Wednesday, August 31, 2011

...big pictures depend upon the details...

While the house was being shown yesterday morning, we went to a local bakery for a treat and a cuppa --sat outside because there was no real humidity --but we got caught up in a sad thing... a very sad and confusing thing.... a big picture thing writ small.

I walked in to the bakery while Joel sat outside with Mr. Witty, and there was a young couple sitting there --the server behind the counter looked right at me --ignoring them, and asked what I wanted. I motioned for the couple to go first --and then it erupted --between the couple, the server and then the owner who came out of the back --the couple had a receipt from the day before and wanted their money back because they had been so rudely treated. I made to leave the store --we could go somewhere else, and the owner commanded the server to help me while he continued working with the couple. And while the server took my order, she kept interjecting comments into the escalating confrontation between the couple and the owner...

I thought the customers were pouty --entitled and corrupt. The server outrageously rude. The owner willing to placate the customer at the cost of his employee without giving in to the customer's demand for their money back --for something they consumed the day before....

...sigh... and Joel and I were so tired, all we wanted was a break... and in our tiredness and confusion, we didn't just leave.... sigh....

It got nasty. And more than rude. Finally in a lull, I placed my order, and then ducked out to send Joel in to place his order and pay for us both... and then that's when the police showed up, the couple ended up outside talking to the police --who, without hearing the 'other' side, decided that the couple was in the right and went inside....

The evidence the couple presented was that the server was rude and they wanted their money back, and when she was told she was rude she responded that she had every right to be rude because she was from New York City....

Oh dear.... Oh, and did I say the young couple was black... and the owner spoke with a French accent....

So, Joel and I sat there surrounded by police, listening to a conflict of race, region, service and money... and it was all sooooo sad.

He said. She said. I couldn't make heads nor tails of it --none of it made sense to me --there was no clarity, except that the server felt very threatened between the customer and the boss, and the police were gonna believe the customers.... It was the customers who had called the police.... unnecessarily I thought --you don't like the service, you don't go back.... chalk it up.... --but then again....

At prayer this morning (beginning at Mark 15:1)
As soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council. They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate. Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” He answered him, “You say so.” Then the chief priests accused him of many things. Pilate asked him again, “Have you no answer? See how many charges they bring against you.” But Jesus made no further reply, so that Pilate was amazed.
...and, sometimes, there's just nothing to say at all to rumor, innuendo, gossip, and false accusations....

This morning, it seems to me that we, as a nation, as a people, as a church, as communities --have accused each other in to corners --dehumanized --categorized --have forgotten to respect the dignity of every human being --and respecting the dignity of every human being does not include being a doormat, because then you are not respecting your own dignity.

And, frankly --our institutions, including (perhaps especially) the church, have forgotten reconciliation --instead following the models found elsewhere --as in the situation above, where people are just cogs, easily replaced to keep the machine rolling along --replace the customer -replace the employee --replace the place of business with another.... --replace the priest --find a new congregation....

And the cost --the loss of the opportunity for resurrection --for new life....

It has been said to me --if we keep doing the same ol' thing, we will get the same ol' results.

Perhaps, instead of ducking my head in that bakery in utter exhaustion... instead of someone taking sides or a show of force of badges and guns deciding wholesale who was right and who was wrong....

...perhaps, hanging in when things are broken is a far better model for the church --for any Christian --no matter the cost.

Yeah. But there's no accounting for those you might 'hang in' with...

All the big pictures depend upon the details... start small.

That's all.

Praying for those in Virginia still without power or homeless, for those in New Jersey and Vermont.... start small --hang in. Amen.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Pray for those still living with the devastation of the storm. And then see what you can do too....

Our neighbors across the street still do not have power. So, we have one coming early this morning to put food in our freezer --which is empty, because we threw all ours out (we were without power for 24 hours -just long enough....) --we put what we could from the fridge in a cooler and Joel's insulin in another --but the freezer stuff got all wet from dripping melting ice --never mind how that happened... but I can say it wasn't my idea! So we are glad to help our neighbor.

And when our power is out --we still have hot water and a stove and burners cuz we gots gas.... So, tea? Coffee? Freezer? Shower? Y'all come over.

But, while we do have power, we have no TV --most on the block don't have any communication stuff --phone, internet, TV --we have satellite internet so we are okay --but we haven't seen any TV since Saturday.... We haven't seen any news. We have no real idea of what is happening locally... except on our block....

I called my sister in California --any news? I ask... She thought I was joking.... I do hear Vermont is suffering terribly --and my thoughts and prayers go out to Caminante....

And, thank you Grandmere for posting about the anniversary of Katrina. I particularly liked the line "fixed --is not unbroken." Yeah.

Our roof needs a-fixing. I feel awful showing the house with a water-stain plop in the middle of the upstairs hall ceiling --but trying to get a roof fixer right now --yeah, right. So, cover-up primer it is....

And, we show the house this morning at 9:30 --every day so far --which is exciting, but when a phone call doesn't happen with an offer --well, it's kinda like getting your period late or something... excitement, and then utter disappointment... if you know what I mean....

We have about a half-hour or 45-minute routine to get out of here --the dishes, quick swipe at the floors, Witty's stuff put in the basket (he's pulled it all out and hidden it under the bed now --he sooooo doesn't like us messing with his stuff), wipe down the bathtub and sink, close the toilet lids, turn on all the lights.... and then disappear --hopeful, prayerful, heartsick....

At morning prayer (beginning at James 2:14)
What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder. Do you want to be shown, you senseless person, that faith apart from works is barren?
Oh Lordy! What a good idea --thank you God! --when I finish painting my ceiling and the bathroom --or perhaps in the midst of it --I will phone the Red Cross or the churches and see what more I can do other than offer an empty freezer and the like to my neighbor....

Off I go.... Pray for those still living with the devastation of the storm. And then see what you can do, too....

Sheeeeesh --spell check wanted to capitalize "internet." What's up with that?!

Monday, August 29, 2011

I hope not to bury your step-father out in the yard upside down....

We took a drive yesterday afternoon --while the realtor was holding the open house (let's see --an earthquake, a hurricane and an open house all in a matter of a week... sheesh!), and we couldn't get there from here.... There were trees down everywhere --huge trees --two on our block alone. One tree picked up the sidewalk and smashed across the street in to a building on the other side --I don't think they will be open any time soon. The other tree lost itself to a front porch --and an oak tree lost a branch to the street --not just a branch, but you know, a branch as big as most trees....

But the City has already started cleaning up --although I don't know how quickly they are going to get to any of it --two buildings collapsed up in the black part of town, but it is difficult to find out more as we still do not have TV reception --and there were so many wires down on our ride --and huge trees resting across the wires and cables --traffic re-routed no where in particular except away....

None of the grocery stores in our area are open. Most areas around us still do not have power.... What. A. Mess. And, Elizabeth, closer to the eye of the storm than we were, still doesn't know what she is returning home to....

...and what I cannot shake from my ears is the noise --like the sound of a massive engine above the house. And it never let up.... It was all much easier to take when we huddled around our little radio sharing a small head-set listening for news...

And we were in a part of the storm that was considered "tropical." I cannot imagine...

Hello --give me an earthquake any day!

