29 September 2006

Something New

So ... check this out. I think I'm moving.

Okay ... I'm pretty sure I'm moving. This is more than likely the last time I'll post here. I'll be posting in my new home from now on. It'll take a while to fully move in and make it mine. But I think it's ready enough for me to throw a sleeping bag on the floor and begin painting the walls. I've put some food in the frig and I can live here now. If you want to, I have an RSS feed at the new place that you can use. That's up and running.

I know I have some coffee and my french press here somewhere; I'll dig those out soon. So come on over to my new place and have a cup o' joe with me. And keep the new URL for future reference. Enjoy.

28 September 2006


Lately I've seen some sights around town that made me look twice and think thrice. Since I just got back from my long drive (to East Overshoe to our CSA farm) and I need to wind down, here are a few of them.

The other day I was driving past a church. The sign out front advertised a family movie night on Friday and an open house on Sunday. "Huh?" I thought, "And here I thought everyday was open house for a church! What was I thinking??!!" Today I drove past it and they are advertising "World Communion" for this Sunday.

I saw a young guy walking down the street. I know I'm firmly implanted in my middle years. But I'm used to seeing all sorts of clothing and not being phased by it. I don't remember specifics, I just remember remarking to Sizzling Ewe that perhaps this particular young man ought to cease purchasing his fashion sense at Montgomery Ward, since they've gone out of business.

I found it remarkable today that the two vehicles that were the most aggravating to drive behind were SUVs with dealer tags. They were aggravating because the drivers were having issues handling them. They didn't even want to go the speed limit and braked at every turn. It was annoying.

There's a church I pass on the way to East Overshoe called Believers Baptist Church. For some reason this name makes me laugh. It also makes me want to stop and ask the pastor what sort of believers they are looking for. There is something about that name that is officious and pompous. It sounds like hiked-up pants and slick hair.

I love the drive going out to East Overshoe. It gets progressively less congested and more beautiful. I hate the drive coming home. It's everything in reverse and I'm driving into rush hour traffic. Bleh....

We made butter in the Osgiliath Classical School Potions class the other day. That's chemistry for all you who might be wondering. We were investigating the different states of matter. It gave me renewed appreciation for my colonial mothers. We made butter with just one cup of cream and we had a cold storage unit handy. If it didn't work, so what? But my colonial mothers had to do this and much more every day ... every, every, EVERY day. Or their families went hungry and cold. We have so much convenience in our lives we don't even know what to do with it. We don't even recognize most of it.

LightBoy's current ambition is be Mr. Spock from the original Star Trek. This morning he brought me his sister's eyeliner and asked me to draw Spock eyebrows on him. I complied, but it's been very unsettling to look at him today. He has, essentially, two sets of eyebrows on his sweet round face and one set makes him look sinister. Of course, he thinks this is very wonderful. We are now in the market for a Mr. Spock costume for Halloween. Oh ... yay. Then LightGirl decided she would like to be Lt. Ohura (with the very short dress). I said, "No. You will not be Lt. Ohura (with the very short dress)."

Back in March, you may remember that LightGirl entered a contest called Fashion Revue with a pair of pants she had sewn. She won a blue ribbon for her efforts. At that time, I fought a full scale battle to get her to wear a little eye shadow, mascara and blush for the contest as she had to model her outfit for some judges. It was just to make her look well put together. Finished, as it were. Now (less than 6 months later) she wears full makeup every day. I finally asked her one morning if we should expect this from now on. She said we should. The other morning tho, I had to object. I think that when eyeliner can be measured with a ruler in eighth inch increments, it has been applied too liberally. She has backed off a little since then.

We began walking again this morning. I should say huffing and puffing. It wasn't pretty. It was interesting to see all the gardens on the far side of the season. Then I felt sad. I realized how much I've missed by not walking through the summer. I could have seen all the comings and goings of the flowers and other crops, but I was lazy and I missed it. I did part of the loop alone. I couldn't have done that last winter because I was so scared. And I left the house without any wallet or identification ... another huge step for me. I am much stronger now.

Well ... those are some snapshots of life in the LightHouse and more frightening still, into my mind recently. I'll try to keep these posts to a minimum.

26 September 2006


We're embarking on a new journey at my church. We're diving into the Jewish holidays this year to see what the study of the roots of our faith can teach us about us. We began this past Sunday with Rosh HaShana and we'll continue with Yom Kippur on this Sunday next. We're having to play fast and loose with the dates because we're limited to meeting on Sundays. This feels slightly disingenuous to me, but I'll get over it.

