Saturday, November 17, 2007

2 Thessalonians 3:13

There are times when it all seems overwhelming.

Your pilgrimage seems more like a rat race (that the rats are winning).

Caesar seems secure upon a throne of might.

Corruption is evidently the only way things get done. It's a game you don't want to play yet you feel that if you don't play it you will get chewed up, spit out, and trampled upon. Or simply ignored, left to some isolated fate, unremarked and unnoted, your life a forgotten waste.

Things have come to such a pass that you feel it is too late to set them aright again. It seems all we can do is wring our hands, bemoan our fate, despair.

Sooner or later we all have these moments. Some unfortunates feel this way all the time--and if I could send them a cyberhug and it would help... here it is: (((((( )))))).

No one of us can set the world right.

But there is something we can do.

In our small slice of the totality.

υμεις δε αδελφοι μη εγκακησητε καλοποιουντες

Ngunit mga kapatid, huwag kayong panghinaan ng loob sa paggawa ng mabuti.

Ndugu wapendwa, ninyi msi choke kutenda mema.

Ma voi fratelli, non stancatevi mai di fare il bene.

Et vous, frères, ne vous lassez pas de faire ce qui est bien.

Euch aber, liebe Brüder und Schwestern, bitten wir: Werdet nicht müde, Gutes zu tun!

Pero vosotros, hermanos, no os canséis de hacer el bien.

Brothers and sisters, do not be weary in doing what is right.

We can carry on. We can bear witness to what we know. We can speak the truth. We can act justly, kindly, compassionately. We can do what little we know how in order to ease a neighbor's pain or anxiety. And when we can do no more, we can just be with them, caring. We can look at one another in love instead of frustration or disgust. We can look deeply to behold the divine presence within them. And in ourselves. We can manage that little gesture. We can encourage. We can embolden. We can empower. We can change a little here, a little there. We can join with others of like mind. We can be patient. We can be pushy. We can seek to know when to do which. We can march, and write, and call, and insist. We can sit still, meditate, and seek wisdom. We can disseminate truth in world of lies and we can encourage healing, liberating, empowering laughter. We can choose to be ourselves and not some phony image that others wish us to assume. We can pray. We can toil. We can approach each day with open hands and hearts, with gratitude, with humility.

The minutest changes, accumulating, make for immense differences, just as many droplets of water become rushing floods.

I've had the "world is going to hell in a handbasket" blues lately, as my posts have reflected. I have, I confess, come to a point of near-despair over our constitutional government which, at the moment, ain't working. Mind you, I am nowhere near the litany with which this post begins, in case you're getting concerned.

I have no idea what the future holds. It is not uncommon for me to break down and weep for our troops that we send on pointless errands, without adequate equipment or protection, without a clear mission, without an achievable goal, without an exit strategy; tossing their lives into harm's way for the sake of a combination of ideologies, profit, and the pursuit of power. And I weep for those we bomb, disrupt, displace, and destroy. And I weep for the soul of our nation.

I also weep with tender joy for the beauties of creation, for acts of courage and compassion, for love, and for the goodness of God. I see people banding together to do good. I witness random acts of kindness and very purposeful ones as well. I have not given up on the world or humanity.

It is far better to be tenderhearted than to have one's heart petrify. In my fiction, it is the tears of the people that water a waste land and heal it. Perhaps my efforts are part of the River of Life and my words are past of the world's healing. I trust they are.

I can seek to do good and not evil. I can hold fast to truth. This one verse from tomorrow's lessons speaks to me, encourages me

As I write this, I am not down. I am simply sharing where I have been of late and the brink on which I teeter yet. And I recall the words to the church in Saloniki.

Brothers and sisters, do not be weary in doing what is right.

Yours in the struggle! Remember, grace abides.
--the BB

Should we bow? Should we offer? Should we sacrifice?

What can we bring to the LORD to make up for what we've done? Should we bow before God with offerings of yearling calves? Should we offer him thousands of rams and tens of thousands of rivers of olive oil? Would that please the LORD? Should we sacrifice our firstborn children to pay for the sins of our souls? Would that make him glad? No, O people, the LORD has already told you what is good, and this is what he requires: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality,
tied in a single garment of destiny.

—Martin Luther King, Jr.

