Monday, April 30, 2012

social order and conduct codes from the mouth and mind of God

At prayer this morning (Colossians 3:18-4:6)
Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.  
Husbands, love your wives and never treat them harshly.  
Children, obey your parents in everything, for this is your acceptable duty in the Lord. 
Fathers, do not provoke your children, or they may lose heart.  
Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything, not only while being watched and in order to please them, but wholeheartedly, fearing the Lord. Whatever your task, put yourselves into it, as done for the Lord and not for your masters, since you know that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward; you serve the Lord Christ. For the wrongdoer will be paid back for whatever wrong has been done, and there is no partiality.  
Masters, treat your slaves justly and fairly, for you know that you also have a Master in heaven.  
Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving. 
At the same time pray for us as well that God will open to us a door for the word, that we may declare the mystery of Christ, for which I am in prison, so that I may reveal it clearly, as I should.  
Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the time.  
Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone.
Okay --okay. I know.... That opening line is like fingernails across the chalk board, heh? And it doesn't get much better throughout. It's like saying --all you shmucks, know your place!!! --and all the intellectual gymnastics about how radical Paul is being by making statements that husbands  must love their wives and never threat them harshly --and all that stuff  --well, it just doesn't undo the spiritual, mental, emotional and physical misogynistic violence and damage that has been done in the Name of God.

It. Just. Doesn't.

And let's not even go deeper in to the realities that this bit o' scripture (and others like it) has been used to perpetuate slavery and racism, and is part of the mix of the root causes of continued persecution of our LGBTQ brethren.

This is not part of a rule book of social order  and conduct codes from the mouth and mind of God. This is only Paul. Trying to do his best. Probably in a difficult situation --I mean, written from prison and all.... and, when I am on my best game, I can see through the pain the words have caused and cause me to his intent --there is only love, so love one another....

And, I can say --this is only Paul, because there is plenty of evidence that when men tried to lord it over the women, Jesus tells 'em to back off, cut it out, think... --and glorifies the offering of the women --hair, ointment, challenges to the status quo.

But what really struck me today is this --and it might be a challenge for me to say this and get my point across, but I'll try ---it is the weight and number of the words themselves. Notice how most of Paul's social order and conduct codes are one-liners --except for the part about slaves.... it is so heavily weighted, so many words trying to convince, cajole, explain...

It is as though Paul is trying to convince himself --he has to keep working at it because he is having real trouble here... with the slavery bit.... You know the old saying, Thou dost protest too loudly.

Yeah Paul. The number of words you throw at it all doesn't change it... the oppression, the violence, the paternalism....

And I keep thinking --what is the church blathering on about --where is it throwing the weight of words, trying to convince itself.... Justice? Equality? Gospel imperatives? Budget imperatives? Restructuring?

And I keep thinking --what do I blather on about --throwing my words, trying to convince myself....

--when what I should be doing is focusing more on living --the doing --the being.... not necessarily in that order.

--and I keep thinking that in so many ways, the presence of a white priest on this Reservation is so wrong, and a perpetuation of the systems and signs of oppression that were enabled by the church, and in which it actively participated....

--and, then, again....

So, --it is not that I am 'stuck' or 'shamed' --it is different from that.... but a growing sense and awareness that the intense culture 'shock' (for lack of a better term) is growing less intense... and yet the deep knowledge of this place and this time is still like a precipice before me --and how wonderful it all is, because it has brought a whole new level of throwing my self-reliance out the door --and a new sense of awe and --for lack of a better term --trust in God... and then remembering, of course, that any of what I do or feel or whatever is not for my own sake but for the sake of the people I serve --and then realizing that this trust is how they mostly get along anyway....

--and self-awareness is a tap root for healthy ministry....

So... I am grateful to Paul for his words which I hate because they have served as a reminder to me of all that I assume and all that I do and all that....

--and I think I shall pick up sticks and mow the lawn today --yes, in that order, after I deal with the dreaded roof/insurance/ tangle/ web that has been woven....


heheheheheheh --spell check wants me to change Colossians to collisions, collusion or collations. Heheheheheheheh!

Peace out.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Time to dance

At prayer this morning, the New Covenant (from Col. 3, ending with verse 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.

Whoomp --there it is... if one ever has any doubt that a Christian rule of life is so very different from the rules, obligations and moral imperatives of the 10 Commandments, well --there it is.

Not that the Big Ten aren't 'good' --just is, think about it, they aren't Christian!!!!

Whoomp --there it is.

Played hard yesterday. Got a good result from the surgeon and I'm good to go --the rocks are out --he said it was like a gravel pit, too many stones to count. And, two months ago when the intense pain set in and I spent a great deal of time with my hand pressed to my side, I found a tumor... and, well --that is never good, but it is especially alarming as a cancer survivor. And, well, the little sucker was BENIGN!!!! So, I guess you all are stuck with me until otherwise notified!

Whoomp --there it is!

Time to do a little dance --well yes, I think there's time to dance before I go to work --meetings today with all the congregations --well, those that CAN get out --there's been so much rain I cannot imagine what the back roads are like....

Time to dance because it's Easter, we have been set free, given a New Covenant and and and

Whoomp --there it is!
Peace out!

Heheheheheh --spell check want to change 'whoomp' to whoop, wimp, whom, whop or chomp.... --there it is!

Friday, April 27, 2012

elemental spirits of the universe

We don't have TV --we could have it, but it is so expensive, we decided it wasn't worth it. The thing I really miss is the weather reports --specifically the in-motion radar and satellite versions... I am a weather junkie, and our new home has been providing all kinds of new weather learning opportunities --things and patterns I have never experienced or seen. The on-line resources for weather are okay, but not the same as watching the weather reports, alerts and warnings on TV... and through much of the Reservation, the radio reports are music and very local --weather not included... if you like weather reports or have depended upon them at any point, you know what I mean.

I watched the PBS special on tornadoes on-line --and the computer models were So. Very. Cool. Watching the model of air flow bumped up over the mountains and crashing down across the plains, met by air coming from the south or north --it's really, really cool.

So, it's been a two-fold adventure --learning how to read the signs of what's going on  --and spending the night in a hotel and watching the weather!!!!! Which is what I got to wake up to this morning!!! --yeah, we're in a hotel in Rapid... post operative stuff, and we added a few hours in town for sheer fun.

Imagine that! --which included (for me) watching the weather on TV....

Silly me. Silly, silly me.

So, hear I sit, saying my prayers, watching the weather on TV and out the window (it's raining --gently, clouds moving from the south) --and loving it.

--and this bit o' scripture made me want to fly:

At prayer this morning (from Col. 8)
--when you were buried with him in baptism, you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.

And when you were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive together with him, when he forgave us all our trespasses, erasing the record that stood against us with its legal demands.

He set this aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in it.

