Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving 2008

At the end of the homily I wrote and delivered at my friend's wedding three weeks ago, I reviewed the love songs from musicals we'd listened to as teenagers. While you here in texas were singing the chants of your favorite football team, we were singing, "All I Ask of You" from Phantom and "Love Changes Everything" from Aspects of Love. But throughout the brief homily I delivered at Moxi's wedding, I didn't use those songs or other grandiose love songs, rather, I chose "Being Alive" from Stephen Sondheim's musical, Company. It's a song about a man deciding that indeed he wants someone to sit in his chair, to hold him too close, and to ruin his sleep. As far as love songs go, this one may be the most unromantic, but it's my favorite.

I guess that's because I don't often find love in grandiouse acts of benevolence. Rarely does someone rescue me from a mountaintop as I dangle from a broken rope. Rarely am I the love interest of some soldier leaving for war who writes me endearing love letters from across the ocean and weathers gunshells and grenades just to talk to me on the phone. Rarely does a phantom of an opera fall in love with me and i must be rescued by my childhood sweatheart. Rather, I find love in a gentle smile, an unsolicited kind act, a day spent playing cards with friends, or reading side by side with your favorite person on a couch or at the beach. This is how we do life together. The highs, while important to teenagers going to Youth Camp and Winter Retreats are nice, but they will not sustain adults or children. We thrive not on the momentous but often on the insignificant. In my sermon I said reminded the bride and groom that "the holy and the mundane... sometimes they are indistinguishable."

The weekend following the wedding, I taught a Disciple Now weekend for seniors in high school (Wyatt Park Baptists, think "Spark"). Students gathered at a churchmember's house with a leader to have bible study, recreation, do service projects and inevitably, drink Mountain Dew. The theme of our weekend was friendship and to kick off Friday night's discussion, each groups watched Stranger Than Fiction.

You've seen it, I'm sure, and if you haven't you ought to. It's an excellent story about narrative and well, stories, but not necessarily fictional ones. It's about our stories as individuals, communities, heros and nobodies.

And as my former pastor used to say when we studied our God in the Movies series in big church, "I'm about to ruin the story for you," but hopefully you'll forgive me.

At the end of the movie though, the author (who has been narrating Harold Crick's life throughout the film and thus causing Harold great dismay) ends her book with these final thoughts. Accompanying them are visual images of the different friendships formed in the movie and how they have essentially affected one another. The narrator writes,

"As Harold took a bite of Bavarian sugar cookie, he finally felt as if everything was going to be ok. Sometimes, when we lose ourselves in fear and despair, in routine and constancy, in hopelessness and tragedy, we can thank God for Bavarian sugar cookies. And, fortunately, when there aren't any cookies, we can still find reassurance in a familiar hand on our skin (the camera cuts to Harold's girlfriend gently putting her face next to Harold's hand which is cast and in a sling), or a kind and loving gesture (the camera goes to Harold's best friend who has just received from Harold a brochure to attend Adult Space Camp), or subtle encouragement (the camera shows the Narrator's assistant putting a box of Nicorette gum on her dest), or a loving embrace" (we see a child and a father embracing - you get the picture), So the narrator says, "And, fortunately, when there aren't any cookies, we can still find reassurance in a familiar hand on our skin, or a kind and loving gesture, or subtle encouragement, or a loving embrace or an offer of comfort, not to mention hospital gurneys and nose plugs, an uneaten Danish, soft-spoken secrets, and Fender Stratocasters, and maybe the occasional piece of fiction. And we must remember that all these things, the nuances, the anomalies, the subtleties, which we assume only accessorize our days, are effective for a much larger and nobler cause. They are here to save our lives. I know the idea seems strange, but I also know that it just so happens to be true. And, so it was, a wristwatch saved Harold Crick.

I've got to tell you, the more I learn about life and happiness, it's those things, "the nuances, the anomalies," the subtleties, the mundane moments, the seemingly insignificant occurences that I am thankful for.

