Sunday, December 27, 2009

"Up in the Air"

David and I saw the movie "Up in the Air" this afternoon. Both of us left the theater saying it was a great film, and we talked about it most of the way home.

George Clooney plays a man whose life seems as barren as his one-bedroom, blank-white-walled apartment --which he rarely occupies since he's on the road 342 days a year. His goal in life is to earn 10 million frequent flyer miles. (Really, every time they showed his apartment, my heart contracted in deep sadness, or perhaps horror. Blank. White. Walls. An ugly, cheap kitchen table from Wal-Mart. "Famine of the soul" is a phrase that seems to fit.)

I won't go into the story, but it's a sophisticated film, an intelligent film about relationships and life and what really matters.

Vera Farmiga plays a woman he meets on the road, and she is stunning in this role. An intriguing character, she's the one in this film that surprised me the most.

David read somewhere that the people in the film --the ones who are reacting to being fired from their jobs -- are not actors, not all of them are actors, anyway. The director advertised in Detroit and someplace else for folks who had recently lost their jobs -- he asked them to come in and filmed them talking about how they reacted to the news. Powerful stuff.

And there's a wedding scene that MUST have been filmed in an authentic little Lutheran church in northern Wisconsin. It was too real to have been thought up by Hollywood set designers!

And I loved the opening sequence...It was one city after another being filmed from the air. And the earth just looks so different from 30,000 ft up! I was totally engaged, and I can't say that for most opening sequences of movies!

If you can, go see it. Let me know what you think.

A "good word" about Jesus Christ

I'm preaching this morning. On Jesus. My homiletics professor used to say: "Say a good word about Jesus Christ." Included in the sermon is the story of my own coming to terms with Jesus as the God-Human and the difficulty I had with that whole idea until I entered seminary and read John Cobb's Christ in a Pluralistic Age. As I wrote the sermon I realized how much Jesus means to me. Here's the last of the sermon:
I said that when I left the businessworld and entered seminary, I knew my heart's desire lay in a search for meaning and for a sense of purpose. I've known for a while now that my heart's desire is Jesus. Jesus provides the meaning and purpose for my life, evening while remaining so mysterious. There's not just a whole heckuva lot I can say with absolute certainty about the paradox, the Mystery, of the God-Human Jesus.

There is a way, though, that I can say with integrity that "Jesus saves." That's because, for me, the vision of this divine Mystery is overflowing with the most joyful, dancing and vibrant colors, a vision that can trigger a new reality. The music of Mystery transports me--transports me to a sublime place where everythng I am suddenly moves into alignment, gets "centered," and there is no fear, only the authentic me. And the fragrance of divine Mystery places me always in the present moment, when regrets for the past and worries about the future just dissolve, and I am truly alive, utterly grateful, and enveloped in the saving grace that is my Savior Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ.

May it be so for you, in your own unique way, as well. Amen.

As I wrote those words I realized just how true they were. It's the Mystery of Jesus that draws me--the Mystery of embodying Love, and all those other attributes of the divine. --The Mystery of how the divine does indeed intersect with the human, bringing about creativity, goodness, justice, peace. --The Mystery of death. --And the Hope that it's not the last word about Life. That's Jesus, for me.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Beaver Lake

Beaver Lake in the Ozark Mountains really is beautiful. Our trip this time was quite different (we went about 6 months ago as well). We knew the place, so neither of us felt the need to explore very much; plus, northern Arkansas has already seen the onset of winter. As you can see from the photograph, the trees were bare. Still, that carried its own beauty, I suppose.

We had two full days of exquisite rest. More than that, really. When we arrived on Thursday we had enough time for David to cook our yummy Thanksgiving dinner. Afterwards, we fixed a beautiful fire in the fireplace, something we never do here at home.

I'm so grateful for this little getaway time. We both came back tonight feeling refreshed and happy.

And now a month of hard work ahead of us! Let us begin!!!!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

"a beauty that suffered its way through the ache of desolation until the music emerged to equal the desperation"

It's a dark cloudy Saturday. Quiet. I'm a tad sick again and have zero energy. Good thing I finished my sermon yesterday.

A wonderful friend invited me and David to the symphony last night -- her husband plays the trumpet with the Ft. Worth Symphony. Lovely performance. Different, South American music that we all enjoyed. We walked downtown to a nice restaurant afterwards. Heavy, humid night air that I'm sure didn't help my lungs. Worth it, though. We had a nice time.

TCU Horned Frog (Go Frogs!) won again this afternoon, 45 to 10. Wow.

David's back from a 42 mile bicycle ride this morning. He's in the kitchen now preparing for dinner -- Young Man with Integrity and his family are coming over in about an hour. Morgan will once again spend the night with us--wish I had some energy to enjoy her more...

I'm drawn to John O'Donohue on a day like today. Here's just a random passage from his work Beauty: The Invisible Embrace.

Page 179. "To Create Beauty out of Woundedness."
Beauty triumphs over the suffering inherent in life. (Nietzsche)

When we decide to explore our lives through creative expression, it is often surprising to discover that the things that almost destroyed us are the very things that want to talk to us. It could be years later; time makes no difference in the inner sanctum of this encounter. The wound has left its imprint. And yet after all this time the dark providence of the suffering wants to somehow illuminate our lives so that we can now discover the unseen gift that it bequeathed...

...Beauty is not all brightness. In the shadowlands of pain and despair we fine slow, dark beauty. The primeval conversation between darkness and beauty is not audible to the human ear and the threshold where they engage each other is not visible to the eye. Yet at the deepest core they seem to be at work with each other. The guiding intuition of our exploration suggests that beauty is never one-dimensional or one-sided. This is why even in awful circumstances we can still meet beauty...

...The beauty that emerges from woundedness is a beauty infused with feeling: a beauty different from the beauty of landscape and the cold beauty of perfect form. This is a beauty that has suffered its way through the ache of desolation until the words or music emerged to equal the hunger and desperation at its heart. It must also be said that not all woundedness succeeds in finding its way through to beauty. Most woundedness remains hidden, lost inside forgotten silence.

Indeed, in every life there is some wound that continues to weep secretly, even after years of attempted healing. Where woundedness can be refined into beauty a wonderful transfiguration takes place.

For instance, compassion is one of the most beautiful presences a person can bring to the world and most compassion is born from one's own woundedness. When you have felt deep emotional pain, you are able to imagine what the pain of the other is like; their suffering touches you. This is the most decisive and vital threshold in human experience and behavior. The greatest evil and destruction arises when people are unable to feel compassion. The beauty of compassion continues to shelter and save our world. If that beauty were quenched, there would be nothing between us and the end-darkness which would pour in torrents over us.

Friday, October 30, 2009

The lingering past

Wow. This EMDR therapy is powerful. Again today the session was just incredible.

Trauma (whether it's capital "T" Trauma like rape or PTSD from war experiences, or the more subtle but long-term and pervasive small "t" trauma, as in my case) often doesn't get completely processed in the brain, probably because there's some kind of chemical release that interferes with normal processing at the time of the event. The neurons associated with those traumatic memories get stuck in the amygdala, part of the limbic system, and when a later event triggers that trauma-memory, it can come bursting out of the amygdala with a lot of power to influence feelings 20, 30, 50 years later.

