Saturday, October 9, 2010

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Why do I still have this blog???

Good question. I'm not really sure. So much in my life has changed since the day I decided to start this blog. One, my boyfriend moved to Portland, and has been here since (almost two years now!). Two, I decided to pursue a career in nursing and stopped pursing a career in landscape architecture. Three, I started nursing school. Four, Ben and I are engaged to be married! WOOO! Four, I've moved to SW Portland - close to lots of hiking trails and downtown, Portland State University and, of course, the reason for the season - OHSU, where I am currently studying to be a nurse. Six, Ben's good friend from college, Mike, has moved in with us and has proved to be a thoroughly enjoyable housemate - he cooks, listens to good music (and is educating me on such music - apparently my horizons were pretty narrow...), reads avidly, is wicked smot, and is just all around a good guy to have around :) (Ladies, he's single too ;) Seven, I have officially joined the Episcopal church - not just my local parish, but the wider Episcopal communion. Eight - I AM IN NURSING SCHOOL. I know I already mentioned that but I think it deserves another mentioning because it is literally what I spend all of my time on...except for this one occasion of blogging indulgence. As an "Acc Bacc," (that is what we are known as at OHSU - Accelerated Baccalaureate students) my life is pretty crazy these days. I start clinical rotations this Tuesday - on the general medicine floor at the OHSU Hospital in Portland.

I used to have a lot of time to think about things deeply and reflect and make nice little coherent thoughts tying multiple ideas together in a somewhat organized fashion. These days - I spend my time reading article after article, page after page in my Pathophysiology or Pharmacology textbook, or otherwise trying to prepare for what is often a totally overwhelming and mind-blowing experience that awaits me each day of nursing school. I feel as though I cut in line for some crazy 15-month long ride and that at the end of the ride I'm supposed to feel prepared to go out and be a nurse...It's hard to believe.

I'm loving nursing school - don't get me wrong. My fellow classmates are fun, intelligent, beautiful, interesting, inspiring people. Our professors and instructors are top-notch and incredibly supportive. I am one lucky gal to be studying at this institution. I have to remind myself of that occasionally....which isn't too hard given that there is a Starbucks in the Children's Hospital and a Natural Foods store in the main Hospital - two places I frequent on an almost daily basis. Having easy access to good food and coffee is pretty much all I need to be happy. I know, this is more than eating good food and satisfying my desire for predictably decent decaf Americanos - but I'm not going to lie and say that those quiet moments at the Starbucks at 7 am before class starts aren't the moments I relish the most. Tuesday I start working with real patients and doing real nurs-y type stuff. Even though it's going to be tough and most days I will undoubtedly feel totally unprepared...I am trusting that this is where I'm supposed to be - that the same loving Guide that brought me thus far will continue to be with me through all of this. I somehow, miraculously, survived first quarter with all A's - so that's got to be worth something, right? I know some stuff - enough maybe to begin to ask the right questions. I guess that's right where I'm supposed to be .

This is all to say that I'm not sure where this blog will end up or when I will write next. It might be two years from now or two days. One day I hope to tie all of these ideas into a nice little bow - nursing-healthcare-horticulture-therapeutic gardening-sustainable design-design for the aging population-faith amidst uncertainty-art and faith-environment and's all connected.

One day. For now, my bed is calling my name.

Friday, April 2, 2010

"Good" Friday

Sometimes I find it difficult to "enter in" to the depth and richness of some of the most important events in the Christian faith. As a catechumen this year, I was encouraged to really enter into Holy Week, taking the time to feel and experience as much of what this part of the Christian story might have to teach/show me. I am still struggling to "enter in," most likely because my mind and emotions are elsewhere (Microbiology, work, buying books for class, trying to get rid of my acne, running billions of Easter bulletins at Westminster, a friend whose metal rod got dislocated from her hip...) Until I read this...a poem emailed by Mother Esme at my church.

"Buried with him in his death" by Tania Runyan

We fought for one more sputter
of the old life. Even though a breeze passing
over your sieve of skin could send you
screaming, you muscled up your diaphragm
to whisk more air into the fire.

I held my own terrors to my chest:
failures and brush-offs, cancers and crashes,
all the anxieties I had grown to love
heaving and cracking like your ribcage
until we both gave out.

Then there was the mess of prying us loose:
wailing women and splintered lumber,
flesh stubbornly sticking to the nails.
But what swift hands, that Joseph of Arimathea,
what purposeful footsteps crunching the ground!

