Tuesday, May 31, 2011

...looking for the dawn of peace...

Hot dogs, Italian sausage, chicken, hamburger on the grill --good company... --limeade on the front porch... and 98 degrees. Sunny and hot. That was a much better plan than washing the car. Definitely. Even Mr. Witty was invited and made new friends.

But not all is a picnic.... our friend and sister, Kirstin and her roommate Andee need help. I weep and shake my fist at the sky.

But, there is also cause for celebration: Mad Priest celebrated his 2 million visitor mark. Sheeeez... Congratulations --and, well done MP!

Republicans are calling for the cost of relief in Joplin to be off-set by budget cuts... Disaster Relief must be offset are the headlines... disgusting.

And Sarah Palin is getting news coverage like crazy --being coy... and not announcing her run --or even her schedule. I hate that our news media gives so-called "equal" attention to stupidity.

Today, in River City, it's expected to be 98 degrees again --off to work for me for a couple of pastoral visits --and, one of my alma maters called and wants me to meet with the current class of 8 grad students --lordy...

...and a Facebook conversation on the group page of the neighborhood where I grew up started talking about the violence and the dangerous situations in our grammar school and junior high experience --the fights and knifings in the halls and bathrooms, and the tear gas from the nearby riots in Berkeley... one guy suggested that the violence may have been perceived as justified... I replied that bullying is never justified --and got a string of bullying messages and posts from him... good God.... I replied only once --saying again, bullying is never justified.... ahem.

Still remembering the mountain places we saw on our weekend --a people who live and die in red and black dirt pinned down by old worn granite mountains --small isolated wood framed churches scattered like rock salt across the hills --a people who are willing to die for the country they love but despise the government or anything/anybody that imposes or even reveals a set of values or priorities that doesn't put their survival in that place first.... which explains the popularity of those like Palin and others who express their anger and isolationism so well.... and my beloved's urge to weep as we journey through those places.

And my tears at the continued losses in senseless wars.... and the news that there has been a deadly bus accident down the road a piece from here....

A load of grief... This basket of prayer is soaking wet and even falling apart in some areas. Perhaps it is okay to let some of it spill out as I offer it... and sing my morning song:

At daily prayer, Psalm 146

Praise the LORD, O my soul! *
I will praise the LORD as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.
Put not your trust in rulers, nor in any child of earth, *
for there is no help in them.
When they breathe their last, they return to earth, *
and in that day their thoughts perish.
Happy are they who have the God of Jacob for their help! *
whose hope is in the LORD their God;
Who made heaven and earth, the seas, and all that is in them; *
who keeps his promise for ever;
Who gives justice to those who are oppressed, *
and food to those who hunger.
The LORD sets the prisoners free;
the LORD opens the eyes of the blind; *
the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down;
The LORD loves the righteous;
the LORD cares for the stranger; *
he sustains the orphan and widow,
but frustrates the way of the wicked.
The LORD shall reign for ever, *
your God, O Zion, throughout all generations.

Somewhere around Lynchburg, as we tracked our way east toward Appomattox, out of the mountains and into the foothills, threading our way through Liberty University --we heard the lament of the Civil War, Tenting Tonight


We're tenting tonight on the old camp ground,
Give us a song to cheer
Our weary hearts, a song of home,
And friends we love so dear.

Many are the hearts that are weary tonight,
Wishing for the war to cease;
Many are the hearts that are looking for the right
To see the dawn of peace.
Tenting tonight, tenting tonight, tenting on the old camp ground

We've been tenting tonight on the old camp ground,
Thinking of days gone by,
Of the loved ones at home that gave us the hand
And the tear that said "Goodbye!"

We are tired of war on the old camp ground,
Many are dead and gone,
Of the brave and true who've left their homes,
Others been wounded long.

We've been fighting today on the old camp ground,
Many are lying near;
Some are dead and some are dying,
Many are in tears.

Many are the heart that are weary tonight,
Wishing for the war to cease;
Many are the hearts that are looking for the right
To see the dawn of peace
Dying tonight, dying tonight, dying on the old camp ground.

Or, the old, original words: Lyrics from the original sheet music:

We're tenting tonight on the old camp ground,
Give us a song to cheer
Our weary hearts, a song of home
And friends we love so dear.
Many are the hearts that are weary tonight,
Wishing for the war to cease;
Many are the hearts looking for the right
To see the dawn of peace.
Tenting tonight, tenting tonight,
Tenting on the old camp ground.

We've been tenting tonight on the old camp-ground,
Thinking of days gone by,
Of the loved ones at home that gave us the hand,
And the tear that said, "Good-bye!"

The lone wife kneels and prays with a sigh
That God his watch will keep
O'er the dear one away and the little dears nigh,
In the trundle bed fast asleep.

We are tenting tonight on the old camp ground.
The fires are flickering low.
Still are the sleepers that lie around,
As the sentinels come and go.

Alas for those comrades of days gone by
Whose forms are missed tonight.
Alas for the young and true who lie
Where the battle flag braved the fight.

No more on march or field of strife
Shall they lie so tired and worn,
No rouse again to hope and life
When the sound of drums beat at morn.

We are tired of war on the old camp ground,
Many are dead and gone,
Of the brave and true who've left their homes,
Others been wounded long.

We've been fighting today on the old camp ground,
Many are lying near;
Some are dead, and some are dying,
Many are in tears.

Final Chorus:
Many are the hearts that are weary tonight,
Wishing for the war to cease;
Many are the hearts looking for the right,
To see the dawn of peace.
Dying tonight, dying tonight,
Dying on the old camp ground.

Many are the hearts that are weary --looking for the dawn of peace.... yeah. And broken baskets. How can we sing King Alpha song in a strange land.... but, the lord lifts those who are bowed down. I will trust that and sing it today --and not get lost in all the rampant grief. A grief that grows green and wild like the creepers through the trees --we must not forget --we must remember the abundant life which is always at hand, as close as bread and wine....


Spellcheck didn't like "Palin." There we are...

Monday, May 30, 2011

I lost this post... lost it all... first time... unretrievable... on a journey through Appomattox on the way home from a funeral.... the day before Memorial Day... the mountains... the people....

Psalm 80....

Guess that is the way it is supposed to be....

you should have heard me cuss.....

no do-overs sometimes....

Saturday, May 28, 2011

G'wan. Go to church.

I have no idea what the lessons, collect --whatever... are for tomorrow! First time not to preach since last September --my brain feels like a deflating balloon fizzing around the room....

So, g'wan. Go to church. Be as surprised as I will be!!!! Hahahah!!!

I am so deeply grateful for this incredible ministry --a sign of the Kingdom

At daily prayer (Luke 9:1-17)

On their return the apostles told Jesus all they had done. He took them with him and withdrew privately to a city called Bethsaida. When the crowds found out about it, they followed him; and he welcomed them, and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed to be cured.

