Friday, April 29, 2016

April Highlights

End of another month and it's time for Emily P Freeman's what we learned, experienced, remembered, etc., linkup.

April 2016 synopsis
• background image all rights reserved by PremiumCoding; typography from my suntreeriver design identity.

union bank red rose union bank red rose union bank red rose
• What. A. Surprise.—I looked up and there was a huge Union Bank Red Rose on Wilshire @ Westwood! I got some good shots at several angles; here's a trio.

west hollywood garden
• What better place than the apt complex garden for breakfast, sketching, dinner, conversation, or writing?

houses on Gardner Street
• No surprise, not a learning at all—I'm still loving local architecture of every imaginable kind.

Earth Day at LCM
• These critters visited church on Earth Day ♥ ♥ #Trees4Earth!

• In SS we've been having some excellent, thoughtful discussions about stewarding creation via the RCL Revelation pericopes, with one more to go for Easter 6, a semi-recap on Easter 7.

• I've been loving some Mediterranean breakfasts for some lunches.

Russian Festival
• I'm including the banner announcement for the new to me upcoming Russian Arts & Culture Festival; next month I'll feature festival photographs.

Route 66 sign
• So Route 66 is right here and right now? Well, yep, it ends a few miles down the road in Santa Monica.

• Hollywood Bowl Street Banners are out again. Summer! Summer! Summer!

• Such a privilege to be serving on the judicatory's new Green Faith Team. "Team" sounds as if we just may accomplish more than a group named committee might? Ya think so?

• No illustration this month, but I'm still learning to respond to and titrate my need for sleep. I kind of am a super sleeper who doesn't need a whole lot of sleep most of the time, but not needing much is way far different from assuming I can be alive and functional with not enough.

emily P Freeman April Button

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Five Minute Friday: Pass

Time for Five Minute Friday! Time to write unedited for five minutes—more or less. Kate Motaung hosts again with this week's pass prompt.

5 Wellesley Park porch
Pass is another word with multiple meanings, another that doubles as noun and as verb. When you group layers together in Photoshop, they default to pass through blending mode that applies the same layer style to every single layer rather than only one. That type of pass isn't all that different from taking a route through a mountain pass. Not hugely distinctive from sliding alongside the vehicle in front of you by passing it to get past it so it ends up behind you. Someone offers you food that doesn't interest you or an opportunity you're not ready for? I'll take a pass on crustaceans—I'm deathly allergic to them, but in the interest of politeness, I always pass on saying much about it.

We know that we have passed from death to life because we love one another. Whoever does not love abides in death. 1 John 3:14

Let's not pass on that one!

Every one of these instances of "pass" moves – literally passes – from one state of being or doing into a different one.

five minute friday pass five minute friday button

Sunday, April 24, 2016

#trees4earth • #earthday2016

earth day 2016 trees4earth

My class notes on urban wilderness from Earth Day 2016 | Easter 5 for this morning.


Every day is Earth Day, but on Friday 22 April we celebrated the 46th official formal Earth Day. The Earth Day theme this year is #Trees4Earth that relates closely to #FaceofClimate for 2013 and #GreenCities for both 2014 and 2015. Trees and forests are earth's respiratory system, this planet's lungs.

from "Let us Talents and Tongue Employ"

Jesus lives again
earth can breath again
pass the word around
loaves abound!

Fred Kaan, 1975
For Easter 5 and Earth Day we mainly discussed Revelation 21:1-6, and also considered creation-themed Psalm 96, Psalm 98, and Psalm 148, as well as the beginning of James Weldon Johnson's poem, The Creation. All this poetry is about a God so in love with Creation that God chooses to make a home on earth in the midst of creation.

Sacraments depend upon a healthy creation.

Very briefly from last week: the book of Revelation shows us how empires everywhere operate; it provides not quite a road map, but at least a guide book for living baptized in the context of empire. This week and next week the passages from Revelation especially show us ways to live baptized into the new creation.

