Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Blessed All Hallows Eve!

--maybe I'll be a princess instead of a witch.....





--and maybe I'll have a shape-shifting lover to rescue me....





BOOOOOO!!!!!

Happy All Hallows Eve ever'body!

Hat tip to David.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

scraping yogurt out of the plastic container while I pray for ecological justice in the wake of the storm

Ugghhhh... the bits and pieces of news from the Sandy Storm that we can cobble together from on-line sources is devastating. My prayers continue for all, especially for the hearts and souls of first-responders.

Here... well.... Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning....

Sunrise in Eagle Butte, over the utility poles I call "Calvary"

One day wanders in to the next, the cold settling in and encouraging some folks to enter alcohol and drug treatment centers --a way to get shelter for the winter. At least, that is the way some see it. And it is Church Bazaar weekend coming up --preparing for Christmas.

How'd that happen? Dang....

But today, it promises to be up in the 50s or 60s, so we will put plexi-glass up on the basement windows because they leak like a sieve --and I am confident that if we get any real snow this winter, the windows and their ledges just inches off the ground will become open invitations to whatever the outside may offer.

And with some shock, I realized I have been at work here for nine months... I kept thinking only seven... perhaps it is better here to count by the week or cycles of the moon as was done traditionally --the days add up too quickly.

At the last class for Lay Readers last week, I emphasized that our Tradition is grounded as an "earth" tradition --that we are regulated in prayer by the cycles of the sun and moon --that our great feast of Easter is determined by the spring equinox and full moon --that we pray as the sun rises or sets.... Too often here I have heard that Christianity is out of touch with natural things, that we need buildings to pray in, that sort of thing. Really? I think to myself....

And then I ponder the Great Storm Sandy, and its devastation... and I do wonder about our roads and buildings and structures so necessary in our modern lives.... Yes, we all need shelter --but, what if....? And then I dream of totally green low carbon impact living...

--which, of course, would mean no computers as they are now, to start with.... Built as they are with mineral rich polluting components by low-wage earners while lining the pockets of the ultra rich who keep getting richer and richer....

--which, of course, would mean doing without a whole bunch of other stuff too --like all the plastics etc.

Is there any hope for us, living on this planet as we do?

So, that too, is front and center in my prayers --pondering the size and power of the storm and global warming....

--and knowing, as I scrape the yogurt out of the plastic container, that in most instances in the super market I MUST participate in our ecological destruction --we are given no other choice.

And so I grieve. For the generations to come. It's not the "debt" that is going to kill them.... Or the planet.

At prayer this morning (from Luke 11 after verse 30)

[Jesus said] “No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar, but on the lampstand so that those who enter may see the light.

Your eye is the lamp of your body. If your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light; but if it is not healthy, your body is full of darkness.

Therefore consider whether the light in you is not darkness. If then your whole body is full of light, with no part of it in darkness, it will be as full of light as when a lamp gives you light with its rays.”

Light comes from within....

We must hope. We must work month by month, day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute.

In this, we have choice.

Always. All ways.

Thanks be to God.

And, now --distracted by the door bell ringing twice, I really must run over and make sure the guys setting up for the hot lunch know how to use the thermostat. They have been turning the furnace on and off at the source, wreaking havoc with the heating systems....

--dangit --well, at least we use natural gas and not fuel oil or something.....


Monday, October 29, 2012

No one's heritage, no one's history is intact, Mr. Wizard

It's Saint Simon and Saint Jude Day.

Saint Jude is often thought of as the Saint of Desperate Causes... you know, when you are at the end of your rope, have no where or one to turn to....

There we are.

Saint Simon... he is more a mystery than anything else --mentioned only in the lists of disciples.

Some would have it that both, together, traveled east --into present day Iran, Iraq --that way. And that they suffered martyrdom there.

Hmmmmmmm....

And why do we then remember, I ask silently... if nothing is really known.... How do we know anything, the other voice in my head responds. Perhaps that is how some see faith....

In my own experience, faith has never been ethereal --it has always been tangible, always material. The experience of God, of Christ's Love, of the push of the Spirit, these are not other-worldly or spiritual. I can account for them --in feasts, in certain instances of the touch of a hand, in the lightening-strike question of a child... beyond emotive, a flash of eternal anchored in real time, in real flesh and blood.

--and why in this thought am I remembering the conversation from yesterday around one of the tables in a shared meal after church --the conversation about the cut-off road to Rapid... how it is populated along its stretch with the Klan, how this one over here was nearly run off the road there by a truck that kept ramming it from behind --how another was shot there  --how the Dateline expose of this stretch of road showed a young girl excited to receive her first white Klan gown and accompanying her parents to a her first cross burning --and the knowledge of where that cross burning took place along this road --and remembering how I buried someone about two months ago found floating in a pond while his friend was hung in a tree nearby and the police found no evidence of foul play and insisted the deaths were not related....

Perhaps I am remembering the two together --faith and oppression --because oppression requires all those unseen things like dignity and justice and truth in order to get out of bed in the morning --and faith encourages one to embody those unseen things, and make them known.

The weight of faith....

I looked for the Dateline expose, but couldn't find it on-line. Folks were saying it aired here Saturday night.

But there is this --from recent activity in the town of Custer (yes, there really is a town of Custer ---{{shudder}}---)

The imperial wizard said his title is “the fancy name for ‘president’ of the organization” and that he is the national leader of the Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.

“A lot of people probably have misconceptions of what the Klan is about or what a Klansman is about. I believe one of the flyers put out (in Custer) is titled ‘What is a Klansman?’ and it tells people what we’re about – not the BS put out by the media or the agent provocateurs with the FBI that want to destroy or discredit organizations like ours, just like they did in the 1960s with the Black Panthers and with other organizations, like the American Indian Movement. For some reason, the stigma still sticks with the Klan.”

A lot of people think the Klan is going out and lynching and hanging people, Ancona said, and that’s just a complete lie. “And they think we hate all other races, and that’s a complete lie,” he added.

“We don’t burn crosses in people’s yards. We have a cross-lighting ceremony, and it’s a Christian ceremony.

...

“There were some bad Klan members in the past committing rogue acts, but this (modern-day KKK) is a completely different thing,” he noted.

One of the main goals of the Ku Klux Klan is to destigmatize itself and encourage white Americans to not be ashamed of their heritage, according to Ancona. The Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan does have what it calls a “realm” in South Dakota, he says, which is aligned with the boundaries of the state.

He says the main requirement for being a Klan member is that a person be a “native-born individual of America. We have some members who might be part Cherokee or some other Native American because they are native-born Americans.” He admits, however, that the KKK doesn’t actively recruit Native Americans or other non-white ethnicities because of its core principle of upholding the “way of life of white Americans and their families, which comes above all else, whether I like your (non-white) family or not.”

Ancona said it was never the intent of his organization to scare, threaten, intimidate or harass anyone living in Custer, and that the modern-day Ku Klux Klan has a different message than that.

“It’s not a message of hate, it’s a message of love, really. We love our nation, we love our race, and we like to keep our history and heritage intact.”

Cross-burning as a Christian ceremony. A message of love.... A couple of inappropriate words I won't write here come to mind.

The Southern Poverty Law Center which tracks Klan activities doesn't list South Dakota as having any active groups....

At prayer this morning (From Isaiah 28)

Therefore hear the word of the LORD, you scoffers
who rule this people in Jerusalem.
Because you have said, “We have made a covenant with death,
and with Sheol we have an agreement;
when the overwhelming scourge passes through
it will not come to us;
for we have made lies our refuge,
and in falsehood we have taken shelter”;
therefore thus says the Lord GOD,
See, I am laying in Zion a foundation stone,
a tested stone,
a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation:
One who trusts will not panic.
No one's heritage, no one's history is intact, Mr. Imperial Wizard. Because our heritage is not yet revealed and our history is incomplete. But, I have a sinking feeling that the promotion of a single race or a single creed is not only NOT Christian, but is a covenant with death and an agreement with Sheol.

Just sayin'.

And, so, today, I watch and pray... and give thanks for the knock on the door which draws me away from self-absorption and a call which takes me distant places.

I pray for all those in the path of the storm; for the children in the dorm here; for the homeless and hungry and cold; for the victims of hate crimes; and for the perpetrators of violence, hate and oppression who dare claim to be Christians --may their hearts be blasted open by the spirit of truth and humility and all that they fear be laid to rest.

For Simon and Jude and all those unknown to us.... and all those with desperate causes. And may the Great Mystery which compelled them, also compel us.

Amen.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

bleeding heart liberal (well maybe) with Alanon under her belt

The hurricane Sandy sounds terribly frightening --I am thinking of and praying for all my friends along the right coast. A "perfect storm" is what I read... that can become stronger as it moves north and inland. A hurricane that is going to meet a cold front. More whup-ful than a nor'easter.

--sheeeeeesh.....

