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All posts for the month July, 2012

Next!

Published July 31, 2012 by sojournerkat

I’ve got my papers!

And, of course, a towel.

Well, it’s an e-mail, actually. And a plane ticket that, although virtual, I believe will actually grant me access to an actual air plane.

I’m going to Connecticut. Peabrook is a small town in Fairfield County, about an hour north of New York City. The church is Faithful Heart, an Open and Affirming UCC congregation. Rev Mark says they’d like their sojourner to help with their youth and children’s programs. It’s a big church, with three pastors and several full-time staff members. That’ll be a new experience for me!

I’m feeling kinda melancholy about leaving New Orleans. I mos def won’t miss the heat… Being here has been a life-altering experience. I’m not even sure I can articulate why… I’m just not that eloquent. The combination of sad and abandoned juxtaposed with the restored and hopeful left me on a continuous roller coaster of emotion my whole time here.

I always travel light, but I’m going to be even lighter this trip. I’ve met a lot of people and given away a lot of stuff that meant a lot more to them than it did to me.

Doug, Julie, and Jake will have to keep up the posts for a couple of weeks. I’m going to be busy!

The Beatitudes

Published July 30, 2012 by sojournerjorgenssen

The Sermon on the Mount, by Carl Heinrich Bloch (1834–1890)

The Beatitudes are from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. My quotes are from Matthew 5, verses 3-12 NIV

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Sometimes translated as just “poor,” sometimes translated as “destitute in spirit.” Maybe Jesus meant that it’s easier for poor, humble people to enter the Kingdom of Heaven because they have less to lose. Like the allegory about it being easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven.

Want to know for sure what Jesus meant?

Get a time machine, go back and ask him.

Don’t ask me, I’m a preacher, not The Doctor.

Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.

If you’re mourning, it implies that  you had something special and then lost it. It could be a loved one, or a home, or a way of life interrupted by poverty or war.

And the “they will be comforted” part? Don’t discount the power of the Holy Spirit, but don’t be lazy and assume that someone else (God, your pastor, the other guy…) will do the comforting. See someone who’s mourning? Comfort them.

Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.

I once heard this explained as “The Earth? Who wants the Earth? Don’t we all want to go to heaven? I guess being meek isn’t so great.”

OK. I see their point. But that doesn’t mean the meek are pushovers. Meek can also mean humble, quiet, and unassuming. There’s a great article in Christianity Today from 2007 that explores the meaning of the word.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.

I like this one. “Ask and ye shall receive” goes for many aspects of life, not just one’s spiritual life. So, yeah, you want righteousness? You hunger for it? You got it! (Oh, and don’t get it confused with “self righteous” or “world peace.” Those are totally different things.)

Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.

Mercy is granting clemency when it really isn’t deserved. There’s a great story somewhere (sorry, no link) about a French soldier’s mother asking for mercy for her son, who had done something that merited a pretty harsh punishment. When Napoleon pointed out that the man really didn’t deserve clemency, the mother pointed out that she was asking for mercy. Something not deserved.

This on is also one of those big Karma ones, like “What goes around comes around.” But there’s nothing supernatural about it. (I’ve known too many people the Karma bus swerved and missed to really believe in Karma.) Yet, there is some truth to the idea that we reap what we sow.

Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.

Children are good examples of this one. It’s a scientific fact that our ears learn to hear certain sounds in our own language, and we eventually lose the ability to differentiate sounds that exist in languages not our own. I think there really is something more to this beatitude that we can’t quite grasp yet… as humans, as adults, we’ve learned to live and perceive in the same way that those around us do. Perhaps, if we had learned differently, we would see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.

In other words “Yeah for you guys who make peace! You rock! You really are the children of God, doing just what He’d want you to do.”

10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

The Garbage Truck Story: I first read this on facebook, and when I googled it, I found several references. Basically, yes, there are people out there who are like garbage trucks, dumping their garbage on others. Don’t worry about them, just smile and wave and go your merry way, knowing that the kingdom of heaven awaits you.

11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

No way, no how are you going to get through life without someone saying something bad about you. Maybe they don’t like your faith, or your weight, or your sexual orientation, or your political views. Don’t expect the Karma bus to hit them. Maybe it will, maybe it will swerve and miss. Just shake it off. The good stuff comes later.

