We had an Arranged Marriage—Two In Fact.

Offering puffed rice into the Agni fire during the Hindu Marriage Rites in Madras, India January 19, 1997.

What do you do when cultures collide?

When people from India meet us for the first time, at some point they ask the inevitable question, “How did you meet?”  They look at my husband a handsome brown man from Bombay who speaks Tamil, Hindi, English and some Gujarati—’enough Gujarati to eat,’ we say—and then they look at me, an outspoken curvy white woman from the American South with blonde hair and they can’t imagine why or how we became husband and wife.  My husband of now 23 years should have had an arranged marriage by his parents to a nice, black haired light-skinned South Indian Tamil Iyengar woman who was trained in either Bharatanatyam dance or perhaps she was trained to play the stringed musical instrument called the vena.  She would have been educated, had a professional job likely in business, would have been younger by 3 years, and also she would be strikingly beautiful, Bollywood worthy, and even then, she would  have not been good enough for their first born son. 

Continue reading “We had an Arranged Marriage—Two In Fact.”

Mother’s Day, It’s Complicated.

Masks and sanitizer, greetings through windows six feet apart.
We have all become untouchable.
Moms that are still with us, aren’t.
Moms that are not with us
are worlds away untouched by time in our memory.
And then there are those moms who cannot escape, 
cannot get away because love chases them into the bathroom 
and down the halls into the make-shift-office-room zoom calls.

Pandemic Mother’s Day is complicated for moms who wanted to be
and could not no matter how hard they tried and tried and cried  
whose bodies couldnot wouldnot become what we wanted them to be. 
And the dads who are better moms than our moms could ever be,
mothering isn’t just for moms.  Some moms just can’t. 

For the lucky ones whose love dripped down the sides of our faces 
like ice cream, their joy overflows like spilt milk 
on the countertop next to the oreo cookies.
We can still feel their touch and the kisses 
in clockwise directions on our faces 
filled with laughter or tears, over the years, 
those kisses fade into the photos on the wall.
They are now missing from our minds.  Gone on this day.

But for the grannies and mimis and granddaddies and pattis and tathas and pappas and mammas that make life just a little sweeter 
with drive-by birthdays and package deliveries,
the complications of Mother’s Day are no match 
for unbridled love.
Boundless expressions of joy cannot be hid by the hand sewn masks
and poster board signs hurriedly colored while tears fell 
making rain marks on homemade cards.
You can see a smile with your heart, if you try.

And so we do.  We try.  We forgive. We remember. We regret.
Our mothers. 
And those who wish our mothers were 
something more than they could be,
we sigh and breathe in one more day.
Mother’s Day has always been complicated,
but this year more of us understand why.

Faith & Fault-lines in a Pandemic

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Poverty is the Pandemic

We are not in the same boat.  We are not in the same storm.  In fact, an economic storm has been raging all along and we have left many without a boat or paddle to weather the most recent epidemic to hit Rock County, Wisconsin.  Continue reading “Faith & Fault-lines in a Pandemic”

The New Prophetic Age:A Demand for Love & A Call for Justice

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Angels and Prophets

What is the difference between angels and prophets? Both have a message from God, but with one very important difference. It is a little bit like the secret every grandparent knows—one gets to give the kid back, the other has to raise the kid up. They angel brings the good news and. then leaves, the prophet must stay and walk with the community in through all their ups and downs.  We have had our ups and downs over the years, and even in this last week together.

So, which would you rather be?

An angel or a prophet?  One is loved, the other often thought of as inconvenient, and often criticized. Me too, I would rather be angel too. But since I haven’t learned how to grow wings…

Our Prophetic History

Over these past 5 years together I have spent time reading our history, studying the stained glass windows, walking the halls of every room of this church and I have listened to what the angels of this church have been telling me about you, and about the legacy that has been handed to us, here in this very place. A place where worship has been going on uninterrupted for 175 years—more than 6 generations of people have learned what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ and to love God with all their heart…in this place. And you are among that great legacy of faith.

