Saturday, December 31, 2005


Mimi and I met at Orca Books a few nights ago. She's Orthodox, and worships sometimes at the mission that meets upstairs at St. John's. She told me this story: They were there at the same time as the Midnight Mass. Her nine-year-old son really likes talking. She asked him to be quiet, so they wouldn't disturb the Episcopalians. "What's an Episcopalian?" She tried to explain the belief systems. Then they went downstairs for something. Xavier saw an usher. He asked his mom, "Is that a Miscopalian?"

I told her to tell him that his Miscopalian aunt says hi.

We sat on a rather uncomfortable couch in the bookstore, and talked for a long time. Then we prowled the shelves. I paged through The Best American Spiritual Writing, and ended up buying it. Here is the first paragraph of the first essay, titled "The Gift of the Call" by Christopher Bamford:

The call comes gradually, or so it seems. We must be called over and over before we hear its whisperings. Then we begin to notice. We begin to respond. Unconsciously, hesitantly, we start to listen. Incrementally, our response deepens. Finally, we realize that we ourselves are the call; that call and caller are onein life lived in obedience to the gift of the call. We come to realize that we were called from the beginning, "from the foundation of the world," as Saint Paul says. Looking back, we cannot remember a "first" call.

I forget to listen, or I get distracted and other things speak louder. But this rang true for me. I'm going to explore that idea more, when I get back to California and my life there. I'm flying back on Monday, and I won't have class for almost a month. I'm going to consciously schedule time to take walks, write, listen, and just to be with God. To dig down deep into the roots of this longing, and then when I get busy again, to hold on and not let myself let go. This call--wherever it leads me--is the reason behind everything I'm doing. In it is where I need to be.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas!

Not much to report; I've been hanging out in the rain and the mud (Olympia), seeing friends and taking care of my back. Having a really low-key break... and looking forward to getting back into things when I go back to Berkeley in a week.

I wanted to share this, though; it's one of my favorite Christmas songs. Sing along, if you know it. (And mess around with the pronouns at will; I do.)

God On His Birthday

When God Almighty came to be one of us,
Masking the glory of his golden train,
Dozens of plain things kindled by accident,
And they will never be the same again.

Sing all you midwives, dance all the carpenters,
Sing all the publicans and shepherds too.
God in his mercy uses the commonplace,
God on his birthday has a need of you.

Splendor of Rome and local authority,
Working on policy with furrowed head,
Joined to locate Messiah's nativity,
Just where the prophets had already said.

Sing all you tax men, dance the commissioners,
Sing civil servants and policemen too.
God in his purpose uses the governments,
God on his birthday has a need of you.

Wise men, they called them, earnest astrologers,
Watching for meaning in the moving stars.
Science or fancy, learned or laughable,
Theirs was a vision that was brought to pass.

Sing all you wise men, dance all the scientists,
Whether your theories are false or true.
God uses knowledge, God uses ignorance,
God on his birthday has a need of you.

Sing all creation, made for his purposes,
Called by his providence to live and move:
None is unwanted, none insignificant,
Love needs a universe of folk to love.

Old men and maidens, young men and children,
Black ones and colored ones and white ones too,
God on his birthday, and to eternity,
God took upon himself the need of you.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Excited jitters

I'm two short papers from finishing the semester. One's due tomorrow; the other should have been turned in after Reading Week. Oh well, it'll get there. (It still is after Reading Week...) Flying out of Oakland Saturday morning; will get into Olympia before lunch. I'll be home until January 2.

And, I have a snack food buyer! Alleluia! (I'm coordinating snack support for the third-year students taking their General Ordination Exams in January. The test is four days of essay writing, comprehensive of everything they've studied here. I get to take it myself, two years from now.) I've had trouble getting people to help with snacks, because everyone's gone the first week of January. Someone approached me tonight and volunteered.

People can be really, really good. God is in all kinds of unexpected places.

I also took my first Celexa yesterday. I don't care who knows I'm on it; I've taken SSRIs before, and they work for me. I haven't been really down, just off, and making such a major life change both helped me and shook me up. When I get back from break, I'm getting an ADD workup at Kaiser, then help for that too.

I'll come back with energy that I don't have now, and be more dedicated to school, and to the reasons I'm here, next semester. One of my goals is to get and stay organized, once I'm able to focus on anything for more than two seconds. Life is looking up all over.

My friend Keri is being ordained to the transitional diaconate Sunday morning, in Vermont. She and her family are flying out tonight. Pray for her, please, and for Jakki and Morgan.

Now, I have to write those two papers...

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

CPT update

I felt like I ought to update the situation in Iraq, but there has been no real news. Here's the latest from the BBC.

Capital punishment

The state of California executed Tookie Williams last night. I don't know enough to have an opinion of his guilt or innocence, and I'm not for a second excusing violent behavior. But though he maintained he didn't commit those four murders, he did anti-gang work from prison. I think that should have counted for something: if not complete redemption, then clearly progress toward it. An African-American man sentenced to die in this country has very little chance of getting that reduced, let alone overturned. He had no external reason to turn his life around. Yet, apparently, he did.

