Monday, September 1, 2014

--because Jesus said to

Breakfast fundraiser again for Fair (Rodeo and Powwow) weekend. Up early. And then the parade. Some really good floats. Some politicians. Some folks on horseback. Some on foot. The anti-Keystone Pipeline float was good. Most all the floats threw candy and Other Good Stuff out for the kids. I was extremely jealous of the Roman Catholic priest --he got to drive a firetruck.... I asked him how come he rated a firetruck, and he said it was because he was a volunteer fireman.... Imagine that!

So, now, off to the powwow again. In my prayers I am remembering all the workers who fought for workers's rights --and all those who work forty hours or more and still live in poverty --all those who suffer from wage theft --all those....

From Wiki:

As commentator E. J. Dionne has noted, the union movement has traditionally espoused a set of values—solidarity being the most important, the sense that each should look out for the interests of all. From this followed commitments to mutual assistance, to a rough-and-ready sense of equality, to a disdain for elitism, and to a belief that democracy and individual rights did not stop at the plant gate or the office reception room. Dionne notes that these values are "increasingly foreign to American culture".

And, I pray for the oppressors, the rich, the cold-hearted, the 1%-ers, those who devise tax-evasion strategies.....

--because Jesus said to pray for those who wish to do us harm....

At prayer this morning (Canticle: First Song of Isaiah, Isaiah 12:2-6)

Surely, it is God who saves me; *
I will trust in him and not be afraid.
For the Lord is my stronghold and my sure defense, *
and he will be my Savior.
Therefore you shall draw water with rejoicing *
from the springs of salvation.
And on that day you shall say, *
Give thanks to the Lord and call upon his Name;
Make his deeds known among the peoples; *
see that they remember that his Name is exalted.
Sing the praises of the Lord, for he has done great things, *
and this is known in all the world.
Cry aloud, inhabitants of Zion, ring out your joy, *
for the great one in the midst of you is the Holy One of Israel.

Off I go.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

the light and the dark knowing themselves

There is power in a Grand Entry (each period of dancing is opened with a procession of all the dancers) that is difficult to describe. It's more than the drum. It's more than the singing. It's more than the presence of hundreds of dancers. It's more than six or more generations dancing together. It's more than the littlest ones in their mother's arms kicking their feet in excitement, in more than coincidental unison with the beat of the drum, the jingle of the bells and rolled metal and deer hooves. It's more than hearing the clear voice of a small boy singing with the men. It's more than the immense color and motion and feathers catching the uplifting movement of the Spirit.

It's more than that. It's like the earth itself is busting open with the power of life, caught in the spin of the cosmos that begins with the light and the dark knowing themselves.

Which brings to my mind the remembrance of the ardor of the heavens, the moon flirting with the same horizon as the setting sun. The evening too rich with light for the stars to show. At one point, all the lights in the powwow grounds blew out. No one missed a beat. Not the drum. Not the dancers. Not the gathered crowds. Only the whisper of delight. The joke. We'll do it the old fashioned way.

The jokes. 1491 was there for a comedic presentation. Here is one.





Perhaps you gotta be here --and I don't claim to understand the full depth and nuance of the humor --but it is hysterical!

But, today, I have to shift my focus... a burial. The grief that up-ends. Grief that will take us to the borderlands --the burial of an unborn infant.

Yet, even so, the power of the Grand Entry will not be diminished. Instead, the burial, the liturgical recognition of obliterated hope and desire and love, will be enriched by the dance... I hope that makes sense. Lifted on the wings of the upwelling of the Spirit.

It makes sense to me, any way.

At prayer this morning, filled with the dance, preparing to bury a hope we shall never know, but name (from Acts 11)

"...the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as it had upon us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ If then God gave them the same gift that he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could hinder God?..."

Off I go --up to Thunder Butte, where the Moreau River winds around even itself. (The River winds around in so many "S" curves, at one point it seems there is little more than 15 feet between a place where the water must travel a quarter mile or more to return... I'll try to take a picture...)

Off I go. Because it's more than that....

Friday, August 29, 2014

before the Creator of us all

So.....

Joel was hurting so badly last night, we made a second trip to the ER. Not all the way to Pierre or Rapid, but at the IHS (Indian Health Services) hospital here in Eagle Butte. They can't offer us a hospital bed or take-home meds, but they can see us there in an emergency.

He was hurting so badly he was screaming and crying... so after two shots of morphine, muscle relaxants, and an anti-inflammatory, he could breathe again. After the first trip, there was no diagnosis other than belly pain. After the trip, it was sciatica.

This morning, we went to our regular doctor. She knows Joel well, knows when and how he complains, all the meds he is on. Because all his blood work is really good, she took an exray, and botta bing, there it was --degenerative scoliosis lordosis... a sharp turn of the spine in the wrong direction, maybe due to disk degeneration, maybe due to bone density loss....

Poor kid. But at least we now know. So, we moved the twin bed mattress in to the living room --I told Joel he had no choice, and for the time being, he is on bed rest with minimal adventures to other parts of the house. He will start physical therapy in a week or two.

Poor kid.

So. There we are.

And, today --The Fair begins! Carnival. Rodeo. Powwow. D and I went over to watch the beginning activities for the kids --where kids 3 to 6 years old try to ride sheep --which was hysterical. I yelled and clapped and hooted for them all, of course. But especially for S,P and L! Good job guys! Proud of you! (No sheep were hurt in this adventure.) And then there was the rodeo event, is it called Running the Poles (?) --the horse and rider must weave between poles out and back, for 3 to 6 year olds, and then 7 to 10 year olds. Most of the horses knew what to do... some of the kids did too. S on his pony was a sight to behold. Bop bop bop bopping along.

Really proud of those kids.

And in the two hours we were there, only two sets of parents/grandparents got lost.... Really proud of those kids.

So, before we go see the dancers tonight, I will work furiously for a few hours, preparing for Sunday and the rest of the weekend --hoping, praying there are no calls to the hospital, no accidents, no car accidents... that the suffering that people carry --Joel and all the rest, will find relief, and joy will infuse all souls that pass through this place.

At prayer today (Acts 10:34)

Then Peter began to speak to them: “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him."

the stars and moon tonight
will witness the prayers of the people
in the feet of the dancers,
the voices of those who sing,
and the drum shall be like their heart.
the riders and horses
shall be as one between fence and cow and post.
the children, in turn,
shall dream of the flashing colored lights
of the carnival ride
with the merry go round music
and the metal ducks and geese clanking along their hinged galley chain
before the blast of the guns
and the barker hawking a chance to win heaven.
there will be cotton candy,
heavy fry bread,
and the haunt of geometric design on fleece
recalling woolen relics of the ancestors
who now stroll along the fence lines
where the grass grows taller
seeking that purity
in the upturned heel at the hem of the fringed dress
that passion in the feathered brow in the arbor
where the ancient prayer ekes out a living
among the nations.
the ancestors will know
and the stars and moon witness
what is right and acceptable
before the Creator of us all.

Amen.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

--what shall we do with that?

I am so distracted. So riddled with pinpoints of concern.... my mind feels like an urban landscape filled with sky scrapers and muck in the gutters... beggars, king pins, suits, cheats, and the oblivious wandering in the maze of cement and shadow....

A construction zone would be better --at least there is a goal. But, having an urban landscape in my head is distressing.... at best. Because there is no goal, no point --it is what it is and it happened without forethought or planning.

