Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Thinking about solidity

I’m in a really great place. That which I’ve been working for was crystallized for me last week at the Ranch: trust, love without grasping. I’ve been making these insane leaps of progress, understanding and experiencing flashes of where I need to be. I know that I am past the panic that precipitated this soul-work, and if I have questions, I can approach them from a place of deeper wholeness. I’m not doubting myself at all, in the moment. I feel confident, and I can say that I’m genuinely happy now.

I know that this is God’s work in me. I'm only beginning to ask how to sustain it. It’s all so completely new. The people I’m close to are rejoicing with me. My community supports me in this work, and trusts me to do it. I’m as committed as committed can be. I have been the walking paralytic. The next step is to lose the “paralytic” identity, and just walk, because humans do.

When I was… 23 I think, my parents, grandmother, and I went to Cannon Beach, OR, for Christmas. I think it was the winter after my grandfather died. I almost didn’t go with them; the deal was that I could if I didn’t “rock the boat.” That meant conform to absolutely everything: I got yelled at in the grocery store for expressing a preference of salad dressings. We were there for a week, and one night I couldn’t take it anymore. I essentially snuck out, and walked into town and back. It was raining off and on, and so windy on the beach that it was hard to stand against it. I walked down the beach into town, and along the streets back up the hill. I remember stopping under a dripping, windswept tree, alone in the dark, and just standing there, breathing. I did an impromptu visualization, connecting my own roots to the earth. I was trying to tell myself, you will be okay.

A year ago, I asked my friend Max to teach me how to speak slowly. She taught me a meditation. Here’s how you do it: Take off your shoes. Stand on the earth if you can; on the floor, if you have to. Bend down and breathe into your back, feeling your muscles relax and expand. Stand up, touch your stomach, breathe with your diaphragm. Consciously, until you get the rhythm and feel of it. Then… visualize your legs and feet as roots, pushing down through the subfloor, into the soil that supports, feeds, and nurtures you. As you inhale, slowly, draw water through those roots, up through your body. Hold it briefly with your diaphragm, then release it up through your lungs, and exhale, letting your breath fall as air back down to the earth.

Repeat, until you know you’re grounded.

I didn’t need to do it at the Ranch, but it’s a good practice while I’m in the city, and I’ll take it up again.

Yes, I’m doing great—but it doesn’t feel real, yet. I’m working on knowing how to walk, until the motions are just as natural in a windstorm. Right now, I only can talk about it in metaphorical language. These are new skills, and the weather is fine. I know I can claw my way out of just about anything. When I have had to do that, I always could. But I’d really rather keep myself steady, so I don’t need to unsheath my claws at every incline.

I can imagine what it’s like to be solid. I think I know how to get there: just keep practicing courage, until the need to do so drops off. Essentially, keep doing what I’m doing now. I suspect I won’t feel the shift; it’ll simply stop being a question.

My friends will know I’m there before I will. You’ll know, when I stop writing about it.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Filling up and spilling over

…it’s an endless waterfall.

I’ve been doing specific soul-work, with a specific provocation, and with a specific goal in mind. The effects of it are sprouting everywhere.

I have a teacher now, who taught me both Early and Medieval Church History two years ago. I was struggling a lot: what am I doing here; why aren’t I better at this (“I used to be ‘gifted’; what happened to me?”), grating against the academic and personal judgements of others. It was a really difficult time, and when I got behind in his class then, I was too afraid to talk to him about it.

I e-mailed him yesterday morning, saying I know I didn't do X and this is why; it’s a one-time thing and won’t happen again. He wrote back, “OK, thanks for telling me.” I went to class and looked him in the eye. I didn’t need to hide anything. He was totally open and friendly back.

I had a crisis last spring, when I came back from NOLA and couldn’t/wouldn’t get it out of my head enough to prioritize school. I made my peace with another teacher about a month ago. I don’t have her now, but will again in the spring. The anger, guilt, and fear are totally gone. We are completely fine now, and I know she respects me. I wrote her last week, saying thanks again for being open to that. She said she’s glad we’re eye to eye again too.

You do soul-work because you’re provoked by feeling horrible. Often when you feel better, you stop. Even in the beginning of this current time, it wasn’t a crisis. I did this work and school together, and I got both of them done. I never felt like I was having a breakdown. The more I’ve worked through, the clearer the next step has been. I’m doing great now, and I still know what’s in front of me. It doesn’t scare me at all. It’s just more work, more learning, more practice. I can get my hands, and my head, around it. It’s not overwhelming.

I’m feeling like I’ve never been in this particular skin before—but it’s home. I’m more comfortable in, and with, myself than I remember being. I have more confidence than I’ve ever had. The reflexive “I’m not good enough” is NOT happening. That’s been lurking in my darkness forever. My darkness, right now, is not there. There is light in all corners; some of them are dusty, but I can see them.

