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More or Less Church

Joanna Depue "DJ/Deacon J" writes original songs and liturgies, does daily Farm office work and records Barbara's eMos on The Geranium Farm. A singer and dog trainer she utilizes healing touch in her private massage practice. PLEASE share YOUR original ideas for worship, special liturgies, prayers, songs, sermons and noteworthy blogs right here.
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Saturday, July 28, 2007

Pentecost 12(RCL): He refuses to use the Crystal Ball

Teachers and preachers, feel free to borrow - with attribution - anything that might be helpful in your work tomorrow. No further permission is necessary

Hosea 1:2-10 and Psalm 85 , Colossians 2:6-15, (16-19), Luke 11:1-13

We are faced here with what would appear to be a redundancy....... if GOD knows the secrets of our hearts; if God follows us wherever we go and is aware of what we do and how we do it..... why do we have to bother to TALK to God? Why to we have to ASK for things? Why do we have to CONFESS things? After all, we are free and clear of our trespasses because, according to the writer to the church at Colossus ,"He nailed them to the cross". Everything sinful by everyone for all human time. One mighty long list, that.

Back to the original thought - if God 'knows it all', why do we have to pray, show respect, forgive, apologize, empathize or sympathize with others? If God knows it all, even that bad stuff, and we will be welcomed into everlasting bliss, no matter what we do, they why bother? I can confess that there was a time when I relied on that premise to get by, barrelling through life like a steamroller, oblivious of either obstacles ahed or the destruction left in my wake.

It took years before I could see that taking no responsibility and having no "feelings" for anyone else had left me a lonely, solitary, strangely angry and bitter person. Having rejected my 'predestined' occupation as someone who listens with the heart to other hearts, I was empty. The only things to fill the emptiness were to steal change, lie without remorse and display my raging inner anger: angry at my parents for putting me down and discouraging me; angry we were poor; angry at those with privilege; angry at being treated as mute and invisible; angry about being an object - one of 'them' - dehumanized and unrecognizable in a mob.

The irony was, of course, that I was painfully visible and loud and disruptive and had what could be described as a callus with a crack in it over my heart. I was labeled an underachieving trouble maker. These clinical labels, once applied, stick to you like no Super Glue can. They can also be repeated enough that you acutally believe that is that and things will never change.

God stepped in. I can't pinpoint the date. I can remember that it was at the end of my searching for a church to go to - and I was having discussions with the assistant rector. I made a confession.... and it all came pouring out: the longing, the fear, the lonely ache, the attempts at getting attention, the inappropriate behavior, the feeling of utter inadequacy in every section of my life. He listened long and hard. He then held out his hands and said 'when you're ready, take my hands in yours - I am putting my belief in you - and then begin to pray.' I thought that he was tired or lost his wits. Despite my reluctance, my guard was down, my heart had been opened, my spirit was lighter, the weight was off of my shoulders. I prayed clumsily, rambling and then became still. I perceived we had been enveloped in a mist of benediction. We sat still like that for what seemed like a very long time. He took his hands away for a second, then reached out and held mine. 'Let's use a familiar prayer '.... and began "Our Father..... ". It was a time of the radical feminist movement, of consciousness raising groups and strong reaction to male imagery. Besides all of my own parental issues, I joined in with "Father" and kept on going, with each word, with each image, the facade crumbled. There was an awakening and rebirth. By the end of the prayer and the session, the priest mentioned that I might be seeing things a bit differently now and that I may have dreams and may have to take more time making decisions (and that the decisions) may well be different. I changed. It took time. It took more time for the people around me to see that it wasn't 'just another act'. The delayed gratification was difficult to handle. Some days - even now - it is difficult to wait for people to make decisions and not attempt to thwart or accellerate their deliberations....well, we all have something to work on.

The flip side of the coin regarding God's insistance on our asking is...... that by doing this exercise we grow. If a parent, knowing what a toddler wants at the table from a grunt indulges in that habit, they are not helping the child acquire language stills by responding to a grunt or a thump on the table. If a child goes through life with training wheels on thier bike, how do they acquire better balance or motor skills? If I am to let my conscience be my guide, when I make a mistake it is my responsibility to apologize and make amends where appropriate. If I catch myself in a difficult place to explain the situation rather than brood; if I am being hurt I must confront with love the one hurting me. All of these things make me grow.