And even if he hadn't, if killing is wrong it is wrong. Whether you're acting in your capacity as a paid employee of the state, or in a desperate, intoxicated rage, it is wrong to take a life. I don't understand the thinking of people who believe in the death penalty. Can anyone enlighten me? Tookie would have been under strict lockdown forever. He never could have killed again. Why was it necessary to kill him?

My friend Beck wrote, "I wonder what Jesus would think... after crucifixion, to whom would Jesus give the needle?"

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

CPT hostages in Iraq

It's easy to live under a rock when you're in school, busy, and not listening to NPR. I heard Sheila Provencher speak in Olympia last summer. She herself is safe in Syria; four of her teammates are not. They are held hostage in Iraq and may be killed tomorrow.

This is an emergency alert. Please, follow this link, learn about the people and the project, and take the action they ask of you.

Christian Peacemaker Teams

Here's a BBC News article on their situation.

Update courtesy of the BBC. Their lives have been extended until Saturday. Read the article here, and please keep doing what you're doing on their behalf.

Here is Tom Fox's blog. He is one of the four men held hostage. You can read here about what CPT volunteers do and why they do it. Particularly now, his writing is very powerful. (Thanks to RevGalBlogPals for publishing the link.)

Pray and work for peace.

Monday, December 05, 2005

A blessed Advent to everyone!

It's time. It's finally cold in my part of California. We say Evening Prayer in the dark. Purple candles grace the altar, and we try to figure out how on earth to wait quietly for the Incarnation while we're finishing the semester. We go deep into our darkest places, and we prepare for the coming of the One Who Is, who loves and heals us all, who draws us into God.

And I? I revel in churches at night. I've just come from an ill-timed but much appreciated weekend in the Valley. We went to Advent concerts Friday and Saturday, one at the Roman Catholic cathedral in Stockton and the other at St. John's, Lodi (her church, where my other friend is priest). Saturday, we drove east to the mountains (Placerville) to get a Christmas tree. We also got apples and a pie, and drove back with the sun in our eyes. Sunday, instead of studying (me) or working on a pile of projects (Andee), we decorated the tree all afternoon. Then we ate Chinese matzoh-blob soup (that we'd seemingly been working on all weekend), and went to the Lessons and Carols service at St. John's. I love that space. I took a picture of the interior last summer. Here it is in daylight:

In the daytime, it's full of light so that you can almost forget you're inside. At night... quiet, spacious, peaceful. Darkness rests on you gently. You can open your heart and breathe, pray, be with the mystery. I wish I could do that more often.

Intermixed with the music, were the prophecies. Rick and I laughed later because my homework was being done for me. Now, I need to do the project I'd told him about. It's due tomorrow--right after my Greek final. Peace be with all of you, and a blessed Advent.

I leave with a question: What do RC churches do with their crucifixes at Eastertime? He's not there anymore.

Friday, November 25, 2005

It's raining!

Yay! Started last night. It sounds--and feels--like home.

I'm going to go dance around outside.

Thursday, November 24, 2005


I've just come from a potluck at Sabeth and Julien's. She's graduating this spring; he works for the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. She and I knew each other from diocesan youth events when we were kids. Good people.

I met a few new people, and had real conversation with others whom I count as friends, but hadn't had a lot of time with. It was so good to just be, with them. There's a quality of friendship that's different here. Most of us are away from our homes, and we're thrown together into instant community. We let ourselves be transformed; we give ourselves to relationships here. There's an intentional caring for each other that I don't remember from my undergrad, and that is different from the bonds I have with my friends at home. If I'm feeling overwhelmed or heavy or sad, I can always find people who are willing and able to listen. They trust me with the same, though we've only known each other three months. These friendships are close, and yet light, somehow. Maybe because we know that our daily contact is transitory. Maybe because we're all thinking of ministry, and you have to be something of an empath to want to give yourself to serving people. I'm too tired and full to come up with the answer right now. All I know is that I'm blessed.

I am thankful for my friends and community here, and for people I love who support me while I am here. Happy Thanksgiving. Much love to everyone.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

You know you're in San Francisco...

...when you're sitting in church on Christ the King Sunday. The guest preacher, Brother Somebody from the local Franciscan house, is talking about the images we associate with monarchy. You look up and howl with laughter when he quotes the disco classic, "It's Raining Men."

Get it?

I love St. Aidan's.

His overarching point was about the Kindom (yes!) of God. God and we are all interrelated.

What do you see, when you imagine the reign of Christ?

Saturday, November 19, 2005


I spent the afternoon in a faculty member's garden. She lives on the west side of San Francisco, in a nice, funky, walkable neighborhood that's really easy to get to via BART and Muni. (I love this area--they know how to do public transit. Since I've been here, I've really only driven to see friends in the Central Valley. At home, I drove everywhere.)

We uprooted irises and daylilies to move later, and she turned me loose on a bed that was populated only by weeds. I couldn't pull up a wrong thing. I took my sandals off and dove barefoot into the biggest sandbox I've ever played in. Her soil was sand, once upon a time; they've put lots of amendments into it, in 15 years of living there. Everything's organic. The soil at home is clay, hard to work with, and sticks to you. This was a completely new sensory experience. Meditative and playful. I love gardening barefoot; it's so much more grounding than feeling the earth with just your hands. I crawled around, pulling weeds, feeling ever more exuberantly rooted. I've missed that feeling so much; I really hadn't touched soil since June, when I babysat my godmother's garden. We talked, off and on, about churches, family holiday traditions, random whatever. And were companionably silent in between.

