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.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

a prayer of living flesh and blood

So.... I am praying today for all those at Sun Dance this week.

Sun Dance... is sacred. Holy. And isn't my Tradition, so I will not write about it at length. Except to say that it is the most costly prayer I have ever had the privilege to witness, in person.

Perhaps it is very much like the Christians in Iraq today --a prayer of living flesh and blood...

Putting our own flesh and blood on the line for the sake of others is Godly prayer. Not with guns or bombs or force --that isn't prayer at all. That is raw violence. And doing violence for the 'love of country' --any country, or for the love of God is adulterated love, pornographic... twisted.

And that is the problem of the Cross. It takes on religion and nationhood, and their accompanying violence and the degradation of person, and reveals them for what they are: the ultimate pretense of saving some of God's children by killing others.

So, today I pray...

At prayer this morning (beginning at John 2:13)

The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. He told those who were selling the doves, “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

And from here:

It was decided, from March 9th, 2003 and forward, there will be no non-Natives allowed in our sacred Ho-c'o-ka (our sacred alters) where it involves our Seven Sacred Rites.

The Wi-wanyang-wa-c'i-pi (Sundance Ceremony): The only participants allowed in the center will be Native People. The non-Native people need to understand and respect our decision.

Our purpose for the Sundance is for the survival of the future generations to come, first and foremost. If the non-Natives truly understand this purpose, they will also understand this decision and know that by their departure from this Ho-c'o-ka (our sacred alter) is their sincere contribution to the survival of our future generations.

There should be no price tag allowed to participate in any of our Sacred Ceremonies. ... Medicine People do need to survive, and if people wish to give a monetary or any other gifts after they receive their help from ceremony, giving it from their hearts, I see no problem with that. We have to have faith that the Grandfathers will provide for our needs to survive in this modern society; whether the gift is money, blankets, food or anything that represents how much they appreciate the help. Some people can afford big gifts, some people cannot. It all balances out.

I offer thanks to the non-Native People that have returned the C'anupa to our People, after I privately shared my concerns with them. I acknowledge their true sincerity in assisting our Nation to protect the survival of our Traditional way of life on behalf of our future generations.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Mr. President --don't think for a minute that dropping bombs is going to help

A couple of days ago, Joel and I were trying to talk reasonably about the stalemate and total dysfunction of our government... and how seemingly experienced folks could not "see" what was going on and, really, how could they seriously believe stuff that just wasn't true???!!! --like climate change deniers and the like.... --or some of the political/social/cultural poopoo caacaa out there.... How could our government have become so, so, so, divided so as to make it totally non-functioning... how could our highest court pronounce its verdicts with such seemingly blind opinions.... and on and on.

--and I remembered the political divide that brought assassinations in the 60s... the riots, the demonstrations, the songs, the tear gas, the guns... not from the headlines or news reports, but as a witness as an adventurous kid on the streets of Berkeley, California.

'It seems it is the same division that has been here since then,' I said to Joel. 'The same division that took some to the streets to protest racism, war, women's rights and political corruption, pollution --the 'old guard' that we fought against then is still with us in the rabidly conservative right-wing politicians... it's the same division, only there are not any elders to moderate it... we are all just doing what we want.'

And yesterday, as we drove in to Rapid, we heard an interview with an author who has penned a book that looks at Nixon's resignation and Reagan's rise and the politics of today in much the same light.... The Invisible Bridge. (Yes, please note --here in South Dakota, we hear on Thursday what the rest of the world heard on Monday... sigh. We were lucky to hear it at all....)

And this morning, a blog post by Will Bunch, remembers the feeling --how so-called progressives thought they had 'won' against racism, war, women's rights and political corruption, pollution and more....

And then America's moment of seeming clarity was over just as quickly as it arrived. Much of it had been an illusion. Nixon's resignation was not an unconditional surrender of America's darkest forces but the beginning of an uneasy cease-fire, one that would be frequently breached. The tumultuous events of the 1960s and early 1970s brought not resolution but division. Liberals who foolishly thought they'd won on August 8, 1974, have spent most of the last 40 years on the defensive, failed by stubborn hubris as Vietnam became Iraq, as B-52s became drones, as segregation became the mass incarceration of young American blacks, as J. Edgar Hoover's FBI became the NSA of Dick Cheney...and Barack Obama.

Conservatives rode out the floods of Watergate ... -- and have been looking since then to land their ark on a lost mountaintop of American exceptionalism, 19th Century science, and pararacial politics. Meanwhile, our arc -- Dr. King's moral arc of the universe, once teed up to bend toward justice -- has flatlined.

Yeah. It sure as hell feels that way. Flatlined. More than once in the last couple of months, I have heard urgent conversations regarding the lack of the sense of urgency in those who once fought against "America's darkest forces"... --the utter disappointment that the Occupy Movement petered out... that we have no will to do the right thing.

'Why bother' is the line I hear... it seems that even with a hopeful, younger, black President that promised to lead us further in to a land of justice for all --it seems there is absolutely no hope as we find he has seemingly lead the way further down the path of secrecy, subversion of decency, and all those political machinations that look just like deceit and corruption itself. 'Why even bother' has become the hallmark of so many I know. Fighting against it is like going against windmills with your sword....

Why even bother when stuff like this is not only presented as appropriate in any media form, but is believed as truth by at least half the population of the U.S. :

On the occasion of this week’s 40th anniversary of Richard Nixon’s resignation from the presidency, The Washington Post sponsored a reunion featuring Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, the Watergate reporters who “brought down” the 37th president.

In fact, Nixon committed political suicide. He thought he could get away with what other politicians had done, but forgot the rules are different for Republicans.