The day was drawing to a close, and the twelve came to him and said, "Send the crowd away, so that they may go into the surrounding villages and countryside, to lodge and get provisions; for we are here in a deserted place."

But he said to them, "You give them something to eat."

Woke up to a couple emails from an immigration list-serve and Facebook page of which I am a member. My friend, Madre Anna, has posted a series of links to stark articles regarding immigration, including the SCOTUS decision to uphold Arizona's decision to enforce mandatory e-verify systems for employers... --an e-verify system which is only in an experimental stage.... which hardly makes it reliable.

Our Supreme Court said:

Chief Justice Roberts wrote that the Arizona law was a measured response to real problems and that “licensing sanctions are imposed only when an employer’s conduct fully justifies them.”

He added that there was no reason to fear that the state law would lead to discrimination against Hispanics who were in the United States lawfully.

“The most rational path for employers,” the chief justice wrote, “is to obey the law — both the law barring the employment of unauthorized aliens and the law prohibiting discrimination — and there is no reason to suppose that Arizona employers will choose not to do so.”

Right. ....#*$*%&*!....

I know there will be some who ask --why are you so worried about what's happening in Arizona? Well --because, first, when one or some suffer, we all suffer. Secondly --Virginia noted that it has written support to SCOTUS for Arizona, and has already considered legislation to do the same as Arizona --and now that the path is clear, will probably do so.

And I do not for a moment believe that with my big ol' WASP name and looks, my name will ever be entered in to that e-verify system.... just sayin'.

And, thirdly, there is another angle in all this --the children born of these immigrants are American citizens.... Read this and weep:

"Immigrants Raising Citizens,” a study by a Harvard education professor, Hirokazu Yoshikawa, followed nearly 400 of these young children in New York City. It found that while mothers and fathers showed great effort and ingenuity in trying to provide for their children, the children have paid a steep price for their parents’ precarious lives.

Depression, anxiety and crushing work schedules, plus the stress and discomfort of crowded apartments, make it hard for parents to provide adequate nurturing. Fear of deportation and lack of information keep parents from enrolling children in government programs that offer help with nutrition, child care and early education. From the start, the children’s development suffers. Their reading and language skills lag. These early results bode poorly for their future academic and job success.

If conditions are this bad in New York City, with its array of social services and nonprofit organizations, what would he have found in Arizona or Texas or other places where immigrants are pushed ever farther into the shadows?

Indeed.... pushed ever farther into the shadows.... Citizens.... Citizens. Citizens that would either be separated from their families if they were discovered --or deported with them. American citizens, deported....

Many Republicans would solve that problem by changing the law about who gets to be a citizen --and it would not be by birthright --which would take us right back to the beginnings of the Civil War.... Whole persons who are counted as less than --or not at all.

The thought of it makes me shudder. --the shadows indeed... Some have told me they do not see any Hispanics in our neighborhood.... That is certainly not my experience. At. All. But, maybe I see with a different set of eyes --and can see in the shadows or something....

Jesus said, 'You give them something to eat.' He didn't ask for names, zip codes, proof of citizenship.... And as he told them, so are we to do.

This morning, as I head off to points west to do a funeral, the church I serve will provide a meal and a bag of groceries to any one who asks. No one will ask for names, zip codes or proof of anything --even proof of need.... if you are there, and you ask, it will be shared --given.

I am so deeply grateful for this incredible ministry. It is a sign of the Kingdom in our midst.

Off I go. Peace out.

Spell check suggested 'mature' instead of Madre.... well, there we are.

Friday, May 27, 2011

A (deeply) Personal Reflection: Living life in community

Our Bishop has conditionally approved the blessing of same-sex couples, but in order to do so we must make an application which includes a Vestry Statement, a history of the congregation's work to this end, and a personal statement of theology. This is mine:
And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because they do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer; about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been condemned. I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.
John 16:8-13

I remember the rhetoric. I remember all the verbs and nouns. I remember the condemnation. I remember the angry fists shaking in the air, the fear of being cast out of the Communion. I remember the feeling—watching my brothers be acolytes and them not really caring….

I remember watching a certain Franciscan friar (Bro. Isaac) running down the hill at the Diocese of California’s retreat center, his robes flapping about his ankles like tethered geese and his cincture aggravating the air. He was shouting, “They’ve done it, they’ve done it” like a battle cry—and he was not happy.

And as I heard him exclaim to the other Brothers that women had been ordained as priests, I remember the profound sense of affirmation: at last—I am a human being fully alive.

I remember. Feeling less than. In the church. Because of the church. I remember the liberty of affirmation. And affirmation meant the difficult struggle had only just begun.

It is that context from which I have witnessed the more recent struggles in the church regarding human sexuality, knowing full well we were not talking in the abstract, but that the words and actions were about human beings –baptized Christians, seeking to be disciples, discerning faithful vocations in church, in community.

And, I have always viewed the arguments over full inclusion –either related to gender, gender identity or sexual attraction, as an argument regarding baptism—one has died to the world and been reborn as a member of Christ –is a member of the Body of Christ –is already joined in sharing the work of the eternal priesthood. Jesus said, "for whoever is not against you is for you." (Luke 9:50) is as good a place as any to begin the journey to full inclusion.

Our life in Christ is grounded, therefore, sacramentally –In the sacrament of baptism we are joined with him; and in the sacrament of the Eucharist, in the words of St. Augustine, we become that which we eat. (“The gifts of God for the people of God.  See who you are.  Become what you see.” ) In the very best sense, all else –our daily labor, our offerings, our vocations, point or show the way to that life in Christ. It is that which we offer—it is this work which is redeemed.

A sacramental basis for our life together can and does at times run into a doctrinal fundamentalism, but the greatest arguments over such doctrine (what is baptism, how is it accomplished, what does it mean) have been grounded for us in the great Councils of the Church. This leaves the interpretation of Scripture to a far more contextual and historical framework than the doctrine of the Mysteries. Quite frankly, a sacramental basis for our life together can and does (thanks be to God) trump a life based on Scripture Alone (sola Scriptura). But we must not think a sacramental life alone is sufficient. In our sacramental life together, we are fed by scripture. We must read it –together.

And there has been a thoroughly modern impulse to read our Scriptures in a very modernistic way –in a binary –a computer mode… either this or that, +/- --the nuance of and the delight of savoring, steeping in, tasting Scripture has been masked in literalism and an approach and place of Scripture unprecedented in the Tradition of the Church and of the Anglican Communion.

I am very confident that we are not called to read nor interpret Scripture in the same way, nor even agree entirely in its fundamental role in our common lives—however, we are bound to stay at the same table and continue to engage, continue to conform our lives to Christ in love. The scriptural passages which are most commonly quoted in defense of marriage being only between one man and one woman (Genesis 1 & 2, Genesis 19:1-19, Judges 19, Ezekiel 16:46-56, Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, Romans 1:26-27, 1 Cor., 1 Timothy) are read with great deliberation as that faith which has been handed down to us and we have no place nor right to change that faith and Tradition. From where I stand—it is that same faith and Tradition which inspired us to see (at last!) the radical equality given to women by Jesus in the telling of the Good News that further inspired us to change and strive to conform our lives to Christ in love by accepting women in lay leadership and ordained orders in the church.