Obviously I work at a church, so I spend a lot of time giving. It's my job. And so sometimes I forget that I'm at church. I call doing church, "work" and being with church people, "my job,". Sometimes I forget that church is church too, and not just your church, but mine too. And so when my last boyfriend broke up with me, my heart melted when four people from church showed up at my door the next morning (a work day, mind you) with donuts (yes, I ate three), flowers, condolences and love.

And while they've probably all forgotten that insignificant day, I treasure it. I give thanks for it.

I treasure the squeal of joy when one of my college students realizes I've sent a care package and runs down to the dorm's mailbox to get it. I give thanks that I have a job where I can love on others. I sigh contentedly when one of my cats, even the man-eating-devil-cat curls up in my lap on the couch and purrs contentedly himself. I give thanks for my Austin family, even if they are mostly felines. And while I may sigh jealously and pout loudly on the phone as my family relays stories of eating at my favorite restaurant in St. Jo and watching the snow fall, secretly, inside I smile. Because I'm giving thanks that I have a family that I miss and wish I could see more often. I love scrapbooking and reliving my mini-memories all over again. I love planting cactii and pretending I could have contributed to the Garden of so long long ago. I love reading Faulkner in all his dysfunction. I love eating outside at Opal Divine's. I love watching the various dogs walk by at Joe's Coffeeshop. I love bubble lights and bubble baths. I love playing rummi with my good friend Chris and watching Westerns with my new friend Jeremy and listening to my best friend Michelle say the potential boy and girl names of the little baby growing in her womb.

And all these moments, while they may not be monumental, may nevertheless be holy moments where authentic community happens, faith exploration happens, unity of body, soul, mind and earth happens, peace happens, happiness happens... and I give thanks.

I give thanks.

Thanks be to God.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Priest Excommunicated


Well... not for him.

This Catholic priest got excommunicated for ordaining a woman. Although it's sad and he laments being kicked out of his religion, his faith couldn't let him renig on the ordination. That is amazing. THANK YOU Rev. Roy Bourgeois for standing up for women and for the mystery of God. In doing so he lost his right (as a Catholic christian) to not only administer but to receive the sacraments. He lost his job and now won't have health care. His response... doing what is right is the most important - many people don't have health care, now i will be joining them.

Holy cow, Reverend. You're my new hero. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Moxi & Kevin's Wedding Day 3: Friday

I woke up in this bed Friday morning EARLY.

Fortunately, I woke up to room service. So I ate my eggs and wheat toast and quickly dressed for Temple.

When I arrived Moxi was still getting ready. Since we were still unable to wash our hands (no water until Friday night at the earliest!), and since I only had one figure mehendi'd on each hand, I had to put Moxi's contacts in her eyes. On her eyeballs. Yes, I love this woman.

She looked beautiful, of course, but the ceremony wasn't exactly what I expected. For example, when it began, no one stopped talking. A few people sat down in the chairs provided, but the chatter didn't cease. In fact it just got louder now that people had to talk over the priest.

Of course, I was in the front row glued to the ceremony wondering what in the world was going on. Fortunately, Moxi's Uncle (my favorite one) sat down next to me and began to interpret. This was a blessing ceremony. Currently, the priest was passing a blessing onto Moxi's sister and brother in law who would then pass it on to them.

Shraddha and Shawn and the priest were appeasing the inner demons, beseeching them to allow peace and harmony in all the cosmos to reign until at least after Moxi and Kevin were married. I sort of got a little bored there for a while and snapped these great shots.

About half an hour later, Moxi and Kevin joined the ceremony. They first had to go upstairs to the room where all the gods were kept and prayed with her parents. Then they returned and the second part of the blessing began.

And then their whole family (both sides and extended) got on the stage with them for the end of the ceremony. And of course, there were more presents bestowed on the couple.

Note to self: Marry a Hindu.

Friends began arriving as the ceremony ended including a friend from St Jo Mo: Ryan Crie,

and everyone ate lunch together before heading back to the hotel.

After a brief nap, (I actually just got on the internet I think), we were summoned to the ballroom for the rehearsal. I kid you not, there were three people there when I arrived. I accepted a glass of champaigne from the hotel staff there waiting on us and waited for the Indians to show up. As they put it, we were all stuck on IST: Indian Standard Time. 45 minutes later, we walked through the ceremony and headed to the boat.

