Monday, July 31, 2006

In the Moment

I want to be a woman known for living in the moment, for extracting every drop of life from each instant, for engaging in rather than simply observing opportunities.

And yet . . .

I struggle with a reality that suggests life in this moment has implications for the next, that every change changes everything.

And that struggle is yet another reason why I wouldn't make a good Buddhist.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Sometimes I Listen to What They Say

"They" say, 'write what you know'
Here goes . . .

Breathless anticipation
Celebratory release

Wonder what next week holds?

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Control Issues

If I tell you something
That's not a question
Then don't assume
I'm waiting for your answer.

Information is only power when I give it to you

For some unknown reason . . . even to myself
Today I did just that -- provided both information and power.

Anyone willing to offer up a good swift kick to my backside????

Another way of looking at it . . .

I've lost a little over four pounds and $720 with Weight Watchers. Not bad.

(I was on my way to WW in a new location when I didn't pay attention, didn't see the pothole, and didn't realize how very bad my poor little Toyota was hurt )

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Trust Me, Trusting Him Matters

So, yeah, I'm a woman living alone. And yes, I did get burglarized recently. And, quite honestly, there are nights when I would love to know that someone was going to call and check on my status . . . not out of obligation but simply because there's a bookmark with my name on it in their mind's "favorites" file.

But for the most part, I spend my life feeling safe and secure and loved. I even like to share out of the bounty of all that and enjoy helping carry others' loads when I can.

So when that position of "readiness for whatever" is threatened, even slightly, and it's personal, not someone else's crisis, well, I find it hard to breathe. At this very moment, I'm having trouble with the whole concept of inhaling.

I just got word that I broke a strut on my car. Clueless as to whether I even spelled that right, what I know is that one pothole yesterday afternoon is going to cost me more than $600.


Do I have the money? Yes. Do I wish I didn't have to spend it on a car when there are so many folks I'd like to spend it on other than myself and my day to day needs? Absolutely!

But you know what makes this slightly better? I trust the guy who called and told me that my car was in need of some immediate special care. I trust this whole operation. They make it their business to take care of their customer's concerns . . . especially women. There's no discomfort when you walk into this place. The manager knows my name. I still have to look at their coveralls and the stitched in names to remember who is who. But without benefit of even a peek at his records, he was chatting with me and ready to make sure I had my car back at the "ideal" time.

That was, of course, before the discovery of "the strut".

While some may suspect that as a strong, self-sufficient, divorced woman, I might at times be a man-hater. The truth is that I'm not. While I primarily work with the male population and specifically with pastors, I don't hold men at arm's length, in distaste, tsk-tsk-tsking their every move. But I know that there are plenty of guys who say what they need to say in order to get what they truly believe they need/want. So my eyes are always open.

And yet, I trust my mechanic.

Go figure.

Now how does that go again . . . ? inhale . . . exhale . . . inhale . . .

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Allow Me to Translate

The man moved his way to the front of the line seemingly oblivious that there was a line. Smiling broadly, he told the registrar exactly what he needed and got it. No "excuse me." No "ha! I beat you" either. Just oblivion.

Later during the conference the crowd split up and those of remaining in the room had an opportunity to change seats. I found an empty table and was about to place my things at my selected chair when Mr. Oblivious approached.

"Can I join you guys at this table?" he said.

Looking around at the nine other empty seats which held no other "guys," I simply said, "Sure."

He placed his things and himself at the chair directly beside me. Remember now . . . nine other options for chairs and he's positioned himself at my side.

[Spoiler alert: For those of you who might be thinking, "he's hitting on her and she's the oblivious one" let me beg to differ. He's not. He's not interested in anything but whatever he's focused on in that moment. I'm there but I'm invisible and grateful to be so.]

Within seconds I'm blessed further. Because I have no intention of engaging Mr. Oblivious in conversation, I'm thrilled when someone he was sitting with earlier joins him in this better seating arrangement.

They begin to talk.

I'm not eavesdropping at this point, but if you are seated beside me and if you don't choose to lower your voice, there's not much I can do.

