Tuesday, October 6, 2015

what in the world are we doing?

I've been watching "Indian Summers" on Masterpiece on PBS here --I have found it quite compelling --especially those bits about empire, racial oppression and prejudice of the "natives" in their own country, and the presumed entitlement of the white men.

And --then there was this, The Shootings Are Not Senseless.... on entitlement....
Every time there is a mass shooting (which on average is every sixty four days) one of the key words we hear describing the tragedy is “senseless.” This would suggest the action was without meaning or purpose.

I hate to tell you this, but nothing could be further from the case.

The most recent attacker, Christopher Harper-Mercer, follows the strict pattern of highly-aggrieved men trapped in a cultural paradox from which they cannot escape. His and the other attacks like it, congruent down to sporting military-style clothing, are an attempt to call “society” to task for leaving them behind. To these men, who perceive they are not receiving the level of respect to which they feel deeply entitled, it’s nothing less than a revolution. When you read their posts online they discuss previous attackers like the Dylan Klebold of the Columbine massacre and James Holmes of the Aurora theater shooting and now Harper-Mercer as a martyr, a hero and most disturbingly, a “warrior” for the cause.
The mass shooting epidemic is, in actuality, best described as a nascent domestic terrorist movement which like many others uses mass-casualty suicide attacks as their primary weapon. We will continue to see it develop and organize if social conditions continue as they have, isolating growing numbers of volatile young from the benefits of our society. The shooters are the tip of the iceberg, once you start poking around online you find a massive bulk of rage under the surface.

We refuse to admit this glaringly obvious fact at our peril.
Yes, their ideology is hateful and stupid. But like most uprisings it centers in legitimate grievance, metastasized into it’s own mass of lizard-brain hatreds. Young men don’t regularly kill large numbers of innocent members of their own society in a healthy culture, that is a simple fact.

Think I’m wrong about this? Look at Saudi Arabia, which spawned Al Queda. Unlike what many of my liberal brethren believe, the 9/11 attackers who took down the World Trade Center, attacked the Pentagon and crashed flight 93 into a field in Pennsylvania were not indigent Muslims fighting back against the economic oppression of the West. They were, in actuality, disaffected middle-class young men who found themselves increasingly incapable in their home country of meaningful attainment in the highly stratified power and wealth structure imposed by the House of Saud and supported by its global superpower partner the United States. These men were seduced into giving their lives to murder Americans by terrorist recruiters who prey on finding such personalities and providing their perceptually meaningless lives with a grand purpose.

I thinks it's worth the read, and worth pondering. The emphasis in bold is mine...

I suppose it could boggle the mind that young middle-class men could feel thrown off the boat... so to speak... but, if indeed, they are the canaries in the mine of income inequality in our shifting economic system --if indeed they are a growing and probable future response... if indeed they are the 'revolution' they think they are (egged on by the likes of their grown counter-parts in Republican leadership--including Sarah Palin and FOX News)...

--well then...

--and, because those who also feel 'left behind' but do nothing, or turn a blind eye, or think they are too busy or too old, or have other things to do, or, or, or...

--well then... .

And, since agriculture is no longer an occupation for the common man but belongs to large corporations and major industry --and we are not really building things or maintaining our infrastructure... --and the occupations of generations before are just not there, but our education systems and society have not really caught up to the shifts and demands... what are our young people supposed to do?

Well... Jimmy Carter and the Pope think it is warmongering... and then we bring the veterans home and throw them off the boat, too... and we have done that for quite a while, resulting in an average of 22 veteran suicides DAILY.  (I know, some refute that number and make it greater --some insist it is less --but it is horrific that more veterans commit suicide than are killed in action daily --it is just not right.) Why does our Nation not even care? Why do we not care?

Violence... on all sides....

With so much happening... so much written on the wall...

At prayer this morning (Oh Lordy... the Daily Office used 1928, King James, Coverdale and Tyndale translations... are you freakin' kidding me?)

So... we might as well read what they and the Prayer Book leave out... just so there is no offense:

(1 Corinthians 11:1-22)
Imitate me, then, just as I imitate Christ.

I praise you because you always remember me and follow the teachings that I have handed on to you. But I want you to understand that Christ is supreme over every man, the husband is supreme over his wife, and God is supreme over Christ. So a man who prays or proclaims God's message in public worship with his head covered disgraces Christ.

And any woman who prays or proclaims God's message in public worship with nothing on her head disgraces her husband; there is no difference between her and a woman whose head has been shaved. If the woman does not cover her head, she might as well cut her hair. And since it is a shameful thing for a woman to shave her head or cut her hair, she should cover her head. A man has no need to cover his head, because he reflects the image and glory of God. But woman reflects the glory of man; for man was not created from woman, but woman from man. Nor was man created for woman's sake, but woman was created for man's sake. On account of the angels, then, a woman should have a covering over her head to show that she is under her husband's authority. In our life in the Lord, however, woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. For as woman was made from man, in the same way man is born of woman; and it is God who brings everything into existence.

Judge for yourselves whether it is proper for a woman to pray to God in public worship with nothing on her head. Why, nature itself teaches you that long hair on a man is a disgrace, but on a woman it is a thing of beauty. Her long hair has been given her to serve as a covering. But if anyone wants to argue about it, all I have to say is that neither we nor the churches of God have any other custom in worship.
There we are. The suitable way things should be --as God and Christ intended... Women, sit down, cover your head, and shut up! Men, you are in charge. And, while we're at it, let's all talk like they did 400 years ago...

Oh gee....

Adam lay i-bowndyn,              Adam lay bound
bowndyn in a bond,                 bound in a bond
Fowre thowsand winter          four thousand winter
thowt he not to long                thought he not too long.

And al was for an appil,        And all was for an apple,
an appil that he tok.               An apple that he took.
As clerkes fyndyn wretyn     As clerics find,
in here book.                         Written in their book.

