Saturday, December 30, 2006

sort-of like walking on water

When Matt and I were back in Nebraska this week, celebrating Christmas, we went canoeing on Mom and Dad's lake. (Dad steered and egged on.) We thought it was less frozen than it really was. (Thin layers of melted water on top of ice can be deceiving.) There's a lesson in this somewhere, but I'm on vacation and I haven't figured it out yet.

It sure was pretty, though, watching the sunset colors reflect off the narrow channel the canoe cut through the ice...

In other news, Grand Island, Nebraska now, apparently, has a Starbucks. (We didn't visit.) And Wal-Mart's litter can be found even in out-of-town cornfields. There's a commentary in this somewhere, and I think you can figure it out yourself.

Now, we're leaving the ice and canoes behind for some pineapples and tropical breezes...

Thursday, December 21, 2006

the hokey pokey isn't what christmas is all about

With apologies to Karen for stealin' her idea, I wanted to share this with you:

Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

a long night

And a confession: I thought that tonight is the longest night of the year. But, it turns out, tomorrow night is a smidgen longer.

At least, tomorrow's daylight is 2 seconds shorter than today's.

Tonight, at our Vespers worship, I said it was the longest night.

What I didn't notice, at all, is that there's a new moon tonight. (And, really, how's one to notice a new moon? Especially when there are so many giant inflatable snow creatures around, basking under palm trees?!?) A new moon makes things feel extra dark, and long. Maybe it's the "darkest night..."

However...I marvel at the information available online. Sunrises and sunsets, daylight hours, tides and moon phases.

Seems funny to me that we can measure the change in season--the solstice--in 2 second increments. I wonder if change happens that way in my life more often. If I've passed tipping points, but hardly noticed, because 2 seconds are so, well, small.

And I think that perhaps Christmas is that way. God's love is incarnate in a new, wonderful, full (if physically small) way, and it barely registers (other than for that group of shepherds, some angels and a small entourage of magi.)

This year, when I'm aware of so many broken, hurting, violence-filled places and lives, I'm hanging on to those 2 seconds.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

home for the holidays

Matt has this lovely salt water aquarium in our living room, and in it live two clown fish. They're actually our friend Ryan's fish, but they live at our house.

From "Finding Nemo," I know that clown fish are supposed to live in anemones. We don't have any anemones.

To my endless delight, our two clown fish are attempting to take up residence in two nearby corals.

Corals are not nearly as delightful to live in as anemones, I think; one has wavy arm things that might be fun to swim through, but no inner chamber in which to take refuge. The other coral... Well, it just seems to scream "sub-standard" housing to me. It's got nothin' much going for it, other than that it's pretty. No place to get inside, nothing to swim through.

But, day after day, Jackie and Nighty, the clown fish, loyally, hopefully stand by their homes. As if to guard them, and to show them off the world of our living room.

They give me hope that we can make "home" out of just about anything, if we have eyes to see.

(Not, of course, that this is any reason to stop working to make sure everyone has a decent place to live...)

Friday, December 08, 2006

ever since those angels sang "alleluia"...

Today's RevGalPals Friday Five has me singin'. And thinking: why don't we have much other "seasonal" music? I mean, sure, JCSuperstar comes out Holy Week...but I've got no other collection of music that I pull out for a month of the year. What fun!

1. A favorite 'secular' Christmas song.
"Baby, It's Cold Outside" charms me, though I worry when I stop to think about the lyrics much. (manipulative male convincing sweet, wanting-to-please-other-people woman into staying at his place?!?) It makes me think of that song, "To Make You Feel My Love;" when sung by Garth Brooks to accompany Harry Connick's love in "Hope Floats," it was sweet. In Bob Dylan's voice, it just sounded, well, predatory...

2. Christmas song that chokes you up (maybe even in spite of yourself--the cheesier the better)
My heart belongs to John Denver and those Muppets. I can't avoid getting choked up "When the River Meets the Sea," as little Robin's pure voice sings out a vision of God's kingdom.

3. Christmas song that makes you want to stuff your ears with chestnuts roasted on an open fire.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, especially the Mannheim Steamroller version. (Sorry, Mom; couldn't resist.)

4. The Twelve Days of Christmas: is there *any* redeeming value to that song? Discuss.
Again, with the Muppets, it's all beautiful. Piggy even makes appropriate mockery of greed with her "5 Golden Rings." Beautiful.

