Thursday, July 23, 2009

smells like central texas

growing up, we moved all over texas. but the roots that i always connected with a home i never had, were in my mother's hometown of
lampasas. lampasas is up highway 183 from austin by an hour and a half or so. it's a small town. much smaller in the 60's when i used to visit my granny. my blood-grandfather died in world war II; granny, my mother's mother, remarried a few years later. that man, don, was the granddady i knew. he died when i was eight or nine or ten. so granny had a boyfriend after that, though she wouldn't get married. i think she was superstitious. her boyfriend from then on was johnny, who lived on a big ranch outside lampasas.
i remember a zillion things about lampasas, and granny's house, and johnny's ranch. but all those years we moved around, and then for all the years until we moved to austin, there was one thing that took me back instantly to granny's house, and johnny's ranch, and granny's back yard, and hancock park. big oak trees. and sycamore trees. hot sycamore trees. summertime sycamore trees have a specific smell. powerful. beautiful.
(granny's garage had a very specific smell, too, which was great - she was a neat freak and her garage was very clean. but it had the smell of her lawn mower, and her ford ltd and cigarettes. cool.)
(i also loved the smell of a skunk on the road - not because it smells good, but because i smelled it so many times driving between granny's house and johnny's ranch.)
central texas soil has a specific smell too. and the air does. and it's good. even in crowded, ever-growing cedar park, north of austin, where our house is, the smell of the air is specific central texas. beauty.
through the years, as we moved from north texas to outside houston to far south texas to the coast to the plains to east texas, when i'd come back anywhere near lampasas, i'd breathe deeply and feel like my soul was home. i'd remember instantly. i'd see. i'd relax.

we've lived in austin for eight years this month, and when we first moved here, i would just step outside and breathe. smell central texas. i'd smell the live oaks and the mesquites and the scrub cedars and, around the corner, the sycamores.
but ... i find that i now keep forgetting. i'm used to it. it's just life. i've got errands to run and things to do. i step outside and realize i need to mow the lawn or take out the trash or get the mail. i don't have time to - well, you get it.

i remembered, a few days ago. i walked outside, with other things on my mind, and stopped. i breathed. it's hot right now and i felt it. i remembered. i smelled the air, the air all around my house and my neighborhood and my suburb. and i relaxed. the lampasas river and granny's back yard with perfect grass, and a skunk on the highway, and hot sycamore trees, a beautiful morning listening to doves. i remember cowboy hats and horses, and granny's jersey from her Medarts Service Station softball team, and the cold water in the city spring-fed pool, and white-limestone dirt, and mamaw and granddaddy milo's old white clapboard house, and pecan trees, and storm's drive-in ... and i feel my heart again ...


Sunday, July 19, 2009

i see the entire situation perfectly clearly; why do you ask?

These contractors are installing the steel pillars in concrete to stop vehicles from parking on the pavement outside a Sports Bar downtown. They are now in the process of cleaning up at the end of the day.
....... How long do you think it'll be before they realize where they parked their truck?

thanks maria for sending this ... it's a good reminder ... get out of your own way ... how hard are you looking at the situation and not even seeing what's going on? are we so focused on what we think is the task at hand, that we don't see the larger picture?

Friday, July 17, 2009

climb off the dead horse already

here's a post from a website "change through action," which helps businesses. my sister sent me the post and i cracked UP! so did she.

The tribal wisdom of the Dakota Indians, passed on from one generation to the next, says that when you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount. But in modern business (and education and government) because heavy investment factors are taken into consideration, other strategies are often tried with dead horses, including the following:

  1. Buying a stronger whip.
  2. Changing riders.
  3. Threatening the horse with termination.
  4. Appointing a committee to study the horse.
  5. Arranging to visit other sites to see how they ride dead horses.
  6. Lowering the standards so that dead horses can be included.
  7. Reclassifying the dead horse as "living-impaired."
  8. Hiring outside contractors to ride the dead horse.
  9. Harnessing several dead horses together to increase speed.
  10. Providing additional funding and/or training to increase the dead horse's performance.
  11. Doing a productivity study to see if lighter riders would improve the dead horse's performance.
  12. Declaring that the dead horse carries lower overhead and therefore contributes more to the bottom line than some other horses.
  13. Rewriting the expected performance requirements for all horses.
  14. And, as a final strategy: Promoting the dead horse to a supervisory position.

