Monday, June 30, 2008

I was coming home from worship last night and my neighbor across the street invited me for a glass of wine. I accepted. In the course of our conversation, she said to me "You're the most important person in the world." (She is starting a business as a leadership coach.) I told her that I didn't think I was more important than the homeless man I had talked to a Home Depot the other day. I said there were times when I did come first, and there are times when I have to take care of myself, but it's important to me to do things where I care for others.

I am really taken aback by the idea that each person is the most important person in the world.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

A Cup of Water -- Sermon

Matthew 10:40-42
40“Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. 41Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; 42and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.”

The eastern half of the North American continent is fortunate; unbelievably fortunate. There are not many other places in the world so blessed, and certainly, I don’t believe, over such a great geographical area. We here are blessed with abundant water. Even in times of drought, we have more water than most places in the world. Much of the world is desert: dry, dusty, parched desert. Plants sink roots far down into the earth seeking water. Animals and humans wander from watering place to watering place. Those who venture too far away from water or those who get lost die in the dryness. The Bible can be difficult to understand for many reasons, but one of them is that we eastern North Americans and western Europeans are live in conditions that are so different from those in Israel/Palestine. We can understand intellectually the importance of water, but having to live with the day to day impact of the lack of water is different.
On my first visit to Yosemite, I camped one night at Tuolumne Meadows. As I stood in line for the communal sinks to brush my teeth, I heard one Californian yell at a woman, obviously from the east, to turn off the water. The woman was brushing her teeth and letting the water run as she did. How often have you done that? I certainly did that all my life, without ever giving a thought to the water I was wasting, sending coursing down the drain. I’d never lived through years of drought in California. But even California during a drought is blessed compared to Palestine. Much of the land is desert. There are areas in the west blessed with rain, and areas along the Jordan which have water, but the rest is either arid or dessert. In the Negev, you can walk across the desert, the dirt crunchy beneath your feet. Plants, even small ones, are rare.
A cup of water is the difference between life and death. Hospitality is central in desert cultures because the environment is so difficult. Hospitality is simply a matter of life and death. For us a cup of water is simple: going to the sink, turning on the faucet, perhaps letting the water run a bit to cool it and then fill a glass. For those in Palestine in Jesus’ time, a cup of water was more difficult. The women arise early and walk to the well. There they send a bucket down into the depths of the well and then lift up the bucket of water. Think about how heavy that water was. A gallon of water weighs eight pounds. Imagine lifting a bucket with a gallon of water. Imagine lifting eight pounds up, straight up out of the earth. Now, there may have been pulley systems to ease the burden, but even so, the water had to be carried from the well to the house. Giving a cup of water to a stranger was important. Receiving a cup of water is a blessing.
This passage is the end of Matthew’s account of Jesus’ missionary discourse. These are the last words Jesus says before he sends his disciples out to tell others that the kingdom of God is near. The worlds are an assurance of welcome. Those who welcome the disciples will receive a reward. This is the assurance of the welcome we will receive, we do receive into God’s realm.
I have been reading a new book, Saving Paradise, by Rita Nakashima Brock and Rebecca Ann Parker. Both are theologians who have been studying concepts of salvation in the early church. The book began as the two visited the catacombs in Rome. In all the art in the catacombs, they did not find a depiction of the crucifixion. Fascinated, they continued to look at early church art. They looked at early churches in Rome. They visited Ravenna, the site of the most beautiful early church mosaics. They visited early churches over the middle east. They examined early icons. The earliest crucifix they found, the earliest image of the dead Christ is in the tenth century. Intrigued, the examined early church writings for clues about early Christian ideas of salvation. What they found was the image, the idea of paradise.
The word paradise comes from the Persian. It is a word for a walled garden. But a paradise garden in Persia is more than simply a walled garden. The focus of a paradise garden is water, like a river, running from a high point, through the garden, to the garden’ s entrance. Often a paradise garden is divided into quadrants. Each quadrant is in bloom one season of the year. There is something always in flower, bearing fruit in the garden.
In Genesis, Eden, the first paradise often pictured as on the top of a mountain, a river flows through the garden, and from there, the river divides into four rivers. God has planted Eden with every sort of tree. The human beings in Eden do not need to work; food is there for them all the time. In the cool of the evening, God walks through the garden. In the last book in our scriptures, at the end of the book, John of Patmos writes of the future earth. Through the middle of the new Jerusalem, the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. God dwells in the city.
Paradise. God invites us, welcomes us into Paradise. Now, close your eyes. Take a deep breath. Put away your shopping list, Take another deep breath. Put away your to do list for the rest of today, for tomorrow. Take another deep breath. Put away your worries. Take another deep breath. Now, imagine a paradise garden. You are standing at the entrance. It is hot, very hot and dry. As you look into the garden, there is a hill and coursing down the hill is a river of clear, sparkling water. On either side of the river are trees, some flowering, others with fruit. Among the trees are plants and flowers. It is the most beautiful garden you can imagine. And, there at the entrance is God. She, or He, however you imagine God, is there welcoming you. Come, in, come in. We have been waiting for you. Let me walk with you. And you walk. God finds a comfortable bench and you both sit down. God slides God’s arm around your shoulders. “What has been bothering you?” God asks. “What are you afraid of?” “What concerns you?” “How can I help you?”
God is waiting, right now, to welcome us into paradise. Paradise is not something we have to wait for. Paradise is not something we have to strive for. Paradise is not something we have to be good enough for. Paradise is waiting. We are welcome. God is waiting to welcome us home, to paradise with God. Amen.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Friday Five

