Saturday, March 29, 2008

Yes, I went to the San Joaquin convention

Yes, it was glorious; yes, I'm relieved and rejoicing, with and for Episcopalians in the Central Valley.

I also need some rest, and to let the experience steep for awhile. I'll give a real report later.

For now, I can't think of a better bishop for them than the one Katharine appointed, retired Bishop of NoCal Jerry Lamb. He's not a progressive--but neither is he anything like the "conservative" leadership they've had. He is honest, calm, and pastoral. He's not going to lie to them. And he'll be there for them, as they heal from the abuse they've lived through.

So much work, and so much hope. Alleluia!

Friday, March 28, 2008

That's what Tiggers do best!

I'd have been surprised to be anything else. Snatched from Paul's place.

Your Score: Tigger

You scored 17 Ego, 8 Anxiety, and 14 Agency!

And as they went, Tigger told Roo (who wanted to know) all about the things that Tiggers could do.

"Can they fly?" asked Roo.

"Yes," said Tigger, "they're very good flyers, Tiggers are. Strornry good flyers."

"Oo!" said Roo. "Can they fly as well as Owl?"

"Yes," said Tigger. "Only they don't want to."

"Why don't they want to?" well, they just don't like it somehow."

Roo couldn't understand this, because he thought it would be lovely to be able to fly, but Tigger said it was difficult to explain to anybody who wasn't a Tigger himself.

You scored as Tigger!

ABOUT TIGGER: Tigger is the newest addition to the Hundred Acre Wood, and he lives with Kanga and Roo, because Roo's strengthening medicine turned out to be the thing that Tiggers like best. Tigger is bouncy and confident -some of his friends think he is a little TOO bouncy and confident, but attempts to unbounce him tend to be fruitless.

WHAT THIS SAYS ABOUT YOU: You are a positive and confident person. You feel capable of dealing with anything and everything, and funnily enough, you usually ARE. You don't worry about much, and you love to go out and find new adventures.

Your friends and family might sometimes be a little exasperated by your boundless enthusiasm. You don't like to admit your mistakes, and when you find yourself in over you head, you tend to bluff your way out of things. You would be surprised, however, at how happy the people around you would be if you would actually admit to a mistake. It would make you seem more human, somehow.

Link: The Deep and Meaningful Winnie-The-Pooh Character Test

Open note to truck drivers

Do NOT tailgate me, ever. Especially not at night on a one-lane road, with a barrier on one side and no shoulder on the other. A rear-view mirror full of your grille will not make me go any faster in treacherous conditions. Honking only scares hell out of me.

I drive an old car and I was trying not to die. Deal with it.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Grace upon grace

I’m at the Ranch this week; it’s spring break. I’m working here through Thursday, then I’ll head back south to the Apostle in Exile’s house and the Diocese of San Joaquin special convention.

I had a paper due yesterday, in an online class that I’d fallen off the bus in, participation-wise. I was decent, barely, until I got sick—then was behind in so much, I couldn’t organize myself well enough to catch up. I worked all day and finished it, turning it in just under the wire. This is after tech trouble had sent me into town, in search of wireless access so I could e-mail the instructor, in an absolute breathless panic. He wrote back, giving me grace—and this is one place where I absolutely didn’t deserve it. (He doesn’t tolerate late work, ever, and I knew that—and respect him for it. Again, I haven’t been participating in this class for awhile, so he’d have had no idea that I was on top of anything.)

Paper’s done, and in, and I think I’ve learned some things about the value of my own work. About respecting myself enough to do said work, to begin with—and to do it well. About not panicking, and about forgiving myself. About trusting other people to be gracious.

And I didn’t fall apart completely, even once.

It’s been a good experience. A learning experience, that I actually did learn from. I’ve been in panicky places in academia, at least once a term since I’ve been here. I think, finally, I don’t need to go there anymore. I think I got what I’ve been needing, from this.

This may have something to do with the God-time (kairos, seriously) I’ve been in for about the past week. A conversation last Tuesday had some deep effects on me. It may be me (gasp!) growing up. What I know is that I’m together, in a place where I desperately wasn’t.


(And yes, my feet STILL hurt from trampling death. I hope they do, for a long time.)


