Friday, October 30, 2009

Pizza & Faces

Enough said?!

It's been a couple weeks since I returned from Kansas
(I still can't believe I made an intentional visit to the mid-west... and enjoyed it - go figure),
but I have waited to post these photos because I want to do them justice.
Truly, the slice is as big as her face.
Thank you, Kendra & John, for sharing your creation with us!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Musical Friday Five

Over at RGBP, Songbird writes,It was ... Martin Luther who said:"I have no use for cranks who despise music, because it is a gift of God. Music drives away the Devil and makes people gay; they forget thereby all wrath, unchastity, arrogance, and the like. Next after theology, I give to music the highest place and the greatest honor."

On this Friday before Reformation Sunday, let's talk about music. Share with us five pieces of music that draw you closer to the Divine, that elevate your mood or take you to your happy place. They might be sung or instrumental, ancient or modern, sacred or popular...whatever touches you.

My deepest connection with music is through singing along to the radio/cds... even if the song has no words, I vocalize - lalala, hum, etc - to feel the music in my physical being. Here are 5 (in no particular order) that particularly speak to my spirit:
1) Catch me singing "Hammer and a Nail" (Indigo Girls) in the shower many mornings. "Gotta get out of bed, get a hammer and a nail - learn how to use my hands not just my head - I think myself into jail - Now I know a refuge never grows from a chin in a hand in a thoughtful pose - gotta tend the earth if you want a rose!" It's a great way to remind myself to get moving; God has called me into the world. (YouTube video here - but, thank heaven, it's not me singing)
2) I can't sing the Dixie Chicks' "Top of the World" without passion and a lump forming in my throat - it's such a soul-longing search for redemption that it encourages me to try to live life without those deep regrets. (another YouTube video)
3) If I had to choose a favorite hymn (too hard a task, by far!), I might name "O For a Thousand Tongues" in sentimental honor of my United Methodist roots - but really, most hymn-lyrics to the tune of AZMON make my heart sing.
4) Melissa Ferrick's "'Til You're Dead" just makes me happy because it's a song Jamie sang to me early on in our (now 10-year!) relationship.
5) And just because I'm totally boring and predictable, if I need a pick-me-up, or if I'm having a joyful day and want to celebrate it, or for almost any other reason, I put in any Indigo Girls cd and sing along. Lyrics, music, spirituality and social justice emphasis make their music speak to every part of who I am.

On a similar note, if you haven't read Don & Emily Saliers' book A Song to Sing, A Life to Live: Reflections on Music as Spiritual Practice I highly recommend it! It's from the perspective of a professor of liturgy/music (Don) and his daughter, a "pop" musician (Emily).

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Wind Turbines in Kansas


The tops of their spinning rudders
disappear into sky;
fade to mystery as they wind
unknown in lowered clouds.

What songs do they sing to the sun
beyond my sight?
Are they whispering love sonnets
to water particles clinging to their blades?
Is there a suffering sigh
pulled through each draft?

Or are they mute, indifferent to
their existence; solitary amidst a
clan of multiples - twins, triplets, quintuplets -
cousins and in-laws living in the same 90-acre house?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Study Week part II

It's only Friday, and I've actually succeeded in reading some of what I set out to soak in this week (totally unexpected from one who reads so very least re: non-fiction). I even remained open to the Spirit to lead me a little off track with one of my selections. Here is what I've accomplished so far:

Resonant Leadership: Renewing Yourself and Connecting with Others Through Mindfulness, Hope, and Compassion and Leaders Who Last: Sustaining Yourself and Your Ministry are both excellent reads in multiple arenas. First, of course, leadership skills; followed very closely by renewal and sustenance; and guiding others in leadership ability. I find them particularly relevant to church leadership, but their insights, probing questions and exercises can be applied to any number of fields (Resonant Leadership is actually directed toward businesses, but the principles stand for any entity desiring to be grounded in a holistic approach to their goals).
Conversation as Ministry: Stories and Strategies for Confident Caregiving was not on my initial list of intended reading. However, its focus on developing skills that enable members of the faith community to hold "pastoral conversations" will benefit our lay caring visitors. The numerous stories and succinct summaries will be great resources for me in continued training of members for this ministry.
I am about halfway through Prayer and Our Bodies. While seemingly quite distinct from the other texts I've chosen, the readings in this book have coincided unexpectedly with each of the others. Corresponding quotes from G.K. Chesterton and Mechtild of Magdeburg are the least of the similarities. The greatest synchronicity is the reminder in each that we must be mindful, aware and check in with our bodies (as well as our spirits, emotions and minds) in order to be whole, spiritual, human beings.

I'll try to update if I finish The Art of Faith or Walking on Water, both of which I've also begun...

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Study Leave/Reading Week

One of the true gifts of being a pastor is being able to take time to renew yourself & revitalize your ministry. Of course, your church also has to recognize the power of such sabbath time for the work you share. Happily, mine does; starting Monday, I get to renew & revitalize.

Since I have not yet finished Margaret Marcuson's Leaders Who Last: Sustaining Yourself and Your Ministry, I will begin this reading week by immersing myself in its wisdom*. Marcuson (quotes Gerald May who) refers to 16th century mystic John of the Cross' statement:
"God does not fit in an occupied heart".
Throughout this week I hope to hold an open heart, listening to where Spirit leads and daring to follow that voice. I hope to empty my heart of old and no-longer necessary "truths", so I may hold space for what the Divine has been waiting to put in their place. I hope to hang the "vacancy" sign, bright and flashing.

