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7.28.2005

Wenzel's Bad Night Out


Wenzel
Originally uploaded by dkbullock.

Subject: Wenzel
Age: 6.5 years
Gender: Male (um, sort of)

Tonight's adventure involved pushing his way through the closed (and, we thought, locked) screen door, getting into a fight with a more outdoorsy-neighborhood cat, and losing the battle resulting a trip to the CARE Animal Hospital.

How many times have I explained to Mr. Wenzel that he simply doesn't have claws (PETA people - I adopted him this way, I did not subject him to the torture)? How many times have I explained to Mr. Wenzel that he really is a wimpy cat?

Don't worry, readers, those are rhetorical questions meant only to increase your interest --- did it work or have you now suspended reading? (Is this a rhetorical question?) (Does "this" in the preceding parenthetical question refer to the parenthetical question or does it refer to the preceding question?) (Is there any such thing as a "parenthetical question"?)

Right. Wenzel. Anyhow, he has a minor laceration beneath his left eye - cornea appears fine. Two of his paw pads were ripped off, and two other paws seem a bit "roughed-up" (for lack of any other word to describe the phenomenon). No sutures needed. He'll be on antibiotics for the next 10 days --- giving a pink liquid in a syringe to a cat could be interesting (the vet assures me it is easy and he'll like it! O.k., whatever!)

Anyhow, Wenzel is now home (inside where he belongs), curled up at my feet hoping that there will be no more trips to the vet. I'm just curious, do you think Wenzel makes the connection between his bolting through the screen door and getting into a fight and my taking him to the vet? No. I didn't think so.

Oh - to add insult to injury, his sister Kirbie keeps hissing at him whenever he comes near - he smells a bit too anti-septic and vet-like for her taste. Poor Wenzel.

7.27.2005

Wild Geese

Sermon preached at St. Mary's Episcopal Church - Park Ridge, Illinois
The Feast of William Reed Huntington, July 27, 2005



What do you think of when you see a goose or a flock of geese? Say it out loud . . . what comes to mind? Last time you saw them in a park, in the street, in your yard, flying in the sky above. . . What did you think? Perhaps you remembered how dirty they are. How much of a mess they leave on your favorite walking path – or in your yard. Maybe you recalled the noisy nuisance they create as they fly overhead. Perhaps you recalled a time when one of those ill-tempered birds nipped at your heel as you walked along. Or, maybe you paid them no attention at all.

Now close your eyes for a moment and think about yourself. For some of you, what you hear as you listen are disappointments and failures? Or maybe you see good intentions that have fallen flat? A broken promise? An unfulfilled dream? Does your mind compare you to someone else – someone who is kinder, more successful, prettier, more accomplished? Hear what your mind tells you about yourself. Perhaps you are reminded of a time you did something you are proud of - and then that same voice interrupts, telling you to feel ashamed for being so prideful. . . it reminds you of how selfish you really are. Just take a moment and listen.

Now gradually allow your eyes to open and listen to the words of Mary Oliver’s poem, Wild Geese.1


You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles across the desert, repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours,
and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese,
harsh and exciting – over and over again announcing
your place in the family of things.

Did you know that geese fly in that V-shaped pattern because of the updraft created by the wings of the goose in front? Each goose creates an updraft when it flaps its wings. This updraft increases the individual goose’s flying range by about 70-80%. It is therefore less work for any one goose to get to its destination. The lead goose has it the hardest with no goose before it to create updraft. As a result, when it gets tired, another goose flies to the front to take over for a while. Each goose takes its part in insuring that the flock reaches its destination. When one goose becomes injured or ill and falls out of formation, two other geese follow it to the ground. They will stay with the sick or injured goose until it is strong enough to fly again or until it dies. Then the two or three geese will take flight again to re-join their own flock or to take their place in another flock.2

Allow the world to call to you like the wild geese . . . announcing over and over again your place in the family of things.

So often we focus on the disappointments in life – the negatives in our lives and in the lives of others. And when we focus our attention this way, we miss so much of the beauty that is in our world and in ourselves. We miss the truth that the Love with which the Father loved Jesus is in us and that we are in God. And it is in acknowledging and living this Truth - this understanding of Love - that we become completely one with God and with one another.

When we refocus our attention we may notice what William Reed Huntington described more than a century ago. Huntington wrote that to “feel gratitude and joy” we must discover “that . . . the lines of the original painting are still traceable upon the stained and torn canvas and that underneath the incrustations of long ages there lies the pure and perfect outline of the Mystical Body of the Lord.”3

Next time you see a flock of geese, what will you choose to notice? Next time you look in the mirror – or into the eyes of another human being – what will you choose to notice?

“Righteous Father, the world does not know you; and these know that you have sent me. I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the Love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them” (John 17.25-26).




1 Mary Oliver, “Wild Geese,” Dream Work accessed online at the Ikelman Home Page on July 25, 2005.

2 Inspiration and details for the goose information came from a visualization experienced during my participation in the Hoffman Quadrinity Process on July 22, 2005. More information about this Process can be obtained at The Hoffman Institute’s website.

3 William Reed Huntington, The Church-Idea: An Essay Toward Unity, Harrisburg, PA: Morehouse Publishing, 2002, p. 33.

7.26.2005

Love-Hate Relationship

I love reading other people's blogs; however, I almost hate the pull of the online quizzes to which I am so often called :( [Yes, friends, I must do an elevator: "what are the unidentified negative patterns which create this tension within me?"].