5. A favorite Christmas album
Has to be "A Christmas Together." John Denver AND the Muppets! What could be better?!?!?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

sacraments AND advent light

I know we're not to "joy" Sunday yet (and, don't worry: the pink candle remains unlit) BUT I'm grateful for the joy of the Lord tonight. Tonight, I got to serve Communion to a whole bunch of families, including a lot of little kids. I'm not quite sure how to explain how it is that the body and blood of Christ can be so good to share, but it sure felt good to share this sacrament of our church, up at the altar in our dramatic sanctuary, with lots of little people. With big eyes, and tenuous hands, they reached out for those wafers, and got a taste of this sign of God's grace. Watching mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers (and many assorted honorary aunties and uncles) share in this holy meal was incredible. The sense of expectation, the joy, the tangible, mysterious holiness--this is why I love communion.

And, I kept thinking about the little girl whose funeral I'm to lead tomorrow. The life of each of those children seemed so precious and wonderful. I'm intensely grateful to get to share this sign of God with all those kids tonight. Not that I think communion is necessary for salvation. It's just awfully beautiful.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

advent light

So, in an odd side-bar comment during our staff meeting today, I became intrigued with how the pink candle got to be in our Advent wreaths. (And, I have to say, my curiosity was encouraged by the RevGalPals Friday Five contest last week, to give a new reason for the odd pink candle. I didn't post, but my best idea, I think, was that it stands as a sort of "minority report," insisting that we don't all think/look/believe the same. There's no expectation that the lone pink candle will become purple, but it still has a clear place in the wreath. But I digress...)

From a bit of internet searching, I found 2 possibilities intriguing:

-The whole Advent wreath thing has its roots in pre-Christian (read: pagan) Germany. A getting-ready-of-the-solstice ritual of lighting more candles, to get us through this darkness until that day when the night will begin to grow shorter.

-The pink color probably snuck in through Lent and the Pope. Several sites claim this. Apparently, purple went with Lent before it went with Advent (back in the day, when Lent was the only real liturgical "season." And, during that long season of penitence, folks still wanted to remember that even the suffering of crucifixion isn't horrible. (After all, it led to resurrection!) So, on the third (or fourth) Sunday, folks were supposed to give up the fast for a day of feasting. And, the Pope would give a rose to a citizen on that day. The rose inspired priests to start wearing pink. Then, when purple was applied to Advent (which used to have a lot more penitenece and considerably less shopping), the pink came along, too, on Sunday 3.

Now, we just get the joy (without too much penitence). But as far as I've experienced, we don't get so much feasting during Lent...

In other advent news, I've been thinking about the lights on trees in the middle of El Cajon Boulevard near our house. Someone too the care to wrap the lower limbs of a whole bunch of trees in strings of white lights. Trouble is, at least 3/4 of the bulbs are not working. Which makes the effort my current favorite Advent display. Finally, someone got it right--just a few twinkling lights, holding out what may seem like futile hope that God will come to the world and it will mean everything.


I spent part of this afternoon with a young mother at a funeral home, as she spent time with her would-be six-year-old daughter, who was killed in a car accident last week.

She had questions for me about baptism: her daughter hadn't been baptized, and she was concerned.

I told her that we didn't baptize people after death, but that we believe God's grace is present even without baptism. Not being baptized is not going to keep her daughter away from being received into God's eternal love.

Then, her family showed up, and it was clear that they were much more worried about her unbaptized state. (They had not been, however, worried enough to show up much while she was alive.)

All of which made me think that our sacrament of baptism has become so enmeshed with doctrines and policies that we've missed at least part of the point of what God's Spirit and water are able to accomplish. This Sunday, as we read about John the Baptist in our Advent preparations, we're invited to be repent, and be baptized. But I don't think he was talking about the same thing that worried those family members. I think he was inviting us to something much more radical.

The child's mother, however, continued to share the kind of love that is lived out in a million, tiny details. She painted her daughter's fingernails a shade of a shiny pink that would have delighted her.

Which seemed, somehow, to convey the amazing and beautiful qualities of God's love in a richly sacramental way.

Sunday, December 03, 2006


So, yesterday, while working in my garden, attempting to keep the deeply-rooted bermuda grass out of my fence, I was musing on just how tough grass roots can be.

They're impossible to get rid of entirely.

I guess I hadn't really contemplated the stubborn, resilient, impossible-to-kill nature of grass roots. "Grassroots" meant something more like "from the common people" in my mind, rather than "uncontrollable." I like the idea of grassroots organizing even better today.

