Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Imagining the Messiah, part 1

I'm going to post portions of the meditations I gave yesterday. Some of it is in note form, so excuse any incomplete sentences.

Hat tip to the Advent blog, Hopeful Imagination. I had planned this topic long before I discovered the blog, but what's going on over there helped me in my planning, and gave me the Brueggemann quote below.

I opened each meditation with a poem by someone in our Anglican tradition.

The Call (George Herbert)

Come, my Way, my Truth, my Life:
Such a Way, as gives us breath:
Such a Truth, as ends all strife:
And such a Life, as killeth death.

Come, my Light, my Feast, my Strength:
Such a Light, as shows a feast:
Such a Feast, as mends in length:
Such a strength, as makes his guest.

Come, my Joy, my Love, my Heart:
Such a Joy, as none can move:
Such a Love, as none can part:
Such a Heart, as joyes in love.

Why this topic? Why "Imagining the Messiah?"

Walter Brueggemann (Interpretation and Obedience)--"The key pathology of our time, which seduces us all, is the reduction of the imagination so that we are too numbed, satiated and co-opted to do serious imaginative work."

Imagination for me is one of the key elements of Advent. It is a season of reflection, kind of like Lent, but for me it has a different flavor (for me personally, this is why I prefer blue vestments for Advent, but I digress). In Lent, our work is self-examination, learning what one can shed from one's life to meet Jesus at the cross and at the empty tomb. Advent to me is symbolized by John the Baptist's call to repent--'repent' from the Greek 'metanoia', which literally means "change of mind."

To me, to ask for a change of mind, means letting go of those things which occupy our minds--as Brueggemann suggests--those things which numb, satiate and co-opt us, and ask God to take us into the imagination of hte divine. Because humans had plenty of ideas about what a Messiah should look like, but it was out of God's imagination that we have our Messiah--fully human, fully divine--born as a baby not in Rome but in Bethlehem.

So if we're going to repent this Advent, if we're going to change our minds, we want to ask God to help us conform them more and more to God's mind, to enter into the vision that God has for us. So we're going to think about imagination and what it can do for us in our Christian lives,a nd then we're going to think about what a Messiah is, and what changing our minds, opening our minds, imagining a Messiah might be like.

I found this definition on the web--

The poet Coleridge called imagination "the shaping and modifying power which enables a new reality to come into being."

But many people have commented that we as a society, and Christians, too, are frightened of imagination. For example, the hysterical response to Harry Potter, which underneath the talk of wizards and magic, contains the great themes of good versus evil, light versus darkness, love versus fear. Kathleen Norris in Amazing Grace traces Christian fear of the imagination to the Reformation's emphasis on Scripture alone, and a misunderstanding of what that meant. In my opinion, since we as a country are an end-product of that Reformation, it's not a surprise that we struggle with encouraging and using our God-given gifts of creativity and imagination.

A second force in our culture is the peculiar emphasis on products. A few days ago I saw a report on CNN covering some new Christian-themed videogames hitting the market. They interviewed one of the producers, who said, "there's a real spiritual hunger out there for spiritually-themed products." I did not throw my knitting at the television, although I was sorely tempted. It's not that I'm opposed to finishing tasks and completition of work--after all, I can hardly get up on Sunday and announce, you know, it's been a process kind of week and I don't have a finished homily for you." But the idea that our imagination has to be driven towards products for sale, and particularly products that feed into the satiation that Brueggemann identifies, is deadly to our creativity.

A quiet day is a good day to talk about imagination because it's a day when we step away from those things which distract us. Imagination is a response to being quiet. To being a little bored. To not having other things fill your mind.

But why do we need our iamgiantions? What's so wrong with not exercising it? Why is it theologically necessary?

I'll answer that question in the next post.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

No, this isn't a Quiet Day (more on that tomorrow). These are photos of the new Oklahoma City Knitting Guild in action, all concentrating on learning the Magic Loop Technique. The guild is new but we had great attendance and energy at this last meeting. So if you're an Oklahoma City knitter, come join us the 3rd Sunday in December at Gourmet Yarn Co. Our chief energizer is looking for a new home more central to the metro area for the future, and there are plans in motion for after the New Year.  Posted by Picasa

Monday, November 28, 2005

felting fun for kitties

Or, from pies to pi.

I've been wanting to make the Kitty Pi Bed at Wendy Knits for some time, and my desire to use up the stash made it an attractive time to do it. It's a holiday present, right? A little early, perhaps.

I just love the way the purple mohair I carried along makes such a nice bull's eye like circle in the center. It's a little floppier than I intended, but before I could refelt it, the cats claimed it. Whatever. It's big enough for the Hootie, who is a rather slothful muscular cat. It was supposed to go to Wilbur, but some things are beyond control. Maybe they'll time-share.

