Sunday, September 30, 2012

G'wan. Go to church.

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.

One translation said, 'be a good preservative'....

Sheesh.... between cutting out your eyeballs, lopping off limbs and being salty... if ever there were a passage against biblical literalism, this would be one of 'em...

But, you do get it, right?

This isn't about being good-- it's about being righteous --and being humble at the same time... being fully who you are with a little humility worked in...

G'wan. Go to church. Not to be good, but to remember who you are.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

a humbling cosmology.

Collect of the Day: St. Michael and All Angels

Everlasting God, you have ordained and constituted in a wonderful order the ministries of angels and mortals: Mercifully grant that, as your holy angels always serve and worship you in heaven, so by your appointment they may help and defend us here on earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

I got a call during our late --whole wheat noodles with spinach and garlic dinner --come to the hospital, he's dying. Last rites.

I knew him. He would come to dinners at the church. Young. Good bones --I say that, because that is really how I met him... the cancer had taken much of him already before it took his life.

The room at first was filled only with the five aunties who called me. By the time I left several hours later, it was standing room only several deep around the bed and packed to the walls and out the door, children running up and down the halls of the hospital. Only the elderly sat. There was laughter and soda pop and cell phones. And when the breathing became particularly tough and congested, the room hushed... wondering.

And after my initial prayer with the aunties, I leaned against the wall by the door --praying silently. 100 Hail Mary prayers. 1,000 Trisagions. 10,000 pleas for mercy. The suffering was too great. The suffering of the aunties. The suffering of the children. The suffering of the dying one. Helpless. Enduring.

Ancestors --where are you? I thought. Saints and angels, help him. Hurry. Use your swords --cut the chords --set him free....

--only a man, I had prayed with the family before I left... he is only a man, but he is a man of your own making, and made in your image, the apple of your eye. Look down with mercy, Father, hear the prayers of your people, and help us to see in death the gates of heaven.... And then we prayed the Lord's Prayer together, softly....

I was exhausted when I arrived home --knowing it could be hours or days... took a shower and went to bed. I awoke in the middle of the night with a start knowing he had died. I should have put on my clothes and gone to be with the family... but what awakened me was only a thank you, and --you should be more patient.

Ahhh. Yes. Patience....


At prayer this morning (from Hebrews 1)
Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word.

When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

For to which of the angels did God ever say,
“You are my Son;
today I have begotten you”?

Or again,
“I will be his Father,
and he will be my Son”?


But to which of the angels has he ever said,
“Sit at my right hand
until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”?

Are not all angels spirits in the divine service, sent to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?
It is a humbling cosmology --the one that puts all of creation in service to humanity....

OMG --I just looked out the window --I think the roofers are here! Been waiting four months! Whooohooo!

--but I did have a flash --all of creation in service to humanity --which is why Christians are called To Serve...

--just thinkin'.
And have some phone calls to the family to make... comfort service and all....

Friday, September 28, 2012

that's why robins can hunt at night, and other dreams

Last night, about 9:30pm, I thought I saw leaves fluttering in the wind in the grass out the kitchen window --we almost had rain --there was one peal of thunder --there was some wind... but, when I looked more closely, it was not leaves. It was a robin, flitting about in the dry grass and leaves --in the dark.

And I thought to myself --do robins really hunt at night? It's not a night-bird... but, there it was. And then I realized --the light outside the back of the garage, put there by the previous priest in charge because homeless guys were sleeping behind the garage --the light was attracting insects, and the bird was taking advantage of it.

And I remembered how birds have adapted to waiting alongside the roads --the bugs and road kill... and how birds wait in parking lots, and as soon as one has parked the car, they move to clean insects off the car grill.

Adaptation. To an environment we have changed.

And let's not even go in to the monolithic crops and the chemicals to support them....

What have we done?

For the rest of the evening, I spent some time looking at 'green' housing plans and kits --but none of them address such things as light pollution....

And why do we humans not so easily adapt? Why must we lumber along, dragging with us a past which doesn't really work?

I remember once a discussion in a graduate level history class at the University of Delaware --and we were looking at the evidence of the economy of slavery in the 1830s --and on a purely economic level, it wasn't working, it wasn't profitable... and yet, the institution took a war, and the economics were not resolved, only shifted, and it still doesn't work --on a human level and on an economic level.... And folks were saying --why didn't they see it? --and I said something to the effect of, why don't we see that the destruction of our environment makes no economic sense? --why do we keep turning on our furnaces and driving our cars, when we could use solar or wind power? Why?

And the class erupted.

I didn't fare any better on the day I suggested that we ought to go biblical in our elections, and use a lottery system instead, and have any registered voter be as eligible to be president or serve in congress as on a jury where one decides life and death... I mean, we really don't have a good system until one can say, none of the above, and have it mean something....

But, there I go... dreaming again.

And then I dream about a 'green' house we will never build... or even a shed out back here where I can retreat to in order to write -impossible... and all those other unrealized and frustrated dreams... --and this morning I am grateful, very grateful, to be meeting a family to plan a baptism, not a funeral.

One of my peers at the clergy conference said, you had lots of funerals this summer --how are you doing?

And, I responded something to the effect of being in awe that Easter is so often brought to mind...

--and I remain in awe, because Easter is not a 'green' house or garden shed dream...

At prayer this morning (from Acts 19)

About that time no little disturbance broke out concerning the Way.

A man named Demetrius, a silversmith who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought no little business to the artisans. These he gathered together, with the workers of the same trade, and said, “Men, you know that we get our wealth from this business. You also see and hear that not only in Ephesus but in almost the whole of Asia this Paul has persuaded and drawn away a considerable number of people by saying that gods made with hands are not gods. And there is danger not only that this trade of ours may come into disrepute but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be scorned, and she will be deprived of her majesty that brought all Asia and the world to worship her.”

When they heard this, they were enraged....

Enraged... yeah. When our gods and our lives are threatened... we don't step back to look and think... we only hold on more feverishly...

--until that day when we all will let go... impossible to hold on....

And then it's Easter.

Yeppa. There we are.
And that's exactly why robins can hunt at night.
And other dreams.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Maybe God hears me this way....

Went to the doctor first thing this morning --you know, fasting-type blood tests and all that. So, I didn't get my cup of coffee until just now (9:45).

There. Is. Nothing. Like. Coffee.

I only drink one cup per day --so we make a big deal about it --sitting in the living room now that it is too cold to sit outside, dog cookies to share.... A coffee drinking ceremony. Intentional coffee drinking.

Soon, we will put the "fire place on" (gas logs) for our ceremony. Soon enough. What we really need is rain....
Partly cloudy with a chance of a thunderstorm and a chance of rain in the afternoon. High of 82F. Winds from the SW at 5 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 20%.

Thursday Night
Partly cloudy with a chance of a thunderstorm and a chance of rain. Low of 50F. Winds less than 5 mph. Chance of rain 20%.

20% is the best chance we've had in weeks. Everybody is sick with the dust and dry. Bronchitis. Sinus infections. Folks are talking --too hot --too dry --too long.

It's supposed to be over 80(F) all weekend. Perhaps if I go out and offer my coffee to the spirits, they will talk to the rain....

And in this dry heat, folks are remembering the "Dirty Thirties" when this part of the prairie lost its top soil to the wind. Deacon said, it didn't matter how many sheets we nailed over the windows, the house always had a layer of grime on every surface inside, and our beds were filled with dirt --always. And the sky was brown for days on end. Our mother couldn't hang the clothes to dry outside because the wet clothes just became muddy....

When I look at the weather map, it's not hopeful. There are weather systems moving off the Pacific in to Mexico and from the east in to the Gulf area without much hope that it will push up through the middle of the country, but only head north-east --the rest of the weather patterns looks like curls on the forehead of the arctic region. There is nothing in-between. N.O.T.H.I.N.G. but a wide swath of dry.

But what does it mean?

I think it means more suffering, locally. Cattle and horses to be sold at a loss. Higher fuel costs. Loss of crops. And the endless congestion in the ear, nose and throat...

Maybe God hears my complaint this way....

It gets really raunchy about the 2 minute mark or so.... heheheheh. I mean, take a clue from his hair-do.....

