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Friday, September 30, 2005

BEaCh HoUsE bLoG

Friday in September day 30 thousand-five
Very Dry Day bringing shoreline dreams alive
Santa Ana winds racing somewhat north of here again
Natural Energies, with Beach House taunts arcane
Get your shovels ready and turn up the heat!
Bring along a Vintage willow Cottage Shabby Chic
Couple it with several pairs of Country Bear ice cream Sets
DoUble FaultS, seashore, sunshine over Shiloh gets
Claim NEW 3 NEW claim 5, let's
Listening Garden Rooms four Nautical transform
Black Church's Cadence song preaching up a storm...!
Turn on the AC 'cuz it's gonna be a blizzard?
Only rhyme I know for that is rainbow-painted lizard
Blogging more for Desert Fire, theology, remember?
this list-blog growing longer just by citing one from earlier...
Wondering where I got my quotes, here's twenty-ninth of June
Posted on that day's time not quite yet afternoon
this far by faith's Theology Rap
Coupled with Transfiguration Dawning Day on tap
Streams in the deserts restoring us to life
Impelled by the Spirit reclaiming our strife

Cityside America safari from the past
Tennessee Walkers strolling totally grassed
Cannabis sativa? I believe so not
Simply something different from our usually plot
Bread sent from heaven and fruit of the vine
Community's nurturing right down the line

Shenandoah prairieland's burritos really fine
Charge into the world make another new try
Instead of just settling reaching for the sky
Challenging this planet to listen now and hear
Everything I offer it experience held dear
I'm giving my sorrow and all of my pain
To God the Almighty, Lover not vain
Expecting just mercy and grace in the rain
Falling from heaven embracing the earth
God's glory incarnate declaring our worth

Holy Spirit's Seasons moving forth to Reformation!
Church's Pentecostal witness blazing with elation!
Somewhat strained my verses are whatever though they thrive
Off again tomorrow's morning hope will raise us back alive
The End for Now, Amen. Amen. And amen again!

Monday, September 26, 2005

Soul Works

Book of Hours: Love Poems to God

—Rainer Maria Rilke—

God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.

These are the words we dimly hear:

You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing
Embody me.

Flare up like flame
and make big shadows I can move in.

Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don't let yourself lose me.

Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.

Give me your hand

Friday, September 23, 2005

City Blues and Brights City Lights

About a decade ago I crafted this poem. City Blues is an urban funk familiar to most of us; City Lights derives from many sources, but for me it especially comes from the response of one of the kids in the summer program at the church I served in Boston. When I asked, "What does it mean for us to be the Body of Christ?" surprisingly and unpredictably, one little boy answered, "That we can be City Lights!!!" As much as it sounds like my theology, this kid was not in my Bible class—really! In fact, besides being site director, I was teaching art and not Bible.
CITY BLUES AND BRIGHTS – CITY LIGHTS

It's a morning glow—the kitchen at dawn.
City blues. The kitchen at dawn.
Come on, get up, wake up!
It's a brand new morning!

Look out the window, look at the sky...
Watch the stars fade
the night stars
lights of night fade
take some stars into your heart
Quick! Look up in the sky—look quickly.
quietly, softly, look
while still there's time
Circle some stars
circle some stars
to bring them into your heart

You're up, you're awake. You’re ready
You're ready, you're alive
It's a brand new morning!
It's a beautiful morning!
Hold onto the morning, day is breaking
night is over
This is the sunshine place
It's a city bright

Take that heartful of stars you've
borrowed from the sky
there's a basket over there
set some of those stars
into that basket
You'll need them in the darkness of your night.

Day's breaking
Day's broken all over the city
City blues the city at dawn

Sit and savor the sunrise
savor the day
bask in and savor the kitchen at daybreak
Watch that basket of stars
guard that basketful of stars
Are the stars still in your heart?
Delight in them Hold them dear
And share them
Share them...

City blues, urban blues that is.
Sun's up
Morning's here

Morning's ready!
There's a city out there
A big city out there
A Great City
get on out there and scratch for
life
hold on, hold on
hold on.
Don’t let go.
Keep those stars in your heart
and give all of them away.
There’s lots more where those came from.
This city will be a sunshine place.

Day's done, it's end o'day
Watch those stars in your heart,
in that basket
Morning's over, so's afternoon
it's evening now
night's closing in...