I still, however, wish the bermuda grass weren't in my fence.

In other hopeful news, I planted a root-y stick in my garden today. The man at the City Farmer nursery tells me it will grow into an unruly raspberry plant before I know it. And I planted some odd-looking asparagus roots, and a meek rhubarb plant. It was a day of rooting. Here's hoping these tasty things are as resilient as grass roots!

Friday, November 24, 2006

i didn't really mean to buy anything today...

Today's RevGalPal Friday Five seemed just right for now. I just had a BLAST a Home Depot, in spite of it making me mad, and am now realizing that I bought something on Buy Nothing Day, even though I didn't really mean to. Does it count if it's just shingles for a family house that you're rebuilding afer a wildfire burns yours down?

1. Would you ever/have you ever stood in line for something--tickets, good deals on electronics, Tickle Me Elmo?
I'd stand in line for u2 tix, and am very grateful to have a sister-in-law who did that for me last year! ;) And I wished my folks would stand in line for a Cabbage Patch Kid once, but that was a long time ago.

2. Do you enjoy shopping as a recreational activity?
Tonight, I had a blast shopping, but there were a lot of extinuating circumstances.

My husband and I, plus his siblings and parents, got back from a day of working on the house in Julian. The guys intended to go to Home Depot to fetch the 20 more bundles of shingles that we need. A "man" errand. But they got distracted in the workshop garage, and weren't going to make it. So, Shannon and I convinced them that we could run the errand. And, as grace would have it, we ran into Emily as we pulled out of the long driveway, and convinced her to come on our girly mission. With just 20 minutes 'til closing time, we sprinted through the store, begging for forklift assistance and dragging a half ton--literally, a half ton--of shingles to the checkout. It was more fun than I know how to convey, and the odd looks of those who were in disbelief that these 3 girls could handle or want a half ton of shingles were priceless. The pathetic service only served to buoy our own sense of accomplisment.

3. Your favorite place to browse without necessarily buying anything.
the internet and the garden store

4. Gift cards: handy gifts for the loved one who has everything, or cold impersonal symbol of all that is wrong in our culture?
depends entirely on the situation. And while gift registries (another thing entirely) can feel like obligations rising out of materialism and commercialism at their worst, I also love the image of a community coming together to get the things a couple or new parents will need for their life. What a beautiful way to embody our belonging together than to have a house full of the things you use every day, or even on special occasions of hospitality, that are also tokens of the love and support that come from their givers. I think giftcards sometimes function this way--they let people buy the stuff they really need, and honor that there can be a blessing in being able to contribute to that.

On the other hand, I still have a $50 gift card from Tiffany & Co that was a wedding present. Touching, but not my style. And you can't buy a darn thing at Tiffany's for $50... :)

5. Discuss the spiritual and theological issues inherent in people coming to blows over a Playstation 3.
that's just sad.

Monday, November 20, 2006

five things i'm still grateful for on monday

ok, so the revgal pal assignment was from last friday, but i had this crazy cold, and my head wasn't working.

here's what i'm grateful for today:
1. a loving husband who checks in on me, and when he can't get me on the phone, comes by in person
2. lettuce that's growing in my front yard garden, in spite of my ignorance about gardening
3. curiosity--today manifest in tangential online exploration only vaguely related to sermon preparation (Did you know that "Christ the King" Sunday didn't exist 'til Pope Pius XI made it a feast day in 1925? 1925, like when Mussolini was just in power...interesting time for Christ to be true King...)
4. friends, both far and near--especially the ones who are still fabulous to be with, even tho' our visits are way too few and far apart
5. my family, the folks i was born with and the ones i married into and the ones i chose who are as-good-as
(6. grace)

those are in no particular order. and i figure that if i'm late, i might as well blow the assignment and include a 6th.

Monday, November 13, 2006

gotta learn spanish

Tonight, I walked to my friendly neighborhood mercado. They have a fabulous deli/lunch counter. And tortilla chips to die for. Matt swears by their carne asada burritos. Says they're better than Hilberto's. That's pretty incredible. So, when I got home from work and Matt was starving, I headed over there.

I decided it was a pollo night. So I attempted to order two ("dos," I know) pollo asado burritos. And I was utterly unable to convey that to the woman working the counter. She had to get, no kidding, help from about 5 other people. My Nebraska-style pronunciations just aren't cuttin' it.