And this is what jumped out at me in prayer this morning: James 2:1-9)

My brothers and sisters, do you with your acts of favoritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ? For if a person with gold rings and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and if a poor person in dirty clothes also comes in, and if you take notice of the one wearing the fine clothes and say, “Have a seat here, please,” while to the one who is poor you say, “Stand there,” or, “Sit at my feet,” have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters. Has not God chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who oppress you? Is it not they who drag you into court?

Today is a good day to remember... I sat safely and fairly securely... and, why am I now fairly confident that the folks charged with cleaning up this mess will sit with a map and decide which areas are first-priority clean up areas... and they will not be the same place on the map where the buildings collapsed.

Hey God --it's margaret here... the storm was awesome --totally awesome. But, not really wanting to go there again any time soon. Protect and shield all those in dirty clothes and shown the less honorable seats --especially your lamb, Victoria, who usually sits at the bridge with her umbrella and you only know what else beneath her hood --and, what do the birds do in a storm like that? Just wondering. Probably much the same as Victoria --yah. Oh --and I hope not to bury your step-father out in the yard upside down, so just keep us movin' along.... okay?!

Peace out.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Hurricane special

The rain has already begun --last night they did not expect it until later this evening... so, we won't be moving the sofa out of the house... instead, we will start painting first (touch up and the basement) and wait until the rain stops tomorrow... and move the stuff just before the Open House.

Yes. We are having a Hurricane Special! --y'all come over and buy a house. If you know anyone wanting a house minutes to downtown Richmond, minutes to Carytown (wonderful historic district with fun restaurants etc.), walking distance to the art and history museums (we live in what is called the "Museum District") --this is what can be had:

As Joel says, it may only take 10 minutes to walk to the market in our neighborhood, but it'll take you 45 minutes to get there --front porches are usually packed with company three seasons of the year.

We moved Mr. Witty's toys into this little room --he was so upset that we moved his stuff that he tossed his breakfast on the rug....

Yeah --I know just how he feels.

At morning prayer, at portion of Psalm 20

Some put their trust in chariots and some in horses, *
but we will call upon the Name of the LORD our God.
They collapse and fall down, *
but we will arise and stand upright.
O LORD, give victory to the king *
and answer us when we call.

No glory in the stuff --it's just grown-up toys. Gettin' ready for what comes next --no matter what it looks like. --and finding great joy in lightening up....

Hey God, it's margaret here --I've enjoyed living in this house --our first grown-up house, and I've enjoyed serving at St. Served. Thank you for this time we have had here. Please help with strength and courage all those in the eye of the storm today --who are also unwillingly being forced to "let go" in the midst of a storm not of their choosing --help us all arise and stand upright --answer us when we call --and help us see the revelation of your glory in all of it. Amen.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Quick prayers

Well --it seems, this morning, that the storm Irene will only bring us strong winds and rain --not a hurricane --not in Richmond. Which is well and good. We are pushing to put the house on the market this weekend and preparing for an open house Sunday....

Still have much work to do --please forgive my shallow posts...

Please keep A in your prayers. A lives in a small 2-room apartment, and his joy is to grow tomatoes in the community garden. He came by our yard sale and said he has decided not to return to the parish I served --he said to me, If they can do that to you, they can do it to me, and I won't go any place that would treat someone that way.... And J too, who is terribly distressed. And not attending. That saddens me so very much.... please keep them and the worshiping community at St.Served in your prayers.

And the contractors are here. Off I go to continue work on this home we love... Prayers for those who are in the path of the storm.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

God's nostrils

At morning prayer (a portion of Psalm 18:6-20
I called upon the LORD in my distress *
and cried out to my God for help.
He heard my voice from his heavenly dwelling; *
my cry of anguish came to his ears.
The earth reeled and rocked; *
the roots of the mountains shook;
they reeled because of his anger.
Ahhhhh --God must dwell somewhere here near Virginia --his heavenly dwelling... with the roots of the mountains shaking here... --well, I suppose Californians could claim his heavenly dwelling on that basis... IT has the map to prove it. And, we've now had a couple 4. something or other after-shocks....
Smoke rose from his nostrils
and a consuming fire out of his mouth; *
hot burning coals blazed forth from him.
Ooooooooo, but wait Californians --see, the Dismal Swamp has been burning for two weeks now --casting dense smoke about, smoldering underground...
He parted the heavens and came down *
with a storm cloud under his feet.
He mounted on cherubim and flew; *
he swooped on the wings of the wind.
He wrapped darkness about him; *
he made dark waters and thick clouds his pavilion.
And see, we have a hurricane coming our way too....
From the brightness of his presence, through the clouds, *
burst hailstones and coals of fire.
The LORD thundered out of heaven; *
the Most High uttered his voice.
He loosed his arrows and scattered them; *
he hurled thunderbolts and routed them.
The beds of the seas were uncovered,
and the foundations of the world laid bare, *
at your battle cry, O LORD,
at the blast of the breath of your nostrils.
The whole east coast is awaiting this sea-bed uncovering storm --the foundations laid bare and all that....
He reached down from on high and grasped me; *
he drew me out of great waters.
He delivered me from my strong enemies
and from those who hated me; *
for they were too mighty for me.
They confronted me in the day of my disaster; *
but the LORD was my support.
He brought me out into an open place; *
he rescued me because he delighted in me.
So --see --why should we worry?! Delivered up to safety....

Well --actually, we are preparing for the worst... propane stoves, coolers, easy food... our neighbor Ben has offered safety for Joel's insulin if we are without power for more than our coolers can manage.

And, just to spite the storm, we are planning an open house to sell it! Hey, why not mock a hurricane!

Off I go to the hardware store to try to match the paint in Joel's room....

Somehow --between the earthquaking, the pending storm and all the other blasts from God's nostrils, all shall be well, all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well. And, just in case you need it too --listen to Nada te turbe in the sidebar --

There we are!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Earthquake --and....

Mother earth is alive! 5.8 or 5.9 --take your pick. The quake --historic in size for this neck of the woods --it's been 100+ years since there has been one of this intensity.

Truth be told --I was out packing things in the car to go to storage and I saw one of the young men (who is helping us work on the house) between our house and our neighbor (a city lot --about two feet between our house and our neighbor--difficult to navigate the chimney area which decreases even that sparse amount) --and there was a huge noise --and since there was no truck on the street I thought it might be an airplane that was going to crash... So, I looked up and the antenna on top of the chimney (grounded as a lightening rod now) was swaying like crazy --and I thought the young man --who was stumbling now, was caught up in the antenna cable --and I was getting ready to yell at him to be careful, when I realized it was not him, not an airplane, not a truck --but an earth quake!

Now --as someone who has felt quite a few 5.5s --5.8s --and the 6.9 Loma Prieta (10x stronger than this one) --because such magnitude quakes happen every couple of years in California --the number 5.8/9 is not such a big deal --EXCEPT this quake in this turf had a whole different feel to it. Hard to explain --except it was as though there was more outright jiggling and noise, instead of the jolts and hard pangs of the earth out west.

Our house appears fine. Nothing fell over (I haven't checked the storage unit....) Nothing fell off shelves....

The National Cathedral didn't do as well... the abundant cap-stones toppled to the ground on a couple of the spires....

And in the midst of assessing this earth-dance, the hurricane seems to be veering further off the coast, so we might not get a full hit. --just some badly needed rain.

Oh dear --the guys just came in and said the back gate was open and one of our bikes gone... Oh my... it's my bike that's been stolen. Dang --if they had asked, I would have given it to them... now they are a criminal. Sigh.... Guess it's time to get to work...

