged in the windmill --differentiation. --another kind of 'coming out.'

Oh yeah.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Outrage is a blessing

At morning prayer (Matthew 17:22-23) As they were gathering in Galilee, Jesus said to them, "The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised." And they were greatly distressed.

What is the difference between Christ crucified and social injustice, persecution and death sentences? Nothing and everything. What I do know is that I have the responsibility to be outraged/greatly distressed when I see the cross face to face.

I mean, what would have happened on that day when the cross was carried through those streets if all the onlookers had turned on Temple authorities and Roman soldiers alike and said 'not in my name.'

We need to do that-- right now.
Legislation is being considered in Uganda which would impose the death penalty on those who are gay.

If you wrote to the Office of the Presiding Bishop asking the Church to take a stand on this issue, you will most likely receive this note today:

Thank you for your recent email to Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori regarding recent legislation in Uganda. We are grateful for that you have shared your views with us. The Presiding Bishop, like you, is concerned about this issue.

In this particular situation, we must exercise care not to exacerbate targeting of gay and lesbian persons and those who advocate on their behalf. However, there are ways in which we can be truly helpful.

We can and must exercise our ministry of advocacy with our own government(s), and with other parts of the Anglican Communion, particularly the Anglican Communion Office and Lambeth Palace. Accordingly, we are pursuing the possibility of speaking on the subject together with other religious voices, both to our own government and within the Anglican Communion.

As we pursue this path, we encourage you to speak directly to your legislative representatives.

In Christ’s peace,
Alexander D. Baumgarten
Interim Director of Government Relations
The Episcopal Church
(202) 547-7300
(202) 548-3381 (fax)

What do I hear in reading this? If the Church in America speaks, anti-American sentiment is so high that we will endanger the lives of LGBT in Uganda. So, the Church is seeking to couch/veil its voice in joint statement of 'please don't.' And we must speak as atomic individuals, not as a Body.

This is the essence of politics, and if you don't know it by know --I hate that kind of crap. I abhor it. It is the essence of the Temple authorities politicking themselves in to the corner of thinking that to sacrifice Jesus will keep Rome from trashing them all. We know what happened --innocence was murdered and the Temple was trashed anyway. Have we learned nothing as a Church?

And, yeah. Just recently someone called me a social-justice junky. And it resonated. I hope it resonates for you, too.

So, I will speak. I am writing my Bishop today. Both of them. I am writing other Bishops I know personally. I am writing the PB.

My beloved brother in Christ, David@Montreal wrote this:
Sitting here, in tears and very real pain I couldn't help but think of the West's shameful silence when the massacres began in Rawanda, in the former Yugoslavia, and when they began rounding up the Jews after Krishtallnacht.

Do we really have no other option? Is Alex really saying 'you prayers will have to be enough?'

In the clear light of morning, after much prayer and reflection I can only urge you to follow up your e-mail to the Presiding Bishop yesterday with one to Alexander D. Baumgarten, Interim Director of Government Relations.

Laura, one of the other respondants to Terry's post has also provided the e-mail for ++Rowan http://www.archbishopofcanterbur.../1531? navid=102 and for the American State Department std_alp.php

Each according to your own light, I'd urge you to use these contacts.

My sense is that once again, our Church is in need of the people of God to show and teach the 'official leadership' what the Christ-like place is in an urgent situation, and to persist in our witness until they step into that place.

A certain beloved brother in Christ has reminded me more than once that we Christians are a people of hope- a practice which I would suggest over time, with grace develops into a habit of hope embodied in ligaments of hope. Well this is one time it seems more than evident we're being called to claim and act in that muscled hope.

If indeed, as we know and live, are saved, blessed, upheld and sustained by that Love beyond our wildest imagining there can be no flabbiness in our embrace of our Ugandan sisters and brothers.

Those are contact page addresses --email addresses are posted on those pages. If you have a better contact method, please let me know.

In the meantime, I hope the outrage and despair of David@Montreal is a blessing and call to us all.

