Sunday, December 28, 2008

When I Am Among the Trees

When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness,
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.

I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, "Stay awhile."
The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, "It's simple," they say,
"and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine."

~ Mary Oliver ~

:Congratulations to Rachel, Cory, Shawna, Beth, Sofia, Trisha & Alissa! Each of you will be receiving a copy of one of the preceding pictures in your January Christmas Card. If you're really bent on have one of each photo to make a complete set please let us know and we'll be sure to meet your every need:

Sunday, December 21, 2008


From our home to yours - Have a joyous Christmas!

- Jake, Jess & Herman (our turtle) -

*This pictures series is actually a set of eight. If you leave a comment under this blog post you have entered yourself in the drawing to win the other two pictures. Therefore, comment at your own risk and know that the more you comment, the higher the chance you have to win all eight!

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Power of Proximity
Kirsten Penner Krymusa

Lispa walks into a room like a Maya Angelou poem. Hips swaying, eyes sparkling, large smooth arms picking up scattered toys and books without ever breaking her stride. She repeats my daughters’ names with her lilting Kenyan accent, over and over, her motherly mantra. There’s a quiet dignity to Lispa’s manner. A refusal to hurry. A steady rhythm that beats somewhere below the surface as she walks to the clothesline in her worn blue flip-flops or bends at the waist to scrub the floor.

Lispa works for me. She does my housework, bakes my bread, and occasionally watches my girls when I’m tired or need to run a quick errand. I’ve come to accept the bizarre reality of having a houseworker while I live in Kenya. I make a concerted effort to be a fair employer, to give her a generous wage, to inquire about her family and thank her for her help. But the truth is that when Lispa enters my house each morning, she brings with her an undeniable discomfort. Because although I lead a modest life by any North American standard - no large appliances, no screens on my windows, intermittent power and water - when Lispa walks in the room, I’m rich. Filthy rich.

I tend to bemoan my cramped kitchen and complain when the power goes out while I’m on the computer. I scroll through websites and long for high-tech toys for my 4 month old daughter. I rifle through my t-shirt drawer in despair, dreaming of the convenience of a Canadian shopping mall.

And then Lispa walks in. Lispa, who lives in a one room house with her husband and 3 children. Who irons her two dresses with meticulous care. Who can barely cram all my daughters’ toys into our large toy basket while her children play soccer with a ball of knotted rags.

Maybe there’s an immorality to having someone who is so poor enter right into the middle of all my wealth. But maybe there’s also value in the juxtaposition - a refining that comes with the discomfort. Because if Lispa didn’t work for me, the reality would be the same. I’d still be way too rich. And she’d still be somewhere in a tiny crowded room, way too poor. When I lived in my funky downtown apartment in Canada, washing my own floors and doing my own laundry in the basement laundromat, there were still millions of Lispas in the world trying to scrape by one more day - sometimes succeeding, sometimes not. The difference wasn’t in the disparity, just the proximity.

Whenever Lispa stands in front of my full pantry and asks quietly if I might be able to spare some extra sugar for her family, whenever I drive by the devastating Kiberra slum on a family outing to the giraffe park, whenever I slow down my Subaru for an elderly woman carrying a load of firewood on her back, I remember that things are not right. That ours is a broken and unjust world, and that I do not have the luxury of complacency.

I wonder how I’ll maintain that awareness when I do move back to North America some day. I know all too well how easy it is to exist in a comfortable middle class bubble. If I plan my route through the city carefully, I could probably go weeks without even seeing people poorer than me, let alone actually having a relationship with them. And I think there’s an immorality to that as well, or at least a grave danger. Because those of us who are rich cannot afford to be too comfortable with our wealth - especially those of us who claim to be “little Christs”. I know Jesus had encounters with those in circles of wealth and comfort, but most of the time, he chose to seek out the sick and poor and outcasts. So maybe there’s moral value in proximity with the poor. Maybe Lispa is helping me develop the spiritual discipline of discomfort.

- found on Burnside Writers Collective -
there is something comforting about bread & butter.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Another cryptic message.

The week has increased in difficulty in some ways, and eased in others. Please be in prayer for the students I work with.

In the advent of these learning curves I have lost sleep and found courage. Such a silly word, makes me think of lions and tiger and bears (Oh My!). It's not a characteristic I have had to summon on a regular basis.

Still, because I am free to accept or refuse this summoning of courage, I will scream I am not able, yell I'm not worthy and consent to the road before me.

Yesterday morning I had a solid cry as part of this experience. Jake held my shaking body and offered me a gift, the tree of life. A beautiful glass pendant of a blossoming tree and placed in gently around my neck.

