Sunday, September 20, 2009

from my class for further thinking

I hope I never stop growing in my understanding of the Gospel. God has always been the same, and the Gospel has always been with us--what changes is my understanding of the impact it has on me, my life, the people around me, etc. Perhaps 'emerge' is the backward way of seeing it. The Gospel exists and we enter into it. It 'emerges' to us as we learn to navigate through it--as we discover new doors and new hallways. What it has to reveal is waiting for us to discover. It's exciting, really, isn't it??
I think this was from Kevin Kinsey, week 1 question 1

Saturday, June 13, 2009

kids and fooling around with picassa

Posted by Picasa

Ack! I actually looked at the date of the last entry and am SHOCKED to see it was in April!!
I don't even have a very good excuse for my laziness. Just bein' a slacker...

Thursday, April 30, 2009

why in tennis is zero called love?

Because love is more than zero, it is the opposite of zero, it is everything. When you love the world loves with you. Didn't someone famous say that? At any rate, I found something else to love. (Perhaps fickleness is a detrimental side-effect of love? And do you notice, as I did because I had to use spellchecker, that word det-ri-mental? It actually comes from the middle english/latin and means "loss" but as an adjective it looks more like a state-of-being, a place inside your mind.)

So here is where my fickle heart resides this morning:

Okay, my blogging skills are a bit thin - click to read this NYTimes blog

You rock, Maira Kalman.

I'd like to interview you and ask your favorite dessert and peek in your closet and run my hands over your paints and brushes.

Next Stop, Grand Central was a favorite of Wylie's for years. How could it not be? Rhyming, trains, New York?

Maira Kalman has an ear for the outrageous and a heart for the disenfranchised. There is nothing of loss and everything of mental spark.

Maira Kalman is the opposite of zero.

**I had forgotten that she redid The Elements of Style.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Is it possible to be in love with the comments on a strange man's blog?

Well? Is it?
Head on on over to the Postulant's site and scroll down to "On not immanentizing the eschaton" and read the comments.


Come on, he had me at "immanentizing"...

Friday, April 03, 2009

Poetry schmoetry

It fits the bill and we're goin'

Istanbul was Constantinople
Now it's Istanbul, not Constantinople
Been a long time gone, Constantinople
Now it's Turkish delight on a moonlit night

Every gal in Constantinople
Lives in Istanbul, not Constantinople
So if you've a date in Constantinople
She'll be waiting in Istanbul

Even old New York was once New Amsterdam
Why they changed it I can't say
People just liked it better that way

So take me back to Constantinople
No, you can't go back to Constantinople
Been a long time gone, Constantinople
Why did Constantinople get the works
That's nobody's business but the Turks

Istanbul (Istanbul)
Istanbul (Istanbul)

Even old New York was once New Amsterdam
Why they changed it I can't say
People just liked it better that way

Istanbul was Constantinople
Now it's Istanbul, not Constantinople
Been a long time gone, Constantinople
Why did Constantinople get the works
That's nobody's business but the Turks

So take me back to Constantinople
No, you can't go back to Constantinople
Been a long time gone, Constantinople
Why did Constantinople get the works
That's nobody's business but the Turks


Istanbul (not Constantinople) can be found on the They Might Be Giants album "Flood"

Didja know that They Might be from Lincoln, Mass?

Thursday, April 02, 2009


by Barbara Crooker

In Vermeer's paintings, light is always falling
just like here, in sweet Virginia, where spring's
already come, lilacs and phlox, soft air
on bare arms, descending. Peepers are calling
from the trees, there are dogwoods, white
and pink, everywhere, as if a cloud
of butterflies has come to ground. Haloed
in hazy green, the woods are coming back to life.
At twilight, the scent of lilacs drifts
through the open screen, the sky turns lavender,
and this first day's work is put away.
Nothing but false starts today,
first lines begun that simply go nowhere;
filling yellow paper with my erratic script.

Filling yellow paper, my erratic script
wanders over the blue ridges and green fields
where cows munch green grass, that yields
rich milk, like Vermeer's maid, whose hips,
wrapped in a thick blue apron, are rolling hills
themselves. The earthen jug, the crusty bread, the buttery
light glazes her face and arms, spills
onto the table and floor. The thing about memory's
that it's a thief, stealing what it should
preserve, the past, stop all the clocks.
I'm trying to remember what it felt like to be five,
first days of school, the smell of library paste, arriving
late, the stomach butterflied, new crayons in their box.
I'm trying to be good.