So instead of loving what you think is peace,
love other [people] and love God above all.
And instead of hating the people you think are warmakers,
hate the appetites and the disorder in your own soul,
which are the causes of war.
If you love peace,
then hate injustice, hate tyranny, hate greed –
but hate these things in yourself, not in another."

—Thomas Merton, from "New Seeds of Contemplation"

Rights that do not flow from duty well performed are not worth having.
Almost anything you do will be insignificant,
but it is very important that you do it.
Live as if you were to die tomorrow.
Learn as if you were to live forever.
In a gentle way, you can shake the world.

--Mohandas Gandhi

In thanksgiving that you are one of those who can give help

Help the afflicted.
Comfort those in sorrow.
You who are strong, help the weak.
You who are rich, help the poor.
You who stand upright,
help the fallen and the crushed.
You who enjoy all good fortune,
help those who have met with disaster.
Give something to God in thanksgiving
that your are one of those who can give help,
not one of those who must stand and wait for it;
that you have no need to look to another's hands,
but that others must look to yours.
Grow rich, not only in substance, but also in piety;
not only in gold but also in virtue;
no rather, only virtue.
Be more honored than your neighbor,
by showing more compassion.
Be as God to the unfortunate,
by imitating the mercy of God.
For in nothing do we draw closer to God
as in doing good to man.

Gregory of Nazianzus (325-389C.E.)

h/t to the Rev Bill Easter for the text
Photo of San Pablo Bay taken from Mare Island, California, 8 March 2005
--the BB

A longing of the soul

Prayer is not asking. It is a longing of the soul.

It is daily admission of one's weakness. . . .

It is better in prayer to have a heart without words

than words without a heart.

—Mohandas Gandhi

Photo of the interior of the Church on Spilled Blood, Saint Petersburg
--the BB

Stare decisis

This is another one of those moments when I am glad I took four years of Latin in high school (and a refresher quarter of Vergil at UCLA). Tibi gratias ago, Magistra Wiley; requiescas in Christi pace.

Stare decisis is a legal term. It means to stand by what has been decided (that's my non-legal translation from the Latin, but it helps the whole thing make sense). You may find an expanded definition at Lectlaw where it says:
Although the doctrine of stare decisis does not prevent reexamining and, if need be, overruling prior decisions, "It is . . . a fundamental jurisprudential policy that prior applicable precedent usually must be followed even though the case, if considered anew, might be decided differently by the current justices. This policy . . . 'is based on the assumption that certainty, predictability and stability in the law are the major objectives of the legal system; i.e., that parties should be able to regulate their conduct and enter into relationships with reasonable assurance of the governing rules of law.'" (Moradi-Shalal v. Fireman's Fund Ins. Companies (1988) 46 Cal.3d 287, 296.)
One of the major issues at stake in the appointment and confirmation of judges these days is whether they really, really believe in stare decisis (e.g., are they chomping at the bit to overturn Roe v Wade?).

With this basic principle (that allows for "certainty, predictability and stability in the law") in mind, we take glad note of a tidbit from Is That Legal? [and thank DailyKos for pointing toward it]:
In 1926, the Mississippi Supreme Court called the water cure torture. No qualifiers. No hedging. Just plain, good ol' fashion torture . . . and therefore a forbidden means for securing a confession. These men were hardly a group I'd call *activist* or *liberal* and certainly not bent on subverting our country in the name of coddling criminals.
My, my, my.

I recommend reading the whole article by guest blogger Shertaugh, who sums up a discussion of Fisher v. State, 110 So. 361, 362 (Miss. 1926) thusly:
If "the cure" was seen as a barbarous form of torture in Mississippi in the 1920's, I guess I'm at a loss to understand exactly how our attitudes about the process have progressed to see it as an acceptable means of interrogation 80 years later.

"Progressed" indeed.

I should like to point out that opposition to waterboarding is not a "liberal" position: it is very conservative--upholding law and tradition, insisting on very traditional moral values. To support waterboarding, even to imply that it might be OK sometimes, is a position of lawlessness and gross moral degeneracy. It is also, practically, incredibly stupid. Do we really want every knee-jerk group out there waterboarding our troops or civilians when they capture them?


Keep standing up for truth, pilgrims!

Water drop photo via Dpspiderman
--the BB

Friday, November 16, 2007

Who Said This?

