Friday, December 30, 2011

Nearly New Year Friday Five...

RGBPs posted this morning....
A simple Friday Five for a busy part of the year; indulge me by sharing two fives:

As you look back over 2011 share 5 blessings, they can be as grand or as simple as you like,if you year has been like mine they are probably a mixture!

As you look towards 2012 share 5 hopes- again, anything goes!

2011 Blessings:
survived (too many deaths)
mission trip to Venezuela (life-changing and recharging)
wonderful ministry (7 years?!)
Jamie, Puck & Teiresias (11 years with all of them!!)
a beautiful, amazing, wonderfully perfect home

2012 Hopes:
more recharging
improved motivation for health
improved motivation for writing
happy marriage for my big brother
to become "Aunt" Sharon (yay for friends!)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

First Freeze Haiku

an aching branch lays
down its burden; snow and sap
crack, its last exhale

Thanks to the internet and whoever took the pics for sharing these!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

No Words

So, I've been back from Venezuela a little over a week now, and I have not yet posted anything about my experiences (later today I'll add a sermon with some response on In Praise of Sophia, and I'm working on another short piece to be added soon). Mostly, I think I haven't posted because I cannot put the depth of spiritual encounter into words.

For now, I can only offer this last stanza from the song "The Afterlife" on Paul Simon's latest album, So Beautiful or So What. 

Seriously, "all that remains when you try to explain is a fragment of song..."

After you climb up the ladder of time
The Lord God is near
Face-to-face in the vastness of space
Your words disappear
And you feel like you’re swimming in an ocean of love
And the current is strong
But all that remains when you try to explain
Is a fragment of song
Lord, is it Be Bop a Lula? Or ooh Papa Doo?
Lord, Be Bop a Lula? Or ooh Papa Doo?
Be Bop a Lula

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Medical Mission

Early tomorrow morning I leave on my first adventure beyond the USA. It's a medical mission trip with members of my regional church (Rocky Mountain Conference, UCC) and the Disciples of Christ. For 15 years we've been in relationship with the UEPV (Evangelical Pentecostal Union of Venezuela)--we've had more than 20 trips together. This time, 11 of us will travel to join with them for various medical clinics in rural areas.

I ask prayers for this time--for me, for my colleagues, for our churches, for the individuals we'll meet. Prayers for open hearts and open spirits, that we all may grow together. Thank you in advance.

Venezuelan Medical Mission Trip

a very basic outline of our “flexible” itinerary (with open space for “as needed”)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Denver, Colorado, USA àMaracaibo, Venezuela
Get acquainted with UEPV (Unión Evangélica Pentecostal Venezolana), our partner denominationàteam orientation
            MaracaiboàPortuguesa, worship at dedication of new church
            Medical clinic at Mountain of Zion Church (no hospital in community)
            Worship at Los Maria Church and celebrate pastor’s 80th birthday
            Medical clinic at Peritu at Betty’s House
            Worship and dedication of another new church
            àWayuu (indigenous community) clinic and ceremonies
Friday, October 14, 2011

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

At Home

The Abbey of the Arts periodically hosts a "poetry party." Today, the offering asks, "What does the metaphor of "going home" evoke for you?  What are the longings that autumn stirs in your heart?" Below is my response. May God bless all of our "homes" -- those from which we come, and those we create now. Join the party!

At Home

At home there is a river
that, over too much time
for memory, niched
its way through a mountain,
making a way where there was
no way. At home that river
feeds leafy flesh so rich
they age to majestic purples
this dusky time of year. At home
my parents also survive on
that river’s passage, but
their veins grow thick through
papery skin losing its pinkish hue.
At home the leaves will fall
into the river’s flow, be swept through
a mountain gap and into mulch. At
home they will one day be one
with the mountain and trees
and, eventually, no longer be
in memory.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Seeking What?

RevGal Jan posted today's Friday Five: Seeking What?

