whiz bang

My psychic bags are packed.

Come Monday Cooper and I and Zoe (who now needs help getting in the car) will head for the cabin.  Following us on Tuesday will be all three babies and one partner.

We will have twenty four hours together.

The Fourth of July has been a Moose Lake thing for as long as I can remember.  In years past we have attended the parade which features thrown candy and sewage trucks (they shine them up and festoon them but is there any disguising their function?).  There are rides and mini doughnuts and chaos and heat and excitement.  We have then adjourned to the sweetness of the lake and the cabin, there to welcome family for feasting and conversation.

This year I’m suspecting we will skip the parade and the rides in order to celebrate good coffee, quiet time and the amazing good that is gentle time together.  

It isn’t the mini doughnuts and jazz of people that calls me.  This year it is the whiz bang of being in a place that has long held us through family reorganizations (how is that for linguistically gentling the rip of divorce?) and leavings and comings.

To awaken there surrounded by the breaths of beloveds is heart fireworks.

Wherever it is you find yourself on this Fourth of July, whether in crowds or quiet, I pray you know well the sweetness of gratitude.

So much has been given in order for freedom and justice for all to be more than phraseology.

Much more will be asked in order for freedom and justice for all to be made real.

Hold to your beloveds.  

Shine your gratitude.  

Eat a mini-doughnut for me.  

poor

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.  Jesus, quoting Isaiah 

Last week I was at Drake University in Iowa to prepare to teach a class on poverty.

I was in the midst of a sea of United Methodist Women and I was jazzed.  UMW is an organization that has long sought to empower women and children and raise a voice for justice for those too often silenced.

I will teach the “poverty” class in mid July at St John’s University.  In attendance will be women (and some men) from throughout the state who take the time to open their hearts to the real of the issues around poverty, as well as classes offered on Immigration and the Bible and Haiti.

In order to teach this class, I have been immersed in study about the issue of poverty.

It has been hard heart work.

How is it we can devote newsprint and airwave time to so much twaddle when nearly a quarter of our children live in poverty (defined as an income of roughly $24,000 for a family of four)?

How is it that alarm regarding the growing chasm between the rich and those who cannot afford health care and shelter is not being sounded daily?

How has silence around this issue been countenanced?

I write this on the day when the Supreme Court has ruled on the so-called “Obamacare” issue.  The verbal posturing that is going on in the aftermath of the ruling is nauseating.

How is it Christians who embrace the teachings of Jesus blithely side-step the portions of his teaching that have to do with God’s vision for the eradication of poverty?

How is it we could claim that any child or any child of God is not our compassion concern?

This is an age of rhetoric gone mad.  Faced with so many incomprehensibly twisted proclamations, one of the tactics has been to refuse to enter the noisy fray.

But I believe we must.

How are the children?  Disproportionately poor.

How are many veterans?  Disproportionately poor.

How are people of color and women?  Disproportionately poor.

Poverty doesn’t just happen.  It is allowed to happen.

To us all. 

what?!

On this day twenty five years ago, I met a person whose elbows and feet I had come to know well.

Daughter Rachel Mackenzie has never been without zest.

She was born with a fluff of white hair on her head and a frown of displeasure at the cold reality of her greatly-changed circumstances.

That sense of “what?!” has served her well.

Along with a magnetic-quality openness to life that has prompted her to drink deeply of being, Rachel’s “what?!” has seemed to alert her to possibility.

There are times of grumble, to be sure, but from this mother’s perspective, Rachel has decided to seek grace in the midst of most any adventure.  She is a woman possessed of great grit.

When we moved to Minneapolis before her Junior year in High School, she learned that making life means interacting with people; no matter how rocky and wretched circumstances are, people are antidote.

She built a life and friendships that sustain her yet.

Her “what?!” about the way the earth is consumed by greed has led her to advocacy for the living thing that is the earth.

And the “what?!” seems to have engendered in her a wicked sense of humor.  Long ago I gave up trying to be really angry with her.  She can wiggle me into laughter with the deft touch of an artist.

It’s a tricky thing, nattering on about the wonders of my kids.

It isn’t hard to do, given that daily I am moved by the gift of their being.

It’s tricky because words are mighty small things.

I don’t know how to thank God for the gift of Rachel Mackenzie.

It is honor to be her student.

 

home

I am freshly back from the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in Minnesota.

I was part of a group of nine women from the church who planned and packed and set out on a woman-powered adventure.

I’ve never gone in this early in the summer.  It was different, as in cold.  We were a layered crew, humbled by the basics of keeping warm and dry.  It rained.  We had one day without rain but the others kept us aware of the need to stay dry.

