This could end up a dangerous posting since I've just sat down to my two hours of free time while the kids sleep, and I don't have any real agenda with my thoughts right now. And I don't feel like doing laundry or writing a cover letter. (Any shout-outs on those options?) Tyler and I engaged in a fairly heated dialogue this morning about transition, expectations, and family. Yeah, I know--he was about two hours late getting to his office, the kids were desperate for some attention, and I am still not dressed for the day. So what! I'm such a fan of putting the relationship first. And Livia had a fabulous time clomping around the house in my sequin heels during the parental distraction. Our neighbors below already resent us, I'm sure.

Anyway, here's what I finally and triumphantly laid down for him while simultaneously throwing my hands from the football touchdown cheer to the exasperated side dangle, "I suck at transition!" In more words or less. It's so hard and exhausting for us introverts. Does it have to be?

Tyler grooves on it almost (therein destructing my introversion theory), which perhaps only makes my inability to warmly embrace it fester. In a nutshell: I miss In-n-Out, and PMC. I miss my friends from California, Connecticut, Alabama, and Kentucky (even though they, too have all moved elsewhere). I miss the neighbors that I know, the routines that were in place, and more generally, the ease of familiarity. Not necessarily in that order. (wink.)

I hate to admit it, but I'm a relatively unmotivated person when pursuing my dreams because I find the initiation process daunting and myself too insignificant. (Go ahead, I'll pause for you to get some tissues.) Let's be honest, it's so much simpler to bash and rest in cynicism than it is to continually balance out on that damn limb, risking rejection (for various reasons), or worse yet, failure, or even worse, the reality that we aren't really perfect (Insert stunned gasp here). So that when the assertions of trying new things for just one more day feel totally insurmountable, I resign myself to actually rest in the ambiguity of new places, relax about the fact that our latte factor is zilch so the sheer ubiquity of Starbucks has still gone untouched, and well, fuck taking the stroller down the subway stairwells by myself--kids you're learning to walk! Hear me roar! And yet, and still, once more, I simply and pathetically arise to one more inevitable new day and once again find it time to analyze and reassess what it is I'm actually trying to accomplish.

Right now, I have no clue. Which then finding myself in a circular, yet completely circuitous route, not unlike the book, "If you give a mouse a cookie," I can only conclude with the harsh reality, I suck at transition. (And unfortunately, this isn't anything a cold glass of milk and a crisp straw is going to cure.)

Oh when will I be discovered and my natural talent demanded by others?

Here ends the pity party.

Come Holy Spirit, Come.
Come winds of peace, Come.
Aright this course within me.

Creator of goodness and ultimate guru of complete health,
and sanctuary, I am your Bodhisattva.
Teach me your stillness.

May your comfort call us to action
Your tenderness to wholeness
Your discipline to an end of suffering
Your compassion to a cessation of selfishness.

Then we can freely set-forth through dangerous waters
Seeking that which demands us to relinquish hesitation,
yet embrace frustration,
so that fresh elixirs brewed in your laboratory of love,
might be consumed by willing and thirsty souls who,
in their new strength,
will bring change.

Transition us from a place of woundedness and isolation
to safety and completion,
from a place of misunderstanding and vehemence
to grace and acceptance
from a place of sarcastically jovial, dysfunctional jokes
to inspired flames of justice and service.

We are your servants. May we never grow full of your mercy while you bless us to bless.


54 Pi Rent Obscure

Four points of interest whirling in my brain right now preventing sleep, well, and the diet coke that was addictively consumed too late in the day.

I read a few weeks ago for the first time recently Life of Pi.
I am currently reading, and nearly finished with Jude the Obscure.
I watched (admittedly) with both of children four times last week Rent, the movie.
I watched this evening with Tyler, Mike Myers' 1998 film, 54.

They are all merging in ways that represent where I want to be, how I want to live, and the types of relationships I hope to maintain.