It's sundown. Night's right at hand
Watch those stars in that basket,
on that table
Watch them closely
night's...almost...here

What promise will you offer the night?
What answer will you give to the night?
Night has dawned upon all of us
Night's here now
Now is the season of night
sleep

You made a covenant with the day
The stars you show are its sign
Will your covenant enfold the night
as well?

It's night now, darkness time
Stars in the basket on the table
Stars in your heart
In your heart
Sleep quietly
...now...
Morning's on the way

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Signifying Seasons

>I'll begin by quoting from another blogger--this blog inspired what I'm writing today:
But, even these days, from my profoundly changed perspective, I think that my old [pagan] friends get it right in some ways. One of those ways is their acknowledgment that, as enfleshed creatures on this planet, we live according to the rhythm of days and months and seasons. Many Christians, especially spiritual children of the Reformation, seem so terrified by anything even remotely capable of suggesting pantheism that any talk of integrating the rhythms of earthly existence into our spiritual lives sounds dangerously syncretic...

Another way they get it right, I think, is in recognizing the power of mindful, integrative, full-participation ritual. The first days in August are a time, on the pagan calendar, to simultaneously celebrate the firstfruits of the harvest and to recognize the death that is necessary to sustain life...You spend time thinking about the things in your life that have borne good fruit, that should be celebrated and nurtured, as well the plans and activities and attitudes in your life that haven't been fruitful, that shouldn't be held onto into the darkening of the year, that need to be let go of now; you create ritual actions that illustrate this process of personal inventory.

With all that in mind, my question to readers: What are your ideas for ritually marking the time during the long Pentecost season in a Christocentric, cruciform manner that also acknowledges the world as we experience it (and as Jesus experienced it) in creative, evocative ways? How do we keep the green in the green and growing season, and help it bear more fruit in our individual and corporate lives?
Signifying Seasons

Great blog topic! I resonate particularly to the paragraph beginning "Another way they get it right..." and need to respond to the idea of marking this l-o-n-g Pentecost season (another segment of so-called Ordinary Time, in itself a challenging designation) in something resembling cruciform style while acknowledging my experiences in the world. These days I'm full of turmoil and its closest kin, and wondering whether to post this on my theology blog or on my testimony site... but initially it's going on this far by faith.

We've arrived at autumnal equinox eve, and with the falling season so near on this year 2005's horizon, I need to consider the fruits of the growing and harvesting seasons immediately past and assess what does not merit carrying forward from spring and summer 2005 and what else I truly need to rid myself of as part of the challenge of journeying ahead into fall and then winter, which both hold promise as creative, productive times--at least according to my past experience! The death that is necessary to sustain life (and to produce new life).

From my undergrad years at Boston University, and the years immediately following, when I served in the Lutheran Church in America as a musician, I've kept fresh memories of my early journeys through the liturgical year with its colors, symbols, and texts; those rituals excited me, helped engrave meanings and started shaping an actual understanding of the Heilsgeschichte into my life and purpose.

But creating my own "ritual actions" illustrating my own inventory process, and in Christocentric form!? God calls us to live as servants, to live exactly the kind of life for others Jesus of Nazareth demonstrated. Especially now, I'm exquisitely conscious of God's calling us to total stewardship, which includes living in response to the level of our gifts and education--of course! Remember the liturgical year's older designations and observations: from the first word for the introit for those Sundays, "Gaudete," rejoice for the third Sunday of Advent and "Laetare," which also means rejoice, for the fourth Sunday in Lent. Although every Sunday is considered a celebration of Easter's risen glory and joy (with each Sunday during the season of Lent consequently being "in" but not "of" Lent), the liturgies and lections for Advent 3 and Lent 4 focus on measured exultation at the midpoint of somewhat somber seasons. Ages ago, at a women-only Bible study that met at my home every Monday evening, I suggested "people have seasons," and though the concept hardly is originally mine, the entire group immediately responded in agreement. Like the Church, people have major seasons and shorter seasons within those greater, more expansive and more readily recognizable seasons.

Differentiating seasons in what some might consider a not-religious manner, just like the Church I ritually go with changes of clothing colors and sometimes fabrics, though not always in a conventional what's-current-in-local-retail-establishments way. I love all kinds of colors and their permutations, from natural to pale through pastels and brights to jewels and sometimes even darker hues, and typically I alternate between deciding this is a day for intense colors or today asks for pale or desert tints or whatevers, based both upon my life's ambience and the ambient weather. Erik Erikson spoke about "the furniture of self," and said to lose the sum of our belongings, our material possessions is to lose evidence of who we are! Thinking again about Katrina and now Rita in that context...but I'm also imaging the physical aspects of our lives such as food, clothing and decorative home textiles, furniture, and wall d├ęcor as accoutrements reflecting our inner selves.