I also read that it should disrupt voting. I hope you all vote early. Just sayin'.

Looks like this election is going to be a wilder ride than any of us dreamed....

--but the election seems so far removed from us here. There are only about 825,000 folks in the whole State --yes, I know, the whole State hardly has the population of a good-sized city elsewhere, so neither party is really campaigning here. We are given three whole votes in the electoral college. And the Reservations largely vote Democratic, and the rest of the State doesn't (no, Republican is not a given --there are political parties right of Republican here). And since the Reservations only account for about 9% of the population.... There we are.

But I have been trying not to drink the bitter cup of anxiety. Not just because life here won't change all that much no matter who is elected --but because I know my heart just doesn't have the room to consider the horrifying and lasting effects of a Republican in the White House again.... it is worse than dread. Bush was devastating --but imagine --Romney may actually be a little smarter, a lot more devious, and a heart like a razor blade. No, I can't imagine what he might be capable of....

And, so, I wait, and watch, and work in love. The obvious effects of generations of poverty, no health care, poor education, isolation and racism that went far afield in to genocide and annihilation are too present to consider what else might happen.

--a perfect storm....

And, it is a tension wire walk... We are so grateful to have been able to fix the broken window --and I feel a strange oppression from every broken window in town now --glaring at me like some fixed eye. Shouldn't I fix every window if I fix my own?

And yet I know that I have two other windows with cracked panes of glass in the front room of our house that need fixing, but the windows aren't yet too far gone, so they stay... and will stay for the winter. At least they have functioning storm windows over them.

--and I remind myself that I am not necessarily here to fix broken windows in all the houses... I am here to open the windows of my own soul and be present in so many other ways... even so, it is hard.

--and then I am reminded of the resiliency of the People. To have survived. To have kept so much of their culture --yes some of it shredded, but being made anew by the determination of the elders and imagination of the children. Trying to find that collective identity....

In the elections here --on the Reservation --to run for Tribal Council and the like... a system imposed from the Nation that conquered the People. Some still want to work in consensus rather than majority rule... some still wonder how the Tribal Council could seemingly work for itself --for its own benefit and the benefit of businesses or big ranchers rather than the benefit of the whole People....

...yes, I know. We are all the same. We are all so different. We are all the same.

At prayer this morning (From Ecclesiasticus 15)
It was he who created humankind in the beginning,
and he left them in the power of their own free choice.
If you choose, you can keep the commandments,
and to act faithfully is a matter of your own choice.
He has placed before you fire and water;
stretch out your hand for whichever you choose.
Before each person are life and death,
and whichever one chooses will be given.
For great is the wisdom of the Lord;
he is mighty in power and sees everything;
his eyes are on those who fear him,
and he knows every human action.

And from Luke 11

And he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.’ And he answers from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs.

“So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

--and all my Alanon training and experience comes to the fore-front of my mind --not my heart, but my mind... I will give once, maybe twice, but the third, fourth and fifth time we have to acknowledge some other pattern is going on --and I don't want to go there.

Sigh....

--and yet, so.... and I am back to the election --the national election, the Tribal election --all of it is being played out in my heart and at my door and through the windows of my soul.

--and the flags are still at half-mast here, honoring the death of George McGovern, who was proud of the label "bleeding heart liberal." Proud that he had worked all his political life to undergird the poor... proud that his heart bled for the least of them.

--and I think to myself, but I am not a bleeding heart liberal... I am not even a liberal... the Gospel has moved me to go places that liberals do not dare to go....






Oh yeah....

...hey, I just noticed... all these youtubes of WoodStock (and, yes, even the Janis I wandered in to --woncha buy me a mercedes benz? -oh no!) --they ALL have AARP ads attached.

Well... dang........

--off we go then. To make sandwiches for the guys at the door.... Because I'd rather do that....

Friday, October 26, 2012

verb/noun stuff

Yesterday, I baked two pumpkin pies. While the furnace man came. When the furnace man installed our log set, he checked our furnace too and changed the filters --and it was working just six weeks ago. So we were more than puzzled when we couldn't get it to turn on yesterday.

And after just a few minutes, up he came... dead baby robins in hand. OMG! I said --part of a nest, too, he said, and showed me the box. They jambed up the motor, he said.

All the way down a chimney to the basement... to the pit of hell and death in a furnace.... I really must check the furnace chimney, because I thought it was properly covered, and obviously it is not....

--and now blogger spell-check keeps underlining in red the word 'jambed' --which is not only part of a door frame, but a verb type word to indicate something that got stuck. At least that is what I was taught. But the on-line dictionaries list such usage as obsolete. Well. There we are.

I would hate to think the baby birds jammed up the motor --because I don't think I could touch jam again for quite a while... but there, it's too late... I've thought it.... But I certainly don't want to use verbs on toast or bagels or whatever any more than I want to use nouns to... well, if you understand what I'm thinking....

--and I gave away more than half of one of the pumpkin pies.... Not to the furnace man, but to someone who called late last night, some one I know and trust, and they said they had not eaten in two days --nor had their kid... so, we gave them our cereal, milk, bread, pulled-pork, coleslaw, pumpkin pie, soup, fruit juice --we emptied our frig into grocery bags and handed them out the door as the blast of frigid air threw itself against us, and I wondered if they had any heat. I knew their house had been stripped down to the studs on the inside... I knew they managed to cobble together a bath room with running water this summer... a bathroom without walls, so they hung some old sheets and blankets they found... I wondered if the sheets and blankets were now being put to a more fortified use --now that summer is over.

I think I need to go visit them. Visit... To visit --a visit. See, both verb and noun.

And, I hope today we will get that window fixed... to fix --a fix....

And, thinking that the Word that God spoke in the beginning --the action Word that holds all things in being --and the noun that we can know in love... and I wonder if God discerns between noun and verb or if there is a third way --a word for nouns that are action... Maybe that is who Jesus is --both noun and verb at once....

At prayer this morning (Luke 10:38-42)
Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying.

But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.”

But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”

I feel a certainty that Jesus did not do and say these things to make Mary's way of utter adoration and contemplation a higher degree of faith than Martha's drudgery --and those many tasks that catch hold of us all... I feel a certainty that it was the pissy-ness --the comparative I-do-this-and-everyone-else-does-that distraction that Jesus was telling Martha to quit... That no matter what we are doing, we are to do it with our whole hearts and minds and being in love....

--and I do wish Jesus could have been more of a feminist and gone to help Martha in her corner of the room --or the outside yard, or down by the communal oven or what ever it was that Martha was doing all by herself...

On the other hand, it had already been proven it was too time-consuming to send him to the well for water --I mean, that ends up with him talking to women and taking DAYS... and him offering water instead of bringing it home....

Anyhoooo -I am hoping today for more perfect verbs and more perfect nouns and a more perfect union of the two...

--or something like that. Cosmic, of course.

--and will look again at the furnace chimney... so, that is why the robins were always disappearing and appearing over the rooftop....

--and, kishnevi, I'm thinking that God is not silent --what with all that spoken Word noun/verb stuff... but it is we who must be silent on occasion to listen....

--and I just ate toast and jam with my tea....

Thursday, October 25, 2012

just prayers

There we are. It's windy and cold (28F) --I am sure the windchill must be in the single digits. And our main furnace won't turn on...

I am so very glad we put the gas burner in the fireplace. We would be miserable this morning without it. We put it in because (A) it's fun to sit by a fire and (B) we needed an efficient source of heat that was not dependent upon electricity.

So, this morning, saying my prayers with a chill draft biting at my heels --without a window in the front office and no furnace to circulate the air... but giving thanks for the heat we have....


Another one who is happy for the heat this morning

At prayer this morning (from Psalm 37)
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.

And in my prayers --thanksgiving for all those who came to class last night; thanksgiving for the Roman Catholic nun who dropped by last night for a hot cuppa; thanksgiving for the guys who are already gathering this morning to open the church to prepare and serve a hot lunch; thanksgiving for the arrival of the chill winds and rain last night; thanksgiving that the plastic in the window has not ripped or torn; thanksgiving for hot coffee and a breakfast meal; thanksgiving for those who give of themselves and pray to support this Mission; thanksgiving for the doctors and nurses who choose to live and work here;

--intercessions for MadPriest and his family because beloved dog, Glenna, died suddenly yesterday; intercessions for the homeless and cold this morning; intercessions for those who are alone, and for those whose relationships are in turmoil; intercessions for the folks who live in the tin tipis behind us; intercessions for the bereaved here and those who have asked me to pray for them; intercessions for the children who live in the dorms here in town; intercessions for all who have to work outside today; intercessions for those who live with chronic or terminal illness; intercessions for those who are caring for the dying; intercessions for the unemployed; intercessions for those who live in war zones, and those who create war zones;

--for those who have died, especially those I buried last week, and George McGovern and Russell Means;

--for those in the path of the hurricane;

--petitions for all who strive for justice and peace and the dignity of every human being; petitions for all who work for the bodily and spiritual well-being of the People; petitions for the four-legged, two-legged and all the other relatives in this place, especially the little bird that keeps flying up under the eaves in front of the big window this morning; petitions for this Nation as it discerns its next President; petitions for the People as they discern leadership here on the Reservation;

--blessed are you, Creator of the cosmos, who brings forth all good things from the earth to make glad the heart of humanity, and the heart of humanity to be the Body of your Beloved Child; give us the will to persevere, the joy to serve, the imagination to see, and the courage to love; make us ever mindful of the work of reconciliation to which you have called us; and may that peace which passes all understanding abide with us now and always; through him who walks before us and shows us the Way. Amen.