I've just joined a book group, so this is so appropriate!

This week, then, a Summer Reading Friday Five.

1) Do you think of summer as a particularly good season for reading? Why or why not?

I lived for a long time in Cleveland, Oh, so summer was a time to be outdoors. Reading was a winter activity. Snuggling up with a good book during a blizzard--what could be better! Now, I have gardening to do, so reading gets short shrift in the summer, in hot, humid Memphis.

2) Have you ever fallen asleep reading on the beach?
Not a beach sitter/reader, so no. I don't think I've sat on the beach in 30 years.

3) Can you recall a favorite childhood book read in the summertime?

Shoot, I can't remember childhood. Actually, when I was small, I read the Boxcar children books and then Nancy Drew. I remember being about 12 and reading the intro to Hawaii (Michener) in Life or Look and wanting to check it out of the library to read. The librarian (a cousin of mine) said I was too young to read it. I told her I was going to read it anyway.
4) Do you have a favorite genre for light or relaxing reading?
Female dectective novels. Nancy Drew grown up.

5) What is the next book on your reading list?

My next book will be a ways off. I'm reading Saving Paradise by Rita Nakishima Brock. She and her coauthor discovered that there is no art depecting the crucifixion prior to about 900. The book is an exploration of salvation in the early church. The dominant motif they discovered is Paradise, both as a present reality and as the future hope.

Kay Warren (Rick's wife) new book is on it's way from Amazon. I'm hoping to use it as a sermon story for one of the parables in July. I've got a stack of books lying around and a bunch for my Sony eReader for an upcoming trip. The eReader books include the latest James Bond, the first novel by Ian Rankin in the Inspector Rebus series which was just recommended to me. I've also got the latest Sue Grafton.


I have been listening to old podcasts from Speaking of Faith. I discovered this NPR program during my time in Michigan. I haven't heard it anywhere else I've been. In late 2007 (I think) Krista Tippett interviewed Jim Wallis and Rick and Kay Warren.

A quote from Wallis: hope is a decision that change is possible.

From Rick Warren: He is trying to bring together both strands of Christianity: personal morality/family values and social justice. He talked about being "pastor" to leaders including GW Bush. When questioned about what he said to those leaders, he said he was a pastor and never talked about policy. He only talked about issues of character: their integrity and so forth. Hmmmm, what about social justice? I have ordered Kay Warren's book.

