Sunday, December 12, 2010


There's something about the idea of the "Sabbath" that I have never quite grasped. I know that I haven't grasped it because I've never been moved to fully observe it. Whether it be on a Saturday or a Sunday, I've resisted having a day of rest in my busy week.
Maybe this is because with the word "rest" has, for me, an immediate association with the phrase "Rest, so that you can ___." In my American consumerist mind, we rest so that we can be more productive when we're not resting. I've always felt very productive, and if I need to rest 15 minutes will do. Then I'm back on my feet. So, a whole day of this type of rest just feels unnecessary, if not gluttonous.

I recently was led in a new type of prayer called "centering prayer." When practicing centering prayer, one sits in a comfortable position (feet on ground, hands on knees, back against chair) closes their eyes and begins to focus on their breathing. After a few minutes they choose a word or phrase that they want to focus on. As they breathe in and out, they repeat this phrase in their mind. Our minds will wander, and in centering prayer you don't resist this wandering. You allow it and then patiently bring your thoughts back to your sacred phrase.

Abraham Heschel said, "The first holy thing in all creation was not a people or a place but a day. God made everything in creation and called it good, but when God rested on the seventh day, God called it holy." This time being thought of as holy makes me think that it is much more of a time of meditation than rejuvenation. Although productive energy may be created as a result of the observance of a sabbath, it is not the goal. The goal is to take that day and whenever the busy addict within us wants to wander off, to acknowledge that self and then bring it back to "rest. rest."

Perhaps this time of intentional rest is what we humans need to become centered and holy. I use the phrase "busy addict" because I think that we can be addicted to busy activity. One of my teachers, Charlie Glickman, said recently "It's hard to get enough of something that almost works." Perhaps this is where our drive for more activity stems. Maybe the Sabbath, deemed holy by God, is what would work. Without the Sabbath, our days are filled with a busy-ness that almost works, and so we pursue it incessantly, hoping for it to finally fulfill us.

Day by day we are drawn closer
to the loving heart of God.
Be in our thoughts as we pursue your שבת.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Happy Advent One

There is a chalk board in the Trinity House dining room with a message that changed from "Happy Birthday!" to "Happy Advent One!" yesterday. Given more board space for accuracy, it should have read something like "Happy first Sunday of Advent", but in a house full of seminary students, "advent one" is effective enough.

In a culture of instant gratification, the building anticipation of the advent season does not come naturally. With our iPhones, iPads, Kindles and iBrains, we tend to focus on what we can have now rather than on what we can eagerly expect, but must wait for. Yet, if we keep our appetite at bay and allow ourselves to feel the hunger rumblings grow, the satisfaction of the arrival of the Savior will be that much more delighted in. (This doesn't help to dispel accusations of Christian cannibalism, I know.)

In this first week, one can feel the tension of waiting begin with the singing of Advent hymns. Yesterday, in chapel, we sang "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" and I was particularly struck by the words of the last verse:

Oh, come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Oh, bid our sad divisions cease,
And be yourself our King of Peace.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!

With these words, let us be inspired with hunger and expectancy for the Peace that we long for, and that is to us promised.

Monday, November 29, 2010


I've listened to Ani Difranco's performance of this poem enough in the past two days that I thought a transcription was warranted. Yes, others have put copies of this online... but those versions don't match the one that I've been listening to. And, admittedly, I wanted to write this out. Word for word.
The written version in no way holds a candle to the spoken word. Click on the title to listen.


Manhattan is an island

like the women who are

surrounded by children in a

car surrounded by cars

Or, Manhattan was a project

that projected the worst of mankind

first one, and then the other has made its mark on my mind

It’s sixty years later

near the hypocenter of the A-bomb

I’m in the middle of Hiroshima

watching a twisted, old eucalyptus tree wave

one of the very few lives that survived and lives on

remembering the day it was suddenly thousands of degrees in the shade

And what all of nature gave birth to

terror took in a blinding rage

with the kind of pain it would take cancer

so many years just to say

Oh, to grow up gagged and blind folded

a mans' world in your little girls’ head

the voice of the Great Mother drowned out in the constant

honking haunting of the car crash up ahead.