Yay for God, yay for the Ranch, yay for me, and yay for the people who love and support me.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Finding home, in myself

I went to church yesterday, and spent the rest of the day with adopted family. I hadn't gotten to hang out with them in about a month; either they or I had been busy or gone. It's a month, that a lot of personal work has happened in.

We had a really good time. I was in a quiet mood, but I haven't laughed that much in ages. And I kept noticing things in myself that were different—nothing huge, but lots of significant small things. I'm in a different place—a stronger, more secure, more authentic place—and I've never been here before, but it feels like home.

They saw it too, from the first second they saw me. I went to the Ranch, did everything I did there, and came back looking visibly healthy.

Yay and alleluia.

The march on Saturday was great, or at least the parts I attended. I met Bishop Marc and the rest of our group at Grace Cathedral, and we marched, singing, down the hill to the Civic Center. I stayed for a few of the speakers: a student leader, Code Pink, Tom Ammiano, and my bishop—and then my homework called me, and I left. (I don't know where Dolores Park is, or even if I just spelled it right, and didn't feel like navigating Muni as well as BART to get home. Also, I'd just come from a retreat center out in nowhere, and was feeling crowded out in the city.)

As I was leaving, others came in; the labor contingent was huge, and the total number of marchers was something like 10,000. I'm really glad it happened, and that I got to be part of it, and on a different day I'd have stayed for everything.

Monday. Ugh. Gotta go.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Back in Berkeley

…and exhausted. I woke up way earlier than I needed to, this morning, and couldn’t go back to sleep. (I’d been thinking of going on a sunrise hike, but it was way foggy until after lunch.)

What I’ve done today:

  • Hosted breakfast
  • Packed my stuff and cleaned my room
  • Went to lunch (wasn’t hosting)
  • Wandered for close to two hours through the creekbed, Gina’s Orchard, and what I think of as the back way to the peace pole—it wouldn’t really take that long, but I walked slow and stopped a lot, both praying and taking pictures of October
  • Said bye to the staff until next month; I have to coordinate my rota and syllabi to see when works best to go back
  • Drove for two hours; first past the wineries and through Sebastopol (thank you Sean), and then in bumper-to-bumper traffic all the way through Marin
  • Called "Calabash family" to tell them I was safe (they worry about my car, with reason) and to ask when I'm serving at church; laughed when I realized it'll still be October, and I already knew I wasn't scheduled
  • Picked at dinner; I miss real food too much
  • Found missing church rota, in a pile on my floor; picked it up
  • Put my suitcase on my bed, intending to unpack it—which I will do before I crawl in
  • Checked e-mail and messed around some more with Firefox

I need to organize myself for tomorrow; I have reading that I never got to, and I’m going into the city to march for peace with my bishop. That’s really why I came back today.

I’m academically behind now, but no more than usual, and it’s not insurmountable. I did the soul-work I needed to last week, and I don’t regret any of it. If anything, I ought to have walked more. Every time I opened myself, something amazing happened. God and that place are a powerful combination.

Do I still have snags? Yeah. But I understand them better now. And I know what I need to do, when they come up.

Deep peace of the quiet earth to you.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Please pray for friends of mine

If you come here and you’ve never actually met me, you’re probably already blog-friends with Eileen. She is losing her adopted-mom (literally, work friend) to terminal cancer.

I know the space that adopted parents fill; I know how much I love mine. Please, go pray for Eileen and J.

Mother Laura has been extremely supportive of my journey, recently. She has a preliminary interview in November for her dream theology teaching job, as well as several important writing deadlines coming up.

Garnabus and Fuego are friends of mine from seminary. They live and work in a neighboring diocese now. They were just here for a new-clergy event at the Ranch, which is another home for both of them. (Fuego said when she saw me, “It’s great to see someone who loves the Ranch as much as we do.”) I hadn’t seen them since May, and it was great fun visiting with them, and their daughter M, whom they're in the process of adopting.

They got some difficult news right as they were preparing to go home. I don’t know what they’ll make public, and I don't want to break their confidentiality. But hold them in the light, please.

Thank you.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


I had an absolutely amazing experience at the peace pole yesterday. I tried to write it down afterward, but I may as well have been struck mute. I functioned perfectly well during dinner, but when I got back to my room last night, I couldn’t even hold a simple phone conversation. I woke from a dream in the middle of the night, and I’m thinking about all of this, now.