Free Will. I have been searching for about half and hour for something I read yesterday. I can't find it, so I hope I'm not mis-representing what I read. McCain is quoted as saying that God did not choose to make him a prisoner of war, and so forth. The quote was on a more right wing blog/website. The reaction was that the God that McCain protrayed was not a God that Christians believe in.

So, assume we have free will. When a person who is drunk, chooses to drink too much and runs over me, does God make that happen? Was that God's will? If so, what happened to the drunk's free will?

If humans don't have free will, if everything in life is preordained, under God's control, then why does anything I do matter? If I am already predestined for heaven/hell, then I should just do what I want to do. I believe the traditional Calvinist reply is that we don't know; those predestined for heaven act well, therefore we should act as if we are destined for heaven.

I think the reaction of the writer was that if God is not in control of everything, then that makes God a stand off God, like the God of the deists. What that criticism misses is a middle position. What if God is like a parent of a teen ager (a not overly protective parent). The parent lets the child choose and make mistakes and suffer the consequences of the mistakes. The parent doesn't control the child, but is there to be with the child as s/he picks up the pieces.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Adam and Eve and the Serpent

I was meditating/journaling this morning. Now, I'm sure I'm not the first to have this insight, but here it is. The story of Adam and Eve is one about consciousness, etiology: how we became conscious. The result of consciousness is awareness of death. We are the only animals who are conscious; we are the only ones (well maybe with the exception of elephants) who are aware of our impending death. So, when God tells Adam that if he eats of the tree of knowledge of good and evil on that day you will die, God is telling the truth. A bit of Adam will die on the day he eats the fruit and learns that one day he will die. His unconsciousness of death, his naievte , his innocence dies. He physically lives, but it is no longer the same. He becomes aware of his own mortality.

Now, it seems to me that being aware of our mortality should make life sweeter. But, it doesn't seem to work that way. Many of us do everything we can to deny the fact that we will die. We exercise, we have plastic surgery, we eat anti-oxidents. We run. Or, we drink, we become addicted to our laptops, we do drugs. We isolate ourselves from life. We deny that we are mortal.

If we really knew we were going to die, wouldn't we live our lives differently? Wouldn't we care about the homeless man who is hungry and scared? Wouldn't we care more about the dying children in Africa? Wouldn't we care more about the mourning parents in China? Wouldn't we care more about our neighbors, the ones right next door? Wouldn't we care about the world we are leaving to our children, our grandchildren and (should we be so lucky) their children?

So, we have received a gift in consciousness with the blessing/curse of knowledge of our death. And we ignore the message of the blessing/curse.

Friday Five

From RevGalBlogPals

Think summer......are you there? Below you will find five words or phrases. Tell us the first thing you think of on reading each one. Your response might be simply another word, or it might be a sentence, a poem, a memory, a recipe, or a story. You get the idea:

1. rooftop

I was thinking about roofs this week--how I loved to climb up on them when I was a kid. The first house I lived in after my dad finished med school and his internship had a slightly slanting roof over the porch. I remember going out there with a friend and my mom getting upset. At grandmother's house, my cousin and I would climb up the outdoor stairs to the second floor (think way, way up there, it was a Victorian house) and jump down each step and then we might play on the roof over the back porch. I remember climbing out on the front porch roof. Once in the second house I lived in I climbed out on a small roof with a friend who was spending the night. My parents got really upset. When we moved to the farm, I gave up my porch climbing and build a tree house instead. I'm not sure what my rooftop fascination was about. One of the things I am disappointed in with my time with Habitat for Humanity is that I never got to put a roof on. I told the folks to call me when they started the roof on one house, but a professional roofer came by and his team volunteered to do the roof that day.
2. gritty
3. hot town (yeah, I know, it's two words)
Hotlanta where every Southern girl wants to go, but I only went for a football game with GaTech.
4. night
I love the night, the stillness, the cool after a hot day. I love the stars, finding constellations, looking at the moon.
5. dance
I don't. Have no coordination or sense of rhythm. I'm less concerned with how I look and so I do when I get the chance which is rarely. Last time I danced, as I recall, was on Iona. Well, in public.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Catfish and Christ