That's right. They're rehearsal dinner was on a boat that boated around the Baltimore harbor for the evening.


There I saw more old friends including Rachel Young and her husband Eric Runde (not actually pictured below) and Jessica Novak!

Several Indian families from St. Joseph had flown in and I saw Ashish and Neeley's parents. For this evening, I had asked Moxi if she wanted me in Indian or Western dress. She chose an American dress I had brought and I borrowed her sister's engagement jewelry to wear. BEAUTIFUL!

Because I didn't have any cash and I was with some over-zealous bridesmaids, we WALKED from the boat back to the hotel. And people, you should have seen the heels i was in. Not one of my better moments.

Finally, Friday night, Ryan and I gathered together Moxi and Kevin to teach them how to dance. 11pm, teaching an already stressed out, going on seven days of wedding ceremony already, cranky lovebirds was not a thrill, but I'll be damned if their hard work and our gentle promptings didn't pay off because they got EVERY dance move right during their first dance... but that's Saturday night and I've gotten ahead of myself...

Historic Home

This is a news article about a family in our church who I have blogged about several times on here. And here is the video of the report.

I have a dream...

It still continues.

All I Want For Christmas

- Ally McBeal: The Complete DVD Collection [Region 2 Import] (yes, thanks to Santa 2007 I have a Region Two DVD Player) $122.57

- The Tree Line Water Bottle $20 COOL PEOPLE CARE

- Wind of Peace Tee-shirt size small $26.95 THE RAINFOREST SITE

- Meow Tee-Shirt size small salmon color (or green) $14.95 THE ANIMAL RESCUE SITE

- The Tree Line Tee-shirt size small women's fern green $20 COOL PEOPLE CARE

- William Jewell College Red Shirt V Notch Hoodie in vintage red (or white but i don't want gray or black) $39.98 LOCAL

- Logitech Pure-Fi Anywhere Speakers $129.95 with free shipping or Sony - CD-R/RW Boombox with Built-In Apple® iPod® Dock $109.99

- Oneida Open Skillet 8" (my old one was in a cooking accident) $24.99

- Laptop Case light blue (or dark blue) $65 TRADE AS ONE

- Book Boosters Bookends red $24.95 WORLD OF GOOD

- Organic Long Drawstring Skirt size small in Expresso (or avacado or denim) $32 THE ANIMAL RESCUE SITE

- Freedom Tree Shopping Tote color: olive $12 THE LITERACY SITE

- Organic Embroidered Jody Tee size small $22.95 THE RAIN FOREST SITE

- Medium Tote Bag light green $29 TRADE AS ONE

And in case you want to help decorate my christmas tree...

- Artisan Glass Peace Crane $9.95 THE RAINFOREST SITE

- Olivewood Camel Ornaments $9.95 THE RAINFOREST SITE

- Dangle Cat Ornament $12.95 THE ANIMAL RESCUE SITE

Gift Certificates always work too...

- My favorite nursery, Big Red Sun LOCAL

- My favorite nursery that is farther away, The Natural Gardener LOCAL

- Home Depot

- Victoria's Secret

Note: Most of these items are Fair Trade and/or Local items... when you buy them you will be either supporting fair trade and paying directly to third world countries for their goods or money will be donated to save the rainforests, animals or literacy programs. There are a couple of exceptions. ...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A November Letter

Dear Santa,

I know it's only November 18th (my un-birthday), but i wanted to let you know early that I have been a good girl this year. A very good girl.

I appreciate the african american president. that was nice of you to deliver complete with wife and wrapped in Narciso. and i would hate to come across as needy but seeing as i have been an exceptionally good girl this year (i doubt i need to remind you of hours spent in therapy trying to be a better person, the hundreds spent in waxing trying to be a better woman, and the number of this-is-a-bad-idea-relationships i've turn down) surely you don't mind me asking for one or two more things...

1. world peace (that includes the usual... iraq, darfur, the congo, but don't forget austin, kansas city and chicago too please).

