Tuesday, February 16, 2016

just wait a moment, they said...

Yesterday I was kicking myself for not wearing my as-yet-unused snowshoes out on my walk. Today it is pouring down rain and there is no more snow.

Winds? Yes, we haz them. Pity the poor bird who just wanted to get home. Never mind the commuters... I'm pretty sure I'm living my own version of Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day. Just so long as the convent doesn't blow over like Owl's tree!

But putting that aside for a moment, let's discuss ch-ch-ch-changes (turn and face the strange changes indeed). 56 today, you may have noticed just now. Two days ago the wind chill was -34. Life-threatening, or so we were warned.

90 degrees. Two days. 

Saturday, February 13, 2016

poetry for Isaiah 58

"To Keep A True Lent"

Is this a Fast, to keep
The larder lean?
And clean
From fat of veals and sheep?

Is it to quit the dish
Of flesh, yet still
To fill
The platter high with fish?

Is it to fast an hour,
Or ragg'd to go,
Or show
A down-cast look and sour?

No: 'tis a Fast to dole
Thy sheaf of wheat
And meat
Unto the hungry soul,

It is to fast from strife
And old debate,
And hate;
To circumcise thy life.

To show a heart grief-rent;
To starve thy sin,
Not bin;
And that's to keep thy Lent.

-- Robert Herrick (1591-1674)


If you remove the yoke from among you,
   the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil,
if you offer your food to the hungry
   and satisfy the needs of the afflicted,
then your light shall rise in the darkness
   and your gloom be like the noonday.
             - Isaiah 58:9b-10

Isaiah 58

Friday, February 12, 2016

then your light shall break forth like the dawn - Isaiah 58 for meditation

Shout out, do not hold back!
   Lift up your voice like a trumpet!
Announce to my people their rebellion,
   to the house of Jacob their sins.
Yet day after day they seek me
   and delight to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that practised righteousness
   and did not forsake the ordinance of their God;
they ask of me righteous judgements,
   they delight to draw near to God.
‘Why do we fast, but you do not see?
   Why humble ourselves, but you do not notice?’
Look, you serve your own interest on your fast-day,
   and oppress all your workers.
Look, you fast only to quarrel and to fight
   and to strike with a wicked fist.
Such fasting as you do today
   will not make your voice heard on high.
Is such the fast that I choose,
   a day to humble oneself?
Is it to bow down the head like a bulrush,
   and to lie in sackcloth and ashes?
Will you call this a fast,
   a day acceptable to the Lord

Is not this the fast that I choose:
   to loose the bonds of injustice,
   to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
   and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
   and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them,
   and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
   and your healing shall spring up quickly;
your vindicator shall go before you,
   the glory of the Lord shall be your rearguard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
   you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am. 

If you remove the yoke from among you,
   the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil,
if you offer your food to the hungry
   and satisfy the needs of the afflicted,
then your light shall rise in the darkness
   and your gloom be like the noonday. 
The Lord will guide you continually,
   and satisfy your needs in parched places,
   and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
   like a spring of water,
   whose waters never fail. 
Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
   you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
   the restorer of streets to live in. 

If you refrain from trampling the sabbath,
   from pursuing your own interests on my holy day;
if you call the sabbath a delight
   and the holy day of the Lord honourable;
if you honour it, not going your own ways,
   serving your own interests, or pursuing your own affairs; 
then you shall take delight in the Lord,
   and I will make you ride upon the heights of the earth;
I will feed you with the heritage of your ancestor Jacob,
   for the mouth of the Lord has spoken. 

Monday, February 1, 2016

of polls, pols, coloring books, and squirrels

I don't know whether to laugh or cry. I think fear is one of my reactions. But not the same set of fears that are driving the people that have me praying for our country.  I've been thinking about a blog post for a few days but have been too under the weather to have the energy. Not that I'm over it. But now this: CNN: Why I'm voting for Donald Trump. Did not watch the videos. Just couldn't. (And I'm not watching the Iowa caucus returns tonight.) But I did read the article.

