Saturday, July 31, 2010

G'wan. Go to church

You know that little phrase, havel havlim in the bible ---you know it is most commonly translated 'vanity of vanities' --you know what it really means, doncha?! Yaaaa --you already know!

G'wan. Go to church. Giggle when ya hear it.... it's good to laugh in church...

Vanity of vanities, says the Teacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity. (Ecclesiastes 1:2)


Collect of the Day: William Wilberforce [and Anthony Ashley Cooper, Lord Shaftesbury], Prophetic Witnesses, 1833, 1885

Just and eternal God, we give you thanks for the stalwart faith and persistence of your servants William Wilberforce and Anthony Ashley-Cooper, who, undeterred by opposition and failure, held fast to a vision of justice in which no child of yours might suffer in enforced servitude and misery. Grant that we, drawn by that same Gospel vision, may persevere in serving the common good and caring for those who have been cast down, that they may be raised up through Jesus Christ; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Yeppa. Two good guys in so many respects.... strident advocates in an arena wherein they could have settled with a half-way gesture, but they did not.

And we must not either. For all those who are seen as less than.... and there are plenty....

At morning prayer (Matthew 28:11-15) While they [the women leaving the tomb] were going, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests everything that had happened. After the priests had assembled with the elders, they devised a plan to give a large sum of money to the soldiers, telling them, "You must say, 'His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.' If this comes to the governor's ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble." So they took the money and did as they were directed.

...and pray for all those who get mired in the great lie because of the idols of money, security, peer pressure and social acceptance.... and fear --physical and spiritual.

Hey God, it's margaret. Yeah, yeah, yeah.... --tired to the bone. I know --no excuse. So, I am grateful that I am a big ol' woman, and for time off, and I pray: Inspire and sustain all those who lift their voices and hands to reveal liberty and life. Infuse your joy all in all. Blow us away with it. And give your peace which is beyond understanding to the weary and disheartened. And I give thanks to DD'U and R who sent me a card that about sums it up... "When bad things happen I feel like calling God and saying Dude WTF." Perfect. Amen.

The t-shirt above and the card quote is from Naughty Betty stuff --the brutal truth all prettied up. Now, there's a slogan to live by...

Friday, July 30, 2010


We are celebrating resurrection in this household today! Joel is home!!!! Whooooohooooo! You should have seen Mr. Witty dance--running full bore from the living room to the dining room and back, then throwing himself at Joel's feet and putting all four feet in to the air offering his stomach, then doing the whole thing all over again. My dance was just as enthusiastic, but far less exotic....

At morning prayer ( Matthew 28:10) Suddenly Jesus met them and said, "Greetings!" And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me."

Can't help it.... So.... were the women afraid of him or afraid of the 'brothers' ....?

Since they approached him, got down on their knees and took hold of his feet --the intimate gesture that we put so much stock in when it is done indoors and around the table.... I am more inclined to believe that they were nervous about being sent to tell the 'brothers.' Just sayin'.

And just this morning, I received an interesting comment: I would be terrified if you were my priest. Such arrogance, addressing St. Paul with disdain as though you were his disappointed teacher. Don't you realize that when the Scripture says "Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another" it includes those who have gone before us- St. Paul highly among them?

Your attitude is indicative of the hubris which threatens to tear our church apart. You do not stand in judgement over the Scriptures, rather, they stand in authority over you. (Chris Harding)

Dear Chris --yes..... and other than the obvious judgment you have just passed on me, contraindicating your own self... yes, I am absolutely terrifying, full of arrogance and have a supple degree of hubris. Any one who knows me will tell you I am all that and worse. yeppa... And I not only argue with St. Paul, I argue with Jesus and God too. Imagine that...

And most often, there is a great deal of laughter, some tears, and always --always a deepening of affection, trust and true love between us.... because I am no longer a slave, I am a friend of God... and friends kick their feet up, share a beer (or whatever) and have kick-ass conversations --and are never afraid to disagree....

So, yes, I can only imagine.... the women who fell at the feet of Jesus who were told to rise, not be afraid and go tell the brothers.... they did not fear Him, but the likes of you among the brothers....

And, no. The scriptures do not stand in authority over me.... because that would mean I could not be a Christian if all scripture were destroyed.... To clutch at scripture is idolatry in the same order as clutching the feet of the resurrected corpus of Jesus --the Living Word --made flesh and blood and who dwells among us, alongside us --in, by, with, through us....

And there is no one through, by, with, alongside etc. I have come to know the love of God more than my beloved... far more than any scripture... So, off I go... it's time to run between the rooms and throw my feet in the air. 'cuz he's home. TBTG!!!!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

force, power, violence, tribalism....

I am not in to the Chelsea Clinton marriage watch... I think it rather gross... Poor kid --leave her alone. On the other hand.... what they are rumored to be spending on the party is ummmm... rather gross. Joel and I had 800 people at our wedding because we had to invite all the clergy in Long Island.... Joel being clergy and all... and then we posted invitations in the supermarkets, libraries and on the telephone poles in the neighborhood.... invited the entire congregation. And we had a potluck reception. We provided cake and punch.... The whole affair cost us about $600 dollars. Including the gift to the Bishop for the privilege....

We will celebrate 29 years in another couple of weeks... still learning how to be married... how to give fully and be fully who I am called to be... encourage another to be fully who they are called to be... and none of it really matters --my joy unfulfilled so long as there is the lie that my LGBTQ sisters and brothers are not worthy to enter in to that discipline....

On that note --I am grateful that the judge blocked the worst portions of Arizona's immigration law. There will still be rallies, protests and marches today in Arizona.... I keep the people of Arizona and beyond in my prayers.

And, today is the anniversary (July 29, 1974) of the ordination of eleven women in Philadelphia. I remember exactly where I was when I heard of it --I was swimming in the pool at the Bishop's Ranch, and I believe it was Brother Isaac who came running down the hill to the pool shouting the entire distance --they've done it... they've done it... they've ordained women!!!! I know Joel was nearby with some of the other Brothers (SSF) --he was not at all thrilled.... most there were not thrilled at all, but were angry, afraid, indignant.... I just remember the shaft of light that entered in to my soul, and for the first time I felt affirmed by the church.... made whole.

At morning prayer (Judges 4 ending at 4:23)

Now Sisera had fled away on foot to the tent of Jael wife of Heber the Kenite; for there was peace between King Jabin of Hazor and the clan of Heber the Kenite. Jael came out to meet Sisera, and said to him, "Turn aside, my lord, turn aside to me; have no fear."

So he turned aside to her into the tent, and she covered him with a rug. Then he said to her, "Please give me a little water to drink; for I am thirsty." So she opened a skin of milk and gave him a drink and covered him. He said to her, "Stand at the entrance of the tent, and if anybody comes and asks you, 'Is anyone here?' say, 'No.'"

But Jael wife of Heber took a tent peg, and took a hammer in her hand, and went softly to him and drove the peg into his temple, until it went down into the ground - he was lying fast asleep from weariness - and he died.

Then, as Barak came in pursuit of Sisera, Jael went out to meet him, and said to him, "Come, and I will show you the man whom you are seeking." So he went into her tent; and there was Sisera lying dead, with the tent peg in his temple.

Too often we do this kind of thing--a tent peg to those we fear or have learned to detest. But if we put down the tent pegs and hammers we become vulnerable.... and we lose.

I know that the ordination of eleven women was like a tent peg to many in the church.... I know that the presence of undocumented immigrants strikes anger and fear and feelings of injustice to many who feel their way of life threatened --a tent peg to their security.... I know that same-gender marriage is a tent peg to marriage for some.... I know many tout the actions of Jael as courageous and an example of the unexpected tenacity and determination of women.... an example of strength.