2. equal rights for women (um, equal pay, equal opportunity [even among baptists] and no more sex trafficking. oh and sorry to put so many people out, but the porn industry has got to go too).

3. recycling - as not only an opportunity but an obligation that everyone complies with. naturally following that is, um, an end to global warming.

4. a cure to cancer and also the common cold.

Now i realize that last request may put you over the edge, but did i mention what a good girl i've been?...

Merry Christmas, Santa. Tell the elves I say hello.

yours truly,

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Moxi & Kevin's Wedding Day 2: Thursday

Thursday I awoke around 4am, wide awake. Nerves probably. Although it might have been the plastic bags I had rubber banded around my wrists. Inside, my hands were sweating (so was my entire body, truth be told) and I ripped the bags off my hands and threw them to the floor. I stumbled into the bathroom and stood blinking for a few minutes beside the sink. I stared down at my mehendi-ed hands. There was still mehendi caked on in places. Already feeling suffocated from being bagged up all night, I began rubbing furiously at my hands with my fingernails trying to free my skin from it’s tormentor. No use. The remaining mehendi was not coming off. I gave up, used the toilet and retuned to bed.

Five hours later I awoke to find Moxi in the bathroom scraping at her arm with a dinner knife. She was still covered in Mehendi. I grabbed another butter knife and for an hour (and another hour after a break for breakfast) Moxi and I scraped at her body. The mehendi resisted, but eventually came off.

Thursday was a day of work: clean house, pay bills, wrap appreciation gifts, pack for the wedding, load the car, get our nails finished, shower and dress… all before 6pm. Did that happen? No.

But we did manage to get our nails done at the salon that will forever be known to Moxi and I as “The I’m Mr. Plastic” salon. On the flat screen t.v. mounted to the wall played the cheesiest and most vulgar music videos I’ve ever seen in public. Women grinding on each other while some guy sings in a foreign language. Then up on the screen pops cartoon colors and a little green cylinder begins to sing “I’m a fantastic lover. I’m Mr. Plastic!” I kid you not. Moxi and I about died.

Thursday evening everyone already in town for the wedding: extended family and friends gathered at Moxi and Kevin’s for dinner and drinks. Then came yet another Hindu ritual: Pati, or as I like to call it, “The Pasting Ceremony.”

In this event, Moxi and Kevin sit in chairs while close friends and family (actually all family and I eventually) smeared goop on Moxi and Kevin’s face, arms and legs. This paste turns their skin orange and is symbolic of something that I’ve already forgotten. Then the bride and groom are showered with gifts, most of them bills and then Renu and Ajit gave Moxi some jewelry that Ajit’s parents had given to Renu when she was married.

It was a fun evening, but unfortunately it was not over. Remember all the things we were supposed to accomplish? Well, packing was one that missed the boat. So at 11pm, we headed upstairs to pack Moxi and Kevin for the wedding weekend at the hotel.

Then we drove to the hotel… in Baltimore.

Fortunately, Maryland is small and the time it took was comprable to driving from my house to the Salt Lick.

Around 1am, we crashed in our (awesome!) beds at the hotel and alarms were set for 6:55am Friday morning.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Moxi's Wedding: Day One

Tuesday/Wednesday... These days sort of blur together for me. I ended Tuesday in bed at 12:30am but struggled with sleeping. When my alarm went off at 3:45, it felt like I had just taken a nap, but up I got to dress and head toward the airport.

5:45am my flight was delayed and I arrived tardy to Houston, barely missing my flight to Baltimore. "You must be from Austin," the woman at the counter said.