May the God who created the trees which bring life to us all bring you peace and joy on this day.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

it's been a very difficult week for me. amidst the celebration of jake's birthday & acceptance there have been a significant series of events that have summoned into action a part of me i didn't know exist.

unable to paraphrase this experience i leave you with a poem that best puts into words what i'm working through:


‘Hail, space for the uncontained God’
~From the Agathistos Hymn, Greece, VIc

We know the scene: the room, variously furnished,
almost always a lectern, a book; always
the tall lily.
Arrived on solemn grandeur of great wings,
the angelic ambassador; standing or hovering,
whom she acknowledges, a guest.
But we are told of meek obedience. No one mentions
The Engendering Spirit
did not enter her without consent
God waited.
She was free
to accept or refuse, choice
integral to humanness.

. . .

This was the minute no one speaks of,
when she could still refuse.

A breath unbreathed, Spirit,
suspended, waiting.

She did not cry, "I cannot, I am not worthy,"
nor, "I have not the strength."
She did not submit with gritted teeth,
raging, coerced
Bravest of all humans,
consent illumined her,
The room filled with its light,
the lily glowed in it,
and the iridescent wings.

Consent, courage unparalleled,
opened her utterly.

. . .

Aren't there annunciations
of one sort or another in most lives?
Some unwillingly
undertake great destinies,
enact them in sullen pride, uncomprehending.
More often those moments
when roads of light and storm
open from darkness in a man or woman,
are turned away from
in dread, in a wave of weakness, in despair
and with relief.
Ordinary lives continue.
God does not smite them.
But the gates close, the pathway vanishes.

. . .

She had been a child who played, ate, slept
like any other child – but unlike others,
wept only for pity, laughed
in joy not triumph.
Compassion and intelligence
fused in her, indivisible.

Called to a destiny more momentous
than any in all of Time,
she did not quail,
only asked
a simple, 'How can this be?'
and gravely, courteously,
took to heart the angel’s reply,
perceiving instantly
the astounding ministry she was offered:

to bear in her womb
Infinite weight and lightness; to carry
in hidden, finite inwardness,
nine months of Eternity; to contain
in slender vase of being,
the sum of power –
in narrow flesh,
the sum of light.
Then bring to birth,
push out into air, a Man-child
needing, like any other,
milk and love –

but who was God.

~Denise Levertov

*thank you Nanette

Friday, December 12, 2008

Since Jake hasn't yet spilled the beans:

Yesterday was not only his birthday but he was also officially accepted into the Advanced Standing nursing program at Loyola University.

Whatta Man.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Monday, December 08, 2008

What do you do when you have a morning/day where everything goes wrong?

Monday, December 01, 2008

this entry (mostly the comments following) really made me smile today.

it also makes me hungry & creative!

oh - and then there was this.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

feeling indecisive & anxious.


healthy living.
unhealthy living.
yummy recipes.
personal enlightenment.
personal demons.
homes & stoves.
simple living.

i just don't know what to share.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

crow rests with new light
tangled deep within fresh warmth
our shadow cut glass

Monday, November 24, 2008

Simple and to the point.

Advent Conspiracy

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

In honor of our friend Cory, I bring to you the first ever Chicago Commons ESL Second Language Haiku Fest.

I charged my students with the task of completing several haiku during class today. Here are the English renditions. Keep in mind, this is their second or third language.

the spring has come here
pretty colors we can see
when flowers are born

the flowers are born
just in this beautiful time
then they go to die

the cold water runs
in some long, beautiful shapes
it gives me some peace

And then they wrote haiku in Spanish, which were later translated into English. Keep in mind that the translation will no longer keep the syllabic pattern necessary in haiku.

las olas del mar
con su dulce sonido
calman mi estres

the waves of the ocean
with their sweet sound
calm my stress

con su dulce canto
los bellos pajaritos
dan alegria

with their sweet song
the beautiful birds
give me joy

agua limpia
que corre por el rio
da mucha vida

clean water
that runs to the river
gives much life

las flores cantan
una gran melodia
para nosotros

the flowers sing
a grand melody
for us

and my personal favorite:

el agua corre
dulce y melodiosa
en una rosa

the water runs
sweet and melodiously
in a rose

Monday, November 17, 2008

I just can't get enough of the Ney...

Or the Oud today.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Could Have

It could have happened.
It had to happen.
It happened earlier. Later.
Nearer. Farther off.
It happened, but not to you.
You were saved because you were the first.
You were saved because you were the last.
Alone. With others.
On the right. The left.
Because it was raining. Because of the shade.
Because the day was sunny.

You were in luck -- there was a forest.
You were in luck -- there were no trees.
You were in luck -- a rake, a hook, a beam, a brake,
A jamb, a turn, a quarter-inch, an instant . . .

So you're here? Still dizzy from
another dodge, close shave, reprieve?
One hole in the net and you slipped through?
I couldn't be more shocked or
how your heart pounds inside me.