Statistics: Kitty Pi Bed
Yarn: Two or so (I was using up scraps from various skeins) of Lopi; also a half skein of purple variegated mohair with sparkly bits in it as a carryalong in parts, and Bernat Boa (also a half skein) for the eding
Needles: Size 13 24" Addis

feels like seminary

The wind is blowing, the temperature has dropped, I'm attached to my laptop and my books while I desperately calmly finish my meditations for tomorrow's Quiet Day. It has that end of Michaelmas term seminary quality to the day.

Meditation #1 is finished. Onwards to #2.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

the quest for the perfect Thanksgiving pie

is over, at least for this year.

Fed up with variations on pumpkin and pecan that didn't quite hit that sweet spot, I found a recipe for a Tollhouse Pie (it used pecans, but more importantly, chocolate), to which I added vanilla extract and orange extract for a slightly more grown-up feel. (But after you've melted two sticks of butter for it, you can't really pretend it's health food). Said pie went to a second Thanksgiving dinner at the home of the lovely
Effervescence, at which I also consumed red wine that did not cause me to have a stuffy nose. Let's hear it for South African low tannin red wine.

Today I made no pie. I did preach a homily, bless an Advent wreath, bless water, preside at Eucharist, and drive 52 miles round trip. That's enough for Advent 1.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Shameless Self-Promotion

First off, if you haven't checked into the RevGalBlogPals advent devotional, there are a few ways to do it. One--order the book by clicking on the sidebar. You can then download a copy or order a hardcover. The book runs through Christmas and Epiphany so even if you miss a couple of days of Advent, it's still worth it.

You can follow us along at A Light Blazes.

Secondly, I have the honor of presenting the annual Quiet Day sponsored by the ECW at St. Paul's Cathedral here in OKC. Cost is $5 (covers lunch) and runs from 9:30 (gathering for coffee) to about 2 on November 29th. The theme is 'Imagining the Messiah.' Come join us!

holiday wrap-up and start-up

Two pies down, one to go. Verdict: will definitely make Spirited Brown Sugar Pecan Pie on Epicurious website again. Pumpkin Pie: I mucked around with a couple of Epicurious recipes. Will see how it tastes out of fridge today. I think it hadn't set enough yesterday. (I threw in some orange extract for good measure--that was a pleasing addition, I think).

Why all the Epicurious surfing? Because before we moved, I had a friend pack up all 12 years of Bon Appetit magazines I had hoarded and take them away. I just couldn't justify hauling them around anymore, not with most of their recipes archived at Epicurious.

Since clergy don't get to leave town for holidays, we have celebrated the past few years with a family who also lived in St. Louis, some of our closest friends. It was a real sadness to me this week as Thanksgiving approached, that we would not be gathered around their table (they are very good cooks), and lolling around in front of their fireplace discussing who knows what, and taking a brisk walk between entree and dessert to open up that extra little nook for pie or cake.

We had an invitation to go to a parishioner's house, which we gratefully accepted. The food was unbelievable. We are just close enough to the real South here to have cornbread dressing (not stuffing). Three kinds of cranberries (canned, jelled, relish), two turkeys (smoked and roasted), mashed potatoes, cloverleaf rolls, the list goes on.

When we rolled ourselves home, our friends in St. Louis had called. Although I missed them, it helped to know they were thinking about us, too.

This morning's realization--I have a lot of work to do now, for Advent and Christmas. So there will be some participation in the Great American Obsession of the day (mostly to stock up on wrapping paper, which was also shed in the move), but also feverish writing and planning.

Hope everyone else had a lovely day.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


I am thankful for so many things.

For husband and family, for little black cats, for having a safe home with tomatoes that are still alive on the vine.

For the lovely new friends we have made here in Oklahoma, and for those we love in the various homes we have lived before.

I lift up those who are lonely and grieving, whose family circumstances have been changed by personal events or large tragedies. For those whose best hope of a hot meal tomorrow is one that will be staffed by volunteers.

Because of all these things, I made a donation to Tricoteuses Sans Frontieres today. See the link on my sidebar if you want more information.

And, because there has to be a little knitting, on a much more trivial note, I am entirely grateful that this


is finished.

Details: Branching Out from Knitty
(I joined the Branching Out KAL)

One skein Elizabeth Lavold Silky Wool in a sort of rust color. Size 8 needles, first on bamboo, which I think was part of the problem. I switched to Denises and it all started to fly along much faster.

I had an easy time with my first lace project, the Fishtail Lace Scarf. This one, not so much. My fingers and my brain just could not get it together with this pattern. It never flowed. But I finished it and I'm proud. I blocked it and the yarn softened and the lace truly opened up.