From morning prayer (John 1:43)

The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, "Follow me."

I think I feel a great deal like Thomas --but where the #*$*^&(! are we going!!!?


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

--that's as deep as it goes today...


So, I can hardly think anymore....

We made a list last night --move bookcases to storage, take remainder of stuff to thrift store, call museum regarding the chair and cupboard, strip paint from old threshold --and on and on.... And be prepared for the possible hurricane --we have the water and all that --but a new panic hit me --what do we do with Joel's diabetes medicine if the power goes out?! Last time Richmond was hit hard--and the news says that is a real possibility, some parts of the city were without power for several days....

My neighbor says she stands amazed at our rapid progress --I can't see it yet... Still so much to do and slog through.

Yesterday I cleaned out my closet --all my most favorite size 12 clothes.... gotta go. Anybody want a bright red silk dress?

I've said my prayers. That's as deep as it goes today. Which is, not hardly.... Please keep us in your prayers.

Monday, August 22, 2011

"Oh, that we might see better times!"

Hurricane approaching. Markets plummeting. Wars. Violence. Sickness. Death. Anger. And the rich are abusing the poor and taking more than ever from those who are comfortable. And government is corrupt and serves money and itself --the institution first....

There --that's the news today. I suppose it's been the news since forever. The only item in the list not fabricated by the hands of people is the hurricane --but its strength and power may have been deeply influenced by our waste....

There we are --what to do?

At morning prayer, a portion of Psalm 4
Many are saying, "Oh, that we might see better times!" *
Lift up the light of your countenance upon us, O LORD.
You have put gladness in my heart, *
more than when grain and wine and oil increase.
I lie down in peace; at once I fall asleep; *
for only you, LORD, make me dwell in safety.
This is what I say to myself: I have gladness in my heart, more than all the riches in the world. If you are not dead, dig deep and connect with that source of joy and life. If you are dead --you are one with it already, so quit worrying. Unless you are among the walking dead, honey --and then you can and will choose --you can always choose. Choose to become a tool of death or choose love. Choose.

As a Christian, I have the image of One being nailed to the cross of corruption --the cross of governmental and religious authority --the cross of the failing of the heart, of betrayal --and even so, he loved to the very end.

So, today, I will strive to choose love. Joel and I have had many powerful conversations since our big sale/push on Saturday --and I kept thinking to myself O Remember this... and for the life of me, right now, I can't.

There we are.... choose love.

Even while we prepare to sell the house in the worst market since The Great Depression. (and the historian in me snarks --does no one remember the great depressions of the 19th Century? Sheesh --this is called capitalism --this is what capitalism is all about. There are a few making money, big money, off the suffering and loss of many. That's what it's all about.)

The floors get done today --the basement is nearly finished --the front gets painted tomorrow --going through clothes and giving the bags away....

A purge and cleansing.
Off I go!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

G'wan. Go to church.

Update --in the post below are the pictures from this morning --late this evening the same room looks like this:

We meant to keep the tables and sofa and rug. Grandmere --the bowl and pitcher didn't sell... oh well. Surprised the silent butler didn't move too --but we love it, so that's okay too.

And see --no books. All G.O.N.E. Now the work begins in setting up the house in order to sell it --the floors in the LR and hall get done on Monday...

And tomorrow Joel and I decided to sleep in and say our prayers and share communion at home --that is, if we can move! So, unless you have an equally good excuse, g'wan --go to church!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Biggest Baddest Best Yard SALE EVAH

Here it is --better than Christmas Eve...

Bookcases galore, lamps, chairs... --shtuff --even my cross-country skis --Peltonens, poles and boots --with my matching back-country ski pants. Weird bright color so if I were lost, I would be easy to spot --you know... 25 miles back in the lumber roads in the Pacific Northwest... always carried my little stove, Peet's coffee and fig newtons.... oh yeah! --Joel says --what if we end up in New Hampshire or something... and I said, I'll figure out the skis when we get there!

Silver punch bowls, pewter coffee pot, grandma's bowl and pitcher that I've used at Maundy Thursday services, and ashtray from Jerusalem... neither of us smoke....

...luggage, Christmas wrapping paper --oh --my ping pong paddle not even out of the wrapper!

The stuff got too close in the living room --we'll haul the big stuff out on the porch --this stuff is in the kitchen waiting to be hauled out...

And this is the last gasp from the basement --the camping equipment, the yard tools... the closet kit.... Actually, I think this stuff has been breeding --all on its own. Surely in 30 years of marriage we haven't accumulated So. Much. Stuff!!!

--or, maybe we have...

Yes. We have. But it is not the sum of our lives. Incarnational --but surely not the sum.... Actually --this winnowing down has been kinda exciting --in a very strange way --all the stuff has stories --but we keep the stories, and can give the stuff away.

I am reminded of that scene in the movie, The Mission --the guy has dragged the stuff up the cliff... that long, difficult, dangerous cliff...

So, this is what I am doing this fine Saturday. Lightening our load. Learning to carry the stories in a whole new way....

From morning prayer, a portion of Psalm 144

O LORD, what are we that you should care for us? *
mere mortals that you should think of us?
We are like a puff of wind; *
our days are like a passing shadow.

There we are... Peace out.

--for whose benefit?

We've run ads about the yard sale and books --we are getting phone calls of folks who want to come early...

The contractors have been working in the basement --pulled out all the old wood paneling --you know, that fake-o stuff with lines scored in it --that at some point had gotten wet and buckled out and popped off and molded and all that... We were terrified to pull it off the wall for fear of what we might find underneath... so we lived with it...

And, now, it's gone --and the walls behind it all are clean, the old plaster removed --and I'm thinking --WHY DIDN'T WE DO THIS BEFORE!!!!!

...sigh.... denial and putting things off are great tools... sometimes....

--but in this instance it means that the next folks to live here are gonna live with the basement I always wanted.... oh well... I guess that is what we do, or should be doing --prepare for the next folks.... There's gospel in there somewhere.

And now it's nearly 8 and the contractors have already phoned, saying they are gonna be late --well, yeah, it's Friday, silly! And they'll give off early too --I'll put money on it. But they have promised to finish it all by next week --I wrote it in to the contract.... because our house has to be 'see-able' by this time next week....

but --there it is --our door bell (which, really, is Mr. Witty barking!) --they are here --the contractor and the gang, and my day has begun without much internal reflection.... and, of course, the contractor gets to see me in my pjs once again....

This bit o'scripture caught me this morning --I have always considered it the preface to the widow's mite --but this morning it sang its own song, and I am reminded of the story about someone who was church shopping, went in to an Episcopal church, and when the priest said, Let us pray, the person next to the someone threw their fur coat across the kneeler to kneel, and the someone said to themselves --this is gonna be my church!

That's not so bad, I guess --I mean, the story of St. Francis serving all the steaks intended for the community to the stray dogs on Christmas day is also a sign of blatant opulence thrown hither... but it's for some one else's sake...  perhaps I would have liked the story about The Someone looking for a church if the person next to them had thrown their fur coat across the kneelers for all the others to kneel upon....

I guess what we do is what we preach --all the time. Every place.

(Mark 12 at about vs. 38)

As he taught, he said, "Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets! They devour widows' houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation."

See --it's not the long robes, respect, the best seats and places of honor --houses, appearance and long prayers that bring on the greater condemnation.... it's what's done with it all... for whose benefit? --for whose sake?