He wrapped us in linen and spices.
Only the hapless world could think of packing
fifty pounds of aloe around a dead man’s wounds.
But we drank it in like deserts
until finally even the lizards scurried home.

I lay in the cave and wanted to touch you,
but my hands were no longer mine.
They closed in on themselves like daylilies.
The stone rumbled over the window of light,
and then our difficult rising began.

Photo credit: "The Burial of Jesus" by Gustave Dore

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

"Taos Floral" has arrived!

I know my posts have been a little heavy lately (except the silly picture of the penguin being eaten by a fish ;) so I'm adding a little happy post here. Last June I visited my friend Elizabeth in New Mexico. We spent some time perusing the galleries in Old Town - and I was so inspired and engaged as we looked at all of the beautiful creations around us. It was wonderful. My mentor friend, Sheila, has a houseful of beautiful artwork. While in college, she started putting pieces of artwork on layaway, contributing whatever small amount she could at the time, on a monthly basis, to go towards whatever piece of artwork she wanted. I thought this was a brilliant idea - and so I finally bought my very first piece of artwork while in NM. I set it up so that $20/month was withdrawn from my bank account, and just received the painting in the mail! The artist is Dee Sanchez, and paints mostly landscapes/people/etc. in a New Mexico environment. I think they're wonderful and dreamy. The one I bought is quite a bit more mellow than her usual style. Isn't it beautiful? Makes me want to go frolic amidst the flowers. You can see more of her paintings here.

Why Christianity Must Change or Die


I am reading this profoundly thought-provoking (albeit poorly titled) book by John Shelby Spong, titled "Why Christianity Must Change or Die: A Bishop Speaks to Believers in Exile." The book was a Christmas present to Ben from his mom, who also found it to be very thought-provoking. I've posted the "12 Theses" below as a way to possibly start a conversation.

The material he presents is honest and deconstructive - and as someone who attends a fairly liturgical church, I'm finding it more and more difficult to participate in some of the readings and especially the Nicene Creed that is so a part of our worship experience. Marcus Borg, another Jesus scholar, would say that the creed (Nicene) is a way to identify ourselves with a particular culture and story of the past - the story of how the man Jesus was understood to 'believers' at that time in history, to rule out a contending point of view (the Arius v. Athanasius debate), and
to maintain the peace under Constantine. The creed for us today, he would say, is not an exercise for our intellectual approval. Well, that sounds nice - but if that is the case, why do we still recite it every Sunday, as if it were literally true? I'm pretty sure when people hear or say the words, "I believe..." they are not thinking to themselves, "I think this is a bunch of crap but I'll say it anyway..." - Most people truly believe the words - or feel as though they should - the virgin birth, the 2nd coming of Christ to judge the world, the bodily resurrection of Jesus, etc. etc. And, moreover, they think that if they are to call themselves Christian, they better believe it, because that is the truth.

Marcus Borg, in a lecture a few weeks ago that I attended, talked about reclaiming the Christian language. One of the words he focused on was the word believe. He said that the word, at it root, was more akin to belove or, "to give one's heart to" - the subject of the word believe was never a statement, it was always a person. Thus when we say "I believe..." in the creed, we are more saying, "I give my heart to...". This doesn't solve the problem of the creed for me...but it does help to some extent. In my opinion, I think we should write new creeds that are in accord with our understanding of God and the nature of the universe today - creeds that do not reflect the 3-tiered worldview that so framed the creeds of the past. I guess the question is, Why do we still use it? and, Can we speak it with honesty?

I would be interested in your thoughts - on the 12 theses below, or on the creed, or on any related matters. Here are a few points Spong makes - think of these as similar to what Martin Luther did while nailing his theses to the the door of Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, protesting what he believed were the fallacies and malpractices of the established church of that time.

A Call for a New Reformation

1. Theism, as a way of defining God, is dead. God can no longer be understood with credibility as a Being, supernatural in power, dwelling above the sky and prepared to invade human history periodically to enforce the divine will. So, most theological God-talk today is meaningless unless we find a new way to speak of God.

2. Since God can no longer be conceived in theistic terms, it becomes nonsensical to seek to understand Jesus as the incarnation of the theistic deity. So, the Christology of the ages is bankrupt.

3. The biblical story of the perfect and finished creation from which human beings fell into sin is pre-Darwinian mythology and post--Darwinian nonsense.

