Friday, August 28, 2009

Anne With an E's Letter to Obama

You know I love Anne Lamott, and here is a delightful yet poignant letter to President Obama regarding healthcare. You've probably already read it (i hadn't and am now catching up on the news after a stressful week while sitting, stuck in the austin airport, just five miles from my home if I could only get there). Anyway, here it is. Enjoy.

Thursday, August 27, 2009



It’s a buzz word right now in churches. I’m not sure why. I haven’t spent any time researching what feels like a resurgence of the word or the idea. But maybe community’s making a comeback because we spent too much time in the eighties and nineties individualizing Christianity and singing about “me and Jesus” over and over in praise and worship choruses only to discover there’s more to Christianity than just me and Jesus. Or maybe we’ve begun to promote community again because we’re finally re-discovering our faith in humanity after WWII dismantled it. Or maybe it just took forty years for the Youngblood’s lyrics “everybody get together, try to love one another right now” to finally sink in to our psyche.

I’ve been in a lot of communities in my life. There was my family growing up, my home church community, Wyatt Park Baptist, and my Noyes Elementary School community. There was the community of my parents’ friends and their kids that always used to hang out together and take weekend trips to Lake Viking together. There was my neighborhood on Folsom Terrace and Ashland Court, which was another community. When I moved on to Bode Middle School and Central High School there were lots of communities to belong to, but I think they may call those cliques. ☺ In college I found community in Delta Zeta Sorority and in the Christian Student Ministries on campus. But it wasn’t until I moved to Waco, Texas and made friends at Truett Seminary that I began to give language to all these different groups in my life. And while in Seminary, I was taught by my fellow seminarians, my new church and my new friends, that community was what it was all about.

I’ll never forget one conversation with my friend, Lance. While I can’t remember the context whether it was about paying bills or dealing with sick parents, I remember he said to me, “Well, I’m saving up money for when Phil’s dad dies; I figure we’ll have to fly up with him to be at the funeral.”

I remember being startled by that statement. But I nodded my head as I began to understand the community I was entering into. It was a group of friends who stood by one another, defended one another, encouraged one another, rebuked one another and would use their savings to fly to a funeral of their friend’s father whom they didn’t even know.

We called each other sister and brother when I lived in Waco, not because we wanted to be Catholic or cheesy Christians but because we were literally that close with one another. I remember Phil would introduce me as his “little sister, Ann.”

I think because we were all single, all went to school together, and most of us went to the same church, we became a community that literally lived with one another. Every Sunday we intentionally ate a meal all together and called it Sunday Lunch Bunch. If two people in our community began dating and then their relationship ended, it grieved our whole group who wept over the loss.

And of course, winding through all these events and relationships was a theology of community. An idea that church meant more than a building you attend on Sunday morning, but instead was something we are, something we do. We were church to one another. The disciples rallied after Jesus’ death, at first scared, then mobilized to action and growth, and finally willing to die for the relationship they had with that man.

And because of the relationship we have with Jesus Christ and our eternal endebtedness to him for accepting us as we are, forgiving us, and setting us free to live abundantly in God’s love, so do we participate in the church today, so do we live out what it means to be church to one another. So do we reach out a helping hand to someone who could use an extra one, so do we reach into our pocket when our neighbors have lost their jobs, so do we reach into our soul and revisit hard times when friends need to be encouraged by our story.

Do you know what Jesus prayed for right before he died? He prayed for the unity of all believers, that they would be one in Christ. He prayed for community.

And so here we are today. Still trying to figure out what it means to usher in the kingdom of God, still trying to figure out how to be church to one another, still trying to live authentically as a community of Christians.

Of course, one of the hardest parts of being in community is when someone refuses community. My uncle passed away last weekend. He was an alcoholic and he was in a rut. And everyone in his community reached their hands down to him in the hole he had dug for himself, and tried to talk him in to taking hold. But he wouldn’t. He wouldn’t. He insisted on staying where he was, alone. And it cost him his life.

Time and time again we as a community at FBC reached out to Scott Walker. And time and time again he took our hands, but one day he didn’t. And while he is still with us, things have never been the same.

It’s hard watching someone make a bad decision. It’s especially hard for me as a college minister. I have to let my students make their own adult decisions. I can give advice, and model Christian living and share God’s love, but I cannot live their lives for them. Only they can do that. They are responsible for the things they choose.