But today I see all of it as tribalism.... the wedding, immigration, ordination of women.... all of it. I saw a couple of great articles circulating yesterday regarding the ordination of women --on magical thinking.... that women at the altar would somehow not alter the substance of the bread and wine.... sorry I don't have the link handy... I will try to find it later....

We delineate, circumnavigate, present these actions --all of 'em, as circles of power, relationships, who is in/out.... and our rejection of them is violence.... seduction of triumph through force or will.... magical thinking that entrance changes substance....

The children, standing at altar with me --stretching out their hands to bless the bread and wine --exercising and trying on their participation in the eternal priesthood of Christ.... standing with those the powers say are alien or illegal.... seeing and knowing sacrificial love in the many love affairs around me that neither the state nor the church will acknowledge...

When power and violence and exclusion are laid down, and vulnerability and love picked up... then we can see clearly the folly of the judgment seat.... and its occupancy by the one who was rejected and slaughtered as an outlaw and criminal.... whose judgment is mercy and whose sentence is love and eternal life in, by, through, with... Christ in living flesh and blood all around us....

I am so not done.... but it is time to go see my beloved. Word is, he will be moved out of ICU today.... will keep you all posted.

Word is that Juan Manuel will have an immigration hearing next Tuesday.... geeeeeez.

...and what are the vulnerable and excluded to do? I am beginning to see that if they pick up the reins, we have only changed masters.... we must subvert the whole idea of masters.... not done...

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

it ain't my faith....

At morning prayer a Canticle: A Song of Anselm

Jesus, as a mother you gather your people to you:
You are gentle with us as a mother with her children;
Often you weep over our sins and our pride:
tenderly you draw us from hatred and judgment.
You comfort us in sorrow and bind up our wounds:
in sickness you nurse us,
and with pure milk you feed us.
Jesus, by your dying we are born to new life:
by your anguish and labor we come forth in joy.
Despair turns to hope through your sweet goodness:
through your gentleness we find comfort in fear.
Your warmth gives life to the dead:
your touch makes sinners righteous.
Lord Jesus, in your mercy heal us:
in your love and tenderness remake us.
In your compassion bring grace and forgiveness:
for the beauty of heaven may your love prepare us.

Not bad Anselm. Of course, you will remember that many of the times that Jesus speaks of the kingdom or of God, he does so in feminine terms --a hen gathering her chicks, a woman kneading bread, a woman looking for a lost coin.... We have been in such a rut --lost our biblical imagination that allowed us to think in such a variety of ways --God as a pillar of fire, a cloud, a wind, a small still voice....

Recently, I have witnessed the love of God in telephone messages, emails, watermelon left on my door stoop, cards --and posts to this blog and my FB page and comments. A car loan.... A freakin' BMW to boot.... !!! (Actually, I was embarrassed... --but it did what a car is supposed to do while one's own car is in the shop).

And --I asked Joel yesterday... saying 'So... without all these machines and fluids and needles and tubes you'd be dead, big boy.... (I can be soooooo pastoral) So.... you, too, now live a resurrection life! Whatcha going to do with?!!'

His eyes got big.... and then he confessed he did not yet know...

And, I felt perfectly safe asking the question, because he is now --and suddenly, a walking, talking, swallowing, pooping, breathing, smiling machine folks!!! Yeppa. It was like suddenly all the connections were re-connecting --yesterday afternoon!!! FINALLY!!!!!

So, we begin day #5 in ICU --but I think ICU will soon be history. He has one more treatment of a potent drug --intravenous immunoglobulin or something like that... and massive doses of steroids... trying to stimulate certain parts of the immune system and suppressing other parts... Oh! --and they discovered he no longer has a thymus! --part of the treatment for myasthenia gravis is to remove the thymus.... they looked for his, and he doesn't have one!!! Apparently, they sometimes shrivel and go away with age....

Another sign of the kingdom --writ in human flesh.... --the body. What a strange and wonderful and awesome thing.... and a fragile thing too....

Oh --and so, yesterday, I went for my hair therapy --and got bold and said, let's curl my hair --and she laughed and said she wouldn't do that --it isn't organic....

--and I loved her more for it. So, my hair is just short. Real short.

--and my neighbor said that she and someone else were talking and thought I would appreciate knowing that after discussion they had decided that I was like Job.... ummmmmm..... hmmmmm..... no. Firstly, I just don't believe that those around me and those I love are used, abused and tortured to test me.... by either God or the devil. Secondly, in these last few weeks, it has not been my faith which has been tested. My patience, endurance --these things, yes. But certainly not my faith. I guess I am one of those lucky ones by and through which each disaster reveals a larger, deeper, more wonderful living body of water in which to swim and from which I drink. Cuz, it ain't MY faith, but the faith of the one who holds all things in being --that faith I share.... that is the water which gives me life.

And so it should be with all of us...

Just sayin'.

And, please remember Kirstin in your prayers.... I haven't had time to check in on her. She has been so very present in my prayers. And I give thanks for the great community of faith which has sustained us, and which sustains us all.

blessings, all.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Joel was grumpy, grumpy grumpy last night. He also suffered a small panic attack --and he still cannot breathe or speak very well nor swallow at all.... he continues in ICU --although they FINALLY got him out of respiratory ICU and in to neuro ICU which is where he needed to be because myasthenia gravis is a disease that prevents the brain from speaking to the nerves.... and without the nerves the muscles don't work.... and without the nerves and the muscles one does not breathe or swallow or speak....

So, I am hoping that grumpy means improvement.... because, in truth, as far as speaking and swallowing go --I'm not seeing any improvement at all...


From morning prayer (Psalm 61)

Hear my cry, O God, *
and listen to my prayer.
I call upon you from the ends of the earth
with heaviness in my heart; *
set me upon the rock that is higher than I.
For you have been my refuge, *
a strong tower against the enemy.
I will dwell in your house for ever; *
I will take refuge under the cover of your wings.
For you, O God, have heard my vows; *
you have granted me the heritage of those who fear your Name.
Add length of days to the king's life; *
let his years extend over many generations.
Let him sit enthroned before God for ever; *
bid love and faithfulness watch over him.
So will I always sing the praise of your Name, *
and day by day I will fulfill my vows.

I love the way the psalms almost always start with what I would call a 'shitshitshit' thought and turn around to the glory of God....

Sure fits my life lately!

It is harder to walk the halls of the neuro ICU --it's almost all trauma....

I am stopping today to get my hair cut ---maybe I should just get it curled... do a perm... sit back in the chair, let someone mess with me.... hair therapy.... come out somehow different than I am now....

I am so ready to see Joel move away from the stale-mate he is in.... I was more worried about him last night than I have yet been.... please keep us in your prayers.

Monday, July 26, 2010

humble pie is sometimes the best pie around....

At morning prayer (a portion of Psalm 34)

I will bless the LORD at all times; *
his praise shall ever be in my mouth.
I will glory in the LORD; *
let the humble hear and rejoice.
Proclaim with me the greatness of the LORD; *
let us exalt his Name together.
I sought the LORD, and he answered me *
and delivered me out of all my terror.
Look upon him and be radiant, *
and let not your faces be ashamed.
I called in my affliction and the LORD heard me *
and saved me from all my troubles.

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

Things I have never taken for granted, but for which I have new appreciation...

being able to breathe
a beating heart
ability to speak and swallow
holding hands

Things I have to do today....
tend abundantly to Mr. Witty who keeps moping by the door, ears erect, waiting for his guys to come home

get the car registered

make an appointment to see Juan Manuel--he doesn't know Joel is in the hospital

go watch Joel breathe, listen to his heart, interpret his numb-tongue speech for his nurses

wash his face and hands being gentle around all the tubes

hold his hands--well his fingers

--and yesterday, I soaked a sponge on a stick in a latte and washed the taste of coffee around in his mouth... three times before it was too much for him.... today we will aim for four, if that is what he wants.

