Sunday, April 22, 2012

Adventures in Preaching

This morning I had the honor of leading the worship service. Our pastor is out of town, so I was running the show. This is the first time I've had the opportunity to do this and while there were a few hiccups, it went pretty well! Of course things never run smoothly when the pastor is away. He seems to have the finess it takes to make it all come together. But we did the best we could in his absence.

Every time I preach, I take away an important lesson. Something to do differently next time, or something to pursue further. This morning my lesson was that I should not wait until 20 minutes before the service starts to print out my sermon. The first time it printed, it came out red. Red type on white paper is just about the worst thing ever. So I tried it again and the second time it printed out in 19 point font, much bigger than my usual 14 point. The words were gigantic on the page, which made for a disoriented preacher. Several times I stumbled through sections when I would look from the congregation and back to the page. But hopefully the content of the message spoke louder than the delivery.

I'm blessed to be interning at a congregation full of so many wonderful people. They all have tremendous grace and are kind to me as I learn and grow as a preacher. One of our elders bought a flower arrangement to have at the front of the room and said it was in my honor. She then had me take it home afterward, a gesture that warmed my heart. And then I had the opportunity to eat lunch with a few members, and my deacon insisted on treating me.

These people are wonderful.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Burnet Love

The other night I went to a lecture given by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove about stability and New Monasticism. Wilson-Hartgrove is encouraging people to pursue stability by rooting themselves in a community. The idea is that people invest in a community and stick it out through difficult times, resisting the urge to move on.

I was fascinated by this topic, especially since I've moved around quite a bit in the past 8 years and I'm about to marry a man who has never lived in the same place for more than 3 years. We don't exactly have a history of staying put.

My love owns a house which we will live in once married, but we have no idea how long we'll be there. A lot of that depends on what my job situation is like after my residency. I've been allowing myself to imagine staying put for a while. I created a map of places which are good reasons to stay in the house. These are all establishments that I either frequent regularly, or have been to and enjoyed very much.

View Burnet Love in a larger map

Those are just a few good reasons to stay in Austin.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Blue Pastures

This week has been a rough, emotional ride. On Tuesday I had to preach a funeral sermon for one of my classes. The case study I was given was for a 6 year old girl who got hit by a car while riding her bike in front of her house. She was baptized in the church and both of her parents were Sunday school teachers. I spent most of Easter weekend wrestling with this task. Here is what I came up with:

It is a tradition for the first graders at our church to memorize the 23rd Psalm.

This year, Alicia and her classmates worked hard on this task. Memorizing a line at a time. Trying to imprint the words in their young minds and seal the message upon their hearts.

They were overjoyed when they were able to recite the entire Psalm. They wanted to share their accomplishment with the adult Sunday School class. So they ventured down the hall and stood in the front of our room. They said those precious words from memory. Many of the adults mouthed the words right along with them. Recalling the time when they memorized those same words when they were children.

When the kids got to the verse about laying down in green pastures, many of us chuckled when Alicia very loudly inserted “blue pastures.” Puzzled by this editing, I asked her mother about it after worship that day. She told me Alicia preferred to think that God would lay her down in blue pastures. Ones full of our beloved Texas Bluebonnets. They were her favorite flower.

Alicia had faith that God would lay us down in fields of our favorite flowers. She understood God’s love, perhaps better than any seasoned theologian. And all of us can learn from her uncomplicated faith.

Today we stand baffled. We ask God why Alicia’s life was cut so short. We wonder why this tragic accident happened. And it was just that. An accident. No one could have prevented this from happening. When her bike lost control, there’s no way that car could have stopped. No way someone could have pulled her back from the street. No one is to blame in this tragic accident. Yet we still stand baffled. Asking those hard questions of God. But we must not lose sight of the bigger picture. We must remember that Alicia’s life was a gift. Her brief life has left a legacy at this church. For she had much to teach us.

In the Gospels we are shown that Jesus has a special place in his heart for children. There are several instances when he scoops up a child, using her as an example to the disciples. Teaching them how to live. He says that “unless we change and become like children, we will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like a child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Children are without pretensions. Without status or achievement. They are often overlooked in our society. But in their humble state, we can learn from them. We gain understanding of how it is God calls us to live.

