Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Celebrating Barbaro

BarbaroYesterday, January 29th, was a deep blue Monday as we found out that Barbaro had been euthanized. Not only sports and racing enthusiasts, but virtually everyone had been following the story of the brave colt, the full-hearted winner by close to seven lengths of the 2006 Kentucky Derby, the 132nd Run for the Roses. For the past eight months Barbaro had experienced near-countless ups and downs while struggling fully to recover from the injury he sustained last May 20th at the start the Preakness, second of the Triple Crown races. Like a lot of animal lovers, I'm ambivalent about many aspects of horse racing, though one of my great-grandfathers was a jockey and I've been known to attend live meets at Suffolk Downs when I lived in Massachusetts and more locally at Del Mar, mainly to see the horses. But this is a theology blog, and I'm blogging to say with what unassailable spirit, what invincible heart and what indomitable life Barbaro inspired us! Heart and life and spirit are attributes of Divinity, and without a doubt, a spark of the Divine indwelt this magnificent Barbaro! And we have glimpsed the face of God, of the Divine in the compassion, care, love and willingness to suffer for the Beloved in Barbaro's owners, trainer, jockey, stable hands, veterinary team and plain everyday fans as they wished and willed the very best for their Beloved, their champion winner-horse. Our glances of God frequently are fleeting and ephemeral, but this one will stay with me, for one, and probably with many more. Martin Luther was very correct when he insisted the Risen and Ascended Christ indwells all creation, so let us all Celebrate Barbaro, who now runs free—Celebrate Life!

Post-blog: I completely concur with the statement from Churchill Downs, which included words from Churchill Downs' President and CEO, Robert L. Evans:
We salute the Jacksons, Dr. Richardson and the entire staff at the New Bolton Center for the love, dedication and compassion they displayed in their long battle to nurse Barbaro back to health. It is our hope that the incredible effort to save Barbaro's life, and the lessons learned and discoveries made during that work, will lead to greater understanding and new treatments for ailments such as laminitis and major injuries to the leg and foot. It is our fondest hope that in years to come many other horses will benefit from the work performed at the New Bolton Center during Barbaro's fight to recover. That would be a wonderful addition to the legacy of a brilliant horse that was at his best on Kentucky Derby Day, when the entire world was watching him on racing's biggest and brightest stage.
A reflective obit from NPR, "Legendary Racehorse..."

Preakness Day in May 2007 at Pimlico also will feature the first running of the Barbaro Stakes—the Barbaro actually will be the Sir Barton Stakes renamed. Sir Barton was the first horse ever to win racing's Triple Crown of Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes - in 1919; the Sir Barton Stakes debuted at Pimlico in 1993.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

What is this Place?

About an hour ago I got back from the Evangelical Lutheran Worship – ELW – event. My North Park contingent split early, right after dinner and in fact, maybe an hour into the 7-hour long presentation I'd said to Maria, "This [presentation] is really terrible" and she agreed. I live about a 2-minute walk from the church that hosted us and the catered dinner was wonderful, so it amounted to nothing lost and a little gained.

Besides getting my very own copy of the book, which features a gracefully dynamic cross on its Reformation Red cover, I discovered at least one of the new to me hymns is a winner, #524, "What Is This Place." One of the presenters told us the song long has been popular in Mennonite and Brethren churches. The tune, from Nederlandtsch Gedenckclanck (1626) is Kömt nu met Zang, with Huub Oosterhuis' text translated by David Smith.
  1. What is this place where we are meeting? Only a house, the earth its floor.
    Walls and a roof sheltering people, windows for light, an open door.
    Yet it becomes a body that lives when we are gathered here, and know our God is near.

  2. Words from afar, stars that are falling, sparks that are sown in us like seed:
    names for our God, dreams, signs and wonders sent from the past are all we need.
    We in this place remember and speak again what we have heard:
    God's free redeeming word.

  3. And we accept bread at this table, broken and shared, a living sign.
    Here in this world, dying and living, we are each other's bread and wine.
    This is the place where we can receive what we need to increase:
    our justice and God's peace.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Friday 5: Countdown Edition

Today again I'm Friday Fiving on my theology blog, and here's today's challenge:

Please count down five living people you admire and tell us a little something about why they make your list. These could be famous people or people you know personally.

5...4...3...2...1
Here's my Five, not necessarily in any order.

5. The pastor of my first "home church," who also was executive director of the neighborhood center connected and integrated with it. His hospitality to me, someone new to the church (because my grandmother had seen to it, I'd been baptized as a young child as fire insurance, but had no clue as to who Church was or what Church did), his social and political activism, his skill as spiritual director, his ecumenical spirit in a neighborhood mostly Roman Catholic...one of the times a group of us went on a weekend retreat and planned to pray the Canonical Hours (as well as observing periods of silence—aarrgghh!), I visited the discalced Franciscans who lived a few doors down from the church/agency complex to borrow the Office books. That American Baptist congregation was in the Free Church tradition, but sometimes we'd have Book of Common Prayer worship! This pastor advised one of my friends who enjoyed liturgy to check out Old North Church around the corner. He suggested I attend University Lutheran in Cambridge because of my emerging interest in theology. I could go on and on about that community; in fact I've mentioned it in my formal faith journey and in several blogs.

4. Michael Mountain, former director and one of the founders of Best Friends Animal Society (formerly "Sanctuary") in Kanab, Utah. When I lived in Salt Lake City I started donating to Best Friends, and among other things, I've seen the organization's magazine change from 2-color to a full-color glossy. I've visited BF only once, and for only one day, but the hospitality of the staff as they lunched with the guests reminded me of the way God calls the Church to be. And that I've far too rarely experienced in the church...

3. Walter Brueggemann. This name needs no introduction or much detail, since I know most folks in this group are very familiar with his writing. I've read many of his books, and many of them more than once. I've never met or heard WB in person, but I know he has influenced my work as an ecological theologian in countless ways. I also appreciate that in some ways he is more bible scholar than theologian, and I need to rely on people with that background and perspective.

2. How can I not mention Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.? Even if his official day wasn't right on the horizon, this prophet and preacher to the world, this Renewer and Transformer of Society is one of my Big Five.

1. I'll conclude with someone from the bible (remember, no particular order), so I'll choose the author of the deutero-Pauline book of Colossians! I love the Cosmic Christ and the glorious image of a reconciled world. I also admire the way this author picked up on some of Paul's themes and began expanding and enlarging them.

PS Just now I noticed this was supposed to be only LIVING people! I'll keep this list, anyway.