Ne hadde the appil take ben,     If the apple had never been taken
the appil taken ben,                   the apple taken been,
Ne hadde never our lady           then never would have been our Lady
a ben hevene quen.                   the Queen of Heaven been
Ne had the apple taken been,    if the apple had never been taken.

Ne had never our ladie,            Then never would have been our Lady
Abeen heav'ne queen.               been Heaven's Queen
Blyssid be the tyme                  Blessed be the time
that appil take was!                  that apple was taken
Therefore we mown syngyn    therefore we sing
Deo gratias!                             Thanks be to God!

Wake up, church.
Wake up, margaret.
Wake up, people.

What in the world are we doing?
Mother of God, pray for us.

Monday, October 5, 2015

the meaning of life

I grunted as I fell in to the seat of the car --the ache in my arm, the twenty pounds I've gained, the fringe-iness of age catching me by surprise. I pushed the button that starts the car, threw the electronic key on the seat beside me --still startled by the bewilderment and amusement that I don't have to insert a key and turn it...

--and the radio conversation began, this time with Margaret Mead's daughter, Mary Catherine Bateson. I was slightly amused that she was still being introduced as her mother's daughter --she a scholar, linguist, author and elder in her own right... --and that twinge of sorrow that I have mostly lost that kind of reference circle in my own life.

Her voice was grandmotherly --a well worn voice, the rough edges removed --except in the delight and surprised laughter at a well turned question from the interviewer.... it seemed she was entirely of a piece with the prairie --the way it undulates to the horizon, a constant change but always familiar, and the sudden surprise of gorge or river valley.

I was catching only the last few minutes of the interview... 'What does it mean to be human?' the interviewer asked... and to my surprise Mary Catherine turned the interview to death... '--Reflection is important –what you are doing and what it means –the search for meaning… --death is an important part of life that we shouldn’t deny... –in spite of our terrible hubris greed, competitiveness –we finally see ourselves in proportion –small, temporary, we don’t understand as much as we need to –we live in time of real urgency –we need to mine insights of the past...'

--and I wonder what she would say/experience in a place of unending grief, unending death... because I know I struggle with the meaning of death and suffering --a lot...

And then she said, '–we must learn to use the word “we” --to use it to mean all of life on earth –a terrible and tender beauty, and we must shape everything we do to protect it.'

A 'terrible and tender beauty'...  it took my breath away.... the whole of the gospels unfolded in those words... the cross revealed in those words... the life around me, spectacular, terrible, tender...

'Terrible and tender beauty.'
We must shape our lives to protect it...

And there it is --the other thing...

'We' has been core to my thoughts and liturgical patterns --'We' is what Christianity can offer a grossly and greedily individualistic society...

--life-- a terrible and tender beauty.

'--a terrible and tender beauty' haunted me all day, until after the 100 or so miles and three church services and the faces of fifty or so children...

At the last service, we met in Eagle Butte because the road to the church at On the Tree was too muddy. I had the kids haul the statue of St. Francis from my yard, and place it before the altar. And then, during the sermon time, called them up front to sit in front of the statue. I held the microphone in my hand, and asked Francis questions --he answered... I tried not to move my lips too much --I think only the littlest kids believed it, but the older kids enjoyed it... clapped their hands--kicked their feet in the air--laughed....

'We are one,' Francis said --repeating the words of the first reading. 'We are all related,' Francis said, reinforcing the cultural ethos of this place. And then I told the story of how he came back from war so sad --and as I said it, I suddenly remembered that one of the uncles, just this week, went in to treatment for PTSD --and I shuddered, kicking myself... and then grateful to have named it before the altar for the children... that it is not a shameful thing... that God works through us for all kinds of good --and Francis went on to realize how we are all related --brother sun, sister, moon, sister water brother fire....

'We are all made of the same stuff --and Jesus said we all need to be like children to understand heaven --so, what do kids know that grown-ups don't know?' I asked them.... They were surprised... 'I think kids know how to play,' I said....

This morning, because I only heard the last few stunning minutes of the interview, I looked up the interview, and listened to the whole piece... I found it here...

I loved it... I loved that she said that what we are made to do is to learn We maintain our infant characteristics throughout our lives. Human being remain childlike right through the life cycle –remain playful –play is an important part of learning –play is experimental, practice… learning is us.

Living is improvisational art --that she imagines heaven itself as a place of endless creativity... that the point of the Book of Job is that Job had lost his sense of wonder and awe and joy --he was living obediently but mindlessly, and in losing everything, he finally woke up.... That ritual is what keeps that sense of wonder alive in religion... and we repeat rituals to constantly discover new meaning... and that even our personal rituals which have tremendously personal meanings are expressions of what we have learned in community... so meaning is something we owe to the larger community....

We must play. We must gather to play. We must experiment. Full of wonder. And remember it all through ritual... and relive it anew in ritual... play and death... the meaning of life....

Terrible and tender beauty... and we must shape our lives to protect it....

At prayer this morning (Matthew 8:28-34)
When Jesus came to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes, two demoniacs coming out of the tombs met him. They were so fierce that no one could pass that way. Suddenly they shouted, “What have you to do with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?”

Now a large herd of swine was feeding at some distance from them. The demons begged him, “If you cast us out, send us into the herd of swine.”

And he said to them, “Go!”

So they came out and entered the swine; and suddenly, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and perished in the water. The swineherds ran off, and on going into the town, they told the whole story about what had happened to the demoniacs. Then the whole town came out to meet Jesus; and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their neighborhood.

Jesus was off his "own" turf, dealing with folks who had herds of pigs...

--and, pigs are smarter than we are, heh? They won't stand to be inhabited by demons. And, they didn't send Jesus away...

--how else can I 'play' around with this...?

Saturday, October 3, 2015

tears in the laughter

It seems as though it is suddenly winter, although I know it is not sudden at all. The signs have been here for weeks. But, it is 42 here this morning... and in protest, I went out in shorts with the dogs at first light to bark and growl at the falling leaves... more numerous now than the birds in the yard.

