Thursday, December 31, 2009

Christianity for the Rest of Us review

I originally blogged this in growing green of Ordinary Time...

transformation and tradition

Christianity for the Rest of Us: How the Neighborhood Church Is Transforming the Faith, by Diana Butler Bass.

Christianity for the Rest of UsThis subject is close to my heart and central to the needs of most of us in the protestant mainline. The study included ten core study congregations plus forty correlated validation churches spread across the continental United States, all of them what used to be generically referred to as mainline protestant, though these days that old once predictably socially, theologically and politically mainline has become sideline or spurline. The project combined participant observation, personal reflections from the book's author, from pastoral and lay church leaders and from rank and file members along with relatively hard data collection and crunching. Study churches "...were solid, healthy churches that exhibited Christian authenticity, expressed a coherent faith, and offered members ways of living with passion and purpose. They exuded a renewed sense of mission and identity, often having emerged from dire circumstances...they were their own best selves—creative and traditional, risktaking and grounded, confidence and humble, open and orthodox..." explains the introduction to the book. The Rest of Us means protestant - but definitely could include many Roman Catholics, too - Christians who don't affiliate or consider themselves fundamentalist or evangelical in the recently popular sense of "evangelical." The book jacket features a black and white sketch of a high-steepled, white wood frame church that's probably not the big downtown First or Central Church, but the drawing is similar to enough small town, suburban and small city meetinghouses that a lot of readers probably can identify.

Apparently there truly are such places as hospitable, creative and faithful churches where a person truly can belong, can grow, change and be transformed in every aspect of being in Jesus Christ!

The Galatian Church was the first of what we'd call an distinctively ethnic congregation, one gathered on the basis of genetic and cultural inheritance. As the author points out, in the U.S.A. the kind of village where everyone knew everyone and local church or denomination constituted on a basis of ethnic or cultural identity (think Scandinavian or German Lutherans, Scots Presbyterians, Italian, Irish or Polish Catholics who routinely intermixed and frequently confused symbols of culture and Christianity) went away just as nation and church have become ethnically, linguistically, racially and culturally diverse beyond anyone's anticipation, with many of us claiming more than one of each category.

I love the idea of people and groups being politically neither Blue nor Red but Purple, along with implications of early Christians adopting the royal color purple for radical, subversive usage and intent in seeking to follow The Way. In Acts 16:13-15 we hear about on the sabbath, expecting to "find a place of prayer" at the river, they also found a place for baptism, where people formally could separate from former allegiances and lords, and officially be baptized into the reign of heaven on earth under the Lordship of the crucified and risen Jesus Christ—a Lord at once both royal and subversive! Lydia, the first European Christian was a woman, and one who "dealt in" clothing for kings but dared publicly sign onto the subversive lifestyle of the followers of Jesus Christ. In that era of the original emerging church, Christianity provided a radically alternative perspective: politically to the point of sedition and socially to the extent of welcoming and actually including all comers. Lydia, newly-baptized and a merchant who routinely interacted with high and mighty royalty, knew God called her to hospitality and community. Let us consider what God is calling us to, wherever our social and cultural locations—assumptions, preferences and traditions?!

my amazon review: transformation and tradition

water buffalo theology review

water buffalo theology coverChristianity in this country won't always be (well, it isn't now!) First Church on the corner of Main and Elm, housed in an iconic white colonial or colonial reproduction building, pews lined up facing the chancel that features a communion table topped with brass candlesticks donated by Annie and Henry's grandparents, Tiffany-type stained glass, Strawberry Shortcake Socials and picnics on a grassy lawn…

Water Buffalo Theology is liberation theology, ecological theology, theology of the cross and an offering in the Christian-Buddhist dialogue. By definition Christianity is incarnational, so cautioning every one of us in our attempts to reach others author Kosuke Koyama asks, "How can anyone be a teacher of religion unless he is at home with the language of the people?" and in the course of the book contrasts and compares many aspects of Buddhism and Christianity. Koyama challenges us to tough anthropological cross-cultural work of living with and living as the other in order to become more aware of ourselves, during the journey (hopefully) discerning essential aspects of the way of Jesus we're offering to others alongside possibilities of adapting the host culture's own practices. As an aside, to me it's interesting how the practice of many contemporary Christians is marked by passionate attachment along with attempts to live with greater perspective and more detachment.

Kosuke Koyama, who died during 2009, was born in Tokyo of Christian parents; the years he taught at a seminary in Thailand heavily influenced this book, thus "water buffalo" and careful considerations of Buddhism and Buddhists. Koyama says God's "first and fundamental gift" to us is "the constant awareness that we are under the judgment of the Word of God."

Detailing limitations of a "theology of the neglect of history" he mentions "an unmysterious God" and quotes Martin Luther's "God without strange work is God without proper work!" In fact, Koyama reveals himself as a huge fan of Dr. Luther... not surprisingly, my internet research revealed on Wikipedia that Koyama wrote his PhD dissertation for Princeton seminary on interpretation of the Psalms of Martin Luther. Introducing the chapter on page 68, he asks, "What is the matter with this God?" In other words, this God who becomes perturbed to the point of wrath is not like our idea of a perfect human; this God is no human invention!

Koyama says Thai Christian awareness of God must be "...deepened and substantiated by [their] sensing the presence of God incarnate in Christ," to the God Whose wrath has "historical and covenantal reasons," reasons of "I-Thou!" Further, in describing Buddhism's influence on the non-historical mindset of many Thai Christians, he describes it as moving away from karmic chains and away from causality: away from attachment! Clearly the God of the Bible confronts us with choices - sometimes choices between life and death, meaning we act in the midst of both existential and emotional attachment to persons and situations. Finally, and strikingly, the not-historical God is a God continuous with humanity: there's no disruption between finite and infinite.

In the half-dozen years since I first read Water Buffalo theology it has been an extremely useful resource for teaching and interpretation that bears rereading and easily carries the weight and freight of a 5-star recommendation.

my amazon review: local yet global

Nim's Island

risk and redemption

Nim's Island—with a tagline for everyone, "Be the hero of your own story!"

nim's island posterYou can read about principals and producers on the website and check out the narrative on Wikipedia and other locations, so I'll highlight Selkie the sea lion, whose name suggests mythic Celtic and Scandinavian shape-shifting seals, the pelican named Galileo for free-flying conveniently natural GPS wherever you are (even on a remote island in the South Pacific whose inhabitants aspire to not being found by anyone ever), and Freddie the bearded dragon.

Nim's Island bookWendy Orr wrote the book and she's on blogspot with at least six blogs! Here's her Nim's Island blog.

Especially as an artist and dweller in a coastal desert I love the tertiary color palette of the film – but what else would you find in an island setting? – along with relatively sparse though essential special effects. Patrick Doyle's wistfully fresh music fits perfectly. Nim's Island CDConcerning becoming the hero of our own stories, in Nim's Island literally Berkeley-bound by agoraphobia Alexandra Rover (think about the implications of possessing a name like "Rover"), Jack Rusoe the dad, and Nim his daughter all deal rather predictably with their own stuff as circumstances, the needs of others and more than a hint of irresistible grace push them into new dimensions. All three principal characters are tightly caught in their own self-defined world (since the dad in the story was wearing a wedding ring, I assume he'd been widowed) and for sure every one of us is most of the time, but how do those liminal, transitional moments marked by vestiges of what was and hints of not-yets and months full of fear, promise and future happen if by grace someone or something other than ourselves doesn't push us out of where we are?

