The Quixotic Pastor

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Catching Up

Not sure if the incidents are related or not, but last Monday, when returning from the MLK Day speaking engagement, a mere 4 days after my 5 Seconds of Sheer Terror experience, the engine on my vehicle lost oil and locked up.

I have been without my own vehicle for over a week now. Occasionally I have driven DH's little Hyundai or big F-150.

However, the engine is being replaced even as we speak --I should have it back tomorrow or Friday, about $2,500 later. [Thank you, DH, for your generosity.]

I also found out this morning that I have a secular full-time job lined up, at which I start Monday 18 February.

In the meantime, I have been very busy with the final details for Creating Change which begins next week.

I will begin blogging regularly again soon, I promise.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Wintry Friday Five

The lovely Singing Owl brings us this seasonal Friday Five:

"Brrrr! Baby, it’s COLD outside! At least that is the case where I am this morning. We are in a January deep freeze. Have a cup of hot tea and tackle five easy seasonal questions."

1. What is the thermometer reading at your house this morning? It was 7 degrees F, windchill of -2.

2. Snow—love it or hate it? Indifferent to it right now.

3. What is winter like where you are? At this place, at this time, winter is brilliant! We've had a string of extremely cold, but extremely bright sunshiny days, something my spirit desperately needed. But I think we're getting more snow. Oh. Joy. Big whoop.

4. Do you like winter sports? Any good stories? Is sledding a winter sport? I like to do that, although I don't know how to steer very well, and tend to hit things --small trees, other sledders, deep snow banks, cactus ... [Nooo, not really. Just threw "cactus" in to see if you were paying attention ....]

5. What is your favorite season, and why? Spring, because my spirit emerges out of hibernation.

Bonus: Share a favorite winter pick-me-up. A recipe, an activity, or whatever. In Winter, I become a light junkie ...

Friday, January 18, 2008

A Bookish Friday Five

RevHRod over at you don't have to listen. I just like to talk. posts this Friday Five about books:

1. What book have you read in the last six months that has really stayed with you? Why?
Lately, when I have wanted to read a book, I've read murder fiction, and strictly for fun. Nothing has really stayed with me --I think because I've got so much heavy stuff going on, I don't WANT what I read to stay with me.

2. What is one of your favorite childhood books?
I loved Jean George's My Side of the Mountain. And my love for A Wrinkle In Time has followed me well into adulthood ...

3. Do you have a favorite book of the Bible? Do tell! Luke is my favorite Gospel, James my favorite Epistle, Second Isaiah my favorite prophet, and Revelation my favorite "weird" book.

4. What is one book you could read again and again?

Just one? Surely you jest. I have read almost every book I own more than once.

5. Is there a book you would suggest for Lenten reading? What is it and why?

A Tree Full of Angels: Seeing The Holy In The Ordinary, by Sr. Macrina Wiederkehr OSB [did I spell that correctly?] Two of the themes of her book that stand out for me are: "Dust, remember that thou art splendour." [Think about that when you are about to impose ashes on someone's forehead --or someone is about to do that to you.] She also takes the story of the syro-phoenician woman, the one who says to Jesus, "Yes, Lord, but even the dogs eat the crumbs from under the Master's table," and relates it to what we might choose to do with the "crumbs" of our existence.

And because we all love bonus questions, if you were going to publish a book what would it be? Who would you want to write the jacket cover blurb expounding on your talent?

I'm passing on the bonus question this time around.

5 Seconds of Sheer Terror

Most folks who drive in the Land of God's Left and Right Hands can count on a very high probability of having two special Michigan driving experiences, hitting a deer or sliding off the road in icy weather.

Let me just say that no animals were harmed in last night's special Michigan driving experience, although a couple of small evergreens will never be the same again.

Late last night, I was driving back home to Saginaw from a meeting in Detroit. As I drove further north on I-75, first it rained, then it sleeted, then it snowed, then it rained some more --many of you know the routine-- and I adjusted my speed accordingly.

The salt trucks had just started their rounds.

