Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Lighting a candle...

...instead of getting stuck in worry about all the bad stuff in the news that I can't control. I've written about local musician Peter Mayer before, and the wisdom in his lyrics. If you're worried about the news of the last week...or for any reason, really, here's a moment of reverence for you:



When I was a boy, each week
On Sunday, we would go to church
And pay attention to the priest
He would read the holy word
And consecrate the holy bread
And everyone would kneel and bow
Today the only difference is
Everything is holy now
Everything, everything
Everything is holy now

When I was in Sunday school
We would learn about the time
Moses split the sea in two
Jesus made the water wine
And I remember feeling sad
That miracles don’t happen still
But now I can’t keep track
‘Cause everything’s a miracle
Everything, Everything
Everything’s a miracle

Wine from water is not so small
But an even better magic trick
Is that anything is here at all
So the challenging thing becomes
Not to look for miracles
But finding where there isn’t one

When holy water was rare at best
It barely wet my fingertips
But now I have to hold my breath
Like I’m swimming in a sea of it
It used to be a world half there
Heaven’s second rate hand-me-down
But I walk it with a reverent air
‘Cause everything is holy now
Everything, everything
Everything is holy now

Read a questioning child’s face
And say it’s not a testament
That’d be very hard to say
See another new morning come
And say it’s not a sacrament
I tell you that it can’t be done

This morning, outside I stood
And saw a little red-winged bird
Shining like a burning bush
Singing like a scripture verse
It made me want to bow my head
I remember when church let out
How things have changed since then
Everything is holy now
It used to be a world half-there
Heaven’s second rate hand-me-down
But I walk it with a reverent air
‘Cause everything is holy now

Stay grounded, friends. :-)

Friday, September 26, 2008

Thought I had it

The best possible answer to #5 of the Friday Five, that is.

Ladies and gentlemen, this just in from my pal Magdalene:

Friday five: an apple a day...

Singing Owl of the RevGals writes:
Raise your hand if you know that today is Johnny Appleseed Day!

September 26, 1774 was his birthday. "Johnny Appleseed" (John Chapman) is one of America's great legends. He was a nurseryman who started out planting trees in western New York and Pennsylvania, but he was among those who were captivated by the movement west across the continent.

As Johnny traveled west (at that time, the "West" was places like Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois) he planted apple trees and sold trees to settlers. With every apple tree that was planted, the legend grew. A devout Christian, he was known to preach during his travels. According to legend, Johny Appleseed led a simple life and wanted little. He rarely accepted money and often donated any money he received to churches or charities. He planted hundreds of orchards, considering it his service to humankind. There is some link between Johny Appleseed and very early Arbor Day celebrations.

So, in honor of this interesting fellow, let's get on with the questions!

1. What is your favorite apple dish? (BIG BONUS points if you share the recipe.)
Simplest recipe in the world. :-) I'd like a honeycrisp apple with some chunky peanut butter on it, please. Mmmmmm.

Incidentally, I work for the university that developed the honeycrisp. This pleases me more than it has a right to, since I don't work for that part of the university. Gratitude's a funny thing.

2. Have you ever planted a tree? If so was there a special reason or occasion you can tell us about?
I've helped to move a tree--an apple tree, even! Our yard was a little crowded, so some friends of ours now have one of the young apple trees in their yard. I think of ministry as a seed-planting exercise, though.

3. Does the idea of roaming around the countryside (preaching or otherwise) appeal to you? Why or why not?
Hmmm...interesting question. Yes, in the sense that it'd be treat to get to know the country better and to meet all those people on what would probably be a musical tour of some kind for me. No, in the sense that home is my favorite place to me, with Beloved and the pups and our big, comfy bed.

I could do it for some period of time, I guess...though I wouldn't want it to be like college choir tour. We sang at Disneyland, for our tour bus driver and a couple of our host "moms." Chamber choir of fourteen, audience of three. But, honestly, who goes to Disneyland to listen to some obscure midwestern choir? We got in for free, though. That part was really fun!

