Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Good night, my beautiful boy: Losing Dragon

So unexpected it was, this ravenous cancer that within a week had reduced my 8 year old, energy-filled Shih Tzu into a weak, lethargic and shrinking companion. Monday afternoon we went to the vet and after x-rays saw the culprit for what it was, a massive tumor of the spleen that was encroaching on his digestive system, causing him to feel full in his tummy and making him not want to eat. There was also fluid accumulating around his little heart causing pressure on his lungs as well as his heart. Yet he managed a tail wag now and then. Maybe he felt my distress, my anxiety, my worry and perhaps my hope that somehow he would get better.

It was not to be. Tuesday morning brought the blood test results. With a white cell count of 42K, his body full of lymphocytes, a host of smaller tumors appearing overnight, the vet and I knew that his quality of life had diminished considerably and that there was no recovering it. With my heart breaking, I made Dragon's final appointment, an hour and a half after the phone call that had revealed the awful truth: my golden boy's time had come to depart and return to his Maker.

I spent my time on the carpet, laying next to him, massaging paw pads and gently scratching ears, murmuring word offerings to him in the voice he had come to count on for comfort and love. He would look at me with a sort of gratitude that seared my very being. And patiently he waited with me in the silence of an overcast morning.

I was numb with the reality of the coming hour and what it would mean to me: sorrow, loneliness, grief, the tearing of the fabric of my soul to lose this precious life that had given so much to me, that had decided to love me back, and be the most faithful of companions.

I then thought of what the coming hour would mean to Dragon: healing, newness of life apart from this world and its frailties, eternal life with God, meeting my mom and our other dogs in a place of eternal summer, this place where they will wait for me and one day greet me by saying "What took you so long?"

But now, in this moment I only know loss and the silence of a home once shared and played in together, where a greeting awaited me, full of prancing paws and wagging tail...little yips of "hello!" and grunts of "Take me out!".

As he left this world I held him close, partly wrapped in a little faux sheepskin, in my arms. I told him how beautiful he was; I thanked him for loving me; I said I love you more times than I can remember, and then I wished him good night and that one morning I would greet him again. In spite all I have written here, there are truly no words to express the devastation such a death of such an innocent brings.

After he died, I was left alone with him. I arranged him on the sheepskin, perhaps for my comfort more than anything. Alone with him I found myself bent over him, my face buried in the soft fur of his still and quiet chest, weeping and moaning into him, holding little feet and precious head for I don't know how long but after a while a knock came and I knew it was time to let him go, body and soul. My dog-child was gone. The technician tenderly cradled him in her arms and crying, asked me if I was ready to let her take him. I said yes and kissed his head one last time, the scent of holy oil filling my nostrils along with his own unique scent. She assured me that his body would be treated gently as if he were only asleep. I thanked her as she left, and I turned and rolled up the sheepskin that had held and comforted him, and then I left to go home without him who had been my constant companion, through good times and sorrowful times.

I have decided to have him cremated for purely selfish reasons. When I am ready I will let him go, but honestly, I'm not prepared to do that yet, nor anytime in the near future. It's about faithfulness, fidelity, honoring the memory of a creature sent to you for reasons known only to God. Dragon taught me much, but then all dogs do. They have ways of being Zen masters, true disciples of their Creator, and also the comedian who makes us laugh when nothing nor anyone else can.

And so I write this memorial to my dog, my most trusted confidante and companion in life. I love you, Dragon, my beautiful boy. Good night, my lion dog. I long to see you one bright morning...

