Tuesday, December 23, 2008

More snow...

The National Weather Service is predicting 1-3 more inches of snow... can you believe it?

Photos of Seattle snow

(Note: if you click on the slideshow, it will take you to a larger version.)

Three snowstorms in eight days. Whee!


Monday, December 22, 2008

Fall in Seattle

On Election Day, I went for a long walk and took pictures of some of our gorgeous leaves here in the Montlake neighborhood, and up near the UW Medical Center. Enjoy!

(If you click on the slideshow, it will take you to a larger version.)

Snow... snow... and more snow... in Seattle!

So, here we are in Seattle for the year... where I nearly didn't bring my winter coat with me, thinking to make do with layers of fleece, wool, and Gore-Tex. After all, the average low here in December, the coldest month, is 36 F.

I'm glad I brought my heavy coat. First, we had a week where temps didn't get above freezing, with record cold -- mostly in the 20s F, but then we dipped down into the teens. Then, in the last week and a half, we've had three -- count them, three -- snowstorms which have stopped the city in its tracks. As soon as things get moving again, we get more snow. With ice underneath.

It's rather astonishing.

But, this did make for a beautiful Winter Solstice.

Amazingly, some hardy souls did make it to our house to celebrate with us on Saturday night. Getting home was a bit of a challenge for them, but everyone seems to have made it back safely.

Beloved Wife and I live two blocks from the Arboretum, and less than a mile from the Lake Washington Ship Canal. We've had two beautiful walks -- one Saturday night through the Arb (where, at 1:00 am, people were still out sledding!), and one Sunday afternoon through the marsh boardwalk. I will post pictures. :)

We've had several more inches of snowfall since then.

We are well and truly snowed in at the moment. Wow!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Quick note

I haven't written a thoughtful entry of my own for a while, and I miss it. Things should calm down soon, and I'm hoping to have some time to write -- either next week, or just after Solstice -- which will be nice. There have been a couple of things floating around, waiting for me to write about them.

Winter weather!

We have our first winter storm watch.

Now, I am a total weather geek, and I also love winter weather; so I'm excited at the prospect of actual snow on the ground in Seattle. (Whether or not that actually will happen with this storm remains to be seen, but there does seem to be a real chance of some lowland snow.)

Now I'm glad I brought my winter coat with me, since I'll be taking the bus to Bellevue for a Scottish dance teachers' meeting on Saturday morning. :)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Odetta has died

Odetta died Tuesday. I will miss her presence in this world in much the same way I miss that of Audre Lord.

Miriam Makeba also died this fall.

I am thankful all three of them left the work of their voices.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

How green building techniques can help save a home during a wildfire

Beloved Wife and I happened to be on a work trip for her to Santa Barbara, CA when the Tea Fire erupted.

Consequently, much of our visit wasn't at all what we expected. But we were safe and mostly well, and Santa Barbara County fared much better than it might have in the face of such a fast-moving and devastating fire. We were definitely impressed by local emergency response.

Having been there during such an intense time, I've been following some of the local news coverage of the fire since returning to Seattle. Today, I came across an interesting article on how one couple's green building choices helped save their home.

Green Building Techniques Save Home on Mountain Drive
One Tea Fire Homeowner's Experience Is a Lesson for Us All

In the midst of the devastation created by the Tea Fire, there are a few stories of families whose homes escaped the fire unscathed. While some of these stories seem like simple twists of fate or, in some cases, miracles, other stories tell of people who strategically designed their homes to survive a fire. Marlene and David Berry's is one of these stories.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Remember: Faith communities can save transgender lives

from Chris Paige of Transfaith On-line. - sm

Remember: Faith communities can save transgender lives

The Transgender Day of Remembrance (November 20, 2008) is set aside to remember those lost to anti-transgender violence in the last year. Much of this violence is fueled by a sentiment that it is tacitly and explicitly reinforced by narrow understandings of gender, as well as outright transphobia and homophobia expressed in the name of a Christian God. Too many of us have not only heard "God condemns you" -- but also "It would be better if you were dead."

It is a profound and important step for every faith community to join in a resounding chorus that condemns all forms of violence against people who are differently gendered.

  • By vocally condemning anti-trans bullying, harassment, and hate crimes, we begin to chip away at the self-righteous fuel that feeds those who believe they are doing God's will by punishing the differently gendered.
  • By loudly proclaiming that people of all genders are beloved, we begin to address the rampant rate of depression and suicide among transgender youth and adults that so to often encouraged by religious judgment.
  • By reaching out in love to the transgender community, we begin to undermine the isolation and low self-esteem that can undergird substance abuse and high-risk behaviors (which inform high rates of HIV and AIDS).
Beyond the hate and judgment, trans people's lives are at risk because we so often struggle to meet our most fundamental needs such as safe employment and basic health care. Faith communities need to be out in front of such justice issues as well.

So, this year, let us (re)commit ourselves to the work of speaking up and speaking out, to the work of educating ourselves and educating others, to the work of reaching out in love.

Chris Paige
Publisher, TransFaith Online

Followup reading:
************************
TRANSFAITH ON-LINE (http://www.transfaithonline.org/) is dedicated to supporting transgender folks in our faith journeys, while providing useful resources to help people of faith become better educated trans-allies.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Political and religious humor

I've seen this several times now, and it never fails to make me smile:

Barack atah Illinois
Eloheinu melech ha'olam
Hoo-ray p'ri ha-electoral landslide.
Amen.

-----------------

Traditional Hebrew blessing:
Baruch atah Adonai
Eloheinu melech ha'olam
Borayt p'ri hagafen.

Blessed are You, Lord our G-d,
King of the Universe,
Creator of the fruit of the vine.

Feminized Hebrew blessing:

Brucha at elilah,
elohaynu malkat ha’olam,
borayt p’ree hagafen.

Blessed are You, Goddess our Goddess,
Queen of the Universe,
Creator of the fruit of the vine.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

"You Can Vote However You Like"

Too cool!

And in the interview, these kids are more articulate than a lot of adults I've heard...

Links:
video
interview




Friday, October 31, 2008

Whatever Kindles

I received this today from CPT's news service. On this Samhain, I honor the memory of Tom Fox, of those of all nationalities who have died in the "War on Terror," and of those who have died in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Bluffton University is in northwest Ohio, an hour south of Toledo and ninety minutes north of Dayton.

- sm

CPTnet
31 October 2008
CHICAGO/TORONTO: Second production of CPT docudrama, Whatever Kindles, to be mounted


November 12-15, 2008 Bluffton University’s theatre department will perform Whatever Kindles, a fictional docudrama exploring the everyday experiences and struggles of members of Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT). Written by playwright and CPT reservist Tricia Gates Brown, the docudrama takes its title from the words of St. Theresa of Avila, “Do whatever most kindles love in you. It features seven fictional CPT workers and an ensemble of supporting characters that share their experiences in Canada, Columbia, Iraq and Israel/Palestine through direct address to the audience and short vignettes. The play premiered at George Fox University in Oregon during the fall of 2007. A free script is available at http://www.cpt.org/resources/books#7.

“ This production reveals to us the uncertainties CPT workers face,” said Dr. Melissa Friesen, play director and Mary Nord Ignat and Joseph Ignat Chair in Theatre. “The script recognizes the complexity within human responses to violence and oppression as we struggle to follow Jesus faithfully.”

Friesen chose the play because of its connection with Bluffton’s mission of service and peacemaking, and its parallel with the institution’s 2008-09 civic engagement theme: “Living in Uncertainty in a Complex World.”

Each evening production will include “talk-back” sessions with the audience. Friesen, CPT members, student performers and alumni, will engage the audience in dialogue about CPT and CPT members’ experiences. “Our hope is to create a space for thinking about critical issues of faith and our engagement with the world,” said Friesen. Sunday’s matinee performance will not include a talk-back session.

Several CPT reservists are lending their red caps—the signature uniform of CPT workers—to the cast as costume pieces for the production. Friesen hopes to establish a connection between CPT workers and members of the Bluffton production. “This is a unique opportunity,” she said. “The hats provide a symbol of the connection Bluffton is trying to establish between theatre and the wider community. By loaning the hats, CPT is supporting the production in a very tangible way, creating a joint effort to provide the audience an opportunity to see the fulfillment resulting from putting faith and nonviolent commitments into action in risky ways.”

Additionally, George Fox University is allowing Bluffton to use scenic projections designed for the premiere.

Whatever Kindles will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Nov.12-15, and at 2:30 p.m. Nov. 16, in Ramseyer Auditorium. Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for senior citizens and students. Tickets may be reserved through the university box office by calling 419-358-3239 or e-mailing boxoffice@bluffton.edu.


