Come on people

It was one of those very rare mornings when everything seemed to fill me with joy for no reason. Meeting some of my family for breakfast at a neighborhood place where all kinds and colors of folks come to eat simple breakfast fare and the owner remembers my name. Watching my granddaughter devour with gusto a waffle with blueberries. Observing what a great dad my son is. Walking under a blue sky with nary a cloud in sight. The woman hailing a cab at the corner. Flocks of office workers crossing the street en masse like shore birds running together across the sand when the light turned.* People sitting together at sunlit tables in another neighborhood breakfast place. The lady in the bright red hat. Seventh heaven empty and available.

And then, sounding from the speaker system in a plaza that is an outdoor bar in warmer weather, a snipped of the Youngbloods’ “Get Together.”

Come on people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another
Right now

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Light up the sky

Light up the sky

I seem to be on a black and white kick in the photo work I’m doing today. Everything looks different, elemental. If I could do all my thinking in black and white, things would be so much simpler. Too bad it doesn’t work like that.

Mending

Chilly but wonderful photo walk this morning along the canal and over to the river. It’s a bit of a cliche, I know, but the beauty lies in the fractures. We break, we mend, what’s green keeps on growing. Much more interesting than the “perfect” places.

The truth of who you are

Suburban Station on a Sunday morning: Empty of the usual weekday rush, still home to the homeless who are even more visible now. Two women chat over their sacks of belongings as if over a backyard fence. Near the elevator to the street a man orates to an audience of no one in particular as if he were the preacher in a church with no pews. “You will tell the truth of who you are,” he proclaims, and I wonder if he is speaking to me, because I worry that I show the truth of who am every time I pass one of the many street people I see every day in the city, hands outstretched, and keep my own hands in my pockets. The suburbs do not prepare you for these. Safe from the sight of the poor and homeless, you could convince yourself that they don’t really exist, at least not here in the first world we so comfortably occupy. How do you decide whose request for “spare change” you’ll honor? All of them? None of them? But there after so many, and some do seem more deserving than others.

In my own preaching I tell people that we are all God’s children, all equally deserving of love, of grace–which is to say that we’re all both undeserving and yet deserving by virtue of having been created in the image of the divine. Why should it be different here on the streets?

I’m sickened when I hear someone say there are too many poor brown people in our great white country already, too many to let any more in. They’ll just have to fend for themselves. Even those who are already here don’t really deserve what we have. There are too many already. I’m sickened, and yet I sense that I am doing the same kind of sorting myself every time I go walking in the city.

Fire tree
Water tree

Woke up early to a very foggy dawn and thought it might be fun to go out and take pictures of the river. Funny thing: the fog turned out to be so denseI couldn’t even really see the river, but I did come home with some lovely images I hadn’t anticipated. One of those times when you risk missing a world of beauty if you let expectations frame your vision.

Sometimes the simple gesture of raising our arms to God says more than words.

#adventword #raise

Join an international community in prayer as we create a global online Advent calendar: see adventword.org

Items abandoned by immigrants crossing from Mexico into California. (A crossing not unlike the flight into Egypt by the One born in a humble stable.)

One aspect of humility is acknowledging that so much of what we have is unearned and even undeserved. I’m humbled to realize that some people would risk their lives in pursuit of just a fraction of what I have.

The card in the display case says, “Donna Tisdale is the owner of Morningstar Ranch, 1.5 miles north of the border with Mexico in the desert of San Diego County. These are some of the many objects that immgrants left behind on her property while crossing from Mexico. The pieces of fabric and wire are what some people wear over their shoes so they don’t leave footprints the Border Patrol can follow.” At the Oakland Museum of California.

#adventword #humbleJoin an international community in prayer as we create a global online Advent calendar: see adventword.org

When I was younger my spiritual advisers would counter my impatience by telling me that the things I so dearly desired would happen in God’s time, which I took to mean somewhere in the indeterminate future, if ever. But over the years I’ve come I realize that the only time that really matters is now. Now is the time when God is present. Now is the time to be grateful for. Now is the time to live life to the fullest–in fact, now is the only time when I can experience myself as truly alive. 

#adventword #time Join an international community in prayer as we create a global online Advent calendar: see adventword.org

Back when I was trudging through the discernment process for ordination, I was asked to write short answers to a series of questions, including this one:

“What is your favorite story from the Hebrew Scriptures? Why?

That is a hard question, narrowing it down to one, because for me loving the faith is about loving the stories; more than anything else, I think the narrative is what shapes our understanding of who we are and who we want to be. If I had to pick one Old Testament favorite, it would be the story of the three visitors to Abraham and Sarah in Genesis 18. Laughing at God as Sarah did seems a perfectly understandable reaction under the circumstances. I love the suggestion that God comes to us in unexpected forms, and that providing hospitality to strangers might in turn bring us unexpected blessings. However, given my personal circumstances, being a 58-year-old woman who is asking to start over by going to seminary and being ordained, what resonates most strongly with me in this story is that God didn’t judge Sarah as too old to bring new things to life.”

Well, that answer had legs, I made it through the process, and the rest is history. And I think I’d give pretty much the same answer if I were asked that question today. We women have been working with God all along to bring new life into the world, not just through the fertility of women like Sarah and Mary, but in so many other ways—including ordained ministry.

#adventword #visit
Join an international community in prayer as we create a global online Advent calendar: see adventword.org