When the Founders drafted the Constitution, they had a clear understanding of tyranny. They also had a clear idea about how to prevent it from ever taking root in America. Their solution was to separate the government's powers into three co-equal branches: the executive, the legislature, and the judiciary. Each of these branches plays a vital role in our free society. Each serves as a check on the others. And to preserve our liberty, each must meet its responsibilities -- and resist the temptation to encroach on the powers the Constitution accords to others.


The President's oath of office commits him to do his best to "preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States." I take these words seriously. I believe these words mean what they say.

Any idea?

Oh, take a wild guess.

Got your answer clearly in mind?

And the envelope, please:

The speaker of the words shown above was none other than George Walker Bush.

Quote from George W. Bush's speech yesterday to the Federalist Society courtesy of Glenn Greenwald at Salon.

Photo of the grave of Jaime R. Barcelo Bird, Cementerio Santa Maria Madalena de Pazzis, San Juan, Puerto Rico, via Searching for Our Roots

A little refresher

Well, you can see by the graphic that I'm not talking a palate-cleansing lemon sorbet between courses.

No, a refresher for those "unclear on the concept." Of torture.

Frankly, I don't see how you can be unclear on the concept unless you are willfully choosing to be unclear. And willfulness in the areas that might constitute grave moral evil might just qualify for the label of "sin."

Not to put too fine a point on it.

Truthout has an Op-Ed piece by Anthony Piel that first appeared in The Lakeville Journal 11/9/07. The title is "A Primer on the Law of Torture" and here is an excerpt:
What does the law actually say? According to the 1984 Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment: "The term 'torture' means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining information or a confession ... inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or any other person acting in an official capacity ... No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political stability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture." Could any statement of law be clearer?

The Convention continues: "No State Party shall expel, return ('refouler') or extradite a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture." In short, "rendition" is also flat-out illegal. Conviction of acting officials in the chain of command for such violations that are part and parcel of war crimes or crimes against humanity, pursuant to the US inspired, post World War II Nuremberg Doctrine, makes those officials, irrespective of rank, title or position, subject to punishment by life imprisonment or the death penalty. This is no laughing matter. It's not even a matter of impeachment of a few wayward officials.

Is the US bound by the law? Yes. Can the US president grant immunity? No. The US government crafted, promoted, adopted, signed and ratified the 1984 Convention Against Torture, which therefore automatically becomes the "supreme law of the land," pursuant to the US Constitution, which itself forbids cruel punishment. No enabling legislation is required to give effect to these basic principles of law. Only the details of how cases are dealt with are subject to further legislation or executive order. Each state party is required by the Convention to enforce its terms under its own national criminal law. The failure to do so is itself a violation of international and US Constitutional law.

Vague? I don't think so.

Does this mean some of our highest officials, including but not limited to POTUS and Dick the dick, might be guilty of breaking the law? Whaddya think? I'm voting yes, myself.

Would that be grounds for impeachment?

You bet your rough-hewn yet divinely-shaped ends it would.

Just saying.
--the BB

Descend, Holy Spirit

Descend, Holy Spirit

Descend, Holy Spirit of Life!
Come down into our hearts, that we may live.
Descend into emptiness, that emptiness may be filled.
Descend into the dust, that the dust may flower.
Descend into the dark, that the light may shine in the darkness. Amen.

—Frances Caryll Houselander

I don't know where I found this but it's a very good prayer. You may read a bit about Houselander here and here.

Photo of a window in St George's Chapel, El Rancho del Obispo, Healdsburg, CA
--the BB

We'll see

Episcopal Café has a post up titled "End of Schism in Sight?" The topic is healing a 950-year rift between the Italian Church and the Orthodox Churches as discussed in a Times article by Ruth Gledhill. The Ravenna Document allegedly provides a map toward healing the schism. Trying to stay within the common 3-paragraph practice for fair use, I share the following from the Times:
If the proposals move forward, the Pope would be acknowledged as the universal Primate, as he was before the schism. Although it is not stated outright, he would be expected by the Orthodox churches to relinquish the doctrine of infallibility. The proposals could also allow married priests in the Catholic Church, as already happens in the Orthodox.


The document, The Ecclesiological and Canonical Consequences of the Sacramental Nature of the Church, has been produced by a commission of Orthodox and Catholic bishops and theologians that met in Ravenna in western Italy last month. The Russian delegate walked out of the meeting, an indication of the enduring disputes within the Orthodox Church.


The document suggests that the Pope, always referred to in the text as “Bishop of Rome”, could be the “first” among the regional patriarchs. But this would be only as a primus inter pares, with his authority resting firmly on the support and consensus of the other patriarchs. “Certainly Rome could not be the absolute centre of administration, with authority over all the others,” Greek Metropolitan Athanasios Chatzopoulos, one of the participants of the Ravenna conference, said. “The ‘primus’ would not be able to do anything without the consent of the other Patriarchs.”

I note with amusement the sentence: "Although it is not stated outright, he would be expected by the Orthodox churches to relinquish the doctrine of infallibility." This is rather like expecting the Bush White House to make substantive compromises in order to work in the bipartisan manner they keep saying should prevail in Washington. Not. Gonna. Happen.

But if it does, I want the popcorn concession as the Vatican out-contorts Chinese gymnasts to undo something they declared as dogma in the First Vatican Council.

Shall we all put on our imagination hats and envision the Pope as something like +Cantuar in the Anglican Communion? Wasn't that fun? You may now untangle your brains.

Frankly, as much as I would like the Great Schism to heal, I don't see why the Orthodox would degrade themselves to have anything to do with the Vatican. It needs a few more Vatican IIs and a few less Vatican Is before it is ready to play with the other children.

I am reminded why my faith is in God and not in any church.

Having said that, let us pray:
Gracious Father, we pray for thy holy Catholic Church. Fill it with all truth, in all truth with all peace. Where it is corrupt, purify it; where it is in error, direct it; where in any thing it is amiss, reform it. Where it is right, strengthen it; where it is in want, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it; for the sake of Jesus Christ thy Son our Savior. Amen.

Photo from the Southern Cross

UPDATE: For a humorous look at this and an interesting chat in comments, visit OCICBW. Evidently shoe mojo has a large role to play.
--the BB

A pfennig for her thoughts

Angela Merkel's, that is. Follow the link to the photo.

h/t to watertiger
--the BB

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Friday Prince Blogging

Their Royal Highnesses
The Greek Flag

Wedding Day in London

Felipe, Príncipe de Asturias, holding the wedding crown
(I couldn't resist sneaking him back in)
Royal Greek Arms
The motto: "My strength is the love of the people"
Very biblical words so if you have read the NT in Greek, you can decipher this.
Arms by Arnaud Buriel through Creative Commons (Wikipedia)

Their Royal Highnesses Prince and Princess Pavlos of Greece

"At a friend's 40th birthday party in New Orleans" is where Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece met his future wife Marie-Chantal. She is now known as Her Royal Highness Princess Pavlos of Greece. Their children are HRH Princess Maria-Olympia and HRH Prince Constantine Alexios. (source)

Crown Prince Pavlos was born 20 May 1967, the eldest son of Constantine II, former King of the Hellenes. Since the monarchy in Greece was abolished in 1947, his chances of ever becoming King of Greece are slim to none, though he is still known by his titles. I was thinking rather favorably of this man with whom I share a name until I read that he has worked in investment consulting. Oh well. I work as an accountant, so I can't be too judgmental. Evidently we both have our boring sides. (source)

Pavlos is from the House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg but they sensibly use "de Grecia" for a reasonable surname. Charles, Prince of Wales, is one of his godparents.

More photos and an interview here.
--the BB

Compline at the still time

This is designed for worship as the winter solstice nears. It is creation-oriented. Although the need and desire to turn from death to life are articulated, it is not oriented about atonement. It is not Native American because I am not; but it clearly draws on indigenous perspectives. If I did this right, a sense of the sacred permeates it, but it is not cast in god-language. The language is not explicitly Christian yet the one who composed it wrote it with a strong sense of the God we know in Christ: Source, Savior, Sanctifier. I know whom I address in prayer and the Holy One is known by many names.


At the turning of the year
At the wheeling of the stars
At the ending of the day
We pause in silence


In the quiet time
In the fallow time
In the resting time
We rest in silence


For the dark hour
For the still hour
For the changing hour
We seek silence


Candles and lamps may now be lit


In the dying time
We seek to let die in us
Our illusions and false judgments
Our bitterness and resentment
Our anger and our indifference
Our failures but not the learnings from them
Our pain but not the compassion gained from it
Our bondage to the past but not our memory of it

In the still time
We harvest what the year has brought us
We yearn to gather our scattered selves
To re-knit the fabric of our lives
To meet ourselves anew

In the dark time
We learn once more to cherish the light
To share the warmth
To keep alive the hearth fire
To nourish the divine spark
To know our own heart

In the silent time
We yield the illusion of control
We cease from our action
We let go
We learn to wait
To listen



From the rising of the sun to its going down
May our voices praise the Maker of all things

In the birthing and the dying
In the growing and the withering
May our lives be in harmony
May our words be filled with grace
May our thoughts be filled with understanding
May our hearts be filled with compassion

In the sameness and the changing
May our eyes behold truth amid deceit
May our ears perceive the song amid noise
May our feet pursue the path of beauty
May our hands be strong to do what is right

In the turning
May we turn from despair to hope
May we turn from sorrow to joy
May we turn from harm to healing
May we turn from death to life
May we turn to connectedness
May we turn to kindness
May we turn to one another
May we turn to ourselves
May we turn to the Light
That shines forever amid the dark


Let us name, silently or aloud, that for which we give thanks this day

Let us name, silently or aloud, those we hold before God this day

Let us hold ourselves in the silence, in the turning, in the darkness and the light


For the birthing and beginning
We give thanks

For the growing and the fruiting
We give thanks

For the gathering and the yielding
We give thanks

For the ending and the stillness
We give thanks

For the vastness of the heavens
We give thanks

For the grounding of the earth
We give thanks

For the deep and inward place
We give thanks



Into the darkness
We go now in hope

Into the stillness
We go now in peace

Into the turning
We go now in joy

Into the world
We go now in love
[Those who freaked over holy smudging can now run amok over this. Solidarity, Padre! Lila waste yelo. Mitakuye oyasin.]
Art by DeKooning
--the BB

Each compromise and each defeat

Looking back to earlier centuries as Rome declined:
The big country houses go on having their luncheon and tennis parties, the little professors in the universities go on giving their lectures and writing their books; games are increasingly popular and the theatres are always full. Ausonius has seen the Germans overrun Gaul once, but he never speaks of a danger that may recur. Sidonius lives in a world already half barbarian, yet in the year before the Western Empire falls he is still dreaming of the consulship for his son. Why did they not realize the magnitude of the disaster that was befalling them?

…It was the affairs of the moment that occupied them; for them it was the danger of the moment that must be averted and they did not recognize that each compromise and each defeat was a link in the chain dragging them over the abyss. [emphasis mine]

—Eileen Power. Medieval People. (New York: Barnes & Noble, 1924, page 14)
This is part of our Thursday Constitution Blogging series.
--the BB

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Mary Sue, this one's for you!

The Guadalupe Advent altar frontal at St Cuthbert's, Oakland, California

I haven't gotten to the next banner yet.

In spite of my Northern European genetic make-up (Swedish and German, no less: tall, blue eyes and all), I keep protesting being born "white." I believe transgendered people who say their inner self does not match their outer plumbing. My cultural resonance is not with Scandinavia or Germany. Tengo alma latina en cuerpo sueco. (I have a Latin soul in a Swedish body. Or, at the very least, Mediterranean. Yes. Sunshine, olive oil, herbes de Provence....)

So keep your lutfisk; your lingonberries are lovely but I can live without them. Bring on the corn tortillas and chiles. And forget the repressed Lutheran second half of Fanny och Alexander. It's time to party for Our Lady, La Morenita, La Virgencita, the Queen of Mexico and Empress of the Americas!

San Juan Diego, ruega por nosotros.

[Mary Sue and I were both stoked to see Jane R's photo of Guadalupe in Leuven.]
--the BB

Thursday Constitution blogging

Article. II.
Section. 1.

Clause 8: Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:--"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Let's just sit with that one for a while. This is the oath taken by every President of the United States. This is what he (or someday she) promises to do. If you will, it's the job description. Not "the decider" or "the commander guy" or the ignorant twit who keeps trying to "explain" things to us as though we were children--which is just more catapulting the propaganda. And most certainly not to shred the Constitution and trample it. No. The job is to faithfully execute the office and to PRESERVE, PROTECT AND DEFEND THE CONSTITUTION.

Have we done anything lately to remind our elected representatives that this is the President's job (and part of theirs is to see that he does it)?
--the BB

"The only witness I feel capable of offering"

I believe Wormwood's Doxy has it just right on orthopraxis (right doing).* She looks into the Great Commission and reaches all the sensible conclusions.

She comments that "my movement towards theological orthodoxy has not convinced me that I need to convert nonbelievers or those of other faiths to Christianity. I'll never ask anyone if they've accepted Jesus as their personal savior, because I find that question highly intrusive."

As someone who has accepted Jesus as his personal Savior long ago when I was formed to frame things that way, I also find it a highly intrusive question, one that (1) violates another person's sacred space and (2) is simultaneously so narrow and so vague as to be meaningless. To answer either "Yes" or "No" tells us very little.

She also writes: "But Jesus didn't say we were to make 'Christians' of the whole world. He wouldn't even have known what that word meant. He said 'disciples'...." That is a very different commission than the usual take on replicating oneself and one's own narrow definitions. Doxy movingly leads us into service and giving ourselves for the life of the world. Her interpretation seems, to me, to emanate the Spirit of Christ.

Here's to lives that shine with the divine mystery.

* I know. There I go with the big college-level words again. Churchy jargon, to boot. Very pretentious. All puffed up and proud. But it's such a nice contrast to "orthodoxy," how can I resist? [I know, right glory and right deeds are not actually separable; cut me some slack.]
--the BB

La Morenita in Belgium!

Jane R at Acts of Hope came across Our Lady of Guadalupe in Belgium. Way cool. The disposable camera could not get a clear pic but it's lovely nonetheless.

She writes:
It is part of a long series of frescoes on the life of Mary painted right after WWII by (if I remember correctly) a relative of one of the monks' whose father or brother had been ambassador to Mexico. Thus Guadalupe!

So la Morenita among the Benedictines in Leuven (Louvain). Me alegro a verla.
Thanks, Jane!
--the BB

Writing styles and levels

cash advance

It could be worse. I could be writing at a postgraduate level. Many years ago when I worked as an accounting manager in a biotech firm I ran a similar test on two samples of my writing. My sermons consistently came out at sixth-grade level and my work correspondence at grade 17 (post-grad). I took pride in both ratings, with my sermons accessible and my work very carefully nuanced and technical. One had to get past the legal department and the other past a bright child. You know where my heart was.

h/t to Wyld's Q&A for the quiz and to FranIAm for pointing me to Wyld.

UPDATE: Oh dear, what have I stirred up? See comment's at Mimi's shelter for reprobates.
--the BB

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

El Aliso (the Alder)

El Aliso

Bark beneath my hand’s caress,
Indifferent to my skin’s warmth,
Resistant in its grey solidity,
Daring me to feel important as I
Stand beside a tree, half its being

Quietly active beneath the soil,
Under my rootless toes.
I extend my heart in mind and fingers
Eager for soul’s contact with
That woody soul, this alder, this
Living other confronting me, watching over me,
Yes, another self.

Fronting the world, the sun, that I might
Live in your shelter—what would
You tell me, a two-legged deaf man?
Interwoven in our Mother is a
Network of roots
Going down and reaching out, not

Green things only but my roots also,
Owned by me when I spoke of them to my realtor.

Fixed? Nothing is fixed, yet Earth has
Linked me with this place in the
Yearning that said, “Yes!” when I came here.
Intricate the web of which I am a part,
Nor can I extricate myself from tree or bird,
Glancing light or piercing cry, kitten or cathedral.

These are all within me and I in them.
How can we find Jesus’ words startling if we
Realize that he is in us and we in him
Or all things in God, for that is the
Underlying way of reality?
Growing in us, flourishing, dying, all things.
How can I find anything alien to myself?

Unyielding tree trunk, you are the
Stuff of my soul, we share stardust and Spirit both.

November 28, 2002
(c) 2002 the BB

Humanum sum: humani nil a me alienum puto.
I am human: I consider nothing human as alien to myself.

Terence, cited by Cicero, then by Rabelais,
and later picked up in Tennessee Williams’ “Night of the Iguana”

One space spreads through all creatures equally—
inner-world-space. Birds quietly flying go
flying through us. Oh, I that want to grow
the tree I look outside at grows in me!

It stands in me that house I looked for still,
in me that shelter I have not possessed.
I, the now well-behaved: on my breast
this fair world’s image clings and weeps here fill.

Last two stanzas of “Everything beckons to us” Rainer Maria Rilke translated by J. B. Leishman

Post Scriptum:
Nothing is fixed indeed. I loved the alders in front of the condo I bought in 2002. So much so that I named my new home Los Alisos (the Alders). I spoke to the trees when I passed them, I reached out and touched the nearest one when I passed it I prayed with them. But early the next year they were all cut down with no warning. Here is where one stood.

--the BB

While thinking of our Armed Forces

And THANK YOU, all you who serve...

Let's remember why we call them to serve.

In the Preamble to the Constitution we find these words:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

[I figure I can't repeat them often enough.]

Not that Iraq's oil reserves have anything to do with our invasion and occupation....

Just sayin'.

SUPPORT OUR TROOPS! Bring them home. Don't send them on vague missions without concrete goals. Don't send them into battle except as a last resort. Don't send them inadequately armed and protected. Don't send them illegally. Don't take away their moral defense by promoting torture.

Bring them home. Be grateful for them. Take care of their health needs. Help them reintegrate with civilian society. AND GET THEM A NEW COMMANDER IN CHIEF. Stop troop abuse now. Stop the lies. Stop Cheney and Bush.

Posters courtesy of Old American Century
--the BB

Tuesday Prayer Blogging

A Prayer for Those Who Have None to Pray for Them
ALL-SEEING GOD, whose loving care extends to every creature: Hear our prayer for those whose cries are unheard, whose joys are unshared, and whose very being goes unnoticed; mercifully open our eyes to these your children, unstop our ears and unbind our hearts and hands that your image may shine in our shared humanity; and may your holy angels minister to those whose cry we, in our sin and frailty, have not heard; through your Son whose last cries echoed in the silence of your hidden mercy, even Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

This prayer was composed in 1981 and was included, with comments in a footnote, in a paper I wrote in December 1987 titled "Patterns of Grace: A Personal Anglican Theology Expressed in a Collection of Prayers." I plan to share more on a weekly basis.

The prayer is copyright 1981 by P. E. Strid. This prayer may be used liturgically, devotionally, or informationally provided attribution is unfailingly given and no commercial use is made or publishing outside a congregation or faith community is done. Thanks.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Because it warms my heart

Saint Cuthbert's feast is March 20--invariably falling in Lent. This poses a challenge to churches named in his honor; you cannot, by our current rubrics, have St Cuddy take precedence of a Sunday in Lent and you thus cannot have the sort of party one might desire for such a special saint. (He may be nearly unknown in the USA but he was rather a big deal in the UK and his name is ubiquitous there.)

A solution lies in his other feast, September 4, recalling his translation. On that day in 1104 his relics were moved into their shrine in the new Norman cathedral (Durham Cathedral). Being a medieval history nut and a creative liturgist, I decided our patronal feast would fall on the Sunday after Labor Day (close to September 4 and the day life begins anew in California churches after the summer doldrums).

This September 9 the feast was kept. Jack Pantaleo from St Aidan's in San Francisco, came and played his Celtic harp. The festal green superfrontal from the Doris Hagen altar vestments and the floral arrangements provided color.

My love for St Cuddy himself and for St Cuddy's, Oakland, prompts me to post. Oh yes, a touch of ego too; the superfrontal and the banners in the background are my design and stitchery. Since we have a sewing theme going this evening....

Sancte Cuthberte, ora pro nobis.
--the BB

I don't drink beer but...

... this is my kind of theology.

Photo borrowed from St Cuthbert's (Oakland, CA) blog, with lots of photos from the peace march in San Francisco on October 27. St Cuddy's represented!
--the BB

Ever wondered what you looked like?

Through a different lens than usual? I see from Technorati what my top tags look like. There are some depressing elements in the mix but I am very happy to see that photos, poetry , and prayer come through really strong. That makes the heart rejoice.--the BB

Lo que hice esta noche

Acabo de coser una pancarta de la Virgencita.
I just finished sewing a banner of the Virgencita.

Amazing what one can do with a printed tea towel, dupioni silk, butter yellow satin lining and a couple other fancy bits.

On December 8, a Marian feast in itself, I will be leading an Advent quiet day. We will be honoring Our Lady of Guadalupe, whose feast is 12 December.

For years I have wanted to initiate public processions in the Episcopal Church. I admit it, this is one case where I have Rome envy. My personal piety has increasingly moved toward what might be deemed "folk piety." I wear the label proudly. It is satisfying, expressive, personal, and intimate. Next month, God willing, Mary interceding, and the Rio Grande don't rise, I get to see an procession on a day other than Palm Sunday.

It will be a special day for another reason. Seventeen years ago December 8 also fell on a Saturday and I was ordained a priest by Bishop Swing in Grace Cathedral, San Francisco. A good day to be thankful. (It was a long journey getting there but I won't burden this blog with that story.)

I already had one small banner of Guadalupe with a print of the tilma of Juan Diego. It is very tasteful. Now I am working on two more: larger, more colorful, one with yellows and one with reds. One down, one to go. I also need to assemble the materials I have gathered to make a small palanquin on which we can carry a bulto of Guadalupe.

Twice I have had the privilege of ascending the hill of Tepeyac to visit the Basilica of Guadalupe. On the first trip I was struck by the beautiful words over the doors, words once spoken in Nahuatl to Juantzin.
¿No estoy aquí quien soy tu madre?
Am I not here who am your mother?

I have always felt Mary's presence since that moment.

Señor, Dios nuestro, que has concedido
a tu pueblo la protección maternal
de la siempre Vírgen María, Madre de tu Hijo,
concédenos, por su intercesión,
permanecer siempre firmes en la fe
y servir con sincero amor a nuestros hermanos.
Por nuestro Señor Jesucristo, tu Hijo.

--the BB (one of Mary's wayward brats)

What can we do to really say we support our troops?

“Veteran” by Tom Chelston. Available at

Photo via
h/t to Nicolle Belle at Crooks and Liars
--the BB

Sunday, November 11, 2007

For All Who Serve

"Reflections" by Lee Teter
via this site
You may visit the Virtual Wall here.

On this Armistice Day (yes, I'm old enough to remember when that's what we called it), I honor and give thanks for every man and woman who has served this country in the military. I thank them for their patriotism, their courage, and their sacrifice. I pray for them in danger, terror, injured bodies, and haunted dreams. I vote for their pay, their arming, their care, and their veteran benefits. I offer prayers for their safety and their healing, their peace of mind and soul, their safe return, their joy in reuniting with family and loved ones. I am proud of them for all their virtues and their sense of duty.

None of this makes war any less than hell. And so I grieve. In an e-mail today to my ex I wrote this:
Well, here we are: Armistice Day, Veterans Day, X's birthday.

This means I am something of a weepy mess again.

Happens regularly this time of year and Decoration Day (Memorial Day), and sometimes in between. I want to salute them all as heroes and I want to hold them all and rock them in my arms, knowing that if they went into battle they will never be the same. And I mist up. Sometimes I break down into great sobs.

If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin,
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,---
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

---Wilfrid Owen

Arlington West, Santa Barbara, 10 December 2006

Grandmère Mimi has a lovely post and prayer for Veterans' Day at Wounded Bird.

Thanks to jcf for posting Owen's poem in comments at OCICBW.
--the BB

What, y'all not reading poetry?

Durham Cathedral

Nobody has to comment on anything I post here, of course. But I was kinda hoping at least a few folks would share poems (snippets, titles) that have meant a lot to them. The invitation still stands.
--the BB

Each pouring out to the other

MikeF has shared some moving writings by folks whose spiritual journey has led them to Rome. A segment of what Aimee Milburn has written leapt out at me.

I went to mass tonight, and at the end, after receiving Holy Communion, was meditating on everything I had written here [in her four-part account of her conversion] earlier. Suddenly, in my mind’s eye, I saw the fullness of the Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, each pouring out to the other in an endless cycle of love. In the heart of the Trinity was creation, emerging in the heart of God as an expression of all the glory and love of God.

At the intersection of the smallest point of the heart of the Trinity was emerging the individual human heart. It was as if every human heart was emerging from the center point of the Trinity. Emerging in the individual human heart, when it was opened up and given over to God, was the Trinity itself, like a beautiful flower coming forth.
This is so close to my own vision of God (not a particular vision granted me but how I see God) that I find myself (quietly) shouting, Yes, yes, yes, oh sweet wonderful Savior, yes!

That the writing is so eloquent and filled with ecstatic devotion is a delicious plus.

It is difficult to write of the divine perichoresis in prose. In Aimee's writing here the reality of it overflows as though without effort. Thank you, Aimee and MikeF.

Check out more of Aimee's writing at Historical Christian.

Camellia photo from a stroll in Albany, California, March 2005
--the BB