The last twelve months of my life have turned me upside down. So I pierced the inner cartilage of my ear and am seriously considering a highly visible tattoo on my right forearm. (Who says rebellion only happens when we're teenagers?) But more significantly, the disillusionment I am undergoing with all things God, no religious, and (ok fine) yes, God, leave me exhausted and well, depressed. Enter Life of Pi.

Holy Cow this book is amazing.
Fact vs. Narrative.
Modernity vs. Postmodernity.
Concrete data vs. Experiential reality.

Pi says this early on his own narrative:
"What of God?"..."An intellect confounded yet a trusting sense of presence and of ultimate purpose. I can well imagine an atheist's last words: 'White, White! L-L-Love! My God!"--and the deathbed leap of faith. Whereas the agnostic, if he stays true to his reasonable self, if he stays beholden to dry, yeastless factuality, might try to explain the warm light bathing him by saying, "Possibly a f-f-failing of oxygenation of the b-b-brain," and, to the very end, lack imagination and miss the better story."

Stunning. How does one articulate so fully with mere words such a colossal theodicy? This is a hermeneutic I've been struggling to find since I audited my first grad class at Yale Divinity. Which is the better perspective--dry yeastless factuality that always makes sense, sees death as only a cessation of oxygen? Or is it the story, albeit embellished, but the lens full of adventure, love, and mystery? Damn you modernity for convincing us that we have to have this God thing so well figured out. Thank you Yann Martel for reminding me that the story is what fulfills us. How, then, even when our rafts are lost at sea, our food rations growing sparse, hungry tigers lurk beneath us in the life boat, all amidst the threatening silence of God do we still reject dry, yeastless factuality as the only spectacle with which to see? I want, even in the mystical silence of hurt and trauma to claim the unintelligible, imaginative, sustaining, and intellectually confounding presence of a god. or of grace. or of peace. not of having answers or certitude. but of a comforting presence inspite of life's shipwrecking storms.

Rent. What a musical. What a show. (I was lucky enough to see one of its last Broadway performances a few years ago.) What a message to try and capture on film. While I don't love the story rearrangement in the film, it's hard not to adore anything that is going to promote Tay Diggs' gleaming whites while he is, (steal my heart away) singing no less! (Breathe, Lauren.) Every time I hear or watch or see this I can't help but walk away from it thinking, "This is it. Community. Pure and simple." --when in actuality community is messy, controversial, and a sum of broken parts trying to make a whole. Confused sexuality, homosexuality, heterosexuality awry with AIDS, "lezzies, dykes, cross-dressers too," so the lyrics go...
drugs, depression, unmet dreams, destroyed dreams, fear of dreaming for more, betrayal, fear, and yet, the tenderness of acceptance that only comes when we allow ourselves to be so brutally vulnerable and honest. It's the community in which I want to live.

Liv asked me if Maureen and Joanne are married because they love each other like I love daddy. I responded yes, of course. And she did not think another thing of it. Nevermind that it's two women. She also is convinced that Angel is an actual female. Sometimes we have to watch twice her first appearance in the film as "she" Angel. It mesmerizes both my kids, the entire film does. And well, perhaps for me the show culminates prematurely with their gathering on the F train to sing about escaping the hardships of urban dwelling with the dream of opening up a restaurant in Santa Fe. So much more to say on this, but I'll leave it at that. I want to live such a fantastically honest, real, uncompromising, and supportive existence in equally close proximity to my own friends.

Studio 54 offered to me the competing end of the spectrum. Here the drugs, sex, rock and roll (does disco count?), dancing, and money arrested community. Brokenness lead to no community or wholeness in this film. A place built to host the never ending party, Studio 54 entertained every Hollywood A-lister in New York City. Andy Warhol (whom you know I adore), Truman Capote, models galore, even California's govenator, 'course he wasn't governor then. How ironic then that those at the party are so isolated from one another. How willing we are to buy into the illusion that we can cover our hurts and despair by cranking the music a little louder, staying out a little later, and topping off our glass of champagne just one more time. (At least, this is part of what I keep coming back to in my reflections on Steve, the owner's life. He died at 45, went to jail for tax evasion, and was a closeted homosexual. All so tragic.) His own party was an effort to ignore the narrative that was being written around him. Or was it an attempt to rewrite one with more pizazz? I don't know.

