Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Small Triumphs in the Midst of Great Tragedy

Got a call at 7:30 a.m. from a pastor in town wanting to know what she/her church could do about the victims of Hurricane Katrina who are "flooding" into Houston and whose stays at local hotels would soon be depleting the limited resources they might still have.

She concluded our conversation with, "So do you have a busy day ahead?"

Little did I know.

Nine hours later with the help of an incredible staff we'd identified local church-based shelters, matched up several needs with the resources needed, created a web-based information center and needs-matching area, and brainstormed possible longterm responses that could kick in after these immediate grassroots efforts are well underway.

And, at the risk of an overload of water-oriented metaphors in one post . . . this effort was merely a drop in the bucket to what's needed.

I'm simultaneously thrilled and overwhelmed.


Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Jazz Refuge

Some friends and I had a "date" night on Monday. The whole point was fun and relaxation. We began with good food and great conversation and were just beginning the second half of the night, strolling around downtown, when I noticed that one of my favorite jazz places wasn't doing what I'd thought they were doing.

I'd called on Sunday and gotten a voice message saying they were having a concert "tonight and tomorrow night" and that the cost was $25. So I had nixed that as a potential source of fun. I like the place but that's kind of steep for my non-weekend funtime.

So . . . when I saw from the other side of the street that the small crowd just did not look like a "jazz festival" in the making (as it had been billed), I decided to check it out. Sure enough, the voice message was a day old and didn't apply to this Monday. I recognized one of the band members I was accustomed to seeing there and discovered they were scheduled to perform. And within moments, we were welcomed in with great enthusiasm and told that there'd be no cover charge. (My previous Mondays had proven enjoyable and well worth the small charge so I was ready but pleasantly surprised when none was required.)

The crowd was small, as I'd mentioned, but soon a camera crew entered. And then more folks followed. And more folks. And more folks.

Curiosity had me in its grip so I finally inquired as to what was happening. The hostess explained that the local news was covering what businesses were doing in response to the hurricane victims "flooding" the city and that this club had decided to open its doors to all the nearby hotel guests at no charge and entertain them.

Soon what looked like busloads were filing in. Children in t-shirts and shorts. Young men carrying baby strollers (though I missed the babies). Entire families. They all had the look of the recently surprised in their eyes. They weren't scowling. They weren't smiling. They simply looked like they were concentrating on putting one foot in front of the other.

While not the same, I remembered that same look in the eyes of those most affected by Tropical Storm Allison here a few years ago.

However, when the young teenagers entered it was a different story. I'm not sure where they were from but I think they were more like stalled tourists rather than refugees. They shared that "casual-but-it-took-hours-to-accomplish-this" look. And they were all quite drunk already.

If you're reading carefully, I've used "teenagers" purposefully. There's no way they were all 21!!!

For the first few moments this clashing of cultures . . . families fleeing and teens partying was delightful. Everyone was trying to forget, to escape, to let the music do what music does . . . take you to places you need to be at the moment.

But after one young man adopted a woman twice his age (and I may be being extremely gracious to the very good looking but definitely not young woman) and the two preceded to do what comes naturally in a bedroom but seemed a bit awkward on the dance floor . . . and then the husband of said woman awakened from his stupor and decided to reclaim his bride . . . and then the young girls took to the floor in conga lines with beers held high . . . well, it felt like time to go.

On the drive home, I got a call from a friend from Washington state. We hadn't spoken in a few months and it was so good to catch up. This morning I checked on family in Tennessee. All these calls got me to thinking. "Stuff" gets lost all the time. In the next few days, the destruction of this natural disaster will be tallied and re-tallied and the financial toll will be beyond comprehension. But friends and family truly are the valuables. That sounds so trite but, God, it's true.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Back and Forth, Up and Down

I heard recently that "balance" is that thing the pendelum swings through while going from one extreme to the other.

Some days I'm overjoyed with what I do with my life, how I live it, and who I live it with. Some days, I'm tired, confused, and just this side of hopeless.

