Here and There

Friday, September 22, 2017

Calligraphy, really.

Golden hour on purple morning glories and graffiti. 

After camping in the golden hills and oak trees, I couldn't believe something here in town could touch my heart. But I saw this little tableau literally 4 hours after returning home. And oh, it did.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017


I started taking the pottery class imagining only that I would make some Christmas gifts and make these particular tiny dishes that I have in my mind’s eye and just needed access to clay/glaze/kiln.

Then I sat down at the wheel and put my hands around the clay. I forgot how you have to use force, a surprising amount of force; how you have to center yourself over the clay to center the clay.  I forgot the pleasure of the spinning clay under my hands. I forgot the smell of the studio. I forgot how adults at the wheel go slow, taking the speed down when they pull the clay up.  

I felt corrected and left kind of frustrated. I just wanted it to be about the product, but the process was taking precedence. I remembered that I won’t have anything to show for my time for several weeks. I needed to get it right and come at it with patience. With an expectation for flow and experience, not necessarily work that is what I imagined or gifts ready to give. When I was a child in pottery class there were lots of weeks I didn’t go near the wheel. It intimidated me, I was afraid to do it. It required learning a method, being strong and slowing down. I wanted to be independent of needing to do any of that. For awhile, I just wanted to sponge down the counters and play with the scraps on the top of the garbage can of thrown out clay and slip. I am an adult now, nearing 40 and I want to be on the wheel. I want to learn the method well, not just go for it and hope for the best, getting bowls and cylinders randomly out of the deal. I want to force the clay to center without hesitation.

P.S. I miss posting my poems here. I've been working on so many, but because I'm submitting lots of them to publications and websites, etc. I can't "publish" them on my blog.

Friday, August 04, 2017


I joined a gym in February and have been going regularly since then. It's fun. I never imagined I would enjoy exercise regularly, but I do. It totally clears my head, gives me a mood boost and I can tell my heart and lungs and muscles are stronger because of it.
I like to listen to music while I work out and I have a mix that I regularly fiddle with, although there are a few songs that work every time so they've been on there since the beginning:

"Your Voice" by MFBTY
"Shut Up and Dance" by Walk the Moon
"Green Light" by Lorde
"Dukes Up" by Modest Mouse
"A Beginning Song" by The Decemberists
"Diane Young" and "Fantasy Fools" by The New Pornographers

These are weird songs, but for some reason they are perfect. I always wonder what people are listening to. Everyone I see is wearing headphones. What do you listen to when you exercise?

Can I also say, exercising is boring, hard and time consuming. But worth it.


I keep trying to write this poem about the words Earthling and Darling...I'll get there.  I'm getting better at not giving up when I can't capture it right away.  This one's been sitting there for awhile, but I'll keep coming back to it.  The pelican one came out okay and that one was hard.

Thursday, May 11, 2017


I love this dog.
Now, it's all about making writing goals, figuring out how everything goes together, figuring out how to say "Hello, can I come give a talk about children's spirituality at your school/church/community group?  I promise it will be interesting!" to anyone/everyone without being annoying.

Also, reading lots and listening to music and cooking and cleaning and organizing and walking the dog, and going to the gym.

As in my sabbatical, I'm revisiting a daily question for God "How do you want to be with me today?" and a daily question for myself "What do you you really want?"

In these questions I can feel the distillation of what's important for the day.  Even if tasks take up my time, if I ask those questions I keep myself present to "deep time" and a knowing of what's important in the light of eternity.  I love how Richard Rohr talks about this concept--and contemplation as a key to proper perspective.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Shut up and Dance

I'm in the midst of a job change.  Job adjustment? Vocation deepening, but a departure from my safe nest at Church Without Walls.

When I went on sabbatical, I knew this was what I was really supposed to do, but I was too scared and it wasn't the right time for the community.  I had a feeling that I would either leave and try something new soon, or do this work, which is good work that one can feel really good about, for my whole life.  It wasn't a trade-off, it was just how I knew it would play out.

Leaving feels hard.  I don't want to be dramatic.  But it feels painful.  I feel like part of who I am is being removed from my identity.  Work at church is so ridiculously encompassing.  You may not want to care too much, but you do.  You may try to keep hours, or say it's just your job, but you are intertwined with many people in many intimate settings.  I was lucky that I was never relegated to the back room with the kids, but invited to participate in leadership broadly.  From Dana, from the interim leadership and from Gary.  That means a lot.  But it makes it even messier.  Planning with the staff for worship experiences, content, worries and dreams, always operating in the theoretical world of the spiritual, I never could do it and not care, so it was just part of me and what I did.

And now here I am, grappling with the thoughts and feelings that come with leaving that kind of a job.

At the gym today, around minute 20 on the elliptical machine, Shut Up and Dance was playing on my workout playlist. One of the gifts of having a vivid imagination that you decide to let run away with you often is the gift of visions.  Yes, sometimes they are daydreams, and sometimes they are visions.

I heard the words "shut up and dance with me" and imagined God holding out his hand with the same mischievous smile that I often wear when I am leading Godly Play.  I almost laughed out loud and cried at the same time!  Then, all the words sounded like it was a conversation between me and God about my tension and sadness and fear.  I am not one to enjoy those worship songs where it's like Jesus is your boyfriend.  This was different--this was a playful, all-knowing, completely undomesticated God (my favorite image of God) landing in the middle of my workout and speaking to me.

