Tuesday, March 30, 2021
Monday, March 29, 2021
Sunday, March 28, 2021
Saturday, March 27, 2021
Friday, March 26, 2021
Thursday, March 25, 2021
Wednesday, March 24, 2021
Tuesday, March 23, 2021
Sunday, March 21, 2021
It has been a difficult week to be a thinking, feeling person--perhaps every week is, if one is aware and reads widely enough. I won't do a complete catalog, but it was a week that began with the Pope declared that he will not sanction in any way same sex marriage or commitment services and then moved on to the Atlanta shootings that targeted Asian women. I'm having trouble sleeping because my neighborhood has turned into one big short term rental market, and it's noisy with party people. I wake up numerous times, and I lay there making sure I'm hearing the noise of good times, not the noise that means the police should be summoned.
Saturday, March 20, 2021
As I drove home from work yesterday, I thought about how much change I've set into motion this year. Of course, some of that change, the work related change, was first set into motion by others. But I am amazed at what I've managed to accomplish.
Those of you who have never applied to seminary while also applying for candidacy may not have an understanding of how huge an undertaking it is. Applying to seminary required 4 letters of recommendation, for example. Yesterday I took another psychological profile, the MMPI2, and it's the 3rd or 4th one required, along with pages and pages of paragraph/essay answers to questions in yet another type of psychological testing. I've also written an essay for the seminary application and a much longer essay for the candidacy committee
In the past, the sheer volume of these tasks overwhelmed me, even before I got to all the logistics of actually attending. This year, I've made my way through them methodically. I am lucky in that I like doing this kind of exploratory writing and test taking.The Wesley application dashboard shows my application is complete and under review. I’m like a high school senior. I want to keep going to the mailbox to see if there’s a letter from the school. I wonder if schools still send letters.
Friday, March 19, 2021
What a week this has been! Let me record some of the moments that I don't want to forget. Will they cohere into a unified essay? Probably not. But I like these kinds of lists when I come across them in old blog posts; it's a great way of capturing stuff that doesn't seem to merit a whole post of its own. Let me start with my favorite moments:
--Wesley Theological Seminary has a dashboard where one can see the status of the application in terms of what has been received. Earlier in the week, I was still missing one of the recommendations. I felt a bit fretful because I knew that the recommender had written and sent it, but I decided to wait a week to see if it came in. Yesterday, the dashboard showed that everything is complete--hurrah!
--A week ago, I was worrying about the palm tree removal that was going to happen on Saturday. So much could go wrong. Happily, nothing went wrong. We still have one tree that needs to come down, but knowing that the first tree was successfully removed will help my anxiety.
--On Monday, we got an e-mail announcement about people at work who had gotten promotions. That's the way I found out that the internal opening for which I had applied was filled, and I would not be getting an interview. "Maybe God Is Trying to Tell You Something" is a song from the movie The Color Purple that often goes through my mind, but never more so than in times like this.
--Much of my writing this week has been e-mails and writing in my offline journal to process the events at work. I had forgotten how wonderful it is to write in an offline journal.
--I feel odd aches and pains today, and I remembered that I spent part of yesterday tense and clenched in the dentist's chair. It was a routine cleaning, but I hate those. But at least that's done.
--I finished the Winter Warrior Challenge. I had signed up for the Long Run Challenge: to run 240 miles over 12 weeks, starting Jan. 1. At the time I signed up, I wasn't really running much at all, so I'm surprised to finish early. I finished with several 2 mile runs, more of a whimper than a bang, because I didn't realize I was that close. This morning, I had a great 4 mile run which gives me hope that I might be able to keep doing this through the tougher summer months.
Thursday, March 18, 2021
Wednesday, March 17, 2021
Tuesday, March 16, 2021
My focused writing time is short this morning; I spent it writing in my offline journal. But I want to make some notes on last night's BOLD Justice rally. It was held by way of Zoom, but in many respects, it was the same as previous years: local government officials joined us, they listened to our research, and last night, we all committed to moving forward.
Because it was by way of Zoom, we had more participants. I was able to invite people from near and far, and to my delight, some of them said yes. It was a treat to trade notes with my grad school friend in South Carolina. That would not have been possible in past years.
We had bishops from many denominations join us--that, too, has never happened before.
As I watched the display in the Zoom box, I thought about how male they are. Not one female bishop shepherding the Florida denomination of the Church?