Oh well. Let's just hope it's not an urban landscape in a low-lying coastal area prone to flooding.

Oh dear. I shouldn't have thought that. Now I will suffer flooding as well. --sigh--

Perhaps the most oppressive thing... we never really had summer. We've had more rain. things are knee deep in mud and as wet as spring... without the hope that spring brings. And it's cold --the nights are beginning to hint of things to come. The sky itself is low, brought low with clinging clouds. Not the high loft of the thunderheads --just low slung tree-top obscuring gray.

But... it's Fair time. Yes. It's Fair time. The crowds and "traffic" have come to town. Tomorrow, with the promise of the prize of a free good-for-the-whole-weekend pass, the children will compete with a pony race. I know a couple who will enter, so I will have to go watch. I heard from a certain grandma that one takoja (grandchild) has been practicing; but the grasses are so tall, the pony so short, and the child so young, that all one can really see is the top of the head of the child popping along. I MUST go and support that child in the race!

There will be the dance --wacipi --powwow. A rodeo. A fist fight in the rodeo grounds. No. Really --with a prize for the last one standing. And the very scary fair rides. And fair food. We will fix breakfasts at the church every morning. Church will be here in town. We will hear the singing and drum late into the night. And the cars. And the sirens.

And then. School. Early Tuesday morning. The world will change.

I am working on the Fall programs too. What to say at funerals. Bible study. Preventing Child Sexual Abuse. All those kind of things.

But those aren't the pinpoints of concern. It's more like: Joel's pain is unabated. There's a whole new crew of Those Suffering Desolation downtown. The hyper intensive oppression of the coming elections. And I don't understand how things can get so twisted that folks will vote for their own oppression. Or willingly and knowingly vote for the oppression of others. We are threatening more war in the Middle East. There seems no end to the violence in our own nation. And we are unwilling and unable to get any movement from Congress. On anything.

The world seems to mirror the sky. Close. Clinging. Gray. Without hope.

--that. And so much more.

So. I must remember. The Big Story. That the children practice riding ponies in over-abundant weeds. The dance is prayer. And the air will be filled with it --no escape from it --all around us --all around town. And that just because the clouds are too close doesn't mean there is not the horizon. And I will sing. I will open my throat and sing. One note at a time. And remember. Not hope. But love.

Because, what else would any of us do otherwise?

At prayer today (from John 7)
Jesus then said, “I will be with you a little while longer, and then I am going to him who sent me. You will search for me, but you will not find me; and where I am, you cannot come.”

--you will not find me; and where I am, you cannot come...

Hmmmmmmmm.... there are never any easy answers, easy times....

--what shall we do with that?

--what a jumble. Oh well. Off I go.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Poor Joel

The fog was so dense --we couldn't see the valley as we came up over the crest of the hill. The view from the crest of this hill usually makes us both inhale sharply in awe because what we see must be what infinity is... but, this morning was only thick and gray, too close, no sky. Not the silver gray color of holy sage; but a gray that captures secrets and holds them closer --crowded.

Joel groaned in the passenger seat of the car.  In severe pain. It takes a lot for him to admit that he's in pain. It takes even more for him to say that he wants to go to the hospital. He said both this morning, over coffee. So, D stayed back home with Paeha and Witty, and we packed him in the car.

And now I am sitting in the ER. They have taken him away on the gurney to check his gut --probably a kidney stone. He thought as much. But just in case, he packed an overnight bag.

'Did you pack you breathing machine?' I asked, because the bag was so heavy.

'No,' he said. 'Just books.' And we laughed and laughed. It's okay to stop breathing, but not okay to be stuck without your books.... silly man.

So, now they just brought him back from the CAT scan, and he's singing along with the IV pump, which has this funny little sing-song thing going. And now we will wait. And I will pray, as I am wont to do.

At prayer today (Mark 7:32)

They brought to Jesus a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech....

Hmmmmmmm..... See?! It's not OUR own faith that usually save us... but the faith of others.

Just sayin'.

Okay.... the thingy is beeping, and the nurse is back in the room, Joel complains of pain to me three minutes ago, tells the nurse he is okay... gonna get busy.... Poor Joel. Silly man.

Monday, August 25, 2014

So. Much. More.

It rained. It rained so hard it flooded the garage. It rained so hard my computer gadget was blinking alerts for flash floods --between two and four inches of rain expected. It rained so hard the fields flooded, over-ran roads, formed new lakes, filled up the dams for the cattle and horses....

But, at least it has settled the dust.

It rained so hard St. Mary's had to cancel church on Sunday morning. And as D and I drove to Thunder Butte, we were amazed at the standing water everywhere --amazed at the places the water had eroded the gravel road.

And, it is so very cool this morning --between the cool air, the wind, the sound of the leaves, the standing water, the length of the shadows even in the mid-afternoon sun, the intense and vibrant blue of the sky... it is becoming more and more obvious that autumn is nearly upon us.

We lamented the summer yesterday afternoon --mostly because we never really sat outside. It was either way too cool or there were way too many bugs --especially mosquitoes-- that made sitting out impossible. It feels too soon to make way for frost and yellow leaves.

Too soon.

And yet, here we are. The winds continue today --at just the right angle so that the storm door caught the wind like a sail and was pulled off its hinges. And we just finished fixing it from the last time... buying a new and more powerful hydraulic closing arm in the middle and a separate strong spring at the top... to no avail. I thought about hinging the door to open the other way --but it would still happen when the wind changed directions. It does change here, frequently.

Autumn. Wind. Cool. Excessive rain.

And it's Monday. A young man gets buried today, far from here, in circumstances so different from here --but sharing so many similarities in the weight and hue of our Nation's history and current tides. Yesterday's epistle keeps rummaging around in my head --that Pesky Paul telling the Romans and us ---don't become so well adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking--- and thinking about how so much, So Very Much has changed in the last four decades --gender expectations and roles, technology, economics to name a few --So Very Much has changed that we are suffering back lash, whiplash and, metaphorically speaking, deafness from the sound of exploding air bags built in to our political system to prevent macro-change... all at once.

So Very Much. All at once. Time wise.

And the Change has really only just begun. There is So Very Much more to come.

Do we have even the inkling of the spiritual maturity to see and know that we truly are ONE? With each other. With all creation. With the cosmos. Yet we are at odds with everything --like we have an immense auto-immune disease, debilitating and destroying our very selves and all that we need to sustain ourselves --not caring at all for the least among us, as though they are not a part of us.

Lamenting summer. Lamenting our common life.

That is hardly the way to begin a Monday.

At prayer this morning (Genesis 28:10-17)

Jacob left Beer-sheba and went toward Haran. He came to a certain place and stayed there for the night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place.

And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, the top of it reaching to heaven; and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. And the LORD stood beside him and said, “I am the LORD, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring; and your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and all the families of the earth shall be blessed in you and in your offspring. Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

Then Jacob woke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place – and I did not know it!” And he was afraid, and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”

Every place a ladder. Every place there is a stone, there is the gate of heaven. Or, perhaps we must put our head down in the lap of our mother earth, close to the very stuff of which we are made, put our ear against it to hear those dreams which will make us anew. We must all dream this dream of angels. We must all dream this dream of being like the dust of the earth. We must all dream and know that promise --I am with you and will keep you wherever you go and will bring you back-- We must all dream this dream, know God is present... and be filled with that holy fear and awe...

