Saturday, January 30, 2010

G'wan. Go to church

Don't rock the boat, maintain the status quo, keep tradition and family values, and for God's sake, know who you are and for God's sake, don't think you are child of God or someone will, at the least, try to hurl you off a cliff.

G'wan. Go to church. Get food for the journey. (And remember that you ARE a child of God, and nothing not nothing will EVAH change that!)

Council interupted...

So, last night I went to bed frustrated and disappointed that we had not gotten to the work of Council --except the budget. And I was working on a sore throat and congestion. Drank hot lemon tea with honey and went to bed.

But it seems like all the work --in our secular life as a nation, in the church.... it seems constantly frustrated --put off, --unrealized. And I am so exhausted from the same ol' arguments --there has been no theological work accomplished, same sex marriage is not recognized in Virginia.... yadda yadda. I got tired of the 'same-sex couples who live in relationships that have all the signposts of Christian relationships' routine.... isn't that just nice. Sigh. --And I got angry at the conservative counterpoints to such lines. I got up and said that there were couples in our congregation who were every bit as married as I --legally married in another State, and to only be able to offer an OT blessing--not a Christian Trinitarian blessing was not anything a Christian priest should consider and is not pastoral, and not to be able to offer them marriage was as insulting to me as to them. Dignity. Respect.... remember? And, you know --Virginia should have learned --separate is NOT equal.

So. There.

Okay. Catch my breath. It's snowing glorious snow. Big snow. I'm not sick sick with that sore throat --just kinda sick.... and Jesus didn't say it was going to be easy....

At morning prayer (John 6:26-27) Jesus answered them, "Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you."

So -on with the good fight for another day. In Love. Cuz that's what it's all about.

And praying for the 40 homeless women coming to our parish hall for the week.

Friday, January 29, 2010

justice delayed....

Well, well, well.... so, because snow removal in much of Virginia is called 'spring' --only the very necessary stuff, like budget, was accomplished, and the rest was postponed until an undetermined date. Because we are expecting snow here.... We did have hearings on the resolutions.... so tired of the talk, just sayin'.

So, home. Now switching gears to welcome our guests for the next week.

already, not yet....

We play church first. And then get down to business today.

I did see ++Katharine and had a chance to speak with her briefly. It was all good.

I saw Lauren+ Stanley too. (Think Haiti.) She looks exhausted. Please keep her in your prayers.

And I walk in to register at the Council, and got met at the doors, (our little parish organized, purchased and drove 8 trucks to NOLA and Miss. and gave the credit to our Diocese) '--Margaret, Margaret' --I hear, 'We need trucks for Haiti!' I made one call, ....and so that work has begun. Pray for Buck (he's thrilled but frustrated 'ya cain't dharive theyha').

And, perhaps if we get to discussing the budget, I will be holding this in my prayers:

at morning prayer (John 6:1-7) After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias. A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick. Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near. When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, "Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?" He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do. Philip answered him, "Six months' wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little."

We begin having 40 women live for a week in our parish hall tomorrow. I am keeping in prayer all those who are working to prepare a literally warm welcome for them.

And we are expecting nearly a foot of snow tomorrow.... me thinks we will invite our guests to stay in-doors all day on Sunday --and even upstairs to church, although that breaks the rules --mind you, not OUR rules!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

And here we go.....

Tonight, we begin our Diocesan Council (the rest of the world calls it a 'convention' --but Virginia strives for distinction....).

There are a couple of highlights --first, our Bishop, +Shannon Johnston, having served as co-adjutor for the last three years, will finally be installed as our Diocesan. That will be fun.

Tonight is a reception with ++Katharine J-S. It will be fun to see her again. If you think I am a so-called radical priest, blame it on her. We knew each other in Oregon; she served on the COM and was present in my process to ordination. Then, in Berkeley, while I was in seminary and at a small party at the Dean's house (yes, we are graduates from the same seminary), while she was serving as Bishop of Nevada, we had a mind-blowing (for me) conversation about ordination and priest-hood --and she stunned and upset me, what with the seemingly morph-able lines she was setting regarding how, when, why priests do what they do... and how, when, why persons called in congregations should do what they do... and I remember saying, my jaw flapping, 'but, then, that would make priests like Bishops, and laity like priests!' 'What's the problem?' she said.

It was like an injection.
And, a little part of me hopes, just hopes --well, when the Bishop visited our congregation earlier this month and he met our assisting priest at church and they both began joking and laughing about the good-ol' boy systems and how to re-institute them in the Diocese, and did it for my benefit.... --is it wrong for me to hope that +Shannon sees that ++KJS knows me on a first-name basis, and that neither of us really thinks the good-ol' boy system is joke?

Yah. That would be wrong. It is playing in to the same system of power.... I will resist. Maybe.

And +Shannon has decided that we need social time together at Council, so there are parties and luncheons planned. And then there is a special discussion on how to change the format of Council in the years to come. Rumor has it that all discussion from the floor regarding resolutions will be eliminated.... Oh --wonderful, I think sarcastically... after years and years of the resolution committee, at the previous Bishop's direction, refusing to let some resolutions come to the floor at all.... "it's not helpful at this time...." and now proposing the stifling and then prohibiting discussion. Not a good idea, me thinks. Keeping controversy off the table did not prevent the blood curdling litigation and damaging rhetoric.... how will continuing to keep it all in the closet help?

Oh well. What do I know....

Well, one of the important things up on the agenda for this Council is a resolution which will bring the hard work of GC2009 to the floor of this Diocese --recognizing the blessings that same-sex couples bring to the church and the need for the church to pronounce those blessings, and that LGBTQ persons should be eligible to serve in ordained ministry if so called and affirmed, and that being in a relationship does not preclude them from ordained ministry. Neither of these circumstances are true now. And, at the last Council, +Shannon stated publically that he had refused a candidate for ordination (already a postulant and in her last semester at seminary) because she had a partner.

