Wednesday, October 29, 2008

"No" On California Proposition 8-- edited

California Proposition 8:

ELIMINATES RIGHT OF SAME-SEX COUPLES TO MARRY. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT. Changes the California Constitution to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry in California. Provides that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California. Fiscal Impact: Over next few years, potential revenue loss, mainly sales taxes, totaling in the several tens of millions of dollars, to state and local governments. In the long run, likely little fiscal impact on state and local governments.

Rev. Rick Warren of the Saddleback Church, a true maverick among evangelicals, has recently come out forcefully in support of California Proposition 8.

Dear Pastor Warren:

I have a few questions for you.

1. How is it that my marrying my partner of many years does any harm to the institution of marriage? We are committed to one another. We are faithful. We are monogamous. We love, honor and cherish one another, and intend to do so as long as we both shall live.

2. If I marry my Beloved partner, we will qualify for more than one thousand four hundred rights under the law which we are currently denied. She would be able to make medical decisions for me should I become incapacitated by illness or injury. We (who are both hard-working and productive members of our community) would be able to file joint income tax returns. We would be able to carry one another on our health insurance. How do the recognition of these rights for us, two gay women, harm you, heterosexual married male?

3. The church regularly recognizes and solemnizes both the marriages of women past child-bearing age and men and woman who are infertile or who have had surgery to permanently prevent their parenting children. As this is the case, the production of children is clearly not essential to the institution of marriage. On what other basis can you then claim that a man and a woman are necessary parties to any valid marriage?

4. How do you justify exclusion in the name of your faith, when the Lord and Savior you claim preached and lived a gospel of inclusion and welcome? Why do you stand with the vast majority when Jesus took his stand continually with those who were powerless?

5. It is evening. I have cooked a warm and nourishing dinner for my Beloved. After dinner we spend some happy hours in front of the fire, reading, talking, listening to music. At the end of our long day, we climb into our bed together and turn out the lights. Fortunately, in the state where we live, our privacy is sufficiently protected to allow us the freedom to do all these things. Our love will not be diminished one iota by the passage of Proposition 8. But whose love will benefit? Whose love will grow or be strengthened? I believe that, in truth, no love will be born or flourish as a result of Proposition 8; only hate will grow. Only hate will thrive. You who serve the God whose name is Love... how do you justify your role in strengthening the position of those who would preach hate of their gay and lesbian brothers and sisters?

Thanks to dear one, FranIAm, for letting me in on this wonderful event....

Thursday, October 23, 2008

3 AM Prayers

I lay in bed in the wee, small hours of this morning pondering this diagnosis, received by phone yesterday. I now have a condition (or do I have a disease? Is there an appreciable difference?) for which I will need to take medication (my doctor is going with Entocort: 3 pills a day), the nurse told me, for the foreseeable future. Long term. Forever.

This does not jive with how I see myself in the world: to be on medication, a middle-aged woman, forever. For one thing, I see myself as young. I don't know what kind of mental and emotional padding allows someone to get within spitting distance of fifty while maintaining such an impression, but there you have it. I still think of myself as closer to college than retirement. Clearly, a bit out of touch with reality.

To my great astonishment (and shame) I cried when I learned this... not the diagnosis, the treatment. Steroids, forever. I realize there is a level of self-absorption here that is probably troubling. I realize too that part of my infant-tantrum response has to do with the fact that I have gotten off scott-free for years, during most of which I treated my body pretty badly. Got morbidly obese, didn't exercise, ate most of my diet out of a bakery. Still, all that time, I had great bloodwork, no high blood pressure, no diabetes, no joint problems. Lucky, lucky and undeserving.

Now, I am a middle-aged lady who has to take steroids and I'm... not exactly having a meltdown. But something is being shaken and stirred in me. My own mortality is real, more real than it has ever been.

There are people I love who are reading this who have far greater challenges, physically or emotionally. There are people I love who would prefer this diagnosis to the cards they have been dealt, which makes me feel like a real crybaby. I don't mean to say this is anything... remarkable. But. It's a change. Let's just say, it's a change. I think of myself differently this morning than I did yesterday morning.

So I lay in bed last night (this morning), my mind meandering through the 23rd Psalm.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

(Amazing, how automatically and cross-generationally this psalm becomes the plank in the water onto which we climb).

He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters;

(Makes me lie down... forces rest upon me, and time, and nourishment... takes me to the place where I can be soothed... if I will be open to it.)

he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake.

(No words... just opening a space.)

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff— they comfort me.

(Look, I know this isn't the darkest valley... my God, that gives this thing some perspective. This is just... a bad neighborhood.)

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

(I feel Beloved breathing beside me... she is the hands of God caring for me right now. God, whom she doesn't even believe in... God, whom she considers at best a childish delusion, and at worst a name invoked while committing criminal acts of cruelty... but God flows in her and through her as she loves me.)

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.

(No words... sleep.)

Diagnosis: aka, Too Much Information

What is microscopic colitis?

