Sunday, December 21, 2003

Christmas has arrived

Christmas has officially arrived at our house with the ritual of the breaking of the ornament. Bearcat, one of our 4 cats, performed the rite this year. We have 4 cats, all strays left by people who think that it is a good thing to leave their unwanted kittens one half mile from town. I think our gate must have a sign that says "good food, warm beds, nice man" - like those codes left by hobos in The Depression. My husband is a softy when it comes to these orphans - we currently have 3 indoor cats, 1 who comes in
to eat and to sleep when it is too cold. But that is a different rant - back to Christmas.
Every year while our kids were still home we would try to provide the imagined perfect Christmas and desire of the heart presents (of course that desire seemed to change up to the moment of unwrapping). This drama would find its peak when one of the children would drop a glass ornament and yet another piece of family history would shatter on the floor and I would break down into the screaming mother. The years of my childhood Christmases I remember as dinners at a rich relative's home with more silverware (and it was sterling!) than we knew what to do with - terror at using the wrong fork or spoon or whatever, and Christmas morning hoping every year for that pair of cowboy boots and receiving another doll or doll accessory. Now I know that the relatives were just trying to give us a lovely party and my parents were trying to figure out what to give the alien who had been left on their doorstep.
Ordination as an Episcopal priest freed me from the Christmas nightmare - now I was excused from all the family duties so that I could be attentive to my work!!! Sinking into the preparations and rituals of Advent, Christmas and Epiphany I began to look forward to Christmas. All our kids have now moved into their own homes and hopefully into their own less dysfunctional Christmas celebrations.
Last week Jim and I hiked up the nearby canyon and cut a tree, I decorated it with the lights that flash in 8 different patterns. The ornaments consist of everything from a Santa that was given Jim in 1940 to gifts through the years to ones made by the kids in school and church. I put the glass ones up high, I though out of the cats' reach but obviously not high enough. As I heard the smash of glass scattering into the mix of fir needles and dust bunnies - I thought - ahhh - now it is Christmas.
Sweeping the fuschia colored shards and needles so we don't have to give the vacuum hose yet one more thoracotomy (duck tape is your friend), I found that I have come to a new place about Christmas - presents are on their way (thanks to the internet - a great thing for those of us who live 150 miles from the Mall - ordered, wrapped and mailed with the tap of the keyboard), Christmas carols on the CD player (everything from the Anonymous 4 to the Nylons), fire in the woodstove, telephone connections to the kids and the grand, and I looking forward to Christmas eve in little log churches in Pinedale and Bondurant. The Holy comes to birth in our midst telling us that life is worth living. I did a funeral for a man last week - he carried this anonymous quote in his wallet - "It starts at a time called birth and continues until a time called death. It is called life. It comes with no guarantees of '60 years or 60,000 miles whichever comes first,' and somehow they've even left out instructions. Yes, all we get is life itself and it's up to us to do the living."
So DO the living - it's about love and presence (not presents). Give thanks for gifts as signs you are loved not as judgment of the givers or your essential being and don't worry about using the wrong fork - enjoy the food. Merry Christmas!!!

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Here is a fun quiz if you are a Discworld fan. Terry Prachett books.
Discworld: Which Ankh-Morpork City Watch Character are YOU?

brought to you by Quizilla

Friday, October 31, 2003

Happy Halloween - Halloween is a poignant holiday for us. Living at Fort Washakie, Wyoming we lived in the only area around where houses clustered together. So kids from all the rural locations would come to 'Trick or Treat.' We would stock up on hundreds of candy bars to get ready. After our own kids were born, their dad was in charge of taking them Trick or Treating - now we lived in the country so they would all bundle up (it is Wyoming and usually snows or sleets on Halloween - like 3 feet today!) and go to town - mostly hitting up streets where our friends lived. Our youngest was very creative about pumpkin carving - liked to get the biggest ugliest pumpkins from the store and turn them into all sorts of scary creations. Our middle child was the charmer - one smile from under that blond hair would net double treats. The older one loved Halloween the most and dressed in costume most of the year when she was little. Her first written words were "Qeihn (name)" I must have made at least 200 crowns of tinfoil for her in the first 5 years. Now they are out in the world doing their own thing - but every Halloween - their dad thinks about taking them Trick or Treating.