In conjunction with the production of Whatever Kindles, 1984 Bluffton graduate Kathleen Kern, a member of CPT since 1993, will make a public presentation on November 14 about the work of Christian Peacemaker Teams as part of launching the newly published CPT History, In Harm’s Way: A History of Christian Peacemaker Teams (Cascade 2008).

The Rightous Mothers: "Old Fat Naked Women for Peace"

My friend Julie Middleton sent this to me. For more information about this video and The Righteous Mothers, click here.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Meeting for Remembering

Discovered in University Friends Meeting's monthly newsletter, from South Seattle Preparative Meeting. This looks interesting; I'd like to go. - sm

MEETING FOR REMEMBERING, NOV 1

Meeting for Remembering will begin at 4:00pm on Nov. 1 in the dining room of the Senior Center (Central Area Senior Center, 500 30th Ave. S., Seattle 98144), and will be followed by a potluck dinner.

The building opens at 3:30pm, and we invite people to come after 3:45 to set up any pictures &
mementos of people they are remembering as well as quotes and short writings (tables available).

There will be a table in the middle of the room with candles. Similar to last year, the Meeting
will begin with naming a person to be remembered; and going to the table to light a candle in that person's memory. After the naming, the group repeats the name followed by silence before the next person is named and the next candle is lit. Then, we will settle into worship remembering those who are no longer among the living. At the rise of Meeting, we will share our potluck meal with fellowship, and view/share the pictures and mementos displayed.

Childcare will be available (please RSVP with the number of children attending to xxxxx@xxxx.xxx). We invite children who would like to participate to join the group -- particularly for the naming and candle-lighting portion, but also for the rest of the meeting if they and their family so choose. Thank you.

-- SSPM Community & Spiritual Life Committee

Monday, October 27, 2008

Fall back: returning to standard time

Next weekend in the US, we will "fall back" -- set our clocks back an hour, returning to standard time from daylight saving time.

For more information, click here.

Why do I care about this? For one, the time the sun rises, the time it sets, and how much daylight there is in between, are part of how I measure the seasons and the time of year. Daylight saving time, I admit, messes with this sense for me; whenever we transition between standard time and daylight saving time, it takes me a while to re-adjust. "Springing forward" is harder for me -- an hour less of sleep, when I'm not much of a morning person to begin with, although I do appreciate the extra hour of light in the evening, when I can truly appreciate it. "Falling back," of course, is easier for me -- an hour of sleep gained back from earlier in the year; an hour of light gained in the morning. On the other hand, no longer having that hour of light in the evening tells me even more emphatically that winter is on Her way, and that Winter Solstice is around the corner.

We're living further north this year than I've ever lived, and we'll have the least amount of light -- the fewest hours of daylight -- on Winter Solstice than anyplace I've lived. But then, on Summer Solstice, we'll have the most...

A good fall to you, and blessed be!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Music meditation

When I was a teenager, my bedroom was on the third floor of my family's fixer-upper house. I didn't care that it was the coldest (and hottest) bedroom in the house, and had the worst-peeling of the wallpaper and paint: mine was the only bedroom up there, and I had the roof.

The third floor was smaller than the second floor, which meant there was a gently-sloped expanse of roof outside my bedroom window. Many nights, before going to bed, I would climb out my window to sit out on the roof and commune with the trees and the stars (and try to ignore the streetlights from the apartment house parking lot next door).

One year, for birthday or holiday, I don't remember which, an aunt gave me a walkman tape player. I had a friend with a good stereo who would make me mix tapes (and sometimes let me make them myself). So then I could climb out on the roof, commune with nature, and listen to music. Which I did, sometimes for hours on end.

Meditating out on the roof would, as Madeleine L'Engle's character Vicky Austin would say, bring me back into perspective, back into myself, and at the same time, beyond and outside of myself. My word for it was be-ing. I didn't have to think, I didn't have to be smart (I was the smart kid), I didn't have to do anything right, I didn't have to figure things out, I didn't have to know what to say to my family or teachers or school-mates. I could simply be, me and the trees and the stars, and whoever or whatever the Divine might be.

The woods, the moon, the stars, the seasons -- they have always been how I have most keenly felt the Divine. But in high school, I discovered music.

I realized recently that meditating to music is a spiritual practice that hasn't changed much for me in the last twenty-four years. (Although the technology has.)

Last winter into spring was a lonely and challenging time for me, but it was filled with much spiritual growth, discernment, and music. And one of the things that I found myself doing a lot was listening to music on the headset in the velvet darkness. Inside, this time: it was a snowy Michigan winter this year.

Beloved Wife was away, doing research in England for the semester. I was working and taking classes (trying to decide which to keep and which to drop: I kept music theory, and decided four years was too long after taking orgo I to be taking orgo II); trying to make decisions with Beloved Wife about our next move, her next job, and grad school for me; asking myself many hard questions about who I am and what I am led to do; learning a lot about music; discovering community I hadn't realized I'd had; and learning how to dance again, with deep gratitude to my physical therapy team.

Meditating to music helped ground me and center me, helped me worship, helped me re-connect with who I am and what's important to me, reminded me both of the things that have been constant and of the things I've been learning. The two have been very intertwined this year.

I asked a clearness committee to meet with me at Mid-Winter Gathering. It really helped, but it was also pretty scary: when Friends help you see what you're really being asked to do, it's a lot harder to hide from it. :)

It's fall now, and here we are in Seattle for the year.

During a break yesterday afternoon, I decided to download two songs I've had stuck in my head for the last few weeks, but didn't own copies of (except I have a copy of one of them on tape, in storage for the year). Did I mention the technology has changed?

We don't have a stereo with us, and the external computer speakers are good, but they're small; and this one song has rich vocal harmonies. So I plugged in the headphones so I could better listen to it.

I found myself drawn to just sitting on the sofa and listening to the entire mix I'd added the two new songs to. It was daytime, so it was light out, and I was sitting on the sofa, looking out at the greenery in front of our house and at the hummingbird that comes to our feeder. I was listening to a mix that's been growing since January, one I listened to a lot last winter, with some new additions.

And it turned out, this was exactly what I needed. During that time, I got re-grounded in me. I didn't have to be smart or wise, I didn't have to be a seasoned Friend or experienced thealogian, I didn't even have to ask how I'm led; all I had to do was be me, as the Goddess made/grew me. Carving out that time and space, and the change of perspective and consciousness that came with it, was a huge relief.

And isn't that what magic is?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Google, Halloween, and energy-saving tips

So, as a Friend who experiences the Divine through the Earth, I have a concern for ecology.

Right now, I'm entertained -- and pleased -- by Google's energy-saving tips campaign:

"Haunted by high energy costs? Here are some easy ways to save."

Their "Haunted House" takes you through what to do if you are "haunted" by different things ("Ghosts: Hear that eerie moan? That's the sound of warm air escaping up your chimney. Close the flue damper when the fireplace isn't in use"). It's both cute and practical. And their calculator will help you determine both how much money and how much energy you save by the actions you're already taking. Plus, they have an advanced tips section.

Enjoy!

I love it!

Obama Pictures and McCain Pictures

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Quaker boundaries and spiritual disciplines/practices, part I

After a recent conversation with an elder in my home Meeting, I've been thinking about which of any number of spiritual practices might be considered compatible with Quakerism -- or not. Specifically, I'm thinking of disciplines/practices which are practiced by Friends, but did not originate within Quakerism.

I know there are others, but here's a list of examples that I've come up with:

~ Centering prayer
~ Circle dance
~ Dances of Universal Peace
~ Sacred dance
~ Contra dance
~ Mindfulness meditation
~ Sitting meditation
~ Walking meditation
~ Intercessory prayer
~ Celebrations of specific holidays
~ Transformative Narrative Portrait
~ Singing
~ Yoga
~ Qi Gong
~ Chant
~ Photography
~ Poetry
~ Magic
~ Spiritual direction
~ Energy healing
~ Storytelling
~ Quilting
~ Ritual
~ Ignatian Retreat
~ Writers circles
~ Bible study
~ Buddhist meditation
~ Labyrinth walking
~ Spiritual formation
~ Journaling
~ Couple Enrichment
~ Ceremony
~ Continuum movement
~ Spherical Dynamics

Which, if any, of these practices/disciplines are Quaker? are compatible with Quakerism?

Why?

Does it make a difference if such a practice is:

~ an individual Friend's spiritual practice?
~ something offered by or taught by a Meeting or Quaker retreat center?
~ something taught by a Friend professionally?
~ something taught by a Friend as part of a ministry?