Therefore do not let anyone condemn you in matters of food and drink or of observing festivals, new moons, or sabbaths. These are only a shadow of what is to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.

Do not let anyone disqualify you, insisting on self-abasement and worship of angels, dwelling on visions, puffed up without cause by a human way of thinking, and not holding fast to the head, from whom the whole body, nourished and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows with a growth that is from God.

If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the universe, why do you live as if you still belonged to the world? Why do you submit to regulations, “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch”? All these regulations refer to things that perish with use; they are simply human commands and teachings.

Dang that's glorious --oh sing my soul for the salvation given at such great cost to God's self but free to God's beloved.... oh wait, is the weather --the movement of wind and rain, heat and all that an 'elemental spirit' of the universe? If so, I am not dead to it....

Oh well....

Hey God, it's margaret --I pray for S,D,S,C,D --all those who suffer because of the weather.... --and I am so very grateful. For everything. Amen.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

O church. We should be poor.

Joel gave me the piece of paper that was given him when I was checked out of the hospital... he had stuck it in his book. And forgotten it. It tells me that I was not supposed to shower for 24 hours after surgery --that part I kinda remembered, and followed the instructions. Then the next part says, remove dressing in 48 hours....


The last time I had surgery, a special tape was used that would come off at the appropriate time... I thought that this tape used at this surgery would kinda be like that, so I was waiting for it to loosen appropriately... but it hasn't. Looks like I got some work to do today... cuz this stuff ain't coming off easy. Just in time... I see the doctor tomorrow.


And last night I watched the first two parts of the PBS special Money, Power and Wall Street on the economic crash.... No matter how much justice the church pushes for, as long as we own Wall Street, we will continue to be hypocrites, or worse. Yeah, worse... wanna keep talking about restructuring?

And Mr. Witty has informed us that there is a whole new art to chasing Rez Cats, especially the ones that get up on the roof of the house and make noise up there. And we had better learn soon to follow him when he so commands it, because it is our fault that he has not yet caught his cat. And he stands and talks at the door, trying so hard to sound like thunder, or something big and powerful... but, he doesn't. He. So. Doesn't. And it makes us laugh; and then he goes and sulks under the table.

And there is a huge moth loose in the house. I have tried to catch it in my hands to let it go outside, but I have not yet been able to do so... it is one of those with an oversized body, and bulked up shoulders --frat boys of the moth world --and it beats itself drunkenly against the windows and walls, tumbling to the floor and skittering across it. I cannot figure out how it got in --perhaps it made its cocoon in the basement last spring when they were fixing up this little house, and has now climbed the stairs looking for a way out.... but the house is tighter than a drum, and it will only be with our help that it will find its home....

And yesterday, after I delivered the cookies I had baked and saturated with prayer all the while, I drove through the neighborhood behind the house, and the old trailers I thought were abandoned and waiting to be towed to the dump had windows open and the cardboard removed to allow light and air in... and children moving dirt and playing with sticks and leaves between them. It was so horrific a shock, I wept and sang....

--of course, Mr. Witty catches big Rez Cats, and I sound like that when I sing.... but I know God heard my prayer.

At prayer this morning (Psalm 37:1-18)
Do not fret yourself because of evildoers; *
do not be jealous of those who do wrong.
For they shall soon wither like the grass, *
and like the green grass fade away. 
Put your trust in the LORD and do good; *
dwell in the land and feed on its riches.
Take delight in the LORD, *
and he shall give you your heart’s desire. 
Commit your way to the LORD and put your trust in him, *
and he will bring it to pass.
He will make your righteousness as clear as the light *
and your just dealing as the noonday. 
Be still before the LORD *
and wait patiently for him.
Do not fret yourself over the one who prospers, *
the one who succeeds in evil schemes. 
Refrain from anger, leave rage alone; *
do not fret yourself; it leads only to evil.
For evildoers shall be cut off, *
but those who wait upon the LORD shall possess the land. 
In a little while the wicked shall be no more; *
you shall search out their place, but they will not be there.
But the lowly shall possess the land; *
they will delight in abundance of peace. 
The wicked plot against the righteous *
and gnash at them with their teeth.
The Lord laughs at the wicked, *
because he sees that their day will come. 
The wicked draw their sword and bend their bow
to strike down the poor and needy, *
to slaughter those who are upright in their ways.
Their sword shall go through their own heart, *
and their bow shall be broken. 
The little that the righteous has *
is better than the great riches of the wicked.
For the power of the wicked shall be broken, *
but the LORD upholds the righteous.

'We are poor,' he said to us when I came here to interview. 'But not in any of the ways that really matter.'

O church. We should be poor.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

going beyond restructuring...

Can't help myself... there's a lot of verbiage happening on the House of Deputies/Bishops to General Convention email list serve and various other places about re-structuring the Church because the Church is dying....

--and it sure sounds like a familiar drum beat. If I said, de-regulate, de-fund and give back to the States and localities, strip bare, no structure here or there, no centralization here or there, no giving to a national or international body, all spending, all everything would be local... wouldn't it sound kinda like the Republican platform?

And that is exactly what it is.... Crush the structure, push back to Provinces and Dioceses and congregations decision making and control and allow all the decisions to happen locally, allow formation and etc. to happen at grass roots level etc. and the Church will then be free of dysfunctional structures that nobody knows what they do and why we have them and then we will all be free for Mission.

Bull pucky.

Our current system --our current structures aren't working because they are under the same duress as our government --polarization, --and polarization is alive and well because our cultures themselves are under great stress and change and reformation (interpersonal relationships, gender roles, how we make and spend money, our responsibilities to each other and the earth).

We don't need less structure; we need no structure (I'll come back to this thought) or at least structure that unites, connects, enables --and that terrible word, empowers.

Example. Word has it that clergy on the Reservations get overwhelmed with death and funerals. Looking at the service books for the last few years, I can see that might be true. There is at least one funeral per week, sometimes two or three. That is a lot for one person to handle. So, the thought is to create a position so that a priest will travel around and do funerals and relieve the local clergy and let them get on with being priests in their community etc....

And, I think that is all wrong. It clericalizes funerals and sets up a stranger to come in with a liturgical band-aid. It removes the most important work that needs to be done here --dealing with death and loss, takes from the hands of the people and pastor living here.

What should be done instead, perhaps, is to create a guild, or a bevy of deacons, or folks called to this particular ministry by the community and given (ordained--the old Tradition of hands on their heads and commissioned) this work to do.

And, this is what is happening here. It is cultural. It is contextual. And it is good. This is exactly the kind of structural shift that some are calling for. But what I also see happening is a lack of depth in the training --in the things that make our tasty and distinctive Christian and, yes, Anglican/Episcopalian approach to death present. Some things have become so contextualized that a touch-stone with what unites us is like a very dim star.

