It was early here in our Pacific Northwest town We were just rising Getting ready for the day — Turning on the news Then …
My Husband called out “Come out here, you have to see this” As I reached the living room And turned to the television The second airplane flew into the second tower My … heart … stopped For just a minute
Was this real What was happening I found I was crying We watched the towers collapse
We heard a low flying aircraft And ran outside to see A fighter jet from Whidbey Air base passed over I didn’t know whether to feel safe, Or frighted.
Twenty years, long years seems like yesterday Twenty years, a lifetime for some
Twenty years of fighting in foreign countries To many lives lost US lives, Iraqi, Afghani lives lost Twenty years of death Of young men and woman Lives gone, Ruined, Changed forever
Was it worth it?
Why must we always Respond with weapons, Hate, anger, torture, imprisonment, and lies … by those who said they would lead us?
Was it worth it?
Why did Guantanamo Bay have to happen? Why did Abu Ghraib have to happen Why the loss of limb and mind have to happen?
Was it worth it?
Can we not see that war only brings More hate, more war, more torture, More lives lost?
Can we not see that our Young men and Young Women, of all nations are worth more than cannon fodder?
Can we not see that war only teaches war?
Was it worth it?
Could we have responded differently?
Could we not have honored the dead of 9/11 by finding a different path?
Could we not have found a path that healed rather than kept the wounds open and festering?
In hindsight can we not see there Was a different way forward?
Twenty Years since September 11, 2001 Yet, we haven’t learned anything from that day.
John and I have missed in person communion, it is, after all, why we go to church. But going to church right now simply isn’t an option. So, I decided we would hold our own Eucharist, Lord’s Supper, Communion here where we are. I have everything I need, pitcher, chalice, paten, bread, grape juice and put all those together with John, me, and Jesus and our table is set.
I will admit we added three more. We added Charlie, Esmerelda, and Louis our Chihuahuas. Yes, I know some would say “what sacrilege” to give communion bread to my dogs. But I would tell them that no purer souls exist than the souls of my dogs. For they embody love, compassion, mercy, and yes justice as well. I know that Jesus would welcome them because they are Gods Children just as I am. And, since the table isn’t mine but Jesus’ then I know they are welcome. They are welcome just as any human who came to the table Jesus sets would be welcome. Just as anyone who came to my home and shared what was laid out would be welcome.
So, in need of Communion, Lord’s Supper, Eucharist? Then come on over, no matter who you are, no matter what your faith, no matter your economic status, no matter your medical status, or creature type you are all welcome at the table.
I have lived with depression for many years and in all that time few people have known about it. That is not unusual for those of us who suffer from depression. Depression, well all mental illness, is a hidden disease, a taboo disease. When someone suffering from a mental illness speaks up, they are given a lot of advice, most of it worthless, then people walk away and avoid you from then on. Yes, the medical professions have finally begun to address mental illness for the disease it is. But, within the general population mental illness is still a stigma and affected individuals and their family go to great lengths to keep it hidden. You see most of our ideas of mental illness come from history where sufferers were thought to be possessed by demons or were the result of some shameful act in their or their family’s past. So, keeping sufferers of mental illness hidden has a long, painful, and cruel history.
In fact, today it is only when a person with mental illness becomes a threat to themselves or others does anyone know about it. When that happens it is not medical personnel who become involved it’s the courts or the police and the sufferer is then stigmatized and hidden away either in a mental institute, or prison. Mental institutes may or may not be helpful because they are poorly funded, and prisons, well they are simply store houses for the mentally ill.
In the last week a new spokesperson, Simone Bile, become the one who unlocked the door of mental illness and let in some light. She admitted she was suffering, which was causing her to lose focus when she needed it most. For her safety and the safety or her Olympic Team, she withdrew from competition. That took courage, great courage, for her to say no when many would have been pressuring her to remain in the games.
What follows is a prayer for sufferers of mental illness, who like me have been living in the shadows for a long time. I have lost friends to suicide because they couldn’t find the help they needed to crawl out of the darkness. I know too many who today struggle just to survive in a world that doesn’t understand or care about them. I do not know the number of people who suffer from some form of mental illness. But if we knew that number, I have no doubt that it would be the number one disease in this country. If we knew that mental illness affected more people than say cancer or heart attacks maybe we would have more funds to fight it, more personnel to treat it, and more compassion for sufferers.