When I was growing up, we didn't eat much fish. On Fridays at school, we got fish sticks. I never ate lunch on Fridays. Sometimes, we'd drive about half an hour and go to Jones' Fish Camp (I think they wrote it Jone's Fish Camp). I'd eat perch or maybe flounder 'cause it didn't taste like fish. They had wonderful hush puppies and cole slaw (an oil and vinegar dressing that cut the fat of the fried perch). I'd eat plenty of tartar sauce with my perch. We never ate catfish. Catfish are trash fish; they are bottom feeders. Mom liked trout, but Jones never had trout. She'd have perch or founder with me. She never cooked fish. I've cooked salmon, but I don't think that counts. I've never cooked real fish.

But, those catfish. They don't have scales, so they aren't kosher. They occur all over the world. They are wily. But, they are bottom feeders. They are negatively bouyant, so they sink to the bottom. They scoop up all the debris, the gunk, the decaying matter that can cloud and destroy a clear lake or stream. They take into themselves the gunk, so the world can be clean. But, they remind me of Jesus. Jesus hung out with the bottom feeders. He hung out with the whores, the tax collectors, the bad people. But, Jesus spent his life helping those folks heal and be included in the community. Jesus absorbed the gunk, so the world could be clean. Like catfish, Jesus was wiley. Catfish hide out so they can't be easily caught. When the Pharisees would try to catch Jesus, he'd just smoothly outmanuever them and get away. Just like a catfish.

Three years ago, a giant catfish was caught in Thailand. It fed the entire village.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Being Left Behind/Hubris

If you're not left behind

The site becomes active when 3 of 5 of their team members don't sign in for three days in a row. So, they are assured that 60% of their team members will be raptured. LOL.

For the longest time, I thought the bumper sticker that said, "when the rapture comes, this car will be driverless" was akin to "if this van's rocking, don't come knocking".

Rambling on Attitude

So, yesterday, finally, I had my shot to increase my white blood count. It's a long story of mis-managed care. So, the sweet nurse was telling me about a cancer dinner she had been to that she really enjoyed. Ususally, she said, the speaker was some boring doctor. This time, it was a woman who had had everything. She had married the love of her life, she and her husband owned a BandB. Then she got cancer. She lost everything: her husband, her b and b, all her money. But somehow, it was the greatest thing that ever happened to her. Please, save me from more cancer is the best thing that ever happened to me stories. Feeling like crap after chemo (I do five hours of chemo every three weeks. I spend five hours having poison poured into my veins. I don't think that is a good thing.) When I have a good day, I rejoice.

I listened to Rachael Remen who wrote "Kitchen Table Wisdom" on a podcast of Speaking of Faith. So, I bought the book. It's stories from her time counseling people with cancer. (With my attitude, I wonder why I bought it.) So, one story is about a guy who was not progressing in his imagining group. The guy had come up with an image that the rest of the group didn't approve of and so, the leader of the group and the group changed it for him. And now, he couldn't do the imagining. The "new" image was a shark full of teeth. He was supposed to imagine hordes of sharks with sharp teeth coursing through his veins eating up the cancer cells. (Even as I write these words, it's hard to suppress a giggle. Do people really believe that imagining sharks swimming through their veins can help their bodies fight the cancer? Sometimes the cynical, analytical scientist in me comes to the surface with a what can they be thinking?) So, the guy's original image was a cat fish. Now, a catfish, I can understand. They are bottom feeders. They suck up all the gunk, all the garbage, all the poison. They are old, old fish. I can even get a sort of Jesus image for catfish--don't ask. But, catfish weren't good enough for the guy's group. So, why do people think they have the answers for everyone? Why do people trample over other people without a by your leave? I wonder whether the leader or the other members had even asked the guy to talk about catfish. I wonder if they even had a clue about catfish.