I had processed so much of my growing-up years already, but this methodology helps me to re-experience episodic memories emotionally and thus "break them apart," as M said. I re-live the feeling of them, and then M helped me re-process them.


Amazing. I could almost feel the shift happening, the new perspective forming.

As I process the memories, I wear headphones in which I hear beaping, alternating between the right, and then the left, side of the brain... apparently the alternating beeps help the episodic memories arise.

I'm utterly exhausted this afternoon, and this will probably continue into the weekend, if last week was any indication.

Worth it, though. Totally worth it.


http://www.emdr.com/index.htm

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Busy plateaus

The wedding was wonderful. The weekend before that, our Mary's Hope Conference on spiritual healing for survivors of childhood sexual abuse turned out to be a wonderful success. And for three or four weekends before that, I was struggling with bronchitis and asthma and flu. And, of course, every weekend since September has been a working weekend for teaching my class at the seminary.

I'm pooped.

Five more classes to teach. Thanksgiving. Advent and the holidays.

How to stay centered and present, and not just keep my eye toward a future with a vacation in it? After all, staying centered and present makes every moment a vacation.

It helps that I'm seeing my therapist regularly again. When I was sick I had an emotional meltdown--that's what prompted me to make the first appointment. I hadn't seen M, my therapist, in over a year, during which time she'd been trained in EMDR so she invited me to consider coming regularly again for a while to try this new method.

Working with memories, EMDR simultaneously stimulates both sides of the brain to kind of re-wire those neural patterns that developed as a child reacting to various stresses and hurts (my words). I had my doubts, but I trust M so much that I was very willing to give it a try. First session was okay but nothing big. This second session on Friday was amazing. Very powerful. So much emotional "gunk" (technical term) came out that I've been exhausted ever since.

I'm hopeful that this method can really help move me forward again psychologically. I've been plateaued for a while now.

Speaking of plateaus...David drove me around to where he's been riding his bike. Up and down. Up and down! :-) This area is about 5 miles south of where we live, kind of a rural area. Not really rural -- there are lots of people, but the roads are tiny, and it's probably still an unincorporated area. Anyway, it's amazing to me that he can ride 32 miles. I've been riding my bike around our rather hilly neighborhood and can barely do a mile!

Here's to school, church, bike riding, and keeping-on-keeping-on!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Dying with Grace and Dignity

There are days when one feels particularly alive -- I hope you know what I mean.

Strange that today was one of those days for me, since I've been down, down with acute bronchitis and some asthma.

M called me Sunday to let me know that J was near death. M and J are two older women from my previous church, two older women who 'adopted' me, mentored me, loved me. Toward the end of my time at this previous church, when things were extremely stressful and it seemed that mean-spirited people might prevail, M and J and I began meeting every week for prayer. Prayer. Prayer. Prayer. Those meetings sustained me, nourished me, gave me strength to carry on for what I believed was right.

Today I decided to visit J before I went to work, to tell her goodbye. (Such a blessing that she is able to die in her own home, on hospice. ) I entered her room. She lay there on the hospital bed they'd brought in for her, her face turned toward the door. She's somewhere in that netherland between life and death, unconscious -- or perhaps not completely. I don't know. Her mouth open, the death rattle reminded me of other losses, other deaths.

The nurse came in, so S (the lovely woman, also from my previous church, who is staying there in JC's house during this time) and I went to the living room to talk. When J arranged for S to stay there, knowing she was dying, she told her several times, "S, I want to die with grace and dignity. That's all I ask of you."

And S is exactly the kind of person to help her do that. She is guardian of JC's grace and dignity during these last hours.

I wish I had made more time to visit with JC. I know she wanted me to. She visited me at my current church a couple of times, just to "see your face, Katherine. I just want to see your face," she said. She loved me so much.

Damn this busyness. Oh, dear God. I should've made more time for dear, dear J.

She was a poet, you know. Beautiful poetry that she would type out for me on an old typewriter and give me a copy. Poetry about life and God and love, but also about troublesome bunny rabbits in her backyard garden. Hilarious, rich, earthy poetry.

When S and I went back to J's room again, I said a prayer, thanking God for this angel on earth, thanking God for allowing me to know her, for the way her heart yearned for God and for the example that was for me. I held her, and I kissed her sweet face one last time.

I don't know. I have carried this early-morning experience with me all day, perhaps made more powerful by this pervading sickness in my lungs through which I have to push through just to draw a breath of any depth. JC's breath is leaving her body. I am working to breath this day. Somehow, the symmetry there seems ... helpful to me in some way I can't quite articulate. I have felt so open this day.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The sin of our time

I'm feeling very low today. No surprise. When I'm sick it's hard to stay "up."

Tired of being sick. No energy. Tired of worrying worrying worrying about cat dander and its effect on my lungs. Probably dust, too. I need to hire someone to clean the house for me.

There's a lot to be grateful for, I know. I'm just not going there right now. :-)

I want to rant and rave, but, luckily, I'm kinda too tired.

Slept until 10 a.m.
Watching football right now--well, sort of. D is asleep in his recliner and I'm [obviously] blogging. Tried to read a bit earlier today. Got about 30 pages into For Whom the Bell Tolls, and then feel asleep.

I really need to reevaluate the way I live. I do. I said 'yes' to teaching at Brite out of loyalty to the school--wanting to help when it's short handed, and, I admit, a little ego that I was asked. It's been a fabulous experience so far, and I'll continue on through the Spring (teaching Grief and Loss), as I said I would. I'm not sorry about the decision I made. What a gift to be able to influence future ministers. I love it.

But it's also taking its toll. No denying that.

I'm just too busy...the sin of our time, and I am guilty. No question about it.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Yes, our "culture of cruelty"

With a hat-tip to Jan at Yearning for God, here is Bill Moyers, who takes the words right out of my mouth:

September 4, 2009 BILL MOYERS:
The editors of THE ECONOMIST magazine say America's health care debate has become a touch delirious, with people accusing each other of being evil-mongers, dealers in death, and un-American. Well, that's charitable. I would say it's more deranged than delirious, and definitely not un-American.

Those crackpots on the right praying for Obama to die and be sent to hell — they're the warp and woof of home-grown nuttiness. So is the creature from the Second Amendment who showed up at the President's rally armed to the teeth. He's certainly one of us. Red, white, and blue kooks are as American as apple pie and
conspiracy theories. Bill Maher asked me on his show last week if America is still a great nation. I should have said it's the greatest show on earth. Forget what you learned in civics about the Founding Fathers — we're the children of Barnum and Bailey, our founding con men. Their freak show was the forerunner of today's talk radio.

Speaking of which: we've posted on our website an essay by the media scholar Henry Giroux. He describes the growing domination of hate radio as one of the crucial elements in a "culture of cruelty" increasingly marked by overt racism, hostility and disdain for others, coupled with a simmering threat of mob violence toward any political figure who believes health care reform is the most vital of safety nets, especially now that the central issue of life and politics is no longer about working to get ahead, but struggling simply to survive.

