Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Well folks, this is it: the last post of my summer fellowship here at St. Cyprian's. Those eight weeks went by quickly, didn't they?

I wrote a short reflection on my time here for the Beatitudes Society, and it seemed like a fitting way to close out my posts on this blog. Here it is...

"My experience as a summer fellow at St. Cyprian’s Episcopal Church has been incredibly formative. The last eight weeks, I have learned about myself, my call, nonprofit work, the greater Church, the city of San Francisco, public transportation, social justice, community organizing, data entry, networking, public speaking, how to cook for 50 people and how to give a sermon to only a few. It has been more valuable than I could ever have imagined.

Before I began my fellowship, I felt called to some sort of academic professorship in a secular university. I still envision that as my career, but my fellowship in this church has changed me – and my call – and now I know I need to have a working relationship with my church. I plan to seek candidacy through the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to work as a commissioned associate in ministry, a formal role in the Lutheran church. I would not be taking this route were it not for this fellowship!

I also have a clearer understanding of the work that needs to be done in progressive Christianity, and better yet, an understanding that the work is hard. There are a million small things that can be done, and few of them are as easy as sending an email or making a statement. Sometimes the work is uncomfortable, and frequently the groundwork falls apart. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t important, because it is.

I have gained so much from the conversations I have had with the other Bay Area fellows. Their thoughtful introspection has helped me better understand my own work, and hearing about their roles at their sites – and within the Church in general – has inspired me to work harder and have a wider frame of reference. Because of them, I can see that in my own leadership development, I will greatly benefit from regular interaction with a committee of my peers, be it formal or informal.

Thank you so much for this experience. It has been one of the best summers ever."

Monday, July 25, 2011

Kelsey's Sunday Sermon

My grandfather was born in Oxford, Nebraska in 1926. He was the youngest of four children born to August and Kate Schleusener. They were a farm family in the Nebraska tradition: they grew crops. (And that’s all they did, which is a strange thing to comprehend for me, a child of the Twitter generation.) They got up early, tended the crops all day long, ate dinner as a family and went to bed. There’s an old joke that the only time farm families stopped working was for church on Sunday and Nebraska football games. Now, Grandpa grew up to be the most amazing man I have ever known – he was the president of a university, he developed technology that changed the face of atmospheric science, he’s in the Hall of Fame in two states. He’s still my greatest mentor, but for the purpose of this sermon, I want to think about him as a kid, before I knew him.

Grandpa’s father, my great-grandfather August, developed some kind of senility when Grandpa was still young. Today we’d probably know exactly what was happening to August and we’d know how to treat him, but when Grandpa was young and medicine wasn’t so advanced, there was no treatment. At the same time that August was declining, Grandpa’s older brother Dennis went to war. That meant that Grandpa, at a very young age, was left to run the family farm.

I can’t imagine what that must have been like – to absorb all of the duties of both his father and his older brother, practically overnight, as a teenager, when your ability to cope with change of that magnitude isn’t even close to developed. But he did it.

There are so many stories I could tell from that period in Grandpa’s life, but one is my favorite. I heard a lot of stories about Grandpa growing up – in fact, I always knew I had really screwed up when Dad would tell me a story about how Grandpa did it better when he was my age. Like all farm kids, the Schleuseners lived for the county fair. The year that Grandpa absorbed the farm, there was a race at the fair: you had to run the length of a football field, drink a whole Coke, and run back, and the first person back won…some kind of prize. Somehow Grandpa knew this race was going to happen and he wanted to win it. So he set up a racecourse. He measured the length of the field. He set up a glass of water at the end of the field, since they were too poor to afford Coke for him to practice with. Every day, after he was done with all of the farm chores, he ran the length of the course and drank the glass of water and ran back. This went on every day for a whole summer leading up to the fair, and of course, as you’re probably expecting, when the fair rolled around, Grandpa ran the race and he won it.

The parables in the Gospel of Matthew today are really challenging and even a little offensive at first light. Frankly I just don’t get it. The Jesus who says, “The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” – this is not the Jesus that I know and love. There’s something more there, and I can’t put my finger on it. When I read this text to Andrew, my fiancé, he said, “When Jesus says stuff like that, I just say, What Jesus?”