I felt ashamed. I am totally unable to do really basic things. I gotta learn Spanish.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

on conservatives and liberals

I heard Peter Beinart, recent author of The Good Fight: how liberals--and only liberals--can win the war on terror and make america great again, speak at a local event yesterday.

I haven't read his book yet, and am not ready to wade into the debate about whether or not he's a good spokesperson for the kind of liberalism that I love.

I have, however, been intrigued by what seems to me to be an ironic mis-paring between the conservative politics he describes and the conservative Christianity that so often support them.

He defined conservatives as folks who think USAmerica's problem is that we don't believe enough in ourself. By advocating the strength of America, a good and virtuous nation which has accomplished democracy and ought to spread it around the world, conservatives gain momentum.

He defined liberals as those who see USAmerica, like any human endeavor, as a nation in continual need of shaping, as we seek to become virtuous but deal with the reality that we are subject to the same flaws as all human institutions. Our strength is in our down doubt--our own commitment to ensuring that no one within our nation has too much power, and that our foreign policy is shaped in concert with less-powerful nations. They will keep us honest, and just.

What strikes me as ironic is how much this definition of "liberalism" shares in common with the basic theological anthropology that evangelical Christianity espouses--it begins with the sinful nature of humanity. Our "fallen" condition. (We liberal Christians tend to focus on this a bit less, though we're still glad to find redemption and grace!)

I would think that liberalism--acknowledgement of our own failures and inadequacy--would resonate with evangelical Christinaity.

Of course, I write this as Yahoo headlines tell about a leader of USAmerican evangelicalism, Ted Haggard, who is accused of meth use and of having hired another man to have sex with him. I'm not yet sure what to think about this. It reminds me again of how our understanding of sexuality is broken, in the church; perhaps Haggard was yet another victim of the sort of spiritual violence that convinces gay and lesbian people that they are unacceptable in God's eyes.

Somehow, though, it feels to me like it's time for an invitation to acknowledge our own brokenness: as a nation whose foreign policy is far from righetous, as Christians who--though we are practicing at getting better--are not yet perfect, as humans in need of each other and God to be reconciled.

Monday, October 30, 2006

burying talents and bulbs

I've been feeling pressure to get bulbs planted lately, so much so that I got myself a blisted in the middle of my palm. I've planted a bunch, am excited and hopeful about what the spring may bring.

This past Saturday, as I was trying to dig some holes in the Julian soil--having sworn that I would never again attempt to move a shovel through it after we finish the foundation on this darn building project--I was thinking of commentary on the Parable of the Talents I read once. As I recall, it was by Ched Myers and someone else. (I couldn't find it online when I looked just now. The Other Side has ceased to exist online, and that makes me sad.) In it, they offered a fresh view of the parable. The man who buried his talent in the ground, they suggest, may actually be the hero of this story, told to working-class folk. They'd see the clever pun--and know the difference between the kind of amazing things that are able to multiply when buried and the things that just rust. (They have a whole commentary about how the rich man who gave out the talents must be a greedy rich man, and how the little guy saw through that.)

But the piece that feels fun to me, as I think about the parable, is how desperate I now feel about getting these things buried.

The bulbs I have now are ones that my sisters-in-law and I dug up in Julian. They'd been planted by Matt's grandmother years ago, and multiplied themselves into a bounty of springtime yellow. And though the Cedar Fire destroyed the house, the next spring, those bulbs burst forth into life again.

It still amazes me that a fire that could melt cast iron skillets did not destroy bulbs. It gives me hope.

SO, the problem is that the new house we're building went right on top of where most of the bulbs were. So, one day late in that spring, we drove up to try to dig as many bulbs as we could. Now, I'm no expert in these things, but my understanding is that bulbs need to keep their leaves as longs as posslble so they can shift from giving out their blooms to storing up food for the next year's season. And we most certainly cut that process short.

These bulbs already have a lot against them--a too-short life cycle, and, now, they've been out of the ground through one whole year's cycle.

I feel like, if they're gonna go on living, they need to get in the ground this year. Which leads me to my blister-inducing activities.

And it all feels very bold and daring--getting something buried so it has a chance at living.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Happy Warholidays?

I read today in the NYTimes that Warhol is hip this year. A marketing genius, all these years after his early death.

"'But Andy wasn’t pseudohip,' Mr. Doonan said. 'He is the primordial mulch from which all cool in Manhattan sprang.'"