Oh, we have a lot of work to do in this Diocese. On racism, on diversity ---we really haven't even stepped up to the plate in so many ways, much less to first base, because conversation has been stifled for fear of the litigation.... And that is whole other place of healing which must begin.

Anyway, here is the link to the Diocesan page. Here is the link to the resolutions. I will be posting about the resolutions as they work through committees and the like. I ask for your prayers. (Note: R-3 and R-4 I helped construct and endorsed. The final text came out too late for our Vestry to endorse. R-10 through R-12 are gonna be trouble for me. Just sayin'.)

From morning prayer (John 5:39-40, 46-47) "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. .... If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. But if you do not believe what Moses wrote, how will you believe what I say?"

And, I give thanks to God for the life of Thomas Aquinas who demanded that we work with views that might seem to be opposing to our own.... it was Christian duty to do so.

Yeah man. I get it. Nowadays Tommy, they would call you a freakin' liberal for such suggestions.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Mad as hell in one hand and love in the other...

Am I pissed that the effing "Supreme" Court gave away democracy the other day?

I am not just pissed, --I'm mad as hell. I read somewhere --and, sorry, I do not remember where I got it, but in effect it said, when corporations can get a colonoscopy, then and only then should they get the rights of a citizen... something like that. How true is that?!!!

HAHAHA! Spell check doesn't like the word 'colonoscopy' and suggests 'cloud scape' or 'kaleidoscope' instead! Obviously, the persons who wrote the google dictionary for blogs are in denial....

Oh well, --what shall we do? I say we keep preaching. Keep fighting. Non-violently. Loudly.
So, it is a good thing we remember John Chrysostom, Bishop of Antioch and of Constantinople today. James Kiefer says:

John was called "Chrysostom" ("Golden Mouth") because of his eloquence. He was a priest of Antioch, and an outstanding preacher. (Audiences were warned not to carry large sums of money when they went to hear him speak, since pickpockets found it very easy to rob his hearers --they were too intent on his words to notice what was happening.) .... He loved the city and people of Antioch, and they loved him.

However, he became so famous that the Empress at Constantinople decided that she must have him for her court preacher, and she had him kidnapped and brought to Constantinople and there made bishop. This was a failure all around. His sermons against corruption in high places earned him powerful enemies (including the Empress), and he was sent into exile, where he died.

Is there only death?! --suffering, fear and awful death are the tools of the powerful. Yah --it's hard, harsh. It's confusing. But there we are. And LOVE, which is what we have been given to live and with which to work, seems powerless in comparison. Nothing to do but trust it. Sometimes one hour --no, one minute at a time.

So, LOVE it is. There is nothing else worthwhile. Love the whole damn world.

From the Eucharistic readings for John Chrysostom (Luke 21:12-15) Jesus said, "But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. This will give you an opportunity to testify. So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict."

Oración de San Juan Crisóstomo Dios todopoderoso, que nos diste la gracia para unirnos en este momento, a fin de ofrecerte nuestras súplicas en común; y que, por tu muy amado Hijo, nos prometiste que, cuando dos o tres se congregan en su Nombre, tú estarás en medio de ellos: Realiza ahora, Señor, nuestros deseos y peticiones como mejor nos convenga; y concédenos en este mundo el conocimiento de tu verdad y en el venidero, la vida enterna.

Love. Love. Love. That's what we do. And we need each other to do it.
Can I love even though I'm mad as hell?
Well, --I won't give up on love....

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

We all know we have walls --some we have constructed, some we haven't....

We went to Williamsburg yesterday with Juan --I mean, sun, 60 degrees and a day off.... yah--I was NOT going to sit inside. And Juan deserved a field trip day. He has been faithfully plowing through some GED books, studying, although he claims he has no reason to do so. He has been fine without any school so far, he says.

We're telling him it's his job right now....

And he had heard of George Washington, and was very interested in the guns and swords in the Governor's Palace. He wanted to know if he would have been a slave at the time, and we responded no! --he would have been considered a Spaniard from the Spanish colonies.... and we stop the story there. How does one explain European politics to a kid who thought Chicago was a street in Houston....?

I never stop being surprised at the way he perceives the world, the way he sees what is happening. My heart stopped when we looked and played with the stocks --you know, that place where they put your head and hands in wooden braces as punishment in the middle of Williamsburg, and he began talking about how his dad used to punish him.... proud he had endured and survived. As he should be. But, where does one begin to say what one thinks without the knee-jerk reaction.... except to say, Juan--that is not what love looks like. ...He was making me strong, --so I could do anything, he says. Juan--that is not what has made you strong....

And, Oh God, there are thousands upon thousands of kids out there, just like him.

And after the apothecary shop, the talk of his aunt being saved by witch doctors who did magic --did I believe that witch doctors work? -No, I say. Well, I do, he says. I seen it.

And entering the horse stalls in the Palace garden he announces, --this is where I sleep! So, I grab his shoulders in a bear hug and say --no! I would still make you sleep inside and still make you study your GED books.

And then he turns and says, I would like to study German now. English too easy!

Good, I say. We'll get the books tomorrow.
And when the lady at the new coffee-shop exhibit talks about tobacco, pipes and chocolate, he says, This is the best one.

From the Eucharistic readings for Titus and Timothy (John 10:1-2) Jesus said, "Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep."

Before the Bishop's visit, we asked Juan if he had been baptized, and if he would like to be baptized. He said he was not baptized, and didn't want to be because the Baptist ministers told him he would have to change and not be bad anymore. Well, I said to him, baptism isn't about being good --it's about stating publicly something that I know is already true--that you are a child of God, and that God loves you no matter what. --That can't be true, he says. I done really bad stuff. --It is true, I say. Determined --not necessarily to have him baptized --that's the work of the Spirit, but determined that he know he is loved.