"Apparently, it is not enough for God that God loves us;
God wants us to
know ourselves to be loved.
Apparently, it’s not enough for God that God rescues us;
God wants us to know ourselves to be rescued."

Read the rest here. Thanks, Max.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Practice resurrection

Paul sent this to me yesterday. It's worth sharing with the world.

Welcome to the Great Fifty Days!

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.

So, friends, every day do something
that won't compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.

Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.

Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion – put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?

Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn't go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

--Wendell Berry, "Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front"

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday;this is the birth
day of life and love and wings:and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any-lifted from the no
of all nothing-human merely being
doubt unimaginably You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)
-e. e. cummings

Picture from here.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Christos aneste!

Alethos aneste! Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

Just in from Easter Vigil. Exhausted, and getting up early tomorrow to serve--so this'll be quick.

I got it on a whole deeper level, renewing my baptismal vows. That in itself was celebration. I trampled death for all I was worth. My legs are still buzzing.

We don't read the stories; we tell or act or show them. This year, as always, they were wonderful. St. A's is usually a pretty happy church; the Spirit was present in all of us, tonight. Absolute unmediated joy.

And I got to make the Great Noise. :-)

Friday, March 21, 2008

Early alleluias

I’ve been in a God-quake for about a week. Last Tuesday, I had an appointment with one of my faculty. I’d asked her to help me with one specific thing. She ended up doing vocational discernment with me, for an hour. She brought up a reflection paper I’d written, and said essentially, let’s talk about where you really are.

I’ve gotten clear enough, and brave enough, to say that my ministry and my passion is in the world. What I want more than anything, is to physically and sacramentally feed people.

So we talked about community organizing. She gave me tons of ideas. The next day, I bumped into another faculty in the refectory, and asked him to do a reading course with me. (Yes, I’ve been here 2 ½ years, and am finally taking charge of my education.) We talked for a few minutes, and he said yes.

He also gave me a wonderful image to think about: St. Francis building church, with the rocks he had at hand.

I came home from Maundy Thursday last night, to an e-mail I’m still breathless about. It may have just made my path a whole lot clearer.

I can’t be fully forthcoming yet. But you know, when you’re standing under the right waterfall.

Rejoice with me. As a friend said in an IM last night, “Easter’s come early to Berkeley.”

Sunday, March 16, 2008

A blessed Holy Week to all

I haven't written anything of note here in awhile. It's not so much a dry time, as a busy-elsewhere time. I was sick, then busy catching up. I still have lots of work to do. Beyond that, there are threads floating around my head, and things I'm involved in that will bear their fruit later--but there's really nothing compelling me to write, right now. But here we are.

I just came from a Palm Sunday service at St. Anne's, Stockton. It's a friendly, nice community. This was my first time here; I know the rector slightly. It's really a joy to worship in this diocese, since the siege has been lifted. There's a lightness, a sense of possibility, that hasn't been here before. I might possibly do field ed in San Joaquin; I'm praying and talking with people. My home diocese is California, but my best friend lives here, and I've been keeping close tabs all along.

I'm going to find a Tenebrae service on my side of the Bay, because I love them and haven't been to one in ages. Thursday through Sunday, I'll be at St. A's--but I don't have any commitments there until Easter morning. (I love, love, love the Vigil--especially the way we do it.)

Interspersed through all of this... writing a couple of papers, getting enough done before Spring Break. I'm going up then to work at the Ranch for most of the week, and back early to attend the San Joaquin diocesan convention. It's a new day here.

Resurrection is coming, for and in and through all of us. Thanks be to God.

Palm Sunday sermon

I'm taking an advanced preaching class, which I love; I preached this there, last Tuesday. It seemed fitting to post it now.

Matthew 21:1-11

We all know what’s coming.
Jesus rides a donkey into Jerusalem.
We are galloping full-tilt toward Holy Week.
Today’s gospel is a pivotal piece of a much bigger story.

Jesus and the disciples
are making the final journey to Jerusalem.
Jesus knows what is waiting for him there.
He has told the disciples what will happen,
three times in the last four chapters.
Just before this, he has told them,

“See, we are going up to Jerusalem,
and the Son of Man will be handed over
to the chief priests and scribes,
and they will condemn him to death;
then they will hand him over to the Gentiles
to be mocked and flogged and crucified;
and on the third day he will be raised.”

