Monday, May 28, 2007

Quote of the day

The great hockey player Wayne Gretsky said, "I skate to where the puck is going to be not to where it has been."

With thanks to Roy.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

For Karin

by Billy Collins

Even though the house is deeply silent
and the room, with no moon,
is perfectly dark,
even though the body is a sack of exhaustion
inert on the bed

someone inside me will not
get off his tricycle,
will not stop tracing the same tight circle
on the same green threadbare carpet.

It makes no difference whether I lie
staring at the ceiling
or pace the living room floor,
he keeps making his furious rounds,
little pedaler in his frenzy,
my own worst enemy, my oldest friend.

What is there to do but close my eyes
and watch him circling the night,
schoolboy in an ill-fitting jacket,
leaning forward, his cap on backwards,
wringing the handlebars,
maintaining a certain speed?

Does anything exist at this hour
in this nest of dark rooms
but the spectacle of him
and the hope that before dawn

I can lift out some curious detail
that will carry me off to sleep --
the watch that encircles his pale wrist,
the expandable band,
the tiny hands that keep pointing this way and that.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Friday Cat Blogging

Pete: fat and annoyed.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Let us pray

Is it the ultimate in devotion or sacrilige to piss on the virgin? Maybe my Catholic friends can enlighten me.


The main reason I have an ipod is so that I can listen to Krista Tippett. I'm usually several weeks behind schedule, but I don't care. She's always interesting. Today I was listening to her show about The New Monastics, featuring a lovely sounding young guy who started an intentional community in inner city Philly 10 years ago. It made me think about all the communities that have influenced me over the years: the Franciscans, Church of the Savior, Koinonia Farms, the Catholic Workers, Taize, Iona, the Sisters of Mercy. Each has influenced my thinking, sometimes even my acting. I've gotten to spend some time with a few of them. I thought, too, about the communities of which I've been an actual part: mostly small groups-- praying together, silent together, working together for social change or compassionate service. And then there are all the co-ops: supper co-ops, cleaning co-ops, food-buying co-ops, organic farm co-ops, babysitting co-ops, corn-burning stove co-ops. I loved those co-ops and I miss them.

Moving means losing community. I love my neighborhood. It's a co-op kind of place, but I'm not in with the crowd yet. Listening today, though, I realized that as much as I'd love another cleaning co-op or supper co-op, what I really want is someone who is willing to ask me if I'm following God's voice in my life. Someone who is willing to sit silently with me long enough to know the right question to ask. Someone who would want me to challenge and comfort them as well. Someone with whom to laugh and joke and know when to be serious. Or, even better, several someones.

I'm not talking church, exactly, though maybe an ideal church would do this. I'm talking something more intimate. The kind of friends who could check my bank account and see if I'm being accountable to my values. I've had moments of this in my life. It is a rare, exquisite, wonderful thing. (It can also be tedious and annoying, of course, because it's with people, not angels, and you know how we can be.) Still ...

So, virtual friends, what about you? Do you have the community you desire?

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Blessed Sabbath

I started my day with my parents, having sat with my disabled father last night so that my mom could go out and enjoy the local symphony's rendition of "The Planets." Mom and I were able to walk through the canopy of extravagent mountain laurel gracing her neighborhood before she left for church. Then I headed for my sacred space: a trail through ancient trees along a spectacular stream, waters cascading over rocks older than God, their music as healing as any hymn I know. This particular trail has never failed to heal my spirit. I can enter those woods in disgrace or despair and emerge whole and free, every time. I sit on the steadfast rocks or lean against the wisdom-bearing bark until the hurt has seeped out of my skin and into the saving soil. Today was no exception. Leaving, I suddenly decided to take the long, scenic route home, winding an extra 20 miles through the mountains just because. Now, I am philosophically opposed to taking a drive as entertainment, but today my philosophy had to get in the back seat as I cranked down the windows and cranked up the music. (At least it is a Prius ...) The CD was a new mix of spiritual songs from artists like Sting and Sweet Honey and U2 and Stevie Wonder and it starts with what may be my all-time favorite hymn, though I've never heard it sung in a church. Here are Bruce Cockburn's beautiful words:

Lord of the starfields,
ancient of days,
universe maker,
here's a song in your praise.

wings of the storm cloud
beginning and end
you make my heart leap
like a banner in the wind

O Love that fires the sun
keep me burning.

Lord of the starfields
sower of life,
heaven and earth are
full of your light.

