Stolen from klady; I don't think she minds.
1. Were you named after anyone?
Originally, for my mom’s high school best friend’s younger sister. (It was the only name my parents could agree on.) I took names that suited me, about three years ago.
2. When was the last time you cried?
Last Wednesday, about three hours after I’d been told of Rob’s death. The Grace Cathedral boys’ choir was here. Their music got me, and I walked out of Evensong crying. The CDSP faculty was also here, on retreat. One of my teachers, who also knew Rob, made a point of checking in with me.
3. Do you like your handwriting?
My printing, yes—except when I hurry. It’s a scrawly mess, then.
4. What is your favorite lunch meat?
Given the choice, I’ll usually take turkey. I was a vegetarian for over 15 years, and am still totally happy with some kind of greens, tomatoes, avocado, and cheese.
5. Do you have kids?
No, but someday I’d like them.
6. If you were another person would you be friends with you?
Yes. I would also frustrate me, sometimes. (I do now.)
7. Do you use sarcasm?
8. Do you still have your tonsils?
Nope. When I was a kid, they were the biggest of everybody I knew.
9. Would you bungee jump?
When elephants fly.
10. What is your favorite cereal?
Granola with yogurt, a slosh of milk, nuts, and fresh fruit.
11. Do you untie your shoes when you take them off?
I un-Velcro them. I live in Tevas.
12. Do you think you are strong?
Emotionally, yes. I’m very much a survivor. Physically, your average kindergartner is more butch than me.
13. What is your favorite ice cream?
Any kind of chocolate.
14. What is the first thing you notice about people?
Their eyes, and their smile.
15. Red or pink?
Red. Pink is okay on a flower, but not on me.
16. What is your least favorite thing about yourself?
Lack of focus, except when I’m passionate about something. Self-doubt.
17. Who do you miss the most?
My Olympia family. I owe them at least an e-mail—I was supposed to go see them this summer, and ended up working that week. I feel guilty about it—particularly since I’m growing closer to family in California. [Family, here, means unconditionally loving, close friends.]
18. Do you want everyone to send this back to you?
No. I’m answering the questions just because I feel like it.
19. What color pants and shoes are you wearing?
Khaki shorts. Bare feet. (It’s 95 degrees outside.)
20. What was the last thing you ate?
What was lunch? Chard galette, chicken salad, organic heirloom tomatoes. I’ve been so spoiled here.
21. What are you listening to right now?
Birds chirping outside my window. Musically, I’ve been in a bluegrass-gospel phase.
22. If you were a crayon, what color would you be?
My favorite color is purple, but I think I’d be a deep green. This summer has been a growing time.
23. Favorite smells?
Lilacs. Bread baking. The earth after rain.
24. Who was the last person you talked to on the phone?
Berkeley family, yesterday. We were arranging when I’d have tea with them.
25. Do you like the person who sent this to you?
I like the person whose blog I stole it from. But I'd never answer "no" to this, anyway.
26. Favorite sports to watch?
Ice skating, skiing, gymnastics.
27. Hair color?
Darkish auburnish reddish brown, depending on the light.
28. Eye color?
Green-blue. My driver’s license says green.
29. Do you wear contacts?
30. Favorite food?
Sushi. Also, corn-lime cookies.
31. Scary movies or happy endings?
32. Last movie you watched?
Harry Potter V. Before that, Ratatouille. Before that, nothing since Christmas break ’05.
33. What color shirt are you wearing?
34. Summer or winter?
Summer, especially this one. I miss winters, though—they don’t happen in my part of California.
35. Hugs or kisses?
Hugs. Random affection.
36. Favorite dessert?
Hmm… birthday cake.
37. Most likely to respond?
Whomever happens by and feels like playing.
38. Least likely to respond?
Whomever happens by and doesn’t feel like playing.
39. What book are you reading now?
I’m a seminarian at the end of summer break. ‘Nuff said.
40. What is on your mouse pad?
I have a laptop. I haven't seen a literal mouse around the Ranch; we have lots of bats, though.
41. What did you watch on tv last night?
No TV. I haven’t had cable since the West Wing was good.
42. Favorite sound?
Rushing water. Laughter. Friends’ voices. Live acoustic music. Good singing.