From one of my old Commonplace Books and posted in a more-or-less recent blog:

Body Image, where:
  • body,
  • mind,
  • psyche,
  • spirit and
  • culture
converge. Its impact reverberates in all areas of life:
  • mental,
  • physical,
  • emotional and
  • spiritual.

What I truly need to get rid of? These days I only want to be able to embrace the community of faith and the world outside the church with the gifts I'd started preparing for them so long ago, but I know I need to give up some of my feelings of pain, loss and devastation...

Before we fully can acknowledge the losses and freely face the future, we human creatures typically need in our "possession" (I considered that word carefully before writing it down) something to take the place of whatever we've lost, but I haven't yet received the restitutions I knew would be coming my way! Here's another quote:
"...a free future must begin with the right to talk freely about the past."

--George F. Will, quoted in [print, of course!] Newsweek, June 19, 1989, page 72.
Talking about the past? I've been doing that--writing and theologizing about it, too! A Christocentric or Christ-centered observance and recognition needs to include the vertical upreach and the horizontal outreach of the cross, but exactly how? I need to trash my imagined self-reliance and fall back upon God's gracious mercies and provisions, and again fall back into community. Recently I've been listening a lot to a song by Darrell Evans:

from Darrell Evans' CD, Freedom:
Your Love Is Extravagant

Your love is extravagant
Your friendship intimate
I find I'm moving to the rhythms of your grace
Your fragrance is intoxicating in our secret place

Your love is extravagant
Spread wide in the arms of Christ
Is the love that covers sin
No greater love have I ever known
You considered me a friend
capture my heart again
Paul Tillich suggested "sin" and "asunder" come from the same origin. What seems like forever I've been feeling and living too, too asunder and broken-off from familiar community and from the work that gave my life meaning and rooted my everyday's rhythms. My grief remains much too heavy for my body to bear. After more than a decade of reaching out in friendship and making the initial overture in terms of trying to get musical opportunities and plain old social friendships, where do I turn now? The love of Jesus Christ, found - and maybe even experienced - in Christian community is love that can cover pain and span distances of almost every type.

Wait! This is supposed to be about making a new ritual process for my own life, but I've been rambling on about liturgy, loneliness, Church, churches and aloneness. On my theology blog I've written about the liminal, threshold events, rituals and liturgies in our individual lives and in the Church, the principal one being baptism. I'll confidently quote my insisting:
Feeling rootless is part of the nature and reality of living the gospel; exactly like the Israelites of the Exodus, in Jesus Christ we live in the precariousness of nomadic, unsettled existence, daily undergoing baptism's departure from that old life and entrance into the new, each day recalling and reliving the perilous and risk-filled underwater moment in that watery font of death that at the same time is sustaining womb of new life, the fragile instant in which we need totally to trust the baptizer, who represents God, the One Who really baptizes.

The early church baptized in the flowing water of a river: just as every life moment is different, you can't step into the same river more than once! Living baptized means balanced on the threshold between our old lives of slavery to sin and self and our new lives of Eastered freedom for others, and living baptized means some times we also fleetingly experience the fullness of gospeled community. Many times I've pointed out for Israel the River Jordan had been the barrier separating them from the Promised Land and then became the boundary and border of their Promise Landed lives. Likewise, for us, baptism keeps defining us as different from those outside the community of the church at the same time baptism is an event that counts us into the covenanted people of God of all generations. Paul addresses his letter to the Corinthian Church "...together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours! Wherever we go we can find an assembly of Christians who call Jesus Lord, so we always can continue journeying together.
Cruciform ritual? Acknowledging and emphasizing both the vertical and horizontal dimensions of the cross? My only answer for this evening is first, to keep on keeping on centering and immersing myself in the wisdom of the Church's worship, hymns and liturgical texts, which connect horizontally to the contemporary churches world-wide and connect vertically to the expressions of the Church throughout history; to keep on keeping on the scary reaching out to others, and to keep on keeping on grounding myself in constant prayer of every kind. May we all live under the cross, living baptized as person for others in Jesus Christ!

