Friday, November 30, 2007

Friday Poetry Blogging: Macrina Wiederkehr

O God
help me to believe
the truth about myself
no matter
how beautiful it is!

I first encountered this at an orphan-Thanksgiving potluck, in the woods in the shadow of Mt. Rainier, circa 1995. The host had a book of graces, which she passed around the table. I seized on this. (The book is A Grateful Heart: Blessings for the Evening Meal from Buddha to the Beatles. I own a copy, now.)

I needed that reminder; then, and many times since. Now, it needs to be shared. If this feeds your soul, where you are, it is my gift to you.

We are all children of the Holy One.

God with us, and in us, and around us

Emmanuel Award
"God With Us"
In a consumer society it is a blessing to read blogs where the writer's main focus is God. Where they express their love for their faith so visibly and joyfully. In a cynical world it is refreshing to see so many blogs which are generous, giving, who care about others and demonstrate what being a Christian is about, loving God and loving our neighbor.
Through their faith, lives and spirituality, they bring God to us, they in essence make God visible, "God with us."
This Award goes to all the faith filled blogs who make evident 'Emmanuel'- God with us, with Joy in their hearts.
Please share this Award with Christian blogs that focus on the real meaning of Christmas, the birth of our Savior.
Peace, JOY & Merry Christmas

Episcopollyanna nominated me for this award, along with Eileen, who does a lot more to foster community than I do. I went to her place to thank her, but I've been still thinking about passing it on. Part of me wants to play the game; nominate two others and keep it going. I certainly could pick two, if I chose. They'd probably feel just as flattered, and undeserving, as I.

I'm happy to have been included in this; glad that a small gesture of mine (truly, it was just a couple of comments) went to her heart. But I also know how it feels to not be in the in-group.

Truly, God comes to me through so many. I'm happy to have embodied that love, at least virtually, for those for whom I do that. But because I don't want to bruise the feelings of any who know they've gone out of their way for me, and because so many of my internet friends show me Jesus, I will just hold this, and smile, and say THANK YOU to everyone who shares the presence of God with me. May we all love the world, so well.


The wildest thing just happened.

I prayed for healing for the people who hurt me, before I went to sleep. I felt like I ought to, and I honestly could; it wasn’t any kind of a self-sacrificial thing. I did it at the same time as I give thanks for all the blessings of this life. I didn’t pray for me, but for them.

I had a dream last night, in which they showed up. When I woke up, I was able to love them, without feeling tangled.

Am I still angry? Still hurt, still grieving? Yes. But it's gentler, now. Love embraces everything else—and it's not any kind of spiritual/emotional martyrdom; it's real. It's not even that I'm forgiving them; I'd be short-circuiting too much, if I tried to do that now. I love them, because they're held by the same God as me.

I'm used to pure surreality in my dreams. They're not that way, anymore.

If you make a conscious decision to open yourself to God, know this: You will be different.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Slightly silly civics lesson

I put this up just for fun. But if you want to learn something beyond what your inner third-grader can sing along with, while keeping your hope and commitment intact, go check out Buddhapalian's Thursday Constitution Blogging.

Good stuff.


…or the latest in a series that shows no sign of stopping, for which I am both grateful and breathless.

I volunteered yesterday morning at my church; our administrator’s on a rare vacation, and we needed phone-answerers. It was a beautiful, crisp, sunny day in the city, and the drive back and forth across the bridge wasn’t bad at all, with a new favorite CD in my knockoff iPod. I got a preview of our Advent set-up, and I love it. Chatted with my rector a little, and did a bit of the MDG work I’m so jazzed about. Did some of the homework I’d brought with me.

Caught a quick lunch at Brewed Awakening (a wrap and carrot-orange juice), and raced up the hill to a counseling appointment. She asked me how I was.

I answered, “Back to feeling capable.”

Yeah. Back. to. feeling. capable. You’d have to have known me longer than this fall, to know how huge that is. I was a poster child for self-doubt, my whole life until recently. I could imagine capability, but never felt I had it. Being at the Ranch healed me of the anger and burnout I’d gone up there with, and helped me find some peace that is deeper than all of my brokenness. I came back here with the energy to do soul-work, and I’ve done it; focusing on courage, rather than competence, but knowing I was showing both. I was really knocked off my feet, at the beginning of this month; enraged and hurt, but I couldn’t even cry for two weeks. Then I spent most of Thanksgiving week at my best friend’s house, crying a little, laughing a lot, and regrouping. (She is family, in every sense that counts. If you, like me, have reason to look, you will find it.)

I had something to “regroup” back into. And I did it. I was a complete slug for about a week; couldn’t focus on my work, couldn’t create anything. Now, I can, again. I have my head back, and my heart. I feel strong, and I’m joyful.