Oh, to grow up hypnotized

and then try to shake yourself awake

cuz you can sense what has been lost

cuz you can sense what is at stake

Yea, so it took me a few years to catch on

that those days I catch everyone’s eye

correspond with those nights of the month when

the moon gleams like an egg in the sky

and men are using a sense they didn’t know they had

just to watch me walk by

and me, I’m supposed to be sensible

leave my animal outside to cry

But when all of nature conspires to make me her glorious whore

it’s cuz in my body I hold the secret recipe of precisely what life is for

and the patriarchy that looks to shame me for it

is the same one making war

and I’ve said too much already, but I’ll tell you something more

to split yourself in two

is just the most radical thing you can do

so girl, if that shit ain’t up to you

then you simply are not free

cuz from the sunlight on my hair

to which eggs I grow to term

to the expression that I wear

all I really own is me

Yes, to split yourself in two

is just the most radical thing you can do

Goddess forbid that little adam should grow so jealous of eve

and in the face of the great farce of the nuclear age

feminism ain’t about equality, it’s about reprieve

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Female Ability

feminism |ˈfeməˌnizəm|
the advocacy of women's rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.

In order to graduate on time from Westminster College, I was not able to double-major or minor in psychology. Instead, I took the non-credible route of taking as many psych classes as possible. Within that salad bowl of courses was one called Psychology of Gender, in which our mantra was "gender is a social construct.... gender is learned..."

My most recent paper looked at Exodus 15:1-21, a song which ends in an additional song by the prophet Miriam. The skim milk version of my thesis is that, by looking at the editing done to the text, you will find that Miriam didn't actually respond with a repetition of the song, but was the invitation into song in the first place. The way that this passage is currently organized gives credit to Moses and the Israelites instead of Miriam.

You're probably aware of how this can be inspiring to me as a female entering into ministry; it helps to identify a role model within my tradition. But more importantly, it reminds me that countless others have done what I'm inspired to do... countless others have paved the way. The Book of Women's Sermons, edited by the Rev. Lee Hancock, is another source of inspiration and affirmation.

As our society tells young women to figure out who's the prettiest, who's the sexiest, or even who's the most unique, I'm reminded of Dar Williams' lyrics from As Cool As I Am,

"And then I go outside and join the others, I am the others...
I will not be afraid of women, I will not be afraid of women.

Here are two great women from my life:

Friday, October 29, 2010

at rodeo beach

It takes 5 minutes for the sun to drop below the horizon at Rodeo Beach.

I've had a week off from classes this past week and have only now realized just how needed it was. It's been a week of resting, reading and relating. I've spent two days in the city, one day in wine country, an afternoon on a mountain and an evening at the beach. I had begun to feel like my world at seminary was getting small, until I experienced the many different worlds within a 20 minute drive.

Not every detail has fit together perfectly in this new life of mine. I've had my moments... sometimes hours of frustration or loneliness. Yet, I've been given time here. I have time to take care of myself and find the last missing pieces of healing that I didn't know could be found. Pieces that sometimes come in the form of fresh air and open space.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

mom and dad

When I graduated from college I knew that I wanted to go to seminary. Yet, I resisted the urge to jump from institution to institution. Instead, I decided to spend my first year out of college living with my parents in Nyack, NY. I don't know how much I expressed this, but my goal was to make sure that i have a strong, adult relationship with my parents. When else in life do we get to choose our location with such ease?

When I look back on this past year I think of a wonderful work situation at Maria Luisa Boutique and well spent time with family and friends. It was a year of becoming grounded and secure in knowing where I come from.

This past week, I caught up with my mom on the phone and, soon after, knew that my goals for the past year have been realized. My mom and dad and I have gotten to enjoy each other, laugh together, have many serious conversations - both all together and in pairs - that have helped us to know and appreciate each other. When my brother has been home from school, I've gotten to spend time with him and see how he's growing and enjoying life. I'm very thankful for this.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Flight of Poets

Pairing six local poets with six local wines.

A friend invited me to his poetry reading at the Hotel Rex. Matthew Seigel is a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, and moved to San Francsico from NY (hence the connection).