So, we continue that work today, examing gender roles –which is inextricably dovetailed to our understanding of human sexuality. Striving to accept a new call to invite others (who have been previously denied) to join us in the Christian endeavor to order our lives in a manner in which the world will know who we are –a living sign, a living sacrament –in a manner which will point to the love of Christ. All persons forming a Christian household –be they part of a monastic order, a solitary, or two persons striving to live with fidelity –all Christian households are signs of that which we hold to be true: 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.  (John 3:16-17)

Our lives together are not only a sign of Christ’s love of the Church, but of Christ’s love –God’s love of the whole world. It may appear that a marriage or a union of two persons is a binary relationship. Yet, this work of forming Christian households is fundamentally a Trinitarian endeavor. There is the couple certainly –but in the midst of the love they share is always the Third Person –God, the community, family –a changing and yet constant Trinity with morphable boundaries that is the living sign of God’s love.

The Rt. Rev. Thomas Briedenthal, in his book, Christian Households (Cowley Publications, 1997) looks back at Christian households with a keen eye, demonstrating that “family” is not a scriptural foundation of understanding how Christian’s live with one another –but “household” is our historic and fundamental institution. When we baptize, we welcome the neophyte in to the “household of God.” (BCP, p 308). We create and bless same-sex households called monasteries and convents and the like. And today, when the Church blesses a household wherein two persons bind themselves until death, God willing, it is not based upon the Natural Law or Natural Theology, as purported by those who cite Genesis as the way God ordered the universe –one man and one woman; it is instead based upon the union of heart, body, and mind for “mutual joy; for the help and comfort given one another in prosperity and adversity; and, when it is God’s will, for the procreation of children.” (BCP, p423) Many same-sex couples I know have their own biological children. Even so, the blood we share in a Christian household is not the blood of procreation –it is the blood of Christ. It is through the power of the Holy Spirit that we are adopted and made one –in union with one another….

And, those who would believe the presence of Christ at a wedding in Cana as an example of Christ’s blessing upon the institution of marriage (as is insinuated in the opening declaration in the BCP, p423), miss the radical point being made. Being present at a wedding is not the “sign.” It is Christ who is being made known, revealed –Christ is shown to be the true, the real Bridegroom, the one who supplies the best wine that surpasses even the water reserved for the ritual of cleansing –Christ is the true wine, the true bread, the manna from heaven. (Sandra Schneiders, Written That You May Believe, Crossroad Publishing, NY, p50)

And, in all, it is Christ we are all called to make known in our lives, in our discipleship, in our love. I could quote Galatians 3:28 –there are no more distinctions between Jew and Greek, slave and free, male and female…. Or Acts 11:16-17 –I realized then that God was giving them the identical thing he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ….  But, I prefer to say that I have seen the sign of God’s love –agape.

Eros is said to be a love born out of our neediness, an ‘acquisitive’ and ‘egocentric’ love through which we attempt to satisfy our desire for union with one whose inherent attractiveness draws us.

Unlike eros, agape does not aim at self-fulfillment. It is not drawn by the beauty or goodness of the loved one. Rather, it creates or bestows value on the loved one. …Agape is therefore ‘spontaneous’ and ‘unmotivated’; it has no reason for loving other than its own dynamism, its steadfast will to affirm the well-being of the other person. 
(Modern Christian Thought, Ed. Alister McGrath p350)

To love, as Christ loves us. And when we see it –give thanks to God and bless it.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

I understand the motives of the parents wanting to keep the gender of their infant secret....

Sunny and hot. Very low chance of rain. Hotter next week. The storm which has been so deadly and destructive may brush the westernmost regions of the Commonwealth in the next couple of days... but not here --so they say. We'll see.

My heart breaks with all the news... those events we create that are so devastating and destructive... war, financial brutality, rape, prejudice.... and, those created events that happen... storms, droughts, flood....

...and the parents deciding to keep secret the gender of the 4 mo. old child... and all those talking heads on tv in an uproar.... Having seen the bias --unconscious bias with which we enculturate boys and girls --and sometimes very conscious bias --I am not opposed to raising the child without prejudice. All the pundits saying it's horrific for the child....

...storms we create.

I just remember loving rough and tumble and running games.... and I hated 'Barbie' dolls. H.A.T.E.D. them. Still do. I wanted my brother's GI Joe. --Stripped of his garments and guns, he made a great Tarzan. And I liked Tarzan --running like a tiger, moving through trees, speaking with the apes and other jungle animals. Free. From all the walls.

I think the word was tomboy. And, then in junior high it was dike, butch, homo.

And the truth was far more complex. And my grandmother over-compensated and bought me pink underwear, pink bows, pink dresses --made a big deal about teaching me to tie a bow behind my back.

...sigh.... at the same time, when at the age of eleven I was required to take dance lessons at Dart Tinkum's in the Berkeley hills, I was always told by Miss Tinkum to play the part of the boy because there was a shortage of boys and I was so tall. It was drummed in to my head: Boys lead; girls follow. Fox trot. Waltz. Boys move forward through the world. Girls learn to follow. Backwards....

Not me. I couldn't dance either way for all the world... But I learned so much else....

At the end of the 'season', we would have a "Ball" --and dress up and have dance cards.... and all the girls had to sit in chairs along the wall, their dance cards hanging off their wrists by a dainty satin cord--no pockets in the dresses, and me and the boys got to choose who to dance with.... they were in training to be birds of prey. Me --just embarrassed... the foundation of shame. How could I be a real bird of prey --how could I fly in a dress? Yes --because I still had to wear a dress.

I usually wore shorts underneath every dress and every skirt... cuz when I wanted to try to fly, the shorts were very handy.

I quit dance lessons the season they had enough boys because I didn't want to sit along the wall and wait to be asked to dance.

We do so much damage through cultural expectations and grooming for assigned gender roles. And to stand against it causes a storm. Oh yes. Huge.

(And I'm not saying gender isn't wonderful --it is! --it's part of the wonder and glory of the incarnation!) Gender-based cultural expectations suck. And it starts in infancy.

Read Raising Ophelia and Reviving Ophelia. About Reviving Ophelia:
Pipher here posits and persuasively argues her thesis that today's teenaged girls are coming of age in "a girl-poisoning culture." Backed by anecdotal evidence and research findings, she suggests that, despite the advances of feminism, young women continue to be victims of abuse, self-mutilation (e.g., anorexia), consumerism and media pressure to conform to others' ideals. With sympathy and focus she cites case histories to illustrate the struggles required of adolescent girls to maintain a sense of themselves among the mixed messages they receive from society, their schools and, often, their families. Pipher offers concrete suggestions for ways by which girls can build and maintain a strong sense of self, e.g., keeping a diary, observing their social context as an anthropologist might, distinguishing between thoughts and feelings. Pipher is an eloquent advocate. Psychotherapy Book Club selection; BOMC and QPB alternates.
Serious business.

