Sunday, September 30, 2018

A Sketch for September

A week ago, I'd be headed to the Asheville airport.  It's the tiniest airport I've flown out of, with only 8 gates total, so I expected that ours would be the only plane.  Nope--Allegiant had a flight before mine, and American had a flight too.

It was a misty morning on the mountain, so I thought we might be stuck at the airport--nope, we left right on time.

Now I've been back a week, and that time on the mountain seems so long ago.  What I may remember most is how hot it was.  I landed on Friday, September 21.  I was expecting some fall colors--nope, nothing.  Plus, it was just as hot in Asheville as it was in South Florida when I left.

It was strange to be in the western part of the state knowing that much of the eastern half of North Carolina was dealing with the flood waters in the wake of Hurricane Florence.  At one point earlier in the week, I had wondered if the hurricane might disrupt my travel plans, so it was doubly surreal to see no effects at all.

The cottage I stayed in had no AC, so I spent lots of time on Friday walking the grounds.  At one point, I decided to sit on a rocker on the porch.  I had brought my Copic Sketch markers with me, so I decided to draw.  I'm glad that I did, because I didn't have a chance later.

Here's the sketch I made.  I thought I didn't like it, but when I revisited it half a week later, I was pleasantly surprised.

It seemed appropriate to sketch on the porch at Lutheridge while waiting for the retreat to plan the Create in Me retreat.  I first used Copic markers at the 2016 retreat; I'd have never bought such expensive markers without being able to try them first.

I'm sketching in an old sketchbook that I've repurposed to be my traveling sketchbook.  I plan to take it and the markers with me on my autumnal journeys.

Here we are at the end of September--the month has zoomed right by.  What will October bring?

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Praying for a World where People Are Not Prey

Today, let me try to heal my heartbreak that came this week from hearing all the voices of women who have endured sexual assault.  Let me remember that the first step to making a better world comes when people speak to say "This situation is not O.K."  Let me remember that the first steps to a safer world come when the oppressed say, "This must change."  Let me remember that it is possible that the world will respond by making changes.

Let me think of Mepkin Abbey, a place that soothes my heart.  Let me remember that the Abbey is built on a site of oppression.

 Once the land held a plantation with many of its inhabitants killed or enslaved.

Now the monks care for the land in a variety of ways. 

In doing so, they also care for spiritual pilgrims who need sustenance.

In a time of great turmoil, new life may bloom.

In a time of clouds, a light can pierce the upper windows of our hidden rooms.

May we always be working/praying/longing for a world where people are not prey, a world where all are protected:

Friday, September 28, 2018

Poetry Friday: "Perestroika 1988"

Yesterday's hearing in the Senate (to investigate the new charges that the Supreme Court nominee sexually assaulted a women when both were in their teens) was worse than I thought they would be--and I didn't even watch them.  As I was driving home at 5:00, NPR was broadcasting live from the hearing, so I did hear a little of the nominee's testimony--or was it an opportunity for Senators to blab on and on?  I switched to a CD of Mavis Staples.

For those who want a meditation or a prayer, see yesterday's post.  For today's post, it seems a good day for a poem, a poem that offers some hope and some wariness.  I have poems that are angry about the vulnerability of women in the world, but let me offer something a bit more optimistic.

The poem is clearly about the year 1988, which is a year before 1989, a hinge point in history when Communist empires seemed to collapse with very little warning, at least to most of us casually observing in the West.  Perhaps we are at a hinge again.  Let it be a hinge that opens the door to a better time, not an apocalyptic hinge like 1939.

Perestroika 1988

The world is about to lurch
around a corner, to emerge blinking
and sobbing into an unfamiliar light
from a formerly eclipsed star—but
we don’t know that yet.

We cower in the corners of our darkest
imaginings, learn new word pairings,
like nuclear winter. We warily
watch new Soviet leaders come to power,
only to die quickly. Our president warns
of Communists invading Texas,
while Central Americans swarm
across the border, not wanting to overthrow
our Capitalist enterprises, but to partake.

We suspect we’ll die in some conflagration;
each generation gets an apocalypse to call its own.
Instead, two clownish leaders create
treaties—a joke taken seriously
by each side. Walls crumble, borders dissolve,
the maps must be remade month by month.

This new sun shining on us will subject
us to new dangers, cancers of a different kind.
We prepared for a different apocalypse,
and so we think we’re safe,
not yet recognizing the new dangers,
global warming, ethnic conflicts, dark diseases,
formerly backup singers in the chorus,
now stepping forward for their solos.

But until we perceive the notes of new songs,
we can relish the sound of silenced terror,
bask in the sunlight, tourists on holiday,
sunburnt but able to sleep again.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Prayers for a Day of Many Triggers

So here we are, another Senate Judiciary Committee preparing to ask a woman about her claims of sexual misconduct (such a polite word for the behavior) at the hands of a Supreme Court nominee. Now, as in the Anita Hill hearings in 1991, the panel will be white and male.

Now as 27 years ago, we are having a national conversation about what behavior is O.K. I am startled by the behavior that some people see as normal. Have I led that sheltered a life to be so shocked at this idea that boys will be rapists, and we should see this violent behavior as normal?

Let me stress that I'm not judging the Supreme Court nominee or his accuser--either now or in 1991. I am judging the national conversation. I don't think that adolescents of either gender get a free pass to behave in aggressive ways just because their brains aren't fully developed. We train 2 year olds to behave differently, and I don't suspend those expectations once the child hits puberty.

I will not be watching the Senate hearings.  It's not like I get a vote on this nominee, so I don't feel the need to be so informed that I need to watch this spectacle.  But it's also because I am weary.

I am weary of this constant stream of coverage of how brutal we can be to each other.  While I am grateful that people can now perhaps feel a bit more free to tell their stories, I am also aware that we are living in triggering times.  Some people will never feel safe enough to talk about what has happened to them in the past, and this coverage makes many people feel unsafe, even if nothing dreadful has happened.  The coverage reminds us that none of us is truly safe.

But if we're honest, some of us have a better chance at safety than others.  And if the worst happens, some of us have more of a chance at justice than others.  The coverage of the Supreme Court nominee and the larger #MeToo movement hammers this point home.

So, let me pray on this day of many triggers.  Let me pray for those who are about to testify:  may the testimony be honest.  May all feel safe enough to tell the truth. May the questioners maintain civility and care.  For those of us who watch the coverage or hear about it later, may we remember to breathe. 