Almost FIVE hours later I took plane number two to Baltimore. What did I do during those five hours in a airplane with only two and a half hours of sleep the night before? I lamented. I yearned for my bed and my pets. And eventually I forked over the 7.95 for internet fees, got a Starbucks Carmel Frappichino and got online. I worked on the wedding ceremony. I checked Facebook five hundred times. I caught up on blogs. Then I walked around the continental wing of the airport and window shopped in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, some tax free fake jewelry place and finally bought myself some chapstick at the bookstore. I listened to the same news stories FOUR times since the Airport News Channel plays the same thing over and over and over.

that one of the teens suspected in the high school girl disappearance a couple of years ago in the Caribbean or wherever was caught on tape hiring "models" aka prostitutes in Amsterdam or somewhere?
that Obama's kids might get a guest appearance on Sister, Sister and people are still talking about Michelle's dress from last Tuesday?
that a preacher in Texas is asking his congregation members to have sex with their spouse 7 days in a row (it was in his sermon and yes, this breaking news made people laugh every single time)?
that the Congo wasn't mentioned even ONCE?

And you know what else? I enjoyed myself! I did. I reminesced and wrote my homily. I people-watched. I talked to my mom on the phone. But mostly I was just quiet, and for some reason... awake.

When I did finally arrive in Baltimore, I unzipped my bag, pulled out my coat, scarf and gloves and bundled up. Moxi's fiance Kevin picked me up and we headed home where we met Moxi, her mom, Renu, her father Ajit and a host of aunts and an uncle.

It was mehendi night for the bride (think henna)
so her mom and the aunts got their hands done while Moxi and I went to get the first portion of our mani and pedicures (sans polish). We came home and ate delicious Indian food (don't ask me what), and then I got my mehendi...

After I was finished came the hard part... waiting for it to dry. Fortunately for me, Moxi received her bridal henna after me so i had PLENTY of time to wait.
Briday mehendi takes FOUR HOURS. I kid you not. We did not get done watching Moxi get drawn on until 1am. So while we waited I took pictures of my hands (carefully!). The dark mehendi is the dye when it first goes on. After it begins flaking off, you can see the real color coming through underneath. This morning when I woke up it was even darker.

They say that the darker the color is, the more in love someone is with you. The scientific explanation is that the higher your body heat and temperature, the darker the color. So palms are usually darker. This morning I woke up and my mehendi was pretty dark. So I guess I'm either someone is in love with me or I'm scottish and have pasty white skin that brown can't help but show up on.

Here Moxi and I are post paint! (but before the henna has to be scraped off!)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Reflections on Relationships

i have an interesting life.

unfortunately much of it is spent comparing myself to others, but whose isn't, i mean, really? (except for maybe all those spiritual sufis who manage to meditate everything away - not all of us can be so enlightened).

did you ever have (or did you ever get old enough to say) "at least i'll get married before so-n-so!" or "surely i'll get married before him/her!" or "if this person gets married before me, that's the last straw."

i cannot tell you how many of those i have.

and now all those fill-in-the-blanks are not only all married (before me) but are now on to having babies. for heaven's sake! let a girl catch up why don't ya!

okay, so they're not all having babies; fill-in-the-blanks big phil, bwack, jessy, julie, lance, kc and frank are all still without child... as far as i know. thank god.

i, on the other hand, while dancing with a young man at a dance hall the other night (yes i go swing, lindy, jitterbug, even polka dancing usually once a week), received this compliment :

"You're a vegetable."

seriously? seriously?! seriously.

you think i'm gonna fall for "you're a vegetable!?"

It only got worse.

"You thought i wasn't going to ask you to dance," he said. one, two, rock-and. "I asked all the other girls in your group to dance before i asked you, but i like to eat my desserts first. You however are a vegetable, and I love veggies."

oh. my. god.

i guess I should be grateful he didn't call me a piece of meat. i should count my blessings.

pastors always count their blessings.

a couple of weeks ago i was riding home to austin in a car full of people. of course i was smooshed into the middle back seat position and as we were filing like clowns into the car one woman called out, "It's a Pastor Ann Sandwich!" ha ha. very funny until one guy decided to make it alliterative, "Pastor Ann Sandwich Porn, that sounds fun!"

no. you did not just put my name and the word porn in the same sentence.

