Saturday, April 30, 2011


Family is big. Family can take over a city. It is inescapable even if we try to be something else. When William was at the altar he leaned over to his father in law and said, "just a small family affair."

I have been watching family things this week. It was pretty much a ton of fun. Did you see me in TV? The sense of celebration was everywhere... I saw most of what I saw I saw on TV like you, but I felt a lot that you couldn't feel on TV.

Kate managed to keep some of the pomp out of it... And her dress and just one attendant and such a simple procession was fabulous. I hope it becomes a model for our western weddings.

But in the end I went back to my hotel with the most agreeable person who is my family. In the end it is our own people that matter most.

So we quit London this morning and are a bit worse for wear after finding our way out of town...

What we experienced:
Nottingham Hill market where we bought a Victorian candle snuff from two fat gay men who made us laugh.. Mitchell and Simon; tower of London; Thames boat tour; Baker Street; Les Mis and the theatre district; Regents Park which is like palace gardens owned by Elizabeth R; saw the changing of the guards; Lord's Cricket grounds and a boring game of cricket; consumed many pieces of fish and hundreds of chips; went passed the Zoo; not to mention Westminster chapel, the Tower of Big Ben and the rosy red cheeks of the little children.

We were yelled at by not one but two bus drivers, called wankers and other lovely English terms by various people, met great fun people who were not so angry and walked for miles. Hardly bought a thing and did not go to Harrods.

So now we are heading to Sheffield with our $100.00 tank of gas ...looking for Elliott bones. Family.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


We have pretty much figured the London transit system. Last night though our trip took a bit longer than we'd hoped. It was starting to get cold as the sun went down. We had walked more than 16,000 steps in our day and were glad to catch the 24 that seemed to be going in the right direction. Our journey had taken us around Picadilly Circus around the Oxford Circus shopping district and across the Strand. We passed a stet preacher with bright wild eyes and got on the 24 to Camden Town. We got off the bus and couldn't find our connection so we stopped in the Camden Eye for fish n chips. Then we walked north toward Camden Market ...through an increasingly rough looking area. I told Steve to flex his muscles...he told me to put the map away -like we could hide the fact that we were tourists.

Deciding the road was not right we crossed the road and took 31 going back the way we came. It was dark now. The 31 turned the wrong direction and so we got off. We walked 5 or 6 blocks west, then around a corner and 5 or 6 blocks east and then stopped to talk to an ancient bearded Arab looking man across from a backpacking hostel.

He sent us back to the 31 and we started going south. When the 31 turned east again we got off at the next stop and decided to walk to the nearest tube (underground.) I asked Steve what he remembered about the wisdom of taking the tube after dark. He said it couldn't t be advisable.

Bit it wasn't too scary and we took the tube west and got to St John' s Wood. We came back up to street level and walked the wrong way down Wellington. We turned around and walked back the other way. A bus passed and we jumped on... And a few stops later stepped off in front of the hotel.

Purgation. Illumination. Union.

Friday, April 22, 2011

there is no global village

I am reading Wendell Berry - "the Art of the Commonplace." I have read and re-read one piece this week.

He is speaking of the general and the particular, that they must be held in tension, and that we are impoverished by ignoring either. For instance, marriage is particular, keeping faith with the one chosen, but it is also keeping faith with those who one has not chosen. And care of home and one's environment is a responsible way to live in the larger world.

"One cannot fulfill one's love for womankind or mankind, or even for all the women or men to whom one is attracted. If one is to have the power and delight of one's sexuality, then the generality of instinct must be resolved in a responsible relationship to a particular person. Similarly one cannot live in the world; that is, one cannot become, in the easy, generalizing sense with which the phrase is commonly used, a 'world citizen.' There can be no such thing as a 'global village.' No matter how much one may love the world as a whole, one can live fully in it only by living responsibly in some small part of it. Where we live and who we live there with define the terms of our relationship to the world and to humanity. We thus come again to the paradox that one can become whole only by the responsible acceptance of one's partiality."