He remains in ICU, but seems to be inching out of the danger zone.

...and early last week, an older couple came to the door asking for help... I shared a pittance compared to what they needed... they thanked me by saying 'God is good.' --the response from me, of course, was 'All the time,' but even so I stood comforted and humbled by their faith and fortitude.

Today, I know I can do what I must do because of them... you know what I mean? And I don't even remember their names....

I pray for all those faces I have met in ICU too.
And I thank God for being surrounded by a community of faith and prayer. That would be you. A blessing for us.

God is good.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

G'wan. Go to church


Visiting hours are over at the ICU.... what else was I gonna do?

G'wan. Go to church. Just do it.

Friday, July 23, 2010


UPDATE: Joel is in respitory ICU. Nearly lost him overnight.... he is in stable but guarded condition.

I am okay.... numb --which I consider a mercy. Doing what comes next. I am grateful for your prayers.


Joel is in the hospital. He had an acute onset of his myasthenia gravis... he couldn't breathe, swallow--kept choking.

Please keep him in your prayers.

blessed be Judas who exposed death and betrayal and opened the way to the resurrection

Joel did a wordle of this blog.... it is here.

href="Wordle: Leave It Lay">

So, I cannot tell in creating this post if I just posted a link or the image... maybe I just did both... and I thought I was blog-clever. oh well. Life is full of surprises. If you have not played with wordle before, it takes your words, selects the ones most commonly used, and makes an image of them, making the most often used words the largest. I did the Lord's Prayer in the column to the right.... it's fun play.

On another note, I am totally unsatisfied with the direction of my sermon for Sunday.... still hashing away. Maybe I should wordle the biblical text....

The gospel reading of the day at Daily Office is from Matthew 27: When Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he repented and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. He said, "I have sinned by betraying innocent blood." But they said, "What is that to us? See to it yourself." Throwing down the pieces of silver in the temple, he departed; and he went and hanged himself.

I am reminded of seeing Kazantzakis's The Last Temptation of Christ all those many years ago --an ooooollllld movie.. and a better book.... but one in which Jesus selects Judas to do what he does because he is the strongest one... the strong man.

Back then, I was enchanted with the idea of the 'bad' guy really being the 'good' guy --a gospel inversion.... I was enchanted with those traditions that saw Judas as a saint.... I guess, in many ways I am still. But I now lean to reject the fundamental theological hypothesis --that God mandated that Jesus HAD to die to pay the debt of our sin.... atonement theology.

I am more and more convinced that that is what humans demand.... death as payment for sin is not what God hopes and wishes. God wishes to throw sin as far away as the east is from the west.... it is people who invented the cross and strung God upon it.... and people still do....


Hey God, it's margaret here. I am beginning to see everyone in jail or prison differently.... that it is most often society that has betrayed them and nails them there as our scapegoats.... yes, wrong was done, but where is the beginning of the wrong? And how hopeless is it to change the system? I know.... exposing, not trying to change the system is the only recourse, and only those with eyes and ears opened as a gift by you to see and hear will have the heart to do so.... some gift dude. I also see the oppression of mental illness unaddressed.... today I am going to withdraw to pray and restore.... and I already know you will not leave me alone to do so but will send me images and colors to interrupt my sought-after solitude. thank you--I guess. I remember especially before you today Kirstin, Juan Manuel, Randy, Vernon, Chip, Fran, those who grieve, G, D, J, A, P, B, B, K.... and those who are alone... and those who strive for control... and God, bless Judas and all the stuff he exposed--probably unknowingly, but that led us all, tripping and stumbling, to the incredible gospel inversion of life out of death. amen.

peace out.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

singing Arizona, Texas and remembering the source of true justice and consolation

I keep coming back to the eagerness of Texas to deport someone held in their jails.... an American citizen, juvenile, troubled, already had pictures and fingerprints and was in 'the system' --and there was no crosschecking.... no nothing. Just a willingness to get rid of him.


Yes. It is and has been Virginia's week to participate in the Isaiah Fast, to thoughtfully enter in to prayer regarding Arizona's draconian immigration legislation... This article, partially quoted below, demonstrates that the congregation at the episcopal cathedral in Phoenix is not letting it rest---

Local and national activists are planning an ecumenical prayer service at Phoenix's Trinity Episcopal Cathedral as part of a "Day of Non Compliance" on July 29, when Arizona's controversial immigration law is to go into effect.

The Rev. Canon Carmen B. Guerrero, canon for peace and justice ministries in the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona, a vocal opponent of the SB1070 legislation which aims to detain and deport undocumented persons, confirmed that the cathedral will host a 6 a.m. prayer vigil on July 29.

A coalition of community activists called for boycotts, civil disobedience and nationwide protests against the law at a July 21 press conference on the steps of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement building in downtown Phoenix.

For folks to be willing to engage in civil disobedience --that means they feel rather caged...

Today is also the day to remember Mary Magdalene, one who did not run from the cross, and one who was willing to go tend his body... risking association with one who had been declared an outlaw and was executed.

At morning prayer (2 Corinthians 1:3) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God.

I'm all over the map this morning --thinking now, that when, in talking to folks about the violent experience in our living room and the unfolding experiences in the court, in the detention center --they all ask, 'aren't you going to file a complaint?' and what we say is 'no way.' We are afraid of reprisals --a trumped up accusation that we knowingly harbored a fugitive or helped him resist arrest or some such nonsense, and even though we know we are innocent of deceit against the law, we have no desire to pay for a lawsuit to have to prove ourselves.

Just like folks in Arizona --there is no reason why they should have to prove themselves.... especially when in other instances Federal authorities are willing to detain and deport without real proof....

sigh..... what a mad, mad world....

I am off this morning, to stand by the side of the accused in court.... a perfect way to keep in mind immigration issues and Mary Magdalene. All at once. console and be consoled... all at once.

Hey God. It's margaret here --I'm mute. The colors have not run dry, I can hear and feel the breeze, the stifling hot and wet air of this summer day (yes, I love it) ---you are present. I know. And I have not forgotten how to lift the tambourine and sing the victory songs.... but perhaps, today, someone else needs to begin the singing... someone else to sing the lead. If not, I will... but still, some days.... amen.

Does anyone know a good priest in Bexar County, Texas? (I think that is the Diocese of SW Texas... I think.)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

...a strange gift...

At morning prayer (Romans 14:13-23) Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another. I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean.

Yeah. Clear enough Paul. which also speaks to ambiguity --somethings can be both clean for some, and unclean for others.... but nothing is unclean in itself... art is not art except in the eye of the beholder?

If your brother or sister is being injured by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love.

How the hell can someone be injured by what I eat....? Oh yeah --no such thing as individuation --persons known only by family, tribe, group... Paul, get a grip babe.

Do not let what you eat cause the ruin of one for whom Christ died. So do not let your good be spoken of as evil.

I eat. For me --liberated by the Passover of Christ-- I am free, but at the same time bound to others so that my behavior does not ruin another.... hmmmmm. I think Paul needed a good dose of co-dependent classes. I am not responsible for the reactions of others.... or the actions of others... only for what I do.... and certainly Jesus did not curtail his actions and activities to remove offense.... Where are you going with this Paul?

For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. The one who thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and has human approval. Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for you to make others fall by what you eat; it is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that makes your brother or sister stumble.

