Friday, July 19, 2019

Terence Lester :: I See You

I see you by Terence Lester book cover
Equal parts testimony, analysis, and exhortation, at first glance Terence Lester's soon to be released I See You: How Love Opens Our Eyes to Invisible People is about the growing population of homeless individuals along with assorted "others than us" we don't perceive as part of mainstream society. However, as the late, highly admired and regarded Henri Nouwen observed, everyone is impoverished in some way, and surprisingly, "that’s the place where God wants to dwell! 'How blessed are the poor,' Jesus says (Matthew 5:3). This means that our blessing is hidden in our poverty. ... Let’s dare to see our poverty as the land where our treasure is hidden." from Bread for the Journey

So I See You is about all of us.

Terence tells us poverty of any kind is about lack of access, but that's only a starter. And yes, much of this book does focus on the economic and material impoverishment that often leads to individuals and families finding themselves without physical shelter, the poverty that happens because of lack of human connections, lack of a community of support and participation. Have you noticed how homelessness and poverty tend to be systemic and multi-generational? Lester dreams of eradicating (especially) systemic injustice. I see You chronicles the author's own experiences and his observations of others who've been poor; it particularly testifies to Terence's – and other's – experiences of being seen clearly enough to have their needs acted upon and met by people acting as God's agents—as God's eyes.

13Hagar answered God by name, praying to the God who spoke to her, "You're the God who sees me! "Yes! He saw me; and then I saw him!"

14That's how that desert spring got named "God-Alive-Sees-Me Spring." That spring is still there, between Kadesh and Bered. Genesis 16, The Message

The author reminds us scripture has over two thousand references to poverty and justice; we need to recognize aspects of justice include distributive, retributive, restorative, and procedural. Possibly others, as well, though they may be sub-sets of these primary types. Quite a while ago senior pastor asked what classes I was taking and I mentioned one called "Poverty and Justice." Senior pastor responded with a longish speech about the criminal (retributive) justice system and the highly disproportionate number of persons of color and others without economic means who remain incarcerated. I replied, "No! You're thinking of retributive justice! This course is about distributive justice! Who gets what, how, when, and why!" Most poverty seems to happen because of disconnects in distributive justice that often cascade into other injustices.

Hagar's God who sees me is a God who sees each of us as we really are. That includes individuals with massive financial resources it's easy to stereotype as having everything; it includes people in ragged clothes holding a Please Help! sign at the freeway entrance. What stereotypes do you need to start breaking down? What ones do I still hold onto?

Scripture tells us, Jesus shows us how God created humanity in the image of the divine. In the power of the Holy Spirit of life, God calls and enables us to claim that divine nature and live as God's presence on earth, to act as God's voices, hands, feet, and eyes everywhere we go.

Almost everyone underestimates what a "regular" person can accomplish. Terence advises each of us, "Do something, anything for the [solitary] one." I like to remind my adult Sunday School class everything we do is synergistic and adds up to far more than the sum of our small, individual actions and prayers. "Prayers"? Yes. Read the gospels! Jesus always prayed before taking any significant action, before making any response to human need.

"Where will you start after reading this book?"

With God's blessings to us concealed in our own poverties, with God's blessings and presence in those we see and encounter hidden in their own unmet needs, in the power and the grace of the Holy Spirit, each of us can be the spring named God-Alive-Sees-Me as previously invisible people become visible to us.

Some link love:

Terence Lester online

Terence on Facebook

Terence Lester's Instagram

Terence Lester on twitter

Love Beyond Walls, an organization Terence and his spouse Cecilia started to draw attention to homelessness and poverty and to help mobilize people in situations of poverty into a full future.

Notice of Material Connection: As a member of the launch team, I received a complimentary pre-publication copy of this book with no requirement or expectation I'd write a positive review. As always, my opinions are my very own, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

my amazon review: vision and hope

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Porch Story :: June 2019

porch stories icon 2019

June 2019 desert spirit's fire

• Summer's been in session with the fun and randomness that come with the season, so I'm linking my June summary to Porch Stories host Kristin's July.

