Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Closing up shop

A couple days ago, I was looking back in the archives to find something. Reading those posts from made me realize that the desperate loneliness, desire for connection and search for purpose that got me started does not apply anymore. Possible Water is all about searching, and whatever I was looking for back then, I seem to have found it. So, I'm shutting down here. Might start something again in the new year, or not. Thanks for reading, and I'll see you IRL.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Thursday Eight

1. Just saw one shooting star. I guess suburban America is not the best place to catch the meteor shower. Made plans with DH, as we do every year, that NEXT year we will be in the desert for SURE for the shower. We'll see.

2. Speaking of making plans: Heard Pete Seeger on TOTN today - did you catch it? He's still busy changing the world even though he's like ninetygazillion years old. Also singing and playing banjo. And, everyone who called seemed to know him personally and addressed him like he was their favorite uncle or something. I love that guy.

3. Speaking of things we love, even though I'm a little annoyed I cant copy it here (dude! it's the INTERNET! everything is SUPPOSED to be free!): today's bizarro cartoon. Darnation! Snort!

4. Speaking of things that are a little annoying, in a very first world sort of way: Got a new handsfree device thingy that goes in my ear so I can talk on the phone and swerve all over the road trying to make sure it's far enough in my ear to hear, rather than swerving all the over the road trying to hold on to the real phone one handed. Annoying part: it's just another thing to plug in, and truthfully, I dont think I have time to charge one more thing.

5. Speaking of driving, annoying problems thereof: My car battery died the other day.

6. Speaking of things that you thought would be annoying, but werent: it died in the parking of Oaks Park, so that just meant an extra hour of goofing around while we waited for the Hyundai roadside assistance guy to show up.

7. Speaking of Oaks Park: First! Ferris! Wheel! Ride! Ever!

8. Speaking of things that make our palms sweaty, but actually turn out pretty awesome: I thought I was leading a meeting tonight but the technology I was fiddling with for half an hour didnt really work out so the Holy Spirit stepped in or swept in or something and took over. She is so cool that way.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Friday Five I can Actually Do...

...given my short attention span.

SONGBIRD WRITES: Since I've been in the midst of a discernment process, I've done a lot of reflecting on how we make decisions. But don't worry, I'm not going to ask you to reveal a dark story about a poor decision, or a self-flagellating story about an embarrassing one. Let's keep it simple and go with five word pairs. Tell us which word in the pair appeals to you most, and after you've done all five, give us the reason why for one of them.

Here they are:

1) Cake or Pie - Pie
2) Train or Airplane - Train
3) Mac or PC - Mac
4) Univocal or Equivocal - I dont even know what these words mean...
5) Peter or Paul - Peter

LOVE riding the train, and since I just came off an airplane ride, that love was reconfirmed again. Too bad is so expensive now....

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Message in a bottle

"It was nice to have you in church today," he says, "There you were, just grinning away..."

"Oh, well," I respond lamely, "I really enjoyed your sermon, so thanks." I do not out myself as a pastor, but I am not lying. I did enjoy the sermon. There is a slight chance that I went to church on vacation (visiting J's side of our Minnesota family) in order to take notes and make comparisons. But, as an example of how God can use even our worst intentions for good, I actually had a kind of great time.

Maybe it was because we started out with this translation of "You Have Come to the Lakeshore" which I'd never heard which contained the lines
You need the caring of my hands
Through my tiredness, may others find resting
You need a love that just goes on loving.
I cant remember the words I actually know and I'm too lazy to look them up now, but after two nights (well three really if you count the night before and our day-before-flight jitters) anyway after several nights of interrupted sleep, I was thinking my tiredness wasn't good for anything much. So it was better than good to think that it might have a purpose, you know?

And the sermon was local in a good way. Yes, I am in Minnesota and I do expect the sermon to mention Kirby Puckett, so thank you for that. And it was thoughtful, too. My dad's best sermon prep advice is "pray. and get out of the way." It was a smart sermon, and had moments of lightness, but it felt like the preacher had followed my dad's advice, so we could connect with God in Christ, instead of his cleverness or funny-ness.