She said I couldn't go home on BART looking like I had just played in a sandbox, so she offered me a shower. I was getting sore and tired, and the water felt wonderful. Then I walked back to the tunnel, and took the trains home. I stopped at the gelato place by the Berkeley station, and walked up the hill as the sun was setting, eating pumpkin ice cream. Yum.

I wore shorts and a T-shirt. On the 19th of November. The city gets colder than Berkeley, being on the ocean, but it was in the 70s. I keep hearing that the rain's about to start, and honestly I miss it and would welcome it. But today's weather was joyfully perfect.

Am housesitting this week for one of my teachers and his wife. That means I get to take a bath. Goodnight.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Orcinus orca

I saw this in the paper this morning: Sound's orcas put on endangered list

On one hand, it's about damn time. We've known for years that the populations are declining. I know there is hope in protecting the orcas--hence Puget Sound--under the Endangered Species Act. Still, I feel like crying, now it's happened.

In 1986, I was a CIT at a Girl Scout camp on Hood Canal. Two orcas had gotten lost from their pod that summer. My friend Kris was in a windsurfing unit. She was out on her board one day, and guess who bumped up under her? It scared her to death--but she will never forget it.

We've got to realize that dominion doesn't mean domination. I want to go home, get my feet wet in the Sound, and... do something really enormous. Walk all the way to Washington, DC. Sit outside the offices of every major industrial polluter in Seattle. Write a liturgy for creatures swimming 740 miles from where I am right now--and do it in the National Cathedral.

Realistically, what I will do is write a letter. If enough of us speak up, the people who enforce these laws will know that we're watching. Join me?

Image hosted by

Saturday, November 12, 2005


I had a conversation with a friend yesterday, which would have been impossible for me to have had coherently not very long ago. My friend said, we've gotten off track. I want to be in your constellation, but I can't give you the level of support you've been coming to me for.

Hard thing to hear. But I didn't come close to getting upset about it. I'm trying to figure out how this kind of growth works, so I can replicate it for myself and facilitate it in other people. Part of what made this easier is the trust level between us; I know he means well, and he prefaced the whole thing by saying he wanted to focus on how he could support me/we could support each other. He invited me to talk more deeply about the feelings he knew I'd had; I didn't feel a need to. I may later, as we figure out how to be. The other part is that I've had experiences since I've been in CA that have allowed me to stop believing what I'd bought into: "I have needs; I've been blamed for them; I must be inadequate."

I came down here with a lot of hurt on my shoulders; I'm being vague about that on purpose. I let go of it about a month ago. I talked to a friend who took me seriously, who named the experience before I was able to, and who supported me in talking to a person in power about it. The person who had wounded me had had a lot of power over how I'd thought of myself. I'd accepted his judgement of me. I don't, anymore.

Why not? Because, I've simply been listened to. My friends have told me that my feelings are real, and valid, and worth listening to. That I'm not crazy or evil. That they value me, and that I will get through what is hard for me--and that I can help other people when I myself have gone through it. That's gone a long way toward unwinding and healing me.

That's the deepest lesson I can take from this, or share. If someone you know is hurting, listen to them. Don't give them advice; don't judge them for having gotten into whatever situation. Just give them a space to share their feelings. Let them know that you value who they are. That is transforming enough.

Thursday, November 10, 2005


This is Early Registration Week for spring semester. I met with my advisor on Wednesday, and we had a great conversation about how to make sense of all of this. I told her that I'm going on meds in a month; she complimented me for seeing what I need to do. (I have the attention span of a gnat on crack; the least I can do is notice.) We talked about how to make school take longer. She said, get an MA along with my MDiv. Find out what I'm passionate about, and go with it.

I live in a candy store. I'm passionate about a lot of things. It's focus that I lack.

Anyway, we're experimenting with online registration. You e-mail all the faculty of your restricted courses, and register whether or not you hear back. This semester is full of required courses. I got in to all the ones I need so far: Medieval/Reformation History, Intro to the New Testament (taught by my current Greek instructor; I'd take basketweaving if he taught it), Intro to Worship (history of liturgy). The Pastoral Care instructor is out on family leave; his wife just had a baby. He'll be back in a few weeks.

I'm going to try to audit a course called Women's Spiritual Quest, taught by a faculty member from the Jesuit school. Here's the description:

This seminar will engage women in a process of reflection on their experience from the perspectives of spirituality, psychology, and the arts. We will consider women's religious experience; relationships; personal/social transformation; the body; nature; archetypes. This seminar class will include feminist readings, written reflections, discussion, ritual. [12 max enrollment]

Doesn't that just sound cool? I'm coming up in a patriarchal church; I need to celebrate everything that's been silenced, and learn to help other women do the same. If I'm not allowed in, I'll take The Gospel of John in Greek; it's the next course in the Greek sequence. Lizette suggested I do that for credit, if I do it--but also to be mindful of my attention issues and not go completely insane. As in, don't take both.

I'm more excited about that than about what's right in front of me. I have three projects due next week. Ack! Off to work on them.

