Showing posts from July, 2007

Frederick Buechner II: Original Selves

“Life batters and shapes us in all sorts of ways before it’s done, but those original selves still echo with the holiness of their origin. What Genesis suggests is that this original self, with God’s thumb-print still upon it, is the most essential part of who we are – buried deep down, it’s our source of wisdom, strength and healing. Our truest prayers come from there, the often unspoken, unbidden prayers that rise out of [the circumstances of our] lives. From there also come our best dreams and hopes, our times of gladdest playing, and all those moments when we find ourselves being better or braver or wiser than we otherwise may have been."

Faith Story Part III -- Awakening

I spent my twenties making money. Out of college, my B.A. in journalism and political science got me nowhere practical, but three years working in Personnel right out of high school got me a job as a high-level clerk in the Personnel department at Pennzoil in Houston, where my parents had moved. I worked there two years. Got promoted. Managed the boredom of the job. Made several life-long friends. Quit Pennzoil to attend graduate school in government at UT in Austin. Made another life-long friend, but left after one semester when I realized I wasn't ready for graduate school. Moved to Dallas where I landed a job as a technical writer/editor at another oil company, ARCO. Within a year I was promoted to management, and my salary suddenly doubled overnight. I remember the feeling of my false-ego surging . You know that feeling? Ah, I'm somebody now. Somebody special. It was the same feeling when my father and mother bragged on me at the Christmas gathering of the extended family a

Faith Story Part II -- Fear and Grace

To continue my faith story, rereading what I previously wrote I'm struck with how I glossed over the woundedness that I was yearning for religion to heal. Of course, it didn't. Not all at once, certainly. Religion did take me through the rest of high school and much of college. I'm grateful for that, and it gave me a foundation in religious studies, in a certain thin sense at that time. But the wounds of my childhood were deep. The deepest wound was shame, feeling unloveable near my core--not at my core, an important distinction, I've learned. All my years of therapy and spiritual formation never uncovered anything dramatic in my childhood; it was all the subtle sort of emotional stuff that comes from my very strong "NF" personality (Myers Briggs) living in an otherwise strong "ST," and alcoholic, household. Another wound was loneliness. So I learned to disregard my own needs and desires in order to please others and be the person I perceived others

Listen to Your Life (Frederick Buechner)

"Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery that it is. In the boredom and the pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it, because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace. And Christ is here with us on our way as surely as the way itself is here that has brought us to this place. Christ is with us, as subtle and pervasive as air." (Frederick Buechner)

Dr. T, Christian Ethics, and a Warm Place in My Heart

Early in my seminary career I was fortunate enough to have Dr. T as my teacher of Christian social ethics. Oh, I learned so much from him. Sub-rosa morality, for one thing. He's African-American, and although I don't know this for sure, my impression was that he had a pretty low opinion of the administration of our seminary. Sub-rosa morality is about the morality of otherwise good folks who see themselves as liberal and progressive and on the right side of race and gender issues. Yet they refuse to ask themselves the really difficult questions about these issues--the questions that come up about themselves and their own institutions. It was through Dr. T that I learned that everyone is racist, to one degree or another. We can choose to not allow it to hurt others, but it's there, deep within just about all of us. Apparently the powers that be at our seminary had refused to ask themselves those painful questions, in Dr. T's opinion. Again, I don't know that for sure

Dreaming Bigger Dreams, Queen Latifah Style

I guess we had about 700 people in worship this morning. Amazing. We normally have about 160. I read the first line of the Call to Worship, and when the people responded with the second line, it was so loud, I nearly fell over! The whole morning was just grand. Everyone was in a good mood. Excited and happy, and as I said in my stewardship meditation, spilling over with gratitude to God. Our guest preacher was fabulous. The title of his sermon was "Feast or Famine" and he spoke of how we sell ourselves short, and therefore offer others (and ourselves) so little. We actually have everything, but we refuse to see it, refuse to take the risk to see it, and so remain satisfied with our status quo, mediocre lives. We dream such small dreams. This really hit home with me. There's a line from a movie called "Shirley Valentine" when the title character says in a self-reflective voice-over, We live such small lives. When I heard that, I was maybe 28 years old and felt

One Step Ahead of Disaster Ain't Too Bad

One small gift of fear-perfectionism is that I'm usually well-prepared. Well- prepared. Days ahead of time. I did well in school because I looked at the syllabus and crossed out several days I would need to write papers well ahead of the deadlines, and then, usually, I took those days and actually wrote the papers, so I wasn't staying up the night before. Not me. Nope. Too much stress doing that. And Lord knows, I don't think well under stress. Proven time and again--I do NOT think well under stress. My denomination's General Assembly is in my town this year, starting tomorrow. I signed up to help, chairing the Guest Reception Committee. They told me long ago to gather a committee of about 10-12 people in preparation of meeting about 30 VIP's flights at the airport. And have a welcome basket for each of them. No problem. Earlier this year they told me, Oh, it's looking like only 20 VIPs. That's great, I thought. Really, no problem. So I went o

