Monday, February 25, 2008

2000 miles ago

A few days ago I searched through my LP's and there came a memory. It was the Pretenders.... Learning To Crawl... that I played which caused a trip back to my angry young man days. Here is the last song... 2000 miles.

and I was at an election night party. We were sad for our guy was going down by over 10% points to Arlen Specter. Maybe it was the anger of being a born again environmentalist while Ronald Reagan was doing all he could to replace all the Redwoods with a plastic tree that led me to that party. It was the only campaign I have ever worked for. I still would vote for the man. Maybe Bob Edgar is glad he lost that election in 1986 for he has done quite a bit with his life outside of being a US senator. And here I am 22 years older respecting the man I wanted so badly to lose. Specter is a dinosaur in DC, a moderate Republican.

The campaign was over and the party would be the last time I saw all those people who had come together because we believed in Edgar. I don't know if I saw it as a last time event when I was there.

Jesus saw the last supper as a final event. He "ardently" desired to be with those good folk, for one last glass of wine. One more feast with friends before the suffering. In week three of the spiritual exercises I am to walk with this man I have befriended during week two and be there for him as he suffers. Jesus filled with joy to have a community he so desired to ist down and eat with one last time. Jesus filled with dread as he faced his suffering. The dread that flows out later in the garden. How blessed to have that final meal? How blessed I am that final meal took place? How blessed to share that cup every Sunday?

At the party, a woman I had grown fond of was getting drunk and sad. A Pretenders song came on the stereo and she said something that has stuck with me. "They just don't spit vile like they used too." Strange what stays connected in your mind.

So yes, 2000 miles doesn't spit vile, but Chrissie Hynde was stuck in the cold missing someone, who was too far away and ardently wishing that the person will come back.

I will be at that part of the story soon enough, but till then there is loving someone so much that you will be by their side when they suffer, and miss them dearly when they are gone. and hope with all your heart you will see them again.

were you with me 2000 miles ago in the Lehigh valley?

Saturday, February 23, 2008

stuff in my bag.. emptied out.

to interact with my stuff, click on the photo then move your mouse over the tiny boxes. This may be more telling than all these spiritual posts???

Mosaic woman thought it was time for a cleaning out.

Friday, February 22, 2008

outer space to off-Broadway

Jesuits do travel in my enjoyable reading. James Martin, SJ moves into the world of theater and lives to write about it in A Jesuit Off-Broadway. Just as we stumble into adventures, he falls into the theological/spiritual director for The Last Days of Judas Escariot, which was written by Stephen Adly Guirgis. This was a timely book for this Lenten season.

But what it inspired in me was a boost for my imaginative prayer. Reading about the transformation of the Bible to the theater allowed me to enter deeper into my spiritual exercises.

What touches a person when placing yourself into Bible stories is important and the book is loaded with stories of how the play touched all who were involved.

And Tuesday night when I entered into Matthew 26: 6-13, I was aware of what happened when I was introduced to a leper by Jesus. Introducing my customs, I reached out my hand, but a moment later wished I hadn't. Who do I not want to touch? Who do I not want to be touched by?

Monday, February 18, 2008

Monday bird memory for Gannet Girl

11 years ago I did not

work with stained glass
attend church
listen to jazz
do a very good job at feeling emotions
and I was seen as being terse and stoic by most folk.

But I did love birds, and any bird that still blesses me with its presence, gets my attention. I rarely go out birding anymore..... why? I would guess that gardening satisfies my desire to be outside.

It was nearly 11 years ago that I walked into work to find out I had been laid off. Not being one with God at that time, I turned to birds to get through the shock, unemployment, a long-term sub job(ughhhh), and the job search.

We were living in the northeastern corner of Pennsylvania where open space abounds; and that spring I went to several favorite spots over and over again. There is something about becoming familiar with a wild place and I have done this everywhere I have lived. Spots along a trail become good places to see particular birds, and even after ten years away from those places, they would still feel like home. In the midst of being unemployed I wrote 60 pages about bird experiences (I just looked and said, WOW). Here is one memory from our time in the midwest.

In Illinois I often went birdwatching before work with the goal of seeing 100 species by the end of the school year. Happy to have achieved my goal at Busey Woods, I went to work where I found a note to call home. Mosaic woman told me my grandmother had died. On the plane home, I read a quote by Emily Dickinson who described loved ones coming back to visit us in the form of birds.

