Friday, June 15, 2018

Taking a stand - and taking faith to the streets

There are times to organize,
write letters and contact elected officials.
There are times to gather as community and,
with your bodily presence, 
say I am here.
This is what I believe.
Knowing that the church, 
through its silence,
was complicit as the Nazis gained power in pre-WWII Germany, 
there has been a growing push
for history NOT to repeat itself.

'Elders' from various faith traditions gathered during Lent
and crafted a declaration

This statement SO resonated with me that I knew
 when people of faith gathered in Washington DC,
I would be among them.

And I was.
As I was sitting in the pew waiting for the service to begin,
I felt surrounded by my tribe.
A priest from the Diocese of Newark (my childhood home diocese);
a single woman, a retired banker,
who flew in from CA because, she too had been moved by the declaration;
a young attorney who had grown up in St Louis,
now working for the Federal Reserve in DC;
her friend, a physician
who was on extended personal leave from her government job
"because I can't work for a fascist".

Everyone was eager to speak with each other,
everyone was excited for the opportunity
to be counted and,
by their presence say that the biblical distortions
being touted by so many so-called  'Christians'
does not represent what we believe to be the central message of Jesus's teachings,
which is love.

The planning and execution seemed to be flawless;
at least as far as the congregation could determine.
I suspect that behind the scenes it might have been different, 
but the program went off without a hitch.

We listened to impassioned speakers including
Father Richard Rohr


Rev. Dr. Walter Brueggemann
Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry and the Rev. Jim Wallis.

We were inspired and moved by the music provided by the Howard Gospel choir.

And then we walked;
in silence.

2500 people moving en masse quietly.
For a city used to loud protests, shouting slogans and disruptive participants,
we were an anomaly.
People came out of buildings, stood on balconies, 
in front of restaurants, got out of cars - 
all curious about what we were about -
and we kept moving...
until we reached our destination.
Then, after the elders read the declaration,
on the sidewalk in front of the White House,
we were all asked to pray aloud,
in our own words, in our own voices,
in our own languages.
We were asked to give voice to our concerns for the world
and for our country.

The next few moments,
were as close to 'Pentecost' and the Tower of Babel
as I'm ever likely to experience.

Immediately surrounding me were 9 different languages,
by speakers of various ages,
with different vocal tones;
all of us praing,
 trying to add our light to the darkness that surrounds us.
 It was a powerful experience.

Walking away and returning to our hotels, cars and individual lives was hard.

There IS strength in numbers
and, with an Administration that prides itself on fostering division,
it's more important than ever that we remember
we are NOT alone.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Road trip

According to some family and friends, 
there’s a whole list of reasons why I shouldn’t go:

It’s too far.
It’s too short a visit.
It’s too political a reason.
It’s ‘not safe’ for a woman my age to drive 15 hours - by herself - 
across the country, 
much of it at night 
(inset ‘gasp’ here).
It will be too stressful to have such a tight time frame.
I’ll be exhausted when I get back.
Its too close to the Mission trip – 
when I’ll be driving for 15 hours in exactly the opposite direction.

All these reasons have varying degrees of validity.

However, 
here’s what I know as MY truth.

For months, 
I’ve despaired about the direction of our country, 
the lack of moral leadership 
and the reality that the public face of faith (as portrayed by evangelical ’Christians’) 
has been one of exclusion, fear and silence in the face of evil.

So, when I heard about an event, 
sponsored by Sojourners,
featuring elders from various faith traditions, 
many whom I’ve read and admired for years
 (Jim Wallis, Walter Brueggeman, Bishop Curry etc), 
the desire to be a part of it grew quickly.

More than just wishing I could go, 
I felt compelled to go – 
even though their language is not spiritual language 
I would normally use.  
“Reclaiming Jesus” and a Candlelight Vigil to the White House.

As I read their “Confession of Faith in a Time of Crisis”, 
I kept proclaiming “YES”.