And now, I think it is time to clean the house... can't imagine how it got this dirty.... (how's that for denial).

--and still thinking about 'Silence' in heaven, kishnevi... still thinking.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

a half hour of silence in heaven

It rained last night.

It rained. Watch me do my happy dance! Cuz it is still gonna rain --maybe all day!
Wednesday
Overcast with rain, then snow and rain in the afternoon. High of 43F. Winds from the SW at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of precipitation 100%.

Wednesday Night
Overcast with a chance of snow in the evening, then mostly cloudy with a chance of snow. Low of 25F with a windchill as low as 16F. Winds from the NW at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of snow 30% with accumulations up to 1 in. possible.

Yesterday afternoon we set out to repair the broken window before the rain and snow came. By 4pm we had all the broken glass out of the frame, the old caulking and those weird triangle glass holding nails cleaned out. Up on the ladder, large sheet of plate glass in hand --we discovered that the glass man had cut the glass EXACTLY 1/4" too big... back to the glass-man shop, but he was gone for the evening. So we spent until the sun went down putting plastic up over the window, praying the tape would hold in the coming wet and wind.

The plastic is still there this morning --but there is a chill in that room that won't quit. Won't. Quit. So... we have our work cut out for us. If it looks as though the plastic will stay, perhaps we'll wait until tomorrow....

And I look at all the windows around town done up in plastic.... And I am grateful we have the tools and experience and resources.... And sometimes those very resources make me look around and feel completely overwhelmed....

But, I remember during the interview process, the Bishop said --you are not here to SAVE anyone. You are here to be present and to be with the People.

That has been a touchstone... a landmark in navigating this new (for me) territory these past seven months...

...jeez --has it been seven months already? How'd that happen?

--and the little coat I hung on the fence is gone this morning. I don't know if it has fallen back into the weeds or has been taken home....

There is so much that seems in limbo this morning.... although I do feel like I am finally recovering after  four funerals and two baptisms in a week.... Yesterday the weight of it pressed on me anew, after I saw one of the young couples whose infant had died --they were out shopping...

And I wondered if they felt that same feeling I had felt --when you go out right after a loss like that and you see somebody do something stupid or thoughtless --or you read the headlines of the newspaper, and you want to shake the world by the shoulders and MAKE them pay attention --scream, don't you see, don't you see... and some days even the red roundness of apples stacked in the produce section of the market will make you want to cry. Fill the soul with unexpected, unvetted torment.

So, this morning, having remembered, my prayers for them awaken despite the pall of clouds and threat of snow and rain. I will pray red roundness of apples, and purge the wounds... and chew right on through the core until I have a handful of seeds.

And my friend just called to tell me of an overnight meeting in Pine Ridge in a few weeks. I said I wanted the room with jacuzzi --and we laughed and laughed, and he said that room was already reserved for the Bishop. And we laughed some more.

Because the handful of seeds need laughter to take root.

My dog, Olaf, taught me that. A long time ago. Big ol' muscular galumph of a springer-pointer mix hunting dog that was scared of loud noises. Which is why he ended up with us. There are few things on earth as beautiful as I remember him --freezing mid-step and pointing, every part of him full throttle in anticipation. I wept the day I watched him irresistibly flush a pheasant out of the shrubs.

And he told the best jokes. He would have worn tweed and smoked a pipe in order to spite any one who thought something like that would be wonderful. Such was his sarcasm. And he would retrieve a thrown ball from the middle of a busy four-lane road just because... a child had thrown the ball, and who could resist such a thing as that?

Seeds need laughter to take root.

So, I guess I will laugh at the plastic on the window. I will mix laughter in to the stew I will make for class tonight. I will plant laughter along the fence before the snow comes. I will laugh when the snow comes, hoping the children will see me doing my snow dance....

At prayer this morning (from Luke 10 beginning at verse 17)
The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!”

Jesus said to them, “I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

At that same hour Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.
See! Called to be rejoicing fools and simpletons. Jesus rejoicing in a certain way even when he told the others to quit!

Quite frankly, this line from the second reading made me laugh out loud: When the Lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. (Rev. 8:1)

Half an hour? Really? OMG! In eternity and forever in heaven and they still keep time???!!!!

That's hilarious!

Satan falling from heaven... authority to tread on snakes (not in this church yard)...

Hey God, it's margaret. So, there you have it. Oh --and all my prayers about the inventors of plastic burning in hell because of what plastic does in the environment and because there is now an ocean of plastic bottles in the ocean --well, just this week I am rejoicing in plastic... but only for a little while.

Peace out.

Still laughing --a half hour of silence in heaven... that's hilarious!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

grateful that the geese fly

It's time to make sure that the gas tank in the car is always more than half-full. And we have a real chance of rain in the next 24 hours --we so desperately need it. It seems every one has a sinus infection or ear ache from the dust.

Yesterday, while I was out raking leaves, I heard a noise like sandpaper made of crickets and frogs... I quit raking... looking around for the sound. And off in the distance I saw more geese than I thought possible --hundreds of geese rising, circling, a slow-motion whirlwind in the making, rising and forming clutches of V's at an elevation almost beyond sight --speaking to each other, "it's time, it's time, let's go."

And then turning south.... There was a predator among them, rising with them, nearly twice their size, looking for its chance. Young, old, weak... it didn't matter.

I ran to the door, Joel, Joel, come look, hurry. And Mr. Witty and Joel came busting out of the warm and quiet in to the wild breeze, half-raked leaves and downed branches, and the sound of the geese. Mr. Witty lifted his nose and face in to the breeze by the fence. Joel and I stood there between the garage and house, lifting our faces to the sky, watching the ascending geese through the branches of the cottonwood tree --like the metal web of medieval stained glass windows framing an ancient and mysterious icon of the holy....

South. To the next dimple of water. South. And then they were gone.

Joel turned and said, would you like some hot chocolate? So I had hot chocolate, raked some more, and when I wasn't done but had had enough, I came inside and made spaghetti, and we hunkered in to the cold evening, laughing, watching Korean drama on Hulu, grateful that we had a roof, heat and food, and each other.

Grateful that the geese fly.

At prayer this morning (Canticle: You are God, Te Deum laudamus)

You are God: we praise you;
You are the Lord; we acclaim you;
You are the eternal Father:
All creation worships you.
To you all angels, all the powers of heaven,
Cherubim and Seraphim, sing in endless praise:
Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
The glorious company of apostles praise you.
The noble fellowship of prophets praise you.
The white-robed army of martyrs praise you.
Throughout the world the holy Church acclaims you;
Father, of majesty unbounded,
your true and only Son, worthy of all worship,
and the Holy Spirit, advocate and guide.
You, Christ, are the king of glory,
the eternal Son of the Father.
When you became man to set us free
you did not shun the Virgin’s womb.
You overcame the sting of death
and opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers.
You are seated at God’s right hand in glory.
We believe that you will come and be our judge.
Come then, Lord, and help your people,
bought with the price of your own blood,
and bring us with your saints
to glory everlasting.




Monday, October 22, 2012

comfortable, manicured graves --and the plow upon another's shoulders

We had to cancel church in Dupree because it was too cold and there is no power in the church... and I haven't made the trip to Rapid when I had enough time to go over and buy one of those little clean portable propane heaters... so that is on my list.

But, up in Thunder Butte, we had fourteen people at church... fourteen people worshipping in a town with fourteen houses.

Nice.

And then I discovered that they weren't all from Thunder Butte... oh well. But there were four generations of the same family who had been from Thunder Butte historically, and multiple in-laws were there as well. And we all ate afterwards, and reviewed the items being made for the Christmas Bazaar. Deacon purchased a fine quilt, and we all teased her. About making it Christmas already. Shopping at the mall on Sunday.

I don't know why Deacon wore her sandals yesterday --but she wore sandals and the Smart Wool socks I gave her last year... and a vest that the Presiding Bishop had given her this summer when Deacon complained of being cold in the air conditioning at Convocation (God bless you +Katharine). A big purple vest with an embroidered gold insignia that Deacon wore yesterday. With her orange wool socks with the turtles woven in all over 'em.

