Wednesday, April 26, 2006


Him: Mommy! I had a dream last night about the beach!
Me (still surfacing...): Hmmm?
Him: Yes. And there were big birds flying and the tide going out!
Me (waking up a little now): Really?
Him: Yes. And we prayed to God and said "Hey Jesus, get that tide back in here!"

Monday, April 24, 2006

What to wear on Tuesday

This just in my inbox, from my cool friend who works here:

Equal Pay Day takes place in April—marking how far into the next year a woman would have to work to equal a man's earnings as of December 31—and on a Tuesday, symbolizing the point in the next week to which a woman must work in order to receive the same pay that a man received in the previous week.

So wear red on Tuesday, April 25, to protest the fact that women remain “in the red” when it comes to their pay.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

A walk on the beach

Just came back from two glorious days with our friends at their family beach house.
We love vacationing with these particular friends,
because they like to do what we like to do on vacation.
That which is called "nothing" by some people:
look out windows, read, eat, nap, play with the kids, take little walks.

I slept a lot and had wonderful dreams.

I did take a long-ish walk on the beach by myself today. On my way back, I had just taken a stick and pushed a crab into the receding tide, out of the reach of the gulls. I was feeling really in tune with everything and imagining the sermon I would preach one day about that starfish story. The one where the guy throws the starfish back and the sceptic scoffs, "it doesnt make a difference" and the old man asserts "it makes a difference to this one." In the sermon I was preaching in my head, I was explaining how really the one it makes a difference for is not the starfish at all, but the one who throws them back. And I was thinking how I was making a difference right now, maybe not for this crab, maybe not this time, but for myself for sure.

And then this woman stormed down the beach and, guess what? she was not there to thank me for saving the life of that crab, but to scold me for walking on the beach which, according to her, was private property. Which stunned me - both her assertion that the beach, down which people had been walking all day, was private (is that even possible? starting where?) and also her unexpected meanness. I mean, couldn't she see I was one with everything - maybe even including hergrouchyself?

I WISH I would have said "God must be heart-broken.Here you have this beautiful home, this warm sunny day, this abundant landscape to look at, and all you can notice is me walking on the beach. I will pray for you."

I didn't. I just politely walked on without saying anything about God. But it was a long walk back, and I did pray - prayed that her heart would crack open and all the meanness would gush out, prayed that God would fill her instead of meanness with admiration and gratitude and a feeling of safety and joy that would permeate every interaction. (I know you're hoping that at this point I would realize that ACTUALLY I probably need those things for myself, but this isn't that kind of story.)

I still held the stick with which I'd saved the crab - her stick, as I thought of it now. I thought I would keep her stick, and that would show her. But, of course, it wasn't mine either. So when I got back from the walk, I went out as far as I could into that lowering tide and stuck that stick deep in the sand, for the ocean to claim it on its next time around.

Rev Gals Friday Five on Saturday

as usual, I'm catching up with the Friday Five late on Saturday.

Favorite things - don't think too hard

On this particular day, these are my favorites:

1) fruit Banana

2) song Anything from Jesus Christ Superstar Soundtrack

3) beverage Lemonade

4) shoes Sandals

5) flower Tulips

Monday, April 17, 2006

I feel pretty

And YOU can too!

Hat tip.

Day after Easter

Today, I joined Dorothy in jonesin for order, so I moved the bed to sweep under it.

I found:
1. The March issue of Harpers, the one that has the inventor of the flash mob story in it that we've been dying to read again. Although, as I went to find this link, I realized we could have been reading it on-line this whole time.
2. A pair and a half of socks.
3. A pair and a half of earrings.
4. The green Boomwhacker!
5. One marble; two legos (connected); something yellow, round and wooden that goes in the toolbox; a green toy truck with a satellite dish on top.
6. Lots of dust (And I actually heard myself say this to Eli: "There's a special kind of dust that grows under the bed called dust bunnies" - do we really have to cultivate wonder about EVERYTHING?)
7. No spiders, thank you Jesus.

Thursday, April 13, 2006


This just in my inbox. I remember taking the bus across town with a good friend from college to see Coffin speak in Minneapolis some 15 years. Can't remember what he said exactly, but clearly remember being energized and feeling that Christian progressives could really make a difference. Incidentally, although both the friend and I were in different fields then, but we both went on to study theology. Probably not a coincidence...
UCC mourns death of William Sloane Coffin, legendary 'pastor, prophet, poet'

Adapted from an article written by J. Bennett Guess
Thursday, 13 April 2006

The Rev. William Sloane Coffin, a United Church of Christ minister known globally for his peace and justice advocacy, died April 12 at his home in rural Strafford, Vermont. He was 81.

According to Associated Press, Coffin had been suffering from congestive heart failure and had been under hospice care.

