Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Birth of a Christmas Sermon: Sharing the Creative Process

I've just finished the process of sharing in the creation of a Christmas Eve meditation. I've never collaborated on the writing of any sermon, but to have done so for such a special service feels even more poignant.

The senior minister and I each wrote about half of the meditation (focusing on the Angels' message to "Be not afraid") and I believe it has been woven together wonderfully. Thanks to Hal for being such a generous and fun colleague! 

A blessed Christmas to All!

Toward A New Paradigm
"Toward a New Paradigm" by Mary Southard,CSJ

Friday, December 19, 2008

Bearing God

I can't help it! Advent is my favorite season of the church year, and Mary's stories grab me like no other. So here is another of my favorite prayer/poems. This one is by Jan L. Richardson. Enjoy!

Not to one, but to many you have called:


On the dancing wind


From the deepest forest


From the highest places


From the distant lands

Come from the edge of darkness


From the depth of fear

And become

The bearer of God.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Maria Sacerdota

As I research my sermon for the 4th Sunday in Advent (also the winter Solstice, I'd like to note!), I came across this amazing poem about Mary ... who is the focus of this week's Gospel text. Just as Mary's Magnificat forever challenges the status quo, so this poem by Alla Renee Bozarth challenges our perceptions of Mary's relationship to her child. 

Maria Sacerdota—

Mary, Protopriest of the New Covenant


Before Jesus

was his mother.


Before supper

in the upper room,

breakfast in the barn.


Before the Passover Feast,

a feeding trough.

And here, the altar

of earth, fair linens

of hay and seed.


Before his cry,

her cry.

Before his sweat

of blood, her bleeding

and tears.

Before his offering, hers.


Before the breaking

of bread and death,

the breaking of her

body in birth.

Before the offering

of the cup,

the offering of her


Before his blood,

her blood.

And by her body and blood

alone, his body and blood

and whole human being.


The wise ones knelt

to hear the woman's word

in wonder.

Holding up her sacred child,

her God in the form of a babe,

she said: "Receive and let

your hearts be healed

and your lives be filled

with Love, for

this is my body,

this is my blood."


--The Reverend Dr. Alla Renee Bozarth

Friday, December 12, 2008

Windows of the Soul Friday Five

Compliments of Sophia at RevGalBlogPals - she writes...
This Friday Five is inspired by my husband's Lasik surgery yesterday....He'd been contemplating it for a while and was pushed over the edge by the fact that we put too much money in our healthcare spending account this year and it would have been gone anyway. (There was only enough for one eye, but the kind people at the eye clinic figured out a way to divvy up the charges between surgery and followup in January=next year's spending account). So please say a little prayer for his safe recovery and share with us your thoughts on eyes and vision.

1. What color are your beautiful eyes? Did you inherit them from or pass them on to anyone in your family? 
Green with a tendency to go blue sometimes... my parents and brothers all have deep slate-blue eyes (hmmm).
2. What color eyes would you choose if you could change them?
I kinda like my eye-color ... perhaps I'd enjoy my dad's blue, or maybe the violet contact lenses that a teen in my church wears.
3. Do you wear glasses or contacts? What kind? Like 'em or hate 'em?
Thick coke bottle glasses (thank heaven for lighter, thinner lenses!). They're okay, in this wonderful future time we live in (oh how I hated those thick glasses as a kid - went to contacts in Jr. High and didn't go back until grad school - rough memories).
4. Ever had, or contemplated, laser surgery? Happy with the results?
No way! I have too much of a Mary Ingalls-inspired fear of blindness. I will happily live with my glasses.
5. Do you like to look people in the eye, or are you more eye-shy?
Bonus question: Share a poem, song, or prayer that relates to eyes and seeing.
"I see my eyes in your eyes through my eyes - still waters." -from You and Me of the 10,000 Wars by the Indigo Girls.

Monday, December 1, 2008


...sort of (*Visiting family of origin: vacation or not? Discuss*).
Watching our 4th movie (give or take); eating our 7th meal of Thanksgiving leftovers (give or take); drinking our 13th bottle of wine (give or take). Mmmm, wine.

Thanksgiving may be over, but I give thanks for this visit with brothers and parents. I give thanks for sentimental reminders of childhood - people and places and things. I give thanks for reconnecting with long-time friends.
And yes, I give thanks for wine!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Jamie - Thank You Thank You!

Yes, she gets TWO thank yous. 

