kite runner

chris and i just saw kite runner. i cried through almost the entire book and the same was true for the movie. it is such an incredible story with very talented actors and captivating cinematography.

i don't want to give away anything from the movie but basically it's about 2 young boys, friends, growing up in afghanistan just as the russians and then the taliban take over. it's made me think of many things.
i don't know when we'll be held accountable for the things done to children in our world... it's so horrific. it seems unfair that the children chris and i have one day (god willing) will probably never have to live through what other children do. i guess we never know. that was one idea the movie brought to my mind. how do you raise children to be so courageous and loving? so willing to sacrifice self-preservation for the needs of others? i suppose we, the adults, have to mirror it. and so, it comes back to me. how do i become courageous and loving? how do i become willing to sacrifice the preservation of me for others? can i do the little things that inconvenience me? can i talk with jim a little longer outside my house the next time he comes around? can i invite shanna in to sit on my couch for pb&j and soymilk (she loves the stuff, it's weird) when the absolute last thing i want to do is deal with is a needy addict (just being honest). can i greet the men who stand on the corner with a little more trust and love than i do?

ok... so as i type those out they embarrass me. they seem easy. ok, so if those are easy and i struggle doing them could i put my life at risk for my friends? could i actually lay down my life?

our community christmas picture

finally, here is our christmas picture (after christmas, i know). almost everyone is in it and we're standing in front of the philly skyline and a scrap metal facility.


bad genes

at about 7:35 am today i found out that i have been passed down the gerhke (mom's side) migraine curse. my first one. it was awful! i still feel awful. i got the whole deal... massive piercing headache, nausea, and throwing up. and now i'm so tired, laying here, and thinking of all the things i need to get done.

on an another note, christmas was nice. we went to chris' grandparent's houses in ohio. lucy came too and we had a great time. pictures are coming. chris' grandpa keeps bees and we got to go check them out. and we all got honey! yum. chris put some on my toast this morning, after all my "cleansing".

speaking of cleansing... a different kind, of course... my bathtub is calling.


school's out!

today was the last day of school for my class and for chris as well! it feels good to have a break. hopefully i'll have more time to post about what's been going on.

i just ordered some stationary from a beautiful artist that i want to share.
gwen frostic prints are lovely and you should buy some. here is a picture of her bird notecards.


levon helm

i was listening to npr in the car today and terry gross was interviewing a musician and singer levon helm. i've never heard of him but fell in love with the music he plays. "dirt farmer" is the first album he has put out in 25 years - he was diagnosed with vocal chord cancer but is in full-ish recovery. check him out of you like mountain music.



there are good things about jersey! to read about the new law rejecting the death penalty, click here.


Our Lady of Guadalupe

today is the feast day of our lady of guadalupe referred to as "like the mama of all the mexicans". (i like that)
we can appreciate the story of guadalupe, whether it's true or not, because she represents the needs and care of indigenous peoples. she spoke not to the conqueror but the conquered. she spoke in his own language and made him a messenger.

good stuff.

i also liked this reading from today.

God saw the world falling to ruin because of fear and immediately acted to call it back with love. God invited it by grace, preserved it by love, and embraced it with compassion.
- peter chrysologus 5th century


pictures and pizza and forts, oh my!

today we decided to have our community christmas celebration. unfortunately we were missing kaitlin and amber and their absences were definitely felt. we took our community picture at the pier with philly in the background on one side and the camden iron and metal facility (the scrap metal place) on the other. we thought the dichotomy was a nice one.

after that we ate pizza and brownies and built a fort. that's right, a fort... out of blankets and pillows and floor lamps and couches. upon reflection at one gathering, on our childhood memories, we all realized that most of us had built forts. so we decided to fortify ourselves, all 11 of us, and read winter and christmas stories. i was a little skeptical about all this but i did end up having fun. one of the books we read was "louhi, witch of north farm" which is a story from finland's epic poem, the kalevala . this is a special story to me because i grew up reading it and my family on my dad's side is from finland.

here are some pictures of our day...

lakes in finland

in our fort #1

in our fort #2

getting set up for our picture


a holy longing

it is advent time, one of my favorite times. we've been reading every night from two advent books and are trying to be present to longing and waiting. it's hard to slow down and experience anticipation but it's helped me to try and pay closer attention to my kids in school, to my neighbors, and the folks on the streets. there is a lot to long for. i do long for cities where children are not forgotten, families who are whole, people who are free from addictions. i long for the fierce motherly love of Jesus to show us the way. i think we need that kind of love particularly.

it does help that winter is finally here!

i also wanted to share the beauty that is our friends dave, caren, and little clara. if there is any family i want to grow up to be like it's them. i love their commitment to using no electric lights during advent. read about it.


