Wednesday, December 10, 2008

jamming

Wow--it's sure been a long time since I posted here. 

I think I wanted to save my blog from the fullness of my impatience during that time between when Matt began his exit of Camp K-V, Iraq and when he actually, finally landed in San Diego.

Then, I suppose, I've been distracted with getting used to living with my dear husband again.  Which is a delightful challenge.  It's good to be together again, and to settle into our house together.

One of the messes he came home to was our backyard.  It was a disaster.  I'd attempted to begin cutting back our uncontrollable (if abundantly fruitful) passionfruit vine and made a bigger mess of it.  The banana tree that bloomed in August fell over a few weeks ago from the gradual pull of the weight of its fruit, and was poorly propped up by a teetering pair of stacked chairs and a wooden prop.  And so on.

Last Friday, we made a go at cleaning it up.  And things are looking much better.  We're just eager for the trash truck to come down our street this week.

One little piece of our work was picking the last three hands of bananas on the other plant--the one that bloomed in June.  They were still green, but I've decided that I don't think they're gonna turn yellow on the plant.

So, with those bananas now turning yellow, tonight, I made my second batch of banana jam from one hand.  It's too early to say for sure, but it early results seem very promising.  And with peanut butter on a sandwich: yum.

Banana jam recipes were a bit tricky to find, so I thought I'd share mine.


Homegrown Banana Jam
7 cups of bananas, chopped
juice of 2 limes (about 1/2 c.)
2 cups of white grape juice
4 1/2 c. sugar

Combine it all, mashing the bananas up a bit.  Bring it to a boil, stirring regularly.  Let it boil for about 15 minutes, 'til it seems good and jammy.  Pour it into jars, and process for 10 minutes in hot water bath.

Makes 9 1/2 pint jars, with about a half-cup left over.  I'm a big fan of left-over jam samples.

(Why do you suppose half-pint sound so much more quaint that "cup" when speaking of jars of jam?)

Friday, November 07, 2008

yes we can

I don't know why it hadn't occurred to me that my newfound appreciation for canning coincides so beautifully with the election of a president who has lifted our hopes with a slogan so beautifully affirming of both the generous possibility of human communities and jam preservation.  Yes, we can.

Who knew that my own little efforts at food security would resonate so elegantly with this exciting moment in history?

The passionfruit vine in our backyard grew crazy this year, so I've been enjoying the challenge of figuring out ways to preserve it.  

In that spirit, here's how I have been making passionfruit jam:

Ingredients:
about 30 ripe passionfruits (really, though, some are awfully little, so make it more like 34)
2 1/2 limes
water
about 4 lbs of sugar

Get the pulp out of the passionfruits.  My preferred method, to get most of the pulp but few of the seeds, is to cut the stem-end of the fruits off, scoop the pulp and seeds and everything into my little food processor, and run it for a few seconds.  The food processor frees the good, tasty pulp from the seeds.  Then, you can pour it through a strainer, into a bowl.   Add the lime juice, and set it aside.   (I think a few seeds make a nice addition to the jam, so I let a few of them through, too.)

Put the rest of the passionfruits--the wrinkly outside--into a big pot, and add water until at least half of them are submerged.  Boil them for at least 30 minutes, until the white pithy parts are all moist and swollen and kind-of purplish.

Cool the fruits you've just boiled, and peel the outer, crunchy skin away from the now-moist pithy pulp part.  Compost the skin, and put the inside pulp layer into the food processor.  I only have a little food processor, so I do about 6 fruits at a time, adding about 1/4 cup of the water from the boiling pot into each batch.  Blend the pulp until it's milkshake-thick.  (You'll end up adding about 1 1/2 cups of the water from the pot you'd boiled the fruits in.)

Now, as you put all the pulp and the juice into a big pot for turning into jam, measure the volume, and add an equivalent amount of sugar.  Bring it to a boil, and watch until it begins to turn jammy.  It doesn't take long--apparently, there's a good amount of pectin in that pulp.

Put the jam into jars, and process in boiling water bath. 

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

a big night

Just moments after the television people officially "called" the election for Obama, my dear husband called from Iraq, as he was about to leave the base where he's been stationed to begin his long journey home.

It'll still be a couple of weeks before he's back here, but it was a sweet, sweet moment.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

in defense of the wink

I am a winker.

I feel my way is threatened, and I wish to speak out.

With Sarah Palin winking to the television camera during Vice-Presidential debates, she seems to suggest that the gesture builds her credibility with millions of living-room viewers. Her promiscuous winking makes me feel cheap, used.

Certainly, the wink, like any other intimate gesture, can be misused and abused; most precious things can. I do not mean to excuse predatory, manipulative winks, meant to insinuate a relationship that doesn’t really exist.

I resent that, when I speak of winking these days, people tell me it makes them think first of Sarah. Or Tina Fey as Sarah. Of shallow, deceptive attempts to shape democracy around leaders who are just like the kind of folks next door with whom you might enjoy sharing such connection. This wink, though, has become a veneer, lacking substance. It attempts to gain broad power through deceit.

I believe a wink is best shared in mutual relationship, between consenting parties. The wink is intimate, embodied communication.

