Showing posts from 2009


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

"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 fu

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 i

...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.

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 re

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

Rainy Day, Memory, A Little Break

It's raining here in north Texas. About 30 minutes ago it was a "gully washer," as they say, but now that's finished and it's just dripping. I brought my chair out here to the our backyard, (the covered part), just to listen to the birds (amazing!), watch the squirrels jump from tree branch to tree branch, and enjoy the coolness of day. I've been working on my class for the Fall, Spirituality and Psychotherapy. Somehow it feels important to me to start with our embodiment, so I've been rereading, and taking notes on, James Ashbrook and Carol Rausch's The Humanizing Brain: Where Religion and Neuroscience Meet. It's a little old, 1999, but I think most of it still applies. I'm thinking that I might show Jill Bolte Taylor's video about her stroke, and then have students read certain chapters from this book. Taylor is a neuroanatomist, so for her to have a stroke (and survive it) allowed her to understand something of the brain from the inside


We have a little girl from our church sick with the flu. Not sure yet whether it's the swine flu but I heard today that her whole elementary school has been shut down until May 11. Goodness! I guess the 'authorities' are just being extra cautious. The senior minister at my church has been reading a book about the Flu Epidemic of 1918, and he's saying that one of the worst mistakes made then was that officials continued letting people congregate.

"Foundational" Moral Impulses

End of a long week. I preached at both services today. Seemed well-received, but oh, boy, I'm exhausted. (I don't preach regularly anymore. When I preached every week, or even every six weeks on a schedule, it didn't take this much out of me. Whew. ) A friend sent an interesting article from AlterNet this afternoon concerning the moral reasoning of liberals and conservatives. According to this article, Jonathan Haidt has come up with five foundational moral impulses: 1. Harm/care . It's wrong to hurt people; it's good to relieve suffering. 2. Fairness/reciprocity . Justice and fairness are good. People have certain rights that need to be upheld in social interactions. 3. In-group loyalty . People should be true to their group and be wary of threats from the outside. Allegiance, loyalty are virtues. Betrayal is bad. 4. Authority/respect . People should respect social hierarchy. Social order is necessary for human life. 5. Purity/sanctity . The body and certain aspect

A Little Respite

Oh, a day off! Yummy! Except it's not really. I have to write a sermon and put together two services for Sunday. Still, it's so nice to be at home. I'm sitting now on our back porch at our little patio table and chairs, sipping coffee, listening to the wind through our cathedral of trees. Oh, and although it will get to the 90's today, this morning the breeze it so nice and cool. I almost need a jacket. I was at one of our local hospitals yesterday at 6:30 am to pray with one of our parishioners. Although I felt how afraid she was, I was also aware of how deeply fulfilling it is to me to be a minister, to be with someone, praying, at a time like that. Thank you, God. The morning before that -- Tuesday, that would be--I was at my church at 6:45 a.m. getting ready for what some friends and I are calling our Fullness of Life Group . This was our initial meeting. Eight of us. I knew all but two of the people--no one there knew everyone else, which made it kind of ni

Life from Death: Yes, Jesus, I Believe

What an awesome experience tonight at my lectio divina group. I've been meeting with this group for over 10 years now, and it's nearly always amazing. It's as if God's Spirit just manifests and we are all suddenly AWAKE and AWARE, in our "God spot," as someone described it this evening. We take turns leading the group, and tonight was my turn. I chose the passage in John 11 about Jesus raising Lazarus, but we only read verses 17 through 26 which ends with Jesus asking Martha, "Do you believe this?" I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies;26.and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" I spoke about my struggle with death...the idea of my own, and seeing my mother die in 1994. One moment "she" (my mom) was there, occupying the body lying there in the hospital bed, and the next moment, "she" was no longer there. Whatever it is that animates us as hum

"The wrath and whisper of the dove..."

