Monday, December 31, 2012

Seeing the Lights at Christmas

Took Eddie and Morgan to see the Christmas Lights at Interlocken this year -- I've always wanted to see this neighborhood myself.  We had a good time, and going after Christmas meant there were hardly any cars!

Thoughts at the End of the Year

Thanks to Jan @ Yearning for God, here are some thoughtful questions.  I'm at home alone tonight (David and Katie drove to Georgia today, but I don't have the time off from work to join them.)

1. What took place in your home relations? Your work relations? Your church relations? What events in the larger community of city, country and world most captured your attention?
  • David and I have had a very good year together.  He has become the acknowledged minister for The Agape Meal on Thursday nights at his church which means that he gets to plan and lead worship, plus pastoral care.  He feels like the pastor he is, and that's been so meaningful for him.  (The Agape Meal is for people who are homeless.)...When I was hospitalized he was a true angel, helping me heal more quickly by making sure I felt loved and cared for....Deborah married Kevin -- a huge event for all of us.  They missed Christmas with the family, though, by planning their honeymoon cruise over the Christmas holiday.  We missed them, but they had a GREAT time....Katie has come through the most demanding semester EVER with flying colors.  David and I are both so happy to see her mature and grow like she has.  There's something just appealing about Katie -- her personality engages people -- and during this semester that was so trying, people in all aspects of her life stepped forward to share how much they love and respect her.  It was beautiful to behold!!...My sister Susan taught me the meaning of family.  I'm forever grateful to her.
  • Work-wise, I ended my pastorate at First Congregational and began a new job as Assoc Pastor for Spiritual Life at Cathedral of Hope, a largely LGBT church.  One of the fastest growing demographics at CoH is straight families that want their children to be raised in a diverse church with progressive theology.  It's been amazingly meaningful to me to serve there.  So grateful.  
  • Larger Community -- of course, the re-election of Barack Obama.  Thank God for that.  And the heart-wrenching shooting in Connecticut -- that continues to be painful for me.  

2. What books and art instructed your mind and heart?
  • I was struck with "The End of the Affair" by Graham Greene...what a complicated story about two people's love/hate relationship with God, how they both fought believing in God, but were ultimately convinced (at least she was) by love itself--its mystery and its power.
  • We saw "Les Miserable" on Christmas Day -- I cried all the way through it...that story just touches on every aspect of life that is important.  Love, Justice, Family, Courage, Faith, the list is endless.  It was so intense for me, though, that I doubt whether I'll see it again any time soon.

3. Did you make any new discoveries about yourself? 
 I did.  I guess part of the effect of years of therapy was that I've thought of myself as  "good person" for many years now.   This year it was brought home to me that I'm a mixture of good and not--so-good.  I can be horribly self-centered.  And I've hurt those closest to me, terribly.  Forgiveness has been their gift to me.
4. What was your greatest joy in this year gone? What was your greatest sorrow? 

  • My greatest joy has been truly recognizing the depth of David's love for  me.  Not just because he was so attentive during my hospitalization, but in a number of other areas as well.  My TRUST has increased several-fold.  When I think about my husband, JOY is there.  

5. How do you want to create the new year? 

  • I want to lose weight.  I received test results from my doctor indicating that I'm just over the normal range for diabetes.  Of course, I know Prednisone raises blood sugar levels, but I also know that I don't exercise enough, so I need to take this seriously.   
  • I want to read more and STOP playing "word ace" on my phone.  I can follow David's example here...he read over 80 books this year.
  • I'm over-committed until the end of May--two huge responsibilities tacked on to my regular job.  Those commitments are made, but beginning in June, I want to make sure I have some real Sabbath time each week.

6. Who are the people with whom you would like to deepen your relationships in the year to come? 
      I'd like to continue renewing my friendship with Anne.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Places, memories

Like Roy, I began on Birchman Street.
No memories, just Birchman and old photographs
.....Toddler Susan, peeing on the sidewalk
.....Toddler Susan and the myth of eating dirt
.....Mom frantically giving the old Birchman address to the police on the night
                someone broke into our house, the house on Odom.
Yes, Odom, down steep Burton Hill Road
.....Denny, of the beautiful camera, after waking from a nap
.....swing sets and chalk on the driveways
.....Bernice and Shannon and oh, she drowned in the family pool
Beaumont and Nederland...Ginia Busby and Charla Pruitt and Cindy Holiday
.....Dances in the garage
.....Scary father late at night.  Protective sleep three in twin beds.
.....Ditches, crawdads, "Oh! a tornado!"
.....Mrs. Risinger and David, the boy who knew the beauty of red and brown
.....Chinese jump-rope, silver tooth, "no, you don't want to see..."
.....An itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny yellow polka-dot bikini
.....The smell of sulphur, fried shrimp, and DDT
.....'Girls, this is Joe, my drinkin' buddy'
San Antonio....Sherry Lawrence and Donna Sager, Ms. Ridell and Ms. Neilsen
....."Gregory likes Susan"
.....Murder in the dark--how did she stand us?
.....Chinaberry trees, four-square, piano lessons and recitals
.....Tippy, oh Tippy, lonely tears, bitter solitude
.....Bronchial pneumonia...but it's not real
.....Running through the sheets hanging out to dry, climbing out the window after dark
.....Peter and the Wolf puppet show extraordinare -- or was our Talent Show the best ticket in town?
.....World's Fair, and Aunt Zelma.  Mom is so unhappy.
.....Krueger Junior High's education in loneliness
Dallas....Farmer's Branch, the alamo-looking Junior High
.....A teacher who was kind
Fort Worth...Stripling Junior High--diagramming sentences in 'pink shoes'
.....surviving the nightmare normal
Euless....Sotogrande and Trinity, Donna Hall and Jimmie Wilson
.....Wanda, the suicide, she of curly red hair
.....Mom and dad, the separated.  Airport dream of freedom.  Airport shame and TRAPPED!
.....Pam,sexually abused, but let no one take that in
.....VOE essay winner, while Pam Green and Janet and, oh yes, her husband Joe
.....Dr. Golden and clinical depression, but let no one take that in
.....Love: the willingness to extend oneself for the sake of another?  Why is that so hard?