I’m walking a lot, this week, on purpose, and I’m making a point of going to my holy places often. I went for a walk before dinner, because I’d just taken a nap and needed to clear the cobwebs out of my head. I started from the creek trailhead; I love the creekbed, and though the trees are completely different, it feels like walking in the woods at home. (This is a kind of home, but I mean where my roots are.) The creek is still dry, but you can feel the groundwater coming up and cooling the earth. The air was cool; it felt wonderful.

I came up out of the shade and onto the hill, and as I climbed higher, a strange thing happened. It wasn’t like walking in the sun on a hot summer day; the temperature was only in the 70s. In some places, the heat stopped me in my tracks. I could feel, and smell, the warm, living, breathing Earth. I felt sort of sweaty, but that wasn’t coming from me—I think it was the moisture in the ground, evaporating. (It hasn’t rained since Friday, but the ground is damp.) I kept having to stop, and breathe it in.

I kept walking, and had strange thoughts of climbing Mt. Sinai. I mostly sort of ignored them; I was also mindful of having to do this and get back, to host dinner. I didn’t have a ton of time.

I got to the peace pole, and I did what I’ve been doing: let the peace descend on me, and find the prayers I left last summer. I had tied them next to each other, about a week apart. One was thanksgiving for love, family, community; the other was for Rob’s soul. I realized, “I knew then, what I’ve been fighting to recover now. I was swimming in that sort of confidence.” [When I say "family," I nearly always mean close friends, adopted as such.] I also found a prayer that family-friends had shown me, that a friend of theirs had left for them. I don’t remember the words; it was basically for happiness and health. It struck me as incredibly loving.

I stood there feeling this, and thinking about all of it, and about all I know to be true of these friends. It came to me, as it came out of me: “Teach me to love like that: freely, openly, joyfully. Teach me not to grasp.”


I’d been wrestling for just that, for… is it a month, now? I hadn’t had the words to ask for it. And in the asking, I was ready to receive. I know it’s not going to be the same kind of struggle. From here, it’s just practice. I don’t think I’ll have to prove myself to the people I’m thinking of; they’re more tolerant of me than I am. I will need to practice it—both because I need to know I know it, and because circumstances will make me. And that is—completely—okay. Good, even.

I walked with this all the way back down the hill, and I felt God physically with me. It was one of those times when God says, “You got this, and I’ve got you.” It felt like hands on me. If I falter—and I’m human, I will—I know what to remember. That’s the piece I still can’t put into words, but I remember what it felt like, and the words it gave me, and and what I know, and knew.

My best friend let me grab onto her for as long as I needed to. I don’t need to, anymore—but it took two years before I stopped falling to pieces in the middle of the night. These friends don’t let me do that, and it’s appropriate that they don’t; both for them and for me. They’re still patient with me, more than I am with myself. I’m going to be loosed on the world again, really soon. I need my community’s support—and I need to find my own strength. I need to learn to trust that I have enough love to survive, and trust myself, and trust God. I’m beginning to get there.

I got down the hill with ten minutes to spare. I was standing there, just-post-epiphany and not sure what to do with myself, when one of the guests walked up to me and asked when dinner was. I told him, and he got talking. I didn’t say a word about where I’d been or what I’d just come from. I don’t know why he did it, but he told me his story. He asked me not to repeat it, so I certainly won’t here. It was his own tale of resurrection, and truly a gift.

The dream I woke from, two hours ago, was about Confession. Not in the sense I experienced when I needed it so badly; this was about confession in community, but it was a community I barely knew. The difference was the text: it was longer than what we have, and all I clearly remember is the beginning: something alluding to Jeremiah (not sure why) and the words, “You see us.” The sense was, you love us, and you know we fall short. There was an absolution, but it was also implied in the confession itself.

I woke feeling curiously comforted. And—obviously—I had words, again.

What’s striking me about all of this, is how gentle God is. I wrestle with myself so damn hard. Sometimes it works; usually it doesn’t. God has shown me my task—and it is a task, not an impossible mountain—through a deeper realization of what love is, and then immediately a chance to give it to someone I barely know, by listening to him. Then, this completely sensible, non-surreal dream, saying, “Yes, I see you; yes, I love you.”

This is why I’m wide awake, at 2:41 in the morning. Alleluia.

POSTSCRIPT, one day later:
There was a page number referenced in the dream I had, 491. I knew it was nowhere near where the Confession was supposed to be, and I'd been meaning to look it up. I just did.

BCP 491 is the beginning of Burial of the Dead, Rite II.

There is no way I would have known this, anywhere in my subconscious. I've never needed to use that rite.

I wouldn't go so far as to say that God's playing Tarot cards with me. But, there is no deeper change, than death.

I think it's clear, what I'm burying.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Eucharistic Theology quiz stolen from Pisco's place. Wow, I never thought I'd come up a Calvinist on anything.

