Sunday, October 26, 2008

The HORROR of George W.

We saw Oliver Stone's film "W" this weekend, his portrayal of George W. Bush. At the end of the last scene my husband spontaneously uttered "Wow," and I covered my face with my hands and couldn't speak. Lovely Passionate Feminist didn't say anything, but she and I talked about it on the way home, and she agreed.

It's a horror film, really.

The horror of seeing a soul (rich and therefore privileged though he is) unable to find himself. Searching, searching, searching his whole life for what would please his father. Mistakenly believing that to please his father would give his life meaning and purpose. He'd be a real man, and not "a disappointment," if he could win his father's approval. The horror of a lost soul. The horror of what we do to our children.

The horror of seeing religion used as an opiate. George W. traded one addiction, alcohol, for another--this time a much more dangerous one. Religion without the courage of self knowledge is open to abuse on all kinds of levels. Unless they do the difficult inner work necessary, sons who don't receive their father's approval feel powerless. "Conversion" provided the cover for George W's basest impulse for power to come to the fore. George W mistook his own inner lies for God telling him to run for the presidency. Combine that with the evil plotting of Karl Rove and you have political expediency placed above all morality. And that's what elected George W. Bush President of the United States. Twice. Horror of a nation gone mad.

The horror of the neoconservative agenda. I hate with a holy hatred the neoconservative agenda. (Read about it at The Project for a New American Century.) It's American POWER no matter the cost--which of course fit well with George W's immaturity, manifested in his psychological need for power. It's a machismo that would be utterly ridiculous if it hadn't actually surrounded the President of the United States. As it is, the neoconservatives are responsible for the deaths of 4,000 Americans and countless Iraqis. Neoconservatives are responsible for the hatred of America that is so prevalent on this planet today. They are dealers of death and fear under the guise of "freedom." Men with neoconservative agendas are the men that "W" chose for advisors. Men that seem as dangerously insecure, arrogant, and impotent as he. The horror of megalomania.

I could go on. The horror of the last eight years bubbled up within me as I watched this film. (Literally. I had a rare acid reflux attack.) The last scene is "W" in one of his baseball fantasies--he's running under the lights to catch a fly ball, but he's lost it, he can't see where it's coming from. His face is a study in helplessness and fear.

And then the movie ends. Just like that.

I know it's just a movie, someone's idea of George W. Bush. I know our President is not a monster--he's a human being with his good points as well. I know I have my own faults, and I know I could be wrong. But after 9-11 I began to think that our President had a dangerously weak sense of self. Apparently Oliver Stone thinks so, too.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Amazing Creation

As I mentioned in my last post, we're creating a Prayer Garden with a labyrinth in the courtyard at the entrance to my church.

I don't have a good photograph of it yet. This one is old but it shows the nice floor-to-ceiling windows that look out onto the entrance from the church office. (My little office is adjacent to the church office and has one of these windows as well.) You can see in the background part of the beautiful oak tree which will at the center of the labyrinth--The Tree of Life! On this tree we are hanging a multitude of wind chimes. (Oh, the few already there are so arresting--I stop when I hear them, and I let their beautiful tones minister to me.) And all around this courtyard entrance will be flowers and plants, and a bench or two for meditation. The church is on almost 7 acres--it's a park, really, with about 40 oak and pecan trees. We'll be able to walk the labyrinth, sit on a bench at the Tree of Life, listen to the music of the chimes, look out on this lovely park, and know the goodness of God.

I can't wait!!

Today five TONS of stone were delivered, sandstone in rectangular blocks, to be exact. One of our members, MS, (bless his heart!) is doing most of the work on this, and he'll be the one to actually build the labyrinth with this stone. He went with me and our other minister yesterday to choose it. It's a really nice "striped sandstone" that matches the church building pretty well.

