Showing posts from August, 2007

We are what we love

Love this from the Thomas Merton Book of Hours-- "We are what we love. If we love God, in whose image we were created, we discover ourselves in God and we cannot help being happy: we have already achieved something of the fullness of being for which we were destined in our creation."

That's a lot of talking...

I'm trying to work one full day each week on a lecture I'm scheduled to give in October. Not easy to carve out the time, but yesterday I actually blocked out certain days on my calendar. Doing that helped me realize that I don't have any time to waste if I want to do a good job. I'll be speaking for a total of 200 minutes, 4 sessions of 50 minutes each. (Now that I think of it, I'm not sure I've ever been asked to speak for 200 minutes straight like that... in my normal life it would take me, what, probably several DAYS to use up 200 minutes talking. I am definitely not blessed with the gift of gab. I wish I were, but for me, words do not often flow easily.) When I accepted the invitation to do this lecture it sounded easy enough to put together something on my dissertation. What was I thinking? It's not easy at all. My memory is so bad, I'm having to re-read a lot of the back-up material I used. And then I have to ask myself, what will people really be


Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. -- Helen Keller

Per Juan Cole...

During the last year or so my husband decided to educate himself on Islam. He began by reading every book recommended by the respected scholar, Juan Cole. It is a long list. Now I have an in-house 'expert' on Islam. Earlier this week, D mentioned the possibility of what Juan Cole is now reporting on his blog. Cole is just reporting rumors, but the fact that he gives them enough credence to include in his blog makes me ... nervous. Digusted. Almost ill. This is from Juan Cole's Informed Comment : ____________________________________ Thursday, August 30, 2007, Cheney & Iran: Here We Go Again? Barnett Rubin relays a message from a well-connected friend in Washington on the Cheney Administration's plans to roll out a military confrontation with Iran in September. He writes at the Global Affairs blog:" My friend had spoken to someone in one of the leading neo-conservative institutions. He summarized what he was told this way: They [the source's institution] hav

Reassurance in the midst of ebb and flow

I find the ebb and flow involved in the spiritual life to be quite a comfort. I could feel the flow for several weeks recently. When the ebb began to set in, it took a few days to realize what was happening. That's not unusual; it's a common pattern for me. But each time the realization dawns, I feel such relief. Ah, the flow will return. Have patience. Listen. Stay awake. Reassurance that God (whatever I really mean by that word) will return. Never left. Only hidden somehow. D and I had another grace-filled conversation tonight at dinner. He mentioned that lovely hymn, I Was There to Hear Your Borning Cry.* So meaningful to think that we are not alone in the midst of all the seasons of our lives. In a way, it's the same thing. Have patience. Listen. Stay awake. Reassurance that things change, yet God (what do I really mean by that word?) remains. Summer's ended. We gear down here at home and at church, and now are called to gear up in other and new directions for the

Movies...We love movies

Movies. I LOVE movies. So does my husband. We saw a movie together on our second date and when we married we combined our considerable collections of movies and now have ...oh, I'm embarrassed to say how many. D and I both often come home from a trip to the store for milk and bread with a DVD in hand. Really, neither of us smoke, drink, gamble or came into this marriage with any debt, but when it comes to movies, well... Something Hot Cup Lutheran mentioned made me remember my second date with D. Yes, we saw a movie. Well, before I get to that, let me tell you about our first -- not date, the first time we met . The first time we met was at lunch. When people ask how we met, D says we had mutual friends, which is perfectly accurate. Turns out we knew several people in common and lived not even five miles from each other. More accurately, though, we met through I was in a dating flurry back then (for me, anyway!), and I'd always arrange to meet these guys for lunch a

The politics of fear

I don't know whether I'll end up voting for Obama, but his campaign certainly is, in my opinion, speaking truth unlike other candidates. I LOVE what she says here. We've been fed a steady diet of FEAR now on the national scene for six or seven years, and I am so undone by it. I find that Obama's political rhetoric offers hope. <embed src="" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" wmode="transparent" width="425" height="350

Another opportunity to be with someone who is dying

Tonight I had another opportunity to be with someone who is dying. Every Wednesday at 6:15 we have Taize-style Evening Prayer at my church. Tonight, just before we started, a parishioner came up to me and said she had a friend, an older woman, who has been put on hospice. The friend had a church, but wasn't comfortable with the ministers there... would I come and pray with her? Of course I agreed, and we decided that tonight, after Evening Prayer, would be best. I followed my parishioner to her friend's house and we arrived about 7:30 pm. The friend, Sally, is dying of cancer. My parishioner introduced me and said I was there to pray for her. I shook her hand, came around to the side of the bed, and ask if she felt able to talk a minute before we prayed. She said she did. I wondered if she could tell me a little bit about herself. She told me she was "happy person." She shared various details of her long life. Said she'd been a Christian most of her life and membe

The Inevitability of Change

Change is inevitable. That's one of the major tenets of the postmodern pastoral counseling methods I became familiar with in my Ph.D. program. People come in for counseling saying "I'm depressed," or "I'm anxious," or "I'm an alcoholic," or "my relationship is so dysfunctional." Diagnosing themselves like that or using that problem-soaked language, while it can help in emphasizing the seriousness of a problem, can also lock people into a way of thinking about themselves that is not helpful. Human beings are always more than the labels they place upon themselves. And God is always at work doing a new thing. I like to think of that as God's job --24/7/365, with no burnout possible, always hard at work changing our grief into joy and our fear into courage. Yes, change is inevitable. It's a matter both of God at work and our virtual encasement in temporality. As a narrative counselor I try not to label people or use problem-so

