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Showing posts from 2009

Parenting Tips in Literature

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I don’t know how many people feel that an essential part of preparing for child birth is the re-reading of their favorite childhood books. Don’t get me wrong, I have spent hours poring over Dr. Sears’ Baby Book; What to Expect When You’re Expecting; Real Boys; Gender Matters; and The Happiest Baby on the Block. I am nothing if not practical and I want to get “it” right—whatever “it” is.

However, on this the last day of 2009, I spent the morning smiling and crying over the adventures of Anne of Green Gables. And, through the lens of impending motherhood, it occurred to me that my desire to spend time immersed in the worlds of authors such as Kipling and Montgomery comes from a place of dreaming and hoping for this baby. I want him to weep over the death of Matthew and feel the tension as Anne walks the ridge pole. I want him to laugh over silly elephant child and the cake crumbs that itched the rhinoceros so terribly.

I have found myself fretting over how to raise this child wit…

Biblical Curse Generator

For those of you who aren't quite as creative as John the Baptist this biblical curse generator might help!

God's peace and blessing on this third Sunday in Advent.

Reverend Joy+

Advent, the f-bomb and me...

So, I've been contemplating the propers for this coming Sunday (the third Sunday in Advent). And, in the Gospel we have good ol' John the Baptist calling the crowd a "brood of vipers!". It's a rather abrupt start to the good news on a wintry Sunday and it leads to some unusual homiletical cud...

When my sister and I were teens (13 and 16) my mother began to use swear words in addressing us. And, it wasn't just mild swears--she used the f-bomb with frequency and sort of evolved from there. When I complained about her language she claimed that nothing else worked to "get our attention". While I'm still traumatized by the amount of cussing my mother continues to engage in (having gotten into the habit) I am also intrigued at the idea of how she felt that she needed to go to this extreme to get us to listen to her. So as I contemplate John's fiery language it occurs to me that it is, perhaps, a rhetorical device used to get their, and ou…

Winter Evensong

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Today is a day of sharp contrasts--of light and dark, warmth and cold, of stillness and wind. The sense of change in the air has made the dog nervous and he licks his lips as the wind howls through the trees. I brace myself in case of tree and limb fall—the wind carries with it the possibility for destruction at the same time I nudge the thermostat up a degree and curl my toes beneath me. The puddles ripple in the wind and I know that, come night, they will turn to ice. I dread the coming cold and the already cold. The cold that penetrates through to the bones and the night that seems to come earlier and earlier each day. Yet, the sun broke through the clouds and I remember last year and the year before—all years in which I began to believe that I would never be warm again. Years in which the dying grasses and fallen leaves seem to possess an unrepentant barrenness. New life seems impossibly far off and the storm perches like the silhouetted cormorant above the water. The con…

Advent Paradox

God we cry out to you
For love
For redemption
And that is the promise you have given

We didn’t take into account
Reality.
Love and redemption
Do not eliminate suffering.

Rather, they accompany it.
And in the midst of suffering,
We find that you are there
The weeping, suffering Christ/Spirit/God

Whose love can only witness
To the true hope
That awaits us only
In death.

"The Womb of Advent"

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Last year, at this time, I was angrily putting away the book The Womb of Advent written by Mark Bozutti-Jones in which we uses his own family’s pregnancy and impending birth as a foil for reflecting upon each day of Advent. I just couldn’t do it, I couldn’t read about the joy (and fear) of pregnancy and child birth when my own heart was so broken and my own womb so empty.

What a difference a year makes…and now I get it. Now I understand what I didn’t last year (altho’, for no good reason, I’m still a bit angry at the aforementioned author!) that anticipating this baby is like anticipating Christ--terrifying and joyful—fearfully and wonderfully made—within but not without, yet. But, I am sensitive to the reality that my own joy is another's pain and was once my own. So this Advent I pray for those who long to become parents yet find themselves still waiting, watching and hoping.

At the same time, this joy that was so (seemingly) long denied brings me full circle. This new a…

moving and a shaking

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I'm settled into my second trimester now and the wee one has started making his/her presence known with intrauterine gymnastics. I have started to feel better and more "like myself" in the past couple of weeks and it has made it easier to think and do things apart from dwell on the state of my uterine occupant and the physical bizarrities of pregnancy. It is also a huge relief to have gone public with my pregnancy--having secrets is really not my strong suit and I very much appreciate the prayers and support. All of this means that...