I learn:
-he's just back from "the field"
-his organization told him that he couldn't return until he 'took a year to receive some mentoring and for healing'
-he thinks his organization was simply 'wiping their hands of him'
-he cannot understand why, with his degrees, no one will hire him

"OH! Can I take that one????" I want to scream but don't. "Don't you speak organizational code, dude??? These people know you're nuts!!!!!"

Monday, July 24, 2006

Sometimes I Like to Share . . .

But yield who will to their separation
My object in living is to unite
My avocation and my vocation
As my two eyes make one in sight.
Only where love and need are one,
And the work is play for mortal stakes
Is the deed ever really done
For Heaven and the future’s sakes.

Two Tramps in Mud Time
by Robert Frost

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Post Party Thoughts

I love it when you see people with new eyes. I'm taking responsibility in the change of view, because it's not really a matter of the person having been different when it was your thinking that caused you to define them.

Last night I saw a woman shine in ways I'd never seen before. She's so good at going with the flow that I didn't know she could handle the spotlight so well. She didn't demand it. She didn't steal it from someone else. And she was more than willing to share. But for a few moments, all eyes were upon her and she handled that responsibility with a finesse I didn't know she possessed.

I also saw a couple love. Not in a grand gesture kind of way. But nevertheless, the emotion I felt as I they simply touched each other's arms while exchanging abbreviated info (because lovers have their own language, don't they?) in a quiet conversation of not even a minute . . . it was grand. I wanted to stop the world for just a few more minutes and allow the intimacy to be acknowledged by the heavens.

So after last night -- which of course means I'm talking about this morning -- I woke up thinking of significance. I am coming to a place where I can accept that love between one singular individual and me and in the way that society accepts it may not be in the realm of the possibilities. Now, don't get all fretty on me. I don't mean that I don't experience love. I do and it's phenomenal that I can be accepted and embraced and truly loved by so many. But that's the downside of that word. "Love" isn't enough to convey all the variations we may mean. But if we're talking about one-on-one, let's spend the rest of the time we have with each other, you're the most important person in the world to me love -- well, I can't see that on the horizon for me.

And I'm truly ok with that because that whole thing is a mystery to me anyway. What I've realized that I want is significance. I don't want or need to be your "only" anything. Perhaps because I'm not that sure I can give it. But I do want to understand the significance of me in your life.

I don't have to be your best friend. But do you count on me as part of your first line of defense?
I don't have to be your wisest confidante. But does my opinion matter? and will you occasionally heed what I say?
I don't have to be the love of your life. But do you find pleasure in my being with you in this moment in time and will you remember me for always?

Last night I experienced a slight shift in significance. I saw a woman transformed and a couple unite. Neither happened before a crowd of witnesses. Yet something was added to my perspective and I was significantly impressed.

So I thought of a few things at a workshop . . .

Spent some time this week with several folks who truly believe that individuals can make a difference in the world by living their convictions.

Some focus on the environment -- they use alternative fuels, make their own clothes, and are making conscious consumer choices. Some focus on the poor -- they not only offer food and clothes and medical care, but they are trying to address the systemic issues that help to create poverty. Some focus on change -- they work with community groups to encourage volunteerism and an understanding of issues. And some focus on what I will call the "edge" people -- they embrace those that society chooses not to and in so doing becoming the very thing they embrace.

The group was made up entirely of Christians. And since only a few did all of the above, it was mostly a time spent in trying to understand whoever represented an "other" to you as well as get some more clues in how to do what you do better.

I admire the people who were there and who each day live what they believe.

I also have to question one aspect of that belief system. Get a group like this together and at some point you going to hear talk of suffering and sacrifice. And if you listen hard enough, that S&S speak is going to hint at something that bothers me: Jesus suffered on the cross. We are to be like Jesus. We must suffer.

I don't think so.

Those who know me know that "obedience" isn't something I'm drawn to. I tend to think it has something to do with father issues and having to grow up so early. But I value it, even if I don't always act on it. Still, I'm more inclined to say Jesus lived in obedience. We are to be like Jesus. We must obey.

That's a HUGE leap for me to express as a value but I guess I do and I've come to it out of rejecting this "suffering syndrome." I don't want that badge for my Girl Scout banner and I'm not going to go all gushy on you if you list the litany of ways you've sacrificed for the cause, made you and your family (who may or may not share your enthusiasm) give up and give in, and how you're waiting not for an earthly reward but the day when it all makes sense in heaven.