"God, You bless me so I bless. You make me your own, and I carry your goodwill into the world. I have places where I go door-to-door, bed-to-bed, sick-to-sick. I bring good news, a smile, a touch, understanding, a flower, empathy. They are glad when I come. We pray. They wave when I leave. But it is not over. They wait and I return. I stay with them, and they with me, while we are apart. You give us this gift of real presence. I am here to be well." ***

*** from Herbert Brokering's "Dog Psalms: Prayers My Dogs Have Taught Me." Augsburg Books, Copyright 2004.
The last photo was taken when he was in his prime in 2004. He is looking up at my mom who died a year later.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Flash: Statement of the Convocation Presidents, Diocese of Oregon

This just in from multiple, unimpeachable sources --BKM & C+


Statement of the Presidents of the Convocations of the Diocese of Oregon

Saturday, February 9, 2008

The Presidents of the Convocations of the Diocese of Oregon, which Convocations include all of the churches of the Diocese of Oregon, meeting in the City of Eugene, this Saturday, February 9, 2008, adopt the following:

1. We believe it is important to recognize and support the fact that the governance of the Diocese is conducted through its canonically created institutions, including its Convocations, its Council, its Trustees, its Standing Committee, and its Convention, and

2. We appreciate the service of the current Bishop of Oregon and wish him well in his future endeavors, and

3. We support and applaud the work and decisions of the Diocesan Standing Committee in its handling of the issues relating to the Bishop of Oregon necessitated by his decision three months ago that the process to select his successor should be initiated with the assistance of the Office of Pastoral Development of the US House of Bishops, and

4. We appreciate our consultations to date with the members of the Standing Committee, the Committee’s offer for future consultations, and its timely and informative communications regarding the succession matters properly placed before it, and

5. We note that one reason for an extended period of time for a transition between two Bishops is to allow for reflection and that this process can include the selection of an interim at the beginning of that transition process. In this context we appreciate the current Bishop’s decision both to agree to:

a) an early and certain date on which to depart from the Diocese and b) his willingness to continue to fulfill certain agreed upon roles including the retention of the title of Bishop of Oregon through the end of 2008.

We believe this mechanism will best facilitate the independence of action of the institutions of the Diocese as they work with the clergy and laity of the Diocese to select the successor Bishop of Oregon. We applaud the incumbent Bishop’s appreciation of this approach and the work of the Standing Committee and the Office of Pastoral Development of the House of Bishops in achieving a global agreement that included the specific departure date.

6. Finally, the Presidents believe that the financial terms of the agreement that the Standing Committee and the incumbent Bishop arrived at with the assistance of the national church are quite generous.

While we don’t wish to substitute our judgment for that of the Standing Committee as this matter is exclusively within its purview and as agreement on the terms have already been reached, we do urge that if either party seeks to renegotiate fundamental elements of the agreement that all elements of the agreement be considered anew, including the financial package which we respectfully submit might be adjusted to more closely approach the common experiences of Oregonians in like situations.


Central: Sharon Rodgers
Columbia: James Baxendale
Metro-East: Melissa Parkhurst
South Coast: Frank Smith
Southern: Pete Benham
Sunset: Cynthia Reynolds
Willamette: Richard Van Orman

Thursday, February 14, 2008

1900 out of 22K: What about the rest of the Diocese of Oregon?

Thanks to a very reliable source in Portland, OR, I have new information regarding "the letters" +Johncy sent to some but not all in our fair diocese. I quote below from an email I received from Bruce K Mason of Portland Integrity and the moderator of the IntegrityTalk-West Episcopal discussion group list. I have permission from Bruce to freely share all or any portion of the email to anyone I wish. Bruce is connected by way of INTEGRITY USA across the country and hears a lot of the news that is news from his own reliable sources. Here is some very interesting information and also some news to help up gauge the "climate", if you will:

This morning I learned that one lay person associated with SS Peter and Paul received a copy of the letter referenced below via US Mail on the Bishop's letterhead. I am curious to know if anyone else has received the letter by US Mail. I'm trying to figure out if there is a pattern of who is receiving the US Mail version -- the one person I know who received it regarded it as a 'Invitation' from +Johncy. I did not have such a letter in my US Mail today. I have received digital copies of the letter (e-mail) from several sources. I have seen it posted on various lists and web sites beyond the Diocese of Oregon. It is causing a lot of comment, many wonder what is going on here. So do I."