Playing along with the closing credits is U2's
Beautiful Day

The heart is a bloom
Shoots up through the stony ground
There's no room
No space to rent in this town

You're out of luck
And the reason that you had to care
The traffic is stuck
And you're not moving anywhere

You thought you'd found a friend
To take you out of this place
Someone you could lend a hand
In return for grace

It's a beautiful day
Sky falls, you feel like
It's a beautiful day
Don't let it get away...

You love this town
Even if that doesn't ring true
You've been all over
And it's been all over you...

Touch me
Take me to that other place
Teach me
I know I'm not a hopeless case...

my amazon review: risk and redemption

Saturday, December 19, 2009



The Spirit and the Church cry out, "Come, Lord Jesus!"

All those who await his appearance pray, "Come, Lord Jesus!"

The whole creation pleads, "Come, Lord Jesus!"

Thursday, December 17, 2009

"thank you"...

here's the note I wrote to fans, friends and guest artists of suntreeriver design on Facebook...

Thank you, thank you, thank you to fans, friends and guest artists of suntreeriver design!

Again we celebrate a season of cultural, religious and family festivities; in the northern hemisphere shorter, darker days and longer, colder nights bring a particularly marked opportunity to recognize the gift of light without which life cannot prevail. At this time of year the world looks to the hope of a new star on the horizon bringing a vision of justice for all creation.

suntree logoBeginning with light as the first act of creation, a river of life and tree of life in a fresh, untamed garden and ending with the river of life and tree of life in a city where the sun never sets, sun and tree and river are persistent images throughout the Hebrew and Christian scriptures. The witness of scripture shows us how to live in community and to live in harmony with and as part of the natural creation. Today many of us live in places neither quite urban or exactly rural, where garden and city intermix and converge, but wherever we are, as artists, designers, photographers, illustrators and people who simply enjoy being surrounded by beauty, we can help make the world kinder, more lovely and less threatening.

As we move the calendar year 2010, let's do everything possible to live as stewards of the planet and of the light as our lives help restore, nourish, heal and sustain. May we fill our surroundings with beauty and grace and make this world safe for innocence, vulnerability and wildness so all creation will find a safe home on this planet that is the dwelling-place of the divine, the habitation of the Spirit of Life.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

lessons and carols 2009...

Sunday, 06 December in Founder's Chapel at nearby University of San Diego; again this year I'll describe Lessons & Carols at USD as "an exceptionally worthy piece of preparation for God's birth in our very midst, 'fulfillment beyond all human reckoning,' as one of the worship leaders described it," in my words from 2008. Angelo Musicante by Melozzo da Forl Here's Advent 1 2008 followed by Advent 2, Lessons and Carols @ USD 2008. The lute-playing "Angelo Musicante" by Melozzo da Forl was on the program cover again this year.

Our ecumenical Faith, Order and Witness Committee used to meet at USD quite regularly until it became impossible to schedule a room; the near-elegance and broad, gracious layout of the USD campus always makes me wonder. It's an expensive, church-related school with an overarching emphasis on justice, but like almost all the students I've seen walking around campus and in the dining hall, most of the students in today's program were atypical for San Diego, and as a group not at all characteristic of the tremendous ethnic, racial, cultural and economic diversity that is the San Diego I interact with every day and the San Diego of the condo complex I currently call home.

For the processional we sang "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel." Be with us, God-with-us, ransom your people, pay the price to free them, to liberate all of us from captivity to everything that holds humans and societies cultures in chains.

Comfort ye, my people! Every valley shall be exalted; the mountains and hills made low-- from the exilic Isaiah 40:1-11 and G. F. Handel. Jesus of Nazareth lived The Way that raises deep caverns and valleys, levels mountains and hills, straightens treacherous roads (repairs those potholes, too); that way is life on the edges of conventional society, words and action that subvert conventional political and religious pretensions to power. Doing justly and loving rightly includes advocacy for equity for everyone everywhere, reversing superfluous wealth and unseating corrupt government. The way of the baptized includes speaking truth to power and living as servants to all.

Erin Lovette-Colyer, Director of The Women's Center at USD was homilist. She suggested we put Mary's story into our own story into Mary's story into our own... and told us she'd talked with three "wise women" in her life as part of her preparation to preach at the worship event. Her own mother, diagnosed with terminal cancer; her recently widowed aunt and her brother's wife, her sister-in-law soon to deliver her first child. Erin told us no doubt Gabriel was well prepared to engage Mary in conversation. What teenager wouldn't want to and need to discuss the momentous future she was being asked to enter? I'd never thought of that, but of course Mary had to talk about it, but the main thing is Mary said "Yes."

Erin described so many of us as afraid to die, afraid to live and afraid to give birth and during this Advent 2009 I still find myself in the same almost forever of being afraid to die (not only to past disappointments and human expectations, but lots more, too), afraid to continue living with lack of basic community, with isolation and loneliness and still afraid of giving birth to a new life for myself and the strangers around me. What if, what if, what if not? Seems as if I still think somehow I can do it on my own, which definitely has not worked at all and after all, in baptism I'm already dead, I've already been raised from death to new life. At the end of her talk Erin Lovette-Colyer asked if we would be doing Advent with an attitude of hope rather than anxiety and "being honest with myself" my anxiety level still is far too high for a modicum of comfort, yet I'm doing Advent with hope, too.

Isaiah 11:1-10 was one of the readings ...1A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. 4abut with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth...9bfor the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.

Before the recessional the choir sang last year's recessional song, "The Virgin Mary Had a Baby Boy," an arrangement of a spiritual from the West Indies, proclaiming Mary's Baby Body "came from the glorious kingdom."

Jesus came from the glorious kingdom to make this earth a glorious kingdom, as full of the presence of God "as the waters cover the sea." In the power of the cross and the power of the Spirit, we live as God-with-us, God among us. The feast and the season of Epiphany is not all that far away, so in the words of one of my very young students quite a while ago, to live as the Body of Christ means "that we can be city lights!"

Observing Advent, hoping and longing for the Divine Presence in our midst ultimately is about desiring and longing for the death of death itself, hankering after Easter. Afraid to die? But God can only resurrect the dead! And I'm dead, already--baptized! How do we practice easter in the midst of tombstones? How do we live as if among the artifacts of death? Remember, remember... the straight path, the smooth, level road is the way of the cross, the axis mundi connecting heaven and earth as we live incarnation, resurrection and pentecost together. Celebrate eucharist: taken, blessed, broken and given...

Friday, December 04, 2009

do nothing friday 5

do nothing friday 5 on the revgals

Sally had an interesting idea:
I am reading a wonderful little book for Advent it's title: "Do nothing Christmas is Coming!"

So this weeks Friday Five is simple.

List Five things you won't be doing to prepare for Christmas.

And while you are doing nothing play the bonus, put your feet up and listen to your favourite Advent Carol, and post it or a link to it...