Even the husband is impressed.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Diocesan Convention wasn't just about knitting



No, really. We also passed some resolutions, one having to do with consitutition and canons to enable the search for a new bishop, and the other two having to two with those issues facing the church.

We dealt with Resolution #4 first. Well, actually, we had dealt with #2 first, that being the one about the canons. And, when we actually got to Resolution #1, it wasn't Resolution #1 anymore, it was Resolution #1a. And, in fact, we passed Resolution #4, but the wording was substantially changed. And then we passed Resolution #1a, mainly in its entirety, but only after someone had proposed getting rid of paragraphs 1 and 2. That was shot down.

What I think we passed, in substance, is that we like being part of the Anglican Communion, we regret any hurt, we're not crazy about a Covenant, and we're not happy about bishops violating diocesan/national church boundaries.

Bishop Rowthorn gave us two meditations and a homily, each building on themes of baptism and ministry. He was a very good storyteller, but it's hard to translate stories into a report.

I did take notes on his final meditation, the mission-oriented one. This one was centered around the story of the Good Samaritan, and he challenged us by asking, who are the priest and the Levite?" Passing by day after day.

He gave us some chilling statistics--I wish I'd had a chance to ask him his sources, but I'm not surprised by most of them. I was taking notes here, any errors in transmission are unintentional and mine alone.

11 million children die of preventable diseases, one every 3 seconds. He ticked off the seconds--1-2-3. 1-2-3.

Over a billion people live on less than $1 a day.

500,000 women die in childbirth.

2.6 billion lack sanitation.

We spend $400 billion on defense, and $13 billion in development aid.

2% of charitable giving in the U.S. goes outside the country.

He quoted a person named Valerie Pitt, saying the church developed "the fatal habit of directing energies into self-cultivation and controversy."

He also said that "spirituality" was a "life substitute" and not a "life revealer."

"Our issues are taking up our energy, and the outcome? We pass by on the other side leaving the world half-dead by the side of the road."

He quoted Bono, "love thy neighbor is not advice, it's a command."

Jeffrey Sachs, "The end of povery is a choice, not a forecast."

Food for thought as we approach Thanksgiving. Posted by Picasa

Goblet of Fire

Why is it, during Thanksgiving week, I've been tempted to write 'Gobble of Fire' or 'Giblet of Fire?'

I digress.

The HiP Scarf, (which was worn by me), my husband, a deacon and a senior warden went to see the movie last night. (Doesn't that sound like the beginning of a joke? A senior warden, a deacon and two priests walk into a bar. . .)

Again, I digress.

No spoilers here. Definitely worth seeing. It helps, for me, that I haven't read the book in awhile, and so not too terribly disappointed at what is left out. We finally watched Prisoner of Azkaban the other night, and I was much more aware of things left undone in that one. The kids remain great (I love Emma Watson's fierceness as Hermione) and Ralph Fiennes as He Who Shall Not Be Named is scary enough, thanks.

One thing George Lucas could learn from the past two HP movies (I don't clearly remember 1 and 2 at this point) is that the special effects serve the plot, and not the other way around. Even the wondrous magic moments contribute to the atmosphere that we are not in the world of the Muggles, in my opinion.

Another thought that came to mind was how much Rowling's world is so attractive to children (and one's inner child): the magical abilities, the ways in which objects transform themselves, the heaps of sweets. And yet it's not a perfect world, not idealized. I think that contrast is one of the things that gives the books their power.

The movie could use more Weasleys, though.

Monday, November 21, 2005

What's up, Doc?

 Posted by Picasa

Who was that soloist during Morning Prayer?


Our diocesan convention was held at a U.S. Postal Service Training Center in Norman, and this room was the hall where we conducted most of our business.

I'm not sure that this is what we mean when we talk about being ringed by a "cloud of witnesses." Posted by Picasa

Diocesan Convention--Still Life with Sock


Saturday morning, before using the red and green cards to vote on resolutions. Good time for sock knitting. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, November 20, 2005

actually, I do have to make some pie this week

You Are Lemon Meringue Pie
You're the perfect combo of sassy and sweetThose who like you have well refined tastes
What Kind of Pie Are You?

Saturday, November 19, 2005

diocesan convention

First off, hat tip to Barbara for all the work she did as a major player on the convention host committee. A woo and a hoo.

There are some photos and I want to share some of the wisdom Bishop Rowthorn shared with us. There were some resolutions passed, and some knitting was done. Lots of new names and faces. The food was some of the best convention food I have ever eaten, and since I have done time in both academia and the church, that's saying something.