It’s hard watching people who are hurting. We Pittman girls are pretty sensitive people, so it’s hard for me to watch someone who is sad and extend empathy to them, but not be able to help them. It’s hard for me. It’s hard for any community because we want our community to be able to live life to the fullest, but ultimately, all we can do is love.

Because ultimately, we are all accountable to God ourselves. Our communities have the capacity to save us, but only if we take their outstretched hands. I can’t tell you how many times my community has “saved” me. To this day, I still miss the close community of friends I had in Waco, Texas. It was a beautiful time in my life.

But I’ve found beautiful community here too. When I first bought my house, something exploded and water was all over the place. Marshall, the business manager at our church, left work and went to my house to take a special fan that would suck up the water. He hardly knew me! It wasn’t his “job” to take care of me, but he did. One morning after one of my boyfriends broke up with me, Elspeth, Valerie, Amy and Cinda showed up at my door with flowers and donuts and four pairs of listening ears and hurting hearts. When I found out my uncle died on Friday, I made it through acupuncture, made it through a meeting, made it all the way until the evening when I went over to my best friend’s house, and there, with true community, I knew it was finally okay to cry. And I did.

Community has the ability to enlighten and encourage us or it has the opportunity to corrupt and condemn us. And that’s why Christ prayed for future believers. In our unity we can demonstrate Christ’s love and in our disunity, we can destroy one another. So take care that you are in a community that loves you and comfort yourself that the best you can do is love them back. You cannot save them, you cannot take away their pain, but you can love your community, and if you’re lucky they’ll love you back.

On a road to Jerusalem, a wounded man discovered that his enemy, a Samaritan, proved to offer true community. On the road from the pig sty up to his dad’s house, a son discovered his father provided unconditional community. On a cross the disciples discovered what it really means to love your neighbor and to lay down your life for a friend.

Community doesn’t always come where you expect it. And you’re welcome to deny its extended hand, but like Jesus, my prayer tonight is that we give thanks for the beautiful community we have in this church, in our families, in our schools, in our workplaces, and amongst our friends. It is my prayer that we enter into fervent prayer for one another as we all experience difficult times. It is my prayer that we extend a welcoming hand and an open heart to the people around us. And it is my prayer that if that hand is refused, we stand in unity nonetheless.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Science and Faith, a Quote

One of my actors from Inherit the Wind sent me this article containing this quote that we both found intersting...

"There are atheists who go beyond declaring personal disbelief in God and insist that any form of god-talk, any notion of higher purpose, is incompatible with a scientific worldview. And there are religious believers who insist that evolution can’t fully account for the creation of human beings.

I bring good news! These two warring groups have more in common than they realize. And, no, it isn’t just that they’re both wrong. It’s that they’re wrong for the same reason. Oddly, an underestimation of natural selection’s creative power clouds the vision not just of the intensely religious but also of the militantly atheistic."

-Robert Wright

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

We Were Reviewed!

So our show, Steel Magnolias, while over, did receive a review which you can read at Austin Live Theater Blog. It's the first review Trinity Street Players has received and I'm so glad our courageous assistant director made the call to get the critic to the theater! Congrats Cast!

Monday, August 10, 2009

More About Men

So remember the guy from eHarmony that I went on a date with who i discovered knew my therapist and her husband and is friends with them? Yeah, him. The one I decided wasn't worth my mental health so I chose my therapist over him. I never told you that part? my bad.

Anyway, so Thursday night at the Steel Magnolias performance, who do I see walking out of the theater and towards the greeting of the actors line but Kerry (the names have been changed to protect the guilty). However, he passes by me right as I begin to say to myself, "hey, I went on a date with that guy," and he heads towards Truvy, another social worker and therapist whose office it turns out, he works in.

"You know Kerry?!" I said to her afterwards in the dressing room. "Yes," she said, "why?" "I DATED him. But he knew my therapist so it didn't work out." Truvy laughed, "Did he talk to you tonight?" "No. Maybe he didn't remember me."

And the next day at work she sauntered over to Kerry's desk. "So... did you recognize anyone in the play last night?"
"As soon as I opened the program!" And then they had a good laugh because not only does he know my therapist but apperently they're like BFF's or something.

"Good thing you didn't get involved with him," Truvy reported back to the dressing room gossip chain where we discussed everything from Mexican lubricants to break-up underwear (don't ask). "He and Cheryl and Jason (my therapist and her husband - names unchanged to protect the innocent) are best friends Ann. She'd have been like throwing you wedding showers and stuff."