And the winter clouds have come to roost, close to the ground and gray. The wind pruned the dead branches and threw them down on the path and weeds by my door.

I must find my coat... because I will stand out on the hill of shale at the edge of a grave later today, and a new front will pass through at about that time, scouring us with a pelt of rain and wind, filling the edges of my mouth as I pray, trying and discouraging the pall bearers as they fill in the hole, heaving shovel-fulls of mud.

--I wonder if they will be as drunk today as they were last night, trying to chase away their grief with anything they can get their hands on, filling their minds with pink clouds, turning their souls as sodden as the earth that will cling to their shoes and make them slip and fall, chortling in grunts of sodden laughter.

The pain of the living in this place.

This family buried an infant earlier this year. And another elder. And a young cousin who committed suicide. Now this elder. Matriarch.

What is the good news to preach? God loves you? God suffers with you? Really? How can that possibly be true? Besides, what is love any way? Nothing but betrayal... and abandonment... from the Nation that has taken everything, from the system that oppresses, from every which way....

The gospel of betrayal, abandonment and oppression...

At prayer this morning (Matthew 8:18-27)

Now when Jesus saw great crowds around him, he gave orders to go over to the other side. A scribe then approached and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” Another of his disciples said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” But Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”

And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. A windstorm arose on the sea, so great that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him up, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, you of little faith?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a dead calm. They were amazed, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?”

--and a "dead calm" is as dangerous as a storm... leaving one stranded in the water....

Off I go. To bury the dead. And as I trust Jesus, I guess that means I am dead already... but that is alright, because I have known a resurrection life --not once, not twice --but more...

Last night, someone spoke of someone who is dying --and they want no company, no help... thrashing around in solitary despair. 'That's alright,' I said. 'Just remind them that when they are finally dead, they will not be able to do anything for themselves, and you will help them then....' And there were tears in the laughter...

Thursday, October 1, 2015

for our own conceit

He leaned over the table and said that they had discussed kicking all the churches off the Reservation, that some folks wanted to express sovereignty by removing all whites and all churches.

He didn't say it in a mean way--because he wasn't one of those folks, but he wasn't a Christian either --it was a passionate discussion about land ownership, sovereignty, religion, authority, making things right....

'Oh geeeee,' I said... 'I half agree--I know a couple of folks I'd like to kick off the Reservation!' And we all laughed... my white Christian face looking at the floor... --and in my head I was thinking, I understand, I do understand... what happened and the way it happened... but then if that comes to be, what happened then will only happen again except with different enforcers --then this place will become subject again to the very thing that was so destructive and despised... the new enforcers doing nothing more than what the Christians were doing not so long ago --a local Taliban... and who will decide what expression of the ceremonies are the right expression....

It was the second time in a week I had heard this sentiment discussed. The first time had also been at a wake. But it wasn't indicated that there had actually been a meeting where this was discussed...

--maybe it wasn't a formal meeting, but one of those times when there was a gathering of some sort, and there had been an exchange of words... a discussion of authority... power... ownership... sovereignty....

The child came and leaned in to the space between us all, her tears running down her face. She was feeling and embodying the exhaustion... a funeral where everyone wanted to have the last word... or at least a word in edge-wise. Her father put his arms around her, not asking what the tears were about, but letting her run them out.

And then the phone buzzed --he pulled it out and looked at the text message. Another auntie had died, just up north. The fourth death in this family in two months --not counting the cousin who had committed suicide about six months ago.

It was time to say the prayers. Someone asked what they had done wrong that so many in their family were dying... but the question wasn't directed at me, and it was more a statement than a question... and thoughts of the first great exile of Israel --the Babylonian captivity-- the terrible glory of the songs of lament, the loss of everything came to my mind's heart...

--and the fruit of that devastation --identity....

Must it always be so --with us human beings? As individuals, as societies, as cultures? Or do we only keep track of the hard grief that forms us --not those pressures of grace, mercy, glory....

We said the prayers, consumed the humble elements of the cosmos --the bread and wine, the gifts of God-- only possible because of the sun and the moon and stars in their courses, the wind and the rain, the snow and the heat in their season, the earth and sky... harvested, shaped and changed by human hands... we eat the cosmos, we are sustained by the cosmos--the Body of Christ... the Word that was God, was with God, spoken at the beginning, holding all things in being...

--and I had said as much... that this was a cosmic yet humble foretaste of that feast continually offered where the ancestors were gathered --food for the journey... --and we were all lifted to heaven in that moment... the foundations of the church there....

And later that day I walked down the street --bank, post office, power company... as though nothing had happened... and I visited with folks here, and there --the sky as our witness.... I drove around as though being lifted to heaven was as ordinary as eating and sleeping....

And I answered the phone, did my correspondence, called on folks...

--then the invitation... the first since I walked and prayed in late June... and I got on my hands and knees, greeting all my relatives, entered the womb of the earth, and prayed by the clutch of rocks so hot they glowed red with a sudden remembrance of the fire from which they were born... a ceremony of earth and dark, rock and water and fire...

--from which we are all born... from which we are all made....

At prayer this morning (Matthew 7:22-29)

Jesus said, “On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?’ Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.’

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall!”

Now when Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.

It is not enough to prophesy, cast out demons and do many deeds of power in the name of God...

--we must be sure of our foundation...

--but what human being can be so cocky as to assume they have a rock-solid foundation...

--because surely God will lift the rocks... and in the blink of an eye, all shall be changed...

--or throw them down for our conceit....

Wakantanka, unsimala, waniktaca le camu we.
Great Spirit, have pity, I do this because I want to live.

Grandfather have pity on me
I am thankful
I am thankful
for good health
I am thankful
I am thankful

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

striving for a false purity

Out in the middle of every where --because no where doesn't exist... the only voices that come through on the radio are the whacko pseudo-Christian political memes that preach a gospel of individualism and false purity (false, because on the other side of baptism, sin is of no account--not that it doesn't exist, but that it is of no account)...

