Monday, April 27, 2009

Air Shows, Dirt and Baptism: Let Go of Your Sin

We have just returned from the depths? heights? innards ? of central Florida. If there are two or three things about central Florida that are universal, it would be the dust, the heat and the suddenness of the rain in the afternoon.

We carried the camper down with us to Lakeland's Sun 'N Fun Air Show and went primitive – no hookups were available. No water, not electricity, no sewage -- and horror of horrors, no internet. That meant no showers in the trailer and no air-conditioning. Hot, hot, hot and the dirt was everywhere -- powder fine and black as coal.

The air show had set up showers for us to use but (unlike previous years) there were limited times of operation. I didn’t know that on Tuesday. We did a marathon trip down (9 hours) after packing all morning. I had taken a shower that morning, but skipped the next. We arrived at the campgrounds 7 minutes too late to get in for the night so we parked next to the entrance and waited until morning. That night I thought, “Well, I’ll just take one in the morning.” But we did breakfast and some unpacking and some air show prep, so I didn’t get to the showers until 5 minutes after they closed. Rats! Of course, I didn’t look at the sign through my foggy, dirt encrusted eyes so ... I missed the afternoon session as well. The up shot of all this? 4 days in the hot Flordia sun with no air-co and no showers. Yuck. By the time I got to the showers I was wallowing in yucki-ness. The fine black dust settles onto your perspiration and forms a sort of “Lakeland Mud.” Super yuck. Four days of it – Urgh. I have no words for how I felt after looking at my besmirched, grimy visage with the vicissitudes of 4 days of dirt festooning it.

My shower then was wonderful. I felt that warm, soft water stream over my head and it was heavenly. It was as balm to me; it was the best shower I could remember. I thought:
Come now, and let us reason together," Says the LORD, "Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool. (Isaiah 1:18)
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. (Psalm 51:7)

To be cleansed from sin; to be washed; the waters of Baptism should feel like this; they should feel like salve, like balm to our dirty, grimy, stressed out souls.

Later that night, I washed my feet in the dishpan we had set aside for that purpose and I thought about this passage:
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, "Lord, are you going to wash my feet?"
Jesus replied, "You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand."
"No," said Peter, "you shall never wash my feet."
Jesus answered, "Unless I wash you, you have no part with me."
"Then, Lord," Simon Peter replied, "not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!" Jesus answered, "A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean, (John 13:6-10a)
We dwell on our sin; yet God does not. The dirt that encrusted me that morning was indeed gone; I have been washed clean of the stain of sin by my baptism. I only needed to wash my feet; we already are clean, only the incidental stains of the day need to be confessed.

There are deep truths that we understand and know with our heads; however until they are played out in our lives we sometimes do not fully incorporate them into our hearts.

Before I forget, God help me let go of the things I need to let go of – sins that have occurred and that You have forgiven, but that I haven’t forgiven myself. I am indeed clean as snow; I have been purged with hyssop. God help me remember that.

I think tomorrow I am going to pack a few health kits for UMCOR, just like we did the day after Katrina. A shower when you are hot and dirty is heavenly; I can imagine that to receive a hot shower with a clean washcloth and towel, soap, toothbrush and toothpast, comb and nail clippers when you have nothing else can make you feel more human -- it can give you a measure of dignity. maybe after your body is clean and refreshed, you can encounter the cleansing relief, the balm of the baptismal waters.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Retreat Time

Maybe not at a retreat center or anything, though. I am going to do an internet "break" for at least 5 days; on one hand it will not be anything radical, on the other hand, I am leaving it behind so that I can be more attentive to my own inner spiritual life and to my family.

So ta-ta for now. I may post some things today and tomorrow. Maybe. But then I am taking a break.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Update on the Ancient Greek Studies

They stayed with me most all day... We read aloud bits of the Odyssey (bitty bits), looked at the Geography, read a bit of the history, watched two videos, listened to a lecture and did some sketches of Attic Pottery. I dug around and got out the good compass and straightedge -- but don't have 3 good sketchpads. I need to go purchase two more BIG ones. I suppose the Math will come next week.

As a treat, we watched "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" We were able to identify many of the episodes with the Odyssey, but some will require more research.

Still working on Science tie-ins. Especially Biology.

Homeschool Day -- Begin Greek Week

Today is the beginning of Greek Week. Of course, I may spend more than one single week on Greece, but just for kicks, here's a plan our activities so far.

