Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday Five: Home Sweet Home

Songbird posted another interesting FF. I can’t tell if she is nesting or about to pull up roots. But it gets me thinkin’...

I've got home on my mind: what it feels like, how we make it, what we carry from the past and how we separate other people's leftovers from objects that really reflect our identity. My family has had one home for the past 13 years, the longest I've ever lived anywhere. As the time when all the children are gone comes closer, I wonder where my next home will be?

So here are five questions about home.

1) Where was your first home?

My first home was in Chillicothe, IL outside of Peoria. So how it “plays in Peoria” is very interesting to me. I remember the house. My brother was there just this spring for his 60th high school reunion. He says the house is still there across from the old high school.

2) Do you ever dream about places you used to live?

I used to until I moved back to TX. 

3) If you could bring back one person from your past to sit at your dinner table, who would you choose?

My mom. But not EVERY meal! I would love to talk to her again about things around Ft. Worth and how they have developed the way they did. I would love to talk to her about genealogy and what I have found out about the family. She couldn’t talk her last 3 years of her life and just to be able to talk with her would be a blessing.

4) What's your favorite room in your current living space?

My new office. A couple of revgals came last week and help me organize the office and now I have a place to work, think, pray, study, write and just putz.

5) Is there an object or an item where you live now that represents home? If not, can you think of one from your childhood?

‘Home’ was not necessarily a pleasant place growing up and I spent much of my life running away from it—claiming who I was despite what my home environment was like. It is ironic that I have returned to the place where I grew up and am enjoying it. There is something to be said about the kind of healing that has gone on in my life, psychological and spiritual. ‘Home’ now has to do less with objects—I have moved too many times in my life to center on ‘things’, but home has to do with ‘who’ is there.                                                                 (J. is standing on the far left in the blue flowered jacket)

J’s cancer has made me think a lot about what happens when the “who” might not be there. And for the first time since I was a child, I have really known fear. It is an important thing to think about, fear, because it makes strange one’s whole approach to life. The only thing that seems to calm it is prayer and friends.

Ooooh I think I have a blog article coming on….

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Subversive Power of the Gospel

Today was the first gathering my first Bible Study as a member of the staff of my new church. I have been attending this program-sized parish for about 9 months now. I have preached and celebrated and sung in the choir. But on Sunday, the rector ‘regularized’ my status by adopting me as an ‘assisting priest’.

It is a neat parish. It is one of the few fairly progressive parishes that was not tainted by the Iker regime. It is in the suburb of Ft. Worth where I started teaching back in the late sixties when I was an undergrad. One of the kids I had in school is now the Jr. Warden. When I taught there, it was a small spot on the road where the kids were often late to school because “the cows jumped the fence.” There was one school K-8 with 2 classrooms of each grade. Now the system has 23 elementary schools! And it is one of the fastest growing cities and tony school systems in all of TX.

But today I met with 8 very active and rather vocal and thirsty senior women who wanted to learn more about the Bible. Some of them feel as though they know NOTHING and even though they may have been Episcopalians their whole lives, they feel woefully out of touch with the source of their faith. Some were raised in other traditions but in ALL cases they felt that the Bible had been mediated to them and carefully interpreted to them by men.

I asked them what they wanted to study. Some of the had participated in a long study of Revelation (I am with Luther; I don’t think it should have been collected into the Bible), but all were generally just as baffled by it. They said they wanted to study something that wasn’t just history but something that would feed their understanding of the roots of Christianity from Hebrew Scripture. We settled on Amos because few knew about the 7th century BC loss of the Northern Kingdom and had never studied Hebrew poetry or the early prophetic movements. I am excited about studying scripture with these women.

One woman who had been the buyer for her parish book store in another conservative diocese said that the rector only allowed her to buy books from conservative authors. Another said, she quite frankly didn’t believe in a lot the ‘BS’ that she had been taught in sermons. And I was able to say, I didn’t either. And we all laughed.

If there is anything I know for certain about Holy Scripture is that it is subversive. And these women are eager to hear a liberating Word. These are women who have been betrayed by an interpretation of God’s acts that has been used to control them. And what they are going to find out is that God has a Word for them.