Off I go....

Thursday, August 18, 2011

--love without requirement....

At prayer this morning (beginning at Mark 12:28)
One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that Jesus answered them well, he asked him, "Which commandment is the first of all?" Jesus answered, "The first is, 'Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.' The second is this, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."
That seems simple enough... but from the point of view of some, loving God with all you got is about keeping all the rules --rules like morality, behavior, technicalities like dress, or the proper prayers at proper times and wanting others to do so too and what to do when the apparent rules are broken --For others, it is not about rules at all, but about the radical notion of putting another first --the "rules" being love, hospitality, humility, mercy --and giving your live for the "unworthy" --you know, that kind of thing --kinda like Jesus.

And, there we have the whole world in a nut shell... probably... kinda... sorta....

I remember, I used to crave rules --knowing what to do at what times all the time... and I was quite good at following all the rules when we went in to the mountain-wilderness for backpacking or camping, because it was about survival and all that.... But it is for survival --spiritual survival that Jesus shows us the liberty of another type of life... when the blind no longer act like blind people, the crippled no longer follow the rules for the crippled, women aren't confined to the kitchen, pantry and nursery, and men don't have to be blood-lust warriors....

And Tradition is not a binding --a lock-step must-do upon us either ---Tradition is living in to that metaphorical space where motion becomes dance, prayer becomes action....

To put it another way: Tradition is the living faith of dead people to which we must add our chapter while we have the gift of life. Traditionalism is the dead faith of living people who fear that if anything changes, the whole enterprise will crumble. --Jaroslav Pelikan

In other words --love without requirement, and the deeper one digs in to love, the bigger it all becomes. Way. Big. Cosmic.

There we are. Now back to the world of contractors and yard sales --off I go!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Contractors here.... Gotta run. Please keep us in your prayers as we prepare for a yard sale this Saturday and as we live with contractors who will be doing all those things we are willing to live with but are hindrances to selling the house --like the door in the basement being held in place by bars instead of hinges... you know, that kind of thing...

At morning prayer (Magnificat Luke 1:46-55)

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior; *
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations shall call me blessed: *
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him *
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm, *
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, *
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things, *
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel, *
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
The promise he made to our fathers, *
to Abraham and his children for ever.

Sorry --no time to even pretend to be able to think.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

...radical liberty...

Well, we listed the house yesterday --yeppa, it's for sale... and we have a LOT of work to do in two weeks to get it ready for showing. We had planned for a yard sale this weekend, but it seems we may get a bit o' rain... so we are taking alternative actions... --like holding the sale in our front room and on the porch. (link for books for sale in right column --and thank you!)


And, have you noticed the "ads" on TV --promoting and striving to shape political opinions? --or is this just happening in Virginia? There's one on no taxes, another on legal immigration, --yes, LEGAL immigration... --lightly shaded Republican platforms --couched in 'no, we're not racists nor religious-ists' but working on fear and protection of self and the presumed status quo.

In looking for the ads, I found some information about those folks (the one I'm thinking about in particular is by NumbersUSA --look here) doing the promoting of these platforms... well funded, highly organized, using all types of media to sell their agendas... Read it here... --listed as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center....

--and today I noticed for the first time an ad, obviously promoted by the Democratic political platform type folks on taxing the rich and the government's obvious favor towards $$$$.

I've never really 'seen' nor paid much attention this type of blatant political advertising before --truly shaping public opinion --probably in preparation of the time before the candidates hit the road in the next 15 months.... I know. It's called propaganda...

Here is the one I noticed for the first time today:

Well --alright... we're building up to a campaign year and all that... and I am convinced that we are in for one of the greatest political fights for the soul of this country... But consider the above posturing of the political parties and this out of San Francisco (BART is Bay Area Rapid Transit):
The shutdown of wireless towers in stations near the protest last Thursday night helped raise questions about the role that social networks are playing in helping people, from Egypt to London, organize online. In the U.S., with its history of free speech, critics are saying BART's move was unconstitutional.

BART officials have said their primary concern was to ensure that passengers are safe.

"It's wrong," American Civil Liberties Union lawyer Michael Risher said. "There were better alternatives to ensure the public's safety."

Former BART director Michael Bernick applauded the move, saying it ensured a safe and uninterrupted commute Thursday night.

"Finally, BART said enough," said Bernick. "BART put its riders and commuters ahead of these protesters and the ACLU."

BART cut power to its wireless nodes Thursday night after learning demonstrators planned to use social media and text messaging to organize a protest against police brutality on one of the subway platforms.

The tactic appeared to work because no protest occurred.

BART's actions prompted a Federal Communications Commission investigation.
It's not that folks are using the media for their propaganda and agendas that concerns me --duh.... It's that only certain institutions control the media, and get to decide who says what and when.... I believe it was Benjamin Franklin (scoundrel that he was) that said the free press was essential for a free people. And, the tactic of oppressors is always to control who has what information, and to take away the means of spreading a point of view --which is why we strive to carefully protect free speech.... in the ideal.

But, should it be left to institutions to control "nodes" of access to communication? ummmmmm.... Nope. No matter what that little voice in the back of my head that is talking about safety and good order says.... N.O.P.E. Neither do I condone rhetoric that is damaging and hurtful and all that.... but I would rather err on the side of radical liberty... and fail, than give over to the rule of imposed and presumed "order."

At morning prayer, a collect For Young Persons
God our Father, you see your children growing up in an unsteady and confusing world; Show them that your ways give more life than the ways of the world, and that following you is better than chasing after selfish goals. Help them to take failure, not as a measure of their worth, but as a chance for a new start. Give them strength to hold their faith in you, and to keep alive their joy in your creation; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
And, hey God, hear all those intentions of all my prayers, especially for our brother David and his family in his grief and loss, and for the community of Thibodaux in the awful murder of one of your own innocents. Amen.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Truth revealed at the wedding in Cana --and Jesus had a mother and a bellybutton... laugh with me!

I pondered the psalms... but it is the day to remember Mary the mother of Our Lord... and we are offered one of my most favorite stories:

At morning prayer (John 2:1-12)
On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding.

When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, "They have no wine." And Jesus said to her, "Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come." His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you."

Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, "Fill the jars with water." And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, "Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward."

So they took it. When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom and said to him, "Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now."

Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.
So, this little bit o' scripture and Mary's presence at this wedding is touted as biblical proof that God will condone a marriage only between a man and a woman.... Let's not even get in to the idea that Mary was not married --so much for the essential sanctity of marriage...  Surely then, God would have been decent and married her first... --and let's not even get in to the idea that the Spirit by which Our Lord is conceived is always referred to in the feminine in the original Greek... (c'mon! Wake up!)

I've said it before; I'll say it again:

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 the steward, knowing that the Bridegroom is the one who supposedly supplies the wine, goes to the one getting married and chastises him for withholding the good wine until last... and that is where we, who are on the inside of the secret, are supposed to laugh, LAUGH!!!! --The steward gets it wrong --we know the truth.... if Jesus supplies the wine at a wedding, Jesus is the real bridegroom, the source of all wine, that surpasses all...

And of course Mary is there telling Jesus what to do.... This is a domestic scene that everyone is familiar with --our mother telling us what to do and when to do it... and we do it. It is a technique (for lack of a better word) that is used by the evangelist to establish that the King of the Cosmos, the Word spoken at the beginning of creation has a human mother --a bellybutton --has become human flesh and blood... that he knows what we know --the tangled web of being human... and it endears us to him.