Here’s what I do know: Jesus describes the kingdom of heaven like a treasure, like a pearl of great value for which people will sacrifice so much. Ultimately, it’s not about the treasure, the pearl, or those who search. This parable is about the joy of the kingdom of heaven. These parables stress the great value of the kingdom and the necessity of taking the opportunity to gain it. And I don’t think they’re instructions about what people should do to gain it. I think they’re a story about what one person would do. I was on the track team in high school – I ran a few races when I was a teenager. I wanted to do well, and I practiced every day, but I cannot imagine wanting to win a race as badly as Grandpa wanted to win the race at the fair. But when I think about this story, I can taste it. I can feel how important it was, how amazing that must have been for him. That’s what Jesus is trying to describe for us. If a person is willing – is excited – to give up everything they have for something…can’t you just taste how amazing that thing must be? It makes me excited to think about it. The Kingdom of Heaven must be so much greater than we could possibly imagine. It’s so great that we will all be excited to move on from this, what we know, to what will be. And to be honest, I’m really glad that we don’t have to win a race to gain it. J

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Huge thanks to everyone who turned up to help with today's Green Turk & Lyon L(a)unch. Over 30 people showed up throughout the day to dig, plow, plant, and party. We're all exhausted, including this blogger. But the day would not be complete without especially thanking three people. First, Michael Helquist, who walked us (St. Cyprian's & our neighborhood friends) through this whole project from start to finish, managing permit issues, measuring and remeasuring the sidewalk & coordinating all the volunteers. Second, James Munden of Marta Fry Landscape Architects for his designs, vision, and hard work. And last but certainly not least, Kelsey Schleusener, our summer Beatitudes Society intern, who helped make the day happen with tons of great food, door prizes, & promotion through her friend Duncan Ramsay's beautiful poster. Here are a few photos from the day. There will be many, many more soon. Thank you everyone from St. Cyprian's & our neighborhood who have worked hard and given so much to make this day happen.

Michael (center) & James (left) with crew members

Kelsey (center) with Tommie(left) & Andrew (right)

Update: full report on Saturday and photos too are posted over BIKE NOPA

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Hungry Theologian

I saw a blog once called The Hungry Ballerina. I thought it was a curious concept - the writer is a ballerina, obviously, and since she dances all over the world, she eats all over the world, and then she writes about it (and includes photos of her food). For a foodie like me, these things are interesting. Eventually my attention began to wane, but the title of her blog stuck with me. I'm not a ballerina, I'm a theologian. And I'm hungry. For this week's edition of "stories from the St. Cyprian's summer intern," I give you:

The Hungry Theologian
It's been a busy busy busy busy week! To my good fortune, I've spent most of it in the kitchen preparing for Saturday's Green Turk & Lyon L(a)unch. We're having a bake sale in addition to the other festivities, so - in taking a page from Malcom X, who said "the future belongs to those who prepare for it today" - I have been baking up a storm: banana bread, basil bread (like the photo), sweet rolls, carrot cake cupcakes, bran muffins, cookies and the like. I have a close relationship with my oven, and we've spent a lot of time together the last few days.