At the last church service of the day, up in Bear Creek, where again we had no heat--no power and candles aren't pretty at the altar but necessary in the dim light of an early evening cloud-ridden day and promises of snow overnight --Deacon wore her vest under her alb. And we prayed evening wool and fleece type prayers. It's just getting to be that time of year.

--that time of year when the broken windows in the tin tipis (FEMA trailers) behind our house that also have no electricity or gas or water --that time of year when those broken windows get closed in with scrap wood or whatever else can be found...

And when we got home, the Rez dogs had thoroughly enjoyed the funeral leftovers they pulled from the dumpster, so as Mr. Witty and Joel ran up and down inside the yard, delighted that we had arrived home before dark became really dark --I found a garbage bag that was less chewed open than the others and picked up the strewn plates and cups and napkins... and found a small jacket with fake fur trim in the weeds, and I hung it on the fence for someone to find.

It is still there this morning --but the dumpsters are empty... so sometime between last night and early this morning, the guys came in the big truck and took away the Rez dogs' dream come true.... Cake. Fry bread. Bapbha soup (dried meat and wild turnips) stuck to the styrofoam bowl... (traditionally it would be deer, antelope or buffalo meat --now it is mostly beef...)

Those guys that drive the big truck aren't supposed to empty the dumpsters until tomorrow... but that's the way it is sometimes done up here --you feed or bury a relative, and they'll care for you in their way.

At prayer this morning (from Luke 9 ending with verse 65)
As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”

To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” But Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

Another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
So --follow Jesus and you'll have no place to call home... and the Lakota, homeless in their own home...

So --follow Jesus and... what... not bury your father?  Obviously, Jesus didn't know the Lakota real well yet.... where the kingdom of God is proclaimed at the edge of every grave...

So --follow Jesus and never look back? Obviously, Jesus didn't know that there is no looking back among the Lakota --not in that way...

--because they already know all too well there is no going back. So you turn the grief out in to the soil where the blood of your ancestors has been spilled, and when you get to the end of the row behind the white man's plow that cuts the flesh of mother earth, you turn the horse and everything else around and come back, almost to that place where you began.... by the rivers, and graves, homeless in your own home, tucked in neatly among quilts and vest and wool socks because the wild bison are gone --Tatanka (Buffalo), who gives life to the people with his own life --with his everything....

I think that today I shall take the plastic bags that we have collected from the store, and use them to stuff the cracks around the doors we won't use this winter... because that is the way it is done here... and truly, it works better than the stuff you have to pay for at the hardware store. And I think I will go out pluck the leaves out of the cyclone fence and rake them all at once in to a large pile just for fun. And perhaps I shall clear the ditch by the garage and do those other little things to get ready for winter. And I shall rejoice that Christ is present among us, always. And that Christ has been sacrificed for us --a word and theological tenant I used to abhor, but understand in whole new ways, now... And I shall sing that song that my Grandmother taught me of the Red River Valley and the boy who loved me so true...

And I shall know that when Jesus said be homeless, leave the dead, and don't look back, that he wasn't speaking to those who had already done all those things...

--but was speaking to those who are comfortable, whose parents/sibling/ancestors have been carefully tucked in manicured graves, and who benefit from placing the plow upon another's shoulders.

There we are.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

G'wan. Go to church

G'wan. Go to church.

And, you know, when you get ticked off because some one else is asking for or doing something you don't like --that ticked off nudge is actually the Holy Spirit, calling you to serve.

Just sayin'.

So, g'wan. Go to church. And when that nudge hits --beware... it's the Spirit. Better hop to.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

with or without their jackets

Cold chill, near freezing this morning --72F this afternoon.... It's like being on a see-saw.

And the children are walking to school all bundled up in the morning --in the late afternoon it's strictly shirt sleeves... and a prayer that they make it home with their jackets which they hang on the fence while they play for a while on their journey through the tall dry weeds and litter down the little dirt lane by our fence, between us, the dumpsters, and the old abandoned hospital.

Sometimes there are horses out there too...

At prayer this morning (Ecclesiasticus 3:17-31)

My child, perform your tasks with humility;
then you will be loved by those whom God accepts.
The greater you are, the more you must humble yourself;
so you will find favor in the sight of the Lord.
For great is the might of the Lord;
but by the humble he is glorified.
Neither seek what is too difficult for you,
nor investigate what is beyond your power.
Reflect upon what you have been commanded,
for what is hidden is not your concern.
Do not meddle in matters that are beyond you,
for more than you can understand has been shown you.
For their conceit has led many astray,
and wrong opinion has impaired their judgment.

Without eyes there is no light;
without knowledge there is no wisdom.
A stubborn mind will fare badly at the end,
and whoever loves danger will perish in it.
A stubborn mind will be burdened by troubles,
and the sinner adds sin to sins.
When calamity befalls the proud, there is no healing,
for an evil plant has taken root in him.
The mind of the intelligent appreciates proverbs,
and an attentive ear is the desire of the wise.

As water extinguishes a blazing fire,
so almsgiving atones for sin.
Those who repay favors give thought to the future;
when they fall they will find support.

Off I go... to serve those who are grieving the loss of daughter, sister, mother, cousin, friend.

And praying for the children who have no school today and therefore might have a day without a hot meal... unless, of course, their parents bring them to the funeral feast... with or without their jackets.

Peace out.

Friday, October 19, 2012

we shall plant the winter wheat

The sun is coming in the window so brightly I can hardly see... and the two days of raucous winds have ebbed. This is what it looked like yesterday in these parts:




This is along Interstate 90 near Rapid. I spoke with one of our ambulance drivers last night --said there had been three semis on their sides here locally --said there was relief to be assigned to go sit and cover the football game. Ummmmm, yes, although I can't imagine playing football in this wind. But, after all, this is South Dakota....

I remember news like this a very long time ago out of the Verrazano Straights  Carquinez Straights in the area where San Francisco Bay becomes the Sacramento River and the hills try to out-shoulder each other and great winds gather and blow like crazy. But even back then, California closed the roads.... Out here, where de-regulation and the 'Don't Tell Me What To Do or Not Do' mantra reigns supreme and 75mph speed limits are the norm, I guess they only close the roads when there is wind AND snow....

--toppled hopes....

It is much calmer this morning.... Thanks be to God. Although the wonder and glory of it is still sharp in my imagination. And the sun is out... and in my eyes...

--and so I drink my coffee deeply, remembering how my father used to sit in his chair and say "ahhhhh, the nectar of the gods" when he was satisfied through and through --and I say that quietly to myself this morning, over coffee and over hot oatmeal, Mr. Witty perched between my feet waiting for any movement as his signal for what might come next....

--and I am thinking about how on-the-edge life is here --so always close to death --so always present to the overwhelming power of the plains --so always overwhelmed by the generosity of the People who are listed as the poorest of the poor --so always striving to find ways to claim and restore the best of what was so devastatingly trampled, destroyed...

--and I am thinking about what else I shall find when I dig through the drifts of leaves, pushed up against the fence, clinging to the base of every shrub --what shall I find that belongs to those guys that belong no where, that camp in the hollows beneath the trees or in the stripped cars without wheels that litter the old hospital grounds next to the dialysis center... I will know what to hang out for them to find again, and what to toss, their old plastic plates of food that someone shared with them not out of pity but because they are relatives --where to put the super-sized beer cans for someone to find and collect for the half-penny... so that they can drink again, medicating their overwhelming spiritual wounds, perpetuating their inner devastation. If I don't put them in an easy place, they dumpster dive, and that gets too dangerous....

--and I guess it's time to put away the outside chairs... and the sudden loss of summer warmth --a loss I was welcoming for the relief of chill and chance of easy chairs and hot chocolate by the fireplace --romantically remembered --the sudden loss of summer warmth becomes the looming reality of finger biting chill wind that clutches the chest and works its way in to your heart....

--and I remember. I remember love and loss. I remember resurrection is no easy work of pungent lilies and alleluias, but it is first the work of the tomb. Cold. Hard. Rock. And bitter herbs. Things that knot and bind. And shadows on the wall of some distant unknown light....

It's not hell. It's just death. It's nothingness. No-whereness. Without sensation or knowingness. Life abandoned.

I will bury another tonight and tomorrow. Found unresponsive on the streets of Rapid. And no one knows whether it was by her own doing or the work of another.... A woman my age.

And the old ladies call for me to open the kitchen. It's time to start to prepare the feast. It's time to remember we are alive. It's time to eat and give things away because that is what is done. It is time to pray because that is what we do. It is time to bring the babies and let the children run in church, trampling down death with their voices and laughter and spilled food.

It is time.

At prayer this morning (Psalm 16)

Protect me, O God, for I take refuge in you; *
I have said to the LORD, “You are my Lord,
my good above all other.”
All my delight is upon the godly that are in the land, *
upon those who are noble among the people.

