Sunday, February 26, 2006

They Take You In

It has been a quiet day, as most Sundays are in our abode. Cups of tea being made and finished. Cats making their way (despite all attempts at indicating to them that I am trying to ignore them that I am currently off duty as cat nanny, as I am writing and can't have them biting the end of my pen) onto laps and refusing to leave. Classes being prepared for. Student writings being read. When dusk comes, candles being lit. This is my Sabbath. My holy time.

R. and the girls went with me to my church this morning, and there is a wholeness I have when we can worship together as a family. For multiple reasons, R. and I worship in different communities, that decision being made for reasons of choice, but also for reasons of circumstance.

I need to worship with a CoB congregation to maintain my ordination (although I would chose to worship there regardless of that technicality). R. worships at a downtown UCC, a UCC that I actually have some history with, as I was confirmed there in the 1980s, it was the church my parents decided we should attend after my father left the United Methodist pastorate. We attended because it was progressive, and because my parents wanted me to experience an open community which let me question and grow and change, and affirmed my wanderings, rather than demanding that I tow the party line. It was a large church, and mostly I felt...well, lost in the community there. Lost with good theology being pumped into me, but lost nonetheless.

Now, I choose not to worship at aforementioned UCC on alternate Sundays currently not because I feel lost in the community anymore, in fact they have dwindled in membership due to their (wonderful) prophetic stances. However, I choose not to worship there on a regular basis for another simple reason, which is that I don't want to put all my effort into a church that I am not allowed to join. "The contemplative chaplain not allowed to join a church," the gentle reader may ask..."Pray tell, what convenience store did you rob? Or how much money did you steal out of the offering plate to make a membership offer off-limits?"

Actually, gentle reader, I am not allowed to join the downtown UCC not because of restrictions from the CoB, mind you, not because it would be frowned upon to have associate membership elsewhere, no. Instead I am not allowed to join as an associate member because I will not make a profession of faith which affirms that it is at baptism that we renounce evil. I have a hard time believing that those who are unbaptized should be affiliated with evil, and that we renounce evil only with a largely symbolic act (especially symbolic when it is a church, like the UCC, which espouses infant baptism). And further, how exactly does one define evil? R. is in a similiar quandry, but that's his story to tell.

I don't know too many people who can say that even the UCC, which is reputed by so many fundamentalists as having "loose morals," will keep them from joining (although I am welcome to affirm the church motto and "come see where the journey takes me"). My journey, however, seems to have a roadblock temporarily stopping it in regard to this church. I'm only a little bitter about this, however. And have been trying to be patient with my theologically unlikeminded "brother in Christ" who pastors said UCC church.

Ah well...I have found a home in the Anabaptist margins with my folk-singin,' yurt-livin,' mustacheless-beard-sportin,' buddies. We do just fine, thanks. I've learned through the Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren what home is, the place where when you have to go, they have to take you in. With love, with grace, with acceptance. I have such an incredibly shoddy attendance record, and I am still met with hugs and support. I'd like to think this is what Jesus wanted to have happen in these communities created in his image.

However, I have digressed from what I wanted to say about family, and sharing a pew with my family. But perhaps what I must remember is that I share a pew with my larger family whenever I attend my sweet little CoB, for they have invited me in, regardless of who I am and that's what sisters and brothers are supposed to do.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


So, I've hit the 1,000 hits mark on this here blog. Ye Olde Site Meter reports that some folk are reading this (of course my own checking to see if anyone read probably accounts for 80% of above hits, so yippee for 200 hits!).

But, then I went and added pictures and NO ONE commented. It was as if there was a huge void in the universe, and while I knew people were still reading (gee, thanks Site Meter), NO ONE said anything. It was sort of like when I teach my class and students stare at me and I can get no read on their emotions. I find I want to say to them, "Look, throw me a bone here, give me something! Do you agree, disagree? Heeeeeellllllllpppppp Me Out!" That's sorta how I feel sometimes about my writing. I kiss it and send it out into the universe and think, "Well, I wonder how that one will fly." Perhaps the picture addition was sort of like when The New Yorker added Tina Brown as an editor (1992 or 1993ish?) and people rioted politely in the Guggenheim (actually, no, I'm joking here, but isn't that where you would imagine New Yorker readers to demonstrate?). But, my dad still complains about it on a regular basis, reminding me that even 13 years after the fact that he doesn't like change. Which, I guess, I can't complain about because we are sort of cut from the same cloth. Remember the "New Coke?" Yeah, still bitter about that, despite their attempts at fixing the huge error by reinstiling the classic.

Anyway, my neurotic little mind says, "Oh no, perhaps they all think you've gone and got the big head, what with the photos and all. You should have remained a simple faux Brethren girl." It's okay, I'm in therapy. I'll work through my neuroses. is relatively calm in Chez P-M, where all the men are academics, the women are worriers, and the children are, for the moment, stomach-flu-free.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Mi Padre

There are some things I don't write about easily. Some things that are harder to say. And often, this comes out of deep emotion, and deep gratitude.