But more than anything else, let me pray for a time when we don't have to pray for victims.  Let me hold onto that idea of a time when people's bodies are respected, when boundaries are maintained, when people will not trespass even when we are unconscious, when the powerful do not prey on the weak.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Meditation on This Sunday's Gospel

The readings for Sunday, September 30, 2018:

Numbers 11:4-6, 10-16, 24-29

Psalm 19:7-14

The commandment of the LORD gives light to the eyes. (Ps. 19:8)

James 5:13-20

Mark 9:38-50

Here we have another Gospel that reminds us again that Jesus is not the warm, fuzzy Jesus that the modern church often depicts. This Gospel is harsh. Cut off my hand? Just because it offended me? What happened to forgiving 70 times 7?

Again and again, Jesus reminds us that we often let ourselves off the hook too easily. We don't require enough of ourselves. How many of us really do forgive 70 times, much less that 7 times more again? Too many of us won’t even forgive once, much less again and again. We refuse to begin the work of reconciliation, which is one of our main tasks in this world.

We're supposed to be the seasoning of the world, but too many of us do absolutely nothing. We close our ears to the cries of the oppressed. We know that we have resources, but we refuse to share. We cling to our possessions, even though we have more stuff than any human can use in a lifetime. The other day, I realized I had 3 pairs of shoes with me, between the shoes in my gym bag, the shoes on my feet, and the shoes that I brought to change into for spin class. I only have 2 feet, but I had 6 shoes with me. I thought of all the shoes in my closet. I thought of all the unshod feet in the world that could use the protection that even my shabbiest shoes offer.

Or worse, we behave in ways that would make our beliefs unattractive to the nonbeliever. Every time we gossip, lie, cheat, steal, or give in to our darkest natures, the world is watching. Our hypocrisy endangers us all on so many levels.

We move into the part of Mark where Jesus must realize that he's in great danger. He offers challenges to the larger domination system that controls the Earth. Jesus understands how many forces dominate us: both the secular ruling system, as well as the larger idea of a set of powers that keeps us from God's goodness, not to mention our own beliefs which hinder us. Jesus refuses to back down. He must know what will happen. The book of Mark, always apocalyptic in tone, becomes more so.

We see those echoes in the planetary calendar too. We’ve seen a seasonal shift, as we leave summer behind and autumn arrives. Once we drove home from work in broad sunlight. Now we squint into the gathering twilight. The produce sections in our grocery stores offer sturdier fruits and vegetables, like the gourds that remind us of the need to prepare for a harsh season ahead.

We have so many reminders that time is short. Like Ash Wednesday, these times remind us that the years go by quickly and that we must continue to atone for all ways we’ve fallen short. We can be better. We must be better.

Time is short. We don't have much of it on earth, and Jesus always pulls us back to that existential fact. If we don't have much time, we're pressured to make the most of what we have. We have a huge task, one not likely to be completed in our lifetimes. Still, that's no reason not to get started building the Kingdom where the last will be first.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Creative Retreat Exercise: Fragmenting Stickers and Fruits of the Spirit

One of the items that we do during our retreat to plan the retreat is to try the Arts Meditation.  Each person had a sheet of black paper and a pair of scissors.

 Our pastor began by reading the passage in Galatians 5 about the fruits of the spirit.  She read it in both the New International Version and The Message.  As she read, we were to meditate on what spiritual gift is needed, either individually or communally.

She had spread out pictures in two batches:  one set was pictures of fruit:

The other set had a variety of images that might correspond to the spiritual gifts, like kindness and peacefulness:

The word I chose was kindness; here are the images I chose:

We were to put the two pictures together on the black sheet of paper in some sort of new image.  And then the surprise:  we had stickers that peeled off in small fragments.

At first, I felt irritated by not being able to create the image I first visualized.  I created a way to attach the larger image to the table as a pop up image.  After that, I just looked at colors and pasted them in a way that pleased me.

The process made me wonder what image I'd have ended up with if I had done that originally.  Here's what someone else created:

And here's something more abstract:

And what does the process have to do with cultivating kindness?  Perhaps the irritation is key--how quickly I moved to irritation, even though I was trying to think about kindness.  It's so hard to be kind to irritating people or objects.  It's hard to maintain a kind attitude when I'm feeling irritated.

It's an interesting exercise.  I would think that this activity is one that can be done even by people who might declare themselves not creative.

And it's the kind of thing that might work well with other passages too--let me stay alert for the possibilities.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Fragments Worth Recording

I wanted to record some notes from the week-end of planning, some inspirations.  The 2019 Create in Me retreat is rooted in the idea of fruits of the spirit, in Galatians 5.

Here is a passage from The Message with an interesting outlook:  "A basic holiness permeates all things and all people."

Pastor Mary reminded us that each one of us is a plant.  That's a fairly common image.  Then she said, "But we're also a vineyard."  We talked about being part of a vineyard.  We also talked about the idea that each one of us is a vineyard, not just a plant.  We talked about what spiritual gifts are needed, both for us and for our communities.

We talked about what needs to grow for the season you are in.

Pastor Mary opened with a prayer, and one sentence struck me so much that I wrote it down:  "We ask that you would hold these sadnesses for us so that we can be fully present."

It was a great week-end, full of full-blown inspirations.  I look forward to seeing the quilt of a retreat that we will create from all of these scraps.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Retreat Planning Wrap Up

Yesterday was a great day of retreat planning.  For those of you who have never done this kind of work, you may imagine that we sit there and discuss the schedule or what we plan to offer.  While we do continue to do some fine tuning of the schedule, this retreat is almost 20 years old, so we keep the schedule the same from year to year. 

We do have some discussion about the workshops and drop in stations that we offer, but the larger conversation is about the Bible passage that will shape the retreat.  Once we offered every workshop or drop in station that people volunteered to teach, but now we try to offer the majority of creative activities that will tie into the retreat.

At the planning session, we also plan for the retreat for the year after the year of the upcoming retreat, so yesterday we turned our attention to 2020.  We have a 3 year cycle where we focus on a different aspect of the Trinity, so by 2020, we'll be back to God the Creator. 

I suggested that we do the Annunciation story, God as Creator of the baby Jesus.  I suggested that if we felt very daring, we could have a conversation about sex and God.  We backed away from that, not because we're cowardly people but because in 2021, we'll be back to a Jesus year.  It's an interesting question:  is the Annunciation story more about God the creator, or the baby Jesus, or Mary?  Yes, to all of those.