Alicia helped us bear witness to the gospel her whole life. Six years ago, many of us were in this very place, witnessing the baptism of Alicia. As an infant we brought her to this font. It was in that water that she participated in the dying of Christ so that she could experience new life. She put on the garments of Christ. The congregation took vows to nurture and guide her. To help her develop her faith. To be her extended family. That’s not to say that her parents weren’t sufficient. On the contrary, her parents did an incredible job raising her. Their house has been one that is filled with love. Anyone blessed with the chance to visit there can plainly see that. But we know that our faith tradition cannot be practiced in isolation. It is best done in community. We are a covenant people who join together as the body of Christ. Alicia’s faith journey was shaped by everyone gathered here. She was able to believe that God lays us down in fields of our favorite flowers because of this community. Because of what you all taught her and showed her.

The last time many of us saw Alicia was on Palm Sunday, just over a week ago. We had the procession of the children. Waving their palm branches in the air they weaved in and out of the pews. Welcoming Jesus. This year Alicia had the special honor of being the leader of the processional. She took her job very seriously. She held her palm branch high. She bore witness to the celebration of that day. She led us in that worship. Reminding us that our life in Christ is something to rejoice over.

We have been blessed by Alicia’s life. And now we give her back into God’s hands.

In this Easter season, we rest upon the promise of resurrection. Not just of Christ but of us as well. We know that death does not have the final say. It is not the end of the story. In her death, Alicia’s baptism has been made complete. She now rises with Christ into that heavenly kingdom. Joining those who have gone before her. Preceding us who will someday join that place.

Until then, we must continue the task at hand. The task of being the covenant people. We must support one another. Build each other up. We must also focus on the task of nurturing God’s children. Young and old, we must carry on the promise we have made at the font. To teach and love and care for those who have entered into this community through the waters of baptism. For whoever welcomes one such child in the name of God, welcomes Jesus himself. Amen.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A Prayer for Those Engaged to Marry

A slightly adapted form from the Book of Common Worship

Almighty God,
in the beginning you made man and woman
to join themselves in shared affection.
May those who engage to marry be filled with joy.
Let them not snap at each other
while completing a 20 mile marathon training run.
Let them be so sure of each other
that no fear or disrespect may shake their vows.
May coming up with a playlist for the wedding DJ
be the least of their worries.
Help them to forgive each other,
even when one rips out a perfectly good shrub in the yard.
Though their eyes may be bright with love for each other,
keep in sight a wider world,
where neighbors want and strangers beg,
and where service is a joyful duty.
Precious Lord, help them survive the wedding chaos;
through Jesus Christ the Lord,

Friday, March 30, 2012

Spreading the Presbylove

I'm afraid I've contracted a serious case of senioritis. I'm not sure there's a cure for this, other than finishing classes on May 4th.

I've been doing a lot of things other than homework these days. Read the Hunger Games. Knit cute baby clothes. And mapped out the church deserts in Austin, TX.

That last one is the result of what happens when a would-be cartographer/demographer goes to seminary.

Here's the PC(USA) church desert map I created:

View Presbyterian Churches in Austin in a larger map

Anyone else notice how dense the churches are in white west Austin? There appear to be a few PC(USA) deserts in East Austin, where there are more communities of people of color. The socio-economic level is also much lower on the east side of town.

My map is by no means scientific. I just put some blue shading in neighborhoods which have a high density of minority communities without a PC(USA) church.

The PC(USA) has more money per capita than any other denomination in the U.S. What if we used those resources to plant churches/community programs in neighborhoods that could use some Presbylove?

Now, who wants to convince the Presbytery to devote some funds for this church development plan?

Friday, March 9, 2012

Hippy Grocery Store Heaven

I just found out two of my favorite hippy grocery stores are merging. Sunflower Farmers Market and Sprouts Farmers Market.

This is going to be the Brangelina of grocery stores. I'm psyched.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

International Women's Day

Just want to give a shout out to women on this International Women's Day!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Money Schmoney

I just sat in a 6 hour seminar on the Board of Pensions. My brain is a bit fried on the topic of finances, so this seems like a brilliant time to write about it.

I confess I've never put much thought into saving for retirement or having an emergency plan. As a single person, I've always had these romantic notions that I would just work until I keel over. But now I'm getting married and I am forced to consider another person's desires. And our future children's desires. That's kind of a big deal.

I happen to be marrying this really great guy who is really great at money stuff. I'm pretty sure he's been contemplating his retirement plan since he was five years old. That may be an exaggeration. He and I are coming from very different places when it comes to money, so those conversations are hard. I find myself maintaining a tension between holding to my dreams and respecting his dreams. It's a tricky thing which will require patience and listening.

