Is this thing on?

Oh, who am I kidding? How many times have I tried to return this blog to “regular programming” in the last five or so years? If you’re reader who knows me only through Left At The Altar (back in the day, there were actually a number of those!), you would be forgiven for thinking that perhaps the little breast cancer adventure I wrote about in my last post (in 2014?!) hadn’t worked out so well, after all. (It did. I’m fine.)

So why try again now? And why didn’t I fire this thing up – letting it sputter back to life like a long-dead FBI Twitter account – last fall, as it became clear that the US was going to hell in a big (the biggest!), gawdy handbasket? There were various reasons – some logistical, some existential… There was the ongoing upheaval of moving across the country, and then the upheaval of changing jobs. And after several years of writing strictly for academia, then for a more technical writing job, I forgot how to write for fun. Sometimes it felt like I forgot how to write, period.

And – let’s face it – like many of you, I was in shock. Then I was in mourning. Then I was trying to figure out how to function in a political climate where such a disheartening number of my fellow Americans voted to dismantle and destroy most of the social and eco-justice advances of the last 20 years. When I finally did figure out how to function, the answer was so shocking I had to sit with it for a while before telling anyone. Continue reading “Is this thing on?”

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Meditating on prayer

Pieter Bruegel, “The Battle Between Carnival and Lent” (1559)

(Update: bizarre duplication of text now fixed!)

A few weeks ago, I was going to post here that I was giving up not-blogging for Lent.  Instead, I continued to not-blog.  Such is my Lenten discipline.  But a few folks have encouraged me to post a sermon I recently gave at my home congregation, and after much hemming and hawing, I’ve decided to do so.  I’ve given a handful of sermons at my church over the last few years, but haven’t felt comfortable circulating them much further than the 20 or so who heard them in church.  Now that I’ve let the Left at the Altar audience shrink to a similar size, it feels safe enough. 😉  But my hemming and hawing was also due to a couple of things that were different about this sermon, compared to my previous efforts: first, it’s a lot more “autobiographical” than any other I’ve done, and second, it had nothing to do with the lectionary for the week (well, nothing, and yet everything!).  I won’t make a habit of the autobiographical component.  For that matter, I won’t make a habit of writing sermons!  (Although, every time I say I won’t do another, I find myself doing another.)  I’ll post a few others on my “Publications” page.  For now, here’s the last sermon I plan to write for awhile.  To my dad, uncle, and many dear friends who wrote or write sermons every week, my hat is off to you!  I don’t know how you do it!  And to the Left at the Altar friends who have stuck around, hey!, nice to see you again!

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Meditating on prayer – a sermon by Marilyn Matevia (Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Vallejo, CA, 3/16/14)

I have a confession to make.  I’m not very good about praying.  Continue reading “Meditating on prayer”

Signs of life

I know, you’ve heard it before.  I declare that I am trying to get this blog back up and running, sputter along for awhile, and then stall again.  Now I’m attempting the seemingly impossible: keeping this one going, and getting another one started. When appropriate, I’ll cross-post.  When not, I might just let you know that something is up over there.  Like this.  See you here again, shortly.

Another donation suggestion? O.K., if you insist…

A Working Dogs for Conservation crew, relaxing in Hawaii after sniffing out invasive snails! (Picture borrowed from a recent email blast.)
A Working Dogs for Conservation crew, relaxing in Hawaii after sniffing out invasive snails! (Picture borrowed from a recent email blast.)

Since I short-changed my planned Advent Giving Calendar by quite a few days, I’ll tack on a couple more suggestions before the month ends!  These two groups are – once again – personal favorites.  Working Dogs for Conservation uses the kinds of scent-work techniques used to train dogs in search-and-rescue, cadaver recovery, and narcotics detection, but trains the dogs to sniff out signs of endangered or invasive plant and animal species, instead!  WDC dogs have helped biologists monitor bears in Alaska, Cross River gorillas in Cameroon, bog turtles in New Jersey, invasive snails in Hawaii… all kinds of cool stuffThis short-but-sweet video from Terra gives you a sense of how it’s done.  (Update2: alright, alright… I give up on embedding that video.)  I’ll wait while you watch it.

Am I right?  Is this not a cool project?  Donate here.

Another long-time favorite, the Search Dog Foundation, recruits rescued dogs and trains them to become search-and-rescue dogs!  The dogs are screened, trained, and paired with a search-and-rescue handler, and then the team is trained some more.  Their training and matching methods are top-notch: teams work together for years, and have been sent all over the country, as well as Haiti and Japan.  Go here for some great photos of the search teams.  Right now, your donation will help them meet a $10,000 matching grant challenge.

Coastal Christmas

OK.  We can probably agree that my Advent Calendaring consistency leaves something to be desired.  I didn’t manage a daily giving suggestion – but I think I did blog more in the last few weeks than in the previous year or so!  It’s nice to be on speaking terms with my blog, again.

I took the photo above at the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve in Moss Beach, CA, just north of Half Moon Bay, a couple of years ago.  It’s one of my favorite places to visit, and I go with the eternal hope that I will spot an octopus in the tide pools.   So far, they have eluded me, but the other tide pool creatures and visuals more than make up for them.  The Reserve has a great little ranger station with species checklists and information, and very knowledgeable docents are often on hand on the beach.  If you live in the Bay Area and haven’t been here, treat yourself (it’s free).  And if you get out here for a visit, put this spot on your list.

Last week – in fact, the same day I was pant-hooting about chimpanzee retirements – there was some very good news for sea creatures.  California finalized the largest network of undersea reserves in the continental United States!  Maybe I don’t say this enough, California: I love you.  I love that coastal protection priorities continue to survive incredible odds and powerful opposition, and that something like the Marine Life Protection Act can be enacted and fulfilled.  Marine protection areas work.  Merry Christmas, coastal creatures!

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