Sunday, September 30, 2007


Amazing what happens when I can, finally, let go enough to let God take over. I don't let go without kicking and screaming and a long, long list of "but what if's?" far too much of time, and that was certainly the case this week.

Yesterday I was the keynote speaker at a conference-wide women's retreat, something I've known I was doing for several months now. For most of the past few months, as I've occasionally thought about what I was going to talk about, the ideas were consistently along the lines of topics that I could use to prove I was a more than decent academic theologian and scholar. I thought that's what these folks would want, and it took until Thursday for me to begin to let go of that enough to start letting what God wanted to come into my head and heart.

The writing and planning got significantly less like pulling teeth after that, and more like Spirit-flowing streams of words falling onto the page. I wish I could say that I fully relaxed into the trust of that Spirit as the words came. I still have a long way to go in that department. By dinnertime on Friday night, though, I was able to put the whole manuscript down. Shannon agreed to listen to the whole thing, and as I was reading it aloud to her I started thinking about how backwards I had approached the entire experience. When I was asked to speak - months ago - I thought first about the women's expectations, and how I needed to prove myself on this new 'stage.' All along, the question I needed to be asking was of God: "Help me, Lord, help me speak with Your vision and not my own."

It's all over now. Thankfully, it was God's expectations that managed to break through and speak to us all.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Details

I have one of those jobs that requires multi-tasking pretty much 99% of the time. The details are often endless: scheduling programs and teachers and helpers and childcare workers; answering emails and phone calls from concerned, disgruntled, worried parents; visiting with those who are lonely and can't get out much anymore; writing liturgy, worship bulletins, sermons, articles for newsletter; communicating on a weekly basis with the various constituencies to make sure folks are 'in the loop'; staff meetings about space, parking challenges due to our proximity to the local elementary school, pastoral name a few. Those are the predictable details, many others happen that need attention as well.

I get bogged down by it all, and have trouble discovering God's presence sometimes when I'm in the midst of it all and forget to breathe. Which means, lately, that I've been having trouble sleeping and am emotionally unavailable, as they say, too often to be the wife I'd like to be and that Shannon deserves.

Some of it is about this particular job not being a good fit for me - parts of it are extraordinary and life-giving and worth every bit of hard work and angst they bring, but there are large pieces that simply do not fit with what I can give. A larger issue, though, is about me and details. I need to remember that although I allow the devil to be in the details far more than necessary, that God is there too: even in the parts that are hard, annoying, un-enjoyable.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Nobody Wins

I listened to President Bush tonight as he addressed the nation on primetime t.v. He talked about strategies, about good and evil, about national security, about defeating the enemy, about winning the war and being successful in Iraq.

I go and back and forth between sadness and anger as I think about this war, and listen to rhetoric about national security - and I know that my anger comes from deep, deep sadness. And it's not because I think everything was great in Iraq before we got there, or that I think the United States should not ever become involved beyond our borders. My deep sadness is from my certainty that war is never the answer. It never has been, from the time the prophet Micah dreamed of the day when swords would become plowshares -- and I'm sure for many ages even before Micah preached his vision.

I'm clear that I do not have a great answer for how we, the United States, should be involved in any part of the Middle East nor do I know how to 'exit' a war. I'm also clear that killing people is not a road to peace. War is never successful. Nobody wins.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A Wild and Precious Life

From the extraordinary pen of Mary Oliver:

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean --
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaw back and forth instead of up and down --
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings opens, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

A wild and precious life...that is my prayer today, to remember the wild and precious life entrusted to me.