After this seminar today, I feel slightly more prepared to have those conversations and move from the "lets give away most of our money and live in poverty" mode to something more like "lets give away a lot of our money but be smart about it and make sure we can provide a safe and decent home for our family" type of mode.

Wish us luck.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Sermon Tears

A professor preached at chapel today. It was one of the most stirring sermons I've ever heard. His words continue to resonate in my heart this afternoon, but I'm sure that will soon fade. In a few weeks I'll forget the words that he said. I may even forget what the theme of his sermon was. But I won't forget his tears. He was making a connection between the scripture (Mark 8:31-38) and his father's battle with cancer. The emotion of this situation caused him to cry, which caused many of the hearers to cry as well. I was struck by the intimacy of this moment. How he let us in on a very personal situation. All the while, drawing the Gospel in as well. The preacher's tears weren't cheap or used for dramatic affect. I know his tears were genuine.

This is something I hope to accomplish someday.

I hope to preach a sermon that conveys deep, rich emotion. To have words that will move the hearers and emotion that will stir them. I am still very much an amateur preacher and I still struggle with the disconnect between myself and my words. I usually pick illustrations that aren't emotional, that don't really make me that vulnerable. I have no doubt I'll grow and learn much in the coming years as a preacher. I'm grateful for good preachers in my life.

Monday, March 5, 2012

A Theology of Marriage

For my Pastoral Celebrations course, I had to write my theology of marriage. This task is especially relevant as I prepare for marriage. Here is what I got.

My Theology of Marriage

Marriage seems to be a process. In the Christian life we go through the lengthy, never ending process of sanctification. In a similar manner, marriage is a process in which two people grow together and learn to love and respect each other over time. I write this reflection as an engaged woman, set to be married in 3 months. There is no doubt my thoughts will change once we have been married for 3 days, 3 years and 3 decades. But for now, this is my theology of marriage.

My theology of marriage starts with who we are as creatures and what we are designed to do. Genesis tells us that we are created in the image of God, both male and female. So then, to understand ourselves we must look to the triune God for answers. In our tradition, we recognize a God who is three in one and one in three. The three persons of the trinity work together in relationship, a perichoritic dance of self-giving love. God does not exist as an isolated being, but is in constant relationship. If we are created in the image of God, then we too function in relationship with others, not as isolated beings. Thus the need for marriage. When two people join together in marriage, they are living into the way God intends us to be. They are making a commitment to living in relationship, where both parties offer that self-giving love.

It is important to note that there is no hierarchy within the trinity. One person is not dominant over the other, and so it should be with marriage. The relationship in marriage should be an equal partnership, one in which both people are given voice and value and are accountable to serving the other. The idea is that both people should offer themselves to the other in an act of love. Romans 12 is a helpful passage to explain how this should be when it says “offer yourselves as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God.” It goes on to speak about humility and not valuing yourself over another. Thus marriage should be an act of mutual submission, where both people are putting the needs of the other first. This is a challenging task to balance, but is an example of the complexity of marriage.

The act of mutual submission can only be accomplished when the relationship is grounded in love. Jesus tells us the two greatest commandments are to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves. Thus, all that we do should be grounded in love. This is something much deeper than lust, which is shallow and temporary. The love we are to have for one another is a spiritual love. We know what love is because God first loved us. 1 John 3:16 says that God’s sacrificial love is the source for our understanding. We are to imitate that love by laying down our lives for one another, something that is accomplished in marriage through the sacrifices the partners make for each other.

Finally, discipleship and community are crucial for marriage to be sacred. “For Christians, marriage is a covenant through which [two people] are called to live out together before God their lives of discipleship.” (Book of Order, W-4.9000) This notion of discipleship tells us that marriage is a form of vocation. Understood it in that way, we realize that we are not just called to “put up with each other” in marriage. Instead we are called to work on the marriage and see how each person grows and matures in their faith through that partnership. But the couple are not in isolation, because the marriage is something that is witnessed and nurtured by the worshiping community. Worship and glorification of God is best done in community, and thus married partners are able to fulfill that call together. Thus the reason the wedding ceremony is witnessed by the body of believers and the marriage partners are held accountable by the community as they grow in their love and commitment to each other.