Somehow, combined with the YahooNews that Weird Al is "kind of a pop culture icon at this point," it feels like our world may be folding in on its own mockery of itself.

And this all comes as I'm contemplating what an "alternative" Christmas Eve service might look like.

I think it should be not so original: same story as every year, same songs, candle light for "Silent Night," and communion. Just what it needs to be.

I do not mean to suggest that Weird Al and Andy Warhol will tell me how to worship, but maybe they're reminding me that there's something rich about repetition, about redoing old things.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

stolen beauty

Since we moved into our house, I believe that 3 things have been stolen from us:
our mailbox
a geranium off the front porch
blossoms of my new passionflower vine

I have no idea why the mailbox went missing. And, technically, it happened before we moved in. Now we have an ugly, duct-taped-on box.

But the other 2 things have my puzzled and searching for the right internal response.

They were things of beauty, which I don't feel like I can possess on my own.

The geranium grew from a cutting I took from Matt's parents' house--part of a proliferation of a rapid-growing plant. It easily took root in a new pot, and graciously offered new blooms. Who am I to own it? And, if someone wanted a bit of beauty for their front porch, I guess I can be happy to share.

The same goes for the passionflower blooms. I am struck by their bold beauty, and can't blame anyone who wanted one. I just wish they were still attached to the growing plant.

I guess I'm sort of excited that someone noticed their beauty.

But I miss them.

I hope they continue to spread an appreciation for the beauty of this world.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

i am not alone!

this blog-o-world is crazy. with just a click of a button, i discovered that there are MORE THAN FORTY people willing to list "Rubin and Ed" as a favorite movie.

shear insanity.

but, somehow, the world feels warmier, friendly, cozier.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

job as advocate

This morning, reading Job with women at the Rescue Mission, I finally realized how wonderful Job is, as advocate for all those whose lives are hard. As a reminder, against judgemental people, that it's not the case that we deserve the hard stuff we get.

I don't think we, the Rescue Mission women and I, have ever moved as easily between our own contexts and biblical contexts--we shifted back and forth through the poetic metaphors that seemed to thick when I read them in college. Job's "friends" are all those people who try to tell us that if we just repent, our lives will get easy. We'll have nice homes (and will always have our rent money on time), and will regain custody of the kids the CPS took away, and will be free from addictions.

And Job had some really quick, cutting come-backs to the smooth and easy religious cliches those friends try to lay on him.

I want him on my advocacy team.

Friday, October 06, 2006


This morning, Matt and I made pancakes on our new, old stove. My stove-with-an-old-griddle fantasies began to be fulfilled, and it was good.

Our kitchen is still a long ways from, well, being fully functional. But the little victories are sweet.

It's hard to compare the delight of griddle-made pancakes to the convenience of a fridge that's indoors, so I'll just say the goodness continues to grow.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


i decided that my counter-apocalyptic activity of the day would be planting bulbs.
(for more on the counter-apocalyptic, see catherine keller's "apocalypse now and then: a feminist guide to the end of the world.")

it felt good.

i'm liking having soil to garden in.

the cosmos is telling me that we need a new administration

I like to think that I'm a pretty politically active person. And, I like to fancy that my politics should be obvious, given what I talk about around church. (Of course, I think my political beliefs flow pretty naturally from my view of God--like that we should care about poor people and that we should be careful to protect people who live on the margins of our communities and that we should care about the earth. I think it's pretty obvious.)

Lately, though, I keep getting messages that I need to be clearer. Or more explicit.

I've been encountering people who are uncertain about whether there's a place for the in the church, as a political liberal. Some of them even come to church.

I certainly don't say right-wing things. Are they imagining them? Do we expect them as Christians in USAmerica? When I say "Jesus," do I automatically take on the baggage of America's Christian Right?

Today someone came by the office who sees a much broader conspiracy at work in our current administration. 9/11, this war in Iraq, our sidelining of those living in poverty today, the accumulation of greater wealth in the hands of fewer people. Apocalyptic, prophetic conspiracy, quoting from Daniel and Habbakuk and Revelation.

And, though not being one given to the anxiety of apocalyptic conspiracies, I thought he had some points. Among them that we churches need to be more vocal.

So I'm pondering what degree of vocal-ness I'm called to.

And praying for a new administration.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

is 30 too young to be introspective about my career?

My 30th birthday, which happens to be today, is prompting a bit of self-reflection.