This was my first poetry reading, and was probably the best one that I could have begun with! Flight of Poets was a reading featuring six wonderful poets. For each poet, an "internationally renowned" sommelier (who had a notable stage presence) paired the local poets with six local wines. You were given a wine glass at the door and as each poet read you sipped on a wine chosen specifically to be consumed during the auditory consumption of their poetry. Fantastic.

In addition to the amazing works of my friend (who was the draw in the first place - please check out his website and enjoy it), some favorite lines included...

"my wife loves me as a neighbor"
- Paul Hoover

"I cannot tell anymore when a door opens or closes,
I can only hear the frame saying, Walk through."
- Ada Limon

"is it vanity that makes me see the imperfections in the glass?"
- Robin Ekiss

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

toe tapping

If you hear great music playing and I'm in the room, but you don't see me moving, look at my feet. I am the world's most intense toe tapper. There is more intensity in my toe tap than you'll see in a thousand shimmies. Don't get me wrong, I love to dance. But if I don't feel like dancing, my toe tapping will send music appreciation vibrations to China.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Bald Hill

I found a little friend.

A few pictures from my hike up Bald Hill yesterday.
When I reached the top, from which I could see San Francisco... Berkeley and all of Marin County, I read from Henri Nouwen's 'The Inner Voice of Love.'
That's not true. I took a nap. Then I read.

Nouwen's book is different because it isn't one that you read from cover to cover, but rather from entry to entry, day to day. The entry that I read yesterday was entitled 'Bring your body home' and discussed the unity between spirit and body. He explains that the body shouldn't be seen as something that needs to be conquered but integrated and unified.

After hiking for an hour up this "hill" I was very aware of my body. I wasn't sure if it was Bald Hill that I was trying to conquer as much as my upper thigh muscles. Bald Hill presented the perfect opportunity to practice this way of living... and for taking in the amazing realization that this is my back yard.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

likes quiet mornings

I love quiet mornings. I like waking up because your body is ready to stop sleeping, then opening the window to feel some fresh air, fresh sunlight. Walking across hard wood floors by myself. Cooking eggs, toast, pouring coffee. All in a gentle quiet.

Infants come from a warm womb with lulling bodily sounds into a loud, cold, (probably) hospital room. If they are healthy, they cry. I might still be like a baby. I need to accustom myself to the sounds and sights of the day. If I do get this pleasant time... I coo a little bit. If I don't... well, credit to my family and best friend for bearing the brunt of this.

"each pond with its blazing lilies
is a prayer heard and answered
every morning,
whether or not
you have ever dared to be happy,
whether or not
you have ever dared to pray."
Mary Oliver - Morning Poem

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

meditations on aspirations

copyright Gregory Colbert - Ashes and Snow

I've heard and experienced several things in the past two weeks that have both challenged and resounded with me. They are affirmations of my placement here at SFTS, as most of these things have been in assigned readings... classes... chapel.

Yesterday, one of my professors shared with us that he is not going to use the word 'God' for one year. Just as in Judaic tradition, he sees names as serving important functions. They express an ability to truly know and understand someone. The early Jews never spoke the name of YHWH because it indicated that they fully knew YHWH... and how can we, as humans, ever fully comprehend the mystery that is g_d? He is refraining from use of this word in hopes of rediscovering this mystery. What a wonderful way to create consciousness within oneself.

After reading the poem North South East West by Koren poet Kim Kwang-Kyu, my professor made the comment: "There is always something that doesn't like a wall."

I am in a class called Sex & Spirit through the GTU on Thursday evenings. I found in my first introduction to this class, that I am incredibly uncomfortable talking in a group of strangers about sexuality. My inclination is to totally shut off any contribution of my own and to just listen uncomfortably to others. I can't go without saying that the group does have several within it that are going for the shock factor... so maybe I'm not totally to blame. However, I wonder now what walls exist within me and also recognize that there is something else there that "doesn't like a wall."

Monday, September 13, 2010

Power to the Peaceful

Power to the Peaceful is a free concert/festival in Golden Gate Park. Rachel and I decided to venture in and check it out. To sum up the experience, it was fun until there were too many people there. In the picture above, the stage was somewhere in the distance. Where? I never found out!
Highlights included Thai BBQ, running into a crowd of dancing people, and talking with strangers. We did good. Low lights included feeling claustrophobic.