40 dead

today we remembered the cosmic christ. we remembered, or tried to remember, that the fulfillment of creation through christ is here and is coming. we desperately tried to remember that all life and death will be redeemed. this morning was the mass in which we remember those who have been killed in camden city in the last year. there were 40 people to remember. 4 people killed in the last 3 days. as each name was called a person from their family (or a person from the parish if no family came) came up and received a candle and stood at the front. by the end the church was glowing and the line of people wrapped halfway around.

there was this message in the bulletin today:

Camden, O Camden! There is enough blame that we can all take a bit. Camden is a casualty of racism, greed, fear, real estate profit making, and an economy based on war. The result is blood enough to stain many hands. God of mercy, enlighten us. God of mercy, forgive us. And for all the murdered persons we pray: Eternal rest grant to them, O God, and may perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace! May God help the city of Camden and change the hearts of the powerful who oppress it!



we just finished watching the movie sicko. i'm shocked...totally shocked about the health care in this country but especially about the health care in other countries. we should be so ashamed. i feel disgusted.

i realize that this is still hollywood and michael moore is not above dramatizing the facts but researching just a bit of the content in the movie makes it obvious that if even half of what moore presents is true then the US health care system is pathetic.

it's a less than gentle nudge towards the idea of the church taking care of people... and not leaving this work to the government (although i'm not at all opposed to universal health care). the church is so wealthy and it seems to have little creativity for where to spend it. how about caring for people's health? i'm privileged to be a part of the relational tithe that meets the needs of people relationally, health needs and otherwise. i'm also interested in these health care collectives i hear about, who have created an insurance company-free system of caring for its member's health.

the loss of our creativity is a deadly thing.

happy thanksgiving!

i hope you all had a wonderful feasting and thanking yesterday. we certainly did. we had 7 for dinner and friends from philly came over for a huge dessert party afterward. we ate. oh we ate. and we watched the last of the mohicans together and sat outside by the fire. it was a balmy 70 degrees here but when the sun went down it cooled and was quite nice. the day started out sad because i took a nasty fall down the stairs. i am ok but very sore and bruised today. other than that it was a huge success.

this is a picture of the monkey bread i made for breakfast...yummy!

thanksgiving dinner

and today, being black friday, i heard that some anti-heroes are causing trouble at the gallery mall in philly... they believe some nonsense about the holidays being more about love than about shopping and think we shouldn't consume so much -- nothing at all, in fact, on today, the biggest shopping day of the year. crazy. who wouldn't want to wake up at 5am and join the throngs of annoyed and angry shoppers in overcrowded highways and malls? :)

well, i myself am getting my christmas decorations out. chris and i really want to participate in Advent this year. we want to try and be more creative about gifts and tradition - to try and pay more attention to the church calendar and to resist as much as we can, the usual insanity of 'made in china' and stress that are the holidays.



my kids

i wanted to show you all my lovely children. at least they look lovely.

(i love how kids give their parents away so easily - i asked one little girl where her family had thanksgiving dinner and she said, "my mom said if grandma doesn't cook we're going to old country buffet")


chris and i have been talking about kids a lot lately. how we would want to parent, where we want to raise our children, the things we do and don't want them to have... and this morning's events kicked off another long discussion.

we were at mass and one couple we know (the dad is the pianist and organist) adopted 2 little boys in the last few years. beautiful, funny, very difficult little boys. the mom is so patient but i have say also frazzled. the boys are around 2 and 4, i believe. they were having a tough time sitting still and "behaving". dad was playing the organ for the church while mom had one hand around the ankle of the oldest as he was crawling down the pew to the other end (without, i might add, his pants and shoes on) and the other around the youngest as he was desperately trying to exit the pew all together. people were immediately drawn into 2 groups. those you saw smiling at the boys thought it was mildly amusing while others were visibly tense, annoyed at the distraction from their "holy" time with g-d. to those i say, what's holy if not children?