Perhaps a lament can be the beginning of holy fear.

Not that anxious fear of Adam and Eve running from discovery... but the fear of Mary, the fear of Jacob... the holy fear of being swallowed up in glory.

There is so much more... let us mark the passing of this time... let us dream that dream. And stand in holy fear.

There is So. Much. More.

Amen.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

I will catch myself being too white at least once today

D came in! On the plane, from B'more. She said it was cloudy the whole way --never saw the earth. Now we know why. It started raining in the middle of the night. Heavy rain. It hasn't let up. We got an inch of rain --and expect two to four more inches today.

This might throw my Sunday off again... was rained out last Sunday, might be rained out again tomorrow... Flash flood warnings are popping up on my computer.

Last year we had a wet autumn. The ground became saturated with water --and when it started freezing in the winter, the ground became so rock hard we had to set slow burning fires on the earth to thaw it in order to dig graves. The backhoes kept losing tines off its claw --and the winter was so cold it froze to a depth of three feet.

Folks are saying we are in for a really bad winter, worse than last year --the sweet clover has been so thick this summer, it will hold the snow, and as it never really got warm this summer, the ground will be easier to cool and freeze... even the weather pros are saying it will be an early and cold autumn....

So, today, it definitely feels like autumn... and all those things that swirl around in the air and enter the heart this time of year have begun... the yellowing leaves, the angle of the sun, that reminder of the brisk tinge in the morning, the birds suddenly cleaning a tree of fruit and then disappearing...

Soon the geese will traverse the sky. Then the eagles will perch and hunt. For a while.

But, today, it is just rain, and flooding... and prayer.

Yesterday, as D and I sat in the parking lot, doing errands before we headed back to Eagle Butte, she said she received a thought provoking e-mail --about how certain groups of people can form associations and advocacy boards, but if white people formed those same type groups it would be racist --why is it racist if white people do it, but not racist if other groups do it? How can some groups have that privilege, but white people can't?

I listened... my eyes were noting the angle of the sun. I don't know why. But I was also remembering discussions that were happening on the email list-serve for the greater church preparing to go to Convention next year --some were celebrating the statement made by the Young Adults of the Union of Black Episcopalians on Michael Brown --some were offended that they called for prayers for 'justice' because it presupposed guilt on the part of the police officer...

--and as I noted the angle of the sun and listened, I inwardly marked how changed I am since we came here to the Reservation --and that I had begun here perhaps in a better place of preparedness than many because of being born and raised in the political milieu of Berkeley, California... but always being aware that I hear things as a fifty something year old white woman --that is always who I am and will be, no changing that... but that my ears and my heart have been opened in unexpected ways... and, I know I must always, always catch myself, own the way I hear, experience and feel the landscape before me --and then put it aside so that I might better hear, experience and feel the way that others might be moving through that same landscape...

--not because thinking like and being a fifty something year old white woman is a sin in itself, but because I was born in to sin, and have been trained --not maliciously or purposefully but really-- to see, hear and experience our common life, our 'political' life in a certain way --a white way, which is the dominant way of these United States. And the assumptions that every one has been and is able to access and experience those same things I have accessed and experienced, because my experience, the dominant experience, is the 'norm.'

--and now I know, in so many ways, that is just not true. So. Not. True.

D and I talked about that --about the feelings of having no choice in the decision making, having no muscle or representation in the arguments, having no voice that might give voice to what I know and experience when someone else holds all the reins, all the cards, the steering wheel, the tickets...

--the powerlessness... that is what the 'groups' are for --to set priorities, to give a voice in unison, to speak and perhaps be heard by the dominant group --the white group.

--and how, because the white experience is the dominant experience, that same white experience must be laid down, set aside --become powerless...

--in faith, as Christ laid aside all power... making room in perfection for sin, for mortality --for 'the other'....

In humility, there is nothing I can truly know except myself, and then because of my blinders, because of sin, I can know myself only in part. But, I can learn to pour out what I do know of myself, time and time again, to make room in the hard-rock empty cave of my heart --to make room for God to resurrect the corpse that I am in to new life. I can learn to pour myself out, time and time again, to make room for the other --at the table, on the road... I can learn, with God's grace, to carry an other's burden... by first being freed, in love, through the cross, of my own.

But there are some things I will never be able to carry... or know. And that is when I must let go of all pretense of ability, of knowing, of love... and I must surrender even my 'self'... . Which, of course, we will all do in death. All that stuff about still being 'me' after death --I find it all terribly depressing.

We will all surrender everything we think we know. All of it.

So, D and I arrive home --talking along the 180 mile route about how things have become more familiar --that hill, that clump of trees --how I no longer feel the desolation of an unfamiliar landscape. And I enter more easily in to that type of prayer that the prairie calls out of me, not the voice of knowing and perceiving and even hope --but that almost small, almost wordless, almost piercing cry of utter abandonment mingled with awe that the Great Mystery of all things --life, death, things seen, unseen, has torn the veil between my heart and the heart of that which holds all things in being... and I can, therefore, be silent and still be known... all desires known, from whom no secrets are hid-- and the devastation of the power of the Holy Spirit...

Thanks be to God.

So, it was with joy that I received this last night, along with oh so many others on the list-serve, responding to the discomfort of those who feel hammered in reckoning with the blunt, ragged edge of racism... I quote it here, with permission, in full (highlights are my own) :

It is noteworthy that when the subject of racism arises, there isn't anyone who wants to be identified as being a racist. This is especially true in the case of faithful church members and people who self-identify as social justice advocates. This is noteworthy, because it speaks to the fact that every human being desires to be acknowledged and respected as an individual and not lumped into a labelled group with presumed characteristics, many of which might not be true of the specific individual. The reality is that one's feelings are hurt and that one feels diminished to be so lumped and characterized. It feels unfair to be lumped altogether with categories of people who behave in ways that one does not approve of, and, when one knows that when one is acting consciously, one would never do "those" inappropriate things.

Yet racism is a curious thing. It is both individual and societal. Racism is both perpetrated by individuals and racism is embedded into the very fabric of society, into its institutions and structures. That very embedding of racism, also known as systemic racism, means that some people benefit from racism without their knowledge or intention. Racism is about the patterns of behavior that disadvantage members of groups based on their skin color, without regard to them as individuals, that is layered on top of underlying prejudices that say "people with your skin color are less than." Historically, and across national, ethnic, and cultural lines, racism is generally couched in terms of norms that deem darker skinned people "less than" lighter skinned people, with White skinned people held up as the norm in everything from beauty to good manners to intelligence to morality. "White privilege" is defined as an invisible set of assets that White skinned people enjoy without having earned those assets, which they are meant to be unaware of, until the privileges are withdrawn.

Think for a moment about another kind of privilege--economic privilege. We in the U.S.A. enjoy a high economic privilege compared to most of the rest of the world. We enjoy a standard of living that is marked by access to clean water, indoor plumbing, waste treatment, electricity, generally adequate housing, transportation, and food. We don't typically think about these assets from moment to moment, from day to day. We take them for granted. But when a catastrophe hits, as happened during Hurricane Sandy, then we notice that some of those assets are missing. If we are economically challenged in the U.S. and aren't ourselves wealthy and high-earning, we are offended when non-Americans say things like "All you rich Americans," because we feel the shoe doesn't fit. Yet, because we are Americans, we nonetheless enjoy many of those economic privileges even if we don't enjoy them all.