Eucharistic theology
created with
You scored as Calvin

You are John Calvin. You seek to be faithful to Scripture, and to harmonize difficult sayings. You believe that in the Lord's Supper those who have faith are united to Christ, who is present spiritually, yet in a real way.













Saturday, October 20, 2007


I am having a fantastic time here. Busy, yes—doing things I love. Being outside, meeting people, sharing this place with them.

I was walking out of the refectory after dinner, on my way to run some errand for somebody, when I realized I’d forgotten how happy I am. I was momentarily startled by the verb tense—then realized it was spot on. This place, this work, these people bring me back to… if not who I am, then a place in me that I haven’t been visiting enough.

I feel really, deeply drawn to mission work, calling-wise. But if I could do this forever, I would.

There has to be a way to weave them together, or to do that with this spirit. I can feel myself glowing. That’s being alive.

You have to pay attention, to what gives you joy. :-)

Friday, October 19, 2007

Water of life

I’m back at the Ranch, most likely until next Friday. It is so beautiful here.

I’ve been reminded (thank you) that this is my grounding place. I have a week now, to work, read, write, and breathe. The only thing really pressing on me is filling out CPE applications. I haven’t even looked at the website yet, but… reflective writing? That I can do.

Hosting is easy, with most groups; it mostly boils down to being friendly and available, and knowing where things are. I did it all summer, and I loved it. I didn’t have to worry about lightswitches or fireplaces, but it’s October, and the misty darkness sighs coziness to me. I love it.

Work, study, breathing, prayer… they can and do blend, here. I feel like I’m making incremental progress on the personal stuff—but that is, still, progress. The best thing for me now is to pray and breathe, and stop driving myself to figure everything out, for awhile.

I bailed from Berkeley immediately after my Liturgics midterm. (It’s not brilliant, but I do think he’ll pass me.) It was misting when I got here, which turned to rain soon after. I got myself settled, put on raincoat and duck shoes, and went for a walk. I discovered just how ineffective my raincoat is; it was given to me sometime around 1999, and I rather need a new one. This October day felt like June in Olympia, only gentler: it was wet, but warm, and utterly enticing to walk in. I wandered down to the creekbed, and back around again to the peace pole, soaked, beaming. The leaves are changing, and the trails are green from the rain. It smelled wonderful.

Then I changed into drier clothes, and met with Sean to talk about tomorrow, when he’ll be at DioCon. There are new hosting procedures, and fall details I’d never had to think about. We went over those, and walked around outside, giving me a tour of—yes—lightswitches and fireplaces. I met some of the people who are staying here right now. Nice groups.

Turned on the outside light in the chapel, and came back to my room. I have a hot bath waiting for me. :-)

Monday, October 15, 2007

My day got better

I was really draggy all morning; physically and existentially tired, and tired of wrestling. Oddly enough, what snapped me out of it was going to class.

My Monday afternoon class is Christian Theologies of Judaism. It's discussion-intensive--five students and one faculty--and I hadn't finished my reading, but I'd done enough to participate. We had a really lively discussion: sin and how each faith deals with it; theologies of the cross; incarnation; whether what we believe and teach matters, or if it's all down to action. It turned out to be really fun.

Went from there to Evening Prayer; the Daughters of the King chapter here presented a healing liturgy they'd put together. There was time to be individually prayed for, and I had hands laid on me. I can't remember exactly what my friend said, but they were just the right words: about strength, courage, dependence on God, and being a conduit of love for the world. I walked taller, after that.

Exactly. I think I know how the paralytic felt.

All I want to do now is sleep. See the timestamp? I can't, yet--but I'm feeling much better. More alive, more myself, happier than I've been in awhile.


A note from the belly of the fish

I don't know if today's and yesterday's postings make sense, outside of myself. I hope they do. I'm posting for two reasons: accountability, and in the event that others have been or will be where I am. I'm both looking for light, and offering my own.

Tired, and feeling down today. I’ve been working too hard on the personal stuff—thinking too much, trying too hard. I need to rest and regroup. I don’t know how to do that, without dropping it completely—and that’s not an option.

I feel like hibernating, but even if I could, it wouldn’t be good for me.

I know that the people I care about, who know about this struggle, respect what I’ve been up to. More than that, they love me for who I am. I know that ultimately, by other humans and by God, I’m forgiven for stumbling. I talk about being “met with grace and patience”—and I am. I need to learn to give all these things to myself.

I either drive myself impossibly hard, or I let go completely. I need to find a balance.

I also don’t want to be “about” struggle. Right now, though, I have to focus on this.

And on the reading I need to finish for class, and on a presentation for tomorrow… I could not have carried all these things a year, or two, ago—which is why I didn’t. It’s set before me now because I am able to get my work done. I’ve finally figured out how to do school, and I’m enjoying it. I just wish I knew better, how to be whole.

