Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Forgot to mention

I spent about an hour with my advisor yesterday, talking about all of this (before I knew my CT was clean). She asked if there was anything she could do. I asked for a healing Eucharist.

We're adding anointing into Friday's Rite I. CDSP chapel, 11:30 a.m. If you're in the area, come.

More update-y stuff

I sent this e-mail around school, just now:

Hi all,

Thank you, to those who responded to my last message and to those who are silently praying. I can feel this community lifting me up.

After I sent yesterday's e-mail, I got a call from my dermatolologist. He wanted to share some good news: my CT scan was clear, and my bloodwork looks good.

This means that the cancer is not circulating in my system. I won't know until a PET scan 5/16 whether it's escaped into my neck at all (the melanoma is on my left ear)--but I'm not dealing with a potentially systemic monster, anymore.

I see the oncologist today, and expect to know an awful lot more about treatment: what they'll do, and how it will affect me. The head/neck surgeon gave me some of that information yesterday. The first thing they'll do is surgically remove it from my ear (with a margin, leaving me a smaller ear--a friend is already calling me Van Gogh). They'll map me again pre-surgery to see if there are any affected lymph nodes in the area. If none, great--we're just dealing with the ear. If a few, they'll remove those. If it's flooded (extremely unlikely, now)--they'll do what they call a "neck dissection," and remove all the lymph nodes from that side of my neck (and radiate the hell out of me). This is the only circumstance under which I'd need to be admitted; the simple ear surgery is ambulatory.

I expect the oncologist to confirm that I'll be put on interferon for a year, in any event. I don't know when that will start. I'll give myself the shots, weekly. The effects mimic the flu. I'll feel like crap for a year--but I'm alive.

I am not out of the woods, and even after this course of treatment, I'll be monitored for life (which brings up the whole issue of health insurance in this country). Once you've had this, there's a high chance of recurrence. But I got some great news yesterday. I slept last night. There is relief mixed in with the fear and shock, now.

Thank you for walking this path with me. The best thing you can do, collectively, is be yourselves. I'll try to let you know what I need and what I don't. We'll muddle through.


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Good news!

My dermatologist just called me. CT scan normal; bloodwork looks good.


He sounded cautiously optimistic; I'm not being cautious at all. I'm happy about this. I don't know what the PET scan or the other pre-surgery mapping will show (I think they're both localized to head/neck)--but this means that so far, there's no evidence of this nastiness in my system.

I see the oncologist tomorrow.

Monday, April 28, 2008

What I know

First, the medical stuff: I went to the dermatologist today. He gave me a full-body skin check, and felt my lymph nodes. They felt fine, and he didn’t see anything else unusual (though I have lots of moles). He talked to me about my oxymoronic diagnosis—“amelanotic melanoma.” It means, dark without any pigment. We talked about insurance issues, since I’m a student and he wants to see me frequently for the next several years. (As long as we have our current health care system, I’ll have to have jobs with benefits—I won’t be able to find insurance on my own.) A friend had come with me, and the doctor answered both our questions. I told him I felt like I’d fallen down a rabbit hole; I have this scary sickness, yet I feel fine—and I was completely normal last Thursday. He told me what interferon is, and how it works—essentially I’ll feel like I have the flu for a year. He was really gentle, compassionate, personable. He’d given me his home number over the phone on Friday when I first got the diagnosis. I don’t know if I’ll use it, but he’s open to frightened patients calling him at home.

I went on to the lab for a blood draw, and radiology for a chest x-ray. Checking in at the latter, they gave me a wristband with my name and Kaiser number—I don’t know why they needed it, but they checked it when they called me back. The wait was really long, and they called us in batches—I think five were in my group. It really did feel like a cattle call. They gave us gowns, told us what to strip to, let us in to dressing-room stalls. They called my name, did the x-ray, and let me leave. Then we went to the pharmacy to pick up my barium for tomorrow.