And I both applaud all these circumstances --the present morphing, the contextualization --and my fear and discomfort (which I am willing to own and keep before me for Oh So Many Reasons).

Back to the current melt-down in the church... those that are raising the loudest ruckus for de-centralization and de-regulation would probably be the least supportive of the changes and enculturation that is happening here... and, quite frankly, this work here would not happen were it not for our centralization and historical commitment to mission as in sending a priest to build congregations and serve/teach/be with the people funded by the greater church.

It's like a Catch-22.

What somebody needs to say aloud is that we are living in a great time of reformation, and that reformation has FINALLY struck the church broad-side. But what somebody needs to say aloud is that we need to be conscious of this reformation, and not do knee-jerk reactions (equivalent to the olde-style reformation of chopping some one's head off or burning them at the stake). Conscious.

As to structure --I don't see de-centralization and de-regulation working. It doesn't work. Look. At. Us. Remember.

And, yet, we MUST change. C.H.A.N.G.E.

I am caught in that place of knowing that the death of current church structures is an event that is coming. And of knowing that I will grieve that great death, for all kinds of reasons. And of knowing that my great mis-trust of institutions and institutionalization and institutionalism will cause me to have great hope in an unexpected future --but that hope will be broken. Because we are a broken people....

--and that my vision of what the Church could be is far too radical to hope for... and would be most closely modeled after AA --which requires that there be no structure at all, no buildings, no safe guards, no establishment, no leadership... one book, a rule of life --only the experience and acknowledgement of death and the hope of new life.... see below.

--and that vision is informed by wilderness experiences, the Gospel, a sensation of what the early church might have been like --before the so-called and well-fabled Constantinian Fall....

Today is the Day We Remember Saint Mark. It is not in readings for today, but I used this bit o' scripture in my own devotions because it is my favorite of that gospel:
And a voice came from heaven, "You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased." The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered to him. (Mark 1:11-13)

We are the Body of the beloved Son, members, all. When we know that, we will be driven into the wilderness. We will be with the wild beasts. We will have all we need and more than we want.

Amazing, that.

And, here, for those interested, the "structure" necessary for the church. Imagine reading these 12 Traditions morphed thusly:

1. Each member of the church is but a small part of a great whole. The church must continue to live or most of us will surely die. Hence our common welfare comes first. But individual welfare follows close afterward. 
3. Our membership ought to include all who suffer from sin. Hence we may refuse none who wish to be healed. Nor ought church membership ever depend upon money or conformity. Any two or three sinners gathered together may call themselves a church group, provided that, as a group, they have no other affiliation. 
6. Problems of money, property, and authority may easily divert us from our primary spiritual aim. We think, therefore, that any considerable property of genuine use to the church should be separately incorporated and managed, thus dividing the material from the spiritual. A church group, as such, should never go into business. Secondary aids to church, such as clubs or hospitals which require much property or administration, ought to be incorporated and so set apart that, if necessary, they can be freely discarded by the groups. Hence such facilities ought not to use the church name. Their management should be the sole responsibility of those people who financially support them. For clubs, church managers are usually preferred. But hospitals, as well as other places of recuperation, ought to be well outside church.—and medically supervised. While a church group may cooperate with anyone, such cooperation ought never go so far as affiliation or endorsement, actual or implied. A church group can bind itself to no one.

You get the drift. I've highlighted little bits below that make me sing:

Our A.A. experience has taught us that:

1. Each member of Alcoholics Anonymous is but a small part of a great whole. A.A. must continue to live or most of us will surely die. Hence our common welfare comes first. But individual welfare follows close afterward.

2. For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority—a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience.

3. Our membership ought to include all who suffer from alcoholism. Hence we may refuse none who wish to recover. Nor ought A.A. membership ever depend upon money or conformity. Any two or three alcoholics gathered together for sobriety may call themselves an A.A. group, provided that, as a group, they have no other affiliation.

4. With respect to its own affairs, each A.A. group should be responsible to no other authority than its own conscience. But when its plans concern the welfare of neighboring groups also, those groups ought to be consulted. And no group, regional committee, or individual should ever take any action that might greatly affect A.A. as a whole without conferring with the trustees of the General Service Board. On such issues our common welfare is paramount.

5. Each Alcoholics Anonymous group ought to be a spiritual entity having but one primary purpose—that of carrying its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.

6. Problems of money, property, and authority may easily divert us from our primary spiritual aim. We think, therefore, that any considerable property of genuine use to A.A. should be separately incorporated and managed, thus dividing the material from the spiritual. An A.A. group, as such, should never go into business. Secondary aids to A.A., such as clubs or hospitals which require much property or administration, ought to be incorporated and so set apart that, if necessary, they can be freely discarded by the groups. Hence such facilities ought not to use the A.A. name. Their management should be the sole responsibility of those people who financially support them. For clubs, A.A. managers are usually preferred. But hospitals, as well as other places of recuperation, ought to be well outside A.A.—and medically supervised. While an A.A. group may cooperate with anyone, such cooperation ought never go so far as affiliation or endorsement, actual or implied. An A.A. group can bind itself to no one.

7. The A.A. groups themselves ought to be fully supported by the voluntary contributions of their own members. We think that each group should soon achieve this ideal; that any public solicitation of funds using the name of Alcoholics Anonymous is highly dangerous, whether by groups, clubs, hospitals, or other outside agencies; that acceptance of large gifts from any source, or of contributions carrying any obligation whatever, is unwise. Then too, we view with much concern those A.A. treasuries which continue, beyond prudent reserves, to accumulate funds for no stated A.A. purpose. Experience has often warned us that nothing can so surely destroy our spiritual heritage as futile disputes over property, money, and authority.

8. Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever non-professional. We define professionalism as the occupation of counseling alcoholics for fees or hire. But we may employ alcoholics where they are going to perform those services for which we may otherwise have to engage nonalcoholics. Such special services may be well recompensed. But our usual A.A. "12 Step" work is never to be paid for.

9. Each A.A. group needs the least possible organization. Rotating leadership is the best. The small group may elect its secretary, the large group its rotating committee, and the groups of a large metropolitan area their central or intergroup committee, which often employs a full-time secretary. The trustees of the General Service Board are, in effect, our A.A. General Service Committee. They are the custodians of our A.A. Tradition and the receivers of voluntary A.A. contributions by which we maintain our A.A. General Service Office at New York. They are authorized by the groups to handle our over-all public relations and they guarantee the integrity of our principal newspaper, the A.A. Grapevine. All such representatives are to be guided in the spirit of service, for true leaders in A.A. are but trusted and experienced servants of the whole. They derive no real authority from their titles; they do not govern. Universal respect is the key to their usefulness.

