Response #33 More Cow Pies!

Mysterious Theologian: Rev. Cassie Sauter

cows

I grew up on a dairy farm in rural Minnesota. As a child, I spent the late afternoons of summer running through the pasture, going out to bring the cows home. God, it seems, can be revealed even in the most gross and unexpected places… like a cow pie.

God of the unexpected, You show up and surprise me again and again. When I look at the path set before me and see tall, scratchy, overwhelming thistles- I wonder if this is a way I can go. The path is narrow and uncomfortable and I’d really rather not, but I decide there’s no other choice (the cows need to come home and they’re at the end of this thistled path). So I walk, expecting a solitary journey and then you show up, squishing underfoot. You stop me in my tracks. It’s impossible to keep going as I had originally intended, once my foot comes in contact with you. And it isn’t just on those thistle guarded paths that your presence alters my course.

Whenever you meet me, things change. The squish & the slip, the mess & the smell, make it impossible to pretend this encounter didn’t happen I try to wipe you off and continue on, but the attempt is so very futile. Your very being gets entangled and enmeshed to the treads of my shoes, spreading out and finding even the smallest spaces to fill. Your smell lingers in my nostrils, days after our encounter. I ask my mom to smell my hair, can she smell your presence there? (if so, I’m going to need to try to wash it out- I shouldn’t go to school like that).

You linger in my nostrils and in the cracks of the soles of my shoes. You’re inescapable & surprising, messy & sometimes kind of overwhelming. I give thanks you’re woven into my memories and if I breathe slow and deep, I think I smell you, yet again (that or I need to wash my hair).

Amen.

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Response #32 Cow Pie

Mysterious Theologian: Nathan Strong

CowPie

That’s not a mud pie or mud puddle. That comes right from back end of a bovine. Yes, this is a cow pie. As green vegetation enters into one end of the animal, this comes out the other. And it smells just as bad as it looks. Just one cow pie has an aroma and presence that will make you notice so you will want to go in the opposite direction. Yet, these cow pies are scattered throughout a pasture in which cattle roam and live out their days.

However, these stinky piles of manure become fertilizer or food for the plants that the animals once ate. Yes, God takes this stinking pile of remnants and makes it food for the life, growth and beauty of the world. From this fertilizer comes the food that helps feed the life within the whole world, not only the plants but also the animals that eat the plants including you and I. So then from all of this food, we give thanks to a God who from some of the stinkiest parts of our own lives, we bear witness to some of the beauty and joyful things within our own life.

As we stop and bear witness to the messy times in our own life, we will also bear witness to the moments in which God breaks into our lives and reminds us that we are cared for, we have hope and we have love. As we journey closer to Jerusalem and to Holy Week, we begin to be tired and only focus on the long journey, the piles of remnants that surround us, and we begin to long and hope for the arrival of the Messiah.

Dear God, as we long for the arrival of the Chosen One of God, the Messiah. We hope for the future blessing that you will bestow upon your people. We also stop and realize the ways in which you have already blessed us, in friends, family, good health and the love that we share with all who we encounter. Help us on our journey of faith and sharing the love that you have given to all. Amen.

Response #28 Slugs

The Slug Challenge

The Challengers: Paul Arensmeyer and Mayor Sandy Roumagoux

5-beer-slug-trap-alternative-uses-for-beer-things-beer-is-good-for-besides-drinking

Grimy God has been fun, so far, but its been woefully east-coast centric, I think. Out here in the west, our dirt may not be as dirty, and our smog might be fog, but God has shared gross and grimy gifts with us as well. So, while I’ve got the baton, I’d liketo celebrate God’s presence (presents) in the damp and moldy underworld of the Pacific Northwest. After consulting with kindred spirit Sandy Roumagoux, artist, Mayor of Newport, Oregon, and good old rabble-rousing Lutheran, we challenge Bishop Dave Brauer-Rieke to find God in an Oregon icon: the Slug. No, wait, we’re going straight for the “double dog dare” and challenging Dave to find God in the slug  in a beer trap.

The Slug Response

Mysterious Theologian: Bishop Dave Brauer-Rieke

“Shouldn’t someone say a prayer or something?”