If +Johncy felt he could do something to save the reputation of his failed episcopacy, he is definitely taking the wrong approach. About 1900 letters were sent via U S Mail at a cost of about $780. The situation in the Diocese of Oregon is appearing on e-lists and blogs throughout the Church. Notice has been made of this meeting scheduled at a time when most Lay persons are working or fulfilling family obligations. Too bad +Johncy did not get the message and simply say, "Buh-bye." He is appearing very foolish. Folks on Long Island are "Freaked Out" at the prospect of him returning there, and may discuss this with Bp Walker."

There are questions, most certainly: Where did the $780 come from? Was it his own money or that of the Diocese? Why only 1900 letters? Why not send "invitations" to everyone, all 22,000 of us? Why are Episcopalians in Long Island so concerned about about +Johncy's return that the sitting Bishop may be brought into the situation? What is the real reason behind this impromptu meeting to "clarify" the pressure the Standing Committee has allegedly imposed? If he didn't like the proposed time-table and severance package, why did he agree to it before the SC and the representative from 815? Why is he balking now?

Food for thought, most assuredly. Will we ever get answers? Most likely not. But then again, maybe, some day or sometime ahead...

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Provisions for Along the Way: Lent

Now that we are entered into Lent, we think of all the things we could do to make it meaningful to us as we anticipate the events that inevitably come, the moderated joy and the coming sorrows. I have found a blog created by our Scottish Episcopal branch and if you seek something from a fresh perspective, then I encourage you to journey to Beauty From Chaos.

Among the blogs I read, there are two that stand out as great examples of Lenten focus. The Psaltery blends the Word with hymnody in a unique and moving style. For a different view into another's Lenten journey, I encourage you to visit De Die In Diem where the visual compliments the written...both of these are truly excellent.

If you prefer more visual or creative ways in which Lent is express, then I bid you visit The
Episcopal Church and Visual Arts page. There is some moving and amazing art inspired by this contemplative season in our Church. I find that there are time when a visual image helps me attain a better focus on what is truly spiritually important and life changing. Prayer, being a vital part of our spiritual lives, can be beautiful in its simplicity, as well as in its complexity. Many people use a form of the Jesus Prayer to help guide their way in not only contemplative prayer but also in centering prayer. My own priest once shared with me how she uses the Jesus prayer for becoming centered in spirit. The portion of the prayer that I use as a result is:

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, Have mercy on me, a sinner.

This and other related prayers can be found at King of Peace--Anglican Prayers. One could pray these prayers with an Episcopal rosary. Sources for these warm and quietly lovely rosaries--also known as simply prayer beads--can also be found on this site and on InnerLight, a place where you can choose the types of materials that reflect your spiritual person.

Another of my particular favorites for prayer is Interlude: Prayers. Here you will find a wide range of prayers for Lent or any other season of our Church year. Thomas Merton is featured among other writers, known and unknown. I encourage you to visit and perhaps find a prayer that will become a special blessing to you. Related to the Interlude: Prayers site is the Interlude Internet Retreat page. There you will discover prayers from around the world that may move you in ways unknown during this holy Lent.

There are prayers and litanies from other countries that have moved me in ways that only a new culture's perspective can lend. One unique prayer that I simply love is the "Prayer for Light in the Darkness", a prayer from Africa:

O Father God, I cannot fight this darkness by beating it with my hands.
Help me to take the light of Christ into it.

It is my hope that some, or all or even one of these resources will be an inspiration to you along this Lenten way with one another, no matter where we are, we journey with our Lord Christ. Will you be my companion along the Way?


Monday, February 11, 2008

Oregon Bishop Refutes Standing Committee's Proposal

The Bishop of Oregon, Johncy Itty, issued a response to the most recent Open Letter from the Standing Committee. To say it is uncooperative in its tone is putting it mildly. In this letter he denies accepting the proposed plan of the Standing Committee as outlined in their Open Letter to the diocese. Now he is seeking the views of the diocese in a meeting to be held in Eugene, Oregon on February 21st.

