2009/01/29

The Friend Award

A few weeks ago, like two or something, I got the friend award. Thanks for giving me that. Being a good friend, even a blog friend, is something I value.

So, I've been thinking about who to pass the award on to. I am giving it to a whole class of people, and you pretty much have to judge for yourself whether or not you are in it.

For one thing it only goes to straight people. No homos need apply. And it goes to those straight people who have taken it upon themselves to really understand the gay experience. There are a couple of you lurking around here.

If I were a straight woman. Alright now, stop giggling... If I were, I don't know if I would have done the work to figure out any alternative sexualities, I doubt seriously that I would have made it a cause.

It is all to easy to say, Well that's not really my issue. I would very likely have been too involved with whatever had my attention at the moment to give much thought to it. And that is why I think it's so extraordinary that straight people join the struggle and do the work.

I like to imagine that I would have been like some of you: concerned about justice, reading the gospels through the eyes of the marginalized, passionate about bringing all God's children to the table. But, I don't know... I think I am passionate about those things because they impact my own issues so closely. But, I see you out there. I see you, and I am learning from you.

So, this award goes to my straight friends, the ones who brook no compromise and take on all injustice as if it were their own cause. I am thankful for your passion, and I am thankful that I know you.

I am not sure if I am supposed to put this on FaceBook or email it to people or what... So, I am jut putting it here.

I got tagged for the 25 things about you meme. So, here they are, in no particular order:

1. It is 365 days until my next birthday,
2. Like many of you, I drink too much Diet Coke.
3. I generally prefer to be alone.
4. I am not a morning person.
5. I am easily and quickly bored.
6. I might be overly fastidious in my personal hygiene.
7. I have poor self esteem.
8. I once met Janet Jackson. It did not go well.
9. I have lived on both coasts.
10. I let my dog sleep on the bed.
11. I collect miniature metal buildings.
12. I don’t like shopping. Shopping is not a hobby.
13. I have all kinds of friends,
14. I like chamber music, especially if there’s a harpsichord.
15. My new favorite wine is Yellow Tail. I change favorites every couple of months.
16. I am as devoted as I can be to the Blessed Mother Mary.
17. I have a fairly decent collection of original art, several Texas artists.
18. I save bicentennial quarters, Not sure why.
19. My favorite TV shows are Ugly Betty and Boston Legal.
20. I have a brother.
21. I get sea sick.
22. I have secrets that no one knows.
23. I like hymn singing.
24. I am in physical pain more often than anyone would guess. Hard living, you know.
25. I do not believe that I am all that interesting.

If you want to play, you're tagged. If you don't want to play, no problem.

2009/01/28

I've got a couple of things to blog on, and I want to get around to it. I do. But, I am very into Psalm 119 with special attention to a certain word, and that has got most of my attention. Plus, I am occasionally looking in on the rest of you. And, I am trying to learn a new song on the piano. I have some thank you notes to get out. And, of course, little Bishop Rowan would like some play time.

I would like you to say a prayer, if you are so inclined, for my friend Linda -- that's right, same name as me. She's having what should be a minor operation today but she's feeling scared about it.

Even if I don't write to you, know that many of you remain in my prayers and close to my thoughts too. Your concerns and uncertainties are never far from God's heart. It's true. You are each a beautiful, and precious, gem in God's eyes. Mine too, actually.

Peace.

2009/01/20

I'm a lover not a fighter. Ask anyone, I just am. I'd pretty much rather throw myself under a train than engage in conflict. Yet, in almost every single job I've had, I was the one who got the dirty work, the war zones, the conflict. I was "The Dirtmeister" when I worked in politics. I investigated the serious incidents for my company. I was the one who facilitated communication between warring factions. I can't even count the number of people I've just walked in and fired. You get sent to do a job, and you do it. You might hate it, but you do it.

The good news is that after al.l that I don't mind being hated, and threats on my life don't really bug me anymore. But, the conflict, I still avoid.