Then, because we're "generous liturgists," we played fast and loose with the themes of Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur ... and flipped them too. So this past Sunday we examined the themes of sin, judgement and repentance. Next Sunday we'll examine grace, mercy and forgiveness. It seems to me that in the Jewish tradition things are not so tidy and separate. But they've had about 5,000 years to build these traditions and they take whole days to celebrate. We're doing it in an hour and a half. I still feel like we're cheating.

All of that is to say, I've been think a lot lately about the themes of repentance and grace. Sin and forgiveness. Judgement and mercy. Studying the Jewish traditions has thrown our Christian traditions into bas relief ; like a woodcut almost. I see them in their starkest forms. Being the sort of person I am, I've been busily drawing parallels and links from one tradition to the other; finding the roots of us in them. Much of what I've learned has turned my past knowledge of Jewish tradition on it's ear. It's helped me see Jesus in a new light. It's also causing me to be a more than a little critical of some of our current traditions.

In particular I think we've become grace-abusers in the church today. I think (and I include myself in the word we) we are entirely too flippant about the gifts of grace, mercy and forgiveness. I don't think we should spend time becoming ascetics or self-flaggellants, but I think we need to spend more time understanding the full weight of the judgement that has been lifted from us. In part, I've enjoyed the study of Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur because I've begun to to come to a greater comprehension of what it means. In the Jewish tradition, they take time each year to engage with that. To wrestle with their own humanity in the face of God's divinity and then to be thankful for the gifts of grace, mercy and forgiveness that He extends to them.

It may be that Easter and Lent were originally meant to fill this role in our tradition. But I think we're missing that proper sense of balance between judgement and mercy, sin and forgiveness, repentance and grace. We're happy to hear the mercy, forgiveness and grace side of the story. But we don't like to examine the judgement, sin and repentance side. It's when we have both in balance that God's work shines in the world. When we can examine ourselves clearly, and see ourselves objectively, we can begin to be the change that we wish to see in the world. I think that until we're willing to do that (and it's unsightly, painful work), we'll just be another group of people talking a good talk and not doing anything.

Father, I ask you now to forgive my sins.
Forgive the sins that I can remember, and also the sins that I have forgotten.
Forgive the wrong actions that I have committed, and the right actions I have ommitted.

Forgive the times I have been weak in the face of temptation, and those when I have been stubborn in the face of correction.
Forgive the times I have been proud of my own achievements, and those when I have failed to boast of Your works.
Forgive the harsh judgements I have made of others, and the leniency I have shown myself.
Forgive the lies I have told to others, and the truths I have avoided.
Forgive me the pain I have caused others, and the indulgences I have shown to myself. I ask in the name of Jesus, your son, Amen. (from Celtic Primer)

25 September 2006

... And Now For Something Completely Different

A good friend of our has suggested in the past that our family should have various superpowers to go with our names. I like that idea. We haven't yet acquired these superpowers. But I think that one of the powers that LightGirl has is that of silliness and giddiness. In her role as keeper of humor in our home she sent me a link to this. It's hilarious and makes you laugh even when you think you have nothing to laugh for. So ... watch and giggle and share in some of LightGirl's transcendent giddiness.

What a Difference a Year Makes

My church is young. By this I mean we've only been around for about 5 years. Every Labor Day weekend we mark our anniversary. So as I write this we've been around for almost exactly 5 years, plus a few weeks. We're young too, in the chronological age of our members. LightHusband and I are among the oldest people here. This flummoxes me regularly because I still pinch myself to remember that I'm a grownup now. The LightFamily has been part of the church since early 2004, so about half of it's life.

Shortly after getting intimately involved (we don't have members, we have a yahoogroup), I was asked to join the Design Team. This is the team that is responsible for opening up some kind of sacred space for people to meet God on Sunday mornings. That probably sounds very heathen. It's not. We're more conservative than that sounds, but still ... we are doing a series this year celebrating the Jewish holidays. We're responsible for creating the space for spiritual formation to occur at some level.

Last Labor Day weekend (2005) we had a labyrinth (as we often do on that Sunday), and a cookout. The next weekend we had a party welcoming our newest member into the world. The following Sunday we had a baptism. You can see photos of all these events on our website. Last September was analogous to Bilbo's birthday party in the beginning of the Lord of the Rings. Or perhaps it was more like the opening of A Tale of Two Cities; It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.... In any case, we were "shiny, happy people," with little thought of tomorrow.