Look with pity, O heavenly Father, upon the people who live with injustice, terror and death as their constant companions. Have mercy upon us. Help us to eliminate our cruelty to these our brothers and sisters. Strengthen those working to establish protection and opportunity at all costs; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
(Taken from BCP p826. except I changed it.)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Oh yes.... I have some words to say about the announcement that women under 50 shouldn't be regularly screened for breast cancer by mammography. I found a lump when I was 38, was told that women entering menopause usually had 'dense' breasts, and had to fight for a year and a half to get a mammogram.... by then, the tumor had grown to the size of my thumb and infiltrated my lymph nodes. But --of course, I am in the 3% that get breast cancer before the age of 40, much less the 15% that get it before age 50 --and God forbid we should screen anyone to save ONLY 15%.... Oh yes, I have some words....

And the Commonwealth of Virginia is executing another man today.... like I said before, second only to Texas. And we are so generous --we give the condemned a choice of how they wish to die, injection or electrocution. Tonight, it is electrocution.

Sigh. Triple sigh and pushes fingers against forehead.... quashes the nausea....

Perhaps it is a good thing we remember today Hugh, Bishop of Lincoln, who was known to have a masterly mouth and the courage to match even against kings. Even the Collect for the Day celebrates his willingness to put his life on the line: O holy God, you endowed your servant and bishop Hugh of Lincoln with wise and cheerful boldness, and taught him to commend the discipline of holy life to kings and princes: Grant that we also, rejoicing in the Good News of your mercy, and fearing nothing but the loss of you, may be bold to speak the truth in love, in the name of Jesus Christ our Redeemer....

Ahhh.... there is that truth bugaboo again. What is truth?

Truth is certainly not something we can discern by ourselves.... nor is it necessarily something discerned by community --particularly majority rule. Sometimes I think truth is often that which power and authority reject.... often that which challenges, shakes us, destroys presumed foundations.... I also think that truth is often seen as ephemeral--can't hold on to it. Which might be true (oh dear) because none of us is strong enough to hold on to truth --it is truth which holds us. Like fish in water.

So, it might be true that only a very small minority of women under 50 will be saved by mammography, that murderers don't deserve life, that the power of the State should be used to protect its citizens.... all that is true. All of the above holds on to truth. With a nice bit and reins.

But the truth that holds us is different --and says that all life is worthy --(and she thinks worthy is the lamb).... The truth that holds us enriches the impoverished, heals the sick, makes glad the hearts that mourn, feeds the hungry with more than bread.... leads us to love our enemies.

The truth we hold on to is expensive and purchased at great cost. The truth that holds us is free.... sustains us freely.... The only 'cost' is giving up all the means of the former.

Sigh. Triple sigh and pushes fingers against forehead.... and wonders how long it will take to sell all the stuff we don't need.... would be faster to give it away....

From the Eucharistic lectionary for Hugh (Matthew 24:42-43) Jesus said to his disciples, "Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.

Monday, November 16, 2009

St. Margaret's Day Tree

I can hardly do it justice.... can't capture the color....

St. Margaret's Day

It's St. Margaret's Day....

A dragon with a mouth like a chalice....

And, have you noticed --Merry Christmas!! I'm hearing and seeing it on TV--so it must be true. And I'm thinking it just can't be Christmas yet because Mr. Witty is still suffering with summer fleas. So, there's something wrong with that whole picture. Just sayin'.

Yesterday, I got home about 2pm --Joel had taken Juan to churches where there already are large Spanish-speaking communities --and they were not yet back. So, I sat on the front porch with Mr. Witty, drank my Fresca and just tried not to think too hard about anything.

But the color of the tree in my neighbors yard kept disrupting me --intense, firebrand, blood. A color with an edge. Inside the chalice color. So, I couldn't sit still, and went and banged on Mr. Ben's door and dragged him out in to the color, convinced him that we had to take a bike ride. So we did.

And it was good.

One of those days that makes the coming winter bearable --one of those days that moves in and becomes the essence of autumn. One of those days when the light goes through the leaves suspended in the air --and the leaves are like the veil which falls across the face of God... so much to mourn... so much to celebrate. A day with an edge.

Or perhaps it's a day like a hinge-- and a door and a threshold. Or a hinge, like the mouth of a dragon....

And it opens to today. It is St. Margaret's Day.... and my beloved's birthday.... and the anniversary of my ordination...