So, I do understand the motives of the parents wanting to keep the gender of their infant secret. I don't know if how they are going about it is 'right' --but I certainly understand their motives.

At daily prayer from Luke 8:
Then people came out to see what had happened, and when they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid.
If you break out of the mold that has been made for you --expect fear. And condemnation. A storm.

So. Get out there. Break the molds. Clean up after the storms. Help those who seek to recover. In every way you can. Shelter those who can't or won't. In every way you can. Amen.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

merely the graze of illumination...

Oh man --blown away at least three times this morning. First this:

Christ our Passover

The first four words from the Pascha Nostrum... and I was stunned (again). Stopped in my mental tracks.... Passover. Passover. Passover. --the escape from slavery --running so fast so far so quickly the bread didn't have time to rise --the Feast of Unleavened Bread --a sign of the division of East and West in the Church --because the East loads its bread with yeast (and milk and honey --the promised land) --big huge ol' tasty loaves.... as a sign of the Kingdom... we look at bread, flat or full, and call it The Lamb. --we think and talk of first fruits....

And then the beauty of this: (Wisdom 13:1-9)

For all people who were ignorant of God were foolish by nature;
and they were unable from the good things that are seen to know the one who exists,
nor did they recognize the artisan while paying heed to his works;
but they supposed that either fire or wind or swift air,
or the circle of the stars, or turbulent water,
or the luminaries of heaven were the gods that rule the world.

If through delight in the beauty of these things people assumed them to be gods,
let them know how much better than these is their Lord,
for the author of beauty created them.

And if people were amazed at their power and working,
let them perceive from them
how much more powerful is the one who formed them.
For from the greatness and beauty of created things
comes a corresponding perception of their Creator.

Yet these people are little to be blamed,
for perhaps they go astray
while seeking God and desiring to find him.
For while they live among his works, they keep searching,
and they trust in what they see, because the things that are seen are beautiful.

Yet again, not even they are to be excused;
for if they had the power to know so much
that they could investigate the world,
how did they fail to find sooner the Lord of these things?

O.M.G. Somebody put this to music --somewhere between a blues lament and... oh, I don't know --something I have not yet heard.

And then there was this: (Romans 13:1)

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God...

--including one's own authority...

Which authority, then? Are all authorities equal?! That is certainly the question asked by those who answer Scripture Alone is the authority --Church alone --no, Bishop's alone! --I think it is the debacle of the church right now --where is our authority? In a document and a code of behavior? In our bonds of affection? With the threat of isolation or no longer being welcome at the table?

All authorities are equal. Just sayin'. We must sit with them for some time to see which sink and which fly and which are dead in the water. The authorities which come with force, manipulation, fear, hatred, power --their source will be revealed and should be avoided.

And then there was this: (Luke 8:16-20)

Jesus said, "No one after lighting a lamp hides it under a jar, or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a lampstand, so that those who enter may see the light. 
For nothing is hidden that will not be disclosed, nor is anything secret that will not become known and come to light. 
Then pay attention to how you listen; for to those who have, more will be given; and from those who do not have, even what they seem to have will be taken away." 
Then his mother and his brothers came to him, but they could not reach him because of the crowd. And he was told, "Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you." But he said to them, "My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it."

Joel and I talked at length yesterday.... "Family" is not a Christian word --not a scriptural word --"Household" is... We do not welcome the newly Baptized in to the Christian 'Family' --we welcome them in to the 'Household' of God. --a household of persons adopted by the power of the Spirit to be At Home with each other. The blood we share is that of Christ --not the blood of pro-creation....

So... in all that... the still point I intuited yesterday has exploded...

The Passover --the Lamb --the liberation from slavery...
Seeking God --not the created signs of God...
Household, not family....

And when the still point explodes --certainly I will too.

Or, at least, I hope so... !!!
So, no deep thoughts, no agonizing prayer...
 --merely the dangerous graze of illumination --and awaiting the explosion!
Such is prayer this morning.
Thanks be to God.
And you?

Spellcheck hates 'Pascha' and 'lampstand' --tough.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

confident of the still point....

It is one of those days I find my mind wandering when I try to center in prayer....

The tornado. Oh my God.

Our friend and sister, Kirstin. Tears are not enough....

My friend, Steve, who died of cancer on Saturday --the only one of my friends who really was raptured. I think he did it on purpose.

--and, I guess because of the Law & Order show last night, I am remembering the neighbors we had in Medford, Oregon... --he caught himself on fire while at the stove, and I won't describe the mess I encountered as I went in the apartment to pull his drunk wife to safety. He died. She got sober --and came back to thank me for pulling her out.... I made Joel answer the door when she later came ringing, working her program; I couldn't speak to her --she had kicked, and bit and scratched me as I drug her down the hallway toward her front door. Thankfully, the big fireman savior arrived and told me to get the hell out --he would deal with her. He did. His was the voice of God... 'I'm not leaving you here to die!'

The folks in Richmond Jail --no air conditioning, and it will be our first day over 90 degrees today. And humid.

...being called in to work yesterday.... sigh.

That poor Mr. Camping, who is still insisting that the end is coming...  now saying, not wrong, just wrong on the date.... Perhaps he should do as some of his followers did --cash in all his worldly goods... or perhaps his now angry disciples should only do as he does.... And not use their homes and retirements to fund his news until he, Camping, does.

In the midst of these things, perhaps Luke is more suitable to ponder than Wisdom:

When a great crowd gathered and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable: "A sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell on the path and was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. Some fell on the rock; and as it grew up, it withered for lack of moisture. Some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew with it and choked it. Some fell into good soil, and when it grew, it produced a hundredfold." As he said this, he called out, "Let anyone with ears to hear listen!"

Even so, the voice in my head is saying --the birds need to be fed; the rocks themselves will sing; the thorns protect the rabbit from the eagle; good soil is a posh luxury some will never be able to afford....

There we are....

Hey God --it's margaret here. Hmmmmmm..... not much to say on days like this --where I kept persevering yesterday... today, I am choosing to stop in my tracks --stop, look & listen. Time to be still.

Time to be still --actually, my mind kinda feels like those bits of stuff left behind after an eraser scrubs a page clean.

Oh, and hey --it's my blogaversary. Well --it was two days ago, anyways. Three years now.

Time to be still while the world seemingly spins like crazy... there we are.

Except --actually, this one bit of Wisdom could be read at the Great Vigil of Easter and forego about four readings....

(Wisdom 10:1-4, 13-21)

Wisdom protected the first-formed father of the world,
when he alone had been created;
she delivered him from his transgression,
and gave him strength to rule all things.
But when an unrighteous man departed from her in his anger,
he perished because in rage he killed his brother.
When the earth was flooded because of him, wisdom again saved it,
steering the righteous man by a paltry piece of wood.