Jamie is coming "home" with me once again to share the joys of family and the pains of traveling. Doesn't she rock!

Happy Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Bulletin Back - Thank You!

The back side of this morning's bulletin at church offered "ten good reasons to be grateful now" rather than waiting for Thursday. They are important enough for me to reproduce here:

1) For the brave and diligent leadership of John Thomas, General Minister and President of our United Church of Christ.

2) For all the church volunteers: trustees and deacons, greeters and ushers, babysitters and teachers, waiters and dishwashers, and all those who bring the same casserole to every church supper [yum!].

3) For our church choirs, who sing like the angels in heaven... most of the time [hey! the psalm says make a joyful NOISE to the Lord].

4) For our pastors, who give even more than we ask, which is more than we should.

5) For the Christmas Fund, which cares for our retired pastors and their surviving spouses in need. 

6) For all those who work and pray for Christian unity, here and around the world.

7) For this congregation and for the United Church of Christ.

8) For God's creation, which renews itself daily despite our constant abuse and neglect.

9) For our next breath; and life itself.

10) And, above all, for the overflowing blessings we receive every day from the stillspeaking God.

 I give thanks for this list, UCC! 

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Rest - Thank You

Yes, I know "rest" is not a person whom I can thank, but it is a gift of the Creator for which I am very thankful.

For some reason, several of our staff members have not been sleeping well this week. We collectively lamented 2am wakings, sudden realizations at hours when work should be the last thing on our subconscious minds, and preparing for the day at 4 0'clock because sleep just wasn't going to call us back again that morning.

But last night I finally feel I slept. 

Yet rest is so much more than sleeping. It's the letting go that so many of us can't seem to do in this age of doing doing doing. It's the not being "on" that so many clergy-type tend to embrace more than necessary. It's the choice of reading a comic book or playing mahjong or curling up with your kitties for a nap rather than reading the Christian Century, writing a (very) late newsletter article or cleaning the (very) messy house. 

So for the gift of rest, I give thanks today. And, now, I'm going to turn OFF my computer and rest.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Solid - Thanks Dad!

Of course I'm going to express gratitude to my father as well. And the gift that I most strongly relate with him is that he's always been solid.

I can't think of a time my dad wasn't there. Even when he worked 3 jobs in order to keep us all fed and warm, I still remember his ever solid presence.

He was present when I said my goodnight prayers, kneeling at the coffee table that held his pipe (I loved sniffing that pipe); he was present when I was having "hissy fits" over my math homework in 6th grade (God bless his patience!); and he was present for all my major life transitions, including our big ol' lesbian church wedding.

Many years ago, his and Mom's friends named him "St. John the Meek" because of his quiet manner ... but there was always the solidity underlying his calm. There are times I wish I could have inherited more of his solidity, and perhaps I can strive to grow more into it; but for now I'll just celebrate that he has always shared his with each of us. 

Creativity - Thanks Mom!

It seems so sad that we relegate thankfulness to one day - or if we're dedicated, perhaps one month - of the year. While we may experience gratitude often, we don't tend to make it a priority of spiritual practice. Here is my attempt to extend my remembrance of gratitude for more than a day.

I'm thankful for my mother's unending creativity and the ways she has continually blessed me through it. 

As a child, I remember watching her sew (our family still has photographs of the multitudes of dresses and Halloween costumes she made me as I grew). As an adult, I marvel at her ability to create ministerial stoles and chancel paraments from visions in her head and costumes for both modern and historical plays.

Our house always held the scent of something cooking, baking or being canned. I remember that, if she didn't have the ingredients, she'd "make do" with what she found (I'm especially grateful for that, as I often search the fridge for dinner and just throw things together - Jamie, on the other hand, is NOT thankful for this). 

My mom was superior at coming up with games and entertainment for my brothers and I. With blankets hanging in the doorway to keep the warm air in our living room, sleeping bags to spend the night and an open-lidded popcorn maker in the middle of the floor, she made a cold winter evening into a night of playful rule-breaking (popcorn popping into the air and onto the floor?!!). And our annual snowasaurus-making was ooh-ed and ahh-ed by the other kids on the bus. Remember the "Little Blue Brontosaurus" story? We woke up the morning after our first endeavor and, yup, found he really was BLUE (mom and her food coloring).

So for all of this and so much more, thank you, Mom!