At the moment, I would embrace a pendelum pause.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Just to Prove I Have No Shame

See KC get sucked into the earth . . .
See nice children try to help . . .
See KC's mud-caked feet sans sandals . . .
See nice children search for sandals . . .
See KC wash her feet . . .
See KC get a parasite . . .
See KC love her job!

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Ouch! and Hmmmmm . . . .

Here's a challenging thought from from "Why I Went Back to Church" by Stephen Simpson in Relevant magazine's newsletter:

. . . . Once God revealed my hypocrisy, it made going to church easier. Church is a good place for people who are full of crap. Being a Christian means that you realize that you’re full of crap and that you need help. In fact, we should change the passing of the peace from “Peace be with you” to “You’re full of crap and so am I.”

Mike Yaconelli once said that church should be a place where we look at each other and say, “What are you doing here?” None of us is good enough to be there. Not one of us is righteous. Progressive types like me give more conservative Christians a hard time for being too “exclusive,” but we’re just as bad. We get just as easily annoyed and turn our backs on other children of God who don’t share our views. It’s so much easier to be snide than vulnerable. It’s much safer to be sarcastic than expose my heart to someone I don’t like. But once I stopped thinking of myself as too cool and took the time to get to know those I’d been judging, I made a shocking discovery. I like other Christians They might act nutty during worship, they’re beliefs might be too stinking rigid, and thy might even dress goofy, but I love those folks. They made me laugh, brought me joy and showed me love. That last one humbled me big time.

Yes, Christians are irritating. We can all be weird, ridiculous, stupid and mean. I’m a good example. That’s why we have to rely on God to clear our vision, change our hearts, and stop us from being ridiculous, stupid, and mean (I don’t think God cares so much about the weird part). If we let God fill us with His love rather than trusting our own assumptions, we will begin to love those who annoy us. We can go from being full of crap to full of grace and love. We get over ourselves and the little things that divide us, learning to see each other as God does. And God loves that person who irritates me just as much as He loves me. If I can remember that, maybe I won’t be so full of crap.

[Stephen W. Simpson lives with his wife and four kids in Pasadena, Calif. He attends church often.]

Things I Miss

I remember rushing to the phone just in case the number revealed potential . . . a surprise invitation, a conversation meant to tease and titillate, connecting on some level beyond psychological or professional need. . . . This weekend I realized that most calls these days are predictable.

I miss anticipation.

Monday, August 22, 2005

A New Kind of . . . Something

My pastor (who sits on a tall stool when talking to our coffeehouse congregation) dropped a couple of sheets of paper he was reading from yesterday in the middle of his reading. I was sitting directly in front of him. So it was no big deal for me to quickly grab them and return them to his waiting hands.

That act, while small, was nevertheless monumental.

To explain . . . I've been doing a bit of reflecting lately on staging. (I'm assisting with a charity event next month where I'll be tapping into my considerable-yet-long-ago experience of working backstage at numerous denominational events.)

During those days, if the speaker dropped his/her notes or a critical prop/page fell to the stage, silent alarms went off. Directors were making demands on headsets that stage managers were carrying out by grabbing the first flunky that passed by. While the audience saw nothing but calm clean up, organized chaos was taking place behind the scenes.

Sounds silly now in some ways but then it was "one small piece of paper, one giant flub in front of 1000s . . . "

My current community of faith isn't even to 50 folks but for all the intimacy of our setting, I'm fairly certain not a soul registerd any anxiety over yesterday's falling page. Though most of us are in the Boomer category and demographically speaking we're supposed to really be into excellence, we rarely give in to what's expected.

Don't get me wrong. Our place looks very cool. The colors are soothing. We have experiential stations that reflect a great deal of detail in creating a particular mood. Our music is top notch.

But even when we have slide glitches and our leader is inspired to go off "script" and add a couple of new songs, the ceiling doesn't fall. In fact, I think it energizes folks.

For instance, yesterday, when the group was offered the chance for dialogue there was a genuineness in the comments that was inspiring.

One woman acknowledged that while she willingly wrapped herself around the idea of God's mysterious nature, she sometimes balked at the every-moment-every-day-ness of expending the energy that some folks suggest is needed to follow Christ's example.