-Wislawa Szymborska

Thursday, November 13, 2008


I was walking in a dark valley
and above me the tops of the hills
had caught the morning light.
I heard the light singing as it went
among the grassblades and the leaves.
I waded upward through the shadow
until my head emerged,
my shoulders were mantled with the light,
and my whole body came up
out of the darkness, and stood
on the new shore of the day.
Where I had come was home,
for my own house stood white
where the dark river wore the earth.
The sheen of bounty was on the grass,
and the spring of the year had come.

- Wendell Berry

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Reconciliatory Dialog

In nearly every conceivable polar situation, there are people across a wide continuum of Left to Right, Liberal to Conservative, Pro to Con, For to Against, etc. Also present on the far ends of these continuums are the ugly 1%. These are most visible when they are willing to kill and maim for their cause. Bombing abortion clinics, assassinating leaders, spiking trees, burning ski resorts, using religion, fear, and violence as weapons against an ideology that they do not agree with.

Just inside of that ugly 1% is an ugly 2% that is probably not as violent, but equally driven by fear and hate. The Obama campaign mentioned numerous times the hateful and divisive chants and comments coming out of the McCain/Palin crowds at political events. There were chants of "nigger", "terrorist", "kill him", etc.

I agree with Senator McCain in that the whole of a party can not be held responsible for the actions of a few. That ugly 2% present at political rallies who would start chants like previously mentioned are not representative of the Republican party, but they do point to the existence of that 2% end of the spectrum that still exists today in America.

It is present everywhere.

John McCain dehumanized his political opponent and referred to him as "that one".

Rep. Lynn Westmoreland used the HEAVILY racially charged word "uppity" when talking about Barack and Michelle. "Just from what little I've seen of her and Mister Obama, Senator Obama, they're a member of an elitist class individual that thinks that they're uppity." And when asked about his use of the word "uppity", Westmoreland said again, "Uppity, yeah."

And if that were not bad enough, Obama's own running-mate, Joe Biden, was quoted as saying that Obama was the "first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy."

This is only a sneeze, a small cough, a runny-nose-symptom of a deeper, disgraceful problem that still exists in deeper currents within our society.

Racial reconciliation is a conversation that America is not yet ready for.

Economic division reconciliation is a conversation that America is not yet ready for.

But these are conversations that we will have to participate in, and engage in if we ever hope to fulfill the greatness that our nation is intended for.

As Wendell Berry put it in his poem "Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front"

Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.

Denounce does not mean to destroy, reject, or render worthless, but instead to "condemn or censure openly or publicly", or "make a formal accusation against, as to the police or in a court".

Confront and censure the racism and hatred of peoples. Bring about discussion, communication, and implementation of compassion, love, and relationships that can yield the crop of reconciliation.

Dr. Cornel West can put this much better than I can. At least watch part one, 10 minutes, and continue on to part 2 and 3 if you so desire.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Monday, November 10, 2008

Now that this election is over, I feel a bit more free to expound on my thoughts that occurred during the campaigns. This is by no means the most important of the issues I heard, it is just the first one that popped into my thought process this morning.

In response to questions of why she had not received a passport until that year, and never been out of the country, Sarah Palin replied as such.

"I'm not one of those who maybe came from a background of, you know, kids who perhaps graduate college and their parents give them a passport and give them a backpack and say go off and travel the world.

No, I've worked all my life. In fact, I usually had two jobs all my life until I had kids. I was not a part of, I guess, that culture. The way that I have understood the world is through education, through books, through mediums that have provided me a lot of perspective on the world."

-Sarah Palin interview with Katie Couric - link

I wonder what she considers "that culture". Is this another underhanded attempt to bring in that nasty "e" word and say that only those who are elitist can travel the world? I, personally, find this rather repugnant.

Mrs. Palin, while in graduate school I was earning $900 per month at one job, and another $70 - $120 per month at a second job. I still managed to pay for my own schooling and all of my expenses, get myself a passport, purchase my own backpack, and send myself on minimalist expeditions for months at a time to Costa Rica, India, and Thailand.

Does that make me an elitist? Do I suddenly sip martinis over lunch and trade stock tips with my arms-dealer buddies?

Now here is the most important part of this whole process, get ready. Do you want to know what I did learn while I was in all of those places that applies to this situation?

I learned that, in fact, I was an elitist.

We in America who can eat every day, afford a car, drink water out of the faucet, purchase shoes, and live a life mostly free of parasitic diseases and water-borne illnesses, we are elitist.

We are elite among the world's population who subsist on $1 per day or less. That's 1.1 billion people according to the World Bank.

We are elite among those who consume less than $2 per day. That's 2.7 billion people.

Out of the 6.1 billion people alive at the time of this survey, that is 45% of the world living on $2 per day or less.

Two dollars? Really? I probably loose more than that down couch cushions every month.

That is how I know that I am an elitist.