--and NPR... and the moderator had asked the question of what it means--being human, because more evidence had been found in a cave --of human origins, and the scientist/thinker/interviewee responded something to the effect that the material evidence suggests that we were making art and expressing ourselves mystically tens of thousands of years before we had agriculture, so it was obviously more important to human survival to have artistic and mystical expression than it was to have a regular meal...

--and that has kept me thinking....

--and when the lay reader asked me what "high church" meant, there I was, spraying red ochre over my hand in a cave.... "She said your blessing the body before the final viewing was really high church..."

"Oh, no--that's not high church," I responded, pondering briefly what was really being said. "That's ancient church, not high church...." And then I embarked on descriptions of ways to pray --formally/informally, every gesture, every word having meaning/no gestures, no meaning or the meanings dismissed or of no account in the signs and symbols....

"High church is a way to pray with your whole body --it's fault lies in its tendency to become ritualized --when the meaning has been forgotten or inappropriate or overdone or gestures more important than what it is supposed to point to.... But anointing a body is not high church --we do it all the time with healing --with baptism.... There are times when informal church is very important --and times when every detail in the way we pray is important --but most importantly, you have to figure out where in the spectrum of types of prayer your heart is set free and balance it with the hearts of those with whom you are praying... because if you are not in tune with those around you...."

And then I showed her some of the "high" church things I do --like kissing the altar, crossing my self, bowing my head at time during the prayer --and some of the things I don't do --like making the cross three times above the gifts on the altar--because I can't do it fast enough in the time given without it looking like I'm swatting flies, so I only do it once....

And we laughed....

And then everyone at the wake stood up and preached confessionals, apologetics, conversion... and I found myself thinking about that... and I wondered at my own impulses to not do that, but rather push everyone to seek God in the world around them, to do those prayers, those things that will open them to the presence of God --to not wait for death for a resurrection life... to help one another.

And, so, this morning... I am delighted to wonder if I am terribly out of tune with those around me --I am delighted to ponder and know those ways, those bridges I cannot cross no matter what... and wonder about those things I should change, must change, shouldn't change, can't change....

I heard at the clergy conference how upset someone was when at a funeral the drum jumped in front of the procession and the priest was angry because the cross needs to go first, it's a Christian procession... and I found myself wondering who decided the drum wasn't Christian any way... back in those missionary days when children were beaten and abused for speaking Lakota... or doing any thing Lakota... why the dots aren't connected... that that abuse was as horrid as teaching the drum and the songs that spring from its impulse aren't of God....

--not that they are the same as northern European expressions of God --not that they realize or express the same, or come from the same place...

--but what is signified....? --what is made "real" --what is brought forth in its fullest incarnation?

Incarnation.... that is what prayer is... incarnation.... the unseen, unmade, unsigned becoming enfleshed... in our own beingness...

At prayer this morning (1 Corinthians 8:1-13)

Now concerning food sacrificed to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. Anyone who claims to know something does not yet have the necessary knowledge; but anyone who loves God is known by him.

Hence, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “no idol in the world really exists,” and that “there is no God but one.” Indeed, even though there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as in fact there are many gods and many lords —yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.

It is not everyone, however, who has this knowledge. Since some have become so accustomed to idols until now, they still think of the food they eat as food offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. “Food will not bring us close to God.” We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if others see you, who possess knowledge, eating in the temple of an idol, might they not, since their conscience is weak, be encouraged to the point of eating food sacrificed to idols? So by your knowledge those weak believers for whom Christ died are destroyed. But when you thus sin against members of your family, and wound their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food is a cause of their falling, I will never eat meat, so that I may not cause one of them to fall.

Oh goody for you, Paul... ain't you fine... and then you criticize others for doing one thing here and another there.... Let your yes be yes.... I mean, I understand what you are saying, I do... but if we were confined to the lowest common denominator, we would have to do nothing....

Just sayin'....

And then there's this (Matthew 7:13-21)

Jesus said, “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will know them by their fruits.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.”

Perhaps the narrow road is squeaking by on faith alone... certainly not counting on our own merits... for surely it is the will of our Father in heaven that every child of God be respected --perhaps most especially those different from us....

--and surely we must look at the fruit of the missionaries.... good and bad from the same tree... and certainly what is good is not just what looks like us... because not all fruit is the same....

So... off I go... to bury the dead --no, wait, this one will be taken to be cremated --a horror to so many here... but does that make it wrong, and should it not be done just because....


And probably the first weapon was made because of spiritual and mystical difference.... And that, too, makes us human... striving for a false purity....


Monday, September 28, 2015

the terror of one

We couldn't see the blood moon... it was cloudy, a drizzle on and off, and lightening to the north.

There is no blood moon when there is lightening
no blood lost between earth and sky
no shadows except ever our own
our own noisy machinations
our own lust
tearing limb and flesh
we churn and grind
our own begottenness in to dust
blind to light given freely
poured out from moons and stars
from the cosmos

the beloved is not called from beyond
but from within
our own bones broken
our own flesh
our own blood
eclipsed in the horizon of dark

until that time
when flesh and blood shall cease
the light of the moon
its own glory
no shadows
from that of which we are made
and gravity descending
the moon and earth shall kiss
like justice and mercy

the terror of one.

At prayer this morning (from 1 Corinthians 7)
...let even those who have wives be as though they had none, and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no possessions, and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away.

And this... (Matthew 6:25-34)
Jesus said,
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?

And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?

Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.
--and living this way is claiming resurrection life right now, right here...
off I go.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

for those who dare to behold...

The winter weather forecasts are beginning to sprout up like weeds.... Some say we will have a very snowy and cold winter here. Others say that it will be drier and warmer than "normal"....