I suggested we study Noah and the flood.  In 2011, we focused on a difficult aspect of God when we explored the second Genesis story, the expulsion from the Garden.  I said it might be time for a difficult subject again:  what do we do when we're surrounded by wreckage?  How do we create again?

Much to my surprise, we decided that we liked that idea.  So many of us will face such deep losses in a normal lifetime, not to mention the deep losses that some of us will experience in addition to the normal losses.  How do we reclaim our lives out of wreckage?

We kept planning the 2019 and the 2020 retreat until 3.  Then a group of us headed over to Hendersonville for a galley hop.  Actually, we didn't hop much--we mainly wanted to see the display of one of our Create in Me potter friends.  At some point, maybe I'll post some pictures that I took; she's a very talented potter and assemblage artist.

After that, we went to the Sierra Nevada brewery; I think of them as a western brewery, but they actually have a huge brewery near the Asheville airport.  They also have a beautiful brewpub, where we had the kind of dinner I like best:  we kept ordering everything on the menu that looked good, sharing them until we were full.  I had 2 beers and tastes of everything that looked interesting on the menu, all for $35.

I am trying to walk 10,000 steps every day in September, so some of us went for a moonlight/flashlight walk when we returned to camp.  It was beautiful.

Soon my kind friends will wake much earlier than they would otherwise to take me to the airport.  It's been a good trip here, but it's time to go back.  I'm interested to see how much progress has been made on the floors.  I'm interested to see if my spouse has made any decisions about the kitchen cabinets.  I need to get ready for the week ahead--the week before another quarter starts at school.

But for now, let me keep breathing the mountain air.  Let me rest in the comfort of camp for just another bit of time.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Traveling to the Mountain Top

Today we mark the arrival of Autumn--ah, the autumnal equinox.  I don't have lots of memories of this "holiday"--but I do remember an autumnal equinox in the Wellness Center for a Monday evening class.  The Wellness Center has windows in every direction, and it's on the 8th floor of a Ft. Lauderdale doctor's office building at the hospital.  We looked to the east to see the full moon rising, and we looked to the east to see a blazing red sun sinking towards the horizon--glorious.

This morning, I'm writing in Carla cabin at Lutheridge, while the sky is slowly lightening.  I managed to sleep until just after 6--wow.

I got here yesterday afternoon, after an easy flight on Allegiant Airlines.  Once Allegiant flew to Asheville only once or twice a week from Ft. Lauderdale; now they fly daily, although that may be a seasonal shift.  Since I had to pay in advance to choose a seat, I decided to treat myself to an exit row seat for $18, a good decision.

I had thought I would buy a meal at the airport, but nothing appealed.  I decided to buy snacks on the plane, pricey, but a treat.  Plus I was hungry, and I knew the plane would land at 3:15, which is a long time until 6:00 dinner.

I am happy to report that I lost myself in a wonderful book:  the first of N. K. Jemison's Broken Earth trilogy, The Fifth Season, which I heard about on this episode of 1A.   How have I not heard about this author and this series?  As I heard the show, I wondered if it would be a sci-fi book where I just couldn't get into the alternate world, but because it won so many awards, I decided to give it a chance.

As I walked through the Asheville Airport, I heard, "Welcome to the Asheville Airport y'all. Please enjoy some free ice cream"--how I love airports in small (smallish) Southern towns!  They offered a choice of 8 flavors--wow.  I am happy to report that I had the Cappucino Fudge Crunch.

When I got to Lutheridge, I was amazed at how hot is was:  85 degrees.  Carla cabin doesn't have AC, so it was stuffy, so I spent lots of time walking Lutheridge, thinking of how much the place means to me, all the times I've been here, all the people I miss.  I prayed as I walked, as I do in these spiritual places.  There's not much fall color, but that's O.K.  I'll be back here for a retreat in October.

We had a great night of planning the 2019 Create in Me retreat.  And then it was off to a peaceful sleep--although I did wake up at 3 in the morning to hear a distant chainsaw (or was it a motorcycle?  It lasted a long time and didn't seem to move like a vehicle would).  But I was able to fall back asleep.

Today will be another great day of planning and hiking the loops of Lutheridge--plus, perhaps some other fun events.  I feel lucky that I could be here to plan, unlike past years when a hurricane has been over my head, or I've been starting a new job and couldn't get away.  I feel lucky that I found a cheap airline ticket, so that the trip didn't wear me out.

Most of all, I feel lucky that I could be here for a time of renewal, even though it will be brief.

Friday, September 21, 2018

You're Already One with God

I get a meditation from Richard Rohr every day in my e-mail inbox (if you want to receive them, go here).  Each week, he explores a different theme; each year has a unifying theme. 

Some weeks, I'm more interested in the topic than other weeks.  Some weeks, I'd like to save the whole thing or find the larger book--but often when I find the larger book, I'm disappointed.

Let me record an interesting insight that came Wednesday from Richard Rohr:

"What we call sins are usually more symptoms of sin. Sin is primarily living outside of union; it is a state of separation—when the part poses as the Whole. It’s the loss of any inner experience of who you are in God. “Sins” often have more to do with ignorance than actual malice. Disconnected people may become malicious, but they did not start there. They began in union, and disunion became their experienced lie.
You can’t accomplish or work up to union with God, because you’ve already got it. “Before the world began you were chosen, chosen in Christ to live through love in his presence” (Ephesians 1:4). You cannot ever become worthy or “perfect” by yourself; you can only reconnect to your Infinite Source. The biblical revelation is about awakening, not accomplishing. It is about realization, not performance. You cannot get there, you can only be there. Only the humble can receive it and surrender to such grace."
Thursday's meditation had a great nugget too:
"I’m convinced that when the great medieval spiritual teachers talked so much about attachmentthey were really talking about addiction. We are all attached and addicted in some way. At the very least, we are addicted to our compulsive dualistic patterns of thinking, to our preferred self-image, and to the usually unworkable programs for happiness we developed in childhood—which then showed themselves to be inadequate or even wrong."

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Shelter Week and Beyond

A friend asked me how we're eating, now that our kitchen has been dismantled.  So far, we are doing most of our cooking on the grill--the stove was moved into the front bedroom 2 weeks ago. Now that we have dismantled the sink, it gets a bit harder. Plus, I didn't realize how much I need countertop space until I didn't have a counter. So, we're eating simple things. My spouse made a pot of mac and cheese on the burner that's part of the gas grill--like having a one burner stove top ring to the side of the main grill, so that's been handy. I eat a lot of cheese and crackers and wine for an evening snack--my favorite, and if I added some veggies, I could almost count it as a meal.