I go back to Pi's wonderings here. At what point do we give way to our realities and chuckle with maybe a healthy dose of cynicism and say, well, death is what happens when you smoke, drink, and drug too much. Isn't that the dry, yeastless factuality? What makes the story so interesting (to me right now) is the possibilities of something better...a place in Santa Fe. A place where the opportunity to party is still present and even enjoyed, but it's something new that can be experienced with people you love. Even when your girlfriend commits suicide and informs you that you have AIDS in a note, you can still creatively join together in a fusion of something more. God, still, is silent, but the story writes on.

And finally Jude, the Obscure. The title makes it for me. He wants to be special, arrive in his beloved city of Christminster to dwell and stimulate his mind with fellow learned men. But the obscurity of his story off-sets the reader from ever fully falling in love with this character. Just as his old professor mistakenly bought a piano and was forced to drudge the thing around with him, even though he can't even really play the dumb thing, Jude married the wrong fling and his dreams of education and later clericalism suffer and ultimately die. He deems himself too unprivileged to stay in Christminster after one too many rejection letters from his favored institutions, and he flees his studies of the divine when the temptation to love his married cousin grow too fevered and lustrous. His nomadic quests for meaning and fulfillment only leave him evermore resentful of his absent wife and personal disillusionment. For Jude, God's silence serves as a trap, from which he cannot escape. His obscurity and normalcy trap him into an entirely different cynicism. One that he vowed never to cover up again with strong drink or other "blasphemous ways."

All this to say...
I need a drink and a smoke! (haha, I crack myself up.) I think I'm going to go to church tomorrow at Broadway UCC. (We'll see, I haven't made it there yet.) But I need people right now to gather 'round me and by the sheer power of example shove me back into the narrative. Living out of cynicism leaves me angry, discontent, and honestly, wanting another glass of wine when I've finished the first few. What about a narrative that is not about getting it right or missing the mark? It's not a narrative about whether or not what the Bible says really happened.It's not about what works for me should work for you. Instead, it's a story about inspiration, love, and life. It's definitely the pieces that keep things interesting, keep us from getting lost in our own despair, and like Pi and the cast of Rent, remind us of what life is really all about-- It's a narrative where marriages are broken, cancer cells continue to grow, and lay-offs persist. Yet, these facts aren't all there is to it. There is a tiger in the boat. An island covered in deadly algae, and a Mexican infirmary just when Pi needs it the most. A narrative that saves Mimi that night Roger finds her in the park, and enables the rest of the cast to celebrate Angel's vision of peace while they mourn his loss.

Final thought. It's not lost on me that all of these works are incredibly dated by today's cultural milieu. Rent came out in the mid '90's. Studio 54 was an entire generation before me. Thomas Hardy wrote Jude the Obscure a gazillion years ago, and Yann Martel is a product of the '60's. These stories are dated, yet timeless. I love the puzzle of finding my own piece in their retellings.

I also need to start meditation on a regular basis. I f I can, I'd love to do this in a buddhist community. We'll see where and how that chapter follows church tomorrow. Peace. I want to stand on this stage and measure my life by the love I give and receive. That's one helluva story.


What goes around comes around

Whenever I take the time to reread some of my earlier posts on here I am always amazed at how when I am a few months removed from their original publication date (because I am a slacker at staying disciplined with my writing), the earlier thoughts seem more like prophetic predictions rather than a rambling. I almost say out loud, "Yes! That's so true! I had no idea I have been feeling this way for so long." Or instead, I think, "You're just figuring this out? You said the same thing like two years ago."