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!
~~~~~~~~~~~             ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~           ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
What am I seeking? So many things, but for today in particular....
1. A homily for tomorrow's wedding. I began one, but I don't know if I'm following the Spirit with it or not. So I need to "let it lay" for a little while and come back to it and listen again. 
2. Some peace from time-anxiety. Do I have enough time to spend "playing" with my parents today? Or do I need to focus? Either way, I seek the peace. 
3. Connection.
4. The willingness to just be in this beautiful place (Vermont mountains, GREEN, winding's like home).
5. More peace and grace and wisdom and... God.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Overcomers: Friday Five

Mary Magdalene by He Qi (one of my favorite artists!)

RGBP’s Sally writes: Today is the Feast day of St Mary Magdalene, and as I've been pondering her life and the inspiration she is I find in her a wonderful mix of struggle and devotion. She is both the woman who needed a deep healing and the woman who was declared (by many) to be the first amongst the apostles. She inspires me by the way she overcame so much to become so much. When I stop to think about the folk who do inspire me they are almost always overcomers in some way or another.

With that in mind I bring you this Friday Five; List five people who inspire you to dare to step out into becoming more: Bonus question, a song or fictional character that inspires you to move beyond boundaries!

1.    This seems like a generic answer, but it is NOT—my mother. She grew up with 4 brothers in a family that regarded girls as… well, they didn’t regard girls! She married at 19 and never went to college (girls weren’t smart and didn’t go beyond high school—in fact, none of the family went beyond high school). She “followed expectations” until her 3 kids were out of the house, then she became herself! She started acting and continued preaching (as a lay minister around her denomination’s conference). I didn’t respect her enough for any of this while I was growing up, but she deserves every ounce of it. Yay Mom! Her life inspires me to think I can always grow a bit, no matter my age or where I come from.

2.    S--- is one of my church members who has lived with ovarian cancer for 8 years. Lived with it. As in alive. She has been through every treatment and every trial, and now she knows she’s dying because of it… but she continues to live! Inspiration. Breath. Every moment: in anger and sorrow and joy and playfulness: breath.

3.    S---, this time a colleague, a co-worker and friend who is younger than I but so very mature and grounded in her faith. She inspires me to be more compassionate, a better listener and stronger in my relationship with the Divine.

4.    Lillian Daniel is a writer, preacher, retreat leader, parent, pastor of a local congregation and all-around amazing person. I met her several times when we served together in the New Haven Association of the Connecticut Conference… but she always seems more to me (look at all her accomplishments!). She inspires me to want to be more.

5.    I adore Kilian McDonnell’s poetry. I want to write like he does (more accurately, I want to write in my style, but evoke from others what his poems evoke in my spirit). Yes, he is an inspiration, having begun writing poetry in his 70s… I have some time!

BONUS: “Let It Be Me” (Indigo Girls song): let it be me (this is not a fighting song) let it be me (not a wrong for a wrong) let it be me, if the world is night shine my life like a light

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Naming Names

My congregation has had many deaths in 2011. One more tonight. I have the need to name these beloved dead.
I have had one personal beloved who has gone.
If you happen to read this post, please offer prayers for their families. Thank you.

Friday, July 15, 2011

My Name Spells Gratitude

The gals & pals are at it again, with a GREAT F-5 this week... A wise person once told me to make an ABC list of things I am grateful for any time I feel sad or depressed. It is a good practice when one is feeling happier than that, too. So for this Friday Five, I suggest that you use your name or nickname of about five letters and express your gratitude about something that starts with each letter. Some people have longer names, so you decide how you will go about this! (Last names, middle names, and nicknames count!)

First of all, I’m exceptionally grateful to the poster of today’s Friday Five—I need this gratitude practice right now. My congregation has been hit by 6 deaths in the last few months—very active and beloved members all—and we have the prospect of several more in the very near future. Today I received a call that one more, very active, very beloved person is actively and unexpectedly dying. I am very, very sad. So I sit down to share gratitude in the midst of this sadness.

S      spirit—I am eternally grateful that the Spirit is present with me
H          health—I give thanks that I have bodily and mental strength right now
A      artistry—my inner poet finds consolation, joy and prayer in the writing process
R      relationship—always, always Jamie is on my gratitude list
O     ordinary—I'm grateful for all the ordinary things that bring me delight (like the obnoxious choke weed that I find so beautiful, and the smell of the road after a hard rain)