During most weeks of the year, we don't have a regular evening meal every night, like some families do.   During regular weeks, I'll have more of a snack than an evening meal, so our current life doesn't feel too different--at least in terms of dinner.   Making coffee is a chore--I have the coffee maker set up on a small table that's usually an outdoor table.

I am in that summer phase of eating, where it's just too hot to eat, and I'm hungry but nothing sounds good. Sigh. So, having the kitchen dismantled isn't making me too grumpy. Later, when I wish I could bake something, it might.

But I have a house. I have that on the brain because my church is doing a shelter week this week. It's this program where area churches serve as temporary shelter for homeless families that are in transition to having a home. So families come to the church for an evening meal and to sleep the night. Church members sleep there too, just so that everyone feels safe.

This week, between two families, there are 7 children, all of them under the age of 4, except for an 8 year old. I went over after work Tuesday night. I changed out of my work clothes and helped get the kids fed, and then we did some reading together.

I had planned for this.  I had gone to the used bookstore that is near my school to pick up some kid's books--they had a great selection, so I bought a lot. It was a treat to shop for them.  I also picked up some used books that I have in mind for a Halloween display at the school library.

I envisioned that I would read and all the kids would gather round. Nope. But the bright girl who was only 3 years old "read" to me--she looked at the pictures and made up a story, with book after book. It was a delightful, though exhausting, way to spend an evening.

I know that I am lucky--I have a house to go home to, even if it's under reconstruction.  If I need a quiet evening, I can plan it.  I can't imagine being a single mom in charge of 4 small children with no home.

I am also thinking of all the people in the Carolinas who will be displaced by Hurricane Florence.  Some will rebuild; some will never recover.  I listened to the clip of President Trump yesterday promising that residents will have every resource that they need and promptly.  I tried not to laugh with bitterness.

I'm lucky.  I had savings, so I didn't have to hope that the government could help me.  The government wasn't going to help me, because I had insurance--again, I'm lucky.  My damages may end up costing me more than the insurance paid--we're trying to be frugal, while getting everything done properly.  But I stress again:  I'm lucky to have savings and other resources. 

I'm most lucky in that my house has been a livable structure while we've been working our way through these repairs.  The flood waters didn't swamp the main structure.  The rest of my South Florida community wasn't so damaged:  so I could work, and I could get supplies, and my friends didn't all move away.

I have these things on the brain today, the first anniversary of Hurricane Maria's devastation of Puerto Rico.  I know that my experience could have been worse.  And the ever present fear:  that there may be a worse time coming.

But let me try to move my brain away from that idea.  I've spent a lot of my life worrying about stuff that never came my way.  Let me stay as prepared as I can, while living my life.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Meditation on This Sunday's Gospel

The readings for Sunday, September 23, 2018:

Jeremiah 11:18-20 or Wisdom of Solomon 1:16—2:1, 12-22

Psalm 54

God is my helper; it is the LORD who sustains my life. (Ps. 54:4)

James 3:13—4:3, 7-8a

Mark 9:30-37

This week’s Gospel reminds us of the order of things in God's kingdom. In the fallen world, the rich are first; everybody else gets along as best they can. In our modern world, as was true during most of human history, the lives of the non-rich feel increasingly precarious.

Jesus comes to proclaim the new Kingdom, where the situation is reversed.

Many preachers will focus on the warm and fuzzy angle of children in this Gospel. While I do think Jesus loved children, I don't think that's why he refers to them here.

Children are some of the most vulnerable members of society. Many people have said that we can judge a society by how it treats its most vulnerable members, who are often children, the elderly, the ill, the mentally unstable, the poor. Many Bible stories remind us that we, as individuals, will be judged by God based on how we treat the most vulnerable. The child in this Gospel is a metaphor for all of the most vulnerable. We are judged by how we receive these people.

We live in a world that doesn't value the vulnerable. We live in a world that worships power, fame, and wealth. Look at any magazine on any given week or month, any news show on any given day, any newspaper on any given day--who makes the decisions that shape society?  It's rarely the poor and the destitute.  Look at advertising--it's designed to make us want power, whether that come in the shape of controlling government or being the boss or being the richest, the prettiest, the thinnest . . .

Those of us who have worked to adopt the servant ethos can tell a different tale. Those people might talk about how good it feels to serve, how their own desires disappear in the face of those that are needier than they are.

But there is a bigger reason why we're called to serve: God hangs out with the lowly. Go back to your Scripture. See how often God shows up with the poor, the outcast, the lowest people in the social structure. We serve, so that we meet God. We serve, so that we serve God.

This Gospel reminds me of the 25th chapter of Matthew, where humans are separated depending on whether or not they fed Jesus or clothed him or visited him while sick or in prison. And the ones headed to eternal punishment say, "When did we ever see you hungry or naked or sick or in prison?" And we get the classic rejoinder in verse 45: "Truly I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me."

We serve God by serving. Leaf through the Gospels and let yourself be struck by how much of the message of Jesus revolves around this message. We are called to serve. We elevate ourselves not by making ourselves better, but by serving others, by serving those who have the least to offer us.

Again and again, Jesus reminds us that the world at large is not the world we're to emulate. We're called to create the Kingdom where the least will be first, where we each serve each other.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Planning to Attend the Retreat to Plan the Retreat

My parents called me yesterday; they knew I was travelling to North Carolina at some point in September, and they wanted to know both where I was and that I was safe.  I will be going to North Carolina this week-end, at what has become the annual retreat to plan the Create in Me retreat.  In past years, I have driven, but this year, I found a direct flight to Asheville (unheard of!), and it was cheap!

I leave on Friday, so I don't think that the remnants of Florence will disrupt that plan.  I was touched that they thought of me and checked on me.  I am also sobered by hearing about the highway closures in North and South Carolina; the governor of N.C. said that through travelers should detour through West Virginia and Georgia to avoid the state.  That's a big detour.

Last year, Hurricane Irma disrupted my plan to join the planning group by way of Skype.  The year before, Skype didn't work for me.  Through the years, I've realized that I miss being part of the planning team that does the work in person.  I am much more inspired by being at the camp.  I prefer seeing people in person to seeing them on a screen.

I do confess that having a cheap plane ticket makes the decision to attend in person a much easier decision.  I'm only having to miss one day of work, not 3-4.  But even if I had to miss more work and drive, this year I would have done it.