So, I guess I was grinning with gratitude for these things, but also because during the offering, when I opened the little green pew envelope to put my money in, I found a small piece of paper folded into four and carefully sealed in there. On one side, under "prayer joys/concerns and reasons to give thanks" a rainbow picture. And then, on the other side, a phone number, address, name and in a child's careful printing "Send me this Please look at the adres."

So naturally, I saved it so I could send it back to her. And I was grinning, because isnt that why we come to church, all of us? Because we want to create something beautiful? Because we want to know we are part of something bigger than we are? Because we want to reach out, and we are praying all the time that someone will reach back?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Should have behaved better

We have noticed that our kindly and congenial next door neighbor hasn't been around much. Saw his wife tonight, and learned that he's moved out.

After 42 years of marriage.

And turns out, as sometimes is revealed in the suburbs, that more was happening over there than met the eye.

Remember when I asked a writer I know about writing about other people? And she said "If grown ups are ashamed of what you write about them, they should have behaved better." ?

There are things I am ashamed of, and I have to say if people wrote about them, I would have wished they wouldn't. But they are mostly private and really not all that interesting. Like, being pleased that my new (so-called) sophisticated hair-do was noticed, and right after that having to pick a big smear of dried banana off my purse. Or blah blah blah spending so much time on facebook. Or making a child cry for the seven hundred and twenty eighth time by saying, "no, we are not stopping for ice cream on the way home." Or maybe for being the kind of mother who has a child who cries over a thing like that.

Anyway, those are all small and silly. But I think next door it started small too. And I wonder at what point the small things would start to add up, start to create a whole secret life that was so shameful that in the end all a guy could do was run away from it. At what point could "shouldnt" become "shouldnt have"?

Wish I had a snappy ending here, but dont. There are no answers, and this is not nearly the end. It's the middle of a sad mess and I'm watching, and wishing grownups would behave better.

Monday, July 12, 2010


Lately, I've noticed several times acquaintances or friends of a more evangelical frame of mind than I use the phrase "if the Lord tarries..." and then describing a future goal or activity.

Meaning, I am to suppose (although my tradition doesn't really linger over this kind of theology) that if the end time is not imminent, then we can get down to making some plans.


Where does this word come from? Is it from the Bible?


I chew over it. It just sounds wrong and funny (funny peculiar, not funny ha ha) to me, although at first I cant think why. I guess tarrying just sounds a little more lackadaisical or lazy or carefree than I imagine Our Lord and Savior to be. Too much, my husband opines, like dilly-dallying, tarrying is. Like, He was on his way, but got distracted by a really astonishing field of wild flowers and had to go lie down for awhile and watch the clouds float by.

Which, now that I think about it, is maybe just what the Risen and Returned Christ should be be doing after all.

All righty then. Tarry away, dear Jesus. We'll be ready when you are.

Thursday, July 08, 2010


I'm not much of a numbers rememberer. Ask my husband, for example, how after nearly 10 (see I DID remember that one!) years of marriage, I still have to pause for a moment to think when someone asks me his birth date.

But every now and then I hear a statistic or number that sticks.

For example, when the statue of liberty turned 200, they had 200 Elvis impersonators at the celebration, I remember hearing on the Morning Show (which, look! had its final broadcast on MY birthday! maybe I'll remember that one,too). Anyway, as I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted by my own train of thought, I remember hearing that number, and then hearing that if the number of people claiming "Elvis impersonation" as their first occupation continued to grow at the current rate, by the year 2015, one in twenty persons would be an Elvis impersonator. I probably remember it because it made me laugh hysterically every one of the approximately (to use another statistic) 659 times I repeated it.

This week, I met with a little group that gathers every couple of weeks, and we were talking about some numbers (Easter Island is only 14 miles long and 7 miles wide and there about 1000 people and 600 statues that live there!) it reminded me of a statistic that I heard last time we met which keeps coming back to me. We were talking about a city festival, how it didnt used to be so crowded, and one of the group, a woman in her upper 80's, remarked, "Well there were just less people then. I mean, when I was a kid, there were only a billion people in the whole world."