Fear always plays into politics - always has, always will.
This started before the cavemen, I'm sure.

And I know I know people who are thinking just exactly those things. And will vote for him. That frightens me more than the reality of potential terrorist attacks, which I've accepted as a possibility since 9/11 made me think of it. The homegrown variety is still the most dangerous, and statistically speaking, chances are it will be a white man who identifies as Christian. Can. Not. Comprehend. That. Last. Part. I think we must be reading different Bibles.

Also, the racism.

The racism.

I've been wanting to write a post on that. Several posts, actually. And I have no time to write something thoughtful. I need to find it, somehow. But, oh, the racism. (And people try to tell me this is a post-racial society? Ha. First, Flint. You can stop there. Or just do a few searches on Twitter. It's jaw-dropping.)

I read a BBC article a while back that seems to echo some of my thoughts, though through a different lens.  It opens with an excellent question: Is there a greater democratic show on earth than the American presidential election?

Key word: show. It's like a circus crossed with a slow-motion train wreck. Reminds me of the time I was on the way home from school riding in a friend's car. Creeping along the icy road not far from the high school's exit, we came across another student's car, which had slid off the road, and that of yet another group of students who had slid in the same spot right into the first. Then it was our turn. The steering wheel turned, and the car did not. As we frantically waved our friends out of the way (successfully! whew...), we watched ourselves slide slowly right into those two cars.  If you made these clown cars and waved flags, that might closely approximate what I see happening here. At least we noticed we were sliding and waved our friends out of our path.

The Physics of Clown Cars

A quote from "The Physics of Clown Cars" seems apt here:

However, how many clowns go in is a mix of Clown Politics (CP), Clown Size (CS), Clown Flexibility (CF), General Survivability (GS), and the critical Maximum Clown Hilarity (MCH) quotient.
Unfortunately, and contrary  to accepted folklore, clowns need to breathe. Discomfort is to be anticipated, but General Sur­vivability demands some consideration of  physiological needs. 

Just consider the potential application for a moment.

best title: the braggadocious billionaire

Back to the BBC:
The problem is that the greatest democratic show on earth also doubles as the most outlandish.
For international onlookers, it can seem freakish and bizarre: a long-running farce populated by cartoonish characters, which works as entertainment but is a poor advertisement for American democracy.
Though presidential elections easily satisfy most theatrical requirements, do they meet the needs of a well-functioning democracy?                         http://www.bbc.com/news/the-reporters-35365848 

Theatrical requirements may be met on some grounds. I gather this election cycle is the hottest topic on Facebook. Thank God I have friends who don't rant on Facebook. (If I'm ranting, I apologize - but at least this isn't hate speech in your Facebook feed, which some of my friends apparently get.) I have friends at the far ends of the spectrum - both ends - and so I appreciate it even more. I intend to keep all of them. But it's just as well I don't spend too much time on Facebook. Even better that I don't watch television when I'm not on holiday with my family (and that tends to be HGTV). What is obvious to me from the articles I've read - and to you who probably watch television and could give me quotes - politics is going from nasty to nastier.  That crossed my mind during Sunday's reading from Galatians (5:13-25).

For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” If, however, you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.

So I am praying. Truthfully, prayer for our country has been pretty low on my priority list. I say to myself, well, it could be worse. We could be having elections like those in Haiti, which continue to get more complicated and eye-crossing from day to day. I did learn to appreciate the way things work here when I lived in a place where they didn't. But that's not much of a comparison. (Oh, and PLEASE pray for Haiti and their current election dilemma - it's awful, and it makes writing this post feel whiny just thinking of it. Still writing it, though.)

(do not have source for this - my apologies)


Yes. Yes, I do prefer squirrels and art supplies to politics. It's time, however, for me to commit to attending to prayer for our country and specifically for our elections. 

Maybe we should all pay more attention. Not to the show. Less there. More attention to the content, the voter turnout, and prayer for the process, the outcome, the candidates, the voters, and all whose lives will be most heavily impacted by the decisions we make collectively this year. 

the mad dash to the top

Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on all of us sinners.