Nativity November 2010

A few of us were sitting around the back table discussing our abortions: the people we were then, the people we are now, the grace and mercy we found in Jesus the Christ. When the bells on the front door tinkled, conversation skidded to a stop. A woman walked into the back room. "We're discussing our abortions," I said.

"Me too." She pulled out a chair and sat down to join us.

Emmanuel: December 2004

On the third Sunday of Advent, I belatedly unpacked the advent box. The golden ring, which by now should have held partially burnt pink and purple candles, rested disconsolately by the side of the box. The candles stood by, but Michael, who usually found greens for the wreath, had gone skiing.

Penned Inn: November 2004

On more than one occasion I have written myself into a corner. However, I am now walled in, floor to ceiling books and papers wherever I turn. Instead of enemies, my footstool is stacked with friends: books waiting to be finished, started, written about, passed on. No room for feet, except carefully balanced atop a teetering stack. If one falls, it takes root, like a runner from a strawberry plant, and grows into a whole new pile.

Thunder in the Desert: October 2004

Hot and dry...parched people. Life barely moving. Oh, my people--sin piled on sin, pain multiplying in the wake of greed and lust; tears evaporating before they hit the dust. Dry lifeless eyes--past hope, numb endurance; another day, another moment.

Thunder in the Desert: The earth heaves, the heart of God splits open. Wrath and anguish, anger and compassion combine in a might roar: "Let Justice roll in like a flood." Turn, turn from your violence, your abuse of power, your torment of the poor, the weak and vulnerable.

Sparring with the Beast: September 2004

They say you can't fight city hall, though most of us do in one way or another. If not the government, than some other institution where we find ourselves lost in a telephone maze, or standing in slack jawed amazement at some bureaucratic BS that is interruptive to the very thing the institution is supposed to be serving.

My latest battle was with the school system, which moved out my son's math teacher six weeks into the school year because they had 'over hired,' and then couldn't keep his schedule intact because 'all the classes were full.'

Nuts and Fruit: August 2004

It was a place where love bloomed. Not the romantic streets of an exotic night, or the luxurious suite of a Hollywood set; rather the action took place in unexpected corners: sometimes dusty, often shabby; chipped Formica tables under glaring florescent lights, rickety park benches scarred with names crying out for recognition.

Community: July 2004

July is Christian Community month for us: The Big Sur Camping & Crawdad Society drew forty folk for relaxing, feasting, river play and goofy songs around the campfire; and Family Camp at the conference center in Oakhurst brought together seventy folk for a week of worship, prayer, fellowship, teaching, water play, disc golf, marshmallow roasts, creative experiments and goofy songs in the chapel. Draped around our living room in a post-camp glow, we talk of a possible Winter Family Gathering. Let me know if you have any bright ideas for a time & place.

Leaders one and all: June 2004

Moses' staff, flung onto the ground, became a writhing snake; the moment's flamboyant magic exposing a deeper message: Drop the authority you've been given and it becomes a hissing serpent.
Standing as we are, knee deep in a pit of vipers, it is easy enough to rail against the mess. More to the point would be to reach down and grab a slithering beast by the throat. Give it a shake and it will become a staff of authority in your hand. There is, as Mother Teresa said, always room at the bottom.

Called Saints: April 2004

A tattered pamphlet on how to convert Anglicans to the Roman church emerges from the heap. Books on Evangelicals going Orthodox perch on the shelves. Others tell about growing up in guilt and ritual and finally discovering Jesus through the Evangelical church, about fleeing worldly denominations that have lost sight of the Lord, or about escaping from social and doctrinal legalism into freedom. ExRomans, exEvangelicals, exFundamentalists, exPentacostalists, exWord/Faith, exAnglicans, exOrthodox... all about it.

Lenten Slow: March 2004

Lent in Santa Cruz is ridiculous: Trees covered with pink, white and yellow blossoms. Multicolored flowers springing up everywhere. Soft languid air breezing through in the high 70's. It is nigh on impossible to feel solemnly repentant in the midst of such bounteous beauty.
We went up to the mountains last weekend. The weather was gorgeous there also; slushy for skiers but perfect for ambling about in tennis shoes on cleared roads, beholding rapturous mountains robed in brilliant white, sturdy rocks and whispering pines.

Marching thru: February 2004

Thursday afternoon. I am theoretically packaging Laura's books to ship to Berkeley. What I'm ACTUALLY doing is reading one of her books, GIRL MEETS GOD. It's a memoir of author Lauren Winner's reconciliation of her Jewish heritage and her relationship with Jesus ($13.95). What I SHOULD be doing is dealing-with-things; the things in question being the fallout from the drips.

Simple Songs: January 2004

We sang Christmas carols at The Word Shop party; people leaning on the doorjamb, sprawled on the floor or sitting around the table loaded with eclectic offerings. No printed words, no musical accompaniment; just folk calling out a title or bravely launching in--hoping someone would remember the words to the obscure third line. We sang first verses mostly, sometimes a second. "Away in the Manger" got three full verses. Energy opened to each other differently than when noses are buried in books or eyes are focused on a screen.