So here we are, wallowing in our dysfunction. Governed — if you listen to the rabble rousers — by a black nationalist from Kenya smuggled into the United States to kill Sarah Palin's baby. And yes, I could almost buy their belief that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, only I think he shipped them to Washington, where they've been recycled as lobbyists and trained in the alchemy of money laundering, which turns an old-fashioned bribe into a First Amendment right.

Only in a fantasy capital like Washington could Sunday morning talk shows become the high church of conventional wisdom, with partisan shills treated as holy men whose gospel of prosperity always seems to boil down to lower taxes for the rich.

Poor Obama. He came to town preaching the religion of nice. But every time he bows politely, the harder the Republicans kick him. No one's ever conquered Washington politics by constantly saying "pretty please" to the guys trying to cut your throat. Let's get on with it, Mr. President. We're up the proverbial creek with spaghetti as our paddle. This health care thing could have been the crossing of the Delaware, the turning point in the next American Revolution — the moment we put the mercenaries to rout, as General Washington did the Hessians at Trenton. We could have stamped our victory "Made in the USA." We could have said to the world, "Look what we did!" And we could have turned to each other and said, "Thank you." As it is, we're about to get health care reform that measures human beings only in corporate terms of a cost-benefit analysis.

I mean, this is topsy-turvy — we should be treating health as a condition, not a commodity. As we speak, Pfizer, the world's largest drug maker, has been fined a record $2.3 billion dollars as a civil and criminal — yes, that's criminal, as in fraud — penalty for promoting prescription drugs with the subtlety of the Russian mafia. It's the fourth time in a decade Pfizer's been called on the carpet. And these are the people into whose tender mercies Congress and the White House would deliver us?

Come on, Mr. President. Show us America is more than a circus or a market. Remind us of our greatness as a democracy. When you speak to Congress next week, just come out and say it. We thought we heard you say during the campaign last year that you want a government run insurance plan alongside private insurance — mostly premium-based, with subsidies for low-and-moderate income people. Open to all individuals and employees who want to join and with everyone free to choose the doctors we want. We thought you said Uncle Sam would sign on as our tough, cost-minded negotiator standing up to the cartel of drug
and insurance companies and Wall Street investors whose only interest is a company's share price and profits.

Here's a suggestion, Mr. President: ask Josh Marshall to draft your speech. Josh is the founder of the website talkingpointsmemo.com. He's a journalist and historian, not a politician. He doesn't split things down the middle and call it a victory for the masses. He's
offered the simplest and most accurate description yet of a public insurance plan — one that essentially asks people: would you like the option — the voluntary option — of buying into Medicare before you're 65? Check it out, Mr. President. This health care thing is make or break for your leadership, but for us, it's life and death. No more Mr. Nice Guy, Mr. President. We need a fighter.

That's it for the Journal. I'm Bill Moyers. See you next time.


Exactly. No more Mr. Nice Guy. No more caving in. Go for it, Mr. President. Go for the difference that will actually make a difference.

I love and admire Bill Moyers. Always have. Always will.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Last night

I'm in my office, checking blogs and email and facebook. The fans are whirling, so I'm nice and comfortable. My office...oh, it's beautiful, filled with so many things that remind me of people I love and work that engages me in the depth of my being.

David is in the shower. Since he got home from church this morning, he's been working on restoring his old bicycle, and then he just finished mowing the lawn.

All the kids are in City to the South today, visiting their mom and step-dad in celebration of Beautiful Genuine Girl's birthday. She turned 19. Last night everyone was here celebrating her birthday....

Our gathering around the dinner table was warm...siblings reconnecting...little Morgan (3 yo) so happy that we were having a birthday party (even if it wasn't her own!)....BGG's best friend J part of the family....David cooking one of his signature dishes--mushroom meatballs over rice (yummy!).... Lovely Passionate Feminist talking to her sister-in-law, Inherently Irrational Rationalist, for over an hour after everyone else had moved to the living room for a movie...BGG ostensibly watching the movie with us but really playing with her new phone (birthday gift).

David and I went to bed at 10:30, leaving the youngsters to themselves.

We slept well...










...with happy memories of a very good day....









True Tears

From Lynne Baab's "A Renewed Spirituality: Finding Fresh Paths at Midlife":

Esther de Waal writes about the sense of guilt that bedeviled her childhood, the sense of never being good enough, of failing again and again in trying to measure up. In the Celtic tradition there is none of that kind of self-focused guilt. Instead, she notes that in the Celtic poems and songs "I have found sorrow, deep sorrow, many tears, a real outpouring of grief, but it is never turned in on itself, never the kind of sorrow that becomes inward, self-destructive guilt, feeding on itself. Tears, as I learn them from the Celtic Christian tradition, are never what so often my own tears become: tears of rage or of self-pity, tears of frustration, tears because I have put my own self at the center of the picture and feel that I have not received the treatment that I deserve--the tears of a child, in fact, for whom 'life isn't fair.'.....But true tears are those of real, deep personal sorrow, of repentance, that lead to the determination to change."

And I would add that true tears are those evoked by beauty, by goodness, by profound truths, as well as by deep personal sorrow and repentance.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Frantic, frenzied, no-time-to-stop? Oh, no.

I went to lunch yesterday with my husband. He told me all about his morning, and I told him about mine. After only my first couple of sentences, though, he said, "Whoa. Take a breath."

I didn't understand what he meant. "What?"

"I don't know. You just sound...." He couldn't quite put it into words.

I tried to feel what he might've sensed, but nothing quite came to me. As the day wore on, though--and now, this morning as I sat in my chair and tried to pray--I think I understand what he was hearing.

Frantic.

Yeah, frantic, and I was SO frantic that I didn't even realize (at any meaningful level) I was frantic.

Yesterday was a frantic, frenzied, no-time-to-stop, "must check off those action items from my list," work at break-neck speed, kind of day.

And I know why I do that to myself. More importantly, I know why I must stop. I have to stop because, as far as I know I only have one life to live. A precious life, filled with Grace that I don't even feel because I don't give my soul the space it desperately needs to take it in.

Now. In this moment. I stop.

I feel such gratitude for David that he's sensitive enough to hear that something was really wrong yesterday...that "hint" stayed with me all day, even if it only came to fruition this morning.

I feel such gratitude for my life, full of opportunities for ministry. I have such meaningful work to do, but to do that work with integrity, with authenticity, I must stop and take a breath.

Breathing, breathing, breathing...helps me remember that I am surrounded by the Divine Presence, by God, who doesn't much care whether I get all the little details just right. No, God cares so much more that I remember I'm alive and that this life is pure gift.

Pure gift.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Holding On and Letting Go

In The Evolving Self Robert Kegan talks about how crucial "holding environments" are. We have to be appropriately "held" in order to feel safe enough to develop and grow, so that eventually, when the time is right and the Spirit moves, we grow up. We move forward. We mature.

"Holding environments" are a tricky business. For parents, I mean. Providing the safety in which children can learn to take appropriate risks--wow. How would anyone really know how to do that?

Lovely Passionate Feminist moved out this week. To an apartment in a city 45 mintues from us. I looked at these apartments with her a few months ago--they were clean, the grounds were very well maintained, the leasing staff was impressive, and they were affordable. I remember a sign on the wall of the leasing office which let residents know about a "free lunch" program for children in the summer. That, plus the affordability of the place, told me that there were lots of low-income folks here, single moms with children and the like. It reminded me of the apartments I moved into when I first moved out.