43. Rolling Stones or Beatles?
Neither. I’m so much a folkie, it’s embarrassing.
44. What is the farthest you have been from home?
I’m home everywhere I go. The farthest I’ve traveled is Europe, when I was seven.
45. Do you have a special talent?
Writing. I’m a decent preacher too, oddly enough. I was told I’m a gifted storyteller, two weeks ago—and that was worth every amount of getting there.
46. Where were you born?
Wichita, KS. We moved to suburban Seattle when I was ten months old, to follow my grandparents out from Virginia. I stayed within spitting distance of Puget Sound until two years ago.
47. Whose answers are you looking forward to?
Anyone who wants to play. I’m not tagging people for this one.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Stolen from klady; I don't think she minds.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
I’d left a prayer there a week before, at the close of our parish weekend, out on a wander with these same friends. I remember bursting with thanksgiving for all the blessings of this summer at the Ranch, this community in the city, this sweet, sweet life.
I e-mailed a friend on Sunday, another member of the East Bay contingent. Knowing she wasn’t feeling well, I asked her for coffee when I get back to Berkeley. She told me she understood about family time.
That’s love. And this is us. Rob’s last gift to me is a real appreciation for this church. I’m redefining community, family, home. I think we’re all appreciating each other more. I’m realizing how deeply I belong here. These people who have loved me, encouraged me, laughed with me, and held me while I cried on them—have meant every bit of it. And I mean it right back. All last week, while living and working in a place so close to heaven, all I could think of was, “My family’s in San Francisco, and I want to be with them.”
Rob was always there, unless he wasn’t well enough. His presence was light, gentle, generous, and mischievous. He had an air of, “I know what you’re up to”—and we always knew he loved us. I will miss him in a thousand little ways. A bunch of us meet for coffee at Creighton’s before church; last week, I couldn’t steal his extra napkins. I couldn’t hear him make some little comment, barely above a whisper, that would leave the rest of us roaring.
We told stories on Sunday, in place of a sermon. We shared his memory among us. His presence was there with us—but I’m still not used to the idea that he will not be.
I know that Rob's okay now; I know he is surrounded by Love and limitlessness. I know it was his time. I know all the saints are dancing.
I still miss him. We, still miss him. And we will for a long time.
Saturday, August 25, 2007
It's Saturday; oh well. I feel like playing. The questions:
2. Piece of music
3. Work of art
5. Unusual engagement with popular culture
that have helped/ challenged you on your spiritual journey.
Book: too many to mention. Ursula Le Guin's Four Ways to Forgiveness is one. My friend Max calls her "St. Ursula," and rightly so; what she does with relationships is riveting. I cried most of the way through Sue Monk Kidd's The Secret Life of Bees. The ending made me want to stand up and shout.
Piece of music: Right now I'm in an old-time gospel bluegrass phase. All week, since my friends began caring for Rob, I've had "Jesus, Won't You Come By Here" stuck in my head. My standby answer, though, would be damn near anything by Linda Allen. "Holden," from the Victory Music Washington Notebook CD, called me back to faith when I didn't know where to search for it. The song is about slowing down, paying attention, and the prayer that naturally flows from being present to life. The chorus:
And it was God on the mountain, though that may sound strange to you
God was in that village, and I know it to be true
God, that holy conjurer, what else could I do
But talk to you?
Talk to you.
Work of art: Oh, heavens. All of creation.
Film: Gandhi. 'Nuff said.
Unusual engagement with popular culture: I'm not even sure that I engage with popular culture. Or what this question even means. I will tell you that I'm fascinated with storytelling, though. In all its forms.
Bonus: Is engagement essential to your Christian faith, how and why?
Of course. Incarnation requires being there.
I found this on Pisco’s site; am tagging myself.
- You have to use your own belief system for the meme. No fair using someone else’s to make a joke or satire. Being humorous about your own religion is encouraged!
- You have to have at least one joy and one trial. More are encouraged. And no, they don’t have to be equal in length, but please be honest.
- You have to tag at least one other person. More are appreciated!
- Please post these rules!
The joys of being a formerly pago-Christian-Buddhist, cradle and returned (with a vengeance) Episcopalian:
- I can (and do!) have friendly discussions about faith with all kinds of people.