Saturday, October 25, 2003

Whoa - long time no blogging. Fish just fried the Yankees and took the World Series in 6 games. What a fun team to watch - kissing each other, great energy. I used to be a Cubs fan but their behavior in the playoffs turned me off - I mean really how can you blame a fan for your own mistakes - 8 runs were not scored because a ball fell into the stands. Alou would not have caught that ball anyway. Luck had nothing to do with it - just bad baseball. And then to blame a loyal lifetime lover of the Cubs instead of standing up for him and admitting "we lost" That's what is fun about both the Yankees and the Marlins - just keep coming at you - never give up - not about luck - just excellent baseball and right attitude. Go Fish. A long time until Spring Training. Guess I will get some other work done now that I have no more baseball games to watch.

Monday, May 26, 2003

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Monday, May 12, 2003

Jesus said:

I am the good mother. The good mother lays down her life for the children. The hired caretaker, who is not the mother and does not care for the children, sees the fearful thing coming and leaves the children and runs away -- and the children are snatched and scattered. The hired caretaker runs away because s/he does not care for the children. I am the good mother. I know my own and my own know me, just as my Mother knows me and I know my Mother. And I lay down my life for the children. I have other children that are not of this family. I must bring them alos, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one family, one mother. For this reason I am loved, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from the Holy One.

Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Believing is seeing. The old saying is "seeing is believing" but what we believe affects what we see. Our brains try to make sense of what is before us using data from previous experience and what is is expected. New discoveries often come when we are asleep or in an environment where "what we know" is blocked by some other factor. Suddenly the universe shifts and we can never go back to the old vision. My father was a teenager when he was fooling around in a drugstore with friends - trying on the glasses from a rack of various lens strengths. Suddenly he realized his inability to see - he did not know clear focussed vision until then.

Monday, April 21, 2003


Once more the northbound Wonder

Brings back the goose and crane,

Prophetic Sons of Thunder,

Apostles of the Rain.

In many a battling river

The broken gorges boom;

Behold, the Mighty Giver

Emerges from the tomb!

Now robins chant the story

Of how the wintry sward

Is litten with the glory

Of the Angel of the Lord.

His countenance is lightning

And still His robe is snow,

As when the dawn was brightening

Two thousand years ago.

O who can be a stranger

To what has come to pass?

The Pity of the Manger

Is mighty in the grass.

Undaunted by Decembers,

The sap is faithful yet.

The giving Earth remembers,

And only men forget.

John G. Neihardt wrote this poem in 1908 after the pieces of it came to him in a dream, and he later considered it one of his best. Neihardt, poet laureate of Nebraska, taught English and poetry at the University of Missouri - Columbia for a number of years.

Thursday, April 10, 2003

"So if you are about to place your gift on the altar and remember that someone is angry with you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. Make peace with that person, then come back and offer your gift to God." Matthew 5:23-24

Forgiveness is often approached from the victim's perspective but Jesus, in this passage, is clearly asking the one who has abused another to act to restore the relationship before reconciliation can occur. Forgiveness is a difficult topic. So often we hear - "you have to forgive." When a person who has been the victim of abuse or a crime hears this - it adds to the pain. Clinging to bitterness, guilt and disabling pain obviously does not help us to live a full and joy-filled life but what are the steps to help us attain freedom and return to the joy of living?
One aspect is acknowledging what has happened. The depth of the injury to our minds, bodies and souls. This is often accompanied by deep grief and rage. Finding an appropriate way to express these feelings is important - a caring friend, a counselor, a spiritual director can be resources. Once in touch with the reality of our situation - our feelings can give us energy to address what we will do. Rage can be destructive to us and those around us or it can be used creatively. It can give us the energy to get out of the situation and it can used to work for justice. The creative use of our feelings can assist others and systems to change. An example of this is MADD - Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Women who used their grief and anger to change laws.
Another is accepting that the past cannot be changed. No matter how much we would like it - this event is a part of our life. How we live from this day on is the only open question. Until we live in the reality of life - we keep trying to live in illusions and expect change where it is not possible.
A learning from the 12 Step Programs is another facet of forgiveness. The full and searching inventory of our own lives - and then making amends wherever possible. Part of the cycle of forgiveness is to become aware of the places where we have inflicted injury on others and doing something about seeking forgiveness. There is a danger here for us if we blame ourselves for the behavior of others towards us. But this step helps us avoid self-righteousness in our relationships.
Self forgiveness is another facet of moving into freedom from pain and bitterness. Often this is the most difficult step of all. Part of this step involves - accepting what we are responsible for and what we are not. Both are important.
We do not allow others to continue to victimize us, but seek a way to freedom. We cannot rush this process - we open ourselves to reconciliation with God, ourselves and others. We allow love to fill the broken spaces and one day we hope to live into fullness of life.

