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Archive for November, 2011

Wishing you and your loved ones a blessed and bountiful Thanksgiving.

— Your Favorite Blawger

From Isaiah 25:
6 On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wines, of rich food filled with marrow, of well-aged wines strained clear. 7 And he will destroy on this mountain the shroud that is cast over all peoples, the sheet that is spread over all nations; he will swallow up death forever. 8 Then the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces, and the disgrace of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken.

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THE BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER: An Enduring Gift in My Life and the Lives of So Many for So Long

So this morning in my time with God I was reading and praying a prayer of “General Thanksgiving” from The Book of Common Prayer* (thank you, God of the Anglicans, for this enduring gift of a book), when I stopped and reflected for a while on this:

“For all that is gracious in the lives of men and women, revealing the image of Christ,”
We thank you, Lord.”

This line spoke to me because I’ve ministered on hospital duty this week to some people who were extremely difficult to like, much less to love in any way, and hard to be with in my pastoral-care ministry. One person in particular had nearly pushed over the edge of grace and tolerance into serious intolerance and anger.

Intolerance and anger toward the one that a chaplain ministers to is, well . . . intolerable. Not only in God’s eyes but also in the view of those who keep my paychecks coming.

A chaplain is trained and conditioned to find a way to go over, under, around or through the walls and fences that people surround themselves with to protect their feelings from more hurt, or to release their hurt on other people for temporary relief from their pain.

What I mean is, people erect walls and fences of anger, self-pity, depression and all the other “stuff” that can make them nothing short of hateful, even to chaplains. From within those walls and fences they might lob hate and resentment bombs at you. They’ll fire verbal bullets at you that can hurt, secure in knowing that, as a caregiver, you’re not in any position to shoot back even if you wanted to.

My theological and biblical and pastoral task is to find or chip out some kind of opening in the wall that that person has erected to protect his or her feelings from any further hurt and pain that he or she is obviously feeling in his or her seeming hatefulness. And always remember–an angry person, or a hateful person of the sort that seemingly only God or their mother can love, is a person bearing a lot of hurt and pain deep within. Being angry and hateful can be a lot easier than facing up to that pain and hurt, and processing and dealing with it in a healing and healthy way.

Well, I recently encountered one of the most difficult people I’ve ever encountered in my life, one who made life miserable for the doctors and nurses and even yours truly the chaplain. If I were honest-to-God about it I would confess right here in public that I felt feelings that bordered on hatred toward her for hurting the hospital staff people I work with and love and care about. Her verbal assault hurt a very good nurse, who was caring for her loved one, so severely that the nurse had to go home.

But then after a couple of days of our dealing with this woman from hell, her family member–who has been critically ill–improved immensely. Only then did this hellion of a woman find enough peace within herself to be at least bearable to the very people who’ve tolerated her abuse while caring for and healing her critically ill relative.

After this more bearable woman emerged from behind the wall she’d erected–a wall that I hadn’t had much luck in penetrating in order to minister to her and do more than listen to her rail about her hatred for every caregiver in the house–I remembered in this morning’s time with God that there is something “gracious in the lives of men and women, revealing the image of Christ.” So the great prayer of thanksgiving in the Book of Common Prayer reminds us.

Thanks for bringing this “difficult” and “hateful” woman into my spiritual path, Lord. And for reminding me of times in my own life when I’ve been hateful and angry and have hurt others in my pain, as we’ve all been known to do and probably will do again.

I needed that.

*See the General Thanksgiving and Litany of Thanksgiving, pages 836-37, in The Book of Common Prayer, Episcopal Church U.S.A., 1979 Edition.
Click here for more.

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HOMECOMING MARINE: Norman Rockwell


Cause you know how Thanksgiving week is.

Makes you wanna go home.

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YEAH, YEAH---BE THE CHURCH, BUT FIND A CHURCH OR PLACE OF WORSHIP IN YOUR FAITH TRADITION AS WELL: YOU'LL NEED LOVING SUPPORT FROM THOSE LOVING PEOPLE SOMEDAY, AND FIND JOY IN GIVING LOVING SUPPORT TO THOSE PEOPLE IN THAT HOUSE OF WORSHIP AND SUPPORT TO PEOPLE OUTSIDE THE CHURCH OR HOUSE OF WORSHIP WHO ARE IN NEED: grace & peace, jitterbuggers; grace and peace

“For I was hungry, and you gave me food.”

— My Lord and savior Jesus Christ,
see Matt. 25: 31-46 for more the whole enchilada

Whatever you are planning to give of yourself and your volunteer time, your money in donations and prayer in your prayers, why not give a little more this year?

Because you know that vast numbers of people need food this year here in North Texas or wherever you may be.

Check out the video on the page you’ll find at this link. . . .