White skin privilege is a lot like my description of economic privilege. Being White affords invisible unearned privileges, the most significant of which is the freedom to go about your daily business without having to think about being White and how you have to lay out your day to avoid running into racist behavior from others. One of the ways in which we in faith communities have learned to address economic privilege is to voluntarily give up some of our privilege by giving away money and goods and participating in social ventures that raise up others and empower them economically. While a White person may not intentionally do anything to harm or disadvantage a Person of Color, chances are that same White person isn't voluntarily giving up any aspect of White skin privilege in order to advantage and benefit a Person of Color. Yet, the analogy to economic privilege holds.

The House of Bishops in pastoral letters on racism in 1994 and 2006 make the point that racism is a sin, which must be named and repented of. I think that most faithful church members get that and support it--naming the sin and repenting of it, turning away from it. Where I see our fallenness is in our failure to embrace the sacrifice that repentance calls for. Sacrifice also invokes self-restraint. Sacrifice and self-restraint mean that you put the focus on those who are or have been disadvantaged AND disavow your privilege, in order to equalize the ground on which we all stand.

It's the "and" part that we have trouble with. Sharing resources, our assets and our access, in other words, sharing power, means disavowing an attitude of being the superior ones in control, who dole out the goodies to everyone else. Self-restraint also means no whining; you don't get to assume the role of the victim so that the focus somehow changes to be on you. In the Gospel world, it's not all about you. Jesus said, "Love others as I have loved you." It's a very high standard. Jesus is the standard. The focus is on serving the other.

That's why there is no such thing as "reverse racism." Everyone can be prejudiced, which means to make judgments based on inadequate and incomplete information. Everyone can behave in a biased way, based on their prejudices. Everyone can be stereotyped, from the absent-minded professor to the discombobulated mad genius. Everyone can be scapegoated, blamed for things for which they're not responsible. But racism encompasses the power to act on prejudices to the harm and disadvantage of groups of people based on those prejudices. And the power resides with those who have the privilege, the White skin privilege.

Lelanda Lee
Yes. Amen. Amen.

Living here, I am totally, totally disenfranchised on a local political level. I cannot vote in City elections because I live outside the City limits. I cannot vote in Tribal elections because I am not an enrolled member.  For the first time in my life, I have no voice. It has been a blessing, bringing home so much...

And voting in State or Federal elections --well... it seems they have been purchased already, and no matter who is elected, my voice and the voice of the people I live with will go unattended to the benefit of those who purchased the elections to begin with...

It is like being out in the middle of the prairie... the desolation of the wilderness.... I can certainly try to fight it, but fighting the great prairie is, well, harmful at best...

There is, there must be another way...

--and there is. And one day, some way, some how, some where, the simple act of being too tired to move to another seat on the bus will ignite the revolution... and a white man shooting and murdering a black man who speaks of his dreams will reveal and expose for all to see the machinations of wickedness and sin...

--or a young man will refuse to automatically and silently 'obey' the uniform of lawful and systematic oppression, and his brutal murder will expose the fault lines of racism in this Nation...

--and call people of faith to grapple with force, power and privilege --and for Christians, a call to know again our participation in and renounce that force and power and privilege that nailed Jesus on the cross.

Collect of the Day: Martin de Porres, Rosa de Lima and Toribio de Mogrovejo, Witnesses to the Faith in South America, 1639, 1617, 1606

Merciful God, you sent your Gospel to the people of Peru through Martin de Porres, who brought its comfort even to slaves; through Rosa de Lima, who worked among the poorest of the poor; and through Toribio de Mogrovejo, who founded the first seminary in the Americas and baptized many: Help us to follow their example in bringing fearlessly the comfort of your grace to all downtrodden and outcast people, that your Church may be renewed with songs of salvation and praise; through Jesus Christ, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

At prayer this morning (from Job 3)

Why is light given to one in misery,
and life to the bitter in soul,
who long for death, but it does not come,
and dig for it more than for hidden treasures;
who rejoice exceedingly,
and are glad when they find the grave?
Why is light given to one who cannot see the way,
whom God has fenced in?
For my sighing comes like my bread,
and my groanings are poured out like water.
Truly the thing that I fear comes upon me,
and what I dread befalls me.
I am not at ease, nor am I quiet; I have no rest; but trouble comes.

Off I go. God willing, I will catch myself being too white at least once today... and put it down. God willing.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

slow pink

The morning was a slow all-over pink. It had rained last night, so the ground was still damp. It had not been a puddle-making storm. The main force had been far to the south of us --we couldn't hear it, we could only see the constant array of lightening --sudden blue, night white, and a reddish-pink that had a vocabulary all its own. Perhaps that was the all-over pink in the sky now, spilled out, spent, the lightening dregs left over.

What was most incredible last night --there were stars overhead while the lightening filled the sky on the southern horizon. Perhaps if I looked hard enough, I would be able to see leftover stars, too, this morning.

I let the dogs out and they ran silently to the fence, ready to bark if need be --if there dare be any one out before them on the path on the Other Side. Mr. Witty shows no signs of the bloody near-death mess he was last week. He is eager to eat, eager to run in that funny showing-off stiff-footed way that must make him think he is a large white stallion or something. It is not an efficient run, but it is So Very Delightful in the pink morning. Mr Paeha is oblivious, and sometimes skips, sometimes leaps. Then it occurs to him so he runs, all out, to the far corner of the yard behind the cedar tree. Sometimes someone sleeps there. He loves to surprise them with his piercing warning. I've seen them get up and run away. It must be a shocking way to start the day.

As I make coffee, the phone rings. It must be somebody who works on fast-time because it is so early (the eastern part of the Reservation works on Central Time --we are Mountain... Central Time is called "Fast Time"). The car part that I had gone out a country road to retrieve yesterday, and then deliver to S driving the large four-door black 4x4 Ford truck in the market parking lot, he tried but couldn't put it in himself. Could I help? We laughed, because I asked --what, put it in? And then I screamed as the large spider suddenly on the kitchen floor ran towards me. It was a spider large enough to kill my dogs, certainly. So, as I am screaming for Joel to come kill the spider, we work out a way to get money to a mechanic up in Timberlake, and we keep laughing as the dogs bark at the excitement of the hunt. Joel kills the spider. Puts a notch in his belt. Buries it at sea.

The coffee. The coffee. And there is the hot lunch served at church today. A rummage and lunch tomorrow to raise money to repair the door that was busted. I pulled the remaining broken glass out of the door yesterday so that we could use the door... Mold remediation in our house is supposed to begin today. Fixed the leaky pipe. Got the lawn mowed. Made it possible for the lady to buy pampers. Gave away our broken tent --they said they could fix it, and that it would be better than nothing which is what they had now. The prayer list to amend. The bulletin to print. TRB getting part of his hand amputated --it just won't heal, so I must go visit him at the hospital. And D arrives! The breakfasts during the Fair/Powwow to manage... switching church schedules around because we were rained out...

--it all seems so mundane when there are so many pressing, virulent wrongs, injustices --so much sorrow, grief and pain all around...

The morning gives away the slow pink for deep blue sky softened with quick clouds. And the day begins. And I remember... it's prayer, all of it. The work of my hands. The wordless thoughts of my heart. The mundane.

