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Currently I work in a detention center for asylum seekers fleeing violence and persecution in their home lands.  My days can be so full of stories.  Sometimes one day at my work can make a Bollywood plot seem plausible. Not to belittle the goings on of the day, but truly what holds more intense highs and lows in the span of three hours than a Bollywood film? And today was rather pocked with loveliness and sorrow in surprising array.

So here are the basics of the news today.  I’m writing this primarily for me.  I just want to remember what I encountered today and return to the touchstones here for further writing, processing, and prayer.

I was greeted this morning with a gussied up looking couple who were awaiting the completion of their refugee interview with the UNHCR.  I prayed for them.

Next, I was presented with weekly news articles from Sri Lanka which consisted of the rapes of young women by military men. The news was relayed to me by an ever cheery and kind Sri Lankan man.  He asked to miss classes today because his mind felt unsettled.

My class was interrupted by shouts because a dear Bakul, for whom we’ve been praying, found out he received refugee status.  Praise God! I had to run out of the class to go shake his hand and rejoice with him for a moment!! Hooray!

Lunch with a crew of giggly, dancing, and teasing little girls and their families.  Lovely.

Ended class with lots of questions to answer and one student standing by patiently.  Once it was just he and I, he started in with “I’m angry.” Then he relayed a story of betrayed confidences, love, an enraged would be father-in-law, some determined  remarks and finished with a request for prayer.

While outside of work waiting for my ride, I read a text message stating that my friend found out he has hep c. Further texting ensued. Then I greeted the center’s doctor and offered him my condolences on his recently deceased sister. He made positive, sunny-side responses, but we both started tearing up.

… hear our prayer.

I haven’t said a wink on this blog for some time.  But it seems worth noting into the cyber-cosmos that Davi and I are moving away in just a couple of days.  This has been a tumultuous process, but like diving into a cold ocean wave, it is well worth the passing discomforts.

Home…  We drove south from the Santa Cruz mountains Thursday (the 27th) thanking God for the coast line we love and the bomber sunsets it holds. Ok, we drove along a bit cranky at first with the rash like itch of goodbyes leaving us unsettled and emotionally fidgety.  It took a minute to shake the  crankiness to recognize the sorrow of parting and and the gratitude laying so thick in the sadness.  This coast line has been home to both David and I.  Our families are our homes.  Dear soil-rich years of cultivated friendships are our homes.  We are each others’ home.  And over all this, the refuge under the hollow of God’s wing is our home.

We drove briefly to Arroyo Grande to stay the night with my brother and fam, to plant as many kisses on the faces and necks of my nephews as they would allow, and to just share in my Broseph’s and Becky’s presence for a bit.  And then on to Santa Barbara.  Family and delightful friends.  Mmmmm….  And Al Merrick boards, hints of Tom Curren, and perfectly breaking sets of longboarding waves rolling endlessly through Rincon.  The smell of SB coastline!  How did so much of my childhood pop up in that day?  I’m thankful for the sweetness of that goodbye.  I do plan to return of course.

That will do for home and goodbyes for now.  I’m grateful. Thanks be to God.

First a quick word on the temperature.  I’m freezing!!!  As only a So-Cal weather wimp can.  Outside this morning isn’t that cold actually, but last night’s temperature is still rattling my bones.  Brrrr….  This cold feeling reminds me of my first night of real chill in Nepal.  I took a shower in an outdoor stall at night.  Steam was pouring out of it, but I’m pretty sure that the water temp was cooler than my body’s.  Brrrr!!!!