We were ambitious, planning a route that included a 169 rod portage,a 90 rod portage and two smaller portages as well as river and lake paddling.  We figured that if we didn’t have the energy to push to our goal, we could rest for a night on one of the two lakes between.  We forgot, though, that a major burn had gone through the fall before and the two lakes that might have given us rest were eerie charcoal.

So push on we did.  Going there was hard.  We figured that coming back might be a bit easier.  We were wrong.  On the day we broke camp the rain poured down.  Before we made it off the first lake we were soaked and shivering.  I was grateful for the portages, because they allowed our bodies to pump some warmth through our systems.

And then there was the wind.  We paddled back into white caps and cross winds that prompted deep digging for what felt like hours of paddling.

At the end of the last long portage, feeling relieved with only two short ones to polish off, I landed in a full body (complete with pack on my back) sprawl in the water.  It was thankfully a move witnessed by only one of my paddling sisters.  She was good enough to help me get the darn pack off my back while I was pinned on my hands and knees by exhaustion and a great good laugh.

We made it out.

And I am now home where water runs from taps and heat is more than available but home is a funny thing.

While sitting on a rock watching may flies hatch in the dusk, I was home.

In the cocoon of a tent sharing heart and laughs, I was home.

In the whip of wind and power of white caps, I was home.

The moveable temple of at-oneness calls me home.

Always.

 

seven years

Seven years ago today I married Cooper Wiggen.

We stood by the shore of a lake, attended by three others, and promised to love one another in covenanted and holy ways.  We eloped, since life being what it was we were buying a house, Cooper was commencing with a new church community, and we wanted to begin our living-together life as those allowed to marry in this state.

A month later we had a church wedding where we again spoke words of commitment; this time in the presence of our children and communities.

It has been a heart stretching endeavor, this marriage.  We each brought three children into this new thing.  We each tend two goodly-sized churches.  We each carried the wounds of divorce.  We each are a jumble of past hurts and core longings.

And we are yet alive, together.

I encountered awhile back an interview with an ardent feminist who had been in a marriage for decades.  She was nuts about her husband.  The interviewer made mention of her surprise that one can be an ardent feminist and a profoundly grateful lover of her male mate.  How could that be, the interviewer asked.

The answer was this:  in all the years of their life together, the woman never could predict what her husband was going to say or what he was thinking.  This to her was passion elixir.

I get it.

Through all the rips and wonder of blending families and life, I have been married to a man who fascinates and draws me.  The tender human to whom I have pledged my troth is gift.

On this day, I am remembering the joy and sometimes trudge of making this life we now share.  Seven years of meals and tears and laughter and love.  Seven years of stretch and soar.

Seven years.

Gratitude sings.

 

bliss

Ah, Saturday.  The living is easy.

Living in the same town as all three of my children makes me crazy grateful.  The pink scooter ferried Jameson and me to a rendezvous with daughter Rachel and out-of-town niece Chelsea.  We met at the bakery where daughter Leah is working.  Coffee and delectables on a sunny Saturday in Minneapolis is nearly as good as it gets.

This afternoon I will meet up with the eight other women heading into the Boundary Waters on Monday.  We will pack and check and double check our provisions and begin to get a sense of who we will be together.

Often times I wonder if I have time for these BWCA trips.  Being away from the church and the web of relationships that are mine to be present to is hard.  But every year as we put the canoes in the water and take the first paddle stroke I know myself to be home.  And every year, the building of relationships between those who venture out into the wild is priceless gift.  Being vulnerable and resourceful together changes everything.

And so it is in or out of the BWCA: being vulnerable and resourceful together changes everything.

Life is a good thing.

 

change

Last night a group of us shared some fine time.

Those gathered are people who summoned the courage to enter the doors of our church for the first time.  They came in the door, decided that they might find meaning in our midst, and have decided to join their lot with ours.

Every time I meet with prospective new members I am moved by wonder.  Truly, taking membership vows represents a longing for community and communion that is no small thing.

We talked about what it was that prompted them to walk through the doors for the first time, and we asked about what it is they are seeking.  We barraged them with the requisite information but really, what we sought to do was listen for the story of the Holy that walks in their being as we invite them to  enter a community seeking to live and name transformational possibilities.

They are a wise and diverse lot.  They named their awareness that the church is so very much more than the pastor.  They have sniffed around our being and decided that at RUMC, they may find a safe place to grow in their relationship with the Holy and those the Holy has created – even themselves.

This thing called “church” is no easy thing.  We challenge ourselves to learn about what Jesus taught and put that teaching into the living of our days.  It is messy and demanding work.  When we take membership vows we agree that we will live together in community and we know that sometimes it feels like we live in one of those rock tumblers:  we get swirled around in the grit of others and sometimes we allow that bumping to polish us into something unknown even to our own imaginings.

To those who follow soul rumblings into community, I say “welcome”.  We need your grit in order to shine in ways that make for grace in the world.

Welcome indeed.