What do you think? Why?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Interesting (re)reading

I found myself re-reading today both a post I wrote and the comment dialogue on it. The post was about belonging and conflict among Friends. It was useful and grounding for me to re-read it.

On the curb? In the backyard?

Hither, thither, and yon

...and here, there, and everywhere. Emotionally, anyway.

I've had cause more than once in my ministry recently to remind myself that it's not my job to be "successful" as the world would consider it; but rather, that it's my job to be faithful.

This actually brings me a lot of comfort, and takes a big weight off. It's not up to me to "make sure" it all works out in a particular way -- it's up to me to make sure I'm open to the movement of the Spirit, that I discern and respond to what the Goddess asks of me, that I am a faithful Friend. It's not my job to make sure I sell a lot of books at a particular event so I don't take a financial loss, for example; it's my job to make sure I that I have books and outreach materials available, that I show up, that my heart is open, that I engage with people who come to my booth. It's not my job to make sure a lot of people show up an event I host or workshop I teach; it's my job to make sure the event happens, to show up with an open heart and mind, prepared as best I can be, and let Nature take Her course.

This is so different from what I grew up with that it's often all too easy to slip out of this perspective. Particularly when I am afraid for some reason: Will I have messed up my family's ability to pay bills this month if I don't sell enough books to cover what I paid for them? What if no one comes to my booth?

Lately, that fear has been making itself known in a fear of others' judgement: What if the Pagans who come to my booth decide I'm a Quaker proselytizer and blow me off, and nobody talks to me all day? What if Friends decide I'm too big for my britches because I'm putting event listings in the weekly announcements once or twice a month? What if a Friend comes to my blog or my website and decides I'm not a "real" Friend? Is it misleading that I wear a pentacle with a triple Goddess, when I'm not a Wiccan? I find that reminder about faithfulness rather than outward success -- in this case, approval or approbation -- helpful again.

And yet, this perspective of faithfulness rather than success -- of faith, rather than fear -- is so inherent in the Quaker foundation of what I do, that I can't possibly be successful at what I do without letting go of that notion of success.

Interesting.

Ministry is also, honestly, a lot more fun when all I'm worried about is being faithful. Really, all I have to do is show up and be present. I don't have to worry.

I've been reflecting in bits and pieces over the last few months on why I started this blog.

As a way to "show up and be present"? To myself and the Goddess, at least?

Judgement was part of it: what little there was about me on the web was weighted, in the ways that the calculus of searches are, by the book I co-wrote. If you wanted to know anything else about me, you had to wade through that, or subtract "solstice" from your search. And yet people were making judgements about me -- including my personal theology -- based not remotely on anything I'd actually said, but on what they found on the internet; and those judgements were having hard impacts on my real life: whether I could rent a hall for an event; how people treated me in person.

Several years ago, a well-known Friend and noted Bible scholar in a particular Meeting was called on as an expert about "people like me" (Pagan Friends). She had never met me, never spoken to me, never read anything I'd written, and never corresponded with me. She told the clerk of Ministry and Counsel of her Meeting that Pagan Quakers are not legitimate Quakers. (Since the only membership in the Religious Society of Friends is through membership in a Monthly Meeting, and several members of her Meeting are Pagan, I guess they're not legitimate Quakers. Or something...)

When we were eventually introduced, she said to me: "Oh, yes, I know all about you."

I hardly knew how to respond. I tried to find out what she meant.

"Oh, yes," she said, "my friend Mr. Google told me all about you. You wrote that book."

All about me?, I thought. But Mr. Google doesn't know everything about me.

And really, the book was all she knew about me. She hadn't even gone beyond the first page of her Google search -- didn't know about any of the peace and justice work I'd done, didn't know I'd gone to a war zone from my Quaker beliefs, didn't know I teach Scottish Country Dance, didn't know I appeared in a friend's wedding picture on the class of 1993's wedding pictures page, didn't know I'd helped edit a paper on the Philadelphia Housing Trust Fund... So she didn't even know everything Mr. Google knew.

[Note: I have since come to prefer, by far, Friend Peterson Toscano's term: "Google Superpowers." Thank you, Peterson.]

Much later, I found myself wondering: What would I actually say, in my own voice, where other people could read it?

Out of that wondering was born this blog. Out of an attempt at integrity -- what do I say when I stand up tall?

When I am afraid of others' judgement, it can definitely impede my faithfulness. I am reminded of something my F/friend Merry wrote recently: "I yearned so strongly to belong that I strove to be a 'good' Quaker, rather than an authentic one." I have found myself falling into that trap on more than one occasion.

Last night, I hosted Meeting for Worship for the Full Moon at my house. I didn't know who might actually show up -- I've been warned about this Seattle "thing" where people say they will come to things, then don't -- but it looked like there'd be at least two people besides me. (But, I reminded myself, it doesn't matter how many people show up; what matters is the quality of our worship. It's not my job to be successful; it's my job to be faithful.) Six of us met in worship in my living room last night, and our worship was deep and rich.

I realized in worship, when I was not physically relaxed -- I would let my shoulders go as I breathed, but clench my hands; I'd unclench my hands, but tighten my legs, or my shoulders again -- just how scary living my life in ministry is. There's a line from a Peter Gabriel song that repeated itself over and over in my head:

To keep in silence, I resigned; my friends would think I was a nut.


And, well, yeah. You can only steel yourself so much against others' judgement.

I am also reminded of a song by Pat Humphries and Sandy Opatow of emma's revolution, which they wrote for my F/friend Rebecca's graduating class from the Woolman Semester:

I will stand in myself when I'm not feeling strong
I will stand, I will stand...
I will stand in the circle with the circle in me
I will stand, I will stand...

I found myself fearing judgement last night, particularly from the two people I barely knew -- even more so since one's a weighty local Friend. But you know, that's not remotely where Friends were. They weren't here to check my credentials, or to judge me; they were here to worship.

And it became clear, again, that this opportunity answered a need: that Friends' worship with a focus on what's traditionally considered Pagan -- Earth, Air, Fire, Water, Spirit, nature, the Moon's cycle, the Sun's cycle, the Goddess -- is a need among Friends.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business

I was filling out an on-line profile about a year ago for a religious information clearing-house whose resources I often use. Two of the required fields were, "Likes" and "Dislikes." How irritating, I thought, but filled them out.

One of the items I put under "Likes" is Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business. I was aware it sounded terribly geeky, but it is true, and it seemed relevant.

Today was my first Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business at the Meeting we're now attending.

And it was lovely.

Worship was wonderfully centered; there were some deep issues, but no drama; and it was just good.

I am grateful.

I really do love our business and decision-making process.

Friday, October 10, 2008

CPT Hebron project to close after thirteen years

As some of my readers know -- and many don't -- in 2002, I went to Israel-Palestine on two different peace witness delegations. One of them was with Christian Peacemaker Teams, with whom I spent time and worked in Hebron and Beit Umar. Their work was deeply centered, and definitely practical.

I read this with great sadness. CPT has done such good work in Hebron. Not only will their presence be missed, their absence will be felt in many concrete ways.

- sm

To view the on-line version click here: http://www.cpt.org/node/7325.

CPTnet
10 October 2008
HEBRON: CPT Hebron project to close after thirteen years.

by Tarek Abuata, Palestine Support Coordinator

I would like to thank our supporters, our team members, and our partners for their love, prayers, and generous financial support over the past thirteen years. During these years, many have given much of their lives and poured plenty of their love into the continuing work of God.

I would especially like to express my gratitude for the loving spirit of our partners in Palestine/Israel with which they've always welcomed us. Since 1995, we've shed many tears of sadness and joy with them, and we've dipped our fingers into many maqloobeh platters together. Palestinians say "whoever lives forty days with a community becomes one of them." We've spent more than 4000 days in Hebron, and we've always felt the incredible love and hospitality of the Palestinian community. We are truly a family, because we've always helped each other as sisters and brothers.

CPT regretfully had to make the hard decision to close the Hebron team site. We have been suffering with an inadequate number of full-time CPTers on this team for months. Stretched thin, we covered the work of the Hebron team site with reservists until August, knowing that this option was not sustainable.

We continue to be committed to Palestine. A strong CPT project in At-Tuwani continues to partner with the Palestinian communities of the Southern Hebron Hills in their nonviolence efforts. We also have a committee exploring possibilities for collaborating with other significant Palestinian nonviolent efforts. It is our hope that these efforts lay the groundwork for a healthy rebirthing of additional CPT work either in Hebron or elsewhere in Palestine when and if long term full-time staffing permits.