Another said that though once upon a time she'd "pharisetically" followed the rules she thought the Bible set forth, now she leaned more to seeing the Bible as a guide.

And another woman, in a great reference to Julia Roberts in "Pretty Woman" noted that she loved the idea that Jesus had pursued Mary as Mary was . . . a hooker.

As I listened I had to smile and wondered if God might not actually be grinning a bit as well. We were certainly pushing the envelope and any tried and true traditionalist within hearing distance might have been in a tizzy . . . we were "off script" . . . women were leading out in the dialogue . . . we were introducing a little Buddhist thinking about living in the moment . . . we had folks challenging perceptions of what the Bible seemingly "says" and is.

We were flawed. We were honest. And worship took on new meanings.


Confession Booth: The Sequel

For those of you who have already read Donald Miller's Blue Like Jazz, you may want to scroll through the first portion of this link to an excerpt and go directly to the "update" regarding Miller's introduction to and continuing use of confession with folks who just don't share his faith.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Trite but true

Give me your tired
Your poor
Your weary of spirit and mind
Give me your artists
Your poets
Your truly one of a kind
I may not hold the light of understanding
(I’m often without a clue)
But there’s warmth here
And open arms will always welcome you

Sweet land of liberty
Of thee, I sing

Thursday, August 18, 2005

This One Made Me Mentally Dance a Jig!

Reading one of my favorite authors the other night, I came across the following and couldn't decide whether to weep or dance a jig because frankly "control" issues have always been a sticking point to me. The language of the church in which I grew up often left me with the connotation that if I simply let go, the LORD God would take care of everything and that troubled me.

(Of course, the fact that it troubled me then made me guilty because obviously I was way too self-oriented or I wouldn't be troubled . . . which led to a cycle of troubling thoughts, guilt, more troubling thoughts, etc.)

I love the freedom offered here of giving up my particular denotation of "control" as being a bad, oppressive activity.

I wondered if any of you ever struggle with similar reactions to words like "Lord"?

From Generous Orthodoxy by Brian McLaren

...when many modern Christians use the word sovereignty (another form of “kingship” or “lordship”), they make matters worse, much worse, because for them, sovereignty means absolute control, and control is a very tricky word. Again, if you’re living in danger and chaos, to say, “A good king will soon be in control” would be good news.

But it’s not good news at all if you live, as we do, at the end of modernity, a period that told us in a hundred different ways how we’re already controlled: by our genes (genetic determinism), by class struggle (Marxism), by primitive psychosexual aggressions (Freudianism), by operant conditioning (Skinnerism), by evolutionary competition (social Darwinism), by laws of physics and chemistry (naturalism, reductionism), by linguistic and social constructions (some forms of extreme postmodernism), by Euro-American military and economy (colonialism), by technique and machinery (industrialism), and by advertising (consumerism).

Against this backdrop, theistic determinism is just another determinism, and in that case, talking about God as the all-powerful, all-controlling Lord/King is just more bad news, reducing us to plastic chessmen on a board of colored squares, puppets on strings in a play we don’t write, characters in a video game that we aren’t even playing, cogs in a contraption whose levers and buttons God and God alone pulls and pushes.

. . . .

Good news under these circumstances would be a leader who liberated us from all determinisms, who deconstructed oppressive authority and the self-interest of leaders and nations, who destabilized the status quo and made way for a better day, who delivered us not only from corrupt power, but also from the whole approach to power that is so corruptible . . .

. . . which is exactly (I say) what is meant by the phrase “Jesus is Lord.” In Jesus’ day, “Caesar is Lord” was the political pledge of allegiance, required in a way not unlike “Heil Hitler” was required in the 1930s and early 1940s in Nazi Germany. To call Jesus “Lord” meant that there is a power in Jesus more important than the power of the king of the greatest state in history. To say “Jesus is Lord” was then (and should be now!) a profoundly political statement – affirming the authority of a “powerless” Jewish rabbi with scarred feet over the power of Caesar himself with all his swords, spears, chariots and crosses.