Seemed perfectly fine.

When David saw the apartments for the first time this week (as he helped her move), they encountered a couple fighting--screaming at each other outside their apartment. It was one of those scary kinds of fights. Then they noticed a couple of guys "cruising" the apartments, driving around, slowly, looking "suspicious." And, finally, they encountered a couple of guys coming out of an apartment who were rip-roaring drunk. In the middle of a workday.

Ahhh....this beautiful young woman is leaving the safety of our home for THIS? YIKES!~

David gave her loads of advice and bought her a baseball bat. When I got there that evening, I immediately launched into how important it was to NOT OPEN YOUR DOOR UNLESS YOU KNOW THE PERSON. And I kept remarking about how the doors were solid wood and how good that was.

Ugh.

Lovely Passionate Feminist is a serious, highly intelligent person. She's a very mature 21 y.o., and she'll be okay. But LAUNCHING someone into adulthood like this is not easy.

Besides "holding on" and "letting go," Kegan (following Winnicott) also talks about "staying put," by which he means staying in the relationship, open and securely, as the person moves forward and the relationship inevitably changes.

We're definitely "staying put," and trying hard to "let go" appropriately. Was it okay to give her all this advice, which I'm sure unsettled her...or should we have nixed all the advice-giving and just mirrored her excitement as best we could?--(along with some honest tears of sadness at our own loss, of course. I know those tears were authentic and good.)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Damn. I mean thank you


Isn't this amazing? Thank you, Purple, for posting it.
It's by Melanie Weidner at:
I ordered a copy this morning.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

A Little Update

Haven't been blogging much...too busy, mostly.

Went to Georgia for a couple of days this week to visit D's family. I got there late Wednesday (after a very bumpy flight), slept most of Thursday, and flew back Friday. Oh, I was tired! Wanted some time yesterday after I returned home to prepare for the class I'm teaching, but cleaned house instead! Takes more energy to think than it does to dust, vacuum, and scrub!

This week at work my attention will be on--
  • preparing for the beginning of Adventure Village (our Sunday School program) on August 30
  • preparing for the beginning of our church growth Campaign which will launch on September 13
  • and continuing marketing/funding efforts for the big conference our Wellness Ministry is hosting in October on the spiritual healing of survivors of childhood sexual abuse

Three HUGE HUGE projects! I think I have them under control, but I'm at that stage where I don't quite yet have it all organized in my mind. My intuition tells me I do have enough time allocated, though. Each project is meaningful to me...With Adventure Village I get to be around the children again (we close down our Sunday School during the summer) and they always energize me...With the church growth campaign I get to work with people who also love the church and whose faith is alive and vibrant....And with the conference in October I get to work on something pastorally that is truly meaningful.

In addition, I'll be teaching the class beginning August 27. Taking another 3 days of vacation beginning Aug. 17 from my church in order to prepare.

Good news today from HeartPaths: I'll only be facilitating a group on Thursday evenings, and won't have to do any of the individual spiritual direction. Although I love doing that, I just couldn't see how I was going to find the time.

Whew!

Lovely Passionate Feminist is getting her own apartment this week; she'll be about 45 minutes away from us. It's been SO much fun helping her furnish it. She's excited and it's neat witnessing that. We'll miss having her around, for sure.

D's excited that football season is back. Dallas Cowboys have a new stadium to play in (not that D is a Cowboy's fan--he's definitely NOT) that's suppose to be some super-duper ultra extravagant new home for "America's team," as they like to think of themselves. Personally I think it's a huge waste of money, a monument to greed.

Seeker Executive and I have begun a daily email exchange, listing five things for which we are thankful each day. Very meaningful to me, and so helpful in getting centered.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Lions and lambs

In his book Orthodoxy, G.K. Chesterton wrote:


. . . and the lion lay down with the lamb. But remember that this text is too lightly interpreted. It is constantly assured . . . that when the lion lies down with the lamb the lion becomes lamblike. But that is brutal annexation and imperialism on the part of the lamb. That is simply the lamb absorbing the lion instead of the lion eating the lamb. The real problem is -- can the lion lie down with the lamb and still retain his royal ferocity?
(Gilbert K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy (New York: John Lane Co., 1909), p. 180-181.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Teaching in the Fall

I don't know how actually teaching this class at my seminary in the Fall will be, but preparing for it is a blast. I've done all the classes for the psychotherapies we're going to cover and today I'm preparing the class on "Self Knowledge."

It's all so fascinating! Makes me wish I was going back to school myself!

My office is a total disaster, of course. Books everywhere! Papers all over the chair and the desk and crammed inside the book shelves. Lovely Passionate Feminist is getting her own apartment in about 3 weeks, and sometime after that I'm going to move my office into her old room, since it's bigger, and make this little office space into a guest bedroom. Of course, I don't really have the time to do that, but .... :-)

Gosh, I'm so grateful to have this opportunity to teach this class. What a gift it's been, and it hasn't even started!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

A President Who Represents Us Well

I just need to say what a good feeling I get when I see President Obama on television...in Russia, in Italy, meeting with all these other world leaders. Here is a man who I really feel represents the best things about America.

Who knows...perhaps some big scandal will befall him before his first term is over and I'll have to eat these words. Power can corrupt the best of us, I know. But I'm betting/hoping not.

And for now, WOW, I feel like we as Americans can finally hold our heads up high because someone of his high caliber is out there for us on the world stage. He handles himself so well. He listens to others. And when he speaks it's intelligible.

Ahhh, what a relief.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The quantum world...

I took a brief look at PBS's show about Brian Greene's book, The Elegant Universe, this afternoon. The first hour is about Einstein's lifelong quest to find a theory that linked everything together. Apparently he stubbornly stuck with his old way of thinking and didn't pay much attention to the new physicists (Neils Bohr, for one) who were making new discoveries. Even so, string theory is a kind of fulfillment of Einstein's quest to understand the way the universe really works. Too bad he couldn't let go and allow others' thinking to influence his own. He steadfastly maintained to his dying day that "God doesn't play dice with the universe."

Quantum physics is all about probabilities, i.e., God playing dice. In a quantum world anything can happen. People can actually walk through walls, although quantum theory would say that the probability of that would be so low that it would approach eternity before anyone could do it. Hmm...(sounds familiar!)

In a quantum world particles bi-locate and are in two places at the same time. And two particles that were once linked stay linked, connected, no matter how far they move apart.

And, although I haven't watched this part yet, apparently in a quantum world there are MANY worlds. One scientist conjectured that our universe may be kind of hung straight, like a sheet on a clothesline, and other sheets (worlds) are right next to it but we're not aware of them. In these parallel and many universes do all the probabilities get worked out?

In a quantum world the principle of uncertainty reigns supreme. I guess in that world we'd have to let go of our crazy need to control everything & everyone and learn instead to respond with thoughtfulness--most likely that would be a love response, don't you think?

String theory says that the universe is composed of tiny strings of pulsating energy. Pumping and resting, vibrating at a certain rhythm. Pulsing, kind of like a heartbeat maybe?

So, the quantum world is very much like the spiritual world that we know when we tune into God, or move into a right-brain way of being, or reach a meditative state in which are false egos are finally quiet.