The past few years have issued a challenge to my habit of taking periodic retreats, and I really need to get back to that practice.  My spouse doesn't feel the same need to go on retreat--or perhaps we haven't found the right retreats for him.  I feel lucky that he realizes the importance of retreats and doesn't begrudge the time I take to go on them.

I do wonder what it would be like to have a spouse who liked the same retreats that I do.  So far, whenever we go on one, much like going out to eat, we spend much time dissecting the retreat and figuring out all the ways it could be better.  I don't do that as much when I'm on my own.

So, in a few days, I'll flee my house of reconstruction and get on a plane to Asheville.  I'll soak in the different landscape and the sacred spaces that have shaped me.  I'll do my part to create the best retreat possible--present me planning a retreat for future me!

Monday, September 17, 2018

The Feast Day of Hildegard of Bingen

Today is the feast day of Hildegard of Bingen, mystic, herbalist, musical composer, naturalist, and Abbess. Her life was full of accomplishments, an amazing feat considering she lived in the twelfth century.

I first discovered her when researching Julian of Norwich, whom I discovered when teaching the first half of the British Literature survey course. I wanted to include more female writers, and the Norton Anthology of the time had about 12 female writers, even after a recent revision towards inclusion. I thought there had to be more.

I had never thought of the twelfth century as a high water mark of feminism, but female monastics did amazing things during that time period. By studying them, I came away with a new appreciation for the Church, where talented women found a cloistered kind of freedom. In many ways, the cloistered life was the only way for medieval women to have any kind of freedom.

But Hildegard's life shows that freedom could be constrained, since women monastics answered to men. For years, Hildegard wanted to move her group of nuns to Rupertsburg, but the Abbot who controlled them refused her request.

We all face constraints of various kinds, and the life of Hildegard shows what could be accomplished, even during a time where women did not have full rights and agency. She wrote an amazing amount of material: theology, letters, scientific/naturalist observations, musical notation, poems, and a morality play. She wrote letters to emperors, kings, and popes in which she advocated for peace and social justice.

It's interesting to think about the different types of groups who have claimed her as their own. Feminists claim her importance, even though she didn't openly advocate equality. Musicians note that more of her compositions survive than almost any other medieval composer. Her musical works go in different directions than many of the choral pieces of the day, with their soaring notes. New Age types love her views of the body and the healing properties of plants, animals, and even minerals. Though her theology seems distinctly medieval, and thus not as important to modern Christians, it's hard to dismiss her importance as a figure from church history.

I often say that it's odd I'm drawn to monasticism, as I'm a married, Lutheran female who has all sorts of worldly commitments, and thus cannot fully vow obedience. But as I think about church history, I'm struck time and time again by how often monasticism has offered a safe space to women that no other part of society did. I shouldn't be surprised that it's a tradition that speaks to me still.

Today is a good day to plant some herbs or listen to some medieval music while we write letters to the important people of our time to advocate for peace and justice.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Hurricanes Assessments

Hurricanes make us think about the people we love, and they can also illuminate the places that we love.

We think of those in the path of the storm, but we also think about the water that's already there.

We usually think of rivers as contained.  We want to believe that they will run safely to the sea.

We think of communities that have lived by their rivers for decades if not centuries.  We assume they will always exist.

Hurricanes force us to assess what we treasure and what can float away.

Hurricanes remind us not to take our loves for granted.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Social Justice Work Then and Now

I've been thinking about this Internet meme since I saw it in Rachel Barenblat's blog post earlier this week: "If you want to know what you would have done during the Civil Rights movement, you're doing it now."

It's an interesting way of framing and reframing the Civil Rights movement. I think that many of us tend to think that during the 1950's and 1960's, citizens were either integrating lunch counters or holding the fire hoses that were turned on black citizens peacefully assembling, either registering people to vote in the deep South or murdering the workers who traveled south to inform citizens of their civil rights.

But most people were living their lives:  men who were working at their regular jobs and coming home to have dinner before the kids went to bed or women who were running households and doing important volunteer work.  Then, as now, most people had to earn a living and didn't have the luxury of free time to work on issues of integration.

I'm guessing that many of them did what I do:  worked for justice in much more smaller and local ways, while not doing as much to rework the structures that require the work of charity.  I write letters to my lawmakers, even as I'm not sure it does much good.  But the real work I do is much more local--especially in terms of the time I spend on each portion of my social justice work.  

Like many citizens during the Civil Rights era, I'm not putting my body on the line.  I rarely go to marches.  I can't imagine chaining myself to a fence or a tree to prevent injustice.  I'm not bombing buildings or destroying documents.

I am willing to admit that the most important social justice work that I do is to contribute money to groups that are doing the harder direct work of charity and justice.  I am willing to pay others who might have more free time and knowledge to do the work that I cannot do.  Part of me feels guilty about that, but part of me is willing to admit the reality of the economics.  

It's important that the charity and the justice work gets done, and money to groups can make that happen.  In many instances, it's the only way that the work will get done.  We imagine that those student activists of the Civil Rights movements were working without funding, but most of them weren't.  They were working in group structures, and those groups needed money. 

I want to believe that the work that I do for my livelihood is also moving the world towards justice.  Most of our students are working their way towards jobs that they wouldn't have without our degree, and those jobs, while those jobs may not pay well enough to catapult students to the upper class, they will give those students a job that will give them more options than they currently have.

Friday, September 14, 2018

When Life Gives You Lemons

I have been having a morning with a glitchy computer:  freezes, slogginess, very frustrating.  But let me try to write a post.

This week, in addition to the hurricane monitoring, I've been participating in a Facebook planning party to brainstorm ideas for our 2019 Create in Me retreat.  Every few hours, we responded to a question about various aspects of the retreat--and then we had fun responding to each other and having an online conversation both in real time and in suspended time.

I wanted to capture an idea I had:  Here's a title: When Life Gives You Lemons, How Do You Make Lemonade? I'm thinking of the kind of workshop I want: how to reinvent life when it becomes clear that something isn't going to work out the way you planned? For example, the good job after school doesn't materialize, the marriage fails, someone dies, the hurricane makes you realize that you must move. I'm hoping that the 50 Forward retreat covers some of this territory, but I think it could be useful at our retreat. Part of what we create is ourselves and our lives after all.

I'd like to attend a workshop like that--heck, I'd like a class that lasts a semester and covers all sorts of information.  I'd like to lead such a class.  I'd like to be a retreat leader.  I'd like to write a book.  So let me write all of this here so that I remember.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Hurricane Prayers

We will soon know the path of Hurricane Florence.  We will hear from those grateful to have been spared; we will hear of the trauma of losing so much.