The bit that just knocked me over with accuracy this time is the comment from an April posting where I casually said that I'm done with church. I said it in the April post more as a demonstrative, provocative thought that challenges even me, but stands actually, I guess now, as an inner leaning. I still struggle to readily confess it. (I'm not being very clear right now.) But today, July 13th, 2010, I really mean it, I think. (At least let me still claim somewhat of a modifier, errr, reluctance in naming it.) I am done with church!

It feels bogus.
It feels insincere.
It seems to be more a place of hurt and isolation rather than healing and wholeness.
I struggle to find community within its walls.
I hate the male leaders behind the pulpits of power and prestige
I hate what conservatives have made the cross mean to people in other traditions, or in no tradition.
(I also think it should be illegal for crosses to be suspended over an interstate or erected in ridiculously oversized proportions!)
What are considered to be stunning and beautiful cathedrals represent to me only modernity/analytical approaches to apologetics/rational and intellectual descriptions that erase the mysteries of faith, men on power trips, and quests for more status, money, baptisms, staff, volunteers, etc. all in the name of Jesus.
I am royally pissed by all of it today.

In case you couldn't read that into the above gerunds.

I'm ticked because for the last few years I've been longing to engage in urban ministry. To find space creatively where there is not enough to go around. To promote greener ways of living with rooftop gardens, shopping locally (easy enough in the city with local farmer's markets--no Target in Manhattan), among other things. Here I am living in Morningside Heights, Manhattan. An area that bridges everything I oppose--the divide between rich and poor. It falls between the limits of the Upper West Side where many of the creme de la creme of NYC reside and the boarders of Harlem, one of the countries largest ghettos. Liv plays soccer on one of the Cloister's lawns--a beautiful area owned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art that lies even farther north of Harlem and Washington Heights. To get there, we pass through a social justice nightmares. Hundreds of high rises that are subsidized and I imagined to be rat and insect infested beyond recourse. Plus, I live on the same property/block as one of the most gorgeous and emphatic churches in the country. This church was built by Rockefeller at the turn of the century intentionally in Morningside Heights to bridge this economic and racial divide in the city. The steeple stands several stories high so that it can be seen still in the every growing NYC skyline. It has a lovely social ministry to the people of the area who are in need. (Or at least that's what I hear and have read about earlier times in the history of the church). I literally see the gorgeous stained glass windows that line the aisles of the sanctuary from my bedroom window first thing every morning.

This church is hiring a minister right now. The cover letter sat on my desk for WEEKS. Finally I had a huge meltdown with Tyler about it a few days ago b/c I need a job and we need some money. (Sallie Mae is on a manhunt for me!)

Here it is. My dream practically being served to me on a silver platter.
New York City
Riverside Church
Morningside Heights
Urban Ministry

And yet...
And yet I'm too angry.

I can't apply, and I won't apply. I refuse to contribute to the institutionalization of the family of God. (So there, says the four year-old inside of me.)

When I look at the towering steeple all I can think of is that line from Shrek when Shrek and Donkey encounter Lord Farquard's gigantic castle. The Lord is a dwarf standing only 2.5 feet tall when at attention. Shrek sarcastically mutters to donkey, "Think he's trying to compensate for anything?"

So now, I have no idea what I'm supposed to do with all this finally admitted anger, hurt, and frustration. I have never felt so cynical before about anything, much less, one of my greatest loves--the church. Can it still find ways to be the people of God?

If so, then why the fuck are there so many highrises of poverty just blocks away this famous institution? Did I mention that is famous for defending civil rights in the '60's, laying the foundation of American homiletics in the '20's and '30's, and finding a way to merge races in their own pews in the '70's and '80's. Why are there still so many tires floating in the Hudson river near the church's property? Why does the subway leave her underground tunnel to face the light of day on a rusted bridge just two blocks north of said steeple? (How kind of those engineers to leave the exhaust and pollution from the train in the air for the poor people instead of building them a tunnel through their city blocks.)