The M.I.R.A.C.L.E. is seeing Jesus --for who he is, while every one else runs around like in a comedy.... The M.I.R.A.C.L.E. is that our eyes are opened to the Truth.

Mira --in Spanish --means: Look!!! See!!!

(...wishing every one would give up on the magical-thinking routines....)

Okay... There we are. Gotta run --we got a contractor coming, and a real estate agent to list the house... we are gathering no moss in this house today.

Peace out!

PS: Thank you Mary, for saying Yes. You are the first priest, who took truly ordinary bread and truly ordinary wine and made it the flesh and blood of Jesus. As it says in the top-right side bar --blessed is she who believes!!!! Thank you Mary.

Oh --and the link to our books is right below it... thank you to all who have adopted! There are still 500 titles for you to choose from!

Now, --peace out! For reals.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

G'wan. Go to church.

From the Gospel:

Jesus called the crowd to him and said to them, "Listen and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles."

Oh yeah! Oh yeah!!!! Know anybody to whom you'd like to say that?!! --Oh yeah!!!!

But, then, wait.... isn't it strange that that bit o' scripture is followed by the story of the Canaanite woman, and Jesus --you know... calls her a dog? Whassup with that....??

G'wan... go to church. Find out what gives. I'm going... so, g'wan!

Boooooks --boooooks for sale!

So --the Great Dismal Swamp is on fire... and the smoke is really bad out --and I had planned to take a break from the books/house routine and ride my bike down the bike trail along James River.

But the news caster people are telling folks to stay inside because of the smoke.... Guess I will call my bike ride buddy and see what cooks.

Sigh... the best laid plans...

The good news is that we have finally finished sorting through the keep/sell fates of our books and entering the sell books at our Amazon account --over 500 books now, including now our history, art, historic archaeology and material culture type books... the Chinese language and culture books from the time Joel was studying Chinese... all that.

And, here's a look at the books that will find a new home a different way...

Those are the left-over theology books that were not worth entering on Amazon... And these are the history and art books that leave the living room and march down the front hall...

...sigh... all good friends... Perhaps you know how major this is for book-lovers.... These stacks of books will be further sorted by book dealers willing to come to the house and sort through them... the rest will be sold at a yard sale or given to the library.

Oh! Mr. Witty posed in the picture --no, he's not for sale! No. Way.

If you would like to adopt a book that made the on-line sorting.... go here. And THANK YOU! to every one who has adopted. Thank you. From the bottom of my heart.

Now... back to the ride...

At morning prayer: I The Cosmic Order
Glorify the Lord, you angels and all powers of the Lord, *
O heavens and all waters above the heavens.
Sun and moon and stars of the sky, glorify the Lord, *
praise him and highly exalt him for ever.
Glorify the Lord, every shower of rain and fall of dew, *
all winds and fire and heat.
Winter and Summer, glorify the Lord, *
praise him and highly exalt him for ever.
Glorify the Lord, O chill and cold, *
drops of dew and flakes of snow.
Frost and cold, ice and sleet, glorify the Lord, *
praise him and highly exalt him for ever.
Glorify the Lord, O nights and days, *
O shining light and enfolding dark.
Storm clouds and thunderbolts, glorify the Lord, *
praise him and highly exalt him for ever.
No mention of wildfire & smoke and... but oh well. God gets the idea, I'm sure.

Off I go.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Incarnate it. For God's sake....

The folks at the Daily Office report that Florence Nightingale, whom we remember today, is the most hit post --year 'round --"the most popular, sought-after saint."

Huh. Fascinating.... A decent biography of her is here.

In all our medical shtuff and trials in this house, it has been the nurses who are, indeed the shining lights. They are the ones who relieve, who sate, who care. They are the ones who directly advise the doctors....

But very few care for the inner work that comes with being ill. --there is a difference between cured and healed. Cured is where the disease is stabilized or overcome. Healed is that place where no matter the course of the disease, the person is made whole and is at peace.

Having suffered broken bones, major surgeries, cancer --there is never a perfect cure.... There is never going back.... but there is always healing...

And there is a someone I always remember --someone who set me on the path to healing. She mopped and the floor and emptied the trash in the hospital --and when I was devastated at the loss of a pregnancy (ectopic --outside the uterus --so it was life-threatening and required immediate hip-to-hip cut-me-open major surgery), she is the one who came in, found me crying in to my pillow in grief and pain --she took OFF her gloves, brushed my hair off my neck and face and found me the tissues I so desperately needed. She didn't comfort me with words of false hope --like, you're young, you'll have another, or --your babe is in a better place... that kind of horrific stuff. --She went right in to the pain and said --You cry honey --you go ahead and cry. Don't you be ashamed of crying --go ahead, lift up your face now, and let God see your beautiful tears. God blesses honest crying, remember?

Well... I knew it --esoterically, spiritually, intellectually.... But she gave my grief integrity --she allowed me to know grief personally --in my person... --she allowed me to bring grief and pain and death into the heart of the Incarnation.

At morning prayer (Mark 10:46-52)
They came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!"

Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, "Son of David, have mercy on me!"

Jesus stood still and said, "Call him here."

And they called the blind man, saying to him, "Take heart; get up, he is calling you." So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus.

Then Jesus said to him, "What do you want me to do for you?"

The blind man said to him, "My teacher, let me see again."

Jesus said to him, "Go; your faith has made you well." Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.
--we are called to get up in our grief, in our blindness and show our faces. We are called even in --no, especially in the worst circumstances to be blessed. Not just for a cure --we are called to be blessed in order that we might be healed.

Perhaps the witness of Florence Nightingale --who was moved to go in to the worst places and the most awful debilitating circumstances --was to the humanity of those who suffered. More than curing, she restored --she acknowledged and healed their humanity... She was a soul-nurse who offered healing. --and that is what people seek... far more than the right kind of faith, a proper recitation of the creed, the right kind of church --we seek to have our naked and broken humanity affirmed. To have our suffering acknowledged. To be given the courage to lift our faces from our pillows and have our tears be seen....

If you are grieving or are in pain today --answer the call --get up --lift up your face and let God see your beautiful grief, your tears. Remember this: Blessed are those who grieve, who mourn, who suffer.... Own that space, place. Incarnate it. For God's sake.


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Christ was not victorious over death --he loved her into new being

At morning prayer, remembering St. Clare: Collect of the Day: Clare, Abbess at Assisi, 1253
O God, whose blessed Son became poor that we through his poverty might be rich: Deliver us from an inordinate love of this world, that we, inspired by the devotion of your servant Clare, may serve you with singleness of heart, and attain to the riches of the age to come; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Wups --there it is... the inordinate love of this world.... you mean, like the inordinate (unordinary? disorderly? extraordinary?) love of this world like Jesus?! --can I just say --I despise the perpetuation of Platonic thought in our worship and prayer --the perfect world//our imperfect world --heaven//earth --the perfect soul//the sinful body --that kind of thing....

Platonic thought despises the Incarnation --the Kingdom that is right along-side us... the revelation of the H.O.L.Y in flesh and blood --in bread and wine --in the STUFF of this world....

Platonic thought negates the very holiness and good news that Jesus declares... --negates the love He has for the Whole World --negates that He is arisen and alive and at work in The World that he loves and for which he gives his life.