What I have learned, is that this church has a strong prophetic tradition—a tradition that has produced great community leaders who did not accept no for an answer, who believed they could make a difference, and even if they didn’t, they knew that they should try because they believed in hope. Rev. Hiram Foote, the first called pastor after the founding was a national figure in the abolitionist movement. Willing to take a stand on freedom of all people. Fredrick Douglas, a. black freeman spoke here in support of abolition of slavery. Rev. Hiram Foote helped to establish this church’s call toward justice.

Most recently, I have learned of a remarkable woman, and member of our church, a prophet in her own right, Rhoda Lavinia Goodell. You might know that she was the first woman who accepted to the Bar of Wisconsin as a lawyer. What you may not know, is that she spoke out on many subjects, including the appropriate place of women in the church—in the pulpit. Hear her words from 1872…

“Miss Smilie, preaching in the .. pulpit, seems to have shaken ecclesiastical authority… it is amusing as well as instructive to observe upon what general principle the objection to woman preaching is based. ….The reason that woman must not preach is – not that …it is incompatible with her other duties, … not that she lacks any intellectual or spiritual qualification – simply and only that this would be coming out … and asserting equality.”

Continue reading “The New Prophetic Age:A Demand for Love & A Call for Justice”

Remembering Well, Grieving Well

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A Tea Party Shows off my mom’s playful personality.

My mother died 1 year ago this month, on our daughter’s 16th birthday. As a pastor I have often counseled people through the stages of grief and know that grief can take many twists and turns along the pathways of our life. Grief may walk beside us when we loose a parent, a spouse, or a child—these are journeys people notice. Continue reading “Remembering Well, Grieving Well”

2015 in review

Pastor TanyaHappy New Year Yall!

Thanks to everyone who viewed my blog in 2015.  The biggest news is that I was able to join in Ministry with http://www.JanesvilleUCC.org as their new minister.  My installation service is January 10th, 2016.  Wish me luck.

My hope for 2016 is to integrate the fabulous work we are doing there into posts for this blog.

In Good Faith,

Rev. Tanya

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,100 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 18 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

When Faith Walks Out the Door: Bilbo, #Baltimore & Transforming Our Faith

Just getting out the door is challenge.
Just getting out the door is challenge.

Getting Out the Door

We have a rule in our house: always wash the dishes before we leave on vacation. This may seem ordinary enough, I’m sure many of you may do the same thing. But for me, the mere act of getting out the door on time is difficult enough—you can’t imagine how tempting it is to say, “leave it, just leave it. We will be back soon enough.” But the person who leaves the house is never the person who returns to it. We become a new person because of the journey and nobody wants to come back and clean up someone else’s mess.

Continue reading “When Faith Walks Out the Door: Bilbo, #Baltimore & Transforming Our Faith”

My people come from Selma Too: Breaking the Silence After 50 Years

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My parent’s wedding day April 25, 1965

Selma

Fifty years ago the world watched as one of the greatest victories of the Civil Rights movement unfolded on the stage of Selma, Alabama. March 1965 was the Super Bowl of the Civil Rights Movement. The stakes were high—the right for unencumbered voting for African American voters was on the line in this growing city.  Almost no African Americans were able to register to vote given they had to undergo literacy tests, civil tests, poll taxes, as well as having others vouch for them. This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of that great victory that culminated in the march from Selma to the Statehouse in Montgomery and compelled President Johnson to issue and sign the Voter Rights Act.

My Family Connection

While the story of what happened fifty years ago in Selma is a compelling one, I care about what happened in that city for personal reasons. Continue reading “My people come from Selma Too: Breaking the Silence After 50 Years”

Learning to think on your feet: Cymbal Kid, Autism, and the Family that Makes Us

Andrew "Cymbal Kid" Pawelvzck with our Son Nishanth
Andrew “Cymbal Kid” Pawelczyk with our Son Nishanth

A Friend of the Family, Andrew the Cymbal Kid

One week ago my son’s best friend Andrew Pawelczyk (Pa-Vel-check) was thrust onto an international stage–he is the YouTube sensation “Cymbal Kid”.  A month ago during the last middle school band performance, Andrew, an accomplished drummer who usually plays the “quad” 4 drums, was asked to play the cymbals.  I was sitting dead center with my husband and daughter while our son sat in the trumpet section at first chair.   Continue reading “Learning to think on your feet: Cymbal Kid, Autism, and the Family that Makes Us”