I'm so thrilled at this project--we all are! One day this summer the church administrator, CE, and I were bemoaning the ugliness of the entrance. What little grass that was there was all burned up and we had weeds everywhere. I put a little notice in the newsletter: "Calling all Gardeners," thinking perhaps we could get some retired folks interested in taking this courtyard as a project. No takers. It was over a month later when MS, who works fulltime, got interested all on his own--I don't think he read that article. Then CE mentioned something about the courtyard to our current moderator who just happened to respond with, "You know, I've always envisioned a labyrinth in that space." Well! That little comment reminded CE that years ago the church allocated $1,000 for a labyrinth, but it was never used! She jumped up and ran to tell me. I grabbed MS and we all went outside, and there we started to "see" it together.

$1,000 isn't much. We spent the bulk of it on the sandstone. We're hoping church members will catch the spirit and start to contribute. A few people have already brought plants for MS to put in the new flowerbeds he's already made.

Creation. It's quite amazing.

(wind chimes via Google Images)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

A Small Break to Catch My Breath

I received a gentle nudge from a friend today. She emailed me, Why aren't you blogging? Everything OK? Everything is fine, Kathy. This afternoon is the first time in two weeks that I've come up for air. Came home from church about 1:30, ate lunch with D and Beautiful Genuine Musician, then took a 3 hour nap. Of course, it all starts again tomorrow morning, and it will continue on through Saturday, October 25 when I attend a denominational meeting and then officiate a wedding. After that, I'll be able to stop between my "action-items" and take notice of my life again.

Actually, on second thought, that's not completely true. I have noticed some things:

  • The stunning beauty of the Guadalupe River in the Hill Country of Texas. I led our 3-day church retreat there last week. Our worship on Sunday morning was outside where the view was just breathtaking. My words were paltry in the face of that which spoke of God's love and majesty better than I ever could.
  • The love and generosity of the church I'm now serving. Today they celebrated "Pastor Appreciation" Day. We gather for a time of fellowship each Sunday after the 11 o'clock service. They had a cake made for us, and had bought each of us $75 in Barnes & Noble gift certificates. Wow. I wish I'd been able to hold it together, but yes, I did cry. I just felt overwhelmed by their grace and generosity.

  • The amazing thoughtfulness of Young Man with Integrity and his girlfriend J. Along with little 2-year-old M, they came over last week to watch the debate with me, knowing that my husband was out of town on business. Isn't she a doll? She calls me "KK" and my husband "Bubba." So cute.

  • The depth of connection experienced at my last breakfast with The Author. Our conversation was so deep and meaningful, it energized me all day.

  • Love expressed through flowers. My husband D brings me flowers each time he goes to the store. He's been doing that since we got married, and I admit that I've taken it for granted at times. But flower-buying is NOT something he ever did before we married; this is something he does that's above and beyond. Yesterday they were a beautiful deep red color, almost burgundy. Thank you, D.

  • The way people trust me. What an honor it is to be trusted. We had our monthly seminar at my second job yesterday--it's an all day thing. After lunch someone asked if she could talk to me and proceeded to share something quite painful. I couldn't take her pain away, of course, but I hope that speaking it out loud to someone who cares was, in its way, a bit healing for her.
  • The beauty of creation, and creating. My church is creating a prayer garden. My office is so tiny, but one wall is a floor-to-ceiling window that looks out near our entrance, and that's where we're putting the garden. It will have a labyrinth, lots of flowers, some benches, and in the center of the labyrinth is a beautiful oak tree on which we are hanging lots and lots of wind chimes. Oh! I'm so excited about this, and so grateful for everyone who is helping with it.

Thanks again for your gentle nudge, Kathy. Writing this has helped me feel less overwhelmed, more connected and very grateful for my life.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Prayer of Gratitude

Good day spent in God's presence. I got into my "let's get it done" mode in the afternoon, but this morning I spent a lovely 90 minutes with my friend The Author. I always feel God's presence when I'm with her. Our conversations are deep and important and oh so nurturing.

This afternoon I decided to move our Evening Prayer service from the chapel to the main sanctuary, so that took the better part of two hours. But now that everything's moved, it'll be easier for me to set up and maintain. That was my "just get it done" mode, and I wasn't aware of God's presence, although when I started the service, it felt very centering to me.

My prayer tonight is simply one of gratitude. Thank you, God, for everything.

I'll be away from my computer for the next few days, leading a church retreat.