But I wonder about the whole attitude impact on cancer. I think it's because we want to control the uncontrollable. Cancer is chaos; it is random; it is not predictable. It happens like an automobile accident: for no good reason. If we hold on to the idea that our attitudes have an impact on our cancers, then there is some control, some meaning. But, I believe studies have shown attitude doesn't really have an impact. And the downside is the same as believing in faith healing. If we don't get well, then it's our fault. Our attitudes/faith weren't good enough. And sometimes attitude doesn't make a difference. Cancer is what it is. Sometimes, it's beyond cure.

The whole theodicy thing is coming back to me. For a long time, after many trips to Nicaragua during the contra warfare, theodicy was an important question for me. Why does God allow this awful stuff to happen. People doing unspeakable things to other people. The amount of horror people can inflict on each other is unimaginable. And scripture has no answer for this.
So, for a long time, I thought the evil we do to each other is inherent in our sinfulness. Jesus came to show us how we should live together and we reject it. Natural evil (earthquakes, hurricanes, monsoons) are a natural result of the way the world works. God is like a parent who watches her children make mistakes, cries with them and hopes that they can go back to the lessons she has taught them as children so that God's will will be done on earth, God's realm will come on earth.

Not quite a deist God, but a loving mother/father letting her/his grown children make mistakes and letting them go. Is this enough? What about the chaos? What about the randomness?

So, where is God in the chaos? Where is God in the randomness? If I don't believe that God intended me to get cancer (and if God did, then God's a jerk), then where is God? Is God there, waiting for me, holding me, loving me?

I came to the conclusion that God could not be all-loving and all-powerful if the world is the way it is. Either God is not all-loving and thus lets/causes suffering or God is not all-powerful to stop it. I came to the conclusion that God has chosen to give us free will and to give up God's power in the process. I'm not sure that's a good enough answer right now.

I'd love to hear other's thoughts.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

A Jouney

On some journeys, the unexpected happens. There is a glitch and whatever was planned doesn't happen in quite the same way as the paper itinerary says it will.

I was stuck in the airport in Tripoli for eight hours waiting for a plane in a group of about 80 people (the largest group I think I've ever toured with, or ever will for that matter!). Other groups were waiting for the plane. Libya was crammed with tourists on that March day. It was open for the first time in years to Americans and then suddenly just before our trip closed for Americans (the US had denied a visa to a member of Gaddfi's extended family) except for those going to view the total eclipse of the sun in the Libyan desert. The plane we were to be on was full. The airport was crammed with travelers and smoke, smoke, more smoke. We didn't want to leave the area, for fear we would not hear the boarding call (not in English). And so we sat for eight hours. We finally boarded the plane. We were on our way to Appolonia. And then we had the longest landing pattern I had ever experienced. As we landed in the dark (the airport didn't have landing lights), I noticed all the emergency trucks ringing the runway. I assumed they were there to provide light to the pilot. As it turned out, they were not. The winds were awful that night and the pilot were hoping to find a break in the winds so we could land. If we could not land there, we would have gone to Bengazi to land, but there were no hotel rooms availabe in Bengazi, so we were fortunate.

We then had the joy of finding our luggage in the dark. Another disadvantage for black or navy bags. We boarded our bus to travel to the hotel. Which broke down just around a curve. So, the other bus carrying half our tour went on to the hotel and then about 40 minutes later returned for us. We switched out luggage and then boarded the bus. We arrived very late and were told to eat. Which we did. We finally found our room. Not knowing what the next night would bring, and the following two nights after that would be on the Libyan desert in tents (in a country with almost no tourist infrastructure), we decided to charge our electronic devices. Two camera battery chargers, one laptop, two MP3 players, and at least one electronic toothbrush. As the last device was plugged in, we saw a flash of light. The room went dark. The entire floor went dark.

