Unexpected Moments of Grace

Life…in the corners

I love to clean the house. Really. I especially like it in weeks like this when I am working but don’t have the time pressure of writing a sermon. I love cleaning the house because it has a beginning and end (despite the fact that housework never really does end, but that’s another subject.) I can immediately see the result of my labors. The tables are dust free. The mirrors shine. The bathrooms glisten. And the floors, ah…the floors. That’s where I really see the difference. The laminate floors are free of dust bunny tufts of cat hair, and the pieces of paper that Jack has shredded throughout the week. No spot gets by me. For only a few hours work there is such satisfaction. Cleaning the house is like a meditation. My mind is clear. The tasks are simple. Nothing complicated here. Except for the corners. Each corner harbors life. Is inhabited by interesting tiny creatures. Little dancing black spiders. Baby daddy long legs. Those slithery silvery bugs. The ants whose freeway is the sliding glass door track in my bedroom. It’s not bad on the days I sweep. It’s the big cleaning day when I vacuum that is fraught with danger. I’m extra careful around corners. I see the little ones scurry away as I get near. I try to vacuum carefully so that no little one gets sucked up. Sometimes they run in the wrong direction and I’m not quick enough and in a split second it’s too late. No matter how mindful I am, some days I suck life up in an instant. I beg forgiveness. Sometimes I think I should avoid the corners all together.

There is life in the corners.

This moment...

Last GA I was given the great privilege to address folks as part of a panel (of illustrious UUs in whose company I did not belong) about effective social justice work. The gist of my message was this: You are simultaneously the hero of this epic story - the work cannot get done unless *you* act; it’s all up to you - AND you are just a bit-player in this same story - one of many, dependent upon many. Both are simultaneously true. This weekend while hiking I realized/remembered a related truth: This moment, right now, this action that you are doing whatever it is you’re doing, is simultaneously the culmination of a thousand other moments stretching back in time, repeated over and over - it is nothing new - AND this moment, right now, this action that you are doing whatever it is you’re doing, is brand new - nothing exactly like it has every happened before - it is new and fresh and exciting. Both are simultaneously true.


This morning I dreamed of Mia, my wife who died in January, 2010. The last time I dreamed of her, I had panicky feelings. My thoughts ran along the lines of: “She came back?; Where had she been?; Wait a minute, I thought she died; What happened?; What did I do wrong?” I felt sort of ill because I screwed up so badly thinking she was dead. I awoke to reality, and the ill feeling that she was gone all over again.

This time was different. She came to me and I just hugged her and held her. I was so grateful to see her again. I knew she was gone and just visiting. It felt like a gift. I could tell her how much I loved her and simply enjoy the moments we were together again. This time I remembered that I was in a dream and just went with it. For more than a year I waited to have a dream like this, for her to come back and see me. I must not have been ready, until now, to let her go.

A Few Drops in the Ocean

"You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty."
-Mahatma Gandhi

This was one of my favorite quotes. A year ago, it took on a particularly poignant significance when the Deep Water Horizon well exploded and the earth began to hemorrhage crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico. With the Pacific garbage patch, mercury laden fish, and now Japan releasing exceedingly radioactive water, I wonder just much longer this quote will be relevant. Or, it it already a relic from a time just over a century past?

Spring is here fulfilling its promise of renewed life. What other new metaphors can we use to restore a belief in humanity, especially in the face of a tiny minority (Not Japan but the top 1%) who is in a race to exploit, sell and use up our beloved earth’s gifts.

A Religious Tourist in St. Louie

Miao's Last Judgement

After Sunday morning worship ended the Central MidWest District meeting, I played tourist until my evening flight.  It was rainy when I arrived on Friday, sunny and bright yesterday as I spent the entire day indoors, and rainy and cold again today.

Rob had told me to visit the City Museum, and someday I will, but in the little time I had left in St. Louis, I chose to visit the Museum of Contemporary Religious Art (MOCRA) on the campus of the University of St. Louis, a Jesuit school, and the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, the finest example of Byzantine architecture in North America.  Religion and Art, one can see where my priorities lie.  Art and religion, two paths to the same spirit.

MOCRA, which has a stated mission purpose of engaging in interfaith dialogue and understanding through contemporary art, was featuring a work by Miao Xiaochun.  Miao had taken Michelangelo’s painting of the Last Judgment in the Sistine Chapel and digitized it, making a two-dimensional painting into a 3-dimensional experience.  In virtual space, the viewer can "walk around" the painting viewing it from different angles.  What's more, for every character depicted in the painting, Miao substituted a 3-d rendering of himself.  This may sound egotistical at first, but the finished effect is that he "experiences" every part of the masterpiece, and we do to as the viewer.  Thus, he is both the damned and the saved.  He is the angels who help lift us up, who drive us down into the pits, and who call for the resurrection on their trumpets.

 The Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis was so beautiful that my poor pictures are more misleading than edifying.  Follow the link above to see some of its glory.  One of the descriptions in the museum stated that while Gothic architecture soars up, making the Divine remote, Byzantine architecture attempts to bring heavenly beauty to earth, making the Divine present.  Immanent.


Geek Rock!


Ok, so only the geekiest of people are going to get this. But I thought it was hilarious. 

 FYI: PCR = polymerase chain reaction It's a way to make lots of copies of a DNA sequence and it used routinely in biological research, as well as to identify or absolve people in criminal investigations. Dr. Kary Mullis is the guy credited with inventing PCR, for which he won the Nobel Prize in chemistry. Bio-Rad is a company that makes a lot of PCR products, and they obviously want scientists to remember them and buy their stuff! Hmm... I swear that guy in the blue shirt looks familiar... And of course, I can't help but be reminded of Jonathan Coulton's song: That Spells DNA


Desperate Who?

This arrived in my emailbox this evening:

Subject: UUism and Desperate Housewives

Well, we're moving into pop culture.  Bree referred Lynette to go to a UU church (where she hears we are open to asking questions) last week on Desperate Housewives.

To which my reaction was, who is Bree and who is Lynette?  Maybe pop culture has moved into us but not all of us have moved into it. :P

The Red Line

The Red Line of the DC metro system bends in a U shape, connecting two wealthy Maryland suburban cities with DC in the middle.  On the western side of the U, the stops in DC are pretty ritzy too.  But on the eastern side of the U, the Red Line runs through slightly shoddier neighborhoods.

I take the Red Line home from work most days, passing through Union Station and then out into the above ground.  First, New York Avenue, then Rhode Island Avenue... There are block after block of train tracks and warehouses, on the roofs and sides of which the taggers express themselves in vibrant colors.  Looking out the window in the early evening sun, I see words and combinations of letters that I do not recognize.  And then suddenly... three little words that I know very well.  STOP THE WAR.

Forget the Popemobile

I'm not a big fan of the new pope.  (I loved JPII!)  But I have to admit that the new pontiff seems less foreboding and slightly more endearing in this commercial for riding the DC METRO.

Addendum (2008.04.13 11:22 pm):
More Pope products, for the papal faithful.

Elephant Painting

Don't remember how I first came across this. I emailed it to a few friends but for some reason forgot to post it. Was a little surprised and saddened that a couple of friends, both of whom are very open spiritually, questioned the authenticity of the video. Is it easier to speculate in humans creating elaborate hoaxes than to believe that there are other living things that can recognize and recreate shapes? I guess it is. Personally, I would rather believe - in both the elephants and in us. 


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