Hmmmmmmmm..... okay --certainly you are not speaking of things that I am, inherently... like, if my offense is in being a woman, and someone is offended by women speaking in public, or wearing a pointed hat --surely, one should not put down who one is to perpetuate good will.... oh wait, Paul --you do suggest that women should not be who they are, but to sit down, shut up, not teach in public and all that.

Paul. I understand what you are saying --clearly --on one level. Be kind to one another. Don't destroy for the sake of our liberty alone.... But on another level, you are just wrong. You have forgotten the offense of the cross. I will not put aside my being for the sake of another. That's just wrong. UnGodly.

The faith that you have, have as your own conviction before God. Blessed are those who have no reason to condemn themselves because of what they approve. But those who have doubts are condemned if they eat, because they do not act from faith; for whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.

Now you get to it Paul --but it is as though you shrink from your own wisdom and revelation. Well, don't we all.

In some things, I have no doubts... in others, I have a great deal of doubt, but my faith is such that I know all my works shall be redeemed and forgiven --even my best work will be redeemed and forgiven. I mean, I have great doubts about merely feeding the poor without addressing those things that make them poor.... we shouldn't just turn the stones in to bread... but how does one take on the whole system? Of authority, power, haves and haves not, self esteem, access --the whole kit and kaboodle.

So, Paul, God love ya --but on some things I just disagree. 100%. I will not set aside who I am for the so-called sake of another.... because I -in my being, offend.

Then --the thought --those offended by my being should put aside that offense for my sake....

It's a continuous dance.
I think I'll just go back to the assurance that all shall be redeemed...

There was one recently who told me that the work for equality in the church should be done quietly --that the lessons of the civil rights and woman's lib era should teach us that pushing for equality too quickly can cause good-hearted well meaning people to reject a cause that they would, given time, accept --and my work was causing offense to well meaning people.... he said I was pushing them away.

And, see --I thought I was working quietly. Cooperatively. Patiently... what this person was actually saying was that they were uncomfortable with equality in the church.... and so much else.

And, my being silent.... inactive.... that would betray who I am, the essence of my being.... when all that I do is in faith....

How can I possibly sit down. Shut up. Be quiet. Cover my head. Give no offense. Not speak of gender equality. Full inclusion. Praying for immigrants. Reject violence. The systems which oppress. Marginalize. Perpetuate....

Paul. How easy it was for you, to speak thus, from such a position as you held.... I think, like certain persons who followed you, that you might condemn liberation theology or anything likewise that sprung unexpectedly from the root instead of the branches so neatly tied to the trellis, pruned and controlled....

What a strange gift.

What a strange gift.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Four in one....

Today is the day LKT hopes to change --an oh-so-subtle-but-not-really case of mysogny... or at least thoughtlessness... four women to remember in prayer in ONE day... (never happens to the boys) without even using their full names when every other person in the book gets their full names used.... and most often get a day all to themselves....

Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Amelia Bloomer
Sojourner Truth
Harriet Tubman

And ain't they women!

It is also the anniversary of the Women's Rights Conference in Seneca, New York in 1848...

In a conversation just before the last Democratic Presidential Primary I said that Obama would win it, because--believe it or not, black men were always enfranchised before any women were.... the person I was speaking to was horrified... but I was right. Oh well....

Which is why we must pay attention to history. There is no doubt why slavery and women's rights were linked....
Which is why we must pay attention to Womanist theology. And Liberation theology.... All of us.

Romans 14:1-12 (NRSV) We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's. For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.

So much of the paradigm of sacrifice and living for others in the Christian reality can be, has been, is used to suppress, oppress, marginalize, silence.... we do not live to ourselves... so, following what has always been done, you must live for me....

One cannot honestly, freely and willingly-lovingly live for someone else until one lives for one's self, knows self, is self-possessed.

I didn't get introduced to womanist theology at my seminary --I took a class from a good ol' nun over at the Franciscan seminary... just sayin'. God love Franciscans. God love nuns. She was black, too....

I hope and pray for all those who do not live for themselves --either knowingly, willingly or otherwise.... And, let's use the slight of hand given these courageous women the full light of day and lift it up as the sign of the cross and our own redemption. Amen.

And, please remember this in your prayers today.

Geez... Last year the U.S. government deported over 19,000 Salvadorans by air, an average of 53 a day, which was a slight drop compared to 2008. The U.S. repatriated over 27,000 Guatemalans and more than 25,000 Hondurans, for a 2009 total of 71,719 people deported by air –almost 200 a day-- to these three small countries. All Salvadoran deportees, at least, arrive bound hand and foot. Migration authorities sedate deportees for the flight when they deem it necessary. In recent years, the Department of Homeland Security has been scouring U.S. jails for deportable prisoners, apparently facilitating their departure with parole when possible.

eager to deport just about anybody with a brown face, including a citizen running away from a violent home........ sigh......

Anyone with a heart will respond to massive poverty with compassion. Yet, people with a head will ask why the U.S. should admit all the people knocking at its door, even granting Washington's complicity with the present form of globalization. What about the responsibility of the poor nations themselves and their governments? That question calls for a response in several parts.

For starters, people are migrating not only because they are poor but also because receiving countries want their labor. Historically, the U.S. government turned a blind eye to illegal immigrants for that reason, especially in boom times. From now on, the aging and shrinking populations of Europe and the U.S. will need powerful injections of immigrant labor, not only to work the fields, but also to replenish social security and pension funds and to give care to the sick and aged. Massive south-to-north migration responds to a mutual need, of poor migrating populations and of affluent receiving populations, as well. Immigration policy and law are woefully out of step with these facts on the ground.

Do go read the whole thing. Please.
Peace out.

Monday, July 19, 2010

entertaining angels unawares? Feh.... but finding unexpected love? yes.

My first day off since the chaos erupted. I had difficulty sleeping because I allowed my mind to shift from work to the chaos....

At some moments I feel like a portion of my flesh has been ripped out --amazing what just nine months can do... how deep it goes.

And then, there are still so many unanswered questions, so many twists and turns... none of it adds up.

How the hell can a 15 year old fool and outwit Immigration, and therefor all the big post-9/11 Federal intelligence agencies --Homeland Security-- charged with 'protecting' us.... I mean, after all, they were going to deport a citizen.

How the hell could Joel and I accomplish what they could not --find his parents. Through Facebook, of all things.

We just didn't know it would be his un-doing.... He came to us a sturdy illegal immigrant and leaves us as a broken needy child desperate to find any path but the one home.

I could, perhaps should, feel the manipulation, the deceit, the lies.... but I don't. I just feel the desperation, the hope, the brokenness, the love. Go ahead --call me a bleeding heart....

At morning prayer (beginning at Romans 13:8) Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, "You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet"; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, "Love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.

Is love sometimes just stubbornness? Or, is love the strength to see something through...?

I don't know....
...maybe today I'll just go sit and read or something... even though I have a window and a room to paint, clothes to pick up and put away, vacuuming to do, plans to make, a garden to weed, phone calls to make... a life to accomplish. Because one thing I do know-- love is active --very active, and sometimes one just needs to sit and regroup. repair. restore. re-create.

Amazing. sometimes, when one invites a stranger in to one's home, one entertains an angel unawares.... I would say that even if they aren't an angel, one can always find love if that is what one seeks.
Yes. Indeed. thanks be to God.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

G'wan. Go to church

The two best interpretations I have heard all week: 1) the psychological take.... Martha should not have been so passive-aggressive with Jesus and Mary... she should have gone right to Mary instead... and stop the triangulation poopoocaacaa.... and 2) the feminist/queer take (thank you Louie Crew)... Martha should have left by the front door and told Jesus to cook and clean up his own damn mess....

Actually --if you see this story as a partner to the Good Samaritan story --as lessons about the summary of the Law (Love God, Love your Neighbor) you still get no further than the Old Covenant.... which in so many ways can be seen as transactional --if you do this, then God will have you has his people....

