Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Three Beautiful Things on a rainy day

1. The rain has been pouring while I'm inside...and stopping every time I've needed to walk somewhere.

2. I'm nearly finished with the Galatians paper...will be done today I think. Today's lecture helped tremendously in that I learned that a guy who just finished his dissertation on Gal 3:28 agrees with me that the verse has nothing to do with individual freedom and everything to do with corporate identity.

3. My friend is giving the GLBT discussion group another try. So check it out. Friday night, 7 pm, email me for directions. All you peeps who said you couldn't make it last time, hope you can this time.

4. Aw, why not throw another in here? Thursdays' Eucharists have been going really well (although attendance dropped dramatically last week, probably due to midterms). The next two weeks we'll be sans priest, so we're just doing evening prayer, and me & my new buddy Andy (a candidate from diocese of Philadelphia) will be leading. Woo-hoo!

Monday, January 29, 2007

Been busy then I cracked my head

Sorry I haven't been writing, I've been letting my Galatians paper take over my life. But now after more hours that I want to admit (think in terms of days, not hours, actually) I feel like it's in pretty decent shape. I even found a neat structural thing that my prof said she hadn't noticed before. Usually that means she tells the whole class I'm wrong, but I'm crossing my fingers that I won't be humiliated again. Wish me luck!

Meantime, I can't spend long b/c I haven't checked email in days and I need to not be on the computer long. Why? Glad you asked. Two reasons, actually. Internet at home has been not working, and I don't like to walk over to the Library. Reason #2 is not as pretty: Saturday night, in the act of something that one really doesn't want ruined, J and I cracked heads really hard. I went into increasing levels of pain and dizziness for the rest of the night, and the dizziness and headache lasted all day the following day also. Today it's been 2 days and I seem to not be hurting so much unless I concentrate too hard for too long or walk around too much, which gets me dizzy again. Yes, I know, I probably had a concussion. Can you believe my husband's hard head did that to me? But I'm sure it's not nearly the silliest or worst thing that's ever happened to a couple mid-coitus (I mean, people actually DIE). It does tend to ruin the mood, however.

So last night I tried reading but had to read every line 3 times and had a raging headache after 4 pages. This is NOT good. It's midterms, people. I can't be running around with brain bruises. So pray for my poor little head. At this point I'm just very sore, occasionally dizzy, and super sleepy. But I managed to work on my paper and do some translating today, and I'm telling stupid jokes as always, so I haven't lost it. Still I want to feel better.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

More Wisdom from the Golden-Mouthed

"More billows toss the priest's soul than the gales which trouble the sea.

"First of all there is the dreadful rock of vainglory...If anyone entrusted this charge to me, he would be as good as binding my hands behind my back and delivering me to the wild beasts that inhabit that rock, to savage me every day. And what are those beasts? Anger, dejection, envy, strife, slanders, accusations, lying, hypocrisy, intrigue, imprecations against those who have done no harm, delight at disgraceful behaviour in fellow priests, sorrow at their successes, love of praise, greed for preferment (which more than anything else hurls the human soul to destruction), teaching meant to please, slavish wheedling, ignoble flattery, contempt for the poor, fawning on the rich, absurd honours and harmful favours which endanger giver and receiver alike, servile fear fit only for the meanest of slaves, restraint of plain speaking, much pretended and no real humility, failure to scrutinize and rebuke, or, more likely, doing so beyond reason with the humble while no one dares so much as to open his lips against those who wield power.
"The priestly office might well accuse us of not handling it rightly. It is not itself the cause of the evils I have mentioned. It is we on our part who have smirched it with stain upon stain, by entrusting it to commonplace men. And they eagerly accept what is offered to them, without first examining their own souls or considering the gravity of the matter. And when they come to exercise this ministry, their eyes are blinded with inexperience and they fill the congregations entrusted to them with a thousand and one troubles."

St. John goes on to say that instead of being a head of a church, God has kept him as a foot, which is where he belongs! (of course he didn't stay a foot forever...or maybe he did, even as his preaching has inspired many generations)

Well I don't know about you, but I've seen all of this. And it certainly gives me pause about considering priesthood.

(Translation is by Graham Neville, St. Vlad's press, 1984)

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

A thought for today (and infinitely beautiful things)

When you see the Lord sacrificed and lying before you, and the High Priest standing over the sacrifice and praying, and all who partake being tinctured with that precious blood, can you think that you are still among men and still standing on earth? Are you not at once transported to heaven, and, having driven out of your soul every carnal thought, do you not with soul naked and mind pure look round upon heavenly things? Oh, the wonder of it! Oh, the loving-kindness of God to men! He who sits above with the Father is at that moment held in our hands, and gives himself to those who wish to clasp and embrace him!