Golly, but this isn’t about the weather.  Unless you consider the Church of England something you can take the temperature of.  Last Thursday my class took a field trip to hear the Church of England’s Bishop Graham Cray speak on “turning the ocean liner.”  (By ocean liner, he was referring to the Church of England)  I thoroughly enjoyed hearing about what is going in churches in England.  As is true here as well, the shape of church is shifting.  Have I compared the new expressions of church to charter schools yet?  Well churches seem to be popping up in new forms much like charter schools here in California- prolifically.  They are pioneering avenues of reform for often no longer adequate systems.  Anyway, what struck me as particularly lovely about the lecture, was that the bishops and leaders of the merry ol Church of England are advocating for and equipping these “fresh expressions” of church.  Sweet.  It is as if the state department of education is partnering with all the charter school upshots.  Reform is being advocated for from the top, and the those starting something new don’t have to slink around as if they are breaking the rules and rebelling against what came before.  The new expressions can learn in partnership with the wisdom of what has hundreds of years of history and experience.   (I think I discussed what the fresh expressions are looking like in the last blog, so I won’t go into here.)  Hooray for flexibility, imagination, and creativity!  Hooray for mentoring and aged wisdom and partnership!  I guess the temp of the Church of England may well be quite warm with life.  God bless them!

Well, I haven’t been mostly dead at all though it might have appeared as such given the dormancy of my blog.  I have had plenty of stones to pile.  The one year memorial of Jason Presley’s home-going has come and gone.  I am continuing to gain inspiration from his large large heart, verdant mind and chutzpah to put his wild passions into action.  The aching of his passing has not passed.  And I can reflect on how perfect it was to leave his memorial service to go dance with wild leaps and abandon on the beach of Bodega Bay.  Oh he is cherished!  And I hope to make off with one of the “Sit Here and Dream Big” signs he was part of dreaming up.  

I’ve been enjoying my classes.  This quarter has been high in hands on and low on phenomenal reading.  So I offer no book recommendations at the present.  But if you are interested in purchasing some origin roasted and justly sourced coffee, holler at me quick.  Yes, it appears this quarter has put me  in the coffee business again.  This time I get to work on the sourcing and ethos end of things almost exclusively.  Praise God!

I’ve been enjoying the company of such dear and gifted folks this quarter.  I experienced one of the most rich Easter Holy weeks of my life yet.  Every day was a celebration with some wonderful times of worship in meditative candlelight vespers and a very deep and lovely Passover Seder.  Such gifts!  This quarter has also held heavy doses of shared meals and homegrown music.  Dreaming and scheming have been on the menu as well.  More to follow this summer.  What blessings!

Noël’s 29th birthday just passed.  She is on eternal time, but I commemorated the temporal with a bagel and fruit brekky picnic in the park.  My roomies, mi Novi and his roomies celebrated with me in such a perfectly reminiscent way.  I thank God for the gifts of that day.  The picnic breakfast seemed so full of Noël yet peopled by folks who had never met her.  That was a gift.  And I am being a practice counselee for a friend in a pastoral counseling class.  Noël’s birthday was my first session.  So I just got to sit and talk for nearly an hour about Noël and life without her immediately in it.  What a surprise gift of time and space to verbally reflect.  That kid was great!

And mi Novio.  I’ve stepped most decidedly into a romantic friendship.  I guess you could say things became “official” on April first.  The day we all remember that God uses the foolish things of the world to shame the wise.  I’m just beginning to pile the stones about this dear fellow who I’m calling “mi Novi.”  I’m not sure what to say.  I certainly could use to do some writing out what’s been transpiring with this fellow and the adventures of stepping into a relationship.  Zowy!  I will simply say for now that I thank God a lot and spend a fair bit of time in amazement.  I am quite blissfully and disorientedly preoccupied.  There it is.  Woo wee.  

Peace to you all!

I was driving back from a dreamily good visit with some friends in Ojai a couple of days back, and the whole sky and hills and road were positively drenched.  The rolling tall clumps of hills under all the precipitation induced green smacked of Maui in the rain.  I got to drive along through air seeping with wet, and the palm trees looked right at home not in the least bit ornamental.  I hated to drive out of those hills, partially from their beauty and partially from who I was leaving, but then I got that sweet longing from reveling in the temporary.  However it is that that works.  And I kissed the ocean goodbye as I met it rounding the curve from the base of the hills and heading back towards Pasadena.  Sometimes I could just explode with wonder.