10. No A.A. group or member should ever, in such a way as to implicate A.A., express any opinion on outside controversial issues—particularly those of politics, alcohol reform, or sectarian religion. The Alcoholics Anonymous groups oppose no one. Concerning such matters they can express no views whatever. [This one, in my opinion needs to be thought through --the gospel requires us to speak --or not (the two great Traditions --Jesus silent before Pilate vs. Jesus engaging Pilate).]

11. Our relations with the general public should be characterized by personal anonymity. We think A.A. ought to avoid sensational advertising. Our names and pictures as A.A. members ought not be broadcast, filmed, or publicly printed. Our public relations should be guided by the principle of attraction rather than promotion. There is never need to praise ourselves. We feel it better to let our friends recommend us.

12. And finally, we of Alcoholics Anonymous believe that the principle of anonymity has an immense spiritual significance. It reminds us that we are to place principles before personalities; that we are actually to practice a genuine humility. This to the end that our great blessings may never spoil us; that we shall forever live in thankful contemplation of Him who presides over us all.

The Twelve Steps could be used to model a Rule of Life:

-admitting that one cannot control one's addiction or compulsion (read SIN);
-recognizing a higher power that can give strength;
-examining past errors with the help of a sponsor (experienced member--God parent);
-making amends for these errors;
-learning to live a new life with a new code of behavior;
-helping others who suffer from the same addictions or compulsions.

Huh... funny. I think today is the anniversary of my ordination to the diaconate.... I don't remember... I'll post that up to anonymity, and get on with it!
Peace out!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

--do the little people do gardens?

The guys kept coming to the back fence and asking if I needed any help or had any work, as I walked around the back yard plotting a garden and attacking weeds. They laughed at my jokes about the weeds --something about a prairie and weeds.... This morning, it is overcast, even though it promises to be 84 degrees --about what it was yesterday, except yesterday it was so clear --and we are so close to heaven, we can see the star people even in the day.

Well, I can't. But some can. And the little people, too. I saw one of the little people --about three feet tall, stocky, broad, dark. He came and put his face in my face in one of my pain deliriums, sniffed about, looked at me closely, put his hands in the air around my head, said some things and then ran off.

The guys over the back fence speak openly of the little people. Every one does.

I wonder if the little people will plant things alongside what I plant, and take advantage of the care I intend for my garden... (huh --I wonder if they plant things at all...) --although we haven't figured out the water yet, and, as we are west of the River, we will need to water... at least, that's the word.

It will be an interesting adventure to garden here --alkaline water, unknown soil conditions (to me, anyway), unknown weather patterns, unknown "pests" and garden predators... and little people, and star people --and I will try not to plant things in straight lines or rows.... I will leave that to the folks with the big machines who tear and rip up the prairie and plant the things that will give every one hay fever....

--maybe I will just plant things with which I can adorn the altar....

At prayer this morning: For the Beauty of the Earth (morphed)
We give you thanks, most gracious God, for the beauty of earth and sky and sea; for the mountains, plains, valleys and rivers; for the songs of birds and the texture and color of flowers; for the food you bring forth from the earth, to make glad the heart of your people. We praise you for these good gifts, and pray that we may safeguard and steward them for the sake of all --the two-leggeds, four-leggeds, and all creatures seen and unseen. Grant that we may continue to grow in gratitude and wonder of your abundant creation, to the honor and glory of your Name, now and for ever. Amen.
Hey God, it's margaret --so, if the little people run across the yard and no one is there to see them, do they really exist? Yeah, I know... well, maybe.... Amen.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Great Sabbaths

Yesterday was beautiful.

After the wracking pain of Friday --I was just pacing and crying and poor Joel was asking if I wanted to go to the hospital and I could only respond with a guttural No and nothing made sense through the pain --and I had pain because the pain pills caused bodily congestion and my system was soooo puffed up and congested I knew I couldn't take any more stuff that would continue to congest it... and finally, by Saturday afternoon, things unclogged and I was like a balloon jetting around the room... and the pain became manageable... and I knew I had passed through the eye of the needle.

So, Sunday, we got up and Joel drove to do the eastern circuit of congregations, and he preached and presided at Black Foot and Promise, and the bread and wine were eagerly received and shared; we were all royally fed and pampered. And then we drove the next bit to White Horse by 3pm and I felt well enough to preside and preach --and we were spoiled with more holy food and good company.

And then we got back in the car, and Joel drove the road from White Horse to Green Grass where the road becomes paved again --but we drove slowly, with the windows down, and Mr. Witty stuck his head out and breathed deeply --feeding his inner wolf/coyote. As did I. And we saw so many fresh, still wet calves. Colts. The prairie dogs building their castles. The meadowlarks proclaiming their yellow-breasted verse from fence posts, calling forth the immense and pending green.

It was obvious the road had been impassable earlier in the week. We all live to the rhythm of our mother earth --but here, she rules, and doles out great sabbaths of snow and mud and heat and wind, and we must obey or perish.

But yesterday, she gave all her children the time to rejoice, to delight --to remember to laugh. To remember all those things that make life precious and savory. The sun touched us, and we remembered we had been too cold not so long ago, and that we would be too hot soon enough, but today... today was the perfect kiss.

When we got home, we made a plate --a sandwich, some potato salad, fresh fruit, for the guy that was drunkenly groping through our garbage can for something to eat. Joel took it out to him (--sometimes the guys are too embarrassed to receive help from a woman) and I heard Joel call to him by name. It made my love for him fresh --and well up in me, as green as the new grass. When he came in, he said, the rumor is there were two shootings in town today.


Who, how, why would someone miss/mess up the glory/beauty of today? Is spring herself not a promise? --a witness to our incarnate Hope? --or is it merely a fresh and elaborate shroud over the cross, which we keep lifting, filling the joy and hope and delight with our own fabricated despair and death?

At prayer this morning
Christ has been raised from the dead, *
the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.
For since by a man came death, *
by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead.
For as in Adam all die, *
so also in Christ shall all be made alive. Alleluia.
Life will reign. Love will overcome. Always. All ways. I have seen it. I know it.
So even at the grave we make our song: Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia.

Saturday, April 21, 2012


ooooooofffffff..... this recovery is a lot harder than I had anticipated. Hanging in there, slogging away... still fighting the food=pain rut my poor body has fallen in to. Looking forward to next week... if you know what I mean.

At prayer this morning... it just seems like a lot of words.
Oh well.

Hey God, it's margaret. Yeah --I know --This, too, shall pass. In the meantime, it sucks.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Home. Home.
The removal of the gall bladder was over and done with --still on gurney in the recovery room when another set of doctors and nurses and anesthesiologists come in and announced I needed a second little bit o' intervention --when they were said and done removing the gall bladder, they ex-rayed --it seemed as though there might be stones still caught in the little ducts and tubes --so they had to go down my throat this time to excavate and vacuum the ducts and tubes clean. Fortunately I was put out cold --again. Got back to our hotel room about 5pm yesterday and slept all night. I awoke this morning, and even though I was uncomfortable from the surgery, I knew I felt better already. We drove home --just got back --resting in my own bed. Can't wait to get some more sleep. Thank you all for the prayers. All is well.