Sermon writing has become MUCH easier--now I can sit and think about the text without feeling the need to google things like "stretchy feeling in uterus". It has also allowed my prayer life to evolve a bit beyond "PLEASE GOD LET THIS BABY STICK!!!" And, I don't feel the need to lay down for a really long nap every day (just some days) which allows me to actually get a few things accomplished!

This doesn't me…

Pregnancy and Facebook

So, one of the challenges of pregnancy has been keeping folks from finding out via facebook--which is less of a concern now, obviously, then it was during the tentative days of the first trimester. With family, friends, parishioners and friends of friends as "friends" on facebook I wanted to avoid being outed by those in the know before I was ready for everyone to know.

Having worked in a children's hospital I am more than a little conscious of the fact that a healthy baby is not a guaranteed outcome of pregnancy. I have no reason to believe that this baby is less than healthy or this pregnancy less than viable--yet, I also know the innumerable tragedies that can befall our little family in the months to come. So, letting my extensive group of contacts know that we are expecting has been a leap of faith which has been incredibly difficult to commit to.

Yet, pregnancy is something that can only be hidden for so long before it becomes a tad bit obvious that somethin…

The Pregnant Priest

Now that I am 13 weeks and 4 days pregnant (yes, we know the EXACT day!) I think it's safe to tell you that the major project I'm working on has been a new human being! It has been a delicate dance these past months as we've told family and our close friends while still feeling that it was not yet time to tell the parish. So, we announced to the congregation today which was a wonderful thing--what a loving and dear group of people attend Church of Our Saviour! I can tell already that this is going to be a church baby...

That said, we do ask for prayers for a safe and healthy pregnancy and the safe arrival of baby C around his or her due date--April 21st. We by no means assume that all will be well (too much time in a children's hospital will do that to a person), but since all signs would indicate that all is currently well we are working to trust that this baby will really share our lives (plus the obstetrician thinks he/she looks great and tells us that everything…

apologies for the station break

My apologies to all three of you who read my blog :) I've been working on a major project the last couple of months and blogging has fallen by the wayside for a bit. I'll be attempting more regular postings but my mind is rather occupied elsewhere at the moment! Ciao for now.

Soulful Hunger

I've been reflecting on the "bread of life" a great deal of yet--the past three weeks in the lectionary have focused on the bread of life passages from John. So, in response to these readings I wrote this. Enjoy.

Episcopal Cafe Essay

After a steady diet of General Convention on all things Episcopal/Anglican sites I have an essay published that has NOTHING to do with convention...but everything to do with the household of God. Feel free to peruse, and comment, as I share the details of my first baptism. I wrote this essay in light of my first baptism in a church setting--all my other baptisms as a priest had taken place in the hospital. So, I reflected on what was my first--and will continue to reflect on what it means for the crucifixion and baptism to be so intertwined in my theological understanding.

Running, Dancing, Being

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I came to running fairly late in the game. In the sixth grade we were required to run a mile for P.E. About two laps into my run I had an asthma attack and decided that maybe the option for taking dance classes instead of compulsory gym held some appeal. So, from the age of 11 until 23ish I took dance classes fairly regularly. I loved dancing and enjoyed the physicality of the experience--contemporary jazz and modern dance lend themselves well to unconventional explorations of body and space and I enjoyed my time dancing and performing.

But, I was very aware that I was the biggest kid/adolescent/adult in every class I took and remember acutely a review in our local paper when I was a senior that noted my both my enthusiasm and unconventional body type. I laughed it off--silly critic! But, the fact that I remember this comment 12 years later is striking. I received repeated messages throughout my young adult hood that I had no business being, gasp, athletic or even active.

But…

Pentecost 4B poem

Good News and Lamenting: A Poem for Pentecost 4B

There is so much to mourn, to regret
Lost hopes, dreams, lost friends
The dead.
The sufferings of day to day
With its unfulfilled dreams
And hopes

It is easy
To shake a fist
At a God
Seemingly unmoved

Yet, no pain, no suffering
Is the will of God
And in the midst
Mercy beckons
And soft words call,
“Talitha Cum”

Such are the miracles
Of day to day survival
When living is a choice
Bravely made.

Letting Go of Expectations

I did it. I started the book. I have an outline and a self-imposed deadline--one year. This is not precisely the book I though I would write, but I think it is the book I'm being called to write. No spoilers here...but any editors out there who can keep a good secret?

