About Me

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I am a woman who is trying to continue to learn how to be a better person. The purpose of this blog is to help me to articulate my personal response to the world. This blog will allow for reflection, insight, and authentic understanding.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Lent, the church, tears...

Scarring the Body of Christ
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“In deep disappointment, I have wept over the laxity of the church. But be assured that my tears have been tears of love. There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love. Yes, I love the church; I love her sacred walls. How could I do otherwise?”

Tears come and go.  They wash and clean eyes, leave tracks of mascara down my face, my cheeks.  They roll over my nose.  I have cried for love many times in my life.  The love of my church is probably one of the deepest sorrows I have ever held and cried for. 

What does it mean when the scars of the church are from scrapes and bruises that I not only cause but also continue to inflict?  I was walking through the halls of the office building I work in and I saw the pictures of a bunch of provincials from an order of religious men.  I wondered then if the order would ever see men of color in charge.  In a church that was founded on gospel values- “neither Jew nor Greek, neither male nor female, neither slave nor free” all people recognized as beloved children of God, how is it that our church allowed racism to persist?  How is it that our church allows for sexism to still exist?  Homophobia?  How with these HUGE issues can our church expect to be taken seriously by people?

This lent has not been a stellar lent in many ways.  My fasting has been pretty minimal.  I have lagged in my relationships with others, focused attention in places that I should not have.  I have felt lazy and uninspired.  My prayer life is for the most part non-existent.  Today’s first reading was from the book of Daniel and was the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abendego.  The three men of faith who would not allow their faith to be swayed by false idols, but stayed the course, faced the fire (literally) and saw the reward and favor of God in their midst- and also converted King Nebuchadnezzar through their very actions. 

I love my church- there is so much beauty in the imperfections of the actions of the church- in the thinking- the challenges issued.   There are times when I think of leaving, sure, but then I remember the challenge of being in relationship.  I am called to maintain this relationship until it ceases to be life giving.  I think the biggest hindrance to my life in the church right now is my attitude.  I think I will just get out of my own way and just be- just remember to experience and participate rather than anticipate.  

Monday, April 11, 2011

humble pie tastes like s*&^!!

I was told on Saturday that I needed to be humbled.  It was said in jest, in a funny part of a conversation after a pretty serious conversation.  It was said to lighten the mood, and to bring some levity.  As many of these conversations leave the speakers mouth, they stay with me for some time.  I find the need to consider many different points- whether it is to accept and take what is said as truth- or if there is a need to dismiss the point and move on. 

One of the best things that I have done since moving to DC is in the last 4 months, I registered to receive some theological sayings from Church of the Saviour in their daily Inward/Outward reflections.  Today’s was on humility.  (I often marvel at God's ability to reinforce a thought that is so easily dismissed in the heat of the moment.) It reads:

Humble and Free
Conrad Hyers
Humility is not thinking lowly of oneself; it is not thinking of oneself. The humble person is free--free to be concerned about others, free to be at the disposal of others, free to see the worth of others.

What does it mean to be humble in my life?  I know that I have gifts and talents that God has given me.  Some are discovered and in use, some have been discarded because I wasted them, others have yet to be uncovered.  How concerned am I about others though?  I remember when I first moved to Brookland, I was so wanting to be a part of the community- to really understand and establish in my own life what community, neighborhood means and to accept life in Brookland.  How do I show and embrace compassion for others?  I know that is really tough for me.  I feel so encumbered by my life and work sometimes that I want to be nothing but naughty in my life outside of work- I want to gossip, I want to be nasty to others, I want to embrace the seduction of a secular life that tells me there are no consequences to any choice- it feels good, wonderful, sexy, so I should do it.  I don’t want to work on relationships that are broken, I want to be able to wallow in a woe is me time.  My life is so boring in other ways.  The challenge though is that this is far from authentic. 
So, why isn’t authentic easier?  Well, I think that in being humble, authenticity comes a bit cleaner- not necessarily easier, just more well expressed in daily life and expression. The form of the question then becomes, “how do I accept humility-my humbling in my life?”

Who brings the thought of humility to my life?   I think first of Jesus- his humility to suffer the humilitation of the cross which would bring humanity to redemption.  But when I think a bit longer I see Mary.  Mary who witnessed the humiliation of a teen pregnancy- an almost failed engagement- an immigrant life-a son who was never accepted in society and ultimately killed as a criminal of the state.  I wonder as a woman- the older I get what this would have meant to Mary to go through each of these trials.  

