Friday, October 19, 2007

The Friday Five (courtesy of RevGalBlogPals)

As mentioned here before, RevGalBlogPals asks five questions every week of its blogging constituency. This week it's about food. Food (along with music) is what I adore, have some instrumental gifts for, and precious little creativity or persistence in. (How's that for dangling participles?) So how could I not play?

  1. If you were a food, what would you be? Something creamy, but with texture, bite, and a whisper of sweetness. Ginger ice cream. Or pumpkin risotto with aged asiago, toasted pumpkin seeds, and crisp fried sage (with a tiny bit of cayenne in there). Or, going back to the ginger theme, a 3-variety ginger cookie with white pepper.
  2. One memorable meal. I had too many, apparently, and Blogger nipped them out. Let's just say there have been many, many.
  3. What is your favorite comfort food from childhood? Macaroni and cheese. Guacamole. Really.
  4. When going to a church potluck, what one recipe from your kitchen is sure to be a hit? Fritatta.
  5. What's the strangest thing you ever willingly ate? I don't eat meat, so that lets a lot of the truly unfamiliar stuff out. But on that theme: Beautifully grilled fresh salmon, prepared by dear friends who didn't equate salmon with meat and whose love outweighed my morals.
Bonus question: What’s your favorite drink to order when looking forward to a great meal?
How much money can I spend? What's the meal? Drink depends on the meal. Generally? Sparkling. Or a Manhattan. Ideally? A white from the hands of wine artist Didier Dagueneau.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

More stony bits

1) Need a new profile picture with current four-leggeds (rather than our dear departed saintly Mo).
2) "Christmas Unplugged"


My mind gets all gravelly when I'm on retreat. There are lots of concrete bits that stir around, but they're surrounded by a blur of ripples. More on that below.

There are two retreatants here at Mercy Center (in a building that can hold 250 easily for conferences and has 90 bedrooms). Or at least there were: the other one's room looked pretty cleaned up this morning. Which means that, aside from staff and the Sisters of Mercy (not the band. ripple.) it's me, pretty much. So at breakfast this morning, the cook had made 4 small omelets and laid them out, along with maybe 4 cups of oatmeal, 4 yogurts, etc. You get the picture. I had one omelet and a piece of toast with peanut butter, in a room with umpteen 6-to-8 person tables, and a lot of icons on one wall (which I enjoy very much). So external silence is easy this time. Internal silence, less so. (ripple.)

For this morning's meditation I went to the chapel, where others from the communities inside and out were already meditating. I've been alone in the meditation room (which has meant I could do sun salutations between sessions), so it was pleasant to be in a room with others, sitting in the presence of the Lord.

I've been keeping the hours, too, which is a heck of a lot easier here than at home.

The other thing I've been doing is reading: my usual devotional (My Utmost for His Highest), and Shane Claiborne's The Irresistible Revolution. I'm on a headlong search for a December book for my Christian Spirituality book group, and my focus is on returning Christ to Christmas by thinking Simple. (We're doing Advent Conspiracy in our church. (gravel)) So many people are torn by Christmas: sad or exhausted or lovingthetraditionsbutoverwhelmed or having to rev up to consider the nativity on 24 December. The commercialism is really getting to me, both because of the increasing gap between the rich (including me) and the poor (including most of the world, and a lot of our country); and because it's so hard for folks to even see Christ through the tinsel and batteries. Even Christian bookstores and websites are all over selling. Which shouldn't surprise me but does. (gravel, gravel).

If you have a book idea, post it in comments, okay?

So here's more gravel, in no order:
1) There is simply no reason that one (okay, I) cannot live with this sensibility in the "real" world.
2) I need a timer for the hours and the discipline to obey it.
3) I'd really love to have early morning meditation and communion with others. ("Contemplation and Communion") Maybe offer it on campus? 1-2x/week?
4) 1st and 3rd Wed. evenings?
5) We (okay, I) can't keep living with all the waste and excess. (Poor wonderful husband.)(Wait, that may be a ripple.)
6) Contemplation has to become community action. And vice versa.