The whole idea of women studying the Bible together has, I am sure, been going on for 2000 years—whether it was allowed or behind closed doors. Even Paul found it scary what happened when women found the source of their power in the life of Jesus. These women are ready to step into the scary world of being free in their faith. Watch out, Church!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Friday, September 16, 2011Friday Five: Seeking What?

Jan is making us use our thinking caps:  I was struck in our weekly Lectio Divina group by a few verses from Psalm 105:3-4:

. . . let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.

Seek the Lord and his strength;

seek his presence continually.

Seeking is rejoicing. Rejoicing comes from the seeking, NOT the end of glory, heaven, enlightenment, or whatever. Seeking is the journey--RIGHT NOW!

So for this Friday Five, list what you are seeking, whether it is trivial, profound, or ordinary--whatever you would like to share! List 5 and add a bonus if you feel like it!

1.  Peace:  It has been hectic ever since J. started chemo.  Now she is doing radiation.  I worry because I am not feeling like I am doing enough.  But I don't know what 'enough' is.  We only have 5 more weeks of this and we are done but it has been a long time since Easter.  J is chemo-brained at the moment and it means that all she wants to do is sleep, read and watch tv.  It means that there isn't much companionship but we'll get through it.

2.  Activity:  I am way too restless to sit at home in front of my computer everyday.  Retirement can't be this boring!  I am starting to teach a bible study in my parish on Wednesdays so that will get me out of the house.  The diocesan properties are still hung up in court so I don't know when I will have a parish again. It has been too hot to walk until yesterday.  Today it is cool again too.  Perhaps I can get out and walk a bit this morning.  Now I understand what my mother said when my dad retired:  "I married him for better and for worse, but not for lunch!"

3.  Organization:  I have never been organized but I have always counted on my spontaneity to get me through.  But this house needs some serious organization.  A couple of friends have offered to give me a day to help me organize the office.  We have never gotten moved in and after a year of boxes, it is past time to get this done.  My therapist tells me I have a case of adult onset ADD.  I probably have had it all my life and thought it was a gift to be able to do ministry!  I thought it was called 'multi-tasking'!  Oh, well, who says it isn't!

4.  Meaning:  Viktor Frankl aside, I think I am at a time in my life when I am trying to grasp what it means to be on the cusp of a new age.  I am trying to look through my beliefs and really figure out what about faith that actually makes my life run, makes my life better.  About once a month I blog on another part of theology that I am trying to work out.  Words like Redemption, Salvation, Atonement, etc. don't seem to carry the meaning of my relationship to God and Christ anymore and so I am trying to work out ways of speaking about the Bible, the Incarnation, and the mighty acts of God in ways that do make sense.  Faith has been a gift that was given; transformation is the way that I use that gift.  I am trying to steer away from all of those metaphysical words that have peppered theology so that we don't even know what they mean.  And I am using words from other disciplines to describe my relationship with the divine.  Sometimes it helps.

5.  A good recipe for Beef Bourguignon:  I have a couple of recipes that require lard or other such vein clogging ingredients.  Anybody out there got one?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

9/11 Repris

Things have been rather hectic around our house this past weekend. I had planned to write something on the anniversary of the 9/11 attack but J. cut her hands rather badly on Friday and I have been playing step n’ fetchit ever since. But I did see several good reflection pieces on the anniversary, not the least was a PBS piece on faith following 9/11—a rather pessimistic approach, I am afraid.

I was in California 10 years ago. I had just resigned my parish when it was clear that the Daddy Warbucks of the parish and the bishop were in cahoots to get me out of the parish. I had done what I was asked to do—start an Hispanic mission in the parish. And it had been so successful that it began to scare the wealthy Anglos in that parish. They felt that they were going to get swallowed up by the Mexicans that worked in their fields. I was angry. I was fed up with the politics in church.

My mother called me at 6am to wake me to the events on TV. By that time the first plane had struck the first tower and we watched in horror as the second one flew into the other tower. She was afraid we were being attacked by some military power at first. The remembrances of Pearl Harbor were dancing in her head. And I had heard those stories since my childhood.