- St. John Chrysostom, On Priesthood

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Recent obsessions

Today's beautiful things consist of:

1. A generally lovely day overall. Really! It's been nothing but pleasant. Of course the weather is wonderful, but people have been nice and I've made a couple new friends.
2. I went to my first reflection group on my internship, and wouldn't you know, we talked the whole time about worship in the youth context! I couldn't have been more interested. It was a great conversation. And it was so incredibly wonderful that I could take all this stuff I've learned in all my worship classes, and not least from the papers I've graded (and have been grading this week), and actually put it to some practical advice for others. What a delight.
3. Learning more and more about who I am and how I relate to others.

You see, since I got on this self-discovery kick (which I learned, by the way, is characteristic of my personality - to be fascinating with learning about my own identity), so much has become clearer. Especially in my relationship with J. There are so many things that we do and say to one another, been doing it for years, and now I suddenly understand why.

I was blabbing on about my blue aura and trying to get him to take a test, but he was resistant to my spiritual nonsense (did I mention I recently retook Beliefnet's Belief-o-Matic and came out 100% Mahayana Buddhist? See what seminary does to you?). Turns out my blue aura makes me extra mystical, to the annoyance of others. Anyway, he asked me to take a "real" test with results he could understand. So he set before me the Myers-Briggs.

And I turned out to be an ENFJ, borderline ENFP (only 2 questions difference). The Platonic name for these types is Idealist, with subcategories of "Teacher" (J) and "Champion" (P). Essentially, both are inspirational and charismatic, and the former likes to use it to educate and create whole persons (sounds like our College House idea!) and the latter is essentially an activist. The main difference I could see in the questions is that J's are schedulers and P's are not. So I guess Teachers are more organized than Champions. But I think the world would get better even faster with a few more organized activists!

J studied this stuff for one of his classes and he has other classifications they fit also. In addition to being a Teacher/Champion, I'm also most like the Gospel of John, the Tin Man, and Carrie from Sex and the City. Which all sound just about right.

So I'm a person who connects through words. Big shocker, huh? And I talk with my hands, trying to drive the words between me & others. I'm spiritual and base my opinions more strongly on my own experience than data. I lead with my feelings and am super emotional. Yep, pretty much all spot-on. And, there aren't many of me...only 2-3% of people. Maybe that's why so many people think I'm a dork when I talk so much. I'm not trying to dominate, I'm simply trying to make connections! And I found out that I always want to comment on something that a story reminds me of because that is how I connect my heart and story to the other persons'. Makes perfect sense. I do that constantly. J used to say it was a sign I was self-absorbed. But in reality, it's my way of being less self-absorbed because I'm using it as a way to show the other person that I'm like them, so I'm a safe person to share themselves with.

Speaking of J, on the other hand, he's an INTJ, a Rationalist, also known as a MasterMind. No, I'm not making that up. And he's also Gospel of Luke, Straw Man, and Miranda. Yep, that's my boy.

Turns out that Rationals and Idealists make perfect mates. Who'da thought? And MasterMinds and Champions are even more perfectly suited. Wow, we lucked out.

But it's great, because now when he tells me to hush, I realize he's just trying to be efficient in his work (Rationalist trait). And when he needs personal space, or doesn't want my advice, I know it's because he's autonomous and thinks I'm threatening his autonomy. Conversely, I will overemphasize his opinion of me because I pull my self-worth from others' thoughts on me (and their comments especially; remember, I'm deeply attuned to words).

At any rate, things are much more fun around our house now, because we can point out all the little personality quirks that have suddenly become - instead of threatening or fights - habits and mannerisms that make us laugh together. God bless the people who come up with these tests!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Sunday morning quickie

1. When you're grading and you come to that one student who actually did everything right and seemed to care and learn something...ah, that's a beautiful thing.
2. John's laugh.
3. Girlfriends. For the first time in God knows how long I went out with an actual group of girls (usually I do friends one-on-one) (get your mind out of the gutter). And it was pretty darn fun. It was an interesting mix of personalities. At one point we got into a long discussion about auras. So this morning I went on several websites to check out my aura, and interestingly, they all agreed that I'm blue. So here are my results:

Your Aura is Blue

Your Personality: Your natural warmth and intuition nurtures those around you. You are accepting and always follow your heart.

You in Love: Relationships are your top priority, and this includes love. You are most happy when you are serious with someone.

Your Career: You need to help others in your job to feel satistifed. You would be a great nurse, psychologist, or counselor.

Okay, maybe I cheated a tiny bit a made myself more caring than I actually am. But in fact, I do find myself much more drawn to a counseling or spiritual direction life than anything else right now. I think I'm valuing relationships more than I ever have because I've noticed how much they feed my soul. I read this and think it's kind of funny...it's not the person I remember being, but it is the person I want to be (and am perhaps growing into).

I wonder what color I'd have been before entering seminary? I have changed so much.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

A few random thoughts

1. Cat on my lap, purring
2. Coming home to lunch all made (homemade falafel and tzazaki however you spell it)
3. Today it is warmer. I'm very happy for my homeless friends.