I thought back to an earlier thought I had, one where my inner critic sneered at the thought of me going to seminary: "Sure, just what the world needs, one more post-menopausal pastor lady." Looking at that Zoom display, I thought, yes indeed, more women of all ages are needed. I'm trying to ignore the voice of despair in my head that says that we've been ordaining women for 50 years now, and maybe what's needed is a better/surer/swifter pipeline to leadership.
When the rally was over, I did not miss the traffic jam that always happens as everyone tries to leave at roughly the same time. But I did miss the energy that is always in the room. I didn't feel that energy in my front bedroom staring at the computer screen.
I want to believe it will make a difference. As my grad school friend said, lots of eyes have been watching and paying attention. I often think that elected officials only need to know that to know that they have to make some changes.
My grad school friend said that she was relieved to see that Florida people are different than the way the news media portrays them: more diverse, more concerned with the poor and the outcast. I am relieved too.
I do realize that the need is huge and that our efforts are so small. But if I only worked in areas where I can make immediate, sweeping social change, I'd never get out of the chair.
My hope, of course, is that a steady progression of small changes will lead to those sweeping social changes.
As Octavia Butler would say: "So be it. See to it."
Monday, March 15, 2021
For over a decade, in Broward county, in South Florida, an ecumenical group has been meeting the past few years to demand justice from our local leaders. Some years we've worked on housing issues, some years dental issues, and so on. We make real changes. The work has culminated in a Nehemiah action, where we meet with local government officials to show the results of our research and to ask for--and demand, if necessary--changes.
Last year, our Nehemiah action was scheduled for April, shortly after our county went into lockdown. We canceled that action. In the year since, we've learned how to do community organizing and justice work from a distance. As with school and work, we rely on Zoom.
Tonight we will have our first Nehemiah action by way of Zoom. There will also be a drive-in component, for those who feel safe doing that. I will be logging in.
Because of the magic of Zoom, you could log in too. Here's the information that was sent:We have loved ones living on the streets with mental illness. We are going to push for better access to housing.
Children and adults in Broward County are being saddled with lifetime arrest records for minor mistakes. We are going to push for expanded access to diversion and an end to the criminalization of poverty.
We expect Broward County Commissioners and the Broward County State Attorney to respond at the Action.
Time: Log on 7:15pm, Call to Order 7:30pm
Zoom link: http://bit.ly/bold-nehemiah-action
Meeting ID: 828 4106 4274
To participate by phone only dial: 312 626 6799
Sunday, March 14, 2021
This has been a strange week-end, with schedule disruptions. Yesterday I decided to save a walk/run until later, since we were expecting our landscaping guy to return to take out our palm trees. I decided to savor the early morning quiet. This morning, with Daylight Savings Time starting, I was off schedule. My spouse and I went for a walk, and now I am writing a few hours later than usual.
The happy news: the palm tree came down without incident. Many of us probably think of palm trees as insignificant, and I did too, before I moved into this house that has so many of them in the yard. The fronds that fall are heavy; we're taking out palm trees because the fronds fell on the neighbor's roof and smashed tiles, before they replaced the roof.
So I sat in the front room, listened to each thud and clink of china inside, and tried not to think about all that could go wrong. Happily, I was able to get other tasks done too. Our taxes are done and filed. I organized the photos I had been taking. I wrote my report on Julian of Norwich's A Book of Showings, a requirement for my certificate program in spiritual direction; I captured those ideas earlier in this post on my theology blog.
I also came across this article in The Washington Post, an article about the journals and diaries that people had been keeping since the start of the pandemic. It made me wish that I had done that.
Of course, I did do that, but my entries were part of my blog or to a lesser extent, part of e-mails. This morning I decided to go back through my blog and collect the entries that discuss the pandemic. I'm going to put them into a separate document. I'm not sure what I'll do with that document later, but it feels important to have it as a separate document. I'd like to have it archived somewhere.
I am part of a generation of girls that grew up reading journals, knowing that journals are so important as a historical document. When the pandemic started, I always had that idea in my mind as I blogged about it. A year ago, I only had the barest glimmer of how our lives had changed. Now that I know, I want a better document.
Saturday, March 13, 2021
Friday, March 12, 2021
Thursday, March 11, 2021
Wednesday, March 10, 2021
That's not to say that I'm not being proactive. It is a process that requires much--which is a bit astonishing to me. But I'm not stressed, the way I might usually be, or overwhelmed. I'm just completing tasks, step by step, trusting in the overall vision. It's that Ignatian concept (maybe it is? it's still fairly new to me) of consolation, not desolation, I think."