Oh... was that it? The rules are different? Well... in my mind's eye, he didn't commit political suicide in resigning. He committed political suicide in using government agencies to cover up crimes... which, I am sure, other politicians had probably indeed done... but one wrong doesn't make another wrong right. It only speaks to the level of corruption and deceit which we should all abhor.

But... it seems we don't all abhor it...

I remember that feeling the night we learned of Nixon's resignation. I remember the feeling of victory --that feeling of 'at last we can get things right.'

And, we haven't. We were dissuaded... thinking this event could change the tide of American politics.

The stark reality is, we are in the same place as we always were --and we never will otherwise. But that doesn't give us the right to give up --the right to step away from it all.

Someone and I go 'round and 'round about this... Their take is formed by their reading of the gospels --that Jesus didn't raise an army, didn't enter in to the political arena --Jesus said, my kingdom is not of this world. And, therefor, they put no energy in to participating in politics.

As I priest, I am told not to preach political opinions from the pulpit.

For me... well... I cannot see the separation of my life of faith and my politics... I do not, cannot live a divided life. For me... well... I think the path Bonhoeffer took is the legitimate response --perhaps the only legitimate response to the face of evil: Resistance. Bonhoeffer had the chance to step out of conflict, to teach what he thought, to preach what he thought, to be safe and get the word out --but he didn't. He made what he thought credible, by living it.





The mess of politics today is the mess of politics in every age. Even so, we do not have the privilege of stepping away or hiding from the very same forces that executed Jesus and Bonhoeffer --because they are the very same forces. We must engage the gospel with our very lives.

Perhaps it is the cost of doing so that keeps so many passive today.

And, I am not an idiot --I can see that conservatives have religious ideology down pat --they use it at every turn --it is believed and taught... and so woven in to political ventures it is difficult to see the difference between their politics and their religion for many of the same motives as mine.

So, what is the difference? --between Bonhoeffer's mix and the mix offered by most conservatives who use religion?

If any of us knew, we might even think we could fix the problem --which is conceit. And other forms of self-adoration. We can't fix the problem, because the problem is --frankly-- Sin. Yeah. And nobody wants to talk about it. That Sin stuff.

And that's the easy out. The gloss over. And doesn't give us the right not to struggle with it. There are many catalogs of the differences between liberal/progressive and conservative ideologies --in economics, culture, social structures and religion. There are some who would say they are one and the same. I don't intend to create a catalog of those differences....

What I do intend is to bring to my own mind, once again, the struggle --the struggle between the knowledge that the world is saved, over and out, all people for all time --and the overwhelming suffering I see all around. On this day, the anniversary of the resignation of Nixon, and this day when the headlines tell me that the government is once again dropping bombs in Iraq in my name...

--on this day, I must struggle with it... I must choose... not from a place of power nor even resignation... but from the only place I can --in my own living flesh and blood.

And I choose to resist... by every means possible.

At prayer this morning (beginning at John 2:1)

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding.

When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.”

His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons.

Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.”

So they took it. When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.”

Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

The miracle here is NOT that Jesus turned water in to wine... seriously. The miracle here is that the disciples would not be dissuaded... that when the steward went to the bridegroom to admonish the same in saving the good wine until last, the disciples knew it was not that bridegroom, but the True Bridegroom who was responsible...

--would that we, too, not be dissuaded...

Off I go.

And, Mr. President, don't think for a minute that dropping bombs is going to help.... and don't do it in my name. Thank you.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

six takes before I really begin to reckon with falling leaves

It rained yesterday. The dogs dragged it in with them, along with everything else --and I noticed for the first time that the sound of the leaves still in the trees has changed. Subtly. A less flexible sound. Getting ready for the show of autumn. And the grasses I mow short in the yard haven't grown six inches in a week... they're slowing down. I will begin to look for the birds to change too... already, the robins are becoming scarce. The meadowlarks are gone from our yard. The piercing presence of nighthawks will be next.

All predictions for the autumn weather are 'Cooler Than Average'... that is known to me because of the Weather Station videos found on-line. Others are telling me that when there is this much sweet clover --and there is more sweet clover than any one has seen in twenty years, that it shades and cools the earth, and keeps the frost and ice and snow, and that makes it even colder which brings more snow, so we are in for a nasty winter.

At the Archives, we saw pictures of snow drifts up to the peaks of roofs with pencil scrawls that said, "Blizzard of '66". There were footprints up to the house --someone would have had to dig them out from the outside. I think. Perhaps someone could skinny out a window on the leeward side of the house. Note to self: Store a shovel in the house, too.

How can it be autumn already? How can I be thinking of winter? I guess because the old pattern of life would require it --if I waited much longer, it would be too late. Now is the time to prepare.

Now.

At prayer this morning (John 1:43-51)

The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.”

Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.”

Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”

Philip said to him, “Come and see.”

When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!”

Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?”

Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.”

Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”

Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”

Thought number one: In the other gospels, disciples are called and referred to in groups. In the Gospel of John, disciples are called and referred to one by one. This is significant because of the idea of the 'Individual' --which we find so ordinary --it was impossible in the culture at this time. Everyone was embedded in a 'Family' --relationships with all others were based upon your place in that family. In our culture today we have fought against being known as so-and-so's child or grandchild.... We are individualistic.

Thought number two: Referring to Jesus as the 'Son of Man' is a reference to his humanity. His ordinariness. That heaven will be opened and the angels of God 'round about him speaks of his extra-ordinariness. Both at once.

Thought number three: Oh, I love snark! First from Nathanael (Gift of God). Then from Jesus. This Gospel of John is peppered with comic relief. I wish we didn't read it all soooooooo seriously.

Thought number four: I love it that Nathanael asks The Word Spoken By God Which Holds All Things In Being, 'Where did you get to know me?' Love. That.

