Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Did I mention discernment is hard?!

Discernment is no easy task! I find that I am in a strange deconstruction phase. It is almost as if I have to unlearn the patterns of my past behavior that were critical to being a successful business person, or succeed in a competitive, male dominated, hierarchical world. Reading is great and it feeds me on many levels. Listening doesn't hurt. But I always have to experience things to integrate learning and to truly understand. So for me deconstructing means experiencing and making mistakes and integrating the learnings from those mistakes, integrating what I learn from those mistakes and then continuing on my process.

My spiritual advisor says that contemplative practice and prayer is essential for discernment. I didn't always believe her until I made it the center of my mornings. After reading Brian McLaren's, Finding Our Way Again, and instituting lectio divina via sacred space.org, I also started reading 1 Corinthians 13 every day. I sometimes turn to a different version of it...i.e. The Message. Sometimes, I just go onto oremus Bible Browser and read the NSRV. What I find is that reading it everyday creates context from which to review what happened in my life yesterday and creates a peaceful heart for what I set out to do for the coming day. I am attaching the link so that if you read my blog, you might finish it with reading this famous passage........

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Pianist's Birthday

Jeremaiah 13:15-17 (The Message, trans)

Then I said, Listen. Listen carefully: Don't stay stuck in your ways! Its God's Message we're dealing with here. Let your lives glow bright before God before God turns out the lights. Before you trip and fall on the dark mountain paths. The light you always took for granted will go out and the world will turn black. If you people wont listen, I'll go off by myself and weep over you, Weep because of your stubborn arrogance, bitter, bitter tears, Rivers of tears from my eyes, because God's sheep will end up in exile.

I love the Prophets, and the Prophetic tradition of the Old Testament for which Jeremaiah was a part. I am reading Brian McLaren's Finding Our Way Again, this sums it up for me, "Comfort and Power can become great enemies of true spirituality and true humanity, which explains why we often say that the prophets come to not only bring comfort to the afflicted, but also to afflict the comfortable." (McLaren, 2008. p23.)

My oldest daughter turns 12 today! I can't give you the exact time, because she was born in Alaska and by emergency C-section, so between the time difference and my alternative state of mind, I really can't sure. I guess tomorrow we can call her 12 without worry. I am in awe of her and of God because of her. She is taller than me now...officially by 1/2 inch after Monday's checkup. Her feet are 2 sizes bigger than mine. Being in 7th grade in our school system, means she will be getting a macbook soon that will follow her public school education. (THANK YOU FORMER GOVERNOR ANGUS KING)

I have had a macbook for 2 1/2 years. I love it and use it for my seminary education and classwork, organizing and doing disaster response ministry, creating and maintaining sermons, funerals, papers, this blog, powerpoint presentations, in fact I even made a movie title the Isaiah Project on this macbook. It's pretty good, I edited it, added text pages and music and everything. Okay it's not THAT good, but pretty good for someone who is not very tech savvy and relatively intimidated by technology. With all of the things I do on my macbook, I realize I am not using it to it's fullest potential. I know there are applications and uses that would enhance my life, my family's life, even my ability to organize my time and work.

Pianist has been getting lessons on hers for two weeks and doesn't even have it to take home yet. Last week after her first 20 minute lesson on the applications of her computer, she came home and completely reorganized my document files with color coding.....which I didn't even know was possible. I have been saying to people ever since that she will go farther in the next month on her laptop than I have gone in 2 1/2 years. Last night she told me about an interesting application and we sat down together and found it, downloaded it and enjoyed it. Its called omnidazzle and allows for you to shake pixie dust all over your screen and presumably in your electronic publications. I am so glad she shared it and we sat down and did it together, although I must admit that I felt a little intimidated that she could totally "drive" the computer and I was left in the virtual pixie dust.....I felt uncomfortable.

I can't stay stuck in my ways! I am a mom. My children won't leave me there without inflicting temper tantrums, pouts, demands for love and attention or a batch of cookies ......that is not to say I am a Donna Reed kinda mom, because God knows I am estranged from my vacuum, and am not in dialogue with my iron other than for melting beads animals. As Jeremiah states pretty clearly we must live fully into our lives.....OUR LIVES...before the lights go out. My life is not to be in relationship with my vacuum but my daughters.