I love this picture.

I have one version of it, an earlier (or later) version where we're both facing the camera, me with my arms wrapped around my Dad's neck, resting my chin on his shoulder. The picture sits next to my computer. It is in an old brass frame, left over from one of my Dad's offices, lost in a move as he up-sized his office space, and added portraits of me as I grew (and as he shed those ridiculous brown shoes and gorgeous wide maroon tie and bell-bottomed pants). I look at the picture often as I sit in front of my Dell. I look at what my mother refers to as the "Miller mouth" which rests on both of our faces and at the way we sit so easily, so comfortably close to one another, our arms intertwined, our eyes laughing.

Dad and I have always been close. But we haven't been close in that way that some father and daughter duos are. I've never been my dad's tomboy (forbid the thought). I've never hung out with him at company picnics (what?). I've always paused a minute at the Father's Day card selection because lawn-mowing jokes, and golfing stories, and fishing jokes never really suited Dad. And it didn't honor the connection we had.

How could I say to him, "I am so much like you that sometimes I gasp in recognition?" or "I am so utterly spellbound to be blessed to be your daughter?" Words like these sound like idol worship, and I know my father better than to revere him in a holy way. Instead, I recognize his weaknesses (some that are similar to my own) and gather the cloak of his unending love around me and sink into it's familiar safety, and offer my own humble and unconditional love back.

I am a woman who has learned that men should listen to her, because I was listened to by my father. And I am a woman who has learned that she deserves to be respected, because I was honored by my father. And I am a woman who has learned that she can be vulnerable, because she witnessed her father's honesty. And I am woman who as a feminist is not afraid to know God paternally, for I have been fiercely loved by a father.

And today, I write the words that are inscribed in my heart. Just because. Just here.

The Reason...

I haven't blogged today is that my Donny and Marie paper dolls finally arrived from E-Bay. I've been humming "I'm a Little Bit Country...I'm a Little Bit Rock and Roll" and putting Donny's purple socks on and off him for hours.

Check in tomorrow, I'll try to post then as my Sonny and Cher paper dolls won't arrive until Wednesday from E-Bay.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Obsessive Compulsive's Garden of Eden

So, I finally figured out how to post pictures. Oh my God the excitement. You're gonna say, "Christen, we sure wish you'd never learned this, cause we're frankly a little scared by your zeal at documenting things now..." or perhaps you'll say, "Thank the good Lord in heaven that you finally recognized that your computer does more than just send those fancy-pants letters you like to send." Regardless of what you now can receive all-photos, all the time. If you're an avid reader (Mom...I'm talking to you) you might want to scroll back through previous entries as I now have illustrated some of them.

The girl, she has gone wild. Almost as wild as she went on this day, when it appears she chose to accessorize her beautiful 1970s era hat with a tasteful scarf. All I needed to make the outfit complete was a little more cowbell.

I've gone almost that wild and crazy. Now I just need to find me a nice bold scarf.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Look Ma! I figured out how to add pictures!

A Feline's Valentine's Day

'Twas Valentine's Day yesterday.

As Robert and I are more low-key types on Valentine's Day, we don't go out and buy one another plush teddy-bears measuring 36 inches tall. We're not big fans of singing cupid telegrams, or sparkling diamond pendants or tie clips.

I am proud to say that I thought ahead and had a festive bag full of dark chocolate yummies strategically placed where my hermit-boy husband would notice them on top of the pile of clothes he had set out to wear after his morning shower. Watching a wet-headed Robert say, "Oh! What's this?!?" was, to put it oh-so-nerdily a tremendous joy. "I'll have to hide them from the girls!" he remarked. That's my boy, always thinking ahead!

Robert's Valentine's gift for me was a beautiful bouquet of Oriental lilies. Vibrant magenta on the tips with pure white centers and the most striking orange-yellow stamens (I'm hoping that I'm adequately recalling 11th grade Botany class with that term).

I had to have a minor procedure yesterday at sweet little Dr. B.'s office, which rendered me incapable of movement for much of this morning, and, knowing that I would be bed-bound, moved the vase of flowers onto my dresser, where I could see them whilst lying in bed. The lilies smell wonderfully, and the only problem with them, is that if you accidentally brush them with your hand, you end up with an orange stain on the spot where they came into contact with skin.

I shut Cooper and Moses, the 21 and 19 lb. wonder cats out of our bedroom last night, not wanting them to be tempted by the lure of the lilies' intoxicating aroma which might beg them to try to take a bite out of their petals, but apparently I forgot when I finally got out of bed this afternoon to pick up Miss T. from school to again shut the bedroom door.

Upon my arrival home, I was checking email at the computer...taking care of business...etc. when I heard Cooper's plaintive meowing (which sounds mostly like a sick cow, as Cooper was in a moped/cat collision several years ago which, according to the vet, has rendered him incapable of meowing modulation...his own form of cat brain-damage [but dammit, he's lovable...]) and turned to see my blondish cat with the white muzzle and chest now stained a deep yellowish-orange.