I have driven many times in far worse weather/road conditions than what we had last night, successfully arriving home.

But last night, rolling into the gentle curve of the highway ramp
I slid into a skid that I could not steer out of
went into a 360
plunged sideways off the highway ramp onto a snowy, grassy hillside,
wiping out a highway reflector,
narrowly missing the rather substantial guard rail,
bent over a tiny evergreen tree, uprooted another tiny evergreen tree
careened into the shallow ditch, careened out of the shallow ditch
slid along a fence line
finally came to rest amidst the cattails of the shallow ditch
my suv perpendicular to and firmly planted in
at the foot of a somewhat steep embankment
about 250 feet from the beginning spot
of last night's very special Michigan driving adventure.

I honest to God cannot remember at what point in this hair-raising process I removed my foot from the accelerator. I don't remember braking. I don't remember steering.

I just remember things shooting past the windows out of the dark

I know I didn't scream, because I am not a verbal processor.

[Once, when I was water sking, I fell forward ... the boat pulling me along, water being forced into my nasal passages and lungs ... and I finally heard them yelling, "Let go of the rope!"

Oh. Of Course. ... something about this experience reminds me of that experience.]

Several miracles involved here:

One: my suv didn't roll over. And over. And over. Because, if you could see the terrain where I went off the road, you'd wonder how that didn't happen either.

Two: Although it is covered in a thick layer of gray mud, cattail debris, grass and straw, and one tiny little tree limb attached to the running boards, there's no body damage --quite possibly no scratches too. I'm off to the car wash after I get this out of my system.

Three: Once the kind wrecker people got it out of the ditch [this morning, not last night] with the 200+ feet of wench, I drove it home.

Four: I am injury-free, living to laugh about this.

Did I mention this suv is NOT 4 wheel drive? DH, who last night was less than impressed with my survival, not having seen the scene, was really impressed this morning when she saw the tracks, noting that me and my vehicle traversed the very steep embankment without flipping. Only then did DH understand just exactly how harrowing an experience I had had. DH takes the plastic-spring loaded Jesus on my dashboard much more seriously now.

The other thing: I came home in a police cruiser last night. Do you know that, once they invite you into the back seat, you can't get out again until the kind officer lets you out? That was a bit unnerving, especially when the officer and tow truck driver were inspecting the vehicle. Butch thing that I am, I wanted to go down there with them. I tried the door handle --it didn't work. DUH. No window roller-downer either.

One other unnerving thing --police officers punch keys on their dashboard computers while driving.

I expressed my appreciation to the officer for taking me home so far away from his usual beat, and he said, "Oh, it's OK, I can go by Tim Horton's on my way back."

I said, "I thought that was a stereotype." We laughed.

OK. I am going to go wash my car now while the sun is shining.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

MLK Day and other thoughts

I am spending a good portion of my day today thinking about two events: worship this Sunday and a panel discussion in which I am participating as a part of a MLK Day celebration in an upscale, heavily conservative, mostly republican suburb of Detroit.

I'm not too sure yet how much those two events will be resonating with one another.

The panel discussion is a part of this workshop, entitled: Inclusive Justice: LGBTQ People in Faith Communities, Schools & History.

"If you identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or as a Straight Ally and want to learn about supportive faith communities, school groups or organizations, or if you are a Parent looking for resources to support your child or simply interested in learning about the amazing contributions of LGBTQ people throughout history come to this safe space. This session is limited to 20 participants so pre-registration is required and kept confidential. Questioning and Straight Allies welcome. Facilitated by staff, volunteers and clergy of the American Friends Service Committee's Inclusive Justice and Faith Action Network Program."

It's the first time that anything quite like this has been offered in this particular community. So I get to talk about supportive faith communities, and an alternate Christian prospective on homosexuality that differs from the witness offered by some Christian conservatives, especially the ones in this particular locale, who actively work to silence voices different from their own.

I'm sort of a lesbian Christian clergy poster child, a role I actually relish, most of the time. It is very much in keeping with one of the themes of the gospel reading for this week's lectionary --"come and see."