But those who run after other gods *
shall have their troubles multiplied.
Their libations of blood I will not offer, *
nor take the names of their gods upon my lips.
O LORD, you are my portion and my cup; *
it is you who uphold my lot.
My boundaries enclose a pleasant land; *
indeed, I have a goodly heritage.
I will bless the LORD who gives me counsel; *
my heart teaches me, night after night.
I have set the LORD always before me; *
because he is at my right hand I shall not fall.

My heart, therefore, is glad, and my spirit rejoices; *
my body also shall rest in hope.
For you will not abandon me to the grave, *
nor let your holy one see the Pit.
You will show me the path of life; *
in your presence there is fullness of joy,
and in your right hand are pleasures for evermore.

But those who run after other gods shall have their troubles multiplied... but I trust... I hope... my heart, therefore, is glad, and my spirit rejoices ... for you will not abandon me to the grave...

None shall be abandoned. None shall be forgotten. God is at work even in the tomb until the last one comes home.

And in the meantime, there is the harvest... and through the winter chill and devastating wind and toppled hopes and freezing rain and snow we shall plant the winter wheat, and the light of spring and remembered warmth shall soften all that binds us.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

strive to remember to see and know glory

We locked ourselves out last night. We had to break in to the house... If I had known it was going to be so easy.... sigh. And I thought I had lost my climbing in through a window abilities. Well, it wasn't easy --but the old bod' did well, climbing up on the lawn chair and all...

And the wind continues. Some schools are closed because of damage. A school bus opened its door and the pressure of the wind was so great it popped open the emergency exit in the roof of the bus.

In places along the road there are places between two hillocks where the wind must become amplified --funneled... and the tarmac gets shredded away.

If we could bottle this wind, we could sell it as an energy drink.... Flavor it with the wildness of the grasses, give it the sweet aroma of the cedar and sage....

Once, along the headwaters of the Merced River in the Sierra Nevada, I dipped my bottle in the water and carried it for later in the day --and when I later opened it, the scent of the green grass along the spring's course wafted from the bottle... and I thought, this water should be used for baptism, and carried it out of the mountains with me. I don't remember if we ever used it....

Another time, in an emergency baptism, I used bottled water from ShrineMont in the western hills of Virginia. I had three bottles of it I grabbed for the long ride to DC --I used one for baptism, gave another to the parents, kept one for myself for my drive back in to the mountains. I didn't drink it... so I saved it... and, in the next year or so, I used it to baptize the twins born to the same parents. Their eldest hadn't survived --so it was nearly monumental that by chance, the twins were baptized in the "same" water... if you know what I mean.

Funny how that kind of 'power' works....  like the wind, which is a tangible sensory force, yet remains unseen --kinda like sacraments....

But my beloved is listening to some fundamentalist who has glommed on to something some Orthodox (Eastern) teaching... and I am remembering the wave of conversions of fundamentalists to Orthodoxy some years back, and wondering how all that is playing out... and it's pissing me off. And that's a shame on me.... But it's that same feeling that I am getting --listening to the re-runs of the Tuesday night debates... wondering how the disconnect happens that even when statements are proven to be untrue/false, there are those who will willfully continue to believe in their veracity. And I wonder why I am holding these two things together....

Perhaps it's because I see the devastation of fundamentalism so acutely in this place...

Perhaps it's because I see the devastation so acutely in this place... and more lies from a religious white man seeking political power gives me the willies.... Religious and political terrorism combined --combined with unthrottled capitalism --there isn't anything much worse....

--and I begin my mantra, 'blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of heaven...'

At prayer this morning (a portion of Psalm 103)

As far as the east is from the west, *
so far has he removed our sins from us.
As a father cares for his children, *
so does the LORD care for those who fear him.
For he himself knows whereof we are made; *
he remembers that we are but dust.
Our days are like the grass; *
we flourish like a flower of the field;
When the wind goes over it, it is gone, *
and its place shall know it no more.
But the merciful goodness of the LORD endures for ever....

--when the wind goes over it, it is gone... not just the flower... but all those things which distract, corrupt and destroy the children of God...

Perhaps that is why some aesthetics rejected flowers and distractions of every sort... seeking... seeking what the scouring wind does not bring.

But, that is not my way... instead, I shall strive to remember to see and know glory in this power of wind, and all else that comes to me today.

Now, on with the day.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Yes, we have been made worthy to stand before God...

Mr. Witty as a bison, facing in to the wind

Wednesday
Partly cloudy with a chance of rain. High of 55F. Windy. Winds from the WNW at 40 to 45 mph with gusts to 60 mph. Chance of rain 30%.

Wednesday Night
Partly cloudy with a chance of snow and a chance of rain after midnight. Low of 36F with a windchill as low as 25F. Windy. Winds from the NW at 40 to 45 mph with gusts to 55 mph. Chance of snow.

Current
Humidity: 66%
Wind: 40 mph from the West
Visibility: 10.0 miles
Dew Point: 34 °F
Precipitation: 13% chance of rain
Pressure: 29.37 in
UV: 0
I don't think Mr. Witty had ever pooped in 40-45mph winds before; but he has now. We both went out this morning because we don't have a complete fence in the yard, and I have to stand guard against the Rez dogs and other predators from above and below --and the wind was pushing at me like crazy. I can't imagine being only 20 pounds in a force like that. He pretended he was a bison and faced in to the winds... his beautiful little eyes half closed, ears pressed back in the gale... and when we went back in the house, he did the V.I.C.T.O.R.Y. dance from one end of the house to the other. And ate cookies fortified with vitamins for times just like these.

The house is emitting funny windy squeaks and squawks --like someone is blowing air across the top of a bottle. Occasionally we hear a loud bump when something has either hit the roof or a wall. I am hoping and praying that the unfinished bits of the new roof on the church stay put.... I worry, helpless, about our other little churches...

I think perhaps this would be a blizzard... if there were snow with the wind. We did have a little rain as this front moved in last night. We have a little chance of some more. Maybe snow tonight. The clouds are stunning as they race across what sky I can see out the window.

Any precipitation would be gratefully received. And perhaps the wind will move more leaves out of the yard than it will bring in... --we'll see.

It's a glorious wind, I think to myself --powerful, raw, elemental, majestic, awesome... --and very dangerous. I want to go back outside and feel it again, but I know it is a foolish thing to do. Even so... I want to.... And we fool ourselves thinking we are safe inside our little houses. This is the kind of wind that shapes mountains, carves out valleys, breaks trees, moves rivers back upstream. And trashes houses.

--kind of like the Day of the LORD.... Terrifyingly sweet. I think I am beginning to understand, in a new way, why God is "fearful" --even as I have climbed mountains and hung off cliffs, watched the battering ram of ocean waves break cliffs and floods carve away the earth --even as I have fallen and stumbled as the earth itself shook... this wind... this wind...

At prayer this morning (Psalm 95:1-7)

Come, let us sing to the Lord;
let us shout for joy to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving;
and raise a loud shout to him with psalms.
For the Lord is a great God;
and a great King above all gods.
In his hand are the caverns of the earth;
and the heights of the hills are his also.
The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands have molded the dry land.
Come, let us bow down and bend the knee,
and kneel before the Lord our Maker.
For he is our God,
and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.
Oh, that today you would hearken to his voice!

--and lest we forget the rest....

Harden not your hearts, as your forebears did in the wilderness,
at Meribah, and on that day at Massah, when they tempted me.

They put me to the test, though they had seen my works.

Forty years long I detested that generation and said,
"This people are wayward in their hearts; they do not know my ways."

So, I swore in my wrath, "They shall not enter into my rest."

I think our hearts have become very hardened. Deaf to the volcanic wildness of God. The creator and maker of caverns and heights, of the sea....

Yes, we have been made worthy to stand before God...
But some days, only a fool would do so....

And, I think today is one of those days.

Just sayin'....

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

all those things little boys fill their pockets with

I went to pick up the cake for the baptism before we drove the 40 miles to Cherry Creek. The cake said 'Happy 28th Birthday' so I was convinced it was the wrong cake, but it was the only one that was ready. I told Deacon that part of her duties this morning might include quickly eating the sugary letters if indeed the cake was improperly marked... but, it was the right cake, and we did a baptism and birthday blessings.

And Deacon killed a wasp. Right on the altar. With her fingers and nose tissue. The children screamed. And stared at this Elder... I did too. Later, I told her I thought it was there to receive its share of the Body and Blood, and she shouldn't have done it right on the altar --right on the corporal. She rolled her eyes at me.

And at the end of the service, I found six of the little girls in the back room with the left-over Baptist hymnals (the building was rented once to them), and the girls were singing. Singing. Singing. So, I sang with them. I showed them how to follow line to line, phrase to phrase. And when it came time to sing 'Silent Night', I sang it very seriously, and then at a phrase break I added a few be-bop and other noises and pretended to break dance. The hysterics were generous --and they ran to tell and show the other adults.