I’m not done with the anger or grieving—but it’s work I can wrap my hands around. It doesn’t overwhelm me anymore, and I don’t resent its presence as work I have to do. There are layers under layers, and it takes time—but I know there will be an end to it. Through this whole ordeal, I never doubted my own intrinsic, whole self. Dear God, that’s tremendous. I’m rejoicing, not only in the sense of capability but in the return to it—and in the already taking for granted that it’s there.

Thank you, all of you who pray for and with me. Rejoice with me.

Alleuia, amen.

Monday, November 26, 2007

In My Name

I’ve been singing this all day.

In my name you say you kill
In my name you turn with rage
In my name, impose your will
In my name these wars you wage
But I say to you, this is all you shall do
In my name
You shall love

This is all that is real
You shall love
You shall touch, you shall heal
Through the darkness of fear
This song is all you’ll hear
Through the labyrinth of anger
Through the screaming, empty hunger
Through the hatred for the shame
You shall love, you shall love
In my name...

Like it? Go here.

5 Things I'm Not Afraid Of Anymore

A twist on the meme below. If I’m going to talk about fear, I’m also going to celebrate the absence of it.

1) Anger

2) Loss

3) Grief

4) The idea that I’m not intrinsically “good enough”

5) Public speaking

None of these cause panic any more. I'm looking levelly at each of them. Of all of these, only (4) no longer exists—and that was a mountain in itself. Getting past the fear of each represents work, grace, love, and faith. I’ve learned so much about myself; I can do so much more than survive.

And I actually really enjoy preaching now. That process has always been transformative. I've learned to speak, to tell a story, to let the process transform me. I get to do it again at church in two weeks, and I’m really looking forward to it.

Alleluia, amen.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

5 Things I'm Afraid Of

Inspired by comments elsewhere

Rules: There aren’t any. Play if you like. Tag whom you wish.

My answers:

1) Spiders. Any and all, inside. I’m okay with spiders outside where they belong, as long as they’re not in their webs when I accidentally walk through them.

2) Heights. I can’t climb a ladder more than three steps. I’m perfectly fine on a ski lift, though. (Not that I’ve been, in recent years.)

3) Republicans. For many reasons: foreign policy and (lack of) health care being two of them. I really don’t understand the choices people make, in electing those who adamantly will not provide for their needs, and who will make so absolutely sure that the rest of the world thinks we’re dangerous idiots.

4) Confrontation, in general. I’ve gotten better, but I still hate it.

5) My faculty, if I don’t get my work done. Back to it.

Alternative Holiday Shopping

Jane Redmont, formerly of the GTU and now teaching at a Quaker college in North Carolina, has a wonderful blog called Acts of Hope. She posted a list of resources for alternative, environmental and social-justice friendly gift buying. Other ideas are listed in the comments. Go check it out!

If you're in the Olympia area, please visit Traditions. It's a fair-trade import store, meaning that artisans actually get paid decently for their work. It's also a performance space, and a community treasure. (And give Dick and Jody my best. They're wonderful people. She was my doppelganger when I lived up there, and I never minded being mistaken for her.)

Please add your own resources, either in the comments here or at Jane's. Thank you!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Thanksgiving Leftovers

Okay, I did something just like this two days ago. But Max tagged me for this meme, and I love Max and am thrilled she’s back in blogland, so I’m playing along.

Here are the rules, from John at SmuloSpace (the same guy who brought you 5 Things I Dig About Jesus):

• Write down five things that you're thankful for.
• Tag five friends who you'd like to see participate in this meme.
• (Optional) Include a link to the original at SmuloSpace in your post, and then visit the post yourself and place a link to your completed meme in the comments section so John can keep track of the thankfulness running around the blogosphere.

My answers:

1. Friends, both internet and face-to-face. Family, mentors, teachers, companions. For supporting me; sharing the journey with me, telling the truth in hilarity and love. For hugs, dim sum, high-fives, and prayers. For loving me absolutely, no matter what I do—and for helping me to come to love myself. For being with me in struggle, and in celebration.

2. The Bishop’s Ranch. The place and the people are magical, holy, healing. I am so thankful that I got to work there last summer—and that I get to go help out whenever I want to.

3. Music. Played on a guitar or a flute or a boombox, sung gently as a lullaby or shouted in the car. For playfulness, catharsis, and joy—and even for the most annoying ear-worms. For moments that make me sing, and for people to sing with.

4. The welcoming, loving, creative community that makes up my parish. I’m crazy about them.

5. God. For deeply calling me, tickling my thirst and never completely quenching it. For love beyond all imagining; coincidence that isn’t; all healing and all grace. For everything given, that I never would have known to ask for. For the will, born of love, to serve creation. For life.