At prayer this morning (Psalm 131)

O LORD, I am not proud; *
I have no haughty looks.
I do not occupy myself with great matters, *
or with things that are too hard for me.
But I still my soul and make it quiet,
like a child upon its mother’s breast; *
my soul is quieted within me.
O Israel, wait upon the LORD, *
from this time forth for evermore.

Off I go.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Resistance

Watched another Bill Moyers interview this morning because I became interested in the man, David Simon, that wrote the TV series "The Wire." Simon said something in that interview (among many things) that keeps clanging around in my head... that so-called liberals got the Supreme Court decision about money in political campaigns all wrong.... It's not that corporations are not people, which is what the reaction was --because under the law, they are,  --but it's that money = free speech --that's what's wrong... absolutely wrong... and it's wrong because that means that capitalism and we have finally and thoroughly purchased the social and governmental system we call democracy in this part of the world, and it means that the system we have will only serve the interests of those with money --which is indeed what has happened.

Hmmmmmmm.....

And, he's right about 'throw away' people --and for-profit prisons being the final commoditization of people that really have no money in the system we have created --because work is meaning... work is not the meaning of our lives, but that work is about social and familial contribution, integrity, self esteem --and without work, there is very little of that....

Living here, in a place with 80% unemployment, and seeing the bulldozers of despair and hopelessness, he is partly correct. It's not what we do, not the work we do, we are not necessarily what we do --but that we feel we have something to contribute. (All too often, when I bury someone who is thirty or forty something, the remembered high point of their life has to do with high school sports... or, that they are a veteran having entered the military upon graduation from high school...)

And, reflecting upon the events in Ferguson, Missouri... wondering how the police and the 'system' can justify not arresting the cop that shot an unarmed kid so many times... the brutality of it all --the utter brutality of it... in a long line of brutal murders of young men of color --an epidemic of them.

And to try to connect what might or might not have happened in a store around a pack of cigars with what happened in the street when Michael Brown was shot dead --well, at best it's misconstrued. The two events are not even in parallel universes. Mostly because in the raw capitalism which seems to define our lives, if the two events are connected, then a pack of cigars is what Brown's life was worth... --if the two events are connected because Brown exhibited violent and bad behavior in pushing, shoving, intimidation and theft and therefor he got what he deserved... --if such pushing, shoving, intimidation and theft are the equivalent of being shot through the head... --if not immediately obeying a command not to walk to down the middle of the street is deserving of six fatal shots... --if not understanding why a young black man would resist any "command" from a police officer representing the systematic, unjust, racist oppression and violence which has devoured his personhood...

--then we are missing the point entirely.

Just like most of America has missed the point of the Supreme Court's opinion and lay hold of the battle cry that 'corporations are not people' instead of the deeper and darker stranglehold that $$$ equals free speech ---most of America has laid hold of the battle cry of systematic, unjust, racist oppression and violence, or full-on support of the police, instead of the deeper and darker reality that the poor are not really full persons in capitalism --and that they should and must be eliminated unless they are utterly obedient automatons.... His being fatally shot proves that he, too, was a 'throw-away' person.

From where I sit, Brown's resistance was his dignity. His purported show of dis-obedience (in the shop and in the street) to the very law and system that discarded and oppressed him was his declaration of personhood. It was his only means of resisting the system that serves the interests of those with money. He had no other voice --no other means of 'free speech.'

Brown's resistance proved he was alive (which is why he was shot until dead).

I see it here, too. The resistance. Or working 'the system' for all it's worth. Or deadly despair.

Sometimes I think resistance is the healthiest of all....

At prayer this morning (John 6:1-15 (NRSV)

After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias. A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick. Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples.

Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near. When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?” He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do.

Philip answered him, “Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.”

One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?”

Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all. Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted.

When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.” So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets. When the people saw the sign that he had done, they began to say, “This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world.”

When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself.

I wonder what the miracle (the Mira --the 'seeing') would have been if Andrew had offered the crumbs out of his own pocket rather than offering the boy's lunch...

--this crowd must have been a bunch of 'throw away' people too, not having any lunch...

And --it's the gospel of John... the bread is only the sign, just as Jesus resisting being made a king is a sign... the story is about a different kind of bread, and a different kind of kingship... and the difference is the sign of Jesus' resistance to the power that be, to the status quo...

--off I go.

Monday, August 18, 2014

except glory

Today, we travel early in to Pierre for a funeral of a long-time priest friend of Joel's --Joel knew him as a seminarian waaaaaay back when in Long Island.

And, yesterday, a visit from friends --also from waaaaaay back when Joel was in the Franciscan's. Another Brother friend, his sister and her children. Really good to see them all. They had been to the Black Hills and the Bad Lands.

And the storms rolled in. Thunder and lightening. Heavy rain. I went first to the Medicine Wheel --the assisted living place, for a service of Holy Communion. There were only a third of the usual number of folks present. Rumor was the place --brand new and beautiful-- is struggling. Not enough folks moved in. I wondered if summer didn't have something to do with it....

The thunder and lightening and heavy rain meant that the road to Thunder Butte was probably Very Bad. Folks there said to stay home. The irony of not being able to go to Thunder Butte because of a thunder storm did not miss me. So, I took JG for a brief tour of town --it is always good for me to do that because I 'see' again... too often, what we see and know right out our back door... well, I must always have a fresh heart and fresh eyes for it all. Love always requires a fresh heart and fresh eyes.

So, in the late afternoon came the promise, scattered across the sky amongst the rain and thunder, forming in to a trope of heaven, dividing the the light, and light and dark.... the small rise of the prairie, the homes...


one side

and the other

We got the phone calls --look out the window! --and we could exclaim with them, joke with them about driving around looking for the pot of gold... it must be right there where shadow turns to light.

I noticed anew the quizzical seed pods of the locust tree that the children had exclaimed, the wild flowers and weeds bowing, piercing with their blooms the threat of autumn that has already turned some leaves on the trees to yellow. Perhaps that is evidence enough of the pot of gold, hidden in every yard, in the soil, in the hearts of the people....

At prayer this morning (a portion of Psalm 106)

We have sinned as our ancestors did; *
we have done wrong and dealt wickedly.
In Egypt they did not consider your marvelous works,
nor remember the abundance of your love; *
they defied the Most High at the Red Sea.
But you saved them for your Name’s sake, *
to make your power known.
The LORD rebuked the Red Sea, and it dried up, *
God led them through the deep as through a desert.
The LORD saved them from the hand of those who hated them *
and redeemed them from the hand of the enemy.
The waters covered their oppressors; *
not one of them was left.
Then they believed the words of the LORD *
and sang out songs of praise.

--and this (a portion of John 5:19)

Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise.

--and what else is that, that the Creator of heaven and earth does, except glory?

Saturday, August 16, 2014

pray for the coming generations

With coffee in hand, Joel read this out loud first thing:
--the only legitimate function of government is "the defense of the rich against the poor, or of those who have some property against those who have none at all" 
'Guess who that's from', he said, laughing. I had no clue... except he was reading from a book that has kept him occupied and full of exclamations for weeks now --(The Human Condition, Hannah Arendt) 'Heehee --it from the Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith,' he said.

...but, with the importance of dog cookies being so rampant, the wet pavement outside, the lightening and thunder from the early morning storm still crowding my head, I couldn't figure out if Smith thought that was a good thing, or a bad thing, or merely an observation.... From the quotes that Joel has read me, Arendt is a thinker moving beyond the modern invention of politics which, I think, she believes ultimately destroys true community (not as we think of community --individuals living together, but a community being as one in respect and love)...  So, I looked up the quote.
Civil government, so far as it is instituted for the security of property, is in reality instituted for the defense of the rich against the poor, or of those who have some property against those who have none at all.
It does seem to be a righteous observation, no matter how one interprets how it should be enacted.... It does seem to be true....