Simple and loaded with layered meanings, I cherish its multivalent possibilities. Across a busy room, the wink flies under the radar of the dominant discourse, carrying a silent greeting, a daring acknowledgement, or recognition of the absurdity of a situation. With grace, subtlety and speed, it builds connections between winker and recipient, and invites creative response: another wink, a smile, rolled eyes.

Free of the baggage of words, and easily layered on top of other, more public conversation, the wink connects two people in an instant, with more than words can say and without missing a beat.

Lately I have noticed my own hesitation to use this beloved gesture. Instead, I’ve found myself turning to bold smiles—which convey a similar meaning but lack the covert grace of a wink.

So, I hereby commit myself to reclaiming its usefulness. If you happen to catch one across the room, I hope you’ll wink back.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

8 reasons I oppose Proposition 8

On our November ballot here in California, we will be asked whether we support a proposition that would remove the right of same-sex couples to enter into legal marriage.  As a heterosexual, married, Christian woman, I oppose this proposition for many reasons.  Whether you agree with me or not, I would be honored if you'd consider these 8 reasons why I'm voting against it.  In my mind, any one of them is enough reason to vote against this proposal.

1.  This is a matter of legal rights, not a referendum on how religious people should interpret marriage.  As a part of a nation built on ideals like justice and equality, I see no reason to restrict the legal rights of people to enter into the marriage contract with one another.   I would like to live in a California that affords rights, not one that adds clauses into its Constitution to deny them.

2.  This proposition has nothing to do with the rights of homosexual people to have children. Regardless of marital status, gay and lesbian people are already raising children.  I would contend that it does our society good to have children being raised by people who are married--that the commitments made in marriage tend to help create home environments that are more stable, especially because of the way the community beyond the couple understands what it means to be married.  Allowing same-sex couples to continue to marry in California will give greater stability to families, not less.

3.  Heterosexual marriage does not need protection from same-sex marriage.  I do believe that heterosexual marriage needs work in our culture--too many marriages end in divorce.   It is a challenge to succeed in marriage--I struggle with the difficulty of separation during deployment, with my own independence, and much more.  My marriage is not, however, threatened by the marriages of same-gender couples.  I wonder what we believe we're protecting marriage from?

4.  Our understanding of marriage, in the church and under the law, has been continuously evolving.  I celebrate that, as a woman, I enjoy rights to choose my own spouse (as well as the right to choose not to have a spouse and still own property) that have not always been available to women--certainly not always in our biblical tradition.  I also celebrate that marriage does not exist only for the purpose of having children.  I give thanks for the love shared between couples that have chosen not to have children, and between couples that have been unable to have children.  I delight in couples far beyond their child-bearing years who are able to marry.  There is not an unchanged understanding of marriage stretching back through the Bible, nor through our nation's history.  The Supreme Court's decision to extend the rights of marriage to same-sex couples is another change in this evolving history.  There is no one "original" understanding of marriage that we can preserve. 

5.  I have been blessed and enriched by same-gendered couples.  Both as domestic partners and as married couples, they have shown me what mutually-life-giving, committed relationships can look like.  Often persevering through immense challenges, they have demonstrated how married couples can care for each other and strengthen one another.  These couples have been a blessing to our communities, too.  I welcome ways that we can do more to honor committed relationships and let them be an asset to our communities.

6.  Opposing this proposition does not mean that clergy are required to perform same-sex marriages.  As a pastor, I always have the right to refuse to marry a couple.  Opposing the proposition does not compel churches to change their definitions of marriage.   Already, many churches have requirements for marriage in that church--such as requiring both spouses to be members of the church.  Churches can continue to define their own rules for marriage, even without this proposition.

7.  This restriction of rights does not belong in our Constitution.  In my mind, a Constitution exists to provide rights, not take them away.  

8.  I am bothered by the fear-inducing tactics used by supporters of Proposition 8.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ demands that we move past our fears to dare to include more of the world in God's love.  I refuse to be convinced to restrict legal rights to members of our community because I am afraid.    I do believe that there is real evil in the world, and that this campaign is distracting us from work is necessary for God's kingdom.  Over and over, Jesus commanded us to care for the poor.  Never once did Jesus speak about same-sex marriage.   Proponents of this initiative are asking us to be afraid of the wrong thing.  We have a lot of work to do if we want to follow Christ's example of love for our neighbors.  This Proposition will not help us in that work. 

Saturday, October 11, 2008

fruitful life

I didn't make a conscious decision to plant holy-sounding fruits in my garden, but this week's yield certainly does have that appeal.

Here's a bunch off my Praying Hands Banana, named because the bunches (called hands in banana-speak) look like hands held in prayer.
And passionfruits, named because the flowers reminded Spanish missionaries of Christ's passion.
Pretty good choices for the backyard of a preacher who images it to be here little promised land, in the spirit of Micah 4, complete with vines and fig trees, eh?
 
So far, I've mostly been freezing passionfruit juice, or dumping it into iced tea--but I'd be very keen on hearing of any favorite uses you have of either bananas or passionfruit.  Maybe there's a jar of passionfruit-banana jam in store for whoever can come up with the best idea...