Oh but he did.

on yet another occasion, yet another guy told me i was five foot six.

wait for the context.

he said he has a tendency to think of girls he "likes" as being the same height as him. he's 5'10. when i said i was 5'1 (no comments from the peanut gallery) he said, "really? i thought you were 5'6."

does that mean he sort of likes me? not 5'10 likes me, but definitely more than 5'1 likes me? i mean, how do i respond back to that? i 5'6 like you too?

when did men get so complicated?

they used to call me smart, cute, funny, strong-willed, sexy, compassionate, talented, a little intimidating at times...

now look at me. i'm a 5'6 vegetable sandwich.

my best friend says my "life moves to a different rhythm." my mom says i should "defy gravity because everyone deserves a chance to fly." my grandma says i'm too picky.

i say i have an interesting life. so if stella gets her groove back or i happen to run into the wizard of oz, i'll give those opportunities my best shot.

but for now i'm cutting vegetables out of my diet.

and i'm scheduling an appointment with my therapist.

and i'll probably have ice cream for dinner and watch Bridget Jones' Diary tonight in case any other veggies or marrieds or pregos want to come over and hang out tonight.

What Does Church Mean To You?

The following conversation occurred between my mom-friend-Cinda and her three and a half year-old daughter Chloe in the car on the way to church yesterday morning...

CHLOE: Why are we going to church again?
CINDA: Because it's Sunday and we go to church every Sunday.
CHLOE: Is church Ann's school?

Hmm. What does that mean? Is church Ann's school?

I'm affording my readers the opportunity to interpret Choe's question.

Okay. Go.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Let It Go GOP.

Okay, it's no surprise to you that I thought Sarah Palin was competely inadequate to be one heartbeat away from the presidency. She showed us that herself. I mean, the woman thought that because russian airplanes few over Alaska she was qualified to administer the United States' Foreign Policy. And so, because she did an sufficient job of convicing America that she was no more qualified to be Vice-President that some of us, we took our votes elsewhere.

However, I don't think it's right that the GOP (including Fox News!) is now releasing even more embarrassing stories (does it get much worse than "I can see Russia from my backyard"?) about Sarah Palin's ignorance and inexperience. She was made the laughing stock of America. And "real America" voted 92% to elect Obama. Just let the woman go back to Alaska and raise her baby and soon to be grandchild.

I appreciate what Campbell says about this in this clip. First you call Obama a terrorist. Now you're calling Palin an idiot. While some of these statements may be closer to the truth, it is nevertheless time to stop tearing others down to make yourselves look better. You chose Palin. You said the economy was in a good place. GOP, it's time to go home. Take a nap. Read Micah 6:8 and start all over. And play nicely next time.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

First Dogs

So I'm kind of in love with this Time article. My favorites are Coolidge, Harding and Washington. Drunkard the Dog, a biscuit birthday cake and a pet bobcat are AWESOME! You have to check this out. And there're pictures!

Creation: The Cosmos

I love the creation story. I love both creation stories actually. But for the purpose of tonight’s theme, Creation: The Cosmos, I want to focus on the first one, in Genesis One.

In fact, I love this text so much that it became the basis for this worship service almost three years ago, Beresheth. Bereshit is the first word of Genesis 1 and it means, “In the beginning.” And while the Genesis text goes on to explain how the world was created, it says very little about the science of it all. I appreciate this because, quite frankly, I don’t understand science. But I do understand stories. And Genesis is a storybook.

Our “Once Upon A Time” takes us all the way back to the beginning. And “In the beginning,” Genesis says, there was God.

God who imagined what could be. God who’s spirit roamed around the nothingness longing to create. God whose Word was waiting to be spoken.

And then it was.

Spoken, that is.

And the black nothingness begins to move, to draw in breathe, to stretch it’s wings and birth galaxies, solar systems, suns, planets, moons, black holes, stars, more galaxies and… Can you hear all that? All the explosions? All the swirling? The rush of objects not there two minutes before now hurtling through the atmosphere to far away places where maybe, just maybe, there will be just the right elements… sun… water… oxygen… and life will begin to grow? Maybe not. But can you hear creation?

Can you see it? The bursts of light, the colors stinging your eyes? No rainbows here, rather spectrums! with millions of colors bursting forth and fading away. Spectacular!

Can you feel it? The energy? The pushing of molecule upon molecule as they bond and break? Can you feel the movement as inertia compels us onward?