We're already hearing from some who want us to believe that it's a judgment from God when natural disasters come, that God is angry with us for some sort of behavior.  Two years ago, my pastor made an insightful observation in a Facebook post:  "God does not send cataclysms to get our attention or punish our sins or because you hate people who are different from you. If God punished our sins like you think God does or should then everyone (people like you) would be dodging tidal waves and meteors and volcanic eruptions instead of having time to post or tweet or even whisper such drivel."

So how shall we pray about natural disasters?

In Oct. 2106, I came across a way to pray about hurricanes. The rest of this post is from a Facebook post written by Mary Mappus Finklea, who has given permission to share:

"Grant weather that nourishes all of creation."

This petition from Holden evening prayer has always been particularly moving for me. Especially after staying at the Lutheran Seafarers Hostel in NYC and meeting a sailor who said it drove him crazy when everyone just wanted the storms to go out to sea. He said there are people there too to care about. I've also liked this petition because it's not "me-centered" as in 'get the storm out of MY front yard and send it up north to be some other guy's problem'. And the petition keeps in mind the welfare of plants, animals, livestock, etc.

So my prayer this morning is "Grant weather that nourishes all of creation."

(a Facebook post from Mary Mappus Finklea)

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Meditation on This Sunday's Gospel

The readings for Sunday, September 16, 2018:

First Reading: Isaiah 50:4-9a

First Reading (Semi-cont.): Proverbs 1:20-33

Psalm: Psalm 116:1-8 (Psalm 116:1-9 NRSV)

Psalm (Semi-cont.): Psalm 19

Second Reading: James 3:1-12

Gospel: Mark 8:27-38

I can only imagine how much the Jesus in today's Gospel must have baffled people--Peter even goes so far as to rebuke him. It's important to remember that Jews during the time of Jesus weren't looking for the kind of spiritual savior that we have in mind when we use the term Messiah; Jews during this time period expected their Messiah to be a great warrior who would kick the Romans out of the homeland.

And here's Jesus, talking about being rejected by everyone and being killed and rising again; he mentions crosses--in that time, the only ones picking up a cross were those on their way to their own brutal public executions because the Romans saw them as traitors to the state.

This Gospel was written during a later time of social upheaval and written about an earlier time of social upheaval--the reason the Gospel of Mark sounds so apocalyptic is because the Christian community feared attack from various quarters. This Gospel is written both to calm the community, as well as to give them strength to face what is coming, and the courage to do what must be done. The last chunk of the Gospel shows this motivation clearly. What good is our earthly life if, in preserving it, we lose our souls?

An intriguing question, even today--a time of social upheaval, where there are plenty of events to frighten us. Notice the language of Jesus. Following him is a choice. Crosses don't just fall on us out of the sky; we choose to pick them up when we follow Jesus.

It's a marketing scheme that you would never find in today's "How to Build a MegaChurch" model books. Emphasize suffering? Why on earth would people want a religion like that?

It's interesting also to reflect on Jesus' words at the close of this chapter--are we ashamed of Jesus? Do people know we are Christians by our actions? If they ask us about our faith life, are we able to speak coherently (or at least openly) about it?

Are you willing to pick up your cross? Are you willing to talk about Jesus without being ashamed? Are you willing to follow Jesus, even though you must be aware that "we as Christians participate in the only major religious tradition whose founder was executed by established authority" (Marcus Borg, The Heart of Christianity, p. 91). And not only the founder, but many of the early missionaries of the faith, like Paul and Peter. If you're practicing Christianity the way you should be, you'll be a threat to the established order. Are you willing to take that risk?

I know that sometimes Jesus must cry himself to sleep when he watches my behavior. I like to think that as the years go by, he says more often, "That Kristin. She's finally showing some signs of spiritual maturity." I want to believe that when people find out that I'm a Christian, that they aren't really surprised because my behavior aligns with Christian beliefs.

We live in an empire much like the Roman empire, one that’s deadly in so many ways. We can be the ones that have strength for the ordeal that may or may not be coming and the ones with the courage to call for a better community.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Trinitarian Flow

In Richard Rohr's meditation for today, I came across some interesting ideas that I want to record.  They're very different from the kinds of theology that many of us know and love/hate.

The first is the idea of God as a verb, not a noun.  This idea will seem radical enough for many.  But then he offers the idea that we are the fourth part of the Trinity:

"The Mystery of God as Trinity invites us into full participation with God—a flow, a relationship, a waterwheel of always outpouring love. God is a verb much more than a noun. Some Christian mystics taught that all of creation is being taken back into this flow of eternal life, almost as if we are a 'Fourth Person' of the Trinity, or as Jesus put it, 'so that where I am you also may be'" (John 14:3).

As I talk to people, I realize how foreign these ideas will seem.  If you want a relationship with Jesus as your personal savior, you may have trouble with Trinitarian theology.

Rohr goes even further:  "True Trinitarian theology offers the soul endless creativity—an open horizon. Trinitarian thinkers do not seem to have much interest in things like hell, punishment, or any notion of earning or losing. They are only overwhelmed by infinite abundance and flow."

How would our lives change if we truly believed that we were the 4th part of the Trinity?  

Monday, September 10, 2018

What Would Jesus Do? We Can Do More

For much of my life, people have asked the question "What would Jesus do?"  Sometimes it's to criticize what Christians actually do.  I know many people who live their lives by orienting their actions to this question.

It's not a bad question and not a bad way of making decisions, although it might lead us into trouble with the authorities, and it might mean that we can't earn a living in certain ways.

Yesterday, our pastor pointed out that we're selling the Holy Spirit short if we stop with this question.  He preached that "asking 'What would Jesus do?' is selling the Holy Spirit short and aiming too low. Jesus promises that we will do 'greater things.' What great things is the Holy Spirit equipping and empowering you to do today?"

To hear the whole sermon, go here.

Most of us don't believe we can be as good as Jesus.  We assume he has an advantage because of his divinity.  In Walking on Water:  Reflections on Faith and Art, Madeleine L'Engle says, ": “God is always calling on us to do the impossible. It helps me to remember that anything Jesus did during his life here on earth is something we should be able to do, too” (page 19).

It's a powerful idea.  But even more powerful is the idea that God is calling us to be even greater.  Let us ask the Holy Spirit to help and guide us.

Sunday, September 9, 2018


Our church has one service today so that we can do the God's Work, Our Hands projects together--long story short, my writing time is more limited today than usual Sundays.  Sigh.