Friday, October 10, 2008

in remembrance

Sharing communion last Sunday, with a congregation divided by our US border fence, reminded me just how much work remains to be done in remembrance of Christ.  Our border much more easily dismembers the human community.
The broken bread, handed through the fence in violation of the US Customs rules our Border Patrol says they're to enforce, became a vivid symbol of our own division.  In sharing it, we mark our belonging together.

It seems to me that whatever border policies we might choose for our national interests are irrelevant to our call to see one another as brothers and sisters in Christ across this fence.   In our Christian practice, if we are going to take Christ's salvation seriously,  we must be willing to share this sacrament across anything that might seek to divide us.

Of course, once you've shared in holy moments together, it's hard to imagine advocating for a policy that would treat others as anything less than people of infinite worth.

I suppose that's part of why I love communion so much: it makes Jesus real.  Sharing the broken bread helps me know and taste that Jesus really meant those wild and crazy things he said.

Friday, October 03, 2008

a taste of fall

I was up in Julian today, and last weekend, too; even though San Diego's weather is mostly sunny and 80, it's possible to get a hint of real seasons by going uphill for an hour or so.
We've been working on a house up there for a long while now.  Today, I had some time to walk around a bit, and find some lovely signs of fall.
Last week, after a little work, I explored the joys of apple season, with my moms.  It was a beautiful (though a bit hot) clear day.  Tasty, too.
During some canning adventures earlier this year, a friend found a recipe for Swedish Apple Pie that I love.  It's fabulous with just-picked apples.  Really, it's as much like a giant, apple cookie as it is like a pie.  A pookie, perhaps?   I'd post a picture, but it didn't last long enough to catch in pixels.  Dad suggested that it might have been even better with some oats that he brought out from the family farm.  I'm confident that it would be fun to try.
The least-expected part of my fall days in Julian was the appearance of local belly dancers at the festival.  But hey: why not?!

Monday, September 29, 2008

transformation (worth more than a hill of beans?)

I have a whole bunch of blog posts swimming around in my head.  Mostly, I haven't committed them to actual words yet.  So, in that spirit, I start this post with a picture.  I don't have any deep thoughts to accompany it; I just thought these beans had wonderful colors.  They came out of the garden as I was tearing out the last of the summer garden.

After the help of many friends and a load of compost, the winter garden is now doing its underground magic.  There's something daring about starting with seeds.  It feels much more dangerous and beautiful than seedlings from the nursery.  And it reminds me that garden life starts with dried up, dead things: seeds from old plants and a pile of decaying compost.
Speaking of dying things, or at least, things dying to their previous selves, I've been taking note of the gulf fritillary that love my passionflowers, and enjoying their transformation.  I caught this one in the act of making its cocoon.
Thanks to recent conversations with Colleen, my dad and others, I've been pondering the transformations that may be life-giving for the church.  As I read the communion liturgy, proclaiming that Jesus Christ saves us from "slavery to sin and death," I mourn the way our own, institutional fear of dying seems to occupy much of our attention.  As people of resurrection, I pray that we might trust more (and more fearlessly) in new birth.  

And, as Colleen helped me consider just this morning over coffee, birth is not simple, clean or solitary.  I wonder what it would look like for the church to put more energy into the life-giving, painful, uncontrolled process of helping prepare for new life and new birth?  (Perhaps we should put energy into dying well?)  I suspect our priorities would need to shift a bit, and that we'd need to be open to a considerable bit more uncertainty.

I wonder what our caterpillar is thinking as it forms this cocoon.  Does it have any idea what life might be like on the other side?

Friday, September 19, 2008

passion

a little urban passionflower
and some butterflies learning about the birds and the bees

My garden is really a mess.  I haven't taken good care of it for a while.  So, I'm just counting it as grace that beautiful things are lurking in it, if you look closely. 

Monday, September 08, 2008

crossing over



So, in preparation for this Sunday's worship and sharing the story of Moses leading the people of Israel across the sea, I've been trying to think of other dramatic and transformative water crossings, from the world of film.

So far my list includes:

-this clip from Man from Snowy River where Jim Craig follows the wild horses on down the edge of the ravine and through the snowy river.

-Into the Wild, where Christopher McCandless crosses a river to get to the bus where he makes home in the Alaska wild, and then gets trapped by that same river when it's risen.

-The Mission, where Robert DeNiro's character keeps trying to carry an incredible load of armor and things up the waterfall, as if penance; he finally gets cut free from it.

Who can help me with more?

Thursday, September 04, 2008

jazz worship

I've been playing with ideas for how to name and promote jazz worship this November, and I came across this gem.  I couldn't resist posting.  It comes from here.

Several years ago, in my Bible study at the Rescue Mission, the women there talked me into going through Revelation with them.  One day, as we were beginning conversation about end-times, I asked how they thought we'd know if Jesus were coming.   I was imagining we'd have rich conversation about how to discern what's "real."

"There's gonna be trumpets," one woman said, without missing a beat.

I guess she didn't grow up in the church with the sign.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

labor day creations

I spent part of my holiday weekend making stuff, inspired by my garden.  First came these cupcakes, which were really an excuse to use my first passionfruits in the kitchen.  That's a mango and passionfruit curd you see, right on top of a rich, dark chocolate ganache.  