And I wait to find, if it is in God's dream, the door--the gate to this secret garden. It would be another violation in a lifetime of violations to crawl over this wall....

Monday, January 25, 2010

Paul would NOT have held my hand

Miracles. Dime a dozen. Who doesn't want a miracle. In my youth, I wanted God to prove something --you know-- existence, sympathy, knowledge of my prayers.... and then DO something...

God smacked Saul up the backside of his head, but good. I just couldn't understand --why wouldn't God knock me off my horse too? I thought I needed that kind of revelation...

Lately, I'm so glad God didn't do that.

From morning prayer (John 4:46-48) Then he came again to Cana in Galilee where he had changed the water into wine. Now there was a royal official whose son lay ill in Capernaum. When he heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went and begged him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. Then Jesus said to him, "Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe."

Oh yeah.
I googled "signs and wonders" and youtube.... If you want proof on why I am glad I think God has never sent me a sign or wonder of this order or type --try it yourself... I sometimes post trash.... but I'm not in the mood for that kind of trash!

And, yes, I am glad and give thanks to God for what Paul did. Mostly. Although, I think Paul and I probably would have had it out a few times. Because we have anyway. (You know, that whole sit down, shut up, cover your head thing.) Just sayin'.

Blessings on your day.
May it not be filled with signs and wonders.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

G'wan. Go to church

....and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect.... (1 Cor. 12) all sounds good.... but it's so hard to imagine!

G'wan. Go to church. Clothe all members of the body equally.
And then send me a picture!

something to eat first, and THEN to work....

So, when I got back from Guatemala, I called those that had given the gift for me to go and invited them to dinner. That dinner was last night --swiss chard, rice and mushrooms in a puff-pastry pie as the main course --followed by blueberry crepes for dessert... Joel out-did himself.

And at the dinner, I was able to say I had looked for a gift to bring them from Guatemala, but could not find an appropriate one that expressed all that I wanted to say --so we sat and went through the photos I had filed in my computer, and talked the whole night.... and at the last I completed the tale with the scenario which had unfolded this week --the Diocese calling and asking me to take the Spanish-speaking Bishop and his wife on a tour of Richmond. And I was able to do it.

THAT thrilled the donor --that is exactly what they had in mind, exactly what was hoped for....

So, in the Gospel at morning prayer this morning, I read/heard/experienced the scenario again --going from something to eat to the fields of the labor of the Lord.

(John 4:31-38) Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, "Rabbi, eat something." But he said to them, "I have food to eat that you do not know about." So the disciples said to one another, "Surely no one has brought him something to eat?" Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work. Do you not say, 'Four months more, then comes the harvest'? But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting. The reaper is already receiving wages and is gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, 'One sows and another reaps.' I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor."

...such a sense of humor, that big one...

And, that really is the way it is --we don't have to work first to earn our food... we are fed first, and then see the fields we are called to work. Just sayin'.

Friday, January 22, 2010

West meets south

More on that Hunger Banner....

And. Then. Nervous. Knowing I'm going to fail. Oh well. I will laugh--of that I am sure.

Today I am driving out to Roslyn, a diocesan center, and picking up a Spanish-speaking bishop who has been there for baby-bishop school, and giving him a tour of Richmond. In Spanish. I just keep trying to remind myself, --it is not what I say, as much as it is the hospitality that matters.

Juan has agreed to come with me, and do the talking I am unable to accomplish.... he is scared too. For different reasons.

But, see --I remember this.... there was a great controversy at General Convention over the election of this man as Bishop, tears on the floor of the House of Deputies, microphones and speakers that didn't work, translators that could not be heard, tension--concern--confusion among the Deputies--was it a proper election or... a coup, a power move... and if so, whose move... And Caminante a few rows away at another microphone calmly translating for all present the heart-rending tale. The Deputies decided to post-pone their vote until they had more information. He was affirmed by 75% the next day, already having been affirmed by the House of Bishops--but, still.... it was not done brazenly.

So, today, we will drive around, tour, and I will hopefully say 'this is the big house of the big man,' and Juan will, hopefully, say, 'this is the governor's mansion.' But we will show hospitality.... Funny, isn't it --two persons who were born as far away from this place as the bishop, will show him the sights...

And to continue prayers for Haiti, here are the images of the Hunger Banner being used as a frontal on our altar (see below for details)

These pictures still do not do justice....

At morning prayer (John 4:16-26)

Jesus said to her, "Go, call your husband, and come back."

The woman answered him, "I have no husband."

Jesus said to her, "You are right in saying, 'I have no husband'; for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!"

The woman said to him, "Sir, I see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem."

Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth."

The woman said to him, "I know that Messiah is coming" (who is called Christ). "When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us."

Jesus said to her, "I am he, the one who is speaking to you."

Please remember, throughout the Hebrew Scriptures, G*D is spoken of as the husband of Israel. G*D lived in the Temple a real place. Worshiping in a different place meant you were not worshiping G*D--sleeping with someone who was not your true husband. And then Jesus claims G*D is spirit and truth --neither on 'this mountain' nor GET THIS nor in Jerusalem.

And, he claimed to be the Messiah.

Freakin' radical.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Sex. Politics. Power. Violence. Burning the candle at both ends

The collect at the Eucharist: Almighty and everlasting God, you choose those whom the world deems powerless to put the powerful to shame: Grant us so to cherish the memory of your youthful martyr Agnes, that we may share her pure and steadfast faith in you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Today is the day of St. Agnes --a young woman/girl... murdered because she would not marry. Story has it that in Rome it was illegal to put to death a virgin girl, so the whole city looked on as she was dragged through the streets to a brothel so that she could be raped first and then tried and put to death.

