Tuesday, January 31, 2012

remembering dreams

My Facebook status update a few weeks ago: "writing my own anamnesis... for epiphany? no, for January 2012" my own comment (since no one else almost ever seems to notice or care, I feel like a critter hoping for death at the local kill shelter): as Walter Brueggemann insists, "it all depends upon a memory..." listen to the nearly-incessant charge to "remember" throughout scripture.

hold fast to dreams

These days one needs an online presence, but a local community of recognition, acknowledgment and participation is as essential as food, water and sleep. OK, some kind of shelter from meteorological storms, though my earlier insistence it doesn't need to be a house, apartment, condo, or tent is correct. Without community a person dies. I want my life back. I need my life back.

Look back, take a long, soft glance? I be looking back yet *again* right now, taking a wistful, still cautious overview and remembering as well as possibly anyone can. So very well I know that it's not simply about the style of a parish, congregation, local church; the professional and lay leadership play a huge part in terms of inviting, not inviting, allowing and literally forbidding anyone's participation.

On one of the Thursday Ask The Matriarch – ATM – parish ministry advice columns, someone emphasized do not announce the pastor's or the pastor's wife's pregnancy as a petition in the intercessions! Many many people struggle silently with infertility and would not perceive it as good news—although on another level they would rejoice with you.

just booksI've long been agonizing over a different kind of infertility, with soil prepared, seeds sown, rains given and received, shoots sprung up, all after a bleak long winter that apparently hasn't quite departed yet. I've written about spending time on the land and in the recurrent cycles of the liturgical year, and how they've helped me learn to trust death. To quote Ansel Adams,
Love is a seeking for a way of life; the way that cannot be followed alone; the resonance of all spiritual and physical things. Children are not only of flesh and blood—children may be ideas, thoughts, emotions. The person of the one who is loved is a form composed of a myriad mirrors reflecting and illuminating the powers and thoughts and the emotions that are within you, and flashing another kind of light from within. No words or deeds may encompass it.
Without social context writing and creating has become close to impossible. A few years ago I told someone I was delighted that I got back to writing, and I know that happened because of the online theology forums I started participating in 10+ years ago. Right now my cry and my question is about how to find local community that will want to get to know me? It's not simply a matter of style; assumptions and insecurities of peeps who already are there come hugely into the picture. For sure the feeling and reality of "uprooted" tends to be in the late 20th, early 21st centuries, even for people who, unlike many of us, have lived in the same geographical place and in a similar culture.

It's one thing accurately to state most of the theology I do will be online, but real life is lived locally. The online stuff can be wonderful, but it's an addition to the real thing. Clearly I'm an idealist in some ways, but at this stage I am way far beyond seeking any semblance of ideal and happily will embrace a workable reality.

Friday, January 27, 2012

odds & ends friday 5

Today on Rev Gal Blog Pals Sally hosts an odds and ends 5 and asks, even in the busyness of the week what has:

teal waves 21. Colour, pattern, line and design continue to inspire me. I've been updating my suntreeriver design blog and truly enjoying my own creativity.

2. I'm still tremendously challenged by the absence of real life local community and ministry opps and by the lack of human connections who might be able to suggest options and let others know about my needs, background and abilities.

3. After a couple weeks of chilly weather, warmer, longer days have been making me smile.

4. The political insanities in the pre-presidential race in the USA have made me cross and made me need (not just want) to weep.

5. Remembering past experiences of God's faithfulness in spite of me and in spite of everyone else too has kept me going again... scripture constantly encourages - commands! - us to remember and as Walter Brueggemann says, "It all depends on a memory."

Thanks, Sally!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Awaken Your Senses

Ways to reconnect, or maybe truly connect for the first time—with God, nature and self...a workshop and a book! some related sites:

Awaken Your Senses on Amazon

Beth Booram

Brent Bill

awakenTo help more of us experience more of the Divine, to be more present to everything in our surroundings and to ourselves throughout each entire day, Beth Booram and Brent Bill offer a handbook of their own stories, reflections, and exercises for activating more of the creative, intuitive right side of the brain and living more fully through tasting, seeing, touching, hearing and smelling. Since God engages us as whole people with bodies, spirits, senses, intellects and histories, to move closer to a "self-disclosing God," we need to engage that wholeness. We cannot do without the more familiar (to most of us), intellectual aspects of faith, but scripture study, prayer, activism and worship are only part of a multi-dimensional experience. A quote from Marcel Proust, "Not in seeing new landscapes, but in having new eyes [noses, ears, skin, tastebuds]" describes a goal of praying, playing, feeling, and working through this book.