“Bill was an exuberant prophet who had the unique capacity to love us toward our better selves,” said the Rev. John H. Thomas, UCC General Minister and President. “His prophetic vision brought the imagination of the Biblical prophets and of Jesus to life in our time. He was urgent and clear, but never stern. His love for life in the world that is, never blinded him to a yearning for life in the world that ought to be.”

Ordained in 1956 and long active in his support of the United Church of Christ’s justice and peace agenda, Coffin keynoted a UCC convocation in 2003 on how to revitalize its “just peace church movement.” One of the UCC’s most widely recognized clergy, he was a member of the United Church of Strafford.

“Bill understood that a minister was always pastor and prophet, and his gift for language reminded us that, at our best, pastors and prophets are always poets,” Thomas said.

During the 1960s and 70s, he served as university chaplain at Yale where he spoke out passionately in favor of Civil Rights and against the Vietnam War. In the 1980s, Coffin headed the anti-nuclear SANE/Freeze campaign, where he became a major voice in opposition to the U.S. nuclear weapons buildup.

Coffin’s likeness and passion were later immortalized as the fictitious “Rev. Sloan” by cartoonist Garry Trudeau in his celebrated strip “Doonesbury.”

From 1976 to 1987, Coffin was senior minister of one of the UCC’s most prominent congregations, the Riverside Church in New York City. More than 20 years ago, Coffin led Riverside Church in becoming the UCC’s first “open and affirming” church, a denominational movement that today includes nearly 600 congregations committed publicly to the full inclusion of gay and lesbian persons.

Last year, when major networks first rejected the UCC’s TV ad campaign as “too controversial,” Coffin authored a stinging op-ed column. “The UCC properly implied that millions of American Christians are at odds with the Christian Right,” Coffin wrote. “… In reality, there are no biblical literalists, only selective literalists. By abolishing slavery and ordaining women, millions of Protestants have gone far beyond biblical literalism.”

William Sloane Coffin received a Justice and Witness Ministries Life Time Achievement Award last year during General Synod 25. Rev. Bernice Powell Jackson presented the award to him at his home in Vermont.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

Monday, April 10, 2006

A Walk for Peace and Healing - Saturday, May 20

I've been looking for a way to express my dismay about the this war, in a way that is consistent with my belief in non-violent action, has a real and positive impact and can include my whole family. Here it is!

SNOW (Sound Nonviolent Opponents of War) is sponsoring a fundraising “walk for peace and healing” on May 20th at Green Lake from 1-4pm. The goal is to raise at least $50,000 in order to bring an Iraqi child in need of specialized medical treatment for war- related injuries to a Northwest hospital. This effort will be coordinated with No More Victims, an organization experienced in medical sponsorship and related issues.

I have agreed to walk around the lake on May 20 th to show my support for helping an Iraqi child. Would you join in this effort by sponsoring me? A donation of $10 or more will ensure that we reach our goal. Checks should be made out IHC (International Humanitarian Center, our fiscal agent) with SNOW written on the memo line.

If you'd like to contribute, you can email me at rev - dot - brownell - at - gmail - dot - com. For more information, or to find out how you can walk, check out the website:

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Rites of passage

Today we
took Elijah's three old strollers
(rusty, moldy and parts falling off - not really suitable for passing on elsewhere)
to the dump.
Today we
got Elijah his first big boy bike.
And a snazzy helmet.

I usually am not at all sentimental about him getting bigger, since he seems to be getting more interesting with every passing day. But I'm feeling a little bittersweet today.

Rev Gals Friday Five on Saturday

Whether it was on Broadway or at your neighborhood elementary school, name five experiences of the performing arts that have touched or tickled you.

Ok, there are WAY MORE THAN FIVE in my life, but here are the first five to come to mind.

1. Summerfolk - One-day folk music concerts outdoors in St. Paul MN in the late 80's and early 90's. Sponsored by Red House records, where I later worked. Claudia Schmidt, John Gorka, The Chenille Sisters, Greg Brown....

2. Sweet Honey in the Rock Feb 1, 2004 in Seattle. Turned out to be Bernice Johnson-Reagan's last concert with the group and they were ON FIRE. They had us laughing, crying, clapping, and praying - often all once.

3. The Music Man Summer theater program in Duluth MN in 1984. I was in middle school and worked backstage (Friends, that show has a ridiculous number of scene changes. And all of it sturdy for the dancing. Those library tables weighed like 7000 pounds), I knew every word by heart and was dating the leading man! It pretty much never got that good again. I still go to see a high school production of it whenever I get a chance.

4. The Importance of Being Earnest as a one act (prepared for the state competitions), East High School, Duluth MN, 1987. I was the assistant director of this one, and my brother was Jack, I think. We worked so hard and had such a great time. Then, my brother was in a terrible accident right before we were on our way to the one-act competitions. He came out fine, after a couple of scary weeks. The play went 2 minutes over and was cut from the regional competitions.