1. I won't be anticipating snow or expecting to shovel snow

but I will be full of gratitude for gifts of coastal desert and the hot desert

2. I won't be preparing to preach a Christmas sermon or play nativity liturgy

but I will be doing some designing

3. I won't be basking in the sun of a tropical beach paradise

but I will be giving thanks for sufficient food and shelter

4. I won't be enjoying that sense of "finally, at last, I'm home" I keep imagining is around the next corner I turn, the next community where I try to find ways to participate

but I will be doing and simply being whatever and however I can to fulfill God's call to me to be the welcoming embrace others seek and others need, daily and hourly to live as an attitude and a place of homecoming for others

5. I won't be celebrating the resurgence and revitalization of the ministry I prepared to do

but I will be remembering not a single door has been permanently closed and singing again the Magnificat, God's assurance of great reversals, the rich and irrevocable promise—along with proleptic evidence—of the inbreaking reign of heaven here on earth. I'll even rejoice in my too-many scars, evidence that in spite of it all, life has prevailed, after all! And during Advent and for Thanksgiving Eve I've been organist for evening prayer and love exposing the strident, sometimes-dissonant harmonies and angular vocal line of the Lutheran Book of Worship setting of vespers.

I've chosen a song that covers the entire liturgical year:
Mary, Did You Know?

by Mark Lowry and Buddy Greene

Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy would one day walk on water?
Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy would save our sons and daughters?
Did you know
that your Baby Boy has come to make you new?
This Child that you delivered will soon deliver you.

Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy will calm the storm with His hand?
Did you know
that your Baby Boy has walked where angels trod?
When you kiss your little Baby you kissed the face of God?

Mary did you know...

The blind will see.
The deaf will hear.
The dead will live again.
The lame will leap.
The dumb will speak
The praises of The Lamb.

Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy would one day rule the nations?
Did you know
that your Baby Boy is heaven's perfect Lamb?
The sleeping Child you're holding is the Great I Am.

Monday, November 30, 2009

advent retreat 3

advent retreat 2009 session 3 on RevGalBlogPals

Juniper hosts this retreat segment, and begins with Mary/Miriam's Magnificat we sing every day at Evening Prayer/ Vespers. I love the Mary icon, and will give credit when I find out the artist's name [here's his website: Scott Ward]. And I love The Message version of the bible!

Luke 1:46-55, from The Message
And Mary said,
magnificat mary icon by Scott WardI'm bursting with God-news;
I'm dancing the song of my Savior God.
God took one good look at me, and look what happened—
I'm the most fortunate woman on earth!

What God has done for me will never be forgotten,
the God whose very name is holy, set apart from all others.
God's mercy flows in wave after wave
With a bare arm God showed strength,
scattered the bluffing braggarts.
God knocked tyrants off their high horses,
pulled victims out of the mud.

The starving poor sat down to a banquet;
on those who are in awe before this God.
the callous rich were left out in the cold.
God embraced chosen child, Israel;
God remembered and piled on the mercies, piled them high.
It's exactly what God promised,
beginning with Abraham and right up to now.

The Message (MSG), alt. Copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson

Juniper reflects:
I remember the first time I saw a musical. I was maybe 11 or 12, and I went to see the local high school's production of Sound of Music. Everything about it transported me, but the most astonishing part to me (a novice to musicals) was the way in which the characters would, in the middle of mundane speech, be so transported by love or wonder or joy that they just had to burst into song. It was like magic.… In a way, the interaction between Mary and Elizabeth reminds me of some first-century-Palestine Broadway musical. The news Mary has to share is so stupendous, so astonishing, so joyful, that she cant even talk about it, she just has to sing...
She suggests questions to ponder:

1. What does your religious tradition have to say about Mary, if anything? How is Mary's journey important to you on your personal spiritual path?

Coming out of the major theological traditions of the Reformation, I need to remember that Martin Luther had a great devotion to Mary, though I still haven't quite learned how to have an attitude of devotion and reverence toward a person or place without making it more central in my life than Jesus Christ. I've been serving on the local Ecumenical Council's Faith, Order & Witness committee, and moderated one of our discussions of the Anglican-Roman Catholic "agreed statement" Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ, though when I checked my blog archives I realized that was one I didn't blog. I think Mary is awesome… and as a model for us to follow Mary said, "Yes! I will, yes!" Yet I retain a lot of confusion. A few summers ago one of the times I taught in a bilingual Spanish-English Vacation Bible School, I mentioned to the congregation's senior pastor how horrendous the printed curriculum was. Not only marginally literate; the theology was anything but reformationish, starting with instructions to the teacher to "divide the class into saved and unsaved." As I said to senior pastor, "We don't do that in this kind of church," and he replied, "the problem is, there's so little protestant bilingual material," so I assumed he was trying to avoid high-level Mariology. For the next two years we used VBS material from Concordia's Spanish-language division. Given that it came from the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod it was more conservative than ideally I'd have preferred, but still retained a strong emphasis on God's initiative, election and grace. Short answer? I think Mary is awesome but don't quite know where to place her in my own life, but she supremely and superbly shows us how to respond to God's initiative, election and grace…

2. When we hear it, we know how singing is different from talking - how much more deeply emotions are expressed, how the vocal range rises and falls, how freely and effortlessly the notes seem to fall from a good singer. Is it possible to capture that same feeling from reading words on a page? If not, how else might we experience the Magnificat?

Sometimes speech is not adequate. Simply not at all. Just think of how pale "And His Name shall be called, "Wonderful! Counselor! The Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace," invariably and inevitably comes across on the printed page or reading aloud once you've heard "For Unto us a Child is Born" from Handel's Messiah! I believe J.S. Bach's Magnificat definitely does near-justice to Mary's words and I've been enjoying singing – and during Advent, playing – Dale Wood's setting of the Magnificat from Evening Prayer in the Lutheran Book of Worship.

3. Mary does not name her Child, or even reveal her pregnancy in the Song. And yet, the hope of Christ's presence is strongly felt in the themes of justice and mercy expressed. What hopes do you have for the coming of the Christ child in this season?

Until now It hadn't occurred to me that Mary doesn't give her baby a name in this song—thanks, Juniper! What hope do I hold for myself and for the world around me? More than anything to find friends and a community that will burst into excited song or a near-equivalent when they see me. People who will be excited when I offer to do something rather than recoiling in horror or saying, "we're not going to do that any more" or "someone else is doing that." In all these years I've never srsly doubted my abilities, but I've frequently questioned my humanity.

I'll conclude this retreat session with Juniper's simply beautiful prayer:

God of all life, fill me so with your good news that I am fairly bursting with it. Help me to sing your song using the words and the tune that you have created just for me. Alleluia!

advent retreat 2

Rev Gal Blog Pals advent retreat 2

Hosting this retreat session, Songbird begins by quoting Luke 3:7-18, including John the Baptist's charge to the gathered crowd to practice distributive justice and not to hanker after exhorbitant wages, bringing to mind the well-popularized and popularly decried salaries and bonuses of the investment house and bank principals we've been hearing about during the past year. Luke 3:16, John answered all of them by saying, "I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire." and Luke 3:18 ...he proclaimed the good news to the people.

good news? For Paul, the gospel, the good news is death and resurrection. The death to self, to greed, to excess, the new birth into a servant community that cares not only for the needs in its midst but offers itself to a broken world. And we are baptized into the Good News; our first death and second birth at the font of life also is a baptism, a total immersion into the cleansing, anointing, refining Spirit of Pentecost. Baptism brings us God's word and promise, we no longer need to trust ourselves. Yes, the Spirit burns the chaff with fire that doesn't quit yet purifies and refines the chosen, royal, people of God's own choice.