Microscopic colitis refers to inflammation of the colon that is only visible when the colon's lining is examined under a microscope. The appearance of the inner colon lining in microscopic colitis is normal by visual inspection during colonoscopy or flexible sigmoidoscopy. The diagnosis of microscopic colitis is made when a doctor, while performing colonoscopy or flexible sigmoidoscopy, takes biopsies (small samples of tissue) of the normal-appearing lining, and then examines the biopsies under a microscope.

The primary symptom of microscopic colitis is chronic, watery diarrhea. Patients with microscopic colitis can have diarrhea for months or years before the diagnosis is made.

One study has implicated long term (longer than 6 months) use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) as a cause of microscopic colitis. Some patients' diarrhea improves after stopping the NSAIDs.

The treatment of microscopic colitis has not been standardized because there have not been adequate large scale, prospective, placebo controlled treatment trials. The following strategies are safe and may relieve diarrhea in some patients:

  • Avoid NSAIDs
  • Trial of lactose elimination (just to eliminate the possibility that intolerance to lactose in milk is aggravating the diarrhea)
  • Anti-diarrhea agents such as Imodium or Lomotil
  • Bismuth subsalicylate such as Pepto-Bismol
  • 5-ASA compounds such as Asacol, Pentasa, or Colazal

Two recent, controlled trials showed that budesonide (Entocort, a poorly absorbed steroid) is effective in controlling diarrhea in more than 75% of the patients with collagenous colitis, but the diarrhea tends to recur soon after stopping Entocort.

information courtesy of

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

"Look for God..."

"... like a man with his head on fire looks for water." Thus speaks the unnamed guru at the heart of the central portion of Elizabeth Gilbert's bestselling memoir, Eat, Pray, Love.

I think the last time I was looking for God with that kind of intensity I was an adolescent, caught up in the twin infernos of religious fervor and sexual awakening. My bedroom smelled constantly of recently burned candles, because I spent hours into the night saying the rosary with the help of an antediluvian devotional booklet, complete with lurid watercolors depicting the particular infernos through which Our Lady had passed.

One of the first things I told Beloved when trying to explain my religious inclinations was that, when I saw Godspell, I really did put a pebble in my shoe, confident that physical pain would move me along the path to holiness.

Of course, the memory is short. I was in that kind of put-out-the-fire search for God's comfort just a few years ago, when walking across the coals of my dying marriage. And I have sought God's intervention in my own life and behavior as recently as... today, lunch. I pray before meals now with a fervor I'd almost forgotten I was capable of. I pray on my knees at bedtime with the gratitude of someone recently pulled out of quicksand... because I have recently been pulled from the quicksand of addictive behavior, and now stand on the friendly shore of sanity.

Elizabeth Gilbert says the word guru is made up of two syllables, meaning 'darkness' and 'light.' The guru is the one who helps you to make that sojourn, from darkness into light. I suppose, second to Jesus, Bill W. is my guru.

Look for God like a woman with her hair on fire looks for water. Yes.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Glorious Day, and Invisibility Cloaks

Is God not genius? Has anyone looked outside today? The colors... there are no names for these colors. They are ored. They are yellange. They are impossibly beautiful and heartbreaking. I want to be out in it, yet it's actually a little too much for me. In the first church I served after being ordained, the women in my bible study fretted all fall that I would simply drive off the road, I was in such constant raptures about the foliage.

I've been thinking a lot about folks in my congregation (nothing new there) and the issue of my sexuality (nor there). I had a dream recently that I did something rather outrageous, in full view of my congregants (I was at an open house at one of their homes). Suffice to say, were I to do this thing, the cat would be out of the bag, down the street, on the highway and halfway to Fresno.

I think one of the things I've come to realize is what a powerful cloak of sexual invisibility I've had in my weight. Believe me, that was the point. For many years I fell in love with women from the safe distance of behind the fat. And I felt protected, in one sense (the sense that no one would ever be attracted to me), but not in another sense (I kept being sad). Now, I'm shedding that cloak, and... yikes! There's a woman under there! (A middle aged woman, true... which brings with it another set of invisibility issues. But a woman nonetheless.)

Today I had lunch with a bunch of colleagues. I guess I dressed up. Long dangly earrings, lipstick, a skirt that has a sort of a jungle print on it. I look like a woman, folks... a woman who cares how she looks. A... dare I say it?... sexual being. I find myself wondering whether this in itself could set people to wondering.

A friend (also closeted) who pastors a church clear on the other side of the country said to me recently, "I know they wonder about me. How could they not? But in the final analysis, I think they love me, and they just don't care one way or the other."

Which brings me to my other invisibility cloak: the fact that I've been married to a man. I really think this is the one item in my resume that will keep people from wondering the longest. Despite evidence to the contrary, it just doesn't occur to people that people either change in their self-understanding, or that they have been hiding their self-understanding. The truth is that I've known I was at the very least bisexual for more than 20 years; there was just no reason to shout about it. Within these last years, that has shifted. I now think of myself as a lesbian. I love women... I love a woman. (You are what you do, my Beloved says.) I don't see myself... under any circumstances... ever choosing to be in a romantic relationship with a man again. This is my natural way of being in the world. But because I was married, it just won't occur to people.