From "The Artist's Way"

Basic Principles

1.   Creativity is the natural order of life.  Life is energy: pure creative energy.
2.   There is an underlying, indwelling creative force infusing all of life—including ourselves.
3.   When we open ourselves to our creativity, we open ourselves to the Creator’s creativity within us and our lives.
4.   We are, ourselves, creations.  And we, in turn, are meant to continue creativity by being creative ourselves.
5.   Creativity is God’s gift to us.  Using our creativity is our gift back to God.
6.   The refusal to be creative is self-will and is counter to our true nature.
7.   When we open ourselves to exploring our creativity, we open ourselves to God: good orderly direction.
8.   As we open our creative channel to the Creator, many gentle but powerful changes are to be expected.
9.   It is safe to open ourselves up to greater and greater creativity.
10. Our creative dreams and yearnings come from a divine source.  As we move toward our dreams, we move toward our divinity.

Creative tension between plurality, tradition and resisting domination

From Chapter 1Remembering Esperanza: A Cultural-Political Theology for North American Praxis,
                                 by Mark Kline Taylor, Orbis Books, Maryknoll, NY 1990

We need a creative tension between tradition, plurality, and resisting domination.

Singular attention to TRADITION alone =
·       provinciality unaware of other traditions, shallow understanding of the plurality of forms within one's own tradition may reinforce domination by failing to attend to oppression and the needs for thoroughgoing critical resistance

Singular attention to PLURALITY =
·       celebrates flux and play of relative forms, but may fail to marshal resistance to dis-membering nihilism
·       lacking a sense of one's tradition often blinds us to a knowledge of how traditions have also nurtured and might yet help to create a sense of play and appreciation of difference 

Singular attention to DOMINATION
·       without the other two postmodern emphases, easily fails to actualize its own vision and strategies for achieving justice and freedom from oppression
·       w/o plurality, it can founder on the divisiveness that springs up  with different visions of 'the just'
·       w/o tradition (some traditions of myth and ritual, at least -- not necessarily the established Tradition), the struggle for freedom is impoverished, lacking the resources of communal memory and symbolic heritage (often providing minimal dialogical consensus for marshaling critique and action)

Correlations of only TRADITION and PLURALITY, leaving out resisting domination:
·       can easily become a Christian liberalism centering on tolerance, one which is repressive through its lack of a specific critique of oppression.
·       this repressive tolerance finds it difficult to stop the "grand conversation" among many voices in order to point out sin/wrong/evil, in order to envision a just future, in order to take a stand.

Correlations of only TRADITION and RESISTANCE TO DOMINATION, w/o pluralism
·       undermines the Christian struggle for justice by ignoring the need to orchestrate differences among the communities working for justice (and defining it)

Correlations of PLURALITY and RESISTANCE TO DOMINATION, w/o tradition:
·       forges a link between the greatly valued virtue of tolerance and the need for freedom as the priceless conditions for a full humanity -- BUT tolerance and freedom can be sustained on their own terms with their own rhetoric only for a short, unstable time.  The forging of tolerance and the struggle for freedom (no easy link to make) often require the resources of myth, ritual, memory -- in short, tradition.
·       w/o tradition, the rhetoric of tolerance/freedom may inspire and appeal, but the power to nurture the common good is likely to be short-lived. 

From Chapter 1
Remembering Esperanza: A Cultural-Political Theology for North American Praxis,
 by Mark Kline Taylor, Orbis Books, Maryknoll, NY 1990

Saturday, December 1, 2012

" sickness and in health..."

I'll never forget the look on David's face as he entered the hospital last night and saw me walking toward him in the foyer.  He kissed me and hugged me, said something tender (which I wish I remembered) and then got the car to take me home.

Home after 3 days hospitalized for asthma.

When we got here, he put my wedding ring back on my finger (too valuable to have kept at the hospital) and repeated our sickness and in health...till death parts us...

Never forget.  Thank you, God, for this treasure, my husband.