As an organization, we have expanded outreach efforts and ask that you join us in calling new people into this work. We are working hard to undo oppressions within CPT, such as racism and sexism, and to nurture the conditions for healthy team life.

I would like for all of us to remember that we are Easter people and we open our vision to look outward toward new openings rather than narrowing our vision to see only closings, for the continuing work of God doesn't stop with a closure; it has no closure. Only our human work comes to a close.

As a Palestine Project, we will keep folks updated on our progress with the refocusing committee work. Many blessings and love to you, and many thanks once again for your continuing generous support.

----------------------------------------------

CPT's MISSION: "Getting in the Way." What would happen if Christians devoted the same discipline and sacrifice to nonviolent peacemaking that armies devote to war? Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) seeks to enlist the whole church in organized, nonviolent alternatives to war and places teams of trained peacemakers in regions of lethal conflict.

COMMENTS: To ask questions or express concerns, criticisms and affirmations send messages to peacemakers@cpt.org.

NEWSLETTER: To receive CPT's quarterly print newsletter fill out the form at http://cpt.org/participate/subscribe

DONATE: Donate to CPT on-line with your credit card! Go to http://cpt.org/participate/donate and click the DONATE button to make a contribution through Network for Good, a secure way to help support CPT.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Fall Equinox/Mabon

I hosted a small potluck for Fall Equinox Thanksgiving, for which I'd sent out the following invitation:

At Fall Equinox, day and night are equal in length; going forward, the nights will start to become longer than the days, until we reach the Longest Night at Winter Solstice. Harvest is a time of preparing for the coming winter and dark time of the year.

What foods are crossing our tables this time of year for which we find ourselves especially thankful? What foods do we eat and find ourselves thinking, "Wow, I'm glad to be alive in a world that has [this food]"? What foods will go forward with us into the winter, and which will not?

Whether it's home-grown tomatoes after a cool and slow summer, really good chocolate, or something completely different -- bring something to share which you're thankful exists so that you can eat it!

There was pasta with local veggies -- tomatoes, red bell peppers, garlic -- and fresh mozzarella. Home-made beet and vegetable soup-stew, again with lots of local ingredients. Home-made bread -- sourdough with rosemary from the garden. (Rosemary and lavender both grow nearly wild here.)

We hung out and talked far past when the potluck was supposed to have ended: friendship, community, good company are things for which I'm grateful, and in which I find joy.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Midwest Healers Group Fall Gathering

I received notices today of the upcoming fall Gathering of the Midwest (Quaker) Healers Group. - sm

A WEEKEND OF HEALING: Jackie Speicher and Nancy McCormick

Dear Friends,

We are excited to invite you to our Fall gathering of the Midwest Healer's Group, to be held on October 11th and 12th at the Hadley Farm near Clarksville, Ohio. This is a beautiful new retreat center with ample room for worship, healing sessions, group discussions, etc. There are several bedrooms and plenty of bathrooms, but beds are limited to Queen size, double, and a couple of twins - so they will need to be shared. If you do not like sleeping double, please bring a sleeping bag, pad or air mattress; there is plenty of floor space. If you like pitching a tent the Hadley's have a lovely back yard just suited for such a purpose.

PROPOSED SCHEDULE:

Friday
(If you would like to arrive at 2:00 and relax please come early - Nancy will be making soup) There is a hot tub and nice country roads to meander.
5:00 Gather
6:00 Carry-In Supper/ clean-up (bring something toward the meal)
7:00 Introductions and worship
7:30- 9:30 Movie on Healing
9:30 Discussion
10:00 Break

Saturday
9:00 Breakfast (provided for you)
9:45 Worship
10:15 HEALING DEMONSTRATIONS/ Would you like to share?
1:00 Lunch (provided for you)
2:00 Healing exchange
3:30 Closing session, schedule date for Spring gathering

REGISTRATION FEE - $50.00

Willing to share a double or queen bed? Yes______ No ________

Preferred sleeping partner _______________________________________

Bringing own sleeping bag ___________

Bringing tent __________

LIST OF ITEMS TO BRING
Your own towels, wash cloth
Swim suit for Hot Tub
Journal - reading material
Any information to share regarding healing work
Walking shoes
Hand work etc.

CALL NANCY IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS: 937-728-0095
Nancy McCormick
429 Tilton Road
Wilmington, Ohio 45159

Registration can be mailed to Nancy, checks made out to Midwest Healers Group.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Darkness and light, day and night, geek heaven

We arrived in Seattle not long after Lammas, and Fall Equinox is now fast approaching. We've been noticing how dramatic the change has been in the number of hours of daylight, and in when the sun rises and sets. So when it seemed awfully dark this morning, I decided to see what the objective data say over at the US Naval Observatory about what time the sun is rising and setting.

And I discovered a couple of neat things! (Such geekdom...)

First was the "Duration of Daylight/Darkness Table for One Year," which lets you request a table for an entire year for any location with the number of hours of daylight (or darkness) on each day. This is on the Data Services page, which has all kinds of cool things -- complete sun and moon data for one day, info on the rise and set of major solar system objects and bright stars, what fraction of the moon is illuminated, positions of celestial bodies, dates of solstices and equinoxes...

I also discovered the Astronomical Information Center, with all sorts of FAQs about the sun, the moon, how time is computed, etc.

One really neat tidbit: have you ever checked how long it was light, and how long it was dark, at Spring or Fall Equinox, and noticed they're not actually equal where you are? Their "Length of Day and Night at Equinoxes" page explains the relationship between this and how far one is from the equator, etc., and whether day or night is slightly longer at the Equinox, depending on where you are.

I realize this is getting too geeky for some, but it all rather delighted me. :)

Have fun!

Monday, September 15, 2008

afghans for Afghans update

I really enjoyed this update, and thought you might, too. - sm

Dear Knitters, Crocheters, and Weavers for Afghanistan,

** Rectangle Shawls for New Mothers **

Drum roll, please ... crashing cymbals ... strike up the band ...

The count on the Rectangle Shawls for New Mothers campaign was 554!

554 first-rate shawls for the women receiving services at CURE Hospital in Kabul.

Oh, these shawls are gorgeous! Volunteers across the US and Canada truly knocked themselves out in terms of color, design, and fiber quality. The shawls are large rectangles to conform to Afghan customs for modesty (and warmth, too!)

Many of you modeled the shawls and posted photos on your blogs and a few on our site ... wearing the shawls in the Afghan way ... a moving cross-cultural gesture. Among the 554 rectangle shawls are about 80 superb hand-woven shawls (generated through the leadership of Syne Mitchell of WeaveCast, thank you!).

Can you imagine the new moms in Afghanistan receiving these shawls? Picture that! We hope this pleases all of you and is our ultimate thanks. We are eager for the shawls to get to their recipients, but like most of our shipments, the shawls take several months to arrive in Kabul. Our cartons are aggregated with medical supplies being shipped on containers. After the shawls are distributed at CURE Hospital, we will receive a report back and ask for some photos. We
will share this information with you when available.

Thank you for using your time, talents, and resources to tangibly show your concern, friendship, and respect for the women of Afghanistan. Thank you for sharing the work of your own hands with people who have little material goods and are surviving in difficult times. Our rectangle shawls will be a special treat of comfort and beauty -- and warm the torsos and hearts of the recipients.

Many of you have emailed to ask if we are going to make rectangle shawls again ... we would love to have a similar campaign in the future, but no plans yet. We have to wait for CURE Hospital to give us the OK. They may want to wait until these shawls arrive before making a decision. We'll keep pressing for the idea.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

** Vests for Youth Campaign are OK, Too! **

Just a quick note to say that we forgot to mention *vests* on our last email announcement about hustling on the Youth Campaign in time for winter.

Wool vests for the girls and boys (ages 7-14) are also a much-needed garment and can be whipped up in time for our October 14 due date (October 3 for Canadians via elann.com in BC). Pullover vests are terrific for layering across the seasons. If you make a button-front style, please be sure that buttons close up against the cold, from top to bottom. Consider neck and armhole coverage when picking a pattern -- room to fit over another garment, but not too much exposure.

Youth campaign details are here for reference --
http://www.afghansforafghans.org/campaign.html

Mailing addresses and general guidelines are here --
http://www.afghansforafghans.org/blanket.html

There's still time for volunteers to knit and crochet for the kids, if you start this week. Please knit socks and knit and crochet mittens, if you can't squeeze in a vest or sweater. Or, get together with friends and make a group blanket. We don't need as many hats, so no need for us to encourage the hats (but if you made hats already, do send them in, not to worry.)