This September things are all different. I won't say that we're not joyful anymore. That would be an untruth. But we're no longer shiny and happy. We've all walked through some dark places this year. Some darker than others. For some the path is not yet finished. Perhaps that means that for all of us, the path is unfinished. Regardless, this year has marked us all. There are lines on all of our faces. Ghosts behind all of our eyes. A steadiness and seriousness that comes with knowing darkness. And still the joy that comes with knowing the light.

Perhaps that's why this piece of Scripture seemed so appropriate for our Contemplation yesterday:

19 I remember my affliction and my wandering,
the bitterness and the gall.

20 I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.

21 Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:

22 Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.

23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

24 I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him." (Lamentations 3:19-24)

24 September 2006

Important Things

Today was a day for new things in our family. At our church we joined with the Jewish tradition and celebrated Rosh HaShana. We explored the themes of het (missing the mark), judgement and repentance. Examining the ways that not following the Great Commandments wounds those in our tribe, or sphere of influence. Checking out the manner that lists of sins have become matters of the heart and the ways in which we can be turned towards God or away from him.

Well ... that's what LightBoy and I did.

LightGirl and LightHusband left very early this morning and drove to a city somewhat south of here for her first hockey game ever. The coach plays everybody ... every body. An excellent coach, who can find. One who is more concerned about teamwork and relationships than about winning (even tho that is important). LightHusband came home with glowing reports about how wonderful the coach and the game was. LightGirl said, "We lost. But now I know everyone's names!" It's those little things that are important.

So here are some pictures of my girl. Looking like official. Wearing number 11. Playing the one game that is sure to tweek my nerves. After all the fights endured by my parents between my brother and I over whether he would watch Hockey Night in Canada, or I would get to watch The Waltons. Surely, I thought, living in a southern city and raising a girl, hockey was not even on my radar. 'Twas not to be. And I am left with the last laugh.

22 September 2006


When I was in highschool I remember that my fondest dream was to never make decisions that I would regret. I was very sure that this was going to be a simple task to accomplish. At the ripe old age of 17 or 18 and even when I was in college and on into my early 20's the notion that decisions were simple matters of black and white, that the path ahead would be clearly marked seemed obvious to me.

I've discovered, of course, that life is full of shades of grey. Black and white are mostly reserved for television programs and movies. Paths are fraught with twists and turns; some of which can be discerned, but most cannot. Choices must be made. Mostly I've learned that it's not the large decisions that affect us the most. Sometimes the small decisions have the largest effect.

Of course, too one must also consider who to grieve the most. Should I grieve myself, or my children, or my husband? Or my calling? How to make decisions in that arena?

I made a decision to follow my heart, but it means missing the chance to see, and support LightGirl play in her first hockey game ever. Now I have to decide, am I actually following my heart? or just my ego?

19 September 2006


Planning a funeral is like planning a wedding. It is the photographic negative of a wedding; done in 5 days without joy. A gift the giver hates to give and the receiver wishes to reject. Grief abounds. Etched in deep lines on the faces of those you love. Pain cannot be shared. Each must walk their own path, together yet somehow separate.

I felt pieces of me break away and die yesterday.

15 September 2006


Remembering a beautiful baby and honoring his father and mother.

William Addison Stavlund
May 9, 2006 - September 12, 2006

How long, O Lord, how long must we sing this song?

13 September 2006

The Arrogance of Hope

The twilight bark has commenced in our neighborhood. Those of you who read or watched 101 Dalmatians in your youth will know what this means. Sam, our dog, thinks he has the deepest, loudest voice and he should be the captain. It's very difficult to maintain a complicated train of thought during the twilight bark.

Today has been another difficult day here. I gave the LightChildren the day off. I dealt with a myriad of details pertaining to a multitude of things. In the end though I have to say I didn't do much. I took LightBoy to his Latin class and LightGirl shopping. She is need of clothing to accommodate her new punk look (I cannot fathom what that means to the current generation, but it's different than what it meant to mine). I couldn't locate the store in the mall until we'd walked past it twice. We have reached that era of shopping where she picks out clothes and tries them on and it's my job to stand around. And watch her feet under the dressing room door. And listen to her talk. And pay.