That’s the next week, in a nutshell.
We can talk until the cows come home,
about how much of that prophecy
is retroactive faith or belief or knowledge,
and what exactly might have come from Jesus’ mouth.
As a literary device,
it’s very blunt foreshadowing.
It’s enough for us to understand
that things have been heating up for awhile,
and they’re just about to boil over.
They’re all watching and waiting,
on high alert, every muscle tensed.
What’s about to happen is a lot more than street theater.

Jesus sends two disciples ahead.
He tells them,
“Go to the next town, and bring these two particular animals back to me.
If anyone questions you, say, ‘The Lord needs them.’”
The disciples don’t question him.
They don’t ask why.
They don’t say, “Um, excuse me, just how are you orchestrating this?”
They take for granted that he knows what he’s doing.
They just go, and do what he asked them.
Of course the donkey and colt are there.
They bring the animals back,
cover them so that Jesus will be comfortable,
and help him climb onto them.
The crowds celebrate, waving palms and shouting,

Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of our God!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!

“Hosanna” literally means, “save us.”
They know.
Their king is riding on a donkey, not a Roman war-horse.
This will be a reign of peace, of love, of righteousness.
This is the man who fed them,
with five loaves and three fish.
They trust him to care for them, to remember them,
to give them true justice.

These crowds are shouting, We deny all power to occupation.
We will never again be subject to the authority of Rome.

I’ll be honest—I’ve never known what to do with this gospel.
Holy Week gives me spiritual whiplash.
King Jesus is not the Jesus I’m used to.
This is not the man who healed the leper,
and the blind men,
and told them not to tell.
He’s not being humble.
He’s not hiding anything.
He seems to have finally said,
to all those multitudes he’d been feeding,
“Do it. You think of me as king.
You look to me to be your messiah.
I am. Go ahead and say so.”

Together they proclaim, at the gates of the holy city,
the Kindom of God has come.

Jesus claims Jerusalem,
with the crowds, for the crowds.
If the holy city is theirs,
it no longer belongs to the established,
recognized power structure.
Read on: the first thing he does, inside the city,
is drive the money-changers from the Temple.
The house of God is no place for price gouging.
It belongs to those who worship the One
who created them, sustains them, and loves them.
God desires mercy—
not sacrifice of the weak for the sake of the strong.

Who are the crowds?
I can only read this through a liberation lens.
The story depicts the inception of the reign of the living God.
Who is it, who would seek God’s justice?
These are the people
who have put their hope in Jesus, all along.
These are the poor, and the poor in spirit.
The trampled, the exhausted, the lost.
These are the ones who mourn,
who seek the comfort of a strong and loving God.
These are the meek, and the merciful.
Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
from the very bottom of the social pyramid.
The peacemakers, and the persecuted.
These are the blessed ones.
This is the power base, in the Kindom of Heaven—
the ones whose power is spiritual,
not financial, not political.
The ones who live by mercy, justice, and love.
The ones Jesus healed, and fed, are the ones for whom he came.
These are the ones who this day, finally, risk their lives to call him King.

Hosanna! Save us!

We sing the Sanctus all the time,
thinking about pronouns, or whether or not to cross ourselves.

This is a full-throated cry for liberation.

It’s no wonder the authorities weren’t pleased.

This ruckus in the streets
punctured the Pax Romana.
Rome enforced “peace” by military means.
There were soldiers in the streets of Jerusalem.
Religious authorities were caught between their faithful,
and the occupying government.
Social unrest could cost them more than their jobs.
A parody of an imperial procession,
by a raggle-taggle bunch of poor people waving palms
and their leader on a donkey,
would be taken as a direct threat
and dealt with, coldly
and efficiently.

We know that it will be.

The entrance into Jerusalem,
the procession into Holy Week,
is a transitional time.
We’re out of the desert.
We’re done with the pastoral imagery,
the gentle healings,
the sweet children’s stories.
This is a liminal time.
Jesus continues to teach, inside the holy city.
But the lessons become edgier:
the wicked tenant, the unfaithful servant.
He openly denounces the Scribes and Pharisees.
He preaches apocalyptic:
be prepared, in belief and action,
for the coming of the Reign of God.
Soon, the authorities have him arrested.
We know what happens next.

