Monday, March 28, 2011


Ethnic food was unknown to me when I was growing up. My mother cooked meat/potato/vegetable meals... occasionally spaghetti, but rarely was a salad served. I ate my first Mexican food at Taco Bell when I was twenty-four, Chinese food... Indian food... Japanese... Thai... all came later. Finally I learned that Taco Bell is so NOT Mexican. I don't care. It was my first love and will always have a place in my heart. (and stomach.)

Now that I am a grownup, ethnic foods are my favorites. When I taste something delicious at a restaurant, I want to try it at home. Three of us rotate as supper cook on Sunday nights; yesterday was my turn, and I had a distinct hankering for Indian food. Specifically Saag.

Saag is chopped up spinach in some kind of mild spicy sauce, often paired with chicken or potatoes. Last night was guest night so the chicken was out... we do primarily vegetarian on guest nights, usually with meat on the side. So... the menu included chicken curry salad, vegetable vindaloo, coconut rice... and saag. I don't much care for aloo saag (the potato one) so I used chickpeas (saag chole).

I searched online and found exactly the recipe I wanted, but I was missing the correct spices. Would you believe you cannot find Garam Masala anywhere near here?!? I went to six grocery stores... no Garam Masala. So I made my own. (Not exactly authentic Garam Masala, but it was close... and worked.)

Then I got over confident and made Naan too. A disaster. It didn't puff up. It tasted okay but was really flat, tough and chewy. The apricot chutney was a hit, the vegetable vindaloo pretty decent... curried chicken salad... well chicken salad is chicken salad.

But the saag... was to die for. Okay so humility is not my strong suit. (It was to die for.)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Someone said it will snow here again tomorrow. (Groan) I am ready for Spring.

And yet... Winter is necessary in the cycle of life. I know that.
Nature's seasons of growth require periods of shutting down... resting for the next season of renewal. I know that personally I should learn from this. I don't have to do it all, I can rest... in between my spurts of growth.

But I have been conditioned to judge myself harshly for the fallow time. "When are you going to draw some more cartoons?" a friend asks. "I don't know," I say, "Maybe the cartoonist in me is dead." And I don't know. It's not for lack of inspiration or imagination. I have dozens of ideas gurgling... notes to myself on scraps of paper, snippets of dialog ready to put with drawings... all waiting... resting or dead, I don't know.

Nature has no judgements to make—she is one with what is. Life is life and death is simply death, each taking its place in the life chain of the planet. What dies renews the living. Death is not a waste in nature... it is an integral part of of the pattern.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


This morning our celebrant chose to focus on the Old Testament story of Abraham.

She gave a deeper insight into the radical faith that he showed in picking up stakes and moving his entire household to totally unknown territory... based on a simple promise from a Deity he had never heard of before. Today travel and relocation are more commonplace. I've picked up stakes a number of times in my life... for the promise of a job, a mate, on the recommendation of a friend, for the hell of it. I think I was born restless, and moving is a great way to scratch that particular itch. But today we have mapquest and google and all kinds of ways to find out about where we're going. Not so in Abraham's day.

When she spoke to us of our own "unknown territories" she was speaking more of the spiritual journey than the geographical. We listen for the voice of a Deity we have never seen, attempt to hear the will of a God we know only by faith. There's a lot of desert wandering to do before the promise ever shows itself.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Nature doesn't plant, then tend... nature just reseeds. And usually the plant puts out far more seeds than can ever possibly survive, showers them wherever they fall... with apparently no attachment to the outcome.

I don't know that, of course, it's how I project my understanding of the way nature works. But I can still learn from the projection.

Detachment is the lesson... seemingly always my lesson, letting go of my need to control the outcome.

Monday, March 14, 2011


I've heard there are three phases of faith:
  • finding life
  • losing life
  • finding life again.
The Greeks understood this to mean not just physical life but also the conscious self... personality, soul.
Some truths just have to be experienced in order to be understood. I think loss is one of them.

Losing helps you find your way again. Some days we have to lose the certainty of who God is and what God wants. We need to lose the certainty of what it means to be a Christian. I do anyway.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

It's all context

I once took a class that explored Bible interpretation through the lens of context. What is it we're really reading? A legal document? Poetry? What was the cultural context for the time certain passages were written? Was the country at war? Was the writer in pain? Were they actual letters? Were they cobbled together from a variety of sources: softened or blended to fit the listeners ears at that time?

How do we read those same passages today?

Our instructor emphasized that we read through the lens of our traditions, giving the following example:

woman without her man is nothing

Who's insulted by that? It depends on your context. It also depends on your punctuation:
  • Woman, without her man, is nothing.
  • Woman, without her, man is nothing.

Friday, March 11, 2011

prayer for the human race

In the back of the Book of Common Prayer there is a special section called Prayers and Thanksgivings. That section contains an assortment of prayers for all kinds of things: for the world, for peace, for the church, families, little children, people in prison, those who are sick... There is actually a prayer for the Future of the Human Race. No kidding.

Some believe the Earth is doing her best to heave the Human Race off her back. Or that these natural disasters are her death throes, part of the climate change. Others are sure we are coming to the End Times foretold by a number of religions, not just ours. The Psalmist says: "the earth reeled and rocked, and the roots of the mountains shook... and the breakers of death rolled over us..."

Not a bad idea to have a prayer for humankind, no matter who or what we think is to blame for the devastation.

O God our heavenly Father, you have blessed us and given us dominion over all the earth: Increase our reverence before the mystery of life; and give us new insight into your purposes for the human race, and new wisdom and determination in making provision for its future in accordance with your will; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Thursday, March 10, 2011


Today's collect speaks of a God of Mercy. And the lesson from Jonah describes that mercy regarding the people of Nineveh. Jonah warned of destruction and the people took him seriously. They repented. God relented. Jonah was ticked off.

That's the rub. In the Psalms there is much talk of the God of Justice. And I take that a little more seriously than the merciful part. While I want mercy, in my heart I know I don't deserve it. And if I don't deserve it, then those other people certainly don't deserve it. That's how Jonah felt. His righteous indignation said: punish them all!

I'm glad God doesn't always listen to his prophets.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Wishing you a Holy Lent

Lent already?

Actually Lent comes late this year; we had the full complement of Epiphany, not something you get often. Still, I'm never quite ready for Lent. I plan for it, think up all kinds of "resolutions" for it... what will I give up—what will I take on... or in this blog's case... what will I resume?

Sometimes even a week into it I'm rethinking my ideas about what will make my Lent a Holy time. What constitutes Holy anyway?

Balance seems to be my most pressing issue for 2011, so I will no doubt experiment with balance this Lenten season. If I give up too many things I face resentment at some point. If I take on too many, I will be too weary to enjoy them.

Everyone's path to and journey with God is different. Mine differs depending on the day of the week. This is just the first day of the forty. And forty is a long time.