Archive for May, 2009

(cross posted with my wedding blog, because it’s a propos)


(Photo by Justin Sullivan, from Jezebel.)

Yesterday, as the courts in California were making and announcing their decision, I was reflecting on my own engagement and wedding plans.

There are two parts of the upcoming marriage that I love and look forward to: the first is all the pomp and decoration, whimsy and glamour.  I love dinner parties, fresh flowers, old pewter, dresses with bustles, big hair, yards of ribbon, candlelight, and gathering my loved ones… I love these things on a daily basis.  A wedding celebration is the perfect opportunity to celebrate with all of that and more.

I also love the Book of Common Prayer, and the liturgical ceremony that surrounds the formal ceremony.  The BCP means much to me, again on a daily basis, and I look forward to marking this milestone in the relationship between Matt and me, and in our families and communities, with a ceremony rich in history and language.

But.  It’s such a privilege that Matt and I get to be celebrated with tradition and history, and others aren’t.  In fact, others in our families, in the bridal party, in the groom’s party, in the choir that will sing at the church, in those planning the wedding with us… our lives are deeply connected with loved ones who cannot have the same rights as we have.

And.  Last night, I was comparing this to earlier civil rights struggles.  (I do see this as a civil rights struggle.)  What if I were living and planning my wedding in a time where black couples were not allowed to legally marry.  Oh, they might be able and encouraged to have a private party, to have a non-sanctioned person bless their marriage, but they wouldn’t have the same rights and privileges as I have.  Would I plan the wedding I’m planning?  No.  If my black classmates and floormates and colleagues could not marry, I would not want to exercise that privilege– I would see it as a gross flexing of rights in the face of injustice.

And isn’t that what I’m doing while continuing to peruse tulle and cake, when I am unfairly privileged to do so by unjust laws?  What if we gave all of our wedding budget to the HRC?

If you haven’t seen it yet, watch the “Fidelity” video.  And add your name to the list.

And if your state has a “Defense of Marriage Act,” find your representative and send them an e-mail.


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bag shoes

“Own only what you can always carry with you: know languages, know countries, know people.  Let your memory be your travel bag.”   –Alexander Solzhenitsyn


Friday was Commencement; my second MA in three years, another wool robe, pomp, prayers, ceremony. I loved every minute of it.  We’ve been saying “good bye” to people all weekend; outside my door, I can hear our neighbors and dear friends Shelly and Aaron tearing tape strips to back their boxes before moving West.

We’re moving next weekend, and have begun the task of sorting, giving things away to the Free Table, and identifying the things we love the most, and intend to keep forever. At least, for me, with every batch of items that I give away, I claim something else that I will always keep.

Three such things, randomly:

A heart-shaped Precious Moments porcelain dish with lid; it has two little girls and some pumpkins on it, for an October birthday.  My oldest childhood friend gave it to me once for my birthday; our October birthdays are three days apart.

My copy of _The Redress of Poetry_, signed by Seamus Heaney–along with a photo of me and him in the barn in Vermont.  In the photo, I am showing him another photo, of me with Christopher Ricks, and telling a funny story.  This book changed the way I write, and consider writing.

A round, smooth rock from outside of one of Mother Teresa’s orphanages, from Port-au-Prince, Haiti.  I spent a day there, with the infants.  I wrote the date and place on the back of the stone, but my writing is nearly worn away.

My memory does an excellent job, but I still clutch to a few special things.

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Picture 1

One of my favorite bloggers painted it, and has used it for her blog header– when I opened her blog today, I gasped, and then _stared_.  I can’t quite describe why I love it so much.  The colors definitely–the darkness (so tactile and touch-able) and the pale pinks and cream.  And the blue somehow– notice the blueish shadows on the underside of the headboard.  I love the curvature of the turned wooden posts, and even the tiny knothole or screw hole.

I look at it a little longer, and I see the blue line between the dark and light, and I start to see that the bedframe maybe has different colors to it–maybe pale pink, light green, yellow?  It’s reserved, in a way– if I were painting something like this, I would go too far with the colors.  This one stays with me.

You can visit her blog at The House of Nana.

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I was supposed to be at a Jewish-Christian dialogue conference this week, in Connecticut.  It was to be yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  Instead, I am home sick, recovering from some sort of stomach virus or bout with food poisoning.

Awful.  Yesterday, and the night before last, was the worst.  Just wretchedness.  And now I’m mending, but haven’t eaten, and just feel puny and achey.  In the worst of it, I was thinking about people who are chronically ill, or terminally ill, and feel bad, or have to deal with things like vomiting, all the time.  I have a horrible feeling that I wouldn’t be a very brave, or hearty, or upbeat patient if anything really terrible happened to me.

One good blog I read is Aiming For Grace: Chronic Illness Considered.  She’s a great writer, and she articulates really well all of the daily frustrations, and a struggle to be all the other parts of her life that she claims, not just the one part that claims her.