Monday, November 07, 2005

St. Aidan's

About a month ago, I visited St. Aidan's Episcopal Church in San Francisco. I'd wanted to go there, but felt shy about it because we stole their rector. I expressed that shyness to my mentor, whose home parish it is and who knows Nedi. She said, don't worry about that, they'd love you and you'd love them. Go. I went the first Sunday that I could, and she was right.

I met a couple at the bus stop, that first Sunday--which happened to be St. Francis Day, and Blessing of Every Small Dog in San Francisco. We befriended each other pretty much instantly. They showed me around, and then publicly introduced me as a first-year seminarian and an Olympian. "She knows Nedi." (I'd met her twice.) I was met with a wave of friendliness. I liked the community right away; you walk in the door knowing nothing, and can feel the joyful chaos. I knew I'd come back, but my October weekends were busy with a visit to a friend and then Reading Week. I volunteered at Dymphna last Friday, and came back to worship yesterday.

Dymphna... Molly (my mentor) said I'd fit in here because I knew that Dymphna is the patron saint of madness. (Google her and see why.) "St. Dymphna's Whatever Happened to Bingo?" is St. Aidan's annual fundraiser for their afterschool program, Aidan's Way. Basically, I waitressed at a drag show for church. Where else would you get to do that? (It was a cabaret, not strictly a drag show. But I'm not sure how many of the nuns were cross-dressing.) I don't remember when I've had that much fun. I did it so I could see this production, and to meet people. Someone on Sunday remarked on me just jumping in... why on earth wouldn't I want to? I need a faith community that can be my home, and one I can get neck-deep busy in. These people know how to have fun, and how to live their faith. Yesterday, I could see that my being from Olympia had been a cool thing for them--but they'd have welcomed me just as much if I were from anywhere. That's just who they are. Open and friendly and engaged in life.

They announced yesterday that they've called a new rector. He's a gay man from Baton Rouge, and I think another friend here at CDSP knows him. I really, really want to work with/be around women clergy, but I can be open. The vestry and search committee are really excited. His name is Tommy Dillon, he's my age, and he'll be here in February.

On another front... I went to see a counselor at Kaiser last week. We talked for 45 minutes about depression, anxiety, and ADD. He agreed with me that meds might be a good solution, and gave me a referral to a pdoc for December 14. With luck, I should function better spring semester. (I love being here, but my head is full of questions: what am I doing, why am I doing this, what is God calling me into, can I be bigger than I've been? Focusing on academics hasn't happened in awhile, and trying to focus when I'm actually doing them is just laughable.) Pray for me, please.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Profile picture

I know how to crop pictures now. Here's a close-up. Now let's see if I can put it where I want it. Posted by Picasa

Learning about pictures

Posted by Picasa
I can't figure out how else to add a picture to my profile, so I'm sending this here and then I'll play with it. This was taken at our class retreat weekend (September 9-11, 2005). A few of us went out from St. Dorothy's Rest, a retreat center owned by the Diocese of California, to this state park near Guerneville. I'm sitting in the root system of a fallen redwood tree. It's dark and far away, but the only picture I have of just myself. Anyway, I like playing in trees.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

St. Andrew's

Went to St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Tacoma this morning; a friend is the priest up there. The people are really warm and welcoming. She introduced me, and many people came up and introduced themselves. They do a lot of interfaith and ecumenical outreach; it would be a neat place to keep coming to, when I'm up here. A bunch of us met for lunch afterward; everyone at the table either was living or had lived in the Bay Area. Lots to talk about.

She went to CDSP in the late '90s. We talked about everything, on the car ride home. What it was like then, what I'm doing now, how to plan future steps, who to make sure I take classes from. We talked a lot about how genuine the people are. I sound like I'm sucking up, but I'm not; it's one of the first things I noticed. All the faculty I've interacted with have treated me like an equal. They're brilliant, famous in their fields, and confident of what they know--but their egos don't get in the way. They're just people that I get to eat dinner with. We're all traveling together.

We left Olympia at 6:30 this morning. I almost fell asleep on Athanasius (my reading, don't worry) in her office, during the early service. We got home after 3. I just ate dinner, showed my friend the neat things you can do with Google Earth (a very fun time-suck, watch out), and now I'm going to go back to studying. I live a very good life.

Peace to all.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Reading Week

...aaaahhhhh. I'm sitting in the kitchen at my friends' house in Olympia; I tried to do this on the couch in the living room, but their neighbor's wireless network didn't reach that far. Just breathing, and catching up with myself. I'm going to work at the co-op a couple times, and study in public places to see who I run into--but I'm being sort of semi-incognito on purpose. Reading Week is designed to give us time to catch up, or work on projects without being interrupted. I brought a heaping box of books with me, and I need to get busy in them.

My friend June and I drove up yesterday, in her car. We left Berkeley about 10:30, after our Greek class, and I got in a little after 11 p.m. (She lives a little bit south of here. We dropped her off, and her husband took me home.) We stopped a lot, but made really good time. The weather was perfect.

Okay Olympians, why isn't it raining? I was running around in sandals barefoot in California, and I could do that here if I'd brought them. Took a walk this afternoon, and it was positively balmy. What's up with that?