That said, I will keep writing shorter things (having realized that it's true that one MUST write things in order to write things and that starting with the goal of a book requires that one take practice strokes and work out other parts of the writing brain)--essays and such, blog posts, etcetera.

So, what I do ask is that any of you who stumble upon this, or even read my blog or Episcopal Cafe essays regularly, keep me in prayer. Please, such things are not solitary processes--at least not for this extrovert. So, prayer. Plus, I'm a priest, I should be asking people to pray all the time!

Another Episcopal Cafe Essay

I was once again published in Episcopal Cafe. The essay I wrote was partially motivated by an essay they had published that I had found disturbing. The essay was written by a young clergyman who wrote about his love for violent on-line games--his cavalier tone and the nature of the games which he described, games in which you shoot/kill other players in cyber space was fairly gruesome. I read his essay after a parishioner, not realizing that the essays are changed daily, mistakenly thought that his essay was mine (he was wildly relieved when he realized it wasn't). So, my essay in response...

I was also concerned that he mentioned playing such games in the office. Who has time? Now, I don't want to be judgmental, altho' I recognize that I am in this case. But, really, the very idea of guns being pointed at other people makes me skin crawl.

Crash Helmets

This is the passage I referenced in my sermon on Pentecost--crash helmets indeed (and here I go, trying to get more people to take pictures of our events!):

"Why do people in church seem like cheerful, brainless tourists on a packaged tour of the Absolute? … Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies’ straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping god may wake someday and take offense, or the waking god may draw us to where we can never return.”

—Annie Dillard, Teaching a Stone to Talk: Expeditions and Encounters (New York: Harper & Row, 1982), pp. 40-41.

Meditation Tool

This "prayer lava lamp" may be just the ticket for a case of anxiety. The funkadelic music doesn't hurt either!

The Things That Keep Me Up At Night

The things that are keeping me awake:

trying to make sure that I don’t offend anyone or inadvertently hurt anyone‘s feelings; being extraneous; the people who don’t come to church when they’d been coming regularly, I start to think I did something that hurt them; feeling like I need to make church “fun” in order to get people to attend; making sure all the details in the bulletin are right, not leaving out any announcements or anyone’s name; wine at the Founder’s Day service, how to gracefully invite people to communion when many of the people in attendance can only partake of the bread; forgetting details; calling people who haven’t been at church in awhile, people being annoyed at being called and people being annoyed at not being called (you can rarely win with this one); not adequately communicating events; the church failing to grow; my presence not being the panacea needed to attract younger families and individuals; people's expectations; my expectations; the dog throwing u…

Sometimes The Spirit Catches Me

Little mite,
Solid and serious presence
Big, brown eyes.
Daring me to deny her
the passion of the Spirit.

Sometimes the Spirit catches me
and I cry.
So, don't worry, it's just the Spirit.
Earnest face nodding, sisters gathered round,
It's true, it's true.

Five or six at the time.
A recent vision at fifteen--
With hand on jutted hip,
Jaw moving wildly around fruited gum.
Watching the boys, all basketballs and muscled arms.

It's true, it's true.
Slim fit jeans,
Adorning her sass.
Don't worry.
But I do.

Catch her, Spirit,
Do.

Strawberry Jam

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No one ever tells you that making, and canning, strawberry jam is a joyful experience. The strawberries picked up at the Amish farm stand (despite the flooded roads after weeks of rain), the "fried pies" bought to eat right away, the taste of fresh strawberries glazed with hot jam. A mother-in-law who insists on the vast quantities of sugar she's always used (apparently jam won't set right without it), and a wife who willingly cleans and slices quarts, and quarts, and quarts of red jewels. I'm sure I could come up with some sort of theological or christological hermeneutical perspective on the whole affair...but really, perhaps creation best speaks for itself...



Because My Salvation is Intimately Connected to Yours

If we truly believe that we are the Body of Christ, that we are Jesus' hands and feet in the world, then it is our presence that serves as a reminder and the reality of God's presence to others. We embody and incarnate God in our lives and in the midst of our joys and sufferings. Today I reflected in my sermon on this reality--on our accountability to be the cornerstones, shepherds and sheep that God has made us to be. If we have ownership of our own Christhood (as we seek and serve Christ in all persons, including ourselves) than we are called to care for each other and further God's work in the world. The psalm for the day was psalm 23. After riffing on the story of the child who wondered aloud who this "Shirley" was who followed her all the days of her life, I decided to paraphrase the psalm for our congregation. This probably was much more meaningful within the context of the sermon--but several people asked me to post this after the service. So, this …

Humbling

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Episcopal Cafe Essay

An essay I wrote for Episcopal Cafe has been posted on their Daily Episcopalian Blog And, people wonder why I left...