A mantra of the environmental movement is "think globally, act locally." For most of our lives, this is our only real option. The moments when we can act, in a sense, globally, are rare, and are only really a second or third locality. We go, for instance, to an orphanage in Mexico and serve for a few weeks, locally, there. Even Jesus was limited to one place and time. Theology calls this the "scandal of particularity" - that God could be limited to one place, one body, one personality, one time. Impossible. But to be human this is what must be.

"But to encapsulate these partial relationships is to entrap and condemn them in their partiality; it is to endanger them and to make them dangerous. They are enlivened and given the possibility of renewal by the double sense of particularity and generality; one lives in marriage and in sexuality, at home and in the world. It is impossible, for instance, to conceive that a man could despise women and yet love his wife, or love his own place i the world and yet deal destructively with other places."

As a young mother I worked relentlessly to ensure the survival and wellness of my children. I found ways to provide for them, to put meals on the table over and over, to keep them healthy and help them learn to think and choose. Now that so much focus is not on my own children, I have a new generativity that touches a broader field of children and homes, and can contribute to those in various ways. But fundamentally, it is still limited in scope - one hand holding one hand. Some people have the skill to create a paradigm that can reach many, seemingly en mass, but in reality it is a complex system of many reaching many - one or two at a time.

The care of the world, then, is not too big for any of us to participate in. The smallest acts of kindness, care, generosity and help are world changing. My fidelity to my husband is for the sake of the world as much as for our household.

So many of my choices seem futilely small. Cans into recycling. Avoiding poisons on our lawn. Stopping to help someone pick up a dropped bag of groceries. Taking time to smile at an old man who is lonely. A meal to an international student. And hugs. But these are, in fact, the destruction of the 'curse' and participation in a world renewal.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

profound blessing... or why I love my woman friends

I have a woman friend who wrote this to me today. And I will smile ALL day because of it.

"...speaking your name to our Creator this morning, for wisdom, peace and rest. And laughter... I hope for much laughter, like "laugh your ass off laughter" for the coming days."

and I think I know just the person to do it with!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

just can't sleep

I have had a headache tonight, all night. One of those headaches you even dream about and keep expecting to go away - it is the weather, barometric pressure and all that. Walter kept licking my face, with bad breath, which was also annoying. So at about 4:15 I got up and made a hot cup of milk and got my computer up and running. It is often in the early hours that I write to my kids in Indonesia and take time to post something.

Steve launched his sabbatical on Thursday with a dinner for his friends and leadership team at the church. I loved being in a room full of friends, fifty people who are all different but really do love and respect each other. Remarkable, really. In light of us entering the gift of extended sabbath time, I am seeking to live in the transcendent invitation - live with eyes and soul wide open to meaning, grace, good gifts and gentle promptings. This is preview weekend at my school and last night I spoke at the evening service. My topic was the faithfulness of God. In my reflections and reading I realized for the first time how closely the faithfulness of God is connected to his love. The loving faithfulness - the enduring love. God is not faithful because it is his work, he is faithful to us and all creation because he loves. Somehow that means a great deal to me. Everything meaningful is about relationships - even this. It makes sense, then, that scripture says he is not interested in our sacrifices to him or anyone else unless they are truly motivated by love.

Steve and I have been married 37 years this fall. He reminded me that we just passed the 40th anniversary of our first date. Said date was a walk to a local tennis court and a game of tennis wearing winter coats. On the way home he farted and I laughed and our relationship was cemented. But the point is - we are not faithful because we said we would be faithful. We are faithful because we love. I would not choose to do something to hurt our love. Nor would he. I don't worry that he is wishing for someone else to be his main person - not because he is obligated to me, but because I trust his love.

We can trust God's love - his enduring love. He will remain faithful to us because of love. And the action of that love is his engagement in our lives. He makes us strong, makes life rich and thick. I am pondering this beautiful idea as I sit here sipping warm (now tepid - bleh) milk at 5:30 in the morning, while Walter continues to try to lick my face. What is up with her?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

"Her only crime is she is female."

I had the privilege of attending an art exhibition in Chicago presenting woman's art from around the world on the theme of violence. Photos were not allowed, so I wrote some of the artist's comments into my journal. The plaque on the wall says, "Sisterhood is where women are unfettered by expectations of submissiveness, surrounded by true peers, a place where she can say what she needs to say, share what she knows, and asks for credit for what is her due."