So then, marriage is to be understood in light of the Trinity, as a partnership for love and humble service. It is an opportunity to grow with one another and more fully live in to our humanity. It is a vocation that we are called to, one which nurtures a life of discipleship. When done in community, it will thrive. Despite the celebrity world making a mockery of marriage, the church still has an opportunity to display the sacred call of marriage as it encourages its members to approach marriage with deep respect and honor.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Preacher Wives

TLC is coming out with yet another reality TV show. This one is called Preacher Wives which will feature women who preach and lead churches. My concerns with this are many. First of all, why do we need another reality TV show? Second, why is the title Preacher Wives and not just Preachers? I'd even be okay with Preacher Women. Is our society still convinced that women have no identity apart from their marital status? While I think it is wonderful that the media is highlighting women who preach, I have a feeling this show will make me cringe. You're not going to find it on my Tivo. If I had a Tivo.

Check out the blurb about the show here at CNN.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Biblical Censoring

I'm currently taking a Judges exegesis class. If you've never read the book of Judges in the Old Testament, you're missing out. It is filled with adventure and murder and rape and horrific tales. You know, pleasant things to read in the Bible.

We're working on translating chapter 4 which is the story of Deborah the judge and how Jael kills Sisera. She drives a tent peg through his temple which is not a cute way to die. I was curious how The Picture Bible (comic-book Bible from the 1960's) would portray this story. I was very disappointed.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Chocolate Shavings

One of our homeletics (preaching) professors talks about chocolate shavings in the sermon writing process. Whenever we preach, there is bound to be material that just can't find its way into the sermon but is still good. Like when a chocolate bunny is made, there are shavings left over from when the bunny's figure is formed. It is still perfectly good chocolate, it just isn't necessary for that bunny. Here are some chocolate shavings from the sermon I'm currently working on. The passage is Mark 8:31-38.

In the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ, we see God reaching into humanity. Wanting to be in solidarity with us. To reconcile humanity in our broken condition. This is God’s great gesture of love. God’s way of saying “yes” to humanity. Martin Luther says that through Jesus on the cross, we are liberated to become “imitators of God.” Not as a requirement for righteousness, but as a response made in love. When we understand the love of God, we respond with love.
When Jesus calls us to pick up our crosses and lose our lives, he’s telling us that to follow him requires radical discipleship. But it isn’t just to follow. Not just to be with Jesus. It is to do as Jesus does. Mimicking, imitating the actions of Jesus. When Jesus says to pick up our cross, he is calling us to stand up against the wicked forces that oppress. Those forces that cause poverty, suffering and injustice. That is the cross Jesus calls us to pick up and bear alongside him.
These crosses are heavy and burdensome. They are filled with splinters that pierce our skin. But as we pick up these crosses we are abiding with Christ. Christ beckons us to join him in the work for justice and peace. We have a mutual responsibility that as Christ comes to be in solidarity with us, we are asked to bear crosses to be in solidarity with him. As we look to Christ on the cross, standing in opposition to the wicked forces of his time, we are strengthened for the task of standing up to the wicked forces in our own day. As we pick up our crosses and bear the resulting suffering, we know that we are abiding with Christ. Amen.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Little Disciples

The church where I attend and currently serve as intern has a weekly dinner on Wednesday nights. We call it a potluck, but not many bring food to share because the church provides plenty for all. And it's free.

This might be one of my favorite things about this church. Besides the Passing of the Peace which usually takes 10 minutes in the service, I love these Wednesday night dinners. I love to fellowship with these wonderful Children of God and learn their stories.

I was particularly struck tonight as we gathered to eat. I sat down and was chatting with one of the kids before dinner was ready. Once everyone hopped up to get their food, this young child offered to get my plate for me. She told me to come with so I could pick out the food. She has a broken arm in a cast, which made it a bit hard for her to hold the plate, so I helped her with that. But she insisted on putting the food on the plate.

I was amazed by her servant's heart and her desire to serve another person. I had to laugh though, when she yelled her mom to fix a plate for her. Guess she wasn't interested in serving herself!

I love these little glimpses of disciples really getting what it means to live in community and serve one another.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Burrito Goodness

The alarm clock goes off and I spend a brief minute trying to remember what day it is. Tuesday. I don't have class until 1pm. Why am I getting up so early? Oh, right! It's burrito day! This is the day when I make my weekly pilgrimage with a good friend to La Cocina De Consuelo, a hole in the wall restaurant with the best breakfast burritos in Austin. We drive the 2 miles to the restaurant, and are hit with the aroma of freshly made tortillas as we walk in the door. The man behind the counter knows our faces and he almost knows what we're going to order. Perhaps in a few weeks he'll know our "usual." We order at the counter and take a seat, anticipating the deliciousness that is about to hit our taste buds. So much goodness wrapped in that delectable tortilla. We chat about life and school as we scarf down these amazing burritos. Time stands still. Is this heaven on earth? Maybe, just maybe.