I'm trying to be good, write 500 words a day
even though outside the sun is streaming
like a thousand dandelions gleaming,
and the sky's the blue of washed chambray.
The purple prose of redbud trees is
scribbled and scrawled outside the lines.
Hidden in the grass, violets, buttercups shine,
but gosh, how hard this writing business
is--it's easy enough to just repeat, a slick
lyric, a villanelle or two--
What challenges are there that I've not tried,
that also calls to something from inside,
blends head and heart as Vermeer drew
the light? A crown of sonnets just might do the trick.

A crown of sonnets sure would do the trick,
could capture this experience--away
from home, nine days to see if I could pay
attention to myself for just a bit.And so, today, I took a break and drove
to town, a thrift shop, bought a raw silk
blouse of Chinese blue, a tee shirt swirled in gilt
and glitter, earrings of gears and sequins that I love.
Came back, wrote for hours, went for a massage,
felt all the knots along my shoulder blades untie,
walked down the winding road, the mustard
blooming, thick as butter
spread on bread. All I
know is: a day like this is nothing but a blessing.

What a blessing it is, to be in this space,
no cleaning off the desk when school bus comes.
The only sounds, the birds and bees that hum
and dither-which flower should we light on next?
In the woods, light falls, reflects off dogwoods,
rafts of phosphorescence, illuminations, decrescendos
of lace. Each morning, I do yoga, get the blood
moving, then back inside to dig in memory's mine.
Each sonnet's getting harder now to write,
but the challenge has been thrown down like a glove
or crumpled petals littering the ground. I'd like to prove
that I can meet this task, and take delight
as one word, then another, falls in line.

One word, and then another, falls in line
like geese wedging their way down the sky,
a vast scroll of paper yet unwritten. I
roll a sheet in the typewriter, and begin
again, to try and pin down what's elusive,
some insistent bird that whistles from a bush,
"Here, here, here I am," then vanishes,
while I am left to struggle with the narrative.
Like Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window,
I wish the light would flood in from the left,
paint me slickly gold, tell me what comes next.
But I am in the dark, no map, no text,
just following my heart as night falls soft,
covers us with her obsidian wing.

Night covered us with her blueblack wing,
but now it is the morning, the last day--
here, the closest thing to paradise on earth. May
I be truly grateful for this stay, though squeezing
these last lines is getting tougher.
Last night, we had a concert, Brahms
and Currier on grand piano, wine on the lawn,
Caesar salad, grilled tuna, and strawberries for supper.
The lilt of southern vowels, drawling--
But this last sonnet's waiting to be woven,
threading the radiance of spring, memory's snapshots,
pictures at an exhibition, birdsong snippets,
into the poem's loom, the descant of love.
In Vermeer's paintings, light is always falling.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

April is the no is National Poetry Month!!

Through an old, old friend, and in a roundabout way, I found a new poet today. Thanks to

The Sciences Sing a Lullabye
Albert Goldbarth

Physics says: go to sleep. Of course
you're tired. Every atom in you
has been dancing the shimmy in silver shoes
nonstop from mitosis to now.
Quit tapping your feet. They'll dance
inside themselves without you. Go to sleep.

Geology says: it will be all right. Slow inch
by inch America is giving itself
to the ocean. Go to sleep. Let darkness
lap at your sides. Give darkness an inch.
You aren't alone. All of the continents used to be
one body. You aren't alone. Go to sleep.

Astronomy says: the sun will rise tomorrow,
Zoology says: on rainbow-fish and lithe gazelle,
Psychology says: but first it has to be night, so
Biology says: the body-clocks are stopped all over town
History says: here are the blankets, layer on layer, down and down.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Friday 5

Haven't really felt moved to respond to the Friday 5s at RevGalBlogPals in recent weeks. This week's 5 reminds me of why I love the blogosphere, as some of my dearest friends are connected across oceans and mountains via the web.

Here's the Friday 5 leader:
So for today's Friday Five, give us five blogs you visit regularly, and tell us briefly WHY you like them. These can be RevGal and Pal bloggers and others ... or news sites, knitting sites, etc. Who are you showing the love to on a pretty constant basis?

I'm surprised at how much my 5 have changed. I used to check Father Jake Stops the World all the time. When we moved out of the States I stopped reading Father Jake (and now there is no longer a "Father Jake") and I changed computers, so I didn't always remember to check on old friends like Maggie Dawn.