"Ganache" and "curd" are new cooking vocabulary for me this year.  Exotic, eh?  I also put a little tangelo-pineapple marmalade into the yellow cake, for kicks, so this little guy could become an attempt at a 5-minute tropical getaway.  And, it's a getaway partly grown in local backyards: new heights in imaginary eco-tourism?
My adventure from yesterday involved playing with fruits and vegetables, exploring their printmaking possibilities.  Turns out I really dig the look of limes and onions as stamps.
Slowly, they're becoming napkins and placemats, I think.  I printed them onto pieces of an old duvet from the thrift store.
Here are the stamps I tried.  I wonder what else I could use out of the refrigerator...  

Saturday, August 30, 2008

flattened leadership and steep hills

video
In June, I was captivated by the enthusiastic cyclists who rode post my house as a part of a Critical Mass ride.  Last night, I went along for their August ride.

Since I've been thinking about flattened models of leadership, it seemed especially fun to watch and participate in a big group ride with no official leadership.  I enjoyed watching riders gather in the park, as some began circling the fountain, and, eventually, more and more people starting yelling to get the ride going.  Finally, we took off.  

Being a part of a thousand cyclists riding together is a trip; when the big group decides to go on through red lights, for example, it just doesn't work to stop.  It's certainly a rush to ride through San Diego in the dark, not stopping for anything (except the trolley, and, I noticed, folks were definitely ready to stop when we heard an ambulance siren).  

The diversity of people (and bike styles) on the ride was pretty fun.  There's a young, aggressive, testosterone-driven energy that is probably the most visible dynamic, but I wouldn't say it described even close to a majority of the riders.  For every one biker yelling the kind of words people usually apologize for using in front of preachers, I heard three others saying "thanks" to cars that had stopped, or cyclists who were helping provide safety to others.    
I treasure the image of riding through the underpass under the 5 freeway on Laurel Street, away from the Harbor, and seeing the vast swarm of red tail lights on the hundreds of bicycles ahead of me, climbing that steep hill.

You can check out the view of this month's ride here.

The ride has no official leaders, and most riders (well, I, at least) didn't know where we were going as we took off, or as we rode.  Some people were clearly more involved in helping make the ride work, and they seemed to know a basic plan.  All along the way, people participated in various ways, like by calling directions, wishes or warnings.  

Sometimes, it felt powerless to not know what decisions were being made or who was really making them; at other times, it was darn cool and liberating to ride along in a community, trusting that the group wouldn't go too far astray, because we were doing it all together.

Today, though, I'm most keenly aware that it's been a long time since I have ridden my bike for 20 miles.  And up, as I said, some hills.

Friday, August 29, 2008

free


One of the women who works at the produce market on my block always laughs and waves her had dismissively when I try to put my 3 little serrano chiles on the scale to pay for them.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

flattening worship leadership

I've been contemplating two ways to make worship leadership and participation more communal.  I've had fun thinking about them, and thought they might be even more fun to think about together, with you:



-Using text messaging to share prayer leadership.  What if, during worship, people to text their prayer, it would appear on our screen, and be shared by the community?  I love the opportunity to share prayers, but feel like our "joys and concerns" time often creates a sense of insiders/outsiders that isn't overly welcoming to new people.  And, it sometimes takes a lot of time.  (I like the idea that texting might push us to say things with fewer characters.)  

I think something like Twitter would be cool, but I'm not much of a tweeter, so I don't know if it's best; if people have to create an account, that would be lame.  My other current best idea is to ask people to text message to an email address; it could be received by the computer running MediaShout with our projector, and cut and paste into the presentation.  I'm sure churches are doing this already, but it's certainly not the norm in ours.  I think it would be nice to think about using text msgs for praying, though.

-Xerocratic worship leadership.  "Xerocracy" is my new favorite word.  It comes from Critical Mass bike riding communities, and refers to the practice of making decisions based on who has the convincing photocopy; the hierarchy-free Critical Mass community apparently chooses its rides by xerocratic decision.  So, I'm thinking, what would xerocratic worship leading look like?  What if folks just showed up, and the person with the best worship design would lead?

Dangerous to the power of clergy like me, I know.

But, as I explored the idea on Wikipedia, it seemed to sound a lot like one of my favorite moments at General Conference this past May: when we elected a new group of Judicial Council members based on the unofficial, last-minute, communal and authentic hallway networking of a bunch of delegates, who had $20 to spend a Kinko's to help make their consensus known to others.  There was no name on the flyer, which was passed among delegates; it honestly came from no official group.  Xerocratic-style.  And, there, it prevailed over much better-funded efforts to keep our Judicial Council dominated by the same folks who brought us exclusive and Spirit-limiting decisions for the past 4 years.

I wonder how to help cultivate that spirit of investment, participation, authenticity to the people involved and innovative revelation in our weekly worship...

(I'm also excited to be headed out on my first Critical Mass ride this Friday!)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

juicy

I gathered my first passionfruit today.  I've been keeping an eye on my vine, which is loaded with fruits.  Every time I look, they all seemed to be still green and very firm.  Then, today, I noticed something different: something deep red and purple, lying just under the vines on the ground.  
I took them inside and here's what I found!

I'm totally new to passionfruit growing, but I've since read that if I let them get wrinkly, they'll be even better.  So, I guess we'll see what happens with the two on the counter.