And, suddenly, it was like all the times I'd ever heard stats about population growth came right to life. Here is a person I actually KNOW who has seen the population of the world grow 6 TIMES in her LIFETIME! Since I heard it, I think about that number all the time - when I'm sitting in traffic, or on fourth of July trying to get home from a baseball game, or tonight at the park at a concert. There are SIX TIMES more of us than there were 80 years ago.

So, for those of you who remember numbers, does this level of grokking lead you to action of some kind? Of so, what should mine be?

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Sticking With It

I used to be a quitter. When things get too boring or hard or frustrating or notwhatIhadplanned, I used to bail. I've moved quite a few dozen times, had more than a few dozen jobs, and dont even get me started on exercise plans I've stopped and started.


On October 21, I will have been married 10 years.

On May 26, I will have been a mom for 8 years.

On September 1, I will have been living in the same house and employed in the same full time job for 3 years.

I know this doesnt seem like much in, you know, geological time (yes, I'm 41 years old, and with the exception of 1980-1987, I've never lived in the same house for more than three years,) but these are all records for me. I'm sticking with stuff now and really liking the way it feels.

When J and I have a little spat sometimes we say "Oh, well, marriage is long. We have time to try again and get this right" and I love leaning into that feeling of permanence and solidness. I mean, I dont think I'll ever get over the thing of slowing down for a house for sale (You know that one on the corner of Park and Huntington, Beavertonites? Doesnt it just looks so cozy? And it's on a hill! And it has sidewalks!), but I'm better at noticing that itchy, antsy feeling for what it is - a symptom of Something Else which will not be cured by the new house, job or relationship. Because wherever you go, there you are, you know?

Now, on May 22, I will have been doing Weight Watchers for 4 months. This is my third time through this program, and I'm at a familiar point at which I've always quit before. I've lost the weight I really wanted to lose, and I'm comfortable in my skin. It wasnt exactly easy, but I stuck with it and I did it. But. I am still 10 pounds from the WW recommended weight for me - which means I still have to lose almost as much again as I've lost already if I keep at it. Which means 4 more months of counting and tracking and eating that hateful nonfat cheese. And then, if I make it that far, then as far as the eye can see of being on The Maintenance Plan. I dont know if I care that much.

So, I'm on the horns of a dilemma - stick with it? Or drop out?

This doesnt really seem like that a big deal, but it represents something bigger for me. Because, I'm into sticking with things now, and I dont want to quit just because that's what I always do. On the other hand, I dont want to stick with something that really is not working for me anymore just because I'm trying to be that kind of person now.


Monday, April 26, 2010

I was only gone for a week, but it seems like a lot longer

Most of my blog posts these days are lists or random dots of things, a symptom, I think of the synapses in my brain that are firing out 25 word status updates all the time. I wanted to write something usefully coherent, but I dont have it in me tonight. So here's another list of randomness.

*The dog is moping around the house, wishing she could be with her dear friend, Uncle Bob, at whose apartment of abundance she gets to stay when we are gone.

*If you are the kind of preacher who delivers a eulogy from time to time, does the writing of them leak out into other interactions? Tonight we were having a perfectly usual interaction and unbidden into my head flew this thought, "How well we remember Jeff's helpful assertion about the importance of periodically draining batteries all the way before recharging them."

*We're watching a NOVA episode on dreams right now. In the dream group I was in years ago, I asked the facilitator, "But how do you KNOW if a dream is an important one?" and she replied, "How do you know if a thought is an important one? You just know." I've been wondering about that alot, because I do have a lot of thoughts that really arent that important, and I do alot of things that arent all that important, either. But knowing they are not important doesnt stop me from wondering, for example, how you tell the Olson twins apart, or from goofing around on Facebook for two hours of an evening. But I'm trying to develop more edifying hobbies.