The statement rang deep and true.

I want to stand in solidarity and silence.
I want to bring the light and love of my congregation 
and face the darkness that exits in our Nation’s Capitol.

I already know pilgrimage isn’t easy; 
it isn’t convenient; there’s always a cost.

I will sacrifice sleep, energy, vacation days and precious time with family – 
but there are moments that demand you stand for what you believe; 
moments when you put your money, time and energy where your mouth is.

For me, this is one such moment.

I will be there.

"When you wake up in the morning, called by God to be a self again, 
if you want to know who you are, watch your feet. 
Because where your feet take you, that is who you are.”

Fredrick Buechner

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Tough

You don't have to prove to anyone just how tough you are.

You are still here, and you are still alive despite all of life's
storms and tornados and hurricanes.

You have weathered them all like a grand old oak tree, and
you are still here.

You are still alive.

And if that isn't tough, I don't know what is.

Nikita Gill

If you haven't already discovered Nikita Gill, I certainly recommend her to you.
There's an honesty about how she writes of life, pain and relationships that feels authentic to me.
Even though I'm not in the throes anymore of the angst that can go along with some version of a committed relationship, the memories can still be conjured up
 - and her words ring true.

Expect to see more of her writing here!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Those tremors you feel?


Not earthquakes in Oakland, 
not the earth cleaving and spewing molten lava in Hawaii, 
not Teutonic plates shifting from fracking in Oklahoma… 

nope, this is from millions of us who were raised in dysfunctional families 
shaking our heads, practically in unison, 
in familiarity and disbelief, 
as we watch the unfolding spectacle 
of Meghan Markel’s family acting the fool 
just days before her wedding.

Headlines changing by the hour:
“Will her father walk her down the aisle?”
“Father bows out of wedding. Queen annoyed”
“Father now wants to walk her down the aisle again”.

Many of us are having sympathy pains and flashbacks 
to our own nuptial nightmares.

Our excitement and anticipation in watching the spectacle in England 
now covered in a sheen of cold sweat 
over exactly what kind of spectacle we might be seeing.

We’ve been there;
 with the drama right up until - and in some cases through – 
OUR big day.  

Every family’s pathology comes with no end of pot stirrers; 
folks who have no use for drama not of their own making. 

And, with wicked, hateful step siblings throwing shade 
to an ineffective, largely absent father 
with (metaphorically and physically) a weak heart, 
this very modern American family seems to have it all!

If it helps to know, Meghan,
you’re not alone.

Millions of us know the humiliation of having our family’s pathology 
 splayed out for everyone to see.

We know the embarrassment of pissing off the family 
into which you’re marrying.

Yeah, I get that they’re famous 
but they have plenty of their own pathology. 
They’ve got enough money and multiple houses in which to hide out, 
so their dirty laundry is, at this very moment, 
not flying like freak flags across the garden,
but it's happened before - and no doubt will again.
 
Now is simply your time; 
nothing more, nothing less.

I vividly remember making wry predictions with my fiancee
about which parent would get drunk the fastest
 and embarrass us the most – 
 and desperately hoping it would be one of HIS.
(BTW, it was his!)

If it helps to know, Meghan, we’re rooting for you.

My advice?
Use your dads heart ailment as an excuse and have him sit this one out; 
quietly, in the pews – or better yet, back at home in Mexico.
Don’t give Griselda and Igor or whatever your siblings are called another thought.

There’s a reason why some of us aren’t close to our families of origin.

You DO get to pick who you share a life with, who you love – 
and you CAN chose ‘less toxically’ than the crew you inherited at birth.

In just a few more days, 
“The Firm” will help protect you even more 
from having to deal with the primordial ooze 
from which you ascended.

Hold your tiara up high and keep smiling!
You’ve got this!

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Just to be clear

I try to stay in my bubble.
I focus on beauty,
people and places I love.
 I read words that uplift my spirit and challenge me to grow.
I capture moments with my camera
and in my minds eye. 