Similarly, today there are plenty of other authority figures around, Caesars in various realms: presidents national and corporate, experts scientific and social, celebrities and media moguls, priests and pastors and bishops and cult leaders, various people in various high places who exert whatever control they can. But Jesus comes as a liberating, revolutionary leader, freeing us from the dehumanization and oppression that come from all “the powers that be” in our world (including religious powers). His kingdom, then, is a kingdom not of oppressive control but of dreamed-of freedom, not of coercive dominance but of liberating love, not of top-down domination but of bottom-up service, not of a clenched iron fist but of open, wounded hands extended in a welcoming embrace of kindness, gentleness, forgiveness, and grace.
(pages 81-83)

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Snippets in a Day

Today was a day of much sorrow . . . not for me exactly, but for many folks I know. Subjects of conversations today included divorce, death, the fragileness of the church, the ignorance of some of the church's leadership, violence, infidelity, frail bodies and minds, uncertain futures and more.

During one chat, my companion and I determined that one of the uphill battles we currently fight is that for many people in our generation (under 50 or so), "easy" is an expectation. Our parents would never have assumed that easy was an option -- in marriage, in raising children, in work, in faith, in life. But for us, we want "easy" and when we don't get it, we often run away. (Yes, I know the irony of a runaway divorcee making such a statement.)

During another conversation, I said aloud, "When evangelicals realize that many folks they are trying to reach today are more concerned about the here and now than the hereafter, they may get somewhere."

Both dialogues were more theoretical than specific to any one situation. But both shared a desire to make things better. Then I read a message from someone who was making hard, non-easy choices and as a result making hers and others "here and now" a much better, deeper, solid place. And I rejoiced.

Some people really do practice what they preach.


On The Journey Toward Right Use of Power
written by LISA CATALDO

The man in front of me was six feet tall and in his late twenties - much younger than I am - and the gleam in his eye said, "I'm going to hit you." Then he bowed, never taking his eyes from mine. As I bowed back, I glanced at the black belt around his waist and thought of my own recently earned yellow belt. I had been proud of that achievement, but now I wanted to run as fast as I could. What was I thinking? A middle-aged woman should not be wearing boxing gloves and facing off with a young man, protective gear notwithstanding. It isn't dignified. It isn't age-appropriate. It isn't safe.

I thought I heard amusement in my teacher's voice when he hit the bell and yelled "Fight!" After the longest two minutes in the world, the bell rang again. We bowed to each other again, and the black belt smiled at me. "You did great. Next time, keep your hands up, and throw more."

I was alive! As I walked home, I realized that I had truly expected to be badly hurt in my first fight. After all, my sparring partner had age, power, and skill to his advantage. I had assumed he would use all of that to its maximum because he could, and because doing so would make him look great in front of the teacher. But instead he challenged me just enough - the punches really landed, and they really hurt, but they were gauged to make me respond, to fight back, to defend myself and learn in the process. There were many other opponents of his skill level, whom he would be glad to fight with all he had, but with me he knew his role was to use his power judiciously to empower me to believe in myself.

It was an astounding revelation. Now, three years later, I am preparing for my own black belt promotion. Now there are many yellow belts who, facing off with me, feel that same fear. Will I hurt them? Will I use my power to make myself look good or to humiliate them? But I have learned at the hands of the best teachers - power is to be used to lead others to new levels of accomplishment and insight. This use of power makes me understand better the power of God, whose "might" is beyond measure but who chooses to be incarnate among us and to share our weakness. God's power is "power-with" and not "power-over," the kind of power that challenges us to respond, to grow into our best selves, and to create with God a world where all are empowered to love, to grow, and to be whole.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

We Had Ourselves a Baptism

Emerging from the waters
A new creation
saturated in salty tears and chlorine
Old habits hardly broken
(hiding behind hands)
Yet only for a moment

Hugs await
As do gifts
of the s/Spirit

What a rag-tag wonder!
Metaphorical moment
Witnessed by
co-workers in couture
bandana-ed brothers
similarly seeking "sisters"
fellow travelers, friends
and a fair share
of four-legged creatures

Mingling amidst the love
A joyous soul
still questioning, on the edge
Listening, learning, charming
her way deeper into our hearts

Mark this end of the beginning
And beginning toward a new end
Mark this milestone in the journey

Baptism at poolside.