I also hope to check in with a couple other valuable resources - all in the arenas of leadership in congregations, renewal or self-care, and the spiritual practice of art/writing. Some of the possibilities are:
  • Resonant Leadership by Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee
  • Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art by Madeleine L'Engle
  • The Art of Faith by Cathy Coffey
  • Prayer and Our Bodies by Flora Slosson Wuellner
  • The Equipping Church by Sue Mallory
  • Hear and Be Wise: Becoming a Preacher and Teacher of Wisdom by Alyce M. McKenzie
We shall see what comes...

*If you've been following for a while, you'll remember I've been trying to hold myself accountable to reading 3 different books on leading well. I've finished the first one, don't overly appreciate much of the theology in the second one, and the third one is this one by Marcuson.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Sacred Moments

Sophia of RevGalBlogPals invites us into special memories of "rites" this week with her reflection: I will be at my new Independent Catholic church's yearly Synod, being welcomed and conditionally re-consecrated to episcopal ministry for this jurisdiction....[I'm] making last preparations for my preaching, presiding, and teaching during the week. Exciting stuff but also nervous making with less time to prepare than I would prefer and lots of new people to meet--especially because, in accord with the pioneering status of ordained Catholic women, 95% or more will be men and I am not sure how receptive some may be to the Christian feminist theological/liturgical perspective!
This has me thinking of the special rites of passage in our lives which we participate for ourselves or in which we support and bless others: baptism, confirmation, marriage, ordination, graduation, funerals, etc. Such important days, so exciting and joyous, but also sometimes anxiety provoking or deeply painful....So, this week, please share five memories of such sacred moments with God and her holy people from your life and the lives of those you love.
So I begin...

1. The first special rite that called to my memory is my ordination: May 10, 2003. There are 2 points that remain vivid -- seeing Jamie (my partner) standing in the high pulpit of the Congregational Meeting House reading the words of Mary's Magnificat; and the moment after I
kneeled and was blessed with so many hands laid upon me... I stood and felt myself being pulled higher and higher, through the crown of my head, as if I'd be pulled right off my feet into the air (I can't describe it any better - It was awe-some).

2. I know we minister-types are prone to appreciating the beauty and hope found in funerals, but the one that has meant more than I can describe was being asked (as we drove from CT to IA for the funeral) to officiate at Jamie's grandfather's service. The mix of Roman Catholics and United Methodists made me (a UCC clergywoman) an interesting choice to begin - add to the mix that I'd only met him a few times, and (the kicker) I'm his granddaughter's lesbian partner... well, I've never been more honored in my life.

3. Of course, my wedding (of the church, not the state) was a moment of such sacred joy for me. What a gift to make this covenant before my family of faith, my family of origin and my extended families of love and friendship - and their covenant of love and support in return!

4. It seems an odd inclusion on this list, but a very holy passage for me was the day I realized I was not heterosexual: coming out was truly a revelation from God for my life. In that 1 day I told some of the most important people in my life - myself (most important), my parents, the person I felt attraction toward, my best friend, my boy friend (so hurtful - I would change that if I could), and my Christian mentor (from Confirmation through senior high).

5. I feel somewhat trivial in adding this, but it was an incredible mountaintop experience for my life. I got to spend several days on retreat and in workshops with Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls - hiking up mountains, meditating on
petroglyphs, listening to her talk about the spirituality of her music. Emily is one of my favorite theologian/musician/justice-seekers, and whenever I need grounding or pick-me-ups or peace or anything, I tend to turn toward her lyrics.

I'd just like to note these are in no particular order :).

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Snow Photos

I chose to enjoy the snow today - good choice.
Here are some "action shots" of flakes doing their thing...
(click to enlarge and really see the details)


October. Early October.
I awoke in the deep dark of lengthening night
to visit with a church member prior to surgery.
Stepping out of my car I thought,
"Oh! Mist".
(Very perceptive; quite expressive - that's me before coffee).
Home again I noticed the mist had just a few white flakes spiraling through its dance ,
and I called Jamie to let her know: "there's snow".
A moment ago, fluffy, spongy blobs began to slush in random death on the sidewalk.
Now I am witness to an official snowfall - the first of the season - less periodic, more persistent in their dive.
Rather than slush on impact, flakes bounce or skitter.
Either way, pedestrians pull into themselves.
All of this to say, I think I'm amazed at the weather change today. Yesterday the sun smiled distant warmth to the depth of my bones; today the sky drapes around me with an earth-bound cloudy blanket.
How do we negotiate such quick change?

Friday, October 2, 2009

World Communion

In meditating/preparing for my World Communion Sunday sermon, this is the prayer-poem that emerged. It's not refined, finished or edited. It's just what came out of my sitting with the Spirit.

Jesus Christ, your body has been broken
asunder by nations' border lines
by picket fences and closed garage doors.
Your body has been broken by
a two-party system that prays: "May the
Lord watch between me and thee, while we
are absent, one from the other" (Gen. 31:49).
Your body has been broken apart by
betrayed vows and forgotten trust;
broken by blood poured out in abuse,
violence, fear, destruction.

You are broken, O Christ, again and again
by me and those I love. You are broken and
we think to put you back together - like some
sacred Humpty Dumpty - by working out
our guilt with charity.

Jesus Christ, your body is broken
for me and for many. Let your blood pour
out in healing rivers of love - revealing your life
as the ultimate example of bringing back together:
ourselves with ourselves
ourselves with God
ourselves with one another.

Your body is broken, O Christ. But not for nothing.

Image is "One Sacred Community" by Mary Southard, CSJ. Mary says, "This community is part of the larger Earth communion of Life: brother sun, sister moon, the rocks and winds, fire and water and all that lives and grows --- in the heavens, the seas, the soil. The fire rising from the bottom, the burning bush, reminds us that we are on holy ground. ... The image is at the heart of the longing of the Holy One, That All May Be ONE."