Even writing that, I know that I am. I just need to learn to live into it. I’ve been physically standing taller; I can feel it. There’s a way of walking, that I don’t yet know.

I know that I will.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Wade in the water...

…my God's gonna trouble the water.

I'm doing the journaling practice I talked about. And I'm feeling the effects of focused God-and-me time.

I am still being wrestled with. This is utterly different from torturing myself. I'm being pushed and challenged to look at what I need to grow past—emotional dependence, mostly, and anxiety around that—and I'm being affirmed at the same time. That is how I know that God is in this. When I beat myself up, there is no redemptive value. This experience has a goal, that I'm moving toward now. There's healing all through it; it's all about the "already/not yet." I know where I'm going; I can't articulate it yet, but I can sense it.

Odd, to be both frustrated with myself, and hopeful at the same time. Still, good.

I'm also not acting out this struggle anymore. I'm able to own it, and to talk about it. I'm able, not to panic. And I'm being met with grace and patience. (I want to learn to give those to myself.) In a sense, I do feel safe. I'm much more trusting than I would have been, probably at any point before last summer. I trust God, and myself, more as well.

Spent some time with my friend Max today. We talked about "getting there," and what that means. I truly do believe that you get as far as you're open to going. You are as strong as you are open to becoming. And when you really commit yourself, watch out. God is creativity, transformation, healing, change. God will do what God will do, and you will be different.

I am as open as I know how to be. I feel strong, and ready. This really is good. And, it is time.

Friday, October 12, 2007


I don’t know if I know how to tell this, but I need to. It's a matter both of remembering for myself, and of obedience.

I met last night with my quasi-pre-discernment prayer group (a form of discernment, in itself). I’d had a mocha frappuccino earlier—not because I needed it, but because I really like them. I was uber-caffeinated, but I’m not sure how much of a part that plays in this.

We checked in, and talked a little bit about where the group is going. Then we got quiet. We sat in silence for about half an hour… and it was a wild ride. I had a deep, strong sense of joy and adventure, openness and sureness at the same time. I kept trying to clear my head of that, so I could listen without my own words—but it wasn’t going anywhere. I kept putting words in God’s mouth in my head, and I knew it. I started thinking about how to focus, how to listen… and I remembered a practice I used to do during Lent. I used to keep a prayer journal, kind of a dialogue between God and me. I would write out everything and get it out of me, then it was easier to listen.

As soon as I lit on that, I felt—physically—a hand around my heart. It wasn’t in any way gory or forceful—it was definitely firm. I tried to breathe through it, to see if I’d simply gotten overly tense. No. And the sense I got was, “You are so. much. mine.” I calmed immediately, and I just sat with that until the bell rang.

I told the group of this experience, and a little bit of where I’ve been the past week or so. We were talking about courage and strength. Someone said something I can’t quite remember—but it’s synonymous with what I’ve believed about myself up to now, “I am as strong as I need to be.” I answered him, “No. For me right now—you are as strong as you’re open to becoming.”

As I said that, there was no fear in me.

We also talked about what the phrase “in the name of” means; someone said she felt I was under God’s presence and protection. I don’t feel protected, in the sense of sheltered, at all. I feel both vulnerable and safe. Deeply, strongly sure that whatever I end up doing—whatever I do in my daily life—God is there, for God’s good purpose.

I called the Apostle in Exile when I got home, to tell her I’d had a God-quake that I couldn’t really talk about yet. She’s been up with me, and my fears, until two in the morning, more times than I can count—though we haven’t had to do it in awhile. I told her, “I don’t think I’ll ever get that kind of scared again.” I was, and am, serious. That's done.

I have finally had enough love, enough faith, enough—being open to grace, I guess—to recognize, and celebrate, all of this. I’m healing—but not just for me. I’m healing, so I can bear witness to God’s light in the world—and so I can reflect it. I could not have preached what I preached last week, had I not had those experiences. God is transformation—and you can’t witness to that unless you’ve known it.

Today after class, I need to walk down to Elephant and get a small sketchbook. My old paper journals are 9x12; I need something I can carry around with me. If I make a habit of prayer-journaling when I wake up and when I go to bed, I’ll put a serious dent in my ‘net addiction, too.

All I want to do is listen, and live.

Blessed be the name of our God.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The good in the growth time

Courage, mother courage,
Let it raise you up when you’re feeling down
Courage, mother courage,
Courage to plant new ground.
--Sally Rogers, "Mother Courage"

I’m in a really good place. I’m behind in school but not drowning, it’s a gorgeous fall day outside, I got through a presentation on Monday that scared me, turned a paper in yesterday on time… and I feel more generally solid than I have in awhile.