Thought number five: After the Tree of Life, there is mentioned The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil --and then there is the Fig Tree... which in the story, Adam and Eve use to hide their new found shame.... 'I saw you under the fig tree' --I saw you under the tree used to try to hide shame.... --and, a tree which is a sign of the Promised Land... our sin as the way to the promised land.... yeppa.

Thought number six: How/why does Nathanael go from 'I saw you under the fig tree' to 'you are the King of Israel'... we are missing something here... unless of course, you hear Nathanael as I do --still full of snark, and Jesus, as always, just meets us where we are.

Hey God, it's margaret. You know the prayers of my heart. Help me know and see the times so that I can... hell, I don't know... anything I say at this point, my inner voice says 'whatever' or 'yeah, right.' So... there. Amen.

Six takes before I really begin to reckon with falling leaves. Off I go.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

We couldn't tell what was in the middle of the road. On the other side of the very long bridge. As we were descending in to the river valley. With turkeys huddled where the road and weeds meet. Their garbled necks and pin feathers. 'Dinosaurs' I said. And the thing on the other side very long bridge kept moving. Then quit moving and took to flight. Vultures. Dozens of them.

But there was no carcass. 'Perhaps it's still alive in the ditch' I said. 'They're just waiting.' And I wondered how long they would wait. I remembered a story I once read, about a pony, a boy, a vulture and an eyeball. A pastoral vision flayed open by the reality of death. Like the hills and prairie and rivers 'round about us. Life is costly out here.

'They're so huge,' Joel said. Their archaic heads of flesh. Their morbid beaks. Lifting in a slow unhurried rhythm. They can wait. They will wait. Being the almost inaudible bass tone of necessity. So we don't have to walk through a landscape of knee-deep rotting flesh. Redeeming death. Again.

The car lumbered up the steep hill out of the valley. 'They are almost like winter clouds already,' I said. The sky had hung the clouds way too close. Gray and thick. No sun. It was cool --almost cold. We had waited for this day. Planned our journey according to the weather forecast. The dogs. Unlike any dogs I've ever had before. No way we could leave them in the yard unsupervised. They would become prey. Lunch. Eagles. Rez dogs. Their own pampered ignorance.

The fields are thick with summer. The wild flowers have finally stemmed up higher than the grasses. Sunflowers have begun to nod their heads. Corn hair. Sorghum berries. Bales of sweet clover and prairie grass crowd each other. Most of the golden wheat has been shorn like some strange butch haircut. Semi-trucks and massive tractors line the fields. Waiting. For their harvest.

We traverse the ridges. Roads follow property lines or geography. More than an hour. Finally we see the tell-tale signs. Massive power lines. Increased traffic. Cars without blemish. We cross the dam and approach the small city with the dark Capitol building from the north.

The State Historical Society has been placed in the Cultural Heritage Center. It is buried in a hill above the park that defies the wildness of the prairie. Mown grass uninterrupted with the brevity of weed or hilarity of wild flowers, paved pathways, tamed running water, large rocks that are purposefully placed garden features.

The orderly rows and shelves of the archives. We are expected to use the person behind the desk as the catalog... the finder. He is patient. 'I am trying to find out anything I can about the Episcopal Church on the Cheyenne River Reservation,' I say. I briefly mourn the absence of the old card catalogs where things could be found by mistake. By browsing. By one thing leading to another. Now, without card-carrying privilege that brings access, we must depend upon the expert.

He brings out six boxes. Two map folders. Seven books. And we begin. Joel puts on the gloves and goes to the box of photos. I engage the document boxes where pencil marks scribble over the 'League of Women Voters" sticker. The scrawl 'Bishop Hare' and the call number replace the careful type.

The notes from the first Niobrara meetings. When Niobrara covered much of North Dakota, Montana, Minnesota, South Dakota and Nebraska. Late 1860s. Too much territory. Divided by vote under Bishop Clarkson in 1872. 1873 the Niobrara I know and participate in, that's when it begins.

But, I know there is stuff earlier than that ---Rev. Hinman was ordained in 1860 with specific charge to minister among the Dakota. Already in exile with them by 1862. Cheyenne River Indian Agency is established in 1868. Hinman was ordained in 1860 with specific charge to minister among the Dakota. Already in exile with them by 1862.

The Episcopal Church is officially assigned by government decree to help 'civilize' the 'Indians' in 1872.... Bishop Hare is assigned and present by 1873. In the folders I find contracts to build the churches, describing the dimensions, materials, foundations. In the 1880s I find the hand-written contract to move the existing St. John's and parsonage upriver. The loss of Reservation land places it and the Agency out of bounds. Twice.

The loss and bloodshed are found, bit by bit, on the scraps of paper. On the maps. On the contracts. On the dimensions of the school building. In the fabrication of a road. In the drawing of a new boundary.

The determination and hope are found, bit by bit, on the scraps of paper. On the maps. In the margins. The little church buildings being moved from camp to camp. I go ask the expert. 'I want to know where so-and-so's camp was along the Cheyenne River,' I say. 'That is privileged and archaeologically sensitive information,' the expert says. 'I want to know where the old church cemeteries are,' I say. 'That is privileged and archaeologically sensitive information,' the expert says.

How can I tell the expert I just want to know so that I can just go there and pray. To know. To do I don't know what to call it. Pray is best. But here, it is like I am talking to a wall. The rules are rules in this place. And things will all be on the up and up. So, I just look at all I can. Take notes on what I may. There is one clue found. Someone, at one time --maybe the 1970s from the choice of script and type of sketch --that someone made a map of all the church locations... Fourteen churches on the Cheyenne River... fourteen established churches....