And, I believe it denies what St. Clare was really all about (and Francis for that matter) --because loving and following Jesus means loving this world first, and letting nothing distract you nor prevent you from loving this world first and totally --which means promising not to love some things exclusively.... or more than all the rest.

That's my story. I'm sticking to it (she sez, sorting through more books...).

I love this world --with great fear and trepidation... 'cuz loving this world sets one on the Way of the Cross --oh, yes it does.

From the Gospel this morning (Mark 10:32)
They were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them; they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid.
Yep. Those who followed were afraid.... Who wouldn't be, walking knowingly into the machinations and jaws of death.... They were wise to be afraid. And, yes, we all know that most finally ran --except those clustered at the foot of the cross --those who had nothing more to lose....

I occurs to me this morning, that Jesus loved even death --wooed her, drew her close, loved her and won her over to a new task... no longer the gate to loss, but the avenue to a changed life, a risen life beyond imagination.

Christ was not victorious over death --Christ did not destroy death... Christ loved even death into new being.... into the New Life....

That thought will take more than a day to chew on.

Hey God --it's margaret here. Thank you for the life of Clare, who with the help of her friend Francis did not love exclusively, but wholly. Help us all follow where you would lead --even in our fear, so that we may love the whole world, be love, do love, even in the worst circumstances --loving death herself into the unexpected, unknown, beyond hope kinda life you have prepared for us. What liberty. Indeed. Amen.

Peace out.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

looking for my walking shoes

...holding the head of the snake in her hand... eating from its mouth...  yowza Eve! ...the knowledge of good and evil....

In the news of the world... The riots in London break my heart... it is even worse that it took the life of a young man to expose the level of frustration of a group that suffer marginalization and poverty --perpetualized socially and systemically... Will the spring and now the summer of uprisings continue in to the winter of unrest? --and here, locally?

Is it any wonder that the gospels are choke-full of examples of economic justice...

At morning prayer (plucked from Mark 10:17-31)
Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!" And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, "Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God. ... But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first."
And, for the rich to merely give everything away only reverses the roles of rich/poor... and doesn't deal with the foundation of disparity.... nor the problem of how possessing wealth is so truly pornographic in that it gets twisted so that the wealth ends up owning us....

...owning us.... We continue to work through our stuff... and it is a huge mental and emotional task to lighten the load. H.U.G.E. We are still only working on books --yeah, we have a H.U.G.E. library.

...but it is time...

We have now finished posting all the books on religion --and have begun posting our history and art books. Our "store" link to our collections is in the column to the right, or here. This collection is about forty years in the making --through Joel's avid curiosity about anything and everything and my degrees in history and a graduate degree in museum studies (yeah --I was a museum curator)....

Culturally, I guess we call this 'down-sizing.' Businesses do it. People do it --you hear of folks moving from the big house to a smaller house 'now that the kids have moved out' --but what is spoken of less is the inner work that comes with it --And we --with a cultural imperative of 'growth' have few words for what it means...

Morning prayer, again... same gospel as above: Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, "You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me." When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.

Shock. Grief. There are some words --but unmeasured... they don't tell the whole story.... Treasure in heaven.... now, what to say about that!

And I am confident that the shock and grief of walking away from all one has is only the preparation for the shock and grief that one finds in following Jesus. Yeppa.... Right in to the middle of the garden --to the tree of the knowledge of life and death... of good and evil....

If words don't work --try metaphor ...hmmmm. The shock and grief are there --but more and more there is the glimmer of an uninterrupted joy --Joy. Hope. Mostly Joy, because who can hope for that which one cannot see --looking for my walking shoes... going right for the middle of the garden.... holding the head of the snake in my hand....

Perpetualized is not a word. Yet. There we are.... !!!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

O God of vengeance, show yourself....

The stock market is tanking.... (wonder where that slang comes from --tanking...) Fundamentals of the economy... what a crock. International legalized gambling is what it is. Gambling with some one else's well-being... financial bullies...

The yet-to-be-sorted and identified remains of the 30 dead from 'the war' arrive in Dover today. And all the talk is about how wonderful and patriotic is all is --that these folks were doing their duty and doing what they really wanted to do....

Pan the camera over to the riots in London... and, the root cause is not the death of a young man --he is the catalyst.... but the devastation of the fires and violence and looting....

How long, O Lord? How long?

At morning prayer (Psalm 94)
O LORD God of vengeance, *
O God of vengeance, show yourself.
Rise up, O Judge of the world; *
give the arrogant their just deserts.
How long shall the wicked, O LORD, *
how long shall the wicked triumph?
They bluster in their insolence; *
all evildoers are full of boasting.
They crush your people, O LORD, *
and afflict your chosen nation.
They murder the widow and the stranger *
and put the orphans to death.

Yet they say, "The LORD does not see, *
the God of Jacob takes no notice."

Consider well, you dullards among the people; *
when will you fools understand?
He that planted the ear, does he not hear? *
he that formed the eye, does he not see?
He who admonishes the nations, will he not punish? *
he who teaches all the world, has he no knowledge?

The LORD knows our human thoughts; *
how like a puff of wind they are.

Happy are they whom you instruct, O Lord! *
whom you teach out of your law;
To give them rest in evil days, *
until a pit is dug for the wicked.

For the LORD will not abandon his people, *
nor will he forsake his own.
For judgment will again be just, *
and all the true of heart will follow it.

Who rose up for me against the wicked? *
who took my part against the evildoers?
If the LORD had not come to my help, *
I should soon have dwelt in the land of silence.
As often as I said, "My foot has slipped," *
your love, O LORD, upheld me.

When many cares fill my mind, *
your consolations cheer my soul.

Can a corrupt tribunal have any part with you, *
one which frames evil into law?
They conspire against the life of the just *
and condemn the innocent to death.

But the LORD has become my stronghold, *
and my God the rock of my trust.
He will turn their wickedness back upon them
and destroy them in their own malice; *
the LORD our God will destroy them.
Ahhhhh.... nothing like a good psalm to get the soul to exhale --what a fine rant.... with an occasional intake of clean air --your love O LORD, upheld me... your consolations cheer me... --and then back to the rant.

And to think these were sung in the Temple --sung and danced, feet lifted in time, a lead with the shoulder... a physical offering of the grief and sometimes rage at injustice... a small poetic riot... the truth of the human condition.... Offered.

Hey God --it's margaret here. Are you truly the God of vengeance? Can't help it --I think not. I think this because the psalmist cries out for you to show yourself --and I walk in the Way that believes you have already done so --in a poor baby --in one who stands silent and falsely accused before the powers of this world.... and too often I forget to offer to you the work of the towns-people who went on about their work blindly when the sky erupted with angels to tell the outcasts the good news --too often I forget to offer to you the work of the city-dwellers who continued to milk the goats and scrub floors during your Passion.... not even crowding to the door for your holy parade to the place of the skull.... Redeem us Father. The whole world. On earth as it is in heaven. Cancel all our debts as we forgive those in our debt... feed us. oh, would that the people would understand the radical nature of that one prayer.... and, hey, Amen.

TANK: 1610s, "pool or lake for irrigation or drinking water," a word originally brought by the Portuguese from India, ultimately from Gujarati tankh "cistern, underground reservoir for water," Marathi tanken, or tanka "reservoir of water, tank." Perhaps from Sanskrit tadaga-m "pond, lake pool," and reinforced in later sense of "large artificial container for liquid" (1690) by Port. tanque"reservoir," from estancar "hold back a current of water," from V.L. *stanticare (see stanch). But others say the Port. word is the source of the Indian ones. Meaning "fuel container" is recorded from 1902. Military use originated 1915, partly as a code word, partly because they looked like benzene tanks. They were first used in action at Pozieres ridge, on the Western Front, Sept. 15, 1916. Slang meaning "detention cell" is from 1912.