Mostly I examined a wound in my soul. It's one I don't dare look at too often. Like the really bad scrape you got on your knee as a child when you rode your bike in a place you knew you oughtn't and the bad thing that your parents predicted would happen did. Then you have an ugly wound that you don't dare be proud of and look at, but it's ... there and frightening in it's power. We all have those wounds on our souls, created when something or someone profoundly dear to us was lost forever.

In my case, the examination focussed on the questions, "Why?" and "How?" I have eternally asked these questions, which may be boiled down to, "What if ...?" I nearly drove my mother crazy with such questions when I was young. Now I'm left to ponder them on my own and I ask them about larger issues. But here is what I was asking myself as I pressed in on my wounds, "Why does God love us?" and "How does He express that love?" There were other questions too. For instance, "If God does love me, why did He choose to take person X or Y out of my life?" I never have any answers for these questions. I suppose this makes me a terrible theologian, not that I have any training at all. It probably also makes me a sort of heretic.

There was a time when it was important for me to have answers and I made some up. Or, rather, I found some people who did. I've since realized that they didn't really answer the questions I was asking. I've also realized that having concrete answers isn't all that important anymore. That healing can happen without answers.

I know a very few things now about God. I know He does love his creation, among which is me. I know that I cannot fathom the manner in which He expresses that love. It makes no sense to me. My perspective is too narrow. Too all about me. I know that I am to hope even when that hope is arrogant.

When one considers hope, it is indeed arrogant. To be sure of a good outcome in the face of overwhelming odds is the definition of arrogance. And yet, we all do this everyday. The very act of putting my feet on the floor bespeaks the hope that today will be. I face the day each day with the hope in my heart that at the end my family will be whole, that no tragedy will befall us. Yea, tis not just hope. This is hope which borders on arrogant knowledge for I cannot know the outcome of one moment to the next, one hour to the next, or one day to the next.

King Of The Wind is a book about the origins of a breed of racehorse. It begins with a quote: "The horse, he sayeth to the trumpets, ha ha." I first read this when I was 8 and it has stuck with me ever since. Yet I believe that is what we are called to do. In the face of overwhelming odds, a world full of forces arrayed against us, we are to say, "Ha ha." We are not to do this out of spite, or because we are captains of all we survey, but because when the chips are down, and all is black and despite everything else, in some mysterious and unquantifiable manner God does have our back. Those we love most dearly may be in great pain for years upon years, or taken away, and events of nonsensical proportions occur. Yet we still get out of bed each morning and say into the trumpets, "ha ha." The arrogance of hope.

12 September 2006

A Race Well Run

Some news is energizing. It gives life and joy. Some news makes your knees weak and causes you to sit suddenly as if the air had swiftly left your balloon. My faith community received some news of the later nature this morning.

The four month old son of one of ours died last night. His race was short but intense. He ran hard for his brief time here. He was born with but half a physical heart, yet he had a huge emotional heart. It shone out of his big blue eyes and twinkled as one locked eyes with him. He became from his tiny bed an inspiration to even grown men and women to run marathons, and look into places they had never peeked before. Even resting, Will breathed as if running hard. He ran agains the odds until he could run no further.

Father God, we thank You for sharing Will with us oh so briefly. Those bits of You that glimmered in his eyes were a treat to behold. We ask that you will hold his parents closer than ever as they miss their boy deeply. We seek you now in the dark places we must go as we journey through the valley of the shadow of death and ask that your rod and staff comfort us and Will's parents. We ask that your peace descend upon them and your comfort heal their wounds. That they would be knit together closer than ever through this. It is in your Son's name given to us that we might be found, that we pray.

10 September 2006

Oh, the shame of it!

Remember Sylvester's adventures with his son? He always had a much higher opinion of his abilities than he was capable of achieving. The escapades usually ended with the son facing the camera, shaking his head, bowed, saying, "Oh, the shame of it." I remember once he appeared with a paper bag on his head.

That scene played in my head this morning as I read this article in Time magazine. Oh the shame of it. According to the beloved disciple, we Christians are to be known by our love for one another. But now we are becoming known by our love of money. Jesus proclaimed that a man cannot serve two masters, for one will always take priority over the other. The wind was sown, and the whirlwind must be reaped.

Perhaps I'll just wear a paperbag over my head.

