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.  


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. 


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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



I have a pink scooter that jingles my bells.

Half the fun of it is that I have never been “that kind” of girl:  the kind drawn to Barbie pink.  So, when it became clear to my children on the shopping trip for said scooter that their mom was going to buy such a thing, the edict was clear and quickly delivered:  I was NOT to buy a pink helmet.

Instead, I bought a lovely sea-foam green protective device.  It’s a great combo.

Today, while scootering home for a break I was playing tag with a bicyclist.  We would alternate leading until we found ourselves waiting side by side for a light to change.

He leaned over and complimented me on the way my helmet and the top I had on complimented each other.  And then we were off.

Such a silly small goofy thing, but I have been grinning ever since.

So often we don’t take the time or summon the courage to speak kindness to each other; stranger or comrade.  We are sparks of Holy possibility.  Sometimes the sparks find air.

Today I am reminded of the power of appreciation.

I figure it is worth passing on.



I have been asked to share the position paper used to introduce the legislation asking the United Methodists in Minnesota to publicly oppose the marriage amendment:

On behalf of the 17 churches and 2 coalitions who bring before you this legislation (Walker Community UMC, Richfield UMC, Lake Harriet UMC, Simpson UMC, Table 31 UMC, Prospect Park UMC, Epworth UMC, The Peace and Justice and Reconciling Committees of Hennepin Ave UMC, Edina Good Samaritan UMC, Minnehaha UMC, Minnetonka UMC, Golden Valley Spirit of Hope UMC, St Anthony Faith UMC, Excelsior UMC, Shoreview Peace UMC, Duluth First UMC, Minnesota Reconciling Retired Clergy Caucus, and United Methodists for Marriage Equality)

On behalf of the people in our pews and those outside our doors who wonder what being zealous in the ways of love means to the people of the United Methodist Church.

On behalf of my children, and maybe yours, who long for this Jesus movement to live the embrace of open hearts, minds, door and open mouths regarding full inclusion of all God’s beloveds.

On behalf of the movement of grace meant to hold and support the well being of all families.

I ask that the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church speak a loud “no” to the double barricading of human and civil rights represented by the legislative attempt to amend the constitution of this, our state parish.

We bring this resolution believing that in Minnesota, at least, we can agree that we disagree around theological issues regarding the full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons in our communities of faith.

What we do NOT disagree on is the long-standing insistence on the part of people called United Methodists that we stand, as scripture and our Discipline proclaim, with those oppressed by cultural systems that would deny equal rights.

Our Discipline states that “we are guided in developing our ministries by heeding concerns generated by great human struggles for dignity, liberation and fulfillment… These concerns are borne by theologies that express the heart cries of the downtrodden and the aroused indignation of the compassionate.” (Book of Discipline, The Present Challenge to Theology in the Church)

The indignation of the compassionate is aroused when one population is singled out and denied the some 515 rights and privileges accorded those who live in differently-gendered marriage.

We know to be real the heart cries of members of our churches.

We know to be real the distress of those who wonder if the United Methodist Church really seeks to embody the vows made by members: that we will resist evil, injustice and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves.

We bring this resolution because it is time for us to claim publicly that we support all families.

And, we covenant to support civic and human rights that support all to live love with those God has given their hearts to cherish.

This is a great human struggle for dignity, liberation, and fulfillment.

We are the people of Jesus, called to respond to oppression with the zeal of love.

Our children, our churches, our parishioners, our state, our movement and our God call us to no less.

Rev. Elizabeth Macaulay
June 1, 2012


Today Minnesota United Methodists voted to speak publicly against the marriage amendment coming before voters in November.

This is no small thing.

We join the ranks of Lutherans, Presbyterians, Episcopalians and the United Church of Christ in Minnesota; all have voted to speak out against this attempt to legislate oppression.

What makes this decision poignant is that unlike the above named denominations, our denomination corporately holds a stance on homosexuality much like that of the Catholic Church.  Many of us work hard on seeking change in that regard.

For the MN Annual Conference to overwhelmingly support public opposition to legislative oppression means that we claimed our call to advocate for justice.

I am a hope filled woman.  I am moved by the witness and advocacy that has taken place for decades in order for this church I love to step out and speak out.  I am aware of the work yet to be done and the wounds yet real.

But today.  On June 1st in St Cloud Minnesota, United Methodists spoke their hearts.

And I do believe we are a changed people.

Thanks be to God.