I’m also, of course, feeling guilty for not making the conference (I have new business cards and everything!) and also for missing today’s faculty meeting.  But!  I’m trying not to, and I’m trying to rest and gear up– tomorrow my dad and his wife arrive, and Friday is my Commencement.  And next week, we’re moving.  The school year is definitely finishing, whether I’m ready or not.

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ki-hwan na morning fog

Morning Fog by Ki-Hwan Na

Hope is like a path in the countryside;

originally there was no path,

yet, as people are walking all the time in the same spot, a way appears.

– Lu Xu


“Jeong” is a Korean word meaning love, or connectedness, with a connotation of interpersonal stickiness.  I received a lovely invitation this morning, with this image and poem.  I love the ideas of many of us walking “in the same spot,” as well as “interpersonal stickiness.”

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14,000 things


When I was in junior high, I got a book called _14,000 Things to Be Happy About._

I’ve had it for years— it’s just a long list.  It includes things, in no particular order, like, “teakettles,” “a baby’s first tooth,” “brass decorated cash registers,” “brand new notebooks,”Yankee ingenuity…”  and so forth.  I read it randomly when I was young; I also underlined things that were especially appealing to me.

Reading it again, as an adult, I notice that there were a lot of things that I didn’t know about then, that I recognize now.  Some of these are regionalisms, or fancy kinds of food, or terms for things that I didn’t know before.

I think it’s also the kind of book people might make fun of.  But I like it.  I like lists, I like simple images, and I like noticing small things.  I’m not the only one– here’s a great list: “100 Things I’m Happy About.”  Love that it’s in the person’s handwriting.

I got my final PhD rejection letter today– five rejections.  I ran into a professor, one of my letter writers, in the hall Wednesday evening, and he was very encouraging about the kind of student I am, and that I ought not be discouraged, and that I should apply again.  He was shocked, and seemed sad and surprised, that I hadn’t had any “good news” yet.  That made me feel better.

I think I’m okay.  I’m very, very thankful for these three years.  Oh, wow: the things I’ve learned. I can translate now, in three languages.  I founded an academic journal, wrote an original play, read so many beautiful hymns and poems, acted in _The Assassins_, led a children’s theater program, became braver, became less avoiding of new or stressful things, learned how to ask for help, and became a better leader.  I met Ophelia Dahl and Paul Farmer twice, I met Marcus Borg and Greek Orthodox monks, I hosted Suzanne Marveaux and helped with a conference on women in Orthodoxy.  I wrote two original Christmas pageants, and helped the kids be whatever manger animals they wanted.  Those are all of the things I can think of at the moment.

And, also thankfully, I am also a teacher, and think that I can pretty easily find a good teaching job here.  It will be nice to be with schoolkids again, and have a different kind of purpose than that of a student.  I’m not sure if I will apply again to do doctoral work.  I think my professors and classmates will encourage me to, but I’m content thinking about the rest of the summer, and finding a good school, at the moment.

I’m a bit nervous, not being able to picture where I’ll be in the fall, where we’ll be living, what it will look and feel like… but I’m also feeling a little excited, and a little hopeful.

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A few weeks ago, Matt and I went to a gallery opening to see my friend Amy’s new show.  The night was quite the adventure in itself– we were in a part of town I’d never visited, four other shows were opening on the same floor of the building, and the whole scene was packed with quite the cast of characters.

(One older gentleman took a look at my chest and said, “Beautiful.  You have to let me sculpt them.” I actually thought I had [clearly] misheard, and said, “Oh?”  And he said, “I’m a sculptor.  I know what I’m talking about.  Those are beautiful.”  I demurred.)

Anyway.  Amy is a painter, and she has been working with a microbiologist.  The idea?  Use e-coli bacteria in a solution, and paint with it.  The images are beautiful: organic, strange, and lovely.

The idea of painting with a solution _you can’t see_ as you paint with it is so intriguing to me. Basically, the blue color comes in later, after the bacteria grow.  Amy paint’s with an invisible solution– she can sort of see the wetness on the page, but not really.  And!  The “color” will grow in its own way– she is creating a kind of guide for it, but ultimately doesn’t have control over how it will look.

I also love the idea that an artist would cede control in that way.  As a writer, I know that when I turn my plays over to a director and group of actors, it’s sometimes terrifying. Even if that’s the whole point of writing a play!

As a theologian, I have to say– I think faith comes into this, somehow.  Amy is hugely talented, and yet willing to suspend part of her vision, to allow for something else to come into play.

As a bit of a Type A…I’m not sure I could do that.  I mean, I would love to be able to do that. AND, in my prayer life, I do try to do that, to recognize that, to celebrate that and trust.  How beautiful that there are amazing works of art that are a visual representation of that.  Like: Look– you do part of it, and trust the rest of the growing to be natural, and in a beautiful way you never suspected.

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