Friday, August 31, 2007

Veggie Immersion

Tomorrow we are heading up to Oracle to learn about The Station. It's a bio-fuel-community center sort of place. It's all still part of our pre-tour research & planning. After interviewing the founder and some of the folks who hang out there in the morning, we are heading up to Mesa to drop the truck off at the Veggie Garage for a tune up to get it all ready for the big trip.

This week we had some work done on the truck, new idle arm, new transmission pan since it was leaking pretty bad, bought new road tires to replace the worn all terrain ones that came with it. We also changed out three of the filters. Two were completely full and nasty.

We've also ordered a two-hour DVD called Liquid Gold II from Golden Fuels Systems. It comes highly recommended as a key learning tool in all things veggie oil.

We've been told by our mechanic and a guy with an rv shop that the camper is a little old school. Well, that's not exactly what they said. "You should take that thing to the dump and toss it over the side," was more what the rv dude said. He was a little extreme in most everything he said ("This would cost $6,000 to fix the side," "Take it to Mexico, someone there might touch it."), so I didn't really trust his opinion fully. They were both concerned about it safely staying hooked on. The veggie oil has leaked all over the sides and has softened the wood, making the bolts securing it more likely to come loose. And the camper is from 1979. So we are also consulting with some handyfolk to secure this a bit more before painting and artsy-fying the whole thing. More on that when we get back.

Sunday, August 26, 2007


We finally got back to Tucson late this morning.

We encountered an accident about 45 miles outside of Phoenix and got stuck for several hours in stop and wait and inch forward traffic. Around 7 pm there was no relief in site, so we pulled of into the next town. Just off the highway was a pizza joint and a RV site. Done and done. We spent our first night in the truck camper and woke up to an amazing sunrise over mountains.

Tomorrow we will pick up where we left off with preparations. Today we are Sabbathing.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Patience and presence

We bought our truck. Complete with camper and veggie oil conversion. The only trouble is its leaking oil. And the part to fix it had to be shipped in. And then it was the wrong part. So, although we planned to return late Wednesday night, we will most likely not be back until late tonight (Saturday). And I'm not even counting on that.

We spent most of our time in Prescott (where we bought the truck) waiting. When it became clear that we would not be returning to Tucson, we drove over to Flagstaff and have been here a couple of days. Also with little to do but hang out with our friend Tamie. (which was much more fun than waiting)

At first, I found this inability to "do" anything incredibly frustrating. All I could do was worry about what we had to do: We need to finish cleaning out our house. We need to get driver’s licenses with our new names. We need to pick up our incorporation papers and open a bank account. And write a hundred thank yous. And finish all the work to get our health insurance. And about a million other things that are all primarily located half a days drive from where we are currently stuck.

We ran out of clean clothes, and I worried about what it means for us financially to spend time where we we have neither food to eat or a place to stay (and thus must spend wads of cash to acquire).

But there’s something to be said for not being able to work.

When it was impossible to do anything, I found myself becoming more and more alive.

In these last days, as I have felt myself being frustrated. Sitting. Doing nothing. Thinking of all that needs to be done. I try to just be. To bring my awareness to the present moment- to all that is surrounding me and all that is giving life in my very presence.

And let me tell you friends, life is pretty sweet in this very moment. There is so much laughter, and love and light in the universe.

And the truth is, whatever we need to do might as well always be half a day's drive away. Because the future is not now. It's half a day's drive away. And all we can really do is be right now.

An ability to be present to what is happening now and worry only (if at all) about what needs to happen next is the learning I hope most to take from this journey. Since this is surely the first of many events I did not plan for. And since we will spend much of our time meeting new people. And just being.

I hope that I can do it. More than that, I hope I can keep it. I don’t know why I fill so much of my life worrying about what will come next.

But today, I'm not going to worry about why I worry.

I'm just going to be.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Moving and Waiting

So, we've been packing.

Thanks to our self-described minion Michi who carefully wrapped the antique dishes and squirreled away theology books and pictures on the piano.