How long O Lord, how long? I worked as a SOLO chaplain in a 244 bed children's hospital, across 7+ units. I could not take time away to attend any programming for the newly ordained and could rarely attend diocesan programs. My pager was on Monday morning through Friday night for over a year and a half. I still have nightmares--105 deaths in a little over 2 years.

A Plethora of Projects

Easter is still with us and as the weather warms, flowers bloom and trees leaf out (ironic in that today's weather includes snow)...a veritable feast of church programs are emerging:

Episcopal Walk Run Club; 4.5.6 Book Club; Creating Camp: a fine arts based vacation Bible school (July 20th-25th); strawberries and steel drums (June 7th following services); oh, and of course, monthly home Eucharists.

As I prepare for these programs, I wonder about community formation in the early church. We gain a sense of belonging through these various "programs", programs meant to allow a gentle entry point into community, programs meant to attend to the interests and needs of our community. But, when I compare our own community formation to that of the early church (which we read about throughout this Easter season) I am struck that the early church was bound together by persecution, suffering and the Eucharistic feast--oppression was their glue and belief their guide. They were not p…

Jesus=1; Death=0

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"A Morning Song (For the First Day of Spring)" by Eleanor Farjeon

Morning has broken, like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird
Praise for the singing, praise for the morning
Praise for the springing fresh from the word

Sweet the rain's new fall, sunlit from heaven
Like the first dewfall, on the first grass
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden
Sprung in completeness where his feet pass

Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning
Born of the one light, Eden saw play
Praise with elation, praise every morning
God's recreation of the new day

Holy Saturday With Mary Oliver in Mourning

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After Her Death
a poem by Mary Oliver

I am trying to find the lesson
For tomorrow. Matthew something.
Which lectionary? I have not
forgotten the Way, but, a little,
the way to the Way. The trees keep whispering
peace, peace, and the birds
in the shallows are full of the
bodies of small fish and are
content. They open their wings
so easily, and fly. So. It is still
possible.

I open the book
which the strange, difficult, beautiful church
has given me. To Matthew. Anywhere.



Holy Saturday always seems like the longest day of Holy Week--Jesus has died, but has not risen, and we are left in the aftermath of death while anticipating a celebratory tomorrow. It seems wrong to treat the day like any other Saturday, filling it with errands until it is time to go to the vigil. Decorating and shopping for Easter dinner will, by necessity, compose part of my day. But, setting up for celebration doesn't really seem appropriate. Continuing on as if not…

The Child

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I remember her now. Her body was stiff in my arms and I held her while I prayed with her family, her father and mother distraught and terrified at what they saw. Her father explained to me again and again: I found her dead, I tried to do CPR, she was blue. Meanwhile, I held her and prayed. Her hair, if I recall correctly, was in little pony tails. Her mouth was crusted with dried sputum around the tube that they had inserted to try and force air into her small, dead body. The women cried, falling to the floor. My eyes were dry and I prayed. My hands were heavy with her weight and I comforted her heartbroken parents just as I had comforted parents before and since.

Until today I had forgotten her. There were two deaths simultaneously that day and dozens since. But today, I opened the paper and saw her name. The autopsy and coroner had completed their work and deemed her death murder. She had not died during the night, she had died the day before, after ingesting nicotine a…

Maundy Thursday Etymology

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"The word Maundy is derived through Middle English, and Old French mandé, from the Latin mandatum, the first word of the phrase "Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos" ("A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you"), the statement by Jesus in the Gospel of John (13:34)" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maundy_Thursday

"Mandate (N.)1501, from L. mandatum "commission, order," noun use of neut. pp. of mandare "to order, commit to one's charge," lit. "to give into one's hand," probably from manus "hand" (see manual) + dare "to give" (see date (1)). Political sense of "approval of policy supposedly conferred by voters to winners of an election" is from 1796. Mandatory is attested 1576, "of the nature of a mandate;" sense of "obligatory because commanded" is from 1818." http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?sear…

The Upper Room

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image from http://www.designsbychris.com/others.html?file=upper_room_logo

Today feels very much like "hump day" for Holy Week. And, so today, I am headed to the kitchen of friends. I will drink their tea, read their newspaper, pet their dogs and be given the blessing of their quiet companionship. I am not one to let my guard down and these friends provide one of the few places where I feel comfortable just being. And, their kitchen is my own version of the upper room.