My schedule for the rest of the week: I’m meeting with a head/neck surgeon tomorrow morning, and getting a CT scan in the afternoon. Wednesday, meeting with an oncologist. I’m also getting a PET scan in May. We’ll go from there. (I left class early this morning, because I got three calls from Kaiser while I was watching presentations. I was too wound up to sit still, after that.)

“Hey, what are you doing Wednesday?”
“I don’t know yet.”
“Want to go to Oncology with me?”

This is normal, casual conversation now. I have an oncologist. And I feel physically fine.

I peeled off my band-aid, threw away the wristband, and we left the hospital. Except for the bottle of barium I carried, I looked no different. I act no different, most of the time. I’m still me. Yet, I am different. I heard one word which changed my world forever—and I didn’t hear much after that. The best-case scenario would be if it hasn’t metastasized. They’ll cut it off of me, and make me sick for a year. I’ll be monitored for life—but the terror will be flooded with relief.

Obviously, I don’t know yet whether this cancer is in me, or merely (?) on me. Still, you don’t go to this place, even for three days, and leave the way you were when you went in. Fear for your life narrows your focus, amazingly quickly. It’s like my peripheral vision is shutting down. I just want to gather myself, and my community around me, and heal.

I know something I didn’t know before. I’m in a place of strength I hadn’t imagined. I'm leaning on people, but I'm not bleeding on them. I feel like I’m in a silent siblinghood—silent, that is, until a new sister or brother shows up. Unknowingly, I opened a secret door. There are many people in the room before me. Those who know this fear, know how to listen when others find ourselves here. You can just sense it. You know.

My friends and my teachers are deeply present—and my teachers, gracious and flexible. I don’t have any deadlines for the rest of spring, and I got excused from some group work I hadn’t done. It’s an incredibly sucky reason to get out of your work—but I’m grateful to them for giving me this space. It’s the space I need, to go inside.

My advisor told me, she doesn’t know what God is doing with me. I don’t know either. But I know that it will become obvious. This will be, what it is. If I can survive it, and give something to the world in the meantime, okay. I can’t choose not to drink the cup—it got poured down my throat, over the phone on Friday. I couldn’t help but gasp it down. I can’t control what is in my body. I can control what I do with it. I can choose how I live. I choose to live with as much strength and grace as I can find.

Sometimes I wonder if I’m freaking my friends out on my behalf, for no real reason yet (since I don’t know fully what I’m dealing with). I still look and act like me, and I don’t feel sick. But I get random hugs at lunch now. It’s sweet—but it’s not entirely helpful. I don’t always want to be reminded that I’m facing a very scary thing. Listen when I want to talk—but also be aware that I can tell when you’re acting out of your own fear, or being present to me. Don’t ask me to take care of your need to care for me. Touch me, yes—but in love. The same love you felt for me before any of us knew I had cancer.

“…I [have] cancer.” Whoa. I’m still not used to that. I’m reeling, and I know my community is reeling for me. You’re also bearing me up, with amazing presence and love. For that, I can’t thank you enough.

Thank you, a thousand times thank you. I have half the planet praying for me—and I know I’m held in grace and love. Many, many people are holding me before God. Bless you all.

Friday, April 25, 2008


My eye is gunky, red, straight, and healing well. Thank you for all of your prayers.

I got a call from my dermatologist this afternoon. The bump on the back of my ear, that we thought might be basal-cell skin cancer, turns out to be melanoma.

I'll know more on Monday.

I am, in a word, terrified. Pray, please.

Thank you, MadPriest, Mimi, Paul, and everyone. And thank you, all who surround me in real time. This is community. Your support means more than you know.

UPDATE: My appointment is at Kaiser Oakland at 1:30 (West Coast time). I"ll post again as soon as I know anything. What I know right now, is that I'm held in grace and love. I feel like the planet is lifting me up. Thank you all, so much--your support means more than I hope you'll ever need to know. You are helping the fear subside.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Eye update

I'm going in for surgery tomorrow; I'm due there at 10:30 (to be seen at noon). They'll put me under, and mess with my eye muscles. My doctor said last week that he may only need to work on my right eye. He'll leave strings in my eyes (knots around the muscles). I'll be in the recovery room for about an hour. When I wake up, he'll play clothesline with my eyeballs until they're as perfect as they come, untie me and let me go home.

