Posts Tagged ‘Theology’

New Schedule

It’s been a little tough getting used to our new schedule, but hopefully everything will begin to fall into place. Last week was my first week back at school, but with the added 2 1/2 hour commute each way (well, 2 1/2 hours in the morning, 2 hours in the afternoon). I’m doing my best to juggle schoolwork and homestead responsibilities–so far, so good. I’m thankful that I love spending my time with both activities, which helps.

I’m only taking one class this quarter, which means I spend double the amount of time in the car to go to and from schodol than I actually do in class! But this class will be one of the best classes I’ve taken yet. It’s entitled “Exegetical Method and Practice” and is taught by one of the best in the field of New Testament, Dr. Joel Green. Basically, in this class take everything we learned in our year of studying Biblical (also called Koine) Greek and find out how to responsibly apply that knowledge when actually translating the Bible. This takes into account the cultural and historical aspects of Biblical texts, the dialogue of the contemporary culture with such a text, the ways in which to interpret a text based on a genre of a particular Biblical book, and so on. I’m proud to say that I just finished translating my first-ever entire book within the Bible: Paul’s letter to Philemon. Okay, okay, so it’s only 25 verses…still, I’m proud. And those 25 verses took over 5 hours to translate. It’s not as simple as translating from, say, French to English–there is deep nuance to the text, with the added challenge of the inability to talk to any of the original writers about their intent, their inferences, and their overall purpose. In any case, it will prove to be a very, very exciting class.

On the homestead, the weather up here keeps us on our toes. It was in the 70s last week, and this morning we had snow. The threat of frost until mid-May makes planning our garden very difficult. However, we do have a few things started indoors: eggplant, kale, lavendar, rosemary. Hopefully in the years to come we’ll get some UV lights to help us start our seedlings so we can time our planting perfectly. We also hope to finish off the greenhouse before next winter, which will also help extend our growing season. But for now, we work with what we have. My biggest concerns right now include having enough warm days to paint the garden fence so we can put in our last gopher barrier; getting the beehive ready for the arrival of our ladies on April 16th; getting a proper wind barrier for our beehive (and, in truth, our garden as well); figuring out our watering system; and finally, saving enough money to fence the property. I’d love to have chickens this summer, but if it’s not in the cards, then I’ll just have to be patient. We want to do this the right way.

On a final note, prayers for our little Sugar would be greatly appreciated. We’re going on over a month with a very strange gastro-intestinal problem that doesn’t seem to be abating. The vets are baffled, and I’m worried that it might progress to something worse if she doesn’t get some relief soon. 

That’s it from the cold, windy homestead for now.


Weekend Away

Tonight we leave for Anaheim, but Lord knows we’re not going to Disneyland (Disneyland is probably close to my least favorite places I’ve ever been). No, we’re going to one of my favorite gatherings of the year–the Religious Education Congress of the Los Angeles Archdiocese. It always takes place at the Anaheim Convention Center, and over the course of the weekend there will be over 200 speakers, 300 workshops, lunchtime and evening concerts, 12 different Masses, a Lamentations service, a Taize service, and countless other activities. Over 40,000 Catholics from every state and multiple countries across the world come to this conference. It’s a place to meet up with old friends, make new ones, and get a IV shot of God-talk and Spirit-juice. This year we’re signed up to see speakers like Ron Rolheiser, Jim Wallis, and Sr. Helen Prejean (author of Dead Man Walking).  I’m really excited.

In addition to the workshop, Rob and I will be blessed to sing with both Bob Hurd and Liam Lawton at two different liturgies. It is certain to be a blessed distraction from the struggles of the past few weeks, and it may even serve to bring us some of the comfort we’ve so needed.

The Religious Education Congress is doing something really cool this year: they’re streaming some of their events live. I’d like to invite you to check out some of their events…here’s the info straight from their website:

This year we are thrilled to invite the global cyber community to join us in our first-ever “live” webcast! Know someone who can’t make it to Congress? Invite them to experience the outpouring of grace and enthusiasm right here on the web at our new “live” page —

Join us for the fun and excitement beginning Friday, March 19 at 8:30 am PST as we stream “live” from the Anaheim Convention Center Arena, culminating with our Closing Liturgy on Sunday at 3:30pm PST. Schedule for Friday, March 19, 2010
8:00am-8:30am Convention Center Arena
8:30am-9:30am Opening Rite and Welcome
10am-11:30am Workshop: Ronald Rolheiser, OMI: “The Abundance of God and Philanthropy of the Heart” (Session 1-19)
11:45am-12:30pm Concert: The Jacob & Matthew Band
1:00pm-2:30pm Workshop: Rev. R. Tony Ricard, MTh, MDiv: “Why You So Crazy? Developing the Faith of a Fool!” (Session 2- 23)
3:00pm-4:30pm Workshop: Matthew Kelly: “One Dynamic Catholic” (Session 3-16)
5:15pm-6:45pm Liturgy: Jazz Liturgy, J-Glenn Murray, presider; music by John Angotti and Meredith Augustin
6:45pm-7:45pm REPLAY: Opening Rite and Welcome
8:00pm-10:00pm Concert: “Friday Night LIVE Rock ‘n’ Praise!” with John Angotti and guests Meredith Augustin, Cliff Petty & more Schedule for Sunday, March 21, 2010
2:00pm-3:00pm REPLAY: Highlights of the “Friday Night LIVE Rock ‘n’ Praise!” Concert
3:30pm-5:00pm Closing Liturgy