So I'm not entirely stuck....although I am a little stuck with my computer. It's useful, but I didn't even appreciate how useful, until the creative gift that my daughter is...the miracle of creation that is now 12 years old, turned her bright fresh new mind toward computing and then loved me enough to share with me her new knowledge. Her collective 3 hours worth of learning has out-trumped my 42 years of schooling and higher education, experience, tradition, reading, blogging, facebooking, yadda, yadda, yadda. That makes me feel a little uncomfortable and happy and yet happy that someone, someday may fully realize the potential of mac and use it for greater things than I can.

We who are privileged with higher education and resources to obtain technology should never become comfortable with the gifts that these things bring us. Angus King was genious to realize that the if you could find a way to put technology in the hands of every 7th grader, they would outpace their elders, and train us how to use the technology. Still it is not a mandate for schools to purchase the laptops and many public schools dont have the financial resources to not only buy them at a bargain prices, but hire the tech staff to support an entire program around the laptops that includes, repair, maintenance, internet security and protection, education of use, policing and the list goes on. And so, the communities of educated, wealthy folks (like mine) who understand King's message and intent, who provide enough tax dollars as a result of their big homes and higher property taxes, can subscribe to the program. Others dont. I feel sad for the other kids in Maine and around the Country who wont get a macbook and learn a whole new language and technology that could transform their life. Those of us with education and privilege are obligated morally to share these opportunities beyond our wealthy boundaries.

Teach your children well, a mother's hell, will slowly go by.
Feed them on your dreams, the one they pick, is the one you'll know by
Dont you ever ask them why, if they told you you would cry, just look at them and sigh, and know they love you....................Crosby, Stills and Nash

Sometimes our obligation is not to force our dreams or education or leadership on others, but to let their light shine. I ponder this as the United Church of Christ speaks of Alternative Paths to Ministry. I hear colleagues offer concern about letting less educated clergy into the club of ordination. One concern that I share is that this may encourage the proof-texting, zealous, hierarchical approach to religious leadership, that my tradition is trying to offer an alternative to.

Juxtaposed with this however, is the notion that there are many other people do not have the privilege of access to even an adequate public education system that could prepare them to study our white, male, privileged tradition of Christianity. I have worshipped in New Orleans in black congregations where lay ministers preached so powerfully and scripturally sound that the spirit of God moved deeply inside me and tears flowed down my cheeks and goose pimples covered my arms.

There is effectively no public school system in NOLA. When working on rebuilding homes, we were cautioned about walking down the street alone as young gang members roam the streets and prey on homes (still vacant or repaired or somewhere in between) looking for copper pipes to sell on the black market, or looking for a place to do a drug deal, or worse. One of the homes we worked next to had a picture of a 16 year old boy on it. When I looked at the picture it was a memorial for a young boy, the resident's grandson that had been shot to death across the same street we were working on a few weeks before we came. She had been raising her grandson, as her son had been shot after he testified against a gang person, when his son was a few months old. During Katrina, she lost her brother who lived 2 blocks away from where were working. He had been trapped for days in his attic, and then trapped for hours on his rooftop rescued and dropped into the stagnant water. He developed an awful rash after it all and died.

Perhaps that was an aside for some of you reading this. But if you were a person growing up in that America, and you had a story to tell..you had God's story in your life to tell......and you didn't get the privilege of public education, or perhaps even the right of safety to walk your streets, protection from law enforcement when you stood up to the evils in your midst or the due diligence of response from our Government to warn you, rescue you or even take responsibility for their failure to do any and/or all of that, how am I even going hear your story? How will I know your tragedy, and my role in it as someone who wont read about it in the paper in my community. I wont hear it from your people because they are shut out of the education system, shut out of technology, hell we don't even keep you warm and safe and dry . I was privileged to be invited..hell, allowed to participate in your remarkably beautiful and powerful and authentic praise and worship.. Many of your congregation still living in trailers, out of work, burying your teenagers weekly, still thankful to God for life for God's presence......I am glad that my church recognizes we should find another way to invite you to be equal partners in ordained ministry. I hope we of privilege have the strength and Grace to follow through.