Also, I had the opportunity to play pool while wearing a clergy collar--although, considering that whatever skill I used to have with a pool cue seems to have evaporated, perhaps I should redescribe my actions as "pointing pool cues at balls and sending them all over the pool table without them actually going into the pocket." But still, it seemed to provoke great mirth from those who passed by the games room after the Friday evening banquet, seeing the clergy couple shooting pool. Which means, I think, that we Episcopalians need to get out a whole lot more.

Mostly, I'm just tired. I've just felt out of it all day, and am really happy to be back home with the cats, who responded appropriately to my return by promptly gifting me with a hairball.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

It must be chilly

because the boys usually don't tolerate being in each other's space under normal conditions. Posted by Picasa

onwards to diocesan convention

Our diocesan convention this weekend, and as every clergy knitter knows, the big question is:

What knitting projects will you be taking?

(Which is of slightly more importance than, what are you wearing?)

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

I give in

I do have a bravenet guest map, but I have to admit this Frappr thing is a lot of fun. Also more accurate, and you can add photos! Leave your blog address in your shout-out if you want.

Click here for the map!

Monday, November 14, 2005

Knit One, Meme Two

Cathy tagged me, and I now become part of the tag team....

What is your all-time favorite yarn to knit with?

I'm still new to this whole knitting thing, but I hate to say I've become a big fan of Cascade 220. For cost, mileage, stitch definition, ease of winding on winder, variety of colors. It seems to be "tribbling" in my stash (as in fruitful and multiplying.)

The worst thing you've ever knit?
Whatever it is, I seem to have blocked it from my memory. I try to abide by Maggie Righetti's instructions to let it go if it's not working out. I'm sure there will be disasters down the road, probably gauge-related.perience.

Most valuable knitting technique?

Knitting in the round--no seams!

Your most favorite knit pattern?The thing I've most enjoyed knitting was Clapotis from Knitty. I loved that it was simple, yet the way it's done on the bias makes it so sophisticated. Also, as mine came out very big, I love wrapping myself up in it when I'm sitting at the computer on a chilly morning.

Favorite knitwear designer? Still too new--there are people whose designs I've liked, but I haven't knit anything from them yet to see how the pattern fits together.

Best knit book or magazine?
I always enjoy looking at Interweave, and lately I've found myself enjoying the British magazine Simply Knitting.

Favorite Book?
I learned to knit from Melanie Falick's Kids Knitting and Debbie Stoller's Stitch and Bitch. Their diagrams and illustrations were very helpful to me.

Your favorite knit blogs? (To be fair, I'm going to only list people I don't actually know personally. ) Well, who can resist the power of the Yarn Harlot. With Cathy I'm enjoying Mason Dixon Knitting and Sandy Knits. There's Margene at Zeneedle. There's Franklin Oh, dear. I have a long secret Bloglines list that I won't reveal lest you think I'm completely mad. And The Blue Blog for her creativity and generosity in organizing cool knitalongs. And

The knit item you wear the most?
Clapotis. But it just hasn't been cold enough to wear much of the knitted stuff yet.

I'll tag Barbara although I'm sure this is the last thing she wants to do in the middle of diocesan convention and Lydia (well, there's a diocesan convention going on there, too). And Yarn Envy Beth, who may be too busy with things other than a diocesan convention. And Songbird, if she hasn't already been tagged already. And if there are any other RevGalBlogPal knitters who want to jump in, consider yourself tagged!

I'm SOOO ready for Mark--reflections on preaching Matthew 25

This time of year, I always find I'm ready for the lectionary to change over. I love all the Gospels, although Luke particularly speaks to me, but this time of year, it doesn't matter. I'm ready to look at the Good News from a different perspective.

The parable of the talents drove me nuts all week. I read a variety of commentaries, a variety of wise and wonderful people's writings on this piece of the Gospel of Matthew. Nothing particularly leaped out at me. As I said in my sermon yesterday, I was reminded of a cartoon I have, with a priest sitting at his desk, and an attendance graph on the wall, showing the usual up and down numbers, followed by a steep plunging drop-off. A lay leader in the office says to him, "Maybe it would help if you didn't end every sermon with, 'but then again, what do I know?'" I felt like it was a 'but then again, what do I know' kind of week.

In the end, it was N.T. Wright's commentary in Matthew for Everybody, Part Two that really helped me. In his opinion, he believed that Matthew is criticizing the powers-that-be in Israel at that time for losing track of its mission to be a light to the nations.

This made sense to me in a way nothing else had, so I ran with it. I even got to include Dr. Kinnamon's line that "a church that is only about caring for its own members has ceased to be the church." It seemed to resonate.