Joel and I --I don't know why, but while I was preparing to go to the doctor, the good ol' song, Great Green Gobs of Greasy Grimy Gopher Guts got stuck in my head, and I couldn't remember all the words... so, when I got back, Joel had done an hour of looking around and not only found all the words and the video above, but anthologies of children's songs and treatises on children's song culture --songs children make up.... and there was talk of the loss of children's culture --not the consumer driven dribble, but the songs that emanate from the chalk hop-scotch games, and jump roping and hand clapping culture.... children play computer games --not jumping hand clapping games....

...sigh... perhaps we need rain of all different sorts....

--or, perhaps the children just need to sing....

At prayer this morning (Psalm 117)

Praise the LORD, all you nations; *
laud him, all you peoples.
For his loving-kindness toward us is great, *
and the faithfulness of the LORD endures for ever.

Shortest Psalm in the book. I wonder if I could sing it to the tune of Great Green Gobs... ??? I wonder if God would like me to sing it that way?? I mean --Jesus did talk about entering the kingdom like children....

There we are. Just one of those days.... Peace out.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

liminality... sub-liminality... thresholds and the wilderness

Mark Andy Garcia "Crucifixion"

Tonight we have class again --a survey of the New Testament in 40 minutes, and then practice reading aloud for Sunday morning services. Next week we begin Church history.... I am doing the whole class series based in asking questions. I think I shall do the quick survey of Church history based upon the questions that were being asked in each place in their time....

But --tonight I shall fix soup, righteous tomato soup... I think I will call someone to bring biscuits....

And, I'm thinking of a pop-quiz.... Heh.

One of the parishioners here last week is now in Finland, working with native Finlanders regarding global warming. They are losing their lands and traditional fishing to rising waters. Then he goes to study in Germany, until he completes his M.A. in American Studies... yes, going to Germany for American Studies. He said, where else better to draw an intellectual map of imperialism than in the thick of it? Of course, I think having a sweetheart in Germany has something to do with it... oh yes. Sweetheart came here as a volunteer and worked here for six months.... Oh yes.

Another parishioner left for college in Minnesota --he said he's not coming back. Not if he can help it. It's too corrupt here, he said. It's all in who you know. Oh honey, I thought to myself... dear sweet one.

And such are my prayers this morning. Linear. Plain. Or so it might seem....

Except for someone I know who is struggling with gender identity. It's a spiritual thing that has got hold of my insides and has for quite a while --even though is hurts and is confusing, I can't not, they said. Yes. I know what you mean, I think to myself.... --and then think of the dangers.

Crisis --either on a global scale such as with global warming, or deeply personal crisis --love, learning, identity --crisis always brings death to the way we once were. Always. We either become zombies, or we really and truly die --or we fold up and discard the old tent, and wander in the wilderness for a while, eating manna and other unexpected God-given food while our new life takes shape...

I didn't know that's what I was doing the first couple of times. I just felt lost, overwhelmed, confused. Homeless. This last time through --losing my job in such a spiritually violent way, losing our home and any and all security we thought we had, beloved sick --a forever kinda sick with a broken back as well --and we entered the desert, the wilderness again.

And, I think this time through the wilderness --I think we have decided to make the wilderness itself our home. If that makes any sense. No more landmarks, no bird's-eye view --just a pillar of fire by night, and a temple we can easily move.... --and dreaming of ways to make living in the wilderness easier.

Behold, say the messengers --the angels. Behold. And we can look in to the devastation of our corruption and clutching meagerness, like the shepherds full of fear on the hillside.... and see God. Simply. God.

At prayer this morning (Luke 4:1-13, the Message translation)

Now Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wild. For forty wilderness days and nights he was tested by the Devil. He ate nothing during those days, and when the time was up he was hungry.

The Devil, playing on his hunger, gave the first test: “Since you’re God’s Son, command this stone to turn into a loaf of bread.”

Jesus answered by quoting Deuteronomy: “It takes more than bread to really live.”

For the second test he led him up and spread out all the kingdoms of the earth on display at once. Then the Devil said, “They’re yours in all their splendor to serve your pleasure. I’m in charge of them all and can turn them over to whomever I wish. Worship me and they’re yours, the whole works.”

Jesus refused, again backing his refusal with Deuteronomy: “Worship the Lord your God and only the Lord your God. Serve him with absolute single-heartedness.”

For the third test the Devil took him to Jerusalem and put him on top of the Temple. He said, “If you are God’s Son, jump. It’s written, isn’t it, that ‘he has placed you in the care of angels to protect you; they will catch you; you won’t so much as stub your toe on a stone’?”

“Yes,” said Jesus, “and it’s also written, ‘Don’t you dare tempt the Lord your God.’”

That completed the testing. The Devil retreated temporarily, lying in wait for another opportunity.
So.... was the "time was up" to leave off the fasting? --or to leave the wilderness...? Or did he remain in the wilderness the whole time thereafter... perched between humanity and God, between the dove and the eagle, between love and violence, between bread and rocks, between land and ocean --lifted between earth and sky, the threshold of all that ever was and all that shall ever be --the eye of the storm.

The one that holds all things in being, that hold all things... really and truly dead. To expose the obscenity of power. The un-graspingness of love. To show us the Way.

Hey God, it's margaret... Dude.... I didn't know it was Good Friday today.... where'd that come from? ---thresholds and the wilderness of love... there we are. You know the prayers of my heart. Hear the prayers of your people. Amen.

Image found here.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

I know you see the other signs of life

Thinking more about the abject poverty all around me here... and its effects on the children. And how the institutions prey upon those living in poverty here.... Yes, they do.

Chris Hedges calls them a "parasitic elite".... --and he says if we don't stand up to these parasites now, the fate of those living here in one of the ground zeroes of capitalism --the fate of those living here will be the fate of all Americans --and the globe. Neo-feudalism. Neo-slavery.

The scary part in this perspective is that Chris Hedges claims there is no hope for those living in abject poverty --in fourth or fifth generational poverty. The effects of poverty have become so ingrained that there is no hope in changing anything....

Part of me thinks that these discussions are correct....

And part of me wonders --no hope? No hope for those living in the fourth or fifth generation of poverty --is it that there is no hope that they will ever be part of the American system, and have all the signs and symbols of the American middle class? Or is it that they are so broken, there is no 'fixing' them...

And I think, Yes, on one hand, there is no hope. No hope of restoring factories and families to the way it was.

And, then, --No. There is hope. The hope is in the rejection of the American "system" of rampant and destructive capitalism. The hope is in building a counter-culture outside of that "system." We are all broken. The system is broken --and always will be.

But, there is another culture... and I see it here. Yes, there are feuds. Yes, there is competition and old unresolved wounds.

But, there is hope. Not the hope of a good job, a pension, a new car, a college education --it is a different hope. Built on relationships.

Yesterday, Joel and I were out fixing the fence, and the Senior Warden saw us out working and stopped by for a chat --and saw that we did not have all the tools we needed, so went home and got the tools we needed --not store-bought tools, but handmade tools out of old pipe and such, but effective --and picked up the cousin that we see around town all the time, and brought him to help us finish the project....


When D was here, we went visiting, and the person we visited said many times and in different ways --thank you for honoring me by coming to my house.


And, I guess in many ways, that is how Jesus told us to talk to God --not in the offer-sacrifice, debt, obligations and all that --but the intimate blood relationship of family....

At prayer this morning (Luke 3 around verse 22)

Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

Son. Beloved. God is pleased. I suppose God can feel things like that --I mean, if we are made in God's image....

Chris. David. Our hope is not of this world. Our hope is in something else --a hope which because it is based in human relationship will always get broken. But, where it is broken, new life begins. Where we kill it --there is resurrection.

And, Chris. Yes. You are absolutely correct. Workers around the globe are being pillaged and raped by capitalists. As is the world itself. And I am as distressed and disgusted and concerned as you are. And I want/need you to keep working and writing.

And where you are broken, where you feel there is only rabid destruction --I know you see the other signs of life. Trust it.


Monday, September 24, 2012

Sympathy for the devil

The children... all of 'em with runny noses, coughing, running around with short sleeve cotton shirts on the cool autumn day. I remember playing outside half naked, and when our mothers finally saw us, getting yelled at to come put on more clothes. Except here, there were no mothers --only grandma's grieving for their lost friend, and barely older sisters, who were also half naked, trying to carry the younger children almost their own size.