to the others, the people who simply smiled at the children and pitied the mother (i was in this camp), i say, what is wrong with us? dad is serving us at mass, mom is obviously trying to keep the boys quiet so as not to disturb anyone and we sit by and smile? i can only imagine how tired mom must be and how helpful someone sitting with them at church to help watch the boys would be. for some reason we try to ignore when someone is embarrassed or having difficulty, i suppose to spare them shame. but i had to ask myself, even in this small way, are we being the church? are single people, married people, those with children and without getting and giving the care they need?

it makes me nervous and shy but i think i will ask mom if i can sit with them to help carry the load next week.

has anyone ever seen Supernanny?
great show.


CCOP Action

so tonight some of us went to a ccop (Camden Churches Organized for People) action around the issues of violence and policing in camden. one of our community members is an organizer for ccop and so has gotten us pretty involved. there were close to 1000 people in attendance as well as the attorney general of new jersey, the chief operating officer (he acts as the primary leader in camden, not the mayor, and he is not elected) and city counsel people. the action was to propose that the camden police department gets some solid leadership (like a police chief which the department does not have) and that the department would adopt a community policing method which gives residents more control over how policing is done. after all, they live there and have quite a bit of insight on the problems and possible solutions.

sooo...of course the attorney general and coo danced around the questions but do seem to be spending more of their time on the problems in camden. she, the attorney general, had to leave early which, of course, gave the residents of camden the sense that this wasn't a priority. and i wonder if it is a priority.

one of the statistics that stuck out to me was the right now we've had 35 murders in camden...as of this week. our average over the past 5 years is 40 per year and camden has a population of about 80,000. that's very high. philadelphia, crime ridden herself, has an average of about 450 murders in a year with a polulation of 1.5 million. if camden were as populated as philly and if we continued with our murder rate we would have an average of about 725 murders a year... that's over 3500 murders in 5 years.


something else that stuck out to me was that since our meeting was on policing a lot of in uniform police officers were there... our meeting was in church. it was unsettling to see so many weapons in church.

however, i want to end on a positive note. i did take a nice long bike ride today with cheryl, my housemate, and we took some pretty pictures.


so i made a promise to myself last week. i want to ride my bike at least 5 days a week to become active again and to get in shape...
i'm thankful my life is so local but it doesn't give me a chance to ride my bike much any more and i'm not great at exercising for it's own sake...only if it's a bonus on my way somewhere. sooo, i really don't want to get on that bike right now. 25 kids all day. i'm tired and my couch is so comfy...

but i made a promise.
alright, alright. i'll do it.


our house was warmed

so our party went fantastically, if i can say so myself. the food was great, the people were wonderful, and the house was definitely warmed. we had a little liturgy done by father michael to bless the rooms of our house. we had a fire in the backyard and kids everywhere.
it was a crossroads of friends from philly, neighbors, parishioners from sacred heart and fellow teachers from the school. these groups do not normally mix so it was lovely. pictures from the actual party will be posted soon-ish but for now i have a picture of our cute dog, Lucy, and one of our living room.

did anyone see the follow up 20/20 story on Camden recently? what do you think about people sending bicycles and setting up trust funds for poor kids in Camden?



all the happenings...

i hope this is no indication of how much i will post - things have been busy!

over the rhine and rosie thomas was wonderful. absolutely wonderful. i rarely go to shows anymore but this was so worth the ticket price (and the parking ticket...oops). beautiful is all i can say. except that rosie was hilarious as usual. incredible - the range of sounds that come out of her.

tomorrow is our housewarming party, finally, after a year of living in this house. i'm so glad that we've created a home here. it feels warm and comfortable and right. but, i should confess, it can be too easy to stay here and not venture out. i guess no matter where we live we create our zones of numb comfort. ours sure is pretty.


trying somethig new....

i have held out for so long refusing to join an online community or start a blog but here i am! finally i've joined the ranks and i'm happy to be here.

we've had a lovely halloween in camden. we decorated and pass out candy and ate wild rice stuffed acorn squash, mashed butter potatoes/sweet potatoes and baked apples with vanilla ice cream. yummy.

tomorrow is a day off from work due to all saints day (the perks of working in a catholic school) and my plan is to end it with an over the rhine and rosie thomas show. i'll be sure to share all the details.