I'm doing the right thing.  It's hard.  God is with me.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Lent Poem Draft

I've been thinking about Lent like the gathering purple of dusk--
darkness falls.
I've been thinking of the purple like a fresh bruise,
spreading further than the spot that was struck.

Lent collects in a cloud. Lent's shadows grow. 

I've been thinking of it all like tightly closed jasmine blossoms, on a vine that's been there on the fence for years, clustered brightly, about to change.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

From "The Pedagogy of Conflict" by Padraig O Tuama

“When I was a child, / I learnt to count to five: / one, two, three, four, five. / But these days, I’ve been counting lives, so I count / one life / one life / one life / one life / Because each time is the first time that that life has been taken. / Legitimate Target / has sixteen letters / and one / long / abominable / space / between / two / dehumanising / words.”

(This poem has been a lenten lamentation for me.  As I follow along with this year, I have been meditating on this poem as I try to stay present to the pain.)

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return

I heard this poem "Dusting" by Marilyn Nelson on a podcast and was reminded of Ash Wednesday coming and the idea of dust to dust...I had a "nothing to nothing" way of thinking of those words.   After hearing her interview, especially about the dust needed to seed the clouds so that rain can fall, I had a new way of thinking about that dust.  Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return reminded me of the interconnectedness between people and all created things.  Remember that you came from everything and to everything you shall return...In this human form, as this image-of-God-person-being, don't forget your interconnectedness.  

Thank you for these tiny particles of ocean salt, pearl-necklace viruses,
winged protozoans:
for the infinite,
intricate shapes
of submicroscopic
living things.
For algae spores
and fungus spores,
bonded by vital
mutual genetic cooperation,
spreading their
inseparable lives
from equator to pole.
My hand, my arm,
make sweeping circles.
Dust climbs the ladder of light.
For this infernal, endless chore,
for these eternal seeds of rain:
Thank you. For dust.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Last of the rainy days...almost Spring...

Perpetuity.  Rat a tat tat.
Rain--a pleasant sound and then suddenly it feels like punches falling on bruised skin.  
 Perpetuity. Rat a tat tat.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Work That Reconnects

Last weekend, I got the chance to go to a retreat at Ghost Ranch in New Mexico for The Work That Reconnects During Dark Times.  It was one of those charmed, once in a lifetime experiences, like being able to take Joanna Macy to the airport with me...showing up at Chimayo on the 206th birthday of the chapel...etc...  So many people asked me why "I" would go to this retreat.  Joanna's spiritual practice is Engaged Buddhism and much of the inspiration from her work comes from Buddhist philosophy and practice.   When I read her book in the fall, this isn't the part of it that I picked up on.  I was paying attention to her systems theory evidence for identifying my relationship to the earth differently.  I was appreciating her honest assessment of the grim reality of the world's condition.  I felt like she had an empowering, loving voice that I needed to hear especially as I saw Trump come to power.  Reading "Coming Back to Life" introduced me to the concepts of deep ecology and deep time.  And both concepts stuck with me.  Deep ecology is present in some way in every religion, and as a Jesus follower I saw it too.  Deep Ecology helped me connect a passion I've had since I was kid starting a "Save Our Planet" club and asking for a book called "Environmental Literacy" as a 6th grader, to my eyes opened, heartbroken for the world, adult self.  My work with children and families also makes me interested in sharing this kind of stuff with my kids.  Anyhow, I was so glad to go.  Participate in some of this work.  And it was truly inspiring.  I wrote and wrote in the evenings, I was in my absolute favorite landscape, I met some amazing people...The pictures are loading in reverse, so here's  my trip, kinda backward.

 Me, waiting to get picked up by my family at the airport.  I wasn't tired, perse, but I was full to bursting with all I'd seen and heard.  And I was getting a cold.
 I came to Chimayo also on the feast day of Our Lord of Esquipulas, originally venerated in Guatamala, an original image/figure of "Black Jesus".  The discovery of a crucifix of this image and the subsequent miracles is the origin story of El Santuario de Chimayo and it is the most sacred pilgrimage site in the United States.  I had always wanted to visit and not only did I visit, I ended up getting to attend a mass where the Los Hermanos Penitentes visited, singing songs original to Northwestern New Mexico, preserved through centuries.  I didn't take any pictures near or in the Santuario, just these crosses on a chain link fence as you walk in.

Looking toward the barn I stayed in for the weekend, It was just starting to snow.

 This was my reading material.  Basically the story of A Wind in the Door is a version of The Work The Reconnects...It was inspiring and I saw the story in a new light after not reading it for many years, and also completely taking for granted before the message of interconnectness and the danger of denying it.
 For evening sessions, candles lit the way from dinner to the meeting space.
 Sunset on the first evening.  This meadow was a particular color of chartreuse that just cannot be captured by camera.
Mesa behind the buildings of Ghost Ranch.  I found a labyrinth just to the right of the photo.  I love a labyrinth and will pretty much walk one anywhere and it's pretty meaningful to me, but this particular surrounding was so amazing! 

 The barn I stayed in.  It was a nice little studio apartment space on one side, literally across from the stables.  It smelled like hay.
 Spud and Rodeo.  They had thick winter coats.
 Kiva with fire in the evenings at Ghost Ranch

 An honor and joy to meet this woman.

Sunrise on Saturday.