But it doesn’t end there … videos will remain available for 24 hours after the event on our YouTube channel.

Have a blessed weekend, and I’ll check in on Monday after we’ve returned back to sunny Tehachapi.

Knee Day

A couple of years ago St. Patrick’s Day ceased to be a day for green beer and pinching–at least in our family.  March 17, 2008 changed the course of events in our calendar, overwriting St. Patty for the evermore infamous “Knee Day.”

This was the day of my second ACL reconstruction. The final ACL reconstruction, my orthopedic surgeon emphasized. A day that would ensure that I wouldn’t have the recurring pain of bone-on-bone (I have no cartilage or meniscus in that knee, either) or the uncertainty of whether or not my knee would hold together during a fall. The knee reconstruction was also a reconstruction of my future.

Today I’m thinking a lot about my life just two years ago, on Knee Day. Our lives were so different. I hadn’t even started seminary yet; in fact, it was my recovery after the reconstruction that brought me back to theology and study. We didn’t have any intention of moving out of Los Angeles, and backyard chickens were for quirky people who baked their own bread and probably their own granola, too.  Tehachapi? Where was that? And I guarantee that a dog wasn’t anywhere near my husband’s radar.

Today, exactly two years later, I’ve changed the course of my career (or, rather, my vocation) and Rob has changed to a new job that we hope we’ll some day be able to work him out of. We own not only our own home, but the acre and a half that surrounds it. There isn’t the sound of planes or traffic in the morning; rather, there is the silence of a still sunrise…just before a chorus of birds sings its hymn to welcome the day.  I know how to demolish and reconstruct a bathroom. I know how to plant a garden. I’ve had to clean dirt out from under my nails more times that I can count. We’ve expanded our family to include our sweet dog Sugar, and on April 16th we’ll welcome a hive of bees. We’ve planted a cherry tree, an apple tree, an almond tree, asparagus, blueberries, boysenberries, and grapes (syrah, merlot, zinfandel, and chardonnay).  We have lavender seedlings started, and the seeds for our garden are simply waiting until the threat of frost passes soon. We have cows that frequent the hill behind our house. Neighbors always smile and wave when they drive by. We don’t have cable anymore. In fact, we haven’t even unpacked our television.

Life is very different.

The past week or so has been filled with grief, but today I want to focus on the joy. The gratitude of what we do have, rather than the pain of what we lost. I honor that pain, but I need to feel normal again. I need to remember that pain isn’t the sum of this story. It’s only a chapter. And it’s certainly not the final chapter.

Thank you, Knee Day, for reminding me that my life is continually undergoing reconstruction. The recovery can often be painful, but the fruit of the experience is sweet.

Another Mentor

The Jesuit who has been the president of LMU for the last 11 years has announced he will step down at the end of Spring term. During my time at LMU (1998-2002 for BA, 2002-2005 for MA), he served as a mentor for me. I didn’t always agree with his decisions regarding the direction he took the university (I would have preferred it stay a little smaller), but I loved his theology and especially his homilies. I appreciate his role in my life.

One of my friends transcribed a quote from a Baccalaureate homily a few years back. I would like to share it with you, because it touched my heart–and who doesn’t need to heed this advice!

“My advice to you is not to put too much weight in your worries, and even not to put too much trust in your plans. Trust rather in yourselves, and trust even more than that, God. The God who loves you more than you can ever imagine, the God who will always be with you on your life journey, often at your side, but occasionally out in front, leading you into unknown and magical places where you can become even more fully yourself and love in your own particular and wonderful ways. And when that happens, and as that happens, my guess is that you will discover, much to your own surprise, that you have indeed become a light to the world.” ~Fr. Robert B. Lawton, S.J.


This wouldn’t be a proper Christian blog without an Advent reflection. It’s interesting–each year, I find that God leads me down different reflective paths for Advent, Lent, and the (non-liturgical) New Year.  This year I find my Advent has been centered around reflections of pregnancy.

Of course, I’m not blind to the fact that this is closely tied to our place in life right now: trying to start a family, praying each month that it is the month that we will become parents. But I also think that pregnancy is one of the most important aspects of Advent.