--which is why the police can cut down an unarmed young man, and then later say he was a suspect in a robbery --of cigars.... as though stealing cigars were reason enough to shoot someone dead....

I live in a place where the People feel they have always lived at the wrong end of a gun. History will tell out the truth of that. Even now, though it is not guns, the systemic violation of their personhood continues --perhaps the Sequester has left the minds of most, but the effects are still being felt here. The Tribe receives an allotment of funds to distribute as welfare --and they have run out of funds for the fiscal year. What with that and the reduction in food stamps and other programs to help the poor, very, very lean times are here in a place where unemployment is nearly 80% --and the median income per household is about $23,000 (as in comparison, the median household income for the United States is $53,046).

But--households here are not what households are elsewhere... everything is sooooo different. Most households I go in to have grandparents, parents, children and sometimes their children --as many as ten-twelve if not more, under one roof. Three or more "families" in one household....

I had to laugh... I followed the link to the wiki "List of the poorest places in the United States" --and there are no communities from South Dakota on the list... so, I searched for the poorest counties in the United States ---and the two counties that are part of the Cheyenne River Reservation --Ziebach and Dewey, are listed 4th and 11th on the list --five of the first ten poorest counties are in South Dakota... all of them in part or totally within Reservations --Crow Creek, Pine Ridge, Rosebud, Cheyenne River, Standing Rock...

--sigh--

So... we mutter along... wondering what Adam Smith truly knew of poverty... thinking of Arendt and her ideological bias toward ancient Greek thinking as an ideal from which we have devolved and declined... (and I say, thanks be to God!) --praying for the families I will serve today and the days ahead --who had nothing to do with either Smith or Arendt, much less the ancient Greeks, but have been gobsmacked by the inheritors of both...

--and hoping, praying, that when the gospel hits me full on frontal today --as it usually does at least once a day, that I will have the capacity to stop and give thanks and glory to God...

At prayer this morning (Psalm 107:33-43)

The LORD changed rivers into deserts, *
and water-springs into thirsty ground,
A fruitful land into salt flats, *
because of the wickedness of those who dwell there.
God changed deserts into pools of water *
and dry land into water-springs.

God settled the hungry there, *
and they founded a city to dwell in.
They sowed fields, and planted vineyards, *
and brought in a fruitful harvest.
God blessed them, so that they increased greatly; *
God did not let their herds decrease.
Yet when they were diminished and brought low, *
through stress of adversity and sorrow,
(God pours contempt on nobles *
and makes them wander in trackless wastes)
God lifted up the poor out of misery *
and multiplied their families like flocks of sheep.

The upright will see this and rejoice, *
but all wickedness will shut its mouth.
Whoever is wise will ponder these things, *
and consider well the mercies of the LORD.
Off I go... praying also for the people of Ferguson --another place which has been systematically disenfranchised and oppressed....

--and, I for one, do not wonder at the violence that has erupted... only surprised that it has not been more violent, more places....

--and I pray for the coming generations.... amen.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Blessed is she who believes that there will be a fulfillment of what has been spoken to her by the Lord

I carried Mr. Witty outside this morning. He lifted his head from my arm and sniffed around. The breeze was soft and warm, the air humid. It had rained last night. The tall grasses have begun to topple over by their own wet weight on the other side of the fence. I noticed the moon --half of what it was just the other night it seems.

I put Mr. Witty down. He seems to be holding his own. He doesn't seem to be in any pain. He picks his way through the prairie grasses I mow short around the house --clover, buffalo grass, the stuff that turns pinkish... he has always preferred walking on a cement path. That thought makes me laugh quietly to myself as he picks up each foot and places it down again as though he is walking carefully amidst broken glass.

It's not hope that he might 'make it' that washes over me; it is merely gratitude that I have known this little dog. He is about ten and a half years --we don't really know, we found him in a shelter for dogs that were considered un-adoptable --most all of them severely abused in one way or another. He didn't have any hair, and he was very, very sick. He chose us, allowed us to touch him. He is the one that busted all the dog rules of our house --all of 'em. Nothing has been off-limits --the furniture, the beds, the laps --he is the owner and ruler of all. So, if his present condition is the 'new normal' that will be alright. He is the king.

Except Paeha, seeing me carry Mr. Witty out the door, now insists on being carried out the door too... and he is the most stubborn of any dog I have ever met....

I look up. The moon. Again. Behind a panoply of clouds in the light blue morning sky. The sun chasing it up. The town has not yet begun to stretch or move. Last night I noticed that one of the tin tipis behind our yard had lights on --which meant that some of the windows have lost their plywood and they now have power. It is one of the larger FEMA trailers with more than one bedroom; I pray for the family. The quiet of this dawn is palpable. Tangible. Presses against the skin of my face. Caresses the prayer out of my lips.

I think about the guy in the wheelchair who is burying his mother today. He was in a car accident just over a year ago that put him in the wheelchair and killed his cousin; rumor has it he was driving, but no one really knows. What I do know is that he has been refusing to eat --he wants to die, at least that is what he says. The whole town knows. Several people have told me this. Some folks have been trying to get him to eat, but in a culture that cultivates radical choice --that folks choose their own path, there is no intervention.

And I look to the horizon and see the houses out on the ridge; I offer prayers for the young man who is being sent to prison this week. He has had a rough go of it. It will get rougher. Because this is Federal Land held in a so-called trust, the Feds have the final jurisdiction in many crimes, and it will be Federal prison for him. Some where. Probably not even within a day's drive, so his family will not be able to visit him. Rumor has it he was not guilty... but the lawyer encouraged him to plead the case rather than stand trial --a shorter sentence promised.

Same with another son. His trial date was supposed to be this week, but it was postponed until September. Guilty of being high and Indian off-Reservation.

They all come back from prison with gang tattoos. Filled with despair. And self-loathing.

Out here in the middle of no where, and there are inner-city crimes and problems-- Drugs. Violence. The most extreme poverty.

My prayer wanders along the fence line. Tonight is a birthday party --a little one is turning six. I am sure everything will be pink --streamers, balloons, napkins, pink be-jeweled flip-flops. I think of all that she has seen and known already, and all of it, All Of It would be inconceivable in the white world.

The light is coming across the plains swiftly. Like the small birds that crowd the eaves with mud. Witty has made his rounds by the light of the moon and the sun; I have begun my morning prayers; it is time to come back in the house, have cookies, make coffee, wake up Joel. We sit in the quiet steam and aroma of our morning routine. Joel begins, saying, 'It is the Feast of the Assumption.'   I respond, saying, 'And we have so many of them.' He tries not to laugh. 'Oh, c'mon, laugh!' I say. So he does. And then he says, 'the Greeks call it "The Great Falling Asleep"' --'the Dormition' we say together. We laugh as we remember that in our own Tradition, it's just "St. Mary, The Virgin." Like we are missing something.

So many assumptions. So many. I gather my prayers like someone picking wild flowers --a ragged, unkempt bouquet. The young men and women, the children, the grandmas and grandpas, the delight, the suffering, the ceremonies, the dances, the violence, the distances, the gossip, the elections, the beginning of school, the law suits addressing systemic wrongs, the making-do, the people of the churches, the other clergy here, the holy men and women... each having a color and shape and scent of its own.