Deacon rolled her eyes at me again.... The laughter filled the little church, spilled out the windows and got picked up by the wind. The dogs barked and chased after our laughter as it blew through town.

Then back to Eagle Butte for the third funeral of the weekend --the second funeral of an infant. The children --cousins, sisters, brothers had been present at the comfort services all last week, spent the night in the church during the wake, prayed the prayers, wept at the loss of their little brother --and played vigorously outside jumping off the logs, riding bikes --they killed all my friendly snakes that live by the back door of the church with their weapons of choice --rocks and sticks... which really upset me because we don't have a mouse problem like other places.... So when the children came to boast of their snake-killing adventures, I rolled my eyes big and said "OH NO! Not on the church property --Oh my poor snake relatives" and they were amazed at my reaction.

--then the Rez dogs came and ate my dead snake relatives.... How else can they live?

Soooo..... there we are.

And after the Commendation, we formed the procession to the waiting hearse. The singers carried the drum and led us out, and we left the church and went to the cemetery up in Green Grass --the valley of the Relatives that were slaughtered at Wounded Knee. The valley where The Pipe lives. We gathered around the small hand-dug grave. After the prayers, the children came forward --two climbed in the hole and gently lowered the little star-quilt covered coffin in to the ground. And then his brothers and boy cousins took the shovels, far taller and bigger than they, and filled in the grave.

Children burying a child. And I wept. It took a while for them to move all that dirt. But the adults waited patiently, encouraging other children to join in when one became obviously tired. And when the last dirt-clod had been put in place on the miniature mound, the girls came forward with a little chair, stuffed animals, toy horses, a train set --and of course, the flowers, and decorated the grave.

The exotic riot of color and shape on the little grave glowed like a gem in the prairie --which is hunkering down in its garb of un-nameable yellow/gold bristle with broad swathes of elemental drab, waiting for winter.

All our brokenness made plain. All the glory which we have been invited to share.

At prayer this morning (ending at Luke 8:56)
While he [Jesus] was still speaking, someone came from the leader’s house to say, “Your daughter is dead; do not trouble the teacher any longer.”

When Jesus heard this, he replied, “Do not fear. Only believe, and she will be saved.”

When he came to the house, he did not allow anyone to enter with him, except Peter, John, and James, and the child’s father and mother.

They were all weeping and wailing for her; but he said, “Do not weep; for she is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him, knowing that she was dead.

But he took her by the hand and called out, “Child, get up!” Her spirit returned, and she got up at once. Then he directed them to give her something to eat. Her parents were astounded; but he ordered them to tell no one what had happened.

When we returned to the church for the funeral feast of soups and chili and beans and beef and salads and, of course, cakes and pies of all sorts, I stopped and looked at the poster board of pictures of the family with Baby Brother. I had gone to be with them in the hospital, and knew that they had had time to be with Baby Brother --to hold him, to look at his perfect finger and toes... --and take some family pictures.

And one of the pictures showed a huge bright light with a blue halo surrounding it. This Huge Light was between Baby Brother held lovingly by his grandma sitting in a rocker, and his mother near by, eyes closed resting on the bed. Look, I said to the mother --look at this Huge Light in the picture.

It's light coming in the window, she said.

No, I said, the blinds are down and curtains drawn. I pointed to another picture --this is what the light coming in the window looks like --and it was daylight and trees and obvious window light... No blue halos.

Oh, she said. And looked carefully. Do you really think.... ?

I hope so, I said. It sure looks like it to me....

And she smiled.

Wasp Relative, I prayed silently. Snake Relatives, I prayed, remembering the hunter-eyes of his brothers boasting of their kill with their sticks and stones --warriors in the making. I am sorry you died. Please forgive us. But you are Perfect boy companions for the journey. Go with him as true relatives. Help him fill his pockets with all those things boys fill their pockets. All the way to the stars where his ancestors build their fires (the Milky Way) and wait and eat.

--and then I had no more prayers to offer.

Amen.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Prayer without words this morning



At prayer this morning

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.

Amen.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

the harsh cutting edge of this koan

It is cloudy along the eastern horizon this morning --and a cold steel blue above. But not for long --it is supposed to be in the 70s today, tomorrow and Monday. That, along with no moon to speak of, is driving everyone a little crazy, me thinks. Some folks are saying we are going to get cold, real cold this winter --but that the drought will continue.

We'll see.

And for some reason I have a particular image stuck in my mind's eye --like an ear worm, except it's an eye worm, I guess... yesterday, walking across the church parking lot, I saw the large claw foot of a predatory bird --about seven inches long, talons as thick as my pinky finger. And I remember that even predators have predators. Even so --it was just all wrong....

Like the funky weather.

And I am remembering the feeling of walking step by step up the hill from the church to the cemetery yesterday --walking before the coffin... the sound of the dirt clods under my feet --the horses running alongside us --the smells of dry grass that had been washed by a light dusting of snow, not the new-mown grassy smell, but that dusty, sorrowful smell of old leaves, dirt, decay and things being discarded --used up. Part way through the graveside service I was wishing for a chasuble made of a Pendleton blanket. The wind was cutting through everything... and it was very cold. The guys carrying the coffin behind me were breathing hard with the weight of it all --and were talking to the deceased, saying things like --if you weren't my friend, I wouldn't be doing this, man... --no wonder your horse always gave you a bad time, you're heavy... --and, you better be waiting for me on the other side since I'm helping you up this hill.

They lost all their words as they filled in the grave shovel load by shovel load, mouths shut as the dust flew in the eyes, ears --the wind carrying it and filling pockets and doubling seams.

A wind-swept burial. And after the feast that followed, every one laughed because the platefuls of fry bread turned in to fly bread --large round disks of deep fried dough taking off from the platters of left-overs carried carefully to the cars, the feast so ample it was to be carried home and feed the people for days to come. Except, of course, for that part that flew away --the Rez dogs were dancing and grateful chasing the fly bread --grateful for the unexpected bonus of hanging around the People.

Today, we will turn and turn again --and gather around the grave of an infant to be buried with Grandmother and the Twins --siblings who went the Spirit Way last year.

And, what is there to remember --except the broken hearts... and the promise of hope that life is changed, not ended. How, we do not know. But there is a place prepared for us in the eternal habitations....

--and the hollow ring of devastation still tolls bell-like in the empty caverns of the parents' guts... so, I speak of rock-hard tombs as the genesis of new and unexpected life... but I won't use those words... I pray for the words.... learning to give thanks, as Noah did, in the midst of death building an altar of thanksgiving --seeking the sign of the olive branch and rainbow....

At prayer this morning (beginning at Luke 8:16)

Jesus said,

“No one after lighting a lamp hides it under a jar, or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a lampstand, so that those who enter may see the light.

For nothing is hidden that will not be disclosed, nor is anything secret that will not become known and come to light.

Then pay attention to how you listen; for to those who have, more will be given; and from those who do not have, even what they seem to have will be taken away.”

We could certainly parse that in a gentle way --those that "get it" will understand more and more...

But perhaps the harsh cutting edge of this koan is more a descriptive reality... kinda like the weather... and the wind.... it is what it is.

--sigh....

Off I go. In faith.
Amen.

Friday, October 12, 2012

that's the way it is out here

Grown-up bullies are so frightening.... Wish I knew what to say or do to stop them in their tracks.

Psalm 140

Deliver me, O LORD, from evildoers; *
protect me from the violent,
Who devise evil in their hearts *
and stir up strife all day long.
They have sharpened their tongues like a serpent; *
adder’s poison is under their lips.
Keep me, O LORD, from the hands of the wicked; *
protect me from the violent,
who are determined to trip me up.
The proud have hidden a snare for me
and stretched out a net of cords; *
they have set traps for me along the path.
I have said to the LORD, “You are my God; *
listen, O LORD, to my supplication.
O Lord GOD, the strength of my salvation, *
you have covered my head in the day of battle.
Do not grant the desires of the wicked, O LORD, *
nor let their evil plans prosper.
Let not those who surround me lift up their heads; *
let the evil of their lips overwhelm them.
Let hot burning coals fall upon them; *
let them be cast into the mire, never to rise up again.”
A slanderer shall not be established on the earth, *
and evil shall hunt down the lawless.
I know that the LORD will maintain the cause of the poor *
and render justice to the needy.
Surely, the righteous will give thanks to your Name, *
and the upright shall continue in your sight.

And in the marathon that is this weekend, I have completed the first couple of miles sustained in prayer --and the tenderness and glory that is grief... yeah, I just said that... the revelation of the profound depth of love is devastating in loss, and awesome in its glory.

While we had received the body for burial, and the wake service was still hours out (wondering how to get keys to my locked-out husband 80 miles away) the funeral director came and stood next to me on the church steps. The hills were dappled in the setting sun, light and dark, like the painted ponies who pranced anxiously between the cars and dogs and milling people. And in absolutely simplicity the funeral director, standing next to me, whispered --it is so beautiful.