We estimate that we have about 40 of the 80 needed cartons filled now. With about a month to go.

After arriving by plane (what a treat!), our wool garments and blankets will be distributed to girls and boys at health and rehabilitation centers in Kabul and Bamiyan this winter. Your handmade gifts are going to make a difference for these kids very soon and when needed the most. Soon enough, we'll all be reading the articles about the brutal Afghan winter. Thank you for jumping on this opportunity to help the most vulnerable on the other side of the world.

Thank you continuing to remember the people of Afghanistan and for taking action. Your participation matters.

Much gratitude,
Ann and colleagues at afghansforAfghans.org

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Tongue-In-Cheek Quaker Alphabet Soup: NPR, NYT, and DNC/RNC Quakers

I suppose I should have expected a number of political messages in Meeting for Worship this First Day, after the historic Democratic National Convention this last week, and with the also-historic Republican National Convention coming up this next week. But as you can see, I was nonetheless unprepared for just how many political messages there were this morning!

For some actual, and quite good, information on branches of Quakerism in the US, see the Quaker Information Center's pages on Quaker Branches and Branches Today.

I have realized, both with today's messages in Meeting for Worship, and over the last few weeks of worship, that there really are more kinds of Friends in the US than I had earlier realized.

Oh, I knew about the "Big Three"; and not very long after I began worshipping with Friends, I felt like I could explain them reasonably well:


And during our Mid-Winter Gathering of Friends for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Concerns (FLGBTQC) in North Carolina in 2007, I learned there are commonly considered to be five main branches of Friends in the US; and that in NC and some other areas, there are commonly considered to be one or two more. To FGC, FUM, and EFI, we add:


There are a few unofficial, unorganized-as-of-yet, kinds of Friends as well:

You may also be familiar with the term "NPR Quaker." This refers to the phenomenon of Friends who rise during Meeting for worship and begin their ministry with the phrase, "I was listening to NPR this morning, and..."

Recently, I've learned of at least two more kinds of Friends, and I expect to encounter another next week.

A few weeks ago, Beloved Wife and I discovered that there are also "New York Times Quakers" -- folks who begin their ministry with the phrase, "I was reading in the New York Times this morning about..."

And today, we learned there are DNC Quakers! These are Friends who begin their vocal ministry with phrases such as, "I was watching a lot of TV this week during the Democratic National Convention, and..."

I think that next week, we will encounter RNC Quakers: "I was listening to so-and-so's speech during the Republican National Convention, and..."

So, to our list of alphabet soup, we add:
  • NPR Quakers
  • NYT Quakers
  • DNC Quakers
  • RNC Quakers

...right?

(Yes, I am kidding.)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Monday, August 25, 2008

A day with Our Lady of the Earth and Sky

Our Lady of the Earth and Sky (OLOTEAS) is a non-denominational Pagan church here in the Seattle area that a Quaker Pagan friend of mine is a member of. She invited me to sing with the chorus for their open, public ritual in August, centered around the current state of the global food system.

So first, there was a rehearsal at my F/friend's house last Wednesday. I know and feel comfortable with her, and so it didn't occur to me that I'd be working with a whole bunch of strangers! Folks quickly put me at ease, and we worked hard and had fun.

The piece we were singing for ritual is "Barge of Heaven," which is recorded on Reclaiming's Second Chants: More Ritual Music. (If you click on the MP3, be warned that it's likely to get stuck in your head.) It's a song I've known for years, but never had the chance to perform, or sing in ritual. So this was a neat opportunity. The plan was for us to sing while the participants were doing a spiral dance. (That part, by the way, was way cool to watch.)

"Barge of Heaven" is also, if you really pay attention to the lyrics, a highly suggestive song. While we of course noticed this, it wasn't until one of our on-site rehearsals that we were communally attacked by fits of laughter. We managed to sing through them, which impressed me to no end. :)

Although we were very focused while singing during ritual, once ritual was over, we found ourselves again overcome by silliness, this time with a need to share. We formed a chorus line, singing while kicking in unison and other silliness, with an appreciative audience egging us on and becoming as breathless with laughter as we were.

It's good to be with folks who can laugh about religion and spirituality. And sex.

There were about 70 people in circle, which I understand is slightly smaller than many OLOTEAS events. Ritual was good, and satisfying. (Something which can be a real challenge with large-group, open/public ritual.)

I found myself really glad to be heading to Meeting for Worship the following morning: I needed quiet worship. In ritual, I often find that I want more extended grounding and centering time after raising energy than is customary in a lot of groups, or than other people in circle with me want or need. Another way in which my Quakerliness makes itself known. :)

So, I had a lovely visit with OLOTEAS folks, and plan to visit again. Folks were warm and welcoming, which helped some with that dreaded introvert feeling of being one new person among a ton of strangers who must all know each other (and really well, too). It was also a real gift to spend so much of my day outside in a lovely place.

Limiting inheritance by religion?

How would you feel if your parents or grandparents limited which of their children or grandchildren could inherit their money, based on the religion and culture of the person whom their children or grandchildren married? For example, marry someone within your grandparents' religion, and you can inherit; marry someone outside your grandparents' religion, and you don't.

How would you feel if you could limit which of your children or grandchildren would inherit your money, based on the religion or culture of the person they marry? For example, your children or grandchildren marry folks who are the same religion that you are, and they can inherit; they marry someone who isn't, and they don't inherit. (Leaving aside the question of whether any of us will have enough money to support ourselves in our older age, much less leave it to anyone else.)

Is this a legitimate way to support your values with your money, even after you're gone? Is this a way to try to practice discrimination after you've died? Is it a way to try to protect or support your shrinking religion?

Does it feel different if the religion is:
  • Christian?
  • A particular denomination? Baptist? United Church of Christ?
  • Muslim?
  • Jewish?
  • Quaker?
  • Pagan?
It's an interesting question, and one that's current in legal circles in Illinois.

I welcome folks' thoughts.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Death of a friend; birth of a friend

I learned this morning of the death of Marianne Taylor, an old and dear friend from Scottish and English dance circles. I write this with tears... I will miss Marianne terribly.

I also learned this morning of the birth of another friend, Leo. Hooray! I celebrate Leo with his parents and brothers. :)

Monday, August 18, 2008

New experience: Rainier cherries. Wow!

Yesterday, Beloved Wife and I went to the University District Farmer's Market, where I was introduced to Rainier cherries.

Now, we had excellent cherries in Michigan, so I was prepared to go back to "ordinary" cherries. But I liked the Rainier cherry sample I tasted, and so bought a pound of them.

I sat down this afternoon to eat a handful, and, wow.

Definitely not "ordinary" cherries. :)

The Full Moon and Western Pines

Our new apartment is very close to a lovely park -- the Washington Park Arboretum. Beloved Wife discovered it during a run the other morning. That night, when I was tired and out of sorts and overwhelmed by unpacking, she insisted I walk over there with her, knowing it would help me breathe, and ground, and center. It was lovely.

The following night was the Full Moon. We walked over together just before turning in for the night, and sat at the top of a little hill, on a bench, surrounded by all sorts of western pines in the pine grove, and watched the full moon through the branches. It was lovely.

What a happy blessing for the first week in our new home.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Hello from Seattle!

I haven't been posting much over the last few weeks because Beloved Wife and I have been in the middle of a long-distance move.

When we moved from Philadelphia to Ann Arbor three years ago, for Beloved Wife to return to her PhD program, that was long-distance enough for me, I thought. She finished her PhD this spring and now has a series of post-docs, one out here in Seattle, the next on the East Coast.

And so I've just made a really long-distance move, from Ann Arbor to Seattle, the kind that requires an airplane rather than a moving truck. (Although, since we're only going to be here a year, we did use a moving truck to put most of our belongings in storage. We Freecycled most of our large furniture first, which was great.)

The cats flew with us, and did really well. =^..^=

We arrived Friday. Saturday evening, we had dinner with a dear F/friend who lives out here and is part of Salmon Bay Friends Meeting; Sunday, we worshipped with F/friends at Salmon Bay. Worship was small but lovely, and sun-drenched.

More when I have more of a brain, and manage to get my own computer set up and connected to the internet.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Lammas

Today is August 1st -- Lammas, or Lughnasa/Lughnasadh in many traditions.

For me, Lammas has for many years been the First Harvest, the first of three harvest holidays or harvest "spokes" on the Wheel of the Year, and the Day of the Reaper.