--and my beloved, my little dogs, those who come here to pray with me, for us all--

--the restless, stirring trouble in my gut, unresolved... the seemingly listless capacity (which is, actually, The Great Lie)... the remembrance of all in the headlines, the latest social critiques.... especially this one, A Study in Plutocracy: Rich American Wield Political Influence, the Rest of Us Don't. So, I offer that in prayer, too...

The study helps explain why voters on both the left and the right are increasingly convinced that Congress is out-of-touch. And it also helps explain our political gridlock. As BillMoyers.com’s Joshua Holland noted earlier this year, polarization isn’t bad for the wealthy because the resultant gridlock helps maintain the status quo, which is — obviously — working well enough for them. Research published in January in The Journal of Politics found that polarization and gridlock may even increase the wealth of the few, exacerbating economic inequality — and the inequality of political capital that Gilens and Page observed — even further, which makes the trend difficult to reverse.

...continued...

My work shows that when the preferences of the middle class or of the poor diverge from those of the well off, that the poor and the middle class have virtually no influence over government policy outcomes. Policymakers seem to respond to the preferences of the well off, not perfectly, but to some significant degree, and little or none to the preferences of the middle class much less the poor, and we see that across many decades and many sort of issue domains. It’s not just economic issues, but with regard to social issues, and so on.

Those were the findings.... The conclusion to the article is to take money out of the political process... but I think although that would certainly help, it all runs so much deeper than that...

At prayer this morning (beginning with Psalm 115)

Not to us, O LORD, not to us,
but to your Name give glory; *
because of your love and because of your faithfulness.
Why should the heathen say, *
“Where then is their God?”

Our God is in heaven; *
whatever God wills to do, God does.
Their idols are silver and gold, *
the work of human hands.
They have mouths, but they cannot speak; *
eyes have they, but they cannot see;
They have ears, but they cannot hear; *
noses, but they cannot smell;
They have hands, but they cannot feel;
feet, but they cannot walk; *
they make no sound with their throat.
Those who make them are like them, *
and so are all who put their trust in them.

O Israel, trust in the LORD; *
who is your help and your shield.
O house of Aaron, trust in the LORD; *
who is your help and your shield.
You who fear the LORD, trust in the LORD; *
who is your help and your shield.
The LORD has been mindful of us and will bless us; *
the LORD will bless the house of Israel
and will bless the house of Aaron;
The LORD will bless the God-fearing, *
both small and great together.

May the LORD increase you more and more, *
you and your children after you.
May you be blessed by the LORD, *
the maker of heaven and earth.

The heaven of heavens is the LORD’s, *
but the LORD entrusted the earth to its peoples.
The dead do not praise the LORD, *
nor all those who go down into silence;
But we will bless the LORD, *
from this time forth for evermore.
Hallelujah!

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: *
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

(And, a portion of 1 Samuel 2:1-10)

Hannah prayed and said,
“My heart exults in the Lord;
my strength is exalted in my God.
My mouth derides my enemies,
because I rejoice in my victory.

“There is no Holy One like the LORD,
no one besides you;
there is no Rock like our God.
Talk no more so very proudly,
let not arrogance come from your mouth;
for the Lord is a God of knowledge,
and by him actions are weighed.
The bows of the mighty are broken,
but the feeble gird on strength.
Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread,
but those who were hungry are fat with spoil.
The barren has borne seven,
but she who has many children is forlorn.
The LORD kills and brings to life;
he brings down to Sheol and raises up.
The LORD makes poor and makes rich;
he brings low, he also exalts.
He raises up the poor from the dust;
he lifts the needy from the ash heap,
to make them sit with princes
and inherit a seat of honor.
For the pillars of the earth are the LORD’s,
and on them he has set the world.

Mary --the first priest... took ordinary bread and ordinary wine and made the real Body and Blood of Christ, the liberator, the one who give all for the sake of The People.

Blessed is she who believes that there will be a fulfillment of what has been spoken to her by the Lord. (Luke 1:45)

...thank you, Mary...
Amen.
And, now, the sun is up. Off I go.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

unending work --not towards justice, but towards love, complete love

The phone rang first thing... I glanced at my clock as I tripped out of bed for the phone. It was 7:30am --how come the dogs let me sleep in? My not yet awake fog brain was thick... my heart always begins to beat quickly when the phone rings and I am asleep.

But, it wasn't an emergency... just D wanting to change the date and leave immediately --well, in 20 minutes, in order to go walk around and talk about the flooding at St. Mary's. Sure, I said. Hung up the phone, and went to make coffee --let the dogs out...

And that's when I discovered that Mr. Witty was very sick. Bright red blood was coming out of his anus. He huddled and shook.

And thus began the day. Our local vet decided she wasn't able to treat him properly-- 'maybe if he were a bull, then I could, --but he's only 15 pounds,' she said. I get the image in my brain of her wrestling a bull to the ground, and winning. So, we suddenly had to drive to Rapid to the emergency Animal Clinic, where a 15 pound dog with blood coming out of him could be treated.

Joel quickly becomes a wreck. And then part way there we remember that he doesn't have any of his meds. And I have forgotten my cell phone --we were just going to make a quick trip... and then be right home... . Joel begins to sob at the thought of Mr. Witty dying...

I can't afford to lose it --I have to take care of Witty, Paeha and Joel... which is not easy between the vomit, the bloody diarrhea, the tears, the fears... I find myself clenching the steering wheel with high anxiety.

The Animal Clinic draws blood, tests for dehydration --does an ultrasound... no obstructions... three hours of unnerving waiting and testing... I send Mr. Watson out to be with Paeha in the car --he's too much of a mess to stay in that office --and Paeha barks at every sound...

Finally. At 4pm. A diagnosis. Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis. Maybe because of his pancreatitis. Maybe because he eats the garbage folks throw over the fence --the apple cores, chicken bones, hamburger buns, candy wrappers, baby diapers... He might make it, might not. Two days will tell. Sent home with five meds and an intravenous type system to put water under his skin to keep him from being dehydrated.

We run over to the house --the guy who is supposed to clean the yard hasn't done it yet. Somebody has parked their truck in our drive. Our neighbor tells us his shed now floods because of the grading done in the back yard... The whole thing is depressing... a mess. We go get something to eat, get gas --we arrive home around 9pm, exhausted, fraught with sadness and anxiety.

Mr Paeha has been soooooooo good... he is a sensitive little dog, and barks a warning bark whenever we pick up Mr. Witty --wants to interfere when I try to shove a pill down Mr. Witty's throat, or wash the bloody mess off of him...

And this morning, Mr. Witty is still with us. Stronger than he was. Wanting to eat and drink. He can have food now, so I can disguise his pills... I mix the teaspoon of canned chicken meat with lots and lots of water to keep him hydrated --I can't bring myself to jab him in the nape of his neck and force water in under his skin. Besides, the stuff I read online says sub dermal hydration doesn't really work in this instance.

I have a little more hope this morning. Mr. Witty seems more hopeful too --climbing up and down the stoop all by himself.

Mr. Watson will probably have to nap for two whole days to recover from the stress...