At prayer (Psalm 18:32)
For who is God, but the LORD? *
who is the Rock, except our God?
 Dang.... I hope that wasn't The Rock they took outa me!!!

Oh well!
Peace out.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Going in.

Called Doctor's office yesterday to begin the process toward surgery. The Rapid ER had given me a referral. So I explained where I lived (the distance), what had happened (three times in the ER in as many weeks) and that the pain was escalating. Doctor's office said, well we need to do prelim work etc etc etc. I asked if they could use the labs etc etc etc from the Rapid ER. She said she would call back.

Well, usually, that means in a couple of days if you're lucky....

Guess I'm lucky. She called back yesterday afternoon. The Doctor reviewed the ER materials and has tentatively scheduled me for surgery tomorrow --so, I go in this afternoon and stay for surgery tomorrow. That's the plan, any way... unless God has other ideas, of course.... I am told it will be laparoscopic surgery, unless it gets too messy inside. Then they will have to cut. So, I pray it will be the tiny holes and the big air routine, cuz then I will be back in the saddle in a few days instead of weeks.

Scrambling to make arrangements to cover L's funeral... --sorry I am going to miss the introductions to the mission group coming from Michigan... dang it.

At prayer this morning (Psalm 5:3)
In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; *
early in the morning I make my appeal and watch for you.
Hey God, it's margaret. I mean the gall bladder is probably a good "Plan B" --but it just doesn't work for a lot of us. There we are. I pray for Deacon, L's family and friends, S,L,S,S's daughter,D,V,C,D, --and Joel my beloved, because sometimes it's harder to watch on the sidelines, if you know what I mean.  Off I go. Amen.

Monday, April 16, 2012

cookies in bed --it's all prayer.

Cookies in bed... stretched out, eyes closed, snuggled in close, surprised by the sleight of hand bearing the tasty tidbit... yes, Mr. Witty is just a little spoiled.... But, there's nothing better than being fed little cookies while in bed --hardly even having to lift the head.... yes?

Last Saturday, after morning prayers, during my bath, a swift moving impulse told me to quit praying for L and get my self there --I had visited with and given communion to L just last Monday --at the hospital. L's friends had called me. I had visited L again on Wednesday. L was entering that time fold of death between past, future and the present that stretches endlessly with each labored breath. I threw on my jeans and collar, told Joel I was going out (I was sooooo worried he would try to stop me--having just been in the ER myself... but he didn't), and went to the hospital.

L's room was crowded with family, arms and shoulders, leaning on one another, gathered, weeping or having just wept. I stood outside the door until the daughter saw me and beckoned to me to come in. Let Mother Margaret give her blessing, she said, make some room for her.

I stood by L's head, invited all who felt so moved to place their hands on the bed or on L in prayer, and I gave the ancient Blessing of the Senses, giving thanks to God for this mortal human flesh by/through/with which we learn to know divine love and to discern the unseen, giving the sign of the cross on L's forehead, ears, mouth, shoulders, hands, feet and finally heart. I asked L's ancestors to come and greet and carry L to that place where the Great Feast awaits us all, and told L that we will see her again on that day yet unknown...

And I stepped back from the bed. L took one more breath. And that was all.

All. In. All. It was finished.

At the hospital there is a lovely round room with a huge sky light that resembles the clustering of poles at the top of a tipi. The nurses took L there, with the family in procession. We had hours of prayers, censing with sage and sweet grass. The children played and ran or were called to be attentive during certain ceremony or prayers. One teenager asked her mother if she could go keep her hair appointment, and her mother said --we don't do our hair while we are in mourning. And I know the youngster felt the consequences of this death right down to her knees --a personal, intimate, knew knowledge. Unlike the children, she would help bear the weight of this death. All the way to the waiting hearse.

Saturday in Easter week. And yesterday, another Little Easter. Eucharist --sharing and giving Thanks --God's own self we consume... the humble foretaste of the Great Feast. We went to two congregations --one 17 miles back a dirt road. It has been raining, and I wasn't at all sure we would make it there or back out... the road was thick mud. Had to stop a couple of times, slip down the hills backwards and try again....

At prayer this morning (from 1 Samuel 2)
Only God is knowing and weighs all actions.
The bows of the mighty are broken,
but the weak are clothed in strength.
Those once full now labor for bread,
those who hungered now are well fed.
The childless woman has borne sevenfold,
while the mother of many is forlorn.
God destroys and brings to life, casts down and raises up;
gives wealth or takes it away, humbles and dignifies.
God raises the poor from the dust;
and lifts the needy from the ash heap
To make them sit with the rulers
and inherit a place of honor.
For the pillars of the earth are God’s
on which the whole earth is founded.
Hey God, it's margaret. Amen.

And now --to the insurance company for the roof --which despite our best efforts did leak --and to the other insurance company to arrange for surgery....

Such is life. It's all prayer....

(heheheheheh --spell check wants to spell 'tipi' as 'ti pi' --wha?!)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

random thoughts --the clocks are ticking and Mr. Witty has ticks

A fist full of thoughts...

Joel is reading Myth and Meaning by Claude Levi-Strauss and is reading aloud to me passages that excite him --about the differences between cultures having a tradition of writing and those that don't --between sensory/perceptive cultures and those that have other ways of reckoning. His thesis is that modern humans have lost the use of certain brain functions that are still utilized in oral cultures, or something like that. And, of course, thinking about that in terms of being in the midst of a culture that did not have an alphabet or written tradition until about 100 years ago....

--but the critical part of my brain is thinking --most folks didn't read until the 19th century --literacy rate was less than 10%, as I recall... of course, that means written stuff --being able to read other cultural signals is exactly what Levi-Strauss is thinking about.... You know, like being able to "read" stained glass windows and garner the story from them --being able to "read" wreaths on the door (omg --wreath codes in the 19th c. were elaborate --color, placement of ribbons etc...), being able to "read" clothes or whatever... yes, body language too.

So, in the end, we are not that far off from that juncture of which Levi-Strauss speaks.... if, indeed, such a juncture exists... because who measures literacy? --who?

And, so, running with Levi-Strauss again, I am thinking about 'broken' symbols in the church --broken, perhaps because folks are not attuned to 'reading' those types of symbols any more.... so the church worries about being out of step with culture... because the broad modern culture no longer understands the language we use in church.

--and how symbols can become idols.... and, oh, how often they are....