O Lord.

"What would you have done if you got involved with Kerry only to find out later that he and Cheryl are close friends?" Anelle, who also is active in therapy, asked.

"I'd choose my therapist."

I know that seems like a typical anti-men sentiment on my part (and trust me, after last night's events, I've overdue for a few snide anti-men comments - story for another time), but truthfully I would choose my therapist. Without the work I've done with Cheryl over the past year and a half, I would not be where I am today: able to do online dating, able to laugh about how many musicians I've dated in Austin, able to take the criticism of my peers both Christian and non-Christian who feel they have an investment in my love life (why I'll never know), etc. etc. etc. I'm a pretty damn healthy person right now and seriously I give three people credit for this... God (I'm cheating a little), Cheryl and myself. I've worked my ass off to be healthy and be able to date again and no guy is going to come in between me and my therapist for that reason.

I think my parents think I'm crazy. "But why do you have to write about the bad stuff when the hope you write about is so much more effective at affecting people."

"Because I can't get to the redemption without going through the pain." It's all for one and one for all. You can't live until you die. The ying and the yang. Or something philosophical or spiritual like that.

So yes, men of the world, watch out. I like my therapist more than I like all of you. Probably because she's a good listener, she encourages me, but also gently calls me out on my shit when I'm being ridiculous. She would make a great husband. Without all the "let's talk about your childhood" crap.

And if you're friends with her, then you're not going to get to date me because my mental health will not be compromised. Take that Kerry who comes to the baptist church with the theater in it and doesn't realize that it's probably my church with my theater since there are a whopping NO other baptist churches with theaters in them in our town.

Take that.

And next time say hi to me and say I did a good job in the play.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Resting Toward

I should be asleep.

It's practically before dawn on a Sunday morning and I'm exhausted. This is the final weekend of the play at church, Steel Magnolias, and today is the final show. Before that though comes Sunday School and big church and in my infinite wisdom I managed to get a guest teacher for my class the first weekend of the show, but not the second so I'll be "on" teaching this morning too. After the play comes Strike (tearing down the set, etc.) and the Cast Party. While many of these are fun things (teaching is always my first gift on spiritual or vocational assessment tests and you know i love acting and of course partying) the overall day is going to be tiring. Caffeine and sugar here I come.

So I should be sleeping.

But I'm not.

Maybe because today feels like the last day of summer.

After Chile, I was on an emotional roller coaster. Every time I had to speak publicly I cried (so it seemed) and any conversation with any depth to it seemed to elicit tears. Then rehearsals for the play started and "dying" once or twice a night will wear on one's stability and so I called my mom every night after rehearsal for a whole month just to hear her voice.

But now we're to our last performance. Chile is done and while I still write the girls in the home letters, who knows if I'll ever go back. The play is now almost done and what I've channelled my energy into for two and a half months is about to end. My co-workers will all finally be settling back into office life after vacationing or being gone to camps and conventions all summer. So I won't be the only minister in the office anymore.

Summer's ending.

Of course, the heat isn't. It's still 103 here in Austin. So, as Shelby would say, "Some things never change."

I guess that's a comfort.

But it's not change that's keeping me awake.

So what is?

I guess that's why I'm writing. I've been slacking. You know this better than anyone. And if my blog weren't testimony enough, my poor diary is... there's practically nothing in it since May, and it's so irritated with me it's about to lock itself up and throw away the key.

Writing helps me process my life, making it lighter with a dose of laughter. Help it go down better like a spoonful of sugar. If you can't laugh at yourself, what can you do? And I do spend a lot of time laughing. And storytelling is essential to our human character I believe, so if we're not telling stories, what are we doing?

I think I'm awake this morning and writing because I sense more is coming. Usually after a big event at work, we get one or two days of respite time. If you go to camp for a week and are with 3rd graders or teenagers 24/7 for six days in a row, you get two work days off to rest up. So I'm due my two days or so after the play is over, but while I believe I will be resting from my 24/7 show of weddings, births, deaths and pink everything, I think I will be resting towards something as much as from something.

Does that make sense? Maybe I'm awake because of anticipation. Something may be coming blogworld, and perhaps that's why I'm writing. I'm not sure. But I feel confident, capable and... well... awake. So if you're awake too, then, I guess you're welcome to join me on the journey.