Uh uh. Not for me. For what little I believe specifically about God, I have a pretty strong grip on this one -- God isn't somewhere over the rainbow. God's gift to us that we can be guaranteed of, and not even leave to a matter of faith, is this life. I intend to honor that gift.

And ultimately, when it comes to talk of "getting outside one's comfort zone" I believe this . . .

We are all unique for a reason. If my comfort zone is your mission field -- one you'd suffer through in order to serve -- then really allow me.

Your pain is no one's gain.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

I Saw A Young Man with Great Passion

The thin young man adds to the sense of his utter linear-ness with blonde dreds, a bandana, glasses ala Clark Kent, and clothes he made himself that hang across his curtain rod shoulders and down, down, down. He's not a tall drink of water in the ooo la la category. He's simply very tall and very thin.

He's also very passionate about . . . well just about everything.

Must be nearing or even slight past 30 but that's based on life experiences he quoted. Not solid evidence. I didn't card him.

He's mastered a masters, spent time in a megachurch on staff, worked with Mother Teresa, gone to circus school, can breathe fire, written a book, helped save a deserted Catholic church building for the homeless families who had settled there (complete with media coverage), reclaimed an abandoned house in Philadelphia in a community just off the street where the prostitutes hang out, fixed up said house, and now lives there while working with the community to bring about transformation.

Oh, yes, and he just got back from Iraq where he visited with natives and troops, assuring all of the love of Christ, and even surviving a wreck and less than ideal situations for medical care.

This man cares. He's looking forward to getting home and playing with the kids in the street with the open fire hydrants serving as their main source of entertainment and cooling.

This man reads . . . and retains seemingly every word on the page.

This man shares . . . sales from his book go to the community. He's part of a collective that allows the uninsurable to pay for medical care.

This man teaches. We've spent the last two days listening.

This man is somehow more than a man.

If Christ really does live within, then he lives within this man.

Semantic Sea

Waves of possibilities, options, alternatives, unverbalized assumptions
& simplistic wordplay
The comber in search of treasure

Look out!
My perspective allows for the warning

But the roar of what is
Wipes out
The aid.

And chaos comes crashing down.

Monday, July 17, 2006


Three years ago I got an email asking for prayer for an Ethiopian family. The infant girl was having problems which turned out to be colon related. For three years, I've received periodic updates on her condition. The severity of her illness and the lack of proper and available medical care in her home country often seemed to be a death sentence.

Today I opened an email with the following information:
Dr. Marc Levitt did about 6 1/2 hours surgery on this 3 year old. He found
several inches of colon acting like a plug and the colon above that was
inflated and damaged due to 3 years of filling up like a balloon. In
summary, he cut out about 18 inches of bad colon and then reattached the
good colon.

The surgery was made possible because people in the U.S. connected to people in Ethiopia with whom this family was connected collected the funds for travel and then doctors donated their expertise. This little girl will now be healthy because of the kindness of strangers.

The day I received that first prayer request I felt less than capable of expressing a coherent plea for her. In fact, I probably uttered something along the lines of "may her death be as painfree as possible."

Recognizing that my conversations with God were less than on hospitable terms in those days, I sent the email to three mothers I knew -- three women who would lay down their lives and take out a few if necessary to protect their children and any other child within their sphere of influence.

And each time I got an updat, I'd forward it on. Sometimes I'd add a note of semi-hopefulness. Sometimes I'd apologize for filling their in box.

Today one of them wrote me as soon as she got the news of the successful surgery.

We celebrated.

And I had an aha.

In my dark times, I tend to put one foot in front of the other in the faintest hope that that matters . . . that simply being is better than giving up. I'm glad that even when shadows fall all around me, I still sense that there could be light.

Some would call that faith. I call it survival.

Thursday, July 13, 2006


Perhaps reneging on the promise of a promise is harder for me to forgive than a broken promise itself. Broken promises are inevitable, so my grace abounds. But when the courage to commit never materializes, just the hint of a possibility . . . well, I can do a mental 50 yard dash with that one and be so far down the resolution track that the sharp pain of racing alone stabs and stabs hard.