Voice of the nova
smile of the dew
all of our yearning
only comes home to you.

O Love that fires the sun
keep me burning.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Hope, anyone?

After hearing how military bloggers are being silenced and watching a horrible reminder of the cost of war over at Crooks and Liars I needed another perspective. Wendell Berry rarely lets me down.

February 2, 1968

In the dark of the moon, in flying snow, in the dead of winter,
war spreading, families dying, the world in danger,
I walk the rocky hillside, sowing clover.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Too Smart?

I want to believe that I can't be shocked any more by America's capacity for ignorance. But it's a lie. When Grandmere Mimi noted that three of the GOP candidates for President don't even believe in evolution ... well, let's just say, the bottom keeps getting lowered.

But I won't be voting in the GOP primary anyway. There's that other primary for me to worry about. What's a nice lefty gal like me to do? I gladly voted for Hillary as my senator when I lived in NY state and would again. She's a terrific senator. And too damn polarizing for president. I fell head over heels for Obama with the rest of the country. Loved his first book. Love his charisma. But let's face it, dear ones. That resume is a bit thin. I'll vote for him in 2012. Yeah, Edwards tries to be a populist and he's got a good grasp on poverty issues. But I have to admit that the pretty boy stuff bugged me even before haircut-gate.

Know who I really like? Yup, Bill Richardson. Since I don't have to go to church on Sunday mornings anymore (!), I caught him on one of the talk show rounds a few weeks back. The man is bright! And has a terrific grasp of the environmental issues. He's got the goverance piece, he's done diplomacy, he's served in Congress, he's served in the White House. Check out his hilarious new ads and see what you think.

Is America ready for someone who could actually do a terrific job, but is not the best-looking or most charismatic in the race?

Tuesday, May 8, 2007


We European Americans are not a people known for our roots. We're the ones who pulled up roots wherever we were and came here to get away from something or find something or ... something. My parents lived a thousand miles from their parents when I was growing up and I followed suit. My main criterion for a college: at least 800 miles from home. At 18 I flew away and never looked back.

Until last year, that is. When watching my vibrant 78 year old mom take care of my ailing 79 year old dad became too much to bear from far away. I needed to be close and so we uprooted our lives, our careers, our friendships and communities -- and our child's life as well. We came to help with care-giving when, suddenly, I found myself in need of care. And so Mom had not just Dad on her hands, but me as well. My life was pulling apart at the seams, my marriage wrecked, my calling uncertain.

I hiked in the mountains as much as I could manage last summer. These mountains heal me. They always have. And over the course of a few hard months it became clear to me that while I had pulled up my most recent, rather shallow roots, and moved to a city where I had never lived before, I actually had come seeking deeper roots. My parents retired back to my father's hometown and so now we are all living where my people came from. Generations ago, my ancestors farmed these mountains and three generations ago, the men became local politicians. My granddaddy's photo hangs in the county courthouse. The only independently owned pharmacy in town is run by my cousins. My son plays in the yard of the school where my father studied as a child. I have friends who worship at a church my grandparents helped found. Numerous streets hold houses with family memories. For the first time in my life, I am living in a place where I have roots.

These human roots feel strong and good and important to me. I am glad for them. And yet, they are only a shadow of the roots that really keep me grounded. When everything shifted beneath my feet, Mercy stood firm. She held me steady, whispered to me reminders of who I was, let me lie in her rich loam, the sweet smell of decay teaching me of resurrection -- life out of death. Mercy held me for dear life. She has not let go yet.

When I walk these streets I remember who I am. When I walk through these woods I remember Whose I am. Blessings both.

To Begin

When I left my last pastorate in the fall of 2004, I decided to look into this thing I'd heard about -- the virtual church. Seemed goofy to me, since church is about community, relationships, shared liturgy, shared service. Breaking bread. Together. I lurked on a site or two. Then I read an article on god-blogging in Bitch Magazine by a great blogger; lurked a little more. Started paying more attention when my friend began her beautiful blog. But it was MadPriest who helped me see that god-blogging could actually create community.

It helped that I found him right around the time my husband and I were separating after moving to a new city where neither of us had friends or jobs (what were we thinking?) and so lurking in a virtual community was often more convenient than lurking in my own new community. I felt equally an outsider in both places, but the bloggers couldn't see me blush.

So here I am. Newly single. Newly southern. Newly employed at a feminist retreat center. Newly blogging. It's kind of tiring, but it's all good. Hope to meet some more of you soon!