• My end of the month summary blog for June 2019 covers less than a week, but those five days were good ones. Sometimes I sit on my actual porch, at other times it's a virtual veranda in a different time and clime, yet everywhere I'm still doing whatever I can to imagine my next move. Months became years became decades, and now?

• And now? I spent the last week of June helping with summer day camp in the San Fernando Valley. Besides mostly doing line chef-type dicing, slicing, chopping, and mincing in the kitchen, I enjoyed good conversations and glorious gardens. Snacks were yummy—one day we even had ice cream cones with our choice among five or six flavors of award-winning Thrifty Ice Cream! Dinner menus were varied and well-prepared. As usual, I've tried to be selective about the pictures I blog, so I chose color-filled ones to represent the venue well.


• With Day Camp sessions from 3 to 9, on Tuesday I got there just as all volunteer, LA-based The Rescue Train wrapped up a day of feline Trap-Neuter-Release, partly sponsored by the church that sponsored the onsite day camp. I have the impression Feral Fix LA also welcomed household pets who needed neutering.

TNR sign
TNR truck
TNR cat carriers
Blue Wheelbarrow rhubarb and flowers
7 blue chairs
central lutheran van nuys and flowers

Kristin Taylor porch stories button

Saturday, June 08, 2019

World Oceans Day 2019

world oceans day 2019

World Water Day mostly emphasizes fresh waterways; World Oceans Day concentrates on waters that contain easily measurable saline. Since it's a day of celebration and collaboration leading to a better future for oceans and for all creation, this year's WOD hashtag is a perfect #TogetherWeCan!

For 2011 I wrote about some of the numerous ocean bays that have been in my life. I currently reside in the South Bay of the placid Pacific Ocean, so I could add to my bay chronicle. But won't.

Creating a word panorama as I did for 2016 seemed a repeatable choice. Given WOD's focus on salty water, why not begin with the poignant fact whether it's ocean, tears, or sweat, salt water heals? I'm one of those many many individuals who don't necessarily go to the beach, stroll along the sand, even drive up or down the shore very often, but who really really want to know the ocean is there.

A light breeze –  fog rolling in from the ocean or out to the sea – shells for memories – shells for décor – seagrass in driftwood—pluses of a nearby ocean. With oceans and rivers gifting us as planet earth's lungs and with half the oxygen our human lungs breathe, we wouldn't be "here" if oceans weren't there.

This year's panorama includes memories of jogs alongside Pacific Beach North, along La Jolla Shores what feels like eons ago. Of early evening potluck picnics at La Jolla Cove while getting acquainted with new friends. If not for oceans, music lovers wouldn't have Bruce Hornsby's Eastern Shore of the Atlantic musical fusion sound (no, not a double meaning this time). That observation reveals my latest YT listens, but to continue, there wouldn't be any Atlantic, Caribbean (recently I've also been loving a lot of Steve Winwood and his predecessor bands), Pacific, or any music at all. Anywhere.

So for the sake of the music, the breezes, the picnics, jogs, the strolls and the shoreside drives, the lives of creatures who make seashells and seagrass their homes—for the sake of memories because no more oceans? No new memories. Let's all love the oceans by doing everything possible to redeem them, because #TogetherWeCan.

Amen? I hope so!

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Porch Stories :: May & Spring 2019

porch stories icon 2019

spring 2019 summary header image

March 2019 in current city

Observing April—double meaning

May 2019

• Porch Story Time! I'm linking to Porch Story originator and host Kristin's Highlights for the month of May

• As always when each meteorological season concludes to make room for the next, I'm participating in Emily P Freeman's Learned This Season linkup

porch stories May 2019

• A new crop of peaches and nectarines, another seasonal splash of bright lemons and oranges, fresh crunchy apples (abundant veggies, too) at the Friday Farmer's Market, and there's an easy model to follow for the upcoming months of summer. Trust me, I have some plans and even more expectations for summer!

