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.