Just a little update on the daily as well.  My dear laptop was down for the count and was sent in for a resurrection.  Turns out it was only mostly dead.  Now it’s back in finer than Frankenstein form.  And so is my blogging.  Back I mean, I’m not going to comment on its form.  (I could have attempted from my dear French roomy’s computer, but that keyboard had me in finger memory fits.  And my French is only so-so as far as navigating her settings etc.)

School is back in.  Week 3.  My classes are beyond stunning.  My profs are blowing my mind daily.  Please everyone read Walking with the Poor by Bryant Myers.  Please don’t bother with whatever other drivel you’re reading these days.  Just jump on that one and be done with it.  Ok.  And then check out the TearFund.com to see why the U.K. kicks some serious tail in the holistic approach to getting it done.  It being love in action towards your next door neighbor and across the globe and the political and holistic approach to poverty relief.  Well, since you’re going all gung ho already now, you might as well get going on reading Judith Ennew’s Street and Working Children.  Just enjoy having your world rocked and your mind blown.  

And I’ve been doing a bit of documentary watching.  Holla!  Call and Response was a gem.  And here comes the part where I  brag a bit.  Well, the director was at the viewing I went to, and he did say a few words at the end that made it sooo much more meaningful.  He connected immediate action and lifestyle change to information that seems distant.  And I did get to participate just a little in some hands on action and discussion afterwards.  (The movie/rockumentary is a sort of mash up of music and the contemporary human trafficking endemic.)  The director made the connection between the trafficking and labor issues and the stuff we wear and buy everyday.  Please.  Say that again already.  Louder if necessary.  So the director is starting a grassroots consumer demand movement for “slave free” products.  From who picks the cotton to who sews the buttons on your collars.  I also finally watched Blood Diamond which baked my noodle and was redemptive and had too much violence for my palette.  I already hurt without seeing reenactments of destruction.  Watch that one and then talk amongst yourselves if you haven’t already.

What else am I up to?  Not enough hiking, but some.  Enjoying new friends.  On a Children at Risk committee that is giving me access to some really neat organizations and info.  Working more.  Hooray!  Digging tutoring some dear junior highers along with the darling/hilarious/not-too-focused grade schoolers.  I just upgraded to a cubicle with a window.  Office job luxury at its finest.  I have felt like my plate is a wee bit overloaded, but I’m attempting to dial down.  (I actually have a class on that.  No joke.  Spirituality and Mission.  I have to meditate on the Scripture and take times of quiet as class assignments.)  Oh and continuing to dig my church fo sho.

Ok, enough of all that.  Just a quick update since I’ve been rather silent.

Classes start up again tomorrow and I’m finally back and having a post-holiday miss fest.  I’m missing my sister Summer and family.  I’m missing my dear old friends.   I’m missing those familiar haunts and dear faces that I got to see for so many delightful hours at a time.  I guess I’m showing signs of having had a very rich time over the holidays.  

I hiked in the red rocks of Southern Utah and enjoyed the vistas of snow.  I got sore from dancing and spazzing and then from playing Wii with the neices.  

Starburst!

Starburst!

And then New Year’s found me slightly less apt to soreness after some raring rounds of balloon volleyball.  (One of the better indoor sports going these days.  Leave it to the amazing Pick family to completely stoke you out with a balloon, a string and some no-holding-back competitiveness.  I think I am going to set up a volleyball court in my bedroom.) Oh, and I visited with one of my oldest and continuously inspiring friends, saw the majority of my immediate and extended family, picnic-ed at the  Santa Barbara Mission with a raucous group of dear gals, stayed up late with friends and family, saw my youngest niece get baptized, got to relish time with some of the Hum Co crew, got a phone call from one especially dear “Little Juanny” and may have successfully talked my dear pal E-Jayne into moving South.  Score!  