I spoke to someone last week who believes there are ghosts in her house, specifically her son who died many years ago and a niece. She doesn't see them, but she feels them. And she's heard them walking around upstairs.

Who knows? It's all such mystery. But beautiful. Very, very beautiful.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Making some Progress on my Class in the Fall: "Spirituality and Psychotherapy"

It's been a slow week. I've been the only staff person in the office (which is kinda lonely!).

Even though I'm definitely not a fundraiser kind of person, I managed to make contact this week with a couple of grant-giving institutions, some churches and other institutions and ask for money. So far I don't have a dime, but there is hope. I'm trying to raise money so we can bring Mary's Hope Workshops to my city for a conference on the spiritual issues that come with the survival of childhood sexual abuse. Such a worthy cause...surely the money is somewhere out there!!

Tomorrow and Friday I'm here at home working on my class in the Fall. It's slow-going so I decided to take all of next week as vacation time from my church and just work on the class full-time. I've enjoyed what I've done so far in preparation, but yikes! the topic is so big! ("Spirituality and Psychotherapy")

I've decided to start with at least one class period focusing on our embodiment, i.e., The BRAIN. I love reading about how the brain works and possibilities for how a sense of self develops. Wish I was technical enough to put that all together~! ha!

I'm going to assign the heavy-duty reading up front so they'll have most of that done by October...Gerald Corey's Theory and Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy. It's an excellent overview of different therapeutic modalities. Plus Diogenes Allen's Spiritual Theology.

Then they'll read about some spiritual disciplines and spiritual formation, plus Jean Stairs' text, Listening for the Soul. I'm hoping that by the first part of October we can begin to address specific topics: grief, the self, prayer/meditation and healing etc. Not quite sure yet how it will all come together, but hopefully that will be crystal clear by the end of next week! It better be!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Katie Sherrod

I hope you'll pop on over to Katie Sherrod's blog: Desert's Child. I have her listed on the sidebar of favorite blogs.

She has a great post on Broadway Baptist being kicked out of the Southern Baptist Convention this week. That's the church my husband attends and in which we were married.

She's also pasted Patricia Clarkson's speech at the Human Rights Coalition Event on gay marriage. Oh, it's priceless.

Katie Sherrod is an Episcopalian and she frequently blogs about what's going on in that troubled denomination, especially since Jack Iker is here in Fort Worth. This post is too good not to copy here. She writes:

I don't read David Virtue, but this was sent to me by a friend. You can see it here.

ACNA'09: FROM MY EAR TO YOURS....By David W. Virtue in Bedford, Texas

www.virtueonloine.org6/23/2009

Rumors abound that Ft. Worth Bishop Jack Iker's long term goal is to take his diocese to Rome. Not true. Numerous sources have told VOL that he is deeply committed to the new North American Anglican Province and he will work with his fellow bishops over the thorny issue of women's ordination.

A number of his Ft. Worth priests were recently seen at the Anglican Use conference in Houston. He has told them that if they want to go to Rome, they can do so, but they can't take their property with them.--------------------------------

One doesn't know where to start, does one?

Intensive Journaling


I attended an Ira Progoff Intensive Journaling Workshop last weekend. It's billed as "writing to access the power of the unconscious and evoke creative ability." And I think that's an accurate billing.

The instructor spread it out over Friday night, Saturday afternoon and Sunday afternoon, which is a great way to experience this method. I wasn't too tired!

We began Friday night by journaling about our present circumstances. Here's what that's about:

We being with the Now. But Now is not limited to the immediate instant. It's not just here and now, not just the spot on which we stand, nor this moment when we speak. Our Now moment is elastic. Therefore, we stretch the present moment back as ar as it needs to go in ortder to include as much of the past as is still an active part of the present.
I like that...the elasticity of the present moment. We began the journaling with: "Now that..."
So I included things like, Now that I'm married. Now that I have the Ph.D. Now that I have a family. Now that I'm doing work that is meaningful to me. Now that I'm having such problems with my body slowing down. Now that I have dual standing in two denominations. Now that I've "discovered" the work of John O'Donohue. Now that I appreciate beauty. Now that I have a car I enjoy driving and 600 thread-count sheets on the bed. etc. etc. (Yes, we were suppose to include material things as well as people, circumstances, events, emotional states.)

After that we approached the Present from a different vantage point, "shifting our psychic position to a depth viewpoint" by means of what Progoff called TWILIGHT IMAGERY. I love that word, twilight.

We moved into stillness, quiet, and let ourselves "drift into the twilight level" of consciousness. Our instructor described this in such a way that I got the idea of "auto-pilot." I used to drive the 45 minutes from my therapy group to home on "auto-pilot," a state in which the car seemed to drive itself as I intently processed what had happened in the group. One minute I was just turning out of the parking lot, and the next minute I was home. Not sure if this is the best way to access "twilight imagery," but it seemed to work for me. The book says that twilight level of consciousness is one in which we "let ourselves feel the tone and quality of the Now period we've just described." We simply allow any and all images to come to us, we intuit them, we feel them in our body. And we record those images as they come.

A lot of my imagery concerned me and my husband, but random things also came to me...friends who are battling cancer...driving, driving, driving...My need to be well-thought of...How good it was that The Author came with me to this workshop...How the instructor reminded me of my grandfather...How my life moves, and Oh, what if it stops? (strange)...Fear of failure at teaching this seminary class in the Fall...Waves came to me and I remembered that time sitting on the rock pier on the Atlantic Ocean beach...

Next came a Life Correlation, putting the conscious "Now that..." listing of my present life into conversation with the twilight images.

On Saturday we did a Daily Log where we listed everything that had happened within the last 24 hours. Amazing how much I could put down! The purpose of the Daily Log, as well as the Steppingstones which come next, is to provide material for the Journal Feedback work. That's where some powerful insights can come.

Next we were asked to write 12 Steppingstones which are "significant points of movement" in our lives.

Steppingstones stand forth as indicators of the inner connectedness of each person's existence...They enable us to draw out of the jumbled mass of our life experiences the thin and elusive connective threads that carry our potentialities through their phases of development toward a fuller unfolding.

Steppingstones are not intended to give us an intellectual understanding of our past. That's why there's no such thing as a correct listing of steppingstones. They are inherently in flux. The key to working with them is to let the list be created spontaneously out of the fullness of the present circumstances of life.

The thin and elusive connective threads. This was interesting. We were to begin with "I was born." and go from there. As I later reflected on my 12 Steppingstones, I divided them by thirds. Alongside the first grouping I wrote, "I survived this." Alongside the second group I wrote, "I un-learned these." And alongside the last group I wrote, "I am becoming me." Someday soon I'd like to do this part again and see if I come up with some different groupings.

Next we did some Dialogue/Feedback journaling. First, dialogue with persons, then with our works, and lastly with our body.