4. Who is a favorite "historical legend" of yours?
David. The psalmist/shepherd/king/dancer/father/warrior/adulterer. He's so colorful and human! And his songbook is pretty good, I have to say. :-)

5. Johnny Appleseed was said to sing to keep up his spirits as he traveled the roads of the west. Do you have a song that comes when you are trying to be cheerful, or is there something else that you often do?



Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The nature of family

While I'm at it, with the sanctity of marriage business, let's go one step farther:

One of my favorite podcasts is This I Believe, from National Public Radio. I heard one tonight that, well, you just have to hear. I particularly love this statement:

Family is defined
by bonds much deeper than birth,
or skin color,
or genetics.
Like anyone lucky enough to experience "found" love,
I believe that family is defined only
by the heart.

Peace, y'all.

Sentinels of the semicolon, unite!

I'm one of those grammar/spelling/punctuation people. You know the ones. You walk down the street with us, chatting away, everything normal, and suddenly we freak out when we see


Please judge us with compassion. This is a learned behavior, but it's not entirely within our control. I blame my eighth-grade English teacher. She warned us that she'd wreck us for life, that she'd turn us into Those People. We should have listened. We should have thrown those puzzle games and sentence diagrams right back in her face. Curse you, Mrs. VanderVennet!

I wonder if there's a twelve-step group for this. I guess I could consider it progress that I can let my hair down enough to play fast and loose with the occasional em-dash or ellipsis. It could be worse.

In the meantime, happy National Punctuation Day, everyone!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The sanctity of marriage

My congregation, like most other ELCA congregations at present, is reviewing the draft of the ELCA Social Statement on Sexuality. We got to the "same-sex relationships" part of the discussion on Sunday morning, and I've been ruminating about it since.

The Statement itself is a well-intentioned document. I really believe that. However, I think they might be trying too hard. It seems like a document that's genuinely trying to be sensitive to both the unity needs of the institution and the pastoral needs of its members. That's commendable, but it doesn't exactly SAY anything cohesive, at least in regard to the same-sex relationship question. Maybe that's where it should be right now; I dunno. Maybe it's a pretty accurate expression of where we are as a Lutheran body. Maybe this document is there primarily to spark conversation.

And I have to say, it did that on Sunday--with help from Wonderful Colleague's deft facilitation. There was a really interesting discussion. More on that in a bit.

Here's my problem: the Statement seems a bit condescending to the GLBT members of the Body of Christ. Sadly, that is only in keeping with the Church's position, even at its most open. It suggests that "all life-giving relationships...may be nurtured," (may?) and yet denies that "marriage" is open to everyone. Some would argue that it's a semantic question as long as there's an option for a Holy Union or something like it, and there's some truth in that: after all, the Church doesn't define the nature of my relationship with Beloved--she and I and God do that. In that light, the name of it doesn't really matter. However, the single substantive difference between my marriage and the straight marriages I've been privileged to witness among my family and friends is just this: anatomy. And so, to suggest that my marriage should be called something else rings hollow for me, because, in my mind, it is defined by its substance, not its outward appearance. I am married.

My marriage demands that I keep on trying to live with humility, integrity and generosity, with humor and with grace. It opens me to the presence of this beautiful, mysterious Other, lifting me out of myself and challenging me to grow into relationship with her and with God, every single day of my life. Beloved is my companion, my teacher, my friend, my love. Sex is one expression of that love, but my no means is it the only--or even the most important--expression.

And so, to define my relationship by something other than its central focus--well, to me that's a distortion of the relationship (and one that renders me other, to boot). That distortion then continues to warp the Church's conversation about the nature of the relationship. Circular problem, no?

My marriage asks me to be a follower of Christ in a deeper way than any other relationship of my life. Isn't that a concern of the Church? Shouldn't that be the focus of the Church's interest in that relationship?