Anyone have any favorite uses for passionfruit?


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

dude!

I got excited by this article, which told me that invisibility cloaks might could actually come to be!

Though I still treasure the moment when Colleen and I ditched a seminary class one Halloween to go to JoAnn's Fabrics to buy shiny silver material so I could sew my effective-only-with-a-good-imagination invisibility cloak for Joel's birthday. The woman cutting the fabric asked, so pleasantly, "What are you making?"

"An invisibility cloak," I answered, enthusiastically.

She was suddenly silent.

"Like from Harry Potter," I added.

After another moment of silence, she simply noted. "I still don't get it."

Monday, August 18, 2008

a few words to help me organize the week ahead

The NYTimes had a piece on Jon Stewart this weekend, noting that he's among the most trusted sources of news in our country. I think that doesn't scare me at all. Because, with good comedy, he's taking us closer to important issues than most main-stream news is willing.

I particularly liked the last bit of a passage quoted from him, at the end of an explanation of why they're interested in tough subjects:

"Everyone here is working too hard to do stuff we don’t care about." -Jon Stewart

Sunday, August 10, 2008

worn

I feel like my garden has gotten out of my control; I've been away too much, and, when here, I've been distracted and busy.  It's been hot, too.  So, I spent some time on Friday evening doing my least favorite garden tasks: tearing out overgrown and dry plants.  There's still a bunch more of that work to do.  

Today, I started some new seeds, which is a happier job.  

And, as if a sign of grace and possibility, the fig tree yielded up some delicious fruits.  I love how figs hide their fleshy beauty inside such misleading, shriveling brown exterior. 
In between a bunch of other adventures (including fashioning 5 veils to make clergy robes look like nun costumes for our Sound of Music Singalong at the church), I also finally sewed a wraparound skirt from an old sheet I got at the thrift store.  It's deliciously soft, and lined with another dangerously soft (and worn) sheet.  

On Friday, I tried to take care of myself a bit: a fresh haircut, buying some watercolors, and a massage; when I was in Santa Fe, I relaxed enough to notice how tense the muscles in my shoulders were.  I still feel tender from having those muscles loosened.  A good, looser kind of tender.  Enough to make me think I should not wait so long next time.


Sunday, August 03, 2008

thankful for creation

I'm just back from my week at the Glen Workshop in Santa Fe, and am very happy for a chance to give time and space to creating beautiful things.

Few things embody joyous possibility like fresh, quality art supplies.  So this has been a good week.  And, since I like to think that one of the coolest things about God is the endlessness of beautiful possibility toward which s/he draws us...well, I guess that makes it even better.

It also helped that I got to hang out in the midst of natural beauty and the wide open spaces of the Santa Fe area.  With lovely flowers and a whole lot of beautiful people.

I was a part of a seminar led by Tim Rollins, whose artistic work embodies social transformation and beauty, together.  It felt pretty rad to create things together with him.  

Nearly as rad as it is to remember my own call to be a co-creator of God's kingdom, with the help of the Holy Spirit and the beloved community around us all.

Monday, July 28, 2008

santa fe

I'm spending this week in Santa Fe, at the Glen Workshop at St. John's College.  Suddenly immersed in both the clear air and stark beauty of northern New Mexico and in this gathering of artists and people of faith, I'm grateful for this retreat from the busyness of my summer.  A restorative follow-up to conferences filled up with church politics and strategy, this week may help both empty me out and make space for creativity.  Here's hoping.

This first morning's plans were changed by flight delays for the seminar leader, so I got a morning to explore Santa Fe.  The New Mexico Museum of Art was full of beautiful treasures, including a luminous Judy Chicago piece that's still vivid in my memory.
Lunch was tasty.
And I enjoyed walking the labyrinth under the wings of a dancing St. Francis, outside the cathedral.
Plus, I found an exquisite local chocolatier, whose work brought great delight.  :)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

harvest

There are several blog posts waiting and wanting to be written, but currently I only have energy to share the joy of some summertime harvest with you.

First, the fun of blueberry harvest in some friends' backyard in Portland, where I spent a fun day of hanging out after electing some new bishops for the UMC as a part of our Jurisdictional Conference.  Here's a friend, holding up the juicy berries we picked.  I'm still enjoying them.  
And, a part of the harvest waiting for me when I got home.  Our little neighbor, of garden reorganization fame, has taken to lurking by our gate to beg for fresh tomatoes.  Who could resist and charming 3-year-old with tomato-eating ambitions?!?
There are plenty to share.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

f-l-o-b-o-t-s

I'm still digging the Flobots, and stoked to have gotten to see them here in San Diego.  Here's my lame attempt at capturing the joy of soundcheck.  Andy rocks the guitar.
And, Emily rocks for getting a setlist.  And getting is signed by most of the band.  
It was a lovely followup to my morning, touring the border fence construction work here in San Diego County.  That was depressing.  The Flobots call for revolution made me more hopeful.   

We rise together.

It's about resurrection, y'all.  Join in.

Friday, July 11, 2008

the state of marriage

I've been pondering the meaning of marriage more intently than usual in the last few months.   At General Conference for our United Methodist Church, my sub-committee looked at revisions to our definition of marriage.  Here in California, our Supreme Court's decision has broadened marriage to include same-sex couples.  And, most recently, I've been pondering the implications of the marriage proposal on last week's Bachelorette finale.