I never mentioned that nobody showed up to the movie & discussion on GLBT Christians last week (the movie was on Orthodox Jews, but the discussion was to be about our religion). My friend who was hosting was very sad. I was not surprised, though. I was more surprised that anybody had shown interest in the first place. This is simply not something Fuller people are ready to deal with. Oh, sure, it comes up occasionally in class (came up today in Galatians), and often (not today) big fights start. But it's not something most people are even willing to talk about. There's definitely an unspoken understanding that everybody agrees it's just not right, and if you are one of the few defenders, you are biblically/theologically confused and you keep your mouth shut. If you appeal to love or kindness, everyone agrees that they love and are kind and have no problem with it. Or they tell you you are ignoring the Bible in favor of your feelings. But usually it's the former. And then they act like it's perfectly loving and kind to believe a person is never able to have a loving committed relationship in this life but only platonic ones, because he or she likes the wrong gender "that way." Which most of my gay friends would say isn't the way they want to live, nor be thought of. And they don't want to be thought of as sinful for their orientation either. But that is so incredibly difficult to prove. It's so much more something that must be lived, and I truly do believe the Spirit of God works in peoples' hearts to change their minds and until she's ready to do that (and the person is ready for it) we can't push it. I know because I know what it took to convince me and what it took to convince J. I can never go back, but I know how they feel. And I'm not patronizing towards others, I hope, I just know what I have witnessed and what has been testified to me, and I have found the evidence that questions traditional understanding of scripture, and it's all been enough for me. But that's just me.

At any rate, it was too soon to try such a thing. And it's sad. I'm sure most people stayed home and watched TV or did homework (I know I was tempted to do that myself). Most of us are happier turning off our mind to things that are not in front of our faces. It seems important, yet it's off there in the "liberal" churches, so it's kind of remote to most Fullerites. That is, it will be, until they are faced with it, which they will be, because there are gay people in every church in America.

Then I'm sitting in my prof's office the other day with a group of students and a woman is commenting on a recent Robin Williams performance, and she says, "It was a good performance and he didn't use a lot of language or anything, but (sigh) he was homosexual" (which she said with a "isn't it so sad" kind of tone) "and I just don't get why they have to put that stuff in movies."

Ummm...maybe because gay people actually exist? Therefore warrant portrayal in a normal story just like they are in our normal everyday lives?

I guess she took this character being gay as evidence of the continued depravity of Hollywood. “Rated R for mild language, some nudity, and a gay guy.” Sheesh.

Well my connection is acting funny so I'm going to publish before I lose all this. Cheers.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Oops, I missed a couple weeks I guess

Because I showed up to chapel today and it was Good Friday! Wow, who knew? Yep, big ol' cross up front, all music re: cross/death, and an opportunity to "pass by" (heavens, don't say "venerate!") the cross at the end. I've harped on this before, so I won't retrace my steps. But geez, I'm just getting used to the revelation of God in Jesus through the various miracles of Epiphany and they want to hit me with the end of his life (not unlike the apostle's creed, actually, when Jesus is summed as born and died). My internal clock is all screwy now. The whole thing felt so weird and out of place.

Anyway, here are three beautiful things for today:
1) One paper is finished, leaving only 5 for the rest of the quarter (total for both classes). Excellent.
2) It's finally cooled down in LA. I was tempted to complain about the cold but then I remembered how much I hated it being 90 degrees last month, so I am indeed happier now. Still I do miss our temperate climate, which seems to have gone bye bye.
3) Galatians yesterday. After I had gotten all confident and switched back to taking it for a grade, I found myself called on and feelin' stupid last Thursday. I was really bad. And I felt so on display. I know we all feel that way. I told J it's like 2 hours of sheer terror in that class, and he said that I should just pretend it's a horror movie (I guess I'm the star), since I like horror now. Fine, but I don't want to watch 2 horror movies a week for 10 weeks in a row! I mentioned it to my seat neighbor yesterday and she agreed: your heart is pounding, your adrenaline is pumping, you are terrified to be called on next. Ah, the fun of oral examination of translation!

BUT, yesterday the prof announced that she was frustrated that we spend so much time translating that we never talk about the actual text (THANK YOU) and so she was considering having us only translate every other passage, and in the interims just write a list of questions that come up from our study. Praise the Lord. She had to ask if anybody would be upset, though, because it would be going against the syllabus for the class. Oh, yeah, cry me a river. I think we'll all be fine!

Then, I did get called on, but I read out my translation and she just said, "Good. Next." And that was it! No parsing, no questioning. Wow. I mean, it wasn't like I was so awesome, it was because we were running out of time. But I was the only person that got that reaction. So class began feeling more like a light romantic comedy than a horror flick, and that is A Beautiful Thing!