Friday, November 7, 2008


Presbyterian Gal over at RevGalBlogPals posted this week's Friday Five... and it feels gooood (*week-end sigh of relief*). She says:

After an exhausting election here in the states it's time for some spirit lifting! Join me with a nice cup of tea or a coffee or cocoa and let's sit back and read the Funny Papers!

1. What was your favorite comic strip as a child?
As a kid I was always getting yelled at by people waiting because I read EVERY comic in the funny pages except Prince Valiant and Dennis the Menace. I remember the Sunday comics included 2 insert pages, too (not just the front and back we get now). Who can choose?!

2. Which comic strip today most consistently tickles your funny bone?
Rose is Rose by Pat Brady. It's laughs are uplifting and playful and loving and always life-affirming. And Rose's alter-ego kicks my butt with laughter.

3. Which Peanuts character is closest to being you?
Lucy - but I would never pull the football away!

4. Some say that comic strips have replaced philosophy as a paying job, so to speak. Does this ring true with you?
I'd have to think longer on this. Some strips definitely make you think about the world, social ills, politics, etc, but others are just fun for silliness' sake.

5. What do you think the appeal is for the really long running comic strips like Blondie, Family Circus, Dennis the Menace as some examples?
No clue - I'm going to read other's answers though!

BONUS QUESTION: Which discontinued comic strip would you like to see back in print?  I really enjoy the Far Side. All the episodes in hell make me laugh.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Festival of the Dead

Our church celebrated Totenfest (Festival of the Dead - in the same vein as All Saints') this past Sunday. We dedicated the ground for a new Memorial Garden, and we spoke the names of friends and family who'd died in this past year. It was an incredibly moving morning - I even cried in front of the entire congregation during my Homily (I blamed the choir for singing such a beautiful song). 

As I searched out resources for the Memorial Garden dedication ceremony, I found this poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. I didn't use it for anything except my own prayers and meditations beforehand. But I wanted to honor it's place in my musings this week.


Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I like that ancient Saxon phrase, which calls
The burial-ground God's-Acre! It is just;
It consecrates each grave within its walls,
And breathes a benison o'er the sleeping dust.

God's-Acre! Yes, that blessed name imparts
Comfort to those who in the grave have sown
The seed, that they had garnered in their hearts,
Their bread of life, alas! no more their own.

Into its furrows shall we all be cast,
In the sure faith that we shall rise again
At the great harvest, when the archangel's blast
Shall winnow, like a fan, the chaff and grain.

Then shall the good stand in immortal bloom,
In the fair gardens of that second birth;
And each bright blossom mingle its perfume
With that of flowers, which never bloomed on earth.

With thy rude ploughshare, Death, turn up the sod,
And spread the furrow for the seed we sow;
This is the field and Acre of our God,
This is the place where human harvests grow.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

There's no denying...

I thought it was a fluke - perhaps that my wife had a secret crush on the Republican VP candidate and therefore made comments... but now I know:

I bear a "remarkable" resemblance to Sarah Palin.

I say "remarkable", because people like to "remark" on the supposed similarity. 

No, it's not a true resemblance. It could be the glasses - or the square-shaped face. But really, it's my hair. In professional settings (i.e.: in church), I've worn my hair the same way for many, many years. Now that Sarah is in the limelight, I'm finally getting credit for my lovely 'do. 

I've been hearing "Oh my gosh! You look so much like..." for several weeks now. My favorite comment came today from a 73 year-old church member. She began with such loving hesitation, "I hope you don't take offense at this, but...". NO WAY! was my response. She was a BEAUTY QUEEN. But my favorite part of this conversation was, "Just because you look alike on the outside, Dear, please never change your differences on the inside". Awww. Again, NO WAY!

My second favorite comment from church this morning was: "Wow! I never realized how much you resemble Tina Fey - I mean - Sarah Palin" (totally unintential slippage). Ha! I love my church.


Friday, October 24, 2008


I truly believe in Sabbath - but as you may know for yourself, believing in and acting on something are two different things. 

Earlier this week I realized that I haven't taken near enough vacation days in '08 to maintain my sanity. So there she goes (bye-bye Sanity) taking her own vacation, slipping quietly onto a plane bound for the land of hysteria. 

In order to call her gently back to me, I contrived to take a day off ... but what does that mean? Do I (instead of reading texts in preparation for next week's sermon) attend to the housework that has piled up? Do I dive into the 3-months' worth of Christian Century magazines that have collected wrinkles in my backpack? How does one NOT feel guilty for refusing each of our "shoulds"?