In no particular order:
Di at the Kitchen Door. Di, how did you and I start writing back and forth? I don't remember a specific moment, but I am so glad that we did!

Nancy at Big Harmony. Nancy and I lived next door to each other, a minor miracle in Navy housing: 2 Episcopalians, 2 academics, 2 kids apiece, 2 foodies...she's been in Japan for ever and I'm in Sicily. Nancy's voice comes through very clearly in her posts about life as an American in Japan. I am grateful that she started to blog rather than send emails. I crack up that we both read Cake Wrecks, which is how we started posting to one another. I am thrilled that Nancy and Di are friends!

Milton at Don't Eat Alone. Milton is very faithful about writing every day, which means I am guaranteed a meal each morning when I log on. I think I've been reading him almost since he started blogging and I value his perspective on church, food, and most of all, relationships.

Vicky at Beauty Tips for Ministers. I fell in love with the tag line: Because you are in the public eye and God knows you need it. I love Vogue and W almost as much as I love the Church. Reading Vicky's blogs gave me permission to talk about how we look and what that says, within a professional and theological framework. In addition, Vicky has always made herself (electronically) available to me and used her vast network of friends to answer questions. Thanks, Vicky!

"Sally Big Woods" at Grand Foret. Sally blogs about sacred spaces and sacred itentities that are created through art. She and I went to college together and I love that her blog keeps us connected.

Sally usually only posts once a week, so I am going to cheat a little bit here and add some more:
I don't have a personal connection with Elise at Simply Recipes or Daniel Clenedin at Journey With Jesus Foundation, but they both deserve a shout-out and I tend to check in with them once a week, too!

Finally, I've just found Roberta at Spiritually Directed. Thank you for your wonderful blog!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Today is Joseph Campbell's birthday, according to Garrison Keillor at The Writer's Almanac. I've never really dug JC, but I remember the Bill Moyers interviews and how ga-ga everyone was about him. Was I merely not interested or had I already figured out the corporate-dream state of myths?
At anyrate, I was struck by the quote that Mr. Keillor used at the end of birthday note:

"We must be willing to get rid of the life we planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us."

Whatever it was that I was trying to say with the quote below, this one says it, too. I rely too much on plans, don't we all? But life, all life, is a blessing. Think Abram and Sarai, Moses, Miriam & Aaron, Ruth, Jael, even Peter as he denied the Lord and heard the rooster crow. Drop the limitations of your imagination and move into God's dream!

**I just reread Sister Joan Chichseter's comment about perfection holding us back. No one is perfect this side of paradise, perfection holds us back from God's work. (From Daniel Clenedin's Journey with Jesus Foundation reading for this week. Check him out, he also has the complete text of Psalm 51 and an amazing image of David and Bathsheeba.)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


What I like best about poetry
is that the words fold in on themselves
two simultaneous beings
looking one way and
without losing a set of truth
looking elsewhere:
distinct but not separate.

Washi paper-words:
one side is swirled black and green
the other tiny dogwood flowers.
What starts with a quote
paints the sky at early morning,
detailing the plodding nature
of our hope-filled lives.

A riff on Barbara Crooker's Poem on a Line by Anne Sexton, 'We are All Writing God's Poem'
**check out the mopheads behind her photo - lovely!!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

more luscious words

The White Museum, George Bilgere

My aunt was an organ donor
and so, the day she died,
her organs were harvested
for medical science.
I suppose there must be people
who list, under "Occupation,"
"Organ Harvester," people for whom
it is always harvest season,
each death bringing its bounty.
They spend their days
loading wagonloads of kidneys,
whole cornucopias of corneas,
burlap sacks groaning with hearts and lungs
and the pale green sprouts of gall bladders,
and even, from time to time,
the weighty cauliflower of a brain.

And perhaps today,
as I sit in this café, watching the snow
and thinking about my aunt,
a young medical student somewhere
is moving through the white museum
of her brain, making his way slowly
from one great room to the next.
Here is the gallery of her girlhood,
with that great canvas depicting her father
holding her on his lap in the backyard
of their bungalow in St. Louis.
And here is a sketch of her
the summer after her mother died,
walking down a street in Berlin
when the broken city was itself
a museum. And here
is a small, vivid oil of the two of us
sitting in a café in London
arguing over the work of Constable
or Turner, or Francis Bacon
after a visit to the Tate.