When a righteous man was sold, wisdom did not desert him,
but delivered him from sin.
She descended with him into the dungeon,
and when he was in prison she did not leave him,
until she brought him the scepter of a kingdom
and authority over his masters.
Those who accused him she showed to be false,
and she gave him everlasting honor.
A holy people and blameless race
wisdom delivered from a nation of oppressors.
She entered the soul of a servant of the Lord,
and withstood dread kings with wonders and signs.
She gave to holy people the reward of their labors;
she guided them along a marvelous way,
and became a shelter to them by day,
and a starry flame through the night.
She brought them over the Red Sea,
and led them through deep waters;
but she drowned their enemies,
and cast them up from the depth of the sea.
Therefore the righteous plundered the ungodly;
they sang hymns, O Lord, to your holy name,
and praised with one accord your defending hand;
for wisdom opened the mouths of those who were mute,
and made the tongues of infants speak clearly.

See what I mean?! Okay --time to be still...
Peace out.

Confident of the still point.   .

Monday, May 23, 2011

ἁμαρτωλός,a \{ham-ar-to-los'} a sinner, tax collectors, heathen

At daily prayer (beginning at Luke 7:36)

One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee's house and took his place at the table. And a woman in the city, who was a sinner, having learned that he was eating in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster jar of ointment. She stood behind him at his feet, weeping, and began to bathe his feet with her tears and to dry them with her hair.

hmmmmm..... Sinner.... ἁμαρτωλός in this instance...
 ἁμαρτωλός,a \{ham-ar-to-los'}
1) devoted to sin, a sinner 1a) not free from sin 1b) pre-eminently sinful, especially wicked 1b1) all wicked men 1b2) specifically of men stained with certain definite vices or crimes 1b2a) tax collectors, heathen

What makes a sin a sin? Vices. Crimes. --these are perhaps based in morality and law... and certainly being heathen, which means to live outside the agreed upon system....

When the Pharisee objects in this instance in Luke, Jesus responds by dissecting his lack of hospitality --connecting hospitality with love and his lack of it, and praising her hospitality and generous love.

Sin. Debt. Hospitality. Love. A lot to unpack there.

How did this woman, a known "sinner," get in to the Pharisee's house any way? Aye matey --that's the question.... Maybe she worked in the kitchen... cleaning pots or washing clothes or scrubbing floors or something.


Joel says that the root of the Greek word for 'sinner' originates in archer's terms for missing the target --failing to hit the mark. And, failing to hit the mark is not a moral or lawful judgment --it has more to do with survival --life and death.

...so sin has to do with life and death... duh. That's the whole point of those caveman stories called Genesis.... choose certain life, not the unknown fruit of the unknown tree...

But plucking sin out of moral judgments... then I think one is on to the Gospel. Jesus was far more concerned with the love expressed --the depth of love in the women rather than her supposed sin. And when he says, Go and sin no more --he is not talking morality or law --he is encouraging her to continue to choose life. And love.

Morality is the sometimes codified system of how to 'get along' together. Jesus doesn't start from that place. He has only one rule, not based in naming, holding back or controlling sin, but embracing one another as we are --love one another as I have loved you.

...kinda like our baptismal vows --respecting the dignity of every human being.... Not judging even those who follow a different path.... the so-called 'heathen.'

Gets me that this woman may have been known as a notorious sinner because she worshipped in a different way, place, language.... And, yes, it upsets everything to risk eating the unknown fruit of the unknown tree --and yes, the abundant blessings known to us because of it --namely Jesus... but that is making Jesus a cause and effect --oh, but the Gospel of John denies that --making it certain of the revelation of the One Who Holds All Life from the very beginning...

Well... off I go. Joel and I have been singing (sounds like argument but is part of the creative process when we design/build something together) about a shed for the backyard... he wants to build a castle... I want something to cover the bikes and the entry to the basement.... you know.

Hey God --it's margaret. I pray for K & R living with cancer; for J & B living with devastating auto-immune diseases; for B,J,M,M,K,P,A,J,S,F,B,F on hospice --and all that is in my heart. And, thank you, bless you for revealing yourself in Jesus. Also --all those folks devastated by the storms and floods.... and all those in the path of devastation today.

And... about that store we went in late yesterday --all the Buddhas known in and through compassion, knowingness, the dance of life.... I wish someone had the skill to make Jesus known like that, instead of the syrup crap that is painted... just sayin....

And, sin really is beyond me.... thank you for grounding us in the path of love rather than commanding us to track our sin.... Amen. Alleluia!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

A sermon for the Day After the Rapture That Didn't Happen --or any time, really

Well –we are all here. I guess we are not worthy of the rapture!
We are the unworthy sinners left behind!
No one I know is missing today, and I did not feel an earthquake… remarkable!
And, I found this Gospel lesson remarkable for this day,
because it is a lesson commonly used at funerals. Perhaps we just didn’t get the hint!

But, seriously –why would this Gospel lesson
be chosen for a funeral and also be the Gospel for the fifth Sunday of Easter?

Let me speak first to the construction of this Gospel.
The Gospel today is part of the discussions that were happening
at the table of the Last Supper, after feet were washed, after the bread and wine.
Judas had just left the room, intent upon betrayal.
Peter had just sworn that he would follow Jesus, even to death,
and the truth of his betrayal was revealed alongside that of Judas.
Jesus had told the disciples time and again that he was going to be betrayed,
He would die, and the glory of God was going to be revealed.

But the disciples were in denial, or couldn’t grasp the meaning.
And then these words: Do not let your hearts be troubled.
Trust God. Trust me. I am going, but you will be with me always.

And then Thomas and Philip ask the questions of every disciple, every seeker,
any one who has ever had a broken heart, or a loss —Lord, where have you gone?
And, Heavenly Father, where are you? Why can I not see you?

Jesus responds: No matter where you are, how lost you are, --wherever you are,
whatever road you are on, I am there –I am the way.
No matter how confused, despondent, no matter how dark the world gets,
no matter how dark the heart becomes --I am the truth. The dark is not dark to me.
No matter how deadly the circumstances become –I am life.
And, as you know me, so will you know The Father.
And when you pray, Our Father in heaven will hear your voice
as my very own.
I am with you, no matter where you are or what is happening. Always.

These are words every one needs to hear at a funeral.
We also need to hear them during Easter—after the witness of the Resurrection.
We need to hear them, because in the example of Stephen the Martyr,
just because we have the Resurrection behind us, what is before us
is the world, in all its difficulties –and we need always carry the reconciling power
of forgiveness and the knowledge of grace with us –sharing in Christ’s reconciling work.
Just as Stephen did at his death.
And, as people of God, we must never rest easy, or bask in the easy food
we consumed in our spiritual infancy—as is stated in the second lesson;
we must grow, we must change more and more
into a greater likeness of the great cornerstone that was rejected,
into the light of mercy. We must worship, not for our own sake, but for those
who have no knowledge of mercy, of grace, of love.