And if you are reading this you probably have way plenty to give of yourself and your time and your money to those in need.

And if you are a chronic complainer about the state of the nation and the government . . .

why don’t you let that go and give more of your volunteer time (you do volunteer at your church or through some charity to make a difference in this country, as well as complain a lot, don’t you???)–and more of your $$$ ????

Or, to frame it in a less graceful way you might understand. . . .

Shut the hell up and just give.

MISSION:
The North Texas Food Bank (NTFB) seeks to eliminate Hunger by distributing food and grocery products through a network of nonprofit organizations while providing education and increasing community awareness on issues of Hunger.

NEED:

According to the ConAgra Foods Foundation and Feeding America, 24.3 percent of children in Texas are experiencing food insecurity, according to new research released July 1, 2010 by Feeding America. That’s nearly 1 in 4 Texans under 18 years of age—or 1.6 million children— that don’t have access to the foods that they need to lead active, healthy lives. This means Texas has one of the highest rates of child food insecurity in the nation, virtually tied with Arkansas and Arizona.
•The rate of childhood hunger in Texas has gone up over 2 percentage points since last year’s report, which means 163,525 more kids are hungry today. These estimates are expected to rise over the coming years as the full impact of the economic downturn is taken into account.
•According to Feeding America’s Hunger Study 2010, The number of NTFB’s elderly clients has grown 4 percentage points since 2008 to 13%
•40% of NTFB clients have to choose between paying for food and paying for medicine or medical care (the national statistic is 30%).
•The number of people NTFB’s food pantries serve each month would fill the new Dallas Cowboys Stadium 2 1/2 times to capacity.

SERVE:
• Share the message – Tell a friend about the need and the NTFB.
•Share your talents – Volunteer at food distribution sites, events or at the warehouse.
•Sponsor a food drive – Host a traditional or virtual on-line food drive at work, or with your faith, school, or civic group.
•Invite us to speak – To your civic, professional, school or faith group.

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ME, ROCKY MOUNTAIN HIGH, ON A SATURDAY NIGHT BACK IN AUGUST (i probably should mention it was a NATURAL high, ok?)

(Starting with Steve Martin’s hilarious takedown of one of our greatest musical artists–Steve at his funniest:)

Here’s a few songs I like a lot from my main man the almost mystic Paul “Rhymin'” Simon, who I haven’t listened to in a while and who, as longtimers of the Jitterbug cult know to be one of yer Jitterbugger’s faves. He’s one of our best musical storytellers. Like Dylan and a few other enduring oldtimers, he’s got such a huge and long body of work that even with a lot of really bad music he’s put out there at times, the vast majority of it is pretty incredibly good and stands the test of time. (I always had to change the radio as fast as I could anytime “Me and Julio” came on, and he and him with Garfunkle put out far worse than that on wax sometimes. That one as just too poppy-pop and just didn’t suit my taste and he can be forgiven for some of those.)

Anyway, sometimes he’s, uh, wickedly good, as in the story of the lost boy Lincoln Duncan.

Everybody does love the sound of a train in the distance, moreso if you had a rural upbringing and went to sleep with the sound of trains in the distance coming through the breeze through the open windows at night.

Of course, this dittie ain’t exactly about rural life and trains.

To my taste, he was at his best in his “world music” phase . . .

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(Check out “Advent Consipracy” ideas here for more in connection with today’s posting.)”

Advent is largely about preparing the heart, mind, body and soul for the coming of Christ.

It’s about emptying yourself of all your “baggage” and distractions, of letting go of your attachments to all the junk of the world that you think you just can’t live without. You detach from something and empty yourself of all the dregs within you in order to let Christ come in and fill you up with love and grace. You do this so that you can give more back to God and give more of your love and grace to other people.

Well, that paragraph sums up my starting point for my own theology of Advent, and of course there’s a whole lot more to be said about Advent, and more to be said about the longtime church and worship tradition(s) that go with it.

But I’m here today to say I’m going on hiatus from blawging during Advent, which begins on Nov. 27 this year and goes, of course, until Christmas. I’m doing this in order to prepare my heart for the coming of Christ by emptying myself of all my “baggage” and distractions and attachments to the junk of the world in order to let Christ come in and fill me up with God’s love and grace so that I can give more back to God and others.

Read on, dear reader . . . .

NO BLAWGING, NO "SOCIAL NETWORKING," NO NEWS AND DISTRACTIONS DURING ADVENT THIS YEAR


I’ve been thinking for a while that I might take a total fast from any blogging and Facebooking and all that “social networking” during Advent this year, and I’ve decided to do just that.