I really did deserve a break. That translation (Gal 2:1-10) took me 6 hours on Monday. It was miserable. Today I just have 4 to do. Whew. It's such an interesting book - there's so much going on. And a lot that we simply don't have answers for, but can raise such intriguing questions. I'm actually looking forward to my exegetical paper. Esp because I get to write on the "no male nor female, Jew nor Greek" verse.

But tomorrow's text will be about food, and that's also fun. I need to get on writing my food book before somebody else does. Well I'm sure someone will beat me to it, esp since it's such a popular topic right now. But I have such a great idea for a kind of "Savoring Spirituality" text that would look at many aspects of the spiritual life through the metaphor (or more often literal partaking) of food. I can get into fellowship, and worship, and how we choose what to eat, and whether eating industrial/organic/sustainable harms or helps us spiritually, and how food is used in ritual, and food as fuel vs. gift/creation, and how it is a way to be a priest before God...there's just a whole lotta ideas in my head. I got to get them out there.

Now about the house thing, we've been doing research and there's a wonderful website from a guy who's headed up houses at Harvard I think: http://collegiateway.org/. It has a ton of great resources, including lists of schools around the world that have colleges (in the British sense of the term). J and I want to do something like it, but much smaller - less of a college and more of a house (in the Harry Potter sense of the term). Still, many of the ideas are helpful. And it's also great to see that Messiah College's alumni are gunning for a house system - more Christian colleges need to be doing this! And we can lead the charge.

We want to do away with dorms at Christian colleges and turn them into communities of Houses that provide fellowship, academic support, and most importantly, spiritual direction and opportunities for worship. Universities should not be diploma factories - that's what U Phoenix & DeVry are for! A great school should be a place where character is formed, where adults - world citizens - are made. And wouldn't it be awesome if Christian colleges did this first, instead of lagging 20 years behind a secular movement (that seems to be building)? I mean, we are after all pretty great at community, when we set our minds to it. I think it's just a wonderful calling. Something I could really get my entire life behind.

Plus when we cook and eat together we celebrate the spiritual aspects of food. Had to get that in there. :)

Finally I must mention a couple movies I saw. First, Pan's Labyrinth, which is an interesting film but not at all what the trailers seem to portray. I saw the trailer again recently and thought: dang, I really want to see that movie! But Pan is primarily about the real world, which is a decent enough historical story (extremely violent), but not what I thought I was getting. I was expecting a cool fantasy film. Pretty much the entire fantasy is shown in the trailer. So just be warned - you're not watching the story from the preview. It doesn't make the film bad, it's just misleading. And it wasn't all that fabulous anyway. I'm told I'll prefer The Fountain but oops we missed it.

The other that I do highly recommend is Children of Men. I'm going to tell you about why it's wonderful, but be warned, there are spoilers. So if you want to go in fresh, don't read this, just trust me and go try it out and read this after.

Imagine a world in which humanity has lost hope, and has turned on one another in violence and oppression. There is an empire that is suspicious of foreigners and mistreats them, and tries to protect its citizens but there are multiple uprisings. In all this there are people dreaming of the one thing that could solve it all: a child to be born, who would bring peace and restore order. The miracle they are waiting for happens and a young pregnant girl turns up. Some want to take over in a coup and steal the child for their political purposes. Others simply want to protect the child and the mother, including a man who is not the father but who risks everything for her. The baby comes in truly humble circumstances and must be hidden away from the government and interest groups. But when the baby comes, the violent, loud, harsh world quiets for just a few incredible moments (while John Tavener's prayer plays, no less) and all are awed by the birth of this one who means the future has finally arrived, and hope is again possible.

Sounds familiar, huh?

Yeah, it's worth seeing.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Worship (huh...what is it good for?)

3BT: 1. clouds in LA - rare and powerful. 2. last night's sunset - the one good result of smog is our neon sky. 3. my reading this morning on Mary Slessor, which ended with a prayer from which I took three phrases to meditate upon: may we not be discouraged or despair, may I be an instrument of God's will, give me grace to discern my call. Indeed.

Last night I read Anselm's Prologion. Now I can't say I much agree with Anselm about anything, particularly his attempts to squeeze God into a Neo-Platonic Classical Theism model (it's just so not the God of the Bible!). But I will say that it was incredibly beautiful to read. And it's kind of amazing and sad to me that we've gone from this:

Now then, little man, for a short while fly from your business; hide yourself for a moment from your turbulent thoughts. Break off now your troublesome cares, and think less of your laborious occupations. Make a little time for God, and rest for a while in him. Enter into the chamber of your mind, shut out everything but God and whatever helps you to seek him, and, when you have shut the door, seek him. Speak now, O my whole heart, speak now to God: "I seek thy face; thy face, Lord, do I desire."
And do thou, O Lord my God, teach my heart where and how to seek thee, where and how to find thee....I was made in order to see thee, and I have not yet done that for which I was made....
I pray, O God, that I may know thee, that I may love thee, so that I may rejoice in thee. And if I cannot do this to the full in this life, at least let me go forward from day to day until that joy comes to fullness. Let the knowledge of thee go forward in me here, and there let it be made full. Let love for thee increase, and there let it be full, so that here my joy may be great in hope, and there it may be full in reality....Meanwhile, let my mind meditate upon it, let my tongue speak of it. Let my heart love it, let my tongue discourse upon it. Let my soul hunger for it, let my flesh thirst for it, let my whole substance desire it, until I enter "into the joy" of my Lord, who is the triune and one God, blessed forever. Amen.