  • Watch the 4th episode of World History from The Teaching Company about ancient Greece.
  • Watch from SnagFilms "Beyond the Movies: Troy"
  • Read some from Illiad and Odessy
  • Watch from NetFlix a PBS film about Ancient Greece.
  • Copy some Attic Pottery on preprinted vase forms
  • Watercolor some Attic Pottery from scratch -- Impressionistic
  • Talk about Pythagorus
  • Use Euclidian tools to do a Golden Rectangle; Discover the integral nature of the square root of 5; phi and pi
  • Pull out the Golden Relationships Textbooks
  • Do "art" with Golden Rectangle
  • Talk about "Circle of Fifths" in Music
  • Fibonacci Numbers
  • Play around with the musical instruments, exploring 5ths, Dominant, Sub-dominant, Tonic Cords; Key signatures
  • Watch "Donald Duck in Mathmagic Land"
  • Read some in the World History Book about Ancient Greece
  • Read in the "Music Theory for Dummies" about Pythagorus and Ancient Greece
  • Watch episode number one of the Music Appreciation videos from The Teaching Company
  • Assign some writing (like they will do it...)
  • Explore the Greek Alphabet; do some art with the Greek Alphabet
  • Make a Timeline of butcher paper that we can add to as we go on
  • Explore the Greek Cookbook; make Baclava, Hummus, Easter cookies
  • For me: search for something to talk about harmonics and resonance; science of Music; look for tie in to Biology; Museums? Visit the Greek church? Films -- Medea, Antigone? Ancient Greek Anime? Oscilloscope to explore harmonics?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

New Pasta Recipe

Originally made last week of things in the pantry/refrigerator. It's similar to a traditional Italian recipe. Enjoy!

Pasta with Fresh Tomatoes, Peas and Prosciutto

Chop an onion and dice the Prosciutto (about 1/2 pound -- this week I substituted 8 slices bacon). Brown it together in some olive oil until nice and crispy (not TOO crispy). Deglaze pan with some wine. I used about 1 cup of a nice Monteagle blush (Sunset Blush, to be exact). Add a bit of crushed garlic, black pepper and basil. Last week, it was fresh and nicely chopped. This week I used dried -- a copious amount. I also added a bit of salt. Dice three fresh tomatoes. Last week, I peeled them; this week I didn't bother. Add some fresh peas. Last week, they were freshly shelled English peas; this week frozen Green Giant in a butter sauce. Next comes a cup and a half (or so) of heavy cream and some Asiago cheese, grated. When it starts to bubble, add some penne pasta and toss gently. Grate some fresh Parmesan on top. Divine. I would eat this sauce over almost anything -- or just all by itself. It's probably a heart attack in a pan, but it's so very good.

I also baked a loaf of fresh bread last week and thought about a salad. I'm working on a goat-cheese, dried cranberry and walnut salad made with spinach greens, caramelized onions and raspberry vinaigrette, but never got around to it this week.

Everyone Deserves A Roof

I Love Tiny Houses. Maybe a better phrase than "tiny houses" is "human sized housing." I will admit that I love BIG spaces as well. Huge spaces appeal to my sense of drama, but when I want to be still and quiet and not dance around in sock feet sliding on slick wood floors, I want a human sized space.

I believe strongly in the dignity of each and every human being. I believe strongly in every human having the basics necessary for human life -- food, clothing, shelter, medical care and education. I am intrigued by several ideas: sustainable housing, recycled housing, modular housing.

I found this company this week: EDAR, which stands for Everyone Deserves A Roof. From their website:
EDAR (Everyone Deserves A Roof) is a 501(c)(3) charity that provides unique mobile shelters to those living on the streets all around us. Each EDAR is a four-wheeled mobile unit which carries belongings and facilitates recycling during the day and which unfolds into a special, framed tent-like sleeping enclosure with a bed at night.
This company captures my imagination. A way to give a homeless person ("urban outdoorsmen" to some; "shelter resistant" to others) dignity; housing that is what they need for the moment. It's not a perfect solution, but it's something. I can imagine it's just a step along the way; it's not a real house or a permanent solution, but it's better than a shopping cart covered with garbage bags.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Sustainable Dwellings

In my ongoing search for small houses and sustainable dwellings, I found this charming and uber modern shed system:

I love the sleek modern lines. This makes me want to paint Mondrian type paintings in my mid-century chair...

The website shows a whole setup -- main dwelling, studio and guesthouse. I would love one of these to go into a little "village" of different types of architecture; several small dwellings of different styles to share with my friend and family; a sort of "retreat village."


Monday, April 13, 2009

If'n you like tiny houses

and are right fond of Channel-cat and are a hankerin' after a bit of 'grass, this video is for you. Enjoy.

I do believe we are gonna have to go to Booty's Fish House on Friday night. Y'all come!

Seriously! I think about a quarter of my parishioners go to Booty's on Friday night.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday

It is Friday
And I stand at the foot of the cross.

Nothing can be said, nothing can be done.
Action is futile – hebel.
I can hold the other's hands and weep, but I cannot be comforted.

It is Friday
And I stand at the foot of the cross.

The air is heavy still with waiting and longing.
Waiting for the inevitable, longing for the impossible.
Can this cup pass from me?
I look around me – all the colors are muted.
Dusty browns and grays – Cold and metallic.
Rolling black clouds cover the brilliant blue of the sky
As my soul is occluded by pain.
All that remains is the red of the blood
Running down the weathered wood of the cross.

It is Friday
And I stand at the foot of the cross.