N         neighbors—the sermon I’m currently working on highlights one of my neighbors; they're such an unexpected blessing in my life

Friday, July 8, 2011


Summertime Friday Five

So, what's up, Rev Gals and Pals?  How are you spending your summer?  (I know, some of you are in a different hemisphere and it may be chilly...sorry!)  Are you experiencing fire or floods or tornados?  Vacationing?  Working harder than ever?  Experiencing change?  Longing for change?  

Share five things that are happening in your life, personally or professionally or some of each, in this season of life.

1. For a week of vacation, I had the wonderful adventure of taking a road trip with my spouse -- we left Colorado for Kansas (wonderful friends!), then Indiana (another wonderful friend!), then Iowa (family), and return to Colorado (no humidity!). One of my favorite things to share about the trip: "What do 2 ministers and a religion professor do on their time off? Visit the Creation Museum!" It was quite the enlightening experience.

2. At the end of August I'll take Sabbath time at Ring Lake Ranch (Dubois, WY) with Don Saliers studying and singing the Psalms. Then, in October, my colleague and I will do a sermon series on the Psalms. Very exciting!

3. I'm learning how to be the "pastor's spouse"... fair turn-around for my partner who practiced such for the past many years. At a Freedom Festival on July 4th, her church hosted a booth, and I (had the day off from my church, so) smiled and shared and was *mostly* a good partner (except for the "EZ-Up Incident"). Oh the agony!

4. I feel rather boring that I don't have more going on in my life. I'm hoping for some quiet for the rest of this summer--I don't really expect it, but I'm hopeful. The past several weeks have been a whirlwind, and I want to get my feet back on the ground. The duckies are here for smiles and encouragement.

Friday, June 10, 2011

5 Moments

Quick-Play Friday Five (I’m at the Rocky Mountain Conference UCC Annual Meeting in SLC, UT, taking 5 for 5!)…five memorable moments of insight, discovery, awareness--from childhood or later, something you experienced or something you shared with someone else (read more at RGBP).

  1. The first one that comes to mind is my ordination… when people removed their hands from my head/shoulders (I was kneeling during laying on of hands) and I stood, I felt as if my body were literally being pulled upward from the crown of my head—to the point that I remember thinking I was standing on my toes to keep up with the sense of pull. That experience led me to understand that this was not simply a symbolic act… I don’t know what it was, but it was “true.”
  2. My first day and night of on-call as a student-chaplain in a hospital, I was called to the bedside of a dying man. He died before his one family member could arrive. I breathed with him until the end. When the family member arrived, I had to lead her to the morgue (a decent “viewing room,” but still), prepare his body, and pray with her. They were both Jewish, I was Christian, and I’d never experienced anything remotely interfaith before.  That was the day I knew—with all my being—that I was being called to chaplaincy as a vocation.  Thanks be to G-d.
  3. The moment (it was a revelation!) that I realized I was intensely attracted to a woman. Within 24 hours of that moment I told the whole world (at least those people most important people in my world—best friend, subject of my attraction, parents, church mentor, etc.) that I was lesbian. Holy wow!
  4.   Singing at summer camp. There’s nothing better. Still!  As a kiddo, I’d sing so hard I always lost my voice before the final campfire… and I was so very sad. It hurt that I couldn’t sing out with everyone else. It was then that I realized how much singing meant to my spirit; even if I do it poorly I don’t care, as long as I can sing my heart out. Now I know how to use my voice better, so there’s no stopping me (I also only go to camp for 3 days now rather than a week—that may help). J
  5. That’s all I can think of quickly, and I need to get back to the gathering… but THANK YOU for this opportunity to remember….

Friday, April 1, 2011

Things that are GOOD in my life

(The RevGals offered this today) We're in the midst of 'it' and I'm hoping that it is not just me who is starting to get a bit overwhelmed. So for today I am asking for five quick picks of things that are good in your life. And as a bonus, 1 pick for a thing you could do without. If you want to describe them? Great. If not? That's fine too. Have a great weekend!

5 Quick Picks of Things That Are Good in My Life
  1. Books—and the bookshelves in my new home that hold them—and the bookshelves in my office that hold them—and the library that I can borrow from while it holds them!
  2. Colleagues—today I’m so thankful to have amazing people with whom I can theologize, disagree, sing, bounce ideas off, play, argue and love—all in one building! Names in particular: Barb, Hal, Sarah, Mark, David—ya’ll rock.
  3. Equinox Brewery—okay, it may seem shallow, but this is where Jamie and I hold our weekly date-night-catch-up-on-what-happened-while-you-served-your-church-in-Laramie-and-I-ministered-in-Fort-Collins—and they simply have GREAT beer.
  4. Walking—I’ve been saying “hello” to each crocus I see, slowing down and noticing what I haven’t “seen” before, feeling my body respond to the sun, wind, shade, sidewalk, grass…
  5.  Coffee—again, not so shallow as it seems, because this is what I crave as I sit and write each morning—a routine, a mug with a message and my pen—ritual and spiritual nourishment… along with caffeine J.