My brain understood how much I needed time away, so rather than attempting any of the above, she shut down! I drove to a lake-side overlook in the sunshine ... and fell asleep. I came home via the public library, opened a book ... and fell asleep. Sometimes it is really nice to let the body's natural functioning take over.

All of this is to say: take some time to be. Yes, I'm speaking to me. But I hope you do it too! 

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Healing Hands

Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples
and gave them authority over unclean spirits,
to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness...
[He said,] "Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. 
You received without payment; give without payment".
-Matthew 10:1, 8

This afternoon about 15 people participated in a "laying on of hands" for a member of our church who has lung cancer. While some Christians may find this no big deal, our congregation tends to be on the "heady" side... and therefore not prone to the more mystical possibilities of prayer. Yet each person was 100% present to this ministry. We all came at it from a different understanding, but all believed that something - some form of healing for mind-body-emotion-spirit - can occur through prayer. 

The actual process seems so natural to me in the context of faith - any faith. From the power of community to the largeness of the Divine, such an expression of love should be a part of our witness. 

But the truly phenomenal piece of today was how much each person received in the practice of sharing prayer with another. Everyone left that circle with something new and powerful. 

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Soupy Saturday

Today is our first really overcast, cool, rainy, looking-through-gray-fog day of the season ... and yes, I love it. I love wearing jeans and boots and an oversize long sleeve shirt. 

And I love to eat soup.
Soup is one of those comfort foods that is always perfect. Sadly, I don't generally enjoy spending time in the kitchen. Period. 

But as our CSA veggies accumulated in the fridge, sending wiltingly disparaging glances my way, I knew I had to do something or be guilty of waste. And so it was soup!

*Curried Eggplant Soup
*Beet-Red Borscht
*Herbed Vegetable 

My mother would be so proud - my grandmother is probably rolling in her grave (I left out all sausage, beef or chicken).

Do you have any comfort foods? Let me know, and I'll dare to enter my kitchen again when you're feeling down (really ... but I can't guarantee it'll keep if it has to be UPS'd somewhere).

Friday, October 3, 2008

Friday 5: St. Francis of Assisi

Sally over at RevGalBlogPals introduced today's Friday Five with a great description of his early life. Check it out on that site! So this Friday Five is dedicated to St Francis of Assisi.

1. Saint Francis experienced a life changing call, has anything in your journey so far challenged you to alter your lifestyle?
In my experience, the call to ministry is nothing BUT life changing. It's all that I am and all that I hope to be each day (but never quite succeed!). Every day I learn more about Christ's call to all people to follow his paths, and every day I have to re-consider where I am following well and where I may fall short. Ah, change.

2. Francis experienced mocking and persecution, quite often in the comfortable west this is far from our experience. If you have experienced something like this how do you deal with it, if not how does it challenge you to pray for those whose experience is daily persecution?
It's taken a while to find my voice to respond to periodic "mocking and persecution". As a Christian, many secular liberals - especially in the lesbian circles I encounter - mock (fear? resent?) an active faith life; as a lesbian/liberal, many other Christians deride and despise who I am as a Christian and as a person. To the one, I've learned to respond with a little self-effacing humor, helping non-churchy-type folks see I don't take myself too seriously (but that I do take my faith seriously). To the other, I try to speak with love for, but disagreement with them: "I am faithful, as are you". This is never a perfected art, and it always takes some humility (God help me!) to try over and over again.

3 .St Francis had female counterpart in St Clare, she was influenced by St Francis sermon and went on to found the Poor Clare'slike the Franciscans they depended on alms this was unheard of for women in that time, but she persisted and gained permission to found the order. How important are role models like St Clare to you? Do you have a particular female role model whose courage and dedication inspires you? If so share their story....
They are SO VERY important to me. Many of them are still living or women who were a part of the church in which I was raised. Nancy, Vicki, Dot, Betty - others whose names have gone but whose words or actions remain vivid. Also, the works of Emily Dickinson and Emily Saliers both speak directly to my soul. Thanks so much for this question!

4. Francis loved nature and animals, how important is an expressed love of the created world to the Christian message today? 

How can it not be? God created all, and we are a part of it - not above or beyond it.

5. On a lighter note; have you ever led a service of blessing for animals, or a pet service, was it a success, did you enjoy it, and would you do it again?