Flash in the brain --how in some of the very protestant ways, the Bible is put front and center on the altar --how in the more catholic ways, the Gospels are put there, but removed for the celebration of Holy Eucharist... and how Holy Eucharist has devolved in to private piety instead of community celebration.... which is the idol --scripture or Eucharist? What must we do to break these idols?

--and I'm thinking of the ER... and remembering older ERs and how much more public they were --with curtains separating areas, and how today there are separate rooms with doors that close and how lonely that is, and all there is to communicate is a button and some one will come, eventually --and about how when I received chemo, it was in a large room with large windows with a dozen other folks --and we watched out for each other, talked each other through the hard parts --called the nurse for each other --wept for each other --and today chemo is done is small individual rooms with no windows... and I wonder if that symbolizes a change in our culture....

And thinking that up here on the Reservation, everyone knew I was taken by ambulance to Rapid (as it is called, shorthand), and in the ambulance, the medical technician, a parishioner, prayed for me aloud as he tended me.... and how all that is really okay... even as public as it is... and wondering what we have lost in community by privacy rules and new symbols and other ways of communicating....

At prayer this morning (Isaiah 35:1-7, 10)
The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, *the desert shall rejoice and blossom;It shall blossom abundantly, *and rejoice with joy and singing.They shall see the glory of the Lord, *the majesty of our God.Strengthen the weary hands, *and make firm the feeble knees.Say to the anxious, “Be strong, do not fear! *Here is your God, coming with judgment to save you.”Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened, *and the ears of the deaf be unstopped.Then shall the lame leap like a deer, *and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.For waters shall break forth in the wilderness *and streams in the desert;The burning sand shall become a pool *and the thirsty ground, springs of water.The ransomed of God shall return with singing, *with everlasting joy upon their heads.Joy and gladness shall be theirs, *and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. 
Praise to the holy and undivided Trinity, one God: *as it was in the beginning, is now and will be forever. Amen.

--the words... they are all plural.... coming with judgment to save you... I wonder if that 'you' is plural too....

Speaking of signs... I picked a tick off Mr. Witty.... it must be spring....
--and, hoping I will make it through until Monday when I can arrange the doctorly things I need to do for this ol' bod...

--the ransomed of God... freed from the pawn shop we are, purchased with a great price.... oh, how medieval of me --how random am I today!

Off I go.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Oh --so that's what that feels like

So --yesterday was a day from hell --no doubt about it. The intense, searing, crippling pain returned at about 4am. As I was told it was nothing to worry about at the hospital on Tuesday (they told me I was constipated!), I tried to stick it out. By 5am, as I was screaming and throwing up, Joel took me to the hospital. The pain was such that my blood pressure was elevated to the extreme --and I guess all my blood vessels retreated in to my bones. They stuck me 13 times, looking for a way to get meds in me... to no avail. They even tried the veins in my feet! And the pain kept getting worse.

So, I guess about 11am they decided to transfer me to the hospital in Rapid City --by ambulance... 2-1/2 hourse at 85+mph... OMG. And a parishioner was the medical technician... it is a point of great humility that he held my head and stroked my face as I vomited and laid waste to the interior of the ambulance... and kept saying, You are so strong Margaret --a very strong woman. You are doing just fine...

And the hospital in Rapid City finally got an IV in me about 2 --took them 5 tries --by that time I was so exhausted by pain, and my mouth so dry and filled with dry vomit, I just wanted to die.

They got me in for another CAT scan and ultra-sound... I have a cluster of stones in my gall bladder --about a dozen little pups by the looks of it. But as there was no sign of infection, they could not keep me in the hospital, and they released me... at about 5pm.

Without a phone. Without transportation. Boom. Oh --so that's what that feels like. Dang.

So, I had researched some hotels earlier in the week --where Joel and I and Mr. Witty might make a retreat of it one day --and had found an old hotel downtown. Dog friendly etc. So I asked to be taken there --the Alex Johnson Hotel. --cheap by downtown standards. And just right --$49 bucks for the night. Better than the Motel 8 or something --yeppa.

So, I spent the night in a hotel, downtown, and charged a call to my room to let Joel know what I was doing and where I was... and he is coming to pick me up soon.

Guess surgery is on my horizon soon. couldn't be soon enough in my book... We'll see.

I am writing this on the public computer in the hotel lobby. Gotta go.
Can't wait to bury my face in Mr. Witty's neck and to kiss my lover.

Peace Out.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

--no words for it.... new horizon

The sun has moved so far in its rising so as to be nearly out of sight from my morning chair. Mr. Witty and I looked and looked for the sun this morning, curtain back, noses to the window... and finally found it --it is amazing to think that we still have months to go before it's zenith... --and the sun is so late already in its setting.

--and we have had so little rain or any sort of precipitation. The winds were so severe this weekend that we lost part of the roof in two places. Working on getting that fixed --dealing with the insurance company etc.... The insurance guy sez --we just put a new roof on not too long ago.... It's hard to be doing the same ol' thing over and over again to no avail --but when a breezy day has 35mph winds....

But, of course, now that there are two gaps in the roof, we are expecting heavy rains tomorrow....

And because I spent the day in the ER --yeah, my own body, in protest again (I'm okay --just that God-awful pain in my gut again), Joel had to go to Lakota class by himself and came home all excited --the word for 'cheese',  he sez --it best translates as 'hard milk' --but they had to make up a word for 'milk' because that too was not a word that they had --there was no concept of milk.... and french fries --the word is 'potato all cut up and fried on each side'....

Milk. French fries. And again, Sin.... no word, un-named.... My prime example of that in English --we have no word for a parent who has lost a child --a person who has lost a spouse is a widow or widower, a child who has lost parents is an orphan --but a parent who has lost a child --there is no name... no word. The reasons for not naming that circumstance are, of course, different than say, not naming milk or french fries... --but if anything is un-named, there is no place for it in our cultural context --kinda like out of sight, out of mind, un-named means it doesn't exist in so many ways....

I think we have the same trouble with the words 'sacrifice' and 'resurrection.' There is so much baggage around each word, and in the Christian concept, the meaning is not the pop meaning --nor the popular meaning... No wonder Paul struggled so much to put new meaning in to a word already in use...

At prayer this morning (1 Corinthians 15:30-41)
And why are we putting ourselves in danger every hour? I die every day! That is as certain, brothers and sisters, as my boasting of you – a boast that I make in Christ Jesus our Lord. If with merely human hopes I fought with wild animals at Ephesus, what would I have gained by it? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”  
Come to a sober and right mind, and sin no more; for some people have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.  
But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” Fool! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And as for what you sow, you do not sow the body that is to be, but a bare seed, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. Not all flesh is alike, but there is one flesh for human beings, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. There are both heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one thing, and that of the earthly is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; indeed, star differs from star in glory.
It is a new thing of which we speak --a new being in which we rejoice --a new life we live... we don't live the same old life, but a new life, a new body, a mantle of different flesh. Even now. Right now. With baptism behind us, we are dead and risen in that new life, new body, already.