Some people believe that GLBT types should try to follow the same path as our straight sisters and brothers: no sex outside of marriage, and marriage only to an opposite-sex partner. And I support the spirit of that demand, but there are two problems with it:
  • I believe, like Luther, that chastity is a charism, a gift, given to everyone for some period of time, and to a few for their whole lives. It's a tough place to live permanently, and not everyone is equipped for it. The consequences for those who are damaged by the unrealistic expectation of permanent chastity are often shattering--sometimes in the form of inappropriate sexual contact, of which examples abound; sometimes in the form of crippling loneliness. Some people do live it out well, and it's a commitment that demands just as much from a person as marriage does. However:
  • I believe that I am called to be a married person. I cannot, in good conscience, make that sacred commitment to a man, because I know that I can't offer my whole self to that commitment. Thus, the marriage would be over before it began. If I am to be the person I'm called to be, I must honor that commitment with everything I am. That can't happen with a man. I won't live a lie at his expense, in order to "save" myself, now that I understand what my makeup is. That would be dishonest and cowardly of me, at this stage of my life. Besides which, it usually doesn't work. Many of my friends have tried this avenue (with both good and fearful intentions), and a part of that result has been suffering for all concerned. I have at least a dozen friends who, trying to be their best Christian selves by conforming to what they thought God (and everyone else) wanted from them, got married...and eventually divorced. They discovered that there was pain and loneliness where there should have been communion, through the fault of neither party. Please understand that I'm not intending to imply that there wasn't value in those relationships, but I know that it's not where I'm called to be. It's just not in keeping with my understanding of the abundant love of God.
As a guy once said, after having wrestled with God, sin, heresy and Church doctrine...and having staked his own soul on his conviction:

Here I stand; I can do no other. God help me.

There must be a provision made for GLBT people to live in committed relationships. In the short term, if it saves the "unity" of the church (on the most superficial of levels), I can live with a term like "holy union," and with a "local option" as a first step. But in the end, it's a sweet-sounding avoidance of the truth of the matter, and so we'll be condemned to keep coming back to this tiresome discussion until we finally get it right--because, as Martin Luther King, Jr. said,

The arc of the moral universe is long, but it's bent toward justice.

One gracious, struggling, straight member of the Body expressed on Sunday that, while she loves her gay friends and has actively advocated on their behalf within the legal system for non-discrimination concerns, she also struggles with the placement of God's line in the sand beyond which our behavior must not stray. She's trying to balance the demands of the Law with the demands of Love, and it's confusing. I have great respect for her wrestling with this very important question. It's one we all share, if we're honest about it. At the end of the day, she wants to know that God does expect something of us, after all.

So do I. And I want my Church to expect something of me, as well. I want my Church to ask me to be Christ's follower with as much honesty, integrity, and grace as I can. And so, I want my Church to ask the same thing of me that it asks of my straight sisters and brothers: be honest about who you are, be chaste until marriage, and then live out your marriage commitment as fully and lovingly as you are able.

THAT'S the kind of pastoral care that I need, as a lesbian. Not "special" rights. Not a pat on the shoulder signifying that my Church wants to love me but can't quite manage it because unity must be maintained as a higher value. I dream of a Church with the courage to truly ask ALL of us to be our best, fullest, bravest Christian selves for the sake of the Gospel...which is not necessarily synonymous with the safety and comfort of the institutional Church.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Repentance

Linus has a habit that I'd like to help him correct. It bugs me. It interrupts my sleep regularly. The four of us (Beloved, me, Linus & Lucy) sleep in a queen-sized bed. For a long time, they slept in a kennel next to the bed, but they sleep longer if they're with us, and besides--what's sweeter than a just-waking-up puppy, first thing in the morning?

Except.

For the last week or so, Linus has not been willing to go to bed when we do. We've had a schedule change during the week, and he's not used to it yet. So we're running the pups around in the evening to tire 'em out, and we've commanded him to "lay down" (which he's just learning) and to "stay," (which he knows how to do). To no avail. He jumps off the bed and goes to sleep on the floor.

Which means that, sometime in the wee hours, he realizes that he's away from his pack, and starts popping up around the edges of the bed like a prairie dog.

Can I come up? I'm lonely!

Which means that one of us has to get up and help him onto our very tall bed, where he contentedly sleeps the rest of the night. I don't go back to sleep as quickly as he does.