More discussion of how physical, earthbound, and incarnational Christianity is. God so in love with creation God chose and still chooses to make a home on earth in a body formed from the stuff of creation.

Celebrating Live on Easter 5!

amen jubilee storefront

amen jubilee on easter 5

Thursday, April 21, 2016

five minute friday: unite

Every week Kate Motaung hosts an unedited 5 minute free write; for this week's Five Minute Friday we get to consider unite.

earth day 2016 trees4earth
Earth Day | Reformation 500

Among other possibilities, united immediately evokes United States of America, United Colors of Benetton, United Parcel Service, United Church of Christ... maybe best of all, humanity of different geographies, nationalities, political preferences, religions, ethnicities coming together to unite, to make common cause for the survival, revival, and long-term well-being of planet earth. Every Day is Earth Day, but on Friday 22 April, for the 46th year we united to celebrate another formal, official Earth Day, with #Trees4Earth this year's hope-filled theme. Trees and forests are the earth's lungs, our planet's respiratory system.

All over the world, individuals, groups, churches, denominations, and ecumenical groups have purposefully united and started planting 500 trees to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation that will happen in 2017. That's not a mere 500 trees; it actually will be many many multiples of 500 that will unite and multiply and become literally countless trees that will filter water to make it clean, trees that will absorb carbon dioxide, trees that will provide gifts of oxygen for all, habitat, shelter and food for wildlife and domestic animals.

five minute friday unite five minute friday button

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Where I Am

Again this week I'm writing in the Three Word Wednesday linkup at Kristin Hill Taylor's. Kristin explains:
ThreeWordWednesday is simple, really. I know we're all busy with life and kids and jobs and parents and friends and church and whatever else it is that occupies our time. #ThreeWordWednesday is a chance to pause and hear God. Sum up what you're hearing in three words.
I'm writing to Kristin's three word phrase; this isn't a free write, so I don't time myself and I do edit, but I still want it to be a little spontaneous and not too structured.

Prompt for Wednesday, 20 April: Where I Am

where I am

Where I am ... Where am I? Sitz im Leben. Not being biblical-critical with that phrase, only trying to locate myself not so much in longitude and latitude but within the life and culture that surrounds me. Lives and cultures that have surrounded me, may embrace me soon. Someone from Previous City emailed and asked what keeps me going. My quick reply:

"If anything, maybe it's my sense of call to inner-city ministry that still hasn't quit. I realize God wastes none of our experiences, but I also need to steward my expensive education, hard work, gifts, and preparation. All that's the main reason I relocated to Current City, that as a huge, mega-metro area, somehow acts with more grace than Previous City typically did. Is all that a lie? Not quite, but it is highly rationalized and full of hope."

Glancing back: It's my last semester at the D School, so I still live in the 5 BR house in Watertown. Working at the design studio in the City of History CBD. Leading my carefully prepared intercessions in the City of History Sunday liturgy.

Looking forward: I'm summer programming somewhere in the nearby inner city during summer 2016. Attending a creative design seminar in DTLA. Enjoying Sunday brunch.

This morning I went back to sleep and dreamt I'd left the church – as in physically walked out the door forever of the building where the assembly gathers around Word and Sacrament – where I've been loving teaching SS every week. Where I look forward to brunch every week. In Previous City when I participated in Reading the Bible Economically during summer 2008 in yet another attempt to connect with people with interests similar to mine who of course would be thrilled (not!) to meet me, the guy who facilitated the class told me he'd had a very bad church experience (they're all the same, they're all different), but still went back and pastored another church. Finally, the day he retired out of Shytown Judicatory (aka Presbytery of Chicago) he realized he could not enter another church building ever except for a wedding or funeral. The Reformers told us where you find Word and Sacrament you find the church. Where Word and Sacrament are not? The church is not. Not long before I left Previous City, that process theology guy on the faith order witness committee suddenly asked almost out of nowhere, "what if the sacraments aren't all that important?!