Dialogue with persons can be with someone current in your life, someone with whom we no longer have a relationship, or with someone who has died. The Steppingstones probably contain some powerful clues about which person to choose for the dialogue. We describe the relationship, as in where it is now, noting especially any emotions evoked.
"Our goal is to establish a deep dialogue so that we can open out the full possibilities and implications of our relationship. To do that, we cannot let ourselves fall back into the old patterns of communication--or non-communication--that have previously characterized the relationship. We want to reach a level that we've not reached before...We want to get beyond the outer mask to the inner person so that we can speak from an authentic depth in ourselves to the deep core of being in the other....We do this by placing ourselves inside the actuality of the person, as though we were participating in it from within."
To get to the inner person, we listed this other person's Steppingstones. That was the most powerful part of the whole workshop for me. The person I chose lives in another state, and I realized that I had allowed the relationship to grow more and more distant. More importantly, I realized I didn't know the other person's significant moments, and from that realization lots of things, which are unbloggable, began to happen for me.

We wrote dialogues with our Works, which are things we've done that involved moving from an inner vision to an outward fulfillment. Then it was a dialogue with our Body, and this, too, was immensely helpful to me. In this journaling method, the body is the

"primary instrument of connection between life and the world. We want to re-establish our access to the natural wisdom of the body. The body knows how to regulate itself. Our life history of inner existence and our life history of the body are mirrors to each other."
We began by listing Memory Experiences with the Body. He gave us a long time to simply sit there and list EVERYTHING we could remember about our relationships with our bodies. Amazing. I had 64 things listed and two-thirds of them were very very positive. Surprise!! It brought up all the fun memories of playing as a child, how I won a bicycle contest in 5th grade (hadn't thought of that in ages!), climbing the tree in our yard in San Antonio, how I loved playing ping-pong and tennis, the much needed hug from my Uncle Weldon at my grandfather's funeral...

Outside the workshop, the method includes dialogue with Society, with Events/Situations--the idea being to increase our level of awareness of (a) patterns in our lives and (b) possible pointers toward meaning and direction.

There's also a section in this journaling method on Meaning Dimension which we did not have time for in the first of two workshops. It includes dream logs, and meditation logs.

The method is, as its name says, INTENSE. And, just in the sheer breadth of what's covered, it's also rather complicated. I know I don't have time to tend to it every day, but the instructor kept saying that once you get the hang of it, it's extremely useful for when we are
  1. feeling stuck, or
  2. at a crossroads and need to make a decision, or
  3. upset about something.
And I can see myself turning to it for exactly those kinds of things. It's amazing.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Friday Five

I'm home this morning and Jan is writing the Friday Five! ....

Jennifer recommended this book, which I got because I always value Jennifer's reading suggestions. The author of Life is a Verb, Patti Digh worked her book around these topics concerning life as a verb:

Say yes.
Be generous.
Speak up.
Love more.
Trust yourself.
Slow down.

As I read and pondered about living more intentionally, I also have wondered what this Friday Five should be. This book has been the jumping off point for this Friday.

1. What awakens you to the present moment?

Oh, great question! Let's see....
Beauty of all kinds....
Recognizing the Christ in those around me....
Remembering who I am....
Stopping to pay attention....
Tasting my food....
Feeling someone's touch....
Hearing the squealy voice of my granddaughter upon seeing me: "K.K.!!! K.K.!!!!" ....
Seeing Young Man with Integrity and Deep One embrace in our kitchen.....
Talking to soul friends...
Being with Lovely Passionate Feminist or Beautiful Genuine Girl or Blonde Beauty (my niece)....
Having one of those deeply meaningful conversations with my husband....
Spiritual direction....
etc etc etc.

2. What are 5 things you see out your window right now?
Sunshine...
Green bushes and grass....
Our birch tree in the front yard...
The wind blowing....
Green, green, green

3. Which verbs describe your experience of God?

Love....
Be who you are....
Let go....
Find your deep joy!

4. From the book on p. 197: Who were you when you were 13? Where did that kid go?

At 13 I was a very unhappy person, full of self-hate and shame.
After a LOT of work and cooperating with God's Spirit, that 'kid' has grown to love herself, and thus is able to love others with integrity. Praise be. Praise be.

5. From the book on p. 88: If your work were the answer to a question, what would the question be?

Katherine, what's something that brings meaning, joy, and deep fulfillment to your life?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Reunion of our Courage to Lead group for Clergy

Just back from a wonderful Courage to Lead reunion retreat in San Antonio held at the Oblate Center.

The Oblate Center is in the center of San Antonio, which is a huge city, grown by leaps and bounds since I lived there in 4th through 6th grades. The Center is an oasis of peace, calm, and beauty, with very comfortable hotel-style rooms and great food. It's where I spent a week every quarter for the Two Year Spiritual Academy back in 2001-2003, so the place feels pretty much like home to me.
This reunion group is amazing. People are so willing to share who they are....this is the group in which I learned, through being with them for five "seasonal" retreats in 2006-07, that "Courage Work," as it's called, is practicing authenticity. Oh, it's wonderfully powerful.


Our theme for the retreat was "Embracing the Paradox of Abundance and Scarcity." For my part, I shared the story of experiencing the abundance within me one night a few years ago...I was driving home from a weekly therapy group meeting, having spoken my deepest truth to another member of this group that evening. It had taken all the courage I had (and didn't know I had!) to speak this truth, and the result was less than I had hoped. Still, as I drove home, I suddenly realized that there is a part of me--deep within--that is absolutely inviolate. There is a part of me that cannot be harmed, cannot be wounded. There is part of me that no one can violate. And I actually experienced that part of me driving home that night. I experienced the love of God that IS my own soul. Within me is all the abundance of the cosmos, the image of God, the tiny little spark of divinity given to me by the creator/source of All That Is. This sounds strange, I know, but the experience was so powerful that I felt the inside of my little 1994 Corolla light up. Light filled that little car and just engulfed me. It was utterly ... well, no words can express it. .... ....


Scarcity remains, of course. I experience fear and worry and angst, still. But you know, all I have to do is remember that experience, and the fear usually flees! What a gift it was. What a beautiful, beautiful gift. .... ....


To commemorate our retreat, we gave each attendee a small piece of pottery, a plate, with a "loaves and fishes" motif, like this:
I'm going to order this bowl and a chalice, too, with the same design.
http://www.jerusalem-gifts.com/index.html?target=armenian-ceramic-bowls.html

I want to share one more experience from this retreat. On the grounds of the Center is this statue:



I sat with it Monday evening for a good long while. Jesus comforting a young woman whose baby has died. Ohhh...to say it was moving is such an understatement. The power of the life-size figures brought the very pain of the world to me. And yet Jesus has such a beautiful, joyful expression on his face...I've never thought of it quite like this, but I suppose one could say that the essence of courage is joy.


Wish the photograph had turned out better, but I took it right at dusk so the lighting is muted and only had my little iPhone camera...


Update: Jan just sent me a better photo


Sunday, June 7, 2009

Ahhh...just waking up...

Here's our precious little granddaughter, Little M. She spent the night with us, and David snapped this photo of her just after she woke up and came into the kitchen.

And later, she and I are playing...





Friends

I'm in the midst of several impending losses these days. Friends leaving, other friends threatened with cancer, feeling a bit rejected by another friend (probably has to do with how busy this person is, but it still kind of hurts).