*For example. Polyvore! Have you been over there? I go through collage periods sometimes (make sure to put Brownell's Collage Period in MY eulogy). I still do have that big box of magazines, scissors and glue stick gathering dust in my closet, more as a momento of times past than as the actual tools of an actual current craft. But collage on the computer, now, maybe I could get into that. The New Yorker says, "It’s the rare Internet pastime that feels productive—even if the product is just an online collage that you e-mail to a friend, with the message “Look, I made this outfit for you!” I've only goofed around on Polyvore a little, but it DOES feel productive, even if I'm doing much less than making outfits for friends (I would not PRESUME), but instead making outfits for Glee characters. What do you think of the collision of low (glee) and high (the new yorker) brow in that sentence?

* I got to do this incredible wedding last week. It was so beautiful how it all came together, and I got blown a way like you do sometimes about this amazing work.

*And, I was at this fantastic preaching conference last week. I wish I would have facebooked it or blogged it or something, but I was just soaking it in, you know? Anyway, I loved the worship and the singing, and the not having to really DO anything, just be. And I loved connecting with some seminary friends and finding we could just pick right up where we left off, and I LOVED being there with my dad. As he introduced himself to people, I heard things about him I'd never heard before. It was really cool. I ordered a CD of the lectures and sermons, so after I hear them again, I might be able to tell you more about the, you know, content.

*But with all this amazingness, the stuff that must be dealt with in the office, still must be dealt with.

*No worries, though. I can handle anything because in a couple of weeks, we will have our new sleeping apparatus, which has some other boring name, but which we are calling the iBed. Truly, it's a bed that adjusts the head and legs and has a massager. It's really for jeff , but I am going to benefit also. And! Truly! You can program it with your iphone to automatically adjust the head up if you start snoring!

*We live in incredible times, dont you think?

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Unconscious Mutterings for today

  1. Philanthropy :: Bill Gates (you can take the girl out of Seattle, but not Seattle out of the girl, I guess)

  2. Said :: he said, she said

  3. Blanks :: Fire!

  4. Tapas :: Oooo! The first time I had tapas was with with Rachel at a very cool little dark place in Portland. That was years ago now, I wonder if that place is still here. Anyway, we were living in Seattle then, and we were eating Tapas to kill time because we'd come down to Portland just for the day, and heading back we wanted to miss the traffic. But it took us 6 hours to make the 3 hour drive anyway. Something about a jackknifed semi if I remember correctly.

  5. Orgasm :: Geez. No WAY am I answering that one. My MOM reads this blog. .

  6. Movement :: Easier in the water with these old knees.

  7. Detention :: I got nothing for this one. I was always a prissy goody two shoes as a child.

  8. Restaurant :: As I type this, I am in the Village Inn eating a piece of coconut pie. True. Evdiently WW-free weekend has been extended.

  9. Weird :: Weird? Who you calling weird?

  10. Sniffle :: So glad that the spring flowers dont affect me much.

Unconscious Mutterings found here.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Today's Sermon


Easter Sunday Sermon 2010

For the last month or so, every Wednesday night, a group of us have gathered here to hear a member of another faith talk about their belief system. And from each one, we’ve taken a little something – like going with the flow (Taoism), taking a day each week to rest and renew (Judaism), appreciating the many aspects of God (Hinduism), looking more for our commonalities than our differences (Islam), reaching inside to find the compassion and love that resides within each one of us (Buddhism).

It sometimes happens when you learn about other things; you gain a new appreciation for your own thing, whatever that is. During Lent, I’ve come to appreciate more the particular way in which we as Christians experience the Divine. Because, in no other religion that we studied does God come directly to people. No other wisdom figures – not Confucius, not Mohammed, not Buddha – claim (as Jesus claimed, and as his followers continue to claim) that they actually ARE God. They might offer a path toward a more loving, more compassionate, more thoughtful, more just or more grounded way of being. But as Christians, we are unique because our God comes right toward us to live among us in the person of Jesus.

It’s unique to us, and so we have reason to treasure this, but it’s also hard to understand, hard even for those who knew him best to understand it. This is why Mary, when she sees Jesus, tries to grab him. But she cannot. This because Jesus is fully divine – fully a god-person. That’s why she calls him a new name. When she sees Jesus and thinks she knows him, she calls him “Teacher” but later she tells the disciples “I have seen the Lord.” With those words she says she recognizes he is more than teacher, healer, friend. He is a godperson.