In the Mid-Atlantic, where I've lived most of my life, it's easy to see Lammas this way -- both as the harvest of the first fruits, and also as the day of the reaper. August is hot and the weather is chancy. Many of the first things that come to ripeness are abundant: corn, peppers, tomatoes, basil, blackberries, blueberries, cucumbers, string beans. (I'm thinking of farm stands by the side of the road in South Jersey.) Now I'm in the Mid-West, and at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market, we've also been seeing gooseberries, which are legal here now, cherries, even peaches, and -- amazingly -- some early apples.

But there is so much that is not quite ready yet, a harvest that could easily be lost by too much or too little rain, pests, tornadoes, flood, drought...

I'm remembering Lammases in Roses, Too! Coven, when we would tear bites off Sun-round cornbread, so it would get smaller in the same way the Sun does, while we asked ourselves and each other about this harvest and our hopes for the next harvests. I'm remembering a potluck -- before we learned to make sure we "seeded" potlucks with protein and chocolate -- where all folks brought were fresh fruits and vegetables. (They were luscious, but...)

I'm remembering a Lammas potluck in 1993, thrown by the women who lived in a house called Iniquity (not to be confused with the house called Sin), where what was to become Roses, Too! first came into being.

I ask you:
  • What's happening around you in nature?
  • What have you harvested so far this year?
  • What do you hope to harvest yet this year?

May you have a blessed Lammas. (And if you're from a tradition that does this, enjoy tearing apart your bread man!)

Monday, July 28, 2008

Afghans for Afghans

As a Red Crosser who is passionate about humanitarian work, a Friend who is passionate about non-violent activism, and a Witch who is passionate about magic, I really like the work afghans for Afghans is doing.

(One of afghans for Afghans' partner agencies is the American Friends Service Committee; afghans for Afghans also references the Red Cross knitting tradition on their website.) ("Our Boys Need Sox -- Knit Your Bit!")

afghans for Afghans' next major project is the Youth Campaign in Time for Winter. They are looking to fill 80 cartons with wool garments and blankets to be air-shipped to Kabul in time for winter.

For details on the Youth Campaign in Time for Winter, please click here.

For general guidelines for what to knit or crochet, please click here.

To help spread the word, you can:
  • Post one of these banners on your website or blog.
  • Point a friend to this page: http://www.afghansforafghans.org/.
  • Put a note in your Meeting's weekly announcements or monthly newsletter.
  • Host an afghans for Afghans handwork party through your Coven or Meeting, or at your house with friends and family.
  • Print out this flyer and post it -- at your local yarn shop, in your Meeting, at your local library or community center, local independent bookstore, etc.
  • Something completely different.

Enjoy!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Position open at Pendle Hill

I received this email from a F/friend at Pendle Hill. Please alert folks you know who might be interested. Thanks!

Dear Friends:

Much good is happening at Pendle Hill but at least a bit more is needed.

This summer, we have been richly blessed by the gratitude and enthusiasm of many. We are excited by our up-coming program schedule. In the midst of this, our long-time Director of Short-term Education Programs, John Meyer, is leaving. We are sad to see him go, but find in that experience a tremendous opportunity. I will be hiring and supervising the new person. They need to be very knowledgeable of Quakers but I am also wanting someone with teaching skills quite possibly in the area of peace and social justice issues.

Would you help me find those energetic, visionary individuals who can rise to the challenges of program development, team work, teaching/workshop leading and living in community? We need to quickly identify candidates for this role. Full details on the position are on the Pendle Hill Website: http://www.pendlehill.org/about/employment.php#stp

Please forward this message to anyone in your network that might be the person or who might know the person who could serve Friends and Pendle Hill in this way at this time. Or send your suggestion or your resume to me. wsullivan@pendlehill.org

Thank you for your interest, your support, and your creative thinking.

Much Love,
Walter

Any help in circulating this info would be greatly appreciated.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Amply repaid

I have a somewhat embarrassing habit: I enjoy I Can Has Cheezburger.

I have a friend who often complains about her cat's offerings of dead small animals. I have tried to explain to her that Fluffy loves her and does not want her to go hungry. She remains unimpressed.

I can see both their points of view.

I recently forwarded her this picture from ICHC.

A few days later, I was sitting at the computer when one of our cats came streaking in from the back porch (it's on the second floor -- no access to anyplace else) with a triumphant hunting cry, dashed into the bedroom with me in hot pursuit, and dropped a chickadee on the bed.

I chased the cats out. The chickadee was still alive, looking stunned. We left it to rest quietly while we called the local songbird rescue. (Yes, we have a local songbird rescue. Is that too cool or what? It's mostly staffed by volunteers and student interns.) They said all cat-caught birds should be checked out, and that they'd be able to take it.

Now all we had to do was get it into a box for transport.

When I went to do this, the chickadee took exception and fluttered down to hide under the laundry pile. Then under the bed.

Beloved Wife came to help me. At this point, the chickadee started flying around the bedroom. Eeek. None of us (except the bird) seemed sure if we should laugh, curse, or squawk. The bird came to rest in an upward-facing lamp; we got it into the box without ever touching it; and off we went to the Bird Center.

The chickadee was in good shape, only two puncture wounds, and was expected to make a full recovery.

I decided I needed to email my friend and tell her I was amply repaid for having sent her that lolcat picture.

A few days after, we received another call from the Bird Center: the chickadee was ready to be released; could we come get it and release it in its own neighborhood?

Beloved Wife fetched it, bringing home a shoebox which contained one hopping mad chickadee. We took the shoebox into the back yard, opened it up, and off the chickadee went!

It landed in a nearby juniper, where it called loudly in chickadee, several times: "Big, slow, really irritating predators nearby!!"

I am amply repaid a second time.

Monday, July 14, 2008

GoodReads?

Any of my readers on GoodReads? If so, let me know; I'd love to "see" you there.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Overheard at Registration

These days, Beloved Wife and I usually arrive at Friends General Conference Gathering a day early so we can help at Registration the day Gathering begins.

My favorite spot to help out is at the Housing table. This is where people who have problems with their Gathering housing come to get them solved. This presents assorted challenges for us housing volunteers, but we still manage to have a fair amount of fun.

Late in the day Saturday, I'm sitting at the Housing table with the incomparable Barbara A. and another volunteer. The Workshops table is next to ours. Business has finally slowed down, so we're all breathing a little.

A Friend, well-known to all of us, approaches the Workshops table and inquires brightly, "Can you tell me where my workshop is?"

A volunteer at the Workshops table replies as cheerfully as if she hadn't given this answer forty gazillion times to Friends who really should know this by now: "If you look in your packet, it's listed in the Final Program."

"Oh! You actually want me to read that stuff you give me!" the seeking Friend twinkles, clearly laughing at herself.

At which point Barbara intones gravely and severely, "Friends are encouraged to read the Final Program and all other relevant materials in their Gathering packet."

The rest of the Housing and Workshops volunteers try not to crack up.

The Friend who's trying to find her workshop waves her hand and says, "I'm marching in a different Light."

Whereupon we all crack up, and much merriment is had by all.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

North American Convocation of Pro-LGBTQ Christians, and Trans Pre-Event

I received the following email from Chris Paige. See below for more information. - sm

PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD!

FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
A Transgender Pre-Event
September 3, 2008
http://www.transfaithonline.org/fstat/

Arrive early in New Orleans, LA, for Many Stories, One Voice (http://manystoriesonevoice.org/) to join us for this historic opportunity for personal networking, community collaboration, and movement building.

FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS will gather transgender people of faith, our loved ones and allies for discussions about practical topics relating to life in religious communities, including:

* Strategies for transgender education
* Dynamics of ministry with the transgender community
* Blessings and challenges of becoming more visible
* Opportunities for collaboration across denominational lines
* Our need for authentic relationships of support and accountability between transgender people and our allies

Our emphasis will be on creating conversations and dialogue in and about transgender religious community -- both formally and informally.

SPEAKERS

Confimed Speakers (MSOV and FSTAT combined) include: Erin Swenson, Julie Nemecek, Archbishop Demond Tutu, Bishop Yvette Flunder, and many more!

FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS Panel Discussions are still in formation. The transgender pre-event is a community oriented event, focused on developing community connections in the transgender religious community. Please contact us with your nominations for additional speakers!

PARTICIPATION

While we will place a high priority on hearing from transgender-identified people, this event is also appropriate for our significant others and family members; allies who are working with or want to work with the transgender community; and anyone who is simply interested in learning more about transgender people and our concerns.