“Move over, I can’t get any.”

“Hey, show some respect, will ya? I mean, she just down off the mountain. Died in 100% Full Sail Premium.”

“What a way to go!”

“This is the Feast, of victory for our God . . .”

“Can it, Carl!”

“You mean “Bottle it” don’t you?! Ha ha haaaaaaa.”

“No, really. She’s gone. Somebody should say a prayer.”

“Sally’s headed up the pot. She’ll say something.”

“Ahem. Dear God. We are gathered here today to remember our sister Gertrude. She just got down from skiing at Hoodoo and now she lays dead in a puddle of Full Sail …”

“Hey, did anybody notice that there are, like, 12 of us here? Sort of like the Last Supper or something!”

“Ooo, Ooo. Can I be Simon Peter?

“Shut it, Frank!”

“As I was saying. Dear God, you made us slugs which is sort of a one down position in the whole web of creation, food chain thing. That wasn’t cool. And we’re only mentioned in the Bible once, Psalm 58:8. Really, we dissolve into slug slime as we go along? That’s the best you could do?! At least somebody invented Snowboards for us because the whole skiing thing wasn’t working out too well otherwise. I mean, we’ve only got one foot. Again. That’s the best you could do? Everybody else got at least two, or four or something. And you wonder why we hang out at the pub so much.

But anyway. Gertrude went skiing today and now she’s gone. You could have told us we die in beer. Nobody else has that issue. Well, actually, a lot of people do. But still, it isn’t fair.”

“She looks so peaceful though, don’t you think?”

“I don’t know . . .”

“Hey!!”

“So, God, we commit Gertrude to the deep. . .”

“Hops to hops, barley in batches.”

“Knock it off you guys!”

“So, we commit Gertrude into your loving care, O God. She was just a regular slug like the rest of us. We give thanks that she was doing what she loved right up until the end. We thank you that she had leaves to climb, and was never short of lichen, fungi and the occasional earthworm to eat. (And come to think of it, earthworms don’t have any feet at all, so …)

Also Lord, talking about body parts, being a hermaphrodite really isn’t as exciting as it sounds. It’s kind of hard to know what you were actually thinking when you made us.

But here we are, Lord – gathered at your table once again. Life goes on, and with you all things have their meat and meaning. We ask not why, but only when. Yes Lord, we ask not why, but only when.”

“Amen”

“Amen.”

“Amen, Amen . . . Amen.”

Bp. Dave Brauer-Rieke
Oregon Synod – ELCA

Response #25 Cat Litter Box

Mysterious Theologian: Evan Kingston, an author and a gentleman.

670px-Clean-a-Litter-Box-Step-1

God, I thank you for making my soul small, like a studio apartment; there’s never enough room to forget that you are in here with me. As much as I would like to ignore the ugliness of my life, as tempting as it is to pretend that stubbornness doesn’t daily calcify my heart full of heavy clumps, as easy as it feels to let those moments of waste stay hidden in a pile at the back corner of my soul, you never let me forget my obligations to you, myself, and my neighbors for too long. Just as a litter box in a cozy apartment gives off gentle reminders it needs tending—a smattering of tracked-out clay, the faint whiff of urine in a draft: disgusting, yes, but nowhere near as horrific as hidden hardness they hint at—I am constantly reminded of that hardheartedness in myself which I would rather forget. As small as my soul is, I find myself slightly annoyed when I’d ought to be grateful, or frustrated when I know I should be forgiving, and I am reminded of those deeper errors I keep hidden. If I did not feel cramped in here with you, Lord, I could let these ugly errors pile up until cleaning them felt impossible, until there was little left of the clay of my soul that didn’t feel hard and soiled, until I became so used to the disgusting stench I lived in it crept under the door and warned everyone away from my life. As it is, you remind me to confront myself daily, remind me that I can be fresh and free, remind me that I can let people in and share in your joy with them, as long as I do the tough work of shoveling through my soul for those clumps that need changing.

Amen

Remember dearest and grimiest reader, if you want to join the fun and respond to a challenge or submit a challenge you can! Here’s the challenging image Evan suggested:

mystery meat

Mystery Meat!