Last week was really hard—but going through it helped me, and taught me some things I don’t know how to quantify yet. I began this post with the ear-worm that’s been running in my head since probably Friday; I’m all about re-integrating. Daring myself to preach last Friday, when I knew how scared I’d been before, was the best possible choice I could have made. I had no idea when I requested it, what I would say—but life and the text taught me, and I was open enough to take it in.

There’s one faculty member who was really tough on me, last spring. I hated it, and I was angry for the longest time. I understand now what she was doing. I had to find that strength in myself, to want to take these challenges (academic, personal, social, spiritual) and to learn from them. I had to find the good, and lift it out of the muck. I have, and I am.

It’s amazing, what you can do—and who you can be—when you say to your fear, “I see you. But I’m still going to do this.”

I like having reasons to be proud of myself.

[Note: I gave this link to said faculty. She received it, and I know now that she respects me. (I'd had that idea for awhile, anyway; she presided both times that I've preached here, and she's known what I've been working on.) In sharing this with her, I let go of that anger. I am done with it, now. I'm looking all kinds of people in the eyes, that I couldn't have used to. We are fine.]

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Happy Birthday to an old friend

Shameless, unsolicited plug:

Today is my friend Bill's birthday. I haven't seen him in a couple years; he lives in Olympia, and is a captivating artist. He does amazing work, mostly with metal. Go check out his stuff.

RGBP Friday Five: Thankfulness Edition

From RevGalBlogPals:

"This one is going to be veeeery simple: List at least five things (people, places, graces, miracles...) for which you are thankful. You may elaborate as you wish, or keep it simple."

1. I'm thankful that this Friday Five is as easy as it is--and for all the reasons why it's so easy.
2. Apostle in Exile
3. Calabash family
4. Max
5. St. Aidan's
6. Yesterday, twice
7. Blog friends--all of them
8. Fall in California
9. The Bishop's Ranch
10. I'm enjoying school, and I'm being well supported here

Wanna play?

Friday, October 05, 2007


I'm free to eat normally again. I had no idea that I hadn't been breathing, until I took a breath today and my fingers felt it.

I'm still working everything through. But I really didn't know how much I believed in sacramental healing until I needed it--and today, I got it. Confession, oil, and everything--and I even got to preach this. I felt it all through me.

The relational issue is solved, outwardly anyway. They say we were never not okay. I'm not completely okay with myself, and I feel very pushed (internally or by God, I'm not sure which) to work through what I need to, to stay with it until that part of me is fully rewired. But forgiveness has come, and the change that begins the healing.

In case it comes up for you--gelato is a sacrament.

You preach what you most need to hear.

I preached this morning in the CDSP chapel. It was a healing Eucharist; when I requested this spot, I was only aiming to get over the terror of preaching in that space. I had no idea of the week I would have, leading up to this.

One of my classmates asked me for a copy, later.

I am enormously grateful that I got to do it, that I'm working through this stuff, and that I'm doing it in a way that helps other people.


Matthew 9:2-8

Jesus heals the paralytic.
We know this story.
But we’re used to a noisier telling.
Matthew doesn’t give us the dramatic,
of the men breaking a hole in the roof,
letting their friend down onto the floor
in the crowd, in front of Jesus.
We don’t have any kind of big,
attention-grabbing scene here.
What we have are the words of Jesus,
first to the paralytic,
and then to the scribes,
who are only talking to themselves,
and then to the paralytic again.
We have a man lying on a bed.
His friends, or family members—it doesn’t specify—
carry him to the One they believe can heal him.

A paralytic is someone who physically cannot move,
on their own power.
They can’t stand, or walk,
maybe they can’t use their hands.
Before things like wheelchairs,
ramps, and Social Security,
if you couldn’t walk,
you were totally dependent on other people
to take care of you.
You simply couldn’t move through this world on your own.
There are people in the world now,
in that situation.

All of us here can move our fingers and toes.
Each of us has more power than that paralytic.
We can function in the world;
we can advocate for ourselves.
And yet, all of us get stuck, on something.
We have times when we are the paralytic.
We are the wounded.
We need forgiveness.
We come in search of healing.

Not all paralysis has primarily to do with the body.
Most of it does not.
Can you spend forever staring at your work,
or your life,
or your dorm room—
because you have no idea how to get it organized?
It’s October already,
and I haven’t seen my stapler since May.

Do you wind yourself so tightly around your anxiety,
that it makes you physically sick?
Have you done something,
or said something,
that you don’t know how to fix?

You are so not alone.
We all have been there.
We are here, because we have been there.