I contemplate the world and my life's meaning
while sitting on my deck, 
listening to night sounds.
But the world intrudes;
it creeps in and sinks into my ears;
it worms its way down to my heart.

I’m just here to reaffirm that the current state of affairs in our country is not normal.

A long term enemy of this country interfered in our election process 
and continues to influence those occupying positions of power.

Immigration officers raid hospital rooms and schools, 
tearing children away from their parents, 
inflicting trauma that will reverberate for a lifetime.

Human rights for the LGBTQ community are eroding.

Environmental protections are vanishing; 
the earth is being looted, ecosystems destroyed and polluted, 
possibly beyond repair.

Puerto Rico is still in shambles – 
8 months after being slammed by a massive hurricane – 
and we turn a blind eye,
even as we face another storm season.
People in our country, 
the richest country in the world, 
are without potable, clean water in their own homes.
(ex Flint, MI and many communities in Appalachia)

Hate crimes are on the rise in all areas of the country.

Gun sales and murder rates continue to escalate 
with little response from elected officials; 
officials who have been bought and paid for by the gun lobby; 
officials who value campaign contributions over the lives of their constituents.

Medical care for thousands has been compromised by sabotaging the Affordable Care Act 
and bankruptcies due to medical expenses are once again on the rise after years of decline.

‘Christians’ distort basic tenants of the very Gospel they profess to live by –
refusing to show hospitality to strangers, 
refusing to feed the hungry, 
refusing to give shelter to the homeless, 
refusing to LOVE THY NEIGHBOR. 
‘Christians’ embrace a pathological liar, a serial breaker of marital vows, 
a corrupt businessman who lies, swindles and cheats as easily as he breathes.

Feigned outrage over some off color remarks from a female comedian
while wholeheartedly embracing that same quality in a leader “who tells it like it is” 
is the very definition of hypocrisy.
Sorry, friends, 
when you accept a man who spews hate and proudly displays his ignorance, 
you forfeit any moral high ground.

Facts are no longer ‘facts’; 
they are inconveniences to be twisted, distorted and debated.

Science is suspect.

The rule of law is for all us in flyover country, not those in the White House.

Taking an oath “to solemnly preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States” 
was merely another vow he had no intention of keeping.

A revolving door where “the best people” enter 
and soulless hacks with ruined careers are spit back out months later, 
having failed the loyalty test created in the bottomless ego pit of a narcissistic man-child
is this Administrations M.O.

Everything is contextual, malleable and ever changing
It’s all smoke and mirrors, “nothing to see here” and “look at the shiny new thing”.

It’s beyond comprehension.
It defies all logic.

Make no mistake, 
while this has become our new ‘norm’,
it is not normal –

nor should we ever accept it as such. 
 Just to be clear:
it may look bleak,
because it's not over yet,

but it's not over yet.




Saturday, April 14, 2018

Deteriorating and unstable

It's funny how often there's a theme to a week.
Funny as in ironic and poignant,
not funny as in hilarity, comedy club funny.

Our country has an egoistical, cruel, morally bankrupt 
and self absorbed little man at the helm;
one whose very house of cards is starting to crumble, 
making him feel cornered and ready to strike out 
at everyone and everything he can 
to deflect and focus attention away from his crimes.
And, because of the broken world we live in,
there's no end to the trouble he can find-
or create. 
It's not a good combination.
And it's only going to get worse,
for all of us.

I can only hope there are enough people of good conscience and courage
that when it starts to hit the fan -and it will -
they'll stand up for our future 
and for the best of the ideals upon which this country was founded. 
(Not the institutional racism, patriarchy and systemic inequality -
surely, sweet baby Jesus, we can evolve past all that some day!)

As for the people in the ruling party 
who enabled this ignorant racist,
standing by silently during all his abhorrent behavior
that endangered not only our country but the world,
who have somehow now reconnected their spines  -
to walk away,
not having the courage to deal with the mess they made -
 I hope they burn.