farmer's market spring apples
farmers market fresh lemons

• Pick Pico Neighborhood Street Fair

• For the first time ever, my church participated in the Pick Pico Neighborhood Fair. Wisely they scheduled the city block event for only a few Sunday hours, which increased interest and attendance.

pick pico fair signboards

• Signboards at the entrance

Church of The Master table at Pick Pico

• A perspective of our church table—I also designed a sign with QR code to direct people to the church Facebook page

Atticus ice cream and pies at Pick PIco Fair

• The daughter of one of our leaders who's one of our best Sunday Brunch chefs owns Atticus ice cream and pie shop

cactus display at pick pico neighborhood fair
cactus display at pick pico neighborhood fair

• I never can resist taking pictures of cacti and succulents

Pick Pico

• Tent City: fairgrounds over-view

• Game Changers, History Makers

California Dance Institute spring program

• A friend had extra tickets to the end of school year gala program by the California Dance Institute. Several schools participated with live band, lively dancing, spell-binding lighting, adding up to one of the dozen best ever performances of any kind I've ever experienced. Visit their website for more information and inspiration!

• The Sixth Sunday of Easter

Easter 6 worship bulletin cover

• Easter is Fifty Days, a week of weeks! For the thirty-sixth day, Sixth Sunday a stack of worship folders featuring my Tree of Life art on the cover

Emily P Freeman Spring 2019

Kristin Taylor Porch Stories button

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Observing April 2019

porch stories icon 2019

• April in southern California predictably brings warmer weather, longer days, hints of new life, and (very often) Holy Week and Easter Day. If you used to visit this blog on a regular basis, you may remember I used to write a lot of more or less formal, structured theology—on a regular basis. As I've been doing for the past couple of years, this end-of-month summary is a pictorial chronicle, yet isn't all creation, aren't all activities basically theological?

porch stories April 2019 summary 2019

• First Moonflower of 2019

spring 2019 first moonflower

• Green Team / Farmer's Market / Pacific Ocean

• After Green Team met again in Glendale (sorry no pictures again this time because the formerly on-campus school's relocation means no more colorful bulletin board and other décor), friend J and I visited the Hermosa Beach Farmer's Market that gathers on Fridays.

spring 2019 veggies spring 2019 veggies
spring 2019 veggies spring 2019 berries

• Pacific Ocean

• The literally pacific and placid west coastal Pacific Ocean offers an extreme contrast to the east coastal Atlantic Ocean, but either one is best of the best for a short stroll or a long saunter on the sand!

spring 2019 Pacific Ocean

• Union Station

• Though A and I met up there for a formal transaction, the opportunity to chill around Union Station is a major perq of Current City that's a port of call, a port of entry, a cultural crossroads. What's better than a train to illustrate our (yours, mine, almost everyone's) open-ended futures? Well... there's always LAX along with at least a dozen other international and general aviation airports, then we have the seaports of Los Angeles and Long Beach—yes, but trains carry a mystique no other transportation mode can match.

spring 2019 Union Station spring 2019 Union Station
spring 2019 Union Station

• Earth Day in Watts

• One month before Earth Day – 22 March – World Water Day reminded us Water Is Life. This year the day after Easter Sunday marked the 49th celebration of all that's good, all that needs healing about Gaia. I ventured over to the LA neighborhood of Watts for an Earth Day event sponsored by the Sierra Club.

Earth Day Saturday 2019 in Watts Earth Day 2019 seed packs

• Lent 6

• Originally we canceled Sunday School for Palm / Passion Sunday because of anticipated extra activity on campus, but I decided to meet anyway because I knew I'd enjoy reviewing and assembling liturgical and theological observations about Palm/Passion Sunday through the Three Day Triduum that accompany my quadrivium of related graphics.

• Maundy Thursday – Good Friday

Maundy Thursday Good Friday

• Holy Saturday – Easter Vigil / Sunrise / Morning / Evening

Holy Saturday Easter 2019

• Easter Flower Actuals

California golden poppies on easter Dream Big Earth Day Sanctuary Flowers

• Earth Day Monday in Town

Earth Day flowers in town

Kristin Taylor Porch Stories button