After all, our entire lives are filled with pregnancies. Man and woman, we are pregnant with dream,  goals, and hopes. We are bringing our co-creativeness to birth each and every moment. We anticipate.

There is an inevitability with pregnancy, especially as birth approaches: our whole lives are about to change, and it is only the passage of time that separates us from our lives now and our lives to come.  There is an unknowingness about pregnancy. Will bringing this change to birth be painful? Scary? Dangerous? Will I know what to do once it happens? Will I mess it up?

In Romans, Paul says that “the whole world has been groaning in labor pains until now.” Yes…yes. We groan as we go through the cycle of anticipation, pain, rejoicing, fear.  At the time of Christ’s birth, whole world was pregnant with the hope of better things, of God showing Godself, of peace. In some ways, Mary was not the only one pregnant with Christ. The womb of creation was in a state of preparation. Of anticipation. And yes, the delivery of this hope held it’s fair amount of pain.

But, like true childbirth, the glory of the miracle wipes away the pain of labor. The preparation and anticipation becomes critical, for once the child arrives there is little opportunity to continue to prepare.

This Advent, I consider the ways that God has placed me in a state of anticipation and preparation. This whole year has been preparing the way for our current state: this home, this town, this life. Now we are to prepare in new ways–plan the garden, order the bees, find places for the contents of boxes still unpacked, save our money, learn the community.

The cycle begins anew.

This is what Advent reminds us of each year: the ways in which God prepares our hearts, and our responsibility to continue to cultivate that state of preparation. Our lives serve as Bethlehem over and over again. Do we create space for God to be born within us? Or do we say “No room!”?


IMG_5896I have many things to write and tell about. My heart is overflowing with things to share, both joyful and painful.

But for today, I am content to enjoy with you this crisp autumn morning. Fall is indeed upon us. Not only are the nights cooler, but the morning chill carries with it an expectancy that begins now and continues through Advent. There is an expectancy in the air. The cycle of the earth’s Paschal Mystery has begun again.

It is a good time for reflection. Brew a cup of hot tea, hold it between your palms. Walk out into the brisk dawn, warmed by a sweater that you haven’t had to wear since March. Watch your breath make small swirls in the air. Drink in the slow awakening, for the night is stretching further out into the morning and the stars are becoming hesitant to fade.

It is a beautiful time of year. I know I wrote about it recently, but I can’t get enough of it this year. Perhaps it is because I can feel the cycle of change beginning in my own life. Things are indeed shifting. Some parts are reaching the end of our walk together. Others are just beginning. There is a bittersweetness in it all, but even as the leaves begin to fall they do so with a brilliant last hurrah. A reminder to celebrate what has been. A reminder to hold out hope for what is to come.

The change is not an easy one. All of the earth struggles with it, and many creatures make provisions to anticipate the winter’s lean times. There is wisdom in this; there is wisdom in reading the signs of the earth, to be synched enough with its messages that they prepare themselves adequately. Spiritually, I think it repeats the echo of the prophets throughout the ages: Prepare the way for the Lord. We must understand the cycles within our own lives, read the movement wisely; we must prepare our hearts for the inevitable dying back in order to create fertile ground for the Spirit. God is present in it all…we just have to have eyes to see it.


Be the change you wish to see in the world. -Mahatma Gandhi


One of the most wonderful things about my time as a high school teacher was seeing the students actively live out the values that we discussed in our daily 50 minutes together. It was seeing the “a-ha!” in their eyes when they realized they were capable of truly transforming the world around them. It was seeing them use the tools I had provided for them in a context that actually changed lives, environments, circumstances. But none of it was my doing. They were the ones doing all the work; they were the instruments of change.

I was blessed to be a guest speaker on creation care at my high school today (hi, SL’ers!). It was an important day–not because I was speaking, but because it was another opportunity to empower the future of our church (and our world).  I think so many problems continue to remain and even grow because we don’t give enough credibility to the ingenuity and gumption of today’s youth. We (and by we I mean post-college, workforce, voting adults) assume we can figure out the answers ourselves. Meanwhile, we aren’t giving the younger generations enough credit in their ability to not only comprehend but help solve the problems. This is a mistake.

Young people–especially high school and college students–are one of the most important groups to focus on when we are looking toward changes in ecological justice, food ethics, urban homesteading, and the Christian faith in general. We need to move beyond simply lecturing them and invite them into active dialogue about solutions. We need to be mentors, because a mentored youth will grow to be an experienced adult leader. We need to re-imagine our roles; while we don’t know everything (neither do they), we have expertise to share. And while they don’t have the resources to do everything the older generations might, they do have the creativity that we often lack.

After speaking with this group of high school students today, I feel extremely hopeful. But it will only be through collaboration and open minds that the generation gap is bridged in ministry. Perhaps some of what I said empowered them to act further; certainly their interest and questions empowered me to continue on in confidence that God has led me to speak out on this topic for a reason.