If there were established churches, it is likely that there were cemeteries. I will find this information. I will find out what happened. To the properties. To the buildings. To the cemeteries. Because I care. Because the living still bear this. It is part of the healing. To revisit the wounds. To check the ditches. Alongside every road. The vultures now a different sort.

Tend to the graves. To redeem life. To participate fully. To be transfigured.

Yes. I will.

I will.

At prayer today (beginning at 2 Corinthians 4:1)

Therefore, since it is by God’s mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart. We have renounced the shameful things that one hides; we refuse to practice cunning or to falsify God’s word; but by the open statement of the truth we commend ourselves to the conscience of everyone in the sight of God.

Off I go.

I don't know how or why the word 'Text' appears in this photo I took last time I was at the National Cemetery. Oh well... I'll fix it when I can open my I-photo thingy again....

The small sign at bottom center reads "Caution: Renovation Area" --and I couldn't help myself...


Caution: Renovation Area

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Joel's restaurant criteria: I don't want to pay for their fancy sign

We're going in to Pierre today, to the State Historical Society and Archives... just going to go see what they got, especially about this place. Look at old photos, newspapers --you know.... With a graduate degree in history, sometimes the bug just bites, ya know what I mean? So, the bug has bit, and off we go.

We might even go out for lunch... if Joel can find a restaurant whereof the first thing he thinks is not "I don't want to pay for their fancy sign." Such is his criteria.

At prayer this morning (beginning at John 1:19)

This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?”

--and still working on how to answer that question myself... and striving to dream those dreams of integrity that will lead to a full life --not a 'nice' life, nor a so-called 'better' life... but that life that is hid with Christ in God.

Off we go.

Monday, August 4, 2014

And, so, who are you?

Last night, we watched The Pervert's Guide to Ideology.... Yeah. By our fav philosopher, Zizek. You can watch it at Youtube at the above link for $3.99, or on Netflix if you subscribe to that.

Using the medium of film, Zizek looks at ideology through a lens of identity, a necessary element --but seeing and being aware of ideology is painful, often violent. Because it requires a choice and a disassembling... --without the reality of the "big other" --an outside force that watches and judges... (God).

Here is an extended 'clip':




--and it made me think about an identity without the 'big other' looking over us, the something out there... which is precisely the genius of Christianity --the Incarnation... God in flesh and blood, among and with us. God is not 'out there.' Nope.

What Zizek says: disestablishing the Big Other... living in the Holy Spirit...





--and I doubt very much that Zizek is Christian. I think he believes all religious systems to be ideology, but Christianity does take that radical step to the death of God, to the absence, the disestablishment of the Big Other, and leaves it all in our hands....

And that made me think about identity... some because my beloved nephew, M, has been corresponding with me upon that very subject. He sent me the following:

James Meek, The Leopard.

Everyone has roots. But they may extend from places scattered in space and time, and they may be roots from which one has become separated, or which have been designated in some way unsound. Seen through the prism of what happened in Algeria, Camus’s phrase ‘the right to love’ takes on a plaintive cast. But there is no self-pity in it. Better to insist on the right to love one’s diverse roots than to insist on being loved for every set of roots one has.

--and my identity living and working here is always before me. Perhaps that is why the topic is upon me. I have a Christian identity --which is difficult to bear in a place where Christianity has been the fist and cudgel of Reservation life --an often and mostly violent ideological force to westernize and presumably modernize and "civilize" the Lakota, forcibly stripping them of language, song, prayer and culture. I am white --the identity of the oppressors. My age. My gender. My language.

My everything. An icon of perpetuated poverty and systemic subjugation and oppression.

And a valve, a tap of potential handouts because that system needs to pay back what has been lost.

So... am I who I am perceived to be by so many?

No. Of course not. But, at the same time, I am those things, and can never be any body other than those things because of my very being. How do I gracefully own that?

And, at the same time, I am perceived as a leader, a holy person, a Mother to all --someone who does the hard and sacred work of burial --someone who does the hard and sacred work of ceremony and prayer --someone who by my life sets an example of a godly life --someone who loves everyone no matter what.

So... am I who I am perceived to be by so many?

No. Of course not. But, at the same time, I am those things, and can never be any body other than those things because of my very being. How do I gracefully own that?

--do I have to own any of it at all? --who then, am I?

Zizek also quotes Jesus, in Zizek's own understanding of Christianity as the disestablishment, as the deconstructor of social relationships --bringing "a sword" to the expectations and demands of family constructions --of the ideology of familial cultural expectations and demands. Those relationships are also denuded, stripped, deconstructed.

Frankly, upon the death of my mother, the old ties that bound were lost. Her death was not the loss of a moral compass --her death brought up the stark reality of identity. Beyond the cultural expectations and obligations and demands...

 --who then, am I? In the death of God and the Big Other and even my mother, am I free? In the vortex of culture, am I free?

I think Zizek would probably observe I had probably and at last arrived at the foot of the cross. I had probably arrived at the crisis of choosing 'to see'... That I am, indeed, free. Free to choose. And that I have an identity not bound by ideology, but an identity at liberty to desire and to dream those dreams that are not built upon emptiness, falsehood and perversion.

Is that even humanly possible?

I think, yes. I think this is the meaning of Jesus saying, 'Go and sin no more.' Will any of us be perfect in it? Absolutely not. Which is why we need each other. Which is why we need community.

--which is why I think it is perfect that I am here, in this place, despite and because of all of its challenges --because it is the perfect place of blessing --outside the bounds of cultural ideology in a place that knows what it had is dying or dead, and they are at liberty to desire and to dream those dreams not built upon emptiness, falsehood and perversion...

We are all in the same place together. And we mostly know it.