Sally Ride

Published July 24, 2012 by sojournerdoug

Yesterday the world lost a great person. Sally Ride passed away after battling pancreatic cancer for 17 years. Here is the obituary as it appeared on the Sally Ride Science website:

Sally Ride died peacefully on July 23rd, 2012 after a courageous 17-month battle with pancreatic cancer. Sally lived her life to the fullest, with boundless energy, curiosity, intelligence, passion, joy, and love. Her integrity was absolute; her spirit was immeasurable; her approach to life was fearless.

Sally was a physicist, the first American woman to fly in space, a science writer, and the president and CEO of Sally Ride Science. She had the rare ability to understand the essence of things and to inspire those around her to join her pursuits.

Sally’s historic flight into space captured the nation’s imagination and made her a household name. She became a symbol of the ability of women to break barriers and a hero to generations of adventurous young girls. After retiring from NASA, Sally used her high profile to champion a cause she believed in passionately—inspiring young people, especially girls, to stick with their interest in science, to become scientifically literate, and to consider pursuing careers in science and engineering.

In addition to Tam O’Shaughnessy, her partner of 27 years, Sally is survived by her mother, Joyce; her sister, Bear; her niece, Caitlin, and nephew, Whitney; her staff of 40 at Sally Ride Science; and many friends and colleagues around the country.

I was only one year old when Dr. Ride blasted into space for the first time, becoming the first American woman in space. My love for everything astronomical was inspired not just by her, but by generations of scientists, engineers, and astronauts. I even earned a Bachelor’s in Aerospace Engineering. I still look up to our astronauts today, not just NASA but those from other nations as well. Besides being real heroes who train and sacrifice and get to actually live and work in space, many of them continue to inspire humanity and give back to the community in many ways. Sally Ride had Sally Ride Science™ , an “innovative science education company dedicated to supporting girls’ and boys’ interests in science, math and technology.” Ron Garan and a handful of other Bloggernauts have Fragile Oasis, whose vision is stated thusly: “Guided by the unique orbital perspective of men and women who live and work in Space, our vision is for Fragile Oasis to be a vehicle that helps people and organizations collaborate and develop synergy toward overcoming the challenges facing humanity on Earth.”

Long story short: astronauts are good people.

On Sally Ride’s website, there are links to facebook, twitter, and various relevant sciency-stuff. On her biography, there is a link on the right for those who wish to donate to the Sally Ride Pancreatic Cancer Initiative.

Nowhere on the website or biography does it say “And she was a lesbian.”

According to her sister, Bear, Sally was a very private person. Only those close to her knew that she had cancer. Only those close to her knew she was gay. Many news articles reporting her passing did not mention the fact at all. This article from CNN takes its cue from Dr. Ride’s website and only mentions “Ride is survived by her partner of 27 years, Tam O’Shaughnessy, her mother, her sister and other family members.”

I think it is wonderful for the GLBTQ community to be able to point to such an inspirational person as Sally Ride and say “And she was one of us!” However Dr. Ride herself was very private about her sexual orientation. I respect that, and I think the rest of the world should as well. This article from The Huffington Post describes a reaction that, frankly, disgusts me.

Mitt Romney, Republican, Presidential Candidate etc. tweeted the following:

Sally Ride ranks among the greatest of pioneers. I count myself among the millions of Americans she inspired with her travels to space.

Does that offend me? No! Why should it? It doesn’t matter what you or I think about Mitt Romney or Republicans or billionaire politicians in general. That was a perfectly respectful, decent, and I believe sincere sentiment. Yet some people seem to think that any person who has a reputation for quashing GLBT rights has no business speaking in regards to a GLBT person at all.

Sally Ride had no desire to become a spokesperson for gay rights. She wanted the attention to be on her work encouraging children to study and enjoy math and science. She wanted to keep her personal life quietly private.

That is what we are striving for. Not to triumph in some loud and obnoxious way, but to be unnoticeable, indiscernible from all the heterosexual couples who are, indeed, just quietly living their lives.

New Orleans

Published July 18, 2012 by sojournerkat

New Orleans 2007

Wow.