The children threw rocks --at the cars, at the horses that grazed openly even through town, at the other kids. They picked stuff up off the graves in the cemetery and chased each other with it. The fresh mound we had just created over the new grave that had just been decorated had shiny forever flowers, unbroken vases, and little solar sidewalk lights that were for Halloween --little orange pumpkins with a wicked grin. She put them at all four corners of the grave --she'll like those, she said with a tired smile. It will make her laugh.

She had been up all night at the wake. And she still had the feast and the giveaway to do.

Coming back to the community center, in the car with me, one of her cousins said, I feel sorry for the kids here. They start huffing as soon as they can read. They either die before they are fifteen, or they go to prison. That's why you see only little kids and grandmas. It's dangerous in this community. But it feels good to be home for a few hours.

The kids on horseback passed us at break-neck speeds --I slammed on the brakes to keep from hitting one, or being inadvertently kicked --and as I marveled at how horse and boy seemed absolutely one -fist around a hank of mane, long dark hair of horse and boy braided together by the late afternoon light --she said, see? They're wild.

And I saw out of the corner of my eye the ancestors lining up along the road, grateful to see the wild boys, their wild horses that knew no fences in this town, grateful for the dogs that ran alongside them. In this wild untamed-ness, there was the hope. Praying --don't fall prey to the traps of the glue and paint, boys. Breathe in the wildness. Remember, Big Foot rode through this town because he had relatives here --your relatives. Remember, he didn't want to be fenced in or settled either.

I dreamed fitful dreams that night. About warriors. And little putti cherubs. And coyotes, or were they wolves, with eyes that changed color. Horses with white eyes.

And when I awoke, and we drove way back to the little churches by the various remote dirt roads, Joel said --look, look at the little fox. And I looked, but saw only prairie. Look, said Deacon --look at the eagle. And I looked, but saw only ruthlessly straight telephone poles piercing the earth and wires that slank in the air along the road.

I kept looking but saw only the half-naked children and the boys on their horses, and the ancestors in their ghost shirts.

And in the town called Promise, where the children always out-number the adults, I called the children forward and we sat and talked about classroom line-leaders as a way in to the Gospel, and knew that all Jesus really wanted me to do was hold them. And they will all go back to the dorms for the week because their grandmas have to work, and their mother is off-Rez somewhere... somewhere unwild, getting tangled looking for needles or drink in the domesticated half-dead shrubs that line the asphalt streets and houses all in a row.

And the church mouse crawled around in the light fixture above us, the bird ignoring the open door disappeared in to the attic spaces.... She'll find a way out, I prayed.

At prayer this morning (a portion of Psalm 80)
Restore us, O God of hosts; *
show the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved.

O LORD God of hosts, *
how long will you be angered
despite the prayers of your people?
You have fed them with the bread of tears; *
you have given them bowls of tears to drink.
You have made us the derision of our neighbors, *
and our enemies laugh us to scorn.
Restore us, O God of hosts; *
show the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved.


Turn now, O God of hosts, look down from heaven;
behold and tend this vine; *
preserve what your right hand has planted.
They burn it with fire like rubbish; *
at the rebuke of your countenance let them perish.
Let your hand be upon the man of your right hand, *
and son of man you have made so strong for yourself.
And so will we never turn away from you; *
give us life, that we may call upon your Name.
Restore us, O LORD God of hosts; *
show the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved.

Restore us, O God, to the wildness this world needs --this world nose deep in a landscape made by human hands...

And, yes Lord. I know you do and will have sympathy for the Devil. Damnit. Amen.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

G'wan. Go to church

Then they came to Capernaum; and when he [Jesus] was in the house he asked them, "What were you arguing about on the way?" But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest.

Poor Jesus.... arguing about who was the greatest.

Well... I guess that's one tradition we've never managed to change, heh?!

G'wan. Go to church. And remember. Just remember. For a little moment....

Friday, September 21, 2012

no more hand-shadows

yeah yeah --I know. It's supposed to be a compline hymn, but the way he sings it, I think it is just fine first thing in the morning. Just sayin'.

And, our gas log set was successfully installed in the fireplace --Mr. Witty was curious and then frightened of it when it turned on suddenly (hehheh --by the remote).

And, last night the sky was so clear --I could see a million miles away and a million years ago. The night sky... I had forgotten how many stars there are. The night sky is breathtaking. Intriguing. Humbling.

The prairie and night sky fill me and empty me at the same time. Fill me with hope and wonder. Make room inside me to see around and between the stuff that clutters me up... if you know what I mean. Clarity.

Oh my.... Joel is making hand-shadows on the wall with the help of the rising sun... he's making bird-like shapes --the shadows bicker and bite each other.... Oh dear.

And, it's cold today. Cold. It clouded up and threatened rain yesterday afternoon (so I sang the Rain song again and again) --but the clouds disappeared by night and the cold settled in like it was at home....

Hinged to the weather --I keep thinking... --I am hinged to the weather. And, here, well I should be --because here a subtle change in weather can be deadly.... A thing to love as well as fear --equally. --and it occurs to me, that is what some old deities demanded --not love so much as loyalty, and certainly fear.

Without my weather gadgets, I can see worshipping the weather god. I can see it. Today, the moon is 37% full and gaining, and

Clear. High of 72F. Breezy. Winds from the NW at 10 to 25 mph with gusts to 30 mph.
Friday Night
Clear. Low of 37F. Breezy. Winds from the West at 10 to 25 mph with gusts to 30 mph shifting to the NNE after midnight.

Tomorrow it should only get to be about 59 --and I am trying to remember and prepare for the freeze-your-snot cold that's coming....

But, today, it is only Friday, only morning, beautiful and fair....

At prayer this morning (Isaiah 8:11-20)

For the LORD spoke thus to me while his hand was strong upon me, and warned me not to walk in the way of this people, saying: Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what it fears, or be in dread. But the LORD of hosts, him you shall regard as holy; let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. He will become a sanctuary, a stone one strikes against; for both houses of Israel he will become a rock one stumbles over – a trap and a snare for the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And many among them shall stumble; they shall fall and be broken; they shall be snared and taken.

Bind up the testimony, seal the teaching among my disciples. I will wait for the LORD, who is hiding his face from the house of Jacob, and I will hope in him. See, I and the children whom the LORD has given me are signs and portents in Israel from the LORD of hosts, who dwells on Mount Zion. Now if people say to you, “Consult the ghosts and the familiar spirits that chirp and mutter; should not a people consult their gods, the dead on behalf of the living, for teaching and for instruction?” Surely, those who speak like this will have no dawn!

Today I am off to Pierre (the Capital) for the Diocesan Convention --clergy meeting with the Bishop first this morning and afternoon --Convention starting this evening. But, I will leave before the Convention starts and head to Cherry Creek for a wake, and then spend the night at home. I will arise early in the morning, head back the 90 miles to Convention --stay a while, and then return to Cherry Creek for the funeral.

Should be interesting to mix a Convention so intimately with a funeral... talk about making uncluttered room --talk about clarity.... --talk about not being sucked in by fearing what others fear.... I shall have a lamppost, a sanctuary of light and hope in the midst of all the busyness.... (talk about hand-shadows of the rising sun....)

--truly, because, you see, every funeral is really an Easter celebration, yes?! (no more shadows!)

--and even at the grave, we will sing, Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

This one from St. Peter's seems to be corrupted in the beginning --but worth listening to past that point:

Please pray for M who begins formal discernment for holy orders tomorrow; please pray for B's family, and the repose of her soul; please pray for the Order of Creation in this neck of the prairie, that is suffering so without water; please pray for S & C; please pray for our Diocesan Convention and all who gather to remember our call to serve.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

QUESTIONS are a reasonable model of a Christian spiritual life

We sang the "Rain" song in class last night. We sing for the first 1/2 hour, eat together and then class starts. There were a goodly number of folks there --and I have based the class on the Baptismal prayer on page 308 of the BCP
Heavenly Father, we thank you that by water and the Holy Spirit you have bestowed upon these your servants the forgiveness of sin, and have raised them to the new life of Grace. Sustain them, O Lord, in your Holy Spirit. Give them an inquiring and discerning heart, the courage to will and to persevere, a spirit to know and to love you, and the gift of joy and wonder in all your works. Amen.
--cuz, see, the class is based in asking questions.... And, yes, I used the Catechism in the BCP too.... like, What is the Old Covenant? and What is the New Covenant? ...not so much looking for the 'right' answers, but seeing that our Tradition is based in asking questions. Jesus almost always begins by asking questions, and in responding to questions, asks more questions....