As Songbird points out, "He's powerful, John. People wonder if he isn't the Messiah himself. When we look around the world today we see plenty of messianic figures, people who proclaim one truth or another. He's preaching the opposite of today's popular prosperity gospel, more like the common sense thinking of our grandparents' generation. Make do with what you have; do a hard day's work and earn what you're paid; keep an eye out for those in need and help where you can." I love Songbird's observation that, "It seems strange that his rules involve money and wages when he lives in the desert and not in the community of commerce."

For reflection Songbird suggests:
John speaks of wheat and chaff being sorted, and we tend to think of this as an outer process, a division of faithful people from the rest of the world. But perhaps we can apply this to the inner life. As we begin this Advent, can you identify the wheat and the chaff in your life? Are you ready to leave the chaff behind?
I like this a lot; I'm more and more aware that my denials of my own pain and cascading disappointments are huge these days and I cannot change or trust God to change what I refuse to acknowledge. Oh, yes, there often are insidious improvement in attitudes and situations we weren't aware of, but this is big stuff. Am I ready to leave the chaff behind? Jesus asked the guy by the Bethsaida pool, "Do you want to be healed?" And the guy replied, "Sir! there is no one to pick me up and put me in the pool after the angel stirs the waters." Yes, with my entire being I want and need to be healed but cannot do life on my own by myself. There has been no one to pick me up and put me in the pool... these days I barely can stand, let alone walk.

from Songbird, A Prayer

Advent God, in this season of anticipation, prepare our hearts and minds to receive the truth about our world and our lives. Help us to sort ourselves out with the help of your Holy Spirit. We pray in the name of the One who is Coming. Amen.

advent retreat 1

Rev Gal Blog Pals virtual advent retreat 1

Mompriest offers a beautiful reflection on the year Advent 1C lectionary readings:
Entering the Advent journey is an invitation to travel, intentionally, into the wilderness – the dark night of the soul. One hopes that the Church guides this journey offering opportunities to pray, ponder, stirred up, conflicted. John, the desert prophet, proclaims the burning chaff, the background to our Christmas shopping. Advent sings of incongruous images - new birth and end of life, the Alpha and the Omega, of oppression and freedom, of despair and ultimately of hope. The path is uneven and twisted, spiraling in to the depths of our being, certain we are lost. And then, quietly, the Spirit of God calls to us, “Awake, arise, my love, my dear one.” The early morning desert sun illuminates the way - through the valley to Jordan’s bank - our God is near. Awake and hearken, let each heart prepare a place for the Word to break in, a child to come anew, whispering peace into you and me. Come, our long expected One, come.
Mompriest then suggests some questions to ponder:

1. John Newton, the author of Amazing Grace, describes our spiritual journey as a process of moving from desire for God, to conflict with God, to contemplation and peace with God. Many consider this process to be a spiral not linear. Based on these three "states" where are you in your faith journey?

Shorthand, nutshell descriptions can hint at reality but don't do well enough articulating the lived experience. For sure the spiritual is among the dimensions of our journey through life, but at the same time The Way of Jesus is earthbound, grounded and provocatively political and economic. Jesus calls us to engage the powers that be and at the same time the power of the HS enables us to do whatever possible to help create a world and a society where necessary goods and services are distributed equitably and where each individual gets opportunities to participate to an extent reasonably consonant with their abilities and desires.

In terms of my own level of trusting God along the often rock-strewn road, the labyrinth is an almost perfect model of how we find ourselves apparently closer to the goal of the center and a few step later closer to the edge. Where am I in my own faith journey? Interpreting "faith journey" as level of trust in the Giver and Sustainer of Life rather than my own level of merely human accomplishment, like many people, I'm far more trusting yet still imagining I can do it by myself. I remain at war with myself and with the Church and cannot be at peace until I again find a community of embrace that welcomes me, my gifts and experience and offers me reasonably full participation.

2. Does the mystery of Advent invite you into deeper reflection on your relationship with God?

...the mystery of Advent in some ways the "how to" is mysterious as we live simultaneously in darkness and light, amidst the reign of Christ and in the not-yet of still anticipating the Divine birth in our midst [everyone of the "both-ands" Mompriest lined out in her intro]. Every individual and each community has experienced broken dreams, irrevocably unfilled promises yet especially in the sacraments we keep on remembering, reenacting and reclaiming the eternal reality and the very present "NOW!" of our deliverance from death into freedom.

3., 4. Do you have a meditation of your own you'd like to share with us today ... or Advent resources?

I haven't written anything special but yesterday I was so very heartened at the live realization this is Luke's lectionary year again... I already mentioned shorthands and nutshells, and I love his emphasis on women, the marginalized and the Spirit! Although in the Day of Pentecost pericope in Acts Luke brings us maybe the most memorable account of the coming of the Spirit of Life, throughout Luke's gospel the HS always is present in a highly tangible manner.

day 30, 30 nov nablopomo

30 day facebook status cloudI'll finish up this month of daily blogs with a month-long facebook status cloud and I almost cannot believe I did the whole entire thing—in fact I blogged a few times more than the requisite 30 in 30 days!

comments about the cloud

I love that both "friends" and "friend" show up in this medium-size cloud for the month of November. My designer and facebook design page name suntreeriver November badge by Tracey Delaneyagain is prominent, along with fans, design and world, all central to my life and vision. Also, the cloud includes my attempts to help Mi Chele rent the condo next door and my decision to participate some in the virtual Walk For The Cure for cancer.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

advent 1: blog month day 29

advent 1 small

Advent 1

Jeremiah 33:14-16

14"The days are surely coming," says the Lord, "when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 15In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David; November badge by Tracey Delaneyand he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 16In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is the name by which it will be called: 'The Lord is our righteousness.'"

Saturday, November 28, 2009

day 28: Knowing You, Jesus

November badge by Tracey Delaneyby Graham Kendrick

All I once held dear, built my life upon,
All this world reveres and wars to own;
All I once thought gain I have counted loss,
Spent and worthless now compared to this.

Knowing You, Jesus, knowing You
There is no greater thing.
You're my all, You're the best,
You're my joy, my righteousness,
And I love You Lord.

Now my heart's desire is to know You more,
To be found in You and know as Yours,
To possess by faith what I could not earn
All surpassing gift of righteousness


Oh to know the power of Your risen life,
And to know You in Your sufferings;
To become like You in Your death, my Lord,
So with You to live and never die.


© 1993 Make Way Music

Friday, November 27, 2009

27 nov nablopomo day 27

1 week facebook status cloud

day 27 of 30: 1-week facebook status cloud...

thought I'd use a monospaced font to contrast with the typographic variety in my cloud...

What's been going on? The past seven days of (always well-guarded) facebook status topics have included design, images, suntreeriver, fans and friends. "infrastructure" related to Afghanistan, but given my background in urban affairs it could have referred to local streets and roads. With words like central, discount, apartment, rent, move-in and 1200, November badge by Tracey Delaneyonce again the condo next door was the main topic as again I was trying to help FB friend, real-life friend and former next-door neighbor Mi Chele, now living north of here a piece, rent her vacancy, and a couple days ago new neighbors moved in! Even better, this afternoon Mi Chele herself stopped by for a short chat and a round of hugs.