The man who spoke in parables,
acted as a parable.
The Kindom of Heaven is where
the broken are healed,
the hungry are fed,
and the king enters not riding a war-horse,
but on a donkey, a symbol of humility and peace.
The donkey bears the king,
and the king bears the people.

Blessed be the One who comes in the name of our God.
Hosanna in the highest.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Middle Name Meme

Gosh, if I didn't do memes, I'd hardly ever be here. I haven't had the time or brain to post anything original lately. It's just as well; I have good friends who keep me in the neighborhood.

JohnieB tagged me for this meme. Here’s how to play:

1. You have to post the rules before you give your answers.
2. You must list one fact about yourself beginning with each letter of your middle name. (If you don’t have a middle name, use your maiden name or your mother’s maiden name).
3. At the end of your blog post, you need to tag one person (or blogger of another species) for each letter of your middle name. (Be sure to leave them a comment telling them they’ve been tagged.)

One of my middle names is Grace. Here goes:

G—Growly in the mornings. Generally good. Giggly, at times.
R—Rebellious. I really hate being told what to do. If you ask me, though, I’m usually willing.
A—Ancient of days. Well, not really—but I certainly felt like it, when I couldn’t kick the flu. Amiable.
C—Charitable. Called. Capricious—but not about what’s real. Committed, to God and to the gospel, and to the work I know is mine.
E—Exuberant, energetic. I noticed when I started feeling better, just last weekend, that I didn’t remember being this sparkly or playful. I’m also a lot less stressed than I have been—but I’ve done an inordinate amount of work, in three days. I’m much more motivated than I had been. That has to do in part with my teachers being kind to me, and giving me grace when I was sick. It does run deeper, though—and I’m both glad of that, and surprised by it. Still, it’s nice to have my natural self back.

It doesn’t fit my alphabet, but someone told me today that I have “an innocence that knows what’s real.” He was responding to a sermon I preached in class (that I’ll post over the weekend; it was the Palm Sunday text). It was a startlingly thoughtful comment, and I thought incredibly kind. I often experience myself as impossibly idealistic. I may be. But I have also seen what I have seen, and it has strengthened, rather than wounded me.

I’m too tired right now to tag five people. Play if you want to.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Grinning ear to ear

Go here to see why.

God bless the people of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Feeling better!

I’d stopped treating the cough, because I could either eat cough drops all day or take codeine and sleep. I took the cough syrup last night, slept lots, and woke up much more rested. Still tired/fatiguey (and coughing), but not sick to my stomach anymore. I’m creeping back to normal.

[Easter word], all around. Also got grace for a late paper, and found a sub to preach Friday. I love preaching and wanted to do it—I’d asked for that slot, when I was well—but had to let something go. My catch-up workload now is much more manageable. I can do two reflection papers, one sermon (for class next Tues.), and a Blackboard posting or two, over the next week. Not more.

It feels so good to be human. I’m interested in the world again, and other people. I’d forgotten that before I got the flu, I was more or less on top of most things, and felt possible. I’ll get that back again.

I'm planning to go to chapel at school this morning, for the first time in two weeks. I haven't been to church, either, in that time. I miss the Eucharist, and I'm finally well enough to be fed.
(I could have asked for it to be brought to me, from church, but I live in a secure building. There are three key-locks and a combination between me and outside. I'd have to have felt well enough to let somebody in.)

I miss the community too, and just being social. It's good to be closer to well.

A lot of my better-ness is because the worst of the pressure is off. I think I'm supposed to learn something about self-care in all of this. Hmm. I won't stop procrastinating entirely; I've done that since forever. But maybe I can balance things a bit better, from here.

Sunday, March 02, 2008


Have to write a reflection paper; it was due a week ago. Want, to sleep.

It's not even that I still feel awful; I'm no longer acutely ill. It's that walking half a block for breakfast tired me out.

I haven't had the flu since... maybe once since college. I don't remember the recovery being this tedious. My fever's gone and my brain is awake; but I have the energy of a slug.

I need to rest, but I've got so much catch-up work to do. Not only that, but when I was well, I asked to preach in chapel this coming Friday. Normally I love it--but I wish now, I hadn't.