Blatant and not so blatant, let's not fool ourselves-- let's admit that our children, our girls, our powerless are still subject to that kind of physical and spiritual violence.

And the day after the day after Massachusetts... who is not amazed at the spins, sad at the way power is expressed in this country --amazed at the connection between Tiger Woods, John Edwards, and the election of Scott Brown over Martha Coakley, ...and, yes, probably even the murder in Appomattox of a man's sister and her whole family, including children and friends... by a security guard who felt wronged at the division of an estate.

When will the powerful be put to shame in our own day? Does it happen only at the expense of the lives of girls and women, teens, the powerless?

And, please, let's not argue relative degrees of powerlessness.... if you walk out in to the parking lot in the dark and you carry keys in your hand as a potential weapon, or look behind you more than once, or try to listen for what might be lurking close at hand... you know.

And, yes, it is no accident that those groups in the church who have actively refused the ordination of women are the same ones who have exhibited the pattern of refusing equality to sexual minorities in the church.

Sex. Power. Awe-- c'mon --sports, politics, guns.... sweat, blood, crunch, force... Power. Sex and power.

But the other face of sex --one must remember the best of love, vulnerability, total availability, a giving over of self... life, potential of life, wonder. It is no wonder then, that this reading is included...

A reading at the Eucharist (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."

...and one kneads in power in that mix... power over a whole person, mind, body, soul.

So, the act of a young girl in about the year 350, going up against power, claiming her self, her body, her integrity... bucking expectations, requirements, tradition. A child. With the same power as Jesus. Which in the eyes of the world is no power at all. Overcome, forced, reduced to groans and flesh and blood, and then death.

Perhaps all the stuff --that so-called 'innocence' stuff and more that we might presume when Jesus tells us to be like children needs rethinking. What is the right word to use to describe it... ?

The Gospel at the Eucharist (Matthew 18:1-6) At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" He called a child, whom he put among them, and said, "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea."

What is the right word? escapes me. But it is right here at the tip of my tongue.

Almighty and everlasting God, you choose those whom the world deems powerless to put the powerful to shame...

...but, dang.... can't/won't glorify nor condone suffering and death either. No. I. Won't. Just stand in awe of what unjustifiable suffering reveals. The inversion. The great gospel inversion. Dang, that's burning the candle at both ends....

Haiti on my mind.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Strange blessings --and Pink Floyd in peeps

Discouraged today.

Really sad that right-wing conservatives will be blowing their horns and have even more muscle in legislation because of the election in Massachusetts. I am discouraged that the Obama administration hasn't kept to their promises.... and I'm a cynic when it comes to politics anyway, didn't really expect it, but I did HOPE. For the first time in a long time. Now.... sigh.

And I grieve that there is more gun violence in Virginia --eight dead near Appomattox in an apparent domestic meltdown. Another man with a gun killing women and children. Oh God.....

Must be a low tide, or high gravity day. Something like that. I'll trudge through it....
But a tired to the bone, sad, broken kinda thing is hanging around. Y'know what I mean?

Some days, ya know, putting down the necessity of being wise as a serpent would be a welcome relief.

(Matthew 10:16-22) Jesus told the twelve disciples, "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. Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved."

On this day we are asked to remember Fabian, Bishop of Rome (250).... He was elected, served, organized, restored, wrote, recorded.... and then Decius Emperor of Rome began a persecution of Christians in all part of the Empire simultaneously. Fabian was one of the first to die....

I was going to cut that reading shorter--and I read it four times to do so.... and then discovered that each time I read it, different parts fed me, and I couldn't cut it shorter. So, there we are.

Oh yeah --Now we're talking.... Pink Floyd done in peeps. That makes it all much better.

A day of strange blessings. And, Easter Peeps are just around the corner....

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

New green in the dark winter earth

It was warm enough yesterday that I went out in the backyard and did the mid-winter cleaning and pruning. I am glad to report that the camellia bush (tree really--it is well above the level of the first floor of the house) has a strong set of buds, and the lilies that show in the spring have already begun to burst through the dirt.

Considering that there are still big piles of filthy snow in the shadows of the buildings, these are welcome signs of the hope of spring.

And in my old stomping grounds of northern California, they are expecting seven feet of snow.... I've given up trying to explain to folks that it snows in California --sometimes even in the desert. Sigh....

And it being warm enough yesterday, Mr. Witty got his mid-winter bath. He knew it was coming, and ran from one hiding place to another, grabbing socks and underpants along the way --trying to distract from the task at hand. But it didn't work for him, and he sulked in the shower as I experimented with the new hose-thingy that can lock into the shower head and divert the water into a hand-held grip with a flexible five-foot hose, which means I do not have to struggle to keep him in one place with one hand and pour water over him from a bucket with the other --I just take aim and spray. Haaa!

And woven throughout my domestic chores is the heartache of the reality of poverty and despair--in Haiti, in east Richmond, in Guatemala, and the many places in between--faces and hands etched in to my vision. I recall the four months Joel and I lived out of our car in the early 1990s. The pattern our life took --making tools like an ice chest do double and triple duty as a washing bucket for clothes and a also bench --many others in the campgrounds we frequented doing the same, packing up our lives every two weeks to move to the next place as we were not allowed to stay longer, and would run afoul of the authorities if we did not move on. I worked full-time as we did this--Joel looking for work... complicated by moving every ten days, no stable phone number or contact information.

Dis-spiriting at best. And, we had what I call hope. We knew we had a place to live when October finally arrived. We would not have to try to migrate to a milder clime to survive the winter. We had it easy even then.

Sorting through the actions of daily life, to get to the next meal, the next handful of cash (no bank account because those require an address), one does not wonder what life is for --life belongs to life. Gratitude is a different measure. Existential wonder is affirmed if not dismissed upon awakening safely in the morning and having had something to eat the day before.