(Matthew 13:44) Jesus said to his disciples, "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

Did you know that St. Margaret is the patron saint of women in childbirth? --because she was swallowed by a dragon and she did what Jonah could/did not --overcame the beast from the inside out.

Yeah --that's a good description of the color of the tree outside --emerging after having been swallowed by a dragon color.... finding a gem-tone treasure color.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

temple of stone no longer

War. Rumors of war.... not one stone shall be left standing.

All this talk of end-times and birth pangs.... no snark here tonight. Please pray for my Uncle Don who passed from this life to life eternal. He has no use any longer of stones or brick or mortar, edifices grand and regal --he lives now, in the living Temple of flesh and blood, life without end.

May his soul and the souls of all the departed through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

savage wolves among us.... oh my!

The consecration of Samuel Seabury.... sigh....

You know, just a thought.... what would it look like, what would it feel like, what would it say to all the faithful--to all the world if we began to celebrate baptismal dates in the church, instead of ordination, consecration, death or birth dates....

Oh dear --I hope having thoughts like that doesn't make me a savage wolf or something....

From the Eucharistic lectionary (Acts 20:28-32) Keep watch over yourselves and over all the flock, of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God that he obtained with the blood of his own Son. I know that after I have gone, savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Some even from your own group will come distorting the truth in order to entice the disciples to follow them. Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to warn everyone with tears. And now I commend you to God and to the message of his grace, a message that is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all who are sanctified.


Friday, November 13, 2009

owning it

At morning prayer (Matthew 16:19-20) I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

Well, so, there we are. Love it. If anyone ever thinks or says that God is the big authority 'out there' to whom we must be obedient, just read them lines again... WE have been given the authority to bind or loose, to condemn or forgive... and we are not to tell anyone about Jesus as Messiah.

Of course we are not to tell --because that keeps putting the truth, the light, the way 'out there' somewhere, instead of owning it, enfleshing it, embodying it. Taking it on --This really is the gift of self realization. We are all called to that....

Thank you, Jesus!

All that gives real interesting dimension to talking about faith --talking about the foundation of authority and all that kind of stuff. Just sayin'. Reminds me of a certain poem --"don't tell, they'd banish us, you know." Banishment-- a serious detriment to getting any work done... (snark!) and is what can happen when truth be told...

Truth telling is another version of coming out.... it should be done carefully, with support--community, with the knowledge of the backfire and banishment that might/probably will happen, and has to be done more than once --sometimes over and over again.

Even to one's self.

And --being real snarky, thinking about the Fort Hood situation, what with hearing that the peers and big wigs at Walter Reed sent a sick man on to the next place --I guess the military is about as good as some religious institutions in passing on crazies.... sigh. See what happens when we hide from the truth?

Suppression of the truth is absolutely destructive, deadly. Truth hurts --like pulling scales off our dragon bodies, or getting the butterfly out of the cocoon. I'll take truth, thank you.

Lordy --some days I wonder if I make any sense....

Thursday, November 12, 2009

the sky is threatening....

At morning prayer (Matthew 16:1-3) The Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test Jesus they asked him to show them a sign from heaven. He answered them, "When it is evening, you say, 'It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.' And in the morning, 'It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.' You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.

Slept fitfully --the gate to the backyard was knocking and crashing all night. It is big waves and strong winds in Virginia today, major flooding in the coastal areas, thousands upon thousands without power. It is stormy today.... very. The Governor has issued a State of Emergency. Remnants of Ida.... supposed to get worse this afternoon.

And I am supposed to get in the car and drive the distance to DC to go to a Diocesan meeting.... sigh.

Did I hear the news correctly? --Obama is releasing tidbits --rejecting increasing troops in Afghanistan? I'll keep pushing for that energy!

When the weather crashes and smacks around like this, vulnerability is what comes to mind. And, while dangerous, that is a holy state of being.

And then I hear in the back of my mind, --so, who wants holy? It is not measurable, does no good, and surely it is when one can best be taken advantage of.

I am so tempted to hunker down and be safe --in so many ways. What is that line --shelter from the storm..... Lord, be my anchor, my rock....