Ah, burrito day.

Monday, February 27, 2012

School Stress

Two years ago I had a breakdown. My world collapsed due to stress and anxiety. I was taking Intro to Biblical Hebrew which is stressful in and of itself. On top of that I was taking Intro to New Testament, taught by the most stressful professor I've ever had. And then I was working 35 hours a week at Walgreens. I weep thinking back on that semester.

This week I find myself experiencing anxiety, though it doesn't compare to what I went through two years ago. I am strengthened as I recall those stressful days and realize, nothing could be worse than that semester.

In the next two weeks I have a lot on my plate:
Tomorrow I help lead worship at Chapel.
Wednesday I have a presentation in my Judges Exegesis class.
Thursday I have an exam in my Mission/Evangelism class.
Sunday I preach at my internship church.
Monday I have a Hebrew quiz.
Tuesday I preach a wedding homily in my pastoral celebrations class.

After that, Spring Break arrives and relief sets in!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Our Engagement Shin-dig

Today my fiance and I hosted an engagement party open house. We've been trying to figure out a way to celebrate our wedding with all of our loved ones here in Austin. Our solution was to throw a party and entice the guests with food. It worked.

For four hours, the house was filled with friends and family, and new friends and new family. We were able to blend our communities by inviting them in to share our joy. It was overwhelming at moments and I was exhausted by the end of it, but it was worth it. At a few points, I looked around admiring the wonderful people we are blessed with. I think it is fortunate if a person can have 5 friends to love and be loved by. We are blessed by an abundance of such friends.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Fam

My parents are coming into town today, primarily to meet my fiance's parents, but also to see the beautiful city of Austin. I couldn't be more excited! It is a bit of a rough time in the semester to be hosting them, but my hope is that I'll be able to put aside the anxiety of the looming tests and sermons.

They fill my heart with joy.

Friday, February 24, 2012

I was run-nang!

Tonight I went for a 15 mile run. Now, I don't call myself a runner. If you know me, you know I'm not exactly built for running. I don't have a physique which allows me run like a gazelle. But I love a good challenge. So I'm training for a marathon which will take place in May. My beloved and I will be running together which will make it even more special.

I never thought I'd say that running for 2.5 hours would be fun, but I really enjoyed it today. I ran from our campus to Town Lake, did the loop all the way around the lake and ran back to campus. It was such a lovely mix of city and nature, which kept me focused and entertained.

The interesting thing about running these days is that I don't think about wedding plans. It seems like 70% of my time these days is spent working on wedding plans, but somehow my runs are exempt from that. It is a time when I can just let my mind wander. I can focus on my legs taking one step after another. I can feel my body getting stronger. It is a therapeutic time.

We'll see if I feel the same way once I get up to 17, 18, 20 miles!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

My Jam Meltdown

It all started with a jar of Smucker’s Strawberry jam.

I was standing in the aisle at the grocery store, surveying the selection of jams. I’m partial to Smucker’s and was trying to decide between two sizes. The larger of the two was definitely the better value. But then a thought hit me: I’m only going to need enough jam to last me for three months. I have three months before I move into my fiance’s house and consolidate our stuff. Do I really want to bring a half-full jar of jam to his house? Does he even like jam for that matter? What if I’m marrying a man who does not like jam? What if he likes a different brand? Will that be a point of contention between the two of us? What else will be issues? Which dishes we hand wash vs put in the dishwasher? How we prefer the toilet paper on the holder (over vs under)? How we save for retirement? How we raise our children?

At this point I was still standing in the grocery store, staring at these jars of jam, with my mind panicking, wondering I know my fiance well enough. I was having a mini-meltdown, the first I’ve had since becoming engaged. I’ve heard it is normal and even healthy to have episodes like this before getting married. Releasing and acknowledging anxiety is a good thing. Studies show that if pregnant women have nightmares about their baby, they will have a shorter and easier labor, having released some of the anxiety they have built up.

I wonder if this jam-pondering-meltdown is a healthy thing. I have no doubt that we’re making the right decision in getting married. The other night at our first premarital counseling session we were both asked to list the top ten reasons we want to marry the other person. I had a hard time limiting it to only ten. But I’m also not ignorant to how difficult marriage is going to be and the major adjustment it is going to require.