It is the last quiet place, the last place where the company could naively pretend the events to come could be avoided. I picture the kitchen of my friends--a place where glasses of wine, advice, love and tea are poured out in liberal measure. The place where Jesus could serve his friends not because he had to but because he wanted to, not because he should have but because he loved to.

So today, I encourage you to find or imagine your own upper room. A place of calm in the midst of the storm, a place o…

Saying Goodbye

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“Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. “ Jn 12:24

I have never been in any call/job for more than three years. This is largely due to my age and the interspersion of large chunks of schooling in the midst of my professional life--4 years of college, during which I worked at a daycare center; 3 years as an inner city youth outreach worker for a group of churches; 3 years in seminary with field education in a program sized parish where I worked with the young people; 2 ½ years as a pediatric chaplain.

Each of these calls/places/jobs was VERY relational in nature—the lines between the professional and personal often blurred, and I retain close friends from each of these places on my journey. Yet, as much as I loved the people I met in these places, I left. Some of my leave taking came from the natural progression of my education, no one expected me to stay at the student staf…

Monday of Holy Week

Even though it is only Monday of Holy Week, I’ve jumped ahead to Good Friday. Perhaps it is still my theological inclination to spend too much time at the cross and not enough in “ordinary” time or any other time for that matter. I lived a bit over two years of Good Fridays in my call as a pediatric chaplain and I am still searching for the joy of Easter that was stolen in those years.

But, Lent and Holy Week make me think of those who are trapped in Good Friday--those for whom the resurrection of Easter seems to never come. The children I’ve seen die, the desperately desired infants who never made it beyond the womb, the parents whose prayers seemed to go unheard, the gravesides adorned with pinwheels and teddy bears. These losses, these sacrifices without any seeming greater good--these have stolen little bits of the Easter joy for me through these last years. What good is Easter when such pain is all too common? It is an unending Lenten sacrifice without the remediation of t…

Palm/Passion Sunday--a Sermon in Brief

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(two minutes of silence).

How does one speak after the crucifixion?

Awkward silence, uncomfortable silence, painful silence--
Slipping into companionable silence.
The passion is sometimes important not for what is said,
but for who is silent.

The woman with the jar of nard did not speak.
Anointing her beloved in life
with a ritual customary after death.
There would be no time before the Sabbath set in.

Simon of Cyrene silently accepted his conscription.
It was customary to flog the prisoner
after they had arrived at the sight of crucifixion.
Christ's torture was early and left him weak.

Mary, mother of Joses, James and Salome;
Mary Magdalene, whose story we all presume to know,
Were silent as they witnessed his death,
Their eyes escorted his body to the tomb.

The silence of the grave,
Of those who mourn,
Of those who care,
Of a world rent asunder.

Trading Cards

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Apparently my brother and I have more in common than I thought...we've both had trading cards of us made!

1st Communion

I remember my first communion. Every Sunday morning my sister and I were dropped off at St. Joseph's Church in Makawao. She would trot off to her classroom and I to mine for an hour or so of religious instruction. I remember the crucifixes in each classroom, the see-saws on the playground and the coral colored exterior of the church. Adjoining the church was the small cemetery where my paternal grandfather had been buried and, despite my own parent's nonattendance at mass, I remember my father making the sign of the cross every time we drove past. This was the church where I developed a fear of Satanists, Bloody Mary and Sister Bernadette--roughly in that order--and where the "Our Father" and "Hail Mary" were drilled each week as we sat at attention at small wooden desks.

As we prepared for our First Communion in the third grade we listened raptly as the nun teaching our class attempted to explain transubstantiation to our young ears (with a Tagalog a…

Come to Jesus

A couple of weeks ago--perhaps inspired by the pile of journals I unearthed--I decided to share the two stories of my teen years that brought me, first, to the Episcopal church, and second, to a faith in Christ. Now, I usually avoid (like the plague) anything that makes me feel vulnerable. So, I truly did not enjoy preaching on this particular Sunday. But, given the Gospel for the day in which the leper telling of the story of his healing to the community figures prominently, I wanted to get across my belief that one of the important rituals of our community is the telling of our own stories. In my preoccupation with my own fear of telling my stories I'm not sure that this came across all that articulately--but I think I'm glad I did it. So, here are the moments that make up my own peculiar "come to Jesus"...