- I’ve experimented with all kinds of belief systems. I know who I am.
- I can appreciate one practice in the context of another: i.e. meditation and centering prayer.
- I love creating liturgies—and I have a rich background to draw from.
- I can, and do, call God Mother—or any name I choose.
- I can listen to rocks, when they speak to me.
- This is my family.
- And this is my family.
- This is also my family. (I’m sitting, 4th from the left, in purple.)
- There is no difference between (8) and (9).
The trials of being a formerly pago-Christian-Buddhist, cradle and returned (with a vengeance) Episcopalian:
- I crave more silence than I get.
- I love the rhythm of the Prayer Book language.
- I do not always love the language itself.
- Too much of our worship happens inside.
- I have no patience whatsoever for wider Church politics. But many of my friends are embroiled in them.
- My own church is great about losing the seriousness. We are a minority.
Friday, August 24, 2007
I wrote and posted this here this morning. I'm on the writing team, and assistant webmaster; it was my turn to publish prayers for the week's news, yesterday. I want to share them here.
It’s Friday morning. I was supposed to write these prayers last night. I completely forgot.
I’m working at a retreat center this summer, two hours from home. Two days ago, my associate priest died of congestive heart failure. We all knew it was coming; he’d been battling bone cancer for some time. He died surrounded by his family, members of our church community, and the Franciscan brothers with whom he lived. He left this world in a circle of enormous love.
And he left his love with us. I miss my home so much I can taste it—at the same time, I am so proud of them for giving him such a gentle, attentive passing.
These are the thoughts, and the prayers, that I have.
For the soul of Rob, and for all who leave this world in peace, love, and light:
We give thanks to you.
For all who die in violence, and too young:
We give thanks to you.
For all who wake up every morning and eat a thoughtless breakfast:
We give thanks to you.
For all who must struggle for food and shelter:
We give thanks to you.
For all who sleep in silence and peace:
We give thanks to you.
For all whose dreams are broken by gunfire:
We give thanks to you.
For all who live their lives surrounded by love:
We give thanks to you.
For all who are alone, even in a crowd of people:
We give thanks to you.
For all who give their lives daily in the service of others:
We give thanks to you.
For all who don’t know where to begin:
We give thanks to you.
We lift up these prayers, and the prayers of all who pray, in every language and without words.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
He was a soft-spoken, gentle soul, with the driest sense of humor on the planet. Easter before last, I was serving. I was wearing an alb, and carrying a torch (candle). We sing a really rousing closing song on Easter; I forgot what I was wearing, and what I was holding, and clapped my hands--thus getting wax all over me.
I was slinking around, looking for an Altar Guild member to confess to, when I bumped into Rob. I asked him, "Now what should I do?" He answered me quietly and completely deadpan, save for a twinkle in his eye:
We all loved him. I'm working this summer at a retreat center 70 miles from San Francisco, and couldn't participate in the vigil that my community kept for him. But everyone who reported back to me told me that he was surrounded by love. People from church took two-hour shifts, around the clock, to be with him. Our harpist played for him. The Franciscan brothers, with whom he lived, were with him. His nieces were with him.
Last night, after he died, friends gathered at one of their houses. They connected me by speaker phone, and we all read Compline for Rob. This impulse to pray--and their desire to figure out a way to include me after I sobbed on the phone that I needed people to pray with--is a piece of the love we all share. That same love that celebrated with me last weekend at our parish retreat (which happened where I work), when I got up and told a story to all of them, completely confidently and without ever once tripping over my mouth.
I know what lifted Rob as he left us. And I know that same beam of light would be focused on any of us in a millisecond, if we needed it.
I remain in awe.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
To my parish community, the Bishop's Ranch, and to God, all I can say is thank you.
Parish Weekend was a homecoming for me, in ways deeper than words. I’ve been working at the Ranch all summer; being part of this gathering felt like my whole family had come to see me. I got real time with people I’m particularly close to. I got closer to people I’ve respected for a long time. And I got to see for myself, how far I’ve come.