Tuesday, March 9, 2021
Yesterday, I realized that I hadn't sent a haiku to my group in a week, while at the same time realizing that I had the 7 syllable line. In short order, I sent these:Weary, staying strong,
Women hold up half the sky
all the cosmos too
Or do you like this version better?
Weary, staying strong,
Women hold up half the sky
and the cosmos too
The difference is subtle, but worth noting.
This morning, while looking at the lines, the idea for a sketch glimmered in my mind. Let me see what I come up with.
I wasn't having much luck until I did an image search for "stylized sketch Atlas holding up the sky" and came up with some images I could use. At first, I did these 2, which were getting me closer:
And then I came up with this:
That sketch became the basis for the finished (at least for this version) sketch:
Monday, March 8, 2021
Sadly, no, that is not the case. If we look at basic statistics, like how much women earn compared to men in the very same jobs, we see that the U.S. has still not achieved equality. If we look at violent crime rates across the past 100 years, we discover that most violent crime rates have fallen--except for rape. If we look at representation in local, state, and federal levels, we see that members of government are still mostly white and male.
And that's in a first world country. The picture for women in developing nations is bleak.
Sunday, March 7, 2021
Saturday, March 6, 2021
Friday, March 5, 2021
I have spent the morning wrestling with fabric imagery. I thought that I was working on a poem, but I ended up with a piece of theology.
Last week, I had this line float through my head: "The future speaks in threads." I immediately wondered what kind of threads--threads from a larger garment that was coming apart? If so, who yanked on the thread? The thread of seams? Seams holding together or fraying apart? And I thought of threads that lead us out of mazes, like in that ancient story from the Greeks. I wrote a few stanzas of a poem, but I'm not sure I like it.
On Sunday, I wrote down this line: "The future speaks to us in widow's weeds." I played with that image, but not much came. I went back to the thread imagery of last week and wrote another stanza. I remembered using some thread imagery in one of my morning watch broadcasts, so I went back to listen.
I was expecting poetry inspiration, but instead I got theology inspiration. If you'd like to read that piece of writing, see this post on my theology blog. It asks how we might behave if we believed we were part of the quilt making team of God, the team that's making a giant quilt of creation.
Maybe I need to do more research about widow's weeds. Maybe that will give me what I need for the poem. Maybe the third time will be the charm.
Or maybe it doesn't matter if the poem never takes shape. I'm really happy with the piece of theology. It's an unexpected, but delightful, surprise on this first Friday of March.
Thursday, March 4, 2021
This morning, I read a review of Kazuo Ishiguro's latest novel, and it gave me pause, as these book reviews often do. I always feel a bit abashed at how few of these important novelists I'm reading--he's a Nobel laureate, after all. And then there's a moment when I do a Google search and read the Wikipedia article--which books am I feeling bad about not reading?
And then there's a moment of further self-castigation: I haven't even seen the movies of the very important books!
I try to remember the names of other authors whom I haven't read, and I spend a bit more time in Googling and remembering and trying to convince myself that I'm more well-read than I'm giving myself credit for. I think of my grad school days and trying to figure out how I would ever catch up with 20th century British Lit, one of the fields I studied intensely. And now I'm further behind.
Oh, let's be honest. I'm not going to catch up--to say I'm behind implies I will even try. And I won't. I wish I could say that I'm not catching up because I'm maintaining my expert status elsewhere, but that's not true either.
These days, I have a serendipitous approach to my reading life. I just finished a fabulous book about Athens, Georgia in the 1970's and 80's, and how it became so influential in the world of pop and rock music: Grace Elizabeth Hale's Cool Town: How Athens, Georgia, Launched Alternative Music and Changed American Culture. I enjoyed it thoroughly. It was not only a deep dive into one town and into bands I loved once (but don't really listen to these days), but also a meditation on how to be an artist and how to stay true to that calling.
While I don't want to deny myself the treat of serendipitous finds like that one, perhaps it is time to be more intentional. I remember back in high school when I was worried I would get to college and be unprepared. I thought my high school wasn't requiring enough of the classic, so I took it upon myself to read more. For every 2 books I read for pleasure, I required myself to read one of the great books. They tended to be 19th century classics from England and the U.S., white, and male. That's how we defined classics in the 1980's.
Perhaps it's time to try some self-improvement via reading again.