In the meantime, here are the results:

You scored as Sacrament model. Your model of the church is Sacrament. The church is the effective sign of the revelation that is the person of Jesus Christ. Christians are transformed by Christ and then become a beacon of Christ wherever they go. This model has a remarkable capacity for integrating other models of the church.

Sacrament model

72%

Servant Model

50%

Mystical Communion Model

44%

Herald Model

28%

Institutional Model

6%

What is your model of the church? [Dulles]
created with QuizFarm.com

Feast Day of the Parents of the BVM: A Question of Blame

One of the appointed texts for this day comes from Genesis 17. It is that bit of story in which God makes a covenant with Abram promising him that he will be the ancestor of many nations, changing his name from Abram to Abraham, and promising that God will be the God of Abraham and the God of all of Abraham’s offspring throughout the generations. This then, is an everlasting covenant. Many authors have written a great deal about covenants in general and about the Abrahamic covenant in particular. So, I wander off in another direction.

Given that it is the Feast Day of the Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary and given the tendency in our society to hold our parents accountable for all the misery that exists in our own lives, I thought it might be interesting to explore the first words God speaks to Abram in this passage: “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless.”

What does it mean to be blameless?

Merriam-Webster defines blame as “to find fault with” or “to hold responsible.” The English word comes to us from the Greek root blasphEmein1 wherein the similarity to the word blasphemy can be seen. In this reading, we might suggest that God is demanding that Abram not show contempt for God; that is, to remember that God is God.

Of course, the original text is the Hebrew tämîm. While it is translated into English as “blameless” it actually has a more positive connotation – it refers to a state of being sound, wholesome, unimpaired, innocent, or having integrity with regard to God’s way, God’s work, or God’s law.2

So, the passage might read, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and have integrity (be wholesome).” This is a far cry from our modern day associations of blame with guilt and wrong-doing. Perhaps we might bear this in mind next time we feel an urge to blame our parents for something that is wrong in our lives. They may be guilty for wrongdoing, but are they to blame?



1 “Blame,” Merriam-Webster OnLine Dictionary accessed on July 26, 2005.

2 Whitaker’s Revised BDB Hebrew-English Lexicon, Copyright © 1995, Dr. Richard Whitaker accessed using BibleWorks for Windows, Windows 98/2000 Release, Copyright © 2001, Bibleworks, LLC, Version 5.0.038s.

7.25.2005

Announcing Your Place in the Family of Things

To my old friends - yes, those of you whom I have only just met. You know who you are. We are that we are. I offer you this website (go ahead, click on the link - keep your eyes open this time). You will recognize the first poem, but there are others. Explore them, take them in. Own them for yourself. We are that we are.

To my old friends - those of you whom I have known for months, maybe for years - and those whom I have never met. I offer you this website.

And, finally,

". . . is anything more mortifying, when we have the picture of what might be, and of what was meant to be, before our eyes, than to observe in what a sad and terrible way human willfulness, and human pride, and human enmity have marred and disfigured in the fulfillment the fair beauty of promise? And yet, along with our mortification, we shall feel gratitude and joy, if we discover that, after all, the lines of the original painting are still traceable upon the stained and torn canvas, and that underneath the incrustations of long ages there lies the pure and perfect outline of the Mystical Body of" God.1
Thank you Paula. Without you, I may have wandered around for many, many more years just wondering, "why me?" Today, I know the answer.2




1 William Reed Huntington, The Church-Idea: An Essay Towards Unity, Harrisburg, PA: Morehouse Publishing, 2002, p. 33.

2 The Hoffman Institute.

7.06.2005

On "doing" ministry

It is easier to minister to non-family members. Perhaps this is a no-brainer, but it truly hits home when your own family is experiencing loss and looking to you - the seminarian - for the right words to say, the right decisions to make, etc.

To be fair, my family has not done this nearly as much as I have been doing it to myself. My own expectations of having just the right thing to say to make everyone feel 'o.k.' are in high gear this week - or perhaps I am only hoping for just the right things to say to make me feel 'o.k.' In either case, a little CPE wisdom is in order: silence can be exactly the right thing to say when there are no words to be said.

7.01.2005

Hope

Thanks to Beth's blog for the WeatherPixie idea. She looks a bit like Hope, I think.

We Are

Two pieces of news today:

  • At 5:30 this morning, I received the news that my niece, Anastasia Louise, died yesterday. She was 6 1/2 weeks old. Anastasia joins two sisters in the great company of saints: Gabrielle Michelle, December 2002 (1 day old) and Catherine Michelle, November 2003 (10 months old). Anastasia's big sister, Elizabeth (who will be a 1st grader in the fall) and her two loving parents, John and Karen, have been through more than enough. There are no words.
  • Justice Sandra Day O'Connor announced her retirement today, July 1, 2005 (Supreme Court Justice O'Connor retiring - The Changing Court - MSNBC.com).

I suspect these two events will be forever linked in my mind - perhaps the way that people remember what they were doing when JFK was shot. A meaning-making woman and a meaning-making baby girl . . .

For each child that's born
The morning star rises
And sings to the universe Who We Are

We are our grandmothers' prayers
We are our grandfathers dreamings
We are the breath of our ancestors
We are the spirit of God.

- "We Are" from Sweet Honey in the Rock's Sacred Ground CD

In the News . . .

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