Recalling good things from the past, anticipating good events in the near future, life's going well enough I find myself far more in the moment than I have been for years and years, yet two days before Earth Day 2016, amidst developing my Earth Day-focused class for next Sunday, I wonder... "what if the sacraments aren't all that important?" Does that mean I can leave the visible church on earth without glancing back?

life stuff button three word wednesday button

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Five Minute Friday: Easy

This week Five Minute Friday is ...easy.


In "Take it Easy" Jackson Browne and the late Glenn Frey (RIP) counsel us to...

Take it easy!
Don't let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy
Lighten up while you still can
Don't even try to understand
Just find a place to make your stand, and take it easy.

Take it easy, lighten up? Who doesn't need that reminder? If you're trying to complete almost anything – project, task, or chore –you generally get the best results with a moderate amount of effort. Trying too hard can tie a person up in knots. Not trying at all? Usually equals not getting any results at all. Lionel Richie and the Commodores sing "easy like Sunday morning." Sunday mornings, when we trust and relax into the easy, effortless movement of grace. You don't need to do anything, just gotta be. Be who you are. Be where you are. How you are. So easy! Sunday best attire's the style of how we are, act, and socialize on a Sunday or non-work non-school day. Easy's not about the outcome and the performance, Don't even try to understand... because if I try too hard, the sound of my own wheels turning around in my head will drive me crazy.

five minute friday easy five minute friday button

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

three word wednesday: cleaning [my] house

For the first time ever I'm participating in the Three Word Wednesday linkup at Kristin Hill Taylor's site. Kristin explains:
#ThreeWordWednesday is simple, really. I know we're all busy with life and kids and jobs and parents and friends and church and whatever else it is that occupies our time.

#ThreeWordWednesday is a chance to pause and hear God. Sum up what you're hearing in three words. Those three words are enough. But stories are good too.
Some people write to Kristin's three word phrase; others choose their own. I like writing to a prompt, so that's what I'll do. I've enjoyed Kate M's five minute friday free writes and I've almost been surprised that most of what I've written has come out well the first time, and would require only a little editing to become a more-or-less finished piece. For non-FMF linkups I don't time myself, I do edit some, but I also won't write something as long or involved as an end of semester term paper (or ordination paper, either).

Prompt for Wednesday, 13 April: cleaning my house

star sun houses 2016 version

I very rarely do dictionary definitions of a word or concept, but this time I'll start with connotations of house as a biological or genetic or product brand heritage—House of Windsor, House of Armani, as a physical building where people live and therefore go home to. People often mention someone recently bought or rented a home, but a house or apartment doesn't become a home until someone stamps their identity on it to literally turn it into a home.

I love houses! I'm a working graphic artist/designer and frequently admit I Have This Thing About Houses, whether the house is a physical structure out on the town, a drawing, photograph, illustration, or painting. But Cleaning My House? How does that go down?! I'll broadly go with house as part of our biological cultural geographical heritage, and with house as current or ideal living place. In this era of multiple online identities, household decluttering has become a hot topic online and it can be a metaphor for our need to streamline our digital presence, but then again, I've also noticed more than few articles about cleaning up your social media image. Before relocating to Current City late last June, I donated a literal ton of stuff. I'd kept most of the furniture I ended up donating only so I wouldn't need to go out and find more of the same, but I also LOVE painted wood furniture and I'd carefully chosen each color to paint or color block each piece. I'd lovingly refinished the non-painted pieces that started out with better wood. Forever I've regularly donated big trash bags full of clothes; I've kept my physical book collection lean and trim. Not long ago I didn't quite clean up my social media presence, but I decided to semi-coordinate other blog topics onto this blog.

Cleaning my house.