Can you smell it? The sulfer? The metals?

God speaks and creation comes into existence and our senses, would we have been there, would have been completely overwhelmed. And had we been born on that first “day” we would have fallen to our knees and worshipped with every part of our being. With and through all our senses we would have known God and witnessed God and praised God.

And that’s before God even got to the good stuff like magnolia trees and orchids and elephants and rain forests and blowfish and kittens.

And that is what I imagine worship is supposed to be like: something that involves light and sound and images and a spoken word, but a short one, because all God said was “Let there be…” and “It was good.” 

Of course, I took the Hebrew word for “In the Beginning” and transliterated it a bit. From B-E-R-E-S-H-I-T-H, I created beresheth since a transliteration is technically just a word scholars guess at how to spell anyway.

And now here we are. In worship. Sitting in chairs, in a chapel, in a church…

There’s a line from Our Town a play that I love. The young girl in the play is talking to her older brother and tells him about a letter a woman in town received…

Rebecca reports: “And on the envelope the address was like this, it said, Jane Crofut, the Crofut Farm, Grover’s Corners, Sutton County, New Hampshire, United States of America, Continent of North America, Western Hemisphere, The Earth, The Solar System, The Universe, The Mind of God. That’s what it said on the envelope. Yep, and the postman brought it just the same.”

I love that line because it reminds us how small we are and how big our world actually is. And of course we could go on even further with that couldn’t we? The Universe is huge. Within it are galaxies, lots of galaxies. And we’re just one. One of many. I’m reminded of that by the movie clip that’s playing, the ending of Men In Black where it pans out from the car they drive away in to the city and quickly to the world to a galaxy which is one of many in a ball that ends up being a marble some alien is playing with in another universe.

The universe is great. We are small.

My sister had a boyfriend in High School whose parents offered him a choice for his graduation gift. He could either receive a trip around Europe or he could have a telescope. Being the scientist that he was, he chose the telescope. I remember the night he took us out to a field on the edge of town. He set up the enormous instrument and spent a few minutes pointing and adjusting it toward the stars, ever so slightly. Finally he said, “Look.” My sisters, my mom and I each took turns oohing and ahhing over the burning balls we call stars in the vast darkness we call the sky. “That cluster in the middle,” he said. “That’s the Milky Way Galaxy. That’s us.”

I didn’t understand how I could be looking at myself through a telescope and I probably never will. Nor did I understand that night the physics of what had suddenly been brought quite near to my eye. But I knew that it made me feel small. Very small.

Sometimes it takes a great big universe, a great big event, a great big change to remind us of our place in this world, to give us a perspective on life. Sometimes gaining perspective can give us peace, relief. Other times it can make us feel inadequate or petty. When one hears stories about violence in Darfur, it makes the hunt for the two men with guns this morning on Berkman seem like child’s play. When one hears about the gang-raping of women, even children, in the Congo, it seems silly to complain about ex-boyfriends. When we think of the enormity of people dying from AIDS in the world today it seems too overwhelming. How do we help MILLIONS of people get well? One woman said once of prayer, “I find it very difficult to ask God for things in the way that I was taught as a child. Do I believe God is going to take away my illness when he turned an entirely deaf ear to the 6 million Jews who went into the gas chambers?”

The enormity of things overwhelm us here on earth. Wrapping our minds around the idea that we could be one little planet in one little solar system in one little galaxy, in potentially one universe is beyond our comprehension.

Thinking about it gives us perspective, but it may also rob us of our hope. Often people don’t vote because they don’t think out of all the people in America that their voice counts. People don’t recycle because it’s just one can, one bottle, one person’s trash. We feel miniscule in a world that is getting bigger and bigger. What can one person do anyway?

We must return to the text. And after we read about the sky and stars and land and water and trees and shrubbery and fish and animals we finally reach the climax of the story… humanity. In the same breath that God used to create the cosmos, God created us. But whereas the Cosmos was good. We were very good.

Very good.

If if God calls us very good, we should allot ourselves the same grace. Yes, we are just specks on the sand in God’s eye, but each sand is treasured and ooh’d and ahh’d over by God just the same.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. And you and me.