I should be done about 5 or 5:30, and a friend is picking me up.

Caminante asked who would update everyone; I'm going to call Paul, and he'll post my news over there. I won't be good for much, the rest of the day.

Prayers are very welcome.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Thought for late in the semester

Men often become
what they believe themselves to be.

If I believe I cannot do something,
it makes me incapable
of doing it.

But when I believe I can,
then I acquire the ability to do it
even if I didn't have it in the beginning.

--Mahatma Gandhi

I stole this from Swandive, but it's not the first time I'd seen it. Several years ago--I've forgotten exactly when--someone at Traditions in Olympia had scrawled the same quotation on their staff graffiti board. I noticed it, ran for pen and paper, and tucked it in the back of a journal somewhere. I was achingly lacking in self-confidence then, but I knew what I was missing. I don't know that I believed these words, but I wanted to. Now, I can appreciate the truth in them.

I don't even want to list all the pressures I feel right now, around school, summer, and figuring out next year. My friends here are similarly under the gun, so to speak; for many of them, it's about finding jobs. Pray for all of us, please.

I seem to find these things that feed my faith, or they find me, when I need them. I am grateful.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


I was getting tired of the uber-dark background, and was told by one friend that it made her screen jump around (like the '60s). It's time for a change.

I don't like this yellowy beige all that much either, and some of the text needs darkening, but I don't have time to be too particular right now. You'll see gradual changes: a tweak here, a new banner there.

I have a better banner pic for this type of color scheme... somewhere.

UPDATE: The paint job's growing on me, and I found the banner pic (obviously). This also comes from the Bishop's Ranch; I took it last October, somewhere between the trailside sanctuary and the peace pole.

Laura in Uganda

Laura Toepfer is an Episcopal priest; she also serves on the World in Prayer writing team with a host of others and myself. (We met before she joined that online ministry; she gave me my LEM training a couple of years ago.)

She's serving as a Kiva fellow in Uganda until, I think, July. Her curiosity and her work inspire me.

She blogs here. Check her out.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Monday Prayer Blogging

Why? Because who doesn't need prayer on a Monday? Some of my friends do poetry and prayers as regular features; they use different days. I like the idea of spreading the wealth.

I fell (crash, bang) off the poetry wagon last fall. Gonna see if I can make this work.

I chose this prayer because it speaks to me of beginnings. Relax, breathe, let the Spirit into you. Fear not.

Risen Christ,
Your voice makes itself heard
Peacefully in the Gospel.
You say to us:
Do not be worried.
Only one thing is needed--
A heart which listens to my Word
And to the Holy Spirit.


--Brother Roger of Taize (1915-2005)

Sunday, April 13, 2008

"Why are you an Episcopalian?"

Jake's asking this question, over at his place. He got me thinking, and feeling, and appreciating. My responses serve as a quick-and-dirty faith story, and I want to share them here.

Most of my readers probably also read Jake; he's one of the hubs of our Episcopalian blog-web. If you share this same boat with me, please go answer him there. If you're of another tradition, or a different faith entirely (hey there, Orthodox Mimi) feel free to play, in the comments.

1. What initially drew you to the Episcopal Church?

I was raised here. One of the things my parents did right, was never making me go to church. I went when I wanted to—which meant that I was free to be drawn in. I was very involved in diocesan youth programs; I got my questions, and my authentic faith, nurtured there.

2. What brought you back to the Episcopal Church?

This is really the more salient question. I left the church after college (1992) because I was sick of patriarchal language. “Father,” alone, does not bring me closer to God. My peers got that—but my elders wouldn’t budge. (When I asked if we could use inclusive language, then just beginning to be known, I was told, “This is [small town near Olympia"]. That priest has long since moved elsewhere. I actually wish I'd been around for his replacement; I know her now, and she's great.)