Finally, I assigned some homework, for all of us in the congregation to drive home with eyes open to possibilities of mission in our own neighborhoods, on the streets between the church and home. I asked them not to worry about how to implement something, or how to fund it, but simply to ask God to open our eyes to how we can participate in God's mission, to dream a little bit as God dreams.

We'll see what the Spirit may bring.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

I should have started in January

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

When you knit, Christmas always comes too early.



Friday, November 11, 2005

this and that

First off, thank you to everyone who sent good wishes and blessings our way yesterday as we celebrated our anniversary.

We had dinner at a local steakhouse that specializes in Lebanese appetizers. Yes, that's right, at Eddy's in Oklahoma City, your prime rib or sirloin comes with a relish tray to dip into hummus and tabbouleh, a Middle Eastern cabbage roll, and, of course, a garden salad and a baked potato. Different but yummy.

In the meantime, since I have nothing profound to add, a quiz for your enjoyment.

You Are 70% "Average American"

You are average because you donate to charity.

You are not average since you have (at least) a college degree.
How "Average American" Are You?

Ready for the Feast of Harry Potter

You know, I was taking a nice nap in my chair in the morning sun, when all of a sudden the female human in the household picked me up (and not very nicely, I might add) and plopped me on the dining room table. Then she started draping this--this scarf thing around me and fussing with it. Then she had the nerve to take my picture before eight o'clock in the morning. Your average bear does not look his best at that hour--see, I'm still in my bathrobe.

Well, I'll have to make it up to Benjamin Bear somehow.

Details: HiP Scarf from Alison atThe Blue Blog
Yarn: Cascade 220 (1 skein each burgundy and gold)
Needles: Size 5 Denises
I tried Lucy Neatby's cold-water blocking method. I used my lawn chair on the patio, covered it with a beach towel, and pinned it out on that, then spritzed it with cold water and left it overnight.

So now I'm ready for November 18th! Except that it's our diocesan convention. Well, maybe I'll wear it to that. . .

Thanks, Alison, for letting me join in the fun a little late!

Posted by Picasa

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Four years ago

today, (Martin Luther's birthday, BTW), I was standing in a long white satin dress exchanging vows with this guy in a morning coat, in front of my then-bishop, with fiance's rector assisting, and the priest who had played yenta for us preaching.

A young parishioner shyly came up to us before the service and asked "where are her feet?" So I got to lift up my skirt and show her my shoes. We believe Christians shouldn't give in to the power of superstition, so we took photos before the wedding and we walked in together, which is something I had wanted to do since I saw some friends do it years before.

Other funny bits: our matron of honor's son, who was just old enough to be discovering bodily functions, and who apparently during our vows was saying loudly, "I spit! I spit!" (You can hear his voice on the tape, but you can't quite make out what he is saying.) Our matchmaker's son came up to me during communion with a picture he had drawn for us, and which I would have happily carried out with my bouquet, but one of our attentive ushers (a parishioner from church) held on to it for me.

It was the culmination of an amazing year and a half. We were both ordained deacon in June of 2000, met on August 1, 2000, he was ordained to the priesthood on January 25, 2001, he proposed on February 14, I was ordained on May 8 (Julian of Norwich, in a wonderful coincidence--the bishop picked the day, not me) and we were married on this date. I think it took me a year to recover.

Four years, two moves, two cats, a thousand books, a few skeins of yarn, some vintage records, unexpected disappointments and unlooked-for joys--I wouldn't trade it for anything. I am blessed by my husband who is patient, gentle, funny, kind, supportive, loving and true.

Happy Anniversary, honey!

edited to add: After four years, I can tell you that the greatest threat to our marriage is not other people's covenanted relationships, gay or straight, but the daily ins and outs of American society and culture--i.e. money and time.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

In the closet

I bravely went yesterday.

Time to organize the yarn stash.

I'm not sure which step of the program this is.

I'm not going to give exact details, but let's just say there's no reason for me ever, ever to be bored.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

the rewards of slackerdom

If you've been with me for awhile, you know that this summer was my first attempt at any serious gardening. I killed a few plants on the patio, but I also managed to harvest some yellow squash, some grape tomatoes, and some Patio tomatoes, and a number of herbs.

Then there was the Lemon Boy tomato plant. It produced two yummy yellow tomatoes right at the start of the season, and then, nothing. Nada. I got some clusters of grape tomatoes, ate the Patios, and wondered what to do about the Lemon Boys. Blossoms would come and go. Nothing. But it was too hot and I was too lazy to figure out what to do. Or too codependent. I kept watering, in hope, like the Cubs fan I was brought up to be. There was no obvious signs of disease or infestation.