Three more and I'll have finished this November's round for nablopomo!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Z: thanksgiving day, USA

Tommy Turkey 21 Nov 2002
Letter 26, last in the English alphabet


especially the San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park.


The City of God, the place of God's promised eternal Presence, not simply or solely a single place but wherever the people of God gather. A well-tended garden naturally grows into a city!

Zion National Park

In Southern Utah... it may be my favorite, but then again, all the national and state parks I've visited are wondrous!


to indicate a 3rd dimension

November badge by Tracey Delaney

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

giving thanks with letter "X"

November badge by Tracey Delaneyonly two this time...


The Greek letter chi that we use to indicate "Christ," the crucified Man of Sorrows and risen King of Glory, the One Whose reign we celebrated last Sunday.


it's useful to be able to indicate the exact location of the horizontal coordinate in applications like Adobe InDesign.

poetry party 41

invitation to poetry icon
suntreeriver design

Christine has announced Abbey of the Arts poetry party 41 and book giveaway so I'm participating and she tells us the books from the giveaway all have been given away, yay!
All month long I've been blogging daily thanks for National Blog Month, and I'm delighted to offer a few more reasons for thanksgiving.
I am excited about my Facebook page, suntreeriver design and all my fabulous fans. Since suntreeriver design debuted on Facebook just over six months ago, I've featured galleries of my own design along with ten guest artists so far; two more guests are scheduled for the near future.

Last Sunday we celebrated the reign of the crucified Man of Sorrows and risen King of Glory, and my heart holds immense gratitude for a God Who chose to come to earth in flesh that fails, bones that break, dreams that shatter and plans that implode and that God continues choosing far less than ideal circumstances as the ongoing locale of continuing Self-revelation

A Facebook friend quoted from Shane Claiborne in Jesus for President: Politics for Ordinary Radicals "Christianity is at its best when it is peculiar, marginalized, suffering, and it is at its worst when it is popular, credible, triumphal, and powerful...." Despite my own tremendous ambivalence and pain, in many ways I yet am thankful for all these years of loneliness, marginalization and far less than full participation in church and world. After all, I'm a theologian so I do paradox and ambiguity very very well.

As we move into Advent's call to repentance and hope and then to the Nativity, the birth of the Baby Boy in Bethlehem, how can I not be everlastingly grateful for the Savior "Of Jesse's lineage coming ...amid the cold of winter when half-spent was the night" and for the Good News Jesus still brings, a gospel that fully engages and that calls us to stewardship of all creation.


November badge by Tracey Delaneyletter 25, next to last in the English alphabet


From pale to rich through ultra-saturated, my favorite color of all time, though I'm very particular about my yellows and generally speaking, plain ole spectrum yellow just will not do.


in some cases an essential way of marking location; in others, a helpful way to get things looking right


not no, not maybe, not possibly or perhaps, but an unequivocal affirmative.

Monday, November 23, 2009

thanksgivings - letter W

November badge by Tracey Delaneylast 4 days and letters of the alphabet makes this the final home stretch


WE love WildEarth!'s in our nature.


the climate and ambient environment we live in that sometimes changes and does interesting things and at times remains the same as before


the sphere on which we live; the earth we walk upon; the floor of the sky; the stage of nature and of God's covenant with creation and God's transformative, gracious actions in history.


we read them, write with them, speak them, interpret them, change them, communicate with them and Where Would We be Without Words?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

giving thanks: V

November badge by Tracey Delaneyvariety:

of weather, geography, flavor, temperature, culture, texture, size, color, shape, style and almost everything else.

[Antonio] Vivaldi

I Quattro Stagioni, a.k.a. "The Four Seasons" and especially the famous Violin Concerto in a minor, Opus 3, No, 6 (RV356). J.S. Bach made two transcriptions for organ of two Vivaldi concerti, and I love those, too, and esp love playing them. One of my Haarlem organ teachers observed, "With these arrangements you're playing two very great composers."

Saturday, November 21, 2009

alphabet letter U thanks

November badge by Tracey Delaneyletter "U"!

Right now I can't think of anything for today's letter. This list isn't necessarily exclusively about major thanksgivings such as cats, the gospel, and the desert; some include what I called "spices, energizers, cools" a couple of Novembers ago. Stuff that's fun or funky, that adds flavor to any day and that energizes into a new perspective or simply feeling a little better and more optimistic all are reasons for giving thanks. However, despite not having something related to letter U today, since the English alphabet contains 26 letters and the month of November 30 days, there will be four leftover days at the end of the month and on those days I intend to fill in some so far forgotten and neglected thanksgivings.

Friday, November 20, 2009

T-hanksgivings for travel, tiramisu and time

November badge by Tracey Delaneytravel

Whether a walk around the block, a ride across town or a flight to another country, a way of refreshing your viewpoint and enlarging your horizon. I want to and need to do a lot more, locally and globally.


There are lots of other especially fabulous desserts, but this one starts with a "t".


One of the essential dimensions by grace we live in.

PS original font color was "siena" before I defaulted most blog text to basic black #000000.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

S thanks

as I'm moving into the home stretch, here's some backtracking about alphabetical thanks-giving for november

November badge by Tracey DelaneyJan at Yearning for God inspired me to blog alphabetical thanks and Mindy, who blogs at Bits and Odd Pieces of Mindy's Kingdom inspired me to try a daily blog for this month of November, so I'm combining them. And how cool is it that for national blog posting month "The theme for November is there is no theme for November?!"

"Thank You" to Tracey Delaney from Pretty Little Things – "life, art & everything else" for the blog month badge.

Sabi Sands

where the WildEarth leopards we ♥ love ♥ so live


a word of life for all the world


paradoxical, mysterious and concrete Divine Self-revelation and Self-giving


a fresh start for a new day, especially wonderful with a multicolored sky


who can resist splashes of light, hints of light and all the ways a little sun or a lot of it transforms the world


sun down, whether marking the end of a tumultuous, disappointing or otherwise not great day or a satisfying sigh for a productive time. sunsets are especially fabulous in the desert southwest and over the beach!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

giving R-thanks

November badge by Tracey DelaneyRainbows!

In scripture, a well-known sign of an even better-known covenant between heaven and earth, rainbows also are a sign of inclusiveness, welcome and reconciliation.


the epistle to. The apostle Paul's magnum opus, his systematic theology, some relatively tough-to-read and difficult-to-interpret Greek. It heavily inspired the reformer Martin Luther; Anders Nygren calls Romans the "purist gospel." For Paul, the gospel is death and resurrection.

Before I updated and defaulted almost all blog text to black, this original post was multi-colours.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


quilts and

golds and purples quiltI love new and vintage and almost any miscellaneous textiles; as a very little kid I thought I'd become a textile designer. The gloriously flowered comforter that's probably from mid-1970 to sometime 1980 was an eBay find.

more quilts

This smallish patchwork quilt is from a thrift store, was in excellent condition and probably isn't very old.

patchwork quilt

November badge by Tracey Delaney

Monday, November 16, 2009


November badge by Tracey DelaneyParadise!

what the local weather people often call this part of the world


all sizes, colors, shapes and textures. Pumpkin Pie and Pumpkin Bread are especially wonderful!


prayerful, passionate and practical.