Yes. And death, like the setting sun.

I am comprehending more and more why St. Francis spoke of sister death.

Canticle: A Song to the Lamb

Splendor and honor and kingly power *
are yours by right, O Lord our God,
For you created everything that is, *
and by your will they were created and have their being;
And yours by right, O Lamb that was slain, *
for with your blood you have redeemed for God,
From every family, language, people, and nation, *
a kingdom of priests to serve our God.
And so, to him who sits upon the throne, *
and to Christ the Lamb,
Be worship and praise, dominion and splendor, *
for ever and for evermore.

Off I go.
Peace out.

(PS --the funeral director, even though it was 160 miles out of his way, took my keys back to my husband... that's the way it is out here.)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

cathartignosis

Cloudy today. My weather gadget says:
Thursday
Mostly cloudy with a chance of snow. High of 48F. Winds from the NNE at 5 to 15 mph. Chance of snow 20%.
Thursday Night
Partly cloudy in the evening, then clear. Low of 28F with a windchill as low as 21F. Breezy. Winds from the SE at 10 to 20 mph.
I tried raking leaves yesterday, but they were so dry I couldn't pick them up --by hand or with the rake. They would just crumble and turn to dust. I decided I would wait until some precipitation of some sort, and then try again.

How's that for an excuse.

And a big huge what I would call a blow-fly got in the house yesterday --Joel caught it and put it out three times, and somehow it kept getting back in. I would kill it if I could, but Joel says no --it's the last one of the season, can't do that...

Hhmmph. Such a softy. It's big enough that it could have starred in Hitchcock's The Fly.... Besides, Joel reminds me that when a butterfly flaps its wings three times in Japan, it changes the weather in California --who knows what a fly in South Dakota might do....

Hhmmph.

--and are we not more precious than the feelers on a butterfly? Or at least equally so?

Some one said at one of the comfort services I did earlier this week that we must have done something wrong for there to be so many deaths --that the spirits took these lives and were trying to show us what we have done wrong.

So, last night, I spoke at the comfort service of the Good Shepherd... and I pulled in the story of Noah and the ark and how God promised never to destroy anything again --and how, even when he sent his Son and we killed him, God gave us the road map and gift of eternal life --not death, not judgment, not condemnation --but the gift of more life, abundant life. And we will be led there by the Good Shepherd.

I do not think for a moment that even a stern rebuke or a 150 page letter from St. Paul himself, much less my talk of God's love at a comfort service will even make a dent in the deep cultural understandings and perspectives... but I am only called to be faithful and be present and to love.... and to depend upon the butterfly wings. Butterfly wings and blow-flies.

At prayer this morning (Luke 7:36-50)

One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and took his place at the table.

And a woman in the city, who was a sinner, having learned that he was eating in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster jar of ointment. She stood behind him at his feet, weeping, and began to bathe his feet with her tears and to dry them with her hair. Then she continued kissing his feet and anointing them with the ointment.

Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him – that she is a sinner.”

Jesus spoke up and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.”

“Teacher,” he replied, “Speak.”

“A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he canceled the debts for both of them. Now which of them will love him more?”

Simon answered, “I suppose the one for whom he canceled the greater debt.”

And Jesus said to him, “You have judged rightly.”

Then turning toward the woman, he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has bathed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.”

Then he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

But those who were at the table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”

And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
Hmmmmm.... yes, perhaps loving God does/can begin with the cancellation of debts....

I wonder what kind of suffering there must be to see life as a constant method of correction and punishment... what kind of cathartignosis for the gospel inversion that begins with love to be made plain....

Behold. Behold.

The angel said it to Mary; angels scream it from the sky to the shepherds; the Godly sentinels sitting at the tomb say it to those who come to tend to the ravages of death...

The butterfly wings flap --behold.
The fly buzz --behold.
Blessed are those who mourn --behold.

Yes... it is much easier to imagine the power of God in a magnificent sunset, than it is to believe our sins are forgiven....

--thrown as far away from us as east is to west....

Hey God. Thank you. Oh --and, hey... when they use the horse-drawn wagon to bring the body to church tonight, please don't let it get stuck in the mud... and that's not to say we don't need the rain... it's just, you know...

--and just got another call. D has died. Off to say those prayers 'at the time of death'... may angels lead you.... Amen.

--and, yes, I know --carthartignosis is not a word one might find in the dictionary... but it's pretty cool, huh?!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

I was looking for something entirely different...

Wednesday.

The rest of the week... teach class tonight, a wake on Thursday night, funeral Friday, another wake on Friday night with funeral on Saturday --with a whole other funeral taking place with another Episcopal priest over at the cultural center at the same time --Sunday several baptisms here in Eagle Butte, then travel to Cherry Creek and have more baptisms --and then another funeral liturgy either beginning Sunday night or Monday....

In the baptismal prayer we pray that we are buried with Christ in his death --and we share in his resurrection.

When it's back to back like this --funeral, baptism, funeral... the meaning and discipline of the liturgy unfolds in vast new panoramas.

But, I must travel through those panoramas with great fear and trepidation --wary and alert. The familiar parts to me, are, perhaps, fresh and raw to those grieving. The unfamiliar parts to me, are, perhaps, deeply personal revelations that must be put in the pocket for the journey, sketched quickly on the mind tablet, and brought out later for prayer and reflection.... In turn, they may be of little or no consequence.... Or, they may be snakes in disguise.

Seriously.

I will be doing my first funeral and burial in White Horse. If I die here, it is where I want to be buried. The cemetery is up on the hill a good walk from the little church, overlooking the river valley... besides, it is where the man with the same last name as my Grandmother (Lowell, who was born just north of these parts) buried his Lakota wife and children. I found them looking through the old baptismal records -"illegitimate" was scrawled in the margin next to the baby's name. I wonder if wacisu and Lakota could get legally married.... I found other children by these same parents, so they were together for a while.

The "illegitimate" notation that grabbed my attention, was followed by "in extremis" in the remarks column --the baptism was done by nurses in the delivery room.  --with further looking, I discovered that neither this baby nor the mother survived.... Neither did their eight year old son. Tuberculosis.

I have looked and looked for the graves --the Register Book notes that they are buried in White Horse. But I have not found any of them. Perhaps they are among those graves that disappear into Mother Earth, and found only when someone tries to dig a new grave and discovers that there is already an occupant....

I am hoping that will not be the case as they dig this new grave.

I am hoping and praying that this next week will not be a spiritual marathon --well, I mean, it will be --but that I will suffer no broken hips struggling with unknown spirits... that the angels ascending and descending on the ladder don't draw their swords or blow their horns... but that they are just Grandmothers and Aunties, Grandfathers standing by, all who have gone before us, and have come to help lead them home....

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.

I was looking for something entirely different --but English chant is just as foreign as this might seem, out here, on the plains, among the ladders and the angels --besides, as Joel just said --it sounds like what the words mean --Arise! Shine! The glory of the Lord is upon you! Makes us want to spin and dance and spin.

Amen to that.



Peace out.

Heheheheh... wacisu... spellchecker hates it. Wants to make it waco's... heheheheh --well, I guess there is not much difference between fat stealers and crazies....

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

There is holiness, blessedness here

I didn't mention it yesterday --it was Native American Day here on the Reservation. Yeah, they don't really celebrate the arrival of some lost Italian.... And, while we were out in the car and listening to the radio, there was much talk about stopping the litany of woe --overwhelming poverty, addiction, break down of the family --and instead speaking of the hope, the goodness and strength, the perseverance, the determination, the Lakota Way.

And that got Joel and I talking about it... because, yes, the goodness, the strength --the life in the People is overwhelmingly beautiful... and humbling. But neither one of us would call the goodness we see here 'hope' --and we strove for the words or word to name it.... And I keep returning to the Beatitudes... Blessed. And the 'hope' or the 'blessedness' is known because of the poverty, the brokenness, the grief... and I don't know if I am making any sense at all...

There is holiness here. There is blessedness here.

But I do not call holiness or blessedness hope.

I would call what I see named as hope --I would call it longing. Longing for restoration. Longing for wholeness. Longing for justice. Longing for liberty. The longing of a People in exile in their own land.

And when the eyes are opened, one can see the fulfillment of the longing --not in the ways that those who keep statistics would measure fulfillment --but fulfillment in a grandmother singing to a child, the tender touch of the hand by a husband on a wife's shoulder, by a child sharing  --when the Spirit leaps the synapse of our individuation --in those fleeting moments when we know we are One --in those flashes of the Life We Lead On The Other Side of the Cross, wounds still present, bones still exposed, blood still flowing... but even the rock tomb and locked doors of the upper rooms and doubt and fear cannot deny the un-nameable unexpected Mystery of Life With God.