Now, up and out and in to it.... right in to the storm.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Breaking systems

It's Veterans Day. We don't give veterans near the support and benefits that they deserve. Just sayin'.

But that doesn't mean I won't work and dream and advocate that their jobs/service become obsolete. War is so wrong. I get that passion in part from having done CPE (clinical pastoral education) in a veteran's domiciliary. Although tragic--it wasn't the broken bodies that bothered me as much as the broken spirits and minds. Utter devastation. Walking dead.... unable to care for themselves or care much for any one else.

Just on the news --one of every four homeless persons in our country are Veterans... this just should not be.

And rumors are swirling in the news this morning that Obama is leaning towards a troop build-up in Afghanistan. Have we learned nothing from history --recent history? --like, wasn't it war in Afghanistan that helped (as much as anything else) topple Russia?

It's also St. Martin's Day. He's one of my favorites--right up there with St. Francis. Another Veteran opposed to war. Story goes --he hid in the tall grass next to a pond in order to avoid being elected Bishop, but a goose was startled to find him there and betrayed his hiding place with a great deal of honking and flapping so that the people were able to find him and drag him off to be ordained as their bishop.

Such is life. The other story is about how he cut his cloak in two and shared it with a beggar...

And, all this is juxtaposed with the events of last night --John A. Muhammad was executed. Another broken veteran.... his execution has touched me deeply. Unexpectedly. Perhaps it is my visceral reaction to the lingering sense of triumph and righteousness I hear on the news. It is as though for some his death is a sign --a sign that in the end, all is well, don't worry --see, what we have here is the story that in the end the good guys will win....

Maybe I should just quit listening to the news....

Oh --and the discussion last night at the Baptist Seminary of Richmond. It was refreshing, wonderful, surprising. I expected to be the token liberal, token representative of a liturgical tradition, alone, female, liberal... but to the contrary, it was the sole self-named 'fire-dog' conservative who was alone on the panel. To hear a Baptist say that the current arguments about sexuality will necessarily change their hermeneutic to Scripture--that what was needed was more than sola scriptura, --was, well, historic.

I think when the fire-dog launched in to the argument that sex was only for procreation, and that same-sex couples can't procreate and therefor shouldn't have sex, especially since it was outside the bounds of marriage.... my line about the Virgin Mary being neither married nor having sex might have been a little much.... but, well, --there we are!

Do you know what I really like about St. Martin? --it's the story about him being in the military and being moved at the gate by a beggar--the picture I posted above, and he took his cloak and cut it in two.... he didn't give away all that he had. He shared what he had.... giving it all away would merely continue the inequality of haves and have-nots... but sharing broke the system.

From the Eucharistic lectionary for St. Martin:
Isaiah 58:6-10

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.

There are so many systems we need to break. So many systems...
Misogyny and homophobia really do go hand in hand, you know...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Royal People

Tonight the Commonwealth (oh, I wish that it were....) of Virginia will execute the man trained and celebrated as a sniper by our own military, who then turned the gun on us at home... killed 10 people or more. Mr. John A. Muhammad.

Sorry --I am not an advocate of the death penalty. Even in cases like this. Life--yes. But we shouldn't murder just because he did.

Virginia is second in executions --second only to Texas.... just sayin'.

Would that we would believe who we really are --who we are called to be... royal priests... Here is a snippet from a sermon of Leo I (440-461) ....For all, regenerated in Christ, are made kings by the sign of the cross; they are consecrated priests by the oil of the Holy Spirit, so that beyond the special service of our ministry as priests, all spiritual and mature Christians know that they are a royal race and are sharers in the office of the priesthood.

Yes. All of us --sharers in the office of the priesthood. As far as I can remember, Jesus condemned no one, except those who already held and abused and misused power. And even then, he did not even want Peter to lift a sword against them... even in betrayal, even when death was near.

Like him who made the way of our redemption known and walked it--we must walk it too. At all costs.

From the Eucharistic lectionary for Leo (2 Timothy 1:6-8) For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.

And, tonight, at the Baptist Seminary, I am part of a panel to discuss sexuality and the church.... I hope I'm wrong, but I think it might be easier to convince this crowd of Christians that the death penalty is wrong rather than have them believe that Godly loving comes in a variety --like wild flowers. Not every flower looks like a daisy... thanks be to God.

Please pray for the panel and the discussion tonight. All of us --

Please pray for John A. Muhammad. Pray for those who will execute him. Pray for those who will witness. Pray for our Governor, who is opposed to the death penalty but does not endorse the appeals to him. Pray for us who are distressed and disturbed that this execution is being done in our name. Pray for those who are happy John is to be executed.

Let none of us be cowards in proclaiming the good news of God in Christ. Help us Lord, to be the royal people you have called us to be.

Monday, November 9, 2009


Here I am....

....with my sistahs!

And here we are...

four of the five of us siblings.... Yes, I am that tall. My sister in the green and black is about 5'-5" --my brother about 5'-11". That is his beautiful wife standing next to him in the blue. The fifth sibling was not present at the wedding, and he would dwarf us all as he is about 6'6"....

So, there we are!


Got home.... Blessed Ben picked me up at the airport, brought me home, I took a shower and was at church by about 10am. Went out for lunch after church (what fun!) and then fell asleep on the sofa.... slept for thirteen hours.

Whew....! What a whirlwind. I am very glad to be home. It was good to go, but I am very glad to be home... Good to see folks --saw my auntie whom I had not seen in 20 years. I think she is the sole survivor of my parent's generation. That is sobering.... and there were so very many other sobering instances, one after another, family things you know.... it was a little overwhelming. Like visions in a pilgrimage.

But those things I did this weekend take on a different importance after ...when I hunkered down and heard the news going around --the Fort Hood news more in depth and the brokenness of so many systems... the violence and ordinariness of bloodshed until it becomes our own; the storms and devastation in El Salvador, the pending storm off of Florida and the Gulf states... with no real attention or focus on global warming and pollution; the on-going political shenanigans with healthcare and insurance which might mean the government inserting itself with another layer of redtape into an already broken system rather than addressing the root problems of profit in medical care.... and, of course, the issues of immigration, children suffering and alone, ...which are under a whole new light in my house.

And tomorrow night I will be serving on a panel discussion at the Baptist Seminary --human sexuality and the church. I hope and pray I will not be the token "gay-lover" type... if you know what I mean. And I hope that what I am able to say will open doors --not make them fly off their hinges and hurt folks. Sometimes I can be such a mouth....

At morning prayer (Matthew 15:11) It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.

Oh man, is that ever true....

Saturday, November 7, 2009

G'wan. Go to church

G'wan. Go to church and hear about the stuffed up braggarts and the widow's mite. My mind is still gonna be here. Right here.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Del Mar, California, listening to the waves

I don't know why --but William Temple was on the lectionary for today, which is strange, because all his dates are in October.... maybe I'm just in a different time warp today... I KNOW I'm in a different time warp.

Temple is the one that is credited with saying, "The Church is the only society that exists for the benefit of those who are not its members."

Yeah. That's good.

And, hey, this is where I am staying...

Les Artistes in Del Mar... a wonderfully funky little hotel. Each room follows the theme of an artist --Joel and I used to stay here to escape the desert every now and then... the O'Keefe room being our favorite. I am in the Zen room this time... that fits.

I am here to celebrate with my family the marriage of my nephew and his beloved. It's good. That will be on Saturday --then take the red-eye back to Richmond to be back in time for church on Sunday. Whew. Hardest part of the trip yesterday was getting off the plane in Dallas and all the TVs were ablaze with the awful news out of Fort Hood --where one of the soldiers broke and killed and wounded dozens of other soldiers.

Lord, have mercy. I hate guns.

And, today, I am going to walk on the beach and listen to the ocean. The Pacific. There really is a difference in the sound and smell between the Atlantic and the Pacific.... even the shush of the waves withdrawing on the sand --everything. I mean, not different different... just, different... I can hear the difference.... the Pacific is familiar and it tumbled and formed me. I belong to it. I know people who are buried in it. I know how to read it.

Bittersweet. But all good. All good.
Now, off to find some coffee.... yes, coffee. All over the map today--literally and figuratively....

At the Eucharistic lectionary for Temple (John 1: 16) From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

Thanks be to God.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

the up-side down dance... time to walk away from that table

This is such a wicked, awful story of power, lust, objectification, deceit and vengeance....

At morning prayer (Matthew 14:1-12) At that time Herod the ruler heard reports about Jesus; and he said to his servants, "This is John the Baptist; he has been raised from the dead, and for this reason these powers are at work in him."

For Herod had arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife, because John had been telling him, "It is not lawful for you to have her." Though Herod wanted to put him to death, he feared the crowd, because they regarded him as a prophet.

But when Herod's birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced before the company, and she pleased Herod so much that he promised on oath to grant her whatever she might ask. Prompted by her mother, she said, "Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a platter." The king was grieved, yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he commanded it to be given he sent and had John beheaded in the prison. The head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, who brought it to her mother. His disciples came and took the body and buried it; then they went and told Jesus.

I speak of 'the dance' often enough.... when I am full of movement and passion. But the dance of the daughter of Herodias--this is not the dance I'm thinking of. I pray to God this is not the dance I dance. Ever.

But, when I think of it, this is the dance played out seductively and extravagantly in those places and in those times when people forget the balance and interconnectedness of creation --when people don't participate but instead take the dance and work in their own contradictory rhythm, like an arrhythmic heart which takes off on its own, a syncopation which dazzles -- or like speaking 'in tongues' out loud in the midst of common prayer until that is all that is heard... or, it is a dance done upside-down... and it can be done so well and so wonderfully and so powerfully that any of us could be seduced....

The dance done to seduce folks to vote down the civil rights of others --to vote self-serving narrowness in to office --we saw that dance done this week. And yet so often we focus on Herod and the daughter and The Baptizer's bloody head in this story --not the wickedness and manipulation of the mother, who used everyone else to get what she wanted.

It's the mother. She is the root from which it all stems.... and, please, I am just following the story line and realize fully the gender traps and stereotypes in the story...

If we are to begin to out-do the ills in our society, perhaps it is time not to try to outsmart and out-dance the seductive power dances played out in the sick royal families --and there is a fairly extensive list of these 'royal families.' Perhaps it is just time to leave the table of power and prestige where these exotic dances are suggested and introduced and danced so well, and return to the dance and rhythm of the wild cosmos, the dance to the still center.

What would it look like? --I suppose many of us might end up looking like the Baptizer... but the alternative might be even worse --a dance so full of veils and seduction that we get tied in knots, finally bound hand and foot, upside down, unable to move and breathe, the living dead.

Our innocence is gone. Long gone. We will not find the treasure nor the dance we seek at the table of power. It takes all that is right and wholesome and lovely and inverts it. An up-side down dance.

And, so, --what shall i do?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I'll bet the new Gov' doesn't even SEE the oppression in front of his nose that he helps create and perpetuate

Well, this morning I am cringing that the Republicans swept Virginia. We now have a dyed in the wool right-winger fundamentalist as a governor, and an able and willing partner elected as attorney general.... We now have a man as governor who as the former attorney general tried more than once to slip through legislation that would have purposefully crippled any attempt by the Episcopal Church to retain its property, who has written that working mothers cripple families, and comes with his pockets loaded to buy out anything he needs to put his straight, white, war-mongering, blame-the-poor/women/gay-filled conservative male agenda to work...

Uuughhh. Four years of it. I'm dreading it. Disillusioned before it has even begun.
Guess it's time to get to work.
I find praying for politicians to be the hardest part of my job.... just sayin'.

At morning prayer (Psalm 72:12-14)

For he shall deliver the poor who cries out in distress, *
and the oppressed who has no helper.

He shall have pity on the lowly and poor; *
he shall preserve the lives of the needy.

He shall redeem their lives from oppression and violence, *
and dear shall their blood be in his sight.

(hitchin' up my pants, and putting my marathon shoes on.... gonna the run the race set before us...)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The glory given us.

From the Eucharistic lectionary for Richard Hooker (John 17:18-23)
Looking up to heaven, Jesus said, "As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth. I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me."

Off I go, to Pamunkey, to find a young man needing Lord only knows how much.

On this beautiful autumn day, when the trees are brilliant and sky blue, I pray for all those who are alone.