When I was fifteen I came out to the school counselor (who also happened to be an Episcopal priest). Her acceptance, almost blase in nature, led me to churc…

A Box

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I pulled a box up from the basement last week. The box is full of journals and photos written and taken between the ages of 15 and 25. About 2x3 feet, the contents have traveled from Maui to MA, from MA to OH, from OH to ME and back to OH. I have added to the contents from time to time but have largely have left them undisturbed. There are hundreds of pages of detailing my internal processing from times in my life when I felt as if I had few to speak with and fewer still to trust. From early crushes to first kisses. From the betrayal of my mother reading my journal and discovering I am a lesbian to the death of my father--it's all there. There are letters to and from ex-girlfriends and letters from friends and family when I went to college. I was laughably earnest...really, "womyn" and "heterosexist assumption" peppered the pages! And, looking back, I wonder what I might have said to that 16 year old girl? What words would have made a difference, what …

Epiphany 3B and an Inauguration

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I feel as if I'm on a slippery slope--I DO NOT discuss politics from the pulpit. But, how to engage with this week's text--scripture about prophetic voices, a city of individuals offering personal sacrifice for the sake of the whole (the people all wore sack cloth) and the calling to discipleship of two lowly fisherman--in light of our presidential inauguration. As I, again, read President Obama's inaugural address I am struck by the difficult truths he proclaims (a devastated economy, war and the need to take a look at our own priorities) and the responses I am hearing from people who are finally saying that they are willing to personally sacrifice their own creature comforts in order to save our country. It has been a long time since I've heard anyone say that they would willingly give up their own power and advantage for the good of the whole.

Obama invoked the suffering of our forbears and rather than claiming a collective entitlement to power and privilege he remin…

Obama and Rev. Lowery Hit the Right Note

I was pleased with both Obama's inaugural speech and Reverend Lowery's benediction. They were inspirational and inclusive. I pray that these next years will be the same.

Fighting Cynicism

I am sitting on the couch watching the inauguration coverage and fighting a pervasive sense of cynicism. Don't get me wrong, I am absolutely delighted that we now have a President Obama--and proud that he is from my home state. I can only imagine where we will go with his leadership and therein I pause...I cannot help but think about General Convention 2006 in the Episcopal Church in which we elected a female presiding bishop and in the next breath asked the GLBT community to wait with patience as our elected leadership embraced moderation at our expense. Yes, I can understand that there are bigger and more pressing issues than the human rights of a minority--yet, as a member of that minority I find that the worries that invade my thoughts each day (I am your quintessential worrywart) have more to do with our lack of legal recognition as a couple than whether or not the Evangelical right wing feels included. I have begun to grow increasingly frustrated that the desire to offer…

all goats go to heaven

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Hunting and football games were most likely my two earliest excursions (apart from my baptism) as an infant. Where I was raised, the island of Maui, there was a very large feral goat population. These goats, rangy creatures with dark fur and dark eyes round as marbles, lived on the slopes of Haleakala in vast herds. With no natural predators the goats thrived and local families, such as my own, would supplement the grocery budget with their meat. Goat was served at my house as often as chicken or beef and we thought nothing of a meal of teriyaki goat.

Hunting the goats was often a family activity and when I was quite little I would trail behind my dad and brothers as they hiked the slopes with their guns. Once a herd was spotted they would hike as close as they could to the animals and the shooting would commence. Hundreds of goats would leap from crag to crag and some would fall. Six, seven goats at a time--often dead quickly, but sometimes not. When a nanny goat was shot he…

A Response to the Stable

As I read this last post, I realized that perhaps it's less about having ventured too far from the stable and more about only seeing the stable to the exclusion of seeing God's presence in other ways and places. A dear friend just sent me the book The Fourth King which is a children's book detailing the adventures of a fourth magi who in his journey to the stable keeps getting sidetracked by people (especially children) in need. He completely misses seeing the scene at the stable but without knowing it has saved Christ's life again and again through his interventions. Perhaps this is why people are so comfortable with the nativity tableau--it doesn't challenge us to act upon or even to see the suffering that exists around us. We like to see beautiful things and it is disturbing, uncomfortable and inconvenient to go out of our way to act when the uglier parts of life confront us. So, I challenge each of us to begin to see the world as the stable and in doing so…