Maybe we should make up a new word to say it better.
Because, after all, we are looking for a sun which is in a constant state of motion... and we shouldn't be looking out the same ol' window time after time... and expect to find things as they always were....

There we go.
Off I go.

Happy and Blessed Easter, all!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

no title

I thank God it's Easter Week.
And pretty soon, soon, pretty soon, I will raise my eyes from this empty tomb....
--that sounds like a line from a song....

Collect of the Day: Tuesday in Easter Week
O God, who by the glorious resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light: Grant that we, who have been raised with him, may abide in his presence and rejoice in the hope of eternal glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be dominion and praise for ever and ever. Amen.

Monday, April 9, 2012

getting there for the first time again

I know I baptized somewhere between thirty two and forty babies, children and adults between sundown on Saturday and Sunday afternoon in four of the eleven congregations I serve.... Today, I sort through the paperwork.... I know I baptized more folks than I got papers for. That is par for the course here....

Next week I will do more... and more the week after. More every week in Easter.

--and I also know what it is like to preside over chaos... !!! Blessed chaos! My vision of what a Vigil or a baptismal service should and could be is forever changed.

--and the Hebrew scriptures, imagery, references are so far removed... --and the constant Christian references to such... sigh.... I pray that in time I will have at least a pocketful of points of connections.... I mean, I am working in a place where Judeo-Christian cultural assumptions are foreign... and part of a conquering peoples' point of view.... There was no Lakota word for "sin" --no cultural understanding of "sin" --so how does one speak logically of the One Who Takes Away the Sin of the World ??!!!

Several of the congregations I serve do not have running water (yes, there are outhouses TBTG). Yesterday afternoon I was in such a place --I carry a portable altar and all the gear, but I had not carried a font! --so we used the lavabo bowl I had accidentally packed as the font (proof that there are no accidents?!). And we used a baptismal candle as the paschal candle.

And then we blessed the flowers folks had brought, and after the feast after the service (always food --so much food), they carried the flowers up to decorate the graves of those who have gone before us.

Another congregation that I could not get to yesterday held a sunrise Easter morning prayer type service in their cemetery.

At prayer this morning (Mark 16:1-8)
When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint Jesus. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had been saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?”  
When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed.  
But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.”  
So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.
Even though I have been to the empty tomb many times, it is as though I am getting there for the very first time --again.

And I am so very grateful.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Blessed Pascha!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

--burning the old Chrism

--and this is what we did with the old Chrism...

we burned the chrism in a small oil lamp while San Anselmo and the small eagle kept watch

Joel told me all about how the wicks to burn the oil in the Temple in Jerusalem were made from the under garments of the High Priest. I told him not to get any ideas....

And today, we start anew --with new oil --and unexpected life from the humble Temple of hewn rock in a garden, a tomb --the womb of eternity, from our own Mother Earth.

Tonight, we will baptize 
A. Bluecoat
J. Red Bear
T. Red Bear
K. Red Bear
J. Red Bear
S. Red Bear
K. Two Crow-Brown
A. Two Crow-Brown
L. Red Dog
Two, maybe three more from D's family
And another out at the church in Blackfoot whose name I do not yet know
And five more tomorrow at the church in Cherry Creek
And five more next week in Dupree and Thunder Butte.
And more by the Fourth Sunday in Easter.

At least 17 tonight....  More baptisms in a week than I have done or even witnessed in the last decade --maybe even two decades.

--unexpected life from the humble places of the Church....

Much work to do.
Off I go.

At prayer this morning (Romans 6:3-11) 
Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For whoever has died is freed from sin. But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. The death he died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Amen! (Alleluia!!!)

Friday, April 6, 2012

Good Friday --and it IS good

For some reason, today's services are gonna feel more like a funeral than a lament for forgiveness. When I reviewed the service yesterday in preparation, I was struck at how similar it is to the wakes/funerals here --readings, prayers, readings, prayers (--and prayers are also songs). 

Lakh├│ta Prayer 
Grandfather Great Spirit
All over the world the faces of living ones are alike.

With tenderness they have come up out of the ground.  
Look upon your children that they may face the winds
and walk the good road to the Day of Quiet.

Grandfather Great Spirit
Fill us with the Light.  
Give us the strength to understand, and the eyes to see.  
Teach us to walk the soft Earth as relatives to all that live.

Wakan Tanka unshimala ye wani kta ca lecamon
Great Spirit, have pity on me. I want to live, that's why I am doing this.

Please forgive me if I have erred or insulted in posting these songs here. I hardly have words of my own on this holy day, and these good words sung to The Creator have done much to encourage and uplift me while I now live and work among the people of the Cheyenne River Reservation. Pilamayaye.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

--we get fed and washed --whooooohooooo!!!!

From the lectionary for the Eucharist today (from John 13)
And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him.
 He even washed the feet of Judas...
So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.
 In meeting with the Lay Readers to plan tonight's service, they said they had only washed each other's feet for about three years now --that at first, nobody came up, but last year almost everyone did. And, yes, they did share in washing the feet before, but last year the Bishop was here and he felt it was really important for them to know he was their servant, so he washed every one's feet. So, I said that this year, I would follow the Bishop's example, but make the invitation clear that if any one wanted to join me in washing feet, they most certainly could.

Tonight's service is one of my favorites--- always has been. Especially with children. Lotsa water. Put flower petals in the water --scent it up --get oh so very wet --play in the water. Most grown ups are so very pious and uptight....

I hope every body gets in the water tonight... get wet --and be changed, cuz God's gonna trouble that water --tie a towel and kneel in front of us all....

--a blessed Triduum to all --remember, what happens tonight is not separate from what happens tomorrow or the next day or the next --it's only ONE liturgy --the whole thing.

Blessings abound --we get fed and washed and redeemed!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

coyote corpses and piles of skulls and Holy Week

It was posted in the newspaper here --the Tribe has banned all outdoor fires. The fire danger is so high, combustion is just waiting to answer. I think I know what that means for a Vigil fire... but, I'll double check anyway. There have been fires all over --hills, acres blackened. One just outside Rapid City, came right over the hills, licked at the houses, and almost in to downtown.

Someone from a place far away was talking --relating to me how the landscape seemed so idyllic when they first arrived. Climbed to the top of a stack of hay bales, watched the stars --and discovered, quite unpleasantly and suddenly, all those things that inhabit the environment of hay stacks... including the coyotes which they imagined as dogs that lived on the fringes --but, discovering they are far more like wolves.

It is idyllic --certainly. But, not in any of the ways imagined....