I am an elitist, and anyone who has the capability to read this blog is too. I hope we can all recognize that fact, and work with the humble understanding of our true position in the world, and therefore our responsibility to that world.

Perhaps Mrs. Palin could have learned this as well.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

do yourself a favor.

jhonathan - way to capture the sensations & love of the evening.

p.s. jake is sure to have some thoughtful reflections on the election coming soon. i, on the other hand am just enjoying the time of historical celebration!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

"...That is what humanity can achieve, when we all believe in something together." - a great personal reflection on the evening of history, in so many ways.

"i was watching from two blocks away, and when we were leaving, it was this atmosphere of brotherhood and love of everyone equal, everyone lifting each other up, not one negative i saw at the rally, it feels too damn good to say I AM AN AMERICAN! THESE ARE MY PEOPLE." - comment reflecting on the evening

"I truly believe that as our next President, Barack Obama will lead my generation and my children's back onto the path of creating A More Perfect Union. It won't be easy, but I will be cheering (and continuing to volunteer) all the way." - a bit of a personal testimony regarding one woman's support for a Barack Presidency

"This is a very important moment for a black woman (at age 64) from this city to witness," she said. "He is a brilliant, very genuine person. He is a jewel." - Chicago Tribune

"I couldn’t breathe, yet I was crying. I have never had or seen such a reaction in my life. We did it. Not only did America elect the first black president, but we elected the best choice by a landslide. America tonight has lived up to its promises,” said “The Daily Show” host John Stewart. And he is exactly right. We did.

a note from Cornel West

"If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our Founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer." - President Elect Barack Obama

*the previous two photos were stolen - thanks Ben & Nanette!*

Sunday, November 02, 2008

please vote.

please, just get out there on Tuesday & vote.

vote green.
vote red.
vote blue.
vote clear.

just VOTE!

i did and hope you do as well. please share your story afterward - i will soon, as it was one of the most emotional experiences of my adult life.

please vote

Saturday, November 01, 2008

9 out of 10 mornings Jake & I intentionally wake up thirty to sixty minutes earlier than we need to in order to lay in bed together. Laughing, talking, crying, and enjoying the company of one another is how we enter into each day.

It's never planned nor has it become something I measure myself up against (like most things). It's a part of the day that has become "us."

I am so grateful.

Monday, October 20, 2008

new love.

Throughout this past week I have spent a significant period of time in contemplation - intentionally attempting to take time to perform the act of weeding, reconciliation, and reconfiguration of myself and God.

When I was a child I was scared of my dad. As a man he I believe he presented as he believes/believed he should, what society suggested of his position within the home and as the norm. As a provider, lover to my mom & father, he filled all roles. Still, as I look back I see that there was always fear related to my relationships with him. I loved him and he presented to love me but something was missing. I don't believe, looking back, that it was a healthy fear, nor an unhealthy fear. Who is to say what the difference between healthy and unhealthy fear in my relationship with him would be though?

I was scared to spill water at dinner. I was nervous to say the wrong things in the wrong tone of voice. I was scared to disagree, afraid to fight, anxious against unrealistic expectations, fearful of presenting alternatives to what he stated was truth, fact, not to be argued with. I remember fighting with him and the consequences that often followed which only planted bitter seeds in my belly of fire. I remember painful thoughts and times when I wondered if my dad loved me. I remember seeking to embrace him but wondering if he wanted to ever embrace me in the evening. As tears begin to well up and sting my eyes in this very present moment, those memories come flooding back. I was scared and some of that scared youth still resides within me.

I think, through all of these moments and memories, that I still knew my dad loved me. I felt it in his hugs. I'm not sure if this was because of my mom's unwaivering demonstration of love toward my dad or simply the grace of optimism running hot through my blood, but I always knew my dad loved me. Through the times of affirmation into the moments of deep pain, I always knew.

When I was a child I was scared of my God. As a child, God was always a male who presented as we, the "church" believes/believed we should, what society suggested of His position within the home and as the norm. As a provider, lover to my mom & Father, He filled all roles. Still, I was always scared of God. I loved Him and He presented to love me but something was missing. I don't believe, looking back, that it was a healthy fear. Who is to say what the difference between healthy and unhealthy fear in my relationship with Him would be though?

I was scared to be friends with those who stated they were gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender. I was scared to say the wrong things in the wrong tone of voice to the wrong people in the wrong place at the wrong time. I was scared to disagree with church officials, afraid to fight and question, anxious against unrealistic expectations, fearful of presenting alternatives to what the church stated was truth, fact, not to be argued with. I remember fighting with those within the church and the consequences that often followed with only planted bitter seeds in my belly of fire. I remember painful thoughts and times when I wondered if God loved me. I remember seeking to embrace God but wondering if God wanted to ever embrace me in the evenings. As tears begin to well up and sting my eyes once again, those memories come flooding back. I was scared and some of that scared youth still resides within me.