Friday, January 11, 2008

Friday Five: Birthdays

Mother Laura offers this birthday-inspired Friday Five.

1. When is your birthday? Does anyone else (famous and/or in your own life) share it?
March 25. Wikipedia tells me lots of folks share my birthday. Some of my favs: Flannery O'Connor, Elton John, Aretha Franklin and Gloria Steinem. Knowing that I also share a birthday with Howard Cosell and Anita Bryant helps me keep in touch with my shadow-side.

2. Do you prefer a big party or an intimate celebration for the chosen few?
Intimate celebration for the chosen few, most definitely.

3. Describe your most memorable birthday(s)--good, bad, or both.
Hmm. I can't remember any one in particular ... even one that ends in a zero ...

4. What is your favorite cake and ice cream? (Bonus points if you share the cake recipe). Or would you rather have a different treat altogether? Chocolate cake, vanilla ice cream. But my favorite B-day cakes are the ones I have "made special" for others on certain occasions. These are usually made of foam from old seat-cushions or a slab of styrofoam, which, when iced and decorated, look exactly like a real cake. Watching 40 year olds trying to cut and serve one is hilarious, truly worthy of Candid Camera or Punk'd. I always make a real cake too, BTW.

5. Surprise parties: love 'em or hate 'em?
Love participating in them. Would prefer not to have one planned for me. Too many people have too much to reciprocate --see #4. Nuff said.

Bonus: Describe your ideal birthday--the sky's the limit. A good restaurant meal with friends and family, so no one has to cook, and we can use the time instead to socialize.

Pig Paths, Part 1: Baptism, Metanoia, Privilege and Revolution

Pig paths are the paths we take away from what is planned, particularly as a part of a presentation, bible study ... whatever. They are similar in shape and form to rabbit trails.

Revelation often assumes the form of a pig path in my life.

It's not uncommon for my day to be filled with pig paths and rabbit trails, since my work seldom goes as I have planned.

For instance, I am working today on worship for Baptism of the Lord Sunday and waiting on a phone call about Creating Change ... but, because it is Friday, and I have been frightfully out of touch with my blogging buds at RevGalBlogPals, I thought I would read through some blogs.

I read an entry on Mother Laura's blog, which led me to another blog, which led me to yet another blog [pig path!] ... which confronted me once again with my privileged status as a white, highly-educated, literate person. That I am female and queer offsets my privilege to some degree, but not a whole lot, to be perfectly honest.

I have struggling with this whole privilege thing since I went to the Together In Faith conference back in October. I also have been struggling with the concept of sustainability and the idea that, personally speaking, I have been living an economically unsustainable lifestyle that has been too dependent on credit card use [at least, for emergencies. I am not a big spender type of gal usually.] Over the past seven years I have, for what I thought were good reasons, made some sacrifices and basically have been underemployed [22-30 hours a week] and somewhat undercompensated. I think I can make some better choices around these issues -- especially as I consider my partner's needs as well as my own.

In the meantime, during those seven years, I have gotten in touch with my inner activist, and the necessity of justice-making to living out faithfully my vocation as a Christian.

Particularly in the past 6 months, I have found myself led into a kind of wilderness place of conversion, of seeing sin in myself I hadn't even thought of before, of seeing sin in the world in a different sort of way, those powers and principalities of which the Apostle Paul speaks, systemic sin ... and how unwittingly I have participated in that. And not knowing exactly how to get off the merry-go-round of systemic evil.

And this last leg of my faith journey puts me squarely in the midst of a profound personal dilemma.

I can choose to make more money, to be more financially secure, to take an average 8 to 5 type job, whittle down my debt and prepare myself financially to return to graduate school in my mid to late 40's. The cost of that choice is that it would severely limit my ability to participate in all kinds of justice-making events and efforts.

Or I can choose to make less money [although still more money than I have been] and continue to be as active as I am now.

