Pride (In the Name of Love)

Our new pastor, Father Mark, is everything we prayed for and more. I basically just wanted him to be bi-lingual and under 80. He’s definitely more. He’s open, he listens, he’s willing to share himself personally. And he’s very challenging. Today he was poking at my sore spot. Pride.

Pride is my greatest sin. I’m not talking only about the usual kind of pride that I can imagine many of you nodding your heads vigorously in agreement over. “Yes, she’s definitely prideful, I can see that. No question that she is self-centered and a bit puffed up, clearly. I’m glad she can see that she really should be taken down a notch. Who does she think she IS anyway?!”

Yes, I’m guilty of that. Sorry. But maybe more worrisome, and surely more challenging a stumbling block is the kind of pride that causes me to usually live on the “Jesus is just alright with me, Jesus is just alright…oh yeah!” level and then every once in awhile resorting to the “Oh, Dear God….please help me” level. God and I have a pretty nice arrangement set up where I hold the reins for the most part. I choose when and how and if I want to follow Him, and then if I get into some especially rough waters, He’s promised to come in and save me …just until I get back on my feet.

Wow. Now that’s Pride.

Because, if I am being real, I can’t do it by myself most of the time. Or some of the time. I can’t live the way He asks me to live and love the way He asks me to love –  with my every thought and every action of every day. No. Way. So I pretend that isn’t what He’s really asking. I tell myself that is just something to shoot for, but not something that I’m really expected to practice. I mean, c’mon…he knows what I’m made of. He couldn’t be asking me that.

Except it is.

Except it isn’t.

Because He never asked me to do it myself. He asks me to follow Him and to rely on Him. Not just sometimes. But to do that, I have to give up the reins. Annnd, I have some trust issues (imagining more vigorous head nodding). I’m just not really sure I can trust God. The Almighty Creator of the Universe. He who raised Lazarus. He who came to Life after Death. Yeah yeah yeah. Does He know the people I have to deal with though? Does He see how these people drive on the roads…and those law breaking cyclists everywhere? Has He met my mother, for Christ’s sake?? Besides, He’s up there talking with Jesus and Moses and talking about the Middle East and stuff. I’m not on his radar most of the time.

I sat with Father Mark for a minute today and gave him my sympathy for having to do the meet and greet on the front steps after Mass. I may be almost as much of an introvert as he is, and I really can see his pain. “It’s a cross I bear” he said with zero irony. I told him that his homily hit home with me and that I struggle giving up the reins.

He said “Try doing this a couple times a day” and rubbed his hands together and showed the backs and the palms of his hands to an imaginary casino surveillance camera like dealers do when they leave the table. The gesture struck me as a kind of a way to pause and shake something off – a physical reminder of a spritual reality. The reality that we don’t hold the reins and that we don’t have to. Thank God!!

Pray for me, and I’ll pray for you. If you see me making this gesture, you’ll know what it’s about. Offering it up, as we like to say.

Catholic Joke of the Day

Aside

A nun at a Catholic school asked her students what they want to be when they grow up.

Little Suzy declares, “I want to be a prostitute.”
“What did you say?!” asks the nun, totally shocked.

“I said I want to be a prostitute,” Suzy repeats.

“Oh, thank heavens,” says the nun. “I thought you said ‘a Protestant!'”

In the Beginning was the Word

To be honest, I’m not sure how far I want to get into this blog thing, or why. But the process of setting it up has been fun and it’s made me think  a lot about words and language. Where would we be without them?

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men.

What? How is Jesus the Word? Does that mean He IS language, along with the other gifts He is like love and light and life? Does it mean that without language, there is no creation? Creating/creation is what this blog is about…my inadequate words exploring and reflecting back the gifts we’ve been given.

The first word I spoke as a baby was “keys” and I’ve been searching for keys ever since. Maybe one big key is words. What are your key words, and how do they help create your life?

Wikipedia, a source I put entirely too much faith in, reports:

“The Gospel of John identifies the Logos, through which all things are made, as divine (theos),[7] and further identifies Jesus as the incarnation of the Logos.”

and

“The Greek word rhema is useful to distinguish between two meanings of word. While both rhema and logos are translated into the English word, in the original Greek there was a substantial distinction. Rhema is Christ’s utterance, which extends to the Christian who is part of His body. Logos (Christianity) refers to Christ himself, and further to his extended body, the Church. So whenever a Christian talks the word of Christ, his uttering can be called rhema. And whoever is a Christian can be described as part of the logos, as long as the link with Christ is maintained where the Holy Spirit is not absent.”

Another gift from being made in God’s image is that we’ve been granted the power to create along with God, and words are one way we do that. We have so much power that it’s overwhelming! Sometimes I wonder why God grants us so much power. Power to destroy and power to create. God doesn’t limit us enough, it seems to me. We have the power to destroy our earth, our families, our ties to one another.

So back to your words…how do you use them? What words keep coming up for you as a recurring theme and what is that leading you to create?