Brent and Beth alternate writing each of the short chapters within each larger section titled after one of the five human senses; each chapter begins with a thematic superscription, most often scripture verses, occasionally from a well-known author. The authors' own stories easily relate to regular everyday lives and for the most part, you can do the exercises for each emphasis in the context of your ongoing journey, or you can set aside a time and place to concentrate on one or more that especially appeals to you. I'm not sure I'd have used the word exercise, but it may be an apt one for the kind of practice that gradually leads to near-mastery and I can't think of a better one right now. Some might enjoy taking 30 consecutive days or more (I'm thinking the liturgical seasons of approximately month-long Advent or the 6 weeks of Lent) and making Awaken Your Senses a life- and world-improvement project. Each activity helps ground us in our bodily sensuousness and in the gifts of creation.

It's very true that a tremendous amount of what we plan to do and then do in the course of any day necessarily is future-oriented; for a multitude of reasons, considerations of the past also are essential, but I love the observation that our senses bring us straightaway into real time. There's a feeling of Sabbath, of simply being, drinking in and savoring who you've become thus far in living more fully with - and trusting - your senses! You find yourself smack dab in this very moment, ceasing any thoughts of any of the past, quieting worries or even plans for the future, releasing anxieties about the here and now when you "relax into observing details."

Additional resources for sensory awakening, acknowledgments, contact information and endnotes conclude the book.

my amazon review: awakening your 5 senses

Friday, January 20, 2012

movies friday 5

Today Jan hosts movies 5. This is a quick, easy play for me, since in general I don't do fiction, film, legitimate theater or cinema—I know, surprising since I am sooooo theological and I know I'm missing out on lots of crappy junk and a lot of sublime interpretive experiences, too.

Thinking of movie-watching, what do you prefer?

1. At home or a theater is fine, depending on the cleanness and ambiance of the theater and related complex. The larger screen is good, too, but never ever movie food (for many reasons) and at home you can pause and restart as well as get food from the kitchen. Short answer: both/and.

2. I'll go with anyone willing to accompany me (I'd be almost embarrassed to say when I last took myself to a movie) since going to the theater always is at someone's suggestion.

3. Right no there's no particular movie I look forward to seeing, but I go for beautiful natural, wilderness, and urban visuals rather than narrative, meaning or consummate acting, so invite me and I'll tag along with you—really!

4. The only two movies I've gone back to the cinema to see again, rented and back in the day actually bought (but haven't considered updating to DVD) were Joy Luck Club and White Nights.

5. For food with a movie, if I'm at home or in someone's place probably none, none ever whatsoever in the theater, but a savory or sweet snack or substantial meal afterwards always rings true.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

paradox, hope and revival

For this first synchroblog ot 2012, Provoketive Magazine is featuring a a synchroblog on hope.

Here's this Paradox, Hope and Revival post on Provoketive.

Hope is the synchroblog theme for this first month of the new year and as I talk about what gives me hope, how I keep returning to hope despite evidence and experience, why not begin by introducing myself for my first post on provoketive?

paradox hope revivalA few weeks ago a Facebook friend status updated asking about our identity. Mine? I am a daughter of the church, claimed by God in baptism. And I added, "now what?" Last Wednesday evening I let myself into the dark church building to prepare for playing liturgy for our celebration of the Baptism of Jesus. As I always do, I walked toward the entry way and the baptismal font and as always, I signed myself with the cross. What gives me hope? I am baptized, sealed with the sign of the cross forever. Being baptized means an identity and lifestyle shaped according to the contours, demands and relentless grace of the gospel that seeks justice, freedom and shalom for all creation. It is life sourced from Word and Sacrament, modeled by the order of creation, the actions and words of the prophets, the birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus the Christ.

What gives me hope? That in choosing, claiming and trusting me in baptism, God has brought me into an ecumenical community that is supposed to be home wherever I journey, that is supposed to hold me accountable. In his song "The Ark," from City to City, Gerry Rafferty sings, "We’ll take the road that leads down to the waterside // And set out on the journey // Find a ship to take us on the way. // And we’ll sail out on the water // we’ll meet out on the water // Where are all strangers are known."

I prepared for a life of service to church and world, and surprisingly found myself on the other side of mainstream culture and on the subverse of mainline church for longer than I'd anticipated. In the above paragraph I made a couple of transparent comments about what the summoned assembly of forgiven sinners is "supposed" to be and do, and that simply doesn't always or even often happen.

Abram was an ivri, a Hebrew, someone from the other side. In Jesus of Nazareth, we encounter the God from the exceedingly "other side," who even arrived on earth in a manner very "other" from usual expectations and spent most of his life and ministry on the other side of - or at least on the edges of - established religious and social systems, accredited authorities and conventional cultural boundaries. During his brief public ministry, Jesus invited everyone to become part of his insider circle. In my own baptism, has God not called me to live as an outsider to politely authorized, tamed, predictable structures of most kinds? Is that not how the Body of Christ is supposed to be and to live? As an insider to the way of Jesus?