To this.

Gee, what a difference a thousand years makes.

Last night I read a Worship Leader magazine, after Proslogion. It's just not fair to poor Chuck Fromm and his mag, to follow up such a class act. But less than the articles (which I ignored) I was pretty much intrigued and horrified by the advertising. There's just an industry for everything these days. There's a company that will do all your setup if you church in a temporary space. There's software that lets you do virtual environments to get your space setup (John and I were joking that it was worship SIMS. You add another guitarist and...wow! 5 more people got saved!). There are all these things to buy to help you lead worship better: software, services, books, cds.

It's the Worship Industry. And I thought I was offended by Industrial Food.

Well I guess all things must become factory-ized in our day. It's just what we're used to. If it's not a commodity, we don't know how to relate. But the Holy Spirit can't be a commodity. You can't buy her or sell her or find software that will guarantee she shows up. And you know what's funny? I've felt the Spirit's presence most strongly pretty much always in places where the technology is minimal. I know that lots of people will disagree and say their screens and synthesizers (or music from a cd playing on the car stereo) and powerpoint sermons offer them true worship. But when I've been to those churches, and tried to worship, I've been distracted, or felt like I'm being entertained or just watching TV, or felt marketed to, or if I'm really getting into the music, I realize I'm just enjoying it on the level of any other concert. Sure, God can speak through a concert. But shouldn't church be more?

Anyway, I am spiteful towards this magazine and I know it, and I have to ask forgiveness for that. But I just hate worship being a commodity. I don't ever want to buy and sell God-experience. I guess that's why I've retreated to the Episcopal church! (although even my home church is now hosting Willow Creek style conferences complete with Southern Baptist leaders - ewwwwwww *shiver*)

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Three Beautiful Things for today

1) So yesterday I noticed that my leg hair is finally so long that I can feel the breeze blowing it around. I know, it's gross to think about, but it's actually a really funny feeling. It kind of tickles. I like it.

2) My manager gave me a $20 bill and an apology sticky note, complete with happy face. I'm so pleased.

3) Last night I found out about a really cool project PBS is doing. It's called "The Calling" and it is a documentary following students who are planning to be religious leaders in some capacity. They are filming at a Jewish, Catholic, and Muslim seminary, and for Protestant they chose Fuller. So last night was the informational meeting for people who are curious about possibly being subjects. I have no idea what I'm doing with my life, nor if I'll ever be a "leader" per se, but for some reason it sounds really appealing to me. Maybe it's just my latent actress who never got her day. But I think it's more that I believe I'm different from your run-of-the-mill pastor type who's all Christianese and vision and evangelism (I wonder how many conversion attempts will be made on the filmmakers?). I don't know who I will be, sure, but I know I'm good at things that people generally consider leadership potential; I know that a few hundred people think my life is interesting enough to read about it on a regular basis. It's almost like an extension of Feminary, you know? Like Feminary Live and In Person. It would be fun, huh?

So I don't know if that's a beautiful thing or what, but it's an opportunity that excites me. I wish they could have been around this past fall, though - what a train wreck that was! But so much drama, all surrounding my questioning of my call. Now I'm in rehab mode but seeking a deeper listening to the movement of God in my life. I want to notice beautiful things so I see where God shows up in my daily life. I want to keep hearing from you when you see something in me - a gift, a passion, even a reticence. You never know where God will work. I think She wants me to go to a deeper level of commitment - not only to Her work and people, but to myself. To finding where I fit in this grand Kingdom scheme. I could say it's a shame it's all taking so long, but in the grand timeline of eternity, I think I'm doing rather well for my age.

Peace, out.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

So many beautiful things

Yesterday I forgot to include 3 beautiful things in my post, so I will do 6 today. Not because I necessarily feel like it (our Christmas tree, one of the remaining items not stolen, was thrown away by our manager to make room for his rowing machine outside our back room - what a guy), but I do think it will be a uniquely good exercise for the state of mind I'm in. I need to shift my thinking dramatically so I can be in a proper mode to fully appreciate my history reading (usually a great pleasure) and later attend a dinner. SO, here goes, 6 beautiful things.