I have been listening to the weekly broadcast from On Being, and I wanted to record the last statement by Pádraig Ó Tuama:  " It’s from an essay called “Oremus,” meaning, in Latin, “Let us pray.” “Prayer, like poetry, like breath, like our own names, has a fundamental rhythm in our bodies. It changes, it adapts, it varies from the canon. It sings, it swears, it is syncopated by the rhythm underneath the rhythm, the love underneath the love, the rhyme underneath the rhyme, the name underneath the name, the welcome underneath the welcome, the prayer beneath the prayer. So let us pick up the stones over which we stumble, friends, and build altars. Let us listen to the sound of breath in our bodies. Let us listen to the sounds of our own voices, of our own names, of our own fears. Let us name the harsh light and soft darkness that surround us. Let’s claw ourselves out from the graves we’ve dug. Let’s lick the earth from our fingers. Let us look up and out and around. The world is big and wide and wild and wonderful and wicked, and our lives are murky, magnificent, malleable, and full of meaning. Oremus. Let us pray.”

I didn't realize that Oremus mean "Let us pray!"  How delightful.

But even more delightful:  the idea that we can stumble over stones that we will use to build altars.  I think that's my favorite part of the passage.  But I also love the idea of digging ourselves out of the very grave we dug for ourselves.

Oh, I love the whole thing.  That's why I posted it here.  And the rest of the show is wonderful too.  Go here to read the transcript or listen to it.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Soaring with Strengths

This week has been O.K.ish--it feels hectic at work. I have noticed that a 3 day week-end affects me differently as an administrator than as a teacher. As an administrator, I get back to work, and the remaining 4 days feel jam-packed--no pixies have been in the office taking care of everything, so the work still remains when I return. As a teacher, I could plan differently.

When I look back at this week at work, I want to remember the students who were so grateful for the food I brought in from the donated day old baked goods from Publix. When I was trying to get my steps in, I walked to the 4th floor, and the classroom door was open. I heard a student talking to the teacher about how much she needed the day old bread that she’d gotten out of the freezer last week. And yesterday, a student thanked me for the food I set out. And I said, “I know that some of our students have food insecurity, and I want them to have something.” She told me that she was one of those students, and she usually tries to take food from work.

Part of me feels that the most important work I do as an administrator is to make the campus a more welcoming place. Part of me worries that I’m neglecting some task that I don’t like to do, a task that would involve a spreadsheet, to do the work that I like doing.

But then again, I think about the leadership series that our Executive Director is showing us at each meeting: Trombone Player Wanted. It’s a soar with your strengths kind of approach to leadership. Figure out what you love about your job and do more of it.

What does it mean that I really like feeding people? It’s not about the food or making the food. It’s about the sense of nurturing that I feel.  It's also the sense of being able to help people but to do it without fanfare, so that the people being helped don't feel weird about it.

It's interesting to think about the Bible verses that have soaked their way into my brain and my actions.  I think about the passages that have Christ telling us not to proclaim our good works, but to do them quietly.  Some might say, "You do it quietly, on site, but here you are, blogging about it."

Friday, September 7, 2018

Church as Hospitality School

When I first came to my job, we had many conversations about retention.  We talked about why students leave.  We talked about what might make them want to stay.  We talked about how to make the campus (our campus and each of the sister campuses of the school, along with the larger idea of the college campus) a more welcoming place.

As I've worked to implement some of these ideas, I've been comparing what we do at our school to what we do in church.  I've been thinking about church as a school that teaches us hospitality.

I realize it may not always be this way.  I've been to many churches as a visitor when no one said a word to me--especially disconcerting when I'm wearing a visitor badge.  I know that churches can be worse than chilly.  I know of all the lives wrecked by a non-welcoming church.

But there are also many stories of how churches save lives.  They work in the community to help the poor and the destitute.  In the best cases, churches are reaching out to those who are marginalized. 

How do they do this?  In some cases, it's as simple as talking to those who come through our doors, no matter who they are.  That talking becomes ever more extensive, and before we know it, we have all sorts of ecumenical outreach and partnerships with all sorts of groups.

As I've been thinking about hospitality, my thoughts often return to food.  Food makes the work of conversation a bit easier.  And there are more of us suffering food insecurity in our society than we might think.

I am trying to make our campus a better place to be, from having treats to greeting visitors to having cleaner bathrooms.  When our Executive Director asked us what we needed as a campus, I suggested having the custodial team come in the afternoon to clean the bathrooms.  Waiting until 11 p.m. was just too long a wait between cleanings.  And lo and behold, we were able to accomplish that.  It makes a difference.

Some of what I do no one knows about.  I spend some time in prayer as I move through the day.  I pray about specific situations, and I pray for us all in general.  That practice helps me keep my heart open to all.

And I try to remember to smile at everyone.  That act may be the one that is the most visible sign of hospitality.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Meditation on This Sunday's Gospel

The readings for Sunday, September 9, 2018:

First Reading: Isaiah 35:4-7a

First Reading (Semi-cont.): Proverbs 22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23

Psalm: Psalm 146

Psalm (Semi-cont.): Psalm 125

Second Reading: James 2:1-10 [11-13] 14-17

Gospel: Mark 7:24-37

Many people find this Gospel's depiction of Jesus disturbing, but I find it refreshing, even as it disturbs me. I grew up with an idea of an inclusive Jesus, a Jesus who came for all of us. The Jesus of my childhood was never angry (except perhaps for that incident in the temple), never irritable, never tired.

The Jesus of the Gospels isn't the Jesus of my childhood. If we read the Gospels carefully, we can see that the view of Jesus shifts as the community of faith continues to interpret the meaning of Jesus and to define what happened to Jesus and the first community of believers. Often we forget that the Gospels were written not by the first disciples (as I thought, when I was a child), but by people who came along later.

One early view of Jesus was an exclusive one, the one that says that Jesus came for the Jews. As the early Christian community expanded to include non-Jews, we can see chunks of the Gospels written with this development in mind. The story of Jesus and the Greek woman may be part of that mission.

Or perhaps we're seeing something more basic. I notice that a running theme in this Gospel is Jesus' attempts to get away, to move anonymously. It doesn't work. Everywhere he turns, there are the people who need him. We've all had those weeks at work or in our families where it seems that people need more and more of us and we can't get away from those incessant demands. We know how cranky that can make us. Maybe we're just seeing a Jesus who is tired and irritable. I like the idea of a snippy Jesus who can be reminded of his mission and who can soften his attitude. I like the idea that we can be occasionally cranky and not ruin our mission, just as Jesus was occasionally cranky, but managed to change our world so radically.