And it is all incredibly durable and insanely fragile. Transient.

In those circumstances, the idea of eternal life is bereft of hope, unless and except one is saved from the threat of violence and secure with milk and honey. And if one opens the eyes, one knows that Jesus did not promise those things, only life with him, hid in God.

But, then there is joy. The joy that is set before us.

From morning prayer (John 3:16-17) For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

I remember in my prayers this morning those who are suffering without the hope of joy. I thank God for Bishop Wulfstan, who did not care who was in temporal power, but worked tirelessly to free those in bondage. I pray for those parents of students missing in Haiti who want/expect/are screaming for all the resources of the world to be aimed at finding their children. For six days they have shared the anguish of devastation --will it open them to move beyond the particular? I pray for those who are striving to relieve the misery. I pray for those who insist that throwing bombs will relieve their misery.

God, help us.

Our Lord died. A dead God. Who, for the joy set before him loved death to death.
There is our pattern for eternal life.
New green in the dark winter earth still amazes me.

And then, there is the Vestry meeting tonight!

Monday, January 18, 2010

transitive and intransitive

Today the church remembers the Confession of Peter. Many say that Peter is "first" among the disciples.... which is why Rome thinks it is "first" among Christians. Hmmmmph... Peter is first among being hard-headed, dense, first among deniers.... and in the Gospel of John, Peter is not first in anything except not 'getting it.' Just sayin'. Let's just call him "Rocky" or "Rockhead" and get it over with.

And I adore the Peter of scripture because of his oh-so-human foibles. He is so strong and oh, so weak, so dense and oh, so insightful and visionary, such a denier and so strong in faith.... He gives me hope for all of us.

It is a very dangerous thing to give to one man the power to loose and bind in heaven and earth. Just sayin'.

It is also Martin Luther King's secular holiday today --schools, banks closed, and all that. The powers that worked so hard to murder him, to shut him up, now celebrate, quote and use him to secure a stranglehold on the imagination of the people. And that IS pornographic.

It is fitting that today MLK and St. Rocky have a calendar date.

From the Eucharistic lectionary (Matthew 16:13-19) When Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" And they said, "Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter answered, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God." And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. 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."

There is a huge thundering noise going on out back this morning. And Mr. Witty is here by my side trembling. It hurts me when he is so terrified. And, yet, if a cat walked in the room, he would be suddenly fearless and ferocious. He would growl and leap.... oh mr. macho. For a moment. And then the cat would thoroughly thrash him, and he wouldn't know what hit him. He really believes he is big and powerful.... except when there are big noises....

Such is life, heh? I wonder what made Peter and MLK tremble. What kind of power held sway over them.... What bound them.... we certainly know it was not the power of Hades, because against that they railed and spoke and preached--both of them, fearless and ferocious. They growled and lept....

What a strange people we are, celebrating the courage to lose.

And, dang. 'Lept' is not considered a proper word--keeps trying to correct to 'leaped'.... I don't want to use 'leaped' --I want lept. Mirriam-Webster says lept isn't a word. The other dictionary lists it as an intransitive verb without definition. The Free Dictionary lists it as "low energy photon therapy."

I think Jesus was pretty foolish to give us the power to bind and loose in heaven and earth.... we can't even agree on verbs.... intransitive or not.

Peter --MLK, help keep us faithful and inspired, even when there are big noises. And remind us again of the courage to lose.... because as a people with the cross in the center of our faith, we must ever be mindful of transitive and intransitive verbs. Truly.

(Yes, transitive verbs require a direct object, intransitive verbs cannot have a direct object. Transitive verbs bind... intransitive verbs are open-ended.... And there is the meaning of life.)

My prayers for Haiti continue. Transitively and intransitively.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Portrait of Haiti

The church I serve was one of the first responders to NOLA --had a truckload on the ground before the military started closing stuff down.... Today, I heard the comment--too bad we can't drive to Haiti. So, I said we would find a way to get there. I love that about this church.

Instead, today, Haiti came to us. A holy woman who worships at the Spanish-language service came with a Hunger Banner. She had worked in Haiti some years back and returned with it. We made it the frontal on the altar for the service. She has agreed to let it live there for a little while.

This picture does not do it justice --I didn't have my camera with me so I found this one on-line. Consider this a bookmark, until I can get a photo of the one in place at the altar where we worship.

It is a self-portrait of Haiti, her history, with Christ crucified on the tree of life in the center of the garden, eyes-wide open looking down on his suffering people.

Please keep the people of Haiti in your prayers.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

G'wan. Go to church

If all that is said about the wedding of Cana is true....
then there he was, giving the first communion to a whole crowd of unbaptized people.... dang.

Y'know, in searching for an image for this post, I googled groom, bridegroom --then began my snarky bent with gay groom, gay bridegroom, got serious again with jesus groom, then wedding feast and even jesus drunk.... you think it, I tried it. But this, by far, with 'jesus groom,' was the best:

G'wan. Go to church. Y'all know this little story of a wedding feast is NOT about changing water to wine... it's about Jesus being the real bridegroom. Ya know that, right?!

So, g'wan. The groom is waiting.

Avator, Pat Robertson, Papa Doc and our new governor... selling sacrifices in the temple of our world.... calling all dragon riders

at morning prayer (John 2:13-16) The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. He told those who were selling the doves, "Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father's house a marketplace!"


We saw "Avatar" last night, described as a movie somewhere between 'Alien' and 'Dances with Wolves.' That is an apt description. Joel HATED it --same ol' story, he said. Well, yeah.... there's only one story. Right?! I enjoyed it.... the movie-makers colored outside the lines, and that always gets my approval. Besides, there were dragon-riders involved....

Part of the story of Avatar includes taking a gorgeous creation, a planet where all life is interconnected and literally knows it --and here come the earth dwellers for the raw materials, digging and destroying--and then shooting, killing, bombing to get their hands on the stuff they need....