Faith Story Part I

I didn't grow up in the church. We were a secular family, for the most part. Occasionally my mother would take us to the Christian Science church, where we were taught that Jesus was a "moral exemplar" but not divine, not God. I remember in sixth grade, I had a bad case of bronchial pneumonia. Thinking I understood Christian Science, (pffft!) I have a strong memory of lying in bed one night trying to deny the reality of the illness. Let me just say that I almost didn't make it out of sixth grade because of high absences. In Christian Science, at least back then (this was when I was in fourth grade), the children attended Sunday School at 11:00 while the adults attended the reading in the sanctuary at the same time. The children sat around a table, according to our ages, and a teacher taught us. What we were taught, I have no clue. The teacher, however, I clearly remember. Mrs. Taylor. Oh, how I loved her. I loved her so much that I asked my mom if we could take Mrs. T

Visiting Friends

Friday is my day off. Since I've been on vacation, I went in to work this morning--for, oh, about an hour! I certainly could have worked longer, but I had lunch plans today in City to the East with two dear friends, friends I haven't seen in months. And I wasn't about to cancel. One friend is M, who I'll name Runner CPA. She's a partner in a CPA firm but "Runner Partner" won't quite do, will it? That gives the impression that we run together, and believe me, she knows me well enough to know that I do NOT run. Ever. (I can hear her laughing even now.) Runner CPA loves her work, and her clients obviously love her. I must've met Runner CPA in 1993 at a spiritual retreat--I know it was before my mother died because I remember her at the memorial service, and my mother died in 1994. She is generous and kind in many, many ways. The other friend at lunch today was A, who I've mentioned here before, but I'll give her a name now, too. Let&

God's Presence Today

How was God present to me today? How was I present to God today? I felt such gratitude as I saw one of my clients walk through the door today. I've been concerned about her. My stepson said he felt good about his job interview today. Again, I am grateful to God for that. TS, a man who is homeless and who comes by the church regularly, rang the bell this morning. I haven't seen him in over a month. When I went to the door, I said, "May I help you?" He had to speak to me before I recognized him. All his long shaggy hair and long beard were completely gone! Goodness! He looked great! The look on my face obviously told of my shock. He smiled a great big smile and said, "It's me, Katherine! I've been in jail! Look at this--" And he pointed to his stomach which was actually pooching out a bit, from its normal concave look. Jail's bad, but at least he was able to eat enough every day to gain some weight! All the charges against him were d

My last day of vacation

I've spent my last day of vacation doing some wonderful things. Reading blogs, for instance. Jan and Gannet Girl are writing about their spiritual journeys. It's fascinating to be invited into these narratives where we can witness God working, weaving delicate spiritual threads whose design can perhaps only be seen much later in life. I also had lunch with Genuine Beautiful Drummer Girl. Always a joy. Then we went shopping at the mall and Target. D's on a business trip for a couple of days; I miss him already. Gosh, I love being married! Work promises to be busy, and all three kids are here, so that will help, I'm sure.

A strange over-reaction...

Just in case you haven't already come across this one: Condoleeza Rice came in to Bush's office and said, "Sir, 2 Brazilian soldiers died in Iraq today." George replied, "Holy Jesus, this is terrible. How am I ever going to tell the American people about this one?" She ponders about his strange over-reaction for a minute, then leaves. George then turns to his secretary and says, "How much is a brazillion?"

Notes from Vacation--nice to know you're loved

Another reason for our vacation is so that we can meet my sister and her family (who live in South Carolina) in Atlanta. It's a short visit over lunch, but at least I get to see them and hug them and tell them I love them in person. Unfortunately my niece was sick and my nephew was working, so they couldn't join us. We were all VERY--in the extreme--disappointed at that. My brother-in-law Booming Bass looks great. He's had heart problems for several years, so it's wonderful to see him looking so good! I said something about struggling so much this year with respiratory problems and how that reminded me of my (and my sister's) mother, who died of respiratory failure, and Booming Bass was very kind to remind me of something important. He talked about how his own father had died of a heart attack at age 42, which was a fact we all had on our minds years ago when Booming Bass' heart problems all began. "We're all different people, Katy," he said. We&

Imperial Power

"I respect the jury’s verdict. But I have concluded that the prison sentence given to Mr. Libby is excessive. Therefore, I am commuting the portion of Mr. Libby’s sentence that required him to spend thirty months in prison." How does this man sleep at night? who is he, really? Is it a case of megalomania? or such a small sense of self that Cheney runs his life? or is he one of these people who never developed a sense of morals? what governs his reality, his worldview? Now he's given us just one more reason to be frightened. And outraged. One more reason to hold our collective breath until he finally leaves office in January 2009. He flagrantly disregards for the rule of law. Holds prisoners, apparently forever, without charging them. Tortures them. Invades other countries at will. Spies on whomever he wants to spy on. Politicizes the "justice" department. Fights terrorism by creating more hatred and terrorists the world over. Arrogantly lectures an

My health

I found out this week why I keep getting respiratory problems (four times since December: pneumonia, bronchitis, asthma): my immune system is weakened. The "immunoglobulin A" is low and the doc says that's the reason I'm in the vicious cycle of infection, feeling better, another infection, etc. She says "We have to get you rested." Which makes perfect sense because I come home and just collapse. We leave on vacation Wednesday morning---pretty good timing! Visiting my inlaws in Georgia is a great thing...I can just relax and take it easy.