San Fran day 5 – 11 Dec

As we pack our bags and prepare to move on from this beautiful city (tomorrow), I thank God for the blessings bestowed through our hosts at Grace Cathedral.

Many thanks go to the Dean, the Revd Dr Jane Shaw and all the staff at Grace for their hospitality and welcome.  Julia and I have been granted many gifts large and small in this beautiful place.

(Beautiful religious art-work in this apartment by Sadao Watanabe )

Yesterday Julia and I were privileged to meet the Revd Sally Bingham, the President of the “Regeneration Project” of Interfaith Power and Light. Sally has been working in the area of greenhouse gas and energy saving within the Episcopal Church (and now in an inter-faith capacity) for many years, and is a formidable force in my particular areas of interest.

Came across a great natural cafe chain here also.

Also a great photographic gallery at Fisherman’s Wharf

We also headed to St Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church and had a look at their food pantry program which is absolutely amazing! Thanks to Rector Paul for his welcome.  Julia and I head to St Gregory’s for the 10:45am service tomorrow (Advent 3).

Great links here between worship/theology and mission (social justice mission, that is). Much floating around in my head at present, and many ideas across the education, worship, justice fronts… the U.S. Episcopal Church definitely inspires hope — helping people and making a difference is possible — and on a big scale — met many people that have just had a passion for something and just gone with it — God has done the rest!  (of course God does – why should we doubt, but we do!!  :-S)

Please pray for all those living on the streets here in San Francisco – it is such a lovely city, but so much sadness, pain and grief of so many poor (but they have given me love and joy too!)

Such a country of contrasts — rich/poor is one which is especially evident here, more than back home… or maybe just more noticeable… I’m not sure.

Praise to the Trinity, the life giving and incarnate God.  Peace to all this night.  CG

San Fran day 3 – Dec 9

The worship is absolutely beautiful here – transcendent. Taize chants were used effectively and delicately during the preparation of the gifts and during the communion.  All gathered around the altar – all were welcomed.

There is something of God here which is different somehow, somehow more subtle, something that edges in, seeps in to your bones, your breath, your heart.

Perhaps it is because the Cathedral and its worship is such a contrast to the busy world outside – the traffic (they love to use their horns here!), the doormen and their whistles to hail down taxis for clients, the general buz of the city.  The Cathedral is, then (as they say on the guide/info leaflets) – a haven and refuge for people, a place of “Religious Immunity” (from religious hatred), of “Anonymity” (so that people can bask in “holiness”) and “A Place of Unity” (in the one God who seeks to bring us into “extravagant hospitality”.  Praise and thanks be to God for this place.

(Reference – “Grace Cathedral” brochure, written by the Right Revd William E. Swing, 7th Bishop of California).

Peace and love to all this Advent season.  CG

San Francisco day 2 – Dec 8

Hi all – sorry been a few days until I could get back to the computer.

Yesterday was a day of travelling (mostly) – Amtrak bus/train from L.A. to San Francisco.  Great way to see the country.  Met a lovely Amtrak worker in the dining car who was so lovely and chatty.  Also met a lovely local traveller who worked in construction with her husband, who worked on green houses made of concrete with Styrofoam insulation built-in.  These houses need little or no heating or cooling due to the thick walls and built-in insulation.  Very interesting chat.

Today was a great day of meeting and greeting, but busy!!
Julia and I are staying in the visitors flat in the Chapter House at Grace Cathedral – a wonderful spot.  The offices of the Dean and all staff are just down the hall and the offices of the Bishop of California are next door.  God is good!  I’m trying to make most of this most wonderful gift.

It is a humbling thought to think through the great minds that may have stayed in this apartment over the years, and then… me…!!??  Crazy.  The Cathedral is an amazing place.  The motto here is inclusive, inclusive, inclusive. Compared with Australia, everything is so open, especially when it comes to interfaith issues and sexuality.  As many of you may know (and some have told me), there is an interfaith AIDS memorial chapel in Grace – a symbol of the inclusive,  open nature of this place.  The staff have told of many stories of people seeing this place as a haven, a place where they can escape from the mistakes that the world AND THE CHURCH have made throughout the ages.

The Cathedral has a Cathedral school for boys next door and I have been able to make contact with staff of the school, tying in my interest in primary education/chaplaincy and sustainability.  The school have a student greenteam and also a parent/staff greenteam.  They even employ a staff-member part-time for this work.

San Francisco is such a hub for things like this, it seems, and that is just one small example.  The Diocese of California has a Environmental Justice Missioner employed to promote these causes. Unfortunately (for me!), he is away at an environmental conference in the Dominican Republic, so I am not able to meet him (on this trip anyhow! :-))  See for more information on the NATIONAL environmental network in the U.S.

A few days ago, I commented on the water issues in L.A. – a concern for the residents and environment alike. Thank you for the further information that some of you have provided to me.  It seems like there is so much inconsistency here (as in Australia!)  Some things they seem to do quite well and others not.  It is interesting to note the small differences – Australia – duel flush toilets, America, no (not that I’ve seen as yet, and the lady on the train hadn’t heard of them).  America  – sensors on all public toilet basins to save water and ALL urinals are low-flow or no water – Australia, well this is a mix too, but we have been slow on the uptake of these technologies.