I also find the Greek woman to be refreshing. Here's a woman who fights for her daughter. Here's a woman who is told no, I didn't come for you--and she fights back. She presents a good argument, and it works.

I like the idea of a Jesus who can change his mind. I like the idea of a Jesus who listens to an outsider (a Greek, a woman) and becomes more inclusive.

Often the Gospel gives us a picture of Jesus who seems more divine than human. This Gospel shows me a refreshingly human Jesus, with traits (irritability, a desperate need for rest) that I recognize. I see a divine presence who might really understand me, since he's been under stress himself.

And this time, through this Gospel, I am happy to be reminded that a Divine answer of "no" may not be the final answer.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Visual Journaling: Space for Grace

On Sunday, our pastor preached from the book of James.  I made this sketch:

It's similar to many sketches I've made.  Here's another recent sketch:

But on Sunday, August 26, I did something very different:

Our pastor used the phrase "space for grace."  I liked the idea that it could be both inner space and interstellar space.  I tried to make the little circles look like planets.  It was one of the Sundays that I was glad to have a variety of pens with a variety of tips.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Labor Day: of Hurricanes and Alienation

This is not the first Labor Day where I've been keeping an eye on a storm.  In fact, last year I'd be up early on Labor Day Monday, in Memphis where we had gone to celebrate my father-in-law's 80th birthday; I'd have been keeping a wary eye on Hurricane Irma.

This year, I sit in a house that's undergoing repair construction because of Hurricane Irma.  I'm keeping my eye on the radar as Potential Tropical Cyclone 7 spins to my south.  I am not nearly as worried this year as I was last year.  I did take a look around the yard, just to make sure that we were in good shape, and I moved the drying swimsuits, towels, and table linens inside.

Each Labor Day, I am profoundly grateful that I am not in the Florida Keys in 1935, when the most intense hurricane to ever hit the U.S. came ashore.  Every time I drive through the Keys, I'm grateful that I'm there when hurricanes are not--those islands are so tiny.

I know that most people don't mark Labor Day as a hurricane anniversary.  I know that I should be raising a glass to those who fought so hard to make our working lives more tolerable.  I will raise a glass to those organizers:  I'm as fond of week-ends and OSHA regulations and 8-ish hour work days as the next person.

But I have some Marxist tendencies, and thus, I see that we still have much work to do.  I see many people who are alienated from their work, just like Marx warned us.  I know that in more and more industries people have less and less control of both their work and their schedules.  I know so many people who work not because they believe in their work, but because they need health insurance that's partially or wholly underwritten by employers.

And almost everyone I know fears that a future that is much worse barrels towards us.

I think about Marx and all the areas of work he missed.  These days, I feel alienated from my house, which requires an enormous amount of work.  I fight against that feeling of alienation in the arena of human relationships.

I'm in an unusual phase right now:  I'm deeply invested in my work for pay, but I feel a bit alienated from my creative work.  When I carve out time, the writing seems to come at a plodding pace.  I need a different camera.  The bag that holds my sketching materials seems to grow ever heavier.

Maybe I need a retreat--I'm thinking of signing up for this online one about visual journaling.  I say I'm thinking about it, but I bought the markers last night.  I like the subject matter of the retreat, and I'd like to experience an online retreat.  Plus, at a Create in Me retreat, I went to a workshop led by the artist that's leading the online retreat.

It's September, and the year has zoomed by.  Yet we still have 1/3 of the year remaining--we can still do some of the things we hoped to do when we made our plans in January.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Ways to Serve

As we moved the rolltop desk during the Great Flooring Project, treasures have come out! No, not money, but old letters that had lived back there for decades. A letter from 1952 from Aunt Rosalyn, a letter from a serviceman from 1945 to my grandfather. More about the letters themselves in this blog post.

But here, on my theology blog, I want to think about my grandfather as pastor.  One of the letters with a postmark of January 1945 It's from someone who is serving in the Solomon Islands--I think. The writing is faint. There's a thank you from the writer to my grandfather and the church for sending the box. I can't tell what was in the box, but from the postmark, I'm guessing it's some sort of care package to a military person.

Since I can't remember the history of World War II in the Pacific, I Googled it, of course--and immediately felt ashamed of my ignorance. How could I not remember that Guadalcanal was part of the Solomon Islands?

The letter feels historic, and yet I know that there must be thousands, millions, just like it. Or that there were, but now decades later, most of them are gone--another reason why this letter feels precious, even though I didn't know the letter writer. My grandfather didn't mean to preserve it--I'm guessing it was part of a pile of paperwork that somehow got caught between the back of the desk and the cubbyhole insert. Perhaps it got rolled back, although I don't remember my grandparents ever closing the rolltop desk--but who knows how they used the desk in 1945.

It was interesting to read this letter during the week-end where the nation has said goodbye to Senator John McCain.  Much was made of his service to the country, both as a Navy officer and a Senator.  It's the kind of eulogizing that can make many of us feel inadequate.

This letter reminds me that we all can be of service in so many ways.  My grandfather served 5 small parishes in Greeneville, Tennessee.  Those people wrote to their sons who went away to war.  Those sons wrote back to tell how important those letters were.  We don't need much imagination to know how different the 20th century would have been had World War II ended differently.

The final words of John McCain are an appropriate way to end.  I suspect that anyone reading this blog would agree with him when he says, "To be connected to America’s causes — liberty, equal justice, respect for the dignity of all people — brings happiness more sublime than life’s fleeting pleasures. Our identities and sense of worth are not circumscribed but enlarged by serving good causes bigger than ourselves.”

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Feminist Feast Days

On a Facebook post, Di McCullough writes:

"This is the feast day of St. Ann of Texas.

As the NYT records it:
"Asked once what she might have done differently had she known she was going to be a one-term governor, Richards grinned. "Oh, I would probably have raised more hell."

Friends, let us remember today that this may well be our only term in office."

Yesterday, Di wrote:

"Yesterday was the feast day of St. Molly of Austin (you have your canon and I have mine, bugger off).

For those of you wondering how she can help us shape our lives today, here’s a decent little nugget. Because she had one hell of an understanding that there was no fear in love."

To today's post, I responded:

"I love both the feast day of St. Molly and St. Ann. Someone should create a whole book/calendar of alternate feast days in this vein--could it be you?"

Yes, someone should create a whole year's worth of alternate feast days.  I wonder if it's already been done.  Let me record it here.

So many good ideas, so little time.