Byzigenous Buddhapalian
Grandmere Mimi
Russian Orthodox Mimi

Friday, November 23, 2007

Friday Poetry Blogging: Rumi

Come, come, whoever you are
Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving,
Ours is not a caravan of despair.

Come, come, whoever you are,
Even though you've broken your vows
a thousand times
Come, yet again,

I learned this poem at least a decade ago, in the interfaith community I belonged to. We used to chant it, dancing in circles; I always heard it as a generous, gracious welcome to a ragtag religious gathering. It's much more than that. It says to me now, "You are not an alien. You are not unworthy. We all bear our wounds, our scars, our imperfections, our shame. Nothing can scare us. Come, we are with you."

I gave thanks, below, for "people of refuge," those friends who calm me and help me reconnect with my own essential wholeness and goodness, and with God. The only redemptive value that I have found in my own recent rough patch, is the will to become a safe resting place for others. I believe we are all called to that work; there is so much brokenness, and the only way to heal it is with openness, gentleness, acceptance, and love.

Let me caution you, though, please. Welcoming others starts with welcoming yourself. You cannot give, what you haven't learned to receive. If you offer love, in good faith, and can't give it, you risk re-traumatizing the people you've conditioned to be close to you. (I know this, painfully well.) Ground yourself, in God and the earth and your loving circles. Work from that generosity, not your own. Let trust build, with time.

All blessings.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Giving Thanks for Activists

Got a minute? Go here. Lots of pictures, stories, and resources for action. (If you're in a rush, scroll down; the article closes with a list of links.)

h/t Buddhapalian.

For these things...

Community, in strange and likely places
Sunlight blinking through autumn leaves
Places, and people, of refuge
Water, rocks, and wind
Friends’ voices
The ability to be peaceful, alone
All the things that challenge me
Shelter, food, and the means to care for myself
Self-confidence and strength; the more because I’ve fought for it
All those who love me, and all whom I love
Being part of creation, swirling around the heart of God
Grace everywhere it is found (which is, everywhere)

…I am thankful.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Blatant Work Avoidance seen at PseudoPiskie's.

You Are A Lily

You are a nurturer and all around natural therapist.
People see you as their rock. And they are able to depend on you.
You are a soothing influence. You can make people feel better with a few words.
Your caring has more of an impact than even you realize.

Nurturer? Most definitely. Other people's rock? I don't know about now, but I can see that becoming true. I know who mine are, and I know how they have strengthened me. I know what "pay it forward" means.

I think the last sentence is true of everyone. We never know exactly what it is that we're giving. Lots of times, a simple smile at the right time is redemptive.

Now, as long as something hideous like a Venus flytrap isn't one of the options, La Madrina will be all right. :-)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

All That You Have Is Your Soul

Pain is just pain. Grief bites (!), but you don't need to fear it. It cannot injure you any more. You will find people who can sit with you in it, who can hold you while you shake and cry and rage. And I really am sorry, but the only way out is through.

The only way into humanity, is fearlessly and open-hearted. This is true and honorable strength: knowing well your own demons, to wrap your arms around another while she learns to wrestle hers.

Love is a damned courageous thing to do. Keep at it.

If you are one of those who helped me learn these truths, thank you and God bless you. I will live them.

If you know this, sing it with me. For all whose literal story this tells, and for all who know that there is nothing else worth owning.

Thank you, Tracy Chapman. "All That You Have Is Your Soul," Crossroads, 1990.

Oh my mama told me
'Cause she say she learned the hard way
She say she wanna spare the children
She say don't give or sell your soul away
'Cause all that you have is your soul

Well I was a pretty young girl once
I had dreams I had high hopes
I married a man he stole my heart away
He gave his love but what a high price I paid
All that you have is your soul

So don't be tempted by the shiny apple
Don't you eat of a bitter fruit
Hunger only for a taste of justice
Hunger only for a word of truth
'Cause all that you have is your soul

Why was I such a young fool?
Thought I'd make history
Making babies was the best I could do
Thought I'd made something that could be mine forever
Found out the hard way one can't possess another
And all that you have is your soul

So don't be tempted by the shiny apple
Don't you eat of a bitter fruit
Hunger only for a taste of justice
Hunger only for a word of truth
'Cause all that you have is your soul

I thought, thought that I could find a way
To beat the system
Make a deal and have no debts to pay
I'd take it all, I’d take it all, I'd run away
Me for myself, first class and first rate
But all that you have is your soul