I really liked that last little bit --what Mary has can never be taken away from her... evah.

G'wan. Go to church. Not because it will buy you God's favor, but because it is good to focus on that which can never be taken away from you every now and then. Amen.

the big little ones

With all the talk, I couldn't resist....

And the site I have always searched for is here.

And I chose it because we are reading the prelude to the Passion in our daily prayer.... couldn't help myself.

At prayer this morning (from Matthew 26) Then Jesus said to them, "You will all become deserters because of me this night; for it is written,

'I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.'

But after I am raised up, I will go ahead of you to Galilee." Peter said to him, "Though all become deserters because of you, I will never desert you." Jesus said to him, "Truly I tell you, this very night, before the cock crows, you will deny me three times." Peter said to him, "Even though I must die with you, I will not deny you." And so said all the disciples.

When the SWAT team surrounded the house (unbeknownst to us) and burst in to our living room, my immediate terror caused me to leap from our sofa and run. I had been sitting with and comforting JM as the counselor told him he really did need to go to the hospital... then the counselor took a call on his phone, came back and said --sorry, this has become a police matter and then BAM.... and I ran... leaped up and ran. Like a rabbit surrounded by dogs.

I regret leaving his side.... when I saw what they were doing to him, I jumped back in to the fray, right in to the middle.... mother bear. Not to savage them, but to protect him. I think I was the voice he finally heard that made him stop fighting them. I had my hands around his head-- I wasn't going to let them hit him there. He has enough scars there already.

Would it have come down differently if I had not run.... I don't know. I couldn't have fewer bruises...

I am left with a lot of questions and feelings. His other counselor--who knows us well, was there. She immediately began to berate the cops.... the unnecessary violence and force. To deaf ears, mind you --the cop had a mantra about cops killed in the line of duty.

Was it the same day or the next that fifty Richmond cops converged on another young man --unarmed, in a house across town.... he ended up dead. Shot multiple times in the torso. I am not surprised, with what I saw....

And I am afraid that if I want to talk about what happened and how it happened to the powers that be, they will press charges on us.... because that is what they can do....

Dear God--it's margaret here. Geeeeeez.... none of it is theoretical any more. My eyes have seen, my ears heard, my body known... I see the other priests and pretty people around me, especially the women with their flowy clothes and nice smiles and lives surrounded by their sensitive and sheltered children.... I have felt the rigid embarrassment of our neighbors--all who knew him and welcomed him in to their homes and yards, his strength and ability in their favor at the time, but now.... you called me to know the fringe, to be a voice in the hallways and gatherings of the comfortable... help me, as you helped Martha when she asked you to make Mary join her in her work... --help me to do without fear and yet still being mindful of the cost all those things you have set before me to do.... help me not submit to anger... and the little ones lord. The little ones. Especially your big little ones....

yah yah... I know.... Father forgive them, for they know not what they do....

Reconciliation and restoration, I know.... but it is hard to make those big nice-sounding words alive in flesh and blood.... but, you know that. Amen.

And Mr. Witty is still taking credit for stopping the fight.... He thinks all big dogs listen to him.....

Friday, July 16, 2010

burning coals on their heads.... now, there's a thought

At prayer this morning (Romans 12:9-21)

Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor.
Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord.
Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.
Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.
Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.
Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all.
If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord."
No, "if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads."

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

God give me grace and be merciful --and a bucket of burning coals wouldn't be so bad either.
There is no rest for where I am right now --I mean, even when I wish to rest from the maelstrom, the phone rings and it is the court telling me that despite the fact he has no lawyer, there will be court today.... and his mother will be there....

So, I thank God for the sleep I was given, in the bed, in the house, in the 'hood.... I thank God for the breakfast I am eating.... help me carry and be the food today your people need. And thank you for the community who will surely feed us. amen.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

They shall not be ashamed in bad times....

So --we stood outside the courtroom yesterday.... me, Joel, his counselor, clutching letters and statements from his immigration lawyer and all that.... and we were told we might not be able to enter the courtroom because it was a closed hearing, and because we had no legal relationship.

Sigh. No kidding..... to his constant detriment.

The long, open hallway was a rodeo --bench cowboys and gals --the tension crackling and snapping in the air --all riding unseen bucking broncos kicking and twisting trying to unseat hope.

I was grateful I cried only once for the love of God as one official got very official on us, her badge swinging on a band just below her bejeweled gold cross on her neck, and she reminded us that God had nothing to do with any of this. Huh. No kidding.

I found I could not ride a bench but was one of those who paced as I prayed and rode the bronco.

We did win our bid to enter the courtroom. Mercy. He was all Achilles heel. Exposed. I flashed our private gang sign--got your back, love you. The judge called me up to stand by him. Mercy. She could see. He burrowed in to my shoulder so I put my arm around him. Protocol be damned --the touch was sacrament, and he needed feeding. Something besides the harsh metal of the handcuffs, rude overbearing hands, or the coarse fabric of the jumpsuit.

The court granted the permission for us to visit. Another mercy.

Late last evening we did visit. Stripped of everything --no purse, no keys, no phone, we entered through three barred magnetic doors, guards all around. Walked a quarter mile of halls to a gym. Chairs two by two like distant polka-dots separated the broad chilled space. One of the guards carried an extra chair to one of the spaces and instructed us to sit and not move.

Even his shoes were jump suit orange. I said I wanted them when he was sprung. It made him laugh. Finally. The questions. Have you eaten. Are you hurt. How are you feeling. Has your lawyer called. What do you know....

He was standing more erect when we left. Mercy. Child of God. Blessings exchanged. Body and blood.

At prayer this morning (Psalm 37:19-20)
The LORD cares for the lives of the godly,*
and their inheritance shall last for ever.
They shall not be ashamed in bad times, *
and in days of famine they shall have enough.

She had said God had nothing to do with it.... but I knew God was very present. In flesh and blood. Standing once again before the judgment seat of this world.

God willing, I will not run. I will stand at the foot of this cross as long as I have strength. Amen.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

I was a stranger, and you welcomed me.....

From morning prayer (Matthew 25:31...) Jesus said, "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, 'Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.'"

Dang. That's my house the last ten days.... So --locally, if you read about police and paddy-wagons and all that being called to the home of your rector, it's all true. The legions of hell were unleashed in this home... quite the deal. Please just know my beautiful brown son is not where he needs to be to get the help he needs. He is in jail.

Joel and I are okay. Coping. Grieving and tending each other in private.

And we are not washing our hands of a kid that needs help. More help than we can give --certainly. But, he is sick. And in prison --more than one kind of prison... and I believe I know what I am called to do.

Please keep us in your prayers.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

God does not reap where God does not sow --that's impossible

Yes, I read all three lessons at morning prayer.... I know I am supposed to save the Gospel for the evening, but I don't. I hope that doesn't surprise you --me not following the rules and all... not following the 'system.'

I have learned more about the "system" in the last few days than I ever cared to know... Ever. And it's not like I was some innocent know-nothing about the system. I am so sad. Disgusted. But I am not surprised.... I have never had so many doors slammed... so many high walls... so many rivers, valleys, precipices... and I am not freakin' giving up. And we are in free fall....

So, when this story came up this morning, I laughed, I wept.... you know, a harsh master, three slaves, money.... and a return of the 'talents.'

At morning prayer (Matthew 25:14-30) Jesus said, "For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away.

The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money.

After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, 'Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.' His master said to him, 'Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.'

And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, 'Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.' His master said to him, 'Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.'

Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, 'Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.'

You know ---the first clue that this story is not about our relationship with God should be the word 'harsh.' That is no way to describe a loving God who cares for the little ones and the poor.... Plus the idea that God collects from the work of others... well that's just all wrong.