All of these things make EACH AND EVERY ONE OF US GROW. That's why it says ask and it shall be given to you and not 'think it and you will get it' or 'because I owe you or you deserve it and it shall be given to you'. What we have with our God must be a relationship- and that requires action and decision making on both parts. God will not use the Almighty Crystal Ball to foretell your future or to check in on whether you are on the right path. Nope. This path is built for 2 across and goes both ways. When we surrender our pride we gain compassion; when we listen to the heart of another, we strengthen empathy; when we hear someone is ill and respond with a card, a call, a visit, some chicken soup, an offer for a ride to a doctor's appointment, we strengthen our capacity for service. We have to ask, knock, search... and as long as there are others on this earthly journey who wish to live into their faith tradition that includes justice, mercy and kindness (and they all do) we will have fellow sojourners - some of whom may be the vehicle of God's answer to our prayers. THAT is how much the Holy Spirit will aid us when we ask. Amen and Amen

Copyright © 2007 K.L.Joanna Depue and DJ on

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The puzzle that is sleep

God rested on the 7th day...... now THAT is what I call stamina!

I was advised to have a sleep study done by my ENT guy.... and my GP could not have agreed more considering my inverted sleep pattern - clinically known as Circadian Rhythm Disorder, my egregious snoring and patterns of insomnia.

The day started out @ the dentist getting the REAL crown put on my tooth. The pain killers put me off the nausea meter... the crown was in, but my stomach was not. So I went home to rest before my sleep study. Sounds funny, but it's not.

Got Em set for the night, got there on time (shock of shocks) having filled out 12 sheets of a questionnaire on sleep patterns, snoring, fatigue, etc. OK. Oh, and after I checked in and before I could get properly parked the skies opened and it poured. Ah well.

There were 4 of us in the hospital on Monday... all for the same reason, with differing symptoms. My technician tried to be sweet....he really did, poor fellow. It is unnerving having someone use an emery board on your scalp to get a good connection to put on "water soluble" adhesive and electrodes. One on the forehead, one on the side of each eye, one on each side of the jaw, one at your throat and a microphone on a wire attached to two prongs taped to fit in your nostrils to measure breathing. One on the inside of each calf and ah, yes.... and the 6 electrodes in/on your scalp. Then there are two bands- one tightly around your waist with a monitor and another under your armpits and across your chest w/a monitor. Two stick um snaps on your shoulder blades and an ET pulse meter on your pointer finger.

The room was small, equipped w/a TV with about 8 channels (no, I didn't want to watch some doctor do a tonsillectomy so I skipped that one). I slept for an hour and woke up. 100%. It must have been 60 in the room with 2 thin cotton bed spreads - they could not be called legitimate blankets. I tossed, turned, watched Mr. Monk and Psych and the meditation station and shut the tube off. I had to buzz Raj to disconnect me so I could go to the bathroom.... it was that cold. He came in, unplugged things, put the monitor on a Velcro strap and let me relieve myself.... it happened 2 times, which is extremely rare. What was NOT rare is that I finally got some shut eye at about 3 am...... and his cheery voice came over the intercom @ 5am...GOOD MORNING! TIME TO WAKE UP!

I don't recall the exact words, but I believe it began with....what's so good about 2hrs sleep.... I did remember to apologize. This obviously was not the first time he had ever gotten that type of reaction.

I was home today, dysfunctional on that little amount of quality sleep.... but will be in the office tomorrow(or today, rather) early enough to put in a full day and have my mammogram done in the late afternoon. Two more work days this week. The crown (which popped off during one of the 'bite down' testing in the sleep lab) will be re-cemented on Monday morning, the ENT guy will have my sleep study results in the afternoon and Tuesday is my last working day @ the UN......

I probably will never be the morning bird Barbara is.... but maybe some day my sleeping will be closer to average people's sleep zones - it's hard to say. Perhaps only some test results and a month of retirement will reveal the possibilities! We need sleep to function properly, think clearly, regenerate cells in our bodies. Statistically over the last 20 years we have, on average, lost about 45 minutes of sleep per night... with a gu-zillion sleep deprived people trying to streak through life it's no wonder there are mistakes in judgment, on the job, behind the wheel, in relationships and general physical upkeep. Maybe we just need a good solid 8hrs a night!?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Tornado series #3

It's going to work out just fine, thank you very much!

Wow! If we humans could learn such valuable lessons from our animal friends. Lessons of instant friendship. Of peace and harmony by way of respect for one another -- no matter one's color or creed (or breed). These animals tell you "Its just good to be alive and with others".