What I sometimes have too much of and occasionally too little of, but a great possibility that helps give life meaning.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Vision of the Anointed, ch. 1

Originally I typed my notes from the online discussion of chapter 1 of The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy by Thomas Sowell on Saturday, August 29, 2003 and now I'm finally blogging mainly what interested and intrigued me as I read the sample pages online. If I remember correctly we didn't get beyond chapter 1, though the book arrived from Amazon so I might read more later. At UMassBoston we read the author's Race and Economics and I remember it was close to spellbinding, so the possibility of reading and talking about this book interested me.
Chapter 1, "Flattering Unction"

vision of the anointed"The vision prevailing among the intellectual and political elite of our time." "It is a prevailing vision… [offering] a special state of grace for those who believe in it." "…those who disagree are seen as being not only in error, but in sin." "People are never more sincere than when they assume their own moral superiority."

Vision, anointed, state of grace and sin all are biblical and theological buzzwords!

Early on our discussion moderator asked what the terms "vision" and "anointed" meant to us and why; she also asked if the author tells us why he chose those words, but since I don't have my book yet I can't answer that question, though possibly someone else can.

To do a brief word-study, in Israel, prophets, priests and kings were anointed into the legitimacy of their call; as the moderator pointed out, "Christos / Messiach" means the "anointed." As I posted on one of our earlier book threads, Jesus was anointed into his death in a most unconventional and unorthodox manner and in an unofficial, non-hierarchical setting outside of the legitimate religious, economic and political establishments. As Christians baptized into the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, as we take the name "Christian" we're baptized prophet, priest and king.

Therefore, the "anointing" of those to whom Dr. Sowell refers are anointed into legitimacy. In our Christian tradition we use olive oil, from the olive tree – which arguably is the "Tree of Life" – as the anointing oil in our liturgies. So these anointed in Sowell's book can be imaged as anointed into fullness of life? Bizarre argument maybe, but I'm thinking! But then again, we Christians consider the cross the ultimate tree of life and although our moderator so aptly pointed out that economics is the most theological of disciplines, I've already cautioned against really getting off on a more explicitly theological track, so I'll quit on that particular subject, though not without saying "tree" is a persistent biblical image and concept.

Our moderator already wrote succinctly about "vision," and so many biblical "vision" settings are familiar to all of us, at the moment I'll pass on writing any more about visions. I'm interested in seeing what more he says about grace and sin in subsequent chapters.

Thomas Sowell speaks of the =insulation= of a vision, and he is very correct, because ideas and egos do become "inextricably intertwined," as he expresses it. Our own individual ideas (as if any idea anyone ever had were not at least somewhat derivative) assume the force of dogma and sometimes lives of their own mini-lives within our larger lives and worlds, so "I" need to protect and defend and, yes insulate "my" idea to the exclusion and sometimes the extinction of everyone else's ideas.

"Crusading movements among the intelligentsia usually include": (paraphrased)
  1. Assertions of great danger to the whole society…to which the masses of people are oblivious;
  2. An urgent need for action to avert impending catastrophe;
  3. A need for government to curtail the behavior of the masses in order to assert the ideas of those prescient few;
  4. A disdainful dismissal of arguments to the contrary.
His saying "Many are unaware there's any other way of looking at things" comes close to bringing me up short, since very suddenly I'm realizing that despite trying to broaden my "vision" by reading and discussing, all too frequently I become very, very unhappy when my ideas aren't accepted as the best, and of course when people aren't interested in listening to me and hearing me I can be truly devastated.

"Thinking People" vs. "Articulate People!" is an intriguing way of separating and distinguishing people! Seems as if the more articulate folks are the ones who get believed and get their articulations acted upon.

One of our discussion participants asked about Dr. Sowell, "what compels him to swim against the prevailing academic stream of thought."

"academic stream of thought" – because so-called liberal thought indeed does prevail in academic and intellectual groups and troops and is relatively rare outside of the educational and cultural whatever-you-want-to-call-it-complex.

I believe I was the one saying though I'd love to get into a discussion of otherness, Holy Other, Creator/creature and identity, I thought that'd get us off this book's track and into a more specifically theological excursion. But many thanks anyway for mentioning the necessity of something other than that supreme "me" and "I" when it comes not only to visions and dreams but when it just plain simply comes to life itself. None of us is self-generated, so thanks for saying the visionary force begins not inside of us but rather outside of us: the biblical distinction between Creator and created. Was not the very idea of creation a vision of our Creator-God's?

The whole superiority and self-righteous trip – me too, all more often than I care to admit. That's it on this chapter for tonight. Amazon said my book was supposed to ship yesterday (Monday), but I haven't gotten an email saying it has shipped, so I'll look forward to reading more of what everyone else has to say about this chapter.


November badge by Tracey DelaneyI'm still keeping the daily blog, daily thanks covenant.


A shimmery and subtle stone with millions of colors.


Yes, I am trying hard to think of O'things for O'thanks, but the oryx, an African antelope long has intrigued me since someone gave me a stuffed one when I was a little kid and for this letter O oryx can stand in for many of the animals of Africa I love.


Such a wide variety, and though I love all citrus, when oranges are at their juiciest and most flavorful they are unbeatable and I cannot eat just one!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

N thanksgivings

November badge by Tracey Delaneystarting the 2nd half of the alphabet


quick, tasty, portable fun and can be anything from homespun simple chips 'n' cheese to elegant feasting with chips, cheese, pico de gallo, beans, guacamole, sour cream, olives (for luck, I learned long ago on Sesame Street)... and lots more, too.


sun goes down,
moon rises in the sky,
gonna be time to try to sleep
in the soon to be
by and by♥


morning's done. lunch time's on.

Friday, November 13, 2009

To Write Love on Her Arms Day too

TWLOHAD: Friday 13 November 2009

to write love day

my blog for TWLOHAD 2009

the website: To Write Love On Her Arms...

to write love day

TWLOHAD: Friday 13 November 2009, all over the world!

to write love day

To Write Love On Her Arms describes its mission:

"To Write Love on Her Arms is a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery."

To Write Love On Her Arms Day is a day where anyone can write the words love on their arms, to support those who are fighting against depression and those who are trying to recovering. On this day, just write love on your arms, and show it off, other people will ask why you have love written on your arms, and you tell them you are supporting to write love on her arms day, and how its benefiting a non profit organization helping stop depression, and make love the movement ♥

"what will this achieve?" It will achieve the goal of people knowing that there are other people out there with the same problem, and/or people who are supporting them with love."
some of my own backstory

telling the story buttonThe subjects of addiction, self-injury and related are very close to me and to my heart; you could say I've been close to it in various forms most of my life. Biologically and probably environmentally I've inherited some of it.

Compulsive, stereotypical, addictive and similar behaviors frequently seem to defy effective treatment and although there often is an underlying biochemical imbalance or other brain dysfunction that's frequently coupled with negative or sometimes positive psychosocial experiences, the behaviors themselves quickly carve deep, indelible neurological paths.

Bearing in mind this is my theology rather than my (currently semi-inert) testimony blog, the side of my biological family I know something about for generations has been captive to diseases, illnesses – "disorders" – of this type. Despite my dislike of labeling, I know Paul insisted on order, not disorder and Martin Luther says the Church isn't really there without order, in other words, when it is disordered (theology blog, remember).