So don't be tempted by the shiny apple
Don't you eat of a bitter fruit
Hunger only for a taste of justice
Hunger only for a word of truth
'Cause all that you have is your soul

Here I am, I'm waiting for a better day
A second chance
A little luck to come my way
I hope to dream, I hope that I can sleep again
And wake in the world with a clear conscience and clean hands
'Cause all that you have is your soul

So don't be tempted by the shiny apple
Don't you eat of a bitter fruit
Hunger only for a taste of justice
Hunger only for a word of truth
'Cause all that you have is your soul

Oh my mama told me
'Cause she say she learned the hard way
She say she wanna spare the children
She say don't give or sell your soul away
'Cause all that you have is your soul

All that you have
All that you have
All that you have
Is your soul

For Buddhapalian...

...because of this post.

I wanted more Moltmann points, but I'll accept this.

What's your eschatology?
created with
You scored as Amillenialist

Amillenialism believes that the 1000 year reign is not literal but figurative, and that Christ began to reign at his ascension. People take some prophetic scripture far too literally in your view.



Moltmannian Eschatology








Left Behind




Friday, November 16, 2007

RGBP Friday Five: Think About These Things

From RevGalBlogPals:

Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8, NRSV)

Friends, it's nearly Thanksgiving in the U.S. and it's the time of year when we are pressed to name things for which we are thankful. I want to offer a twist on the usual lists and use Paul's letter to the church at Philippi as a model. Name five things that are true, honorable, just, pure, pleasing, commendable, excellent or worthy of praise. These could be people, organizations, acts, ideas, works of art, pieces of music--whatever comes to mind for you.

Oh, easy-peasy. I love gratitude posts, especially when I’m feeling it enough to write them.

1) True: The friends, teachers, and others, online and face-to-face, who have helped me through this recent trouble. I’m not naming you; you know who you are. You can see the grace of what you’ve done in me. Thank you for being open, for offering your presence, for doing your own work, and knowing your limits. Thank you for loving, and for not being afraid. Thank you for feeding me dim sum, and for giving me time.

2) Honorable: What’s filling my head right now is the work that Mimi, Ray, and so many others have done to rebuild New Orleans. Gutting houses, not knowing when or if they’ll be lived in again, is a sacrifice of hope, love, grief, and sweat. I also honor all the people I met there, embracing joy, celebration, and beauty in the midst of devastation. Or simply getting out of bed in the 9th Ward every day, and doing what they had to do.

3) Just: Ultimately, the Kindom of God. I’m reading Sr. Helen Préjean for a paper I’m writing, and thinking about her work for economically poor people and against the death penalty. I’m thinking also of a quote from +Katharine, again in New Orleans, “When the saints go marching in, it’s going to be with every last one of us.” And I’m thinking of my own Bishop Marc speaking against the war in Iraq. These people, and many others, embody a vision of God’s justice that makes my soul shout.

4) Excellent: All of creation. Some online friends and I have been discussing where we’d like to live, given the choice: mountains, water, city, other. It’s making me geographically homesick; I grew up with my feet in Puget Sound and mountains all around me. The Cascades and Olympics have long given me strength. But I’m also absolutely struck by the beauty of the San Francisco Bay. The very small work I did, publicizing cleanup efforts, made me feel more connected here. I also resonate deeply with the power and vastness of the ocean. And I am absolutely and forever in love with the Bishop’s Ranch. (Thank you Paul for posting pictures!)

5) Worthy of Praise: the Holy One. For all beauty, love, transformation, connection, and existence. For all that I rejoice in, and for all that challenges me. For this holy, fragile Earth we walk on, and for the stars that show us how tiny we are. For every rock, tree, and flower, and for every living, loving, breathing thing—and for the deeply-felt privilege of participating in this cosmic relationship. For the Incarnation, for raising us up, for making us whole.

Unified Theory of Everything

A friend showed me this; I had to share. You can find more such silliness, and not so silliness, here. (Click on the pic, to enlarge.)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Yay for solidity!

I saw my counselor this afternoon, for the first time since last spring. I was as honest with her as I’ve been with my closest friends. Neither of us denied anything about who I am or where I’ve been. And it was so completely validating.

Grief is grief, and I’m going to have to go through it, for this immediate issue and for what’s underneath. That’s the only way really to heal, and to turn the hunger switch off. But I really have come far, and I have a ton of good, healthy love and support around me. I know I can do this. It hurts, but it feels manageable.

I wish I had time to focus on it. I don’t. I’ve been a slug for a crucial few days, work-wise, and I’m so far behind now it’s not acceptable. But my mind feels awake again.