08 September 2006

Lost in Translation

Our trip to the Smithsonian and the Lewis & Clark exhibit was most interesting. Most of my exposure to Thomas Jefferson has been in his role as writer of the Declaration of Independence and participant in the Continental Congress. I've always admired the man but have not spent much time studying his role as our third president.

I've known for quite some time that the Lewis & Clark expedition was a federally funded exploration of the western half of the continent. I was unaware of how much it was the brainchild of Thomas Jefferson. How invested in it he was. He drove it forward and got the funding from Congress, even when Lewis & Clark blew through their anticipated budget by several hundred times.

Meriweather Lewis was the first on board with the project and he engaged in some subterfuge to bring George Clark in. It was engaging to read the early 19th century double-speak as they spun the project up and moved their base of operations out to St. Louis. Thomas Jefferson had not yet completed, nor even begun, the Louisiana Purchase. Once they passed out of modern day Ohio, they were on foreign soil; a foreign concept to us today.

They spent the winter of 1803 to 1804 in St. Louis hiring men and purchasing supplies for the expedition. Once word arrived that St. Louis was now an American city, planning began in earnest. They set out on the Missouri River in the spring of 1804 and late fall of 1804 found them in the territory of the Mandan Sioux Native Americans.

Early engagements with the Mandan Sioux did not go well. Lewis & Clark did not understand Native American gifting ritual. The Sioux took offense to their lack of response and to what was considered their ill-mannered response. I'm not clear from the exhibit about what turned the tide, but there was a key moment when Lewis & Clark were able to understand what was expected of them in the situation and began to act accordingly.

It was then that I read something that dropped a veil of sadness over me and I can't quite shake it. At some point in the negotiations, Lewis & Clark became aware that the Sioux responded positively to the terms "Great Father" and "children." This surprised them, but they were not averse to using them, especially because, as was the fashion of the times, they considered themselves more advanced and aculturated than the Sioux. To the Americans those terms meant very little, if anything. On the other hand, the Sioux and neighboring tribes had developed a highly sophisticated system of tribal adoption as one method of avoiding eternal war with their neighbors. To them, the terms "Great Father" and "children" were code or euphemisms which bespoke great meaning within that system of tribal adoption. Those terms meant something to the Sioux. They carried a weight of assumed responsibilities and rights. So the Sioux entered into agreements with the government based on assumptions about tribal adoption rituals that our government was unaware of (most likely).

It reminded me, once again, that when languages are translated from one mother tongue to another, even simple terms can be misunderstood. The consequences can be grave and long term. We are all still feeling the repercussions of those first negiotiations today.

07 September 2006


LightBoy and I took a drive today. It was our turn to drive out to East Overshoe and pick up the organic vegetables that we get each week. Earlier in the summer we joined a CSA farm with the Sheep family and the Corner family. We take turns driving out to East Overshoe to pick up vegetables for each other. It's a long drive, but enjoyable. There are goats and chickens to visit at the farm and a dog named Blue.

LightBoy and I had an interesting conversation on the trip out.

He began, "I wish I had a cloning machine." To which I replied, "Oh? You do? What do you see as the benefits of cloning?"

"Well, I want to create a clone army who will obey my commands without question. Then I can send them out to fight ..." and he proceeded to fight an imaginary battle in the back seat.

"Hmmm ..." I asked, "Do you obey commands without question?"

"Oh, no I don't"

"Well, then why do you think all your clones would obey your commands without question?"

"Ummm, Jango Fett created a clone army and all of them obeyed his commands without question. If he could do it, I think I could too."

"Did Jango Fett obey commands without question?"

"Oh yes. But, well, he didn't answer to anyone. Except for Darth Sidious. But he obeyed those commands."

"So Jango Fett obeyed commands. And all his clones did. But if you clone yourself, you'll have a bunch of little yous running around. Do you think they'll really obey you without question?"

"Oh yes ... they'll just look like me, but their brains won't be like mine."

"But if they look like you, they'll have the same brains that you have. And that means they won't obey you without question. It'll be kind of like chaos."

[long pause]

"Mom, you are so smart. How do you think like that?"

So, tonight, I'm just basking in the glory of my oh so briefly held intelligence. It'll be here today and gone tomorrow. But for the time being (and probably not too much longer), my boy thinks I'm smart!

Winter Sports

Given my addiction during the 2006 Winter Olympics this is pretty funny:

You Are Curling

What you lack in athleticism, you make up for in concentration. And while curling isn't much more of a sport than bowling, you *can* win a gold medal for it!