We are called, not for our own sake, but for him who died and rose for us,
to complete his work in the world, and to bring to fulfillment the sanctification of all.

(Euch. Prayer D)
So, yes, this is the Good News --at funerals;
this is the Good News after a Rapture that didn’t happen;
yes, this is the Good News during Easter:
--God with us, God for us, God making ready for us. Always.

So, while the world preaches the day of judgment, the Day of Doom,
the day when sinners are left behind,
we must preach and live what we know, what we trust:
God loving us –always, everywhere, all the time.
God giving God’s self to us, and all unworthy sinners.
Now, and always.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

G'wan. Go to church.

Well... so you're still here too? Unraptured?

And, you do realize that the Gospel lesson for this Sunday is a funeral Gospel --I suppose we really should take the hint.... --and, the insult of it all --a funeral Gospel in Easter....

Well... don't worry. No matter where you are, there He is --'cuz there is no way, no truth, no life except that He is there. Already. Really. No matter what.

And when you see him --the scales lifted off your eyes --you see the big One too. And when you pray --the big One hears you as the Very Own Child. Very simple.

There we are. No way around it. So, g'wan. Go to church. You're still here, so you might as well get on with Christ's reconciling work.

And, there are many, many wonderful gross and excellent Rapture images. I promise that next week I will learn how to do that picture thang on this new machine.... promise.

...only morning, beautiful and fair....

Well --no matter what, after 6pm --I betcha, just betcha I'm still gonna be here.... just sayin'. Friend Rick+ has a good essay about this. --yearning for home, yes.... Thank you Rick+

In the mean time, back at the ranch --Mr. Camping, the Rapture King, has made money on it all... big time. So have a lot of other people. Rapture pet insurance. Rapture jewelry....

As for me and my household, this is our call: At morning prayer (Colossians 3:12-17)

As God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

I remember a guy I once worked with in Oregon who went off on a rant in a "tongue" telling me I was going to be damned to hell if I did not repent of my wicked and non-believing ways... I responded saying I had a special mission and that I was called to minister to those too tired, too weak, too discouraged, too angry, too sick to make it to the Pearly Gates --so I wasn't concerned....

--just in case, I think I better go finish my sermon, heh?!

It is not judgment day. It is only morning, beautiful and fair. (William Styron --Sophie's Choice)

Friday, May 20, 2011

It is not the hope of the women standing at the foot of the cross, weeping for something that cannot be.

Well... it floored me. Obama's speech....

So while the core issues of the conflict must be negotiated, the basis of those negotiations is clear: a viable Palestine, and a secure Israel. The United States believes that negotiations should result in two states, with permanent Palestinian borders with Israel, Jordan, and Egypt, and permanent Israeli borders with Palestine. The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states. The Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves, and reach their potential, in a sovereign and contiguous state.

Full text here.

That is a huge HUGE shift in American policy.... I do support it... supporting Israel rather than supporting peace and prosperity for all has been very shortsighted. And has not brought lasting peace. I wonder what it will mean for Obama. Politically. I dread part of what it means... if you know what I mean....

But striving for peace, repenting of past actions, looking at current situations with eyes wide open --these all lead to a crucified place... --and wisdom.

At morning prayer (Wisdom 6:22-23)

I will tell you what wisdom is and how she came to be, and I will hide no secrets from you, but I will trace her course from the beginning of creation, and make knowledge of her clear, and I will not pass by the truth; nor will I travel in the company of sickly envy, for envy does not associate with wisdom.

There seems to be a crescendo of change --things are not staying the same at a faster pace and in more places than I can name --in church, in neighborhoods, in nations, in the environment itself.... And who among us seek wisdom? Like birds shoved out of a nest, we still grope with our beaks wide open for an easy dinner, wanting everything to stay as we have always known it. And it can't.

And those who seek change, envision a future --a different future than the one we own today --like those who seek peace, they will find a crucified place.

...like the truth-teller in addictive systems... smack down.

There is hope. There is hope. And it is not a hope based in security, or tangibles --or power. It is not the hope of the women standing at the foot of the cross, weeping for something that cannot be. It is the confidence in the unexpected life that will surprise. Doesn't look anything at all like we expect....

I know that hope. She is the pathfinder of wisdom. She is loving detachment, and giving all.

She is incarnation --the turning of the tables --unexpected stream of life.

Hey God --I pray and hope for those suffering the devastating floods and droughts; those recovering from the storms; for those who seek violence --spiritual and physical; for the abusers and addicts --you know all that is in my heart.

Hmmmphf.... spell check wants to correct "Obama." --whatever.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

--log cabin lives --and then we think we like it. When in fact, you have prepared another place for us....

At morning prayer (beginning with Luke 6:39)

Jesus also told them a parable: "Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit?

A disciple is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully qualified will be like the teacher.

Why do you see the speck in your neighbor's eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, 'Friend, let me take out the speck in your eye,' when you yourself do not see the log in your own eye?

You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor's eye.

Oh dear... log in my own eye?! --oh, I know it well. I should say, I know THEM well. But confessing them makes one vulnerable in this world... and that is dangerous work... know what I mean?

Hey God --it's margaret. Lead us. Guide us. We are all blind and so cruel to one another in our blindness. Help us create that safe place to remove the logs in our own eyes and help one another down the way. Otherwise, we all just become accustomed to thinking we see your world with clarity when what we really see is logs... logs all the way around --log cabin lives --and then we think we like it. When in fact, you have prepared another place for us....

And, hey God --thank you for yesterday --when in that funeral south of Lynchburg, a room full of people, without bulletins, without any text in the room, prayed aloud the 23rd Psalm in a lilt and cadence of next-to-the-mountains people as beautiful as the rolling hills dressed in spring. And B stood up and read his one-and-only letter from his father --for a moment every eye free of logs for the tears that fell. So honest. So brave. And so vulnerable. (And please keep that Legionaire safe --especially after he fell among the gravestones after the gun salute and Taps...)

And --damn --lost the rest of this post.... oh well.

Not looking for another log --but confident I'll find a few... amen.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

--keep pointing out the wrongs --keep lifting the prayers of righteousness, justice and yes, mercy.... 'cuz, what else are we going to do?

Joel put a book on my pillow this morning --The Christian Priest Today, by Michael Ramsey. All the books on priesthood that I have ever read --theology, practical theology --they all spoke of being in the edges, the fringes, not being a member of the congregation but of the greater whole and what all that does to one's soul --This book has chapter heads of prayer, preaching politics, preaching Jesus, absolver, discipline, humility --and, "Fret not thyself"...

Hmmmmmm..... such a different approach. Joel had opened it to the chapter headed "Sorrow and Joy."