4. The virgin birth, understood as literal biology, makes the divinity of Christ, as traditionally understood, impossible.

5. The miracle stories of the New Testament can no longer be interpreted in a post-Newtonian world as supernatural events performed by an incarnate deity.

6. The view of the cross as the sacrifice for the sins of the world is a barbarian idea based on primitive concepts of God that must be dismissed.

7. Resurrection is an action of God, who raised Jesus into the meaning of God. It therefore cannot be a physical resuscitation occurring inside human history.

8. The story of the ascension assumed a three-tiered universe and is therefore not capable of being translated into the concepts of a post-Copernican space age.

9. There is no external, objective, revealed standard writ in Scripture or on tablets of stone that will govern our ethical behavior for all time.

10. Prayer cannot be a request made to a theistic deity to act in human history in a particular way.

11. The hope for life after death must be separated forever from the behavior-control mentality of reward and punishment. The church must abandon, therefore, its reliance on guilt as a motivator of behavior.

12. All human beings bear God's image and must be respected for what each person is. Therefore, no external description of one's being, whether based on race, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation, can properly be used as the basis for cither rejection or discrimination.

Spong's Note: These theses posted for debate are inevitably stated in a negative manner. That is deliberate. Before one can hear what Christianity is one must create room for that bearing by clearing out the misconceptions of what Christianity is not. Why Christianity Must Change or Die is a manifesto calling the church to a new reformation. In that book I begin to sketch out a view of God beyond theism, an understanding of' the Christ as a God presence and a vision of the shape of both the church and its Liturgy for the future.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Friday, January 15, 2010

Prayer for Haiti

Gracious God,
I lift my voice in prayer with all the people of the world.

Surround Haiti and her people
with your loving embrace
that they may be:

supported by the world in the work of rescue and recovery;
comforted as they grieve;
strengthened as they bury their dead;
healed as they tend their wounds;
restored in faith and the
hope of things unseen;
and transformed through newness of life in Christ.

Make me an instrument
of divine love, of mercy, of hope, and of new possibility.
Give me eyes to see,
ears to hear, the will to act, and a discerning and generous heart
that I may serve you and those who suffer in whatever way I am able.

In and through the power of the Holy Spirit, I pray. Amen.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Living the Questions

Starting next Sunday I will be devoting two hours each week to what my church calls the Catechumenate, which is a spiritual journey of discovering what the Christian faith is, what is significant/meaningful about the Episcopal tradition specifically, and setting a trajectory for growing in faith.

I'm both excited and apprehensive about this. Excited because I genuinely want to be a more spiritually mature person, to know what I believe/what is meaningful to me, and to live out of that reality more fully. I am excited about asking questions that I've long been struggling with. These same questions are why I am apprehensive about the catechumenate. And I have a gut feeling these questions will not be resolved, per say, during the next several months - but I am hoping that I will be able to put them on the table, to wrestle with them, and to gain a sense of peace and confidence with the mystery of the unknown. I am hoping to not compare my faith with my friends, and to simply bring it all before the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe,
and to be at peace.

What kind of questions am I struggling with, you might be asking? Well, for starters, so much of what I recite in church on Sunday I don't actually believe. Or, perhaps more accurately, I don't feel that the language conveys the essence of what was originally meant when certain words or phrases were constructed to outline a specific doctrine. The Nicene Creed, for example, is filled with language and concepts about God that I cannot recite with honesty. Christmas carols, which my church sings (almost in excess in my opinion) this time of year, as well as hymns sung all year round, are filled with language and ideas of God and the Christian story that seem fanciful and out of touch with reality. Can I still be a Christian and not believe some of the main tenets of traditional orthodox doctrine? Who was Jesus? Who is God? How do we read and experience the Bible? Ultimately, I am hoping to sort through all of the religious hubbub to find what is real and true and meaningful, and to discard the things that are simply untrue or are a misconception about God, Jesus and what it means to be a follower of Christ. And there is a LOT of hubbub out there.

In other news, I'm in the midst of applying to nursing schools! The journey of learning that started last March with Cell Biology is now in a new and exciting phase. I'm applying to 6 different programs, all here in Portland, which start anywhere between this summer and fall. I also start classes again at PCC tomorrow, which will include the last of three in the Anatomy & Physiology series. I can't believe all the knowledge I've accumulated within the past 7 months. It's been wonderful and amazing and I'm so excited for what's to come.

Thanks for walking on this journey with me, friends.