Here is what I predict:

--that the human condition will continue to be full of hurt and woe --some of it self-inflicted, some of it inflicted upon others without care or thought, some of it malicious. I predict the poor will be hurt first --especially in the machinations of government, and among those women and children first.... I predict the likes of Trump will continue to demonstrate their true impoverishment.... I predict Clinton will continue to do and say whatever she must to maintain some standing in the poles, and she will continue to be the Democratic Party's main bet... but she is too loaded down with baggage to win a national election.

--that the Church will continue to limp along, distracted from the gospel by the issues of the Authority To Wash Feet Without A License, and Venom For Free for those who are different. Or powerless. Or voiceless. Or unpopular. Or _____ (fill in the blank).

--that I will continue to bury the dead in record numbers... and some will look on in horror, some will say that's just the way it is, some will say there is nothing they can do, and most will not notice at all....


--that I will know love more deeply than ever from, by, with, through the living Flesh and Blood of my beloved....

--that the Church will demonstrate the gospel by giving generously, seeking to serve in unexpected places, speaking up as best as it is able....

--that I will continue to learn the Way of the Spirit from those I serve, and, God willing, they will be fed the cosmos in the visible and outward sign of bread of wine....

So... for those who dare to behold, I predict this winter will be magnificent!

At prayer this morning (Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18)

Jesus said, “Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.

“So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

“And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

“And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”


Off I go --Reservation clergy conference!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015


---another funeral... a young man, age 33... died in police custody with horrid stories surrounding his death.

As my sister said, 'Well... that didn't make the national news.'

No. It probably didn't. It probably won't. It was the Tribal Police here --Indian on Indian violence... it's the same ol' conscious pattern set up by the governmental authorities more than 100 years ago --putting People who had grudges against each other on the same Reservation, hoping they would duke it out and destroy each other....

There are four Bands ("tribes") on this Reservation....

--and in this, I know the family who grieves. And I know the police officers....

So... please keep DT in your prayers --lung cancer... and FM in your prayers --leukemia... their families ---and the family of PHB, and the police officers involved...

At prayer this morning (Matthew 5:38-48)

Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Oh.... comes out of the lips so easily...
Wakantanka --unsimala yapi.... (Great One, have pity on us....)

Monday, September 21, 2015

mercy, not sacrifice

It was the strangest and most wonderful thing....

I asked them if they wanted Eucharist at the funeral... they said, well... we're not baptized, but I suppose you could offer it to everyone else...

Yes, I said... we can surely do that--food for the journey.... And then, I don't know quite what possessed me, but then I asked, do you want to be baptized?

Two young women. Daughters of the deceased--their father. In their mid-twenties... said, Yes.

So, nearer to midnight than to sunset, in the deep dark, with the sliver of moon riding the tide of stars, we thanked God for the gift of water.... And as their father began his new life in Christ, so did they, freshly formed by the power of the Spirit...

Tears and laughter... birth and death and life, new life, every moment... so mysterious.

At prayer this morning (from the Eucharist lectionary for St. Matthew, Matthew 9:9-13)

As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, "Follow me." And he got up and followed him.

And as he sat at dinner in the house, many tax collectors and sinners came and were sitting with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" But when he heard this, he said, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, `I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners."

Boom... there we are....

Off I go.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

I should plaster it all over town

I saw the nurses, huddled, giving me glances... I had had to speak loudly --the person I was talking doesn't hear well, and had been through quite a trial --quite a scare.... I had said, "You're in charge --you can make the decisions. You need to tell your family what you want. They will respect that."

I don't think the nurses liked me saying that... not much.

I had received a call from the hospital asking me to come visit this one who had gone through an awful episode and scare. "There is a spiritual problem," the hospital caller had said. I talked with the family before I came --and I discerned it was time to talk through things --like end of life decisions --what to do, when, why... that had not been clear to them... that they didn't have to make heavy decisions on the fly, so to speak.

When I got to the hospital, the one in the bed was talking of what had been seen and heard from their perspective --whether or not to use machines, the spirits in the room--people that were only acquaintances, no one close...

I laughed and said, "Oh, your mom will be there when it is time... you can trust that. Don't worry about all those other ones." The one in the bed nodded like --oh yeah! And then said, 'But still, it wasn't right for them to make the decisions... and talking like I couldn't hear them.'

So, that's when I had said 'you're in charge'....

I suppose that when it got to spirits in the room, and all that other holy stuff --the one who called me from the hospital asking me to come because there was a spiritual problem might have been... ummmmm.... I don't know.... distracted from the real question --how far into the white man's medicine and life-machines do you want to go, and when do you say 'no'....

So... me shouting 'You're in charge' must have made the nurses nervous, too.

Oh well.
So, now, rested, I will return to Eagle Butte... back in to the lap of 'otherness' and spirits running free... thanks be to God.

At prayer this morning (beginning at 1 Corinthians 2:14)

Those who are unspiritual do not receive the gifts of God’s Spirit, for they are foolishness to them, and they are unable to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. Those who are spiritual discern all things, and they are themselves subject to no one else’s scrutiny.

Please know --I do not claim to see or know what the people I serve see and know... but I have had the gift of glimpses... for which I am so very grateful.

And, of course, the gospel reading for the day (Matthew 5:1-10)
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

I know this pericope is recommended for marriage liturgies... but I have used it at more than a few funerals here....

--I should plaster it all over town....


Off I go.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

seen and unseen

The fox stood still in the middle of the road. The high beam of the headlights kept getting lost in the crowded darkness. 'Crowded darkness,' I heard myself think. 'Crowded darkness.'

And the darkness was crowded. Nearly oppressive. "It's so dark," Joel said. "How can you see?" We were ninety miles from any where --no farmhouse lights, no stars, no barn lights. Just us, with our high beams on and barely able to see.

The edge of the road might as well be tree-covered, for all we could see. Or, it could the vast expanse of the ocean to our right, cliffs to our left... but it was not empty darkness. It was thriving darkness.

The fox, mostly leg and then an ambush of ears, leapt beyond the light in a single push, as though gravity did not exist --as though it had wings of a sort. Fox wings. I was in the opposite lane --it didn't need to move... but I think it was anxious even being seen. They are such shy creatures.

