Wednesday, January 27, 2010

by Emily

I'll tell you how the Sun rose
by Emily Dickinson

I'll tell you how the Sun rose --
A Ribbon at a time --
The Steeples swam in Amethyst --
The news, like Squirrels, ran --
The Hills untied their Bonnets --
The Bobolinks -- begun --
Then I said softly to myself --
"That must have been the Sun"!
But how he set -- I know not --
There seemed a purple stile
That little Yellow boys and girls
Were climbing all the while --
Till when they reached the other side,
A Dominie in Gray --
Put gently up the evening Bars --
And led the flock away --

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Parsing Theology

Stream of consciousness thinking: Can we parse theology the same way we parse a sentence? The subject is God; the verb is "is" (from "I am who I am"). Given that statement made to Moses, can we say anything else for certain? I believe that everything else we say is just that: belief. But, isn't most of religion about belief? And, how do we pick and choose from all the different images found in the scriptures about God and in the New Testament about Jesus?

What else would I say to complete the sentence: God is....

- aware
- creative
- will reclaim all of creation not just some of it (universal salvation)
- mostly unknowable
- present

and, I like to think that God is:

- good
- has a sense of humor
- allows us to be co-creators
- all powerful, all good and all knowing (but I have serious doubts about this)
- an intervener in earthly matters
- a user of the willing as instruments of change and intervention
- able to really know every hair on my head (however small they may be now)
- listener of prayers
- expectant of my participation

What I think that God isn't is a much longer list some of which simply contradicts what others may believe/think: God isn't:

- all-knowing, all-powerful, all-good (contradictions in this trilogy)
- concerned with how we worship
- limited by time, space or other constructs of humanity
- going to "rapture" those who believe

So, this is something I will muse on for a few hundred years, but the truth is that I don't know anything about God beyond "God is".

Sunday, January 17, 2010

You can go home

Yesterday I attended a funeral at my former church in Winston-Salem - St. Anne's, once known as the Pizza Hut on the Hill because of its roofline. Now, trees have obscured that detail, and a beautiful community building adjoins the church and day school. My partner helped create the interior of that community building before we moved away. I had returned to that church only once - to bury my god-son, Bill, a Vietnam Vet with COPD and a few years older than me.Now I returned to bury a friend, lost some years ago to Alzheimer's.

I walked into the past. The rector who sped my departure was gone, but everything else seemed the same. A few new faces, but the core remained. Everyone sat in their regular places; the choir sang familiar anthems; the retired choirmaster had returned; his wife played some of the anthems on the organ while the new young organist did the rest. The tri-fold board in the narthex was one that I had made. The music room is named in honor of my partner.

The peace pole has a few new pieces. The river birches are taller. The columbarium is still full of people whose graves I dug and whose ashes I placed. They hold the church secure, and we added one more avant garde lady to that assortment. May light perpetual shine upon them.

I cried. I cried for my own loss. And, in psychological terms, I processed a pain so that I can move along. My spiritual development was arrested when I fled; now I begin to feel the presence of God again. My lack of perception has been replaced with a quiet comfort and a gentle jogging: "Okay, back into the evangelism business, back into the pastoral care business." I call it business - because it is a busy-ness instead of the inertia of fear of being rejected, fear that I have failed.

Yet, yet, I knew that the desert time I had spent was essential. Prayer, theology, laughter with God and Godly people. Virtual pastoral care. Virtual evangelism. Not wasted time, but integrative, creative time walking humbly with my God.

Now the time is near for doing justice, assisting God in making the divine mercy recognized - mercy as the steadfast love of God - hesed in Hebrew. I will walk humbly with my God as I have done before, but I will add doing justice and loving mercy as I am physically and emotionally able. Thanks be to God.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Dead is a complete sentence

Dead is a complete sentence. Expectant faces look hopefully for other words, but dead says it all. Not "gone", not "sleeping", not "departed", not "passed over" - dead. People in the South in particular seem to euphemize the difference between alive and otherwise, commonly known as dead.

I know about dead. My blood relatives are all dead except one cousin. They are gone but not to Memphis or Biloxi; they are dead, buried in graves about six feet deep. While they may have "passed over", I have no knowledge of that, and I'm not sure what some of them would have passed over nor where they might be now. I have never felt the compassion that people would convey in those words.

"Dead" seems to have ancient Indo-European roots and means without life. I haven't researched it much, but it's a concise description of a human who no longer breathes.

I object to other euphemisms, too. I prefer precise terms in dealing with things on earth. I can tolerate all kinds of words for dealing with ideas, concepts, beliefs. For some things we have no words - sexual intercourse with a child or a woman with a child's mind. Rape is properly sexual intercourse without consent. A woman with a child's mind is not capable of giving or denying sexual intercourse; so rape is not appropriate for that senario. Sexual molestation can mean lots of happenings relevant to the body.My apologies, readers. I am one of the small percentage of people who are irritated by euphemistic terminology.

I do not like using the word "saved" in a spiritual/religious sense. Being "saved" means being rescued from destruction or harm; and as surely as we live and breathe, we are going to be dead. Being dead is not being saved from destruction. We cannot know what happens after a person is dead. We do not know that being saved (believing in Jesus Christ as your personal saviour) is going to help the dead person. We just bury the body or scatter the ashes. Being politically correct in our word usage often is confusing. Trying to soften the harshness of the language is not helpful to me.

Being bereft of life is being dead. One dies; one does not sleep without life; one does not pass over into some other land (although one might pass over from the state of living to the state of being dead - sounds like a suicide choice to me - oh, I've decided to pass over, a nonchalant rendering of what might be a horrible decision). I expect to die some day. I will not be sleeping that I might wake for the festivities of my friends during my memorial service. I will not have made the choice to pass over. Yes, I will be gone but not to Texas or on a cruise. My spirit, my breath, will no longer be present in the world.

Okay,end of my rant about euphemisms for "dead".

Saturday, January 02, 2010

WIP (Work in Progress)

Crocheted and knitted coral reef in process - will be displayed at the East Carolina Diocesan Convention in February 2010