It seems incredible that I've been in ministry in the same place for over 5 years now. That's since I was 24. That's, like, 1/6 of my life. (That's so many years of my youth!!)

The reflection all started at the workshop on the new pensions system, I suppose--as I contemplated my 35 more years 'til retirement. Sure, it's more than a lifetime that's left, but it's also a significant chunk of life I've now lived as a pastor.

Which makes me ask myself: have I done the pastoral and prophetic things that I hoped to? Have I figured out how to be the person I feel called to be?

It's so easy to feel caught in the day-to-day; submitting sermon titles and confirming what scripture I'll preach on, sifting through email messages, filling out forms that attempt to document my ministry, noticing anniversaries of events in the lives of my congregation members. And it's easy to notice that we haven't arrived and God's kin-dom yet. (Though I'm still building for the revolution...)

How do I measure my life as a pastor?

(I feel a song from Rent coming on.)

Perhaps tomorrow I'll pretend to be "cleaning" my desk (a task that no one would try to disuade me from), and look through that pile of nice notes and cards that folks have shared with me through my years. It is so good to take time to remember some of the steps along the way--times when my role as pastor intersected with others in a way that was life-giving. What a gift it's been to be a part of God inspiring wondrous things in the lives of real people...

A friend asked recently about what the joys in pastoral life are. (A sobering reminder of how much quicker I tend to be at sharing hardships...) It seems funny to begin to share them. In part, I think, because I know they're not my own. And they'd probably make me sound pretty smug and pompous. I mean, the times when I've been at my best, I know it's that wily holy Spirit working through me...and it feels awfully funny to take anything resembling credit for that.

But it has been good--wonderful, even--to feel myself put in a place where I could be something like midwife for the Spirit's work. And an honor to be trusted by the church to do that (at 24, no less!). And to see the church grow in their trust of me, as I grow in my trust of the community.

I'm not sure where all this going, but I think it's becoming excitement about what the next years will bring.

Thank God for these first 30 years!

(No disrespect to Tim McGraw intended.)

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


The holiest place I've been lately would have to be the west end of the dining hall at Camp Cedar Glen.

The mountains usually feel holy to me, but offering communion on the last day of a retreat for adults with HIV/AIDS took holy to a new place.

I'm not entirely comfortable with thinking that I have a firm grasp of what happens at the communion table. Or how Jesus' blood becomes life for us all. But, somehow, offering that cup of salvation to a room full of people living with a disease carried in their blood felt more life-giving than most of what I do. Somehow, it met the hunger of my heart, and seemed to meet the hunger of others who gathered.

There was the man who'd told me he didn't believe he could have a relationship with God anymore. But who found God at the retreat, in the community that gathered.

There was the man who'd given up singing when he was diagnosed with HIV as his career was taking off, who gave voice to the most glorious music setting of St. Francis's prayer.

There was the woman whose search for a community where she can worship the God she's known at the retreat, whose love and authority isn't limited to heterosexual men, and whose sacraments are open to all, has led her to leave the church where she'd first known God.

There were so many.

And we shared in a holy meal, under the same roof where we'd shared other meals all week. (And, I saw then, every one of them had been holy.)

In this moment, for me, it was so good to name the sacramental meal--and to know that we were not alone on that mountain. Our sacrament was the same that has been shared for millenia (making space for the millenias' worth of ways we've fallen short of the glory of the feast...).

What a funny bunch of people we are--the church. Not at all the people who have it figure out. Unless, I suppose, figuring "it" out is just realizing that we're loved by a God who calls us to try to love each other.

Monday, July 31, 2006

all (well, many) things made new

One of my highlights of last week:
Watching as the planer in Matt's dad's garage took 80 years of paint and gunk off a piece wood that had been baseboard in our new house--and revealed the beautiful grain of wood underneath.

80 years ago, folks were cutting down some nice trees to build the houses in City Heights. I'm not celebrating that some fine, old-growth trees were felled to build our house, but... It's exciting to me to get to reclaim some of that wood--tired though it may have seemed--and uncover its beauty.

Good stuff.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

institutional sexism

Matt's been on a search for work gloves for my sisters and me, to use in Julian. According to the tag on the "subcontractor" gloves that he finds so useful and wonderful, they come in women's sizes. No one, either in San Diego or on the internet, seems to carry them, though.

So, he was forced to buy us "gardening" gloves. Similar, and likely to be much more wonderful than the lame gloves we've been using, but nonetheless "gardening" gloves and not "subcontractor" gloves.