Mi Dia in Mexico

As a journalist, I'm often invited to "come and see." Rarely, do I take folks up on the offer because frankly, I can usually capture the story via phone interviews -- which allows me to skip the handwritten note stage and go directly to the keyboard.

But as an adventurer, I have a hard time saying "no."

Last Friday, I didn't. But I didn't say "yes" either. It was more like "si."

A pastor in Houston has done an amazing thing in the last couple of years. Not only is he growing his church and helping them see their servant roles with different eyes, he's also helped almost 10 churches start. And those churches have turned their attention to Mexico where the needs abound.

After connecting to a coastal community there, several churches decided they would help build a couple of much needed wells. The only water these folks have is sea water or contaminated. Hurricane Emily also hit them pretty hard so "in need" doesn't really touch on how bad the situation is there.

My friend/pastor wanted me to share the stories with other churches here in the city. So he invited me to "come and see" and he even made arrangements for us to get there -- by plane.

Now if at this point, you have an image of a puddlejumper type plane with 25 or so seats, scale that back just a bit, will you?

Seems this pastor has another pastor friend who shares ownership in a four seater. And that's how we were going to make what would have been a 16 hour round trip in half the time -- to Mexico and back in a day.

We left around 8 a.m. and though the plane lacked air conditioning and it was sometimes 92 degrees outside our windows we had a bit of a fan and the conversation was certainly stimulating. I learned all about the pastor/pilot and his family, his dreams, his plans for future ministries, etc.

We landed in Matamores around 11:30 a.m. to do the customs thing. We should have suspected some delays when (a) we had to find an open door to the airport and (b) they had to turn on the lights in immigration (guess they hadn't had that many visitors that morning). Since most of the conversation was in rapid Spanish, I only got bits and pieces of what was happening but I soon learned that someone wanted lots more money to allow us in than either of my pastor friends or our other traveling companion were willing to pay. The immigration guy sent us to another office . . . through several locked doors that had to be unlocked and several rooms where the lights once again had to be turned on. Those guys said, "no" we didn't have to pay that much. But we did have to pay, and go back to the first building but not the way we came. There were more locked doors and more papers and more returning to the office we'd just left and at one point the office worker couldn't quite figure out how his computer worked for the needed receipt and the customs worker made us touch a green/red light to determine if our bags would be individually checked even though we had no bags.

The non-pastor among us was from El Savador and he kept apologizing to me for the "inefficiency" of the country. I smiled and pointed out I hadn't worn a watch and I was in this for the adventure so a few delays weren't really bothering me.

Two hours after we landed we took off again for our true destination.

That was a short 45 minute trip and we landed on an airstrip. No building or tower in sight . . . just a strip of asphalt long enough to land a plane on and, oh yeah, buckets alongside the edge of the track that we assumed might be for a night landing . . . even though we now knew night flights were illegal in Mexico.

We were greeted by three more pastors and drove about 20 minutes to the village where the well was in process. There we were greeted by the women who had expected us two hours earlier and quickly issued to our seats so that we could eat the tubful of fried fish, tubful of fried crab, cerviche, and tortillas they had prepared. Unfortunately, we got to watch them prepare tamales we wouldn't get to sample given that they thought we were staying for the night service and flying out much later but, as I said, that's a no-no in Mexico.

The food was wonderful and literally finger-licking good. No napkins in sight and the pastor was quite adamant that we dig in. So we did. Soon, crab juice was running down my arm and salsa was stuck between my nails and I was in seafood heaven. Except I couldn't get to that . . . one . . . piece . . . of . . . crab meat in that . . . short little claw . . . so I tried breaking the shell . . . with my thumb . . . and . . . bingo, I cracked it. Then I noticed that I had more "salsa" than I thought because red was everywhere. And that's when I noticed I'd cracked more than the crab. My thumb was bleeding profusely.