I was sort of grumping around the house this morning when it hit me: he's ME. And luckily for me, God manages more grace in this situation than I do. I always get warmly welcomed back when I assert my independence like a 7-month-old puppy.

Not the first time Linus has taught me something! I'm going to shoot for "gracious" tonight. :-)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Friday five: fall back

This one's from Songbird, of the RevGals!

It's that time of year, at least north of the equator. The windows are still open, but the darned furnace comes on early in the morning. My husband went out for a walk after an early supper and came home in full darkness. And yes, where we live, leaves are beginning to turn. As this vivid season begins, tell us five favorite things about fall:


1) A fragrance

Oh, I am going to be SUCH a string of cliches today. Gotta go with fallen leaves as my favorite–the way the woods smell when you're soaking up the last sun of the season on a Saturday afternoon hike.

2) A color
Orange! I like the way the visual warmth of the season sets off the cool tang in the air just perfectly.

3) An item of clothing
My favorite Saturday of the year is the one that calls for a cozy hooded sweatshirt, worn jeans and 'Stocks-n-socks. (But it's got to be really NICE socks, preferably Smartwools or something similar--NO SWEAT SOCKS!!)

4) An activity
Beloved and I usually spend a day at the orchard/winery not far from here, but just far enough to do some leaf-peeping on the way, followed by homemade applesauce that we cook up. Well, really, SHE cooks up. This year, I'm looking forward to watching the pups play in piles of leaves!

5) A special day
Our wedding anniversary is in October. Best day of my life! Lots of love, friendship, music, great worship service...and at the end of it, I came home with a pretty terrific wife. Here's one of our engagement photos, which has a distinctly autumnal cast. :-)



P.S. Here's a shout-out to Wonderful Colleague on his birthday. Many blessings on yer head, WC!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Ponderment illuminated

So...I had questions. Here's one more factor in the equation:


Good to know that we don't have to spend such a precious resource to make more of them.

So it's not just stubbornness

Interesting.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Monday, September 15, 2008

Non-anxious presence

A comment from the Mad Preacher about the last post sort of clarified something for me. She alluded to someone we both used to report to, who used the phrase "non-anxious presence" as a mantra, but was leagues off from even a wrong-end-of-the-telescope view of that state of leadership. Well, it made me chuckle--not just at the former supervisor, but at myself.

'Cause I'm not one, right now, in a couple of the leadership capacities in which I serve.

I've seen "Unbloggable" as a post title in several other blogs I read regularly, usually describing a period in which the writing either a) won't quite come, or b) presents itself, but boundary issues prevent blogging it. I'm having an "Unbloggable" time right now. I know it's been a while since I offered a substantive post, and please know that I'll be back to it when I can. Just got a bit of sifting to do first; I'm walking through sort of a sandstorm.

In the manner of the "please stay on the line; your call is important to us" messages we get while we're on hold, here's some loveliness for you and me to listen to as we wait. :-) Peace, friends.


Media round-up: election edition

It's been an interesting morning in the "papers." The debacle on Wall Street, the hurricane in Texas and the train crash in California--well, prayers underway for all of those situations, all sad and scary. Today, the interesting thread (the only one in which I really have a voice, small as it is) seems to be the election!

Thomas Friedman's onto something here, I think.

My, what a harrowing idea Dahlia Lithwick's had.

And I'd like to give a shout-out to Fareed Zakaria for pointing out the striking difference between McCain's perspective on the world and Obama's.

And, for good measure: Life imitates art.

Peace, friends.

The antidote

...to too much political thinking is to snicker, chortle and chuckle at people's efforts not to take themselves too seriously:

My people. (And here.)

The chosen people. (Here, too!)

Some combination thereof. Use the "search inside" feature. Read a couple of pages. You'll be hooked, and this book does NOT disappoint, all the way to the end. Gut-bustingly funny, well-researched, insightful and poignant. I dare you to count all the Biblical and cultural references that are subtly (and hilariously) "explained" within its covers.

On the other hand, these good folks are taking themselves a bit seriously.

There now, don't you feel better?