It is 2:44 a.m. As part of our Easter Vigil, I promised to pray in the middle of the night. Since keeping my eyes open is a definite problem, I thought I'd share with the blogosphere something of the beautiful Good Friday Service I experienced at Broadway Baptist, my husband's church, and the church in which we were married. Here's a photo of it, which of course does not do it justice. It is a grand, majestic place. I sat there feeling swallowed up in God, eager to be filled. Broadway always publishes some beautiful quotes in the Order of Worship in order to enhance the service in general and also to use during the silence which is always built into its worship. Here are a couple of lovely ones concerning Good Friday. "This liturgy that Christ enacted on the cross represents the culmination of precisely this liturgy, the 'liturgy of the world.' This is the liturgy which reveals, ultimately, God's plan for human history, which shows the world not as some 

Tillich's Love, Power, and Justice (installment 1)

Notes from Paul Tillich's Love, Power, and Justice "Ontology: What does it mean that something is ? What are the characteristics of everything that participates in being? What does it mean to be ? "Ontology characterizes the texture of being itself...One cannot escape ontology if one wants to know! For knowing means recognizing something as being. And being is an infinitely involved texture, to be described by the never-ending task of ontology. "Early philosophers, when they tried to speak in terms of the logos about the nature of being, could not do it without using words like love, power, and justice. Metaphysically speaking, love, power, and justice cannot be derived from anything that is. They have ontological dignity. "In Plato, we find the doctrine of eros as the power which drives to the union with the true and the good itself. In his interpretation of the ideas as the essences of everything, he sees them as the 'powers of being.' And justice for

Grateful for the passage of time

I'm 53 years old. Who would ever have thought I'd be this OLD! That's the thing about getting older and the passage of time, it just creeps up, and suddenly I'm definitely no longer young. I have certainly felt old during Lent this year...every week I've been working my rear end off, 15 hour days, trying to get done everything I set out for myself to do. I'm SO glad it's over. Next week I can look forward to getting back to my normal routine and not coming home exhausted . Seriously, tonight I came in and could barely walk to the bedroom, my feet were hurting so badly. (The good thing about that, though, is that David felt sorry for me and gave me a foot rub!) Time just passes so quickly. I remember my mother reflecting on this once--when she was in her late 50's or early 60s, probably. She said she still felt she was the same person she was in her twenties. I guess she meant that her sense of self had not changed. I know I'm the same person, too, an

what an interesting guy

I've been thinking recently about what an interesting man I married. Here's why. Recently David.... Performed in a huge musical review. He sang four solos and did the soliloquy from Mutiny on the Bounty. He stole the show. I mean it -- and it was a great show. Read Resurrecting Empire: Western Footprints and America's Perilous Path in the Middle East by Rashid Khalidi Built a deck for our backyard. He'd never done anything like this before. Taught himself. Read Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations by paleoarcheologist David R. Montgomery. Built a raised garden in our backyard. The tomatoes, onions, and heirloom beans are doing great--soon we'll have "farm fresh" produce to eat! Read After the Ice: A Global Human History 20,000-5000 BC by Steven Mithen. Brought me flowers almost every week. Read The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl by Timothy Egan. Diagnosed the problem with my computer. Turns out it was

the broad view of spirituality

Many people don’t consider themselves to be “spiritual.” We hear it all the time, don't we?— Oh, I’m not a spiritual person. Well, news flash! No one is not spiritual, or to put it in the positive: We all have a spiritual dimension to our existence . The difference is in the use of the word, I think. “Spiritual” conjures up a limited set of images—images of people who dedicate some time each day to prayer, people who can talk about their relationship with God, people who seem to be more aware of God than others, etc. I take a much broader view, especially after reading Ron Rolheiser's book The Holy Longing several years ago. Spirit is the life-force within us—it is that which animates and energizes us. And “spiritual” is simply what we do with that life-force, all that energy and passion within us. We can focus it in healthy (and difficult) ways, ways that help us as Christians move ever more toward the imago Christi , the image of Christ within us. Or we can focus it in unhe