Let it be said, here and now, that the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Oregon is doing the best possible for Episcopalians in the diocese.The fact that he is reneging on his agreement only solidifies my misgivings about him from the start of his episcopacy. I have heard no objections from anyone in my parish about the time table he addresses, nor have I heard from anyone in the diocese regarding this matter as he states it.

Here is his response to the Standing Committee's Open Letter in its entirety:


February 11, 2008

My Dear Friends in Christ,

Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and our Lord, Jesus Christ:

At my consecration as your chosen Bishop, I took vows to guard and uphold the faith and unity of the Church. I do not wish to create disunity or divisiveness. That is why I have not involved myself in further statements about the transition. But now there seems to be confusion and lack of clarity, and some division and disunity among us. Let me clarify.

In November, I called for the orderly process to elect my successor. I said that I wanted to let you know well in advance so that you would not be caught off guard, or be alarmed. The process was to begin early in 2008, following the normal practice of 12-18 months, allowing for a smooth transition and careful planning.

However, in a meeting with Bishop Clay Matthews on January 16, the Standing Committee proposed a timetable whereby I would be leaving the Diocese on Easter Day, March 23, 2008, and they requested that Ecclesiastical Authority be subsequently transferred to them. They stated that this would be in the best interests of the diocese, and implied that the people of the diocese would be supportive of this proposal.

The plethora of responses that I have received from throughout the diocese suggests that this is not the case at all.

I do not believe that a proposal for a transition on Easter is wise or in the best interest of this diocese, however this is a matter that our wider diocesan family must address.

In this context, I need to be clear. I have no self-serving interest in staying longer, or in leaving sooner. I only want what is best for our diocese. An orderly transition is what I desire—one which allows adequate time for careful planning, the completion of tasks, minimizing financial impact, minimizing impact to my staff, and time for closure. Trying to complete this enormous process in two months is difficult, impractical, and awkward at best.

In the interest of transparency, and given the amount of feedback that I am receiving about this matter, I am hereby calling a special meeting of the College of Presbyters and the Community of Deacons on February 21, 2008 from 11:00 until 1:00 p.m. at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Eugene for a time of conversations. Any interested lay persons are most welcome to join us. I realize that this will not be the most opportune time for everyone, however given scheduling issues, this seems the best possible time frame at the present moment.

Please feel free to share this letter with other members of your congregation.

Faithfully yours in Christ,

The Rt Rev Johncy Itty, PhD

Bishop of Oregon


Footnote: In the Open Letter from the SC, Bishop Itty does in fact agree to the SC's proposal and offer. The date of the acceptance of the proposal was January 24th of this year. The agreed upon date of his departure, March 23rd, 2008.


Saturday, February 09, 2008

An Open Letter: Oregon Standing Committee Statement Released

Hat tip to Bruce K Mason at IntegrityTalk-West for speedy access to this release for dissemination to Episcopal Oregonians as well as our brothers and sisters who are looking to our diocese in observation of this transition.


An Open Letter to the Diocese of Oregon From the Standing Committee February 7, 2008

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

At our annual Diocesan Convention last fall Bishop Itty announced the ending of his Episcopal ministry among us and called for the beginning of the transition towards the election of a new Bishop. No details or timetable were presented at Convention and so the last few months have been a time of trying to discern the next steps for us all.

Faced with this uncertain situation the Standing Committee met On January 16th of this year with Bishop Clay Matthews, who is the Bishop in charge of Pastoral Development for the National Church and assigned to our Diocese by the Presiding Bishop, Katherine Jefferts-Schori. Bishop Matthews has met with Bishop Itty privately and also with the Standing Committee and Bishop Itty together. At those meetings the Standing Committee engaged with Bishop Matthews and Bishop Itty in the task of negotiating a grace filled transition. With Bishop Matthew’s guidance, a proposal was presented to Bishop Itty that would allow him to move to Long Island to be with his wife and family, where they have resided since Christmas Day, 2007.