At prayer this morning (John 1:1-18)

In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
All things came into being through him,
and without him not one thing came into being.
What has come into being in him was life,
and the life was the light of all people.
The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness did not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

He was in the world,
and the world came into being through him;
yet the world did not know him.
He came to what was his own,
and his own people did not accept him.
But to all who received him,
who trusted in his name,
he gave power to become children of God,
who were born,
not of blood or of the will of the flesh
or of the will of man,
but of God.

And the Word became flesh and lived among us,
and we have seen his glory,
the glory as of a father’s only son,
full of grace and truth.

(John testified to him and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.'”)

From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.
The law indeed was given through Moses;
grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
No one has ever seen God.
It is God the only Son,
who is close to the Father’s heart,
who has made him known.

I think we ought to replace the Creed with this hymn of the early Church --yeah, those indented parts I put out as verse rather than narrative are believed by some to be a hymn (read Sandra Schneider's Written That You May Believe).

Yeah. Free from creedal statements of belief, used at times to divide and conquer in the church, dripping with blood....

Uh oh.... John for morning prayer. Guess between that gospel and Zizek, I'm a goner for the next month.

So... In this we are given an identity --just like Jesus, we are children of God, he being the eldest, the firstborn of that Way. Free --at perfect liberty, because God has poured God's self out, completely, entirely... .

And, so, who are you?

Saturday, August 2, 2014

in such a strange manner

Coffee. And the smell of smoke. I put on my sandals and go out on the stoop. I see the brown horizon but there is no lofty plume of smoke telling me where the fire actually is... I hadn't heard any sirens... I go to my weather app that has a fire locator too....



Smoke... the west is on fire. Again. (The circles are thunderstorms, the diamonds are rotating thunderstorms--potential tornadoes, the red and yellow triangles are active fires, and the gray and  black are smoke clouds.)

It is difficult for me to explain the sensation such an image causes in me... perhaps it is because I have seen the walls of fire in person, descending from the ridge --consuming familiar trees and homes, places I have played, bike tracks.... the sun becoming nothing more than an orange moon in a compressed sky, no shadows, prickling in the nose, burning in the lungs and eyes, hair instantly static...

Once, such a fire took the home of my aunt and uncle in Oakland, California. They were both musicians for the San Francisco Symphony and the Opera Orchestra. My uncle was a french horn player --my aunt the tympanist (she had studied to be a conductor and could play every instrument, but women were not yet allowed to conduct) --the huge kettle drums being her favorite. All their instruments burned or melted. The french horns melted together in such a way that my cousin kept it as a sculpture.

Once, my parents built a house several miles outside of Healdsburg, California --built it with a flat roof on purpose, with plugs for the downspouts so that they could flood the roof with water in case of a wild fire. And, they flooded it, once, as the ridge above Dry Creek gave way to the flames.

The west is on fire. Areas as large as some whole States, on fire. Areas larger than many Nations, charred. There was a crazy lady in Santa Rosa named Rosy --she used to harangue folks in voluminous shouts and screams, for anything and everything. Everyone knew who she was, let her scream, watched out for her well being --the merchants downtown usually kept her full of sandwiches because she had a special talent for catching shoplifters. When the wild fires would become extreme, she would stand in the middle of Court House Square and scream, 'The fire next time. God said, the fire next time.' And everyone would wonder at least in part if she were right... .

The west is on fire. And we can smell and see it more than a thousand miles away.

I grieve for the earth this morning. I grieve the drought, the fires, the pollutants poured on her, shoved in to her every crack and crevice.

She will speak to us in turn. And she will tell us. And the poorest among us will suffer those consequences first. Because the poor are like her --are of her more indelibly, already bear the sins of the world.

At prayer this morning (Psalm 75)

We give you thanks, O God,
we give you thanks,
calling upon your Name
and declaring all your wonderful deeds.

“I will appoint a time,” says God; “I will judge with equity. Though the earth and all its inhabitants are quaking, I will make its pillars fast. I will say to the boasters, ‘Boast no more,’ and to the wicked, ‘Do not toss your horns; Do not toss your horns so high, nor speak with a proud neck.'”

For judgment is neither from the east nor from the west, nor yet from the wilderness or the mountains. It is God who judges; he puts down one and lifts up another.

For in the LORD’s hand there is a cup, full of spiced and foaming wine; the LORD pours it out, and all the wicked of the earth shall drink and drain the dregs.

But I will rejoice for ever;
I will sing praises to the God of Jacob.
God shall break off all the horns of the wicked;
but the horns of the righteous shall be exalted.

Horns? I ask Joel. I go get my Tanakh... he looks it up in Hebrew online.

We praise You, O God;
we praise You;
Your presence is near;
men tell of Your wondrous deeds.

At the time I choose,
I will give judgment equitably.
Earth and all its inhabitants dissolve;
it is I who keep its pillars firm.
To wanton men I say, 'Do not be wanton!'
to the wicked, 'Do not lift up your horns!'

Do not lift your horns up high
in vainglorious bluster.
For what lifts a man comes not from the east
or the west or the wilderness;
for God it is who give judgment;
He brings down one man, He lifts up another.
There is a cup in the LORD's hand
with foaming wine fully mixed;
from this He pours;
all the wicked of the earth drink,
draining it to the very dregs.
As for me, I will declare forever,
I will sing a hymn to the God of Jacob.

"All the horns of the wicked I will cut;
but the horns of the righteous shall be lifted up."

(Tanakh, The Holy Scriptures, The Jewish Publication Society; Philadelphia, Jerusalem)

Joel's first interpretation before he looks at the text '--maybe it means don't put your nose up in the air...'  Now we see --it basically means 'don't toot your own horn'....