What gives?

Monday, June 12, 2006


On Saturday, as I attempted to pound yet another wooden stake into the impossibly dense and rocky Julian soil, I was pondering those years and years of education. "This is why I got a Master's Degree," I said to my brother, Phil.

Just lately, it seems like life is full of construction. And deconstruction. (Er, I guess they call that demolition...) We're in our new home, and Matt's been busy tearing out old stuff and preparing for some new. We're still slogging away at this house in Julian.

But, then, nothing balances me quite like some good, physical work. That actually makes stuff. It's satisfying in a different way than most pastoral work--the results are immediate. And, usually, a good whack with a hammer can make just about anything work out.

[Please note that I am in no way endorsing whacking church people with hammers.]

And it leaves signs: sore muscles for days to follow.

Today, I totally impressed some 60-year-old plumber who was also looking for copper pipe fittings in Home Depot. Apparently, I didn't look like his idea of a normal copper pipe consumer. That was fun.

I can only wonder what fun will be ahead.

Thursday, May 18, 2006


So my dear husband, Matt, came home from his year in Iraq last Saturday night.

Now, we're figuring out how to live together again. On Monday night, he cooked dinner, which mainly consisted of trying to cobble the strange things I've accumulated in the freezer into a meal. What he thought was vegetable soup was black-eyed peas, but I figure that they must be good luck at reunions if they're good luck on New Year's...

Freezers change a bunch in a year.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

rebirthing the divine feminine...

In my Women and the Bible class at State, we finished our semester with some articles by women who have written about feminine images of the divine--one who has rejected established religion as hopelessly patriarchal, and one who wants to challenge us to be a truly monotheistic religion. (This, she says, would require our letting-go of exclusively male-human images of God...)

So, since then, I've been thinking about some of the feminine aspects of God in Christianity. And, tonight, reading a communion liturgy at Vespers, it struck me how so much of our liturgical language is feminine. We say that God/Christ "gave birth to the church," "delivered us from captivity," and allowed us to be "born again" by water and the spirit. So much birthing! You would think it would be more common for God to be pictured with womb.

How have we gotten away with all this very feminine, birth language, AND YET still imagine God as an old white man with a white beard when we draw cartoons or paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel?

Just a question...

Monday, May 08, 2006

war is lousy

This weekend I got the happy news that my dear husband, Matt, is back in the States; I spoke to him on his brief layover in Maine on Sunday around noon.

That is, just seconds after I got news that a young man in my church was killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan.

And, in his mother's sorrow, I feel the weight of everything I've been too afraid to imagine over this past year.

My joy is tempered by my continuing awareness that we're in a so-called "war on terror," and that we're still asking young people to go on our behalf to fight, half a world away.

My continuing dissatisfaction with war, and with this war in particular, finds fuel in the reality of how easy it can seem to feel like this war doesn't need to affect us.

After all, I'd just been glad to celebrate the safe return of someone I love.

But now I'm ready, again to say: enough of this war.

loving god and neighbor

Somedays, it's hard to love neighbors. Especially when they don't do the things I think they should.

Last week, a man stopped by the church, asking for help. He'd broken his ankle, and wanted a bicycle so he could get around, with his dog. This seemed like a pretty lame attempt at fixing what seemed to me to be much bigger problems. The more I talked to him, the more true this seemed.

So, I tried to just focus on being love: offering hospitality and concern. (I didn't get him the bicycle.) I was delighted by how church folks pitched in and offered care--he wasn't an easy person to embrace.

But, as often seems to be the case, it didn't end well: we hit the limit of what we could offer and it didn't meet what he believed he needed, and things were less than loving for a moment. And he left.

I often feel this: tension because I'm not willing to give what another person in need believes they need.

So it was a great joy today to have a man stop by whose family the church was able to help almost 4 years ago. He just wanted us to know that our help really was helpful to them, that he's worked his way up in a company into management, and now wants to share help with the church or someone else who might be in need.

We didn't really have much to offer: a week's lodging in a cheap hotel for the family, as I recall.

Then, as last week, it felt like I only have this little, small piece to offer to people with giant, gaping need. And, in bad moments, like it's not even worth bothering, 'cause what I have certainly won't fill their vast holes.

But, then, I get a reminder that there is possibility in these small things, and that, by the grace of God, somehow they can be a part of expanding in wondrous ways.