Anyway... Got in last night, said hi to my friend who'd waited up for me, and crawled into my bed in the back room. Today, my godmother and I went to Traditions for what turned out to be lunch. I gave her a birthday present (hers is Wednesday), and we talked about everything. She and her friend are working on a calendar; I can't wait to see.

She said it was good to have me home for a little while. I loved hearing that. I love school, and I'm getting to really like California. But Olympia still feels like home, and it still can be. (Susan, when you read this, thank you.)

Getting up before God tomorrow morning, to go to church in Tacoma. It's time to start exploring other parishes in this diocese, when I'm up here. I'm happy in California, but the Northwest is home, and I would love to end up back here. I don't know yet what my ministry will be (or what I will wear when I'm doing it), and I'm feeling really excited to explore every path I can, everywhere I can. (In San Francisco, I really love the people of St. Aidan's, and I wouldn't be surprised if I settled in there after awhile.)

Our suffragan bishop, Nedi Rivera, was in the Bay Area for the week of October 14. Her roots are there, and she was there to give a lecture at the St. Margaret's benefit at school (to fund a chair for the education of women in ministry) and to receive an honorary doctorate. It wasn't all about the seminarians. But she gave us a lot of time, connecting with us each individually and taking us all out to dinner (the diocese paid for it). She looks after us, and cares about who we are. We are blessed to have her.

I got a 99 on my Greek test. I'd have aced it, if I'd gone with my guess on one grammar question. I thought I didn't get the grammar at all, but apparently I do. Now we're up to our necks in verbs. If you look at them as just completely wild, they're fun. (You can have six parts to one little word: prefix, augment, reduplication, stem, what our auspicious instructor Sean calls a "connector", and personal ending. Three of these are clues to figure out what tense it is.)

I'm really, really loving early church history, also. The instructor is dynamic and engaged in what he's doing, and the subject fascinates me. I turned in a paper on Arius and the Nicene Council last week, that I'd gotten a late start on, but ended up happy with. There are so many twists and turns to this whole epic story. I'm still trying to map out a heresy match game, in my head. Other people like the idea. It would be fun for future first-years, and also me, if I did it.

This week, I'm going to do more work with verbs, partly to really understand them and partly for fun. Catch up my reading on everything. Work on a bibliography for Anglican Tradition and Life; I'm doing a research paper on the New Zealand Prayer Book, and the church there. Read enough of what I'm behind in, in my Old Testament class, to figure out how to write an exegetical paper using any type of Biblical criticism I want.

I'll also work six hours at the co-op, possibly more. And try to see people. There's a reason they don't call this "vacation."

More later!

Sunday, October 09, 2005

I am the worst blogger in the world.

Now that we know this, let's go on. It's getting really interesting here. Aside from feeling (and being) academically behind all the time, all of my fault lines are shifting. I'm standing on a volcano. And it's exactly what I want.

Quick recap: Left Olympia August 12. Spent two weeks with a friend in the Central Valley, visiting hardware stores, tearing up her floor, hurting my back, and camping on the coast, bonding with each other, God, wild creatures and space aliens. We had an incredible time. Her rector and I are long-time friends as well; we met when I was 16. I'm now 80 miles from them. I can drive out on random weekends and see family. I love that. I'm going out this Saturday, I think.

Got here the last week of August... I remember it was a Thursday. Orientation started the following Tuesday; I think the 29th. I threw my stuff onto the middle of my dorm room floor, and went on with exploring. It's still a royal mess in here.

I'm here to do school, and I love it and want to--and there are so many distractions. (I ought to be reading right now.) I finally started calling spiritual directors--first I'd meant to, then I had to. The ground is shifting under me. I don't know if that's a direct response to what I'm learning, or just what happens when you're in this place, and everyone around you is charged with change. I'm thinking all the time about what I want to do when I'm done here--at the same time, planning ways to make school take longer. There's so much I want to experience, try on, have time to suck at before I need to be really good. I'm aware that people will be watching me closely--and I want to rock my own world as well as theirs. At the same time, I know that it starts with simple trust. All I need to do is walk out into the ocean. God will take care of surrounding me with water. (The temperature, taste, and critters swimming in it aren't up to me.)

Went to a presentation last Thursday, after Community Night (Eucharist and dinner). I'd seen Karen but didn't know her; she's ahead of me, and we'd never talked. She spent five weeks last summer working in South Africa, at a shelter/school for kids who have lost both parents to AIDS. I found myself asking in all seriousness, who do I talk to if I want to do this? She and I are meeting Wednesday to discuss contacts and funding. (The main expense is travel--I looked online when I got home, and round-trip airfare between SeaTac and Johannesburg is $2100. Once you get there, it's obscene to think about money--these people don't have enough food, and the exchange rate is 6 rand to the dollar.) I'm serious about doing this. I was thinking about something like Bishop's Ranch or Holden, and still should write to them. But I've had it in my head for years that I want to do HIV/AIDS work in Africa, and never really followed up on it--either I felt like I couldn't, or whatever. This just dropped into my lap. It's possible.

I went to St. Aidan's in San Francisco last Sunday. I'd wanted to, but felt shy about it because that's where we stole Nedi from. (Non-Episcopalians--the former priest at St. Aidan's is the current suffragan bishop in the Diocese of Olympia, living and working in Seattle.) My mentor goes there, and told me it would be fine. It was. I overheard a couple talking, at the bus stop by the Glen Park BART station, about how late the #52 was. Aha, I thought, they'll know--and went over to ask them about it. They said that it's a second-run line--that means it gets pulled to other routes if there are problems. Oh.

