Sunday, May 28, 2006

On self-worth, and dishwashers

I believe...

  • I am worth more than the dishwasher I broke the other night
  • Love heals all wounds of the soul
  • Hugs and chocolate can save the world
  • If we listen, we can hear God laughing

I broke a dishwasher the other night. I had help: I was tickled, and fell over the open door, so that now it opens farther than it's supposed to. The Apostle in Exile and I fixed it with an empty flower pot. (It hardly ever washes dishes anyway; it's her drying rack.) She tickled me because I'd said I was sorry too many times for some other thing. I fell backwards, bouncing off the dishwasher door and landing on the floor. She checked to be sure I was okay. Then we laughed until we were both out of breath.

Later, I couldn't get over the idea that I was worth more than her dishwasher. I mean, I hadn't expected her to yell at me or anything. I'm not ten anymore, and we don't have that kind of relationship anyway. But she wasn't upset for a second, and I couldn't believe how that could be.

When I was a kid, my parents and I were time-sharing at their friends' cabin. I borrowed their daughter's bike. I fell off, and came home bleeding. My mother's response: "I hope the bike's all right." I don't think she even stopped washing dishes to look at me. I knew I was worth more than Emily's bicycle, and that her parents wouldn't likely freak if I had damaged it. I remember even trying to say so--a gutsy thing, then. But I grew up in a home where material things mattered more than people. I would never, and have never, treated anyone like that. I've worked a lot with kids, and began intentionally so I'd know that I wouldn't. But this sort of thing sticks with you.

The Apostle gave me lots of hugs and reassurance, and a couple days later I was beginning to get it. We had Haagen-Dazs triple chocolate ice cream to celebrate. I know that my work is to continue this love in other people. I'm certainly willing to tell anyone, "You are worth more than my dishwasher." But it's both incredibly grace-filled and incredibly silly that she needed to say that to me.

I'm getting it, though. I told her it was like a book I read on climbing Mt. Everest, which is an impossible and arduous place anyway, and you'd never want to be there. The hardest part of the climb, apparently, is the last hundred feet or so: not only are you freezing and oxygen-deprived, but it's suddenly steeper until you reach the top. That's where I am. It is not where I was, a week ago.

Thanks be to God.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Met today with my priest friend in Lodi and their choir director, who's considering CDSP. We had lunch at a Thai place, and I talked about school. It was really kind of neat. I do love what I'm doing, and I have no doubts that it's right, even though I don't know clearly how I'll get to where I'm going.

I'm also happy for a break. I'm hanging out at the Apostle in Exile's house for a couple weeks, long enough to go to my friends' ordinations in SF before I'm due in Seattle. Yesterday, all I did was go online, wash dishes, and sleep. Resting, recovering. I'm better now.

And learning. I understood something the other night, and it's important enough to post here. Something had brought up old fears in me, and I was trying to tell her what I was going through. It was like looking around at where I had lived, and seeing Hiroshima. Exploded house after exploded house, splintered wood and broken glass everywhere. I was picking up random pieces and trying to hammer them together, not even sure which was my house, just working with my head down. Every time I looked up, the devastation seemed bigger. I couldn't see the end of it. I was alone, and all I knew was that I had to keep working. But nothing I was doing made any kind of dent.

We talked a long time. I don't remember what she finally said, or how I answered, but in the act of answering, I got it: I know, and have always known, that I'm called to be a healer. But I've never really known what it's like to be safe at home. (I haven't had abusive partners, and my parents and I are reconciling.) I've been hacking at houses, trying to do what I'm supposed to, but I've been missing three pieces: 1) I am not, and never have been, truly alone in the work that is mine; 2) Everyone is responsible for their own houses, and lots of people are out here with at least the sense to wear gloves, already; and 3) I need my own safe place to sleep, before I can be competent at helping anybody else. I need to find true and deep safety in myself, my God, and my community. Healing is a joyful thing; it's not supposed to relentlessly break your back.

Relief. I know what my work is, and I know I can do it. She asked where God is in this. God is, obviously, in friends who let you feel what you're feeling, who can hold you without holding in your hurt, who don't freak out because their love isn't a Band-Aid. God is also in these images. I could never have recognized the right kind of drills and hammers (counseling, spiritual direction, trust, and love) if I hadn't seen clearly the havoc I've been working with. I couldn't have seen that the help I need is all around me.