Yeah. Back in the land of the living. Thank you all, so much.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Unsolicited church plug

The other good thing that my friend and I did last weekend, was worship at St. Bartholomew’s, Livermore. We were both taking breaks from our home churches (and she from her diocese). She’d been to St. Bart’s and I hadn’t; she knew it would be a good alternative.

It was. My friend introduced me to the rector, at the Peace. Carol (who reminds me very much of Julia Child in vestments) wore green Crocs, that matched her stole. She joked with me about how, if she’d known she had a third-year seminarian, she wouldn’t have praised academia so highly in her sermon. I told her I’d enjoyed it (which I had).

The building is structured in the round. Friend and I were sitting in the front, kitty-corner from the altar. Carol came over to us at the offertory and asked me if I’d like to carry a chalice. Surprised and delighted, I said yes. Of course a seminarian can carry the cup—but I’d never been invited, barely-met, to do it. (I had to be licensed, to bear the chalice regularly at home.) This struck me as incredibly welcoming.

Their liturgy had elements from the New Zealand prayer book, and was very similar to what I’m used to at St. A’s. It was enough like home to feel liturgically comfortable—but it was out of the city, away from the whole seminarian trip. The rector knew who I was, but I was also anonymous. And I don’t know the community, but they feel like a safe, nurturing refuge. (When I said that to Carol, she got it. They’re warm, in an easygoing way.)

Go there, to worship, or just to see the Stations of the Cross, if you can. There’s no text—there doesn’t need to be. They’re wood carvings, all involving hands in some position (holding the cross, hiding a face). Incredibly evocative. A member of the community carved them; his wife came and talked to us, as we were circling around.

I love my community. My home is very focused on being welcoming, and we do it well. But if I need a break, where I already know I’ll feel comfortable, this is an option that’s open to me. And to you, if you’re in the area. Go.


I don’t have time to do this, but I’m not getting done what I need to, today, so I might as well. Eileen tagged me for this awhile ago; Mother Laura did this morning, so I’m going to go ahead and play.

Ten years ago (1997): I was living in a house in the Westside Co-op neighborhood of Olympia with friends from college, working/volunteering at the co-op and working in retail hell, while I sorted out what I wanted to do. One of those friends’ fathers was (and is) an Episcopal priest. She attended church in town, sometimes. I was very involved with my interfaith community, but I remember feeling God poking at me. I was nowhere near being in a position to do anything about that, yet, but I picked up some practices that I held very deeply for awhile. I did a lot of writing.

The following year, I moved to Seattle and worked with homeless preschool kids. I also haunted the cathedral. I wasn’t ready to make the leap home, yet, but when I did (in 2003), those stirrings had always been there.

Twenty years ago (1987): I was in the fall of my senior year of high school, beginning an argument with my parents that would last all year, because they wanted me at a traditional college and I wanted to go to Evergreen. This was solved at my grandparents’ house, probably that spring. My grandfather had retired from a job with Health, Education, and Welfare (DSHS now, but education was his thing). He interrupted with, “Evergreen—that’d be really good for you.”


Other than that… AP classes, hanging out with geeky friends (Knowledge Bowl and Hi-Q), deep discussions about spirituality with my French teacher after school, generally having a good time while chomping at the bit to leave that town. I knew in December where I’d go to school, so the pressure was off me early.

DioOlympia’s youth programs (HYC and Search; the first of which has always existed and the latter I believe is resurrecting) were enormously formative. I didn’t realize the full value of a safe, nurturing place for questions until long after I’d aged out.

I wasn’t really a rocker, more of both a pop kid and a folkie, influenced by spending part of every summer at Girl Scout camp. I managed to listen to a lot of both Holly Near and U2.

Wrote a lot of poetry. I pretty much stopped when I went to college; the medium wasn’t mine, anymore.

Thirty years ago (1977) I was in second grade. Probably reading a lot, and avoiding math. My best friend lived two doors up from me, on our cul-de-sac; we were two of only three kids our age on our street. We also were the two slowest runners. She had red hair, and gorgeous brown eyes that I was jealous of. She was the second of four kids in an evangelical-Christian family (her baby brother was born after they moved); I was an only, and an Episcopalian. (Though I had no idea what that meant yet, our beliefs were clearly different; she was genuinely afraid of going to hell for lying.) I don’t remember now what we had in common, but we were pretty much inseparable. She moved across town the following year, and we lost touch. I haven’t heard from her since bumping into her parents when I was home from college; we were 19. I don’t know where she is now, but I know her kids are teens. Our lives took really different directions.

I also remember my teacher moving away, and getting a new one mid-year. My first second-grade teacher told me not to write my name in cursive, because I wasn’t supposed to know it until third. (Really. She could tell it was me; that’s the point of writing your name, yes?) Her replacement apparently liked me; I had her again in fourth and sixth.