Yes, it surely is. So.... Live, love, laugh.

"Life is a Gift..... Unwrap it!"
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Tornado Series #2

And then they are no longer alone.

Instant friends, they comforted each other in the car.......

Add two more beagles found after that..... the more the merrier!

Oh boy!!! Add a new traveler to the mix..(note the cat is coming over the seat seeking shelter). Now, just HOW is this going to work out - remember, they are all strange to one another ........
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Tornado series: #1

These photos and story were sent to my by Georgiana Cameron via her friend William Schatzabel. I don't know who took the pictures, but am grateful for Georgia sending them on to share with other Farmers! It's entitled "After the Tornado"- I'll just try to fit the commentary next to the pictures (they came separately) GREENSBURG, KANSAS

Rescuers found this poor little guy named Ralphie. The rescuer wasn't equipped to adopt him, so he was shuttled to the safety of a dry car.

Ralphie, while scared and starved, joined his rescuers.

It is hard to believe that anything or anyone could live through THIS......

But we were wrong! This little lady had survived the horrors as well! Here she has been placed in the car.... scared, but SAFE.
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Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Twenty-third psalm revisited

Inspired by Barbara's e-mo of Friday, July 20 (The Gift Beneath it All), Mary Anthony passed on this prayer by Toki Miyashina which Barbara thought might be a benefit to us all..... and I heartily agree. Thank you, Toki for writing it and Mary for sharing it.

Prayer for God's Help, Strength Peace & Serenity

The Lord is my pace setter, I shall not rush.
He makes me stop and rest for quiet intervals;
He provides me with images of stillness, which restore my serenity.
He leads me in the ways of efficiency; through calmness of mind, and His guidance is peace.
Even though I have a great many things to accomplish each day, I will not fret for his presence is here.
His timelessness, his all-importance will keep me in balance.
He prepares refreshment and renewal in the midst of my activity.
By annointing my mind with his oils of tranquility,My cup of joyous energy overflows.
Surely harmony and effectiveness shall be the fruits of my hours,
For I shall walk in the pace of my Lord, and dwell in his house forever.

(Almost) Everything I Know.....

Dear fellow animal lovers. It's been quite a while since I sent something out for you. The planets must be aligned because I saw two things today which nudged me into action.

Last weekend my friend Charlotte came over to help set up a large offset umbrella on my brief patio. I can now go out and sit under its protection, relatively cool and comfortable. As I sipped an herbal iced tea today in this idealic setting, Emmy Lou strolled out to the middle of the lawn, and in the shade, turned over on her back - tail out flat, front paws curled under, rear legs opened spread-eagled. With her head cocked to the side she briefly held her eyes open. Slowly but surely, her eyelids came down like window shades and within 2 minutes she was out for the count. Outdoors, relaxed, free of care, worry or the need to be vigilant, she was the picture of summer contentment.

This evening I turned on my computer to find an e-mail from my dear friend, Julie Tiso, who has just retired from teaching and relocated with her partner Doug Gerritson to Beaufort, NC. Julie has worked for years for animal rights and shelters, mounting fund raisers and community awareness. She and Doug have fostered many a litter of pups in their time and are the proud owners of Ozark (a senior retired seeing eye dog) and Sophie (a mostly boxer mix who had far too many temporary owners). Emmy Lou loves to have play dates with them and gives Sophie a run for her money.... they have mock fights that - with two open mouths of considerable pointy teeth -look ferocious and are completely harmless.

Besides God and the love of God that has been shown me by my human sisters and brothers, I agree with this clip and thought I would share it with you. Enjoy it..... and, if you have one, give your pet an extra hug and a peck just to say THANK YOU!

Do you have photos or U tube clips that show our furry, feathered or scaled friends giving us more lessons on life? Send them in to me: and I'll compile them into a future entry.


Will you be in the Syracuse neighborhood on Sunday, September 16th? I will be preaching at the 10am service at Christ Episcopal Churh in Jordan, NY; presiding with be the rector, the Very Rev. Katherine Day. If you have your long-range calendars out, pencil in that Christ Church has also invited me to offer a retreat there the weekend of November 2-4 entitled Prayer at Your Fingertips. More details will be upcoming after October 1st. Drop in on the News and Events section of the website to see where Barbara or I may be headed on future dates!

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