Okay, I'm shutting up now. I'm ticked. I'm tired of the bullshit of just talking about social justice in the church and then nothing ever really gets accomplished because the rich white people are too busy laying out and itemizing all of their principles and beliefs and ideals instead of going to fish some tires out of the river. And if there are people fishing tires out of the river, where the hell are they? I want to help.

The End.


A Beautiful Example of

why I am completely done with white men in positions of power! His arrogance and lackadaisical concern for Jennifer's emotions are profound. But even more, I'm not sure if I'm more sad because of evangelical, fundamental, so-certain-truth-seeking-God-is-only-a-He-with-His-Word-as-a-weapon-to-destruct pastors like this Bob dude in San Diego or because even after coming out and admitting her new found happiness with her lesbian partner, Jennifer Knapp is still insecure in it, cannot say whether or not she is choosing this lifestyle, and sees Scripture as binding. I want to shake both of them while emphatically yelling, "Be set free from your religion!" (That's the pacifist and gentle, attentive listener in me speaking.) ">

I am very proud to say though, that I saw her perform at Lilith Fair way back in the '90's while I was still in high school. woot.

P.S. I think perhaps it should be illegal for any pastor, especially if they are white males to have a website where the domain URL address is your full name. It literally makes me want to hyperventilate in anger. Just can't handle the egoism.

P.P.S. I remember as a teenager wailing the lyrics to this song in the privacy of my empty house. And I still know the words too clearly. The message is so mixed up, individualistic, and fundmantalist. But oh, I love her voice and her!



Unravel this Mystery for Me

The ability that all of us humans carry to inflict hurt and pain on one another leaves me indignant sometimes, and at others, I just feel like rolling my eyes as I lament, "Get over it! We're all abusers." The fact of the matter is that we are abusers. We all long to be known and feel threatened when we are not. We put ourselves out there in relationship with our humans and if our needs are not met, or our insecurities feel unmatched, or our vulnerabilities dominated then we protect ourselves by throwing down our attacker. Sometimes we do it on purpose, like middle school girls jockeying for the proverbial top rung on the social networking ladder. Other times, and probably more commonly, we hurt the people we love without realizing it.

An overly aggressive word to our spouse in a heated argument,
the inability to accept a friend's dysfunctional state,
or belittling the person whose stereotypes and assumptions do not match our own.

Yet, it's all on a spectrum isn't it? Some people hurt more than others, and others seem to never hurt at all. However, I'm talking about those of us who live supposedly "normal" lives as we walk around with our issues and struggle with how best to give and receive love inspite of them, but also giving and receiving pain in the meantime because of them.

This makes me sad. It leaves me feeling cynical and violated. I feel naive and foolish for thinking that love is a mystery that conquers all fears. Doesn't true love trump the desire to hurt, even when we might feel over-exposed?

Buddhism has four central tenants--the Noble Truths as they have come to be called:
1. Suffering comes up in everyone's life.
2. This suffering is caused by craving.
3. We can stop suffering by stopping craving.
4. To stop craving, follow Buddha's path (basically and in a Christian lens, follow the Golden Rule and seek spiritual experiences through meditation).

Christianity claims that God is love and perfect love casts out fear.

And God is a relational God, isn't that what the Trinity is about? Paul Knitter writes that the most "fundamental, deepest truth Christians can speak of God is that God is the source and power of relationships." In God we live, move, and have our being. We exist through relationships that center on knowing, loving, and giving since that's how God exists. It's about community. Where is God in our readiness to abuse?

I abstractly believe Paul when he wrote that there is one God above all things, through all things, and in all things. God promises never to leave or forsake God's created people. So in loving our friends, we are engaging in the work of God and living God's life (another point Knitter makes).

...And yet...

And yet we still crave and consequently suffer as well. Cravings so deep that Buddha says we are willing to suffer as we hope for their fulfillment. Or we're even willing to cause others to suffer.