One bit of cloudy stuff smeared on the lens with which I view these things is that, spiritually speaking, I am a mess right now. I find myself wondering if the church as institution can ever live up to the fullness of its calling and vocation as the Body of Christ. I find myself wondering if I personally can live up to my own calling and vocation as a disciple of Christ.

I have the sense that I am being baptized into something --but what is it exactly that I am being baptized into?

It's like the Spirit is driving me into a wilderness I didn't necessarily choose, to teach me something about myself I really don't want to learn, to follow a Jesus who is crazier and more radical than even I thought, whose calling to follow him will put me into a place of certain intense discomfort and quite possibly death. I am not feeling like losing my life right now --I really just want to crawl into a nice secure cave of 8 to 5 routine as a receptionist or something, or else just remain in my lovely ivory tower of privilege and think about things, without ever actually having to do anything about them.

In one of those blogs I visited on my pig path away from Mother Laura's blog, there was much discussion about the meaning of a quote from Audre Lorde, "The master's tools will never dismantle the master's house." Lorde is using the metaphor of slave and master, and particularly the idea that most folks find themselves outside of the house, which represents a place of comfort, privilege and power built upon the exploitation of masses of people.

Another way of describing my dilemma is that I'm not sure whether or not I want to leave the master's house, or take the risks of casting my lot with those who find themselves outside of it, even though I know in my hearts of hearts it is what Jesus did and would do.

And yes, I can rely upon grace to be sufficient in my weakness --but isn't that kind of grace perhaps a little too cheap?

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Friday, January 04, 2008

New Years Resolutions Friday Five

Sally, one of our RevGalBlogPals from across the water writes:

Well it had to be didn't it: love them or hate them, I bet you've been asked about New Year resolutions. So with no more fuss here is this weeks Friday Five:

1. Do you make New Year resolutions?
No. One year I made a resolution never to make resolutions and I have kept that resolution ever since! Bet I am not the only one [smile].

2. Is this something you take seriously, or is it a bit of fun?
Sheer comedic relief --although I don't laugh at folks who do take the making of resolutions seriously. And I did indeed eat my black-eyed peas on New Year's for good luck --did you?

3. Share one goal for 2008.
To be working and living in a way that is more financially sustainable for me. [That means steadily whittling down my debt and being more gainfully employed. It's a long story --maybe I will write about that sometime.]

4. Money is no barrier, share one wild/ impossible dream for 2008
I'd settle for starting school much earlier than I am anticipating. But if I want to get really wild, I'd like to travel with Anthony Bourdain as his sidekick for a year ... No Reservations, indeed! DH likes him and his show also. D'you think it would count as a sabbatical?

5. Someone wants to publish a story of your year in 2008, what will the title of that book be?
Oh my. {That's NOT the title} What a fun and creative question. How about:

Eucatastrophe: The Joy of Midlife Crisis. Subtitled: Coping With Change With Grace, Humor and Joie De Vivre.

Where have I been?

Well, like many of you, I have been doing holiday related things.

Additionally, the work for Creating Change 2008 is really picking up now that there's only 30 days until launch.

Next week I start job hunting in earnest.

I still have my end of year/beginning of the year church responsibilities. And Wednesday I purchased a new PC for my church, that brings us from the previous millenium [Windows 98 world] into the new millenium [Windows Vista world.] So I have been getting that set up.

In the meantime, my sinuses are agonizing and my SAD has really got me down.

I realized during a wakeful moment last night that there are legs on the travel through the journey of life where and when there's just no easy way to get through "it," whatever "it" is.

Sometimes, one has to walk through the mud --the kind of mud I grew up with in and around the DFW area on the Blackland Prairie. My daddy used to call it "black gumbo" because it had the consistency of a thick dark sticky roux and one of the things that grew best in it was okra. When you walked through it, it would stick to your shoes and your feet would get heavier and heavier and your steps slower and more labored.

Sometimes, one has to fly through LaGuardia, Logan, LAX, Atlanta --those airports famous for delays. Sometimes, no one's flying at all, if the coniditions are "wrong."

Sometimes, all one can do is just wait for things to dry up, or melt, or become clear, and just keep doing the best one can.