Our children have so much to teach us! My hardest challenge continually is slowing down to listen. The Bible has so much to teach us! My hardest challenge is to find more dialogue partners with experiences other than mine to help me interpret the fullness of its meaning in my life. Life has so much to teach us! We have eyes to see and ears to listen...God grant us Grace that we may truly see and hear Your will and understand it in our lives!

Happy Birthday my darling Pianist! Let your light shine and burn like the newest SuperNova, like a campfire, life fireworks, like sunset, like a fully lit Christmas tree, like an erupting volcano. Let it flow out of you, through you, in you and out to light all of our worlds.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A vision of HOPE

Prayers and internal discernment are so helpful. Friends, mentors, acquaintances are critical, but of course none of it is possible without the Holy Spirit flowing freely and quickly! The vision is coming together. An interfaith center in Portland, Maine possibly designed around the model of the Interfaith Center in Columbia, Maryland. Meeting space with some joint missioning. Missioning around homelessness, access to internet and Skype, and ongoing disaster preparedness and missioning around unmet needs. The center can have common gathering areas and some specific offices or worship spaces for individual faith expressions worship needs. The building itself will not have symbols. The UCC/DOC would have a participating community of faith or church. The church and or interfaith model would be HOPE, hands of peace extended. The church would work with Seeds of Peace to develop camp opportunities for Maine populations that are being stretched by growing diversity and possible help sponser some camps through seeds or Pilgrim Lodge for new residents (from Iraq, Somalia, etc to attend alongside children from our local rural populations who have few opportunities to interacts positively with "others" .

I have reached out to many connections to discuss this. I will pray about this vision and see if this is God's will or just another part of my process........

Thoughts about the idea

Friday, September 4, 2009

Recharged/ recharging Friday Five

A few weeks ago my lap-top battery died, suddenly I found myself looking at a blank screen and was rather relieved to find that it was only the battery and not the whole computer that had failed. This morning a new battery arrived in the post, and suddenly I am mobile again!

After a week with what feels like wall to wall meetings, and Synod looming on the horizon for tomorrow I find myself pondering my own need to recharge my batteries. This afternoon Tim and I are setting off to explore the countryside around our new home, I always find that walking in the fresh air away from phones and e-mails recharges me. But that is not the only thing that restores my soul, so do some people, books, pieces of music etc....

So I wonder what/ who gives you energy?

1. Is there a person who encourages and uplifts you, whose company you seek when you are feeling low? My bff Tara usually makes me smile when I am down along with my bff&h Pieter. They can usually zero in on what the issue is an offer me a lift out of it or comfort if there is not lift.

2. How about a piece of music that either invigorates or relaxes you?
There is no end to musical resources that do both. I am so addicted to my i-pod....I love jazz, blues, gospel, rock, classical, show tunes.........For invigoration, I would have turn to 80's dance music. For relaxation I would turn to U2 or REM.

3. Which book of the Bible do you most readily turn to for refreshment and encouragement? Is there a particular story that brings you hope?
I enjoy the book of John for it's mystical undertones and mischievious invitations to come and see.
4. A bracing walk or a cosy fireside?
Both sound delicious. If my body is responding well....a walk. If my body is not responding well....the fireside.

5. Are you feeling refreshed and restored at the moment or in need of recharging, write a prayer or a prayer request to finish this weeks Friday Five....
Gracious God who is here in me and in these words
Thankyou for my friends and family
Thankyou for this day
Thankyou for my entry into new worlds...of technology, or friendship, of growth in and
through you
Bless all who read these words and transform them to do and be your will

Hanging with my peeps on RevGalPals

Trying the new blog ring quiz.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

What about cafe church?

I meet-up with people all the time at local coffee hot spots. I began wondering if the post-modern gen, which isn't necessarily attracted to church in the box religion, would be attracted to meet-ups once a week for worship or three time a month with one meeting per month out doing mission, which would include not only hands on working, but also learning about not for profits, community demographics and unmet needs.

This kind of church would be for people like me, only who I dont normally see in the pews of traditional church. Limited overhead, except for tech savvy to develop web material , group can grow together into whatever they feel called to grow into. Thoughts??????