The next morning we delayed our departure to explore Appollonia. The ruins were right next to the hotel. The advantage of no tourist infrastructure is that there are no ropes around the ruins. Those most of us avoided climbing over the ruins. It was wonderful to be able to get close. Then we drove to Cyrene. Up into the green hills. Cyrene was beautiful. I was walking in the city that the man who carried Christ's cross was from. And remembered how the chaplain at seminary had told us that Simon was a black African. I had grown up Presbyterian, read lots of Bible studies, liberation theology, commentaries, but never knew that.

My current journey hit an unexpected bump. I had chemo yesterday. (Three of four done!) They are changing the medication they are giving for low white blood counts. I had been taking a series of shots (three or four). The first cycle, I did not react well--lots of bone pain. The second cycle, they reduced the dose, my white blood counts soared and I only had three shots. I had about 12 really good days out of the 21 in the cycle. So, the new medication I will take on Monday, one shot. It is long acting and has the same potential side effects as what I am taking now. I would rather take something I know than something new. Oh well. They didn't give me a choice. I have a feeling some drug rep convinced the office to switch meds. (I cannot believe the number of drug reps I see go in and out of the building when I'm there. Lots of good looking, young, thin, blonde women. I wonder how that works with women docs. )

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Being Blessed

In September I will have been at my church two years. The honeymoon should be over. I suppose having a life threatening illness extends the honeymoon. People seem to like me as much as when I arrived. I haven't heard criticism. Everyone is still talking to me. No one has left. It is pretty amazing.

The matriarch told me she thought I had come back to preaching too soon. Pretty amazing, if you asked me.

I still struggle with what God is calling the congregation to be/do. We did a year-long discernment process, followed through with one event. I asked what the group would do next with what we had decided would be our focus and the reply was that they would wait until next year. They meant the academic year.

I think I will call the congregation St. Methuselah. I love Cheesehead's St. Stoic and we are stoic, but mainly old, old, old.

I am hoping to visit a parishioner today. I haven't done any visitation in a long time. Before the surgery, I was really, really sick for about two months. And before that I was on vacation and then it was Advent and Christmas and before that I was spending a lot of time with the discernment process. I need to review my list and organize it.

I have my third chemo on Friday. One more after that! I will be so happy to be done.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Anger in Matthew

Yesterday I sat down and read the entire gospel of Matthew. I'm preaching on Matthew this summer and feel like I don't have a good overview of the gospel. I came away with a feeling that Matthew's Jesus is really angry, hostile, irritable. It seemed to me that there were lots of passages where he talks about people being tossed into Gehanna, and he seems really hostile to the Pharisees. I remember studying the Gospel in seminary, but this didn't strike me then. I know that scholars think that Matthew's community was struggling against the Jewish community of which they had been a part (this is not the best way of saying this). I'm going to try to re-read the gospel this week and see if I have the same impression.

The other thing that surprised me was that Jesus quotes Hosea a second time God "desires mercy not sacrifice".

Friday, June 6, 2008

Friday Five

1. How important is the "big picture" to you, do you need a glimpse of the possibilities or are you a details person?

I am a big picture person. Details drive me crazy. I get physically antsy dealing with details. I usually try to find a detail person to figure those out for me. I know details are crucial; I just can't stand doing them.

2. If the big picture is important to you how do you hold onto it in the nitty gritty details of life?
My personality is that I always have the big picture. It is a flaw that I don't often even see the details.

3. Name a book, poem, psalm, piece of music that transports to to another dimension ( one....what am I thinking....)

Almost any work of fiction and lots of nonfiction. I loved Harry Potter.

4.Thinking of physical views, is there somewhere that inspires you, somewhere that you breathe more easily?

San Francisco/San Anselmo/the entire Bay Area; Yosemite, Islamic architecture; underwater with the fishies;
5. A picture opportunity... post one if you can ( or a link to one!)

You shouldn't ask

All I can find on my computer. Maybe more later!