I don't know if it's wise to attempt deep interpretation of the Bachelorette, but the absence of the words "marry" or "marriage" in the proposals of the winning suitor struck me as strange, on a day when I'd gathered earlier with other clergy to talk about how we might respond to the legalization of same-sex marriage in our state, even as our church prohibits clergy from conducting such services or hosting them in our churches.

As many same-sex couples make the move to claim legal marriage, a TV show aimed at arranging marriages features people who avoid the term.  Jesse, the winning suitor, chose other words for describing the commitment he wished to enter into, both as he asked the Bachelorette's father's blessing and as offered her a diamond ring from bended knee.

I can imagine many plausible reasons for his avoidance of the words of "marriage," fear of the conventional commitment it involves certainly being among them (for an unconventional, snowboarding suitor, especially).  I wonder if "spending forever with" sounds more genuine in a culture where marriages don't last a lifetime as often as they do.  

All of which is a stunning reminder to me that we heterosexuals don't need to worry about same-sex couples destroying marriage.  We've done a pretty fine job on our own, I think.  (And, for the record, I'm not thinking that shows like the Bachelorette do us any favors.)

All this came on the heels of scripture lessons in our Sunday worship that tell of Rebekah and Isaac's engagement, in Genesis 24.  A biblical model for arranging marriage that's far from what I count as desirable.  Not wanting his son to marry a Canaanite, Abraham's servant prays that he might meet a woman at a well who, by drawing water for him and his camels, would prove her worthiness as a bride for his master's son.
  
If we were really interested in protecting marriage, I suggest we spend some time honestly talking about what we know as good (and, even, holy) about marriage. I think too many things are too easily confused.

Separated from Matt by his deployment, I'm aware of how grateful I am for the support we get from so many others in our marriage.  Clearly, I don't know what our relationships would be like if we were not married, but I know that I am thankful for the ways our being married helps sustain us and our relationship.  Marriage helps name and define our relationship to the wider community.  It means that the Army communicates with me, and that I receive opportunities for benefits.  More importantly, it has meant that a whole community of people, many of whom were present as we made covenant with one another, do things to help us sustain our relationship in the midst of many challenges.  And, that the two of us see God as having a role in sustaining us in this covenant.

My hope is that our relationship is also a blessing to the community.  I sense ways that we strengthen and improve one another.  The challenge of sharing in lifelong covenant with another person demands I work at cultivating skills and grace that make me a better person.  I believe that marriages, like other commitments made (formally and informally) among humans can be of tremendous benefit to us all.

I do believe that God created humans in such a way that we're enriched and improved by our belonging together in relationships of commitment.  As our church's Social Principles already state, I do not believe that marriage is essential.  Or that marriage exists for the purposes of procreation.  I celebrate marriages with or without children.

And, certainly, I celebrate that marriage is no longer a transaction of property, transferring ownership of a young woman from her father to her new husband (though lingering insistence on including a "giving away" of the bride suggest we've not totally abandoned this...).

I look forward to a day when our states and our church will both recognize marriage between people of the same gender.  And, when we'll let these relationships of commitment strengthen us all as we struggle for justice, peace and other such good things that serve God.

I also look forward to a clearer cultural understanding of what marriage is.  Something beyond diamond rings and elaborate parties.  Something that gives us an idea of how we're called to shape our lives around commitment beyond our immediate selves, and to be a part of relationships that serve the broader community.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

fruity

I'm pretty excited about the bananas forming in my backyard.  They're beautiful, and bear promise of tastiness.
I'm also having fun with buckets full of apricots from my family's tree.  I'm feeling better about my pie and jam-making skills, as I get more practice.  And, it's all quite tasty.

Plus, I've been delighting in other sweet things lately, including:
Matt's thoughtfulness, even from a distance, on our anniversary.
Others remembering and honoring our anniversary, too, with calls, flowers, gifts and their presence.
Good meals shared with friends, both new and old.  Even better, they've lately been made with things grown very nearby.  In the past week, my extroversion and love of company has been met with lots of visiting friends and invitations to be with others.  Sweet.
A request for prayer from someone who I know I disappointed and frustrated early in my pastoral ministry here; her asking for me to pray with her delivered to me a grace that I was hungry for.

And, I have a new computer, replacing the one stolen last week.  It's good to be back with a Mac.  

Friday, June 27, 2008

critical mass

As I was sitting home tonight, just after a friend had left and before my roommate returned, I heard a bunch of yelling in the street. Cautiously, I went to the window to subtly see what was going on. And, much to my surprise, I saw hundreds of happy bicyclists streaming by. Yelling, playing music, and generally having a good time.

Turns out, San Diego has a Critical Mass biking community, and, by my best guess, they came by my house tonight. It was lovely and happy.

Maybe I'll post a bit of video, if I get a computer that can do such things soon.

In other good news, I've been picking and giving strawberries out to little people passing by with their moms, which is pretty fun.

And, I can see the bananas forming on the lovely banana flower in the backyard.