Bonus: The wind!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Springing Forth Friday Five

Jan the RGBP posted: Whether we liked it or not, we all "sprang forward" with the change to daylight savings time in the USA this past Sunday. There is lightness and brightness slipping in as spring approaches, so let us consider what is springing forth in our lives right now.

Name 5 things that are springing forth, possibly including :

what you hope for –physical health and well-being… have not been keeping up with those since last May, so here is a hope!
what you dread –allergies… I think that’s the only possible dread I have this time of year (and hooray for drugs!)
what you observe –more energy in the people around me, kids out on our community green area, parents and neighbors hanging out too, lots of smiling spring faces
what is concrete –I have a new home and this is my first spring here… so I get to adventure into what it means to be a part of this community as planting gets started, etc.; and how often I’ll walk around town and onto the MANY bike paths!
what is intangible –hmmm… I just posted at In Praise of Sophia about
singing—the joy I get from it and how it is prayer for me—how I need to remember to do it much more often…

Saturday, February 19, 2011

To FC, With Love

I'm having some kind of new love affair with Fort Collins. 
We're in our 7th year living here, but ever since we moved to the downtown area a couple months ago--where I can walk to most places that I enjoy in this town--I've been enamored of everything I see and encounter. 

The people make me laugh with delight: walking home from work this week I freaked out 2 undergrads trying to hide their joint as I followed them through a hidden pathway; yesterday a skateboarder almost went head-on into a tree as he passed me wishing a good morning; and "gentleman" Liberty, with his dancing and swirling, kept dropping his tax sign on the side of the road!

Some of the images that make me smile in this big-little-town:

Cool streetlamp near Mason, where the train runs down the middle of the street

Fun & Silly Signs

New locally-owned coffee shop that I love

The train that I ran to beat over Mason Street.... my new red boots

Friday, January 28, 2011

Fave Verses Friday Five

Fave Verses Friday Five
At RGBP Songbird shared…
Twenty years ago, I was on a Pastoral Search Committee, and one of the questions we asked the ten candidates we interviewed in the first round was to tell us their three favorite passages of scripture. I loved hearing the variety of verses quoted and even learned some that I didn't know, such as the last line of one of this week's lectionary passages:
He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8) 
For today's Friday Five, list your five favorite passages/verses from the Bible and tell us something about why you love them.
I haven’t read anyone else’s posts yet, but I have a feeling my favorite passages are going to seem boring and typical—but they’re mine!

1.        In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:1). The Logos is an aspect of Christ that I can comprehend with my mind and spirit. As a “word person,” this passage touches me where I live. It very strongly relates to #2 here.
2.        In the beginning when God created… (Genesis 1:1) Creator God! Birthing God! Made in God’s image, we too are creative beings! “And God said…” evokes the Word—and how powerful are words to create reality (use them carefully).
3.        Jesus began to weep (John 11:35). Having served as a hospital chaplain and now in ministry with strong pastoral care, I’ve learned there are times when all you can do is weep alongside the person who is mourning. Jesus’ presence with Lazarus’ siblings here, knowing the fullness of what they’re going through and being willing to enter their sorrow, reveals incredible compassion.
4.        Make a joyful noise to YHWH, all the earth. Worship YHWH with gladness; come into God’s presence with singing (Psalm 100:1-2). I love hearing kids’ voices in worship. I love singing at the top of my lungs with joy, even when it’s off key, flat or whatever else one can do to sing badly. I often evoke this passage to remind people, “It doesn’t say make beautiful music; it says make a joyful noise!” If you are giving thanks to God, who cares what others think of the sound J.
5.       Hear, O Israel: YHWH is our God, YHWH alone. You shall love YHWH your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might (Deuteronomy 6:4). I sing the Shema once in a while, honoring my Jewish heritage (which I didn’t know about until my early 20s) and Christianity’s foundation therein. Jesus’ rendering of this text is also one of my favorites, reminding us that loving our neighbors as ourselves is another form of loving God.

I     If you're reading this and not blogging on RGBP, I'd love for you to post your own favorites for us to see in the comments! Blessings to all...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Fearsome Beasts

Fearsome Beasts
(at the wild animal sanctuary)
So tame. I am the foreign creature
amidst these powerful paws and muscular jaws.
I am intruder to be watched, judged dangerous
yet safe behind high fences.
You, with your black eyes,
despise my gaze - a voyeur
one of many smelling too agitated.
You stay calm in your cage.
My breath quickens and my ancient animal self recalls you intimately.
Fearsome. Beautiful.
I am prey -