I don't know who to tag; this meme has been around for awhile. Play along, if you want.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Redemption, as it comes

I spent the weekend with a friend, soaking up unconditional love and recovering some sense of perspective. It was the best place I could have been.

I told her that I knew God was with me—but I couldn’t figure out where, because I couldn’t find the redemptive value in this anger and hurt. [I still can’t speak directly of what happened a week ago, in the context of a different relationship. There’s no way to do it without violating confidences.] I’ve been thinking about redemption, ever since.

This relationship is absolutely solid. My friend has seen the worst in me, and the full range of all that I am, for two and a half years. She’s seen me hit crises and grow through them, more times than I can count. She let me lean on her, because she knew I wouldn’t always. We relate as equals now—and I can still go to her when I need to. I didn’t fall apart over the weekend, but it would have been okay if I had.

How do you get to that level of love and trust? You work for it. It takes time, and patience. You have to be willing to be open; you have to be able to forgive the other’s weaknesses (or not see them as needing forgiveness, to begin with). You have to love fiercely and defiantly; you have to be willing to let yourself trust. You have to be committed to the path, and paths, you’re walking. You have to be present.

I asked her to take off her friend-eyes and look at me objectively. I feel stronger than I had before the summer—but from inside myself, it’s hard to quantify the change. I asked what she sees in me that’s different.

Her answer? Courage, confidence, and joy. Even through the hurt, the shock, the bafflement, the seething of this present moment.

Why? Because of the questions I’m asking. Because I can take teasing, and God-talk. And because I’m still able to smile.

She’s right; I hadn’t known it was obvious. And I know that what is in my core is mine. It can be grown, and nurtured into fullness. It cannot be taken.

I’m also thinking about who I am and what kind of friend I want to be. I don’t think I could love everyone, indiscriminately, that selflessly. I’m just not good at two in the morning. But I do know I still want to rush headlong at the world. I still understand ministry as, essentially, love. I still get excited when I think of myself as being given over to God, part of this cosmic relationship that includes and embraces every living being. I’m still open to life.

I’ve been really hurt. I’ve also called on the love of several good friends, this week. They have given it without reservation, as time, truth, hugs, listening, and laughter. I honor what these gifts have taught me. I choose to learn what I need to learn, grieve what I need to grieve, and be both honest and gentle with myself. I choose to keep my heart open, and connected. In this is resurrection and redemption. This is the only way I know to be whole.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Signs of hope

I normally get about 15 hits a day on my blog. I posted the PSA about oil spill cleanup around 10:30 this morning. As of now, I’ve had 117 visits today. Easily a hundred were looking for ways to volunteer. A good quarter of those came from a surfer forum.

I’ve also had e-mails thanking me and asking if I know any more. Everybody wants to do something.

This says a lot for people’s understanding of their place in creation, their love of the bay, and connection to the earth around us. That is a very good sign.

I learned a lot from following my impulse. Never underestimate any human being. And don’t put people into boxes. People understand our impact on the earth. Those who play in the water know how precious it is. Those who want to tread more lightly will look for ways to do so. We all just need directions, steps; easy, plausible actions.

Thank all of you, for being outwardly-directed. It is so very easy not to be. Thank you for choosing the harder thing, the responsible thing, the true and life-giving response to this disaster.

By your presence, you spread hope.

SF Bay Oil Spill Response Information

If you landed here via a search for oil spill cleanup info, you know that a container ship crashed into a tower supporting the Bay Bridge yesterday morning, spilling 58,000 gallons of oil.

I lived all but three years of my life on Puget Sound. I remember the pictures from the Exxon Valdez. If I'm claiming California, I'm also claiming the bay. I saw the article in this morning's Chronicle, and needed to do something.

I wrote to the Oiled Wildlife Care Network, centered at UC Davis, asking what ordinary citizens can do. Here is their reply, dated this morning:

“It is very important that the public not pick up oiled birds under any circumstances. We have a hotline, 877-823-6926, set up to report oiled wildlife. This information is disseminated to the oiled wildlife care network staff working in the field. At this time, we have very few birds in hand. As soon as that number increases, so will the need for volunteers. At that time, we will post a phone number on our web site for those who want to volunteer.

While there will probably be a responsible party for this spill who should cover the costs, donations can be made to the
International Bird Rescue Research Center or the UC Davis Wildlife Health Center for ongoing wildlife spill response activities and rehabilitation.”


OWCN is now posting a volunteer hotline number: (800) 228-4544.
Coast Guard information/update page is here. They also refer volunteers to OWCN.
San Francisco Baykeepers are taking names of potential volunteers, and have suggestions for what you can do in the meantime. They are also accepting donations.