Amidst the light and the dark and the stars and the planets came hands and feet and hearts and minds. And it was good.

Like creation that will cry out, so let us cry out with our lives, “God is good. God is good. Let us worship the God of the Universe and of us.”


Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Yes We Can!

Wow. What a night.

My boss cried in staff meeting.
My father called because he "wanted to share the joy."
Three friends text messaged, "woohoo!" "unbelievable," and "hell yeah."
Innumerable members of my facebook network cyber-communicated their unbridled excitement.
And my CBF colleague in Abilene said, "We just elected a black, muslim, arab, socialist, husein-name-havin' president. Totally ruined my monster truck rally."

He was joking.

What a night. What a day.

I woke up early. I never do this. And never of my own accord. But I was excited. So at 7:45 I pulled on my workout clothes, grabbed my iPod, phone and ID and of course my dog Janie, and we walked/ran to my precinct.

"You know this is Precinct 129?" the woman said when I walked in the door.
"Is this where you're supposed to vote?"
"Okay then." And she let me pass.

Thank God. If I'd have been turned away from my polling place because I was a little white girl, I would have been very put out considering I intended to vote for a black man.

Volma Overton is dancing in his grave. And America is dancing in the streets.

After pushing Cast Ballot, I felt satisfied I had made history. Of course Janie sat right beside me (overweight and tired from the short walk over) the whole time as I scrolled through every office and made my selection. As we walked out of the school someone said, "Well did you two vote today?" I nodded and smiled. "Yes, we did."

I thought McCain's speech was gracious and I thought Obama's speech was inspiring. If McCain had behaved with that much respect and responsibility over the past six months, I would have had much more sympathy towards his campaign.

What a day. No matter who you voted for, surely all of America is wise and honorable enough to know the significance of this day. We elected a Minority to be President of the United States of America. We elected a good, fair man to be President of the United States. We allowed our voices to be heard and finally decided we will not to be silenced again.

Can't Sleep... So I Guess It's Time To Wake Up.

I"m so excited about the election, I can't sleep. It's 12:30am as I read the clock right now and although my body is tired, i have a nervous energy flowing through me. The contacts came out hours ago and i've cleaned everything the allows for quiet cleaning (so as not to wake up the roommate) in the whole house. I've brushed my teeth and flossed and hung up my halloween costume. I've posted pictures on facebook, stripped the bed, put new sheets on and started the dishwasher.

Now I'm in bed, finally, and blogging because there's so much anticipation, I can't sleep.

To think that we could be on the brink of gaining the respect of other nations again is exciting.
To think that we could be on the edge of making ethical decisions regarding war, poverty and the environment is overwhelming.
To think that we could be turning the page from the president most closely resembling a dictator and his dictator-in-disguise-vice-president to a government of checks and balances that our forefathers fathomed long ago is... well it makes me sigh with relief.

And so fellow citizens, our journey has just begun. Voting tomorrow (ahem, I mean today) is our first step toward victory. Let's start dreaming about all we can do here in America. So much is broken here and abroad, but working together we can take steps, all be they baby ones, towards healthier, righteous living...


Monday, November 03, 2008

This Is What Protesting Will Do For You (and US).

Congratulations Citizens! Because you responded to this atrocity that i blogged about in october, the following occurred...

-- The New York Times made a strong critique of McCain's racist tactics in their endorsement of Senator Obama;

-- Several GOP senators came out against the RNC robo-calls;

-- Paid callers in Wisconsin and West Virginia quit their jobs--refusing to read the Obama terrorism script;

-- John Kerry's PAC took a similar action--asking their supporters to call on members of Congress to denounce the robo-calls.

See, even though the white house has told us the past 8 years that if we protest or rally together to speak to our elected officials we will be ignored because the president will do whatever he wants anyway, the times are changing, slowly but surely.

Good job America! We can do this! Fair policies! Truthful reporting! Living within our means! Politics of integrity! Ethical decision-making! Slowly but surely...

And don't forget to vote tomorrow (whomever you're voting for) if you haven't already!