yet I pray for you.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Friday Five: BOOKS!


(Over at RGBP, Jan offers…) I hope some of you received books for Christmas presents; I did and have been reading ever since. Then I discovered a new author from those recommendations that pop up on Instead of buying those books, I've been checking them out at the library, which will not help Amazon's future recommendations for me at all.

So tell us what you're reading, what you would and would not recommend--five books or authors! 
PERFECT TIMING! Our youth are having a book sale fundraiser this Sunday, and one of the bonuses of being in staff is that we get first perusal of the offerings! Last night (after the senior highs finished sorting), I spent quite a while over their efforts…

First book: I just finished reading Barbara Kingsolver’s Prodigal Summer (a tome I purchased at last year’s youth book sale—I wanted to get it back to the racks for a second go-round). A friend has been goading me to read some BK (her favorite author) for years, but I just couldn’t find the desire. Finally, on a deadline, I began…and couldn’t put it down. I hated it (at the beginning, mostly), because of the multiple, theme-driven, extensive heterosexual sex scenes. But VERY quickly I realized this was the whole meaning of "prodigal" that summer... BK's imagery and depth of sexual understanding of the natural world blew me away and couldn't keep me from continuing to read. And I fell in love with (most of) the characters.
Book two: In the “for sale” stacks were about 5 copies of Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. How can people give that book away?!! Last year I purchased several copies to send to friends—it is one of my favorite books of all time, and I can read it over and over. Hurston has a way of drawing images that stay with you, and her understanding of and ability to capture the complications of life and spirituality illuminate some of my own experiences of the world.
Number three: I admit to being a fiction and poetry lover through and through. But I recently finished a newer biography of Emily Dickinson called Lives Like Loaded Guns (a reference to one of her poems). Again, this was a volume I couldn’t stop reading. It was as full of plot as any novel, and Lyndall Gordon explored new twists and interpretations of the people in Dickinson’s life (proposing that long-supposed friends really were not, and seeming enemies may have been true devotees). My only disappointment was that the book came to an end.
Fourth choice: I’m going off-lectionary in 2 weeks to preach another book that recently came to my attention: Sandy Sasso’s Cain and Abel: Finding the Fruits of Peace. Yes, it’s a children’s book that beautifully retells the violent and disturbing story from the Hebrew Bible—and every time I read it, tears flow. Joani Keller Rothenberg’s illustrations deserve as much meditation as the words Sasso has written. The ultimate message is that we all have anger, but how we use it makes the difference between engaging war or creating peace: it’s up to each of us. If you’ve ever given up on the Cain & Abel story, I highly recommend this book for its redemption.
And finally five: I posted a couple days ago on books for meditation… and I offer him again: Kilian McDonnell writes the most delightful, playful, faithful, accessible human poetry. He has 3 books (he started his poetry career in his 70s!), and I recommend each and every one of them: Yahweh’s Other Shoe; God Drops and Loses Things; and Swift, Lord, You Are Not.

….now, I’m off to see what other RevGals have recommended. You never know what may show up at this weekend’s book sale!!!

Monday, January 10, 2011

It's a Wonderful Life

There has been much hard news this past month.

Family illness, debts, a dear one's suicide, and two kitties with different diseases making it seem they'd perish before the new year: all of this made me thankful when 2011 finally rang in. I've been feeling sorry for myself in some ways (not in others--I still live a luxurious life compared to most on this planet).
The Cone of Shame (on both kitties!)

Driving home from work tonight in the dark, I took a different route: through Old Town. Yesterday it snowed several inches, so the ground and the trees (and the cars) are all draped in winter's finery. It's 3º F, and people are still shopping, going to the theaters and eating out.

Most of all, I see the lights. Leftover Christmas lights. They wrap each tree on the median with star-shine--even though Epiphany has passed! They light my way through all my mediocre cares to a place I call home: warm, food-filled, companions all around, with two living, breathing cats and a partner who loves me. I noticed again how beautiful is this town that I get to live in. Work in. Play in. Serve in.
picture this.... but with snow

I begin the 7th year of my time here in Fort Collins, CO. Until 2010, I never really knew what it might look like truly to call a place "home" (having moved, in almost as many years, from NJ to PA to CA to CT to CO). But this is it. This is what "home" looks like. At least for now. And I couldn't be more grateful.

Sometimes I get caught up in the challenges before me, and I forget for a moment that I have the most amazing life. I don't know what 2011 will bring for me, but I know I get to be here, among loving, beautiful people in a town that has been voted one of the best places to live. So, thanks be to the Divine for all that is, and all that will be.

Happy New Year.