The movie doesn't question violence and maiming and killing.... only destroying the planet --making a marketplace of what should be holy.

For the first time --when I read the Gospel for morning prayer today, I read that Jesus makes a whip-chord, and drives out the cattle and sheep --not the merchants, just the animals... --and the violence he does to the traders is only to pour their money about and turn their tables over.... he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle....

sigh.... and I am holding that image in tension with facts on the ground here:

Today, the right-wing quasi hard-core fundamentalist the Commonwealth has elected, Bob McDonald, will be inaugurated. This city will come to a stand still in many areas.... and the military and a big show/parade will be put on, flyover bombers and all.... I shudder to think of all that will/might happen in the next four years.... the violence that will/might happen so that this administration can get their hands on the stuff they think they need.

And, it wasn't even a close election.

Nothing will be sacred/holy/important to this crowd except the bottom line.

So, how should we chase the moneychangers and their sacred cows from the temple? What shall we do for the hope that is in us?
Just wondering.

And my prayers continue for the people of Haiti --a place where the moneychangers have ruled for years.... --a place where the foreigners/outlanders/moneychangers came in to take what they thought they needed.... --yes, let's face it folks, a place where our own government supported Papa Doc ---and one of the most tragic and violent regimes known on the face of this beautiful and sacred planet. We OWE the people of Haiti our lives, because we took theirs. And the reason why.... there's only one story....

Gee --I wonder if my friend and yours, that wonderful little pastor from Virginia Beach attended the 'traditional' prayer breakfast this morning.... talk about a pact with the devil.

Oh, dear.... seems I've lost my dragon call.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Jesus and Frank Logue on the day we celebrate Martin Luther King

The Rev. Frank Logue, King of Peace Episcopal Church, Kingsland, Georgia, responds to Pat Robertson by youtube.

From the Eucharistic lectionary for Martin Luther King (Luke 6:27-36) Jesus said, "I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you.

"If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful."

Blessed are you maker and lover of all that has been, is, and will be: you were born in a shelter for animals, free of the constructs of human habitations --but you yourself know that the earth itself can move like a gulping mouth entrapping, devouring, binding even light and the hope of life in the dark and cold. Give us Grace us to share with those trapped in disaster and despair that which is beyond light and hope, with the confidence that when the earth moves and all our fabrications tumble, you are close at hand ready with your angels to loose all that binds us, and enflesh us anew as your beloved and eternal child; through Christ who is with you and the Spirit, now and forever.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

the earth as a gulping mouth

at morning prayer (John 1:43-47) The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, "Follow me." Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, "We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth." Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see." When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, "Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!"


So, what do you hear?

I hear irony. Big time. And I thank God that there is room enough in discipleship to be doubtful, ironic, wistful, snarky --you know, room enough to be fully human.

In the meantime-- my soul is deeply distressed with the situation in Haiti. Please keep in your prayers the people of Haiti, those who have gone to help and those who have still not yet heard from loved ones.

Hey God --it's margaret here; blessed are you maker and lover of all that has been, is, and will be: I know you were born in a cave-type shelter for animals and free of the constructs of human habitations --but you yourself know that the earth itself can move like a gulping mouth and entrap and devour, binding even light and the hope of life in the dark and cold. Help us share with those trapped in disaster and despair that which is beyond light and hope with the confidence that when the earth moves and all our fabrications tumble, you are close at hand ready with your angels to loose all that binds us, and enflesh us anew as your beloved and eternal child.

Oh --and yeah, I know you can, so would you please take Pat Robertson's voice away.... what, dang... Okay--so I did wish he were dead.... but I didn't say it out-loud. Dude, get back, he's better than the alternative?! And you want me to take pity and love him?!

Right.... can anything good come out of Virginia Beach?
Sorry dude --but I'll work on it.
Maybe. When I've got some spare time. Now? Dang.... I will with your help, but you know how stubborn I am, and you made me that way.
A gift you gave me! (heeeheee!) Love you. Thank you.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A God that asks 'what are you looking for?' is nevermind revolutionary

At morning prayer (John 1:35-38) The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, "Look, here is the Lamb of God!" The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, "What are you looking for?"

Tonight, I am speaking at a big historic church down Monument Ave. Yeah--the invitation surprised me too. On so many levels. I have been asked to address the question "What is most important about your Christian journey."

As I was pondering my 600 answers, I asked Joel if he thought they might be scandalized if I told the truth. And he responded that if I did not tell the truth, that would be worse. And I turned and asked, can I cry? And he said, that, at least, would be honest.

This morning, rising to the surface of my many possible responses, is that Jesus approaches with a question --never an answer, never a rule --but the very question which undoes imperialism and authoritarianism --the One who knows all asks what we need, what we desire, what we hope.

Oh, that we could model that ourselves. Whole different thang than so-called 'leadership' --yes?! A savior that asks, where are you? --what do you want? --what are you looking for?

This morning, I pray for the people of Haiti. If Haiti is poorer than Guatemala, and word is that it is, then this devastation might even take their hope away.... --might do injury to the soul of the people. It is also my prayer that all those governments and institutions that reach out to help do no more or less than what is asked of them. You know what I mean?

(Haiti is the largest diocese in The Episcopal Church, contrary to local opinion here.... ) Will keep y'all posted as news unfolds, but word is the Bishop there has yet to make contact; our missionary, Lauren Stanley, is state-side at the moment. Watch Episcopal Cafe for an article today that will list ways to help the people of Haiti.

Lauren asks us to pray: Watch over your children, O Lord, on this dark night. Comfort those who mourn, heal those who are injured, sheltered those who have no shelter this night. Help us to respond with all our hearts and minds and souls, with warm hands and caring hearts. And help us to remember that you are with us, and that we are you beloved children. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Please pray

There has been a large earthquake near the capital of Haiti. Please pray for Lauren Stanley, a missionary from this Diocese who is working there. I will keep you posted as I learn more news.