P.S. Just got this from a friend. Apparently, I'm the only person in the States who didn't see this on Saturday, but OMG, it's funny!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Chorus, this one's for you!

Here's your lost song, I think. The artist is Israel Kamakawiwo'ole, and he was a much-loved Hawaiian musician. I think he was pretty terrific, too. :-)

Friday five: back to school

It's time for a Back-To-School Friday Five!

1. Is anyone going back to school, as a student or teacher, at your house? How's it going so far?

Well, I work for a university and Beloved is a speech/language pathologist for the public schools, so things are stepping up for both of us. It also means the beginning of rehearsals for church and our other choir, so our big challenge at the moment is making sure the pups don't spend their entire lives in their kennel. They're becoming rather well-traveled, and the pup-sitters are in full swing!

2. Were you glad or sad when back-to-school time came as a kid?
Yes. I've always loved the comparative calm of summer; there's more time to read! But there's something about a fresh bag of school supplies that makes my heart beat a bit faster. :-) I was a good student and liked learning, so school was fun, for the most part.

3. Did your family of origin have any rituals to mark this time of year? How about now?
My sister and I always played "store" together after we came home from school-supply shopping; one of my favorite memories of kidhood. Now, the only ritual Beloved and I have is stepped-up conversation about calendars!

4. Favorite memories of back-to-school outfits, lunchboxes, etc?
One year, I had a Charlie's Angels lunchbox. This was funny, because I lived close enough to school that I came home for lunch. But I had pined for the thing, because I just loved that show, so Mom got it for me. Pretty cool surprise! I still carried it, but more as a mini-backpack.

Also, my paternal grandmother used to buy me an outfit for back-to-school every year. Now, it was the '70s, but these were some of the godawfulest clothes you've ever seen; gray wool for a kindergartener? I know, right? Seriously, the fact that she'd raised three boys was never more evident than in the little pantsuits and loud patterns she bought me.

Hmmm...pantsuits as a little kid. Maybe THAT's why I'm gay.

LOL...

5. What was your best year of school?
There were two: I loved sixth grade, and also junior year of high school. I had a serious crush on my sixth-grade teacher, and was happy to finally be in the "oldest" class at my elementary school. I was a really shy kid, and sixth grade was sort of an "oasis" year when I felt like I was starting not to be such a geek. (That feeling went away pretty quickly when I got to middle school, BTW.)

Junior year was great, because I had a close group of friends (a year older than I, which made senior year sort of a drag) and a nice boyfriend; I could drive; I helped to found a choir at school; and finally, I was co-president of the orchestra along with L, my stand partner and best friend. That year was a LOT of fun. (We STILL have a great time together!)

Meme-andering

I saw this at Chorus's place, and thought it looked like fun. Join in, y'all, if you've got the time and the inclination!

1. My aunt once filled in the gaps in my family history for me. I love her a lot.

2. Never in my life will I willingly go hot-air ballooning, jump out of a plane, eat bugs or pee outside when it's possible to pee inside.

3. When I was five I had a ridiculous bowl haircut and a cool, olive-green bike that my dad made me.

4. High school was mostly hard. Not academically, but socially and familially.

5. I will never forget when I forgot the words AND music to a memorized (!) Vivaldi piece in my college Senior Recital. I did not panic; I made it up. My brilliant accompanist covered. The only one who knew was my voice coach!

6. Once I met my shadow side, I tried to treat her with compassion.

7. There’s this boy I know who is surprisingly kind, considering his environment.

8. Once, at a bar, I had a pickled egg. Blecccchhhhhh.

9. By noon, I'm usually fully conscious. :-)

10. Last night I was feeling sorry for myself.

11. If only I had a brain, a heart, the nerve...oh, and enough cash to pay off my credit cards. And maybe a minute in a back alley to kick the snot out of Karl Rove for our continuing culture war.