One of the problems with being a member of a group traditionally discriminated against is that you can never know if it is you or if it is discrimination. And so, Hillary. I am of the age and gender which is supposed to be her greatest supporters. And I am a rabid feminist (though I really do like men). I have lived my life being discriminated against because of my gender and never so much as in the church (which began as radically appreciative of women and their gifts, but that's another rant). I did not support her for a number of reasons, primarily those of policy. My major concern is that she would continue the accretion of power in the presidency. My other major concern is that in her quest to show she has cajones, she would continue our disasterous swaggering foreign policy. (Her plan to drop the federal gasoline tax was simply stupid.)

Of late, she has shown too much grasping. I hear her defenders say that if she were a man, the "negative" aspects of her personality would not be seen that way. It seems to me, though, that that sort of grasping is repulsive in men. Hillary seems to have gotten into the same category as Israel: if you criticize her, then you are a misogynist (in Israel's case, anti-Semitic). You know, sometimes women do have flaws, glaring flaws. Giving a woman a pass because she is a woman is also misogyny.

I do hope that those who supported her will support Obama. The last thing this country needs is four more years of Republicans. McCain does not understand the economy. McCain, too, seem to has cajones problems when he comes to foreign policy. We need someone who can balance the federal budget with real compassion for those who have less (rather than compassionate conservatism which seems to have compassion most of all for the wealthy and those with oil interests).

I hope Obama will come up with solid proposals soon. We need to hear more than change. And, yes, I hope he sits down with our "enemies". (Having been to Iran, I know that many people admire the US. Invading Iran will transform all those who look to the US with admiration into jihadists. I simply hope that someone in foreign policy understands human nature.)

Finally, though, our hope is in the realm of God. God wants justice in this world, equality where women and men are evaluated and valued in the same light, equality where people of color and "no color" are evaluated and valued in the same light, justice for creation, where humans value all life and understand our role as stewards for our children and their children and all creatures.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Health Update

I am now half way through chemo. This second course has been much easier than the first one. I did have to have neupogen shots this time (neupogen helps the body make white blood cells) but they reduced the dose significantly so I didn't have as many bad effects from them. My red blood counts are low and I tire easily and am short of breath. I am doing Pilates once a week (I had hoped to do it back home twice more a week, but didn't do it). I also walked 35 minutes yesterday and today. It is really tiring. I hope that the chemo continues to get easier. I spoke to the oncologist in Cleveland. Basically, she said that the pathologists came to the same conclusion as those in Memphis. The only thing of concern is that most oncological surgeons will remove lymph nodes (it appears that cancer will spread first to the lymph nodes) and that mine were not removed. (That's a large part of the reason I'm doing chemo). I'll have a CT scan and see the Cleveland oncologist in September.

I presided at a funeral of a parishioner this morning. I can't believe she is gone. She was only 83. She'd had two strokes before I came here, but was the most wonderful person. The family was estatic with the service.

I haven't lost more hair, but I expect to begin losing more hair beginning on Friday. My shaved hair is growing out a bit! I still have eyebrows (mostly) and eyelashes. I won't wear a wig, but I think I'm going to get false eyelashes.

I'm still planning to go to South Korean and Mongolia in July. I'll also be with my lectionary group in August in Alaska.

I can't believe it when I feel good. It's not the way I used to feel, but wow it feels good not to hurt, even if I'm really tired. I would prefer not to have had ovarian cancer, but so far, things are almost as good as one could possibly hope for. I am truly grateful for this and for the support of my friends here in Memphis, my sister who has been with me twice now and my son. My congregation has been really supportive. In fact, the matriarch said today that she thought I had come back to preaching much too soon.

Thank you for your support and prayers.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

I just found the most amazing video

Sunday, June 1, 2008

A parishioner died Friday night. She fell Thursday, went into surgery on Friday, came out and died two hours later. Her husband had been a Presbyterian minister, not at this church, I don't think, perhaps so. She taught Sunday school until she had a stroke. She was well loved. I visited her once and then she began to come to church, though it was a chore for her to climb up the steep "handicap access" ramp with her walker. (It is really too steep for any but the able bodied.)

Her daughter came to tell the congregation today. She said she would find someone else to do the funeral, but I said I would. I will miss her.