And rippling: why do I immediately move away from Jesus into "the next thing"?

Monday, October 08, 2007

Emerging Women

Over on the Emerging Women blog is some writing by Jemila Kwon. She calls it "Creed: The Gospel According to Mark." I wouldn't say it's either a creed, per se, or a meticulous rendering of the substance of that gospel: if you haven't read Mark, please do! That said, I liked it very much, especially the part that reads:

Abandon all but Love of God and Neighbor
Spread the good news that God is acting again!
God is here
God is now
The time is now to spread the good news

Before God’s kingdom is consummated in full
Before our generation passes away
Let the good news go out that God is acting again and his will is to forgive, heal, free the oppressed, make all things clean, serve the least, raise the dead to life and call all who have ears to a new way of life.

What is the new way of life?

The way of loving God and having faith
The way of loving neighbor and loving stranger
The way of standing for life, even to death
The way of believing God, and following God’s beloved son, God’s anointed one.

This fall, we're reading McLaren's Secret Message of Jesus, and I'm preaching a series based in it.
I am so grateful that we (me, McLaren, our church community, Jemila Kwon, whomever fits) are not alone in thinking about what a different lens might mean to both the way we live and the effect we have on the world. More about that soon.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Thankfulness list

The RevGalBlogPals Friday Five this week is a list of five things ("people, places, graces, miracles...") for which one is thankful. Hard to keep it to five today, but here goes:

1) Disposable income. I was able to treat soon-to-be-married Music Minister and some of her girlfriends to high tea yesterday, which gave me great pleasure (and her a few moments of peace and frivolity).

2) Companion animals. Tanq on the lap, snoring. Jamba on the laptop case, which is on top of the portfolio, which is on top of numerous unread magazines, on top of diversity training materials for my other gig, on my desk, in the sun.

3) The wonderful husband. A gift from God, undeserved and unearned. And Heather, Laveille, Jeff, John and distant ballast of all friend kinds.

4) My church community. After nearly five years you continue to amaze and inspire me.

5) God's rescue from the sucking muck. Him lying on his belly on dry land, reaching an arm into the ooze just to pull me to safety. Over and over again. And the many, many packages in which that grace appears. Including all of the above.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007


A few weeks ago, we had our church annual celebration of ministries. It has morphed over the last few years from voting and volunteer-wrangling to remembrance of God-filled moments, sharing new ideas and opportunities, and testimony. And lunch. Did I mention lunch?

This year, our facilities manager (who is also our evangelism geek) wanted to do an exercise to help people talk about their faith. Our folks tend to feel that talking about their faith is somehow wrong, and definitely difficult: wrong because proselytizing; difficult because unreflected upon. So he set up three questions for each person to write a sentence answer and then share their answers with one other person. The questions were: "How has your relationship with Christ changed over the last 5 years?" "How have God and Jesus impacted your life?" and "Why do you attend and are active in this church?" His idea was that by answering those three questions they would have the base for a conversation about their faith.

Toward the end he asked people to share anything they wanted to. The first person to speak was a first time visitor, a very young man, who spoke enthusiastically about being invited to stay to lunch, and about his own journey. A few others spoke as well. (I wish I could explain how amazing that is all by itself -- it's so new.)

Then our evangelist geek collected all the cards people had written on, and made lists of what they'd said. I just read them this morning.

In this line of work, like many other vocations that are people-focused, it can be very hard to count successes. We're not a "turn-or-burn" church, and we don't believe that profession under duress or ecstasy is the primary marker of faith. Though we have a membership roster, on a daily basis it's irrelevant. But the temptation to quantify is deep: we want some way of knowing how we're doing.

Mostly, how we're doing is determined by what we see happening in people's lives. Highly unquantifiable. Often unmarkable.

So reading people's answers to the questions was heartening. The light of Christ was gleaming in nearly every word. Of course, the people who were there and answered were the most likely to be gleaming, but the shine was no less real, no less a qualifiable "Amen", if not a quantifiable count.