Ramsey says, There is the sorrow in Christ which is a gate to the knowledge of God, and the sorrow which injures and deadens. As St. Paul says ..."the sorrow of the world works death." (2 Cor. 7:10)

My first knee-jerk reaction is always to reject binary views... but I know "the world" we are called to love is different --has different priorities than "kingdom" priorities --and if one is to make a distinction, it does indeed appear binary.

Ramsey continues --But the door into his [Christ's] sorrow is also the door into his joy. As the cloud of the presence in the tabernacle was pierced from within by a burning light, so the sorrow Jesus in the place of reconciling love pouring itself into the world, and his joy there is radiant. ... This is the joy that is deeper more lasting than the joys of our satisfaction. Run a good parish, preach a good sermon, carry out a successful project, do a worthwhile piece of work; and you are pleased and happy. But this will not become the pleasure of pride and self-esteem if you are sharing that joy of Jesus.

Hmmmmm..... Sorrow and suffering are such interesting entry points into the discussion of ministry. Because some suffering and some sorrow are wicked... are culturally imposed... socially imposed.... Suffering is not holy. Sorrow is not godly.

Women can be and are told to endure abusive relationships for the sake of the abuser and because they have taken vows.... Sexual minorities are encouraged to be quiet and stay in the closet.... Racial minorities are told to work quietly --justice will come some day.

That suffering is not in the least redemptive, nor holy, nor sanctified, nor godly. It perpetuates the systemic abuse and power systems....

And just because one chooses to insert God or Jesus in to the mix, it still is not holy, nor sanctified nor godly....

At morning prayer (beginning at Luke 6:27)

Jesus said, "But 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.

I condemn the suffering and death of the cross. I condemn it. I condemn the striking, the offering of the other; I condemn theft; I condemn withholding from the beggar, the poor, the powerless. I see it all around me all the time --in the faces of the children on the northside --eastside --other side of the river a few short miles from the opulent club houses and golf courses, in the wounded-ness of addiction, in exclusion, gossiping, isolation, shaming --I condemn them.

Jesus threw the money-changers out of the Temple.

We should throw out the money-changers of our own day.

Just sayin'.

Even so, I know the suffering, the tears of the people I serve --and I grieve and sorrow with them and for them... and it takes me to a deep place where I am confident of that source of joy, of light... of the tearing of the curtain in the Temple....

I can't finish this right now --I have a funeral to tend to... --it will probably take a life-time anyway. And any conclusion would be facile....

So --keep up the good fight --keep pointing out the wrongs --keep lifting the prayers of righteousness, justice and yes, mercy.... 'cuz, what else are we going to do?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

the devastation of grace

So..... between the voice of the maid-mother subjected to the strong arm of an international power broker (accused by other women in other places for making forceful sexual advances), and the revelations of the Governator in California fathering a child with a woman who worked for him (and accused by other women in other places for making forceful sexual advances), the state of women in the world is no better than it was fifty years ago... --there is only a thin veneer to which we can point of a few privileged women who hold positions of prestige.

And, considering both these men held positions of some authority or financial power over these women, the power-balance was hardly equal, which makes it all even more horrid.

Joel says to have no doubt --not much has changed... for most, it's merely political correctness.

I suppose on many levels that is exactly right. All the while, I hope and pray for something else.

The power of sex. The sex of power.


The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it. Flannery O'Connor... Perhaps it's just a Flannery type of day --you know, the type of day when the knowledge of the gift of Grace can mean utter devastation to the one who receives it....

At morning prayer (beginning at Colossians 1:15)

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers - all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.

...peace through the blood of his cross.... utter devastation and abundant grace.... O'Connor wasn't speaking in terms of abject deconstructionism or modernism or whatever. Her visions of destruction and death are matched only by the psalmist's and prophet's vision of The Day of The Lord's Coming....

Lord have mercy. Lord, spare us.

Most holy mother of God...save us --but not like it might imply --but that we share in --partake of that strength to continue, as you did, when that knife pierced your heart --the icicle of the Holy Spirit --the devastation of grace...

Oh my.... must be the full moon... out of the depths....

Watch. And listen.

Monday, May 16, 2011

A very messy part of the garden...

At morning prayer (from Wisdom, here)

"Come, therefore, let us enjoy the good things that exist,
and make use of the creation to the full as in youth.
Let us take our fill of costly wine and perfumes,
and let no flower of spring pass us by.
Let us crown ourselves with rosebuds before they wither.
Let none of us fail to share in our revelry;
everywhere let us leave signs of enjoyment,
because this is our portion, and this our lot.
Let us oppress the righteous poor man;
let us not spare the widow
or regard the gray hairs of the aged.
But let our might be our law of right,
for what is weak proves itself to be useless."

Yeppa. There we are. Sounds familiar to me. I see and know it all around me.

But the ethic to reject the impulses to act as above --yes, it can be cultivated without God. Yes it can.

...and such ethics can have a deep tap root....

...and where people who claim God go wrong is in judgment --drawing narrow lines, a feeling and attitude... --putting themselves in the seat of judgment.

And, this is not where I expected to go this morning --not where I wanted to go. Mostly because this part of my garden is overgrown and weedy --the part of the garden where God, self, world, ethics and prejudice get really rampant and confused.

(And it's not ethics vs. faith.... that is a false dichotomy.... )

No. Not confused... but I cannot separate vine from shrub and tree --wild flower from cultivar and hybrid.... without ripping the whole garden up...

And to be honest, my faith is the vine, the wild flower. Ethics are and have been cultivated --established shrubs and trees. A traceable genealogy.

My faith has a genealogy --and she has many mothers. Many villages. A differently configured family.

My ground of being is that the whole world is made in the image of God, fallen and redeemed. And there is nothing that can separate any one from the love of God. ...because there is no place without God.

The only question --the only decision, --crisis --is choosing how to live in a world already redeemed --the kingdom alongside us....

One might choose to ignore nay-sayers --or bankers etc., or those intent on destroying... making the world over to suit themselves --or just plain use it. But that doesn't help. It only makes one blind, deaf and mute.

The only response is love.
And not love of self alone --but of the whole creation --all of it. And if one chooses love of the whole above all else, self is lost.

And therefor --the attitude so aptly revealed in Wisdom (above) is impossible.

And I am open to anyone who gets to that place of love of the whole above all else --no matter their path.

Dang --this garden is messy....

Hey God, it's margaret here... I know, I know --but listen... I think having a messy part of the garden was a brilliant idea. Really. It's like tidepools --neither land nor sea and the most abundant and diverse life anywhere... just sayin'. Yeah. I know you know already. And hey --I ask comfort and peace for B and family who lost their beloved father yesterday. I pray for B,B,L,R,K, --and those who whisper and mutter and raise knowing eyebrows to one another....

Hey God, do you really have a bird's-eye view? --yeah, I didn't think so --mouse, eagle, space between... it's just easier when I settle on how you are for my own sake... instead of how you really are. Like milky way and an apparently messy garden with the great void between. Marvelous. Mystery. The great wild womb, tomb and all else.

peace out.... amen.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

G'wan. Go to church.

