I promise.

Here’s what I have. I ask you, my sisters and brothers, to hold me accountable, to add to this list, or to expand it in your own life where it applies.

Or ignore it completely. That always remains an option.

I want to go on record.

I promise to do my dead-level best to:

  • Love mercy
  • Do justly
  • Walk humbly with my God
  • Expand the Garden of peace beyond the borders of my own spiritual community whenever possible
  • Pray more
  • Love better
  • Do whatever I need to do to build stronger connections, maintain the bridges between us, and to repair the places that have eroded due to neglect and error.

I promise I will step in when I see injustice. I promise I will try to always stand on the side of the oppressed, the minority, the wounded, the suffering, and the wandering.

I promise I will help you find your words, perform your duty, carry your burden, and find rest.

I promise there is no such thing as alternate facts.

I promise you Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, and the people who voted for them, are icons, made in the image of God.

I promise I will always try my best to tell the truth, to call out falsehood when I see it, and to encourage others to do the same.

I promise to continue to mean what I say every liturgy “we pray for this country, its ruler, its people, civil authorities and armed forces.”

I promise to speak out against greed and injustice.

I promise to listen to your stories.

I promise to have “Lord, have mercy” on my lips as much as possible.cropped-mg_6828.jpg



Are we there yet?

In which I try not to step in it anymore

“The wise thief didst thou make worthy of paradise in a single moment. By the wood of Thy cross, illumine me as well. And save me.”

I will sing this hymn late next week as we move closer to Pascha. I have never needed to sing this hymn more than I need to sing it now. Lent is always hard. ALWAYS. You try to turn your brain more inward, make it function alongside your soul, make yourself one being: Mind/Spirit/Body. You try to clean up, clear out and make a firmer move toward holiness, toward becoming deified. You mean it.

And I meant it this year. I always do. But things are getting so damn complicated anymore. The Job That Doesn’t Pay takes up a good 12 hours a week, on average. Add that to the Job That (barely) Pays and it’s 40+ and the 6.5 hours of commute time to get to that one…sigh. I’ve been a bit busy. And recent events and ridiculousness are leaving my faith frayed to dangerous extremes.

I do guilt extremely well. It’s an aggravating holdover from my Western Christian days, the days obsessed with legal standing and paying debts and all that other crap. So I feel really really guilty about missing Lenten church services (for TJTDP) to get my stuff together for a search, and for missing last weekend for a 48-hour training. There’s going to be Lazarus Saturday skipped for more training.

The corrective to that guilt, though, was the live rescue of a missing person by a K9 on our team. This work with TJTDP is necessary and I need to do it. My dog’s good at it and it’s a skill we can share. So we’re getting over that right quick.

In the middle of all this, the actual obligations, my home state decided to wade into controversy up to its eyeballs. I tried very hard to hide under a rock and ignore it, but I found it discussed everywhere, by everybody. It was as inescapable as the wind in an open field, even in places I felt were safe. It’s personal to me because I know the people behind the bill, and I know their care and concern for the “least of these” extends only to those who are adult white males, married to women. They advised my old churches on how to hide child abuse. They lobby to keep states from cracking down on abuse in religious schools, colleges and mission organizations. They are getting fitted for their millstones. (And no, I am not sorry I said that.) They miss, of course, that the Golden Rule (and pretty much all the teachings of all the Gospel) is best distilled down to “Don’t Be an Asshole.” I know, it’s hard.

I found out one of my favorite humans in all the universe suffered a terrible loss. My heart broke for her.

So I hid this week, flat out. Skipped a Wednesday liturgy, where I knew the controversy would be hanging out at the potluck. I took my pup and went to a rubble pile. Nothing makes you “present” like trying not to fall into a jagged piece of concrete, rebar sticking out everywhere, looming up where you want to put your foot.

I guess I just found my analogy. This Lent has been an absolute disaster. And I have misstepped, over-stepped and caused landslides of anger in my own heart. I find myself now, as the thief, in the last minute, the midnight hour, trying to get it right. I am reaching out and reaching up. If you read this, and you are so inclined, I ask for your prayers over the next nine days as I approach the Feast of Pascha. Pray I might find a quiet place inside my soul to retreat, even when all around me seems to be going all to hell.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a very obvious sinner.

On stuff I wasn’t going to say

Update: This priest says it really well. Much better than I did…

Because I don’t think it’s anybody’s business, I was going to keep this to myself. But because it seems like we have these discussions in this country, and on Facebook, and whatnot about how our very souls are in jeopardy if we vote a certain way or a certain other way, I don’t know how in the world I can keep it quiet.

So, here’s my big news: I voted, for President, yesterday.

Don’t get me wrong. I have a lot of concerns. My candidate seems a bit to eager to engage in the use of  drone strikes to target those with whom we do not agree. My candidate hasn’t said enough about the war in Afghanistan or said anything about shutting down Guantanamo Bay. My candidate hasn’t said enough about infrastructure spending or making us less dependent on fossil fuels. He has said nothing about ending government relationships with Big Pharma and Big Agriculture and all the ways those two Big things poison our environment, our bodies and our food chain. My candidate said nothing about how he would protect me from the monster corporations that, through their never-ending search for profit, actually kill other human beings with whom I share this world. But I voted for him anyway.

I voted for the guy whom I believe believes in God, the same one I do. I voted for the guy whom I believe will do the most to protect families by enacting policies that make it possible for parents to have both jobs and health care. I voted for the guy whom I believe will do more to reduce abortion by enacting policies that support women and families. I voted for the candidate that I feel will be less likely to send my brother-in-law on another military adventure overseas. I voted for the candidate whom I feel makes it easier to be pro-life.

I voted for the guy whom I believe will make it easier for my mother and my grandmother as they age — to have health care and social security and a better retirement fund. I cast my vote for the guy whom I believe will make it the most possible for me to have the same.

I voted for the guy who is an American citizen, who went to Harvard Law, and wrote books. I voted for the presidential candidate who is married and really loves his kids. I voted for the guy who is a millionaire. I voted for the guy who never served in the military. I voted for the guy who created a health care plan that required citizens to buy insurance, whether they want to or not, and required insurance companies to cover all comers within that jurisdiction. I voted for the one who said he prays.

I didn’t really want to vote for that guy. But Jesus said the poor we will always have with us. He said that as much as you do to the least of these, you do to Him. He said that it matters how we treat each other and whether we tell the truth.

So yeah, I voted. And I went to Church on Sunday. And I’ll go to Church again this Sunday. And regardless of what had happened yesterday, my prayer will be the same: For the President of the United States of America, our Armed Forces and all those in Civil Authority…

It’s the same prayer my Church has been praying since it faced actual persecution under the Roman Empire. It’s the same prayer my Church prayed, suffering under the Ottoman Empire. It’s the same prayer my Church prayed as the Communists burned down its temples. And it’s the same prayer we pray now, as we live in a culture held captive by the deathly temptations of money, narcissism, and power. It’s the same prayer we pray under Democrats. And the same prayer we pray under Republicans.

I voted. Because I’m an American.

I pray. Because I am a Christian.