Sweet.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

what a long strange trip

Since I posted last (sorry for the delay) it's been a bit of a wild ride. I was away at our annual gathering of clergy and lay leaders from UM churches in the area, sweltering in Redlands' heat. I love Annual Conference; despite the frustrations that come with it, I deeply treasure the time together with friends. This year, I definitely noticed the absence of two way-cool folks who had been my roommates in years past (Krista in Germany and Erika in pregnancy-land). But, of course, I'm quite grateful for the new and deeper connections I made with others. This time together is a wonderland for an extrovert like me.

And, I'm feeling good about my place in the church--deeply honored, even. The Reconciling Ministries folks gave me their annual award for my role at General Conference, advocating for a more full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered folks. That's a deep and unexpected honor. And, I'm now the Chair of our Order of Elders. Plus, my name got lifted up with a few others as a potential person to be endorsed as a candidate for election of Bishop. A crazy idea, which I've decided to read as lovely affirmation of my leadership. It's nice to feel valued, especially by a group of people I respect and look up to so much.

Riding high on all that, I came home to a nice visit from my brother, who's passing through in his summer travels. We don't get nearly enough time together these days, as he's all the way in Pennsylvania.

Unfortunately, while we were having dinner at my in-laws home, someone broke into our house again, this time stealing a bunch of stuff, including laptops belonging to each of us: my brother, my roommate and me. This time, it feels less like a disturbing personal violation, but more frustrating. I'm tired of this.

I'm trying to decide if my lack of a sense of violation speaks well of my reaching a place where possessions are not the most important thing, or whether I'm just numb from having too much to deal with. Happily, I got a call from Iraq today; talking with Matt certainly adds more comfort and assurance.

Plus, the banana tree in the backyard flowered, which means it's fixin' to make real bananas. And tomatoes are forming all over, growing and tempting us with hints of yellowy color as they promise to turn red.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

friday five: beach edition

I'm a little blog-post-crazy this morning, but, after posting my other two, found I couldn't resist this week's Friday Five on RevGalBlogPals.

Here goes:

1. Ocean rocks, lake limps? Vice versa? Or "it's all beautiful in its own way"?
It's all beautiful in its own way.  Oceans pretty much rock, but there's also little that can beat a pristine lake, high in the mountains.    Being a good Nebraskan, I'm also quite fond of rivers.  the Platte in particular.  (Bonus points if it's March and it's covered with migrating sandhills cranes.)  Being a southern Californian by choice, I'm drawn to the beach.

however: polluted oceans and lakes, industrial seaports, and contaminated rivers are lame.

2. Year round beach living: Heaven...or the Other Place?
Heaven.  When I first moved to San Diego, I felt like it was my duty to live by the beach.  I rented a little beach house two blocks from Ocean Beach, and loved it (except the parking and the loud parties on Saturday nights).  On still nights, I could hear the waves from my bed.  I suppose that was helped by my living in a rickety old 20's cottage, but it was still lovely.

3. Any beach plans for this summer?
Nothing dramatic, but I did got for a lovely walk on a pier yesterday.  (See 2 posts below)

4. Best beach memory ever?
Wow.  I have trouble with superlatives, 'cause there are just many good possibilities.  A pretty darn spectacular one was staying in a high-end yurt on the Big Sur coast with Matt before his last deployment--it was far-removed from development, and beautiful.

Driving the bit of the "lost coast" in northern California that is accessible by road, with my brother many years ago, was pretty fun, too.  Really, that was a pretty fun trip: I remember waking once in Oregon, to find that my brother had driven my car ONTO the beach, and we were headed directly for the water.  It was a startling wake-up vision.  He assures me he was going to stop, whether or not I woke up.

Then there's all the fun memories with friends: spring breaks past in Florida and South Carolina, bits of beach in Rhode Island and Texas, first visits in childhood...  Fantasies of beach living while walking the streets of Boston, eating ice cream.

Oh, but what can compare to snorkeling in Hawaii??!?

Geez.  Too hard a question.

5. Fantasy beach trip?
I have two primary sorts of beach trip fantasies:
one involving a long, relaxing vacation with my husband (who, in this fantasy, is also not in Iraq and out of the Army) somewhere beautiful and secluded
and
one involving a big beach house with lots of friends and plenty of time to hang out together

Bonus: Share a piece of music/poetry/film/book that expresses something about what the beach means to you.

Here's a picture from my North Carolina visit to Matt in April; I like that it feels like an invitation to future possibilities.

garden progress: june 14

Not that you asked, here's what the front yard garden is looking like this weekend.  :)

I'm quite pleased that the daisies I started from seed last year are blooming.  Mom and I have a long and lovely history of daisy-growing, and of transporting them from house to house at moves.  Maybe these particular plants will have such an illustrious story to share, one day.  (Not that I'm planning to move anytime soon.  I'm just thinking long-long term.)

lovely days

I spent a lovely day yesterday with my good friend, Erika.  (And, happily, a good bit of it with Joel, too; besides being exquisitely fun to hang out with, he taught me useful skills like how to play lego video games and wii bowling...)

Er and I build our friendship over shared ice cream cones (with occasional enchilada parties thrown in, but, really, that came later).  She walked with me through my own sense of call to ministry and through a variety of other college adventures; I like to think that I was a decent companion to her, too, as she journeyed through seminary and ministry internships and associated challenges.  And, almost always, there was ice cream.  I anchor our friendship into JP Licks, on Newbury Street in Boston, sitting in the teacup.