The duality that ensues from this has let me down. Perhaps we should thank modernity for the duality. I like that Buddha teaches that instead of some Transcendent Other, or as Paul Tillich said a "Ground of Being," God can be viewed as the "Ground of Interbeing" (ala Knitter). In other words, God needs us as much as we need God.

Before you label me a heretic, hang with me. I'm trying to make room for evil, I think. Abuse is evil. People intentionally or unintentionally hurting other people seems evil.

Tracing back to Buddha, he says that wisdom comes when we are awakened to the reality that everything is interrelated. But you can not achieve this enlightened, wise perspective without compassion. We are all interconnected with one another; we cannot see both sides of the coin and pick just one and claim enlightenment. Either we care about our neighbor as much as our self, and vice versa, or we are not wise. Again, it's essentially the Golden Rule.

Knitter explains that "One's self becomes one's self-power. One's self-power becomes an expression of Other Power, as a wave is the expression of the Ocean...There is no individual self that can be neatly identified and that acts by itself. There is just interconnection, InterBeing, InterBeings. Lyotard, much later, said that no man is an island. Thomas Merton titled one his genius works this.

So, we are a confluence of good and evil in this sense. No one is 100% abuser or 100% abusee. No on is all perpetrator or all victim.

And as a Christian, I want to say through the teachings of Jesus and by the power of the Spirit we are able to experience a sense of groundedness that yields inner peace, as well as a sense of connectedness/InterBeing that produces compassion for others. When we are living our insecurities, fears, and therefore hurts, and we malign other beings with whom we are innerconnected, we are not at peace with ourselves and lacking wisdom. We are living out of our selfish cravings and therefore suffering with a lack of peace. In this sense, we are abusers.

The ways in which we live are the ways in which we meet the Creator God, or fail to meet the Creator God.

So that, the more I give and love and create and celebrate with and for other people whom I both love and do not even know, I more fully experience the utter mysterious presence of God at work in the world and in all people. It's not through the abuse that God is most manifest, but in the healing and wholeness that can still come in the aftermath of such destruction.

And in this way, God needs us. God needs us to respond abuses on a personal and global level so that God can be made manifest in the wake of evil!

(Sorry if this post makes no sense at all. I'm in process here...)


Eulogies and Homilies

When I first realized that I seemed created to work in the church on a vocational path I did not trust that I liked, erh, loved people enough to really be any sort of meaningful pastor. But with my comfort in front of a large group could I not just hide my apathy for the congregants and their struggles behind the pulpit of a fantastic preaching career? Hmmmm... Then I tried preaching a few times in college and realized that it was a bit more challenging that I originally anticipated and consequently decided that I hated writing sermons. (It's an arduous task that still leaves me anguished.)

It never caused an sort of existential crisis, I still knew I would work in the church, but as I matured and realized all that ministry entailed, I also sobered a tad and confessed that I had no idea what sort of ministry I imagined. For the two years that I lived in CT and took classes at Yale, I grew into a fairly avid follower of the emerging church scene. Perusing blogs, purchasing books by B. McLaren, D. Paggit, P. Ward, T. Jones, C. Seay, R. Bolger, E. Gibbs, and others, and dreaming about contemporary venues in which to house sacred spaces that celebrate the arts and capture the intellectual, liturgy-bound folks as well became time consuming and inspiring projects. Still, I was unsure how my impatience for people's issues fit into all of that.

Then came my first pastoral theology class, my first quarter as an official seminarian. I was skeptical of the Presbyterian professor. (Who really believes all of that reformed shit anyway? And this was before I officially joined an Anabaptist community. ha.) Never will I forget sitting there, notebook open, and it wasn't a Mac, but a real spiral bound Five Start beauty, pen at attention, and the excitement that comes with the certainty that you are just where God wants you for a given moment. As we navigated our way through the curriculum I felt a greater and stronger pull from some Other transcendental force, urging me out from behind my metaphorical pulpit, aka my hiding space, and into the messy, detailed lives of parishioners. How else does one know what to preach if they are not adequately immersed into the daily happenings of their flock?

