Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The perfect Ash Wednesday

begins with me swearing in front of my children about 23 seconds after coming downstairs. Noah was being particularly crabby today and in a fit of anger, I almost said the F-word, but caught myself after the 'fuh' part. This is especially appalling because I almost never drop the F-bomb in front of the kids. In fact, we have a rule that if my husband or I swear in front of them, we give each a quarter.

Since I gave up swearing for Lent, I was feeling particularly penitential at the 12:00 service today.

23 seconds, people. That has got to be an embarrassing new low.

Lord, forgive me.

In other news, Nguyen and I, in that same fit of pique, put the TV in the basement and decided that as a family we are giving up the tube for the next 40 days. Emmett has been very matter of fact about it, but Noah has been whining for most of the day. "Why can't I watch a dvd, Mom? It's not TV!"

I think I will bring them to the aquarium tomorrow.

Monday, February 19, 2007

This might be the scary part

Yesterday one of my fellow congregants asked me

"Are you losing weight?"

"Yes." I said. Then I started to walk away. Not in a rude way, but in a 'I don't think I am really ready to talk about this' way.

My biggest fear around dropping weight is that I worry I'll get cocky... which is the kiss of death. I need to stay humble and open to God at every turn. I need to offer my successes and failures to him. I need to honor that without him, I can do nothing. But even at church it would be hard to fit all that into a 10 second sound byte conversation as I am heading to my pew.

And then there's Lent. And before it, Shrove Tuesday, which involves copious amounts of pancakes. (Maybe I'll bring eggs.)

I will be leaving my baggage at the door as I head in to church on Wednesday. I'll take only the clothes on my back and the love in my heart as I head out into the desert with the one I love.

Without him, I am nothing.

With him, nothing is impossible.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Quote O' the day

Take neither great nor little notice of who is with you or against you
and try always to please God. Ask Him that His will be done in you. Love
Him intensely, as He deserves to be loved.

~St. John of the Cross
"Sayings of Light and Love"

Friday, February 09, 2007

Psalm 41

I have been slacking a bit with my psalm reading at night, but last night I opened my prayer book and read, among other things, psalm 41. Maybe it is because of my weekly Lectio Divina practice, but something immediately jumped out at me:

Psa 41:3 The LORD sustains him on his sickbed; in his illness thou healest all his infirmities.

Psa 41:4 As for me, I said, "O LORD, be gracious to me; heal me, for I have sinned against thee!"

This blows my mind. What it says is that even in my sickness, God is with me. He heals me while I am sick. In other words, God's perfection doesn't hinge on my perfection. His perfection can, in fact, heal my imperfection.

How many times in my life have I thought I had to do the healing before asking for help? I'll join a gym after I have lost a few pounds. I'll ask for help with my finances after I have figured them out. It is human nature to want to avoid looking as sick and screwed up as we are.

But in God's grace, it doesn't work that way. We don't have to let shame keep us from him. We don't have to get well on our own before throwing in the towel and begging for his help and mercy. All we need to do is show up, hat in hand, and fall to our knees.

He will come to us, in our sickbed, and heal us.


Only you can heal me in my sickness. Thank you. Amen.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007


For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, Reiki is a Japanese form of energy work that helps get your inner energy flowing freely. Unfortunately, in it's modern, American, incarnation, it tends to be all kinds of New Age hocus-y pocus-y. In fact, I think some Christians steer clear of it altogether.

Which is a shame. Because really, it is Holy Spirit energy... and nothing could be more loving.

I have been a very part-time Reiki practitioner for about 7 years, but had experienced Holy Spirit energy work many years before that. I still, occasionally, see Reiki clients. I love to lay my hands on people and let the love of God flow through me and into them. Often people break down into tears. Sometimes their belly's gurgle. Usually there are deep sighs of relief or contentment.

For a long time now, I have been praying silently while working. I imagine Jesus standing with me, holding my hands, or laying his hands on the client. I offer my Reiki to him silently, and sometimes cross myself while my client's eyes are closed.

Tonight, though, I said a prayer aloud as I began to lay my hands on my client. "God" I said. "Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer. I offer this healing to you. Amen."

My client didn't flinch. She didn't jump up from the table in a panic. She just lay there. Breathing deeply. Allowing herself to be loved. Crying a little, even.

I don't know why I am so shy about saying out loud what I know to be true: That this is a dance we do with God... that he is in the midst of it when we love and care for each other. That his love is flowing through my hands into the heart of my client. I know all that to be true, and yet find it hard to just come out and say it. But tonight I did.

And it was good.

Borders Books Contest

Borders is sponsoring a writing contest. The grand prize is a trip to New Orleans for the Jazz festival and a meet and greet with Harry Connick Jr. while working on a house for Habitat for Humanity.

150 words or less. Can be an essay or poem. It is supposed to tell why you dream of New Orleans.

Here's mine:

Blue dog down
that dark wet place
this northern girl cannot believe
what happened

we sit on the edge of the earth and dream
of dark water
and dark skies
yet never in our darkest moments
imagined it could be true

But there

metal and trees
mud and jazz
thumpety thumpety
tap tap tap

it begins.

© the big dunk, 2007

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


Are the pure of heart, for they will see God.

We read the Beatitudes in bible study today and I just sopped them up like a roll in tomato sauce. I love that Matthew quotes the Big Guy so much. It is wonderful to hear things straight from the source.

In my bible (Oxford NRSV Study with Apocrypha) it defines 'blessed' as 'Happy. Satisfied.' Jesus is right that I would be happy to see God, even if, as the Hebrews believed, I would be immolated on the spot.

But what I take this line to mean is that if you are pure of heart, meaning no hidden agendas, no resentments, no unspoken motivations, then you see God everywhere you look. You see him in every person, every situation, every experience.

Mat 5:3 Blessed [are] the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Mat 5:4 Blessed [are] they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Mat 5:5 Blessed [are] the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Mat 5:6 Blessed [are] they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Mat 5:7 Blessed [are] the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Mat 5:8 Blessed [are] the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Mat 5:9 Blessed [are] the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Mat 5:10 Blessed [are] they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Mat 5:11 Blessed are ye, when [men] shall revile you, and persecute [you], and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
Mat 5:12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great [is] your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

Beloved God,

Today I offer myself to you. I am poor in spirit. I know nothing of you. Let me be open to the movements of your spirit in the world and in my heart.

In my prayers are Fr. Rich as he travels this week. And the man who joined us at bible study today, who is about to be received into the Anglican church. And all of us who need your healing love.