Thursday, February 13, 2014

Christmas Eve, 2013

This morning I awakened and knew that I would live.
Gratitude streamed into my heart like the rays of sun that pierced the sheer curtains in my bedroom.
I've been felled by a bad case of stomach flu
or food poisoning.
I don't know which.
It doesn't matter.

What I do know is that hope has been born within me today
and good health will surely follow.

For three days I lay in darkness
unable to sit up
unable to eat much
unable even to talk because of the enormous effort it generated.
I could only cry out to the one who is all powerful.

One word prayers were all I could muster.
They were enough.
The green shoots pushed their way through sometime around 1:30 am this morning.

This is Christmas, isn't it?
Into the bleakness of the night
the hardened soil
and the great abyss
God comes ever so gently.
Christ is born.

I'm going to make it.
Thank you.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Christmas Letter 2013

Christmas is 12 days long
I'm not late yet.

The best part of 2013?
for me anyway -
Amazing vacations
 Maine with the whole family
 and mystical Cape Cod
 and sunsets where the sky was seamless with the ocean.

A trip to the national parks of the southwest when the government shut down
 We had Zion National Park to ourselves!
 No tourists crawling the place

Oscar fun at Emi's house
 themed menu
 Oscar Bingo and bleating goats
 glittery things all around
 alternately trashing and cheering what we saw.

There were tough times.
Forrest had health issues
 two surgeries
 emergency trips to M.D. Anderson
He's fine now.
Our kids were champions through it all.

For me the bad was often insomnia
 dragging myself through the days
 and thrashing through the nights.

God is faithful and good.
We're still here on Carnegie Street
 and grateful for your friendship.

This comes with love
 and prayers for an excellent 2014.

Friday, November 8, 2013


I like Ike.

It was the first political campaign I ever remembered

sitting in the back seat of the car

while my parents went into the voting precinct

to cast their ballot for Ike.

I've never heard that name

unless it referred to our former president,

who won that day.

A different Ike is courting us this season.

He's in the Gulf of Mexico

bellowing His presence

like the eerie sounds you hear on Halloween.

Houston is evacuating.

took me a while to get home this morning.

It's getting worse they tell me - the traffic.

The winds will start around noon tomorrow

and the rains with them.

They'll beat us and leave us for dead

if they have their way.

We've been through this drill so many times before.

Ike will not triumph over us.

He's just a blowhard, a good excuse for an afternoon off today.

We shall greet him courageously and defend ourselves.

We may end up battered and bruised,

but in the process we shall discover strength we didn't know was there.

We'll emerge from this stronger and wiser

and full of stories

about how Ike tried to conquer us

and we beat his ass.

I look forward to all the stories

of how God has truly been in our midst

and how God will help us in the recovery.

Alzheimer's Disease

The nursing home called again last night.
She had crawled into bed with a strange man
thinking he was her lover from years' past.

Last week she awakened all the residents at two in the morning
serving them coffee
and telling them to rise and shine.
"The ship is arriving at port!
There's a full day ahead!"

She told me on Thursday that she was pregnant again
at eighty-three years of age.
Strange men had held her down
while a nurse inserted a tiny fetus.
Now the child grew within her.
She's thinking of a lawsuit because she was violated.
No one had asked her permission.

My memories of Charlene have never been bizarre.
smart and wily
salty and adventurous
The Charlene I knew would be horrified at her current state of affairs!

Now she wastes away
and physically.

What will we remember after Alzheimer's is long forgotten?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Pope's Retirement

The Pope retired this week.
The fun comments happened immediately:
"Wow! That sets the bar pretty high on giving things up for Lent."
"Is he cleared for sex now?"
"Wearing all that heavy gold tired him out."
pictures of Eggs benedict with papal hats - ex benedict!
get it?

My favorite was Stephen Colbert
who said the retirement may prompt a "Catholic free for all"
where the devout will be
"passing out Pez dispensers full of birth control pills
using the Lord's name in vain,
coveting thy neighbor's wife,
killing anybody you want.
It'll be like being Presbyterian."

Benedict tells the world that he stepped down for the good of the church.
He's old.
He's tired.
I understand that.
I did the same thing myself not that long ago.
The church deserved better than an aging pastor
dragging herself around with developing health issues.

The lines were drawn pretty clear for me in retirement.
don't show up
don't act as a minister anymore around those people.
Make sure your family stays away too.
The rules are for my protection
and theirs too
even though they smart sometimes
and hurt our feelings.
Divorce is painful whatever the circumstances.

For Presbyterians there's a nice orderly process when one retires.
We get a pension.
We get a little ceremony at a Presbytery meeting.
even a standing ovation.
and then we're done.
We can pretty well do whatever we want after that
within reason of course
as long as it's decent and in order.

Not so for the Pope.
There aren't any guidelines.
they all have to be made up now.
where to live, what to wear,
health care?
It's much more complicated for him
than it is for us,
Us Presbyterians with our Pez containers.

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Cow in the Tutu on MLK Day.

My morning Scripture reading was Luke 9:12-17, the story where Jesus was confronted with 5000 hungry people and told his disciples to feed them. This is my response ss I entered the story:

"You give them something to eat."
Are you talking to me?
If you are, you're talkin' crazy talk.
I can't.
I don't have the resources.
I think it's impossible.
You're a crazyman, Jesus.

I might as well put on a tutu and dance for the crowd.
Your request is that preposterous.
Don't you know what you're asking?
Do you not understand?
5 tiny loaves will barely feed my family
much less 5000.

"I'm not crazy.
Put on that tutu and dance.
Give them something to eat."

There's a line in the sand now.
I see it prety clear.
I hear Martin Luther King in my head.
"You don't have to see the future to take the first step."
or something like that.

Do I believe God will honor that first step?
Can I find the courage within my scaredy cat self
to make some little movement beyond selfishness today?

That's really the issue.
I don't have to change the world.
I just have to take the first step.
I put on my tutu and dance.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Jesus and the Movies

My Iphone alerted me that the Oscar nominations are out.
I raced to the computer to find them
still wearing my nightgown
with sleep in my eyes.
What greeted me were pictures of Jesus
one by one flashing on the screen
leftovers from sermons I gave long ago.

Now settled back in my chair with Oscar knowledge
Jesus' face comes to me -
the ugly one that scholars say is probably the most accurate
a favorite with loving eyes and a shawl on his head.

maligned by so many
always touches my heart.
every single time.
"Come to me," he says.
I see his face.
I sense his presence.
I settle in to that.
My day will be different now.

Who cares about the Oscars anyway
and why should we?
What does that have to do with God?

An Oscar nomination pegs great art.
Good art touches the heart
and moves us through whatever form it takes.
It brings us closer to God
reflects God's ways and ours
and helps us to see ourselves.
What touches us and makes us cry
is the place where we need to do emotional and spiritual work.

Movies to me are a special form of God's grace
sacramental sometimes.
All human stories have spiritual themes
whether they are real life
or imagined through a clever writer
and captured on film.

In dark times of my life
when I have felt alone and frightened
when Scripture lay lifeless on the page
a movie has led me back to God.
If I could see grace operating in a character's life
I could begin to believe
that grace would enter mine.

I don't criticize movies too often.
Mostly I go with an open heart
asking God to come to me
and help me see how God is at work.
Even in vile films there are slices of grace
just like real life.
I look for them.
They lead me back to Scripture
and link to my own life.

I'm behind in movie going this season.
Soon I'll catch up.
Now to find a movie going buddy
and a group in which to talk things over.