As Jake and I begin this process of healing I have found my voice to verbalize this fear. I believe that at this time in my life I am beginning to heal and reconcile my love with God as I have reconciled my love with my father. The pain of my youth regarding my relationship with my dad is no longer. He is a most wonderful, lovely man and I, a growing daughter. The pain of my youth regarding my relationship with God is ever decreasing as I begin to embrace the God of love that I have been longing for, deeply seeking after, all of my life.

Thank you dad for your love, I love you.
Come and fill our hearts with Your peace,
You alone oh God are Holy.
Come and fill our hearts with Your peace,

Monday, October 13, 2008

This was a long, hard weekend. Hard in the way that you are tired after a long day of work that was worth doing. Not selling-potato-chips-hard, but building-a-home-for-your-family-hard.

Seeing the kids in America was unbelievable. Truly inconceivable. Heart wrenching. Mind blowing.

Little hands and feet once covered in street filth now clean and probing. Little eyes and faces that were once blank expressions of despondence and fright, now filled with inquisition, personality, love, love, love.

Flowers were treasures, water was a sustaining magic, sunlight was our food, and the wind was our breath.

Everywhere we turned this weekend, something tugged at us. New or old was irrelevant, life and wonder nibbled at parts of us that have been somewhat dormant in the emotional freezer that is Chicago.

We came here hoping to have a little time to recover, and unfortunately, recovery has involved forgetting.

"Never forget" we say, but still we forget.

We forget where we were. We forget the ones who left us behind.

And most painfully, we forget those we had to leave behind. Seeing these two here really hurt us because we had to leave behind someone we wanted to invite into our lives. He lives on, and so do we, but separately.

But not for these kids. Not for Sharon. They are together. A family. And a good one at that.

One day we will see what is in store for us.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Have we failed to mention that we get to see the kids this morning?

Sharon, the kid's amazing new mom, is flying back from India this morning with the kids in tow and is stopping through Chicago O'Hare.

How did we not put this up?

If our camera works, look for photos later.

Monday, September 22, 2008


here is a current photo of Reshma (far to the L) and Rumi (far to the right). aren't they beautiful?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

In case you are having a hard time remembering the story of Rumi and Reshma, you should remind yourself by reading part 1 and part 2.

The magic of the situation is that a woman from California contacted us shortly after dropping them off at the orphanage. She found us through our blog,and the names of the kids. She saw them in India and fell in love with them. She has been trying for a year and a half to adopt them.

We just got word that the adoption has been approved.

The kids will be coming to the US within 2 or 3 weeks.

The kids are going to have a stable home, consistent love, special care, medical intervention, and everything else that they need.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

so i'm wondering.

with all this talk about being "pro-life", what do you think it means?

during this electoral season i have had some really healthy conversations about what it means to be "pro life" & am wondering what your thoughts are.

Friday, September 05, 2008

i wish.

i wish i had some thought provoking, thoughtful, energizing, engaging discussion to present. alas, i have nothing for you except an up-date. we continue to be truly thankful for all of the love we have been given throughout the past summer season. times with friends both near & far, family both close & distant. it has been a joy to get to know some of you all over again as well as continue in our life's journey with you. thank you all for your conversations, meals, laughter, couches, tears & time.

today, and for the last two days, i have been saying goodbye. this, of all things, presents to be a consistent theme of my life doesn't it? September 11th will be my last day with my current employment. September 15th will be my first day as Director of the Glen Ellyn Community Resource Center. yup, that's right, Director. I asked them at the final board meeting (where jake & i were introduced to the entire board & community members) if they knew who they were hiring. they said they did so i'll have to rest in their trust that this a position i will thrive in. i look forward to engaging in a more creative practice of program development (literacy & life skills education primarily), community outreach, inter-agency organization, fostering of volunteers and cultivating love within refugee families. i'm excited!

jake continues to work with Chicago Commons teaching english and is presently taking Organic Chemistry. yeah - i believe it's as scary of a class as it sounds.

speaking of jake - i try not to talk too much about us/him on this public forum. i like having secrets with him and moments of him just for me/us. recently though i have just been so grateful for his presence & spirit in my life. daily i hear stories of sadness, often within a relationship that was preceived as trustworthy, honest, truthful, lovely. still - jealousy, envy, and pride slip and permeate through the sacred text & touch of two promised to each other. it crushes my soul & sends me into a spiral of questions & thankfulness for that which i receive and enjoy with jake.

all of that to say: last weekend we took a four day vacation to be with friends, this weekend we have some dear friends coming in and next weekend we're headed to play deep in the woods. postings may continue to be quite infrequent but we'll do our best to pass on the good news of love, forgiveness, deep contemplation, peace, and grace as we receive them.

p.s. our camera is consistently in a game of work/don't work. it's forced us to take a break from thinking often, "this would be such a great picture!" and has moved us into a thought process of, "this is such a great moment that i hope will not completely unhappen in my mind but create a chapter in the literature series of our story." therefore, the images above are stolen. thanks rachel, mai & rebecca!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

... The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in times of great moral crises maintain their neutrality.