Monday, August 8, 2011

--salted with fire--

At morning prayer (Mark 9:50)

[Jesus said,]
"For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another."
What a strange nagging little line.... a move from talking about unquenchable fire and cutting off body parts to prevent being thrown into the fire eternally, to being salted with fire and salt is good.... and the difficult balance of being salty AND at peace with one another --when everyone knows being salty pushes someone else's buttons...

I am sure some word-ologist has parsed this bit o'scripture and found redaction and reduction and all that stuff... the authors leaving these little phrases like icons to remember all that was not formally recorded...

Like --I mean, a word icon --all one has to do is say Martin Luther King--I have a dream --and a whole host of images and events can be recalled, past and present. That kind of icon.

I am confident that 'everyone will be salted with fire' and 'have salt in yourselves' were icons --recalling people, events, circumstances that we no longer connect with scripture.

Mostly because we strive to domesticate and tame --make scripture and what it points to safe --and the borderland of the holy where scripture should lead us is never domesticated, tame nor safe... Evah.

Last night I had a dream --an awful dream that woke me up. A bad guy had been pursuing me and another person --and I couldn't figure out why --until the other person (whom I did not know by the way) finally relinquished all her treasure to the bad guy in order to obtain her liberty, and I had made arrangements to do the same... but the moment the bad guy had all her treasure he shot her dead. So, I picked up the round metal picnic table in the garden and used it as a shield. Clever me. Holding it with one hand by the umbrella hole... And with the other hand was trying to phone Joel and tell him to call for help and to get to a safe place and to hide the treasure --and what woke me up was the PingPing of the bullets hitting the table --ricocheting all around. Dangerously.

...for where your treasure is.... dreams and undomesticated, unsafe holiness --the borderlands. we decide what to keep, what to sell, what to share.... --a time salted with fire. Trying to remember salty is good....

There we are.

Hey God. I am holding in prayer our dear Brother David's prayers of the heart; our walking sister in V; D and her husband M; the little one from the parish who is having a sad time with my leaving and so is bringing me fancy colorful pictures --of me and the cross --yowza right to the heart with that one; for the acolytes we met at the church we went to yesterday --who served with such solemn rigor; for Joel and I as we sort through and choose our treasure... for all those who seek to know you and remember you through salty icons... and for all that stuff which must remain unsaid. You know. Amen.

Peace out. And where is your treasure today?

Image here.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Transfiguration: Practicing dying. Offering it. Without losing heart.

We are undertaking the biggest Sell-off of Books. Evah.

But, of course --while we are sorting between keep, sell on-line and yardsale books, we have to read them... right. It's what book people do. Joel read me this:
In every Christian life—not least that of the priest, the art of living, the ars vivendi the art of making a radically new start—cannot be practiced without an art of dying the ars moriendi.

Is not life through death the very paradox of the Christian life? This art of dying is by no means an expression of resignation or despair but a constitutive element in the ars vivendi, without which neither can be living signs of the Spirit, since it is through this that what is genuinely new emerges and grows, teaching us to make room for new initiatives and institutions of the Spirit.

People who have been willing to respond to God in such a dying and rising way of living reflects its fruits in their immense humanity in which they are so much at ease with themselves and others, in the strong and confident faith that radiates from them. ‘It is doubtful,’ writes Michael Ramsey, ‘if any of us can do anything at all until we have been very much hurt, and until our hearts have been very much broken.’

(Towards a Renewed Priesthood, Arthur Middleton, Gracewing Pub., p65)
Yeah. I know. It is so contrary to everything we are taught in school and work... but it is the essence of putting aside the ego, the self --life through death to self.... The Buddha teaches it. Islam knows and understands. Judaism exercises it in the care of the marginalized, and neighbor. It is the example of Jesus.

--and such teaching in the hands of the powerful leads to oppression and violence --your heart and life must be broken for my sake, they say.... but that doesn't make it less true --only good which has been twisted --which is the essence of pornography.

But being willing to be hurt, broken --being willing to die to self takes a depth and breadth of person... and it is all to easy to see that person as weak, indecisive, lacking leadership --or worse yet --having a martyr or victim syndrome...

It is extremely difficult to discern... and that is why Ramsey is right and what must be true most often --we must be willing to be hurt and have our hearts be very much broken....

Such is the risk and cost of discernment. And when one discerns that the motives are oppression one must act in a manner that leads to abundant life. And when one discerns that something else is afoot --one must practice the art of dying....

At morning prayer (2 Corinthians 4:1-2)
Therefore, since it is by God's mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart. We have renounced the shameful things that one hides; we refuse to practice cunning or to falsify God's word.
As to the Transfiguration, which we are called to remember today --I can only think that when there is clarity, there is radical clearness --no obstruction to light... and clarity always seems to happen at those mountain-top experiences... just sayin'.

In the meantime --personal and up close, my most recent experience of a broken heart is and still is and will be profound. My heart is broken. Striving for a radical new start --but not too soon, but sooner rather than later. Practicing dying. Offering it. Without losing heart. Without hiding it....

Collect of the Day: O God, who on the holy mount revealed to chosen witnesses your well-beloved Son, wonderfully transfigured, in raiment white and glistening: Mercifully grant that we, being delivered from the disquietude of this world, may by faith behold the King in his beauty; who with you, O Father, and you, O Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

My collect: Hey God, if we look at you in the face, we die. Because our self is obliterated in/by/with/through you. Just the way it is --we know it. Help us remember to seek the still point in the center of this wild life, so that we may behold your beauty even now. And practice that dying to self as best as we are able until we are called to be hid with Christ in you. Amen.

Oh --and, wanna buy a book? Go to Joel's Collection. We have only about 300 books listed so far... and mostly just our religious collection. History and art will follow next week. We are underselling the lowest price available --so, yeah --deals run wild folks. If for no other reason --get to know us/me better by seeing what we've read! Buy a book for a friend.

Peace out.

Friday, August 5, 2011

--some days that's the best any of us can do...

At morning prayer (ending with Mark 9:29)
When Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, "You spirit that keeps this boy from speaking and hearing, I command you, come out of him, and never enter him again!" After crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, "He is dead."

But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he was able to stand. When he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, "Why could we not cast it out?" He said to them, "This kind can come out only through prayer."
Which, I guess, implies that the disciples were not praying....

It is so easy to become distracted --involved in the foaming, convulsing body before us... --so easy to become distracted by the crowd and its comments and feelings... --so easy to become distracted by our own work... --that we forget to be centered in prayer... --focused.

Hey God --it's margaret here --you know the prayers of my heart without my having to speak them, before I can even put words to them... you also know it is best when I put words to the prayers of my heart --when I speak them... because naming was one of the first tasks you set us to do. Help me, today, sort through the rummage sale in my heart, and name those things I must keep, and pray for those things I am able to name; cast out those spirits which inhabit and do not lead to life in you; and help me focus clearly --and if not clearly at least wholly in offering all to you in prayer.