SPONSORSHIP

If your church, business, or community organization is interested in showing its support for transgender people through sponsorship of FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS, please contact Chris Paige, 215-840-2858, chris@transfaithonline.org

FOR MORE INFORMATION

http://www.transfaithonline.org/fstat/
http://manystoriesonevoice.org/

Chris Paige
chris@transfaithonline.org
215-840-2858

************************
TRANSFAITH ON-LINE (http://www.transfaithonline.org/) is dedicated to supporting transgender folks in our faith journeys, while providing useful resources to help people of faith become better educated trans-allies.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Not-Zen Kitty

After wrestling for several hours with the budget proposal for Friends for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Concerns, I surfed over to I Can Has Cheezburger to rot, I mean rest, my brain, and found this. It amused me:


Hee.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Seasonal Solstice Salad

This is one of those recipes that is so time-of-year specific that it seems perfectly appropriate that it was our dinner on the summer solstice. Stasa and I went to the farmers' market this morning and found that the first new potatoes of the year were in. We also got a bunch of young beets there, and later at the food co-op I found that they still had local asparagus, although the asparagus season is just about over. I think I probably won't be able to cook new potatoes and asparagus together again until next summer solstice.

Solstice Salad

1 pint young beets (minus greens)
1 pint new potatoes
about 1 pound asparagus
four ounces feta, crumbled
olive oil
kosher salt
pepper

Grease a baking pan with olive oil and roast the beets and potatoes at 350 until done, shaking every ten minutes or so. Remove vegetables one at a time, as they finish cooking. Set aside to cool; once cool, cut into bite-sized pieces if not already small enough.

Wash asparagus, trim ends, and cut in 2 inch lengths. Heat olive oil in a large cast iron skillet until hot (the French say, "let the pan surprise the vegetables.") Add asparagus and about 1/2 tsp kosher salt, saute until cooked through but still firm-textured.

Put cooked vegetables in a bowl and add pepper to taste. Once mostly cooled, add crumbled feta.

The sweetness of the beets, the different sweetnesses of the new potatoes and the asparagus, and the salt of the feta somehow complement each other beautifully, even though this isn't a combination I would have thought of without seeing all the vegetables at the market.

We have been eating a lot of asparagus this spring, usually sauteed in olive oil as it is cooked here. I'm sad that the season is over! I have been in Germany twice in my life, both times during early spring. As a result, one of the few German words I know is Spargel. I mentioned this to a German friend, and she said, "Well, it's an important word!" I couldn't agree more.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Summer Solstice!

Yesterday was the Summer Solstice in the northern hemisphere: the day with the most hours of light and the fewest hours of darkness in Earth's 24-hour cycle.

Summer Solstice, or Litha, is one of the eight solar holidays often observed by Pagans of different traditions. Summer Solstice itself is an occurrence, something that happens in nature. In many traditions, what makes something a holiday is two things: its occurrence in nature, and what that means to us. Here's some neat info about the science involved, about the actual occurrence of the Summer Solstice. A Google search for Summer Solstice or Litha can tell you a fair amount about what different traditions have published on the internet about what it means to them.

As someone striving to live her life more in harmony with nature, as someone to whom nature itself is sacred, developing the habit of being more, and more deliberately, aware of what's happening in the natural world around me has been both neat and helpful. Knowing when the Solstices, Equinoxes, and cross-quarter days are helps to orient me to the year, the seasons, and the dark and light; it's kind of like a seasonal compass I always have with me. When it feels like winter's never going to end, or like it's going to be hot much longer than I can tolerate, or I'm wondering why the flowers aren't here yet or the leaves haven't turned yet, knowing where I am in the Wheel of the Year helps me keep perspective.

Some of the places on the Wheel of the Year are pretty intuitive to me -- especially Beltane, Samhain, and Yule. Those are ones where what's happening in the world around me and in my spiritual life are easily and obviously in tune. Litha has always been less intuitive for me. In some ways, that's good: I don't have an investment in doing certain kinds of spiritual work at Midsummer; I can take, perhaps, a more frank look at what's happening in nature and how that is or isn't echoed in my own spiritual life. In some ways, it's harder, because I don't have an established pattern that usually meets my needs.

So, what is happening in nature around me right now?

This is a confused summer here in southeastern Michigan. Our spring and summer have been slow, and cold, for the most part. And rainy: the mold count is high, and I'm having the unusual occurrence of spring allergies and a spring asthma flare-up. After a colder than usual season, we had unexpected heat -- temps in the 90s F -- and when that passed, drops down to the 40s and 50s at night, and 60s and 70s during the day.

I'm used to Lithas that are hot and sticky, and occasionally merely warm. So in a lot of ways, it doesn't quite feel like Solstice yet to me.

But things are blooming, and early veggies are appearing at the Farmers' Market. This is probably the last week for asparagus. There's still rhubarb. Looking out into our yard, what I see in bloom are the star gazer lilies, the astilbe, and the catalpa tree.

I'm reminded a lot of last year's Solstice. I spent it, of all odd things, doing peace work on a military base several hours north of here. It was chilly -- I was in fleece and long pants the whole four days I was there -- but the days were long. I remember walking between buildings at 10:30 at night, and being amazed at the shade of indigo that was the sky.

Right now, in Ann Arbor, the sun rises at 5:58 am, and sets at 9:15 pm. (It really is different "back home": in Philadelphia, the sun rises at 5:32 am, and the sun sets at 8:33 pm.) (Hmmm. In Seattle, where we're moving in August, it's 5:11 am and 9:11 pm. Wow!)

I am getting ready for FGC Summer Gathering, which I'm looking forward to with joy and with some stress. I'm having an allergy and asthma flare-up, which is making it hard for me to feel at peace with my body and with the weather. (If it weren't so rainy, it wouldn't be so moldy, and my lungs would be working better!) I am wishing for more of what I think of as Summer Solstice weather for this area: sunny and warm, not too hot, with occasional Midwestern-typical thunderstorms in the afternoons.

What's happening in the natural world around you just now?

What's happening in your spiritual life?

What does Summer Solstice mean to you?

Monday, June 16, 2008

Courageously Explicit

I received word this week that my interest group proposal was accepted. Here's the wording that I finally condensed it into (the guideline is "around 50 words." Hmmm).

Courageously Explicit
Three Friends walk into Meeting for Worship: a Christian, a Pagan, a Jew, and a Non-Theist. Each gives ministry from their own experience; they all experience gathered Worship. Come create the rest of the story: coming together, supporting each other, building community, helping each other be faithful, speaking explicitly.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Recommended article: "Rooted in Experience"

I'd like to recommend Cat Chapin-Bishop's guest post at The Wild Hunt blog.  Especially for those days when you feel like if you have to listen to one more person tell you about the (theoretical) "one right way" to do something, you really might well scream.   Especially if you're longing for a reminder of the magic that can happen when we really do share from the truth of our experience. 

Sunday, May 25, 2008

On the curb? In the back yard?

I don't have a sense of how much my regular readers know about some of the struggles I've been engaged in within Quakerism over the last three years, or about how I feel about them.

I certainly wrote about the conflict within Ann Arbor Friends Meeting over renting space to a Pagan Friends Gathering I was helping to organize, but I was fairly circumspect about my own feelings and reactions.

I haven't written much about a conflict in my "home" Meeting, Central Philadelphia Monthly Meeting, over my application for membership. It's still in process (after more than a year), it's so personal, and I am stumped about what to say or how.

I did write about the recent news article on Pagan Friends, and a little about my reaction -- but there's more interesting discussion occurring on other blogs where there's much more comment activity; and in addition, I've kind of thrown my hands up over it all: I'm certainly not in control over what's out there and what people make of it!, and I'm overwhelmed by trying to participate.

But the fact that I haven't talked much about how I feel about different conflicts has meant rarely asking for, and rarely receiving, support in my feelings of isolation.

I say "rarely" rather than "never," because Cat and I have exchanged some supportive blog comments which were quite helpful to me, and because I've had some good discussions on the Jewish Friends and Non-Theist Friends lists in particular. But I haven't talked much about it here.

Cat wrote a post recently, "Thoughts from the Curb," which inspired me to do some work I need to do here.

If Cat moved (did she march? stalk? creep? walk with great dignity?) out to the metaphorical curb, feeling unwelcome in her Quaker house, I fled to the back yard. I'm not sure if I'm up in a tree, or sitting with determined dignity in a lawn chair, but either way, I'm trying to settle into worship, and wishing people would join me. I'd be really happy if they brought the metaphorical family dinner, as they did with Cat. Or perhaps tea and chocolate.

I'm no stranger to controversy. I'm no stranger to spiritual community. But community, and Quaker process, are what help me stay grounded and sane during conflict and controversy, and I've been feeling the lack of immediate community. (Well, and of Quaker process, too, now that I think of it.)