Our 2 cats and I have been a part of one - and it was beautiful. A big YES to doing it again.

Thursday, October 2, 2008


night.trains.tourist_train.jpgI'm sitting outside a coffee shop on a gorgeous Colorado fall day (blue sky, sun about to burn my forehead, leaves literally falling in my hair) when all of a sudden a painfully loud whistle blast makes me jump. But that's okay - it didn't last very long, and the bicyclist near the rails was made to pay attention.

Anywhere you go in this town, at any hour, you can hear a train. From bed before sunrise; in Sunday worship's Moment for Silent Prayer; at restaurants with the menu touting "$1 shots when the train rolls by". In the past 15 minutes I've heard their cautionary cries from every possible direction. The tracks criss-cross in more directions and locations than people - accustomed to driving over the embedded rails - often realize. 

We seem to have a love-hate relationship with our trains. We take dubious pride in the (semi) main street down which cars can drive parallel to the train, within feet of it - sometimes going with the traffic, sometimes against it. Yet we despise the "wasted time" and inconvenience of having to sit (sometimes for 20 minutes) waiting for flashing red lights to cease their warning and restraining bars to raise their ban. 

I wonder what the symbolic message might be for the living of life in such an environment? "Slow down!" is too simplistic. I kind of like "pay attention". But there's more to it. If you've thought about this, tell me your musings. I'll have to muse more myself.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

With that, the great timber wars of the North Coast came to an end...

What a great line. 
It evokes the image of a long-whiskered grandfather sharing glories of olden days. It conjures memories of Bugs Bunny reading bedtime stories to his nephew Clyde.

But such playful platforms are not where I encountered this 
magnificent ending to such a seemingly fantastic tale. No, it's actually printed in the ink-smeared text of an Associated Press article: Tree-sitters descend from giant redwood. Every time I read it - "With that, the great timber wars of the North Coast came to an end" - I chuckle (*also a delightful word*) ... not the response I'd thought to have at the final descent of individuals (part of an extended network, of course) who've lived their protest for more than 20 years. 

I'd thought I'd have sniffles
I'd thought there'd be tears
Not *chuckles* or wordplay at this ending of years
where protest and demand 
marked love for the trees
made people take notice -
now what will we see?

May the Lorax live on, holding 'Grandma' 
(the "massive double redwood joined at the base") in his vision.

Friday, September 19, 2008

When in Our Music God is Glorified!

"How often, making music, we have found a new dimension in the world of sound,
As worship moved us to a more profound Alleluia!"
-When in Our Music God is Glorified
NCH # 561

"Make a joyful noise to the Lord, All the earth!"
-Psalm 100:1

From my vantage in worship, I recently watched a small (3yo) child during a hymn. He stood tall on his pew, held his hymnal high with both tiny hands gripped tightly on either side, pure oneness with his congregation on his face, his mouth opened wide. I don't know if actual words came out or if he simply made a "joyful noise" to intertwine with our communal singing - and it doesn't really matter. He felt the music in and around him, and he chose to be a genuine participant in it and our life together in worship. 

I know that I received much in the way of edification and worshipful celebration just by watching him... perhaps just a glimpse of the love the Holy experiences in knowing this child.

Fall Equinox Friday Five

RevGalBlogPals has a "Friday Five" each week 
that stimulates memories and hopes and fun and more...
Since fall is my favorite season, I decided to play -

As this vivid season begins, tell us five favorite things about fall:
1) A fragrance
mmmm...the crispness in the air - how do you describe that scent? 
2) A Color
all of the oranges or rustiness against a wheat-colored backdrop: from pumpkins to leaves set around drying corn stalks and the remains of my non-flower garden or the neighbor's fading lawn
3) An item of clothing
jeans, jeans, jeans (this is the best season for them because your legs feel so loved, wrapped in cool denim - sometimes still with sandals, sometimes with boots ...)
4) An Activity
snuggling in a light blanket with my patio door open so I can feel the cool and smell the air and hear the rustling leaves being blown
5) A special day
this year it will have to be Thanksgiving, as we're heading back to my "most gorgeous place on earth" at just the right season - the Deleware Water Gap! (Okay, visiting family for the holiday is the purpose, but I get to be "home" in the fall).

Friday, September 12, 2008

Instant Sermon 2008

(I guess I'm following up on the "feminist" theme)

Picture 3 clergywomen
- ages 31, 33 and 38 -
dressed in robe and stole
(green for ordinary time)
standing in the center of a church chancel.

