"I am playing with myself,
I am playing with the world's soul,
I am the dialogue between myself and el espiritu del mundo.
I change myself, I change the world."

Gloria AnzaldĂșa

30 May, 2016

Fr. Eddie

Fr. Eddie Bernal
 photo, Lisa Krantz

Last night, after a day full of worship, fellowship, and happiness, I turned on the 10:00 news to hear that Fr. Eddie Bernal, a beloved priest here in San Antonio, has died. 

I wanted to share a story he once told at a SOL center class many years ago.

Fr. Eddie was doing some service work with the youth group from his congregation. Afterward, they all went out to IHOP for dinner.  There was a homeless man by the door of the restaurant, and one of the girls in the group engaged the man in conversation. Then, to Fr. Eddie's surprise (and, he admitted, fear), the girl invited the homeless man to eat with them.

They all had a good dinner and a good conversation with the homeless man. As they were walking out of the restaurant and the man was walking away, Fr. Eddie called out to him, "We never got your name." 

The man turned and said, "Chuy, I'm Chuy."

For those of you not from San Antonio, it might help to know that Chuy is the nickname for Jesus. 

Thank you Fr. Eddie for your work with your congregations, the poor people of San Antonio, and your advocacy for the LGBTQI community. 

"I was hungry, and you fed me."  

Rest in peace. Rest in power. Thank you.

18 May, 2016

Statement of Faith

I needed to write a statement of faith. Here's what I came up with:

I believe in God the creator
Who made the sparrow and the hawk--
Who made Enchanted Rock and Grand Canyon--
Who made Life—in its infinite variety.
I believe in God the savior
Who suffers with and for us.
Who teaches.
Who heals.
I believe in God of the still, small voice
Who speaks to me in the woods
Who says, "Look," or "Love."
I believe in my human frailty --
My sinful nature that causes me to walk away--
And in the God who walks with me and waits for me.
I believe in the God who calls us to community--
To service.
To love.
The Pharisees asked him, "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?"
Jesus answered "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments" (Matthew 22: 36-40).
I believe my life is about learning how to walk back to God, to love him and his creation, and to love and serve my neighbor.  I believe that individualism is a false god, an idol, and the true God calls us to live and worship and serve in community. The church, His body, is that community for me.  The church is a place of refuge and a place to face that from which we seek refuge. The church is called to be an agent of change in our world. 
Through the grace of God, I am sober and alive and in this place with these people, who are also called to be in community. Through serving God and loving my neighbor to the best of my ability, I am healed and made whole.

As Anne Lamott once said, "I'm just shy of fish bumper sticker." 

29 February, 2016

I'm in the Right Place

Yesterday I went to church and I saw this in the parking lot. I can think up several different stories for this, but I love it.

Other things happened.

I saw my friend Lenna sitting across the isle, and went to join her. We chatted for awhile, and then I saw that my former pastor Lib McGregor Simmons was sitting in front of me. That was a nice surprise.

Here she is (on the right) with my current pastor Kelly Allen

Then, sometime during the sermon, which was about letting go of control as a Sabbath practice, Kelly was talking about letting go of control of your children.
Oh yeah, and there's more.
Yesterday was the 12th anniversary of my Mother's death.  Talk about letting go of control--or having control wrestled from your clutching hands -- And I looked in front of me and there was Lib. Lib was my pastor at the time of Mama's death. In fact, she came to see us and pray with me in the hospital about a half an hour before Mama died. And she counseled me through the crippling grief.

I remember showing up at her home one day. She answered the door, and I collapsed in ugly sobs. It was probably her day off. I do not know if I would have survived without Lib. And without some of the other people at church, like my friend Shirley, who died a few years later. That is not hyperbole. 

One of the readings for the day would have pissed Mama off. 
"Look at the birds of the air, they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them." I can hear her now. "Have you ever noticed how hard the life of a bird is? And God loves us like that? Not enough!"

I got a kick out of hearing her whisper that in my ear during the reading. And I was affirmed that I was in the right place. With my friend Lenna, who never knew Mom. With other people who remember her well. With Lib. With Kelly. 
Two weeks ago I entered the narthex at church, and a woman I've known for years said, "Hello Mary." I'm in the right place.