I had also lived in NY and Washington, DC and was anxious about friends who I knew worked at the Pentagon or in the World Trade Buildings. I wanted to gather ‘my people’ for prayer, but I no longer had the keys to the parish. The local ministerium did gather for prayer in the largest Roman Catholic Church in town and it did get a standing room crowd. One of the prominent RC lay leaders had a son at the Pentagon that day. The son had been called to the other side of the building to advise the Chief of Staff when the third plane hit the building. His office and his co-workers were all wiped out but the son was able to call his father and tell him he was safe. We prayed in fear, in sorrow and in gratitude that day.

Later that week after the flight lockdown was lifted; I flew to TX to visit my family. I talked to flight attendants who had lost co-workers on the flights. J. had been a priest in Syracuse when the sabotage of the Pan-Am flight over Lockerbee, Scotland and there had been many Syracuse University students on that flight. I was beginning to understand deeply how precarious life is in a world that resorts to terrorism. I was being touched by events happening 3,000 miles away in ways that I had not experienced before.

And perhaps that IS what happened –Americans began to be touched by what had happened in other parts of the world. We could no longer be na├»ve about what happens in other parts of the globe. The poverty and the ubiquitous message of American idealism are explosive ingredients. And add to that religious piety and nationalistic jingoism, it is not surprising that we were targeted as the ‘evil empire.’

The kind of nihilism that Al-Qaida represented has been represented at other times in history. The assassination of Grand Duke Ferdinand that precipitated WWI did not have as many victims initially but certainly fanned a war that garnered many more. There was a whole series of bombings in 1848 which shook Europe. And I can’t help but be mindful of the fiery sermons of Bernard of Clairveaux that stirred the hearts of Europe to the folly of the Crusades.

I do not believe in ‘just wars’. I do not believe that there is justice in killing others to get what we want. I do however know that sometimes, despite our faith, we must fight to defend ourselves. It is something that no matter who is ‘right’ and who is ‘wrong’, when we resort to violence, we fail in what it means to follow Christ. That said, there are times when we must participate in war –survival is more important. But afterward there must be a place/time where we find a way to be reconciled.

In February of 2001 I flew to NYC and was seated next to a man who was obviously Middle Eastern. We began to chat. I asked him if he had any problems getting through security. He said no. Even though he was Iranian, he had an Indian passport. His family was Zoroastrians not Muslim and had left Iran when he was young. I became aware of how little I knew of the Middle East—the diversity of cultures that are there. I am still ignorant of the history of the antipathy between Shia and Sunni; I cannot comprehend the fierceness of the partisanship there. But I can only be reminded of the idiocy of the Thirty Years’ War between Catholics and Protestants in the 17th century. History does help in moderating opinion.

But I do believe that the 2nd Iraqi war was wrong. It was an emotional response to an emotional event. There was too much vengeance on the part of the US and it reminded me of the bullyboy who is just out for a fight and can't figure out where to apply his wrath. And the entrance into Afghanistan has never made much sense to me.

But we have been touched by the world like we have never been. We cannot resort to isolationism anymore. We cannot close our boarders anymore than Europe can. We cannot say “it isn’t our fight” anymore. There must be some balance between the haves and have-nots to keep from having this kind of ‘touch’ be epidemic and we will find ourselves battling from caves again.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Friday, September 09, 2011Friday Five: Your Work Space

Revkjarla posted this for the FF:

I don't know about you, but I am a notoriously messy creative worker. My workspace at home, and at my office is always littered with books and papers and mail and pens and keys and mugs....and tschotske (momentos, weird things, etc.) I am looking right now at a pair of dice that someone gave me that have "God" on each side, so that anyway you roll 'em, you end up with God. Different, right?

So, this Friday Five is all about YOUR tschotske in your workplace. Describe five things in/on your workspace (however you define workspace--I tend to spill over onto bedside tables, end tables, coffee tables...create wherever I land) that are special to you! Bonus points for pictures!

My workspace is now my recliner. The office hasn’t been set up yet. We have only been here a year! And after a lifetime of ministry, I have so many tschotskes that I am not sure I have much of substance. I am waiting for my new parish to have a rummage sale! But now I am going to just name the momentoes of that life in ministry that I can see from my recliner.