I don’t know what I expected. I mean, I think I tried hard not to have “expectations” at all, but to remain completely open about whatever I’d find here.

Hurricane Katrina was… ummmmm… in 2005, so that’s seven years ago. I’m not sure anyone thought the city would still be cleaning up after all this time.

My work here is very ecumenical. Well, I think interfaith is a better word. The other day I was working in a community garden with a handful of Muslim youth. Last week, I was being mothered by a bevy of Jewish ladies. They were thrilled to hear that my Dad’s family is Jewish, but one lady in particular was devastated to find out that I was raised Catholic. She was only vaguely comforted to learn that, as an adult, I embrace God in a way that has trouble fitting in with any particular church.

That’s not to say I don’t want to… there is something attractive about finding a church family where you feel you belong. The trouble is, church families are made up of real people, and real people… well, real people have issues.

In the past few weeks, I’ve met a lot of people with issues.

Wait… that sounded bad…

OK. My so-called-job down here is rather loosely defined. I kind of fill in the cracks wherever I’m needed, and sometimes that means I’m just hanging around and talking to people. There are youth groups who come down here to help out in whatever way they can. Most of the kids are happy and bouncy and eager to lend a hand in whatever way you ask. Others take some more prodding; they think this a vacation, not a mission trip.

Sometimes the people who come down to New Orleans have some kind of inner struggle going on that they just can’t come to grips with. But being here, seeing how some people have just given up while others are striving and thriving somehow gives them a new perspective. I’ve sat and just talked with quite a few people, from a 13yo who thinks she wants to be a minister, to an 83yo who wonders about what else is left for him in this life.

My time here has been a true sojourn. I’ve wandered. I’ve shared. I’ve listened and learned.

And I admit I’m tired. I just got my next assignment from Sojourner HQ. It’s time to move on.

Dough

Published July 8, 2012 by sojournerjulie

So, my darling boy this morning told everyone I became a baker because…

…wait for it…

“She kneads the dough!”

~snerk~

Yup. That’s my boy.

So… why did I become a baker?

I admit there is something therapeutic about kneading dough. The rhythm of it, and the feel of the different textures in my hands. I’m one of those cooks who dives right in with bare hands, even when it’s more like batter than dough. My hands are going to end up there anyway, why bother starting with a spoon? Sure, it feels odd at first, and the yeast-bubbles stick to my dry skin, but it lets me really understand just how well (or not so well) the ingredients are meshing. Ford is very helpful at this; he keeps his hands clean and adds more flour for me as I call for it.

We’ve used yeast for fermentation and baking for thousands of years. Yet the art of how that yeast is used and what other ingredients its combined with is never ending. I try to be subtle in my experiments, adding just a couple of flavors or textures to each batch. Anything more, and the bread just tastes…confused. There is also an art to presentation. I’m always concerned with getting a nice, even, brown top to my loaves. Ford gets more creative; although he doesn’t like to get his hands dirty, he does like to braid or shape the dough into interesting shapes. I’m quite proud of his work…he’s learned that he has to maintain an even thickness all the way through or he ends up with bits that are burned and centers that are still gooey. I should post some pictures…

There’s one other thing I love about being a baker. Everyone appreciates good food, especially the smell of fresh bread. I must admit, being universally loved feels very good. I’ve always been a people-pleaser. People might criticize the choices I’ve made in my life. They might criticize my fashion sense or the way I’m raising my child… but they’ve never criticized my breads.

Holding Pattern

Published July 4, 2012 by sojournerdoug

Well, I could take a hint from Katriel and post something nagging about how long it’s been since she’s posted, but I happen to know that she’s been a lot busier than she thought she’d be in New Orleans, and the internet access is only available when she has a chance to get to the local library.

As for me, I had a great night last night watching the fireworks with a group from the church. It was a great community event, with kids, teens, adults and seniors all playing together. I even got a fake tattoo of an American Flag on one arm, and the ONA Flag on the other. (Well, a close facsimile. OK, close enough for the guys I date…)

I talked to Kat this morning, and she’s been working on a post that she’ll probably share in the next few days. Meanwhile, Julie and I will keep the ball rolling!