Because, dude --dudette, whatever, some days that's the best any of us can do... Amen.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

questioning what this rising from the dead could mean

We went to the store yesterday to buy a cell phone --one of the cheap pay-as-you-go packages, so that no matter where we are we have a number to take with us. We hadn't purchased a phone in about seven years, so it was time.

Anyway, the young man who waited on us was good --very good. We got talking --he has great plans to be self-employed and be his own boss and not take orders from anyone. That sounded like the bravado of youth --initially. But then he went on a rant on the history of presidents since Roosevelt that had destroyed this great country --most especially the one in charge now --wanting to give his hard-earned money to those who didn't want to work...

When he finally started in on wanting to close the borders so that "Americans" would have jobs, I said, but we would have nothing to eat! He said, well we could import enough food --and I said, no-- what I meant was there would be no one to pick our own harvest! He said, there are plenty of Americans who could do that work. And I said, really? Work 14 hour days for less than minimum wage and live in shacks without plumbing and sleep on the floor --and have to work in heat among pesticides and biting insects and snakes and all that?! --for months at a time?

He said, Sure, they would. I said --but, would YOU?!

He responded some rant about how he used to....

I shut up --I had said enough... --it was hopeless.

How does someone --not yet more than twenty-five years old --obviously smart --get so rigid --get so entrenched --get so Tea Partied out the ying-yang?

And what a boring existence --not to awaken to question and examine one's own 'stuff' on a daily basis... and then I pitied him --it will be a hard fall for him... and he will fall... probably only in to bitterness....

At morning prayer (Mark 9:9-10)
As they were coming down the mountain, he [Jesus] ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead could mean.
We are gifted to question everything --anything. Even questioning what this rising from the dead could mean. Resurrection is not a uniquely Christian profession --the Sadducees professed resurrection of the dead --it is found in other faith traditions throughout human history. What is so weird about Christian resurrection is that we do not profess resurrection of the individual except in the Body of Christ --our only and eternal source of life. One life. One death. One resurrection. We become who we are through baptism.... our true Self.

The young Tea Party man in the cell phone store also tried to instruct us on cell phones --the SMS card --Since you are a minister, let me explain it this way, he said. The phone itself is like the body and the SMS is the soul. You can take the SMS card out --the soul out, throw the phone --the body away, and the essence of the phone will still be present and re-usable. Like the soul.

Joel and I didn't even have to look at each other. I said, Well, that's very platonic, very Greek, very dualistic --and certainly not very Christian, because in the Incarnation, there is no soul without the body --the two are inseparable... and it is only in the flesh that we shall see God.

And Joel said, at the instant I finished --I sure am damn glad I don't make love to a soul. What fun would that be?

Poor young man... he couldn't keep a poker-face through that one.... shock, humor, shock again. Never heard a minister say something like that before.... heheheheh.... we do our best to plant seeds when and where we are able....

We did leave the store with a phone --apparently with a separable soul in it.... wondering what the young man might say about the battery....

And today, I will be questioning some more what this rising from the dead could mean.... it's what disciples do....

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

...when I write, I die....

Going through boxes, making decisions... --found some of my writing.... something I wrote to Joel about a decade ago... --but is even more true now....
My dearest and best beloved,

This morning when you kissed me to tell me how much you love me, I felt in you something larger than has been there before; a compassion and desire, a depth of soul that begun on inspiration has taken the magnitude of a growing storm, one of those storms that reminds trees they are trees without demolishing them.

I am struck by your power. I wish to consume you, to have you enter me and feed me. I want to harness you to me so that I won't miss out on a minute of you.

Last night I asked you, what will we do when we can't touch each other any more. You know what I meant. The entertainment of touch is merely the beginning. Touch IS the beginning of all life, as God molded Adam with his hands. Shall we become like human ants, unperturbed by gravity, and be able to touch beyond the stars? such is the love I feel for you.

It is the ordinary that becomes holy. Touch, taste, sight, sound, these in themselves common, but avenues to that which dwells in holiness. How else am I to know your love but by these.

In these days when my body turns from youth to age, the privilege of marking time might escape me, except for your love. Yes, privilege, because there is no better way for me to imagine the eternal except through the broken avenues that without grace would seem a conspiracy, a slow deployment of death itself. But I have looked at even my own death through your eyes and seen only great love, and again and hence the glory.

This meadow grows great boulders. Not the pastoral landscape of my adolescent dreams with verdant lawns and lacy trees, but one that with strength and reckless beauty endure fire, drought, and constancy through the seasons.

To possess your love --this meadow, would be to watch it die. Therefore consume me with your touch and in ordinary time let us surrender to the storm, the drought, the season; not in faith, hope and charity --that would be like waiting for our boulders to grow. But in the holiness of ordinariness. And when touch taste, sight and sound dissipate, I shall know one thing fully; I have known the greatest love, and that is thee.

...needs work. But it is a beginning. The poem that grew out of it is what it is:
this meadow grows
clusters of granite boulders
tree-ridden hills roll in

yes, I might touch you with my hand
but that is the grace of this present moment.
without this moment
what there is between us is that meadow
a strange garden
the man and woman
leap from the earth and roll back their eyes of stone
Needs work too --but I read these to Joel last night. He had confessed his anger and despair --anger --that through no fault of his own, he has to sell his house, his home, he is forced to sacrifice all... --and despair that such emanated in, by, with and through the Church.... I read them to him to remind him of our center --where we work from... --our ground in being...

Shift the focus, I said... what we do, we do in love. Always. All ways. Not in faith, hope and charity. But in love.

What came out of our conversation last night was his compelling wish for me to write... I said, when I write I die --I will have to hole myself up and you can't watch or know... as I pour myself out... there will be nothing left of me as I write.... He said, you must write.

So. Thinking about it.... Work to find work... work to sell the house and the stuff we won't carry with us in our vagabond love life... and die to write. No small order....

At morning prayer (beginning at Mark 8:34)
Jesus called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life?
...really? ...really.

Peace out.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

if people were like trees....

At prayer in the morning (beginning at Mark 8:22)
They came to Bethsaida. Some people brought a blind man to Jesus and begged him to touch him.

He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village; and when he had put saliva on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, "Can you see anything?"

And the man looked up and said, "I can see people, but they look like trees, walking."

Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he looked intently and his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.
A two-part healing. Yeah --most often, healing and forgiving are a process. And it is best not to rush the process, because it is a creative process. A work of art. --that requires a lot of write-overs, re-dos, re-thinking to get to full expression. --requires a lot of saliva, if you know what I mean....

I can see people, but they look like trees, walking... . Frankly, I think that is quite wonderful. Our bark, obvious and perfectly suited to the environment --our leaves adapted --root systems exposed and made known --also adaptive. --and, trees don't lie, do they?

If I were a tree... I would hope that my limbs were as beautiful naked as full... that the birds of the air called me home and nests were safe and sound... that my hollows were filled with life... that my roots could navigate rock and loam alike... that I would not be the solitary out standing in a field or in the crevice of a cliff, but touch limb to limb....

If I were a tree, I would even hope the snake might find refuge from the striking heels, and that if my fruit were worthy of jealous whispers and deceit, it be found succulent enough and truly lead to the understanding of life and death...

If I were a tree... I might not want to walk... but only to move the necessary enough, even in the fiercest wind or heavy snow....

If I were a tree, when at last I fell, that I could give back as much as I had needed, for the generations to come....

So --hey God, something about trees... if people were like trees... would the Great Lie run rampant in our midst? Just wondering....

Peace out.
Image, here.