This week I decided to really clean up the patio. Husband and I swept up the leaves that have blow in over the walls, and I tossed out the most egregiously dead items. And as I was preparing to finally cut the Lemon Boy down, my eyes were caught by this:


And there's more, like four or five! I had moved the tomatoes to a more sunnier location when the sun's angle changed, and look what happened.

With our unseasonably warm temperatures, I'm hoping to keep these going long enough to harvest. Posted by Picasa

Monday, November 07, 2005

belated pumpkin photo

When you're down and troubled. . .
And you're not sure if it's worth it. . .

A member of husband's church's youth group painted this for us:


I see that this pumpkin pastor prefers tab collars to the Anglican (round) collar. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, November 06, 2005

link to sock photo

I forgot--Margaret posted photos from our class on her blog at Gourmet Yarn. There are some photos of the sock in question there!

on the needles

This past week, I've counted, I think I spent nine hours at the LYS Gourmet Yarn. Five and a half hours of that was yesterday alone. I was determined to finish my first sock. (Well, I made a Christmas stocking on size 11 dpns with Lopi last year, but I didn't know what I was doing, there was no grafting, and there was no futzing with tiny needles). This sock, which had been on the needles for a few months a little while, and I was ready to finish it. Since I was making the sock as part of a socks class, I was able to sit with Margaret for some of the scary parts, like picking up the stitches after turning the heel, or doing math, and finally, doing the Kitchener grafting thing at the end. I've taught myself a lot out of books, but there's really no substitute for the learning you acquire sitting with someone who's been knitting a lot longer than you have. I've started on the second sock already to avoid SSS (Second Sock Syndrome--or, can a process person do the same thing twice in a row?).

Branching Out and I are having issues. It's taking a little rest in my basket. I also started another Ministry on the River scarf for the Seamen's Church Institute, and, I realized I did have time to make a vestment for the upcoming feast day of the new Harry Potter movie. Unfortunately, our diocesan convention falls smack dab on opening weekend, but I want to be ready.

Finally, yesterday evening, when I came back from the socks class and the Knit-In, after five and a half hours with toe decreases, Kitchener stitch and casting on for the new sock (and with my burgundy and gold Cascade 220 for HP), I was exhausted. I had been concentrating so hard for so long my brain was fried. I hadn't thought about anything else during that time, not work, or upcoming projects, or personal issues, or anything. The phone rang. It was someone returning a phone call I had made to her the other day. She apologized for not returning my call earlier. I said, (cause I wasn't thinking clearly), "that's ok, I was knitting a sock all day."

What I meant, of course, was that I was in this wonderful place where the rest of the world fell away while I was in the flow of the knitting, and that it was so meditative and contemplative that I wasn't concerned about anything else, but I was too tired to communicate all that.

So, for the record, I'm not crazy, I was just having a good time with the sock and the knitting and the other people who think spending a Saturday afternoon worrying about toe decreases is exactly where one needs to be.

of liturgical groundhogs and French bulldogs

Having celebrated All Saints' Sunday at tad early at my supply parish (last Sunday), I had a bit of a liturgical deja vu moment as we lined up at my husband's parish this Sunday morning to sing, "For All the Saints." When I'm not on the road, I hang out with the choir (choirs have way more fun than the rest of us in church), so I got to process round and round, and sit up in the balcony. It's our fourth anniversary this week (later, I'll tell you when, but it's a date of some importance to Lutherans), so we came up for a prayer from the deacon. We don't always get to do our significant dates together, so it was a rare treat to be savored.

We later dropped in on a puppy shower for a parishioner who is in the process of becoming staff to two French bulldogs (he already has one and the other will descend upon him shortly, when it's a little older). Any excuse for a party! The younger bulldog came up for an introductory visit to his mate to be. There were some excellent presents, including matching photo frames, one reading "Stud" and the other reading, "diva" in rhinestones. (I'm afraid that if we were to have photo frames with descriptive titles for our pets, they would read, respectively, 'Needy' and 'Quirky.') It's not a bad way to end a festive Sunday, on a gorgeous fall afternoon under the trees, with a glass of champagne or equally attractive alternative beverage, and little creatures snuggling on laps.

Thankfully, I have set aside a stash of handknitted items for occasions such as these, and we were able to turn up with a little baby puppy blanket for them to curl up on after baths or while dreaming of yards strewn with chew toys and bones. I have some stash of little things left, but I've got some leftover sportweight yarn that can find its home in another blanket for another occasion.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

mission of the church continued

I'm still digesting the discussion we had last week at School for Ministry with Professor Michael Kinnamon of Eden Seminary (see Thursday's post).