The agreement includes the Bishop’s full salary and housing allowance for the remainder of 2008, his family health and life insurance as well as a generous portion of his travel budget for the remainder of this calendar year. This will allow Bishop Itty to represent the Diocese as the Bishop of Oregon at the Lambeth Conference this summer, and to keep the official title of Bishop of Oregon through 2008. The intent of this paid sabbatical is to provide Bishop Itty with undistracted time to discern his next ministry, and to devote himself to his considerable volunteer commitments as President of Church World Services and Vice President of the National Council of Churches.

This proposal was made by the Standing Committee with the advice of Bishop Matthews. After reflection, Bishop Itty agreed to this proposal without changes on January 24th. A joint communication from Bishop Itty and the Standing Committee was sent to the leaders of the diocese on January 25th. In accordance with the Canons of the Church, the Bishop will transfer his Ecclesiastical Authority to the Standing Committee of this Diocese on
March 23, 2008.

So, what is next?

The members of the Standing Committee have begun meeting or communicating with the Diocesan Finance Committee, the Board of Trustees, Diocesan Council, the Deans and Presidents of the Convocations and the paid staff at the Close to begin the process of discerning our next steps together as a Diocese. This is the immediate priority of the Standing Committee.

Our prayer and hope is that we can work together and support each other through this time of transition. We will make every effort to keep you informed of news and developments as matters evolve and become clearer. Thank you very much for taking the time to read this letter. If you have comments, questions, or concerns, please feel free to contact any one of us.

In Christ’s love,

The Standing Committee

The Diocese of Oregon Standing Committee Members are:


120 NE Knott Street

Portland, OR 97212


MARY CRAMER (President)

1221 SW 10th Avenue #413

Portland, OR 97205



467 Holly Street

Ashland, OR 97520



944 SE Sellwood Blvd.

Portland, OR 97202



13906 Majestic Court

Lake Oswego, OR 97035



49180 McKenzie Highway

Vida, OR 97488



445 NW Elizabeth Drive

Corvallis, OR 97330



2673 Chad Drive

Eugene, OR 97408




The Standing Committee met at its regular meeting on February 7, 2008 at St. Paul, Salem. We hope this fact sheet answers questions you may have.

What is the Standing Committee?

The Standing Committee is the council of advice to the Bishop. There are eight members on the committee, with one clergy member and one lay member elected at each Diocesan Convention for a term of four years. According to the Canons of the church, it becomes the Ecclesiastical Authority in a diocese when a bishop leaves.

What Episcopal ministry will be offered after Bishop Itty leaves?

The Standing Committee will be working for the continuation of Episcopal ministries (confirmations, ordinations, installations) . A team of retired bishops have offered their help. The Deans will continue to assist in the celebration of these occasions.

What happens after Bishop Itty leaves?

The Standing Committee wants us to have some time and space to have unhurried conversations about our Diocese and our future together. Therefore, we are proposing that we appoint an assisting (interim) bishop. We are working with the office of Pastoral Development of the National
Church on this matter.

What is the status of the current Diocesan staff?

The ministries of the Diocesan staff are valued and appreciated. We are searching for a mutually agreeable date for a meeting with the staff.

How can we celebrate the ministry of Bishop Itty?

The Standing Committee regrets that Bishop Itty feels that time does not allow for regional celebrations. We are asking the Deans to help us create opportunities to say goodbye.

The Standing Committee will continue to communicate with you on a regular basis. Please include the Bishop, his family, and the Diocesan leadership in your daily prayers.


DISCLAIMER: The names, addresses, email addresses of the Standing Committee members are original to the Open Letter and have not been included by me independently. I have however with the insight of Lisa Fox, deleted the phone numbers of the members.