...They applauded us on the Freedom Rides when we accepted blows without retaliation. They praised us in Albany and Birmingham and Selma, Alabama. Oh, the press was so noble in its applause, and so noble in its praise when I was saying, Be non-violent toward Bull Connor .... There’s something strangely inconsistent about a nation and a press that will praise you when you say, Be non-violent toward [southern segregationists], but will curse and damn you when you say, “Be non-violent toward little brown Vietnamese children." There’s something wrong with that press!

Dr Martin Luther King Jr.
"Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam"
April 30, 1967

I just listened to the full audio for this speech.


I just read a quote that said something to the effect of, "he was certainly the man for his time."

"His time", I ask? I have never met the good Doctor, nor have I really read any of the biographies and historical criticisms about him, but from what is left of his legacy, mostly in recordings and transcripts, there are a few things I can tell you.

There is/was a depth of spirit, love, and compassion in that man perfectly mated with action, justice and fervor that is right in any time. Not just "his time".


Speak, desert father, speak.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

write my desert father speaks to me.
your pen has been placed up on the shelf for too long.
let your hand ache & tension release.
give words to thoughts.
wash into the basin of sensuality.
speak of the sensations that you experience when you are with me.
watch the chickadee rest on the barbed wire and tell of his peace.
watch the monarch sample, drink, gulp sweet necter and tell of her gratitude.
listen to the racing river pass by with the deception of motionless tranquility.
she will sedate you and then devour you if you're not aware.
so she tells me to write off time spent senselessly in masked productivity.
listen and write stories of others misgivings, questions and polite regards.

write my desert father speaks to me.
grab the excess weight at your side and cut ties to the binding twine.
let your feet rest, propped up and know that what everyone makes me out to be
is lost energy.
lost life.
lost opportunities for growth smothered in thick creme & waste.
excess waste.
i waste.
i waste a lot.
sometimes i even waste things that can be reused, reduced or recycled. faux pas.
candy wrappers.
pits of peaches.
i waste the tangible and intangible.
i waste the seen and unseen.
i waste a lot.

write the desert father speaks to me.
write of the goodness.
the sadness.
the suffering, pained, distressed.
write of the joyous times you have experienced with your feet in the muck where the leaches will suck you dry if you wait around too long.
write of the noisy dogs, street sirens, coffee bean mornings.
write of the abortions, the shootings, the completions, successes and such.

write the desert father speaks to me.
create, be still & write.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

enjoying the summer, sun, neighbors, friends, travelling, family & each other. we'll hope to find time to post soon. it's just too nice outside to be on the computer.

so with grass in our toes, riding our bikes & home-made flaffel in our bellies - we'll see you soon!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

You must watch this:

And if you are brave, do watch others. GOOD is doing amazing work, and all with a little research and spectacular design and information passing.

To see what I mean, watch this.

Think about how much information you just got without a single word being spoken.

And one more with no words:

Monday, July 28, 2008

after a morning

of waking up to helicopters buzzing about, reporting a shooting close by - it was nice to have my butt slapped on the way to work by a cute motorcyclist. sometimes when the happening of the world are too much, happenings such as these bring life a bit more joy & laughter. with that, i leave you this poem i was asked to read last night at jazz vespers.

moment vanishing
Now, in the quietude of evening, the dove comes.
It does not flash its feathers, does notmake a sound,
but feeds on what the finches leave behind.
How little it needs.A few hard seeds. A drop of water.

It is late summer. It is always
late summer here. The air is hot and dry.
Brown leaves lie like hands in the yard.
There is no place to turn. No place to stop.
We are hurried along, pushed farther into our lives.

Moments are vanishing all over the earth
as bombs explode, the victim is hooded,
great populations scatter on endless dust roads.
It is too much. We avert our eyes.
We wait like children for the coming of the dove.

And if I were allowed a question,
one question, of the evening dove
who asks for nothing, whose pleasure
is a few small seeds, whose heart I covet,
I would ask, O what will I become?
- Elizabeth Spires

lately i have been wondering this specific question, what will i become. what choices will i make, what words will i speak, what neighborhood will i live in, what love will i make that will become part of the mold that makes up this life i am honored to life. moments are vanishing too quickly & i am in such desperate need of my morning dove.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

for the first time in close to a year we spent some time in borders. slowly the feelings related to consumption continue to find a healthy (my hope) niche within my daily life and choices.

today though, to my surprise, a new magazine caught my eye & later captured my heart. i encourage you to take a look and enjoy.

this edition presents (and is) to be one that i needed to engage with. silence.

hope each of you are well.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Rent Party was a huge success!
5 musical sets, mojitos, food & drink, conversation, photography, art & fun!