I think I might help out at Habitat this summer. Put some physicality into this whole vision, and give something that's truly useful in doing so.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Glory, glory, hallelujah

...Since I laid my textbooks down.

I'm done. Everything's in: all that was timely and all that was late, reflective of the reading I did and didn't do, the thought and soul-processing I'm still working on, knowledge of where I am and hope of where I want to be.

Grades are out of my hands now. Evaluation will come, and it will be honest, and it will be helpful. A year ago, I could never have told you that I'd be in the inner country where I am now. I could not have known the clarity, passion, or confusion that I've found here. So much hurt and so much healing; so much new growth and so much still feeling like an eight-year-old. So much new learning, and so much remaining to imagine.

One minute I was living my life; the next, my friends were graduating. You stop, you look both ways, you pray, you keep moving.

I'm off to Stockton for two weeks, then Seattle for three months. I'll be back here in the fall. Adventures await me, everywhere I go.

My first year of seminary is over. How did that happen?

Thursday, May 18, 2006


26 years ago, right about exactly now, I was a fourth-grader growing up in Everett, WA. It was a Sunday morning; I was in my parents' bed. We'd been debating getting up for church, and they'd both fallen back asleep. As I remember, the sound was an eerie, disembodied boom, coming from somewhere but not in the house. My mom jerked awake.

"What's that?!"
"It's the cats," mumbled my dad, as he rolled over and went back to sleep.

May 18, 1980, 8:32 a.m., Pacific Daylight Time. We found out very soon that the disembodied boom had been Mount St. Helens, about three hours to the south.

I honor the 57 people who died that day, and all who risked their lives to save others.

Mother Nature is stronger than all of us. Care for this earth.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Damage control?

No, and unfortunately, neither is the contraption under the dorm windows a water slide (as was alternatively suggested). It's the sunshade covering the courtyard for Friday's commencement.

Way to go, graduates! Blessings upon you.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Faithful readers...

I have an internship this summer in Seattle. I do not yet have housing. There are people I could crash with in Olympia, briefly, but I'd have an hour and a half commute. I really don't want to pay real rent in the city for three months. I have some feelers out, but don't yet know where I'll be.

Frequent moving, once I'm up there, is okay. I just want to know that I have someplace/places to sleep.

So, if

1) We know each other (or you're a RevGal)


2) You know someone in Seattle who either needs a housesitter or wouldn't mind a houseguest

Please respond in the comments!

Thank you.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

I love doing this.

Just came home from church. It was likely my last time there for the summer, and my first regular Sunday MC'ing. I love being there.

First, I drove there successfully. That in itself is an accomplishment; I have a geriatric stick-shift minivan with a foot brake, and it doesn't like hills much. I also don't know my way around San Francisco worth anything. But I had good directions this time, and only turned wrong once, when the sun was in my eyes. When I got there, one of the other MC's had already marked the readings, so I didn't have to worry about it. All I really had to do was unlock the doors, put out the bulletins, and vest.

Advice: Go to a service before you help lead it. I'd never been to the 8:00, and had no idea what I was doing. We pulled it off, though. Also, pray and breathe. When you're responsible for the silences, don't panic.

Tommy anointed people for healing, and me for finals and safe travels. I feel so embraced here.

Visited with people I'd met once, but never talked with, at a coffee shop between services. One of them called me by my mentor's name, and apologized for it. I didn't mind at all: Molly's my mentor, Nedi's my bishop, and that's how I ended up here. (Apparently I'm living up to that legacy, because I'm welcomed, embraced, and having a great time.) Molly and I are crazy in different ways, and I don't think I'd mix us up, but being confused with her is a compliment. (I have a doppelganger in Olympia as well; everyone thinks I'm Jody at Traditions. I always get a smile; she's one of the neatest people I know.) We got talking about train trips, traveling, community, and friends. They're visiting family in the Northwest this summer, and we might get to hook up.

I knew what I was doing at the 10:10, because I've been there so much, and shadowed people. I also knew by then how loud to ring the bell. I relaxed, did my job, and caught myself at Communion unable to stop smiling. Sometimes you know you're in the right place, and you feel God breathe within you. I love doing this, and I belong there. I also know that it's only a piece of everything I'm called to grow into.