A message that one would receive when approaching the earth...

still not sure what this tent was for.

amazing yogis!

some sort of colorful shrine/monument

Friday, September 10, 2010

wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles - a short story

This past Monday, as I lay me down to sleep... I put on Patty Griffin, for my soul to keep. I set my beautiful little MacBook Pro (which I spent a lot of time and money buying) next to my bed, and set myself up with some water (which can always be found on my nightstand). As I stretched to reach over and switch off the lamp beyond, I sent that tall drink of water a-spilling onto the floor. It fell as a stream onto the rug, with its farthest fingers reaching the keyboard of my singing laptop. The laptop stopped singing.

I'll spare you from the graphic and unattractive details of my panic. To explain it in a way that it did not happen; I gracefully jumped out of bed and flipped my laptop over, so that the water could come out the way that it had gotten in. Long story short: I have had my laptop drying out, closed on a bed of rice, under a box, under my desk for the past 72 hours. I didn't have hopes of this computer coming back on, but I did have hopes of retrieving as much material off of it as possible.

Last night, bracing myself against the inevitable loss of an expensive piece of computer, I pressed its power belly-button. And... wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles... It worked! It yawned from its nap with a chorus-like sound, and acted as if nothing had happened.

Apple gods, God, and rice: I don't know what you did, but I like it.

Monday, September 6, 2010

seminary to the sea chantey

Seminary to the Sea:
Saturday began with a 13 mile hike at 8:30 am. It took about 6 hours to complete and ended up at Stinson Beach where a late lunch met us. For every new muscle that I discovered painfully, there was a breath taking view to make up for it. I kept feeling overwhelmed with the thought... I live here!
Sea Chanteys:
After returning from the hike... resting and showering... I went with some housemates and friends to a 'sea chantey sing'. I'll let you figure out what that is. Here's a hint: we were on a boat and we were singing. I'm going to learn as many sea chanteys as possible before the next one and blow the place up (figuratively speaking).

On Sunday I visited City Church of SF for the first time. This is one of the only churches in my denomination in this area. I must admit... I was very hopeful that I would enjoy the service, as I would like to be active in my denomination. The worship was sincere and the message (although I couldn't gear if my politics line up w/ the pastors.... maybe that's a good thing on his part) was thoughtful and motivating. I think it'll be a good place for me to get settled and get involved.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

the ups and the downs

One of the most frustrating things about making such a big move are the ups and downs involved. There are times when I feel pure gratitude for this new adventure and the potential that is on the horizon. There are other times when I just feel a frustration similar to the feeling of stubbing your toe or hitting your head. As independent as I am, I derive joy and often peace from interactions with others. Thus, when I'm in the thick of feeling like I can't connect to anyone it is sooo frustrating!

A minor example: today at an orientation event there was a table with tubs of potato salad right next to the water coolers. A woman was manning the table. I took a cup and instead of pouring water into it, I mimed spooning potato salad into it. i don't know why i did that... her response was, 'excuse me?' I know that I was the strange one in that case... However, the awkward level produced is what i've been experiencing in normal conversation constantly. I guess I just need more time and patience.

The ups are very satisfying. Last night Rachel and I went to Iron Springs brewery and heard a jazz flutist. He was pretty hilarious... talented at both jazz flute and unique dancing. Rachel and I talked about how jazz is such a great thing to hear live because you can't play jazz without totally giving yourself to the music. Jazz flute and dark beer... you can't ask for much more!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

orientation participation and birthday celebration

This week began orientation, which i was convinced would be informative and momentum-building if i actually participated (which i failed to do in college). However... the stories are true; orientation is boring and mostly makes me a little bit more confused about the processes here. On the other hand, classes will seem an even more exciting beginning next week.