"I'm from Olympia. That doesn't happen there."
"Where are you going?"
"St. Aidan's."
"We are too. Do you know Nedi?"
"I've met her twice."

It was that easy. They showed me around, introduced me publicly as a first-year CDSP student from Olympia... and then took me to a Thai place for lunch in downtown Berkeley. (They live one BART stop away from me.) It was about as friendly as an inquisition could be. They invited me to their stewardship dinner--one of them chairs the committee--and I went, Friday. Everybody is so warm, so inclusive. I went to Good Shepherd in Berkeley this morning, and missed the joyful chaos of St. Aidan's. I'm leery of committing to them--in my heart or verbally--before they know who their new rector will be. I'm not just looking for a place to hang out on Sunday mornings--I need a community I can get neck-deep busy in, and trust to do discernment with me later. I love these people. I've been once and I have friends. That wouldn't happen everywhere.

I need to read and get some sleep. Spent four hours yesterday in a faculty member's garden at the far (west) side of San Francisco. We got a lot done and had a good time and talk together--and I'm embarrassingly sore. Need to start swimming, or something.

Peace, love, and blessings to all. I'll try to keep this up once a week, from here.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

The body is the temple of the Spirit

...and mine needs to hold services elsewhere for awhile. My back is out making picket signs.

I fell on the stairs at home in May. I knew I hadn't fully healed yet. I was feeling close to normal before I came down here, but knew I needed to be careful. I forgot that caveat, and forgot how un-used to this intensity of exercise I am. I was slow and draggy yesterday. Today, I'm just hurting.

I was lying on the couch this morning, trying not to whimper and failing brilliantly. My friend got me ice, tissues, water... everything I needed, plus a shoulder rub. I could be forgiven for having a very human body. Then she asked why I was crying. Frustration or pain? Both. "I want to do everything, and I can't." Her answer surprised me. "Maybe that's what God wants you to learn. To have understanding for people who can't do everything."

I've been thinking about that. It sounds awfully close to the idea of being punished for not understanding. I don't think she believes God does that, and I know that I don't. My God is a god of gentleness and love. Hers is too; we weave that love into every conversation. I was so frustrated with myself, feeling the pressure of having a lot to do in very little time--and also afraid of the primal intensity of my anger. It wasn't just about this project. I was feeling all the other times that, in my or my parents' or teachers' eyes, I had not been good enough. I was doing to myself what had been done to me, and I knew it, and was too frustrated in the moment to stop. She told me it was okay to slow down. "I want you to paint, but I don't want you in traction." I knew she was making sense and I wasn't--but I was angry enough to fight it, until I moved and felt the stab again.

She left for work, and I lay on the couch and tried to relax, tried to listen. I realized that if I really couldn't do anything, beating myself up to try to get me to paint the house was illogical. I said, "Okay. What are you saying, really?" Literally as soon as I let go, I felt it: as if a cool liquid were flowing into and through and around all the hurting places in my body and my heart. Gentleness and healing. I didn't experience it in words. It was a lightness, a release, a freeing from what I'd been doing to me. It filled me with an awareness of love, patience, understanding. It gave me the grace to stop, and to breathe, and to focus my mind on what God was showing me.

My friend was right, though it took me awhile to understand. Where I'm going, I will need to be able to touch and be touched by everyone. You can't have empathy for others before you have it for yourself. You get there by love, not by anger. By embracing, not by tearing apart.

It's a nice day and I'd love it if I felt good enough just to take a walk. We'll be doing that this weekend. My back still physically hurts. I'm in need of rest, ice, and anti-inflammatories. And to be patient with myself, and let them work their healing in me.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Wanton destruction

We ripped out a parquet floor yesterday. We hadn't meant to. It started innocently: we needed a flat space for a ladder, to caulk around her fireplace. (Some of the tiles were loose, and the floor was going to come up anyway.) Two hours later, everything but the kitchen was in paper bags. My stomach hurt from exertion and laughing. Then we took the flooring to the Habitat drop-off site and went out for lunch. (The Olympia city ordinance against good Chinese restaurants is not in effect here.)

We've been working, driving around to hardware stores, and talking about God and our lives and service. I thought I was going to be homesick; I'm busy and happy and fine. I'll be ready in December to see everyone, but right now I wouldn't be anywhere else, nor can I imagine a better preparation for what I'm about to do. Everything is unfolding as it should, and I am where I belong. I'm groggy today because I woke up early feeling so cosmically loved I couldn't go back to sleep.

We never did get the caulking done; that's one of my jobs today.

Have to go back to work now. Peace and love to everyone.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

From embrace to embrace

I'm writing this from my friend's house in Stockton, CA, where I arrived safely late Friday night. I'll be here about another ten days, then I'll head to Berkeley. Forgive me for not updating before now. My last week in Oly was a whirlwind, and I've been on the verge of exhaustion since before I got here.