The coyote is the State Animal. These three guys probably have a different feeling about that than others --they killed all these coyotes within 25 miles of Dupree --just 20 miles west of here. It is legal to stop alongside the road and shoot what you see from your car here --just so long as you don't obstruct traffic.

I am not a dreamy-eyed tree hugging coyote lover --I have a pretty good idea of what "the balance of nature" really means --but this image --I find it disgusting. The word "gloating" --among others, comes to mind. It is reminiscent of this image, and the other images like it:

I cannot, for a moment, think that 'bearing the cross' is solely a human occupation --although our unthoughtful and gross activity is certainly the root cause.

And it is so easy to look at the pictures above and see the sin... and condemn... but I am sure my own pile of thoughtless words, gestures, actions --said and done, things undone, would be equal if not greater in height and breadth than an industrial shed strung with coyote corpses or this pile of skulls....

--just sayin'.

And how is any of it redeemable --?
How can any of us survive the weight of this?

We can't.

Really. We can't.
We are dead in it.
Floating in corpses every time we drive a car, turn on the heat, open the fridge...

At prayer this morning:
God of all mercy,
we confess that we have sinned against you,
opposing your will in our lives.
We have denied your goodness in each other,
in ourselves, and in the world you have created.
We repent of the evil that enslaves us,
the evil we have done, and the evil done on our behalf.
--and there's the rub... 'repent' means doing a one-eighty --turning around and going the other direction... but we seem to go down the same path, over and over and over again.

And again.

How dare we ask for forgiveness, restoration, reconciliation...?
What are we?

(Hey --it's Holy Week. Getting ready for the Betrayal and Good Friday. I hope you are at least scratching the surface of the sin you know and live with. Seriously.)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

forgive even hope

Why should I go and look at a sacred mountain that someone desecrated --carved up --and put faces on it --faces of men who betrayed us? she said.

Yeah... why...? And pay for the privilege... I have hated the image of Mr. Rushmore since I was a kid --it was wrong to do that to a mountain.... much all else it signifies.

"In 1779, President George Washington was referred to as 'Hanodagonyas,' an Iroquois term meaning 'town destroyer,' for his attempt to quell Native American uprisings."

Thomas Jefferson's policies recommended removal of Native Americans from their lands, sending them west, forcing agriculture and dependence upon trade goods.

Theodore Roosevelt --well, ummmm --Roosevelt once said, "I don't go so far as to think that the only good Indians are dead Indians, but I believe nine out of ten are, and I shouldn't like to inquire too closely into the case of the tenth".

And Abraham Lincoln endorsed the mass execution of 38 Dakota holy men and political leaders.

The mountain that was carved up with these faces was called the Seven Grandfathers. A holy place. Taken illegally. Broken treaty after broken treaty.

And then more of the sacred ground is taken and called Custer State Park....

--and put the faces on the license plates for cars... make the faces the State logo....

--a holy place carved up with the faces of those who killed your grandfathers and then promoted to encourage tourism....

It's Holy Week. We are called to confess our sin so that we might proclaim forgiveness. Trouble is, most might say --well, I myself didn't do these things --we cannot judge history by today's standards --I am not responsible for what happened in the past....

Absolutely.... Trouble is, the affects of these actions are not history. They are alive and well. So many of our political and governmental systems are dependent upon their perpetuation --and if we do not actively work to right these wrongs, the sin IS ours.

And, actively working to right the wrongs creates new sin.... sigh.

Last night, I got home about 10:30 -long haul of a parishioner to the doctor... and just after I got home, Joel got sick (he's better this morning but was up all night re-making his bed), Mr. Witty needed to go out --and a young man came to the door very drunk and asking for food. And I got angry, and gave him all the potato salad we had in the fridge --and a fork and napkin to eat it with....

--and in the crush of all else, I suddenly remembered that I forgot some very important things I should have done this weekend.... and it all crashed in on me. Tired of sin. Tired of dealing with sin and the mess of sin.

A circle dance of sin.... Is there no end? The burden is intolerable... there is no health in us....

At prayer this morning (Mark 11:25) Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.

Forgive so that you may be forgiven.... Even that rubs wrong today. All wrong. That motive for forgiving just plain sucks. It's like being good so that you can get in to heaven....

--and that misses the point.... Forgiveness should have no agenda, no motive....

Jesus wept. Jesus got mad. Jesus got tired.
Jesus died.
For our sin. Because of our sin. Through our sin. By our sin.

I guess the trouble is, we want to arrive at Resurrection without the heavy lifting of the Cross...

---oh, how I muck about today... it's like cleaning a chicken coop filled with chickens....

Hey God, it's margaret. Let this circle dance of sin be broken. Yeah. I know. It's Holy Week. And like the women at the foot of the cross, we are to forgive even hope. It's a damn long haul to Easter.... Amen.

Monday, April 2, 2012

--not the usual head-bowed piety of Holy Week

It was 90 degrees here yesterday.... And huge winds and cool today.

The Cottonwood is dropping its flowers. The grass outside in the yard wants water. The white strips of alkali coat the areas where the streams and rivers have dried up. How can this be Spring?

And, we heard the story of the Entry in to Jerusalem. The children jumped and ran, waving palms, singing 'Hosanna!!' And the boys made the long palm leaves into swords. The elders folded the palms into crosses. We shared bread and wine. When the 'supper' at the altar was over, we heard the Passion story. Four folks stood and shared the reading. I sat with Deacon in the pews; she wept.

After the reading, there was great applause. Well done! That was good! And everyone stood and shook hands --not a grip, but the soft, powerless greeting of the People of the Great Plains --thank you, thank you for your prayers. Thank you for being here today. Wasn't the Reading good!

Not the usual head-bowed piety.
Applause for the Passion Story.
Applause for the People who read it for us.
Tears and applause.

And then a Feast. Always a Feast.

At prayer this morning (from the Eucharistic lectionary, John 12:1-11)
Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him.  
Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus' feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.  
But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, "Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?" (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.)  
Jesus said, "Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me."  
When the great crowd of the Jews learned that he was there, they came not only because of Jesus but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death as well, since it was on account of him that many of the Jews were deserting and were believing in Jesus.

It's like everybody here is Mary --pulling out the nard and "wasting" it. The wealth of the people is known by how much is given away --how much is spent on the events and ceremonies that mark our lives.  And there is rejoicing.

The Way of the Cross is lived, not known in some abstract or distant ceremonial theater --not known with the dimming of lights or music. Not something someone visits or tastes while otherwise occupied.


And it is celebrated. Applauded. Well done.

A book I was given to read --the lakota way, (yes, not capitalized) --the introduction ends this way:
Finally, thanks to Wakantanka for making me a Lakota, for giving me a road of difficulty rather than a road of ease. Wopila heca yelo.

--thank you for giving me a road of difficulty....

Oh. This is going to be the most interesting Holy Week of my life.