Well, well... Good Shepherd Sunday is not Good Shepherd Sunday.... it is now the I Am the Gate Sunday...

Perhaps that's all for the good... Jesus the Life, the Light, the Gate. Much better. It leaves us free --cuz, see, it means we don't have a God with a big stick trying to get us to go somewhere, or do this, or do that...

...so, we are loved through, in, to, by the Gate.

G'wan. Go to church. It's the I Am the Gate Sunday. --don't believe me? G'wan then.

...some might object....

At morning prayer (Luke 5:27-32)

After this Jesus went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, "Follow me." And he got up, left everything, and followed him.

Then Levi gave a great banquet for him in his house; and there was a large crowd of tax collectors and others sitting at the table with them. The Pharisees and their scribes were complaining to his disciples, saying, "Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?" Jesus answered, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance."

...so, it wouldn't have been righteous for a member of the order of the priesthood of Levi to be a tax collector.... Joel says --that's like putting a Buddhist in charge of executions or something....

It is no wonder the Pharisees were muttering.... it was just all wrong... not proper. Unjust.

I'm sometimes not proper. I speak from the hip all too often. Way not proper.

Oh well....

So, today, I have to run --we have a huge yard sale at church, and we will give 100% of the $$$ away to an institution that deals with the victims of abuse. It's a good thing. A very good thing... and then later this week I go to the jail and sit and eat with the abusers....

I am quite confident some might object.

There we are. Off I go.

Friday, May 13, 2011


--that was weird!

Glad blogger is back.

Many blessings on your day!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

..to follow Jesus. We must change....

At morning prayer (Luke 5:1-11)

One time Jesus was standing on the shore of Lake Gennesaret while the people pushed their way up to him to listen to the word of God. He saw two boats pulled up on the beach; the fishermen had left them and were washing the nets. Jesus got into one of the boats - it belonged to Simon - and asked him to push off a little from the shore. Jesus sat in the boat and taught the crowd.

When he finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Push the boat out further to the deep water, and you and your partners let your nets down for a catch."

Oh oh. Watch out Simon. Here it comes.

"Master," Simon answered, "we worked hard all night long and caught nothing. But if you say so, I will let down the nets."

See. There you go....

They let the nets down and caught such a large number of fish that the nets were about to break. So they motioned to their partners in the other boat to come and help them.

Don't do it!!!!

They came and filled both boats so full of fish that they were about to sink. When Simon Peter saw what had happened, he fell on his knees before Jesus and said, "Go away from me, Lord! I am a sinful man!"

Simon Peter --your pockets are so full of fish your suspenders are gonna snap! --I love that, by the way --jump back jack! get away! --I don't deserve this! Love it! Hey Rocky --it's God's dream for us all.

He and the others with him were all amazed at the large number of fish they had caught. The same was true of Simon's partners, James and John, the sons of Zebedee. Jesus said to Simon, "Don’t be afraid; from now on you will be catching men."

They pulled the boats on the beach, left everything and followed Jesus.

Left everything.... the biggest catch ever, and they left everything. When most of us would hunker down and roll in the riches....

Funny to think how and when any of us are called. Me --it was before girls could even go behind the altar rail as acolytes. I remember what that did to my psyche too --the exclusion because who I was, was less than... and that's the way it had always been. It was the natural order --ordained by God....

There are so many things that are because 'that's the way it's always been.' And what damage that does to the psyche --like gay couples in VA not being able to adopt children... race relations... power... money... monuments on Monument Ave that celebrate a war that means such different things depending upon the color of your skin--or where you're from....

...and some would not even comprehend walking away from what those statues celebrate. It's their heritage.

A. Way. Of. Life.

...and there is so much the church must walk away from. Seriously. Think about it.

To follow Jesus.
We must change. Walk away from all that other stuff.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

the deep has resurfaced....

Why don't I like the Book of Daniel? ...sigh. Oh yeah --maybe because it is about dreams and interpretation of dreams by magicians and fires that do not consume and hands appearing out of nowhere and writing cryptic stuff on palace walls.... Unreal stuff.

And, I like mysticism.... I like the tender, shadowed places... I like the eagle eyes high above --miles away, that see the nuance of the mouse... I like the ideas that erupt from the mulch beneath the rhodedendron. Intangible. Tangible.

And, I know that to many, Christianity demands a displacement of reality, a belief and confidence in things that cannot be seen, are not real, cannot be proved... and I know that scientists and physicists etc. all work in describing that same place differently. For me, it is interior space, interior place; perhaps for them it is more exterior... or something like that.

...perhaps it is for these reasons that Jesus and the disciples and apostles insisted that 'the truth' is easily accessible --easy --as plain as day... The Truth can stand in the light... --I think another way to put it is 'transparency.'

...some days, it is hard to slog through.... and most days it is not very plain...

At morning prayer (Luke 4:40-44)

As the sun was setting,

...it is said, only falsehood requires darkness. (Darkness is not dark to you Lord. The night is as clear as the day. Darkness and light are both alike to you.)

--all those who had any [folks] who were sick with various kinds of diseases brought them to him; and he laid his hands on each of them and cured them.

Right... --and to what end?

Demons also came out of many, shouting, "You are the Son of God!" But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that he was the Messiah.

Demons... right. Coming out of people, because demons had been inhabiting them and making them sick. Right. And the age-old question --why not allow them to speak? --because if demons testify to what they know, and they must only know corruption, then they cannot speak the truth-- are not trust-worthy...

At daybreak he departed and went into a deserted place.

This is the first sensical thing... everybody needs a time-out. In today's language, it is called 'healthy boundaries.' Yeah --but just try it. --and if this is true, then... even God needs a time out? That's ripe....

And the crowds were looking for him; and when they reached him, they wanted to prevent him from leaving them. But he said to them, "I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other cities also; for I was sent for this purpose." So he continued proclaiming the message in the synagogues of Judea.

...the good news... what is the good news? ---and if it is truth as plain as day, why did it need a special messenger? Circular thinking...


It's days like today --when I am reading everything with a hyper-critical voice in my head that I know a great culmination has begun... the spiritual hunger has begun anew--just when I thought I was not hungry, and I am not content to leave things lay where Jesus flang them....

...and, it's not that I am afraid.... But that I must be diligent and conscious and self-aware. It's dangerous work wrestling with angels...

--the handwriting IS on the wall.... I am neither mouse nor eagle --I am the space between... in flight --and faith is not placed in unreal things... it is not magic nor dreams nor demons nor voices nor cures which 'fix' things....

...the borderlands of the holy require the experience of sin...

...and it is through the wounds we are healed...

...the constant unfolding is astounding... and a place where only metaphor works to try to describe the landscape of the heart's desire.


Hey God, it's margaret ---ya better listen up. Thank you. Bless you.