Wednesday, March 3, 2021
A year ago today, I'd have been zipping my suitcase and getting ready to go to the airport. I was headed to San Antonio for the AWP conference. I had heard rumors of possible cancellation of the whole conference, but by the time I left, there had been an e-mail that said that the conference would proceed. I knew that I would pay for 2 nights of the hotel whether I was there or not, so I had already decided to go, even if the conference was cancelled.
I remember thinking that cancelling the conference was an absurd response, but by the end of the week, the South by Southwest festival had been cancelled. Of course, that decision was made weeks before the actual event, unlike the discussion about cancelling AWP. At the airport, I only saw 6 people with masks, which contributed to my sense of different realities colliding. Was this virus such a threat that a whole conference should be cancelled?
As it turns out, yes, it was. As far as I know, the AWP wasn't a super spreader event, like Mardi Gras, but that's just dumb luck.
I had decided on an early flight, so I got to the hotel by noon and was able to check in early. I spent the afternoon in a lovely hotel room with a great view of San Antonio. I was grading papers, but also keeping an eye on social media, and I watched various people I knew decide not to come to the conference. But I still wasn't worried about my own safety.
As I look back, I'm glad I went to San Antonio. In fact, if I could tell year ago Kristin anything, it would be to live it up a bit more, but I'm not sure what that would look like, even as I type those words. More tableside guacamole? Taking a cab down to the mission historic sites instead of walking? More alcohol? Having more than 1 fancy coffee drink each morning?
I decided not to do the virtual AWP this year. I thought about it, but I know that I'm pretty Zoomed out these days. I knew that I wouldn't want to take vacation days, so I also knew it was likely that I wouldn't get my money's worth, since I would be balancing AWP and work.
My hope throughout all of this upheaval is that we hold onto some of these more inclusive ways of doing events. For a long time, AWP was resistant to letting participants Zoom in, if they couldn't attend in person. Last year, I saw more than one panel with a long distance participant. And this year, we've got a conference that more people can attend: it's cheaper, it can be integrated with non-academic work lives, people with family duties can attend.
Yes, I hope we hold onto these developments.
Tuesday, March 2, 2021
I was struck by a snippet of Merrick Garland speaking at his confirmation hearing last week. Senator Cory Booker asked him to conclude by explaining why he wants to be the Attorney General of the United States.
Garland said, “I come from a family where my grandparents fled antisemitism and persecution.” And then he paused, and then continued, with a choking voice: "The country took us in and protected us. And I feel an obligation to the country, to pay back.”
I took a moment to say a prayer of thanks that we're once again hearing from people who believe that they have a duty to serve in this way: a duty to country, a duty to pay back, a duty to pave the way for others. We so often hear from people who are only interested in their own well being, and that approach can be so ruinous.
What he said next intrigued me too: “This is the highest, best use of my one set of skills. And so I want very much to be the kind of attorney general you’re saying I could be.”
I love the idea of finding a way to the highest, best use of a skill set. Now I think that Merrick Garland probably has more than just this one set of skills. But I'm so happy that he's willing to use them in this way, for the good of the country, for the good of us all.
After what happened when he was nominated to be a Supreme Court justice and wasn't allowed a hearing by Senate leaders, I would understand if he never wanted to be nominated for anything again. I'm glad that he didn't take that approach. I'm glad that he's willing to serve in a variety of ways.
There's a lesson here for all of us.
Monday, March 1, 2021
Yesterday morning, I made this Facebook post:
*yes, literal bread dough--I've been baking and the morning has zoomed ahead of me--the sacraments don't need me to take another shower, and I like the symbolism of bread dough in my hair, sacraments in my hand.
I've been baking bread for personal use, not for communion. No one need worry about finding my hair in their sacrament."
We shall not escape Hell
by Marina Tsvetaeva
We shall not escape Hell, my passionate
sisters, we shall drink black resins––
we who sang our praises to the Lord
with every one of our sinews, even the finest,
we did not lean over cradles or
spinning wheels at night, and now we are
carried off by an unsteady boat
under the skirts of a sleeveless cloak,
we dressed every morning in
fine Chinese silk, and we would
sing our paradisal songs at
the fire of the robbers’camp,
slovenly needlewomen, (all
our sewing came apart), dancers,
players upon pipes: we have been
the queens of the whole world!
first scarcely covered by rags,
then with constellations in our hair, in
gaol and at feasts we have
bartered away heaven,
in starry nights, in the apple
orchards of Paradise
––Gentle girls, my beloved sisters,
we shall certainly find ourselves in Hell!