The theme of the weekend was "journeys." We did an exercise Saturday morning, using the metaphor of rocks in our shoes. I asked to be one of the storytellers that night, because the idea didn’t terrify me. I’ve struggled with speaking clearly since I was a teenager; my brain goes faster than my mouth, when I’m excited or nervous, and I almost always have to repeat myself. I knew that I could do this, and I really wanted to. I stood up, in this circle of love in the Ranch House living room, and spoke my truth in total assurance. I knew as I was speaking that I was slow enough; knew that I was loud enough. I didn’t get stuck, and I didn’t get lost. I never once tripped over my mouth. I hadn’t had any prep time, but I didn’t need it. I wasn’t trying to read the words in my head. I just, simply, spoke them.
Are you getting the idea yet, that this is huge ? Because it is. It’s the equivalent of climbing a mountain without ropes, trusting that your hands and feet will grip the rock—and then being proven right, with every fluid motion. I felt completely supported by the community. I also felt completely capable. Part of that assurance comes from being at the Ranch all summer. This is a place of unfathomable healing. The land and the people are good for the soul; joy and justice live and grow here, and I've learned how to breathe. Part of it is the intentional work I’ve done, and that some in the community have helped me with. I cannot minimize the gift of this community—the power in knowing that everything offered is received, in love. Questions and critiques come later. The first gift we give one another is appreciation. I’ve witnessed this for two years, and it is palpable.
Here, then, is my story, more or less the way it came in the telling. I had detailed the event in the post just following, and my reflections there took me to a slightly different place. I'm still learning how to tell this story; I'm still learning how to live it. It happened a little more than two weeks ago.
The rocks I carry with me have never hurt my feet. The rocks I carry with me are liberating.
I’ve been up at the Ranch all summer, working. I’d been needing an ocean fix. Two weeks ago Friday, when I had a day off, I drove out to Goat Rock, to walk around in infinity for awhile. I needed to pray—and I often do that best when I’m moving.
There are signs up everywhere saying, “Stay out of the water.” The “safe” area is more-or-less flat; the danger zone slopes steeply toward the ocean. I was there at high tide; the water came almost to the lip. It was so socked-in that I couldn’t see very far; this was kind of like looking down at a huge, unpredictably roiling bathtub.
I walked toward the rock, slowly, barefooted over sand and gravel. The beach is fairly narrow at high tide, and bounded on the dry side by rusty, windswept cliffs. Something more than curiosity told me to go check them out. I found myself standing, my back pressed to the edge of California, feet thrust into shifting sand, face toward the water and the wind. I was thinking of plate tectonics, how the cliff I was leaning on was slowly pushing toward the ocean.
And I heard, or felt, God, saying, “Go.” Not literally, “jump into these riptides and drown,” but, “Go be in my ocean. Live with and love my people.” The voice inside me was the rock at my back. The water was all life, all possibility, all adventure, all love.
I don’t know how long I stood there, just being with all of this. I walked back slowly, watching where I was going. I noticed a rock at my feet. It was pale grey-blue, light and porous, shaped like a flat egg, barely denser than pumice. It was wet and shiny; the color caught my eye. I picked it up. It was small, flat; I would have skipped it across the water without thinking, had the ocean not been so rough. As it was, I held it for awhile, turned it over and looked at it, then tossed it back onto the ground. But… it seemed to want to come with me. I felt like, if I had the right kind of ears I could hear what it was saying. So I picked it up again, and walked on, watching the ground, trying not to walk on gravel.
The same thing happened two more times. I carried three small, flat, nearly identical rocks home in my pocket. I carry them with me now. Again, I wish I could hear better. I don’t know really what the rocks are about. But what I take from them is this: Listen. Remember. And be present.
Friday, August 10, 2007
I’m not sure I know how to tell this story yet. Bear with me.
I’d been needing an ocean fix. I had a day off last Friday, so I drove out to Goat Rock. I was craving a good, long walk on the beach. I needed to pray—and I often do that best when I’m moving.
I knew I wouldn’t be able to play in the water, and I was right. There are signs up everywhere with diagrams of hapless drowning victims, reading, “This is one of the most dangerous beaches in California. Here’s a picture of a sleeper wave. Stay out of the surf.” The “safe” area is more-or-less flat; the danger zone slopes steeply toward the ocean. I was there at high tide; the water came almost to the lip. It was so socked-in that I couldn’t see very far; this was kind of like looking down at a huge, unpredictably roiling bathtub.