Part of why I love to cook is because of the uninterrupted thinking time it allows me. The recipes I follow are typically not complicated, so while I count out cups of flour or beat together eggs and sugar, my mind wanders wherever it pleases. I realized yesterday, in making these goodies, that my recipes have come from some amazing, really important women. My sweet roll recipe, for instance, is my grandmother's. The bran muffins came from my future mother-in-law, and the banana bread is Annie's - she's the mom of the girls I nannied last summer. It has been such a joy to bake and think about Grandma, Clare and Annie - silently giving thanks for their presence in my life, and feeling grateful that I get to pass on a little bit of each of them to the (hopefully vast) crowds at St. Cyprian's on Saturday.
Yesterday the Bay Area Beatitudes Fellows were treated to the Auburn Media Training, a workshop designed to help us "cultivate our preaching, teaching and writing to meet the needs of TV, radio, print and the web" (from their website). We learned the basics of media work and spent the whole day practicing what we would say in a television interview. It was so interesting! Each of us took something different from the training, and it was obvious by the end of the day that we were better on-camera than we were at the start. I wish every day were so productive.
That's about all I have for now. See y'all on Saturday for the L(a)unch, right? :)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Happy Thursday from the summer intern!
It's been a good week 'round these parts.
Like I said at the end of my last post, I had the good fortune of mixing work with pleasure last week: three other Beatitudes fellows, my fiance and I took in a Giants game at AT&T Park. It was a blast! I'm so lucky that I was granted this fellowship, in part because of the other rad fellows here in the Bay Area. And while it's definitely as cold as they say it is, I think AT&T Park might actually have a better view than my hometown team's Coors Field in Denver...
Sunday morning was AWESOME. I skipped church (under the direction of Father Will) to hit up the NOPA Little Ones meeting at Alamo Square Park. There I met Jocelyn Herndon, a parent and member of the group's planning committee. We talked for almost an hour about NOPA Little Ones, St. Cyprian's, the neighborhood, and how we can all work together to make this a better place. (It sounds so cliche, but it's true!) A couple of interesting things about their group:
- they have a grant through the California First 5 initiative
- they typically have 15-20 families show up for each play group (and about a million kiddos)
- they want to be more involved with other organizations in the neighborhood, too!
I asked about a way that St. Cyprian's could provide immediate assistance for NOPA Little Ones, and Jocelyn had a quick response: loan them one or two of our extra coffee carafes on the mornings they have their meetings (just one Sunday a month). They want to be more environmentally sustainable, and using a borrowed carafe instead of the cardboard carriers they buy from Peet's is one way to make that happen. So, St. Cyprian's: what do we think? Can we do this?
Not to beat a dead horse, but...
The Green Turk & Lyon L(a)unch is approaching!!
I'm so excited for this. We have TONS of door prizes to give away, we have HEAPS of delicious food and beverages to share, and we have a LOT of neighbors collaborating or volunteering to help out! The Wigg Party is getting a jam band together and sourcing a truckload of vegetables from the Hayes Valley Farm for the meal. Yerba Buena Community Acupuncture donated some free treatments as door prizes. I'm going to be cooking up a storm next week, and Will has offered to make dessert. Save the date, because this is something you won't want to miss!
This Sunday we're celebrating Mary Magdalene in church, and my friend and fellow Beatitudes Society intern Sarah Thompson is preaching! She's working with Pace e Bene this summer in Oakland, and she's a really interesting person. I'm sure she'll have a great message for us.
One last quick note: every week at the beginning of our Beatitudes Society fellows meeting, one person leads the group in a centering prayer, and this week, I'm up. Does anyone have a beloved prayer, poem, or story that I could share with my fellow fellows?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A photo blitz!

Hey St. Cyprian's!
I've been trying to craft this blog post for almost 24 hours, and it's not coming together so easily. I have a bunch of random thoughts & pictures, so instead of quilting them together, Ima just throw them at you. Here goes.
My desk at St. Cyprian's looks out over the tops of blocks' worth of buildings, trees, windows and a few flags. It's a really cool view, and I used my phone to text a picture of it to my mom on my first day of work.
I especially like those trees across the way in Buena Vista park. They're huge! Trees like that don't grow in Colorado. And for that matter, I can't think of a place this hilly (or this urban!) in Fort Collins, where I grew up; maybe that's why I wanted to share it with Mom. It's unlike anything I've ever seen. San Francisco is rad.
A word about the Brahma Kumaris Global Change event last Thursday:
I took two of my Beatitudes Society friends: Sara, who works for Interfaith Power & Light, and Dan, who's at the Ignatian Solidarity Network. It was reeeeeally interesting, and I think my friends' comments sum it up:
Sara: "Unsure of what to make of the disengaged-white-light-self-peacehood-within-LA-yoganaught-joy, they all went out to dinner to enjoy the honest lovely messiness that is Life at its finest...though they did greatly appreciate the free homemade cookies, almonds, and apricots.
Dan: "I had the church giggles the whole time."
My friend Duncan sent me the first draft of the poster for the Green Turk & Lyon L(a)unch!
I think it looks SO COOL! Planning for the event is coming along swimmingly, which brings me to another bullet and more pictures...
Have you heard of Pinterest? It's my favorite gift from the internets. It's a website where you can build - or look at other people's - online bulletin boards, which are organized by purpose or color or event. (For example: I have boards full of recipes, pictures of places and people, even "Good things to hang on to".) Anyway, I used it as a research tool last week to find some green foods and kids activities for the event. Here's a little sample of what I found...

Bite-sized caprese salads
Double-tomato crostini
Inside out carrot cake cupcakes
Homemade bubbles
Sidewalk chalk paint
What did people DO before the internet existed?? How did any questions ever get answered?
(Oh, and if you like Pinterest, leave your email address as a comment below & I'll happily send you an invite.)
Tonight, all of the Beatitudes Society fellows are going to the Giants game after our weekly meeting; hopefully we'll get a group photo and I can show you the people I'm lucky to work with this summer. I'll be honest, though: I'm wearing purple in support of my Colorado Rockies (even though they're playing the Braves today). I could NEVER cheer for the Giants! :)