It's pretty easy for me to decide to just let something go. This is sometimes a manifestation of genuine humility. Sometimes being the operative word. Often it is just me wanting to believe that I am exercising humility, which I am generally quite proud about. Or, less frequently, it is me allowing myself the delusion of psychic martyrdom.

It's so thin, almost imperceptible, the line between virtue and sin.

I was just on the verge of letting something -- something fairly minor at that -- letting it go the other day. Then I read this from our friend Brother Thomas Merton:

Laziness and cowardice are two of the greatest enemies of the spiritual life. And they are most dangerous of all when they mask as "discretion."

And then this zinger:

Laziness and cowardice put our own present comfort before the love of God. They fear the uncertainty of the future because they place no trust in God.

...Laziness flies from all risk. Discretion flies from useless risk: But, urges us on to take the risks that faith and the grace of God demand of us....


And so I had to think very, very hard about what faith and grace demand of me. And I had to figure out whether I was exercising discretion, cowardice, or laziness. It turns out to have been pretty much a combination of the latter two. I knew it as soon as I read Merton's first sentence. Knew it immediately.

It's hard to know when I'm being truly good and when I just want to feel that I am being good. The virtue of humility sometimes collides with duty. And, no matter which path you choose, there are traps. Pride and self-satisfaction are lurking like thieves along the path. I don't know if you can ever be sure you've taken the right fork in the road on that. And obsessing about it after the fact is probably as bad as making the lesser choice in the first place. See how you can hardly win in the spiritual life.

I am thinking that I should close with something profound about how it's not about winning. Blah, blah, blah. I am pretty sure I could make you all feel good about that too. But, here's the thing: The kinds of risks God asks of us, the illogic of Jesus' Gospel demands, the risks required may well have us looking foolish, loosing face, loosing friends, loosing the things that this world tells us to value. And, to be honest, that sucks.

It's hard, it's confusing, and it sucks. And yet we continue.
Sometimes there's nothing comforting or profound. We just continue on towards Jerusalem.

====

The Merton quotes are from Thoughts In Solitude, Thomas Merton, Shambhala Pocket Classics, Chapter 5.

There's poetry here!

2009/01/19

Everyone else has been posting pictures of their favorite Andrew Wyeth painting. You all know what a lemming I am. So...
My own favorite, of course, is one of the dog paintings. Andrew Wyeth has a couple of good dog paintings. This one, though, looks to me like the dog is waiting for it's guardian. The eyes are open and although it is laying down, there's alertness.

I was living in DC in 1986 when the discovery of the Helga Collection was made known. The next year it was one of the hottest tickets at The National Gallery. It's rare that you actually need a ticket, but interest in the Helga Collection was so great that they limited the number of people that could visit each day. When I saw the paintings, I knew I had encountered greatness.

2009/01/15

2009/01/12

This year I am reading my Psalms out of Eugene Peterson's The Message. I question the wisdom of this decision but I think I have to read through them several times before I can say one way or the other if it's a good decision for me. I so miss the familiar words of the good old BCP Psalter. But, Brother Eugene does have a way of turning a phrase that sometimes gives me pause.

Especially on my mind this week has been a line he wrote in Psalm 18:

"Every God-direction is road tested.
Everyone who runs toward him makes it."

How about that! Everyone who runs toward God makes it.

That shouldn't slow us down. Keep on going full-steam ahead. But, if you are like me, and some of you are, you've made some mistakes along the spiritual path.

I was thinking the other day about the mis-steps I've made in my spiritual life. Mainly, I make mistakes in innocence. I've been at this for awhile. It's pretty much a foregone conclusion that I am on the path to stay. But, mainly from just not knowing what God was up to, and not knowing how to respond, mainly just from being incredibly ignorant of the ways of God, I've made some mistakes. Usually I don't notice them until I am pretty far gone in the wrong direction.

There's a place in the Psalms where the writer speaks of being a beast in the presence of God, mainly from his own woundedness and I imagine ignorance. I've been like that. Just beastly, going before the throne of all love with my fear and anger.

And sometimes -- often, really -- I wonder if my spiritual life is "going" anywhere at all or whether I might not be just sort of dog paddling pathetically along in the kiddie pool.