Also, for the citizens of Maine. For this Commonwealth in its election.

For all our blindness and deafness to the work of the Spirit, that we might know we are one.
The glory given us.


Monday, November 2, 2009

light of the living

Well --we're gonna do it. Joel and I are on a list-serve that communicates among the Hispanic community in our region --and early last week there was this note:

UPDATE: I deleted the story.... It is a matter of public record elsewhere, but... there we are.

Joel and I will be welcoming a young man in to our home sometime this week. Please keep us and Juan in your prayers. Please keep the lawyer and KIND, who represent Juan and will help him navigate our God-awful immigration laws, in your prayers. And, if you feel so moved, I encourage you to contribute to this worthy organization. The "Donate" button is provided in the link above.

Ummmm --yes, don't worry, we are not blind to the challenges (we have been foster parents--and we know this may be even more difficult). But that does not stop what moves us.

From morning prayer (Psalm 56:11-12)

I am bound by the vow I made to you, O God; *
I will present to you thank-offerings;
For you have rescued my soul from death and my feet from stumbling, *
that I may walk before God in the light of the living.

I can only imagine that this young man might crave some light.
God help us all.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

My horse/hound/fox adventure

Here are the pictures from my 'horse/hound/fox adventure' on Saturday. I was privileged to accompany some friends to the season opening hunt at Full Stream Farm about 30 miles west of us. I apologize --I forget the name of the hunt club. But I had a wonderful time--and learned a lot about Virginia that I did not know....

First, Joel is a direct descendant of a couple of folks who stepped off the boat in Jamestown in 1607. But that's got nothing on the folks I met.... My first picture of the front of the plantation house at the farm was blurry. I don't know why --maybe because Mr. Witty pulled me, he was in such a hurry, and can't speak to defend himself. Anyway --one can pretty much tell what the front of the house looked like by this picture of the back of the house --except the front of the house was a little more stately, if you know what I mean. So, here's the back of the house:

And then the back of this small farm house looks out over this nice pond--it's actually about a quarter of a mile in the distance, but the hill slopes down and is missed in this view. I didn't think to ask if there were fish in it --but the water looked healthy enough, so there must be some kind of fish there:

There was a hunt board set up --loaded with hot cider, rolls, fresh apples, cakes and the like. At one end of this spread was the object of another day --all stuffed --a fox, gracing the table with a rigid gaze. It made me sad --it was so beautiful, with the burnished coloring and not much bigger than Mr. Witty. You can see it sitting upright at the left end of this spread. Another fuzzy picture --must be Mr. Witty's fault again!

And then the excitement began.... the riders and their horses began to gather. There were two or three clubs present. The hosting club wore black jackets with gray collars. They have a shorthand name, calling themselves "The Blues." Why a gray collar makes them blue --I don't know. And then there was a guest club --they wore red jackets and were called "Pinques" --which was, apparently, the name of their founder. Why they thought wearing red would honor the Pinques, I don't know but there we are. Anyway --they began to gather, and it was very exciting, the horses stomping, people laughing and calling to each other.... The horses were really very fine, their manes and tails braided.

And then came the best part of all--the hounds!! Romping and rolling and running, so excited. Some wore collars with antennae attached, so that the hunters could find them later and bring them home, I guess. Mr. Witty went crazy and wanted in on the romping and all. I had to tell him that the big dogs would probably just think he was a fox. But, he wanted through that fence in the worst way.

And, by the way, hunting hounds do not bark --they SPEAK. Just sayin'. And here is a faraway image of the object of Mr. Witty's fascination. The hounds have handlers --I don't remember the proper name... they carried noisy whips. I didn't see the dogs get struck --it was the noise. At least, that's what I hope. Maybe I'm blind.... I hope not. (If so, the whole thing is just awful.)

Hardly close enough to do them justice. They were the best part by far. Then the horn was blown, the hounds started to SPEAK, and off they went, disappearing around the far end of the pond and in to the falling mist.

Then, it was time for breakfast --country ham and biscuits and hot coffee.

I had many reflections, as one might imagine.... not being a hunter and all. But, I understood the camaraderie, the traditions, the excitement of the ride.....

That was my adventure.