That's where I'm starting next week.... more questions. Questions are doorways --windows.... And it is not the answer but the next question that shows the courage to will and to persevere, the gift of joy and wonder.

Well... at least I think so. Questions, not answers, QUESTIONS are a reasonable model of a Christian spiritual life.


ohoh ---just got a call... we ordered a gas log set for the fireplace so that we could have an alternate source of heat if the electricity goes out --and they are COMING OVER RIGHT NOW to install it --and me with my pj's on... here we go.

At prayer this morning (John 12:27)

Jesus said, “Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say – ‘Father, save me from this hour’?

--See? Questions, questions, questions... and I have so many --thanks be to God!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Rich and poor --life and death --and all that jazz

The wind is expected to exceed 35mph today --with gusts up to 50mph.... That's what I was thinking about.... that, and the piles of leaves this wind will create.

And then Joel said, the whole problem with the world is in naming --we come in to the world, and it's all one. And then we are taught to cut it up syllable by syllable.

And I thought to myself --there he goes again.
And then I thought to myself --is he on to something?
And then I thought to myself --we have a bible story about naming... God told us to name... is naming another one of those apples we plucked in the wrong way?
And, God names so many... renames them....

And then I shook my head and read aloud to him MLK's speech posted by Counterlight today.... MLK names it --names that baby --names that it isn't wealth in itself that brings condemnation upon the rich. It is the unwillingness of the rich to see the poor, to bridge the gap....

Rich and poor.

I remember when the tax credit for the working poor began. We were living in Oregon, and a friend of ours with two children began to work as a nurse aide in a local retirement and assisted living place for the well heeled --and how angry I got when I realized that the tax credit benefit REALLY meant that we tax payers were subsidizing an institution that didn't pay a living wage.

The same thing again years later in Richmond... the nurse aides, the janitors, the food workers, the clerks at the State University and the teaching hospital --all of these persons qualified for the tax credit, and once again, tax payers were subsidizing an institution that didn't pay a living wage.

I don't begrudge the tax credit. I begrudge the institutions that get a tax break hiring from the unemployment rolls, and then don't pay a living wage to those they hire.

There, I named it. I know that's not what my beloved meant --about division of the world and all that, but I guess naming is a two-edged sword. It creates division, yes --but it also creates clarity.

....and here, in my prayers I drift.... P is getting a bi-lateral mastectomy today. I am praying for her, her family, her healers and caregivers. I remember my own fear and terror as I prepared for that surgery. And all the preparation... what I expected to be bad, wasn't. It was unexpected stuff that reared its head that was horrific... I finally discovered that one couldn't fight it all, and actually there was no winning --even God died. So, I had to sit quietly to find that peace... and my sitting quietly did not indicate passivity --no. How else can I say it? ....naming it.... Aye matey....

Perhaps my sitting quietly was similar to MLK in a jail cell... yeah. That might work. Couldn't get out. No way but further in.

At prayer this morning (John 12:20-26)

Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.

Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also."

Jesus names it --right there....

It is much easier to remain a grain of wheat... but unless it loses its life to become ground up as bread, it just rots and is a wasted opportunity... --but unless it is planted to bear more grain, it just rots....

Hey God, it's margaret. You know how I sometimes struggle --please be with P upon her awakening today and in the difficult days ahead. Please help me to know how to serve your people --and, oh yeah, tonight is our first class session together. Be with us as we sing, and eat and learn together. And help us know when to name, and when not to name, when to be bread and when to be planted. And as to the winds --just carry all the leaves in the yard over to that swamp over there. Peace out.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

the steady drip drip drip of righteousness hasn't quelled the vigor of the Leviathan

Only a crisp 45 degrees F this morning --but a little more moisture in the air. The grass made no breaking noises, no sharp statements as Mr. Witty and I stepped outside. A Cedar Tree Gal with a puffy/flabby alcoholic nose (it happens here, large fleshy bulbous noses from too much drink) saw me and waved --and she said, Hey, I got a whole bunch of good winter jackets, and I gave them all away! God bless you! I said back, clutching the sleeves of my flannel shirt, conscious that my cotton pj's were probably warmer than her polyester slacks. And I quickly made a mental list of all she had done, and things she had left undone this past year --to pray for her, and knew those things were forgiven, and held those things up as treasures before the rising sun.

--and then wondered about processual redemption... is redemption an over-and-done thing --or, is redemption a continual unfolding, a continual revelation --a continual call from those things seen and unseen to BEHOLD the presence of God.

--part of me thinks that redemption is over and done. And part of me knows that it is impossible to grasp that state of grace --we cannot bear it without blowing apart, losing our grasp... or in other words, dying to self, and that shall happen one day, perhaps on the last day... but not today. Not here in the middle of the prairie. Not at the edge of autumn.

Mr. Witty breaks the cool air with a bark --it's the flicker that has been knocking on the house.... Damn bird has been knocking all day. It never comes in, just knocks. And we have to go over, open the door and prove to Mr. Wit that no one is there....

And through my teeth, I don't know why, perhaps it is the thought of a cold, homeless woman who drinks to nurse the wounds she bears giving out coats... --but I cuss out Romney, and dare him to come live here for a month --no, a year, on the average income here, living here, eating with us, paying the tax rates I have to pay --to witness what the People here suffer and endure --and wonder if even that would touch his heart. --I wonder if their generosity would shame him...

And, then, I enter the warm house, ready for coffee.... How many pounds have we given away, how many cups of coffee have we shared? --not enough, I think.

At prayer this morning (Job 40:1; 41:1-11)

And the LORD said to Job:

“Can you draw out Leviathan with a fishhook, or press down its tongue with a cord? Can you put a rope in its nose, or pierce its jaw with a hook?

Will it make many supplications to you? Will it speak soft words to you? Will it make a covenant with you to be taken as your servant forever?

Will you play with it as with a bird, or will you put it on leash for your girls?

Will traders bargain over it? Will they divide it up among the merchants? Can you fill its skin with harpoons, or its head with fishing spears? Lay hands on it; think of the battle; you will not do it again! Any hope of capturing it will be disappointed; were not even the gods overwhelmed at the sight of it? No one is so fierce as to dare to stir it up.

Who can stand before it? Who can confront it and be safe?—under the whole heaven, who?”

The Leviathan. Maybe it takes the Behemoth to conquer the Leviathan.... Certainly, the steady drip drip drip of righteousness hasn't quelled its vigor....

So, the people raise their voices to the heavens, and cry in anguish to the Father.... No, it seems the people lower their heads and cry in anguish....

--or, they give all their good winter coats away, and trust... just trust.

Dang, I have so much to learn.

So. Much. To. Learn.

PS: the Rosebud Reservation is looking for a priest-type. Please consider, if you are that type. Seriously.

Monday, September 17, 2012

how different this world would be if the Pharisees had laughed

A new parishioner:

Big spider with an egg sac on its back, I think. St. James, Bear Creek

Pregnant spider, waiting for the fly to be stupid, but I think the fly was laughing

I think she's pregnant, although she wouldn't say it outright. And, I think she was hungry.
--will you come in to my parlour, said the spider to the fly....
She sang with us Initacan, Initacan, wowitan, wowitan (my Leader {Lord}, glory {proud of warrior type glory}...) --she sang with us, because, you know, all the animals speak Lakota --or so I am told.

And it threatened to rain most of the day, but it didn't. Up Bear Creek way, as we finished the third service of the day, and closed the church with the baling wire strung from the nail in the door to the nail in the frame, nine miles back a dirt road that casually threatens to be the worst road yet, I got in the car and said --okay God, NOW it can rain! Deacon laughed.