"When we encounter violence against women, we often experience a sort of blindness. we choose not to see the devastation of domestic violence calling it a 'family affair.' Honor killings of women in faraway regions of the world become nothing more than 'cultural difference.' The rape and torture of women during armed conflict is the inevitable 'messiness of war.' The range of gender based violence is devastating, occurring quite literally from womb to tomb."

Japanese - Self portrait, Sharp Eyed Crone. "Women change their appearance to please others.... As for once in a lifetime serendipity, there is nothing greater than good books and good friends. As as for happiness in life, there is only the tea in one's cup and the incense in the burner."

Israel - Miri Nishri. "In the past few years Israel has been plagued by a wave of 'romantic' killings of women by their spouses. [She comments that people say, "what a wonderful love that must be!"] We go about our little lives, we get married, we give birth, we enjoy little moments of tranquility while 20 miles away the worst imaginable is constantly happening."

Icelandic name for woman's asylum - Kvenna Athuarfi - safe refuge.

- Yoko Inoue. "In some communities where direct intervention is culturally impossible, women respond to severe domestic violence by assembling outside of the household in question and banging on out an alarm on pots and pans. This informs the man that the spirit he attempts to break belongs to many, not one."

The most visceral to me was a ten minute video by Egyptian, Amal Kenawy. The first half has three scenes playing out on the screen in gentle quietness - an ordinary Egyptian woman putting on socks, putting on a coat and going out the door to come back with a bag of groceries which she puts away, and in the third image sipping tea while placing fruit in her mouth and staring into the distance in thought. All ordinary, peaceable, far from power, violence, anger, control. In the second five minutes the woman is shown as a corpse, with hand drawn images of long hair becoming blood, dismembered limbs, dead babies, rats, heads without bodies, and stairs, walls, prison bars moving across the page. The film is named, "You will be killed." There are no words. No musical score.

I left the cultural center quietly, moved and stirred. Innocently I stopped for lunch in an Irish pub called the Tilted Kilt. The young women who serve there are dressed like sexualized little girls with little bikini tops perched on oversized breasts, tiny kilts sitting as low as possible on naked midrifts and white knee socks with little flat shoes. The largest piece of clothing are their white knee socks. The girl who served me seemed uncomfortable with me, wouldn't look me in the eye. But to the tables of business men she was flirtatious and assertive. I couldn't help thinking, though, that she had not yet bought this system, that she didn't fit. I wanted to say to her, RUN! But I didn't have the chance, she wouldn't give me a chance.

When my bill came for my small fish and chip dinner I decided to rip a page out of my journal and leave a note. I wrote, thoughtfully, "Honey - are you aware of how much you are being exploited here? I hope you will choose to leave and build a strong life." I added a twenty dollar tip and left it on the table.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Good Morning America!!!

I hit the snooze button four times this morning. It began shortly after six and I was up before seven. Every eleven minutes the radio began broadcasting the news. In that hour between six and seven when i randomly restarted the news, what came on was horrific. Deaths. Wars. Evil. More evil to come.

I muttered out to Steve, "Some day I want to turn on the news and hear a story about a puppy."

So for you who are reading this early in the morning let me give you some news to start your day.

It is spring again. Somehow this hard-crusted, beat up, old world is once more giving birth to life. What looked like death all winter is sprouting impossibly. And by the number of robins in our neighborhood there will be robins to share across America, one for every yard.

Kentucky made it to the final four. I don't know what that means, really, but the people around me seem to be enjoying it. For me it means I get alone time this weekend.

Weight Watchers has a new measuring plan. Again, I am not actually going to WW although you could argue that I should, but those who are going tell me there are more food choices. That has to be good, right?

The shelves on our grocery stores are full. This may seem like a 'duh!' to you but some people are waiting in lines for almost nothing. We may be paying more but we can eat well, if we choose. You can have broccoli in the middle of winter. That must be a miracle.

And finally, for this morning, you and I are beloved. We are created, loved and valuable, and the way forward, while challenging, still has hope. The hope lies within, not on what is around us.

Okay... I am going to get out of my housecoat and go to work looking for gifts of friendship, moments of joy, brilliant ideas and puppies.