A huge part of reluctance to reveal, discuss and seek intervention for substance abuse/addiction, compulsivities, self-injury and panic is their seeming uncontrollability and the fact insight usually comes quite easily yet barely makes a dent because of brain pathways that have formed. Whether or not they met clinical DSM criteria, most people have experienced an episode that would make them look depressed, but if you haven't been there, done that, from the outside looking in it looks as if the person with OCD or addiction needs to get a little discipline and control though often they're among the most disciplined, productive and accomplished. In the many creatives who struggle with addictions and compulsions, the creativity and productivity essentially emerge from the same source as the undesired behaviors.

TWLOHAD posters

I've illustrated this blog with one of the pair of posters I designed for this special worldwide TWLOHAD. Amidst a flurry of mostly urban, mostly colorful and coastal beach graffiti the eventful day, the website, the purpose and the promise anchors it all with the hope I describe as "To write love on each other's arms" and now I notice spellcheck doesn't like other's but accepts others and others'±but not to stereotype or label (much), remember, it's urban graffiti!

and now...

"incarnational theology" is one of the labels/tags to this post and in all this my prayer for myself and for each of us – addicted, compulsive, mood-disordered, self-injurious, suicidal, simply creatively different and/or differently creative – is a community of embrace that will celebrate our presence and encourage everyone's full participation and that God will allow all of us to become wounded healers, the divine presence of the crucified and risen Christ we were baptized to be. As I was watching and listening to Patrick Kennedy at Ted Kennedy's funeral, I realized that even for someone in a large, supportive family that also has sufficient resources of every kind, this kind of illness still takes a huge toll and is costly to society and to the individual.

for every one of us to write love on each other's, others or others' arms...♥ ♥ ♥

another version of my design for TWLOHAD 2009: to write love on her arms...

thanksgivings - M

November badge by Tracey Delaneymusic

Along with ice cream for alphabet letter "I", music is such a huge topic it can stand alone for today's letter M—here's my short list:

The rhythms, whispers, songs and thunders of creation, the universe, the cosmos. Summer symphony under a tent or out on the lawn alongside the river or the bay or surrounded by mountains; a blaze of brass or jumping for joy with classic rock... music from "The Fifth Evangelist," Johann Sebastian Bach; a splash of country and a celtic echo and the short list literally is endlessly long!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

L thanksgivings

November badge by Tracey Delaneyliturgy!

Holy time in the midst of holy space and I'm blogging today in growing green of ordinary time—actually making it "dark" rather than spring green since it's late in the season.


Especially the leopards of Sabi Sands Djuma Game Reserve in South Africa and WildEarth—it's in your nature, it's in my nature, it's in our nature and WE love our leopards!


Big Cats.

Ingwe Leopard Project

Ingwe Leopard Project

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

K thanksgivings

November badge by Tracey DelaneyKentucky

"The Bluegrass State" is a place I've visited, driven through and longed for quite a few times. Kentucky could qualify as a state of mind and being, too.


Kindness seems all too rare these days and trust me, I savor, appreciate and celebrate it whenever it happens and I do everything I can to initiate it whenever possible. As one-time UCC Massachusetts Conference Minister Avery Post observed, "kindness is love in action."

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

J thanksgivings

November badge by Tracey DelaneyJanuary

The first month of the year on the Julian calendar, a time for resolves about the future, yet a time for looking back and assessing stuff, too, just as Janus, Roman god of beginnings and of endings, of entrances and exits does.


What other possible response to all the beauties, insanities and possibilities in this world?


Longer warmer days in this hemisphere, sauntering into high summer. Picnics, BBQs and Independence Day in the U.S. of A. Regarding the familiar Julian Calendar, my grandfather's name was Julian and north of where I currently live there's a well-known tourist town of Julian, renowned for apples, apple pies and what's probably the closest local snowfalls.

Monday, November 09, 2009

I thanks-givings

November badge by Tracey DelaneyIce Cream!

It's getting late in the day, but not only am I thankful for ice cream in general, there are countless flavors to give thanks for:

a very short list:

• pistachio (thus the green font color on my original post before I defaulted almost all blog text to black)

• pecan praline, especially the sort of local, award-winning Thrifty's

• pineapple coconut—another Thrifty specialty flavor

• vanilla

• chocolate chip

• coffee fudge

Sunday, November 08, 2009

H thanks-givings

November badge by Tracey DelaneyHelvetica!

I really really like clean, versatile, readable and reliable Helvetica and its cognates.


on earth


as I noted in one of my commonplace books:

• brought to las americas in the mid-16th century by Spanish conquistadores

• horses have that *ephemeral quality* — horses have heart!

• Nez Perce horse—stallions and ahkal-teke

• 1995 Appaloosa mares: "a Palouse Horse"
• Developed by the Nez Perce Indian tribe, the Appaloosa are Native American horses.
• Their spotted coat comes in five precise patterns: blanket, snowflake, leopard, marble, and frost.
•White settlers originally referred to them as the "Palouse horse," after the Palouse River that runs through the states of Washington and Idaho. Eventually the name turned to Appaloosa.
• Reykjavik, 5th gait—*TOLT* = slower, fast running walk

• quarter horses from Virginia: 1/4 mile!

• drafting=pulling

• clear cutting—even age management, "skudder" and "wedge"

Saturday, November 07, 2009

G thanks-givings

November badge by Tracey Delaneythe gospel

As Paul writes in Romans,
For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, 'The one who is righteous will live by faith.' ...Romans 1:16-17

Greek food

Specially the local Dino's Gyros! Their 1/4 lemon chicken lunch that's my favorite includes french fries, pita bread, tzadiki sauce, tossed green salad with Italian-style vinaigrette dressing and 1/4 chicken—I always get leg and thigh.


fun and fantastic in every form. ...oh, this is letter G, so all those letter Fs are leftovers from yesterday.


unearned, unmerited, untethered and unbounded.

Friday, November 06, 2009

F thanks-givings

November badge by Tracey Delaneyforgetfulness!

From Carl Sandburg: ...and the forgetfulness of our sleep is strange and beautiful in itself—and what would you rather have than sleep?


a waking dream, an excursion into an imaginative place, a way of living "as if" so a new day will happen, or...?


mainly feral cats, but any critter or person or place or idea with a wild, uncatchable, untameable streak.


I've already admitted although I'm a designer I like comic sans. But typography and typefaces have fascinated me for a long time. Back in HS I used to sit in class and study hall and design my own. In my project for my urban sociology class I compiled a bibliography of "Graphic, Chromatic and Typographic Elements in Urban Environments."

Font also refers to the locale of many baptisms and even when a person is baptized in a river, a stream or an ocean (or maybe in a crick), that's their baptismal font.

finally, friday fives

here's a sample selection—and today is a Friday!

what's new 5

from rev gal blog pals—Friday Five: What's New?

for today's Fun Friday Five, Songbird asks us, "Please share with us five things you like *especially* when they are new," so in growing green of Ordinary Time, here's mine:

1. freshly turned garden soil, with its smell (scent? aroma?) familiar yet fresh along with awareness that this dirt literally is part of the primal stuff of creation and full of the beginnings tomorrows and the days that follow.

2. a new bar of just-unwrapped Dial soap.

3. a new spiral-bound notebook, always wide-ruled. Even when I'm not currently taking a class I usually have a notebook going and like a lot of people, cannot resist buying one when a fabulously designed cover beckons me.