And the air is suddenly ruptured with gun fire. And again. And the roar of many motorcycles. I go to the door and pull back the curtain --the veterans are giving a multi-gun salute in the parking lot --just as the Wounded Knee Motorcycle Riders leave town.

The west is on fire. Smoke. Gun fire. Wounded Knee. Don't toot your own horn.

This morning... has begun in such a strange manner.... so, I remember....

“K” indicates Killed
“W” indicates Wounded but survived
“S” indicates Survived without injury

Afraid Of Bear – K
Afraid Of Bear (young) – K
Afraid Of Enemy – W
Wife, Brown Eyes – W
Son, Scarring Hawk – W
Daughter, Good (Pretty) Spotted Horse – S
Afraid Of Hawk, Richard – S
Afraid Of Left Hand – S
Afraid Of Nothing Bear (Bear Fool) – K
Afraid Of Tomahawk – (deceased before Wounded Knee)
Wife, Bone – S
Son, Yellow Horse – S
Daughter, In Front – S
Appears Twice – K
Arousing Squirrel – K
Mother – K
Ashes – K
Wife, Bear Gone – W
Audacious Bear – (see Industrious Bear)
Axe – (see Brown Sinew)
Back Bone – S
Wife, Stands Looking – S
Son, White Hawk – S
Son, Big Boy – S
Son, King Boy – S
Bad (Bear) Woman – W
Son – K
Bad Boy – S
Bad Braves – K
Bad Hand – (see Wing)
Bad Owner Without Rope – K
Wife – K
Bad Spotted Eagle – K
Wife, White Woman – K
Bear Comes And Lies – K
Bear Don’t Run – K
Wife – S
Daughter, Head Woman – K
Son, Pawnee Killer – K
Daughter, Farms At The River – S
Bear Lays Down – K
Wife – W
Bear Parts (Cuts) Body – K
Wife - S
Son – K
Bear Runs In The Woods – S
Bear Sheds His Hair (Shedding Bear) – K
Wife – S
Daughter, Red Buffalo (Red White Cow) – K
Son, Trouble In Front – K
Son, Runs Behind (Last Running) – K
Mother-in-law – K
Bear Skin Vest – K
Wife – W
Daughter – K
Bear That Shoots – K
Mother – K
Bear With Small Body – K
Wife – K
Son, Takes Away Enemy – K
Son, Smokes Walking – S
Son, Enemy – S
Bear Woman, Edith – S
Daughter – S
Daughter - S
Bear Woman – K
Beard, Dewey W. (Iron Hail) – W
Wife, Wears Eagle (White Face) – K
Son, Thomas Beard – K
Baby, Wet Feet (White Foot) – K
Benefactress – K
Big Foot (Spotted Elk) - K
Wife, Small Tail – K
Daughter, Brings White (White Horse Woman) – K
Big Foot (young) – S
Big Skirt (Shirt) – K
Big (Loud) Voice Thunder – K
Wife – K
Child – K
Billy Woman – W
Bird Shaker (see Brown Bull)
Bird Wings – K
Birds Afraid Of Him – S
Birds Belly – K
Black Bugle – S
Black Crow – S
Black Flutes – K
Black Fox (Coyote) – K
Wife, Brown Hair – S
Daughter, Brings White – K
*****
Good White Cow – S
Grease Leg Bone – K
Grey – S
Grey Hand – K
Wife – S
Son, George Randall – S
Grey In Eyes (Eyes) – K
Grey Owl Woman – S
Hair Pipe – S
Wife, The Hawk – S
Son, Cottonwood – K
Son, Starts The Horse – K
Daughter, Her War Bonnet – S
Handsome – K
Happens – K
Hard To Kill (Young Bear) – S
Wife, Her Elk Tooth – S
Mother – K
Has Scarlet – K
Has The Bell – K
Hat – K
Daughter, Makes Presents – K
Hawk, The – S
Hawk Bear (see Eagle Hawk Bear)
Hawk Feather (see Shoots The Hawk Feather)
Hawk Flying – K
Hawk Woman – S
He (Male) Crow – K
Wife – W
Son, Jackson He Crow – S
He Eagle (see Male Eagle)
Heart Of Timber – K
Help Them (Helps Them Up) – W
Helper, Simon – S
Her Brown Faced Dog – S
Her Cedar – S
Her Eagle – S
Her First – S
Her Good Cloud – K
Her Neck – S
Her Room – S
Her Scarlet Blanket – K
*****
Kill Her White Horse – S
Killed His Choice – S
Killed The Bear – S
Wife – S
Son, Kills Against – S
Kills – K
Kills Assiniboine – K
Kills Close To Lodge, Bertha – W
Kills Crow Indian – K
Kills First – K
Wife, Holy Woman – W
Son, Wounded In Winter – K
Son, Leon Kills First – S
Daughter, Shoots The White – K
Daughter, White Mule – K
Daughter, Mary Kills First – S
Kills In Bush – K
Wife, Shawl Over Head – S
Son, Mad – K
Daughter, Hand – S
Kills In The Middle – S
Kills One Hundred – S
Kills Seneca – K
Kills Tin Cup – K
Kills Two – S
Kills White Man – S
Wife – W
Son, Little Warrior – S
Son, Makes Him Mad – S
Daughter, Runs Off With Horse – K
Kills Who Stand In Timber – K
Wife – K
Knife, Nellie – S
Knocked In The Head – S
Kyle, Charles – K
Wife – S
Child – S
Lap, Mrs. – K
Last Talking – K
Leg – K
Light Hair – K
Liking – W
Little Bear – S
Little Body Bear – K
Wife – K
Son – K
Son – S
Daughter – K
Little Bull – W
Little Cloud – S
Wife – S
Little Elk – K
Wife – K
Little Eyed Woman – S
Little Finger, John – W
Little Water – S
Wife, White Face – S
Daughter, The Voice – S
Daughter, Light Hair Girl – S
Son, Whip – S
Son, Sacred Blanket – S
Son, Animal – S