This realization was birthed in a week filled with potential. I checked out a website for ethics thinking I had a companion for my social justice journey. My visit was diasterous. Of the 18 colunmists listed as contributors -- one, and only one, is a woman. And in the three lines describing her she's mentioned as having been a one-time director of a board and a wife and mother. None of the other writers were treated to the description of being husbands and fathers.

My next disappointment came after I had actually made myself vulnerable -- something I rarely do. Known for my independence, I thought it might be necessary to point out to a friend that I needed something -- a shoulder, a hug, a prayer -- I wasn't being too picky. The offer came quickly. "Let's get together for a drink. Tonight . . . if all goes well with the paperwork I'm doing while in town."

The call never came. I took care of myself once again . . . first hair therapy, then a workout and finally with the satisfaction of knowing that I'm still ok.

Still . . . promises matter . . . at least mine do.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Rainbow Clues

When I stepped onto the streets of Mexico City early Sunday morning, I quickly realized that I would be powerwalking alongside a half marathon. I couldn't detect much of what was being shouted over the loud speaker but I did discern that I was starting at what would be the end of their runs. I thrilled at the thought that I would have many sights to engage me as I accomplished my exercise for the day.

My other delight was in not having to worry about directions. The route I chose this day was an avenue that ran much of the length of the city -- Paseo de Reforma -- and included a very wide sidewalk that featured occasional parks at its side.

About four or five blocks from my hotel, I saw an old church. What caught my eye was actually the bright rainbow banner than hung outside one of the stained glass windows. I found myself getting choked up at the image and the bravery -- a church proudly proclaiming itself open to the gay community.

I wasn't that surprised at the location however. We had already discovered that our hotel was less than a block away from several gay bars. Several young men sought to make us smile with their antics one night as we sought out a restaurant.

Since I was in exercise mode, I didn't take the time to stop and explore the church -- what denomination, if any, it might be. Instead, I resolved that I would return later with my friend who I hoped would enjoy a photographic exhibit that the Museum of Art had posted outside along the avenue.

I did tear up when I told her about the church. She was impressed but wasn't quite up to another walk (having asked much of her ailing knees by climbing one of the pyramids the day before). So I took off on my own for a stroll and to investigate.

I didn't make it to the photos before my time ran short but I did end up at the church. I looked through the locked gate to see a sign posted in Spanish assuring me that this establishment didn't discriminate in regards to race, religion, age, or sexual orientation. I found myself impressed with such a bold statement by a church and also perplexed that we live in a day when such would have to be posted.

Then my eyes caught the posters pinned to the doors. Picking my way through what Spanish I knew on the announcements, it hit me. This wasn't a church. This was a bar -- a gay bar -- inside what was once a proud congregation.

So the permanent placard regarding discrimination wasn't from the church, I concluded. The bar wanted their acceptance made known.

Two evenings prior I had heard a British pastor speak of Mary's drying Christ's feet with her hair and challenging Baptist leaders from around the world heed the lesson of the story and to be more welcoming.

I wondered if any of them would be willing to fly a banner of their own?

Not sure if i'm back or not but . . .

I climbed to the top of the Pyramid of the Moon and the Pyramid of the Sun outside Mexico City. I huffed and puffed every step of the way but I did make it. And I celebrated by facing each direction from the top of the Sun and silently voicing my gratitude for (a) the physical ability to have made the climb, (b) the sense of adventure that caused me to have to make it, (c) and the friends that support me even though they are no longer able to endure such a test of their bodies.

Later in the day, our little tour group traveled to the Basilica. Three buildings represent the history of the people who embrace the Virgin of Guadalupe. One sits atop the hill and was built in the 14th century or so. The second looks very much like every other cathedral in the world except for the fact that it's sinking. You can face it and see a difinite leaning toward the left. And the third is circa 1970s and is very much alive today.

The guide told us the sinking was partially caused by the fact that the facility was built on a pyramid. Didn't take me long to deduce that even in the 1600s it didn't pay to try and build a church on top of the context rather than alongside it.

Often I see things from a perspective gained from looking at several directions. Many might disagree with my conclusions. But nevertheless I'm grateful. I like the view from where I am.