Tommy preached on listening to God. I'm glad I got to hear it twice. He said it would be a good thing if someone started a class on this. I felt a tug to do it. I just now e-mailed him. I would love to give something like that to these people. It's the safest place I know to start giving, start growing, start stretching beyond myself. They're welcoming, loving, and that whole piece of learning to listen is right exactly where I am.

One of the major reasons I want to do a year-long internship somewhere after next academic year, is that I love this community so much. I feel so blessed that they're my home while I'm here.

Okay. Must study. Peace out.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Fly away home

I just sent the Peeps home to Seattle with my bishop's husband.


I wish I could be there when +Nedi sees them. Apparently, when she was at St. Aidan's, they impaled Peeps on sticks and processed around the block, every year at the Vigil. Resurrection is such a good joke on Satan, you see. You have to laugh--and you get to.

[Bob was down here for a School for Deacons thing; they both used to be deeply involved with them. I saw him downstairs, said hi and we chatted a bit, then remembered the Peeps when I got back to my room. Fortunately, he was still there when I grabbed them.]

They are both just the neatest people. It was fun to run into him.

Found out today that I have to have my unholy wreck of a room packed by Thursday, to keep stuff in free storage here. That's the day my last final is due. I really didn't work while I was in mid-breakdown, and have tons of catching up still to do. So, back to packing/studying/rolling my eyes at myself.

Honestly, it's good to feel this energy again. Peace and blessings to all.

Oh, and I got the Seattle thing. I'll be interning at Ascension in Magnolia. I start directly after the DioCal ordinations in June, and I'll be there through August.

Unless you know me, you don't know how overjoyed I am to get to be connected with my home.


Friday, May 12, 2006

You and me are free to be... you and me.

I'm out of my breakdown, I believe. Thanks be to God.

I e-mailed an apology to one of my teachers for the struggle I'd been going through, and copied it to my advisor. They both sent gracious replies. Yesterday, I saw said faculty in chapel. I very intentionally gave him the Peace. I think he just said, "Peace be with you," but the look in his eyes welcomed me back to the world. He checked in with me afterward, just to make sure I was okay. I said yes, and meant it.

I thanked my advisor, at dinner, for helping me. She just encouraged me to keep working.

What does it say about my own sense of self-worth, that I woke up this morning thinking about this? I don't doubt them, as people. They've proven their patience, their receptivity, their willingness to support their students. The most healing thing I've done for myself has been to respond to my advisor's request, "Tell me what's really going on." She wanted me to get it out, so we could work with it. Her approach was practical, direct, nonjudgemental. I told her how afraid I was, and then I told her why, and the threat went away. Why on earth am I so shocked to be treated decently?

For the same reason I was amazed when my friends welcomed my tears. I have always been about acceptance, and freedom to be yourself. But I'm only truly beginning to know and trust that it also is okay to be me. I think this is the first time I've ever been intentionally loved through the fear of making a mistake. I know now, deeply, that I don't have to be perfect. I only have to grow through challenges, to truly and deeply seek to be the person God intends me to be.

I can't be more me than that. And I can see God smiling.

I can type this without crying. I am aware of the love around me, feeling space to breathe. Healing is happening. Alleluia.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

What I'm learning:

  • Honesty is less scary than panic.
  • If you feel judged, it's coming from yourself.
  • Even authority figures want to support you. It's okay to let them know who you are.
  • It's okay to have a breakdown. Trust your friends' love. They'll teach you how to love yourself.
  • Once you've cried with your head in someone's lap, you can be that lap for others.
  • Respect for other people goes with respect for yourself. You've got to do both.
  • Feelings happen. You can't avoid them. Breathe with them, and keep moving.
  • You can find groundedness and wisdom. Listen to your own deepest voice.
  • Find your guides, and let them teach you.
  • Avoiding people, or responsibilities, really doesn't work. You can't escape what you yourself know.
  • Love yourself as you love your neighbor. Be gentle with yourself.
  • Everyone has wounds. It's how you wear them that matters.
  • Tears do not make you fragile.
  • Struggle gives strength, and compassion.
  • If you say you're sorry, you can know that you're forgiven.
  • God never stops holding you. Even when you don't feel it, you are surrounded by love.
Yeah, it sucks that I have late papers. But if I had to have them, they are worth this learning. My teachers understand. And honestly, I couldn't have this growth if I were not under pressure. I needed to learn to see differently. I needed that fear to find this love.