While sorting through the paper dunes in my office I found a Henri Nouwen quote. It seems wildly appropriate to inwardly digest:

To wait open-endedly is an enormously radical attitude toward life.

So is to trust that something will happen to us that is far beyond our imaginings. So, to, is giving up control over our future and letting God define our life, trusting that God molds us according to God's love and not according to our fear.

The spiritual life is a life in which we wait, actively present to the moment, trusting that new things will happen to us, new things that are far beyond our own imagination, fantasy, or prediction. That, indeed, is a very radical stance toward life in a world preoccupied with control.

— Henri Nouwen

We have been unable to control much of anything lately. We haven't left town yet. We don't know what we will drive away in. The dogs don't have a home.

And yet, wonderful out of our control happenings are swirling. We were invited to a creative, progressive UCC church in Scottsdale to speak about our trip. My niece, Anna, and her cool Significant Other, Jake, are working to organize a fundraising party for us in Breckenridge, Colorado.

We long to be moving, beginning. And yet we are here. Forced to be present to the moment—to the watercolor sunset last night as we drove away in our rental car from yet another test drive of a vehicle. Alive right now—laughing ourselves silly over who knows what as the morning sun tickled us awake this morning. Caught in between the old and the future—still living in the rectory, but now it is mostly empty.

Oh, sure, there is plenty to fear, should I choose to dwell on it. But this morning I'm going to imagine instead that we are being held close and tight, that we aren't caught. That we are right where we need to be. Everything just right. I will stop flailing about. And be still. Let God define things. And let myself be molded by love. I will trust that new things will happen to us. New things far beyond our own imaginations.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Leaving church

As we were driving my sister to the airport late Saturday she said, "I just wasn't ready for church. I had forgotten what it was like." She wasn't talking about when you're supposed to cross yourself during communion. She was talking about when the old lady accosted my younger sister who had been working for hours to prepare for the reception, and was bringing trays out to set up the buffet. "Young lady," said old lady, "you need to get a plate and get back in line." Sadly, that was not an isolated incident, and my poor siblings felt so bossed around and belittled that they had to go next door to our house where underage drinking ensued. (They're all 18 and up and were in the presence of responsible of-age drinkers, so don't worry too much)

We were truly blessed by our church community on Saturday. So many people not only turned out to witness our blessing, but also brought food for the reception, helped with the set up and clean up, showered us with generous gifts-- more than we could have ever imagined.

We love the people of that community and we felt very loved by them. The sort of generosity and fellowship that a gathered community like church can offer is such a rarity in today's individualistic society. But every one of our family and friends who were under the age of 40 found the whole "culture" of the event bizarre. Many people were friendly to them, and they could "feel the love," but they still felt excluded. Like the whole thing was in a language they couldn't speak.

It was so odd to end my church work in this way. It was a wonderful, intimate event. In case I haven't mentioned it before, we felt very loved by the community, and we are so grateful. And yet, even as I could feel that we had been important to this community, that they had been affected by our ministry, I also felt that same tug I so often feel, to take the wonderfulness that this place has been to me and translate it into something more accessible to all.

I could wax prophetic about power and hierarchy and institutional ambivalence (if you read my sermons, you'll notice that I often do), but frankly, I'm done wondering why the church is so alienating to people from my generation.

So I guess I better keep packing, because its time to get this party started.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Turning off the sirens

The ambulance was a dud.

Busted up underneath. Injectors leaking everywhere. Burned wires. We're ready to let go of the symbolic factor.

Now we're thinking a pick up and a camper on the back. Not very stylish or pretty, except for pretty lezby. But then, so are we.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Our ride

This morning we are going to drive two more ambulances. Believe it or not, there is a guy that sells used ambulances just down the road from us: Rick at State Ambulance. We've driven a few already. We think we are ready to go with a smaller van version instead of the boxy ones. Not quite as much storage, but the price is right and it will be easier to drive.