12. Next time I go to church I'll lead my newly-expanded choir in some Pergolesi. Mmmmm.

13. What worries me most...hmmm...another four years of disastrous foreign and economic policies, and/or losing Beloved.

14. When I turn my head left I see out the windows to a sunny day.

15. When I turn my head right I see a white wall with a thermostat on it.

16. You know I’m lying whenever I do it. I'm not good at it, and I'm not trying to improve.

17. What I miss most about the Eighties is playing in orchestra with L every day.

18. If I were a character in Shakespeare I’d be Beatrice! (Would I get to look like Emma Thompson, too?)

19. By this time next year I hope that I've lost another 20 pounds.

20. A better name for me would be...hmmm...well, I've always liked "Grace," but I'll stick with what I've got. Mine's easier to live up to. :-)

21. I have a hard time understanding fundagelicals.

22. If I ever go back to school, I’ll go for ordination.

23. You know I like you if I offer you part of my cookie. Seriously.

24. If I ever won an award, the first person I would thank would be Beloved, of course.

25. Take my advice, never take advice wholesale. Talk to those whose opinion you value, and then listen, listen, listen to that little voice in your soul.

26. My ideal breakfast is eaten at lunchtime! Some fluffy, eggy, cheesy thing; some bacon; some cinnamony coffee cake; some OJ? Maybe a mimosa?

27. A song I love but do not have, I'll make an effort to get. It's my job, ya know.

28. If you visit my hometown, I suggest continuing to drive right on through it, and keep going 'til you're in Chicago.

29. Why won’t people
  • look past the surface?
  • try to elevate public discourse?
  • understand that some societal concerns should not be driven by the market?
  • make decisions based upon reason, combined with compassion, insofar as it is possible?
  • understand that the left lane is the passing lane?
  • demand leadership that asks something of the citizenry, too?
  • build a society that pays teachers and caregivers as much as titans of industry? Intangible benefits are great, but so is EATING during retirement.
30. If you spend a night at my house, prepared to be coated in puppy slobber.

31. I’d stop my wedding for no reason whatsoever; it took ten years to get it STARTED! And it was glorious.

32. The world could do without Fox News and media consolidation.

33. I’d rather lick the belly of a cockroach than ...sit next to Rush Limbaugh on a plane.

34. My favorite blondie is Beloved, of course. (Though I have no opposition to the occasional blonde brownie...it's the Lutheran in me . I love "bars.")

35. Paper clips are more useful than much political punditry.

36. If I do anything well it’s choir devotions.

37. I can’t help but love people who love to sing.

38. I usually cry when my congregation really cranks up on a hymn.

39. My advice to my nephew/niece: read everything you can get your hands on, don't be afraid to think or to love with everything you've got! Oh, and SING.

40. And by the way, if you think of it, send me your favorite cookie recipe!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Ordinary miracles

It's Monday morning, and I'm mellow and happy. I had an actual Sabbath yesterday (after a wild-but-good, musicky Rally/Welcome Sunday) at church.

42 years old, and I may just have figured out that I need a day or two to get comparatively quiet...watch the pups romp in the yard, read a bit, eat a really nice meal, make a little music, curl up with Beloved and the pups and just enjoy the fact that we're all together, healthy, sheltered, fed. Ordinary miracles--when I get quiet enough to notice their abundance, it's impossible not to be incredibly grateful to be alive.

I hope that you're drenched in blessing today, too. :-)

Friday, September 5, 2008

Made me laugh

Friday five: my face in this world

Sally from the RevGalBlogPals writes:

I have recently been reading a book entitled Jesus wept, it is all about vulnerability in leadership. The authors speak of how Jesus shared his earthly frustrations and vulnerabilities with a select group of people. To some he was the charismatic leader and teacher, to others words of wisdom were opened and explained and some frustrations shared, to his "inner circle of friends: Peter, James and John, he was most fully himself, and in all of these things he was open to God.

So I bring you this week's Friday 5:

1. Is vulnerability something that comes easily to you, or are you a private person?


I'm a pretty open person; I lead with my heart, sometimes too much so. It's great to be in my forties and to not care so much what people are thinking of me--that's such a barrier to really getting to know them (not to mention a festival of grandiosity...). :-) I value connection more than protection, I guess.

2.How important is it to keep up a professional persona in work/ ministry?