Now, I get to practice it.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


The fortune comes from the Chinese place that the Apostle in Exile took me to, when I made an impulse trip out there last weekend. The paper is late. But, here we are, and I'm doing better.

The fishbowl I live in can be unnerving, but it's really all right. People do care. I talked with my advisor this morning. I was afraid to, but it was healing and good. It's hard for me when I don't live up to what I think I should. I've been trying to disprove a difficult criticism for a year. It didn't come from anybody here, and was nowhere near fairly given. But it stuck, and I've been trying to prove it wrong since.

My friends have given me perspective. They tell me that I am, and have been, a capable and worthwhile human being. With everything I've dealt with in the past year, I'd have reason to be gibbering under my bed. I'm not. I feel fragile, but under that I'm strong. And tears, quoth Molly, are "the least offensive fluid to come out of our bodies."

I'll get through. And I'll be able to pay it forward when I do. That's what makes this worth it. My friends are loving me now in ways I didn't know were possible. I am not the only person in the world who couldn't have conceived of the gifts they're giving me. Receiving them, I know they exist, and I can love like that. Everyone on this earth needs easy, total, unquestioned acceptance and freedom. You cannot heal without it.

I've learned something huge about healing, myself and other people. I have this tool, and I know I can use it. Thanks be to God.

"My brothers and sisters, we have an election."

Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, Saturday, May 6, 2006
(Photos from the San Francisco Chronicle)

We are marching, with a box of votes...

The Diocese of California elected the Rt. Rev. Mark Handley Andrus, currently Suffragan Bishop of Alabama, to succeed +William Swing as diocesan. He will be seated in the cathedral on July 22.

If you squint, you can see me in the above photograph; I'm fourth in line walking the ballot boxes to Diocesan House. I signed up to volunteer, though I'm not canonically resident here, because how often do you get to witness an episcopal election? We're doing it at home in a year; it was wonderful to see what such an occasion is truly like. We'd heard so much speculation about what California might do, all of it preoccupied and some of it hysterical. In truth, this was a productive, prayerful time. Delegates were intent on doing their jobs. We began with the Liturgy of the Word, through the Peace. Then, after three ballots and much joy at the outcome, we proceeded to the table. After Eucharist, my friends and I went home, happy at the decision and relieved to have some time that day for homework.

The only thing I'd have changed about the liturgy: There were 500 clergy and lay delegates in the cathedral. The place was crawling with priests and LEMs. Still, we had only two communion stations. It took much longer than it needed to. I told the seminarians I was with, "Hand me a chalice; I'll help!"

The fun thing was getting to play mole. +Andrus has been my friend Robyn's suffragan. I called her, after he'd been elected on the third ballot, with the news. She had to leave the GTU library so she could scream. She loves him and will miss him as her bishop, but she's very happy for him and for DioCal.

I know next to nothing about +Andrus, except that he's mentored my own suffragan bishop. I met him once, briefly, in Olympia the day after she was consecrated. He struck me as real, and approachable. Robyn confirmed that. "No, he's not a politician." He will pastor the clergy here, and do it well; he will also be free to exercise the full gifts of his ministry. Everyone I know is happy about this.

This election was not about sexuality, but about proven skill, compassion, and listening to the active presence of God. I have to laugh at the Reuters headline: "Heterosexual elected Bishop of California." Are we not more than our orientations?

Here is the text of +Andrus' address to the convention, delivered by phone from Alabama immediately after his election. I have to say, I am happy about this, and about him.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

Sheila and I are gladdened, and humbled, by the trust you have placed in me, in us.

Publicly, I want to say that my heart is with the other nominees and their partners. They are uniformly splendid people, and I was honored to be in their number.

Also, to all of you who have been so prayerfully working to bring this moment for your diocese, the election of a new bishop, you must know that you have exhibited every trait of a Christian community. You are a witness to the vitality of the Church in your very way of being.

We must all understand, and here I address the diocese of California and those listening from elsewhere, that your vote today remains a vote for inclusion and communion – of gay and lesbian people in their full lives as single or partnered people, of women, of all ethnic minorities, and all people. My commitment to Jesus Christ’s own mission of inclusion is resolute.

And I share with you your strongly expressed commitment to youth, to those who do not yet know Christ, our calling as evangelists, and to God’s waiting, expectant creation.