"Deteriorating and unstable" are also words used by my physicians this week
when describing my xray findings.
Weeks of back pain, 
with numbness and tingling down my legs,
got me a series of tests and, 
since I had decided I wasn't accepting any new diagnoses,
I was almost pleased that the results were 'merely' an escalation
of results I got several years ago,
almost.

No surprise, I'm shrinking -
because after decades of being upright, 
the spaces/joints between my vertebrae have hypertrophied. 
(Which as far as I can figure out, makes me like 70% of folks my age.
Mine however have shown a 'marked deterioration'
from just 2 years ago;
nothing like RA to speed up trouble with your joints!
And ever a 'mover and shaker',
my vertebrae are also periodically moving backward 
(posterior subluxation)
pinching nerves, impeding blood flow and causing pain.

More physical therapy,
more opportunities to practice zen and the art of aging gracefully
(which, so far, I'm flunking)
and more rationalizations for justifying getting a cleaning lady!

Deteriorating and unstable ...
the theme of the week.
I don't like it in my body 
 any more than I like it in my country. 
Taking a deep breath 
and getting on with it,
because what other choice do you have?



Sunday, April 8, 2018

Santa Fe wrap up

For those who have asked:
I stayed at The Lodge in Santa Fe
and would definitely stay there again.
At the time I booked it, 
my son didn't have an apartment in Santa Fe
although by the time I got there, he did -
and it was less than 2 miles away from the Inn,
so it was ideally located for us.

They have a shuttle that will take you to all the downtown locations 
and pick you back up for free so, 
if you don't want to worry about parking or driving in a new city, 
it's perfect.

That said,
Santa Fe is a relatively small capital city;
not overwhelming at all.
I never had trouble with parking or driving.

We tried several restaurants in town that were fantastic:
The Pantry
Mucho Gusto
Bumblebees Baja Grill
Dr Field Goods Kitchen
Counter Culture
and, in Taos, 
Antonio's.
(We were eating very late - 
trust me, the Bumblebee is usually busy!)

Still not convinced?

Here are a few final images from the area that might turn the tide...
some of the art pieces are along Canyon Road,
a street filled with galleries and shops.

I will never have a life, a house or the discretionary income 
in which spending $22,000 for a piece of yard art makes sense,
but I can certainly appreciate them will walking around in the sun -
and looking is free.



Let's meet here
Where pastel colored rain revives the ancient magical land
Where solitude, art and beautiful bones reveal Natures plan
Where sunsets catch cliffs, clouds and human Souls on fire
Where quiet sacred nights softly unveil Heaven's deep desire.

Let's meet here
Where creative spirits venture to a thin place in the Faraway
Where falling tears create music helping the heart find its way
Where the world we know dissolves,
a higher vision realized
where God's Love and Grace, Joy Hope and Peace abide.

Let's meet here ... to play in this sun kissed land.
Let's meet here ... and pray together once again.
Peace

(from the Peace Garden at Ghost Ranch)
Goodbye, for now, Santa Fe.

I'll be back.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Bandelier National Monument

Certainly don't want to wrap up my visit in Santa Fe 
without suggesting that you add a few more places
 to your list of "must see's"!

One in particular that puts human beings in their proper perspective ...
the cliff dwellings at Bandelier;

about an hour outside of Santa Fe,
right next door to Los Alamos.
There's the chance to walk/climb up to natural 'caves' in the hillside
(look for the line of people about halfway in the picture below)
where a community/tribe of approx 4,000 people lived centuries ago.
Community buildings were on the 'ground' level

You can see the outline of one of the buildings still on the ground.
Clearly, fear of heights was not in the DNA  of this tribe!
 What fun Art Boy and I had in speculating about the petroglyphs
over the 'doorways' of the caves.
A fascinating look into ages past -
even if we can't comprehend the meaning.
Yup, add that to your list as well!