(photo: SF Chronicle)

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Radio silence

I have something looming very large in my consciousness right now. I’m feeling very, very angry and very, very hurt—and that’s just the beginning.

I also have an incestuous social circle. People who know me in real life read this, and many of them know each other. I can’t talk about it online. Even to allude to the reasons for my anger, even obliquely, even anonymously—would feel like a breach of confidence. I can’t work this out on the ‘net.

I also can’t be all happy-smiley, healing-earworms. I don’t have that grace in me, or hope. I don’t know when I will.

Until I can write, pray, feel, or think about other things besides school and this, I’m staying off the blog.

Peace to all, and please pray for me.

Looking for a mantra?

Do you need a healing earworm? Here's one of mine. I learned it from the community I was part of before I went back to church; most of the kids there went to an alternative elementary school in Olympia, and some of the adults were in the parent band. They taught us this song. The tune is really simple; not much more than a chant, really. I think if you Google it, you might find audio samples online.

My Roots Go Down

My roots go down, down to the earth
My roots go down, down to the earth
My roots go down, down to the earth
My roots go down.

I am a pine tree on a mountainside
I am a pine tree on a mountainside
I am a pine tree on a mountainside
My roots go down.

My roots go down, down to the earth
My roots go down, down to the earth
My roots go down, down to the earth
My roots go down.

I am a wildflower reaching for the sun
I am a wildflower reaching for the sun
I am a wildflower reaching for the sun
My roots go down.

My roots go down, down to the earth
My roots go down, down to the earth
My roots go down, down to the earth
My roots go down.

I am a waterfall skipping home
I am a waterfall skipping home
I am a waterfall skipping home
My roots go down.

My roots go down, down to the earth
My roots go down, down to the earth
My roots go down, down to the earth
My roots go down.

I am every living thing
I am every living thing
I am every living thing
My roots go down.

My roots go down, down to the earth
My roots go down, down to the earth
My roots go down, down to the earth
My roots go down.

Monday, November 05, 2007

"You do not have to be good."

The tape is playing again. Not, “I’m not good enough”—because thank God, I genuinely believe that I am—but “I don’t know how to be good enough,” in response/reaction to my perception of another’s expectations. I don’t know how to be anything other than who I am. And I know how unreasonable it is to try. But I still want to.

I want to keep something; I don’t know if I can. Above that, I need to be true to me.

I know how far I've come; I'm holding on to that faith, in God and in me. Pray with me for courage, for endurance, and for listening to wisdom.

Rapid growth—as much as I'm thankful for it—is damned disorienting. It's also disorienting, when you think you're past something—and you're not.

Back in the boat, again.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Wild Geese

Why? Because I need to hear it.

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

--Mary Oliver

Fun with politics

Ganked from Grandmère Mimi:

How to Win a Fight With a Conservative is the ultimate survival guide for political arguments

My Liberal Identity:

You are a Peace Patroller, also known as an anti-war liberal or neo-hippie. You believe in putting an end to American imperial conquest, stopping wars that have already been lost, and supporting our troops by bringing them home.

Wanna play?

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Proof, positive

Yesterday was interesting. I damn near aced a quiz I hadn’t done the reading for. Caught BART into the city after class, to help with the food pantry at St. A's. I’d never done that; it was really fun. Aside from the Ranch, I haven’t done any volunteer work at all since May. This got me outside of myself, interacting with other people. Actually doing ministry. How about that?

Adopted-mom goes once a month or so. I’m going to keep it up—it’s too much fun, and too good for the world, not to.

Ran around with Calabash family all afternoon, and back to church with them in the evening, to the pet memorial service. That was really an experience. It was interfaith, between us and a Buddhist cleric, and beautifully done. It took me to a place in myself, that I don’t think I’ve ever been to.

The topic of pets takes me directly to childhood. I was thinking of my grandparents’ dog (who died when she and I were both ten), and a cat we had from when I was around eight, into college. I wasn’t really grieving them, though—I was just grieving. But I didn’t cry. I didn’t fall apart at all. I just was in a deeply quiet place. A self-sufficiently quiet place. I got lots of hugs, and I wanted most of them—but I wasn’t feeling like other people had to hold me up. At a different time, I would have fallen apart on the people I was closest to. Childhood-grief and guilt would have torn me up. I didn’t, and it didn’t. I said, I’m okay and this is what’s up, and they hugged me—but I didn’t lose my own strength.