Son, Not Stingy – S
Little Wound – S
Liver Gall – S
Lives In Iron – S
Lives Reckless – S
Living Bear – K
Living Bull, Helena – S
Son – S
Lodge Napkin – K
Lodge Skin – K
Log – K
Wife – K
Lone Child – K
Long Bull – K
Long Bull – S
Wife, Badger – K
Daughter, Weasel – K
Daughter, Helen Long Bull – S
Long Feather – S
Long Holy – S
Long Medicine – K
Long Woman (see High Hawk)
Looking Elk – W
Wife, Lydia Looking Elk – W
*****
Pass Water In Horn – K
Peaked – K
Picket Horse – K
Picks And Kill – S
Pipe On Head, James – S
Mother, Runs On – S
Sister – K
Plain Voice – K
Pretty Bear – K
Son, Cub Bear – S
Pretty Bold Eagle (see Henry Three)
Pretty Hawk – K
Wife – K
Baby, White Woman – K
Pretty Shield – S
Wife – S
Daughter, Her Shawl – S
Daughter, Yellow Eyes – W
Pretty Voice Elk – K
Produce (From) – K
Put Away Moccasins – W
Quit On Him – S
Rattles – K
Rattling Leaf – K
Really Woman’s Son – K
Red Belly – S
Son, Brings Yellow – S
Daughter, Stands Up For Him – S
Runs Off With Horses – K
Red Eagle – K
Wife, Her Black Horses – W
Daughter, Her Eagle Body – K
Daughter, Cedar Horse – K
Daughter – S
Red Ears Horse – K
Sister – K
Red Fingernail Woman – S
Red Fish – K
Wife – K
Red (Scarlet) Horn – K
Son, Good Scarlet Horn – S
Red Horn Bear – S
Red Juniper – K
Red Other Woman – K
Red Shell – K
Red Stone – S
Red Water Woman – K
Roots Its Hole – K
Rough Feather – S
Run As Though His Hair Fussed – W
Running Hawk, George – S
Running In Lodge – K
Running Standing Hairs – K
Wife – K
Daughter – K
Runs After – K
Runs After It – S
Runs Around Lodge – W
Runs Fast – S
Sack Woman – W
Son, White Cowboy – W
Sacred Face – K
Sacred In Appearance – K
Scabbard Knife – K
Wife – K
Scares The Bear – K
Wife, Yellow Bird Woman – K
Grandchild – K
Grandchild – K
Scarlet Calf – K
Son – K
Son – K
Scarlet Otter – K
Scarlet Rotation – S
Scarlet Smoke – K
Scarlet Tipi Top – S
Scarlet White Buffalo – K
Scatters Them – K
Scout – S
Scout Tent – S
Sees The Bear – S
Sees The Elk – S
Seventeen, Patrick – S
Shakes The Bird (see Brown Bull)
Shaving Bear – K
Wife – S
Child – K
Child – K
Child – K
Child – K
Shell Necklace – S
She Wears Eagle – S
Shoot At Accurately – K
Son, K
Shoot The Bear (see I Shot The Bear)
Shoots The Bear, George – K
Wife – K
Shoots (With) The Hawk Feather – K
Mother – K
Shoots The Right – K
Son, Bad Wound – K
Shoots Straight – K
Wife – S
Child – S
Short Hair (Close Haired) Bear – K
Wife – S
Child – K
Child – K
Child – K
Shot Him Off – S
Shot In Hand – K
Shows His Cloud – S
Sinew Belly – S
Singing Bull – K
Wife – K
Son – K
Grandson, James Red Fish – S
Granddaughter, Scarlet Coat – K
Sits Poor, Frank – S
Sits Straight (see Good Thunder)
Slippery Hide – K
Small Bodied Bear – K
Snow Over Her – S
Sole Of Foot – S
Wife, The Ring – K
Daughter, The Brownie – S
Spotted Bear, John – S
Spotted (Speckled) Chief – K
Spotted Eagle – S
Wife, Good Horse – S
Spotted Elk (see Big Foot)
Spotted Elk – K
Wife – K
Son – K
Son – K
Son – K
*****
Tattooed – S
Three, Henry – K
Thunder – K
Thunder Hawk Woman – K
To Laugh – K
Touches The Ground – S
Trotter – K
Trouble – K
Trouble In Front (see Bear Sheds His Hair)
Trouble In Love, Mrs. – K
Twin Woman – K
Two Arrows (see Male Eagle)
Two Lance – S
Unintentionally Brave – K
Unties Shoestring – S
Up To His Waist – K
Wife – K
Son, Important Man – K
Used For Brother – K
Walking Buffalo – W
Walking Bull – K
Wife – K
Walks Red – K
Son, Chief Boy – K
Walks With Circle – S
War In His – K
Warrior – S
Water Snake – K
Wears Calfskin Robe – K
Wife – S
Son, Chases And Kills – S
Wears Fur Coat – S
Wears Yellow Robe – S
Weasel – K
Weasel Bear – K
Wife, Louise Weasel Bear – W
Whip – K
Whirlwind Bear – K
Whirlwind Hawk – K
Wife – K
Daughter – K
Daughter – K
Daughter – K
Son – K
Son – K
White American – K
White Beaver Woman – K
White Bull – K
Wife, Clown Woman – K
Son, Blue Horse – S
Daughter, Pretty Hair – K
White Cow Comes Out – S
White Eagle – S
White Face Sun – K
White Face Woman – S
White Feather – K
White Hair – S
White Hat – K
White Horse – S
White Lance (see Horn Cloud)
White Man – K
Wife, Medicine Woman – W
Son – K
Son – K
Daughter – K
White Man – K
Wife, Never Misses It – W
White Wolf – K
White Woman Hand – S
Wild Man – S
Wind – K
Wind In Guts – S
Wing – K
Son – K
Winter – K
Without Robe – K
Wolf Eagle – K
Son, Good Boy – K
Wolf Ears, Edward – K
Wife – W
Son, White – K
Son, Feather Enemy – K
Daughter, Medicine Lake Girl – K

Friday, August 1, 2014

for the sake of the whole....