I’m lucky enough to work at a lovely grocery store with lots of great cuts of the finest meat. There’s a whole system for tracking where the animals were raised, what they were fed, and how they were treated. But when my wallet and belly are especially empty, I head across the street for a fast food lunch, where you can get a sandwich of twice the size for half the price. Seems like a great idea while I’m ordering, but I always feel extra grimy afterwards, as a bubbling in my gut forces me to ask: what was in that mysterious coldcut, and if it was once living, how was it treated, to make it so cheap?

Response #12 Dead Worms

Mysterious Theologian: Ben

The first thing to know about dead worms on your sidewalk, is that the reason they show up after a rain, is that they are traveling.  According to Dr. Chris Lowe, Lecturer in Waste and Environmental Management, University of Central Lancashire in Preston, United Kingdom, because worms need to be wet in order to breath, they usually have to stay in moist soil and can’t travel above ground. However, when the ground is wet due to rain, Dr. Lowe explains “It gives them an opportunity to move greater distances across the soil surface than they could do through soil.”  When the rain stops and the ground dries up, they would normally burrow, but of course, if there is concrete in the way, they can’t.

Worm Cross

Oh Dying Earthworm, you dwelt among your people in the barren soil of injustice, and when the Rain of God drew near, you broke free from the dry dust and crawled upon the surface toward a promised land flowing with the moisture and nutrients of peace.  But when you reached the hardness of the concrete human heart, you found neither traction nor entrance into the soft soil of my soul.  And so you were left to die, drying on the sidewalk.  And yet, from the earth, a thousand more worms will rise, trusting in the promise that you have seen. Give me their faith, that my life also may be devoted to following the Reign of God. Amen.

Challenge #12 Dead Worms

800px-Earthworm_on_concrete

Ben, some smells are divine. Thick woven straw rugs smell diving, they remind me of Hawaii. Sunscreen smells divine, it reminds me of summer… and Hawaii. Fresh rain when it first starts to fall on dusty dry streets, now that is a divine smell and yes it reminds me of Hawaii too, what’s your point? But sadly Ben, some smells are not divine, like the at once stale and rotten smell of dead worms strewn across the sidewalk after a heavy rain. Or am I wrong? Is this a scent of the divine?

Response #02 The Blobfish

The Mysterious Theologian: Ben

blobfish

Prayer to God Revealed in the Blobfish

Oh Mysterious Blobfish, your true form is beyond my knowing,

For I but stand on the surface of the vast ocean of my soul,

And you dwell in my depths,

Uncrushed by the pressure I place on myself,

Waiting patiently for me to dive in,

And swim into your ever-waiting smile.

Give me the courage to take that plunge.

Amen.

Challenge #02 The Blobfish

The Challenger: Chase

blobfish

The Blobfish is a deep-sea fish that inhabits the coastal waters of Australia, Tasmania, and New Zealand. Typically shorter than 30 cm, they live at depths between 600 and 1,200 m (2,000 and 3,900 ft) where the pressure is several dozen times higher than at sea level, which would likely make gas bladders inefficient for maintaining buoyancy. Instead, the flesh of the Blobfish is primarily a gelatinous mass with a density slightly less than water; this allows the fish to float above the sea floor without expending energy on swimming. Its relative lack of muscle is not a disadvantage as it primarily swallows edible matter that floats in front of it such as deep-ocean crustaceans. Due to its low density flesh, the Blobfish’s shape is very different when it is out of water.

Ahh! Jabba-the-fish! Good luck Benjamin, I’ll pray for you as you try to pray with this!

Response #01 The Phorid Fly

The Mysterious Theologian: Chase

image

What might one pray to God in light of this… wonderful creature? Well, we can all start by praying to God that these flies never grow to the size and strength of pteradactyls, because we’ll have to move to mars. You could also pray this way:

Decapitating God, so often I wander aimlessly and brainlessly. I feel uninspired and purposeless. God, implant your will in me and save me from my wandering. Let it grow in me and devour my own aimless will. Transform my mind and give me the mind of Christ so that I might see and follow your will for me, your humble creature.

Amen.