Fortunatley, napkins had arrived just prior to my accident and I tried creating my own little bandage. But I was bleeding right through. So I gave up any thoughts of eating and just did the whole "elevate it" trick. Soon, I was fairly sure that I wouldn't need stitches or a transfusion. And then a man arrived with a single bandaid . . . with what looked like medication already on it. For this, I was soon to be very grateful.

The pilot/pastor suggested that for a post-meal activity we get the photos we'd come for. First we stopped by the tin roof, wood wall, dirt floor kitchen to say thanks to the cooks and take their photos. I noticed the "stove" was wood burning on the dirt floor. I sincerely thanked them for the "delicioso" meal.

Next we wandered over to the well. Not really a very exciting shot, I thought, given that it was essentially white pipe coming out of the ground. I determined a better angle was needed, so I looked around for a vantage point. Finding a small mound of dirt, I made my way up it to just the right spot and then . . .

Started to sink. Seems my "dirt" was actually a mound of crusted over mud and the shrieks of laughter from the children across the lawn were warnings -- in Spanish and in the far distance -- to stop. Instead, I proceeded and soon find myself on my ass, knee deep in sucking the soles off my feet mud.

Many thoughts ran through my mind. I realized in some places women were paying big bucks to be covered in mud not unlike this. I thought about how the children and the adults must really be wondering about the lone white lady who couldn't seem to avoid trouble since she'd arrived. And I laughed hysterically at the thought of what my pastor/pilot/friend? was doing when he said, "I promise to help, but first give me the camera. I HAVE to get this on film."

He did help. He said things like, "Get up." Great advice if the earth wasn't taking me into its womb! But eventually we figured out a way to remove me from the wet terra and get me to the firma. Of course, my sandals stayed.

The capri pants I wore that day are green. I tell you this because if you've ever seen the Incredible Hulk transform into the creature then you have some image of what my legs and feet looked like with globs of greenish ooze weighing down both my pants and my toes.

Again, proving to be the great thinker of the trip, I wondered where the water hose might be.

Water hose? They don't even HAVE water!!!!

So I found a stiff shirt . . . the kind a great Mexican working man might have discarded after a day of sweat in the . . . have I mentioned the heat? . . . and in time the shirt just stiffened into what would have made a great tile for the roof of the nearby church. I decided that might work to scrape the excess mud off my legs and began to wonder what folks in the airports were going to think when I made my way back through customs sans shoes and covered in filth.

But the children weren't going to allow that! They had immediately taken the opportunity to go one better than mud pies and were frantically digging to find my shoes. Ever the sensitive traveler, I tried to discourage them, and then, of course, mentally kicked myself for being so ready to throw away one of my multiple pairs of shoes in a place where a single pair was sometimes a commodity.

Not only did they find those shoes, they used some of that precious water to clean them up. That was all going on while the women brought me a bucket of, can you say it with me?, that precious, but yes, contaminated water for me to clean my feet . . . with the right hand that held the medicated bandaged thumb. Are you visualizing the parasites yet? 'Cause, come Sunday, I can tell you they came!

Having made my "impression" on the adults who didn't even try to hide their laughter (who could blame them, I was in tears myself), I decided more photos would be made with children. Soon the pastors were calling me back to get the final bits for the story and the last of the photos because daylight was waning.

We got stopped by the policia . . . for the second time that day and this time we were thoroughly checked out. The machine guns seemed like overkill but hey, this is a drug area and I'm sure our little band of merry men and one mud-caked, freckle-faced, currently blonde woman made for a curious lot.

We made it back through to the Mexico side of the border and were on our way in minutes this time. Then we had a few stumbles on the U.S. side of things but eventually we were 6,500 feet over ground and the stars were magnificent, the clouds seemed to part when we needed them to, and the conversations reflected the wonder of the experience.

At 11:05 p.m. I was back in my car. And a few minutes before midnight my day in Mexico was history.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

M&M at the Hospice

Saturday I played Martha to e's Mary. She's soon to be trained as a volunteer at the AIDS hospice, so when we needed help on Saturday (there were only two of us scheduled for the morning) I enlisted her assistance.