I walked toward the rock, slowly, barefooted over sand and gravel. The beach is fairly narrow at high tide, and bounded on the dry side by rusty, windswept cliffs. Something told me to go check them out. I found myself standing, my back pressed to the dry, solid edge of California, feet thrust into shifting sand, face toward the wind and water. I was thinking of plate tectonics, how the cliff I was leaning on was slowly pushing toward the ocean.
And I felt God saying, “Go.” Not literally, “jump into these lethal currents,” but, “Dive into my ocean, swim with me, live with and love my people.” The voice inside me was the rock at my back: warm, supportive, relentless. The water was all life, all possibility, all adventure, all love.
When I pay attention… wow.
I don’t know how long I stood there, just being with all of this. Then I went and perched on the jetty for awhile, watching the water, listening. Walking back, I noticed a rock at my feet. It was pale grey-blue, light and porous, a flat outline of an egg, barely denser than pumice. I don’t know what it’s actually made of. It reminded me of the volcanic rock from Mt. St. Helens, when I hiked there with friends at home. It was about the diameter of a fifty-cent piece; I would have skipped it across the water without thinking, had I been at the edge of the Sound. As it was, I held it for awhile, turned it over and looked at it, then tossed it back onto the ground. But… I’m not that pagan, but something gave me pause. It seemed to want to come with me. So I picked it up again, and walked on, watching the ground because the gravel hurt my feet.
The same thing happened two more times. I carried three small, flat, nearly identical rocks home in my pocket. I’m holding them now, pausing as I type this. I don’t want to say something totally blasphemous, but… three. Hmmm. As I hold them, I can hear the wind, feel the spray in my face. I know I am to be present. To remember, and to listen.
Lots of people, despite the fog and the signs posted, were frolicking in the water. I thought they were idiots; I also was envious of them. I wanted to get my feet wet. I watched the waves until I knew where they ended, and I ran toward one. It wasn't cold like I expected; it felt warm, like the water kissed my feet. That was enough, though; I didn't go even as deep as my ankles, and I only did it once.
My sort of pre-discernment prayer group met after church last Sunday. We sat together in silence for half an hour. I didn’t have these rocks with me, but I imagined that I held them, and I sat with this experience. I sat with the wonder, the excitement, the tension of being in a place I love now, and knowing it is only for now. I love being at the Ranch; love the people, enjoy the work. It’s another family. There couldn’t be a better summer set-up for me. But while I say that I’d stay here forever if I could, I know that isn’t really true. I can come back odd weekends and host, and I will. But I have other work to do. I’m going back to school in less than a month. Back to NOLA in January. My deepest calling is working with forgotten people. Bearing witness and reconciling is my passion, and what everything in me wants to do. But I’m still unfolding and figuring out so much.
I talked about all of this after our silent time. I said, “I don’t know what kind of fish I am.” I need to jump into the water, riptides and all, and find out. This is and has been a wonderful, safe place. It will be a home for me as long as I need and want it to be. But another life also calls me.
Something else was poking at me, sitting and praying in this circle. My mentor from my first year of seminary, good friend ever since, was at church on Sunday. It had maybe been a month since we’d seen each other; she gave me a hug like she hadn’t seen me in a year. She tells me the damnedest things sometimes, really amazing affirmations, but she’s about the least gushy person I know. And she kept telling me how glad she was to see me.
She is one of my rocks, and she knows it. She helped me through a very dark time. I’m giving something to her now, just by existing. We all have this light within us. We shine it unconsciously, and we have no idea of the effect we have on other people.
I keep coming back to the question I was asked as part of a group affirmations game, at the close of a domestic-violence volunteer training, March 1992: “How do you want to love the world?”
How do you love the world, right now? What do you need to dig up, get rid of, pray through, or whatever, to love the world the way you’re most deeply called to?
Friday, August 03, 2007
I'm sorry, anyone that I've worried. I've been busy with camps and stuff, and haven't really felt like writing. I'll give a better update later.
Two days off this week; I went to see the Harry Potter movie yesterday, and it made me actually nostalgic for wool sweaters. It's a cold-ish, foggy morning right now. I went to breakfast in my pajamas, and when I get my act together, I'm going to the beach.
A long walk in infinity will do me a world of good, I think.