UPDATE: Lauren is safe in the States. Thank you all --please keep the people of Haiti in your prayers.

Aelred, and particular love

When I finally admitted I was in love, I had already stripped wild-rose bushes of their hips for special wild red tea. I would walk miles down the river and across fields to join him in prayer on the hill-top. I had already joined him in trying to feed hundreds with nothing but three quarts of milk and left-overs. He would sit at the piano, I standing with my flute, and together work through the imaginations of saints long dead, while the passion with which they had inscribed each note were like love letters between only us.

My black dog maimed his red rooster, and he had to take the ax to its neck so it would not suffer, and yet still he would whisper and show me his laughter, and his pet God-in-a-box. He wasn't supposed to have pets. But, I guess, keeping God is not the same as a pet, even if at the time God did have four tiny hard feet, little round ears and a long tail.

And, when, on the back of the GG in San Francisco, the fog had lifted and I said we were going to get married--he didn't miss a beat and said we couldn't because he was already married, having taken vows and all that, dressing in brown robes, knots for belts, and living with other men who loved God with their whole lives and bodies. Well, kinda. Anyway. So, the love must be all wrong, yes? Misplaced at the very best? Confessing the sin of it all didn't help.

So, off to the nunnery --if he, a Franciscan, then me a Poor Claire. But, when the nuns could no longer stave off the laughter, and I stopped pretending, I entered a new form of prayer and threw candles around the tomb while the poor little round brother called for help.

The candles weren't lit. He must have been a wimp in particular love. Maybe he wasn't Italian after all.

And, then, when I returned from olive oil on cut beans and marble floors, he had left. So, I sold books and tried to be practical and studied engineering. Worked drawing templates for builders. And I waited.

When he finally called, finally called, I bought a one-way ticket, took a week off work, my mother insisted on new underwear--and I couldn't fathom why. And in Brooklyn, we sent out no invitations except to those the law required, but instead put posters in the library and supermarkets and invited all we could meet to the feast.

In my book, Aelred got it right.

The Collect Pour into our hearts, O God, the Holy Spirit's gift of love, that we, clasping each the other's hand, may share the joy of friendship, human and divine, and with your servant Aelred draw many to your community of love; through Jesus Christ the Righteous, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

From the Eucharistic lectionary for today (Philippians 2:1-4) If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.

And, for the most part, so did Paul.

I asked him why, last year, why we did not just run away when we first met --and he said, with a straight face, 'you were jail-bait m'love.'

I had forgotten that part.
Thank you Aelred, for speaking and dreaming of particular love. Your own angst was overcome, yes?

Aelred is the patron saint of Integrity.
I salute all lovers today.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Malinda just sent this to me

The veranda of the second floor of the Governor's Palace which is being restored.

Finally. It's only been about 200 years or so.....

The Palace is next to the main plaza and through the arch one can discern the cathedral.

what's this in the middle of the garden?

Yes --we used to do it in our orchard.... when it got below freezing just as the fruit buds were forming, we would turn on the sprinklers knowing it would freeze on the buds and branches. But the freezing and then eventually the unfreezing in and from the ice creates energy which keeps the fruit warmer and causes less damage than the freezing air.

Go figure. Life is so wonderfully strange. And it's freezing in Florida, and they are throwing ice around to keep the fruit warm. And, it's freezing in Virginia, but there is no fruit this time of year.... well, not any that I can find. And I have noticed that farmers here in Virginia rarely if ever have sprinkler systems. I have always found that interesting.... Must be an historic thang.

Dirt. Water. Air. Once, in Brooklyn, in a vacation bible school kinda thing, I had bunch of kids that didn't know in a meaningful way that food came from a farm --you know, that there were seasons, and food comes from living creatures and systems and cycles... But their parents didn't know it either.... I am always amazed and shocked when I become divorced from the systems that sustain me--it is the root of sin for all of us, ya know. And then, of course, there are those systems which sustain us about which we are not even aware.

...things seen and unseen, known and unknown....

For whatever else it does, the second creation story of the bible does give us a farmer-God, a cultivator who used the dirt and water and air-breath to make things BE. And it is a statement about human beings being cultivators too --placed in the midst of the garden.

(Gen. 2:4-9) These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created. In the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens, when no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up-for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no one to till the ground; but a stream would rise from the earth, and water the whole face of the ground- then the LORD God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being. And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; and there he put the man whom he had formed. Out of the ground the LORD God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Not the shepherd God --not the cosmic stardust God --not the rules and judge king authority God --not the possessive jealous arbitrary lover God --but the roll in the dirt finger of mud God.

God in bib coveralls carrying his rake tasting the dirt and adding just the right amount of water at the right time....

What strange creatures we are.... throwing our waste in the water or burying it like it might grow or burning it like some strange offering....

sigh..... some days it seems like we have gone so far afield from the systems that sustain us, that there is no going back.... she sez, but we gotta or die....

Saturday, January 9, 2010

G'wan. Go to church

Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.....
Because you are precious in my sight,
and honored, and I love you. (Isaiah 43:1-3)

In the OT (Isaiah) in the English translation, it reads "I have redeemed you."
In Spanish it reads "Yo te he libertado."

I thinks me rather be libertado than redeemed.
Just sayin'.
Either way, that's freakin' blow your socks off wonderful.

G'wan. Go to church.
Beloved of God, be libertadoed or redeemed!

Pray for us as we welcome our Bishop this Sunday!

rulers lord it over them... ---huh.

Florida has 21 degrees F.... we are warmer here with 23.

Back to it --preparing the books and certificates and all for the Bishop's visit tomorrow. Getting re-entrenched, making a new to-do list.