As it has been pointed out, and must be said here, Australia and America are about the same in terms of per capita carbon emissions, ranking 12th and 11th place in the world as the HIGHEST producers of per capita CO2 (according to the International Energy Agency).  America 18.9 tons, Australia, 17.9.  The United States has reduced this figure from the figure in 1990 – Australia has INCREASED its figure from the figure in 1990. While some people that I have chatted today are not hopeful in this improving, many remain hopeful, and are working tirelessly in the cause for environmental justice.  I have been learning a little more about the politics here – a big factor of course, and very different to Australia, but there is, of course, so much to learn.

Later in the week – community garden projects, school greenteams, food pantries, meetings with clergy and daily worship at Grace (as today).

Please pray for peace for us both as we adjust to a different and full-on and busy country (and food too – hard to get my protein intake as a vege!!) — but loving being here.  Praise be to God: Eternal Creator, Word and Spirit.

# 2 L.A. day two cont…

It’s now really day three in L.A., but I think the “food – hangover” I have from day two justifies me in thinking it may be the same day.

Being a vegetarian in the U.S. you would think would be easy, but I haven’t found this so far.  Despite the amount of food, there is just no protein available except in eggs!  Today, my mission is a protein hunt – tofu preferably.  Julia has the run down on an excellent Thai restaurant which we’ll check out today.

I’ve taken to hiding my non-environmentally friendly cups and plates in the mini-bar fridge in the hotel room in an effort to do something for the environment (or maybe it’s just so I don-t feel guilty! :-)) — I did the whole, “leave the towel on the towel rack” thing, following the sign most hotels these days that promises that the towels can be reused if you don’t put them in the tub — didn’t work – they just gave us new ones anyway rental car is offset and small, feeling okay about that… I think – may have to plant some trees while I’m away though… lol.  Smog here is aweful, and I fear that I may be adding to it in some way — oh yeah, I am.

Talking to clergy at St James’ yesterday, I discover that water is a huge problem here in L.A. due to the desert climate. I haven’t had a sense that much is being done about it, though! – No duel flush toilets here (by looks of things, more water is used here than in a Australian single-flush!), and no sign of water restrictions.  The L.A. department of water and power advertise “watering days” and have a “Green L.A.” section, but these things are not publicly advertised here. We do have a water saving shower head in our room (this one – but at 2.5 gallons (9.46 litres) a minute it uses nearly 2 litres a minute more than an Australia AAA rated shower head.

More on this soon.  Take care all. CG.

L.A. day 2 – Dec 5 – Advent 2

It was a blessed day for us in L.A. – we were (mostly) over jet-lag and the world seemed a better place 🙂 to begin with, but then… things just worked… God is good!

After nearly loosing it the day before trying to figure out L.A. buses (jet-lagged!), we decided to “holiday” with a rental car for two days.  Great move (thanks Julia for suggestion!)  GPS is a most wonderful invention – found ourselves in West Hollywood for breakfast at a classic diner.  Great food.

Today the joke, “that’s going in my blog”, began, firstly with my incessant questions (or statements) to Julia over breakfast – “I’m thinking this coffee isn’t fair-trade” – “Do you think these eggs are free-range?”  (Sorry honey, but these things are on my mind… awkward!)

Church for Advent 2 (and my first service overseas) – St James in the City The most wonderful service and welcoming people!  I was transported and moved!  I need to say more, but it’s just on midnight here so I will save it for tomorrow.  Please look these guys up (oh, thanks Gill for the suggestion!! – hugs!)

Bye for now- CG

Canberra-Sydney-Los Angeles!

–Julia and I are here safe and sound in L.A., the City of Angels–

Angels abounded on our trip here – wonderful people in customs/immigration and a lovely encounter with a lady from Mexico on her way home after 9 months working on an Australian-ported cruise ship.

My environmental heart was ticking from the moment I was on the plane immediately I became concerned that my carbon offsetting of my flights was in turn being offset by the amount of pre-packaged items; everything from pillows, to blankets, to cutlery was in plastic, or itself was plastic.  I enquired of Julia whether the solid plastic cutlery would have been recycled… I am not hopeful.

After wading through the smog of L.A., our breakfast in our d0wntown hotel is equally scary (worse actually!) – plastic or Styrofoam plates and cups – I have brought back my plate and cup to our room, much to Julia’s embarrassment!! :-S  I’m scared that my stomach is going to turn plastic with the amount of sugar/chemicals in the bagels and grape and apple “jelly” – (Julia warned me not to eat these products but I’m going for a “full emersion experience — ask my stomach tomorrow about this!)

All my best to those back in Australia, especially those in Young facing the consequences of the rain – + Wagga Wagga (and region) facing this also.  CG.

United States Trip

Chris and Julia travel to the United States from 4 December 2010 to 17 January 2011.

Chris is a St Mark’s Beatrice Robinson Joint-Scholar during this time, and will be researching sustainable parish communities and projects, as well as looking at monastic spirituality, and political movements regarding environmental and social justice causes.