"Did you see the fox?" I asked Joel. "No!" he said. "Where?" "Too late," I said. And we travelled on in the thick, crowded darkness before us. "It must have shown itself just to me," I said... it's winged-leap still fresh in my mind's eye. In the crowded darkness, it's difficult to know... to know anything... things seen and unseen...

I could see on-coming head lights. I turned off the high beams and felt the darkness jump to the center of the road. It was disorienting... But, then we drove for several more miles, and I realized that the on-coming light still must be forty or more miles away. The darkness is like that. Disorienting. Deceiving.

I turned up the radio. It was the classic rock station....

I rock my head back and forth, chiming in, pulsing my open palm on the driving wheel. It's a nasty, but true, little ditty... too true.... And it's no different --evening news, gossip chains --what is it called locally --something about moccasins or something... I can't remember. The human condition. I remember my mother used to write the gossip column for the weekly Healdsburg Tribune --too many decades ago. She refused to write anything that might hurt... so the job was taken away from her... at just about the same time her own life became the topic of much discussion....

My gut stirred within me --they had expected 1,000 people at the funeral... there were about thirty-eight.... I was not party to the gossip, but I knew some judgement had been made...

The image of the leaping fox filled me... with a certain understanding... how to keep out of the way, how to keep from being seen --fox wings.... And I thanked the darkness, the fox, the prairie... the nearly absent stars....

I needed that.

At prayer today (from 1 Corinthians 2)

Yet among the mature we do speak wisdom, though it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to perish. But we speak God’s wisdom, secret and hidden, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written,

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the human heart conceived,
what God has prepared for those who love him” —

these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For what human being knows what is truly human except the human spirit that is within? So also no one comprehends what is truly God’s except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the gifts bestowed on us by God. And we speak of these things in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual things to those who are spiritual.

It's not hiding, nor the cover of darkness --it's moving without effort, without being seen....

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart

We spend too much time hiding.
Scripturally, that is precisely what Adam and Eve did, running and hiding in the garden.

We all spend too much time hiding.

This blog is my morning prayer blog. This blog is where I try not to hide --from myself or any one else. Especially from God, our Creator, the One who holds all things in being, the One who breathes/speaks/sings life in to the cosmos.

I struggle. Openly. Sometimes provocatively.

There we are.

These past few weeks were challenging --so I took some time off from writing publicly so that I could dig deep, re-prioritize, pray silently.... And not write something that would cause further offense...

--because, you see-- I was tempted to shut this blog down --to write no more. Because I offended someone --and I didn't even know who...

It is not my intent --to offend.
I struggle here. Openly. Sometimes provocatively.
I struggle to serve as a priest conforming my life to the Gospel to the very best of my abilities.

And, quite frankly, the Gospel should offend and scandalize us all.

But, my offense didn't have to do with something I said or did about the Gospel...

--but, what I was doing had everything to do with the Gospel --I hope and pray....

Because, you see, I offended someone who had been willing to give their life in the line of duty --a hero-- because I was not allowing a flag to be placed on a coffin of a veteran --but it was no one who had been at a funeral... it was just something I said, here....

So --out of respect for all those who have served, and who are serving... this is what I was taught (no less by a Colonel in the Air Force):
It is not appropriate to drape a flag over a coffin during a Christian funeral because
1. The body is a member of the Body of Christ --an outward and visible sign of Christ's presence, albeit at this moment quite as dead as Jesus was dead before God's mighty act of Ressurection in the cold-hard rock of the tomb. So, just as we wouldn't use a flag over the bread and wine at the altar, in the most ancient of Christian Traditions, a flag is not used over the body before us --what had been living flesh and blood of the Body.... The body should be treated in the same way and with the same respect Joseph of Arimethea and the gathered women treated the body of Jesus....

2. God made the body --not the nations... so, in prayer, we will acknowledge its beginning and its end by draping it with the signs of God, not of the nations.
And... honestly... I had never, ever been to a funeral where that wasn't the case... east coast, west coast, high church, not so high church.... we use the signs of the Church in Christian liturgy. The Romans do it this way --the Greek and Russian Orthodox do it this way... I had never seen it done otherwise. Especially when there will be Holy Eucharist....

But, being called out for this was a gift --and this is why --it all ended in such a place of joy and grace it could be no other than a gift.

--and it began with me testing and questioning what I believed in my core --in my corps....

Liturgy, at its best, is what it points to... it is a living, breathing, active icon --a place of entry. We use signs and symbols that are what they point to --bread and wine as gifts of grain and first fruits shaped by human hands that are what we say they are --the Body of Christ --water and oil as gifts of the source of life and light (fire) that are what we say they are --new life in the One that holds all things in being.... and all that we use, all that we pray, all that we do in liturgy should direct our attention to the realm of God, and remind us that is where we live and move and have our being already.

So --what I do in liturgy, every move, every gesture, every word, every sign --should point to God through/in/by/with/(every preposition you can thing of) Christ.

That is my job --to remind people who they are and where they are.... a child of God, a citizen of God's realm.

And I cannot see using a flag, any flag, as a sign of God's realm... but, that is me... It is not meant to be disrespectful --it is the greatest sign of respect that I know how to employ... it is not because I "hate" the flag, this nation, veterans --to the contrary --it is not because of where I was raised, the seminary I went to, the churches I have attended... it is because of a fundamental respect of who any one is, first and foremost....

But, to test this --and in discernment on my motives, my faith, my actions --I spoke with veterans here, and the commander and chaplain of the veteran's group here. And I learned so very much -about the history of this place (that flags have never been allowed on coffins here --as a matter of fact, veterans were never even allowed to pray, speak, do a roll call or play taps--all of which I do allow --for so many reasons tangential to this post), and perhaps the most important reason came from the veterans themselves --they fought and died to support the separation of Church and State....