I want you to know, as you sit there
with your microscope and your slides,
there's no need to be reverent before these images.
That's the last thing she would have wanted.
But do be respectful. Speak quietly.
No flash photography. Tell your friends
you saw something beautiful.

This poem has fabulous construction. At the end it reminds me of the Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock, "in the rooms the women come and go, speaking of Michelangelo." That of course sends me instantly to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum where I spent many, many happy hours as a teen. Perhaps that is a distant connection? The rooms at the Gardner seem especially constructed for the deceitfully light chatter of ladies who lunch. I wonder at the poets who write these lines. Did they too spend impressionable hours in quiet houses peopled with oils and marble?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Tina Kelley

When I'm Your Blood
I pull you like a tide
towards times you cry from happiness.

I flatten out like a bay,
you hear distant sounds.

I carbonate your heart
and keep it grasping.

I will
intoxicate you.

I clear your head so you thrill
at the cliffs, properly amazed
that by raising your eyes
murals of grandeur in precise detail
enter your mind.

When you make love I surf, crash,
swell and sway, I mirror and populate
your eager arms.

When you can't sleep I slow
my headlong bustling to help.

I help you praise yourself from within.
I move you nearer.

I keep myself inside you,
keep every favorite part warm and live,
and let you know with certainty
when sunset is over and it's time
to go in by the stove.

Invite me.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Take, Eat, and Inwardy Digest

Long story short: we don’t get to make our lives up. We get to receive our lives as gifts. The story that says we should have no story except the story we chose when we had no story is a lie . . . Christian discipleship is about learning to receive our lives as gifts without regret. And that has the deepest political implications. Much of modern political theory and practice is about creating a society where we do not nave to acknowledge that our lives are gifts we receive from one another. (92-93) Living Gently in a Violent World: The Prophetic Witness of Weakness, Stanley Hauerwas from Milton @ Don't Eat Alone

Without returning, you can know that I think this is seismic to the way I approach life. Perhaps, if you return, I'll have something more to say.

Friday, March 06, 2009

day of auspicious births

It seems human nature to be interested in those whose birth date we share. As far as I know, no one famous shares my birthday - and no one not famous does, either!
Today, however, is a different sort of day:

Gabriel Garcia Marquez (1928), Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806), and Michelangelo Buonarotti (1475)

I never knew this and it is only thanks to The Writer's Almanac that I know it now. But ignorance doesn't negate the fact that they are 3 of my favorite artists!

One Hundred Years of Solitude
has stayed at the top of my desert island booklist since high school and I nearly flunked out of first semester freshman year in college because I could not put down Love in the Time of Cholera. I don't think I had ever read another piece of magical realism before Garcia Marquez, but I instantly took to it - it is my kind of world, where reality is a sideways glance from extraordinary and people move between the two like moving between the kitchen and living room. Would I have enjoyed Faulkner as much or even tried to read Master and Margarita if it had not been for Sr Garcia Marquez?

I was given an early copy of EBB's love poems as a wedding gift, but I confess I don't really care for her meter or rhyme or word-sense. That said, I love her spirit. She and Robert Browning had a mysterious and love-filled romance and marriage and she trod a path for others to follow. She disobeyed her father, trusted in the love of Robert, traveled to and lived in Florence, had a child at 43 (!!) and continued to publish in her own voice. One of my favorite poems is from Sonnets from the Portugeuse (his nickname for her, not an actual translation), where she describes his kisses, first on her hand and then the near misses on her hair, forehead,'s rather flip for a poem written in the mid-19th century! (It's poem 38)

And finally Michelangelo. What can I say that hasn't already been said? I am not sure I'd want to meet him or have him for dinner or tea or whatever it is the teachers now have their students imagine of their heroes. However, I am in awe of his work and the Pieta in St Peter's is high on my list of must-sees. (Next week! Next week!)

John Updike, who died a few weeks ago, wrote a series of children's poems, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman called A Child's Calendar. The poem for November contains this line:
Tall God
Must see our souls
This way, and nod.