There's a trust game we used to play in Girl Scout camp, where you fall onto a double line of people, hoping they'll catch you, and they pass you along to the end, laughing. That's the space I've been in. I feel held up and loved and supported by everyone. I was driving down the freeway Friday, mind wandering. Suddenly I found myself yelling, "Thank you!" You don't need to yell for God to hear you, but that's beside the point. I really get to do this.

I'd been worried about how I'd relate to my community (Olympia) after I'd left. I lived there for so long, and because of my family issues, my friends were my world. Thank you for sending me off with your love. I will feel a part of you no matter where I live, and I am having these adventures freely, knowing that the world is open to me and I can come home to you.

Scenes from that last week:

Doing Dances of Universal Peace barefoot in Priest Point Park, feeling the cool, soft, strong earth under me and the chants flow through my body. I hadn't done this but once or twice in the past two years, and so I didn't know the circle in itself. My own circles (CIC and the food co-op) wove through it, and almost everyone was a friend of mine.

Walking with Jo around Capitol Lake, one last time, and talking about everything. She gave me the last of her Celtic crosses; she doesn't need it anymore, as she's a Sufi.

Having dinner with Dave and Kathleen, and being asked laughingly to help fold six loads of laundry for the Little Red Schoolhouse.

Eating lunch at Traditions, talking with Audrey about tree sits and hugging Jody goodbye.

My goodbye party at Dick and Betty's. They served co-op cheese puffs (Barbara's™) in the nicest bowl in their house, because I'd mentioned I liked them, and made me a birthday cake five weeks early.

Eating sushi with my godmother. When we said goodbye, she blessed me: "Take your God, and go do wonderful things."

The congregation blessing me, my last Sunday at St. John's, and friends offering to send me care packages because they'll miss me and I must be in need of presents.

Helen singing me a silly goodbye song Friday morning, as I finished packing the car and prepared to leave. We hugged and laughed and she told me how right I was to do this. I know that, in my soul, even though I don't know where this call is ultimately taking me. Thank you all for understanding when I went off on an unexpected path, and for recognizing that this is the only authentic thing I can do.

I crawled here at 11 Friday night, having driven for 13 hours. (My car is a reluctant mountaineer.) Called my godmother and my mom, and I think I ate some chocolate zucchini bread. We were to drive to Fresno (two hours if you're lucky) the next day for a Remain Episcopal meeting. (Some of you have heard me talk about "my friends in the struggle in San Joaquin." This is the group they're part of. Their diocese is headed by a right-wing bishop, and there's a struggle over when/whether the diocese will split over issues of sexuality and other things, and what will happen when it does.) Anyway, as we were leaving, I slammed the car door on my thumb. We extricated it and treated me successfully for shock. I'd been halfway hoping to fall asleep in the car, as I'd been an adrenaline-soaked insomniac for at least a week. Alas, I stayed awake. I'd never been that deep in the Central Valley, and wanted to see what it was like. (Answer: flat, agricultural, and smoggy.)

When we got to the meeting, my other friend gave me an enthusiastic greeting hug and got ice for my hand. (We last saw each other in April.) We joked about how I'd driven 1000 miles to get there. It felt good to be there and to be able to contribute, and to hear people witness to their understanding and love of God and of this church. I care about this mainly because I have friends here, and I've watched them struggle. The issue that brought me back to church--for me, justice, love, and inclusion--is spun very differently by the powers that be in this diocese. I asked what I can do; "pray and stay in touch" are givens.

We drove home, had dinner, and baked bread for today's Communion. (I'd asked if we would get to; she said she wasn't scheduled. Within hours of that e-mail, she was.) I don't bake bread on my own, ever, and wouldn't have asked to except I love doing it for this purpose. Preparing holy food is a labor of love, a deep and organic interaction with the God who makes communion possible.

I actually did sleep decently last night. We got up this morning and drove the bread to church in time for the early service, then went to the farmer's market. It's in a strip mall parking lot, but it felt social and friendly just the same. It was fun. We took the food home, ate breakfast (pizza bagels from a bakery in the market), and went back to church, this time for worship.

I went up at birthdays/thanksgivings time. I spoke of being thankful for every place I think of as home. (Thinking, Oly, here, and CDSP.) My priest friend introduced me as "a longtime friend who's starting CDSP." He blessed each of us with oil. After the dismissal, people came up and engaged with me, offered their support. I have two good friends here; no one else knows me. Yet I feel adopted by this congregation as well. Held up yet again by loving hands.

Blessed be God's Kindom, now and forever. Amen.

(I purposely leave out the "g." I like what it does to the meaning.)

Saturday, July 30, 2005

The neatest thing happened today

I did my last regular volunteer shift at the Olympia Food Co-op today. (It would have been next Saturday, but I forgot and signed up to help with the peace meditation at the same time.) A man came in whom I've seen frequently across the cash register; we've made friendly conversation, but we don't know each other's names. He asked how I was. I told him I was leaving; we talked about that and he gave me good wishes. He left and I went on with my shift.

Not long later (it's a short shift), he came back, with something under his arm. I was busy with someone, and we barely made eye contact. When it was quiet again, my shift partner (whom I'd never met) asked if I was leaving. "Yeah, why?" She pointed to a box on the counter. "Then this is for you."