Wednesday, April 09, 2003

Oh, well -- there's always next year - Tennessee 68 - UConn 73 :-(

Monday, April 07, 2003

Lady Vols win their semi-final game!!!

Friday, April 04, 2003

Listening to the news and the debates on various listserves --
I have been thinking about why I have my reaction to my government and our pursuit of this war in Iraq. Last night it became clear to me (in a spiritual autobiography using a timeline of world events for our EFM class) -- I was born in 1941 -- my playmates were bundled off to Concentration Camps for being Japanese-Americans. My first memory of TV was watching the McCarthy hearings and the House UnAmerican Activities Commission. Professors of a college in my town lost their jobs and were banned from teaching on the basis of rumor. When I was in college and into young adulthood - it was the VietNam war. More and more lies from that era have been revealed. My friends died thinking they were doing something good - and those who returned (who actually served on the battlefield) are very cynical about all war. In the course of this reflection - I realize that I do not have much in my history and experience of my country to give me confidence in the decisions that are being made and the rhetoric used to support it. This current war seems to be just one more lie - which history will reveal after all the death and destruction? I hope not - I hope we are acting out of the goodness of our hearts - that we truly desire to be a liberating force in the world. Time will tell.
You may say I am exercising a selective memory but these are my marker events. I love the principles of this country - just finished reading (actually a book on tape as I drive to work, 160 miles through the Rockies, each week) John Adams -- how timely to listen to the letters and reflections on the founders of our country. How precarious our freedoms (we were thanking the French that time around). Every generation has had challenges to the Constitution and our form of government. Once again our freedoms are being eroded - not by some external enemy - but by our very own lawmakers. Freedom of speech, freedom of our personal lives and choices, freedom of religion taken away in the name of protecting us. When will we begin to witness to the real power of the US - the beacon of freedom, a place of welcome to the stranger, rich beyond believing. When will we move as a people of abundance and generosity and stop acting like spoiled children who having opened so many Christmas presents turns to our parent and says "is that all?"
Criticizing governmental decisions is not a sign of hatred of the United States. It is a sign of a free and open society. It is because we love our country and what it stands for that citizens protest. When we see and hear our leaders making choices that do not follow the professed values of the United States - we are moved to speak out. I pray that our leader's choices are correct and that all our daughters and sons soon return to us. Working for peace is not anti-government - who would work for war? Soldiers that I know work for peace. Leaving is not an option - loving is.

Tuesday, April 01, 2003

When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were terrified. But he said to them, "It is I; do not be afraid." Then they wanted to take him into the boat, John 6:16-21a
We would rather have holiness contained in the boat with us than to see it loose and walking the waves of the sea.

Monday, March 31, 2003

Lady Vols go to the Final Four!!
Cubs win!!! 15-2
When I was in Homiletics (preaching) class in seminary - we were assigned the Bible passage where Jesus feeds the 5000 (John 6). One man went to the bakery and bought a loaf of bread - he cut it into as many tiny pieces as possible and then figured how many loaves it would take for everyone to get even a bite. Now the text says they were satisfied. So the man's conclusion was - it could not have happened and therefore Jesus did not do it. We loved it, took him out for lunch, and laughed all afternoon. We ate and were filled with joy.

Sunday, March 30, 2003

Spring has definitely returned - that most theological of sports - baseball has begun it's new season -- Cubs rock - definitely our year.

Saturday, March 29, 2003

Women's basketball is the best -- Pat Summit - coach of Lady Vols is amazing.