--which is a very good thing to remember, because Church and State combined end up with things like inquisitions, crusades, political prisoners executed in the name of God... and then, religion is made a subject of the state, or the state made a subject of religion. All we have to do is look around us, and know that either scenario is horrific and ends in only one place: death.

So... that is why I was not writing... I had to be quiet, and listen --to my own heart, my formation, my priesthood, the way I do liturgy, the veterans --I had to listen for God.... I had to go through angst, anger, sorrow, disbelief... I had to question everything....

--so that when I was approached by a very godly person who was also in a place of sorrow --who had been angry and hurt by me... there was no place for us to go but a place of joy and forgiveness --all the way around....

And it was all --all of it, such a gift --I am so very grateful.

At prayer today (yesterday's and today's readings from Paul 1 Corinthians 1:4-31)
I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind—just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you—so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Now I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose. For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there are quarrels among you, my brothers and sisters. What I mean is that each of you says, “I belong to Paul,” or “I belong to Apollos,” or “I belong to Cephas,” or “I belong to Christ.” Has Christ been divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?

I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one can say that you were baptized in my name. (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.)

For Christ did not send me to baptize but to proclaim the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its power. For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

For Christ did not send me to baptize but to proclaim the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its power.

For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written,
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”
Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.

Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God. He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, in order that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
Oh gee.... and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.... So.... there we are.... vanity, vanity, all is vanity... (and the "real" word for "vanity" in Hebrew is the same word for "farts" --just sayin').

Let us not hide from one another. Let us not hide the scandal of the Gospel. Let us argue out loud. Let us all strive to point to the Kingdom --the Realm of God --as best as we are able. And where we differ, let's hold it lightly, and in constant discernment --waiting for God to knock us off our butts...

Oh --and Mr. Witty is no longer in jail... and that is a whole other story!

Off I go --wake tonight, funeral done by another tomorrow... wake Thursday, funeral Friday, wake Friday night, funeral Saturday, Sunday!!!! --and then wake Sunday night and funeral Monday...

--please keep the good People of this place in your prayers.

Monday, September 7, 2015

taking care of business...

Mr. Witty is, thanks be to God, well.
Mr. Joel is, thanks be to God, well.
Ms. Mahgrit is, thanks be to God, well.

I am not writing because I am in discernment.
Please keep us all in your prayers.

And, this Labor Day, please keep all those who abuse workers, who do not pay a just wage, who require others to work in and under circumstances they themselves would not consider as safe or reasonable --please keep them in your prayers.

And please remember all those who have given their lives --or had their lives taken from them, so that others do not have to work ten or sixteen hours a day without benefits...

At prayer this morning (Philippians 1, ending with verse 11)

And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you to determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

and great joy

The light has changed. Some how. I can't tell if it's because the angle is more oblique, or if it's only because the air is stained from the fires west of us.

Probably both.

But the unexpected rains of the last ten days have given most everything a sudden rush of growth. The rolled bales of hay are knee deep in the tough clover that has adorned itself with purple flowers. Even the grasses have grown.

The meadowlarks are still flashing each other, running through the air, swiftly and briefly marking the breeze with a c-curve in yellow.

It is like it is spring. But it is not. The first hints of yellow have appeared in some trees. The cottonwoods are usually the first I notice with this announcement. This year it is the locust. Which dropped its twisted pods a month early.

When we got home from Rapid, the yard was littered with the evidence of a violent storm --branches large and small, clumps of browning leaves strewn about.

Yesterday, I drove out to White Horse, my car packed with school supplies, gifts for the children here from St. Martin's in Charlotte, NC. The straight-edged rulers, calculators, compasses, binders, pencils and sharpeners, markers, crayons filled the backpacks, each with a prayer on a card attached to the pack.

'Look,' I said to one young man. 'You remember them. They've been coming here for years, right? They've been praying for you all this time, and you didn't even know it.'

His eyes never meet mine, but I can see the words hit him with surprise. He had a really rough year, this past year. In and out of the systems of law and all. But against all odds, he has kept up with school. And, God willing, and with more of his own hard work and support from a few adults --and the community of prayer far and wide, he will graduate this year.

A miracle in the rough.

I also drove up on the flats east of there, to another family. The youngest was out in front of the house, throwing a boulder into the driveway. Beside the log. Also in the driveway. I started to laugh. Who knows what he was designing... in the wide open prairie... in an odd stretch of gravel....

'Third grade,' he said, and sucked in some air and made his chest big. 'In the best school in the State,' he said, exhaling like some old man with a pipe. He stood, one leg in front of the other, his hand on a hip, hair standing straight out. So old. So young. I pointed to the box of packs I had created for the kindergarten through third grade crowd. He picked up a bright pink one that had a princess or two on it. 'I like this one,' he said.

His mother sighed his name and laughed. 'Pink is a strong color,' I said. 'Have you seen that movie?' I pointed at the princesses. He nodded. 'I really like it.'

I love this kid. He is one of those kids that says really holy things as though they are as plain as the alphabet song. And, he is still undifferentiated in holy ways when most kids have drawn strong lines of definition around this or that. Unembarrassed to throw boulders and move logs and love a princess movie. Since the first grade, he has always volunteered to read in church. Perhaps this year he will lead in the prayers. (He is the one that always claps his hands and leaps in joy at the end of the Eucharistic prayer... full throttle.)

'Why don't you try some of those packs over there,' I said, pointing to the box filled with the high school boy packs. He put the princess pack down and moved to the bright orange and blue pack. I remember I put pointed and sharp things in the high school packs, and whispered to his mother that perhaps she should review the innards of the pack because he probably would, you know... with sharp or pointed things.... And she nodded and laughed, as filled with wonder and joy at this child as I was.

On my way back down the hill in to the river valley, the sun is at the horizon. I remind myself to watch for the animals who will run or crowd the road as the day shifts to night. I am suddenly filled with a song I do not yet know, that comes to me in the tilted light. Ta ta da la, la la tata da la to the meadowlark. The deer and its fawn appear by the thrust of wild flowers. Ma la ta da da ri so ma la da.