One of the pertinent topics we launched into was the question, "What is the place of other faiths in God's plan of salvation? Is it possible to affirm the revelation of Jesus Christ and say it's ok to remain in one's own tradition?"

Prof. Kinnamon highlighted the urgency of the question by pointing out that in the U.S., in 1965 1% of the population practiced a non-Christian tradition, and that currently that number stands at about 10%. So figuring out how to be authentically Christian while being a good neighbor (in the civic sense as well as the faithful sense) is a real issue.

Some comments he made that I want to highlight (again, if I misunderstood him, the error is mine):

Because Christ is Christ, Christians know where salvation is.
Because God is God, we don't know where salvation isn't.

I like that paradox quite a bit, because I think it walks the line we Anglicans try to hold dear--that we can know God in Christ (that would be the Incarnation) but that there are things about God we can never know in this life (that would be the transcendent mystery of God.

Real dialogue means being in a mutually vulnerable posture.

He expanded this to mean that real dialogue is not possible unless one is open to the possibility of one's position being changed. Something we're not experiencing in our national civic or international faith discourses, I'm afraid.

He did warn us that there are limits to diversity. Not everything is good. The caste system, for example, in his experience of living and teaching in India. So my thought is that if we're going to engage in mutually vulnerable dialogue, we're going to have to admit that there are things we Christians engage in that perhaps are not all part of God's plan for creation.

Some links he shared with us: all God's People and the Interfaith Education Initiative.

Friday, November 04, 2005

two (ahem) cats with one quiz

Friday catblogging and quizzing in one swell foop:

Decent Cat Parent: You treat your cats very well
and are deserving of praise. You might want to
pick up a few extra cat toys & treats during
your next shopping trip...

What kind of Cat Parent are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

hat tip to

(Of course now I have to go let the cats in from the patio. . .cats want in, cats want out. . . )


Cathy and Gower Street have both tagged me for idiosyncracies. And I've been plagued by writer's block, probably stemming from a fear of too much self-revelation. So here are a couple to feed the ravenous hordes:

My favorite color is red. Does that count as an idiosyncracy? It does when a friend drops you off at the airport and you're begging hinting that maybe she might pick up some yarn for you when she leaves the next day for England, and that she can always safely buy you something in red, and you realize that your suitcase is red, your purse is red, your jacket is red, your scarf has strong tones of red, your toenail polish is red (although your nails are pink, but that's just a subtler form of red. . .)

I'm always fascinated by what's on the ground. This predates my days when I thought I was going to be an archaeologist, but it was honed by a summer walking up and down soybean fields looking for pottery, flakes and (ugh) daub.

Having exorcised this idiosyncratic meme burden (at least partially), how about some pet peeves (do those count as idiosyncracies?)

Here's mine for the morning. Shower stalls that don't ventilate very well, i.e. that send out personal, handwritten invitations to mildew and mold to come take up residence.

People who answer their cell phones in airport bathrooms. Don't they understand the bubble of personal space one is entitled to in an airport bathroom? Ditto for people who stand too close to one in bookstores and make cell phone calls. Aisles are for quiet browsing and contemplation, not overhearing details of your relationship with your sister.

Feel free to add your own!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

children, prenatal care, Oklahoma

This is how Oklahoma is doing with its children:

Children in Oklahoma

(if you want to check on your own state, click here and click on your state on the map).

The statstic that caught my attention was that OK ranks 47th among 51 states in prenatal care. As in almost the bottom.

If there are churches wondering what the Spirit might be calling them to do, it seems this might be a place to start.

Ideas? Thoughts? How did your state do?

just hopin' and fishin'

Heron, Illinois River, Pere Marquette State Park, IL

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missionary position

I admit, it's a cheap title to get your attention.

This post interrupted while I go see what's got the birds clattering about on the patio.

I'm back.

Last weekend, I was in St. Louis for a session of the Diocese of Missouri's School for Ministry. But wait, inquiring minds ask, didn't you already graduate from seminary? And aren't you in the Diocese of Oklahoma?

Yes and yes. But last year MO started offering this program in Congregational Studies that was open to anyone in the diocese, lay and ordained. And since that is an interest of mine, I signed up for it. Then, of course, we moved. But I still wanted to finish the second year. So I'm commuting via Southwest Airlines once a month, and to help reduce costs, am acting as Class Coordinator for a tuition waiver.

This weekend, our topic was mission, and our presenter was Dr. Michael Kinnamon of Eden Seminary. I'd certainly heard his name around town, and seen his name in publications. But I'd never had the pleasure of hearing him speak.


In the sum total of six class hours, he helped us understand the major differences between what one might call mainstream liberal churches and the evangelical churches (and helped us understand that we shouldn't heartily reject one or the other). We looked at statements on mission and ecumenism in our own church and that of others. We exchanged concrete ideas with each other about mission opportunities in our own home parishes.