1) A tiny patch of grass growing up through the sidewalk outside the library. It's so perfectly green and so gutsy to have grown there. I hope it doesn't get pesticide-ded.

2) High for Jan 9: 82 degrees.

3) Sitting in Galatians today and realizing that I knew as much, or more, than most everyone around me, even people who've had Greek much more recently. Turns out, smarts and (very) hard (long) work pay off when you're asked to read and translate live. And I actually cared so much about the discussion I couldn't shut up, which was largely helped by actually reading all the commentary. Turns out, once you get over the crap of translation, this stuff can be pretty fun. I felt so good I switched the class back to a grade instead of pass/fail.

4) TWO, count 'em, two free pizza meals in one day. Thank you Brehm Center for lunch and dinner will be some kind of meeting about a PBS show to be filmed at Fuller, or using Fuller people, or something - I'll let you know. I'm intrigued. Maybe I can be the token liberal.

5) Souad Massi's voice.

6) Seeing my liturgy nerd friends again. Ah, how I miss our attention to stupid details. And especially our stupid jokes.

OH, I almost forgot the most important one. I told someone about our idea to have a house near a college campus where we offer a monastic-style life to a few students. John will do the academic side - salons & guest speakers, studying books together, and reading papers/projects in progress for one another weekly - and I will do the spiritual side - daily offices, counseling, prayer practices, bible study, and so on. It's our dream. And I told someone today and she was so excited and really understood our vision. She was very encouraging with practical suggestions for fundraising and models we should look into. It felt great to meet someone who has done similar work (her house was for women in transition) and seen it succeed, and for her to think our idea is actually good and would be attractive to supporters, students, and parents alike (she thinks we'd have a waiting list).

So that's a very beautiful thing. Ah, my anger has dissipated. Thank you Lord.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Upcoming events

First I have to mention why I titled my last post as I did. I realized I forgot to write the story behind it and I later thought, "I'll bet that seems pretty obtuse." But really it's not. It refers to an experience during my retreat on Saturday.

I was sitting on a couch, journaling and minding my own business, when I glanced over and happened to see a giant spider on a nearby piece of furniture. Close enough to be a problem. See, I am arachnophobic - certifiably. I have uncontrollable hyperventilation if I don't remove myself from the view of the spider. So I got up quickly (did I mention this guy had looong spindley legs, probably a couple inches long?) and moved across the room. I liked the room and didn't want to leave. But I was no longer completely comfortable and stole many glances over to watch the arachnid, who didn't move (probably was dead).

Then after a little while I was still journaling and something caught my other eye. This time it was a kitty, outside the glass door. It was peeking in at me. I'd earlier noticed cat food under the rector's desk; now I knew why. So I fed the little skittish cat and it was grateful.

Then I was thinking, how odd, that here in this time of prayer and waiting to hear from God, I would encounter these two creatures. One is the animal that strikes the deepest terror in me, even involuntary physical reactions of horror. The other is probably my favorite, most comforting animal, the one I most like to see and spend time with. I don't know if there's any significance to it all, but I found it interesting.

I did write in my journal about whether I see God right now more as a spider or a cat. I think it's been spider lately - I haven't been trusting and have been fearful. I haven't been comfortable nor felt safe. But the qualities of the cat - warmth, serenity, calm, peace, joy, and so on - are more the qualities I wish I could feel in the presence of God. Of course we can never be utterly at ease before the Holy One. I don't want God to be safe (actually, cats aren't safe, as my many scars will attest - many given accidentally when trying to love me!). But I want to feel comforted and happy to see Her.

Well, I promised upcoming events and I have two to mention that will be of interest to those of you at Fuller. Here ya go:

The St. Clive Society (the name we've chosen for the Episcopal/Anglican group at Fuller) is going to be offering to the wider campus community an opportunity for a weekly Eucharist together. Since many Fuller students do not take communion weekly at their churches, we thought this would be a lovely offering from our tradition. It is open to all faculty, students, staff, alumni, various & sundry hangers-on, and families. Hopefully we will eventually be adding a fellowship meal following the service of prayer and communion. I hope you will join us now & then as you are finding yourself needing a feeding. :)

We will launch the Anglican Holy Communion service, to be held weekly from 6.00pm till 7.00pm on Thursdays, this week (Thursday 11th January) in the conference room on the first floor of Carnell Hall (behind the Catalyst). You will be warmly welcome.The service will be open to all members of the Fuller Community who love the Lord and desire to meet around his table, irrespective of denominational affiliation.

Also I want to alert you that a small group of us are going to gather regularly this quarter to discuss issues surrounding homosexuality and the church. Our first meeting is also this Thursday, directly following the Eucharist service. It will be at the home of Mary Marjorie Bethea, who lives in my apartment complex (behind Pasadena's central library), about 5 mins walk from Fuller. We'll have tea & biscuits and will be watching a documentary entitled "Trembling Before G-d", which tells the stories of gay and lesbian orthodox Jews and their churches. It is well-balanced, informative, and moving. Following the film we'll have a discussion. The evening is planned to go from 7-9. If you want more info and need an address or directions, email me through my profile page.