Lenten activities

Hard to believe that Lent is almost over. Having missed a week of it (attending a Five Day Academy), it seems like it just began. All my Lenten activities at church have been good, but attendance has been light. I remarked to our youth minister today that I wasn't sure I'd try anything like this again next year, but her response was to pass along a compliment from one of our parishioners who was telling her how much she appreciated all the emphasis on spiritual formation that I'm bringing to the church. That was nice to hear...the parishioner said she couldn't come to everything I've offered, but she likes it that it's available. And that's true. It's available, and I suppose that counts for something. Tonight I spent a couple of hours shopping for the Lenten activity we're doing tomorrow. After Evening Prayer then a soup supper, we'll be filling 60 "TAAS Survival Bags" for the 3rd graders at the elementary school next door to our chur

Battlestar Galactica and the Mystery of Humanity

Well, we're watching the final episode of Battlestar Galactica. Believe me, my family is going to miss this television show. David downloads it on Friday from somewhere on the internet (HuLu, I think), then Young Man with Integrity, J and Little M come over on Saturday and watch it with us that evening, although today they are in City to the South celebrating his birthday with his mom and stepdad, and Lovely Passionate Feminist is watching it with us tonight. She goes back to her university tomorrow. It's a terrific show, Battlestar. I remember the first season I was enthralled with the music--those DRUMS! WOW. Then the character development began to grab me. The father/son tension between Adama and Apollo. The sexual tension between Kara and Apollo. The strange behavior of Sharon a.k.a. Boomer a.k.a. Athena a.k.a. Eight. Of course, as the years have gone on, the plot go so complicated that it's been hard to follow. David and the others watch the episodes more than once, s

God feels so close

It’s wonderful how centered one feels after a retreat like The Five Day Academy for Spiritual Formation. God feels so close. Nothing seems to bother. I’m aware of my desire for the Divine.

Knowing God through Spiritual Friends

I'm back from a wonderful Five-Day Academy for Spiritual Formation (an Upper Room ministry). Although they have all been good, including the Two-Year, I think this might have been the best one I've ever attended. The topic was Spiritual Friendship , and the faculty was Dr. Loyd Allen and Sister Kathleen Floyd. Wow. Both were excellent. The local team that put the week together was excellent. We worship three times a day at Academies, and each time we entered the worship space, the team had created something of exquisite beauty. I just love that. So enriching. Plus I just felt good being there. I was so ready for a break. What made the week so outstanding, though, was how events served as a living testimony to the topic of spiritual friendship! I've been to so many Academies that I know a lot of attendees, and this week I had some special friends there, including The Author. Tuesday morning started out with a bang. I woke up from a terrible dream--the kind that it took a mom

Goodness will prevail--I know it.

"Ministers need a well thought-out view of what it means to be human." This simple sentence came to me while I was talking to our youth director and student assistant pastor this week (who also reminded me that assigning 150 pages to read each week is too much! Thank you, M.). Simple, yes, but it gave me a foundation upon which to hang "Spirituality and Psychotherapy," my class in the Fall. Funny how, with something so simple, lots of disparate thoughts can fall into place. At least I think they'll fall into place. I HOPE they'll fall into place. After I finish this post I'm going to work on the Prospectus again and hopefully get it into shape to send to the associate dean. This is such a huge subject--I've had some difficulty winnowing everything down. Another friend who is currntly getting her Ph.D. in this field also gave me some sage advice: Just teach what you know, Katherine. Teach what you know. I'm thinking that a lot of what I know is o

Five Day Academy -- SOON!!!!

It's Five-Day Academy time again. Next week I'm off to Prothro Retreat Center near Lake Texoma. Thank goodness! I'm so ready for a change of scenery, to be able to take long walks, naps in the afternoon, sit and look at the lovely lake, walk the labyrinth, be with some dear soul-friends, learn something new about Christian history and Christian spiritual discernment, worship three times a day. Oh, I am ready ! Feeling pretty grateful that we have the money for me to do this. I wish everyone did. This economy just keeps getting worse and worse. Feel like I need to fast from NPR for a while.

