Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The L Word

Via the well-informed (and recently ordained! Dave, this post from a well-known ECUSA figure:

Why I am Not a "Liberal"

I agree with quite a bit of what the reverend gentleman says, and I will say that I get cheesed off when others make the mistake of equating my social moderate-to-progressive stance with "liberal" theology. I'm actually rather orthodox in my theology.

(Must find that quiz that was going around; my top score was Evangelical Wesleyan, which would no doubt please my former teachers at Methodist Sunday School.)

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Going To The Office

(Also posted on Open Thou Our Lips, a group blog about spiritual practices I'm a part of.)

I've made a few attempts over the years of usually-sporadic church attendance to do some sort of structured "daily devotions". To make a longish story short, I have discovered the resource literally under my nose in the Book of Common Prayer and started reading Compline more or less daily. It is, in my mind, a good one for beginners to start out on - short and no canticle-choosing or Bible-flipping to worry about. Now that I have the ever so convenient Daily Office Book with the Bible readings, I occasionally do Morning Prayer or Evening Prayer with readings and canticles, but Compline's become as much of a before-bed habit as brushing my teeth.

Now that I have discovered the riches contained in the non-Eucharistic services in the BCP (with special props to bls for her enthusiasm and the Ship of Fools Daily Office thread for a lot of great info), I usually jump at the chance to do the Office communally, especially if there is music involved. (I am somewhat embarrassed to admit that I was part of a Cathedral congregation for years where Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer were offered daily and EP was sung twice weekly, and rarely availed myself of the opportunity. In my defense, there was usually Work and a Commute in the way.) I speed-read through Compline most evenings and the slower pace that actually articulating the words requires stops and makes me pause; in addition, the music often opens doors in my mind that the text alone won't.

I do get regular opportunities to participate in singing the Office with others, as my (new) parish runs Evensong once a month with all the trimmings (incense, a schola, sermon, and an organ recital to follow). But I had a wonderful, wonderful experience this past week at a gathering of people from the Ship of Fools forums doing a communal Night Prayer, aka Compline, service, the music for which had been carefully put together by a very experienced church musician. Like, so experienced that I just loved to hear him talk with the others, even though I had only a quarter of a clue what they were on about some times. (Link posted by kind permission, and more info about the details here.)

It was fab-yoo-lous to have a real time, real life worship service with members of my online Christian community. (*) While I am used to doing collective Offices "with the trimmings", and I enjoy "the trimmings", this was to me a reminder of what is at the core. The space was instantly transformed; the every day was made sacred. I stepped into another dimension. I started crying during the familiar prayers ("Keep watch, dear Lord ..."), I was that moved.

But in a lot of ways, the two really best parts of the service for me happened "before" and "after".

"Before", the gentleman who did the music explained how to sing texts pointed for Anglican chant in a way that I understood. I have sung plenty of Anglican chant in my time, but I was doing it by ear. Now that I Know The Rules, I am singing it confidently. And since I'm not worrying about where to change my notes, I'm contemplating the text (and am willing to try singing at home, where I don't have a lot of excellent musicians backing me up). [Watch this space for "Chanting for Beginners" shortly.]

"After", there was a Q and A session and a lot of interest shown by people who were unfamiliar with the Office. (Which really chuffed me, even though people who know more than I were doing the answering.) One participant who is active in the British alt.worship scene remarked that it was a direction alt.worshippers were heading in; renewal and sustenance coming through the ancient and sometimes-obscure forms.

(*) I know a lot of people who do the Office by themselves have a real sense of community with everyone else who is doing the Office; I don't really get that unless I am actually doing it with someone else around.

In re Compline, I think it's not only a good way for "office newbies" to start out, it's a good "seeker service" when done as an act of corporate worship because the No Sermon (etc.) means less bad "God baggage" to some. I had heard for years (even before I was on the Ship) that St. Mark's Seattle has a full house weekly for their sung Compline service - no sermon and indeed no audience participation required, except a request to stand at the Creed. Their Schola is quite fine, and if you happen to be near a broadband computer at 9:30 pm Sunday Pacific time, you can listen in on KING-FM.

As I was discussing with one of the Shipmates at another point in the event, it's like the Christmas-and-Easter people; we'd love you to come more often, but ideally we will try to meet you where you are. (As we often say in the Prayers of the People, "may all those seeking God find Him, and be found by Him".)

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Virtual Church of the Blind Chihuahua

Via LutheranChik, I learned of the Virtual Church of the Blind Chihuahua. I love their description of their site:

This is a sacred place in cyberspace named after a little old dog with cataracts, who barked sideways at strangers, because he couldn't see where they were. We humans relate to God in the same way, making a more or less joyful noise in God's general direction, and expecting a reward for doing so. Hence our creed:

We can't be right about everything we believe.
Thank God, we don't have to be!