I should ask my beloved if he likes jam. If he prefers a different flavor or brand, I suppose we could keep two jars in our fridge. Compromise is good.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Lent 2012

The "ashes to ashes, dust to dust" aspect of Ash Wednesday has got me thinking about dust. It occurs to me that this blog has become rather dusty lately. I have left it abandoned not because I haven't had anything to say, but because I have been ridonkulously busy for the past 6 weeks. But this season of Lent is causing me to pause and contemplate. I'd like to share some of those contemplations with you, hopefully posting each day of Lent. This is not "what I'm doing for Lent." That is between me and God. This is just a healthy exercise in getting my thoughts on paper, er screen.

Let me get you up to speed.

January was spent doing an internship at a hospital. It was an 8-5 chaplain gig, which was one of the most valuable learning experiences I've ever had, and also one of the most exhausting. I was emotionally drained at the end of the day, but would muster up the energy to study for ordination exams.

Which takes us to the major stress in my life lately, the ords. The Presbyterian ordination process requires all candidates to pass 5 ordination exams. The first is the Bible content exam, which I passed last January, and the other four are called the senior exams. Most Presbyteries require that all four be taken at the same time. The topics include Theology, Worship/Sacraments, Polity and Exegesis. The first three are three hours each and the fourth is a take home which you have five days to complete. As you can imagine, it is very stressful to take nine hours worth of exams in two days and then have to carry on for another five days by diving deeply into a Biblical text. I'm exhausted just reminiscing on it! Having completed them, I now dwell in that liminal space of waiting to hear if I passed them or not. I won't find out until mid March. I'm doing my best not to think about it, knowing there's nothing I can do but wait.

In other news, I got engaged! This is very exciting and I couldn't be more joyful, but it has also added wedding planning onto my already full schedule. Not that I'm complaining, I love it so far. I'll be posting on that in the coming days.

And then there is school. We're into week 2 and I'm already overwhelmed by quizzes and presentations and sermons. I'm taking a full-time load and continuing my internship at a local congregation.

All of that should provide plenty of material for blogging in the next 40 days or so...

Sunday, January 15, 2012

MLK jr Birthday Reflection

Today I lament because of blisters. Blisters in and of themselves are worth lamenting over, because they're rather painful and annoying. I happen to have two matching blisters, one on each foot, thanks to a 9.5 mile run I did this morning.

But these blisters are causing me to lament over the sad reality of privilege and racism in our society, especially how I participate in that system.

Yes, going from blisters to racism is a rather big leap, but allow me to explain. I went to the drugstore to purchase some type of moleskin to alleviate my blister situation. There were only a few options, the best one being a product from Dr. Scholl's. Here is a picture of the packaging:

Do you notice the "Nearly invisible" phrase on the box? Well, it isn't false advertising. If you're Caucasian. This blister bandage really does blend in to my peachy flesh. Which is nice, because it doesn't draw unwanted attention to my feet. But if your skin is darker, say a lovely shade of black, this bandage isn't going to be invisible on your skin. It will be quite apparent. Just like most of the other bandages on the shelves of drugstores and in the supply rooms of hospitals.

Our society still defines the norm for skin color as white. And so these bandage makers get away with declaring that their products blend in, nearly invisibly, when applied to skin. I lament because I participate in this system which perpetuates privilege. By purchasing this product, I have said "yes" to racism. I have done my part to perpetuate injustice.

A few decades after MLKjr's time, we've come a long way. But we've got a long way to go.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Chaplain Tears

It took four days, just four, for this class to lead me to tears. I held it in those first three days but this day, this less than stellar fourth day caused me to cry tonight.

There wasn't anything particularly awful about today. I did rounds on both my units, met with a few patients. Encountered a patient who is Southern Baptist and was clearly offended by the idea of an ovary-bearing-soon-to-be-ordained-chaplain. I brushed that off, realizing this isn't about me.

It's about the patients. It's about these people who are lying in their hospital beds, immersed in anguish and pain. Facing terminal diagnoses and transfers to places where they will likely die. This is about them. It's about being, encouraging and praying.

I pray for strength to carry through the next three weeks of this course. As I wake up each day, uncertain of what the hours hold for me, I pray. And I hope that my interactions with these patients is nurturing. That they will glean some comfort. That I will do more good than harm. It's a tricky thing, this chaplain business.