What brings me hope? Sacraments and liturgy are ways to remember who I am and Whose I am. The eucharistic liturgy that retells and re-enacts the history of salvation brings me into an ordered place within those arrays. Like water in the font, bread on the table, wine in the cup, I am an organic part of creation, birthed out of the substance of earth, sky, sea and air. Liturgy and sacraments remind me that God's presence is not something far off, invisible and unattainable; it's as close to us, as sensibly (smell, taste, touch, vision, hearing) apparent and as paradoxical as water, bread and wine, as the neighbor next door, the colleague at the next computer.

I've found myself on the other side of mainline church and midstream society for a painfully long while. But isn't the covenanted community supposed to be an upside down image of prevailing economic, political (and ecclesiastical) realities? Is it not supposed to challenge and subvert the status quo? Is it not supposed to live counter-culturally to the prevailing culture of consumerism and objectification? "The Exhibition of the Kingdom of Heaven to the World" is one of the PC(USA)'s Great Ends of the Church. The worldview of the bible is open-ended, no longer the endless, predictable recycling of the same thing, yet there is a sense of constancy, of divine design and purpose to the order of nature and creation. Similar to the way hue shifts, layer styles, filters and effects reveal previously unseen aspects of an image I'm editing, the Holy Spirit edits, styles, filters, re-colors and reformats people, communities, and institutions and brings prophetic promises and broken hopes to life. In large part because of the continued liveliness of the Church, the Christ and the Spirit are active in the world.

So I'm hoping to emerge from my current location and back into the embrace of the called-out, covenanted community because I know I cannot do life on my own, cannot revive and reformat my own life; that only can come to me as gift. God has claimed me in baptism; I am a daughter of the church.

Other January Synchroblog Participants on Provoketive and their home blogs:

The Trouble With Hope // John Ptacek
Hope = Possibility x Imagination // Wayne Rumsby
Little Reminders // Mike Victorino
Where Is My Hope // Jonathan Brink
Hope for Hypocrites // Jeremy Myers
Now These Three Remain // Sonny Lemmons
Perplexed, But Still Hopeful // Carol Kuniholm
A Hope that Lives // Amy Mitchell
Generations Come and Generations Go // Adam Gonnerman
Demystifying Hope // Glenn Hager
God in the Dark: On Hope // Renee Ronika Klug
Keeping Hope Alive // Maurice Broaddus
Are We Afraid to Hope? // Christine Sine
On Wobbly Wheels, Split Churches and Fear // Laura Droege
Hope is Held Between Us // Ellen Haroutunian
Hope: In the Hands of the Creatively Maladjusted // Mihee Kim-Kort
Good Theology Saves // Reverend Robyn
Linear: Never Was, Never Will Be // Kathy Escobar
Better Than Hope // Liz Dyer
Caroline for Congress: Hope for the Future // Wendy McCaig
Fumbling the Ball on Hope // KW Leslie
Hope: Oh, the Humanity! // Deanna Ogle

Friday, January 13, 2012

5 recommendations

On the Rev Gals today revkjarla hosts a recommendation Friday 5 because she's inundated with requests to write recommendations for future camp counselors, though this 5 has almost zero to do with camps and conferences.

For my first blog post and first Friday 5 of 2012, here are today's 5 recommendations:

reflections for ragamuffins1. a favorite worship resource or devotional book, Reflections for Ragamuffins: Daily Devotions from the Writings of Brennan Manning. A single page or less for each day, always something relevant for the current time, place and condition.

2. for a blog I like that others might enjoy, Idube Game Reserve is the most active of several I enjoy from the Sabi Sands, Wildtuin, South Africa. I particularly love following the individual leopards of Sabi Sands Game Reserve; several have their own facebook pages.

3. a fiction book recommendation is a tough one for me, since I read so little fiction, but I'll go with a classic, Light in August by William Faulkner. As someone southern-born, in many ways I resonate with the humanity, complexity and brokenness of Faulkner's characters, but more than anything, I adore his writing. light in august

4. edited almost four years later: I'd recommended a favorite recipe/cooking site from from Trisha, a friend from A Former City I recently reconnected with (yay, facebook!), she deleted her 364 days of eating blogspot and several other blogs in a simplification quest.

suntreeriver winter logo5. it's bloggers' choice! Make a recommendation for anything! Of course I'll give a shoutout to my Facebook design page, suntreeriver design. I know lots of peeps from this ring have officially become fans, or "Likers," and I realize a few folks aren't on facebook or don't really do facebook, so given that reality, a second shoutout to my closely related design blog, suntreeriver design on blogspot. Sun and Tree and River are persistent biblical images.