--so, this morning, I begin my list anew... these calls, these priorities, the roof here, the mold in our attic there... somebody vandalized the church and broke the glass in the front door, it's soup kitchen day --there was a death last week, her wake is tonight... even though I buried three of her children, I won't be doing this funeral --but my heart and mind are full of prayer...

--and I wonder, because of the news of Robin William's suicide, if there will be ramifications here... not that Williams is a big idol here, he's not --but because of the suicide rate and ideation so rampant here... Joel sends me a link discussing backlash to the news and how it has been handled...

--my personal grief and frustration... not with Joel, no, but other family ties un-mended... the hard work of letting go, letting it be what it is, and reading all the signs of what it probably will be...

At prayer this morning (from John 4)

Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, “Rabbi, eat something.”

But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.”

So the disciples said to one another, “Surely no one has brought him something to eat?”

Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work. Do you not say, ‘Four months more, then comes the harvest’? But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting. The reaper is already receiving wages and is gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”

Today we remember Jonathan M. Daniels, who died in Hayneville, Alabama...

On August 14, 1965, Daniels was one of a group of 29 protesters, including members of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), who went to Fort Deposit, Alabama to picket its whites-only stores. All of the protesters were arrested and taken to jail in the nearby town of Hayneville. The police released five juvenile protesters the next day. The rest of the group were held for six days; they refused to accept bail unless everyone was bailed.

Finally, on August 20, the prisoners were released without transport back to Fort Deposit. After release, the group waited near the courthouse jail while one of their members called for transport. Daniels with three others—a white Catholic priest and two female black protesters—walked to buy a cold soft drink at nearby Varner's Cash Store, one of the few local places to serve nonwhites. But barring the front was Tom L. Coleman, an unpaid special deputy who was holding a shotgun and had a pistol in a holster. He threatened the group and leveled his gun at seventeen-year-old Ruby Sales. Daniels pushed her down and caught the full blast of the gun. He was instantly killed. Father Richard F. Morrisroe grabbed Joyce Bailey and ran with her. Coleman shot Morrisroe, severely wounding him in the lower back, but stopped at that.

A grand jury indicted Coleman for manslaughter. Richmond Flowers, Sr., the Attorney General of Alabama, believed the charge should have been murder and intervened in the prosecution, but was thwarted by the trial judge. He refused to wait until Morrisroe had recovered enough to testify and removed Flowers from the case. Coleman claimed self-defense and was acquitted of manslaughter charges by an all-white jury. (Disfranchisement resulted in excluding blacks from jury duty.) Flowers described the verdict as representing the "democratic process going down the drain of irrationality, bigotry and improper law enforcement." Coleman continued working as an engineer for the state highway department; he died at age 86 on June 13, 1997, without having faced further prosecution.

--and so the unending work --not towards justice, but towards love, complete love, continues.

None of us can stop.

Daniels' favorite (and a factor in his conversion) was this from Luke (for the Eucharistic lectionary today) Luke 1:46-55)

Mary said,

"My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever."

The Collect:

O God of justice and compassion, you put down the proud and mighty from their place, and lift up the poor and the afflicted:

--if we pray what we believe, who is not terrified... ?

--we give you thanks for your faithful witness Jonathan Myrick Daniels, who, in the midst of injustice and violence, risked and gave his life for another;

...Oh. Dear. God. ...

and we pray that we, following his example,

--any takers?

--may make no peace with oppression;

Amen to that.

--through Jesus Christ the just one, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Amen.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

not even a fly-killer....

The fly buzzes around my feet --landing... it bothers me with a creeping tickle, so I flick my toes... and we keep up that dance, fly and toes, while I drink my coffee. A second fly joins, and buzzes around my head. I'm frustrated.

Joel paraphrases for me what he is reading --'love is apolitical, anti-political actually --it negates all political activity.'

'Hence, the flower dropped in the barrel of a gun undoes everything,' I said, remembering the images of the riots and the so-called flower children dancing in front of the National Guard. Dorothy Day. All those who chose love in one form or another, rather than organizing another faction. I had watched the PBS show on Iraq, Losing Iraq, at about 3AM this morning --I couldn't sleep... I thought it would put me to sleep.

It did eventually --just not right away... the horror of a bungled war unfolded before me on the screen in the dark room. Coupled with Joel's early morning reflection, the very bad/poor decisions of the Bush regime make me think of this place --where we live...

'We've learned nothing,' I said. 'We're making the same damn mistakes now as we made then... We made the same mistakes going in to Iraq as we did coming in to the L/Dakota Nation...' I swat at the fly. By this point, I really want to smash it.

Joel continues to read aloud --something about the milieu of thought in the world 2,000 years ago --where to hold hope was considered to hold a fantasy, and it was a sign of a weak mind --hope was an illusion grabbed from Pandora's Box, not to be held by one with reason and sanity. 'So,' Joel says. 'So, imagine hearing the words of Paul --hope, charity and love!' And then he continues with the radical thought of hope --and miracles being part of the very real condition of the human experience put within our grasp with love....

Hope. Love.

I love that he reads to me while I say my prayers. I love that he interrupts me. I am overwhelmed with gratitude this morning --for his companionship --for his inspiring manner in putting together the mystery of life... for him putting me as his center... which is always so profoundly humbling... and glorious at once.... I am the richest person in the whole world....

Mysteriously, the flies go away. The bottom of the coffee cup looms. Sun pours in the windows. It is supposed to be warm today. I read the weather forecast with my usual mix of fascination and wonder... I search for a long-range forecast for the winter. Winter, earlier and colder than usual three of the reports tell....

I remember this winter past... and I prepare for my day --my work... of kneading love in to the bread which sustains life...

At prayer this morning (from Acts 5)

--a Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, respected by all the people, stood up and ordered the men to be put outside for a short time. Then he said to them, “Fellow Israelites, consider carefully what you propose to do to these men. For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him; but he was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and disappeared. After him Judas the Galilean rose up at the time of the census and got people to follow him; he also perished, and all who followed him were scattered. So in the present case, I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone; because if this plan or this undertaking is of human origin, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them – in that case you may even be found fighting against God!”

They were convinced by him, and when they had called in the apostles, they had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. As they left the council, they rejoiced that they were considered worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name.

Yeah...

So, off I go.
--and I'm not even a fly-killer this morning....

Monday, August 11, 2014

the crisis: real and fake

Yikes.

I've lost my routine.

And I don't know where to find it!

So... I think I'll begin with the perpetual backlog. Or something like that. How did I get so far behind, anyway?

At prayer this morning (John 3:1-21)

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who trusts him may not perish but have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

Those who trust him are not condemned; but those who do not trust are condemned already, because they have not trusted the name of the only Son of God.

And this is the judgment: that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.”

Okay --so I substituted the word "believe" with "trust" --because the word in Greek is pisteo... look it up yourself...

My favorite line --God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved...

--yeppa... so, I don't know how any Christian can find it in their hearts to go around speaking condemnation... just sayin'.

AND --those that are 'condemned already' --are, you know... the walking dead.... Not that they are predestined for hell, but that they are, with every step, walking further into pain and suffering not through God's action, but their own --because the judgment is that it is obvious that people love darkness rather than light.... that's the judgment --the crisis... the choosing... (the Greek word is crisis) --and it is more like choosing between 'real' and 'fake' rather than choosing between 'good' and 'bad.'

So... off I go... choosing... sorting... through the real and fake... light and dark... life and death... heaven and hell... right now... discerning a routine... off I go.

Peace out.