"Cooper," I bellowed, "Where have you been?" To which he tried to act all nonchalant, or as nonchalant as you can act when being a 21lb. brain-damaged cat.

He was so utterly busted. It won't be long before you see him, and his stained muzzle on a post-office wall.

Thankfully, my lilies seem to have weathered their Cooper fondling. I guess cats need Valentine's Day affections too.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Reasons To Be Content

The cursor is blinking tauntingly at me. And I'm feeling sort of quiet. I simply don't have a lot to say, but wanted to be in communion with this here weblog, as I know there is nothing more frustrating than to day after day after day log on to a website and see that the blogger has neglected to blog yet again. Makes one kind of grumpy, understandably. And I don't want my dear readers (a.k.a. my therapist, my parents, Robert, and my sister-in-law [at least in my mind]) to harbor any ill-will towards me.

I realize that for the first time in quite awhile I'm feeling quite content.

For some unexplained reason, the rat-race which has been the fertility quest has slowed to a sort of leisurly stroll through the maze. I have yielded, finally, or perhaps for now, to the recognition that I'm doing all I can and that there is nothing more for me to do but be still and wait.

In the meantime, the class I'm teaching fills me with life and questions and passion. I continue to delve into the mystery of the feminine divine and gasp in recognition at what I have, at times, forgotten. The reality is that we move in God, we swim in the very current of the birthing waters of God, and She is in us, and through us, and with us--and with Her we create this ever-changing masterpiece of life. And the beauty of it, is that we simply need to remember this, to remember to breathe in her goodness and power and compassionate grace.

So, I have reason to be content today. And for now, life is sweet.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The Professor, She is Naked!

So, I've been busy.
Really busy.
What, have I been doing?
Not the laundry.
It's piling up.
Not knitting.
My latest dishcloth remains in the same state of unfinishedness.
Not catching up on any outstanding correspondence.
Oh, so sorry those who are waiting for me to respond.

Instead, I have been reading.
Reading and reading.
Trying to cram all of the feminist theology into my head that I can.
Because now I teach it.
And I'm convinced that I really shouldn't be teaching it.
Because I'm sure I'm not that smart.
And yet, students are sending me emails that start like this, "Dear Professor Miller."
Holy shit.
Utterly holy shit.

I'm convinced that it won't be long before one of these students (students who, I might add, were born in 1987 the year that I was a freshman in high school and french kissing Lance Adams in his family's rec room), stands up and announces to the class, ala The Emperor's New Clothes by Hans Christian Andersen, "Look! The professor is naked!" It won't be long before my students recognize that I feel utterly bewildered that they look to me for wisdom.

Having said all of this, I also must add these words...I feel alive.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

A Letter I Will Never Send

Dear You,

I dreamt of you again last night. It seems all of this preparation for teaching a college course reminds me of college, and my mind does strange things with it all. I suppose after we were roommates for so long, it's not as easy for the dark gray matter in my head to extricate you. Your face and your voice echo there somehow, even though we have moved in different life paths and haven't spoken in well over three years.

You were the sister I never had. And now you are the one I will never completely understand.

My dream last night was rich in meaning. In it, we were in college again, living in Oakwood Hall, the real Oakwood, not its imposter redux version. We were living in separate rooms, on separate floors, just as we did our junior year of college, although we practically wore the carpet down traveling between those two rooms in that year of 1993. In my dream, I recognized a beautiful tree outside my second-story window, a tree ripe with juicy, red apples. I realized that if I stretched my arm out the window, I could just barely pull the fruit into my waiting fingertips. I ran to the phone and called your room and asked, "Do you like apples?" And you were enthusiastic in your response and I said, "Well, hurry, and come to my room because there are apples, so sweet, just hanging outside waiting for us to eat them." And you said, "I can't. And more than that I won't. There are things I cannot do." And you hung up on me. And I didn't understand why. And I began to cry. And then I walked to the window and reached my arm out as far as I could and gently, a warm apple, fell into my outstretched fingers. And I pulled it toward me, and saw that it was good. And I took a bite.

When I left K., I bit the apple. When I asked for a divorce, I was banished from the Eden of your good graces. You disowned me, wanting nothing more to do with me and my kind. Of course, you finally sent the obligatory note reminding me that you couldn't be supportive, but that you would "hold me in prayer."

Do you have any idea what it means to be abandoned by the one who you thought was your sister? Do you realize how painful it was to recognize that the apple needed to be eaten? That living in Eden sheltered me from the realities of wisdom and truth. Do you see that God still clothes and shelters those of us who eat the fruit? That we are not cut off from God's grace?

Sometimes I miss you. I miss a shared language and a sense of being understood to the core. I miss talking over cups of hot tea and the sharing of hot bread fresh out of the oven.

But mostly, now, I wonder whether that world was just a lie, whether that Eden was just an imaginary place.

May you be well,