Some key words for me are:blessed, beauty, grace, seek, truth, free, color, home…and so many more.

Thanks for reading, as always! Please let me know what you think.

Blessing of the Animals – Rained Out

Well, Father did bless the dogs, but the actual ceremony is postponed until August 7 due to the weather. We put their matching pink hoodies on and braved the deluge, but it was a bit of a let down when we arrived and learned about the cancellation. Susie intimidated a darling pair of dachshunds, and Uno pretty much gave the Priest “the paw” when he sprinkled holy water on her precious head.

Should I try to explain redemptive suffering to the girls and tell them to offer it up? I think I’ll skip that idea and take a nap with them instead!

Why are you Catholic, anyway?

A friend asked me this question yesterday while we were sitting in those freaky massage chairs having pedicures – not something I usually do. So perhaps I’ll be forgiven for giving her a pretty lame answer about my family history and that I love the spells and bells. Why couldn’t she have asked me right after Mass when I was really feeling the Spirit? I’ve been thinking it was a pretty disingenuous answer that deserves more attention.

Part of my lack of a good answer is really because I have a real fear of sounding like I am proselytizing. I don’t want to be that person at work that talks about her faith all the time. That’s creepy. I want to be the one that just lives it. Faith is personal and profound and for me it happens in the quiet places in our hearts and is not always connected with words. So I worry about someone being as put off by my talk about being a Catholic as I am put off by protestant evangelicals with fake smiles saying things about how God is moving in a powerful way through ‘Skate Camp for Jesus’. It may be true, but that’s not me.

Christians have given people who love Jesus such a bad reputation that it’s a cliché now – Lord, save me from your followers. Indeed.

But this was a friend who asked me as a friend and being sincere. She wasn’t asking me to “show her the way” or explain a couple thousand years of Church Doctrine and History! She was just curious about why someone would become a Catholic. So I want to try to answer that here, without going into my entire philosophy or conversion story. That’s not what she asked. Thanks be to God.

So, as far as I can put it into words, I’m a Catholic because the rich traditions make me feel a part of something bigger than myself; the Church reaches back to Christ who is the reason I’m a Christian in the first place and that makes it feel more authentic to me as a religion; I like that Catholics stay in touch with the other Saints who have gone before…not worshipping them, but seeing them as family members and friends; there are so many amazingly varied devotions and sacred rituals that anyone could spend a lifetime exploring new ways to be closer to Christ; the Eucharist is a sacrament that touches my heart in an unexplainable way every time I’m blessed to take part; I love the idea that on any day, Catholics in every country are praying the same prayers at the same time through the Mass or the Liturgy of Hours; the fact that social activism and community involvement are so important for Catholics resonates with me, and their politics (for the most part) align with my own.

I know that people have done unspeakably evil things in the name of religion and sanctioned by the Catholic church. But people have also done amazing and heroic things…the Church is made up of humans, so it seems natural that both wickedness and righteousness would come from it. It’s simply beyond both my interest and capacity to make a defense for an institution as complicated as the Church, so I won’t try. There is no perfect religion…because humans construct religion, and we are not perfect. But as for the Truth, I think the Catholics have a pretty good handle on that, for the most part – human rights, non-violence, the sanctity of life…these are all ideals that I believe in, even if the people in the Church don’t always hit the mark.

I find new things I like about being a Catholic all the time….the art, the incense, the legends and history…but the most important reason for me is that being a Catholic has made me feel like I am home.

Thanks for asking.

Eddie Vedder in Portland – 7/14/11

The perfect birthday present! Hub took me to see Mr. Eddie Vedder at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall last night. It was a lovely evening and the perfect venue to see him doing his solo stuff. The Schnitz is such a romantic building drenched in Portland history.

I love chandeliers. But, I digress.

The crowd was a good mix of ages…not too many races, however. I had to look around to see a few fans who weren’t white but when I saw them, I immediately felt more at ease. In Portland crowds, I have an odd fear of accidentally ending up at a hate rally. No offense intended, P-Town.

Hub said he would treat me to a poster or t-shirt, but I’m not much of a poster/t-shirt person. Here’s what the poster looks like – very Speed Racer.

Glenn Hansard opened for Eddie and I’m sorry to say that I only know him from the song “Falling Slowly”. He’s a nice Irish lad with a lilting voice and some great song-writing.

During the concert, Eddie switched between guitars, a mandolin, and a ukulele.

Here’s the set list:
01. Walking The Cow-(Daniel Johnston)
02. Can’t Keep
03. Sleeping By Myself
04. Without You
05. Goodbye
06. Blue, Red And Grey- Townshend)
07. I Am Mine
08. Thumbing My Way
09. Just Breathe (Hub grabbed my hand on this one)
10. Far Behind
11. Long Nights w/Glen Hansard
12. Setting Forth
13. Guaranteed
14. Rise (dedicated to Gerry Lopez)
15. Immortality
16. Unthought Known
17. The End
18. Arc

Arc was magical and made me think of him singing with all the Saints/ancestors who came before surrounding him. I think he used a reel-to-reel to make a live loop of his own voice. The loops built over and over until several rounds of his own voice were weaving in, around and over the others. Creepy, lovely and indescribable – the reason to go to live shows, really.

