Thursday, March 23, 2006


The three surviving Christian Peacemaker Team members held hostage in Iraq have been released. Welcome home James Loney, Harmeet Singh Sooden, and Norman Kember!

Information, action requests, and memorials for Tom Fox are on the CPT website.

Links to news stories:



The Guardian

The New York Times

We thank you for their release, gracious God, and we pray for all who are still held captive in this war and all others. Keep them safe, and bring them home. Give all those in government wisdom to seek cooperative relationships, and give us wisdom to choose leaders who will guide us in the paths of peace.

Monday, March 20, 2006


I will change your name
You shall no longer be called
Wounded, outcast, lonely or afraid,
I will change your name
Your new name shall be
Confidence, joyfulness, overcoming one,
Faithfulness, friend of God, one who seeks my face.

I love this parish. We're singing the above as our gospel hymn this Lent. It's so simple, and it's so real. Non-threatening repentance, you know? Your error is in all forms of hurt and alienation. I will bring you home.

I've known the New Zealand Lord's Prayer for years, but had never used it liturgically. It enfleshes what the more familiar version is trying to get at. It's incredibly powerful to say, "For you reign in the glory of the power that is love," surrounded by a community whose identity is invested in loving and welcoming the stranger. I'm praying, and aware of what I'm tasting, at the same time. (I'm not a stranger here anymore; haven't been since the first Sunday I attended, in October. But there's talk here all the time about how to be a more welcoming community. They're unaware of how well they already practice it.)

I went to a meeting after yesterday's service, to plan the logistics of Holy Week. I hadn't known it was happening, and didn't need to be there; I was just there for the learning experience. I expressed enthusiasm about labyrinths. Ended up not only promising to write up a one-page guide to what a labyrinth is, but being there for an hour and a half on the Wednesday of Holy Week (5-6:30 pm, if you want to show up), to teach people how to walk it. After, I tagged one of the people on the healing team, whom I'd spoken with in January. I hadn't seen her in recent weeks; she's been sick. I told her I was still interested. She said, well, talk to Tommy, I think you're qualified. What? There's a week-long, intensive (and expensive) training that you've all had, that I haven't done. She knows. But she sees this in me, and she'll teach me what I need to know. She wants to do a Saturday training and a bunch of Wednesdays, also to help build up the Wednesday healing service. I told her I only know where I'll be through May. So, she's doing it while we know I'm here.

A friend drove me from church to the Embarcadero BART. I don't know how far it is out of her way, and it's not by any means the closest to church, but we like talking and so there it is. She's been questioning the level of her own participation, because she has physical limitations that she's not used to. I said something like, "If we're going to be inclusive, physical abilities need to be a part of that." New thought for her. But isn't it obvious? You should not be limited--by yourself or other people--from doing what God calls you to. We all live in this, er, Kindom. Anyway, she responded: "I think you're in the right calling." Wow, thank you. Why? "A lot of things. It's not just this conversation."

These are the snippets I cherish, walking on an unknown road. These are my streetlights, my signposts. "Go here. Do more of that. This is where you belong." I'm so thankful for them. All I know, in my own self, is to be where God is. God is everywhere. I know I'm called to give everything I am. Utterly. I'm learning how to do that.

"The process," and politics, scare me. I need to just explore and experiment right now; to play and learn and do exactly what I'm doing. I'm grateful for this time.

Came home and attempted to study--with absolutely no success. I have a midterm tomorrow, a paper due Thursday, and a verbatim to get pinned down this week. Next week is spring break. I'm staying with my friend in Stockton next weekend, then driving to Olympia next Monday morning. I love what I'm doing and I'm meant to be doing it--but all I want to do right now is pack up the extra junk in my room, and get out of Dodge.

Thursday, March 16, 2006


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Today, March 16, is the third anniversary of the death of Rachel Corrie. She grew up in my hometown, Olympia, WA. I never knew her, but we had many friends in common, and I have become friends with her family. Today, I pray for them, and I pray that Rachel's work will continue to bring peace to the world.