4. painted furniture! Except for a few that have an actual quality wood or *other* finish, I've painted a dozen pieces I currently own—mostly old ones someone gave me or I paid very little for as well as a couple from the Unpainted Furniture on the Roof Store. They're a wide variety of colors and bright paint lets us in on a hint of the transformation a little change can bring.

5. a sunrise, especially a subtly hued sunrise, as old as this planet and as new as the surprising promise of another resurrection dawn.

6. a new box of Crayola 64s... though it's been a few years since due to my living the Pantone-Adobe life these days I don't go through a box every six months the way I used to, the smell, the expectation and the possibilities are endless, overwhelming and exciting.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

E thanks-givings

November badge by Tracey Delaney Today I have only three, with only a simple explanation for each.


Both the biblical book of that's positioned second in the bible as well as what we do all the time leaving the last thing and on our way to the next. Above all, living as exodus people is living on the edge rather than in the center.


Social, intelligent, funny and tragic. Among the favorite denizens of Sabi Sands in South Africa.


Where we are right now, where we were last week and last year and where we'll be forever.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

D thanks-givings

November badge by Tracey Delaneydesserts

Short list includes cheesecake, apple pie, pumpkin pie (this is an autumn blog), vanilla ice cream, yellow cake with coconut frosting, hot fudge sundae, strawberry shortcake made with homemade biscuits and served with lots of butter and a ton of hand-whipped ultra-heavy cream. Chocolate lava cake, cottage pudding topped with lemon sauce (great in the winter and an excellent anytime dessert).


Sleeping dreams, dozing off ones and daydreams, too. The stuff of futures to come...

discord, dissonance and dissidence

What would music be without some sounds and melody lines that don't quite fit the rest of the score? What would the world be without people who dare to disagree and who provocatively prophesy?


...of Wildlife who work to help protect endangered species, imperiled species and habitats; I particularly love their identification with wolves. As Henry David Thoreau insisted "In wildness is the preservation of the world."


For their apparently crazy, broken, stark beauty and the way boundless life teems and grows underneath it all, because of its wildness and in spite of it. For Israel the exodus desert wilderness became the place they found and formed their identity, learned how to live precariously from moment to moment, learned Who provided for them and learned to trust. Sunrise in the desert, sunsets in the desert bring hushed, holy awe along with a need to return for more healing and renewed perspective.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

C thanks-givings

November badge by Tracey DelaneyI'm only at letter C, and I'm discovering limiting myself to only a few thankfuls for each letter is really hard; in other words, this list is not complete in the least—but you knew that already!


Still has not failed to bring me joy, even when many of the chips have been way down. I love this quote I found in an old ad and that I've included in my favorite quotes for my Facebook profile and fan page:

In the beginning...a small bell chimed.
Creativity! It chimes like a small clear bell at the heart of the human spirit!

Spoken like scripture!


Of all varieties, types, sizes, styles, colors and cattitudes


despite my frequent anger and ongoing ambivalence...

comic sans

This had to be on my list because I'm a designer and I actually like comic sans. I don't use it for *real* design projects, but it's fun for blogs like this one and for emails.

Roy DeLeon: Praying with the Body

Praying With the Body: bringing the psalms to life, by Roy DeLeon, OSB, on Amazon

Praying with the bodyI love the 7" x 8.5" dimensions, its easy heft along with the just-right feel of the way it flexes in my hands and I love the turquoise blue cover, a color of the sea and a hue of the desert. Roy's book is in the Active Prayer Series from Paraclete Press, whose about explains:
Although Benedictine spirituality is at the heart of all that we do, we publish books that reflect the Christian experience across many cultures, time periods and houses of worship. We publish books that nourish the vibrant life of the church and its people--books about spiritual practice, formation, history, ideas, and customs.
In his forward, Paulist Father Thomas Ryan says how strange it is that Jews and Christians pretty much check their bodies at the door of synagogue or church, while Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus integrate the whole person into their spiritual practices. Strange indeed, as Fr. Thomas further observes, that despite Christianity's high theology of the body and in spite of the fact that the "great Christian festivals of Christmas, Easter, the Ascension, and Pentecost all make profound and radical statements of faith about God's esteem for our embodied being.. And In Judaism, the body-mind-spirit is a seamless entity named... by a single word..."

Christianity's central kerygma, our primary proclamation is God's incarnation in the human Jesus of Nazareth. I love reminding people that the gospel-writer Luke the physician ends his genealogy with "Adam, son of God." Formed from the substance of the same earth that grows crops to nourish us and other animals that in turn feed and provide for the ground's produce, trees that shade and shelter us, that provide lumber, leaves and reeds to form into dwelling places... And Latter-day Saint theology asserts not only did the Son become embodied and enfleshed; so also did God the Father! Theology of the Holy Spirit insists on human potential to achieve the divine nature we were created to assume. In the garden the tempter told the human A-dam, "You shall be like god," and verily, we shall be! Different Christian traditions use different words but divinization, theosis, sanctification all point toward our ultimately becoming and living both fully human and fully divine, exactly like Jesus Christ, so God becomes re-incarnate and reborn in each one of us, in the community that bears the name of Jesus Christ and in all creation. The indwelling Holy Ghost means the Divine Presence very here and very now and furthermore, in Jesus Christ we all experience the resurrection of the body.

People often refer to Christianity as spiritual, though the way of Jesus is heavily economic, highly political and hardly ascetic in its celebration of gifts from the ground, in its perspective that insists on the interdependence of all life, in its historical affirmation of human sexuality and in its charge to care for all creation, the natural environment that surrounds us, envelopes us and that is not incidental but remains integral to God's action in history. In sacramental theology we speak of the capacity of the finite to contain the infinite, pointing toward interdependence of everything created to a degree no one could or would imagine on their own.

Roy organizes the book into Alleluia, Sanctus and Amen types of prayer sessions. "Alleluias" are about new beginnings. Each includes an introit, a section of a psalm. a Silent Reflection, illustrated suggestions for "Praying with the Body, Heart and Soul," Sitting in the Presence (similar to centering prayer I sometimes practice), a possible way to live your prayer, an original Contemporary Psalm and concluding prayer. At about 2 inches wide, the margins of the books have plenty of space for the participant's own notes and each discrete session features a pullquote from the psalm one might choose to contemplate or concentrate on--or possibly not at any particular time.

Although intended for the middle of the day or mid-endeavor, "Sanctus" prayer sessions could be adapted to any time of day or year. In Roy's words, they bring us "...back to the awareness that whatever is happening in our day, on our project or journeys, God is with us." (page 33)

Somewhat parallel to compline, "Amen" prayer sessions are for the close of day or "at the conclusion of an activity or project, or at a milestone." (page 97) Similar to possibilities of praying the canonical hours, although each office has evolved and developed a specific form for a particular time of day, prayers in Praying with the Body are liturgical forms with content that can be appropriated for other times than specified. Any of these practices could be repeated many many times with variations and there's no solid reason to keep Alleluia prayer sessions solely for the beginning of a day or endeavor, not any particular rationale for being anything but open to Spirit about the whats and whens and wheres for all these prayers. The book includes many line drawings of bodily prayer positions, but those too do not need to be replicated exactly in a person's own practice. Glancing through the illustrations reminds me that sometimes my body is surprisingly bendy and other times decidedly not at all, but like yoga these can be adapted some.

Thank you, Roy!

My Amazon Review: prayer-body connections: bringing prayer to life!