But his master replied, 'You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'"

If you want a more conservative understanding of the pericope, I dare you, go here.

If God wants me to entrust the talent with the bankers, and play in the 'system' to make more money by doing nothing.... I want out. But, indeed, those who have more, more will be given... a statement of fact, but not the truth --the yen that has been entrusted to me.

I think this story is a condemnation of the system.... God does not reap where God does not sow.... that's impossible.... especially since this story is followed by the story/commandment to give to the poor, the hungry, the sick, the needy --that Jesus told us give without the expectation of return --this story is the typical Gospel inversion --it is said, but I say to you....

you know --love your enemies, love those who persecute you, give without expectation of return....

Hey God, it's margaret here... I'm not burying nothing and giving you back exactly what you gave me... I am not giving what you gave me to the bankers to make more without my own labor on the backs of those who have nothing... I hope I'm giving it all away. To subvert the system.... at great cost....

Because that is the way you made me.
I hope.

And --hey God, about that hazmat leak on the other side of the River... and thank you, thank you, thank you for the rain.

And God... about the little ones....

Monday, July 12, 2010

Full inclusion from Paul....

From morning prayer (Romans 11:11-12) So I ask, have they [Israel] stumbled so as to fall? By no means! But through their stumbling salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. Now if their stumbling means riches for the world, and if their defeat means riches for Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean!

Oh Paul, looky what you just said.... full inclusion and all that....

The so-called 'mother' church of the Anglican world is struggling to recognize women as complete members of the Body of Christ... struggling to see Christ Incarnate in the flesh and blood of women. And the bid to treat women as incomplete authored by the ++ABC and his buddy ++York failed, thanks to the clergy of the Synod meeting in York this weekend.

Full inclusion indeed.

The Church will be nothing until and unless it does more than become an over-blown volunteer service organization with interesting ceremony --more like those dying 19th Century fraternal organizations with secret handshakes and funny costumes than the bearer of the Gospel, the Body of Christ.

Hmmmmmm.... and when one is a member of the Body of Christ, one has already died... and lives a life in the Resurrection... and should thus live without fear of death, or dying, or any of that.... Not recklessly throwing oneself off the Temple, or taunting God by turning rocks into bread... but living the dangerous life of grace.

Not that grace itself is dangerous --but that the forces employed to denigrate grace are so very sticky and deadly. Self-possessed. Insidious.

Dear God --it's margaret here --protect your little ones whom you have endowed with grace; remind us that in confusion comes clarity, in powerlessness comes strength, in gentleness comes dynamism, in silence the Word... yeah, all that spiritual stuff.... but help us also know when to push, pull, haul, plow, sow, reap.... yah yah with open hands and all that... me hold on and let go. Know what I mean? yah --like, thy will be done kinda thangs.

Dear God --it's always your little ones, isn't it...

Saturday, July 10, 2010

G'wan. Go to church

Don't walk to the other side of the road. Help the guy.
Remember your once upon a time sojourn in the ditch.
Or, if you are in the ditch, let yourself be helped by the guy. Even if yo mama taught you to dislike the likes of him.

G'wan. Go to church. It ain't so hard... It ain't necessary to send someone to heaven, or across the sea. What you need is already in your mouth and in your heart.

What a week....

I received this message late late last night... or perhaps I should say early this morning --just after the phone rang at 2am.... the alarm again.... fourth or fifth time this week... isn't there a torture like that.... you let someone fall asleep, and then wake them....repeatedly.... any how, I received this message from my sister:

Well she is really free now. They took out the big tree near Trinity, and with Mom being so close, no doubt she went with the tree. It actually was a very liberating experience. No one had noticed......


And today is Mom's birthday.

From morning prayer (a portion of Psalm 20)

May the LORD answer you in the day of trouble, *
the Name of the God of Jacob defend you;
Send you help from his holy place *
and strengthen you out of Zion;
Remember all your offerings *
and accept your burnt sacrifice;
Grant you your heart's desire *
and prosper all your plans.

I thank God and all my ancestors for my mom, who gave me every good thing and more. She loved opera, and could sing whole operas by heart, and often did to motivate us to do something or another. Quickly. She would play opera full blast, as though it were rock and roll, and walk about the house as though she were moving through a stage set, or cook as though she were conducting....

this is for you ma!

Well, ya --I know. And I enjoyed every minute of it.

Friday, July 9, 2010

broken moons

At morning prayer from Psalm 17

I call upon you, O God, for you will answer me; *
incline your ear to me and hear my words.
Show me your marvelous loving-kindness, *
O Savior of those who take refuge at your right hand
from those who rise up against them.
Keep me as the apple of your eye; *
hide me under the shadow of your wings....

Please keep Juan Manuel in your prayers.

My utmost thanks to Malinda and Steve who have been right there through it all.

Hey God, it's margaret. Keep all your forgotten children close and help us all make safe places for them --and that girl we saw last night, walking, smoking, as we drove home from the hospital --she walked just like him.... the bravada in her wake like a smoke signal.... chains and skeletons and broken moons.... hope like grass dry before its time.
Your forgotten children are everywhere....
Don't let us ever become callous.
Right now, God, your wounds are the signs of my hope.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Crossroads with huge stones....

My morning prayer link (to Mission St. Clare) has been hijacked. I went searching on all y'alls blogs for other morning prayer links, but none were obvious. (I am open to suggestion....)

So I had to do it the ol' fashioned way, pull out the prayer book and bible and look it up. Books are dangerous you know.... you start reading.

Anyway, I read morning prayer.... and then went on-line to find the text so I wouldn't have to type it all in... chose a different translation--other than the NRSV, just for fun....

I know, every translation has its own agenda. Yes, agenda. But The Message by Peterson always delights me --not with a word for word transliteration, but meaning for meaning --intention.

Take this little bit from Paul's letter to the Romans (part of morning prayer today) (Romans 9:19-33 The Message)

Are you going to object, "So how can God blame us for anything since he's in charge of everything? If the big decisions are already made, what say do we have in it?"

Who in the world do you think you are to second-guess God? Do you for one moment suppose any of us knows enough to call God into question? Clay doesn't talk back to the fingers that mold it, saying, "Why did you shape me like this?" Isn't it obvious that a potter has a perfect right to shape one lump of clay into a vase for holding flowers and another into a pot for cooking beans? If God needs one style of pottery especially designed to show his angry displeasure and another style carefully crafted to show his glorious goodness, isn't that all right? Either or both happens to Jews, but it also happens to the other people. Hosea put it well:

I'll call nobodies and make them somebodies;
I'll call the unloved and make them beloved.
In the place where they yelled out, "You're nobody!"
they're calling you "God's living children."

Isaiah maintained this same emphasis:
If each grain of sand on the seashore were numbered
and the sum labeled "chosen of God,"
They'd be numbers still, not names;
salvation comes by personal selection.
God doesn't count us; he calls us by name.
Arithmetic is not his focus.
Isaiah had looked ahead and spoken the truth:
If our powerful God
had not provided us a legacy of living children,
We would have ended up like ghost towns,
like Sodom and Gomorrah.

How can we sum this up? All those people who didn't seem interested in what God was doing actually embraced what God was doing as he straightened out their lives. And Israel, who seemed so interested in reading and talking about what God was doing, missed it. How could they miss it? Because instead of trusting God, they took over. They were absorbed in what they themselves were doing. They were so absorbed in their "God projects" that they didn't notice God right in front of them, like a huge rock in the middle of the road. And so they stumbled into him and went sprawling. Isaiah (again!) gives us the metaphor for pulling this together:

Careful! I've put a huge stone on the road to Mount Zion,
a stone you can't get around.
But the stone is me! If you're looking for me,
you'll find me on the way, not in the way.