Encore Break 1
19. If You Want To Sing Out, Sing Out-(Yusuf Islam)
20. You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away-(Lennon, McCartney)
21. Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town
22. The Golden State w/ Corin Tucker-(John Doe)
23. Tonight You Belong To Me w/Janet Weiss-(Rose/David)
24. Sleepless Nights w/Glen Hansard (busking style-no mics or amplification)
25. Society w/Glen Hansard-(Jerry Hannan)
26. Falling Slowly-{Glen singing and playing acoustic, Eddie duet vocal}-(Glen Hansard, Markéta Irglová)
27. Porch

Encore Break 2
28. Hard Sun w/ Glen Hansard, Corin Tucker and Janet Weiss-(Gordon Peterson)
29. Dream A Little Dream-(Gus Kahn, Wilbur Schwandt, Fabian Andree)

It was exciting to see Corin Tucker and Janet Weiss from Sleater-Kinnney, and I felt extra very super proud of myself that I knew who they were and the Hub didn’t. He usually knows more than I do about who’s who in pop culture. He’s a pop culture encyclopedia, basically.

Some fans were yelling out song requests and what have you. Eddie handled them nicely. “Yeah, scream all you want. But you see, my dressing room in the back has this big sign that says ‘conductor’s suite.’ That means I’m in charge. Don’t worry yourself, I’ve got you taken care of.”

He also told a story about Chris Cornell trying to make the ukulele “sound evil” ending in Chris “puking off the balcony”  . . . “I guess the uke won”   Pretty hard to make a ukelele sound evil. It’s a happy little instrument. Next came a bit about some poor fellow who had his monkey bits cut off by his wife and then decimated in a garbage disposal. Then a joke about how lemon or lime would probably work well to remove the smell of decimated penis. I think the point was that Eddie read his name in the paper (John Doe) and thought maybe it was John Doe from X. Anyhoo…

It was nice that we got three encores. I wonder if that is usual.

The last song was “Big Hard Sun” and the guests came out to join him in it. Why was everyone in white lab coats? Maybe it has to do with healing symbolism? Maybe it was just to make folks wonder.

It was a wonderful show. The crowd all left feeling good and the Hub and I were lucky to get good tickets for the sold-out event.

Seen any great concerts lately? What concert will you go to next? Tell me…I want to hear all about it…

Mississippi Ave Street Fair

The hub and I took our handsome nephew to check out the hoopla at the street fair on Mississippi on Saturday. I figured it would be good people-watching and maybe I’d see some good crafty crafts while giving the boy something to do besides techy stuff. I’ve realized that parents of teens aren’t exaggerating when they say they’re attached to their phones 24/7.

After a lovely patio brunch at the White Eagle – where I had hoped the boy would be impressed or at least interested by its haunted past (he wasn’t) – St. Anthony helped us find parking along one of the little neighborhood streets  which were all packed sardine-tight with car after car. This event must be  a trial to the people who live in the neighborhood.

We started off with Hawaiian Shave Ice because it was hot…and got crowded fast.

(Please excuse the poor photography in this post! One of my goals is to get a better camera and learn to take better photos… in the meantime, bear with me!)

There were a lot of interesting people to watch and good stuff to look at…

Nice to see some Sisters out and and about. I wonder what order they are a part of.

Jimi Hendrix made an appearance from the beyond, but he was charging a fee to have a photo taken with him…oh, Jimi….how the afterlife changed you.

Chata Addy and the other drummers were spellbinding as always.

We saw some people we know and later our dear friends Matt and Elizabeth were able to meet up with us for a second lap of the Avenue.

The Rebuilding Center is awesome.

http://rebuildingcenter.org

The ReBuilding Center, a project of Our United Villages, is a vibrant resource working to strengthen the environmental, economic, and social fabric of local communities. Founded by volunteers in 1998, The ReBuilding Center carries the region’s largest volume of used building and remodeling materials. It provides resources that make home repairs affordable to everyone, with the goal of promoting the reuse of salvaged and reclaimed materials. Three hundred visitors come to The ReBuilding Center every day to browse the ever-changing inventory that includes sinks, tubs, tile, lumber, doors, windows, trim and much more. Click here to see a list of items you can donate and buy.

That reminds me…I need to see what colors of recycled paint are available from Metro. The handsome nephew is helping us paint the arbor while he’s here.

My only purchase was two ceramic cups that the artist Mark S. Johnson made…they have little drawings on them with a lot of sacred motifs…and profane, too. I loved them. If you haven’t bought a piece of real art from the artist who made it…try to do that sometime. Support local artists! And it’s back to work tomorrow morning…enjoy the week, everyone!