Saturday, September 17, 2005

City or Country? Part the first

A blogger colleague, F3 recently blogged about Country or City, so I decided to take a cue from him and blog about City or Country, as well.

citylinks from my blogs; a few from elsewhere:

On Saturday, January 3, 2004, sun country living, first saw light-of-day; SCL is more online storage space than real blog, and aside from sometimes updating content and date on my list of Beethoven Sonatas, I haven't been posting there. However, in the past I've done some urban stuff on that site, so check it out:

ekistic units

Ekistic Units

a few urban attributes

City, cities--plus one on Body Image.

Erik Routley's hymn about the city

All who Love and Serve Your City

in addition, on Tuesday, October 19, 2004, I started city safari | city delights; at first thinking it mainly would be notes from my old Commonplace Books, too; there I'm posting the same kind of stuff I'd been leaving on sun country living, with the addition of some genuine blogs; the template, content and general style is funkier, sometimes with irregular font colors and sizes within a single post.

An urban imagining from my Photoshop class.

A few urban-related phrases.

city whimsy from city safari

way to go! And Way To Go!!!!! one more time, with title in caps.

Then, my newest and latest blog with only a single post (yet!), is ecumenopolis. In my introductory post I wrote,
ecumenopolis is the largest ekistic or household unit--check out this list of ekistic units on sun country living--it refers to the whole, known inhabited world. This blog title, city! life! style! is a favorite phrase from one of my long-ago artistic or literary (probably both) micro-endeavors.
one of my favorite CDs

Urban Daydreams by David Benoit




more city-centered activities

I've done reviews of urban restaurants and reviews of city schools. Besides, long ago, (and genuinely far away, approximately 3,000 miles from here worth), at The University of Massachusetts at Boston, I majored in economics with a concentration in Urban Studies. Finally at least for now, during 2001-2002, at San Diego State University I completed a mini-MBA in Community Economic Development.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Father of Night

From New Morning

Bob Dylan

Many years ago I did a series of (a couple dozen or so) graphics to illustrate this song; I need to scan them and post them here!

  1. Father of night, Father of day,
    Father, who taketh the darkness away,
    Father, who teacheth the bird to fly,
    Builder of rainbows up in the sky,
    Father of loneliness and pain,
    Father of love and Father of rain.


  2. Father of day, Father of night,
    Father of black, Father of white,
    Father, who build the mountain so high,
    Who shapeth the cloud up in the sky,
    Father of time, Father of dreams,
    Father, who turneth the rivers and streams.


  3. Father of grain, Father of wheat,
    Father of cold and Father of heat,
    Father of air and Father of trees,
    Who dwells in our hearts and our memories,
    Father of minutes, Father of days,
    Father of whom we most solemnly praise.

© 1970 Big Sky Music

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Katrina: this far by faith

aching

How deeply I hurt over hurricane Katrina's destruction and especially over the way the United States government treated (not!) the poor and the poorer folks who lived in the storm's path and the surrounding area. Over on my theology blog I've posted several times about Katrina:
a bit of my own backstory

Returning way back into the deep, deep South of this United States, my grandfather of William Faulknerian-style Mississippi upbringing told me he (meaning me, as well) had an ancestor who was a circuit rider, eons before I was born...probably most of my readers know circuit-riders were guys, always guys (but weren't there a few notorious exceptions?) who rode across the terrain evangelizing with a horse and Bible. Maybe you've heard, "When the Presbyterians wanted to evangelize they sent to Scotland for a scholar who came to this country and established a college; when the Baptists wanted to evangelize, they gave a guy a horse and a Bible and sent him off..." though another interesting tidbit is that during the 19th century the highly intellectually theological Lutherans had a renowned horse-borne circuit rider in Henry Muhlenberg--so go figure! Nonetheless, one of the strange things about my grandfather was he not only grew up Southern Presbyterian, he was raised Southern Presbyterian (another note to my readers, Southern Presbyterian refers not to churches of the now-former PCUS in the American South who organically belong to today's PC(USA) but to the current member churches of the Presbyterian Church in America); I'll make a radical assumption and call that church body conservative to the point of reactionary. From everything I can figure, it was a Southern Church far more than a Reformed Church, meaning it was ethnic! Over on Desert Spirit's Fire I recently posted about ethnic congregations and hope to continue thinking and writing more about that subject.

But again regarding Katrina, I was born in Mobile, Alabama and lived in Bay Minette and Stapleton--check out this map of the area, before moving to Starkville on the Mississippi Delta...it's been a long, densely longing time since I've been in the American deep South, but once a Southerner, always a Southerner! Here's a blog I did for sun tree river on October 26, 2005: The New South.

That's all for now. May you know the love of God expressed in community; may you forever be safe and feel safe. Please be well!