Faith Story V -- Seminary, Surrounded by God-Reminders

In my previous Faith Story post, I wrote about how I was finally able to settle, in my mind, the issue of the divinity of Jesus. The rest of my time in seminary was spent in various other ways deepening my faith. I look back at those years (Jan. 1995--May 1998) in amazement at how God just kept at me, in so many ways--changing me, drawing forth the courage in me, transforming me, helping me see more and more clearly the person God wanted me to become. Seminary was a time of intellectual challenge. As I said in a previous post, I was learning a new language. Theology and theological ethics were totally unknown to me, so I took most of my electives in those areas. Just as important, perhaps, I knew that I needed to move beyond my "white-bread suburban world," so I was deliberate in my choice of internships. From my previous Faith Story posts, you know that I was coming from a very conservative, restrictive religious background. So when it came time for my internship in a church

Finally, a day off!

Finally, a day off! Whew. Senior minister is still at home sick, but he says he's better and will be there Sunday to preach. Thank goodness. Not sure I could find the energy ... Notes from the last two weeks: Beautiful Genuine Drummer Girl has returned to City to the South for the school year. She had to leave early for band camp. D and I are still talking about how we miss her. Lovely Passionate Feminist's last day at her summer job is tomorrow; she moves back to her dorm at the end of next week. Young Man with Integrity has found a job. Although it's sort of tentative at this point, he starts training next week and we're all sure he'll make the cut. Big changes around this household! When senior minister gets back next week and we get some things going again around the office I'm going to schedule some vacation time. I still have two full weeks left. I got a good hair cut and colored my hair last week--no more gray. I look 10 years younger! Well,

A point of her own

Lovely Passionate Feminist called into the Diane Rehm show yesterday morning and got on the air! 19 years old. She listened to the scholar's point about terrorism and wanted to challenge it a bit with a question of her own, so she did. She's amazing.

Paying attention to paradise this morning

For all of us who are preaching this morning, and for all of us who are not: With my hair almost on end and the eyes of the soul wide open I am present, without knowing it at all, in this unspeakable Paradise, and I behold this secret, this wide open secret which is there for everyone, free, and no one pays any attention. O paradise of simplicity, self-awareness--and self-forgetfulness--liberty, peace. This closing prayer from Thomas Merton A Book of Hours made me smile this morning. May I, at least, pay attention. :-)

Trusting God to Write a Sermon

Such a hectic week! I took a couple of days vacation and intended to take more except our senior minister is sick--first a cold, then an upper respiratory thing, now so complicated by vertigo that he called me Thursday and said he can't sit up at his computer to write a sermon. I agreed to preach on Sunday. A bit later I thought, well, perhaps we can ask someone else---I'm coming home and collapsing from exhaustion, and I know I should rest more. But then I read the lectionary, and Colossians 3: 1-11 intrigued me. I had a few things of my own to attend to (our first Friday concert series), which meant I couldn't start writing immediately. By yesterday I was really stressing out. The Thomas Merton: A Book of Hours helped, although I still had an upset stomach and was short with my husband. With only one day left, my inclination is to skip any quiet time and go straight to the sermon writing, but I resisted that inclination this morning. And I'm glad I did. This morning&#

The Center of our Being (a psalm by Thomas Merton)

When I came across this psalm this morning from "Thomas Merton: A Book of Hours," tears filled my eyes. In the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusion, a point of pure truth, a point or spark which belongs entirely to God, which is never at our disposal, from which God disposes of our lives, which is inaccessible to the fantasies of our own mind or the brutalities of our own will. This little point of nothingness and of absolute poverty is the pure glory of God in us. It is like a pure diamond, blazing with the invisible light of heaven. It is in everybody, and if we could see it we would see these billions of points of light coming together in the face and blaze of a sun that would make all the darkness and cruelty of life vanish completely. I have no program for this seeing. It is only given. But the gate of heaven is everywhere. Reading this, I was reminded that no matter the circumstances of our lives, at the center of who w

God is in the midst of the city

Diane is posting about the bridge collapse in Minneapolis/St. Paul. It's in her community. We hold her and everyone effected by that tragedy in prayer..... Here is Psalm 46: God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the moutains tremble with its tumult. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved; God will help it when the morning dawns. The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter, God utters his voice, the earth melts. The Lord of hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our refuge. So be it...

Faith Story IV -- Divinity of Jesus

The next step in my faith story came in seminary when I confronted my difficulty with the divinity of Jesus. I took an elective course in Christology, with Dr. G, an extraordinary teacher of theology and philosophy. He was one of those teachers who was willing to stay with the subject until he sensed the students understood it. Invited questions. Asked us whether we understood. He was educated at Yale, and I think was quite a bit more conservative theologically than I, yet hearing my struggle he was the one who recommended that I read John Cobb's Christ in a Pluralistic Age for the Christology class. As I was thinking about this, I realized that I could remember practically NO details of how Cobb convinced me of Jesus' divinity--so typical of me. My memory has never been good, and at 51 it's getting scary bad. So I searched my files this morning and found my paper, written in the Fall of 1995. I'm going to retype several of the relevant paragraphs of this paper here. I