And a warm pink light is still glowing over my shoulder.

Malinda and I were ummmmmm..... yes, worried kinda sorta that our shoes or some part of us would screen positive at the airport for gunpowder because of all the firecracker waste that we walked through. Constant--any excuse for a bomba. As it was, the Customs experience at Miami had all the machinations and imagery and experience of hell --Blake would have done it justice... or Hieronymous Bosch. Six lines for the convenience of citizens, follow yellow dots on the floor, find yourself dumped out on the airport steps in order to start all over again in the next line --shoes off, open your case for the tenth time.... Malinda had to hold my blouse down so that I didn't 'accidentally' pull it off too......

No, the Customs officers did not carry the sawed-off shotguns that seemed to be the apparel of their peers assigned with the enforcement of power in Guatemala.... but it didn't take magic glasses to see that the power they wielded was just as frightening and impersonal and deadly.

I cannot imagine what it must have felt like for the more impermeable lines in the non-citizen area. Welcome to the States.... we don't trust you, we are not sure we like you, we are watching you......


From the Eucharistic lectionary for Julia Emery of UTO (Mark 10:42-45) Jesus called his disciples and said to them, "You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many."

Julia Emery was on the front flanks of reconciliation, I suppose. But, now we know boxes of coins are not the answer either, and in the wrong hands, can do as much harm again... And, now, I see the north and east sides of Richmond.... and think, Colonialism.... the same systems of economy, racism, power, access..... with underground cultures and identity. All of us, caught up in it.... and we can't just prepare little boxes of coins, we must change our hearts and the very way we do things.

Good God. There is so much work to do....
I think that is what must go at the top of my to-do list. At this point, all else seems to be the wrong lord.... the wrong master, lording it over any of us....

Friday, January 8, 2010

Coffee --la Sangre de Cristo

Holy God, you chose your faithful servant Harriett Bedell to exercise the ministry of deaconess and to be a missionary among indigenous peoples: Fill us with compassion and respect for all people, and empower us for the work of ministry throughout the world; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

What a wonderfully strange and enormously powerful journey.... and waking up this morning (Mr. Witty ensconced in my arms--refusing to move for any reason except to get closer) with a cup of coffee in my hand, saying my prayers.... I look into the grounds at the bottom of my cup and think of Guatemala. How can I not help but think of the systems, good and bad, which connect me and my morning drink with the colors and people --the hills, colors, rhythms, sounds, smells, cheekbones of the life that is Guatemala..... having gone there as a member of the tribe, which in the most recent turn of events in the history of people has created and sustained the most recent expressions of power and oppression, gone to this thin place in a crease between volcanoes in order to learn the language of an oppressed minority --learning to speak only in the present tense in a place where that language was the language of the oppressor... and is still the language of those in power while the people in the hills speak anything else but.... and they work the land, pick the beans....

I now know in a new way that coffee is not just served with milk and sugar, and occasionally, chocolate and liquor... coffee is really the color of the life-blood of people.... as intricately woven and decorated and adorning the bodies.... and drinking it both helps and hinders the systems of oppression from which there is no escape. ....outstretched hands, making a deal, somewhere between the rocks and filthy puddles of the street and the windows on the upper floors screened with delicate white cloth --where lives as filtered as the water they drink grind lives and beans alike....

Come back, they say. Please come back. Learn some more --it takes a month to really begin to speak.

In a place where ten minutes of road is a greater chasm than all the borders and boundaries imposed upon the imagination of the landscape can create.

Where volcanoes belch and shake windows and grease the sky.

In a place where sugary honey is dripped over clusters of marshmallows.... and eaten in gulps between laughter.

In a place where a papaya costs a nickel. A huge papaya. And caged plumed parrots say, "Hola!"

In a place where the water is so polluted it is dangerous. --which brings me to rule number one: keep the mouth shut. And rule number three: when walking down the street, keep the mouth shut. And rule number seven: when you shower (it is only ever barely luke warm so make it fast), keep the mouth shut....

In a place where even the most gross and twisted offering of an attempt to speak is received with nods and encouragement and smiles. 'Just reading' --I said for a full day, while meaning to say 'just looking.' No wonder they smiled.... no, it was more. A grace and knowledge of the ways around all that separates....

In a place where the roads are paved with volcano seeds.... and the rules of the road are written on the hearts of the people and the tiled on the whitewashed walls. And spilled in to cups of coffee and tasted and swallowed --things seen and unseen, sins known and unknown... la Sangre de Cristo....

(Matthew 5:1-11) When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
"Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
"Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
"Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

"Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

just thinkin'

Me thinks Guatemala would be a wonderful place to die.... the colors, the life, the priorities.... however, me also thinks that it is a hard place to live.... the necessity for big guns.... the machismo, the water, the corruption, the children in the street....

Just thinkin'.....

only two more days --BWHAAaaaaaa.....

And, I have been very good. I have purchased only 700 yards of fabric.... to carry with me. The rest I am shipping directly to Caminante! And Paul!

Monday, January 4, 2010

VERY quickly

Esta es mi amiga malinda --we had the best lunch here of "typical" Guatemalan food. We were so full, we did not eat dinner! (Oh, that's a lie --we had ice cream for dinner!)

Talked with Len (at Eruptions) --gonna try to get together with him.

This is the Virgin at the Convent of Las Capuchinas. I really likes it!

I celebrated mass in this church yesterday --with a group of eleven Episcopalians who were very grateful to have a priest among them. La Iglesia es San Marcos.... !!

little pieces of paper --OMG!

Our lessons continue --off I go!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

new york is for wimps

holy crap!!!!!! New York has NOTHING NADA NADA on Antigua when it comes to a new years eve party ....DANG y que no tiene fin!!!!

sitting in a cafe gotta run. will post more later.
Blessings in the new year yáll