But the unit that really cinched up the knot of pastoral care for me was funerals. The opportunity to meet people in moments of crisis, especially the ones that are unexpected like when the community teenager is killed in the car wreck, when words only feel trite and inadequate, and when pain is too palpable and severe, when the shock reverberates still, and when questions of faith and spiritually are pushed to extreme limits means an opportunity to bring the presence of the divine into places of isolation, loneliness, despair, and fragmented marginalization--the places God loves most to be with people. The opportunity to bring comfort, hope, or love or not, but instead simply and silently to sit and represent the permission to still dream despite the heartache inspired me. What a humbling and surprising gift. The expectation and anticipation of one day getting to offer that gift to parishioners often led me to tears in class. Yes, I cried in class. Quite a bit depending on the class actually (or in what stage of my pregnancy I currently existed). Next came the art of crafting a good eulogy. How best do you celebrate a life, honor the deceased, and offer hope to those who are grieving? What a commission. One that makes me jealous when I see other people doing it well and angry when such times for care are abused or neglected. Maybe I do love people enough to be their pastor--not just their preacher.

Fast forward three years, Jude is new, and Livia is not yet two. After taking a one quarter hiatus from school to acclimate to my knew set of circumstances and life pace, I soon realized that I missed the world of academia too much to stay away for long. So, a few months into mothering two, wife-ing one and figuring out when there was time or room for reading and paper writing, I started to wonder what it was I was actually doing. Is this degree really necessary? Is the M.Div necessary? Can I not just love my friends and family enough on interpersonal levels through situational relationships? Do I really need to pastor? The pace was hard. Let's be honest, I was exhausted.

Then came two dear friends with the invitation to perform one of two homilies at their wedding. The memories of my pastoral care class inundated my honored mind. OF COURSE I will help officiate at your wedding! OF COURSE this will fill me up beyond overflowing. (Who says the wedding is about the bride and groom?) This outdoor ceremony in latent May arrived at a personally critical juncture. To marry or not? As the pre-ceremony butterflies fluttered around in my post-natal, fatigued gut, and as I later stood before the bride and groom offering to them words of encouragement, mutual enjoyment, and hope for a married life well lived under the cornerstone of Christ, I could not help but think by the time the reception rolled around, that again, Yes! This is why I am here. To bless people in the name of a loving God on one of the most meaningful and significant days of their lives. Truly, this too, is a gift beyond measure.

So then, herein lies my new confession (I think this is a tangent regarding my original purpose in this post) as I experience more closely the theological dilemma and blinding pain of lost love (not in my own marriage, however): is the presentation of Mr. Tyler and Mrs. Lauren Mayfield (hypothetically speaking) a ridiculous announcement doomed to failure? Marriage between the greatest of two lovers is not a guarantee, no matter how much we claim that divorce is not an option. We freakin' live in a world of prenuptial agreements!!! And yet, death is certain. Death is not to be avoided. The allure of marital bliss ebbs and flows, while the certainty of death remains constant.

I'm not sure if I believe in marriage anymore. This concerns me. I used to be so excited to continue in the tradition of marrying dear friends and parishioners alike. But it feels disloyal to do so at this point when I am no longer sure of the legitimacy of the covenant.

Perhaps what I am trying to say is this:
That the opportunity to perform my friends' wedding reminded me of why I wanted to pastor and minister in the first place--to serve people in times of need, be they positive or negative. Again, what a gift to stand at the alter with them as a way of blessing and sharing such holy and intimate moments.

However, life's moments of celebration and joy used to thrill me beyond measure and leave me with an excitement to be felt for days. And when I realized that it was so exciting to be the minister in such instances because I really do love people enough to share such intimate moments with them, I never dreamed that it could get any better.