Lots of nice stuff to do this week. Now I challenge you to not just sit in front of the Office & Earl (that's what VCRs are for!) but join me for one or both of these experiences!

Saturday, January 06, 2007

The cat and the spider

Three beautiful things:

1) Pasadena's mountains when it is windy (they are shockingly close and clear).
2) Silence
3) a drop-by from my friend today

yes, I had a good ol' fashion drop by - no call, no warning, just a knock on the door. I love it! I used to do that a lot, it was the way we were raised. Then one fateful day someone told me "it's not a good time" and I suddenly realized that other people weren't raised to always let in a guest regardless of the state of the house or their own feelings. And in some ways that is good - I mean, it's awfully Stepford to expect to keep a constantly clean house and have lemonade and cookies on hand for anyone who may drop by (or worse, have a pig sty and offer nothing). But I so miss the spontenaity of the drop-by. So I am thrilled I got one today.

And from someone whom I don't see nearly often enough at that. And he brought a gift! I mean, how much better could it get?! Wait - it can - the gift was pie filling! Yeah, baby, a drop-by that leads to pie. I don't think there's much that can top that.

So happy Epiphany everyone. I had a half day silent retreat this morning. Those things always bring up a lot of crap - I was telling the leader that I always start emotional vomiting (but at the end I hadn't spit it out yet, so it was not feeling great). I wonder if I did silence and journaling more often if perhaps I could get past the initial self-judgement and pity party phase and into something a bit more substantial. Probably. I'm going to try it this year, I hope.

But one thing that is definitely true, that J's been telling me over and over, is that I am not happy. And I've been okay with being not happy. But I think I'm not okay with it anymore. I'm tired of being discontented. It's no fun. But the thing I'm discovering is I can't make it better - I can't get happy by just trying harder. No, but hopefully some other things will help, like I'm going to keep making myself think of beautiful things and I'm going to ponder the lack of control I have over anything in life. Most of what makes me unhappy is stuff I want more control over (school curriculum, money/bills, my body size, the future). Well I don't have control over it, nor many other things that I think I do. So I'm going to work on getting over that. And in the process perhaps I'll find that I'm getting happier.

I was very taken with our Taize song today, we did the one about "In God alone my soul can find rest and peace, in God, my peace and joy; only in God my soul can find its rest, find its rest and peace". And I was thinking, well, maybe I can't find joy yet, but if I can give over to rest and peace, then perhaps joy will follow. It's all in God. So our work is not to make ourselves restful or peaceful or joyful. Our work is to find God and be in God, and the rest will follow.

Oh, that's profound, isn't it. Go me. I gotta listen to myself more.

May this day be blessed and may the Theophany present itself anew in your life.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

You know what sucks?

First I have to say three beautiful things, though...
1) my prof's wicked sense of humor
2) buttery shrimp scampi with a nice sauvingnon blanc
3) praying with john, even though we've only managed it once in the new year

Ok, that mushy stuff is out of the way. Now I can get to what sucks!
Online greeting cards! Man, they are so stupid! And while I'm at it, the ones in the stores are pretty much crap also! We went to Target recently and just about every card in a humor section was about alcohol or farting. Seriously. Get a life, people.
Also what sucks is Greek. I hate to say it, but I'm pretty much in hate with the whole language right now and especially with having to translate when I don't know what I'm doing. Blech. It took 3 and a half HOURS to translate NINE VERSES today. That sucks.
Also I think my reading so far sucks. I want to read Omnivore's Dilemma, not a Galatians commentary. But by the time I'm done with all my reading for school I'm too tired to read another word. Yuck and suck. Omnivore is so great, too - I'm reading all about grass now, a much nicer plant than corn, one I would much rather make up part of my ecosystem and food chain.

OK, that's all I can really think of at the moment. So that wasn't too bad.

I get to lead class tomorrow. I'm very excited. They're mine, all mine! No prof for miles! Ha ha ha ha ha ha!! Should be wicked fun.

Monday, January 01, 2007

It's harder than you think

I've really been thinking about Dave's assignment. I think part of what's got me so down or confused or whatever is that I'm no longer certain of my gifts. A lot of life has gone this way for me, though. I went to college convinced I'd be an actor, and then never got cast in a play my entire time. I came to Hollywood to try again and never actually tried. Then I went into development and discovered I was good at it...and unhappy. So I went to seminary. Which I have loved and still love. The only thing I know for sure that I am good at is school. So that PhD is looking more and more appealing, even though everyone tells me its useless without a few years' ministry experience (well...useless if I want to teach at a seminary. I guess if I became a writer or a scholar of religion in a non-practical field it wouldn't matter so much).