85 people attended and we raised over $1,700!

money is still coming in--if we raise $2,300 we'll have three months rent!

Sarah provided images for our show, which will all be for sale in various sizes, framed or unframed, during August and at a exhibit closing party at the end of August--with a portion of the proceeds to go to Wicker Park Grace.

we walked away with this one home at the end of the night & are so glad that we did!

for picture of our evening please treat yourself and click here, you'll be glad you did.

p.s. there are great photos here too. way to be jhonathan!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Rent Party: A Skiffle of Sorts

Since my church is not about guilt and obligation, we're trying to figure out new ways to funds our operations than, you know, passing the offering plate. So, we're having a rent party.

July 12th (this saturday!) at 8:00pm
at 1741 N. Western Ave.

In the tradition of those who have laid the path before us, Wicker Park Grace will be holding a Rent Party: A Skiffle of Sorts

Door Fee: $15 (free food and drink!)

Historically, to pay rising rents in neighborhoods that were filing up with people moving north in the Great Migration, folks would ask a few musician friends to play in the living rooms of their apartments, asked a few other friends to make some food and mixed up a little gin in the bathtub.

Charging admission at the door generated cash to pay the rent and a party whose celebratory energy burst from the intimate setting for all comers. Rent parties were a quintessential example of communities of people joining together to work towards mutual benefit.

Wicker Park Grace will carry on this historical tradition on July 12th with an evening of music & art, food & drink, conversation & dance.

Performing will be:

Rob Clearfield & At This Point We Don't Have the Luxury of Silence

Dave Spaulding with The Moves

Ira Gamerman w/ songs from the band, Even So

Michael Mc Bride

Kate Harlson

If you can't come, you can still contribute to the effort here.

Friday, June 27, 2008

We went away.

But we came back.

But we want to go again.

Good food, bad bugs, good camping, bad smells, good weather, good street theater, it was everything that we needed.

And now we have a busy few weeks. Jess is taking her motorcycle licensing class all this weekend, we will be away for the 4th of July, and we have lots of people coming to visit and traveling through.

Be well.

Ride a bike.

Soak up some sun.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

it's time.

we're off on vacation this afternoon until the 26th. YEAH! i'm beginning to feel the clostiness of the city. my feet are begging for dirt, my body yearning for dancing in the woods and my soul ready to rest with my beloved by the campfire with a slow moving book to fall into. it's time.

Friday, June 13, 2008

friday night.

i love when jake & i have something to do or someplace to go on friday evening, right after work. i get excited, often not because of what we're doing or where we're going (sorry friends), but because it means that we get to drive to work.

on any given day i despise driving to work. it's too nice outside & truth be told, i've become addicted to my bike. she, my teal trussler, has become a part of me & i enjoy spending time with her daily. but fridays. i really enjoy fridays.

you see, every friday at 7:30am, right on our way to work, is a three to five minute program called StoryCorps, a program of NRP. i look forward to these five minutes of radio each week. i know, with internet i could listen to them all day with little effort. but like most radio programs, there is just something magical about listening to them on the radio. it makes me feel like i'm suppose to listen to them at this time instead of working around my convienence, i do that too often anyway.

StoryCorps (this is not the same link as above) is special though. listening to intimate sories shared from those who both do and do not believe they have something to share, something to give, something to tell. it's a beautiful five minutes of listening to stories that many wouldn't identify as those that matter. but when given the time to listen to, i often find that these stories are often threads of those same stories hidden within that help me to remember that those little stories do matter. those are the stories that make us who we are and how we love and live.

who wants to meet for dinner next friday night, right after work?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

an accidential beautiful find

by Frank Wick

Monday, June 09, 2008

thank you.

jake just called grandma for a moment. see how she is doing. ask her a couple questions. inquire about the status of neighbors & community kids. the usual.

you have to know, grandma is the center of our block. present always like eddie, she is often available through her presence to those who need her love the most. those who often have no place to go and kids who have lost imaginations.

ethan, jermaine & andre's grandparents live next door to grandma with only a chest high wire fence separating them. throughout the summer the boys are known to play ball and "accidentally" throw &/or kick it over into grandma's yard. in the past, because they have not been the most pleasant munchkins in how they ask grandma for their ball back she often times lets the ball sit. sit as the boys look. hoping & wishing for mercy.

she'll often times let it, the ball, wait in the yard a day to teach in a somewhat passive way to use appropriate language in how they ask for things. today was different though. she shared that the boys threw the ball over the fence. they then promptly asked, "grandma, can you please give us our ball back." she did. and then it happened. they said "thank you." they said thank you.

grandma shared, "i knew it was you two who taught them that."

i'm not sure it was, but there is a part of me that hopes for our influence to have caused them to learn how to say "thank you". if so, i can leave chicago knowing that the world is a little better. i guess that's all that we/i can hope for. that wherever we leave, whenever we leave, whomever we leave, they & it will be a little better when we leave. just a little.
a good discussion is happening here.

i would really appreciate hearing any thoughts you have.

here or there.