The night before, at the funeral dinner, a Cedar Tree Guy, W, (the guys who stand behind our tree and drink and do everything else there too) gave me a big drunk hug and said, you been eatin too much Indian food. You're fat. Time to lose some weight.

I said, Yes. You're right. I will. Time for you to give up drinking.

He was quiet. And then he looked over at Deacon and said, How you doin'?

She said, Better than you! And everyone laughed. Including W. That was a good one, W said. And laughed some more.

(Why am I so serious all the time? Dang, God, couldn't you have given me a little funny bone, at least?)

And, so, I suppose, it would have been a good laugh for it to rain, and us get stuck in the mud... and we did welcome the singing of the pregnant spider, as we should.... And, yes, I am too fat and Deacon is way better off than he is....

--and we should laugh. Often. Laugh at pregnant spiders. Laugh at mud. Laugh.

At prayer this morning (beginning at about John 11:55-12:8)

Now the Passover of the Jews was near, and many went up from the country to Jerusalem before the Passover to purify themselves. They were looking for Jesus and were asking one another as they stood in the temple, “What do you think? Surely he will not come to the festival, will he?” Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that anyone who knew where Jesus was should let them know, so that they might arrest him.

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.”

How different this world would be if the Pharisees had laughed... if Judas had laughed... if Lazarus had laughed.... at themselves, at how far God goes to show us all love... laughed. Laughed at our spiritual poverty. Laughed at our unwillingness to see that all comes from God.

The People here --they laugh a lot. They call the dump "The Mall" and laugh and laugh.... When it snows too much, they laugh. When they are offended, they laugh.

And, no, I hate the laughing Jesus thing... I don't mean that...

 --but laugh at ourselves, laugh sin in the face, Laugh. Laugh at the poor smucks on Wall Street who have no life, Laugh at those who make war and miss the joy of life, Laugh at ourselves and the silly things we do.... Laugh.

Burn frankincense and myrrh after the funerals --walk around the church chasing death out the door with that little golden thurible with bells, and laugh.

Laughter is the path of forgiveness.

And, for what shall we save our tears?

Obstinance, I guess. And abstinence --from that joy and peace that knows no boundaries.
But, even then... a little rip of laughter wouldn't hurt....

Saturday, September 15, 2012

G'wan. Go to church

And see which line the preacher will choose to preach on:

1. Who do you say that I am?
2. Peter's big put-down.
3. Let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.
4. God will be ashamed of you....

Or, perhaps the preacher will not preach the Gospel, but do something else, and speak about tongues or Wisdom, heh?

Geeeeez. So, what are you hoping to hear? What's your good news?

Jesus, come down on us like rain

It's a funny over cast... a pall. The weather gadget on my computer says it's supposed to be 93F without a chance of rain no way, no shape, no how for the next 5 days. But, the little weather station in my living room is predicting all out rain with falling pressure systems....

Sorry I didn't catch the pic of the falling bars in my weather station... and, no, I've never been a weather fanatic, but I do loves the gadgets.... Besides, up here, if you ignore the weather, you die. Just sayin'. --but, which gadget do I trust?

We sang the "Rain" song in church last Sunday... an old hymn with a refrain that says something to the effect of 'We were baptized in water, Jesus come down on us like rain.' I can sing it in Lakota without the foggiest idea what I'm singing. When someone told me it was the "Rain" hymn, I got a little nervous... and then someone translated it for me, and I loved it. Love it. I will go find it and sing it again, and again, and again.  The lilacs are all brown, the grass is stiff like needles if you touch it, and crunches under my shoes -poor Mr. Witty puts each foot down carefully... the animals are congregating around small puddles that should be large ponds... everything is suffering.

Jesus, please, come down on us like rain. --and if it's coming with lightening, send more rain. The idea of wild fires... just ain't right.

Joel and I read somewhere that the polar ice cap has reached a new historic low (nearly half of the polar ice cap is gone), and that means the oceans are heating up and changing the direction of the jet stream to a more N to S direction instead of W to E direction. And where the jet streams dips south, they will get more extreme weather --drought on the west side of it --disastrous snows and ice on the east side of it.

Jesus, please, come down on us like rain.

And, today, I do a funeral --but no burial. He will be cremated and his ashes scattered by family at a later date. In my book, without a burial --we can pray for rain, because there will be no back roads to traverse... selfish I know, but...

--so, Jesus, please, come down on us like rain.

And the gas fireplace log set we ordered has arrived --so that we can have warmth without electricity if the power fails and it's cold outside... Now, we need it installed, which will be easy and soon...

--so, Jesus, please come down on us like rain... snow if you like.

At prayer this morning (Song of the Three Young Men, Canticle of Creation)

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.

Yeah --Glorify the Lord, all waters above the heavens --come down and give us some relief to the glory of God.

Please pray for B, whom we give to God today --and especially for his family and friends who so desperately need to remember the love of God.

And, thank God for Father Bob who continues to serve the people here, even from a distance.


Friday, September 14, 2012

living the shared life, NOW

So, we discovered some interesting things while taking Mr. Witty to the doctor yesterday.

In the small town of Faith, just off the Reservation to the west of us, we discovered two local industries that fascinated us.... The first was a leather working company, KBarJ. We walked in to this unassuming door with the windows filled with barnyard lumber, to an open room smelling of tanned hides. Two women worked on large tables in the middle of the large room which was infiltrated with samples of the their work, piles of leather, majestic tools of all sorts... Sometimes it is a bit creepy when ya really think about leather --that it was once walking around... and, yes, I carried that around on my shoulders while we looked and touched and talked. But I was fascinated --watching them make old-time cowboy things --chaps, holsters, knife sheaths etc., alongside IPad satchels, briefcases and purses for women adorned with bits of stone, elaborate crosses and hide with the hair still attached....

It was a wonder to behold this, hidden in this small town....

And then we walked down the street, because the lady in the leather store said we might like to pop our heads in there too --and it was a factory to build folding furniture.... Tower Stool. The front of the building was two little dark crammed offices. There we talked with the owner's wife about folding stools for harpists (used in front of Queen Elizabeth, with a picture to prove it) and folding tables used by ranchers to deliver inoculations out in the field, complete with canvas sacs to hold each medicine and etc...

I never would have dreamed that Faith, a turn in the road for us, held so much.... I am looking around every corner now --wondering.

And then we went to the hardware store to see if they had any vacuums --because ours finally gave up the ghost --sigh-- and I walk in to the scenario of folks sitting around with their feet up --'jawing' my mom would have said --talking the afternoon away. But, they were talking about news --and one guy was jawing away --he hadn't watched any news for four years, not since Obama was elected, but what is the country coming too any way, and so last night he decided to watch the news and nothing had changed except they keep talking about gay rights, and if that is all they have to talk about, why watch....

Well... for goodness' sake... if that is all they have to get riled up about... I'd say they are in pretty good shape. And flashes of the corruption, betrayal, violence filled my eyes and mind. Can't any of us do better than that? Concerned only about our own little boxes, and not the big picture....

So, I asked if they had vacuums, they didn't, and I was relieved to leave... if you know what I mean.

And Mr. Witty is on bed rest and antibiotics for the next week.... It's the dry, dusty air that caused irritation and then infection in his sinus cavities and lungs. Poor little guy. Hopefully, we'll get some rain soon. Please. God. All the animals are suffering.

And on our way home, the expanse of prairie was breath-taking. The grasses harvested and in some places, stacked. The sunflowers, without petals, heads bowed.

Harvest on the prairie, round bales of hay

For D --her buffalo sighting

A wonder to behold --I never would have dreamed... not in my wildest dreams.

And so, sustained by the wilderness, I hope, and pray, and dream --in to the seventh generation, on this Holy Cross Day.

At prayer this morning (John 3:17)

Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

Yeah. And what does being saved look like?

I think it looks like eternal life --life beyond our little boxes of culture, opinions, desires, likes, dislikes, skills, gifts --living the Shared Life, NOW.

Being saved has nothing to do with the future or life after death --the future belongs to those yet to come, and after death --who knows. But being saved has to do with now. Just now. And living now as though we were already in that proverbial heaven.

Or something like that. But the wilderness sure makes me think that way... cuz there is only everywhere that is filled with God.

And that's all. And it is good.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Mr. Witty is sick

Mr. Witty is sick. We are worried. Very worried.

