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?

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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.