Friday, April 8, 2011

Abraham Joshua Heschel

Prayer depends not only upon us but also upon the will and grace of God. Sometimes we stand before a wall. It is very high. We cannot scale it. It is hard to break through it, but even knocking our heads against the wall is full of meaning. Ultimately, there is only one way of gaining certainty of the realness of any reality, and that is by knocking our heads against the wall. Then we discover there is something real outside the mind.

I had so many goals in place for my 40 days of Lent. I was going to be “praying” more- and I really mean praying- didn’t even make it a day…I was going to be working to deny myself some of my favorite beverages- that fell at about the 14 day mark…what is the deal? Why when I was little was I so able to sustain the fast of Lent and this time as an adult- when I have the ability to regulate myself do I suck? Fail? Wither in comparison?

I was recently telling a new friend that I crave the discipline of the liturgy, but I think that is the only place- and really, “crave” might be a bit strong, though the liturgy is what keeps me going to mass- when I go…daily or weekly-its because the liturgy is so thought out and deliberate.

Prayer can be ambiguous and nostalgic at times. Ambiguous that during my grad school years, my prayer was in the form of my studies. I would read such deep though provoking word, that it became my prayer. Lectio Divina was often employed to read certain texts and passages. I would constantly seek out new and challenging ways to engage the texts- but always I knew that what I was doing was prayer. I have not made this leap to my new life, the life away from school.

I spent Monday glorying in the beauty of the cherry blossoms at the basin of the Washington Monumet and the Jefferson Memorial. It was a gorgeous and beautiful day. I spent the morning walking around by myself, listening to my ipod, in my own little world looking at the blossoms, looking around and seeing the living history story of a nation that seems to be in more trouble these days than out of trouble. What was glorious though was the way that people were still engaged, wanting to see what was the gift of spring. The whole morning was a prayer of walking, contemplation, wonderment and startling observations.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Samaritan Woman

This is a homily that I gave at Ecumenical Advocacy Days yesterday.

Men and women are different. That seems pretty obvious! Men and women also have many shared similarities. We have different approaches to life, to our lived experiences, to how we relate to the world around us. These differences are made clear to us as Catholic women and men through our church- “big c” church and “little c” church. This reality of difference I think is especially made clear in our Gospel story of the Samaritan Woman.

The Samaritan woman is continually ostracized in her own community, she goes to the well during the middle of the day- she is dismissed by her own society- the women don’t socialize with her, the men in her community certainly don’t. Yet, when she meets Jesus, in the middle of the day at the well, her entire life changes. This is not the first time, nor will it be the last time that Jesus reveals himself to women. His mother knows him, he already has an entourage of women who are following him (though in most accounts they are “not counted”). It is the women at the tomb whom Jesus will reveal his risen self. The women need no convincing. They approach him for healings, to raise their brother from the dead. The women know what Jesus has to offer.

Jesus redeems her through the act of offering her life giving water, and acknowledging her gender. He references her in conversation as “Woman”- he is acknowledging who she is, her experience as woman. Jesus recognizes how important it is to call her this way. He has not dismissed her, but rather expresses his care and concern for her by calling her woman. In this naming of the Samaritan woman, Jesus has given her dignity- her dignity as a woman, as a human, to claim as her own. The Samaritan woman accepts her dignity and begins her mission when she accepts the life giving water that Jesus offers. Rev. Nunes yesterday reminded all of us that the living water cannot remain in a reservoir- in a well, but it must be moving- it cannot be stagnant. Our baptism is what calls us forth to be moving- to recognize the life giving water that Jesus is!

This is the reality of community for us- the ambiguity and mixed reality of what our sacramental life in the church means. We are all called through the sacrament of our baptism to be a part of this community. We are all baptized priests, prophets and kings. Some people might think we stumble most over the “Priest” part, but I think we are more afraid to be prophets. It is our prophets who die, because they challenge the church, the communities, the governments. Our prophets are challenging us to remember the affect of life giving water- of baptism daily. It is the life giving waters of baptism that calls us to communion- to reconciliation. We find our reconciliation in our relationship with God, each other and the community at large. Our Eucharist, our meal brings us together to be with each other, to share our common expression of faith and commitment to the beauty of imperfection in our church.

But this is not the end of the story for the Samaritan woman nor should it be the end for us today in the church. Our dignity- our self worth is not to be relegated to someone else- this dignity is inherent in our knowledge of Jesus and belief in the paschal mystery. Our dignity is not relegated to their understanding of who we are, rather, our dignity is tied up in our relationship with each other- and ultimately with our God.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Putting Things in Order...