As I drove home from my lunch I thought of my invisibility cloaks, and how they've served me, and perhaps kept me from being who I most authentically am. Then, the leaves took over, and I lost myself... again... in the genius God who has made such a world. Such a world!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

B. P. + C. P. 4-Ever, True Love Always

For my procedures on Friday I was given a cocktail of Fentanyl and Versed. A nurse described it to me in advance like this: "You know when you're sitting in front of the TV, and you're sleepy, and suddenly you wake up and realize you dozed through your favorite show? It's just like that." Not ready to consider watching my very own colonoscopy and endoscopy as my "Favorite Show," still I understood what she meant.

Last night Beloved Partner and I were having dinner at our favorite owned-by-lesbians local cool restaurant. I asked her for the five hundredth time to tell me what I said, what the doctor said, when I woke up, etc... all that is very foggy to me (I slept through it). She got a funny smile on her face and said, "You know, I didn't tell you this part."

My gastro guy is also Beloved's gastro guy. In fact, I took her for precisely these same procedures during the summer. And then, the gastro guy gave the report to me. On Friday, he gave my report to Beloved. Apparently, one of the first (intelligible) things I said to Beloved Partner was, "Did Dr. Gastro know you?" Of course, she replied. "Was he surprised to see you here?" I have no idea, she said. "Do you think he knows I'm your girlfriend?" I don't know, she said. "Well," I said, "I put your name all over my chart. I wrote B. P. + C. P. 4-Ever, True Love Always. With a heart around it."

I remember none of this. But it sure makes me smile.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Turns Out...

... I'm a middle aged woman!! Seriously. Some polyps (not the scary kind). An ulcer (now there's a surprise! They think I've been overdosing on an over the counter anti-inflammatory drug). But "nothing remarkable," according to my nice gastroenterologist. Lots and lots of tissues biopsied (even though it all looked pretty healthy) because microscopic colitis (which you can only see, um, under a microscope) and Celiac disease (ditto) are possibilities.

So there you have it. I am so grateful for all your prayers. The prep is kind of gross, but Beloved said I made it look easy (and she prides herself on being a tough Yankee, so that is high praise from her). I am still a little achy, because, you know, they poked around inside me. (Evidently I woke up at one point and said "That hurts"... I remember opening my eyes and seeing something intestine-y on a big screen... so they injected just a bit more of the nice drugs and I went right to sleep again). But... I feel such a great relief that nothing Big and Scary was found. Thank you, friends, for being the voice of God reassuring me and for the blanket of prayers surrounding me. I love this community.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Things Digestive

Well, I suppose it's been a while since I update you on my health issues. I've been on a maintenance-type medication for my stomach/ digestive ailments for about two months now, but when I go off them (as I inadvertently did on Sunday) I'm back to square one. I've consulted with a gastroenterologist and I am scheduled for a colonoscopy/ endoscopy on Friday.

For the uninitiated that means a liquid diet tomorrow (and nothing red or purple-colored! think about it), with lovely pills and a magic potion in the evening. Followed by... being all ready.

Beloved is taking me, of course. I understand the preparation is far worse than the tests themselves (because I will be out).

I am a little scared. Five months of clean living doesn't erase nearly thirty years of not treating my body very well at all. Here's hoping for good results. Here's praying for the grace and strength to deal with whatever the results might be.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

World Communion Sunday

Oh my. What a beautiful day it was here... cool, crisp, just enough sun, but gorgeous, glamorous clouds vying for our attention, too.

I awoke this morning a little out of sorts... stomach trouble returning because I forgot my med. Oops. That'll happen when you're feeling well. And I awoke a little anxious about the day... the worship service had lots of bells and whistles to attend to, and we had a demure little blessing of the animals in the afternoon, as well. I awoke feeling that I had not put enough effort into my sermon, and fretted about that. (I often feel that way on Communion Sundays. I realize, all of a sudden, that it is entirely to do with the fact that these sermons are shorter. I'm size-ist!) I also fretted about the Animal service... again, felt that I'd thrown it together, and let a busy week get the best of me (lots of visits this week).

Well. Things came together, beautifully. The service in the morning... I experienced worship, which doesn't always happen when I am in a leadership role. And I experienced it, in part, during the sermon (which I was preaching). I felt a holy moment. I honestly don't know if anyone else felt it. But it was there for me, and I am so grateful.

It was the kind of day when I felt... in partnership with God? Where I fell down, God held me up, and gave me the gift of worship as well.

Saturday, October 4, 2008


I first noticed this on Choralgirl's excellent blog. Since then, it's caught on like wildfire, and I've seen it many other places. This is, in my opinion, the best kind of viral video.

Get out your handkerchiefs.

The Meaning of Tolerance

Like many Americans I watched the Vice-Presidential debate on Thursday night. I have my opinions as to how it went (both did well; Palin was better than expected, though when the bar is set so low that not making an obvious gaffe is considered a success, does that really mean anything?).

But my dear friend Rev. Songbird has a lovely meditation on that word, "Tolerance." Go, read, enjoy.