As I pointed out on my Facebook page with a note to friends there about this, fasting in Christianity and other faith traditions isn’t just about giving up foods or denying yourself something for the sake of self-denial (or, Gad!, a good excuse to lose weight on a diet, as some Christians take it to be). It’s about detaching from something in order to get more attached, as we say in Christian language, to the Trinitarian God–the Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer.

To frame it in a line from a great old Christian hymn, it’s about a “closer walk with thee.”

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Everybody laments the fact that the meaning of Christmas has been lost in all the commercialism and consumerism, the parties and gluttony, and everybody still gets wrapped up every year in all the commercialism and consumerism, the parties and gluttony, myself included.

Check out this horror story for further evidence of how consumerism and worship at the altar of Ol’ Dollar have subverted the entire holiday season more every year.

So much for going home and going to grandma’s for the holidays; everyone’s going to the mall.

Me, I’m taking control of the my holidays and especially my Christmas this year. The time spent blawging and Facebooking for me will be spent this Christmas season on daily spiritual disciplines, with an emphasis on daily Bible and spiritual readings with the focus on Advent, more prayer and meditation and reflection time, and more mission and outreach to the needy.

Also, I envision a lot less TV viewing and following of news and political wars and current events too. And as a news and political junkie–I was a journalist in my first life, after all–I’ve taken fasts from following the news and politics before, for considerable lengths of time, ever since I left the journalism profession behind. I always notice when I get back to my news-and-political junkie habits how the news and politics is still the same old news and political warring that it was before I stopped keeping up with it. Stick your head in the sand for a while and believe me–you won’t really miss much.

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Now don’t get me wrong about this fasting. Yer Jitterbugger will be having some good times in December because–do I like a good time?

Does a wild bear spit in the woods?

Does Sarah Palin?

It’s just that your favorite blawger will be way more shut off from all the meaningless stuff of the world during the holidays and drifting closer, moment by moment, day by day, to the one at the center of the reason for the season.

A “closer walk with thee” can only be good–especially in the excess that is secular America’s holiday and malling season.

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HIM: A TERRIFIC POET AND PEACEMAKER

I really like this poem by Stephen John Kalinich, whose poetry I discovered via the ultra-creative writer and photographer Lisa (L.K.) Thayer’s crazy “Juice Bar”, blawg. (I’ve been trying desperately for a couple years to get her to marry me but she insists we probably ought to meet first; picky, picky.)

I like the passionate sweep and power of this poem–read it out loud and strong to somebody and you’ll see what I mean.

Besides, I think it speaks to me because the longer I live the more I tune in to the poets and musicmakers and artists in all fields of creativity and imagination, and the more I tune out all the media and news static and the politicians and all the hatemongers of the world who seem to have seized control of all the megaphones and don’t quite know how to tell the truth, which is what the poets and artistic types do–they speak the truth and let it be.

“Bring in the Poets”