Since the only reason I'm going to heaven is because of my dogs, perhaps you can imagine what's going on in my heart and head for this little one who came to us so very sick and without hair --he accepted us as his humans at the shelter for severely abused dogs... and he has come so very far in accepting various types of humans back in to his life....

Joel is phoning the vet now --please include Mr. Witty in your prayers today. He is really suffering.

Save your people, Lord, and bless your inheritance;
Govern and uphold them, now and always.
Day by day we bless you;
We praise your Name for ever.
Lord, keep us from all sin today;
Have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy.
Lord, show us your love and mercy;
For we put our trust in you.
In you, Lord, is our hope;
And we shall never hope in vain.

And bless all our animal companions.


Thank you all so much --last night Mr. Witty was so lethargic it was scary. He would only walk a foot or two, and then sit and bow his head --sniffing and wheezing. We decided to give him a little antibiotic --

When we took him to the Doctor, she said he DOESN'T have anything up his nose (which is what we thought) --but has a sinus and respiratory infection due to the dry air and the dust, and we did the right thing to give the antibiotic. So, he is on bed rest and meds for a week! But, God willing, will be back to his good ol' self soon!

Thank you all. --much relieved here.
And, we DO appreciate Cat prayers too. Thank you!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

POW, right in the kisser

I hate the words 'ruling', 'governed' and subjection' in liturgy..... Just sayin'. I am quite confident that someone --possibly someone I know quite well, will tell me something is lost in translation... Well then, I shall say, --let's do better because those are words of empire, and have no place in God's Realm.

What a history we --the church have, heh?

I am so very sad because of it. I see the aftermath, the living aftermath here. And I feel its stings and arrows. Barbs and rocks flung back at me because I am Church --because I am White.

I do understand. But it makes it no easier to bear.

After a couple of hours of it last night, I came home full of doubt --I shouldn't be here, I said. A white person shouldn't be here doing this. Joel whole-heartedly disagreed, and said we will talk about it.

In the meantime, my heart is heavy with the history of the nation-hood of the church. Its participation in oppression in the NameofGod. And recognition and apologies are only the beginning --the long hard work of reconciliation must begin. If it can. I know there are some here who will not be reconciled... too much blood, too much hatred, too much loss.... There is no fixing it. No overcoming it.

There is only moving through it.

Not like Lazarus --who was brought back to the same old life. But seeking instead that unexpected empty tomb --the hard hewn rock as the womb of new and different life.

At prayer this morning (John 11:1-16 (NRSV)

Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair; her brother Lazarus was ill.

So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.”

But when Jesus heard it, he said, “This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.

Then after this Jesus said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.”

The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now trying to stone you, and are you going there again?”

Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Those who walk during the day do not stumble, because they see the light of this world. But those who walk at night stumble, because the light is not in them.” After saying this, he told them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him.”

The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will be all right.”

Jesus, however, had been speaking about his death, but they thought that he was referring merely to sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”

Thomas, who was called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

John, John, John.... It's packed so tightly. Thomas the Doubter. Thomas the Faithful Simpleton. Although some part of me may want to be like you, I'm wary of the drama.

And you, Jesus --what? --what in the world? Twelve hours of daylight in response to that question? Not stumbling in the light? So --you are implying that you will return to those trying to stone you so that the light may be in them?


Hey God, it's margaret. I am heartsick about the news from Libya and all who suffer violence, degradation, and oppression. AND, on another note, I don't want your tricky answers. But isn't it a rather cruel pawnish thing to use Lazarus' death as a sign?

Oh, never mind. The minute the words erupted from my brain I saw the mirror image. Again. Is life really all about living as though one is dead already? --no longer subject to the slings and arrows? --no longer.... dang, see there you go --making me use one of those words I just said I hated. Yeah. I see... subject to Christ.

Some days, God, some days --POW! right in the kisser.

Wouldn't an email be easier?

Like that --see --giving a new meaning to the apple story. All over again.

Picture from here.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

dogs make us better humans

Humidity: 34%
Wind: 28 mph from the NNW
Visibility: 10.0 miles
Dew Point: 36 °F
Precipitation: 0% chance of rain
Pressure: 29.67 in
UV: 1
Sustained winds of nearly 30mph... gusts to 45... 0% chance of rain --the visibility is only 10 miles in country where we can usually see 60 miles because of the dust.

Dust. Dust. Dust.

It fills every nook and cranny, comes in through the storm windows and the locked windows --blows in when we open the door, leaks in through the air conditioning vents...

I am remembering stories of dust from this day 11 years ago... and both Joel and I were laughing this morning because on that morning 11 years ago, I had to call him at home while I was 600 miles away in Berkeley, in seminary --we had no radio and no TV in our little vicarage in the back country of Oregon --in a deep river valley where there was no reception for either and no cable provided in town....

When I told him, he thought I was joking --I had to tell him three times, and tell him that if things got worse --that if we were attacked here in the San Francisco Bay Area, I would either be working in some capacity in the streets, or trying to get to my sister's house about 90 miles away.... He needed to stay where he was and help the people there....

I remember, in the eerie absence of the sounds of regular air flight from Oakland, SFO and the like --and in the dark, the lumbering groan of military flights low overhead --I pulled out a map and detailed a route to my sister's house --all cross country, on foot because I had no car....


And I hadn't intended to write about 9/11....

But this morning, with my finger in the air, vetting the wind --I thought, my, how we've changed as a country --fear, divisiveness, alarmist protectionism --a seething attitude in our relationships with each other and the world....

And sitting in a sheltered spot outside this morning, drinking coffee, vetting the wind, watching the dust blow, I thought --and this place is so distant from all that, and yet not so distant. I wondered if there were anyone here, on this Reservation, that thought on that day that so changed us --you only lost 3,000 people? And you act like this? Now --try on these, my Indian moccasins, and try walking the Red Road --we lost everything. Our loved ones, our land, our homes, our water, our holy Buffalo, our language, we were forbidden to pray as our ancestors had prayed --and yes, our people were slaughtered, continuously for more than a century... and still meet horrible circumstances every day...

And, for me, it put new light on the suffering I see here...

New light.

And thinking, how does any one move through this shock, this historic trauma --and we pass it from generation to generation.... by our very actions, we teach the results of trauma.

It has become such a fabric of our lives --some protest, but protest does not resolve the dilemma....

And it occurs to me that all of the above are about as good an example of sin as I can think of... and how disturbing it is for me to see folks seriously take part in confessing sin week after week after week --with the same posture, attitude... it is disturbing for me because I wonder if they truly believe that all sin is forgiven....

And this is where Joel usually reminds me that we are a culture that does not deal well with sin... and I wonder if any people at any time have dealt with sin well....

Yesterday, we buried a young man who drank himself to death... the weight of the sin of the world was too much for him to bear. And at the feast, after we had travelled to the distant and isolated cemetery and buried him, the UCC pastor prayed the benediction over the food --and said in part --we come to you in a humble way God, never taking for granted that we will eat or drink or see our loved ones; so we thank you for this food, and for this gift of time together....

Is that how one survives? --taking nothing for granted? --all is a gift?

At prayer this morning (beginning at Job 29:1)

Job again took up his discourse and said: “Oh, that I were as in the months of old, as in the days when God watched over me; when his lamp shone over my head, and by his light I walked through darkness; when I was in my prime, when the friendship of God was upon my tent; when the Almighty was still with me, when my children were around me; when my steps were washed with milk, and the rock poured out for me streams of oil!
At prayer
Help us, O God our Savior;
Deliver us and forgive us our sins.
Look upon your congregation;
Give to your people the blessing of peace.
Declare your glory among the nations;
And your wonders among all peoples.
Do not let the oppressed be shamed and turned away;
Never forget the lives of your poor.
Continue your loving-kindness to those who know you;
And your favor to those who are true of heart.
Satisfy us by your loving-kindness in the morning;
So shall we rejoice and be glad all the days of our life.

I remember at the age of 28, the shock and trauma of waking up from life-saving surgery because of an ectopic pregnancy, but finding out that during surgery the doctor had tied my tubes without my permission --saying I needed to 'get off the pregnancy merry-go-round.'