Saying Yes to a Cat's Life

I'm trying to do a Lenten study with this book, 40-Day Journey with Parker Palmer. Today's entry began with the Loren Eiseley story called "The Star Thrower." It seems that Eiseley once spent some time in a seaside town. Insomnia drove him in the early morning hours to walk along the beach where he saw townspeople killing starfish that had washed up on the shore overnight. They killed them every day for commercial purposes. One morning, he woke up even earlier than usual, and this time as he walked the beach he noticed a solitary figure. This man was gathering starfish as well, but each time he found one alive, he'd pick it up and throw it as far as he could out beyond the breaking surf, back to the ocean where it could live. Eiseley named this man 'the star thrower.' He realized that the star thrower's predawn work contradicted everything Eiseley had been taught about evolution and the survival of the fittest. Here on the beach the strong rea

Four Jobs. Lots of Work. I'm Loving It!

Whew! My life is at warp-speed again. So much to do. I'm grateful, though, that I seem to be sailing through it all. Last year, if I'd had all this in front of me, I think I'd have been stressed out. Perhaps the working-out is helping. Plus, I'm taking Juice-Plus, which also seems to be giving me more energy (I've never really liked veggies, and this stuff is suppose to be freeze-dried immediately after it's picked off the vine so it retains its nutrients.) Plus, I'm seeing an acupuncturist, mostly for the carpal tunnel on my right hand, but she's also treating me for weight loss, same price. We'll see. I've been planning Lent for about a month, and now here it is! Brochures are made--I did one for all the activities, one for Centering Prayer, and one for Walking the Labyrinth. Love the creativity involved in making these brochures. Publisher makes it easy and almost fullproof, but gives enough variety that I feel the brochures are really somethi

Dual Standing

It's official: I now have dual standing in the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). I spent yesterday morning being "examined" by the Church & Ministry Committee. They "approved" me after asking me questions mostly about UCC polity, some of which I really flubbed, but the committee passed me anyway! Thank goodness! I spent the afternoon at church as well, participating in our church's Planning Retreat which lasted from 1:00 until about 5:00. Then I was off to friend Life Giving One's house to pick up little Julia for an overnight at our house--a sleep-over which included my granddaughter M as well. J is 3 and M is 2. For the most part, they managed to have a great time together. I think it helped to have them both here at the same time. For one thing, little M fell asleep without a fuss, having J in the bed next to hers. Whew! They are such delights to have around!

Skunk Funny

Seems there was this family of skunks being attacked by some hungry wolves. The mamma skunk said, "Alright now, children, let's all put our heads together and think about this." As the wolves kept getting nearer and nearer, the mamma skunk said, "Children, there's nothing else for us to do now: Let us s-pray!" (as told by our preacher this idea where he got it)

Becoming Women. Becoming Adults.

I was witness to something extraordinary last night. Truly extraordinary. Lovely Passionate Feminist (LPF), who will turn 21 this week, landed a major role in The Vagina Monologues. She's been part of this play for each of her three years in college, but been part of the chorus or a trio. This time, she had her own monologue: Crooked Braid. For those of you who don't know--and I didn't until LPF got involved in this-- The Vagina Monologues is produced on college campuses every year around Valentine's Day. The reason? To draw attention to violence against women. It is a powerful, powerful play, based on the interviews conducted by Eve Ensler. (Not sure if that's Ensler pictured above or not, but that's the photo on the website). When Ensler asked women about their vaginas, many of them took that opportunity to speak to her of that which is at the center of their being as women. They spoke of their pain, their joyous breakthroughs as human and therefore sexual b

Sharing our Sadness

I'm continuing to workout. My trainer said I'd start to really want to workout after about three weeks. I knew that wouldn't happen, so in my mind I thought, well maybe after six weeks. Nope. Doesn't matter, though. I remain committed. And the great thing is that at each session I'm able to visit with a dear friend of mine, M, with whom I share the cost of the trainer. Like me my friend M is feeling deep sadness at hearing the news of a diagnosis of cancer for our common mentor, A . After our workout session this morning, I went with M to Starbucks where we shared a few moments talking about why he has been such a crucial person in our journeys. At one point my friend said, "I just needed to be with you, Katherine, to share this sadness I feel." We both teared up.