---I love that.
And, yes Paul, all of us call God into question. God gave us that DNA. And, yes, it is delightfully recorded in said book that sometimes God can be bargained with... talked down....

And I love that line --those more interested in talking about what God was doing, missed it! Cuz they put their own agenda first... their own God projects.

I have seen some churches get so carried away on the projects and programs that they forget what they are all about.... proclaiming the Kingdom-- looking for clues to the revelations.... so busy with the work and the planning there is no formation.... no reflection.

And then the rock in the middle of the road --we run smack into it.

So --what does kingdom work look like? How can we tell if we have missed it for the sake of our invented "God projects."

Some days I grieve for the Church.... because in the administration, the buildings, the protocol, the work for the sake of the Institution --we lose what we are about.... we also lose what we are about when we try to please or assuage.... or ministry devolves in to a cult of personality....

But, then again, the fractions in the first generation of Christians --Paul or Peter or John etc etc etc.... who to follow, who said what.... we are no different. The Restoration of the Kingdom, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection, the Ascension are no more distant or no closer to us than to them. They are eternally at hand.... eternally boulders in the middle of the road we carve from the landscape... and boulders we try to carve around. Living stone.

Dang.... here I go howling again.... (You know --when I howl, I have heard it said that I am always mad or sad. When I rejoice, I have heard it said that I am not telling the whole truth.... sigh.....)

Hmmmmm --there is a huge stone. Right here. Ahead of me. Now imagining/remembering the shrines/crosses erected on/in roads...

Monument Avenue.... huge stones in the middle of the road....

Huh. Is this were the term 'crossroad' comes from?

Dear God --it's margaret here. What road? You mean all this time, there's been a road? Amen.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Funny what you look at/for when given a little time.... California Condor chick.... reportedly 108 of 'em now. Left in the wild.... better than the 30 or so which was the story about 40 years ago.

Speaking of time.... You know --after two days off together as of yesterday, I became jealous.... dang. I feel alive again.... Yes, I checked email and phone messages and the like --but even so... --I am suddenly thinking it is really crazy to work a job that purposefully contractually requires one to work 50 hours and six days a week. And never ever ever gives three-day holiday weekends....

And I think I am taking care of myself, coping, handling it.... having just had two days off demonstrates to me that I am not.

I am tired to the bone. Worn out. Easily distracted. What good is that?

No wonder so many church employees are crazy.

And now I feel entirely guilty and ungrateful for having said that. Because I love what I do, and love those with whom I have been called to serve....


And it is supposed to be VERY hot today --over 100 degrees. Again. Which makes me worry about the whole world...

Which reminds me --it was 116 degrees the day my family moved from Berkeley to Healdsburg in Sonoma County.... just about this time of year.... From a good ol' house that had escaped several fires in the Berkeley Hills for nearly a century, to a temporary mobile home on 60 acres alongside Dry Creek on Westside Rd. ---back when Dry Creek was really dry during the summer --a true native stream which runs wild and bold in the winter and dry, dry, dry in the summer. Before the dam.

I walked and petitioned and fought the dam. It was my first experience at community organizing. The dam is an earthen dam in earthquake country.... built on Native American burying grounds, the last wild habitat of the last wild California Condors, at the time. The wild population of California Condors had been reduced to about 30 at the time, fifteen of them in this valley....

Looky there. The California Condor is bigger than the Golden Eagle.

All that, and the dam was supposed to be made obsolete in less than 100 years because of silting up... becoming a huge mud puddle which with one good earthquake will become a wall of mud destroying all in its path. Not to mention totally occluding the natural springs that feed the creek....

We still live short-sightedly and selfishly in so many ways. What is being played out in the Gulf demonstrates that.

We have been told what will happen... in work.... in our environment... yet we do not pay any attention.

(Matt. 23:37) "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!"

When I look outside my window lately --Virginia looks pretty much like California.... what with all the dry brown grass and no rain. Not to mention the suburban growth and total disregard for the environment.

When will we be willing? pay attention to the signs around us? We are blindly just wearing things out...

Time to get to work....

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

It is done.

We began in May. Rebuilding the porch. Juan Manuel helped dismantle the plastic and aluminum that were covering rotting boards and air, then he scraped the good wood, supported the roof frame, rebuilt the floor framing, shoveled dirt, rebuilt the roof framing, waterproofed, two coats of primer on everything, scraped and sanded and primed the pillars, rebuilt the pillar feet, and just yesterday--we painted for 13 hours. Ate outside. And put the finish coat of paint on everything.... oil paint fortified with polyurethane on the floor.... We are finished. Finished. God willing, we are so done....

I am so freakin' sore. It was so freakin' HOT.

And I meant the floor to be a sturdy gray --but I didn't want it too solemn and serious, so we added a dash of blue.... Juan Manuel sez it looks like a pool of water and he wants to jump in. I am strongly suggesting he not try until the paint is dry.... which, because of the polyurethane will be another day or two.

And I have a day off --first time in MONTHS that I have had two days off in a row.... Joel is insisting that I not work.... what will I do with myself? .....wanting a large body of water... I think Juan Manuel's suggestion to be a good one.... but real water. It is supposed to be over 100 degrees today.

From morning prayer (Matt. 23:14-15, 23-24) "But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you lock people out of the kingdom of heaven. For you do not go in yourselves, and when others are going in, you stop them. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cross sea and land to make a single convert, and you make the new convert twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.... "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. It is these you ought to have practiced without neglecting the others. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel!

You know.... today, I think I am going to leave all the work to God and the people of God.... the work is unending.... There will be enough to do tomorrow... I think that is why finishing the porch is so very satisfying. It is done. And I can look at it.

For now, any way....

Idiot spellchecker... so, does cumin have one 'm' or two? Spellchecker says one... the Bible sez two..... what to trust?!

The Creator gathered all of creation and said, ‘I want to hide something from the humans until they are ready for it. It is the realization that they create their own reality.’

The eagle said, ‘Give it to me, I will take it to the moon.’ The Creator said, ‘No one day they will go there and find it.’

The salmon said, ‘I will hide it on the bottom of the ocean.’ ‘No, they will go there too.’

The buffalo said, ‘I will bury it on the great plains.’ The Creator said, ‘They will cut into the skin of the earth and find it.’

Then Grandmother Mole, who lives in the breast of Mother Earth, and who has no physical eyes but sees with spiritual eyes, said: ‘Put it inside them.’ And the Creator said, ‘It is done.’

- Sioux Legend

Happy Birthday Frida.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Bottom of the 10th bases loaded drive to left field

OMG! I have never been so "Amerikun" in my life!

Yesterday, after church, we came home, had a few quiet hours to walk the dog and other quiet things like that, but then we went to the local baseball game (thank you Andrew!) followed by fireworks over the stadium. It was fun! Great fun! Silly fun!

Mind you, Richmond's team, the Flying Squirrels, is marginally professional, a double-A team, I think, of the San Francisco Giants.... I think. It was the most light-hearted and fun ballgame I've ever been to, with inane games played by folks brought down out of the stadium to the field --hot dog eating contest, of course, 'wheelbarrow' races and pies in the face, water balloons down the pants kind of things. Then--of course --the folks who level the infield after the 3rd and 6th innings are called the the drag queens... and they did. And they stripped and played air guitars and all that.... Hysterical!

We sat behind first base, and got to yell at the ump when he called 'out' to some very close calls, and they cannot refer to instant playback of course, 'cuz there are not any tv cameras around.... of course. And the yelling! Clapping! Singing! Good grief!!!

It was hysterical!