Then imagine a 6-foot-something
retired air force colonel
with a deep voice - sometimes compared to the "voice of God"
(my feminist self has problems with this, but skip it for now) -
posing theological/biblical/spiritual questions for the 3.

This was our "Instant Sermon" this year, since our [male] Sr. Minister was on 4-month sabbatical, I became head-of-staff; our [female] CE Director is ordained; and our interim was another woman. Thus, 3 women clergy under one roof [!].

The questions, as usual, were asked by church members, written on cards the week before, then collected by Deacons. Clergy don't get to read the questions ahead of time. Yikes! I dislike the run-up to the annual event, but I always appreciate having taken part.

A celebratory piece came in our Church Council meeting this past week, when a church member commented, "There isn't another church in town that can even imagine having 3 women ministers who could do something like that!" ....Unfortunately, I don't think there is another church in town with even 2 women ministers (much less 2 of them queer).


Feminist Pastor

I just read this piece from Fidelia's Sisters. I greatly appreciate when people can put pain and joy and hope and need and expectation into words... and then publish them for the world to read and critique. Because you know that a majority of readers would critique this "Feminist Pastor Top Ten" if it were in any general circulation (outside a women's clergy publication, I mean).

As I was reading it I realized that I had to stop my own critique - of "most churches". I've been able actually to speak some of this challenge in front of my congregation. Very tentatively, in April of 1995, I wrote this sermon on God's name as metaphor. 

More recently (this past summer), I was able to express my deep sadness around several domestic violence-related murders that happened in our community, and state the ways that I believe sexism and God-talk feeds such actions. There were a number of fathers crying by the end of this sermon.

I know that I'm very blessed in having a congregation able to hear some of these words sometimes. I wish there were other avenues to reach people of faith with similar discussions.

Thursday, September 4, 2008


I love my cats. In fact, I'm a bit cat-happy. Obsessive?
You tell me:

But aren't they adorable?


People I like.
People I don't.
People together.

Working in hope.
Working for Creation.
Working to grow and change.

Or just being.
Being playful.
Being centered.
Being present.

This coming Sunday is about COMMUNITY. Koinonia. 
It'll be fun and hard and joyful and worrisome and right and wrong and full of love and frustration. We'll break bread and drink wine. We'll be the same; we'll be new. 

This is church. 
It's broken yet hopeful. It is for us, and yet we must be for it in order for it to be

Monday, August 18, 2008

Mountaintop Experience

(our group of guests and staff with Emily Saliers ...but don't stop here, read on!)


The mixture of spirit and passion and dedication to justice & peace issues is what has kept me drawn to Indigo Girls lyrics/music/service in the world. And Emily S, really is all that she seems through her work: humble, peace-full, fun and determined.

Through the past week, she has been articulate about how her spiritual core speaks to all that she does - or perhaps how music speaks the language of her spiritual core, as the "music of the spheres" speaks of God. And I have even more respect for her as a human being than I previously had for her music. The way that Emily, her father Don (with whom she led this past week's sessions), and her mother Jane interacted revealed true filia; and the way each of them engaged us as participants aided in the creation of agape, despite the sometimes startling presence of IG "fans" in the group.

One of my favorite memories will be when we climbed to Lake Louise. Emily chose to take the hike despite not having been prepared for such an endeavor (or the ruggedness of this place)... she wore tennis shoes and shared folks' water bottles and bug spray. Yet, regardless of lack of gear and not being acclimated to the elevation, she was at the front of our group of 12 most of the way up, and all the way down. There's just something about the energy of the earth here and the kindness of the people that makes it all doable and desirable.

This has been a true mountaintop experience for me - one I couldn't have ever imagined more beautifully or dreamed could be more sacred.... All of the significant aspects of my life - Spirit-Song-Space-Love - have come together in one place, one time.

This land was sacred to the Shoshone tribe's predecessors, an ancient people who experienced such holiness here that they carved petroglyphs throughout the valley. I can feel Spirit's tug at my body and soul - through the earth and through the communal singing of hymns (new and old) mixed with Indigo Girls songs. Each person now present, from 6 years old to 70-some, hears the call of Spirit in and among each other. And Jamie is here to share it. All I can say is thanks.