Depends on your definition of "professional," I suppose. I'm clear about what my standards are, but I'm much more comfortable being approachable and getting to know people, listening to them. I'm not formal, but I think I'm pretty good at what I do. Focus shouldn't be on me anyway!

One caveat: though I'm mostly pretty open, I think there are times for discretion about how I'm feeling. The good of the group and just-plain considerate behavior should come first.

3. Masks, a form of self protection: discuss...

I guess we all wear them in some situations. Since coming out of the closet, though, I really value the ability to be honest about who I am and what I'm doing. Concealment takes work. Sometimes it's necessary for safety, sometimes for maintenance of appropriate boundaries, but I find it exhausting over the long term. My internal editor has already done enough work for a lifetime!

4. Who knows you warts and all?

Beloved, as well as many friends--I'm honest enough that I think many people see as full a version of me as their lens and level of interest allow. I spent my early years sort of tying my own hands with worry about being liked, and thought of as smart/kind/interesting/etc. that I try not to spend a lot of energy on my "persona." I'm more interested in what's happening around me, and finding my contribution within that sphere. When I'm worrying about what people think, I try to confess that worry to a trustworthy person. There's often a connection that's made in that moment of trust. I'm reasonably good, most of the time, at intuiting who those people can be.

5. Share a book, a prayer, a piece of music, a poem or a person that touches the deep place in your soul, and calls you to be who you are most authentically.

Because so much of myself comes alive in each of those places, you'd think it'd be easy to come up with a book or song or poem. There are many. The most honest answer I can give, though, concerns paying attention to my places of discomfort and praying about them. If I'm uncomfortable, 97% of the time that means I'm in the process of growing up a little bit. If I can't work it out in prayer, and need a perspective check, I talk with Beloved or a trusted friend. Often, the answer will show up around me, maybe in a worship service--through preaching, scripture, hymnody, etc.

Thanks, Sally--this was a thinker!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

What you are/what you say

I'm tired of this election now. I recognize that politics is a dirty game. I do. But I'm so everlastingly tired of hearing people call one another idiots, of dividing the electorate into factions as a distraction from just how bad our current situation is, in regard to:
  • the economy
  • the environment
  • our relationship to other countries, and especially
  • the state of public discourse and our national ability to act with integrity about matters of conscience: justice, torture, poverty, health care.
Palin's speech last night does not inspire my confidence that the level of public discourse is going to rise any time soon. Nor does the reactive discussion in my office this morning, coming from the other "side." Obama's going to need a lot of intestinal fortitude to stay on the comparative high road of choosing to inspire rather than scare. I pray that he might do so, despite the temptation to lob mudballs back at 'em, because it's the first whiff of something real and transformative that I've found in electoral politics lately.

Too simplistic, you say? Is it naive to hope that our national leaders can act with civility, soberly addressing the issues of our time? Maybe. But what's the compelling case to spend our energy attacking one another instead of the problems we share? We have eight years' evidence of the result of that kind of politics, that mindset...maybe as many as sixteen. Where is the leadership that summons the "better angels of our nature," to whom Abraham Lincoln alluded?

I'll take my chances with the Obama ticket, thank you. He rightly pointed out in his speech to the Democratic convention that we can disagree without attacking one another. It seems to me that Obama might just be the leader I've been waiting for, with the quiet confidence to just lead, more answerable to the better angels of his/her own nature than the debasing devils of anger and fear on his/her shoulder. Emerson said,

What you are shouts so loud in my ears that I cannot hear what you say.

Makes it hard to take a lot of today's political rhetoric seriously.

I long for a leader who will ask me to be a better citizen, not someone who will play to my baser instincts. I long for a leader who will hold him/herself, as well as all his/her direct reports, to that same standard.

Wouldn't that be exciting?

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Horrible

HORrible. No words.

UPDATE: Well, THAT story didn't stay on the Star Tribune site very long. Sorry, folks. It was about five Pakistani women who were beaten and then buried alive. Their crime? Three of them wanted to choose their husbands. The other two were trying to help make it happen.

I can't believe this is still happening in the 21st century. I don't care WHAT culture you're a part of; that's just WRONG.