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 #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 #16 Pinkeye

Mysterious Theologian: Ben

WebMD tells me that “Poor hand-washing is the main cause of the spread of pinkeye. Sharing an object, such as a washcloth or towel, with a person who has pinkeye can spread the infection.” Therefore…

hd-pink-eye

Transcendent Pinkeye, you do not despise the infected and frail,  you gladly give the apple of your eye with the sick and share it with the healthy.  Our heads and tails are united together through you.  Swell shut our eyes which judge the world by external appearance, and lead us to reach out with searching hands, so that all we touch might spread your presence. Amen.

CHALLENGE: We are branching out and inviting others to support us in our Lenten practice! So instead of challenging Chase, today I am challenge Pastor Amy Kienzle of St. John’s and Lutheran Church of the Messiah in Brooklyn, NY to see God in that most disgusting denizen of NYC…BED BUGS!

Bed_bug,_Cimex_lectularius

Challenge #16 Pink Eye

Ben, things have changed since the beginning of Lent. Don’t you feel like a whole different person? I bet you don’t even remember how into the Olympics you were. You probably don’t remember checking Twitter every 7 minutes to find pictures of toilets and curtains and glasses of weird water. But I bet you remember this…!

bob-costas-pink-eye

Ahhh! Dreaded pink eye. It makes em blood shot, seals em shut, and might even get you kicked off the TV for scaring children and/or winking “too harshly” in general… allegedly.

Response #14 Allergies

Mysterious Theologian: Ben

According to Wikipedia, “An allergy is a hypersensitivity disorder of the immune system. Allergic reactions occur when a person’s immune system reacts to normally harmless substances in the environment. A substance that causes a reaction is called an allergen. These reactions are acquired, predictable, and rapid.”  Therefore…

Allergy

Oh All-Knowing Allergy, all the world is filled with your wonder.  Bless me with your hypersensitivity, that I might react with passion to the humblest of your creations.  When lost in thought, I wander past a hillside in bloom, bring tears to my eyes.  When I ignore the playfulness of kittens, raise up my skin in hives to praise you with rosy color. When trees make love and shower the earth with their pollen, and I but think of my chores, trumpet forth from my nose and mouth, that, surrounded by the sylvan circle of life, all the world might say to me, “God bless you.”  Amen

CHALLENGE:  Alright, I’m going to start including the challenges with the prayers.  So Chase, your next challenge is:  Used Gum!

Challenge #14 Allergies

There are many types of allergies, but let’s focus on hay fever. I am afflicted with this sensitivity and I can therefore confirm that it is disgusting, embarrassing, and one might even say grimy. Look Ben, you know the deal it’s sneezing, it’s coughing, it’s mucus in the throat that causes people to clear their throats constantly, it’s itchy red eyes, it’s swollen parts of the face, it’s… gross. And to think, it’s our reaction to things like flowers. We are told to consider the lily of the valley… “Ok, but only from a distance.” Sniffles, sneezes, and snores result from allergies, but will a prayer also result from them? You tell me.

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 #11 Cockroaches

Gross, good one.

A Prayer for Dark Nights

There are many tangible and intangible things in my life that frighten me and make me anxious. When I lie in bed at night thoughts and feelings about these things arise in me and plague me. In the dark night and the dark times of my life I am afraid my courage and my faith might falter. Send your Holy Spirit to be with me. Come out at night. Skitter across the floor, surround me, tell me not to be afraid, tell me you are with me to the end of the age in… in the those dark moments, those nooks and crannies of my dark nights, like your creepy little creatures the cockroaches.

Amen