Rachel died in Rafah, Gaza Strip, while using her body to defend a house from demolition by the Israeli army. She knew the family that lived there; she had stayed with them, eaten with them, played with their children. She was wearing a bright orange jacket, and speaking through a megaphone to the driver of the 9-ton Caterpillar D-9 bulldozer that killed her. He dropped the blade, ran over her, and backed over her again. She died of massive internal injuries.

Whatever you think of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, here is a woman who believed passionately that peace was possible. The year before her death, Rachel organized a contingent of doves to march in Olympia's Procession of the Species celebration. She did not go to Gaza to die, but to do what she could to assist the people who were living in a world of checkpoints and armed watchtowers. She walked children to school. She slept at wells to defend them from military demolition.

Rachel went to Gaza to learn what life was like there, so she could teach about it when she came home. She went with the hope of connecting the communities of Rafah and Olympia. Her family and friends have continued that work.

Rachel sent e-mails to her family from an internet cafe in Rafah. Read them at Rachel's Words.

Here is the link to the Olympia-Rafah Sister City Project.

Here is a poem for Rachel, written by Palestinian-American author Suheir Hammad.

I remember also that the body of Tom Fox was found this week in Iraq. He was one of the Christian Peacemaker Team members taken hostage. There has been no news of the others. Today, do something in the name of peace. Plant a flower. Say hi to someone you normally wouldn't speak to. Sign up for a foreign language class. Write a letter to your Congressional representative. Pray for the work of CPT. Read Rachel's words out loud.

Saturday, March 04, 2006


I meant to write Wednesday, and didn't. Been meaning to write since, and haven't. But I want to get back into this blog, and I really ought to say something about Lent.

I've always had a hard time with Lent being when it is. How can you concentrate on the finiteness of your humanity when it's Spring? It's hard to be penitential when the world's waking up. Winter doesn't happen in the Bay Area, though. I'm not having my annual mood swing because the light's back; it didn't really leave. (Winter days are shorter, yes, but still longer--and much sunnier--than I'm used to.)

I've needed to take stock of my life, though, and reprioritize things. It's good to take time to live more closely to where you want to be. I've never gotten into giving up things for Lent; I take a practice on, instead. Usually I intensify my prayer journal. I've gotten so far out of the practice of keeping one, that writing anything at all is a huge act of cleaning house. I also intended to start getting up for Morning Prayer. I didn't make it once last week. I'll try again Monday.

What am I hungry for? More quiet prayer time. More movement: walks, swimming, getting off of Holy Hill and being outside. Less time being randomly online. More focused study habits. More involvement at church--but really all I have to do is show up, and that is given to me. (I hadn't even planned to go on Ash Wednesday, but was offered a ride home across the bay if I went. Ended up doing three jobs.) More time in conversation, and more time in listening.

Know how you're sometimes given challenges just so you can learn from them? I've been so deeply called into healing. I'm really needing to learn about my own personal boundaries, and to build myself back up within them. I don't think I have a choice but to go there--and I need to create time to explore that this season.

If I make a schedule, and keep to it, this will be a fruitful time.

What can you do?

I posted this on a discussion board I visit, and thought I'd repeat it here.

What are you proud of yourself for?

I can...
Fold origami cranes in my sleep
Sing endless Girl Scout camp songs
Build a one-match fire and keep it going in the rain
Read a map, and fold it when I'm done
Make rosaries
Knit well
Crochet poorly
Walk on my knees in the lotus position
Make a really good tofu chocolate pie
Survive and be happy in graduate school
Read French
*Whistle (but not yet with my fingers)
Look at a craft and figure out how to make it
Write silly poetry
Laugh well and often

What can you do?

*A story about whistling: I was at a Christmas party with a 7-year-old that I'm friendly with, listening to someone play the piano. He recognized a song, and I asked if he could sing it. He started whistling, in perfect tune, for all he was worth. Then he answered:,"I can just sing with my lips."