Monday, June 02, 2008


Toward the conclusion of April I shared with Jake, “I feel as though we have been so loved this month.” So I made it a goal to track throughout the month of May who we have spent our time with, what we would do, etc. A little task for the month & was I ever surprised and grateful as I gazed upon our calendar yesterday, the first of June. Every day, with the exception of two weekday evenings, were willed with love & time spent with our neighbors and extended community. Picnics with friends, gatherings & outings, coffee dates & motorcycle rides, friends from far away staying over, dinners and rides out and about as well as within our home.

With the shining intensity of May Jake & I found ourselves more in dialog about community and what it was that made May so delightful and engaging. I know, I know, it's a hot topic to discuss. Living in community, concepts of community, community development, community reconciliation, community outreach... It presents as though one of the newest topic of discussion within religious circles: how to develop & engage in community. New nonprofit organizations over the last decade have been popping up with mission statements and visions hopeful of conveying a new message of community. Educational programs regarding community development have been increasing in the number of students applying and studying how to engage underdeveloped communities toward a better way of living. People of natural privilege & religious beliefs have been challenged and encouraged to relocate and assist in restoring under-resourced communities. Opportunities to live in community and learn better how to love others through a relationship with God have been increasing and are beginning to have an influential effect on the lives of young adults and how they are choosing to carry our their lives with God & Christ.

I am a product of these schools of thoughts and am forever grateful of their influence in my life. These programs. These teachings, beliefs, guides, examples. They were/are the outlets that brought me to the place of understanding more how I believe God intended for us to live together and live within. These resources were the tools, I believe, used by God to change my natural school of thought & practice. Through affirmation, conversation, mediation & immersion over the last five years I have been encouraged more than ever before to be the love, I believe, God intended for me/us to be.

Last night I had a really rich and affirming conversation with a new friend. A friend I hope to keep around for a long time. She shared how often times she feels as though we (society) take simple concepts and ideas such as community and intellectualize them into methods and tasks, books and essays, process and conclusions. She continued to share that often times she struggles to be a part of these conversations and struggles to make natural relationships that God intended for us to develop organically into means to obtain some end goal of community.

I struggle with not making a set of rules for myself & I most certainly often times find myself working more often on the side of religion rather than spirituality, judgment rather than perception, education rather than experience, rules and regulations rather than balance and flexibility. So I understand what this hopeful good friend is saying. For I too am guilty of making natural and organic desires of God into educational concepts and processes with end goals. But I feel like I'm not alone in this. Because when I engaged in these programs we always had tasks to stretch us and were encouraged by our stakeholders as to by look at what an end goal would look like. For most nonprofit organizations there has to be end goals and objectives stated in order to receive money to carry out dreams of how to develop and enhance their stated mission or vision, most often to the benefit of community. It's the world we live in. It's how we obtain money to serve others. It's how we get people behind our passion: we give them an end goal to look forward to, a set of objectives of how we're going to get there and the stated change we hope to see in the world through carrying out the goals, tasks, objectives. Wow – that exhausted me to even think about and I write up this stuff for a living (goals, objectives, ect.)

This is the thing, this whole religion, judgment, education, rules, regulations, should have, could have, would haves becomes addictive. Really addictive. Community is one of those “things” in my life. Something that over time turned into all of the preceding adjectives that started to blanket the nouns. The grandma's, Eddie's, Destiny's, Edgar's, those who are without homes, those who are without financial gains, those who are without. Pawns in a game of obtaining something I disguised as community.

So I stopped. I stopped forcing interaction and remembered times in Morocco when Jake, Cory & I would take walks around Midelt, sharing, speaking and enjoying the company that we would encounter as we walked. There was no driving distances, scheduling times, arranging meeting places, etc. It just happened. I miss this. But even then, I was a slave to end goals and means of how to obtain them.

It's at this point that I wish I was able to present some magical process of how I came to embrace letting this go, letting go of the need to follow rules to obtain community. But I don't feel like I have a process to share. I just had to let it go. I had to embrace that I am powerless over the condition of impaired community living that we rest and engage in. I had to let go of the insanity of always wanting to follow a system to obtain community. I had to make the decision to let God be God and be intentional about being part of God. I had/have to learn to simply love without all of those adjectives that have become misdemeanors that have taken me further away from God and God's Beloved.

So I think for now I'm done "learning" and am simply going to try to love in whatever way presents itself through life. Who knows, maybe in the meantime we may stumple upon this whole community thing that so many people are taking about and experience another May.

p.s. read this and maybe this entry will make a bit more sense. he has a way of making things make a little bit more sense in life.