1. A clay chalice that was given to me by a friend at my ordination. I don’t remember the name of the person who gave it to me but I can remember her face. (The problem of being over 65). It has traveled with me from coast to coast on several occasions and has arrived at retirement with many memories of intimate services at bedsides or in homes or camps. It reminds me of the gift of the Eucharist and the simplicity of the meal that Christ shared with his disciples.

2. A piece of stained glass: The first baptism I did was while I was a deacon. He owned a stained glass business in Ithaca. For my priestly ordination (just a few weeks later) he gave me a round piece of hanging glass that has the Alpha and Omega (which was on my invitations) on it. It is about pie-plate sized and sparkles in the sunlight. The night I was ordained I was called as rector of two little parishes along the Susquehanna River ( at the moment over-flowing its banks—please pray for the people of Bainbridge, Sydney and Afton, NY). In one church we had some reredos hiding a beautiful stained glass window in my new parish. I got the guys to move the reredos and found that there had been damage that had been repaired with clear glass to the window. I called my friend from Ithaca and he came and restored the window by matching the existing glass and firing painted glass to restore the 19th century glass.

3. A piece of calligraphy: When I left my parish in suburban Washington, DC, the parish presented me with a wonderful piece of calligraphy that says: “O Lord, Thou didst strike my heart with Thy word and I loved thee” by Michael Podesta. I am not especially a fan of St. Augustine, but it so encompasses how I understand how God has called me and nurtured me throughout the years that it has an important place in our home. It is a small piece but so right for the wall of an office. But right now I live in a rented home where we can’t put things on the wall. I have got to find a place where it can remind me each day of those who gave it, the One that inspired it and what I am continually called to.

4. A wooden box: In my first parish I had a wonderful octogenarian who was the matriarch of the parish. I was the first woman called to serve St. Pete’s and she didn’t know whether she was going to like me or not. My very first call in the parish, of course, was to her. We hit it off from the beginning. And two years later when she died, her niece brought me this simple wooden box that was hers. It is an antique now—but it will always be a remembrance of her ‘adoption’ and the success I had in that first parish. She taught me much, as did that whole parish. I often wonder if parishes understand how important they are for the new clergy that they open their hearts to.

5. A casserole dish: This is a 7qt big pot with a lid that my first sister-in-law gave me for Christmas. Carol died back in the late 90’s of cancer. She found this in a pottery shop here in Ft. Worth. She said that the potter sold it to her and asked her if she knew me. Joe and I had gone to school together from first grade. It has taken chili, soup, all kinds of covered dishes to church dinners for 25 years or so now. It is a beautiful pot. And just a few weeks ago I attended a meeting of my high school class and the Joe was there. That pot has ‘held us together’ all these years. And I will take it next spring as we celebrate our 50th class reunion.

Tschotskes are not so much stuff to dust; they are mementoes of your life. They are like the cross or rings or even sacraments laden with people and events that make our lives rich. Revkjarla, don’t worry about having a messy desk. Your desk reminds you of people and friends and your ability to be flexible when necessary.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A friend sent this to me this morning.  I really like it. Einstein was considered stupid when he was in school. I was considered stupid and did not do well in school either. I am not an Einstein but I am a helluva lot smarter than my school marks show. Part of the problem was that my folks started me to school early. I started to kindergarten at 4. It wasn't until I was in graduate school that I really caught up.

Secondly, I now know that I am dyslexic enough that I would have been put in learning disabled classes now--and probably still considered dumb. I learned differently from the way they taught. I am a kinesthetic learner--I learn by doing rather than by hearing. It is why I excelled in music because I enjoyed practicing. I love to do research now that we have computers. I am not one for sitting and reading ancient tomes in dusty libraries. I get very antsy in libraries.  And I am allergic to either the dust in dusty libraries or to the library past of past years.

As an ENFP I am one of those intuitive persons who doesn't know how I know stuff but I know it. This is one of the most common personality types for clergy. We are only 10% of the population. One wag said that on any given Sunday that folks like us are preaching what we don't know how we know to 90% of the population who does know how they know stuff. No wonder the Christian message has had such a difficult time being understood!

I also speak and explain things by allegory (it is why I preach well) rather than repeating facts. But it does not serve when trying to do academic work. It has surprised me that I have gotten so much enjoyment about writing in the past 10 years.