I'm sure I'll have more reflections - I just wanted to put these out there as I sit here on the porch of a log cabin, staring across one of the lakes toward the mountain that Jamie is currently climbing with Don Saliers. :)

...and it's not even over yet!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Meeting My Hero!

How many people can say they are lucky enough not only to meet, but spend considerable time with, their hero? 

On Sunday I head for a retreat at a ranch in the Wyoming mountains - and Emily Saliers (alongside her dad, Don) will be one of the leaders of a week-long class. I'm not expecting anything phenomenal to change in my life ... her music, lyrics & spirit that come through are what inspire me. But seriously: I never imagined an opportunity to spend time with a person whose work/ministry/existence has touched me and so many others in such a significant way.

I'm curious about the heroes you would have this sort of experience around meeting and spending time with if you could. I can think of a few others who are historical (Emily Dickinson, Virginia Woolf, Jesus), but Emily is BY FAR #1 on my list of the living.

Who is yours? _____________

In honor of my appreciation for Emily's music, 
here is a (very small) selection of my favorite lyrics:

I wanted everything to feed me.
About as full as I got was of myself
and the upper echelons of mediocrity
(You & Me of the 10,000 Wars)

the president has no good idea who the masses are well i'm one of them and i'm among friends trying to see beyond the fences of our own backyard...if the world is night shine my life like a light (Let It Be Me)

We're better off for all that we let in (All that We Let In)

But they left out the sisters
I been praying to a father god so long I really missed her
The goddess of benevolence
And you should listen to your mama if you have a lick of sense left!
(Pendulum Swinger)

Friday, August 1, 2008

Jesus My Food

Sometimes we need to be fed. 

And of course, feeding is such a symbol-soggy concept. We need food feeding, spiritual feeding, sexual feeding, emotional feeding. 

This week's scripture text is one of the "Feeding the 5000" ... one of 6 (!) such stories in the 4 Gospels. And it starts with Jesus trying to get away from it all because he'd just found out cousin John (of baptizing fame) has just been executed. But when the crowds hear about John, they make a beeline for Jesus: they need some feeding.

Did Jesus need to be fed too? 
Do you think he sat down and ate with them? Did he get some communal love? Or was he just the caterer, sharing out the dish and staying in the kitchen? 
I'm hungry.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

My Spider

She lives under the downstairs toilet. The one we don't use very often. 
She spins her web and deposits her leftovers on the floor underneath.
She's small - takes up very little space. She's unobtrusive, even shy.
Her luncheon carcasses are even smaller. Tiny gnats (I'm not sure how they get in there).

This week dear friends are coming to visit and use that toilet. 
What do I do with my spider?
I can't expect them to find her dinner exciting ("ooh, you feasted today!").
Nor can I demand they accept her company.

She must go. Will she like the shrubs out front?

Text for next week: Gen. 32:22-31

"Jacob was left alone".
Resting at the river - having sent his family ahead.
Preparing to cross this threshold, return to the land he'd fled.
Would Esau still be pissed?
"Jacob was left alone".
Knowing that the next day he'd face his brother again,
face his own deceits and betrayals.
Crossing this river meant bringing his new family into the land of his birth
and being responsible for them amidst potential hostility.
"Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak".

Wrestled with him. And Jacob wrestled back.
Bodies of flesh and bone thrown -
down the bank and over stone;
drenched with sweat - their own
and each other's;
the river's waters washing them clean
only to begin again.
Breath coming shallower and shallower;
gashes from hard falls growing deeper.
They wrestled.

"When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he struck him in the hip socket; and Jacob's hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him".

But still Jacob hung on. He was hurt. Yet he held tightly to his attacker.
"Let me go, for the day is breaking" came the demand from the one who refused surrender.
"I will not" was Jacob's reply, "unless you bless me".
So he knew. Jacob understood that this was no ordinary encounter
of a traveler alone. He knew: "I will not let you go, unless you bless me".

It's ironic, as blessings go.
He who supplants, he who takes by the heel,
becomes he who wrestles with God.
Because "you have striven with God and with humans, and have prevailed".

And this is a blessing?

Monday, July 21, 2008

Unending Wrestling

It seems to be a theme right now (like pink!).


The sermon thing. The 2 brothers thing. The insomnia (w)restlessness thing. And once again, Jacob. 

Yes, Jacob/Israel has found his way into the weekly lectionary again. Although I'm going a little off (I'm using the text a week early, so I can play with the feeding of 5000 - not counting women and children, of course! - the following week). 