Now, in Southern California for the last 10 years, the ice cream more often comes with a walk on the beach or a pier.  (Not that the ice cream sharing is as frequent as I'd like, but you work with what you can get...)  I count it as sacrament.

Martin Luther, I'm told, did theology with a beer in hand.  I'll do it with a cone.  

I have no illusions of unraveling the mysteries of why it is so wonderful.  I only testify to my experience: that, when contemplated with the cool, smooth, usually-chocolate, creamy sweetness of ice cream, theological challenges always seem more approachable. 

Yesterday, contemplating how it might ever be possible to cultivate leadership in a system as diverse and wacky as our church, contemplating how we're called to teach people the openness of our theological tradition and how that can work when we're set in the midst of a culture that makes a whole lot of unhelpful assumptions about what "right" Christian theology is, I felt hope.  Talking about our own lives and hopes for the future, I felt assurance. 

I also suspect that friendships make ice cream better, and ice cream deepens friendships.

I think I need to take my problems for a walk in the sun, ice cream in hand and good companion at my side, more often.

I also felt new enthusiasm for this work of opening an ice cream shop in my neighborhood.  Perhaps its sacred possibilities will be accessible to many who gather there.

May it be so.

Monday, June 09, 2008

flickr meme: all about me

I am unable to resist this meme, which invites folks to answer some simple questions, and then search flickr with those words as the search string. From the first page of search results, here are my picks:




1. Little Painter Molly, 2. Chicken Enchilada Stack, 3. bulldog bus!, 4. Cute Tiger Moth Caterpillar, 5. Right before Jon shook my hand., 6. WIRED, 7. New York, NY, 8. Isaac tries a ice cream, 9. Word Clash _0722, 10. 133: SOTTS will make you jump!, 11. Bliss, 12. Transport


Name: Molly
Favorite Food: enchiladas
High School: North Platte High
Favorite Color: orange
Celebrity Crush: Jon Bon Jovi
Favorite Drink: coffee
Dream Vacation: New York City (at least, it's my dream vacation for today. with Matt.)
Favorite Dessert: JP Licks ice cream
What I want to be when I grow up: spoken word poetry queen
What I love most in life: grace
One word to describe me: brilliant (and humble?)
My flickr name: Mali's just west of Niger (I had to search for just mali, west and niger, 'cause my whole name turned up nothing)

made with this cool flickr tool

garden hoes

Friday, while I was working in the garden with my neighbors (ages 10, 12 and 14), I asked one of them to carry the hoe.  There was a moment of awkward silence.  Then the oldest said something about having just learned that there's a tool called a hoe, used for digging.  And I realized in a moment of startling sadness that my neighbors learned what it means to be called a ho long before they knew to use a garden hoe.   

Saturday, June 07, 2008

projects

I thought I'd share a few projects I've been working on lately.  Perhaps my sharing them will encourage me to continue on finishing some of the things I've started...

My quest to eat more locally continues.  This week, happily, it means making jam out of tasty youngberries from my wonderful inlaws' house.  Yum.  


I will not, however, post the picture of the front of my shirt by the end of jam-making. It turns out that people wear aprons for a reason.

I spent a bit of time this afternoon making new friends--with two sixth-graders who live across the street (next to the house that the police raided last week...) and who (as it turns out) like to garden.  Along with a neighbor from my side of the street, we planted beets and okra and cucumbers and some flowers.  And ate squash together.

This garden stuff is pretty cool.

All of which also helped push me to *finally* make myself a shirt featuring a picture of broccoli from my garden.  My first experiment with creating a cloth applique by running fabric through my laser printer.  We'll see how it lasts.  Half of the websites warned me IN ALL CAPS that running fabric through my laser printer was a HORRIBLE idea.  The other half said it was simple and easy.  So far, it's been simple and easy.  Here's hoping...
Do you think the broccoli-shirt movement will catch on?  Or, perhaps, it's a wear-what-you-grow movement.  Hmmm.
In other clothing-creating fun, I've been playing with quick and easy appliques using Wonder-Under.  Inspired, again, by my garden.  And babies.  Hooray for friends who are having babies.
The baby clothes pinnacle for today, though, has to be this attempt at wonder twins fun for a friend with new (you guessed it) twins.  I hope she doesn't read my blog.  Here's to Zan and Jayna!
And, on a less wacky note, I finally made myself some kitchen curtains from a vintage tablecloth I got in Nebraska.  I also dug my grommeter thingy out of the attic in the hopes that I might actually, finally, finish my living room curtains.

Now that I've written it in blog, maybe I'll have to follow through.

Tomorrow, though, much of my day will be spent in new excitement: I'm volunteering at our *new* City Heights Farmers Market in the morning, and helping with a workshop for some women who want to start a crafting co-op to help create a financial safety net as they seek to get out of poverty in the afternoon.  Good stuff.  

Oh, and still dreaming about my church's plan to open a coffeehouse in my neighborhood.  It seems it may be becoming an ice cream shop.  Which, in my book, is pretty darn wonderful.  But more about that later.  I've got to get to bed now, so I can be fresh for the morning market!