The description reminded me of my friend Debbie's late Tanner, a black toy poodle who was a 'special needs' dog - mostly blind (it got worse, until she had a windfall and spent it on cataract surgery for him), deaf, arthritic - when she rescued him but who trailed her around the house in obvious lurrrrrrrrrve even though he could only smell her (yipping at her occasionally, but just devoted). (She installed mini-ramps for him so he could sit on the couch. Adorable.)

The site has much interesting comment, but I keep going back at the moment for his suggested Funeral for a Dog, complete with prayers for his three. It was very useful to me as I have felt that, for one time, the Book of Common Prayer has let me down ritually/liturgically. I could modify some of the prayers in "The Burial of the Dead", and I had psalm and reading, but that wasn't feeling enough.

I am thinking some of Maya's earthly remains will go in a hole when I plant a rose on the south side, under (or close to) the living room window she loved lounging on in the sun, next to the driveway where she cheerfully twisted on her back.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Friday Church Cat Blogging

Meet Brigid (who, before you ask, is indeed listed under "Staff - Felines" on the web site and in the weekly bulletin):

Behold the Lion

This is her second favorite chair in the sanctuary - her favorite is the even more elaborate chair reserved for the Bishop's use. Fortunately for those of us concerned with de-furring the furniture, the Bishop is on a once-every-two-years visitation schedule. But she is the resident Lion of St. Mark's!

I met Brigid for the first time a couple of years back when I went to an Ash Wednesday service at the church. She was parked on the children's toy basket near the front and peacefully watched the whole church troop up to the communion rails and back past her, twice (once for the imposition, once for communion). The toy basket is her FAVORITE place in the main church; lots of soft, quiet fabric toys for the little ones.

When I went that fateful day in June to 8 am service, there she was again, in the chapel. I had heard through Sara that the cat showed up in chapel and occasionally vocalized when she didn't think she was getting enough attention. No chance of that then, as she spent much of the service on the lap of Dave (who was ordained this past Saturday).

The combination drew me in; being at chapel was much like being in a larger version of my living room (with good light and a mellow cat), but it was sacred space. And it was a "thin space" for me.

As I got to know Brigid, she reminded me more and more of a large gray tabby version of my beloved Maya: she was self-assured, she was mellow, she was moderately social, and she was a good mouser. Now that Maya has gone to Cat Heaven, I have been giving Brigid extra scritchies when I see her, because she is a Very Fine Cat Indeed.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Tongues of Fire

it's big

Speaking of "being back", the picture is from my old stomping grounds, Grace Cathedral, at the ordination I was at on Saturday. It was good to be back there on a fine day and watching Dave get ordained deacon. *squee* I sat in the pews before the start and goggled at the "Tongues of Fire" installation way, way, way above our heads, wind and the Spirit.

It's several months after my confirmation and the feeling that Grace was no longer my "home" has just been more reinforced. For one, I found a bunch of the St. Mark's people in the pews and sat with them, so I didn’t feel alone; for the other, the acoustics of everyone but the Bishop (who has his own mic) really sucked the proverbial dead donkeys through a happy straw and it made me appreciate St. Mark's more.

But it was good to be back, to soak up the vibes, to go into the chapel to pray, to be a part of this grand event.

I didn't get to walk the labyrinth because of the crowds; will have to go in some time with the pal-who-is-moving-to-town and get there early enough to do it.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Back on the farm!

After about a year's hiatus, this blog is back. Inspired by bloggers of faith like Sara and bls and so many more as they work out what it all means in front of God and everyone, I'm looking for a place to explore signs and wonders, things seen and unseen in the blogosphere, or at least get some practice putting things in words. It feels like it's getting to the point where, like with my food blog two years back, things are about to "take over" my regular blah-blah-blog on LJ.

I can probably modify links on my LJ account to include the non-LJ blogs I want to read daily now that I have a paid account, but I already know how to do it on blogspot.

I suspect there will be a lot of overlap among the three. I don't intend for this to be a religious ghetto of sorts. I will no doubt be talking about food here as well (to me the Holy Table and the Dinner Table are two sides of the same coin; see my second-anniversary post on L&C). Nor is this intended solely for Deep Thots; I'm way too silly for that. But I am hoping that I can both improve my "voice" and find some fellow travelers.

I've been re-reading Nora Gallagher's Things Seen and Unseen and one of the many things that resonated was a remark someone made to her. "You were in seeking mode; now you are in finding mode."

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