When my friend Michael cut his leg on a nail in NOLA, our friend Judy described the healing process. She said it had to granulate; the cells closest to the bone had to regrow. I think that might be what’s happening. I absolutely knew I’d be loved through this—and I absolutely was, in ways that surprised me—but there was something deeper going on. I chose to go to that grief, and stay with it. I wasn’t swept there. I had support on both sides of me, when I wanted it. Between times, I just let myself feel, and watched other people. I didn't go to grasping. I wasn’t in a “Help me” place; it was more, “You get it. Thank you.” Part of my quietness was awe: “oh my God, I really am all right.”

I wrote a month ago, “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.”

I really think I’ve done that. Because it isn’t happening. It’s no longer a question of being responsible—the conflation no longer exists. It just isn’t there. I have bones now.

Yay and alleluia, ever yet again.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Poem for today

I’m taking a feather from lj’s cap; she does this frequently, and I love the idea. I think I might make it an occasional feature; God knows I have plenty of prayer/poetry books.

(This is printed in Women’s Uncommon Prayers, p. 24. Poetry and Turabian citations aren’t going together for me.)


Let me live today.
Let me be open to the miracle of this day.
Let me breathe the best of today.
Let me not miss the heart of today.
Let me find the gift of today,
hidden like a jewel in rubble of care, duty, and detail.

Let me pause to hear
the steady beat of the heart of God—
hoping, aching, sorrowing, expectant, patient,
despairing heart of God.

Listen, listen.
Do you hear it?
Ever so faint but steady, steady,
rhythmic organ, strong muscle,
thumping, beating, pumping, sustaining, encompassing,
wildly dancing heart of God.

Let me live this day, aware, open, listening, breathing, alive.

--The Rev. Virginia Going

Thursday, November 01, 2007


I keep going back to the story I preached about: Jesus healing the paralytic. What this really feels like, though, is much more primal. It’s like a baby learning to walk. I can walk, now—but I haven’t fully realized that I can. I keep looking around in total amazement, thinking, “Wow. I’m standing up!”

The event that triggered this work-time is only that event. In retrospect, I’m honestly thankful for it. (The others involved were completely forgiving; I think they’d be okay with me admitting that.) The issues resolving are so much deeper than that particular anxiety. I wrote that I don’t know how to be solid. I don’t have to know it. I can feel it. I’m me—but I don’t think of myself as broken. This new reality is more embodied all the time.

I used to think, reflexively, “I’m not good enough.” I don’t remember before I thought that way, and I think I stopped last week. Now, I can barely remember what that felt like. I don’t feel superhuman, and though this reads really self-absorbed, it’s not an ego trip. I feel as capable as anybody else. I’m showing it, also: I’m on top of the personal stuff, and looking my teachers in the eye. If you know me, you know how huge all of these things are.

My friend laughed at/with me for bouncing. I couldn’t stop laughing, talking on the phone, but I didn’t and don’t feel particularly bouncy. I feel grounded. And becoming more so, all the time.

A teacher I worked with three years ago used to tell me he could see my wings. (He was a cross between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Buddha, and was just that way.)* I couldn’t, then, but I appreciated his vision. Now, what I know I have is legs. I can feel the strength in them. I’ll get to flying, when and if that’s my experience. For now, this strong, stretching body is more than enough.

Yay and alleluia, yet again.

*I gave him this link. He wrote back, "Yoda, always, I wanted to be." Okay, P., Yoda, you are. The least I can do, it is. :-)
You, I owe much to.

Saints, alive

These are some, with whom I'm in relationship, and who have given me particular gifts. I could have listed many more, and if I'd gone global, I'd still be writing.

Max, Apostle in Exile, St. Aidan’s, Calabash family, Olympia family, Craig and Cindy (in memory of Rachel), Pete, everyone at Traditions, everyone at the Bishop’s Ranch, Lizette, Sue, John, Margo, Mother Laura, Eileen, Jonathan, Jake, Marc, Nedi, Liz, Will, Sharecropper, lj, Juniper, Mimi, Grandmère Mimi, Jane, Garnabus and Fuego:

Thank you all for the gifts you give, to me and to the world around you. Thank you for your love, your commitment, your faith. Thank you for the ways in which you create community: sharing a sacred place in nature; calling out for justice; preaching and teaching the reign of God; loving and welcoming all people; changing the world from your kitchen table; adopting people into your family; deep listening, advocacy, and encouragement; opening your home to an internet acquaintance; reaching out to people in cyberspace. Thank you for being the kinds of mentors, teachers, family, and friends whom you are. Thank you for challenging, supporting, and nurturing the people whom you touch.

Collect for All Saints' Day, BCP 245:

Almighty God, you have knit together your elect in one communion and fellowship in the mystical body of your Son Christ our Lord: Give us grace so to follow your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those ineffable joys that you have prepared for those who truly love you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.