I cannot say how grateful I am for larger Quaker community, especially FGC and FLGBTQC. My work with them, whether in their everyday incarnations or at Gatherings, consistently and surely reminds me that I am a Friend, that Quakerism is my home. Even when there's been conflict there -- at every Gathering, in every time I've gone into the FGC office to do some kind of work or emailed with Friends to do FLGBTQC work, I've been reminded that this is home.

But FGC and FLGBTQC are my more-extended community. Here in my immediate and small spiritual family, I'm feeling the lack of intermediate extended family -- aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews, sisters- and brothers-in-law. (Hmmm. Especially cousins.)

How do I feel about recent controversies?

One, I know Quakerism is my home. Friends' process, Friends' testimonies: these are how I walk with integrity in the world. I am sure and joyful in my ministry, in its different forms, even when I am uncertain.

Right now in particular, I feel like I am crossing a stream, one stone at a time. So far, each stone has been steady; but I don't know if the next one will wobble, or how many stones there are after that, or if they reach the bank. I just know I need to be faithful one step, one stone, at a time. ("Imani, faith.") And I know that the stream and the woods are really, really beautiful.

Two, I know that I am a Witch: I know the Goddess. Leaf, stone, sun, breeze, trickle of water, the Spirit moving among us when we are gathered together in community: I have met Her, I continue to meet Her.

Three... I feel. How do I feel? Lonely, frustrated, hurt, determined, joyful, faithful, sure, uncertain, reassured.

My faith in Quaker process has not been diminished; it only increases during these conflicts. On the other hand, my frustration with an intellectual and emotional mimicry of Quaker process has grown and remains high. It's so obvious, afterwards (and sometimes during), when one has been part of true Friends' process. It's marvelous, even when it's hard work and hard emotionally and spiritually. It's not so obvious when one has been part of what I've heard referred to as "Meeting for Good Ideas," except for a vague feeling of deep disappointment afterwards (and sometimes during).

I am really tired of "Meeting for Good Ideas." Partially because I yearn for the spiritual communion of true Meeting for Worship and Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business. Partially because, in the current controversies of which I am part, there is no room for me in Meeting for Good Ideas.

In Meeting for Good Ideas, I watch people say, with utter conviction, outrageous untruths (and sometimes downright lies) about me and about what they call "people like me." Things they've learned from third parties, not from the Spirit: from gossip; from the internet; from people who actually don't know anything about me or my work personally, but who are queried as "experts." Sometimes folks just plain make stuff up.

So much of what I hear reminds me of what I went through in the late 80s and early 90s as a lesbian. Even within supposedly supportive communities, people would say the most outrageous things as fact. In some spiritual communities, they still do.

Perhaps I need to write an entire separate entry on myth-busting. But for now, a few examples. Lesbians, bi people, gay men, transgender people, and queer folk are not, by inherent condition of being LBGTQ: primarily interested in molesting children; constitutionally incapable of forming long-term, stable relationships; confused; unable to commit; celibate; promiscuous; mentally unstable; etc.

Pagan Quakers, are not, by inherent condition of being Pagan Friends: ignorant of Quaker history; dangerous; unfamiliar with Quaker worship/ process/ testimonies; trying to dilute Quakerism; trying to destroy Friends' process; committed to ritual; not committed to ritual; into killing squirrels; incapable of Quaker worship; confused; unable to commit; etc.

Back to Meeting for Good Ideas. It seems that it takes true worship for there to be room for me.

When I can truly worship with Friends -- not participate in discussion under the guise of worship, but be part of a group that truly asks, "How are we led?" -- then I am not angry and I am not afraid: I am open. If our worship leads to an outcome, by listening deeply -- as ours is a religious tradition of listening spirituality -- by listening deeply, I know we come to an outcome that will work for me. But our worship might not lead to an outcome, and if it does not, then it does not. We are in Friends process.

So, what do I want, what do I need?

Right now, I'd really love it if some folks came out into the metaphorical back yard with me, where I'm feeling lonely, sad, tender, and a little overwhelmed. There's this lovely old, large magnolia tree we can climb together (assuming I can still climb trees in my advanced middle age!), or we can sit together in a circle on the grass, on lawn chairs or cushions or blankets. I'd love it if we sat together in worship for a while. Maybe after, we can have some deep conversation, or worship-sharing. Maybe we can eat together here outside. And maybe when we're done, we can sing together, drum, play instruments. Maybe a few hardy folks will dance.

Maybe we can help each other be faithful. Maybe we can give each other strength.

Maybe we can build community.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Friends Journal special issue

Earlier this year, I submitted an article to Friends Journal for their upcoming special issue on the Peace Testimony. I'd felt compelled to write, for other Friends, about my experiences in American Red Cross volunteer work with military families, and how a possible contradiction became an expression of the Peace Testimony for me.

I found out last month that it's been accepted! Today I got my edited proof to check over and send back.

This is both humbling and exciting, and I'm very pleased.

Happy Beltane/May Day!

Happy Beltane and May Day!

Beltane/May Day is the cross-quarter day that falls half-way between Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice. In the mid-Atlantic region of the US, where I grew up and have lived most of my adult life, Beltane is all about welcoming Spring -- Who is generally bursting forth with great enthusiasm just about now. ("Boing!")

I grew up with May Day both as a workers' holiday and as a welcome-spring holiday. Later, at my (Quaker) college, we celebrated May Day by cancelling classes, rising before dawn to serenade the college president and to present seniors with baskets of flowers, breakfasting on strawberries and cream (yum!), dancing May poles, running hoop races, presenting plays and concerts, cavorting, running amok in a generally genteel fashion, and more. (It was great fun.)

Later, for many years, my actively Christian surrogate parents -- at their insistence -- hosted the big Roses, Too! Coven semi-open Beltane celebration at their house out in the country. ("But you have to have it here!") This became an all-day-and-into-the-evening event: May pole ritual (what do you weave into your life this year?), potluck (theme: sensual food), then singing and telling stories long into the evening.

Some things that stand out in my mind over time: chocolate-covered strawberries; tea from home-grown herbs; sprinkling each other with sprigs of my parents' lilacs dipped in water to bless each others' creativity; my young nephews and other young F/friends toddling unsteadily one year, then running around and around (and around!) the circle the next; the year K. was old enough to have her own ribbon for the first time; fresh home-made challah; fingers sticky with berries; weather hot, weather cold, weather everywhere in between. (And the fact that while May weather in southeastern Pennsylvania is chancy at best, and it rained on a good many Beltanes, it never once rained during the May Pole.) Community. Lots of lovely music.

Magic.

My Beloved Wife is a former union organizer. The year we were married, we looked for a nice Saturday in April or May, and discovered May 1st was a Saturday. We couldn't resist.

What does Beltane mean to me?

Hard to put into words. In many traditions, Beltane is a fertility holiday. And so I suppose it is: the fertility of the Earth and Her creatures; the fertility of our creativity. The insistence of life.

The joy of being able to see, touch, taste, smell, and hear the Goddess. Of being able to experience the That-Which-Is-Sacred with all my senses.

And more.

What does Beltane, does May Day, mean to you?

Happy May Day!

Hal-an-Tow, traditional English May Day song


Hal-an-tow
jolly rumble-o
we were up
long before the day-o
to welcome in the summer sun
to welcome in the May-o
for summer is a comin' in
and winter's gone away-o

Robin Hood and Little John
they both have gone to fair-o
and we shall to the merry green wood
to hunt the buck and hare-o

Hal-an-tow
jolly rumble-o
we were up
long before the day-o
to welcome in the summer sun
to welcome in the May-o
for summer is a comin' in
and winter's gone away-o

And where are all the Spaniards
who made so great a boast-o
they shall eat the feathered goose
and we shall east the roast-o

Hal-an-tow
jolly rumble-o
we were up
long before the day-o
to welcome in the summer sun
to welcome in the May-o
for summer is a comin' in
and winter's gone away-o

Do not scorn to wear the horn
that was the crest when you were born
your father's father wore it
and your father wore it, too

Hal-an-tow
jolly rumble-o
we were up
long before the day-o
to welcome in the summer sun
to welcome in the May-o
for summer is a comin' in
and winter's gone away-o

God bless Aunt Mary Moses
and all her power and might-o
and send us peace in England
send peace by day and night-o

Hal-an-tow
jolly rumble-o
we were up
long before the day-o
to welcome in the summer sun
to welcome in the May-o
for summer is a comin' in
and winter's gone away-o


Many thanks to Broadside Electric, and to Jennifer Sheffield and SpiralSong Feminist Spirituality Vocal Ensemble, for my favorite versions of this lovely song.