How did Jesus respond to the paralytic?
He did two things.
First, he said to him,
“Take heart, your sins are forgiven.”

That phrase, “take heart,”
sounds so very comforting.
“Chin up! God still loves you.”
And it’s true.

The Greek is also rendered, “have courage.”
Literally, they mean the same thing.
They are the same word.
Their connotations are different.

Courage is strength.
Courage is toughing it out,
when you’re terrified.
Courage is looking up at the rocky face of a mountain,
clipping on your ropes,
and climbing.
Courage leads to exhilaration.
It leads to confidence.
It leads to growth.

Why do you need to have courage,
if your sins are forgiven?
Why not just feel about a thousand pounds lighter,
and be happy about it?
Why not just go dancing through your day?

Because forgiveness un-sticks you.
Guilt is not yours to hold onto anymore.
Regret loses its death-grip on you,
your soul,
your mind,
your body.

Because there is no separation between those parts of you.
Physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being
are dependent on one another.
The idea that there is a division between
your mind, soul, and body
is a modern, Western invention,
and it’s completely false.

Forgiveness makes you able to rise back into your life,
and so you do.
Back into relationship with God
and the people who love you.
Back into the dailiness you couldn’t focus on before.
Back, onto your calendar.

And getting back into the world,
when you’ve been only halfway present to it,
takes courage.
It takes re-commitment.
It takes being willing to risk making mistakes,
and needing forgiveness.
It takes giving your trust to God,
knowing that you are loved
and you will be forgiven,
again and again,
as often as you need it,
because you need it.
It takes wanting to rise up and walk,
healthy and well,
fully alive.

As Jesus told the paralytic,
“Stand up, take your bed and go home.”
And he stood up, stretched his new legs,
and walked away.

This story is not even primarily about physical healing.
That’s secondary.
The first thing that happens is forgiveness.
The scribes are only here to set up the argument.
Jesus heals the paralytic in order to show his ability—
and authority—
to forgive.
He heals him as a sign that the Kindom of God
was breaking in on the earth.
He heals him to show that separation wasn’t final,
that God wanted to be in relationship with us—
and would risk being human, to do it.

We don’t know what was in the paralytic’s past.
It was never meant to matter.
He was a human being in need.
Jesus forgave him,
and healed him to show that forgiveness was possible.

Why do we need to be forgiven?
Sin is all that alienates us from the wholeness of God.
Some of it is what we do—or don’t do;
some exists because we are human,
and we live in human systems, in the natural world.
In EOW, we confess
“the evil we have done,
the evil that enslaves us,
and the evil done on our behalf.”[1]

Charles Gusmer, in his book
And You Visited Me: Sacramental Ministry to the Sick and the Dying,
makes three basic assumptions
about the mystery of sacramental healing.[2]
The first is that “some relationship exists between sin and sickness.”
Sickness is not our fault,
and it is not any kind of a punishment.
Rather, “the whole human person suffers sickness
as a consequence of evil in the world.”
Viruses, bacteria, fragile bones simply are.
Brain chemistry is what it is.

His second assumption is that “God is on our side.”
God wants us to be healthy, whole, and well.

His third statement is this:
“The promised salvation in Jesus Christ encompasses the total person, for its goal is none other than the resurrection of all flesh…. Jesus has come to free us, to heal us from sin and evil and all its manifestations, so that we can grow to full stature as children of God.”

We don’t always get what we ask for,
when we ask for it,
how we ask for it.
I’m taking a class on the rites of the sick,
and I can’t tell you how it works.
I don’t know why some healings that we ask for happen instantly,
and others take patience, work, and time.

But I read that last statement as saying,
Christ is always moving us toward wholeness.
God is always raising us up.
When we come forward, in faith,
to ask for healing,
we are cooperating in one of the most
basic, intimate, and joyful works of God.

The effects may be screamingly obvious.
They may be imperceptible.
We ourselves may not see a difference,
when everyone around us is commenting on it.
In the act of asking for healing,
we are changed.

In closing, let me go back to the characters
in the original story.
We are all the paralytic.
We are all the wounded person, seeking healing,
on all the levels in which we are broken.
And we are all the paralytic’s friends,
carrying him,
supporting him,
taking him to the One who will heal him.
Sometimes we’re the scribes,
not sure what to make of any of this.

God has given this authority to human beings.
We all are wounded.
And we all are called to help one another heal.
So let us have the honesty with ourselves
to recognize and admit where we are broken.
And let us have the courage to ask for God’s healing
in the midst of our community.

We will be moving from the anointing
into the Eucharist,
the ultimate healing rite.

Let us listen for the voice of God within us,
and let us answer when God says to us,

“Take courage,
Your sins are forgiven you.
Rise. Take up your bed, and go home.”