What was that 100th bird that came to me that morning? Who am I to argue with Emily D?

my life unfolds, I am curious what dry places will come alive in the next 11 years. What birds will show themselves to me?

Yes, Gannet Girl.... I love birds.

peace hope and joy... and may a woodpecker laugh at all of you today.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

water in dry places

I was told to play with water this morning. This is what happened:

this is how it happened... I was told to think of playing in water and there I was as a boy body surfing at Virginia Beach. It may have been the most fun I have ever had in water.

Then I am given a piece of paper. I cover it with yellow, orange and red. Where is the water I say to myself when I stop to reflect upon my creation. I add some blue. I turn it around looking at all angles and I am on a dusty road in Oregon. Mosaic woman and I have gone to see birds at the Malheur NWR. I think of the Samaritan woman at the well.

After a guided meditation which takes me to a footbridge at Peace Valley near Doylestown (where I go to see birds in Pennsylvania) , I am given 15 minutes to return to my creation. What you see on the left hand side is what I worked on as I used the water colors.

At 3am I woke last night and sleep was not going to happen. Strangely it was not a troubled mind that kept me awake. So, I saw it as a time to do some praying flat on my back. Jesus praising the woman who gave all her coins is my latest passage.

Jesus asks me.... Do you know me well enough to enter Jerusalem? I am entering the third week of the spiritual exercises. I am headed to the cross with Jesus.

And now it is 3pm Friday afternoon at work. I stopped by to visit a friend and now I am feeling guilty about talking through some troubling times. She has her own woes and why should she have to listen to mine.

I drive home from Telford today thinking about all of this. Why is that some people grate me to the core, yet the above friend can tell me her woes and I don't see her as being negative? This is all about those in our lives who provide us living water. I am not sure how it all works, but I am grateful for their presence. Often they are water in very dry places, and like birds I am drawn to be immersed.

Friday, February 15, 2008

fasting and the screaming carrot-- thoughts on red meat

I'm a vegetarian at home, but when we eat out anything is open game. As I reflected on how to fast during Lent some previous seasons came to mind. I gave up news once, but the war that the press was building up still came to be and the headline was so huge I saw it while parked at a red light.

It has been a few years since I gave up red meat, so I went for it.

People tell me their reasons why they don't eat meat.... unhealthy, cruelty to animals, environmental problems. I believe these problems are true, but also that they come from our excesses, not from eating animals. I cry out in the Wilderness to live in a society that eats meat in moderation. Not at every meal, and maybe not even every day.

And as far as the right of the animal and discomfort of it being killed, well let me tell you, if I was a carrot I surely would scream if I was pulled out of the ground and eaten raw; and no matter what you tell me I can not believe it is considered a pleasant experience by the carrot. I have pulled carrots, cut peppers, and yanked lettuce plants. These could very easily be seen as violent acts, or just as butchering they can be done with gratitude to the life force that will nourish us.


I lasted two days. There I was eating pho in Telford, PA when I looked down at the slice of beef floating on my spoon and announced my failure to Mosaic Woman. She said, "Yes, the tradition of red meat Fridays continues." Two days later eating brunch at my church, I almost picked up some ham... sure sure it is the other white meat... I don't buy that.

So, only one slip in 10 days. I can live with that, especially since now I seem too be more aware with what I have chosen to be without this Lenten season.

Peace, Joy, and Hope.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Tangled up with Dylan, Miles, and the adulterous woman

I was once a big fan of Bob Dylan. Mosaic woman left for the library on Saturday while I was in the shower. A stained glass design with interweaving lines was on my table with 7 blue-green shades of glass.

So.... I started humming Tangled up in Blue.

But before I cut a piece of glass I headed off to a Lenten Retreat (Art and Soul), and before I was given a chance to play with the art medium of the week (oil pastels), we reflected on Jesus telling the person without sin to cast the first stone to kill the adulterous woman. He then doodled, scribbled, and/or wrote something in the sand. One person suggested that what ever it was, it touched all those sinners in their hearts as they walked away juggling their un-tossed stones.

I sat thinking about a woman at work and thought of my anger. Then given a tiny piece of paper, I drew my anger in the sand as if Jesus was speaking to my heart.