Wish I Could Sing

I wish I could sing. When I was growing up I wanted to sing like Dionne Warwick or Barbara Streisand or Joan Baez. Oh! I would just sing and sing and sing along with their records and pretend I was onstage and belting out this great song, full of emotion and daring. My sister and I would often sit at the piano and sing from all this huge collection of sheet music we had. Such FUN! Great memories. Tonight was Evening Prayer, just like every Wednesday night at my church. I do a little Taize service -- beautiful really with lots of candles. And I use a CD of instrumental music for the songs. People kind of wait for me to begin the singing/chanting. Ugh, it's ugly. I'm OK on the lower notes, but I can barely make the C above middle C anymore. My voice just creaks and screaks and breaks. Pitiful. I wish I could sing.

"Sometimes, You Just Know"

As I was working out this morning, I listened to Carrie Newcomer . Her song, Geodes , is a prayer. Pure and simple. A prayer. Here are the words: You can't always tell one from another. And it's best not to judge a book by its tattered cover. I have found when I tried or looked deeper inside what appears unadorned might be wondrously formed. You can't always tell but sometimes you just know. 'Round here we throw geodes in our gardens. They're as common as the rain or corn silk in July. Unpretentious browns and grays, the stain of Indiana clay, they're what's left of shallow seas, glacial rock, and mystery, and inside there shines a crystal bright as promise. All these things that we call familiar are just miracles clothed in the commonplace. You’ll see it if you try in the next stranger's eyes-- God walks around in muddy boots, sometimes rags, and that's the truth. You can't always tell, but sometimes you just know. Some say geodes are made from

A Grapevine

Oh, isn't this beautiful? It's another breathtaking painting by my friend The Artist. Take a look here .

Carpal Tunnel Surgery

The surgery itself wasn't bad--of course I was asleep! duh!! :-) I mean, everything happened on time, we didn't have to wait long...David was there with me (his joke-telling was really fun; his obvious concern was even better!)...I felt fine as we left. Last night was a different story. I assume it was the anesthesia, but something caused a monstrous migraine--the kind that gave me nausea and had me throwing up (more than once, but that's more than you care to know!) This morning, except for this PAIN in my hand, I'm okay. The pain pills the doc prescribed are taking the edge off of it. David got me all set up here in bed. Everything is at hand--my right hand, that is--I have my laptop, my phone, my books, my favorite quilt, a cup of coffee, the sun shining through the windows. It's good. And I don't mind typing with one hand. If I can stay awake I'm going to work on my paper for the UCC ministerial partnership--I have to write a history of the UCC, go thr

Angry Senator: Let's limit executive pay to Presidential level

She's good. Definitely worth your time to watch this. Embedded video from CNN Video

Spiritality and Psychotherapy--What are your ideas?

Strange week. Monday, yes, normal. But Tuesday and Wednesday were full of ice and freezing rain; David and I both stayed home and worked from here. Today we all awoke to freezing fog. Weird. By mid-day it was gone and it became a truly lovely day. Tomorrow I'm up super early...seeing someone for spiritual direction in City to the East at 8:00 a.m. Leading the HeartPaths group--we're praying according to different functions of the Meyers-Briggs this month. Last week was "Feeling," tomorrow is "Thinking." Then another spiritual direction session, a doctor's appointment, and a couple of counseling clients. The doctor's appointment is a "pre-op" appointment. I'm having surgery on my left wrist Monday to alievate this pain from carpal tunnel. It's just gotten way too painful, waking me up at night, etc. Ugh. All of a sudden, I feel like I'm up against a wall with everything I have to do. I found out that this class I'