Just makes me realize afresh how precious friendships are. They make my life so beautiful, so worth living. And friendships, in this day and age with life at Warp Speed once again, are so difficult maintain--in the sense that it takes work to make time to keep up with friends. Despite my attempts to have lunch with folks and keep up with friendships that way, there are many other people in my life that I haven't seen for months and month. And I miss seeing.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Voice

My daughter-in-law has a lovely voice, a rich alto that reminds me of...well, as I'm trying to think here, strangely enough perhaps, it reminds me of reality. I like soprano voices, too, but rich deep alto voices remind me of the kind of reality that just grabs me and makes me want to pay attention to the world with all its angst and beauty and substance. She, my daughter-in-law, has a great post today about "voice"--not the singing kind, although that's a means of expression, too--but more on the fear of claiming the power of our voices, something lots of people can relate to, I think, and a subject that interests me greatly.

Her words remind me of how difficult it is to sift through the cacophony of "voices" we have in this culture to find those that make sense to us, that provide meaning for our lives, or offer comfort and hope. We have so many idiotic cowards on the national scene who daily scream their vitriolic hubbub. I heard Senator Lindsay Graham on NPR today saying how disturbed he was that Supreme Court Justice nominee Sonia Sotomayor said "her voice was better than a white male's voice." I found this on Politico:

She should apologize for a comment she made positing that “a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life.”

“It is troubling. It’s inappropriate, and I hope she’ll apologize,” Graham told Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace. “If I had said something like that – or someone with my background and profile [had] – we wouldn’t be talking about this nomination going forward…. she’s got to prove to me that if I find myself in court with a Latina woman, in front of her, I’d get a fair shake, and that’s up to her to do.”


Yep. Leave it up to a white male to use his voice for something like that -- a white male who obviously has NO CLUE how his own privileged social location as a white male can blind and deafen him. Out of his blindness and deafness comes his call to silence the voice of a woman who has experienced life in a way that he, apparently/obviously, could not even imagine. All else being equal, YES, with the richness of that experience her decisions would obviously be better.

Honestly. Get real. There are days when the way we privilege these dishonest, un-thoughtful voices, like Graham's, makes me crazy. I have to turn the radio off.

Existentialist that I am, it's when I hear people speaking with or about authenticity that my ears perk up. The voices I love to hear are those I recognize as coming from a place of genuineness. I want to hear them. I want to know: how have they faced their inner obstacles to self-knowledge? what has their life journey been like? what did they learn? what gives them courage? how does their story of claiming their voice match my own? That's why I loved Obama's Dreams from My Father.

Someone I know was telling me recently about the new minister at his church and how he could tell that this man was a bit nervous in preaching his "try-out" sermon at this huge church. And who wouldn't be nervous, right? The sermon started rather weakly but gained in strength, I was told, when the minister opened up and revealed to the congregation something genuine about himself. That's always a real tightrope...how much to say about oneself in a sermon without making the sermon about you... But this new minister was appropriate in his self-disclosure and that helped the congregants really like and appreciate what he said.

The metaphor of voice is so powerful, isn't it? I spent most of my academic career in silence, listening carefully to the teachers but rarely contributing to the dialogue myself. It's different now. When I have something to contribute, I do, and when I don't have anything to say, I don't worry about it. What freedom!

I wrote something once about "voice" and how important it is for the church to pay attention to this issue. Carol Lakey Hess wrote a great book about it. In the chapter "Rebuilding Our Mothers' House," Hess writes about how pastors can move toward the empowerment of girls and women:

If a leader wishes to create an environment that encourages women as well as men to participate in the conversations of the community, there are a number of small but very significant ways to start, especially in the area of leading discussions.

Leaders often inadvertently reinforce women's invisibility by missing women's cues. Watch for signs -- eye movements and slight body gestures -- indicating interest in joining a discussion and thwarted attempts to enter a fast-moving conversation. Notice these signs and then create a space for her contribution.

A woman's "pause time" may be longer than a man's, and therefore she may wait too long between comments and be unable to insert a comment before another speaker begins. A sensitive leader will watch for this, and will moderate a discussion so that slow pausers who become silenced will have opportunity for re-gaining the floor.

Be aware that the "tentative language" (hedging, qualifying, tag questions) women sometimes use may prompt discussion leaders to tune them out or cut them off prematurely. A leader who recognizes that tentative language may have little relation to a person's grasp of the subject matter is better able to support women's contributions.

Exclusive language contributes to a feeling of invisibility. While using the generic "he" and "mankind" can reduce women's participation, the problem goes beyond that. I've been in countless numbers of lectures where the speaker will say to the audience something like "suppose your wife says to you . . .," which makes women (not to mention single persons) feel as if they are not included. Additionally, it is liberating for leaders to provide examples that do not "mark" women as deviant. I feel that general humanity includes women when I hear someone say "according to biblical scholar Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza," rather than "according to female biblical scholar Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza."


I loved her recognition of "pausers." !! I'm someone who will pause a long time between sentences/thoughts in order to think about what to say next. I've never had the "gift of gab," able to just spew out word after word after word in any kind of coherent way. My synapses just don't work that way! Reading Hess awakened me to this issue in a new way. I listen now for how different people use different styles or modes of speaking in a conversation, and I'm usually quick to go back to someone who was interrupted and ask them if they'd like to continue their thought. And when I'm interrupted repeatedly it makes me angry, angry enough that I have to take action to stop it--or else be angry with myself!

Reminds me also of an article a friend sent to me years ago. It was a Harvard study of the phenomenon of women "feeling like fakes" both in the academic and business worlds. The culture is so anti-women that even when we are perfectly qualified, we still end up thinking we're just faking it, and wondering when someone, someone Who "Really" Knows, is going to pull the curtain back on our "Wizard of Oz" act.

This same article mentioned also what Hess calls "tentative language" and how women are more apt to begin their contributions to a dialogue with "I'm not sure about this, but...." or "You may not think this is right, but....." or "This probably lacks (whatever qualifier), but....."

And of course I was influenced, as many of us were, by the groundbreaking research Carol Gilligan did about girls typically losing their voice after grade school. That's powerful stuff. And Belenky, et. al. and "Women's Ways of Knowing." And Mary Pipher's "Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls." Oh, such great books. So formative for me on this issue.

It's just such a perfect metaphor. VOICE. Finding it. Claiming it. Holding it firmly, with love and openness. When we do that, unlike what we get from "newsmakers" on Fox News, our voices are authentic.

And, for me anyway (oops-there's a hedging qualifier for ya!), that's worth hearing.

Let me write that again:

Holding our voices firmly, with love and openness. When we do that, unlike what we get from "newsmakers" on Fox News, our voices are authentic.

And that's worth hearing.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

"The Bible does not close discussions; it seeks to open them"

From William Sloan Coffin in The Courage to Love:
The opposite of love is not hate but fear. If we are to broaden our vision and enlarge our hearts, we must allow risk to enter our lives, permit doubt to walk hand in hand with belief. It is a mistake to sharpen our minds by narrowing them. It is a mistake to look at the Bible to close a discussion--the Bible seeks to open one....
The Bible is no oracle to be consulted for specific advice on specific problems; rather, it is a wellspring of wisdom about the ambiguity, inevitability, and the insolubility of the human situation. It sings praises to God who...provides minimum protection but maximum support....
Finally, the Bible is a signpost, not a hitching post. It points beyond itself, saying "Pay attention to God, not me." And if, as the Bible claims, "God is love, and she who abides in loves abides in God, and God abides in her," then revelation is in the relationship. In all Scripture there is no injunction more fundamental than that contained in these simple words: "Love one another."


by William Sloan Coffin

Monday, May 25, 2009

Vacation in the Ozarks

View from our front porch...