 

Oh, and my stomach was sore too from relentless eating.  I’m grateful for the blessing of a full belly, but do we really have to go to excess to celebrate?  I know, I didn’t have to stuff my face.  I just did.   And just to prove my munching capabilities, I won two games over the holidays by sheer pie hole power.  My younger niece has taken to calling her sister “Costco Muffin Mouth” for rather obvious reasons.  Kenzel has inherited quite the mug.  Since she is not the only big mouth in the family, we decided to have a “Muffin Mouth Contest” between the big-mouthed crew of the family.  Basically, Kenzel, her parents and I each had a Costco muffin and competed to see who could take the biggest bight.  Long story short I won.  So I’m the reigning Muffin Mouth of 2008 and I’ll have to defend my title next year.  In case you are wondering, I bit off, chewed and swallowed half of a muffin in one excessive chomp.  Ridiculous I know.  My sister, Summer, nearly had me, but she couldn’t swallow.  

I only could have asked for more Christmas Caroling, less goth-esque tween movies and three less trips to/through Vegas.  (Oh and of course I’m continually asking for humans to know God’s love and extend it more to one another, and a whole heck less of mass consumerism-  But that is not really holiday specific, though perhaps quite appropriate.)    

Here’s a shot of the red rocks of Souther Utah.  Woo wee!  Oh and did I fail to mention that I am as in love as ever with the ocean (which I visited for New Year’s), and that I drove away from it in near tears crying out sonnets of my love and appreciation.  (I can be so over the top, but I’m not kidding.)

dsc072771

So far so rambunctious. Basically we’ve had way too much sugar and cheese for anyone’s good. Kenzel, my 13 year old niece is way bigger then me and K-didder is working her way up. Argghh! Why am I the runt? We’ve successfully had a dance party at least once day…I’m very pleased of course. Mi Madre and K are making a gingerbread house from scratch as I type, and Sufjan Stevens has been the predominant sound track.

There is the remains of snow outside and a couple of small snowpeople looking a bit sorry with their carrot noses lying at their feet. I’m blessed to be with family and enjoying the neck aches brought on from excessive spazzing out with them. The nieces have figured out that I am ticklish and am no longer intimidatingly larger than them. They are relentless.

Though most of my hours have been filled with noise and motion since I arrived at my sister’s, my quieter moments have been filled with prayers for friends and every news of need and hurt that I encounter. What a mixed bag, like pulling out my Christmas gift knitting project on the freeway out of Vegas as I sat waiting for a nasty accident to be cleared, or sitting down to eat a lovely dinner with the family after hearing of a airplane crash in Denver. (Thank you God, no deaths!) Or like hearing of dear Steve J. being Santa and getting to meet and speak comfort to a young girl that just lost her twin in a car accident that he had read about in the news.

Peace to you all as Christmas approaches and we celebrate the wonderful saving juxtaposition of the Light that entered the darkness!

My head feels as empty as a pumpkin, or at least as full of mush.  Post paper brain blur.  I’m not into stirring up controversy, but I don’t seem to lack for walking sincerely right into it sometimes.  I turned in a paper this week on 1Timothy 2:11-15.  Yet another topic to learn to speak gracefully about.  

I was glad to get to visit with two dear old roommates of mine this evening.  The same two I had wine and Thai food with shortly after moving into town.  They both asked for me to e-mail them my paper, curious about what I researched and concluded.  I’m breathing a sigh of relief that though we three will all come at this topic quite differently, we can none-the-less to some degree share our perspectives.  I don’t know why I fear all hell will break loose if people don’t agree with one another.  And then I am so relieved when hell doesn’t break loose.  I know I’m full of opinions myself.  Chock full.  But I want to carry the majority of them lightly. 

I’m into peacemaking and peace keeping and have the lowest tolerance, or perhaps overly keen radar, for disturbances in the force.