I am soooooo --well, 'proud' isn't the right word --but I can't find the word that means grateful, proud, affirming and satisfied all at once.

So, whatever that word is --that is what I am feeling, because there are two funerals today (a wake last night and a funeral today, and another wake tonight, funeral tomorrow) at which I would have presided... and lay readers and catechists from the Cheyenne River Episcopal Mission are presiding instead. I had been at the bedsides of both, prayed with the families, told them I would be gone for the next two weeks but that they would be well taken care of --and, now, they are. Folks called forth from the community. It stirs up something deep within me --a satisfaction and a hope --for the whole church.

And, I am having to stay very focused... so that I don't make up some excuse and go over to the services of both... one is a Roman/Episcopal service --the next a UCC/Episcopal service... the shared services the norm here. But, in this, too, I need to set an example... in so many ways... authority, trust, spiritual discipline....

Those are big words, often misconstrued. Not that the authority is mine, but rests in Christ, and the Bishop is the living breathing symbol of that authority (not to be adored and worshipped and feared, but much more as a sign, much like bread and wine on the altar --oh and here I could go on and on, but I digress) --an authority delegated to me by license which I now share by license with those I serve benefit of the whole community... and, not least or second, the authority of the ministry of all the baptized for the benefit of the whole community. Trust --is twofold --that I am not some control freak having to do everything myself --and, trust from the community at large that our folks care and will do a 'from the book' church service. And, spiritual discipline --that the lay readers/catechists exercise the ministry of the church completely and fully, and that I undertake the discipline of real time off ....re-creation...

I mean, we are given that example by Jesus himself --time away... 'down' time.

Because much if not most of the community is in constant 'gotta keep up' or even 'survival' mode, the example of time off is radical.

Obviously, even for me.

Radical.

--out in the yard... somebody put a puppy over the fence. Witty and Paeha were ecstatic! A real live toy! It had a little collar, and looked healthy --wanted inside the house in the worst way. So, we took the puppy down to Game, Fish and Parks along the highway --they run a shelter for Eagle Butte. If there were any question about anything, we were going to take the puppy to the vet in Faith or a shelter in Rapid. I was told the staff were in a meeting, but to wait. So, I waited... and the puppy was crying and shaking --she knew something was up. And we waited.

Then the lady came out from behind the door and started exclaiming right away --'OMG! OMG!!!!' It was her dog... she had put notices up on Facebook, all around town, sent out emails.... 'OMG!' We hadn't known or seen the notices... we've been so 'unplugged.' Much relieved.

But it made me think... someone put a puppy over our fence... On the side yard, between our house yard and the open place where the ragged miniature fruit trees grow, someone obviously tried to climb over the fence --the wire was all pulled over and bent and stretched. And... I had put a bolt with a nut through the gate to our yard, just to keep folks from ringing our door and asking for stuff while we were 'taking time' --and I caught a couple of guys trying to force it open so they could come in and ask for money. (I thought everyone already knew I don't give money at the door! --sigh--)

It all made me think about boundaries.... Permeable boundaries. Impermeable boundaries. Cultural recognition of the same and expectations of the same....

Some might feel that Lay Readers (which is a term used here on the Reservations to describe a license for the responsibility of presiding at services, especially in the absence of a priest, and mostly morning prayer on Sundays) presiding at funerals blurs the lines --begins the shredding of boundaries between lay and ordained. But the Book of Common Prayer clearly states (p490)

When the services of a priest cannot be obtained, a deacon or lay reader may preside at the service.

For all else that it is worth, the Catechism clearly states (p855)

Q. Who are the ministers of the Church?
A. The ministers of the Church are lay persons, bishops, priests, and deacons.
Notice, please, that 'lay persons' are first --because ordained ministry blossoms forth from the laity --the laity do not blossom from ordained ministry.... Ordained persons are called forth from the community to carry and do specific responsibilities for the sake of the whole --for the benefit of the whole.

I wonder why that is so often perverted... too often forgotten.

Which is why boundaries are so often re-enforced by a false authority --a mandate of obedience instead of a loving surrender....

It is a fearful and wonderful thing, O Church, to have the folks here preside, to have their leadership known (and sought after) in the greater community --it is a true sign of God's realm among us --to use a western metaphor --the 'Kingdom of Heaven'... .

I am soooooo --well, 'proud' isn't the right word --but I can't find the word that means grateful, proud, affirming and satisfied all at once.

So, whatever that word is --that is what I am feeling.....

At prayer (Acts 2:1-21)

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit....

...[Peter said} this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:

‘In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit...'”

And, because we live in the Eighth Day of creation --the First Day of the New Creation, with the new Covenant --that 'last day' is now...

(from Matthew 28:1-10)

After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. ...

But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised....’ This is my message for you.” 
So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples.

Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him.

Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

Do not be afraid.
Yeah. The angels and Jesus say that often enough to us that they ought to have figured it out by now.

And, perhaps, so should have we....

--the boundaries, all boundaries truly shredded by Resurrection...

Off I go.
To practice putting it all down and taking time away, for the sake of the whole...

Amen.