I was then given a larger piece of paper and masking tape to make a frame. I did put my anger in the center of that design waiting for me at home in my studio. I surrounded my anger with blue green then filled in with sand.

The sand and light from God are in my anger but not destroying it. Today I went to work as always, with no intention of stoning anyone, but the anger remains as does hope for a cleansing of the hearts of all those I work with, including myself.

Blue green, that gets us to Miles Davis and 8 days at a Jesuit retreat center, where I experienced light and dark and a love of the color combo-- blue green -- as I doodled listening to Kind of Blue. But that is not what I listened to this past Saturday. I got down on my knees and found Dylan's Blood on The Tracks LP. I kept 6 blue greens, but replaced one with a red-orange glass and this is what I got...


and what about the shower. Without mosaic woman in the house, my hair would not get braided, surely it would get a bit tangled.

Friday, February 8, 2008

not so lifeless

etsy shop

well, I am done with hearts for now... makes me think of the the standard.."I'm Through With Love." When I was making the icy blue heart, I nearly swerved away and directly into this project. I see it is an icy blue heart being melted by love. Maybe we all have icy blue hearts that need love. maybe my heart was never icy blue. But it sure feels warmer and less lifeless when love is around.

Ash Wednesday was looking like a busy evening... YMCA, dinner, church, some time with mosaic woman, finish work for my college class, pray... The classroom phone rang and I said, "Sure, I have the time" & "No, I don't live over that way." I got off the phone and was glad for this chance. It has been nearly two months since I went to see my friend and colleague who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. My offer at work to deliver food was accepted and as I drove over to his house I couldn't help from wondering if he would even be up for a visit. His daughter answered the door. She said she would let him know I was there. The man came out and we chatted for over an hour. He has not holed himself up from the world. He has invited us in and I have accepted. I hope I can face illness in the same manner. He asked me questions showing he had clearly listened to me the last time we chatted. Another ember enters my heart.

Jesus cleared the Temple. I didn't even catch the connection to the storm at work till I was in front of my spiritual director. I guess sometimes you have to leave the silence to see things. Is that hope building that I may work in a more positive atmosphere?

and now for some poetry from William Carlos Williams poem Spring and All, which hangs in my classroom.

" Lifeless in appearance, sluggish dazed spring approaches"

No No No... Look down. Spring is emerging and though it is sluggish it is filled with life.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

hearts, up close and personal

Yes, getting close to one of our glass hearts can help one see things differently....

hearts from afar

Mosaic woman and I have been busy placing our designs inside of hearts. Nothing new about that for we have made Valentines for each other, but now we are using glass and making them available for others to give to their lovers. The one above was inspired by a song by John Hiatt, Icy Blue Heart. And that that takes me back 20 years to a small town in Massachusetts where a friend and I talked music, mostly folk and alt country at that time. I have moved away from many a good person over the years, I miss you Mr. K, where ever you may be. I hope good music continues to flow into your life.... click to see John Hiatt sing Icy Blue Heart. "Shall I turn what has been frozen for years into a river a tears." I know how that feels and I know the kind of love that says yes to that question.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

personal storms

on the 24th, the morning after a staff meeting, I predicted to my spiritual director that a storm was brewing at my workplace. Ten years at this place made the prediction all too easy. I knew it was waiting. I knew it would be best not to get swept away, but I got sucked into the vortex all the same.

When I realized that my mind was racing during prayer, I changed tactics, and turned away from the assigned passage.

On Sundays after the Eucharist, I close my eyes and breathe. In breath-- renew me. Out breath-- heal me. That is what I turned on two evenings this week, and though the storm still rages, I am more at peace.

Then I read the next passage to reflect upon (Matthew 14:22-33). Again (see my last post) the disciples are in a boat and filled with fear. But now Jesus understands that seeing a figure approaching a boat by walking on water can cause fear unlike his response to the fear of the storm. But it is Jesus reaching for Peter that speaks to me.

We enter all these storms that race toward us. Fears and panic can sweep us away, but there is that hand to pull us back to calmer waters. The storms will cause damage no matter what, but riding them out with faith helps us to stay present and not leap into negative predictions caused fear. I am grateful to having folk in my life who were willing to listen to my struggles this past week

as I say to my classes everyday, "Onward."