Vacation was wonderful. Very relaxing....the condo turned out to be everything (and more) that we'd hoped. When David and I first saw it and walked up to the front door, we were both a bit stunned by the beauty of the setting. It was perfect.


We did little touristy things near Eureka Springs in the mornings. Afternoons and evenings were spent reading and relaxing together. David is a fabulous cook--we didn't eat in a restaurant a single time. Sat out on the front porch watching the lake, the birds, keeping an eye out for deer and other wildlife, listening to the wind and the silence. Ahhhhh!

Here are a few more pics:
David on the trail...




I don't know what these are...any ideas? They looked like blueberries...


I'm hamming it up at the top of our HIKE near Beaver Lake Dam.




This is Blue Springs (in Heritage Park...really lovely)

And the best part of all? I still don't have to go back to work until Sunday! A whole week (well, most of it...I do have a couple of clients to see) to do with what I want! Yippee!!!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

...And this is miracle....

I'm alive. I'm here. I was born. I'm living. I will die.

Who can explain it? This is miracle.



Sitting in the majestic sanctuary of Broadway Baptist church this afternoon, this is what came to me. And I was filled with joy.

The service at Broadway was a special one. People gathered to pray for the new senior minister about to be called, for the search committee, for the congregants...the service was deep and rich and stunningly beautiful. It was in the midst of my awareness of that soul-searing beauty that this thought/prayer came to me.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Workshop for survivors of "childhood sexual abuse," and for those who care for the survivors

I chair the Advisory Board for the Pastoral Care Center at the seminary where I was trained. We work to 'get the word out' about the high quality pastoral care & counseling that is available there on a sliding scale. The board met tonight, and I was struck again with how important this work is. The acting director told us that the AVERAGE fee paid there is $25.00 per session. It's such a wonderful resource for folks without insurance who need good counseling.

Our project for this year, in conjunction with the Wellness Team at my church and our local area Community of Churches, is to sponsor a workshop/conference on childhood sexual abuse. We are attempting to bring in Mary's Hope, an organization based in Colorado that specializes in the spiritual healing of those who have survived childhood sexual abuse. The event is targeted at survivors AND those who care for them--mental health providers, chaplains, pastoral care workers, foster and adoptive families, first responders, etc. We hope to have lots of local therapists get interested in this, not only so that they can offer better care for their clients, but also so that they will know that the Pastoral Care Center is there for clients who cannot afford to pay them. (The average therapy session in this area is something like $120-140/hour.)

Mary's Hope provides wonderful resources for both survivors and for therapists. We hope to attract 80 people or so to this event on Oct. 10 (and Oct. 8 which will be an introductory Q&A session led by Mary's Hope). Please keep us in your prayers!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Mother's Day...and Children Everywhere, It Seems!

Diane has such a beautiful post, "Mother's Day Reflections from a Non-Mother." She expresses so eloquently much of my own feelings. Thank you, Diane.


I blogged last year about the grief I finally was able to experience at not being a mother. (See: Two Souls) And I was so blessed to receive comments from dear Lovely Passionate Feminist and from blogging friends that, to this day, have stayed with me and given me such solace. LPF, GannetGirl, Linda, Jan, thank you. (GG, I am holding you in prayer, holding you in prayer, holding you in prayer...)

This past year I have seen mothering in new ways. Although I am childless, children are playing an increasing role in my life. The children at my church, to whom I am "Pastor Katherine," are amazing. I'm with them for a couple of hours once a week, but many have revealed their hearts to me. It's probably the best thing about my "job," relating to these children, loving them. This picture shows some of them underneath our communion table, being the kids they are!!!


And Little M, our granddaughter. Oh, what joy she brings us. David and I are always talking about her and miss her so much when we don't see her on the weekend. She calls me "KK," and she wants to "nuggle with KK," which means sit it my recliner with me and "snuggle." Oh, I live for it!!!! The photo is when I babysat her at my church--she took my reading glasses and tried them on for size!

And here she is with Little Julia, my friend Life Giving One's 3 year old. She and Little M are friends now, since we love to babysit them along with Julia's little baby brother, Miles. What fun! Their imaginations just mesmerize me, how they create little worlds all their own.


I've always loved being around children. My niece Ashley and nephew Keith are grown now and in South Carolina, where they've been since, gosh...1991, I think. Long, long time. Oh, what fun we had when they were children. This picture is from one of our many trips, this one to a little central Texas town where we dressed up like ol'-timers!


And of course I have always, and continue to this day, believed that it is the inherent right of ALL children to jump on beds....












As I wrote last year, I love my three children-by-marriage as if they were my own. At least I think I do, not having borne them. I miss them when they're not here. I want only the best for them. I burst with pride at their accomplishments and happiness. I'd give them anything they asked for. (Well, ... you know.) Oh, and I felt incredible, just incredible joy at the privilege of officiating at YMI and IR's wedding last month. What a day that was! Here are some pics--






















I LOVE this picture! So much fun and laughter that day...







And Little M had an Easter egg hunt that day, too!





Young Man with Integrity is proving the name I gave him. :-) He's working now to support a family. He's the kind of employee that business loves--dependable, smart, and hard working. Irrational Rational has written of how he accepts her, all of her, and what a gift that is. (Oh, so true, IR.) It's joy beyond belief to see the way he loves IR and Little M. He's a good father and husband. David and I talk a lot about his gifts, his way of being in this world, his growing sense of himself--all of which just evoke these feelings of deep gratitude and satisfaction somehow.












And Irrational Rational is the most amazing person. Super-smart (unbelievaly HIGH score on the SAT), gorgeous alto voice, most definitely her own person, and her blog is so moving...she is one of those persons whose writing can envelop you in her world. Such a gift.



Lovely Passionate Feminist is finished with school, except for one semester of student teaching. Oh my. It's pure joy to watch her move into the new life she is creating for herself. I'm going with her sometime soon to put a deposit down on an apartment, one she'll move into (her first!)in August. (My first apartment was government rent-controlled, not very nice--but I didn't even know it! When I think about everything I didn't know...ohhhh...only by the grace of God did I survive, I'm sure.) She works so hard, is brilliant, thoughtful toward others, and so articulate. She'll be the best history teacher in the State of Texas.



This photo is LPF with Julia and Miles, on one of our many babysitting days...I'm always SO thankful when she can be here to help me!


And the youngest, Beautiful Genuine Girl, has changed her major to political science. Oh, I love it. Like her siblings she is blessed with passionate compassion and a towering sense of social justice. She also has a sensitivity that astounds me. Such a generous and good heart. And an intellect of which I think she's only begun to plumb the depths. Watch out, world, here she comes! Here is Beautiful Genuine Girl with David -- isn't her smile beautiful? (and his ain't so bad, either!)



And with Little M....I remain aware of what an overflowing gift these children, no matter how old they are!, are in my life.