--when we finally see ourselves, naked in the garden, and all the fig leaves in the world aren't going to help, and we've eaten the fruit and have too much of mortality and immortality to bear --too much of what is merely right and what is righteous... --when we finally see ourselves as we are, and we don't run and hide, pretending that everything is okay and everything is going to be okay....

--when we finally see ourselves....

--we will have come full circle, and begin again. Ever deeper. Ever closer.

Until all is lost.

And then there is only all in all.

At prayer this morning (Psalm 121)

I lift up my eyes to the hills; *
from where is my help to come?
My help comes from the LORD, *
the maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved *
and he who watches over you will not fall asleep.
Behold, he who keeps watch over Israel *
shall neither slumber nor sleep;
The LORD himself watches over you; *
the LORD is your shade at your right hand,
So that the sun shall not strike you by day, *
nor the moon by night.
The LORD shall preserve you from all evil; *
it is he who shall keep you safe.
The LORD shall watch over your going out and your coming in, *
from this time forth for evermore.

Hey God, you know the prayers of my inmost heart, especially for D and M, C's family, Baby RE, Baby S and their families, L's family, clarity, strength and courage for all those who grieve. And thank you for the wilderness. And thank you for the graft of dangerous wildness you gave my soul. And, no 'amens' today.... Just more holiness and blessedness right out of the brokenness. Just eating my way through the apple to the very core.

Whoops --there we are.

Monday, October 8, 2012

--watch for them



This post is a lament. Read it only if you have room for a lament today.

On the road to White Horse, it's just the last mile that is not paved --so we made it in good time. I parked with the trunk of the car to the church door so we could unload the God-stuff we carry in a box easily. But because we were early, we sat there, with the sun in our laps, watching the horses graze up the hill by the cemetery. There was a truck up by the cemetery gate, and a man with his long braid walking through the long morning shadows among the headstones.

I didn't know him.

No one came for church. So we went two more miles down the dirt road in to the small clutch of houses at the other end of the valley. We pulled in to the driveway and I kept the heat going in the car for Deacon as I got out and navigated the potholes to the door.

I knocked extravagantly. Time for church I called out.

Turns out, they had been up, done their chores, lit the fire at the church, and then had fallen asleep again after breakfast. We'll be right up. We'll call the others, they said.

So Deacon and I trundled back through the valley, lugged the God-box in to the church, and began --those up on the hill sang softly in the growing light,  having been awakened by the determined trudge of the man with the living braid.

In the prayers, the pall of the sun grew thin, and the living and the dead met in that thin space by the altar....

C died. Young C. 31 years old. Car crash. It was told at the offertory. And did you hear, L died too. But he was old. He travelled around the world, an ambassador for the People here. So people could hear our language and about our culture. It makes us even sadder for C. He never got to do those things. Yeah --that man outside with the braid --he's looking where to bury C. We'll bury him here. By his brother.

So we remembered C and L. Praying that the People who had gone before would greet them, and bring them home to that feast....

And when we had shared the bread and wine, we ate eggs and donuts. And talked. Packed the car, and drove to the next liminal space, where the children run around and rocks are not thrown, sticks are never put in one's mouth, and hair is never pulled, especially on the youngest cousin.

And in the prayers, we remembered the baby born this morning who didn't live two hours. And I wept inside. For the parents. Three days ago she had gone to the hospital, not feeling well. The doctors had found nothing wrong with her, and just said the heartbeat of her baby was hard to find --and they sent her home.

And now this.

Later, as I sat in my grandfather's chair for a light dinner, knowing that I would need to rise and lead the prayers in L's house --a comfort service, I wondered about the book Joel is reading --a Theology of the Pain of God. I wondered what the author had suffered to write such a book. Or if it is even about real loss....

I wondered if the author knew anything about losing babies. Who even knows how to put words to that searing fire of torment --that numbing, dark loss.That raging forest fire that is cold and dank and stifling. With thick blinding smoke that is always wet and clings to everything. A loss that doesn't even border the clean abyss of death. It is a loss that fills the mouth and eyes with dirt, can't breathe or even see....

--and the phone rang. Funeral director. Another baby.

Oh God.

And because the scripture for prayer this morning gave no lament, I will carry this today (Matthew 2:18)
A sound was heard in Ramah, the sound of crying in bitter grief. Rachel was crying for her children. She refused to be comforted because they were dead.

Hey God, it's margaret here. I laughed and said I was an off-road taxi cab driver last week. It's still true. So, I know I don't know the way outa this one, but I have an inkling of the way through it. I remember in my own grief at the loss of my babies that when I finally stopped clutching and clawing and grasping for something to hold on to and was willing to enter the free-fall that I discovered I didn't have the strength to hold on to a damn thing --but that you held me.

Help them discover that strength and courage and peace that we do not possess, but that possesses us --or whatever it is --whatever they will see and know of you, now.

And help me check my knee-jerk reaction to 'in a better place'... because I won't give a very helpful response --and 'life is changed, not ended' is too horrifying when drowning in grief.

(--and, hey God... if all of this death stuff was because of your anger over some damn fruit off of some damn tree --yeah, I know, it was anger that got me through alive... so, there we are.)

Hear the cries of your people, God.
And make your presence known.
Holy Mary, Mother of God --I'm calling on you too, because you know. For reals.
Sitting Bull, Red Cloud, Crazy Horse, Gall --watch for them, especially the children, as they make their way towards you.
Amen.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

G'wan. Go to church

G'wan. Go to church.

The Gospel really isn't the problem --it's the question of the pharisees that confounds the Law itself, and really doesn't need to be asked.

I mean, after all, humanity has been 'elevated' to a place beside the angels, and we have been crowned with glory --all of which is what ticked Satan off in the first place --so, all of our brokenness, all of our sinfulness has been set aside --for the joy that is known in God.

What IS the problem is the pharisees in the Church picking the Adam story up and telling it alongside the stupid pharisee question in the Gospel --it only reinforces the stupid question, and they thought it was the answer....

What IS the problem is we have all forgotten how to be like children --full of wonder and awe and delight....

Just sayin'.

So, g'wan. Go to church. Strive to recall that wonder and awe and delight. (And tease the poor pharisees --tease 'em... --tease 'em.)

Saturday, October 6, 2012

we could tattoo them on our hearts....

Frost everywhere. My computer weather station says it's 16 degrees outside. The one hanging out the window says it's 19 degrees. (That would be -8 C for you Celsius fans.) It is time to remember not to leave bottles of water in the car, keep a full tank of gas, and this year we're going to put up plastic on the windows in the office that don't have storm windows --and on the basement windows... it will help a little. I think I will do that when it finally gets above freezing today....

Yesterday at the funeral, I saw W, one of the street guys, and it was the first time I had seen him stay for a service. So, I thanked him for staying for the service and he said, thanks for calling the cops on me. And I said, WHAT? He said that he had been hauled off to jail.... I told him that I would have locked the doors and not let the police in if I had known. I didn't call 'em.

I found out later that there were a bunch of shenanigans at the wake... but I didn't hear W's name among them. He must of been the scapegoat for the sins of others.... There were quite a few street folk at the wake --the deceased was well-known and respected among the AA crowd --he had been clean and sober for 15 years and was great support to those in recovery.

--but the shenanigans were all in-fighting among the women.... How did W get blamed?

I don't know exactly where W sleeps at night, but I do know it isn't in a house. And despite his troubles with addiction, he shows every Tuesday and Thursday sober enough to help with the soup kitchen --set up tables and chairs, check the bathrooms for paper, empty the garbage, take down tables and chairs and mop, mop, mop.... W, and P, and C, and now a woman --given the dignity of standing behind the counter and serving others.

It's what we all need, ya know. The chance to serve others with dignity, for the love of God, for their sake and our own.

At prayer this morning (Luke 6:27-38)
Jesus said,

“But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.

If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt.

Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again.

Do to others as you would have them do to you.

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.

If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again.

But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.

Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.

Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”

Heh. The Christian Ten Commandments. Would that these, our Baptismal covenant, and the Beatitudes were written on all the walls of all the churches. --that they were written on our doors and windows so that when we entered and left we could touch them and remember. That we could tattoo them on our hearts, bind our minds and hands and feet....

I know. It doesn't work except for those who already have the heart to know.... But, I think W --as unable as he is to break free from the addiction that enslaves him --I think W knows... and that is why he serves every chance he gets --serves more and more often than those holding jobs and paying their bills....

--and he doesn't even know those of you who have decided to support our soup kitchen... he doesn't know. He doesn't know how wide it goes.

...but it is the wideness of God's mercy and love... for all of us.

--because we are all broken. Sinners, all.

--and we are all redeemed --and not through our own actions, but by the One who holds all things in being....

Thanks be to God.




I hadn't heard this arrangement before --it's kinda sweet. My favorite verse is #3 about minute 2 and thereafter.

And this because I love it:




And for W and all those without shelter: