It is awful.

I love the graciousness of my house.  It has stained glass windows and rooms meant for entertaining and woodwork and it has… no central air conditioning.

It is 95 out in Minneapolis.  Humidity is at about a bizzillion.  Yesterday was the same.  On such a day it is hard to summon the energy to think a coherent thought, let alone stir bodies that simply want to sleep through the agony of it all except sleeping in such heat is impossible so what is a person to do?

I walked a three mile path around Lake Harriet yesterday during the worst of it.  My man was swimming the buoys at said lake and I knew that if I didn’t move I would be scraped off the walls or floors so I set out.  There were other crazy people out, too.  And really, about half way around as I was finding how truly effective the body’s coolant system is (read there was sweat streaming EVERYWHERE) I started to laugh.  What else was there?  I waded into the lake after my walk and laughed again.  The cool water I sought to refresh my hot toes?  Not there.  Even the water of a MN lake in early summer had given up semblance of cool.

Driving around in cars is respite.  Going to movies works.  Libraries are our friend.  Coffee shops work too. 

I’m so happy to be at work.  It is cool here.  The space under my desk seems near large enough to stretch out and sleep.  It is feeling tempting…..


We are what we think.  Is this so?

What difference does our thought process make?  What does being a person of faith have to do with it?  What about free will and what about right thinking and what about shoulds and shame and what about choices and intentions?  And what about the Holy in the midst of it all?

Here’s what I think.  I’m echoing the teachings of the desert mothers and fathers and I’m echoing the teachings of contemporary and long gone teachers of all faiths and I’m echoing the wisdom of many who share community with me at church.

What we choose to think matters.  We are the pilot of our thoughts.  We assent to the negative ones: We can follow them down the same grooved paths that lead to worry or bitterness or despair or any of the other obsessions that can cramp our souls.

Or we can choose to redirect the well-worn paths that lead us to nowhere.  We can choose to gently reroute our negative grooves by paying attention to them when we start down that path.  Noticing them and following them to greater knowing of ourselves and then; choosing a different course.  A course that leads us to a gentler, grace filled place where there is room for sunlight.

We see it all the time in others, don’t we?  Some people seem obsessed with the ways the world has wronged or cheated them.  They pounce on the offenses and pick at them and get energy from rehearsing them over and over and over again and spilling them out into their interactions with the world and while that rehearsal is going on the performance that is life right now is playing out without their whole presence.

I see it in others and I know too that I have been that person.  Haven’t you?

The wisdom teachings of all faiths tell us that fixing our attention upon gratitude and trusting that all things have lessons for us and knowing that in the midst of the most gnarly and ripping of pain we are partnered with the Holy; these choices of thought lead to soul stretch and health and serenity.

So paying attention to what we choose to hold in our heads, what we choose to allow to gain purchase in our bodies, what we choose to ground our lives upon:  These things matter. 

What matters too is that the reach of God toward us throughout time is a reach not of retribution but of grace, love, and enfolding.

We are what we believe.  We are what we think.  We are what we practice.  We are. 

May we choose the expansion that is love and light.  It matters in the sacred gift that is our being, and in the impossibly pregnant gift that is the community of God.

I am woman

Sometimes I get lulled.

I go about my days and encounter life and then a comment is made and I remember:  I am not a member of the dominant culture.  On many fronts, yes:  I am white of skin (if you don’t count the sprouting age spots), middle class, educated, employed, able to make choices. 

And, I am a woman. 

I am a woman in a culture that pays my sisters an average 75 cents for every  dollar earned by a male.  I am a woman in a culture where we number more than half the population and are not similarly represented by law makers in virtually all areas of government.  I am a Lead Pastor at a church where upon learning the gender of their new lead, some members reacted negatively and continue to refer to their pastor as “that woman” (a very very very small number of my congregation, I hasten to add).

I am a woman who knows fear on darkened streets.  I am a woman who came to her own sense of possibility late in life so I know the pains and glory of those who midwife their own souls later in life.  This is often the case for women.  Our futures and possibilities are peopled with the people we care for:  children and partners and parents and community.  The din of the competing claims for our time and energy juice is loud;  so loud that it can take years to listen to and value our own voices, our own needs.