I spent the next 11 years in an interfaith community, hanging out with mostly Buddhist ex-Christians, occasional Jews, and the odd Earth-centered pagan. I learned a lot from them, and they gave me what I needed for a time. Some members became as family to me, and we are still close. When I wasn’t there, I spent a lot of time with Quakers. I loved them for their peacefulness and their activism, and thought of sojourning there. But it got to where I was missing liturgy more and more. I was hungry for the Eucharist, though I didn't know how deeply. I had brief, intermittent times of worshipping as an Episcopalian—when I lived in Seattle, I felt safe at the cathedral—but I just wasn’t ready to go back to the church as I had known it.

Enter, August 2003. I found out about +Gene from friends on a message board. I didn’t have to think about it; my response was, “They did that? I’m going home.” I was so burstingly proud of the tradition I'd grown up in, for recognizing that all people are human. I drove an hour the next Sunday, to St. Mark’s, Seattle; I knew people there would be celebrating. I went to the healing rail after Communion. The poor woman asked what I needed prayer for—and I opened my mouth and burst out sobbing. I didn’t know why, but I knew I was home—and I knew God had work for me to do.

I was shaking for a long time after that; I still call it a God-quake. I went home, and got involved in my local parish. I found that the church had come to terms with some things, in my absence. I fell in love with it again, and committed myself to being here.

3. What are some of your current reasons for remaining in the Episcopal Church?

Ask God why I’m in seminary, LOL. I am called to serve the marginalized; I'm thinking of starting a chaplaincy for homeless people. I want to physically and sacramentally feed them.

The ethos this church has developed—namely, living the Baptismal Covenant—keeps me here. The sacraments mean more to me than I can tell you. The Incarnation means more to me than I can tell you. This is the church that still walks me through resurrection. This is the tradition I’m called to be faithful in.

My best friend’s in San Joaquin. Being close to her drew me into their struggle. How that turned out, feeds my faith in this church. My passion for mission was awakened, fed, and instructed by Episcopalians in New Orleans. This church is home.

4. When you recommend the Episcopal Church to others, what are some of the aspects of our common life that you mention?

Most of my circle are Episcopalians. I recommend my parish, because we are inclusive, creative, exuberantly welcoming. I don’t have to sell the tradition, but if I did, I would tailor it to the conversation. You want liturgy? We have it. Incarnational theology? Oh yes. Outreach and mission? Come.

Friday, April 11, 2008

I added this as a health-care update

...but it doesn't really fit.

We have a healing Eucharist once a month, at school. My whiplash-shoulder has been bothering me off and on, but I went on general principles. When it's time for anointing, all of us who want it, or want to pray with our friends, gather around the presider. As she anointed me, I wasn't thinking of physical pain--but of things in my soul that have healed and need healing. After, though, as we gathered around the altar for Eucharist (thank you Lizette; I love when you do this), I noticed my shoulder was burning. It's back to a mild tickle now, but it burned for a long time.

When I noticed it, the meaning I took was, "Carry your woundedness into humanity with you." I'm sent to be a healer; I can't do that if I forget my own pain. I have to be strong enough to do my work, even through those things that hurt me. I've done a lot of it, and I have more.

I am sent to those who have their own strengths, and their own weaknesses. My father had a very strong bootstrap mentality: "I didn't need [insert caring action]; neither should you." I hear echoes of that in my own thinking, sometimes. They're faint, but they exist. I cannot carry that coldness into the world with me. I have to be open to the people who need Jesus brought to them. If I forget what it means to be broken, hurting, physically and emotionally wounded, I will be bones without flesh in the world.

I don't like having a shoulder that twinges, and that sometimes feels like a broken guitar string. But I expect it to completely heal. And I have friends here with chronic physical and mental conditions. They carry a depth of empathy that I don't come close to. That's what I want to learn from.