I reach out and touch the raised grain of the wood.
It is rough against my fingertips.
The pong of unwashed wool and bodies crowds my nose.
I smell fear, pain, death. I taste it at the back of my throat.
I hear the labored breathing from the cross.
Death is near.

It is Friday
And I stand at the foot of the cross.

Remember Him!
Remember Him as the silver cord is severed, as the golden bowl is broken.
Remember Him as the pitcher is shattered at the spring and the wheel broken at the well.
Remember Him as the dust returns to the ground it came from and
His spirit returns to the God who gave it.

It is Friday
And I stand at the foot of the cross.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009


I have been thinking a lot recently, but have not had time to put down my thoughts. I've been thinking about why I am a minister and I think it's because I love life in liminal spaces. I love life in the in-between spaces, in the transitional spaces, in what mystics might call the thin spaces.

I love to sit in contemplation at the edge of a rock quarry, at the edge of a meadow, at the beginning of the dunes and watch life occur around and within me. I've heard it said that 80 percent of the wildlife exists within 20 feet of this space where the forest meets the meadow. The animals weave in and out of the vegetation interacting with each other in dappled shadow and sunlight. I love to sit just at the edge of the dunes and the beach, watching the snow crab and painted buntings flit in and out of the myrtles. I love the edge of the rock quarry where the birds can dive off into empty space in glorious abandon.

As a minister, I too inhabit that marginal, liminal space. I live on the edges; between death and life, between repentance and regeneration, between earth and heaven. I like to believe that 80 percent of life is lived here in richness, weaving in and out of the dappled sunlight of God's love. I like to believe that people would want to join me. I don't know if they do or not.

The verse "And Jesus said to him, ‘Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head'" -- this verse speaks to me. The birds of the air and the foxes of the earth do not rest in this liminal space. Their habitat is within the meadow and the forest, but I believe that Jesus, the Christ, the Anointed One of God dwells with me in this liminal space; that the Christ abides with me here. Perhaps Christ rests here within me, outside me, around me, above me and below me. This is the thin space; here is my rest.

Tonight is a night of darkness -- for Maudy Thursday

Tonight is a night of darkness.
We gather it together like gauze and wrap our souls in it.
Tonight is a night of final things.
We gather together in the darkness and hold hands for one last meal.
Tonight is a night of water.
We gather together to cleanse and prepare.
Tonight is a night of tears
We gather together and pray that the tears can wash away the betrayal yet
Tonight is a night of betrayal.
We gather together to support one another, but one of us will destroy.

The cup comes to me at the table – the cup of the last meal
I will drink of it deeply and
Remember all the good times; the teachings, the laughter, the love.
The cup comes to me at the table – the cup of new beginnings
I will drink of it deeply and
Hope that the new covenant will not hurt too much as it is carved on my heart
The cup comes to me in the garden – the cup of my Father’s will
I will drink of it deeply after
I ask that it pass from me.
The cup comes to me as He is on the cross – the cup of bitterness
I will drink of it deeply even
If it comes in a form that is alien to me.
The cup comes to me tonight and I will drink
I will drink deeply and enter into
At one ment with Him.

This is the dark night of the cup.
Dark is the wine, dark are the shadows, dark is my soul.
Together we enter into this night, we will leave separately in silence.
Can I be at one with Him? Will I stand watch with Him tonight?
Or will I too sleep at the gate?
Will I embrace and kiss only to betray?

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Movie - Diary of a Country Priest

I do love movies -- I remember as a kid watching the 1:00 pm movie every single day on TBS. I saw a tremendous number of movies that way; I also would watch just about anything late night as well.

I've started to watch movies via my Netflix subscription online; it works well during the day, not so well at night. I also get about 6 movies at a time with Netflix. The LH likes to watch them too, so I can't watch them as fast as I would like.

This week I watched (twice) a very gripping movie from 1951 - "Diary of a Country Priest" written by Georges Bernanos and directed by Robert Bresson. It's in French (of course) with subtitles and portrays a young and inexperienced priest in a small country French parish. He has consistant "stomach troubles" which necessitate him eating nothing but bread and wine. He also has your basic parish that is a closed system with little support from his superiors. He encounters extreme dysfunction in the church because of an adulterous affair; the hint of the affair is in the very first scene.

The film influenced Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver, or so Wikipedia tells us. It was not an enjoyable film, really. Thought provoking and incomprehensible at times, yes. Enjoyable, no. Today I watch "Diary of a City Priest" which was suggested as a companion piece because "it turns out better." We shall see.

Wow. Glen Beck on Printing Money.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Still Tender

So very much so, that when I couldn't find Sugar, I almost had a panic attack. Sugar hides very very well. However, the LH realized that the door was closed and the food had evaporated. So Sugar HAD to be in the room. She knows how to hide so very well that it took almost all day for us to figure out where she was hiding -- behind the old dining room buffet we use for the TV. It has space under it, but also has a kickplate in front so you can't see under it.

I'm glad I have Johnnycat and Sugarbaby. I am very very grateful.