And yes, I ate a ballpark hot dog, drank a Coke, ate cinnamon-roasted nuts.... and lived to tell about it. Without heart-burn.

And the Squirrels won at the bottom of the TENTH inning --bases loaded, slam fly to the fence down the first-base line by a lefty at the plate.

It just doesn't get any better than that.

And, between innings they did things like throw shirts and frisbees into the stands. Yes. I had to fight off three grown men, but I won. And got my shirt.... I opened it when we got home, and I was hoping for a Flying Squirrel logo, but it was a big stars and stripes 'SF' logo, which made me think perhaps the Squirrels are a Giant's team....

And, yes, the fireworks were wonderful. We got home close to midnight....

Church. Baseball. We won. Drag queens. Fireworks. Oh yeah babe. To the Bone. American.

Juan Manuel got a little bored at the 7th inning stretch and went down to the arcade and threw some balls --one would get a prize if one could throw the ball faster than 80 miles an hour. He threw one at 77mph. Excellent.

From the Eucharistic lectionary for Independence Day, transferred to today (Matthew 5:43-48) Jesus said, "You have heard that it was said, `You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."

Obviously --Jesus had never been to a baseball game. Love those who persecute you.... feh! And, I had forgotten how perfect a baseball game is.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

G'wan. Go to church

Happy Independence Day! Brave souls who said let's do it another way.
This is not the day we give thanks for the war dead and all that --that is another holiday. Just sayin'.

Ahhh hell....

rip rah sis boom bah goooooooo Caesar!
rip rah sis boom bah goooooooo Pilate!

Not much has changed --as far as nations go.... On the other hand, I thought this would make a particularly good national anthem....

Good bless ya Janis....

G'wan. Go to church. And remember --the Kingdom of God is alongside ya. Always. No matter how hard ya try. Or not.

Oh --and in case you missed it earlier in the week, you might read this, The Meaning of the Fourth of July For the Negro, Frederick Douglass, 1852. Very humbling.

can there be hope in an impatient people?

From morning prayer (Rom. 8:24-25) For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

If we hope for what we do not see...

I have no patience.... and many visions.

Yet I have tremendous hope... truly... ridiculous hope.
And am always amazed at how things happen... never as planned...
And at the same time, I am the biggest cynic on earth.
Perhaps a realist, some would say....

But things realized are no longer hope.

So we only hope for what we do not see....

Another Christian koan?
the DNA of hope?

I can say I hope the the alarm at church will stop going off and the alarm company will stop calling at all hours of the night... for a third night in a row.... but that is not hope.... that has to do with mechanical/electrical.

I can say I hope I will lose the weight that is plaguing me... but that is not hope... that is discipline and genetics and a learned tactic for coping that does not do me nor anyone else any favors....

I can say I hope for world peace... hope to topple unjust systems.... hope to liberate the oppressed... but without constant effort and prayer it is not even hope... to do something yet unseen....

I remember setting aside hope once. Couldn't hope. Couldn't bear it. But I discovered I had not set hope aside. I had only set aside the desires of my own heart, my own limited vision....

...thy will be done...

It is difficult to write long-range plans when one has met hope face to face.
and we are such an impatient people. amen.

Friday, July 2, 2010

render unto the emperor....

Fourth of July weekend... Fourth of July on Sunday....

I know --Sunday celebration takes precedence over all else, especially when it comes to the Lectionary. I did consider having the lessons for the Fourth of July on this Sunday --but our musician had already planned the music around the Sunday readings.

Besides, the readings and prayers for the Nation are hardly celebratory, and instead call us to challenge ourselves to do better --welcome the alien, choose not a country but the heavenly one, and to love, love our enemies. I joked with Steve that if I allowed the readings for the Fourth to be read, folks would think I chose them to chastise --and that I would be run out on a rail.... sigh....

As an aside --did you know or realize that the Fourth was not mentioned in any BCP as a day to be recognized faithfully until the most recent one? Not. There.

There was much discussion of the same on the HoB/D listserve--to celebrate the 4th on Sunday.. or not.... Those that felt that Sunday takes precedence over all made their point. Those that felt that the Fourth could/should be celebrated-- even on Sunday, have gone on and on with great discussion...

One of the most cogent bits of discussion provided a link to the speech given by Frederick Douglass on July 5, 1852 as he had been invited to give the celebratory oration of the Nation to Congress, I believe... it is entitled THE MEANING OF THE FOURTH OF JULY FOR THE NEGRO, and he begins the address to "Mr. President, Friends and Fellow Citizens."

I do commend the whole thing to you. Here is a taste --a teaser:

What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade, and solemnity, are, to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy - a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages.
There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices, more shocking and bloody, than are the people of these United States, at this very hour. Go where you may, search where you will, roam through all the monarchies and despotisms of the old world, search out every abuse, and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practices of this nation, and you will say with me, that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival.

Oh my. Preach it Douglass.

Guess not much has changed, except the revelation of more citizens who are not offered full citizenship.... not to mention what we do to those who are not citizens....

At morning prayer (Matt. 22:15-22) Then the Pharisees went and plotted to entrap him in what he said. So they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, "Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and teach the way of God in accordance with truth, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?"

But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, "Why are you putting me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin used for the tax." And they brought him a denarius. Then he said to them, "Whose head is this, and whose title?" They answered, "The emperor's." Then he said to them, "Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor's, and to God the things that are God's." When they heard this, they were amazed; and they left him and went away.

Please --everyone. Drive safely. Be safe. It's enough to remember our sins on a Sunday --nobody wants to have to meet to plan long-term care or a funeral.... just ruins a holiday....

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Juan Manuel

At morning prayer (Matt. 16:13-15) Now 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?"

I do have permission to talk about this.... but it is not something really easy to say.

What is in a name --what you call somebody?

Everything. Nothing. History. Personality. Attachment--affection?

Last week, I asked for your prayers--something Big, Way Big was going on... We had been looking for Juan's parents, posting on bulletin boards in Mexico --anywhere, everywhere, asking for information on the family of Juan.... posting our telephone number. For months we have had nothing but dead-ends...

Two weeks ago, we got a phone call from Mexico while we were out. We called back. It was rough --basically Juan was told to go stuff it. We thought this might help his case in immigration court, he was not wanted there --so we urged him to tell his lawyer.

But, no. No. So, we promised not to say anything.

About ten days ago, Juan sat us down. He told us he had something important to say, and that he was scared.... --that it was going to change everything... --he told us his real name. Manuel. He told us that he had made 'Juan' up because he did not want to be sent back to his family. And he always had been. And it always ended up the same. He told us he is a legal resident of the United States, and would have rather faced deportation than being sent back. To his parents. Because he is not yet 18....

He does have grandparents in Mexico. Probably. Still.

I call that Brave. Courageous. Desperate.

We urged him to tell his lawyer and his doctor.... but, he was too scared.

Last week we received a phone call. We had been too clever and thorough in our search for Juan-Manuel's parents.... His mom called.

This week has been a crisis of Identity. Safety. Fear. Making plans to run again, to find another way to hide.

Joel has been quite steady. Calm. I have been more like a yo-yo. Trying to figure out ways to keep Manuel safe.... and whole. Keep him confident in our love for him --that we were not going to 'send him back.'

His doctors and counselors now know. And, yes, his lawyer too. And he wanted all of you who have prayed for him to know too. And to ask for your continued prayers.

Juan-Manuel will tell people in person, as he chooses, of his name. His identity.

I keep telling him he is the same young man we love and have cared for and will care for --no matter his name. No matter what. He is still the artist, the poet, the dreamer, the visionary, the brilliant young man we know and love.

And that we will still work crazy-hard to make it all right for him.

Please keep us all in your prayers.