A Morning Prayer for Suffers of Mental Illness (Opening Prayer for Queen Anne Christian Church, Seattle WA.)
Creator, Partner, Friend, I wait for light In the darkness of my mind. I call out but I hear only echoes in the emptiness around me.
I am afraid to speak of my pain. People do not want to hear, To listen, to sit in silence with me, I frighten them. They fear not what they don’t know But what they might learn.
Creator, Partner, Friend, come to me and sit with me, Listen to me. Hold me in silence and give me comfort. Don’t let me go, be my light in the darkness You are all I have, If I lose you I am afraid I will lose myself.
Creator, Partner, Friend, I ask in humble prayer For myself and others like me. Open the hearts and minds of Our loved ones, of strangers, Give them courage To confront their fears and Reach out to touch us, To hold us, to listen to us, To sit in silence with us, To be with us in our suffering, our pain, To be the light in the darkness.
I ask this, Creator, Partner, Friend In the name of the Carpenter Rabbi Who welcomed us, Who sat in darkness with us, And brought us into the light.
I have been taking break from reading and writing lately and doing more work in the garden. It has been a needed break. But, I am participating in a retreat on May 8th and the question was asked what does ministry look like to us and to provide a picture of our image. Well this is how I see my ministry:
I realize this may not be what many would see as ministry but it is how I see it, for me. At my age this is what I can do.
It all began because I wanted a cake for my birthday. With the pandemic, and social isolation, I knew we would not have visitors and I rarely ever celebrated my birthday anyway, so I did not care if anyone other than John and I were here to enjoy my day. But, for some reason, this year I really wanted a cake. I found a recipe for a Lemon Meringue Angel Food cake and decided that would taste lovely. Angel Food Cakes are low in fat because they only use egg whites and no butter so this would be perfect me, can you say high cholesterol. They are easy to make, as well. The hardest part about an angel food cake is separating the 12 egg whites from the 12 egg yolks. So, I whipped up, literally, the cake and when done took it out of the oven.
Now one thing you should know is you have to invert an angel food cake as soon as you take it out of the oven to let it cool or it will collapse. Well, my perfect cake came out, I went to invert and . . . wait for it . . . dropped the pan. My angel food cake was now a “fallen angel” food cake. I was in tears. I so wanted this cake. Instead of being light, fluffy, and about 8 inches tall, it was dense, soft, and 4 inches tall. It tasted ok but had the consistency of one of the Easter peeps! ACK. My husband John tasted this demon cake and decided it was wonderful and has been snacking on it ever since. Maybe I have found a new treat for him.
Now I had no cake, but I did have 12 egg yolks. To paraphrase an old saying “when your angels fall, make a pound cake.” I dug out a recipe for a 12-Egg Yolk Lemon Pound Cake and while this would not be a fat free cake the only cholesterol would come from the yolks because this cake did not use butter either so not too bad health wise for me.
However, the universe’s jokes were not yet done with me. I began to beat the yolks with my stand mixer, and it went well for about a minute then . . . wait for it . . . the mixer began to slow down and finally stopped. I turned it off, unplugged, waited a minute, felt the motor (it was not hot), then plugged it back in, started it up, and it barely turned on. Now I have a dead mixer. Ah, but wait, I do have a hand mixer and grabbed it and finished my cake.
After I put the cake in the oven, I looked at my lovely Kitchen Aid stand mixer, which my mother gave me some 22 years ago, and wanted to cry. She has been my baking buddy for a long time and now she was dying. Together we made bread, cakes, cookies, and rolls and I am going to miss her. I will look forward to a new Kitchen Aid Mixer, but I will miss this old girl.
Well, the second cake of the day came out perfect and I had my birthday cake. At the end of the day I wondered if, somehow, I was not supposed to make a cake? Sometimes I just do not listen to the universe when it says stop. Most of the time when I do that it does not turn out well, today it did and I ended up with a nice cake, John discovered an interesting snack, and I was not too frazzled. All-in-all not a bad day, or birthday.