all creatures great and small
I have to say, that when we drove down to the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge last week, I kept my expectations low. It was hot and sticky, and I wasn't sure we would actually get to see any animals. Having lived in the desert for years, I know that creatures don't always come out close to humans in the hot weather.
It's good to be wrong.
(Is it just me, or do you want to reach out and scratch the rest of that hide off? Or am I the only one thinking "and how exactly does that turn into buffalo yarn?)
Further to the west, we made two visits to Prairie Dog Town. Some of the prairie dogs whose territory is closest to the road are used to being fed, despite the signs, and come right up to you. Others make a dive for their holes when the big scary humans come along.
But maybe when the humans don't move around so much they start to feel it's okay to come out and check what the world is up to.
We've bookmarked this as a definite return trip. I can't wait to go back when it's a tad cooler and do some hiking.
So one evening I'm minding my own business on Ravelry and got a PM from a RavFriend saying that she had heard my screenname drawn at Maryland Sheep and Wool for one of the RavelRaiser prizes. Eep!
I was on pins and needles until the next morning, when it turned out I had won the Lace Dream Stash.
The woman at the front office was a little nonplussed at my eagerness to get my package today. Also, I had red clay on my sandals and didn't want to muck up her space, but I was insistent on getting my box.
I opened and found these:
So what shall I do first?
Behold, a meditation
Thought I would post the meditation I wrote for our recent women's conference in Tulsa. The theme of the conference was "Behold, I do a new thing."
“Behold, I do a new thing!”
The theme of our conference was a message to the people of Israel in exile in Babylon. Dragged off from their homes in Judah, the exiles didn’t know what to
expect on their arrival in a foreign nation. To their surprise, many found it comfortable. Many found prosperity. So many them thought, why worry about the covenant with God and the poor folk left behind when you can take daily power walks in Babylon’s hanging gardens, park your two chariots in the driveway, and buy the latest in fashion in the marketplace?
So there was tension in the community of exiles. The question at the heart of the matter was this: do we stay and adapt, taking on not just the trappings of Babylonian life but worship of the Babylonian gods as well? Or do we hang on to what makes us a community, strengthen our identity, build cohesion as the people of Israel in exile?
And then, breathtakingly, Cyrus the king of Persia conquers Babylon and offers the exiles an opportunity to return home. It is that offer that Isaiah refers: “Behold, I do a new thing!” God working through the politics of the time to restore God’s people to their home.
But what is this new thing? What are the people returning to? The land of Israel is shattered. The fields are laid waste. The temple, the visible sign of God’s presence among the people of Israel, is gone. Returning home, rebuilding the community—it’s going to be hot, dusty, dirty, smelly work.
On the surface, this “new thing” looked dismal. It looked like the dumbest idea ever—well, maybe the dumbest idea since Moses listened to a burning bush and dragged a ragtag group of slaves away from their comfortable well-fed captivity and around the wilderness of Sinai for 40 years.
Isaiah continues, “I am doing a new thing—do you not perceive it?” The exiles were challenged to look with their eyes of faith—to see freedom and homecoming instead of desolation and poverty.
Exile might seem comfortable—but it’s not with God. Our call is to be with God, no matter what the external circumstances.
All of the signs around us point to the fact that God is doing a new thing in the Episcopal Church. We are being called out of our comfort zone. Like the exiles of Isaiah’s time, we know we are being called to rebuild the community of God in new ways and in new places. It’s hot, dusty, dirty, smelly work.
I can’t tell you how often I’ve been at retreats, Cursillo closings, or other recent events and heard people get up and say—people I knew to be lifelong Christians, pillars of their church—“this is the first time I’ve experienced true Christian community.”
If that’s what’s been comfortable for us, then we have truly been in exile.
On the surface, the future we’re being called into looks uncertain, and the outward trappings might be a bit the worse for wear. But if we perceive with the eyes of faith, we might find ourselves emerging from exile, coming home and set free to do the work that God asks us to do to be the body of Christ for each other, and for the whole world.
in which I do not get to see Dick Cheney
So I've returned home from our annual ECW Conference over in Tulsa (and over the weekend I learned where the phrase "Tulsa time" comes from, so now all those billboards make a whole lot more sense. Or more accurately, I should say I was introduced to the song that the phrase "Tulsa time" was used in.)
Being part of the board that puts on the conference, I'm always aware of the under-the-surface paddling that allows us to pull these things off. But this year was made more complicated by the fact that it also included the appearance of the Secret Service.
I've been a little nose-to-the-grindstone lately between episcopal visitations and the usual end-of-the-program year stuff so that most news of the day had entirely escaped my notice. I was checking into my hotel room the afternoon before the conference, and in typical Oklahoma fashion found myself chatting with the person in the room next to me. She asked what I was doing there, and I reciprocated. She said, "I'm here for the Vice President's visit."
It took me a minute to realize she meant the
Vice President, and I stared at her. "The Vice President's coming here?"
She stared at me like I was the local village idiot. "Yes, he'll be here tomorrow."
Again, clueless to the fact that when she said "here," she didn't mean "Tulsa" but at that very same Large Downtown Hotel. (Which one might also refer to as the Large Downtown Hotel of Slipshod Service, or LDHSS for short).
Of course, no one at the front desk of LDHSS had bothered to inform me of this fact when I had checked in mere moments before. Or informed me that access was going to be restricted in and out of the hotel the following day. Luckily, the cashier at Very Large Downtown Parking Garage where hotel guests parked was more forthcoming with, you know, actual information. When the board compared notes on Friday morning, we discovered many of us had been given conflicting information by hotel staff on what would be accessible and what wouldn't during the magical hours of 4 - 7:30.
(LDHSS also failed to clean our hospitality suite before we got there, so we were greeted by sticky tables, balloons left over from a baby and a moldy ice bucket. In addition, the check out material stated that "enclosed was a service questionnaire". There was no service questionnaire in the packet. The irony was not lost on the conference board).
Because I was still learning my singing parts for Friday's choral evensong, I did not try to venture back to LDHSS. I heard later that the Secret Service blocked off the garage and the 2nd street exit of the hotel, and some of our women were not able to get back in time for Evensong because they couldn't get their cars out of the garage.
So I missed Dick Cheney and the Secret Service, although some attendees of our conference hung out and people watched as people came into the ballroom. I'm kind of sorry I missed that part, but since the opportunities for public embarrassment were manifold with the setting for evensong, I chose rehearsal over affairs of the day.
But I am kind of sorry I didn't get to see what all the fuss was about.