My anonymous friend had run downtown to Compass Rose (import store in Olympia) and brought me a present. I opened the card first; there was a magnet with the kanji for "peace," and a note thanking me for being who I am. It was signed with his initial and "Olympia 2005." In the box was a black wooden box with little animals painted on it.

I have no way of thanking him, and he didn't want me to. People can be so incredibly cool. I never would have thought of doing that--and now it's a way I really want to be.

(For a link to the aforementioned peace meditation, click here.)

Friday, July 29, 2005


My mother took me shopping for clothes today. I was nervous; the least of the reasons why is that I don't like shopping and have next to no experience. I needn't have been. We had a good time, and a good conversation over lunch.

What's past is over. They're focused on supporting my adventures. Praise the One Who Is.

And also for this:

Sunday, July 24, 2005


I realized today that I've been saying goodbye for over a month. Finally decided to stop feeling pre-emptively homesick--I need to be happy while I'm here. It's silly to miss my friends when I'm with them. I've had the same conversation over and over: "I'm leaving..." "Wow, that's so exciting for you--goodbye." It's wearing after awhile.

I didn't realize how hard this would be. The last major move I made was to come here, two days after my 18th birthday. I'll turn 35 in September, in California. I've lived my entire adult life in this place. All these relationships hold my history--let alone that I love everyone I'm leaving, and they love me.

So why on earth would I do this? What would make a hippie from Olympia move 700 miles from everything and everyone she knows? How on earth can some Greener think she hears the voice of God?

Because I do. In this path, is life. Of course I'm scared. I know I'll be challenged in every way possible. And I thank God every day for calling me. If you've experienced this, you don't need a translation. If you haven't, I don't know if there is one. I could say, I love academics. That is true. I could say, there's nothing else I really want to study. Also true, but there are cheaper and less life-disrupting ways to do that. I think what happened is that as soon as I got the guts to speak this desire, it became the only choice I had. Truth and I ran smack into each other, and bang. It's deeper than a passion; it's a voice on the other side of a door flung open. "Done wandering yet? Good. Let's go."

I need to get dinner and feed a cat. I'll write more about exactly why I'm doing this later.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

First post

I've never kept a blog before, and will be learning how to do it as I go. I set this up to keep in touch with my community in Olympia, and to hopefully be a useful voice in the general blogosphere. I moved here to go to Evergreen in the fall of 1988, really liked the town, and it became my home. I'm leaving in three weeks to start seminary in Berkeley, here: I don't yet know what it means for me... priesthood, teaching, or something I've never thought of. Most people, when they take this step, know where they're headed. I know that I need to go have these adventures and find out.

About the title: I grew up in the Episcopal church, and was very active particularly as a youth, at the same time that I struggled with it. I left shortly after college, primarily because I had had it with patriarchy. I fell in with an interfaith community in town, and stayed with them for eleven years. I went to the odd Christmas Eve service, and never really left the church in my heart, but I wasn't regularly practicing. The summer of 2003 found me missing liturgy, but still when I church-hopped I went to Quaker meeting. Then in August, Bishop Robinson was elected. I found out about it through Episcopalian friends on a message board who were discussing General Convention. I've never been with a woman and I certainly wasn't thinking of the priesthood; still, I was shocked at how proud of the church I was, for affirming an openly gay cleric from New Hampshire. "They did that? I'm going home."

That Sunday I drove an hour to St. Mark's Cathedral in Seattle. I had to celebrate with somebody, and I still had connections there. I went to the healing rail after Communion. Some poor woman asked what I needed prayer for; I opened my mouth to tell her, and burst into sobs. I knew then that God was playing tag with me, and I was It. God was saying to me, "I love you and you matter. I have work for you." The depression and frustration and struggles would resolve. I still had to figure out my path--still do--but I had one.

We hear so much about the uproar since, about churches struggling on one side or the other and what will happen to the Anglican Communion now. I hope and pray that others experienced this event in the same simple, profound way I did: as God loving and affirming every human being, including them.

Anyway, I knew I couldn't drive an hour each way to church every week, and would have to gather up my courage and try my local parish. I did, and was welcomed there as well. The youth director and I knew each other from fifteen years before, when her older kids and I attended diocesan youth events together. We were sitting in her office, catching up on the decade since we'd talked. She said, "You'd remember R." "Yes, why?" (He was one of my priests in the Seattle area, when I was in high school, and had since moved elsewhere.) She was speaking of this priest's best friend. God playing tag, again. I went home and looked him up, and he is a friend and mentor still.

A year later, I was sitting in my priest's office. I'd gone in to talk about monasticism; really, I was just poking around. He said something about being ready for the next step. I agreed. Then, it came out of me. "I'd go to Berkeley right now and be totally happy." I hadn't meant to bring that up, and didn't know I was going to. I'd thought about seminary off and on since college, but didn't know I felt that strongly. He answered, "Go." Gave me spiritual and tangible support to help that happen. I applied, and had transforming experiences when I went there to be interviewed. Still to my happy surprise, I got accepted.

And so, that's the door I'm walking through. I don't know where it will take me, but there's nothing more right than this. In the metaphor of "playing tag with God," I know that I'm caught and will be held forever. Going to school now, trusting the Spirit, throwing myself into everything this means and letting questions of vocation answer themselves, is my way of tagging God back.