But most of all, I do so enjoy those whom I have met on the various chats I have been a part of over the past almost 20 years I have been on line. I am still not too tech saavy. I have never learned techy language and so I still have difficulty telling the geek fix-it guy what is wrong with my computer. I just know that it is sick and needs some help--it doesn't work right. J's computer isn't much better. It is flinchy. But it also has Windows 7 rather than Vista which is on mine.

It is interesting how much of my life has been determined by how others thought I should learn-- even while I was doing doctoral work.  I wonder if education means learning how to learn the way others learn in order to prove to others that I have learned rather than educators reaching into me and finding out how I know what I know.  Just sayin'...

Friday, September 2, 2011

More on the Anglican Covenant

I just noticed this morning a post on Alan T. Perry's blog a rather comprehensive evaluation of the Anglican Covenant.  I would heartly recommend any who follow here to check his blog  for this study.  Alan is a canon of the cathedral in Montreal and is a canonist.  He looks at the proposed canon in the light of not only Canadian polity but also of many of the different aspects that are raised by the wording of the AC. 

The Season You're In - Friday Five

Kathrynzj has posted a fall Friday Five:
Headquarters for me is the northeast of the United States. Here school is getting back in session, the tease of autumn is in the air (or the hope for the tease of autumn is in the air) and church life is gearing up to full throttle.

One thing I've learned with blogging and social media is that the where I live is not necessarily where you live. And so I want to know what September means to you, in your place of the world and time in your life.

This week's Friday Five is:

What are 5 things that the beginning of September mean to you?

Bonus: What's one thing you could do without?

Kathrynzj has posed a fall FF. But we are far from the fall I knew when I lived up north. And I am far from Texanized in my interior calendar so this is going to be more of a Yankee version than where I am living now. Also note that my left shift key is not working so if all the letters that should be capitalized aren’t…well, tough. The laptop goes to the fix-it shop this afternoon.

1. School; I taught for 15 years before I turned to preachin’. I am like a fire horse when it comes to September. I have been restless all Aug. because I wasn’t planning adult ed. classes, thinking about bulletin boards etc. I am teaching a bible study starting the 21st so I spent some time devising a pre-test for my class. I have not taught bible in this parish before and I don’t know what they know. I have missed teaching a regular bible study. I am leaving it up to the group as to what book we are going to study. They do want a spiritual reading of the Bible rather than a scholarly study of the book. And I can appreciate that. Some of these folk have been reading their Bible for years but want something more out of it. It is time to put on my Benedictine allegorical hat.

2. Fall weather; I love the crisp mornings, the leaves turning, etc. it is my favorite season. But in Texas we don’t get a real fall. And since we have had only a thimble of rain in the past 2 months and triple digit temps for over 2 months, I am covetous of Kathryn’s fall. I think I now know when I am going to visit my friends in Ny.

3. Rain; I have blogged about it; prayed about it; cussed about it. There is nothing like a crisp fall day with a gentle rain. But we haven’t had any this summer. The yard is dry. The leaves are dry but they won’t fall until Dec. The garden burned up months ago. It won’t be until October until we get fall-like weather if even then. I do fear that when we do get rain, the ground is so hard-pan that it won’t be able to absorb it and then we will have floods that will take the topsoil with it.

4. Pecans; we have 2 large pecan trees in the yard. They must be the kinds that have nuts every other year because we didn’t have any last year. But this year they are full of green nuts that will fall in the fall. But since fall isn’t here we don’t have nuts yet. I look forward to having those fresh nuts and some pecan pie. I always add a bit of bourbon to my pecan pie to make it a bit richer.

5. Smells and foods; There are certain smells that speak to me of fall. Of course, wood smoke or leaf smoke but there are certain spices that also remind me that it is fall—cinnamon and apples, clove and all spice. I generally don’t roast pork during the summer—I barbeque it. But in the fall roast pork with cloves and the last of the summer peaches, or ham and beans seem to go with the season. Lima beans and corn, fried green tomatoes are southern delicacies as the gardens begin to be put to bed for the winter. In CA it was time for cabbage and broccoli—oh did the fields stink after having been so strawberry-sweet all summer. It is the time for butternut squash rather than zucchini.

Bonus: Heat—did I mention that it is freakin’ hot down here?