My public presentation of my biological, cultural, geographical, and educational credentials concerns me immensely. I've moved way beyond "it's not who you know or what you know – it's who knows you," because I've been unable to connect with people in my fields of interest to a sufficient degree for anyone to remember I'm waiting and ready for someone to contact me for the next opportunity, or at very least for people to respond with excitement when I contact them and make an offer. For those who insist they don't care what other people think, don't care if they win every popularity contest, I remind them door(s) only can be opened from the other side, and I need to present myself, my gifts, my experiences – my total package – in a manner others will not perceive as a threat to the value and worth of their own image, their own "house." I need to stamp my current, updated identity all over my social media pages, my design and music websites. This blog, too! Then I can go home to them, reside in them. As William Faulkner reminds us, what's happening here and now always contains elements from pasts that keep overtaking us, but I know how well different colors, styes, textures, and motifs can combine with others.

Cleaning my house also relates to questions to ask and answer after serious loss:
•What's lost?

•What's left?

•What's possible?
Primarily because I lost individuals and communities that knew me well enough to help me grieve through those questions, I haven't been doing well finding my own responses. Those were the people who knew me, that I believed always would be part of the foundation of my house, my brand. I haven't reached a conclusion with this Three Word Wednesday, but I have explained that just as much as I need to declutter the house that's my brand, I need to rebuild and re-engage with the world of other houses, others' houses.

life stuff button three word wednesday button

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Five Minute Friday: Whole

five minute friday whole five minute friday button

This week for Five Minute Friday at Kate Motaung's place we get to consider the word whole.

Intro: Often the one-word prompt inspires me to quote a song; sometimes I illustrate my FMF with my own art or design. This time an article I noticed and tweeted earlier today perfectly fit my thoughts about being whole, longing for completion—how covenants make us:
"The liberation of the individual was supposed to lead to mass empowerment. But it turns out that people can effectively pursue their goals only when they know who they are — when they have firm identities.

"Strong identities can come only when people are embedded in a rich social fabric. They can come only when we have defined social roles — father, plumber, Little League coach. They can come only when we are seen and admired by our neighbors and loved ones in a certain way. As Ralph Waldo Emerson put it, 'Other men are lenses through which we read our own minds.'

"You take away a rich social fabric and what you are left with is people who are uncertain about who they really are. It’s hard to live daringly [daring is my star word for 2016] when your very foundation is fluid and at risk."

To quote the late DH (spouse) of a DF (dear friend) from former city, "I have gifts, education, and passions I need to use if I'm to be whole, and that's not vanity." My sentiments exactly as I've attempted to explain IRL to people, as I've done my best to blog. For too long I've struggled again to become more of a component of a larger whole, an entity beyond myself, where I can act and function and simply be a member of the body in Pauline terms. Because of events I can identify along with random other happenings, I'd lost people and opportunities that had become integral parts of my daily existence, my everyday activities. In math we use the word "integer" to express whole numbers; how apt it is that we derive words like integrity and integral from that concept. Long ago I gave up imagining any human ever would be truly healthy, completely whole, totally integrated, yet when someone has a community of participation that recognizes and encourages them to use their gifts, that person – and reciprocally that community – begins approaching wholeness. Approaching the limit of a function also sounds like math, (as does "reciprocal") and it is a type of calculation where the sum of the parts adds up to a whole that exceeds the individual inputs or arguments; it's synergistic!

Outro: Happily I can report my experience of the past few months in current city have been demonstrating my conviction that I need connections and opportunities to start healing toward wholeness, completeness. The article I quoted and my own ideas could have resulted in a very long post or series of posts (hey, I'm been doing those for the past half-dozen years), but I need to trust my five minutes' worth is whole enough to be sufficiently complete.

life stuff button

Friday, April 01, 2016

March 2016: the living begins

learned in march 2016

Emily P. Freeman's What We Learned Linkup for March is live! Now! Most months I combine some helpful new learnings and remembering with experiences that didn't necessarily teach me anything but still created meaningful memories. I love that T of Praying on the Prairie recently said she makes a point of including all types of learnings, not only the desirable, beneficial ones...I'll try to start tracking those. Meteorological spring in the northern hemisphere begins with March, so by now no matter what, every year I'm already starting to love the weather, love my life.