And I knew then that I would never have children. I forgot how to laugh. I was angry. I couldn't cry because if I cried I knew I wouldn't stop. My only prayer was to tell God a thing or two. I got up in the morning, went to work, came home and went to bed --day after day. Month after month. Year after year.

And then a funny 65 pound dog with huge ears strayed in to our lives --a dog who wasn't supposed to ever come in the house, but who finally worked his way into our bed --and his jokes, the dog's jokes made me laugh again. Not sure how it happened, but it did. And then I was finally able to choose a spot near Sebastopol, CA, and call it a grave for our nine un-born children.... Five boys, four girls....

And then I was finally able to weep. Into the food. While cleaning the house. In the supermarket. Watching TV. Reading Pinocchio.... And slowly my prayer changed. And I began to pray for others. We interrupted our lives with gouda and real Virginia ham picnics and swimming naked in hidden streams high in the mountains. Panning for gold... we dreamed of hope once again.

Not the hope of campaign slogans. Security. Peace. Education and all that.

But the hope that springs up from the well of Love. Not the love that satisfies one's self --but that love that discards the husk of being a seed and giving one's self into an unknown and risky new green life. A vulnerable life. A sharing life. A life knowingly dependent upon Other. Upon Different. Hope unleashed from expectations.

And so I pray this morning. For those who hoard those things where rust happens, and moths creep in and corruption comes easily. For those who seek security at all cost. For those who ignore their neighbors and the poor. And all that we have done as a Nation to perpetuate greed, selfishness, fear, anger, violence. And I remember this morning that those who grieve, the poor, the hungry, the sick, the helpless, the persecuted --all are close to the border of the holy --and they are the inheritors of the Kingdom among us.

And I thank God for the wind. That put me in mind of dust. And for dogs. Dogs make us better humans. If we pay attention.

Funny. That.


Monday, September 10, 2012

things unseen sprite away amongst the living

It is morning --promising a hot day.

And we've got a burial today. It is true suffering to fill in a grave by hand when the heat exceeds 90 degrees. But there is a certain expression of and salve for grief in burying the dead by hand... if you know what I mean.

Yesterday was near perfect --a mostly sung service (in Lakota) in Eagle Butte --cake to celebrate September birthdays, and then a drive down a back road to Cherry Creek for another service. There were 10 adults and 16 children. While we were waiting for all to arrive, I asked the children to sing me some God Songs. And they did. And then I taught them one --and called them up before the Gospel to sing it. Ecstasy. We will have another baptism there in October --which means I should prepare for three or four --that's just the way it goes here.

Word has it that there will be several baptisms in Dupree this coming week....

And all my talk about funerals --I have done 40 funerals... but baptized over 60 infants, children and adults.

I think that is more baptisms than I have witnessed in my entire life.
And it is good.

Here --and culturally, it's not so much the every Sunday church life --it's church events --baptisms, funerals, powwow church services --it's the services that mark life events that bring the faithful crowds.

--and there are over 100 waiting for me next door --to begin the funeral services.

And, sometime today, a construction company will arrive to begin to replace our roof... which has leaked unmercifully for a while now. I thank God that we will have a new roof for the winter storms.

And I find myself thinking --there is no 'busy-ness' in all this even though I have never been busier --there is a texture, a deep current, a profound well.... Even all the talk that is not entirely familiar to me --of spirits and visions and things unseen --I am striving to find the chord of authenticity that rings for me in these things. But I do not yet have all the words... I do not yet have the God-talk... We spoke of it all, late in the night --of the Little People, the spirits, of visions and dreams --and the part of me that is scientifically trained rejects some of it all --but the Christian me knows and celebrates the things seen and unseen, know and unknown. And it is a certain relief to be among a people who speak openly of such things.

At prayer this morning (Canticle: Song of the Redeemed, Revelation 15:3-4)

O ruler of the universe, Lord God,
great deeds are they that you have done, *
surpassing human understanding.
Your ways are ways of righteousness and truth, *
O King of all the ages.

Who can fail to do you homage, Lord
and sing the praises of your Name? *
for you only are the Holy One.
All nations will draw near and fall down before you *
because your just and holy works have been revealed.

Off I go --to fix and mend and bury and celebrate... to explain once again that every funeral is also an Easter celebration --and we dare to stand at the grave and sing Alleluia!

Folly to the world. But it is this very world that God loves --not some other place, not heaven and eternity --but this place. Where heaven and earth are joined --and spirits and things unseen sprite away amongst the living --and the Kingdom is alongside us --and the dead are not dead at all, but alive in the One who holds all things in being.


Sunday, September 9, 2012

G'wan. Go to church

What Jesus says to that woman who asks for her daughter to be healed --it's rather messy, isn't it? --I mean, dogs and crumbs and all that....

But, then again --why do we think mud in the eyes or spit on the tongue is any less messy?

G'wan. Go to church. It's always messy there, for sure --but in entering the messiness, we do find healing.

--oh, and yeah, I've learned as much sharing crumbs under the table with my dog as any other place....

Just sayin'.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

the disciples did not understand?

Off to a pre-Diocesan Convention meeting.

I shall take Deacon with me. So there will be plenty of good conversation in the car.

And Mr. Witty shall go too --he shall offer advice and wisdom, being a man of few words and all....

And we are surprised --it is so blue and clear and almost chill here. And yet, tomorrow and Monday it is supposed to be up in the 90s again... I guess the wind will shift and come from the south instead of its current path out of the northwest.

In all --it will be very interesting to see what the discussions are about in this Diocese.

At prayer this morning (beginning at John 10:1)

Jesus said, “Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.” Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.

Did not understand?! The disciples did not understand?!

What's wrong with them anyways? --I ALWAYS understand everything! (snark)

Peace out.

Friday, September 7, 2012

a give-away in the poorest county in the nation

I have been thinking a lot about the surprise party that was given us on Wednesday night --we scrambled to pull together a couple of gifts because it is appropriate to do give-aways at a party and we kinda figured out the 'surprise' part ahead of time... So, we had a quilt we gave to the whole mission for fund raising at the Diocesan Convention --we framed some pictures I had purchased from a local artist who was in need of cash --some new kitchen towels, salt and pepper shaker, candies, music box --and a whole bunch of those fancy shampoos, body lotion, soaps and etc. that one finds in one's hotel room. (I prefaced that part of the give-away by saying that it has taken everything in my whole life to get here, and what a journey it has been --and these toiletries represent our journey... or something like that.)

But, our little give-away was nothing. We were showered with gifts --fresh flowers (which are awfully expensive up here), foods galore, cards --and the most beautiful Pendelton lap robe.... all of which, given the desperate poverty of this place were extravagant, over the top kinds of gifts.... Nobody could afford to give away what they gave us....

And I have been thinking of our political life as a Nation... Sojournor's has a piece by Jim Wallis about what the political conventions have been refusing to talk about --the War on Drugs, Poverty, and the purchase of our political system (money in politics). This particular article was also picked up by Huffington Post. Jim Wallis writes
If you're not poor, and you don't have friends who are poor, you might have little clue about what it's like to be in poverty. For too many people before the recession, poverty was about "them." About "those people." Now, poverty is "us" -- those sitting next to us in the pews, fellow workers laid off, brothers or sisters with their houses underwater. We have a whole group of hardworking people, through no fault of their own, who are slipping through the cracks and under the poverty line. According to the Census, nearly half of Americans are under the poverty line or barely above it: they are one paycheck, one health crisis, one breath away from falling below that line. Folks who used to donate their used clothes to Salvation Army are now shopping there; families who used to donate to food banks are standing in their ever-growing lines.
And, so, I have been thinking about the extravagant give-aways I have witnessed --here in the poorest county in our Nation... and what folks here could teach the rich --how wealth here is based upon how much you give away, not what you have. --and what joy there is found in that.... --what a hard, pinched, cold existence this place and these people could have --except for the heart of the people who teach and live the give-aways.