When I applied for the chapel position at Fuller, I thought I was matching my gifts exactly to an opportunity God was presenting. But the people in charge disagreed. And that about killed me. It certainly hasn't healed. That was when I realized that what I thought were my gifts may not be...or may not be wanted.

So this year, I did discernment, which was about helping me go deeper into this question. But I couldn't get at what the committee wanted and it was all too much to handle. I did the internship and found I really didn't like the things others thought I'd be great at. That I should have been great at. But I don't like them. Story of my life. Am I doomed to being perpetually dissatisfied? Am I just a malcontent - would anything make me happy?

Well, yes. Doing well in school makes me happy, as does spending time with my husband and friends, and writing, and reading. Helping people makes me happy. Taking walks and deep breaths. Watching movies. And watching the Trojans kick ass. :)

But yeah, this has been a tough time for me the last few months, because the things I thought were my gifts seem to not be. And the person I thought I was - or others thought I was - is not me. I actually think God is opening up new places in me and will be revealing new gifts. I think there are challenges ahead, taking me into areas that previously frightened me but now seem intriguing - things like spirituality and pastoral care and just finding that deep quiet in the world. Shouldn't be afraid of the quiet.

I know I love writing, yet I couldn't even work up a short essay for a book that I was asked to contribute to! I know I love school, yet the coming quarter doesn't excite me. I know I love preaching and planning worship, yet I'm nervous about my internship. I think I'm afraid that I'll turn out not to be good enough or not enjoy it. Then what am I left with? A nice degree and probably going back to some other career.

So I can't really answer the question of what my gifts are, or how I should or want to use them. I don't know right now. I think they are in transition, some are fading - things I held dear but were tied up in my ego, in my self-worth - and some are peeking out for the first time, like this deep need in me to find rest and quiet and solace, to spend as much time on my relationships as I can, this strong desire I find building in me to create a place of calm and love for myself and others. I think it's what I want to give the world because it's what I need the most.

Is it a waste? All these brains, so many careers I could choose (and have done), so much potential? What if I retreat into the desert and run a quiet house...am I failing? Whom? Myself? God? More likely, those around me. But not those who know me best. I love those strong, solid women in my life whom I wish to emulate, who look into me and see the contemplative inside the rushing whirlwind that is me. Is there a mystic inside of me longing for communion with the Divine? Longing to fast and pray?

Did I mention St. Francis? I love my icon. It's made of chocolate and carmel. You see, John's student, as her project for his philosophy of art class, painted an icon of St. Francis out of Twix bars. She used the chocolate and carmel for the painting and the wrappers for the "gold leaf" behind him. It's absolutely beautiful. I'm so glad we bought it.

The student made it out of candy, thinking that it was fluffy stuff, representative of our materialistic throwaway culture, finding it ironic to contrast that with the values of Francis. But John sees a deeper level - he sees the redemption of the culture, of the fluff and the saccharine sweetness, used not to fatten up a person who doesn't need the calories but instead to create a piece of lasting art that pays homage to a person who entirely gave up material goods (goods?). Like when Johnny Cash sings a Duran Duran song and suddenly it's got a whole new meaning.

And I think God wants to take my fluffy sweet shiny self and turn it into something that is much deeper and quieter but speaks no less, is no less effective. Yes, perhaps I will turn into my painting. That may be a nice visual metaphor for me to follow over the next months.

You know what? School starts tomorrow. Back to reading (already behind!) and Greek and I get to lead the class I'm TA'ing all week since the prof's away. I'm actually really excited about it. Ahhh...there, Dave. Every time I teach a class (usually we're talking some cheesy in-class presetation) at least one and usually several people (quiet background people who don't usually speak up) come to me and tell me I must do that for a living because I am so good at it. I make difficult things easier to understand and I have a ton of energy. Even when I don't really know what I'm saying somehow it works out - I can pull it off and people always tell me they learn. Which makes me feel incredibly good. So that must be the thing, mustn't it?

Anyway, the pizza is ready and we have to finish off the movies before our time is no longer our own. Blessings to you all as you start 2007. I don't know you but I love you. You keep me honest. Thank you.

Do I take requests?

Dunno, Dave, I have in the past, but I'm not sure I have time to think about your questions right now. A short answer would be I tend to be good at stuff I'm not super interested in and simply OK at stuff I love. So people want me to do the former stuff and I get frustrated with the latter.

But it's my last day of vacation, so I don't feel like doing any homework, even homework given by commenters. My Trojans are on.

Quickly, though, to keep my resolution, here are three beautiful things from today:
1) Smelling the Rose Parade (even the horse poop) and seeing George and his 501st legion.
2) Macaroni & Cheese (suggested rightly by Dan).
3) A day so beautiful Dan called it embarrassing. But I pointed out that we pay a hell of a lot to live here and there's reason. Weather like today's, on Jan. 1, is one of them.