Here are some of my notes from his presentation on the first day. (Any errors of transmission are mine alone.)

"It's not that the church has a mission--God's mission has a church. We can participate in God's mission as 'ambassadors of reconciliation.'"

"We have a sending God, sent his son, we are sent."

"The church has lost its way if it's only about the care of its own members; if it's not mission-oriented, it has ceased being church. It does not exist for its own sake."


Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Gratuitous Autumn Leaves Photography

Last week, in Pere Marquette Park,IL, across the road from the Illinois River.

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cross-cultural experience

Husband and I like Indian food. Actually, we're passionate about it. We even got engaged over a meal at an Indian restaurant in St. Louis located on top of a Howard Johnson's hotel overlooking the airport (the food is better than that sounds, really).

So it's not surprising that we've found an Indian buffet place here where we are regulars. We show up usually once a week for dinner, and are warmly greeted.

For the past couple of weeks, the restaurant has been encouraging us to come visit them on November 1, for a grand buffet celebrating Diwali, the Festival of Lights. (See here about the festival, courtesy of MarkCyberCafe.)

They had astonishing amounts of food, candles on every table, and there was a nice energy in the room, with lots of people, Hindu and otherwise, come to celebrate. They gave us a special drink of strawberries and rose water, and gave us a bag of yummy goodies to take home. In addition to the expected gulab juman balls and mango custard, there was also a ricotta pudding and a mousse they called a coffee souffle.

On a fall evening, it was good to celebrate the victory of light over darkness. That's certainly something we can share in common.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

a liturgical feast-quiz

via Okiedoke:

How well do you know your patron saints?

Take this quiz and see.

Lewis and Clark slept here

Well, in something a lot like it.

This is a replica of the keelboat they travelled in. It is found at the Lewis and Clark Museum in Hartford, IL, a few hundred yards or so from the site of Camp Dubois at the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. The museum is very new, shiny and clean, lots of interactive materials and full of light. The other side of the keelboat is cut away so you can see what the inside would have looked like.

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Will you dare?

Feast of James Hannington and the Martyrs of Uganda
Missouri School for Ministry
Saturday, October 29, 2005

A couple of years ago, a young man in the congregation I was serving committed suicide in jail the evening before he was to plead guilty to killing his mother. As I was dealing with the grief and the guilt, asking myself what more I could have done, a colleague and friend sent me this note:

"If we had known the joys and the terrible sorrows of the priesthood, would we have ever dared say yes to the call of God?"

I've been thinking about that note this week while I've been thinking about the life of James Hannington. Because I've been wondering if James Hannington, born in 1847 to a prosperous Congregationalist merchant family in Sussex, England, educated in Oxford, ordained in the Church of England in 1874, made bishop of Eastern Equatorial Africa at the age of 37, only to die a few months later with his 50 porterson this date in 1885--I wonder if he knew what was to come, if he would have dared say yes to the call of God?

But how many of us, as we envision our ministries, lay and ordained as leaders in congregations, remember that vocation as a disciple always includes crucifixion? Martyrdom is not the province of ordained missionaries in colonial times alone. I've also been thinking of a Lutheran church I know, whose original lay leadership was excommunicated and shunned by the Missouri Synod church when they challenged that congregation's idea of the Bible and mission. Exercising our vocations in the world and in the congregation risks the loss of precious relationships, careers--risks conflict, loneliness, even arrest and death.

So what can we learn from James Hannington to prepare and sustain us for those moments of sorrow that are a part of Christian life?

Hannington kept a diary during his last week while he was kept prisoner. While confiding his fears about his likely death, he expressed confidence in the next chapter, particularly naming certain Psalms as his guide and comfort. Psalms 27, 28 and 30 sustained him through starvation and physical abuse.

Hannington faced and uncertain earthly future, enduring to a terrible end because he knew the story. He knew the story told in Hebrew Scriptures and Christian witness and he knew the story did not end in slavery or at the foot of the cross. He expected to be gathered with all those gone before who dared say "yes" to the call of God and wrote that he looked forward to being "in sweet converse with the Lamb."

We tell his story so we can connect it with our stories, to our joys and sorrows. He is reported to have said "tell your master the road to Uganda has been purchased with my blood." He could say that because, through God's grace, he knew he was strengthened by the Author of our one Great Story, a story that will enter all of us here in a few moments through Christ's Body and Blood.

God is calling each one of us to be part of that story. Without knowing the joys and sorrows that lie ahead--will you dare say "yes" to the call of God?

(Information for this sermon found in Lesser Feasts and Fasts and at this website.)