SO ... what are the live horses you're riding - and what are the dead ones? and why aren't you jumping off and getting on with it? i know, i know - you've invested a lot. you have identification with what the dead horse was like when it was alive. it's hard to give up the dream. it hasn't turned out the way you wanted, and you think if you just hang in there, or work harder, or somehow reinvigorate things, it will be alright.
is it a dead horse? get off of it and get moving some other way. and maybe it's only a dead horsefor you - and for other people it's still just right - okay then. let them do their thing. you do your thing.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

i think i'll just say, See this movie.

alright. I'll add this:
to discover what it is that we're called to do, is difficult enough work. blocking out all the other voices in the world and in our heads. stepping up. listening.
but carrrying out what we're called to do, when it's a challenge - that's truly hard.

for me, that's a huge part of what this movie, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, is about - at least, for me. (It's also about teenage love, and growing up, and all that stuff.) What does it mean to serve one's calling? what does it mean to do what is right? what does it mean to stand up to what destroys and harms people, even at the risk of one's own safety?

go see it.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

some excerpts from the guide to life, “How Not To Follow Jesus”


Say prayers that sound important.


Worry that you're not the absolute beloved of God.




Refuse to trust that Jesus knew what he was saying when he told us to look at flowers and get some perspective.


See other people as objects.


Know Jesus' story about how the fool said to himself, 'I will build a bigger barn' … and build a twenty-million-dollar worship center anyway.


Speak with hatred or disgust about, or to, a human being. As in, “God hates fags” or “Terrorists deserve to rot in hell” or “That bitch!” or “I’m a fuckin’ loser!”


See other people as “the” whatever – “the poor,” “the homeless,” “the enemy,” “the rich,” “the conservatives,” “the Christians,” “the Muslims,” “the hypocrites.”


Belong to a church and be an asshole at the same time.


Act with cruelty or selfishness toward things or people that you perceive as weaker than you are. Children, old people, animals, family members, “those less fortunate.”




See yourself as less than.


Make it all make sense.


Refuse to throw the net on the other side of the boat. Even when – or especially when – you’ve caught nothing all night. And you know all about fishing. Or life management. Or whatever you think you know all about.


Give up wrestling with the question about what belongs to Caesar and what belongs to God.


Believe that what you own will make you happy.


Refuse to believe that your birth was miraculous.


Give up. (Not to be confused with Letting Go.)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Monday, July 6, 2009


one of the greatest websites ever is it fills me with so much joy and pain and beauty and compassion. people send in their secrets - whatever they choose - on postcards, anonymously. the coordinator/originator of the site, frank warren, then photographs/scans their messages and posts them on the site. people share little snippets of their souls, some of which are funny, and some of which are painful to read, and some of which are tiny moments of awareness that each woman or man is passing along.
many of them are things that "good christians" would never talk about. hence, my being not a good christian - because as john wesley said, the world is my parish, and these are real people in this world who are dealing with real life. and, too, these are things which the people i know - good christians or not good christians or not christians at all - all feel and experience in one way or another. in secret.
i emailed frank warren a few years ago and thanked him for the site, telling him that i'm a pastor of a funked-out faith community in austin texas that has no idea what it's doing except encouraging people to be real with each other and with god. frank warren is not a christian - but i assured him that his website is a beautiful example of the sacrament of confession and pardon.
in 2007, i posted a video someone had made about postsecrets. the website just gets better and better.
here are a few samples:

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

i can't tell what i think about this ...

is jesus strong? hella strong.
if jesus is a bodybuilder with a sacred heart superhero emblem on his chest, that's just weird.

or, this is just that jesus is a badass, in which case, hallelujah.