We made it clear to the on-duty nurse that she wasn't experienced and that she might need a little extra assistance in knowing how to assist in the care of the residents. But the first task she took on didn't require any advance training.

She sat with a dying resident.

I played the same role the last time I was at the hospice and, to be totally honest, I envied "e" just a bit. The magnitude of being present when someone is slipping away is a holy time.

Instead, I mopped, cleaned toilets and sinks, changed beds, and lifted the dead weight of a couple of residents a couple of times (not for the weak of heart or back when one of the reasons for the lifting was for a bathroom break!).

"e" eventually left the bedside to assist with much of this as well and before she left, she'd seen her fair share of mop water and fecal matter.

Later in the day I pondered our initial roles. I've come to realize at this particular hospice that our "ministry" is as much to the staff as it is to the residents. On this day, the nurse didn't happen to be one of our more energetic ones. And she's not always a happy camper either, easily pointing out the inequities of her regular shift's volunteers not being quite up to parr with our team that's been doing this for a decade now. So when she asked for us to try to get in all the bed changes as well as complete breakfasts and lunches . . . well, I wanted to oblige. But obliging meant I was focused much more on the doing than the being.

Sometimes Martha gets a bad rap. But this day, I reveled in my doing and relished e's being. And in the midst of a place personifying much of what's wrong in the world, I felt a peculiar sense of rightness.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Edge of Chaos

So many people I know are living in the midst of chaos . . . broken leg, broken ankle, broken promises . . . lost job, lost mobility, lost love . . . mistakes, misperceptions, missed opportunities. As well as all things new . . . new knees, new home, new babies.

Disconnected from them and the chaos, I'm not at my most creative. I long for a spark of difference to ignite something in me.

If inspiration isn't an option, I'll settle for good old "interesting".

Philosophy 101

My life is simple.
My needs are few.
Do unto others and
(for the most part)
They do right back to you.

Friday, August 05, 2005

For all the folks I know currently in chaos . . .

Great Spirit, Wild Goose of the Almighty
Be my eye in the dark places,
Be my flight in the trapped places,
Be my host in the wild places,
Be my formation in the lost places,
Be my brood in the barren places.

From Holy Island Prayer Book:

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Pause for a Moment

[Breathe in on line 1, out on line 2, in on line 3, out on line 4]

Breathing in, I calm my body
Breathing out, I smile
Dwelling in the present moment
I know this is a wonderful moment

from Living Buddha, Living Christ

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Diet Dos and Don'ts

Half a donut bids me linger
"Just some chocolate on your finger.
Squeeze my middle, let it ooze . . .
Forget the pounds you want to lose."

I confess, I succumbed
And licking icing off my thumb
I resolved to work it off
But discipline is really tough

Still just as I can stand and eat
I can also move my feet
And burn those calories bit by bit
Til once again that 8 will fit!

Monday, August 01, 2005


My step-father has been told that he may have had a mini-stroke or strokes. The result is a much more quiet demeanor. Since he's already a tad deaf, I can imagine that this stuffiness of ears and mind is a hellish cocoon for him, proactive life-liver that he has always been.

I saw a news item yesterday that spoke to how much longer we are living these days. At 80, his living continues but his life is on the decline.

I'm torn as to how to pray, support, "be there" for this 80-year-old giant who no longer fills the room.

I "Preached" on Sunday

I’ve decided that there are things that we are created by God to be and when we pursue those things we are living in a passion-filled state, and it’s a joy, and maybe even an ordination of sorts. Then, because we are creations of God, we have the capacity to do other things. These may not bring us passion-filled joy but we are quite competent at them. Finally, there are a few things that fall into the “while-we-can-do-all-things-in-Christ-there-are-some-things-that-should-be-left-to-others” category.

Communicating about just about anything is almost a calling for me.

Speaking in public or what some might call "preaching" is what I can do if asked.

Number crunching of any kind is one for my third category.

As usual, I'm glad I did this bit of stretching but have no desire to make it a habit.

Kudos to all the folks I know who regularly put themselves out there and live out of their passionate resolve that they have been called by Creator God to do so. May you consistently be blessed.