I take this election to be an expression of our common desire to be part of the whole, the Communion and the world, in what may be a new way. We will work together in the listening process, lending the unique voice of the Bay Area Episcopalians to this great conversation and working to end global human suffering.

Finally, let me say that being nourished as a bishop by the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama, fed by the historic and living witness of so many heroes of the struggle for human rights, whose words and deeds of compassion and justice have inspired and sustained me, I say to you the words of a west coast hero – “In the cause of peace, we cannot be sprinters, we must be long distance runners.”

Please join me in prayer. God Be With You.

“Oh God of unchangeable power and eternal light: look favorably on your whole church, that wonderful and sacred mystery; by the effectual working of your providence, carry out in tranquility the plan of salvation; let the whole world see and know that things which were cast down are being raised up, and things which had grown old are being made new, and that all things are being brought to their perfection by him through whom all things are made, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Friday, May 05, 2006


Do you ever have a day that just thoroughly sucks?

Do you ever intermittently cry all day? When you know why, and it's not even that important--but it feels like the biggest thing in the world?

Do you ever try all day to finish a paper, just to keep yourself out of a doghouse that you know isn't as big as you fear it might be--and at the end of the day, you've come up with practically nothing?

Do you ever wonder when the very thought of "evaluation" won't send you reeling?

Do you ever wish you could be as much of a grown-up as your friends seem to be?

Do you ever feel completely worthless--and you only half-believe people when they tell you that you're not?

Are you ever both grateful that people care about you, and wishing they'd let you figure your own self out?

Do you ever know you need their help, or at least their listening, and wish you didn't?

If you do, you're not alone.

RevGal Friday Five: Birthdays

Wanna play?

1. Favorite birthday cake/ice cream/dessert
Cake: chocolate, with fudge frosting (forget the cake; I'm happy with the frosting)

2. Surprise Parties -- have you ever given or received one?
I've been to two; one for a friend (which I didn't help plan) and one she gave me. It was a nice, low-key gathering with friends in the woods. I'd thought I was just supposed to be at church early.

3. Favorite birthday present
Hmm... a painting that a friend made for me, two and a half years ago. I miss her.

4. What do you think of those candles that won't blow out?
They're fun the first time.

5. Best. birthday. ever.
Last year, probably. It started in August. My friends in Oly threw me a goodbye party, and as I'd be in California on my real birthday, they gave me a cake--five weeks early. (They also knew I liked organic cheese puffs, so they served them, in the nicest bowl in the house.) I spent my actual birthday weekend with the Apostle in Exile. I don't remember what we did, except I know we ate baklava. I think she took me out for sushi. I had coffee with my other friend, her priest, that Friday, and we had good catch-up time.

It was the first birthday in years--at least since before I turned 30--that I wasn't depressed. My friends have always made my birthdays nice; it isn't them. I was happy because I'd stopped measuring myself. Every year, I'd get down on myself because I wasn't where I thought I should be by then. Last year, that lifted. I knew I was on the path where I needed to be. I'm heading to where I want to go, and where God wants me to go, even if (as in right now) the next step is a fork in the road. I took that leap, and I was (and am) happy.

The "fork in the road" refers to summer. I'll either be in Yakima, or I'll get to go home. (Not to my old parish, but to my side of the mountains.) I've been needing to reconnect up there, but didn't realize how much I missed it until the possibility of a particular opportunity came up. I'll find out next week what I'm doing, and I'll let you know.

On to academic catch-up work. I'll be back tomorrow, with a report on the Diocese of California bishop election. I'm volunteering at the convention all day.

Oh, and I should wave hi to Jane, since she told me last night (at the CDSP follies, pics perhaps later) that she reads this. Thanks for the compliments!

Monday, May 01, 2006

New title and URL

I've been generally restless with my blog for awhile. The title has been bothering me, particularly. It fit when I first set this up, but I'm not really playing tag anymore. I know exactly where I live. Not only have I been tagged, and know it, but I'll never wriggle out of God's grasp again. I forget, sure. I can go too long without praying, or without simply being quiet. But I know where my home is.

It's also, by the old Celtic calendar (convenient excuse), summer. I thought of "Barefoot and Laughing," and it stuck. I'm now shifting everything over to where they need to be, and swearing up and down that I'll get some work done tonight.

Happy May Day!