5. Cowboy Junkies with Leo Kotke opening at the Pier in Seattle, spring 1998. I actually had to go off in the middle of the concert and have a little weep by myself, it was so overwhelmingly incredible.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Communion to shut-ins

Ok, I'm only 22 months into this ministry business, but still.

Email from sr pastor this week: Will you be taking communion to the shut ins next week?

(I do mostly the pastoral care, remember.)

My response (some spoken, some unspoken): Um, is that usual? Because I sure can. In fact, that would be lovely. It's just that I didn't plan for it at all, so I'll have to rearrange some other things to have the time. And Holy Week isn't exatly the week to be rearranging things. And is a time going to come pretty soon when I feel like I know what's going to happen next some days or weeks before it actually happens? Or is it just the nature of this work to always be just catching up and catching my breath?

It IS usual to take communion during this week, isn't it?
I am now adding that to The List of Things I Didn't Used to Know, But I Do Now.
The very long and always growing list.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Random links

You can read Jeff's disgruntled post about the new UCC ad and my comments over at PoC.

Two long, interesting, totally unrelated articles:

hat tip to Indianwriting for a fascinating link to one about one about Dorothy Parker and Lillian Hellman's friendship and post-mortem break-up (hey, PinkShoes, you might want to add What Fresh Hell? by Marian Meade to your reading list - it's going on mine)

Another one in New York Magazine about the newly coined demographic group - the Grups (so much for being original, turns out we have our own demographic). The whole thing is worth reading, but my favorite is this single sentence that totally explains why sr pastor and I have a time/money miscommunication from time to time: "A human-resources executive told me recently that there’s a golden rule of HR: To motivate a baby boomer, offer him a bonus. To motivate a Generation-Xer, offer him a day off. "
Of COURSE I'd rather have the day off then the money, and I thought everyone else was that way too. Turns out that's cause I'm not a boomer.

"What have YOU been doing?" they ask...

I've been so busy bopping around the internet, leaving long comments on other people's blogs that I almost don't have time to blog about how yesterday after I almost forgot about damn daylight savings time but then remembered just in time (thank you Dorothy), I went to church where everyone wanted to tell me about something tragic that's going on and also I taught the little kids with the some-kind-of-help-is-the-kind-of-help-we-all-can-do-without of the middle school kids, and then rushed to meet a VERY Pregnant Friend so we could see the matinee of

Joseph and the Amazing Color Dreamcoat with Patrick Cassidy (who? who cares? he's SHAUN'S brother and they look and sound just alike as far as I can remember from my 12 year old crush girl days) at the Paramount theater which has no elevator and we were at the very tip-top so VPF had to walk alllll the way up and allll the way down again but she didn't fall down and the play was just as cheesy as I hoped and the music reminded me of all the good parts of puberty when I mostly hung around in Sarah's room listening to the record over and over on her JC Penney stereo and then when I got home I got a call from the back-up babysitter that she was sick so could not be with the boy on Monday

and while we were talking he got his finger stuck in the little hole that's the connector on one of his brio train track pieces, so after icing it, pulling it, soaping it, pulling it, oiling it and pulling it and he was screaming his head off and trying to hit me with the piece of track (still attached to his finger) and we still could not get it out and I was worried I was going to break his finger or at least dislocate it if I pulled on it anymore, we had to take him to the emergency room, for goodness sake, where the doc figured out in about a minute how to get the blood to drain out of his finger, so his finger would unswell and the track would come unstuck and we felt ridiculous and had to pay seventy five dollars for the co-pay (although thank you Jesus that we have insurance) but afterward agreed we didn't know what else we could have done, given all the screaming and the flailing and then we got home and the boy was all hopped up by our little outing to the hospital and the fact that it was still light out at bed time whereas his parents were completely drained so I took him to the playground and let him run around and he was the only little kid on the playground at 7:00 at night everyone else was big kids, shooting baskets and cussing and smoking so we left after a while and came home and by then everyone was tired but no one could sleep.

Hmm. No wonder I'm so grouchy today.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Watching and reading

Miracle - My family can't stop watching this since we checked it out from the library a couple weeks ago. It's not great, or even that good, but it sounds like home. And little Mr. Eli's favorite game is now "hockey guy!" all over the wood floors in his stocking feet. The cruel irony of moving 1300 miles from Duluth Minnesota only to become a potential hockey mom is really not be borne, but we have promised him skating lessons next winter if he's still interested by then.

Word Wars: Tiles and Tribulations on the Scrabble Game Circuit - So glad this did not come in glorious Smell-o-Rama. That Scrabble circuit is full of guys who are so into the game that they look like they don't have time to, well, shower. Fascinating, if you're interested in geeks (and who isn't?) but lots of those moments (not unlike Trekkies, say, or The Lifestyle) where you gotta wince and look away.

Has anyone else read Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro? I'm dying to talk to someone about it. So creepy! Yet, so sweet! And so sad!