Why is it that it takes so little for things to be put in order? After listening to a friend talk about mint.com for about a year, I decided to investigate and “budget” my money and begin seeing where I am spending my money. I appreciate knowing where my “treasure” is going. Granted, my income is much different from most peoples my age who have a master’s degree and are working for a national organization in Washington, D.C., but I appreciate seeing where the money goes in such an organized fashion.

I find myself participating in life in a very different way when the stress of finances looks differently. I was participating in a meeting last week and one of the conversation pieces that was brought to the attention of the group was the use of the word “poor”. Specifically in relationship to the people who are poor. In the parish that I grew up in we talked about the poor, what we were supposed to do to help the poor and all that … but the conversation at the meeting was challenging us to use a different phrase, other than the poor, because that phrase has allowed to distance ourselves from the reality of “the poor”. Rather than use the language of “the poor” I am encouraging myself to use the terminology of “those suffering in poverty”. No longer will I be able to think in abstract terms, but rather will remember to place the dignity of each person in tune with each brother or sister that I meet.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


That was the message that I got from mass tonight. Labels are a part of our encounter with Christ and with one another. Peter wanted to label his encounter on top of the mountain. What is the purpose of such labels though? Where do labels fit in our lives today? How does a label add or diminish our relationships with others?

I think I have always been a proponent of labels, there is a level of comfort that comes from having a label attached to life. I remember shortly after my divorce, a priest that I had known my entire life growing up approached me and we began to visit. Our conversation went like this:

“So, how is your family?”
“Fine, all of us kids are grown.”
“Now you are divorced, right?”
…long, awkward pause… “Yes.”
“You weren’t even married a year, correct?”
“Yes, that’s right.”

I remember being so furious, disappointed, angry and well, frankly, pissed off. As I look back on this encounter as the years go by, I wouldn’t say that I am grateful, but rather that I am aware of how the benefit of being labeled has helped me to be real about my life today. There are people that live for the ambiguity of life, what it means to them, and how they are able to interact with others in this realm of ambiguity. I, for the most part am not able to function in ambiguity- but I have to trust that there is a reason for such ambiguity. In the times of solace after my divorce, I am able to relate to ambiguity, to the need to un-define, not put strictures and trappings around my living. It is when I am un-trusting that I find myself burgeoning with the need to label- to affix labels to all points and parts of my life and to place my labels on others. Rather than just noting that I am scared, angry, frustrated, or some other emotion- my reaction is place a label on the situation.

I am interested to know how you avoid labels.

Saturday, March 19, 2011


I have a friend who is a BIG TIME :-) editor for a publishing company who blogs and writes many entries about the importance of words and what they do, how they affect people, who is affected and in turn affects others. I have been listening lately to two of my favorite singer/songwriters- John Legend and Adele. ADELE’S new album is frickin’ off the charts!!!

I myself have written several posts about words and what they mean to me- usually within the frame of a deeper theological or sacramental context, but they are important none-the-less. I was riding the H8 bus this morning with my friend J. We were on our way to a lovely morning coffee and game of quiddler (scrabble for cards) and some light shopping. We got to talk about words, and she encouraged me to start writing on my blog again. I noted how when I was transferring information from my old computer to my new one, it had been such a stretch since I had last posted. I made the correlation that while I was in my master’s program it seemed so much easier to write- because I knew what I wanted to spend my time word-smithing- I had some new theological vocabulary to experiment with, and the easiest way to put this in use, is immediate use. It seems that while I may have more time on my hands these days, I have less to experiment with and put into immediate use.

I have attempted to frame some posts around current readings:
The Measure of a Man
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
The Help
The Invisible Bridge

are all books I have read in the last few weeks that have made an impact in my own learning’s and sharing, but that doesn’t seem to be reaching me much these days. At other times, I have taken quotes from a daily calendar that I have:

“Whatever you want in life, other people are going to want it too. Believe in yourself enough to accept the idea that you have an equal right to it.” ~Diane Sawyer
“We’ve begun to raise our daughters more like sons, but few have the courage to raise our sons more like our daughters.” ~Gloria Steinem
“Parents know how to push your buttons because, hey, they sewed them on.” ~Camryn Manheim
“You show people what you’re willing to fight for when you fight your friends.” ~Hilalary Rodham Clinton
“In my sex fantasy, nobody ever loves me for my mind.” ~Nora Ephron
“The problem with people who have no vices is that generally you can be pretty sure they’re going to have some pretty annoying virtues.” ~ Elizabeth Taylor

So, I am going to try to be more constant in my need to write and explore the use of words.
That is the best I can do!