[1] The Church Pension Fund, Enriching Our Worship 1 (New York: Church Publishing, Inc., 1998), 56.
[2] Charles W. Gusmer, And You Visited Me: Sacramental Ministry to the Sick and the Dying, Rev. Ed. (New York: Pueblo, 1984), 147-48.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Thank you

I'm still fighting uphill, but I'm feeling stronger. I know I'm in a growth time. (Those are always hard.) Thank you all, again, for so much wisdom and love.

Easy action for Burma

From MadPriest:

"Saturday, October 6th, has been declared an International Day of Action For Burma. Organizers are asking that people worldwide wear red or saffron as a show of unity for the Burmese monks who are standing in opposition to one of the most brutal military dictatorships in the world.

I think I could manage that."

I, too, have a red shirt in my closet. It's clean, even.

Also, go to MP's link to see a video of our blessed St. Desmond, discussing a proposed boycott of China.

Feast of St. Francis

Jane posted a good picture, with a promise of more to come.

And, since I seem to be collecting helpful prayers:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007


You guys are fantastic. Thank you, for so much understanding, and so much love. You are helping, more than you know. (And thank you MadPriest, for sending a call out.) I really appreciate everyone's concern. I hear you urging me to be gentle with myself, and I know you're right. Thank you.

(Orthodox) Mimi, we have a full penitential rite which I could request if I wanted--it isn't what I need right now. I want to lift out the confession that we use in this season, at my church. I didn't help write this part of the liturgy, so I don't know where it comes from--the usual copyright cautions apply. Still, the language heals me--and you are of course welcome to pray it at home.

That's what I'll be doing, until Sunday when I can do this in my community, and know the absolution is for real. (If I pray that piece now, it's a "please," not a "yes.")

We say:

Beloved God,
you come to us when we are most ashamed;
and when we long to hide our face from you,
you will not allow us to turn away.
You call us by our name;
you touch us, raise us,
invite us into shameless love.
God our lover, know us, judge us,
turn us, wound us, demand of us,
forgive us.
We are yours.
We abandon ourselves to your love.
We trust you.

The Presider says to the People:

May the God of infinite grace bless you, hold you,
wrestle with you, embrace you in love,
forgive you, and make you whole.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Burmese monks "to be sent away"

Never mind me. Go here. And then here.

Sure, I need prayer. They need it more.

What I can say about why I asked for prayer

I’m so angry with myself that I’m physically ill. I don’t think that I did anything wrong—but I feel like it. I feel like I need confession.

I never feel like I need confession. When I do it, I’m inside it, and it is sincere—but I very rarely hunger for it. When I clearly wrong somebody, I can say so. (My relationship with God more often needs repair for my absence.) Forgiveness for most things comes easily. This… is murky. I said something about myself that I shouldn’t have, and created a disturbance that I don’t know what to do with. It wasn’t wrong in the sense of hurtful—I don’t think, anyway—I just was speaking from a shaky emotional place. Trying to be rational, and not fully succeeding. And I don’t know if there is forgiveness for that.

I think this will end up being a small piece of a larger me, to the people involved, in time. I asked if we were okay; the answer I got was, “Yes, always.” But I’m afraid of being branded. And I know that it’s me who is branding myself.

I don’t have a mental health diagnosis, and I’ve had chances to get one. There’s nothing in this but organic me. It’s history reacting with now. I have anger, fear, and panic hitting me harder than they have in a long time. I know very well why. (The reasons are really at the crux of this; and in themselves, they’re life-giving and good.) And I’m trying to figure out how to be responsible about this love-trust-need conflation I have going, and how to grow through and beyond it.

What I know I need now are time, prayer, understanding, patience, and love. And the presence to give those to myself.

Pray with me.

Monday, October 01, 2007

...and a prayer for healing.

Stolen from lj, who showed it to me, because this is gorgeous.

Lord, open unto me

Open unto me -- light for my darkness.
Open unto me -- courage for my fear.
Open unto me -- hope for my despair.
Open unto me -- peace for my turmoil.
Open unto me -- joy for my sorrow.
Open unto me -- strength for my weakness.
Open unto me -- wisdom for my confusion.
Open unto me -- forgiveness for my sins.
Open unto me -- love for my hates.
Open unto me -- thy Self for my self.

Lord, Lord, open unto me!

--Howard Thurman

I found a slightly different version, here. It's about halfway down the page.

Struggling with something I don't know how to blog about

...without spilling more than I want to of my own soul, in public. It's a long, off-and-on battle for me, and I feel further along than I used to be--but I have some more monsters to fight before I'm done.

I know that God is with me in this. I know that people I love are with me in this. I am with my own self, in this. I would like your prayers, please.