But now, in general, joyous moments make me feel cautious, trepidatious, and even a bit foolish for hoping in their continued joy. I'm thinking of births, dedications, baptisms, homecomings, weddings, etc. This bums me out and does make me wonder if I write tonight from my own depression rather than joy.

Whereas, the darker moments of life, those crises that are inevitable but unexpected, the experiences that shake us to our core and force us to question our very existence are where I long to minister. Is that dark and morbid?

Maybe not.

Right now it feels incredibly real and honest. It is what is secure and what I know.

I find it easier to bless a prematurely birthed baby resting in the NICU and her tender-hearted parents who struggle to process the ordeal and minutia of medical details in the road ahead of them, than I do the vibrant, healthy, breast-feeding newbie who knows no struggle until later times. (Not that I'm not rejoicing over a healthy birth, don't misread me.) Because the fact of the matter is, we are all going to mess up our kids. We are all going to need a good therapist. And those of us in the trials of life are usually more perceptive to and ready to acknowledge this truth than those of us who move through life migrating from one celebration to the next.

Is this my cynicism or my authentic and growing love for the realities of life and the people who are forced to experience them?

Despite my questions, I can claim that I long to pastor in such ways that enable people to confess the traumas of life while still giving themselves permission to hope for joy and something more fulfilling. And this is only because I long for them to know that they are loved by a Creator and Caring God who promises time and again to never leave for forsake...when we feel happy, but even more so in extreme seasons of depression and oppression. Even more now I realize just how much I love God's people. We all hurt. We all need pastors. We all need to be reminded that God loves us. Amen? Amen.


And Here She is, Folks!

Holy Cow...I'm back. I can't believe I haven't even logged into this stinkin' account since October. What the fuck? Where has all the time gone? What happened to my lofty goals of writing about and processing seminary? I was so serious about trying to do that. Now it makes me chuckle. I feel like I've already moved on too much for such pettiness. Kidding. Now I think I'm just too lazy. Yes. That's it.

Well, that, and the fact that in the last six months my entire world has jostled me to such a degree that this roller coaster ride of life needs to be shut-down and lie dormant while the engineers construct better protective padding to the head, neck, and well, the heart area as well. (Please comment if you remember that only awesome song by Point of Grace, "This roller coaster ride of life, lifts you and lets you down!!??")

I just briefly browsed through my latest postings, and I've decided to start writing on here more like I talk. The other stuff doesn't even sound like me anymore. I cuss--a lot. My three-year-old knows how to use the F-bomb appropriately, and it makes me laugh not punish. I guess that'll stop when she gets sent home from kindergarten for disrespectful language. I also feel like the other stuff is a bit sappy now. Maybe it all goes back to the roller coaster of life thing. I don't feel very sappy these days. I've been sad and angry recently. And well, I am done with evangelicalism. I resent rich white men in positions of power (there I finally wrote it down), and I'm tired of church--not MY church, but Church, mostly when it has all the answers, practices exclusive doctrines, and uses fear tactics. It is sooooo difficult to have any sort of meaningful, inquisitive conversation in the church where the dialogue is not stifled or stuck. I'm tired of all of this.

So, I guess this post is only a warning that I am going to be more blunt on here. I think that's why I've been avoiding it and returned to my private, hand-written journal the last few months. It's a bit safer. But dammit, here I am! "Nice Girls Don't Change the World!" as one of my favorite books is titled, so get ready. I am currently processing a lot of life shit right now and feeling cynical, hurt, and dejected--all relatively new emotions for idyllic, peacefully naive me. I'm not very balanced right now. So, consider yourselves warned.

And as I type this I realize this will still be a seminary reflection, but not so much in a systematic, Thomas Aquinas Summa Theologica format, but instead, through a Derridean, pomo, life-experience-is-the-real-deal-and-stage-for-theologizing sort of way...the way with which I'm comfortable and to which I am more accustomed.