Lighter news

I found my wallet today. I hadn't known it was lost. If I hadn't needed my Kaiser card, my wallet would still be there, where I'd left it, last Sunday, in the car.

Need I say that I park outside? In an urban, easily accessible parking lot?

File this under "Angels." Legions of them.

Playing health care catch-up

Since this is my last strictly-academic semester, and I don’t know how my health insurance will work next year (or even if I’ll have it), I’ve been playing catch-up. I’m having surgery on both eyes 4/24, to un-cross my eyes yet again. (I had it done three times when I was little. They drifted back in the past several years, and I’ve been putting off dealing with it.) The pre-op appointments are next Thursday.

Today, I went to the dermatologist because of a strange thing on the back of my left ear. I had a skin check about two years ago, because I have lots of little moles and just wanted to be certain. The resident noticed my ear thing, but said it was nothing serious. She didn’t bring up biopsy or removal. I think it’s been growing, though, and I’ve wanted it checked out again.

This doctor went right there. I showed it to him, and the first thing he said was, “It could be any number of things—one being a not-scary kind of cancer.” Biopsied it right then and there, and I’ll hear next week. They’ll remove it one way or the other—but if they know it’s cancerous, they’ll know how much skin to take around it.

Basal-cell carcinoma is not that big of a deal—once removed, it’s gone. I’m not terrified, but I am rattled a bit. And I’m trying not to be too nervous about the obvious possible complication of eye surgery. Pray, please.

Bit of playfulness for Friday

I have some friends in the student-family apartments up the block. They've been having some unwanted company, in the form of rats. So after the gory murder of one, they set traps.

These traps--intended to kill the vermin they catch--are baited with organic apples.

(Yes, I have permission to tell this.)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Tibet, the Olympics, Jesus, and the color orange

Pic stolen from Caminante.

One strand of my online community is discussing whether or not the US should boycott the Olympics. The torch just passed through San Francisco; I’d have gone to the vigil, if I’d been clear about when and where it was. (Our school e-mail server was down, and I only look at the Chronicle headlines my Google homepage shows me.)

After some thought, I don’t support boycotting. It wouldn’t change Chinese policy; they already know that much of the world doesn’t want them in Tibet. Boycotting the Olympics would only up the anger ante between the US and China. (I’ll refrain from delving into such issues as Iraq and hypocrisy, here. I leave political blogging to my friends who can stomach it; I go too quickly to cynicism, and I hate when it eats at me.)

A boycott would affect the athletes most of all, and I really think their participation should be their own call—not a choice made for them by an imperfect government. We don’t live in the idealistic world that athletic harmony is supposed to point to. If you can hang out with people from different cultures, and befriend those who come from vastly different places, I think that’s a good thing.

If you leave the table, your voice leaves with you. I do believe it’s important to speak out when others’ human rights are trampled. I have freedoms that Tibetan monks, and ordinary people, do not. I can say what I want to, about my own government or China’s, and not be jailed, beaten, or killed for it.

What I know of occupation comes from two places: having shared friends in common with Rachel Corrie,* and studying the Gospels. [Israeli citizens have a right to a safe home. As do all human beings.] Military occupation stems from greed, and legalizes violence. The occupying power dehumanizes the people already living in the land they want to claim. Crucifixion was never done to Roman citizens. Jesus, born in Judaea, was killed by servants of the Roman occupying power. He was crucified for challenging the system.

He could just as easily be a Tibetan. A monk, one of thousands jailed and over a hundred murdered, by Chinese troops. Killed for saying, “Your government is unjust.”

Were you there, when they crucified my Lord?

I wasn’t watching. I am writing this because we—I—need to wake up.

What you can do:

Wear the color orange when the torch comes to your city, and during the Games. This site has many more ideas for action.

Write to your government, asking for pressure to be put on China to stop the violence against Tibetans.

Seek out information you won’t get from the mainstream media. Share what you learn.