When we begin to learn to listen and to speak, we do so tentatively, testing out the world of our own thoughts and values to see if it is safe and will it really allow our wholesome being?

If the bumps are not too violent, we continue to venture out into the world, taking our passions and our wisdom and our questions and sharing them and we sail along and through and natter a bit, perhaps, about the non-issue of feminism and equal rights and then we hit the glass ceiling or the wall of sexism and it takes our breath away.  Do we still live in a world where women are asked to somehow state a case for their full humanity? 

Ask the women who are bought and sold.  Ask the women who are not safe in their homes.  Ask the women who are left to raise children alone and then are condemned by culture even as they seek to cobble together a life for their children.  Ask yourself if you are a woman and your partner or sister if you are a man and you will find that being woman is living a cultural “less than”.  Maybe not discernible day to day, but insidiously and powerfully real.  For all the movement toward full equality that has been, there are still lessons which await fullness of lived life in our world.

So on this day, when I have been asked to “chill” because of my passion around this issue, I declare that I am woman.  And I will speak.  And I will lead and learn and live for a day when women are safe and heard and honored. 

I will not be lulled.

home (?)

Others have survived it:  children coming home for the summer.  From college.  From total freedom.  From no governor but their own sweet sense of things.  From clothes carpets on bedroom floors and late night gatherings.  From volume on high.

To home they come.  Home, where parents are and rules are and sleep is celebrated (the kind where waking at 6:30 AM means eight hours of pillow time).  Home, where counter tops enjoy the freedom of being unlittered.  Home, where nooks of reading and silence are savored.  Home, where socks go into the dirty clothes basket.  Home, where dulcet tones waft from the stereo speakers.  Home, where parents have the crazy notion that they might have some input into the quality of life lived in their domicile.

I love my children.  Maybe most especially because my middle daughter who is newly graduated from college shared with me that she and her friends became aware that they don’t live in their “own” homes any more.  They live in our homes.  Theirs, surely, but the parental splash that makes for “ours” changes everything.  (Or at least I like to believe it does).

We’re figuring it out.  Do we like to have their friends over?  Yes.  Do we want to come home after a long day of work to ten of them crowding the kitchen and denuding the refrigerator?  No.  Will we survive this?  Yes.

To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven (thanks, Ecclesiastes).  This is the season of welcoming and boundary making and negotiating and asserting.  We’ll survive it and more.  I trust that. 

Perhaps more troubling is the notion that once the lights go off as the sun is coming up and my children have gone to bed, the crusty socks that call our house home are off reproducing in the dark corners and under-couch lairs they seem to prefer.  They are taking over the house…..


It’s messy, love is.  There is no pain or savor like that borne in its being and there is no greater teacher than the insistent call that is love.

I spent Friday night with people who are students with me in the thing that is loving:  Cousins and offspring of same, siblings, uncles and aunts, my mother, and a whole collage of people marking the life and legacy of my aunt.  She set the table at which we gathered.  Her table, as my cousin John spoke it during her funeral, was one where good manners mattered, graciousness was foundation, and hospitality given gift.

Every family has their DNA.  The Fawcett strands?  Strength, laughter, dogs, rascal, integrity, loyalty, poetry, clan, beauty, soul, curiosity, people, vulnerability, grit, pride, humility, grief, heart, generosity.  Seeing cousins after a decade or more of living was wonderment.  In them beat the shared longings and promptings that were dished out through our births and around our growing up tables and we are many and we are one and we are blessed.  From a tall physician and a petite musician came this clamor of life in the bodies of their offspring.  And we have played it out, this clamor.

We have loved and lost, grappled with pain and betrayal, run from and run to.  The strands of our being have hummed with sureity and jangled with doubts and somehow we have come round right and Friday was reminder that there is no knowing like that of family.  We share a story deeper than the changing scenery of our days.

We have lived the challenges of the gift of love and we seek its wisdom yet.  Some of that wisdom can only find fullsome voice around the table that is family. 

For the gift and stumble of learning love through kin, my wondering heart gives thanks.