I don't think I ever learned that the name Israel - while meaning "wrestles with God" - can also mean "God wrestles". My thoughts are brewing endless possibilities about the fact that God wrestles too. We're not acting solo (I knew this, but have I ever known it in this way?). 

God wrestles. We progressive Christians seem to think that we're the only ones struggling against, arguing with, talking back to God. Maybe God is doing the same. The United Church of Christ (UCC) says, "God is still speaking,". 

I wonder: can I face the challenge if I, even for a moment, think that God is stepping into the ring with me?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Midnight...way past my bedtime.

I hate when I can't sleep. I'm so agitated that my energy interrupts Jamie's dreamtime, and the cats swarm around my restlessness (okay, so there are only 2 of them, but they still seem to swarm). Sometimes I'll take a benadryl to send me snoozing, but then I'm groggy in the a.m. And I need to be up in the a.m.

And doesn't it seem that restlessness should have a "w" at the beginning? Since I'm wrestling with the bedsheets and my brain (and the cats) and all?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Talking Back

In our church we have a wonderful practice called "Sermon TalkBack". 

Each Monday morning, the preacher from the previous day gathers over coffee with anyone who wants to get deeper into the sermon. Folks are welcome to disagree with, add to, pull apart and identify with the sermon in any (speaking the truth with love) way they choose. 

This is worship in a big way for me. At the coffee shop we have food and noise (and caffeine) and everything I appreciate about a community who cares for one another. We're not ashamed to raise our progressive yet diverse Christian voices in a public space, where anyone *gasp* might hear us. We are skeptics and whole-hearted bible-believers and everything in between.

I wish that people who have never experienced an open, questioning, faithful dialogue could experience this just once. They would make the conversation that much deeper.

Talk back!

Friday, July 11, 2008

More on Brothers...

Isaac & Ishmael.
Still loving them! This didn't make it into my sermon (not this week's, at least), but as I was reflecting I found it quite wonderfully balancing that Isaac was the ancestor of Israel and Ishmael was the ancestor of Islam.

We all knew that, but the part that has me so excited about this ancient relationship (beyond all those Is-names) is that Israel means "wrestles with God" and Islam means "submits to God". And the reason we all need each other is .... DUH!

I love this stuff :).

Thursday, July 10, 2008

On Wrestling a Sermon

Oh what a painful few weeks. The Genesis texts are delightful (okay, so that's the wrong word for these murderous, deceitful, spiteful stories) in Pentecost Lectionary Year A - and yet they are frustrating all my hopes right now. 

Take Sunday's sermon for example. I'm trying to go with my love for these stories and the people who passed them down. But they make it really hard! Or I make it hard. This week we have Esau (who I've always had a secret crush on) and Jacob. Three weeks ago I tried to meet Isaac/Sarah and Ishmael/Hagar where they were, but I couldn't make the appointment. 

So this week I'm conflating the stories - if they weren't already, and later became their own (note the two strong & outdoorsy types, and the two "stay-in-the-tenter" types who seem to get all the accolades) - asking my congregation "Why can't we all just get along?" with the sibling rivalry stuff. So, in the way of a blog, here are my rambling preparations...

Why me?
Warring in her womb
Esau - the elder
Jacob - so close
Rebekah finds no relief
not in pregnancy
not in labor
not in birth
not in growth
Is she dead when Jacob
finally returns
conciliatory gifts sent ahead
wives in tow?

Isaac -- poor 
beer-bellied schmuck!
Chosen one of Abraham's
line. Why are you so

Is God in this story?
Is God still speaking?
My question is:
Is God there?
Does God have to 
be there for us to 
hear a word for us?
Can't God be here without
us having to put God there?

That's all :).

Dragon in the Light

I'm a dragon-spirit. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
Oh, and I'm a Christian minister. Of the progressive/liberal variety, of course.

And I've been on a pink kick lately - thus the rosy background choice. As I was wrestling with a sermon today at the library (more to come on that), I realized that I was writing with a pink pen, drinking from a pink water bottle, listening to an iPod with a pink cover ... and my favorite pants ('though I wasn't wearing them) are the same shade of pink. 

So the Pink Dragon it is! (If you know me, can you please start calling me that for my nom de plume).

First crack at a blog here. Doing it for me. Me and the Spirit. She's been calling me to write more. For me. For her. For the people I love (that would be YOU). So I am here. I'm still not sure what I'll do here, but here goes...