True poverty is spiritual. Because of the Incarnation, poverty is not materially based --true poverty is spiritual. And I hate the word spiritual because it has been used in so many and frequent ways... but I hope this is understandable... True poverty is a state of mind and heart.... Material things are holy, because of the Incarnation... but the material things themselves are not holy, and their accumulation or quest of them is idolatrous. (Hoarders have nothing on capitalists who horde the very signs of wealth and materiality.... )

And, yes, there are the truly hungry here, folks who don't have enough to eat --which is why at every funeral, every feast, the street people who come in the door and look are usually welcomed and fed. And yes, there are the homeless here, folks who live in abandoned buildings, folks who live in homes without water or power (tin tipis they are called because they are usually 'mobile' homes) --but two families I know allow those homeless to sleep in their basements (basements, because there are 12 other folks mostly children living in a three-bedroom home) during the worst of the winter --and I am sure there are more who offer a warm roof.

True poverty is a state of mind and heart. And, oh, how poor we've been as a Nation... So. Very. Poor.

And here --the First People in their own home on their own land, against whom genocide, racism, theft and oppression have been perpetrated, who suffer indignity daily because they are poor and outcasts --there is a deep spirituality, a deep faith, a deep joy, a deep and extravagant generosity, an abiding love of God....

At prayer this morning (Job 19:14-27)

[Job says] “My relatives and my close friends have failed me; the guests in my house have forgotten me; my serving girls count me as a stranger; I have become an alien in their eyes. I call to my servant, but he gives me no answer; I must myself plead with him. My breath is repulsive to my wife; I am loathsome to my own family. Even young children despise me; when I rise, they talk against me. All my intimate friends abhor me, and those whom I loved have turned against me. My bones cling to my skin and to my flesh, and I have escaped by the skin of my teeth. Have pity on me, have pity on me, O you my friends, for the hand of God has touched me! Why do you, like God, pursue me, never satisfied with my flesh?

“O that my words were written down! O that they were inscribed in a book! O that with an iron pen and with lead they were engraved on a rock forever! For I know that my Redeemer lives, and that at the last he will stand upon the earth; and after my skin has been thus destroyed, then in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see on my side, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me!”

--the last bit being part of the anthem that opens a funeral procession....

Yes. If any of the political parties were addressing the War on Drugs (which claims so many lives, daily), Poverty and Money in Politics, I might regret not having a TV to listen to what they might say...

--and I think I hit on something regarding capitalists being like but sicker than hoarders....

But as it is, I am beginning to think of our next give-away...  oh, yes. And how I can get the good news out there --blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.... --blessed are you who mourn, for you shall be comforted.... --blessed are you meek, for you shall inherit the earth.... --blessed are you who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for you shall be satisfied.... blessed are you when you are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.... blessed are the peacemakers and the merciful....

--just thinkin'....


Thursday, September 6, 2012

the mud here

Yesterday was a holy day --not because it was our anniversary... but because there were secret plans afoot for a surprise party to bless us --and I was called to work in holy and necessary ways. I met with a family at the hospital to pray over the body of their deceased loved one --brother, father, uncle.... And times like that, when the fabric of life is torn and folks are awash in grief, a new ordering of the universe if necessary. That makes for a holy day.

The tangents of the day --life torn apart, life together celebrated --a Big. Holy. Day.

But such a day leaves a vacuum in its wake --for me, at least. I must let go of the pendulum and enter the free fall of faith....

--where the gems of priorities become unstrung in a chaotic scatter, rolling under the desk and chairs. Some lost forever, it seems.

--and clothes are tossed about, shoes discarded.

--and stripped of all adornment, I walk vulnerable in to a state of prayer where the words and gestures are never enough, and a maze of wonder and fear clouds the vision... the horizon, the signs along the way, the land marks unseen --unseeable. Walking blind.

There is no auto-pilot in times like this...

The co-mingling of joy and grief, life and death... and such words put me in mind of mixing water in the wine....

At prayer this morning (John 9:1-17)

As Jesus walked along, he saw a man blind from birth.

His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes, saying to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent).

Then he went and washed and came back able to see.

The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” Some were saying, “It is he.” Others were saying, “No, but it is someone like him.”

He kept saying, “I am the man.”

But they kept asking him, “Then how were your eyes opened?”

He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ Then I went and washed and received my sight.”

They said to him, “Where is he?”

He said, “I do not know.”
Oh, yes... mud in the eyes... blindness which becomes in itself a sign of the Kingdom, a wonderful work of light for the coming darkness... made of mud we are. Sent as mud we are. And we cannot know or see who it was that pinched the mud in to our eyes --and so we cannot know what that man called Jesus looks like until we have the eyes to see... after we have been healed, then we see.

Hey God, it's margaret. The mud here is unlike any mud I have met before. Thank you. Amen.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

we are only half-way done --a prayer, not a proclamation

Joel and I are 31 today....

Br. Joel and me, about 1974, while we were building the Tree House at the Bishop's Ranch, Healdsburg, CA
Taken by Billy Pierce, now Orthodox priest, Fr. John

Our wedding day, September 5, 1981
L to R: Barbara Yelverton, Donna Hodgman, Michael Robbinette, William Carr, Bishop Witcher (LI), Joel+, me,
Canon Charles M. Guilbert+, Dolly Carr, Katherine Hambly (my sister!)
My dress was a $60 "Gunnysack" dress... and we had a pot-luck reception in the church hall

We met in 1973 --of course, I was just a baby.... I can't believe we've known each other 39 years. Over coffee, D said, well, another 31 is do-able. And Joel started to cry when he realized she was right --not because he was sad, but I think because he has thought for so long that death was sitting, waiting in the chair next to him for so long, that he hadn't lifted his chin to see other possibilities.

So, our goal/prayer today --another 31.

Marriage is the greatest work of art I have ever undertaken. I am so very grateful that Joel was my best and my soul friend for nine years before we tied the knot. We 'knew' each other in all the best ways first --in the long soulful talks, in my standing and playing the flute while he played the piano making music together, in all the God talks --and, oh how we have changed in all the years in so many ways. He is not the man I married --and yet he is. And more.

But, most importantly --I have known love, and the possibilities of love --transformation, revelation, profound assurance --and known all these things and more because, by, through, with the betrayals, death and brokenness of body, mind and soul.... All that may sound flip and foolish, and is flip and foolish by some standards, but flip and foolish are the keyholes that have opened the doors, cranky on their hinges, to new rooms in our house together.

--there are many rooms in my Father's house... all of them with silly little keyholes. And, I think we've worked our way out of the basement corridors....

There are so many other paths we could have taken....

And last year, I think we both thought it might be our last together... Joel was in the hospital with a broken back and in dubious health overall, I had just lost my job, we were selling our house at a loss --all things that might have pushed us to different horizons, separate horizons --like always, we have found ourselves in a life we could not have anticipated, with a new and extravagant texture all its own....

CS Lewis writes so eloquently of the Four Loves --good sex, self-fulfillment, friendship --and the love in which one loses one's self --a total-giving love... I am blessed to know much if not all that Lewis writes about --and more.

None of it come lightly or easily....

And, I pray that we share those blessings. Always. All ways. Because we do not love each other merely for our own sakes....

At prayer this morning (Canticle: Third Song of Isaiah)
Arise, shine, for your light has come, *
and the glory of the Lord has dawned upon you.
For behold, darkness covers the land; *
deep gloom enshrouds the peoples.
But over you the Lord will rise, *
and his glory will appear upon you.
Nations will stream to your light, *
and kings to the brightness of your dawning.
Your gates will always be open; *
by day or night they will never be shut.
They will call you, The City of the Lord, *
The Zion of the Holy One of Israel.
Violence will no more be heard in your land, *
ruin or destruction within your borders.
You will call your walls, Salvation, *
and all your portals, Praise.
The sun will no more be your light by day; *
by night you will not need the brightness of the moon.
The Lord will be your everlasting light, *
and your God will be your glory.

For Joy in God’s Creation

O heavenly Father, you have filled the world with beauty: Open our eyes to behold your gracious hand in all your works; that, rejoicing in your whole creation, we may learn to serve you with gladness; for the sake of him through whom all things were made....

A Collect for Grace

Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us in safety to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power; that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose....

Hey God, it's margaret here. No high falluting words from me --just, Thank You. For all those who have supported us and shown us the way. For our bodies. For this world. For our knowing each other. For our life together. This is all so very cool. Even the parts that have hurt. And thank you for lifting Joel's chin and giving him hope that we are only half-way done. Amen.