Of course, he did have an earthly life, and these are some of the facts we have about that life: he was born into poverty and danger, at the age of 30 he became a wandering preacher and healer, whose radical message of love and inclusivity was so threatening to the powers that be that church and state worked together to have him killed. Which, they did in the most horrible possible way.

And then, what happened next? The details are sketchy and difficult to corrobatorate from gospel to gospel. In every gospel, people are always running back and forth from the tomb, trying breathlessly to explain something that cannot be explained to people who cant or wont believe them. I guess there’s a reason we don’t have Easter pageants, the way we do Christmas pageants. (hat tip Frederick Buechner) How would you act out all that confusion?

In spite of the chaos of the narratives, we do know this. The disciples (who had known Jesus as their friend, their companion on the road and around the dinner table, as a healer and teller of parables they only half understood) those disciples saw Jesus again after he died and understood something for the first time. He was not just a man. He was God, too. He was not just God, he was a man, too. And they saw him, this Godperson, even after they thought he had died.

Now. You know what your grandmother looked like, even if she died before you born, because you have a picture of her. A photo feels like a kind of immortality. Don’t they (whoever “they” are) always warn us that the picture our college roommate posts on Facebook will live forever? The science fiction show Caprica, takes that idea to the extreme, and characters do live after death when all the computer images and information about them is collected and collated in a parallel, virtual reality and those computer characters – called avatars - are now people brought to life.

So we can imagine, perhaps, that we know things about immortality that Jesus’ friends did not. After all, we have the pictures. But Facebook is just a snapshot of your life; in Caprica there is something very wrong – hollow and cold – about the computer avatars; and even that photo of grandma has got an expression on her face that no one ever saw on her in real life. Jesus, when he rose, was real. Real and alive.

Which is even more amazing, more mindblowing and incredible when you consider how he died. Rita Nakashima Brock says that “the Roman Empire used crucifixion against non-citizens, the under-classes, and slaves, and it was regarded as so shameful that even families of victims would not speak of it. The victim was left hanging naked and exposed to the elements. Bodies were left to rot and be eaten as carrion until nothing was left to bury, with no place for a memorial to preserve a person’s identity.

Crucifixion was designed to destroy an entire existence, so that even the names of the crucified were erased from memory. But the early Christians broke the silence about the shame and terror that crucifixion instilled. They spoke explicitly about Jesus crucifixion, the torture that preceded it, and his death.”

But that’s not all. Jesus died quickly and with dignity, speaking words of forgiveness and promise even from the cross. His friends removed him intact and buried him properly. They encountered the risen Christ in a garden, along the shore, breaking bread, and telling them to go home to Galilee. These loving details proclaim that those who thought they were in control had no power to erase Jesus from memory, to deny his humanity, or to end his work for justice, healing, love and peace. (previous 3 paragraphs adapted from this article)

The last words of today’s gospel have a potency that far exceeds simple declaration. When “Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” she was really saying, “The empire has tried to destroy Jesus and our memories of him, they have not; Rome has tried to frighten us into silence, they cannot; those in power want to end this movement and think that they have done so by eradicating its leader and they will not.”

He’s more than our teacher. God came to us and met us where we are and as we are. God suffered like we do and loved like we do. And the most powerful thing we can do is to speak of it, as Mary did, to say “I have seen the Lord.”

Those words can never be taken from us, no power on earth or in heaven -- not political authorities or church authorities or even death -- can destroy them. Wherever Jesus’ words of truth, healing, love and justice are spoken, the risen Christ is there. Christ is there whenever we speak against violence done in his name. Christ is there when grown children, abused long ago by priests and denied justice by a corrupt church system, refuse to be silenced. Christ is there in you, with you whenever you say those simple, those incredible words: “I have seen the Lord.”

When might you say them? When have you experienced the risen Christ in your life? When have you experienced a moment of truth, of healing, of love or of justice that spoke so loudly that it could not be silenced? Maybe in nature, with friends, listening to music, or in another time when your mind and all within you was quiet. Might even have been in church. When you feel that, hear the voice of the angel in your ear whisper, don’t be afraid. And then, proclaim it: I have seen the Lord!