*Incidentally, today would have been Rachel's 29th birthday. Craig and Cindy, I think of you often.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

This morning I was innocently in chapel

…and it made sense to me.

The readings always go straight through my brain; I forget them immediately after they’re done. It wasn’t the sermon—I was playing with the preacher’s toddler son, and missed much of her weaving of Bonhoeffer with the whole idea of being pregnant with the reign of God. But neither was it the hymnody alone. The presider sings well, and I respect and love her as a teacher—but she didn’t do anything in particular that arrested me. Still, somewhere in the Eucharistic prayer, I looked up and I realized that I was in a deeper place with Jesus than I’d been, really ever.

I didn’t label the presence as “God”—it was specifically a Christ-thing. Not even so much about resurrection, but a patience, an empathy with all of our humanness. I’m pasting too many words to the experience, now—it was just a deep, quiet sweetness, a soft rejoicing, a gift that didn’t need explanation.

Yet here I am, trying. Jesus came to church, in my seminary chapel in the middle of the week. Who knew?

Bless the Lord, my soul,
And bless God's holy name
Bless the Lord, my soul,
Who leads me into life.

Alleluia, Christ is risen.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

I keep saying I have to break my addiction

...and I just spent an hour teaching a classmate everything I know about blogging.

Turns out to be a lot. And we had a good time. It didn't get my reading done, though!


LOUISIANA: Diocesan efforts bring hope and help to New Orleans

By Lisa B. Hamilton, April 07, 2008
[Episcopal News Service] When the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced that federal funding for case management services will be extended through June 1, the Diocese of Louisiana rejoiced -- and earned some credit.

As The New Orleans Times-Picayune explains, "in late 2005 a partnership of 10 national agencies maintained staffs of case workers paid for by $66 million from international donors. But that money has run out; the network, called Katrina Aid Today, was set to go out of business Monday [March 31], with more than 4,000 Louisiana cases still open. "For months, partner agencies, particularly the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana, have been hunting for fresh money to keep paying case workers -- which the FEMA announcement at least partly addressed Friday."

Read the rest here.

All of us who have been there know, the city is recovering, vibrant and amazing--and there is still tons of work to do. You can support the Diocese of Louisiana's efforts financially, through donation of goods/services, or by volunteering. Click here to learn more.

Enough with trying to sound like a PR professional. My heart says this: Go. See the city. Get to know the people. Do the work. You will be given way more than you can imagine, and more than you yourself are giving. You'll barely recognize yourself, when you get home--if you even go home. (I met lots of people who went for a week, and stayed for months.)

I made friends there, and I was changed forever. I am more open and aware of what the world is like, than books and news articles ever would have made me. I have relationships there with people who matter to me. I listened to stories that lodged in my soul--and all I did to receive them, was ask for someone's time. I've been in a church with equal volunteers and locals, and eaten meals with whomever showed up. I was treated incredibly warmly, and the only real word for it all is love.

I'd go back in a New York second. Go.

The best ringtone ever

...went off in class yesterday. (My classmate wasn't being irresponsible--his wife was landing in Utah.)

What was it? "Mercedes Benz," by Janis Joplin. In our Issues in Ministry class. We all got a good laugh.

I've since changed mine. I don't ever bring my phone to school, though.

[still chuckling]

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Road to Emmaus

Painting by He Qi, snatched from here.

I don't have time or mind to focus my thoughts; I'm just back from the Ranch and have a pile of work in front of me. This story captivates me, though, and it's been floating around in my head all week. When I think about my community, I see a kaleidoscope of Christs. Do we ever really know, who we're walking with?

Saturday, April 05, 2008

What's with all the memes and such?

I’ve been only peripherally blogging, for awhile. I don’t think I want to take a break, or announce one. I just want to say what’s up.

I’m behind in a couple of critical things at school, because I spend too much time wandering aimlessly online. I really need to get strict with myself about how I use my time, and I need to break my ‘net addiction. I really need to stop escaping into this.