 Which brings up a theme I’m being enriched by in my Intercultural Attachment class.  Attunement, Misattunement and Reattunement.  Attunement refers to being in synch with or mirroring another’s feelings or emotions.  It is what is going on when we click with someone or “get” one another.  Misattunement is what takes place when we fall out of synch with one another, do not connect, misunderstand or don’t mirror one another.  Reattunement is the process of reconnecting and building back to attunement after a rift.  Reattunment is a place of greater connection than the original Attunement.  I am so uncomfortable with misattunement that I fight hard not to go there and then am quite despairing when it does occur.  

Through this class I’m realizing that (aha!)  I need to look forward to the Reattunements.  Reattunement is coming.  Fight (there’s an excellant use for that word) for Reattunement.  Don’t get stuck in the sadness of Misattunement.  Yeah.  So, I actually am starting to keep my eyes peeled for the Reattunements.  They are not guaranteed, but they are a possibility that I can be part of bringing about.  Yes.  Misattunement is more aptly faced when Reattunement is anticipated.  And Attunement can be more readily sought out and entered into when the fear of Misattunement isn’t murking things up and Misattunement isn’t seen as an end.  

Oh, and since you were wondering… I did register for next quarter’s classes today.  And the scorecard reads: Spirituality and Mission, Poverty and Development, and Hebrew Prophets.  I thought the correction and justice of the prophets would pair well with a look at poverty and global development.  And the Spirituality and Mission class uses Richard Foster as a main text!  Oh boy oh boy!  And two of the profs are ones I’m hoping to do a fair bit of studying under.  And it looks like a good crew of friends will be sharing some of these classes.  Yippy!!  (There is a Globalization and the Poor class lingering in my mind as well.  I think it is going to probably have to remain in Lingers-ville for this quarter.) 

See, I said my head was empty.

Today I got the one of those most delightful of gifts that a student can get, a care package.  My old roomies and friends in Sac sent me off a box of love and madness.  I’ll give you the illustrated version. 

The package arrived on my front doorstep with E. Jayne’s distinctively scriptive “I worked at a stationary shop in Montecito” writing on top.  Yippy!  I had an inkling it might include some items that are taking an extended layover at my old Sac house right now.  What I was really surprised to find was just which items it included.  

To your right is exhibit A.  This is the poor ol plant that was transported in a friend’s trunk from Hum Co to Sacto which shriveled up and died in the process.  Partially because that process included not making it to my old house and living in the heat in the trunk for just under a week or so.  But now I have its remains at the ready to remember it by.  10  points to E. Jayne for having the good sense to send this to me.  Hilarious!  The plant was rockin’, but it was actually its pot that I was really attached to.  It was growing in this great mosaic-ed piece of artwork that a friend made me.  

Exhibit B.  Here’s the contents of the box that came under the dead plant.  From left to right-ish.  A bag of zucchini bread muffins made using a home grown zucchini and Jason Presley’s recipe.  Could a more thoughtful food item be sent?  Perhaps only Jason’s recipe scones.  There’s also an origami bat from the terribly clever Summer, and some favorite pictures that were also caught in the layover.  And soap!  I guess either I smelled distinctively awful when E. Jayne visited, or she knows me well enough to realize that I can’t bring myself to buy a bar of soap when I know I have heaps of it waiting for me in the layover goods.  (Side note.  Hey everybody, I want to take this moment to make a plug for bar soap.  You know how oil (not the vegetable kind) is a non-rewable resource and turning oil into plastic is a big waste producing, energy sucking, non-renewable, non-sustainable blight on the human race?  Well, why not chuck that soap-in-a-bottle habit and clean your hands in more way than one with a bar of soap?  Sweet.)  There was also some dentist approved gum.  I guess my breath was competing with my BO. Bummer.  And the a whole pack of nifty pins that basically say that Creation looks best in green.  There were a few other sundries and this…  

Exhibit C.  A colorful photo banner from mes amigas.  (Spanglish)  My white walls were begging for color.  And now they are hung with booty kickin’ quotes and dear ones’ faces.  How lovely.  What better to fill a wall with?  If I can’t have them in person, I can at least plaster my wall with their sweet and familiar faces.  

Thanks 521 Street!!