Perfect eloquence, in meter, magic and stone.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

This one is for you, Di*

A New Poet

Linda Pastan

Finding a new poet
is like finding a new wildflower
out in the woods. You don't see
its name in the flower books, and
nobody you tell believes
in its odd color or the way
its leaves grow in splayed rows
down the whole length of the page. In fact
the very page smells of spilled
red wine and the mustiness of the sea
on a foggy day - the odor of truth
and of lying.
And the words are so familiar,
so strangely new, words
you almost wrote yourself, if only
in your dreams there had been a pencil
or a pen or even a paintbrush,
if only there had been a flower.
from Heroes In Disguise, 1991
W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., New York, NY
Copyright 1991 by Linda Pastan.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced with permission

*You seem as someone who would write a poem about finding a new poet!

Friday, February 27, 2009

cling, swing, spring, sing

Children's voices in the orchard
Between the blossom- and the fruit-time:
Golden head, crimson head,
Between the green tip and the root.
Black wing, brown wing, hover over;
Twenty years and the spring is over;
To-day grieves and to-morrow grieves,
Cover me over, light-in-leaves;
Golden head, black wing,
Cling, swing,
Spring, sing,
Swing up into the apple-tree.

When we were little we had an oversize book with a blue cloth cover filled with photos of children of the world. Towards the back was a picture of a summer lake with a rope swing and boys jumping into the water. It could be the cover to A Separate Peace. I cannot look at a photo of a rope swing into a pond, nor see one in real life without thinking "cover me over, light-in-leaves."

We're not quite into the first week of Lent, technically still counting "days after Ash Wednesday" and I am still not quite sure of what I am taking up as a discipline. I'm reading an older book by Barbara Crofton Cawthorne, but it's not really snapping my socks. I don't particularly feel capable of giving up meat or changing my diet, although I am slovenly in my entitlement; I should try to be more accepting of saying no.

But poetry. I love poetry. I love the way words flow together, separate, become one whole and become owned by each reader. I particulary love the poetry of TS Eliot, whose poem New Hampshire is above and Gerard Manley Hopkins and Frank O'Hara - combinations of words that recreate God's flaming majesty in the oft-times ordinary.

Regardless of what else I take on, I am reading more poetry!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Bishop Robinson's Inaugural Prayer

Opening Inaugural Event
Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC
January 18, 2009

Welcome to Washington! The fun is about to begin, but first, please join me in pausing for a moment, to ask God's blessing upon our nation and our next president.

O God of our many understandings, we pray that you will...

Bless us with tears - for a world in which over a billion people exist on less than a dollar a day, where young women from many lands are beaten and raped for wanting an education, and thousands die daily from malnutrition, malaria, and AIDS.

Bless us with anger - at discrimination, at home and abroad, against refugees and immigrants, women, people of color, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

Bless us with discomfort - at the easy, simplistic "answers" we've preferred to hear from our politicians, instead of the truth, about ourselves and the world, which we need to face if we are going to rise to the challenges of the future.

Bless us with patience - and the knowledge that none of what ails us will be "fixed" anytime soon, and the understanding that our new president is a human being, not a messiah.

Bless us with humility - open to understanding that our own needs must always be balanced with those of the world.

Bless us with freedom from mere tolerance - replacing it with a genuine respect and warm embrace of our differences, and an understanding that in our diversity, we are stronger.

Bless us with compassion and generosity - remembering that every religion's God judges us by the way we care for the most vulnerable in the human community, whether across town or across the world.

And God, we give you thanks for your child Barack, as he assumes the office of President of the United States.

Give him wisdom beyond his years, and inspire him with Lincoln's reconciling leadership style, President Kennedy's ability to enlist our best efforts, and Dr. King's dream of a nation for ALL the people.

Give him a quiet heart, for our Ship of State needs a steady, calm captain in these times.

Give him stirring words, for we will need to be inspired and motivated to make the personal and common sacrifices necessary to facing the challenges ahead.

Make him color-blind, reminding him of his own words that under his leadership, there will be neither red nor blue states, but the United States.

Help him remember his own oppression as a minority, drawing on that experience of discrimination, that he might seek to change the lives of those who are still its victims.

Give him the strength to find family time and privacy, and help him remember that even though he is president, a father only gets one shot at his daughters' childhoods.

And please, God, keep him safe. We know we ask too much of our presidents, and we're asking FAR too much of this one. We know the risk he and his wife are taking for all of us, and we implore you, O good and great God, to keep him safe. Hold him in the palm of your hand - that he might do the work we have called him to do, that he might find joy in this impossible calling, and that in the end, he might lead us as a nation to a place of integrity, prosperity and peace.