But, here comes this psalmist saying that everyone who runs toward God makes it. To hear me talk about it, you'd think only the first fifty were going to make it. Oh, see me run. Run Lindy, run. But, no. It's everyone. Even the slightest little jog in the direction of God is enough. And, of course, you know why as well as I do. Because "making it" isn't about us at all. Never has been.

So, let's all keep on running, and running as best we can. But, know this, you will make it. If you are not fast, you will make it. If you stumble, you will make it. Even if you fall down, even if you need help to get back up, even if you finish the race limping and bleeding, carried along by the rest of us YOU WILL MAKE IT.

EVERYONE WHO RUNS TOWARD HIM MAKES IT!

Glory.

2009/01/06

Lindy's Epiphany Thought

To be a bearer of love in the world carries as much risk as anything I can think of. It's so likely that it won't turn out like we want, possible that we will look like a failure even. But, if the love has been there, the intention good. Well, that's the thing I think. The love.

2009/01/05

More on Redemption

I'll bet a weeks pay that some of you never had me pegged as a Sports Illustrated reader. Well, that's probably because I'm not. But, I did happen to see the issue that had this story.

It's related very closely to my last post about Hannukah, or Hanukkah, or even Chanukah. As long as you have eight letters, some of which are roughly equivalent to C/het, Nun, Vav, Kaf, and Hey, you're OK. It's mainly the C/het and the Hey that are problamatic. But, that's not what this post is about.

Once again we have a story of redemption. Proof that even the most hopeless cases can be turned around!

If you don't have time to read the whole story let me just give you the highlights: Once upon a time there was a man who did the very bad thing of making his dogs fight with one another. The dogs were so mean that even the People For The Ethical Treatment Of Animals thought that the "ethical" thing to do was to kill the dogs. That's right, PETA wanted to put them down. If you are a dog, and PETA wants to put you down... Well, talk about your hopeless situations. But, there were some other humans who came up with the apparently unethical idea of showing the dogs some love, taking care of them, and treating them gently. You all know how the dogs responded. They became gentle and loving themselves.

There is nothing, nothing, nothing, beyond the reach of love. And who is love? That's right... I don't have to connect the dots for you all.

I've often said that I can tell you a lot about a person by spending some time with their dog. It's absoultely true. Dogs that are excited and yappy often have fidigity and chatty guardians. Dogs that are calm and relaxed have guardians who are consistent and loving. There are varriations, of course, for breed and breeding. But, by and large, it holds true.

I once adopted a little corgi mix who had been so badly abused that my friend -- she was the original rescurer -- said she didn't know if he would ever be a good dog. And, it was true. The dog was broken. If I rustled the newspaper he would whimper, if I got up too fast he would run and hide. He didn't know how to play, and cried the first few times I tried to pet him.

Most annoying of all, he would leak a little urine whenever he was scared... which was pretty often. I am not one of those people who can put up with a smelly house and all that sort of thing. That's for the barn, not my house. So, I thought and I thought about what to do about the dog. Finally I realized that he lacked confidence, didn't have a sense of himself as a dog. So, I started bragging on him. Every time he'd leak a little I'd say "Gooooood Dog, you're a gooooood dog. I am so proud of you! You're a goooood dog." Every time. No matter what he did, I told him he was a good dog. In about three weeks he stopped leaking.

It took a long time with that dog. He always had trust issues. But, he did have a good life, learned to play, and he had a few friends whom he knew and trusted. I felt real proud of him because in the end he was a gooooood dog.

I really don't think anything is irredeemable. Sometimes it doesn't seem that way, I'll tell you that. But, the evidence for reedmability is there. It's in Hanukkah, in Michael Vick's dogs, and even in me, probably you too.

It takes work, it leaves a scar. Love is hard, but it does seem to work.

The waters closed in over me; the deep surrounded me; weeds were wrapped around my head...yet you brought my life up from the Pit, O Lord my God.
-- The Bible, Jonah 2:5,6