A very positive aspect of today was that it was Talitha's birthday, who was out of the house all day.
So, Rachel (my other 1st year trinity house buddy) and I got to prepare special things for Talitha's return at 10pm tonight! A shrine was built and an amazing chocolate caked baked from scratch! Something about the trinity house kitchen makes from-scratch-experiments come out beautifully!

the shrine - equipped with birthday poetry
A second positive aspect of the day was going to the neighboring town of Fairfax, CA. I think I may have found my true utopia. The job hunting may begin... I can bike here in 15 minutes, work at a beautiful organic grocery store and get a discount on food. Objections?!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Oh, for love of Ms. Brown

This familiar and smiling face was so welcomed yesterday. Sarah moved to SF a month ago with her lovely girlfriend Suzannah. I got to spend the day with her. We took a long walk and happened upon interesting graffiti, a block party, mission buildings and the Castro - We also found a gem of a bakery called Thorough Bread and Pastry.
"Oh for love of Miss Brown
I do it all for the love of Miss Brown"

grazers in Delores Park

Thorough Bread and Pastry

The oldest Mission

SF's version of grafitti

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Trinity House

my room and bathroom at Trinity House

UPS came through and delivered all of my boxes the last couple of days, allowing me to fully settle in. Now I have a personalized space for myself, something I find incredibly important come class time. Shipping tip: empty out the whole punch before shipping it. Or pretend it's snow in California.

Friends from home have been especially helpful to me these last few days. Between reminding me that transitions take time... to sending me popular recipes for baked goods that can win new friends... the age of communication doesn't seem so unnecessary now. When discussing how difficult it is for me to separate (in miles) from the people that I love, Neens reminded me that I'll need these experiences to bring back to the people that I love and maybe more so, a future congregation. Sarah H.R. pointed out to me that now my precious community is a 'community that is stretched over distances'.
Dear community, thank you for being willing to stretch over distances for me.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Farmer's Market!

This morning, I got to enjoy a farmer's market in San Rafael. Apparently our house goes to this every Thursday morning to pick up a box of vegetables and fruits, etc. It was a great way to respond to a friend's post that i read yesterday about knowing where your food comes from. I think i might've looked like a farmer's market tourist taking these pictures but... well, that's what i was.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

San Anselmo

Today I went for a walk to explore the downtown of San Anselmo. I found a lovely little park, the bridge to which is pictured below. I love becoming acquainted with the area where i'm living. I purposely walked along streets where I didn't walk yesterday to find out where they end up! It's hard to get lost. SFTS sits on a hill at the end of town, so if you walk in that direction you can't wander too far.
My only problem is this: I love independent businesses. I attribute this value to the wonderful experience of working for my favorite independent business owner; Maria Luisa Whittingham. As a seminary student though... the desire to purchase something from every great business that i enter presents a problem... well, today's just one day, right? ; )
My walk ended up at a labyrinth close to Trinity House. (Not to be confused with the classic film Labyrinth or the kind where you get lost and have to find your way out). This is more of a meditative labyrinth. I love them because they can be on such a small plot of land, yet you take time to weave your way through to the center. There are many mantras that you can focus on to aid in your meditation. I think google maps should have a labyrinth finder... locate a labyrinth near you.

the center of today's labyrinth

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

are you going to San Francisco

This blog is intended to be a channel between me and all of the very significant people to me that I've left on the east coast. I've never been very into blogging... but I have been into staying connected. So, that's my intention.
I arrived in SF yesterday at 10:30 am, after a 6 hour plane ride that made it necessary to wake up at 4 am. There was nothing more appeasing than this view immediately after that journey.
I left Nyack with a lot of anxiety about leaving such a secure life for a life to which i'm unacquainted. I may have taken my tension out (mentally) on the girl sitting behind me on the plane, pushing her knees against my seat. She was older than i am.... (and wearing TOMS!) Yet, I can't deny the gut feeling that each awkward move that I make towards SFTS is the right move. And so my transition here is made with a longing eye on the life that i left with my friends and family in Nyack.
While waiting for Talitha (a new housemate) to pick me up, I watched a man try to push a loaded dolly. The dolly was stacked with suitcases, topped with a doggy carrier. As he descended a ramp, the suitcases tumbled... including the doggy carrier? Who stacks a dog?! व्हओ?!

This is Trinity House. The largest house I will ever live in. It's gorgeous inside! Huge rooms, common spaces etc. A picture of my room will have to wait until my 10 boxes arrive from UPS. Don't fail me now UPS men... we've been friends.