AIGA-WeWork event AIGA-WeWork event
AIGA-WeWork event

I loved discovering my tribe and and finding life at the DTLA AIGA event on Thursday 03 March.

Hawaiian BBQ in Koreatown! Yum! It's been a very long while... maybe even since that restaurant on Route 1 in Saugus.

A Festival of Rain, a Gift from Heaven—California is having a serious drought. Srsly.

Raisin Bread more consistently from the Dollar Store. In fact, last time I was there, they had a least 150 loaves!

Beverly Connection

What a rush to discover the very urban slightly grungy Beverly Connection shopping complex—I love retail therapy!

horses scene

As part of need to consolidate internet activities, I started another page on this blog; this time it's a commonplace book. Beyond the fact I spend so much of my paid work time as a designer on the computer, because a site is there does not mean I need to participate or join.

I learned about Nowruz (one of several anglicized spellings), the Persian New Year, yet another official time of new beginnings that starts at the spring equinox.

world water day in Glendale

I loved walking the labyrinth that reminds us of the highly irregular, meandering path of our journey in faith at the Tuesday in Holy Week World Water Day event at the synod offices.

As always, Maundy Thursday was one of my fave days of the year, liturgical or otherwise.

They needed "another actress," so the church administrator asked me to be a reader in the Good Friday passion story. Easter morning someone asked me how many different characters I played? Three and a half, I believe.

street eucharist

You needed to be there to experience and appreciate the varied, creative, astonishing readings of scripture at the Easter Vigil. We concluded by carrying the Communion Table out of the church building onto the sidewalk and celebrating a street eucharist open to all comers.

great 50 days of Easter

I learned about The Reality of Resurrection. I am learning there is Life after Death. Now begins the living. Here life starts anew.

life stuff button
Emily P Freeman what we learned in March 2016

five minute friday: decide

five minute friday decide five minute friday button

Time for another Five Minute Friday write or type without edits; today's one-word prompt is decide. Kate Motaung hosts.

not to decide is to decideLong, long time ago, back in the days Conception Abbey Press posters were a minor to major mania – specially around urban churches – on my kitchen wall I hung a poster with a cogent quote from Harvey Cox that reminded us, "Not to decide is to decide." By then I'd read a few of Cox's intriguing books, including his ├╝ber-classic The Secular City, the not nearly as popular On Not Leaving it to the Snake, and the less-well-known Seduction of the Spirit; later on he'd be one of my divinity school instructors! Not to decide is to decide relates to my own sometimes sadly, though often sweetly learned experiences (the future will be different because I'll do what I can to help it be different!) that when I agonize over any small or large decision and let it hang for much too long, the grace period usually expires and events tumble down in ways that probably could have been different if I'd chosen or decided something. Another fave during my early days of theological exploration, the late Jewish theologian Matin Buber tells us, "And if there were a devil it would not be one who decided against God, but one who, in eternity, came to no decision."

PS All that is no April Foolery—truly it isn't. And saying it's not ain't no April Foolishness either.

PPS I'd intended to keep that wonderful Harvey Cox poster forever, but one day water from the apt above me trickled down onto it. I wiped it down and basically dried it off, but it never would be the same, so I sadly threw it away when I moved out of there. Posters generally are in the category of ephemera, and you know what that implies? Temporary. Transitory. Fleeting. Ephemeral. Here today, gone tomorrow. Fallout from decisions not made often is not temporary, transitory, fleeting, or ephemeral. Around the same time I unintentionally dropped my copy of On Not Leaving it to the Snake into a curbside mud puddle as I was exiting my very first Chevy. Kept that one anyway. Too.