The grass is sheathed with gold. Mother earth moves in a gentle undulating dance, lifting her skirt to her ankles by the creek. That bird, on the ragged half-undone fence, tilts his red crown. The magpie emerges in a flight she only half owns, dragging her tail. The porcupine lumbers and crouches all pin cushion-like. The prairie dogs sing in that high birdy chirp.

And I pray. For the children. For the good people of St. Martin's in that far-away place. For the man who has held my heart for so long. For the good people who have survived here, against all odds. For my little dog who has backed away from the abyss --just a little-- with a boiled chicken breast in his teeth.

This morning (Canticle: A Song of the Spirit, Revelation 22:12-17)

“Behold, I am coming soon,” says the Lord,
“and bringing my reward with me, *
to give to everyone according to their deeds.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, *
the beginning and the end.”
Blessed are those who do God’s commandments,
that they may have the right to the tree of life, *
and may enter the city through the gates.
“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to you, *
with this testimony for all the churches.
“I am the root and the offspring of David, *
I am the bright morning star.”
“Come!” say the Spirit and the Bride; *
“Come!” let each hearer reply!
Come forward, you who are thirsty, *
let those who desire take the water of life as a gift.

I am off to Pierre --the Diocesan offices have moved, to be more central and accessible.

And I am filled with gratitude. And great joy.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

house arrest

So, Mr. Witty is not well...

It began last Thursday or Friday --and he began to have some digestive issues that gave every indication of his usual pancreatic problems. So, I began the usual treatment of antibiotics and restorative digestive tract stuff --but then he developed lethargy, wouldn't eat at all, and was vomiting what he did eat --rice and all.

So, I took him to the emergency veterinarian hospital on Sunday afternoon --after I had tried everything else I knew to get him back on track --as to the hospital, we've been there many times. They know to put a muzzle on Witty --and I had even said something to the girl that came in... but when the doctor came in --and she had seen Witty before, and knew-- she walked right up and put her hand on him before I could intervene --and he moved faster than lightening and nicked her finger --not a full on vicious bite --it was "don't touch me."

He was sooooo sick. And in pain....

So I apologized profusely --and the doctor said, 'oh, it didn't break the skin, don't worry.' She continued with the exam, prepared to get blood tests and left the room.

Twenty minutes later she came back in and said, 'It did break the skin, and our protocol requires that I call Animal Control when it breaks the skin. I am so sorry.' And then she shut door. I sat there in shock. Animal Control? What?

So, then she came back in, with a muzzle, and took him off for a blood test. I could hear him screaming from the room where I remained. My heart was breaking for him. She brought him back... and I held him, stroking him, trying to get him to calm down.

She came back and said, 'The initial results are not good --it looks like his liver --it might be cancer. And, also, Animal Control doesn't work on the weekends so the police are coming.' She showed me her finger --a small bandaid... And she reported my dog....

So, then Animal Control came after all... and the officer came in the exam room the same time the doctor did. The officer looked at me --and began saying stuff like custody, euthanasia, rabies....

And I said --'Look, the doctor is about to give me news I really don't want to hear. Can we do one thing at a time?' So, the officer left, and the doctor began spewing 'I hate it when I have to report vicious dog bites --and it's my fault because his record says he needs a muzzle, but...' and then she pulled out his blood work, showed me his white blood cell count was normal but his liver was off the charts, indicating either trauma or something crowding out the liver, like maybe a tumor, and he was probably going to die, and she could euthanize him now and give him to Animal Control because when a dog bites they have to cut off his head and look for rabies.

The whole thing crashed in on me --and one of my primary thoughts --other than overwhelming grief-- was relief that Joel was not with me --an idiot vet, a waiting officer, Witty dying, cutting his head off... I would have to put Joel in the ICU....

I had to back up... I knew I could walk through the death stuff --as painful as it is-- but why cut Witty's head off? 'He has had all his shots,' I said...

'That doesn't matter --they have to quarantine the animal,' the doctor said....

Then she called the officer back in...

I left with Mr. Witty, cradled in my arms. He is quarantined, but because we could prove he had his rabies shots and that we were responsible people, and that he was so sick, he is under house arrest (so to speak). I still don't know what is making him sick, except liver dysfunction. The doctor gave me some anti-naseau drugs and more antibiotic....

He has ten days of house arrest. If he dies within that time, we have to deliver his body to Animal Control for examination. Despite having had all his shots.... At the end of ten days, we have to have him examined and have a veterinary report saying he is in good health... then he can be cleared of the suspicion of rabies....

Apparently, the doctor did admit to the officer that it was her fault, she knew better, and didn't want to "press charges"...

While waiting (two hours) between blood reports and officers and doctors, it did occur to me to run out the back door with Mr. Witty... but I knew that would only lead to worse things....

So... our plan is to nurse him... to try to keep him alive through these ten days... because everyone knows its not rabies, and this is ridiculous...

Mr. Witty's country doctor is horrified... she can't believe the city doctor would report such an incident to Animal Control, especially when the dog was up to date on all shots and was/is so sick....

And we remain horrified at the thought of his body being so mutilated for no good reason...

So --he is now refusing his regular dog food --and rice --and oatmeal --but I did get a little yogurt down him... and some of his favorite dog cookies....

So, plain yogurt and dog cookies...

And, it appears that antibiotics themselves can cause liver dysfunction in dogs... so we cut those out. And we are waiting... nursing him... praying... grieving... he doesn't seem to be in any pain, so he is not suffering... he runs in yard, happy --barks! --just can't keep his food down...

Except the yogurt...

And I am writing today to ask that city doctor for our money back... because we still don't know what is wrong with him --$279 buckaroos... for unnecessary heart break....

At prayer this morning (beginning at James 2:14)

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.

--and here is Mr. Witty, inside the the newly constructed fence which we (finally) did complete....