RIDE ON THEIR VERSES

WALK DOWN AND UP THEIR WORDS

PICK THEM UP OUT OF THE GUTTER

THE ONES WHO WRITE WITH THEIR FLESH

WITH BROKEN STEPS AND GESTURES

WITH THEIR LIVES AND SUFFERING

THAT LIVE THE POEMS

WITH A LARGE SWOOP

SCOOP THEM UP IN A LOOSE NET

BRING IN ALL THE POETS

KISS THEM

LOVE THEM

PASSIONATELY

BREATH THEIR INTENSITY

INGEST IT INTO YOURSELF

BRING IN ALL THE POETS

THOSE THAT TOUCH YOU

THOSE THAT AFFECT YOU

THOSE WHO POUND INTO YOU

MAKE YOUR HEART BEAT FAST

THOSE WHO MAKE YOUR BLOOD BOIL

BRING IN ALL THE POETS

THAT ARE JUST UNDERNEATH THE SURFACE

ON THE EDGE

AROUND THE CORNER OF YOUR SUPPRESSED IMPULSE

BRING IN ALL THE POETS

WITH YOUR TRUMPET BLOW THEIR BRAINS OUT

WITH KINDNESS

PLAY WITH THEM

SING ALL ALOUD SIMULTANEOUSLY

IN THE SAME MOVEMENT

SCREAM FROM THE WOUNDS OF THE EARTH

BRING IN ALL THE POETS

THEIR VERSE MAKES YOU ALIVE

AWAKENS THE MUSIC

THAT HAS BEEN LYING DORMANT

WITHIN YOU FOR CENTURIES

THAT STIRS THE SLUSH THE MUCK THE MUD

THAT MAKES THE TRIBUTARIES AND ARTERIES

THAT CLOG UP IMPURE

BRING IN ALL THE POETS

AND TOGETHER LET THEM

MOW DOWN THE OPPRESSORS THE TERRORIST

WHO TRY TO HOLD US ALL IN CHECK

WHO MAKE US PUNCH THE TIME CLOCK

WHO TELL US WHAT TO THINK AND FEEL

BRING IN ALL THE POETS

BRING THEM FAST

BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE

BEFORE THE BOMB IS INVENTED

THAT WILL EAT THE WHOLE WORLD UP

BRING IN ALL THE POETS

WHO ARE ALL COLORS

WHO HAVE BEEN HIDDEN

WHO CAN TRANSFORM

AND TRANSCEND

THE LIMITATION

THIS MUTED STRIVING

LOOK TO THE DAY

WHEN THEIR POEM

WILL BE LOVED LIVED AND FELT

WHEN THEIR NEED TO EXPRESS THE POEM

WILL BE SILENCED

WHEN THE ABUNDANCE

WILL BE THE ORGASM THE CLIMAX THE OXYGEN

BRING IN ALL THE POETS

THAT WILL OVERTAKE THE GALAXY

THE UNIVERSE

WHEN THEIR STANZAS

AND RHYMES

AND COUPLETS

WILL RESONATE FROM STAR TO STAR

BRING IN ALL THE POETS

STRETCH AND SEND THEM TO

BANGLADESH TO BOSNIA

TO NEW YORK

TO LOS ANGELES.

TO EUROPE

BRING IN ALL THE POETS

HAVE A BEER WITH THEM

OR A GLASS OF JUICE

SHARE A SANDWICH

DO NOT LOOK FOR A RESTING

BRING IN ALL THE POETS

UNTIL YOU FEEL THE WINDING DOWN

THE REVERSE

BRING IN ALL THE POETS

PULL THEIR WORDS OUT OF BOOKS AND PAGES

PULL THEM OFF

SEND THEM BACK TO THE POETS’ PEN AND FINGERS

BACK INSIDE HIS BRAIN AND EXTREMITIES

SEND THE VERSES BACK INTO HIS BODY

LET HIM ABSORB THEM ALL AT ONCE

AND START AGAIN

LET HIM GO BACK IN TIME

BECOME A CHILD

GO BACK FURTHER STILL INTO THE WOMB

BACK INSIDE HIS FATHER BEFORE SPERM

UNITED WITH HIS MOTHERS EGG

LET HIM GO BACK FURTHER STILL

TILL BEYOND THE BEGINNING

BRING IN ALL THE POETS

UNTIL YOU ARE

THE AWARENESS OF THE ONE POET

THE WILD UNTAMED LAND OF THE SELF

THE UNCONSCIOUS WHERE WE ALL MERGE

AND UNITE

CROSS AND INTERSECT

BRING IN ALL THE POETS

WHAT CAN EVOLVE

WHAT CAN WE BECOME

BRING IN ALL THE POETS

ON SURFBOARDS

IN CHURCHES

AND SYNAGOGUES

IN MOSQUE’S

AND TRAIN STATIONS

IN HINDU AND BUDDHIST TEMPLES

BRING IN ALL THE POETS

ALL THE RHYTHMS

VOICES

SOUNDS

PULVERIZE THEM CRUSH THEM

CRUMBLE THEIR BONES INTO ASHES

PUT NEW WINE INTO THE VESSELS

ROUTE NEW BLOOD IN THE VEINS

LET THEM COME UP WITH A PLAN FOR PEACE

A WAY TO

DISSOLVE DESTRUCTION

BRING IN ALL THE POETS

HANG THEM OUT TO DRY

TURN THEIR POCKETS INSIDE OUT

SPEAK THEIR POEMS OUT LOUD

RECORD THE PERCUSSION

THE WIND TONES

THE SHEER FORCE

OF ALL THE WORDS

EXPANDING

THROBBING

BRING IN ALL THE POETS

THE ONES WHO HURL THEIR POEMS

LIKE A JAVELIN

LIKE A SPEAR

LIKE THE SHOT

OUT OF A BAZOOKA

LET THEM PIERCE YOU

WITH THEIR LOADED WEAPONS

THEIR IMAGES AND THOUGHTS

UNTIL YOU ARE HEALED

GO INTO EVERY CREVICE

EVERY BLOODSTREAM

REVERSE THEIR IGNORANCE

STOP THEM BEFORE THEY STOP YOU

BRING IN ALL THE POETS

TO THE BANQUET

REJOICE

SHAKE

TREMBLE

WEEP

DANCE THE ECSTATIC GALACTIC SYMPHONY

LET IT PENETRATE INTO EVERY PAIN

EVERY MARROW

EVERY CELL

EVERY TISSUE

UNTIL THERE IS NO ONE LEFT

UNTIL THERE ARE NO MORE WARS

AND THERE IS NO MORE HATRED EXPRESSED

BRING IN ALL THE POETS

STEPHEN JOHN KALINICH

© 2007

L. K. Thayer’s Foto Fetish© 2010

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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