Also, I’m just not in a mood to be self-reflective in public. I’m in a place now where I’m both very up and very down—excited about possibilities for fall, and extremely anxious about summer. I have no idea where I’ll be, what I’ll be doing, or how I’ll support myself. I feel like I’m getting too old for all these transitions. My best friend talked me out of a tree last night; I was terrified of being homeless. (Yes, I know I have skills. I also know how often I’ve chosen less than I am, out of sheer terror and depression. I don’t want to go to that dark place again.) She finally said, “Be logical—you have a home here.”

We say that all the time; I guess I didn’t know it actually applied. She threw another light on how she cares for me—which is a really cool thing. I know it’s an option, and I’ll go there if I need to. It takes the fear for my physical self, away. I also know how small her house is. The woman lives in a shoebox. I don’t want to be always in her space, and I don’t want to put her in a position of longish-term supporting me. (I would be working—temping at the very least. But still.) I don’t want to drive her, and myself, completely insane.

I don’t know what will open up. I’d come back to the Ranch in a minute; I don’t know yet whether that’s an option. Something planned for fall might open up early. I know that if I’m in the Valley, I’ll be having to work part-time for money anyway. (I’ll be giving all the time I can to outreach and church.) I really don’t mind grown-up lives when I have them. It’s getting them, that scares hell out of me.

I really don’t know, and I hate being this wound up about it. But that’s where I am, and it’s why I’m less chatty here.

What can all of you do? Pray. Thanks.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Emmaus Friday Five

From RevGalBlogPals.

With this Sunday's gospel reading in mind, that wonderful revelation of Christ to the companions on the Emmaus road. I wonder where you might have been surprised by God's revelation recently.

How has God revealed him/herself to you in a:

1. Book

This took some thought. There are lots of books I love, that I’ve learned from or found beauty in. I’m re-reading a book right now, for my advanced preaching class, that I love: The Beggar King and the Secret of Happiness, by Joel ben Izzy. It’s about a storyteller who loses his voice… and that’s all I’m going to tell you. It speaks to me because, in many ways, I’m finding mine.

I read a book over ten years ago now, that gave me wisdom I keep going back to. It’s an older Pema Chodron; I think the title is The Wisdom of No Escape. I borrowed it from my then-minister, at a time when I was feeling very lost. (“Lost” isn’t the right word; I knew who and where I was. I needed to get my life together, and had no idea what even the first steps might be.) One chapter is about “taking refuge.” She doesn’t mean hiding—it’s about finding your own courage; taking refuge in your strength (and that of your God, if you have one). Centering yourself, and going out bravely into the world.

Anyone who has followed this blog even over the past six months, knows I still need to keep that jewel close.


I so rarely watch movies. I really can’t answer this question.

3. Song

Always, this:

"World Falls," Indigo Girls. This was the only version I could find a video of. Enjoy.

4. Another person

Yes, many. My best friend, a growing number of my teachers, several prophetic and pastoral leaders I can think of, a few friends in my hometown, friends in California, online community, everyone I met in New Orleans… I could go on.

Do they all know that I see God in them? No, but some do. The light I see in them shines from their own calling—they know that they are rooted in God. They do the work that’s theirs, with tremendous joy and love. And they show me the light in me, that I never see unless I’m told to look there.

5. Creation

Yes, and ever yes—every day I’m awake. I’m at the Ranch right now, and it’s beautiful. Last weekend, after the San Joaquin diocesan convention, the Apostle (formerly) in Exile and I bought a bunch of flowers, and planted them all over her yard. I love spring.

Bonus answer: your choice. Share something encouraging/ amazing/ humbling that has happened to you recently!

I had some doors fly open during Holy Week, prompted by no more than a question from me. One really surprisingly grace-filled encounter with a teacher, a “yes” to a question I asked another, and an e-mail out of blue-sky nowhere. All I can say from here is that I know I’m on my path. And thrilled about it.

The Feast of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King

Icon from here.