Saturday, February 28, 2009

Yesterday I woke and was ready to get up earlier than usual. Today? Not so much! But I popped into the shower first thing and am ready to tackle today's "list." I fear that I will need to add "wipe off dog paws x 8" to said list. Our yard, never pretty on a good day, is awash in mud and puddles. I hear the perpetual hum of the washing machine in my future...

On the bright side, I am being faithful to this year's discipline for Lent. I think I have completed the scarf that has been unfinished for a few years. I say "think" because it could be longer, of course, but may be of sufficient length now. As Ken reminds me, its recipient is short, and here in middle Tennessee the need to wrap one's face in a scarf is a rare occasion. And then there's that crucial decision, to fringe, or not to fringe?

I also started a book yesterday. I've been hearing/reading a lot about Three Cups of Tea, so I am now solidly through the introduction and into the first chapter. I had hoped to get farther, but interruptions of the husband variety made that impossible. We'll see how far I can get today.

But right now I'm in need of three cups of coffee, so I'm off to Dunkin' Donuts (blessedly only a mile away) and on to my list. Stay warm and dry!

Friday, February 27, 2009

friday five: forks in the road

At Revgals Singing Owl writes: I am at a life-changing juncture. I do not know which way I will go, but I have been thinking about the times, people and events that changed my life (for good or ill) in significant ways. For today's Friday Five, share with us five "fork-in-the-road" events, or persons, or choices. And how did life change after these forks in the road?

Here are some decisions that changed my life.

1) Choosing Scotland over nursing. This really boils down to which college I chose. Growing up I was fascinated by things medical. This may have been due in part to the fact that my father was a doctor, but I think the interest goes deeper than that. I lacked the ambition to be a doctor, but nursing sounded like it might be a good fit. That was until I nearly flunked chemistry in high school! Still, I pursued nursing as a vocation when applying to college. Except for one. Earlham College, a small, Quaker liberal-arts school in Richmond, Indiana, had two things going for it. I had friends attending there, and they had a foreign study program in Scotland. In the end, the latter had greater draw than nursing. Scotland has been something of a "pole star" in my life. It is the place where my soul feels most at home. It led me to a passion for Scottish country dancing, which in turn led to friendships and experiences that were/are rich, and I continue to savor.

2) A spiritual renewal. Insomuch that we choose things that happen to us, I point to an experience of spiritual renewal as the moment (and yes, it was a moment) that changed my life. God broke through layers of silence and plunged into my soul, grabbing hold of me in a way that led, ultimately, to discerning a call to priesthood. Color this non-sacramental Quaker girl surprised! And yet it all made sense.

3) The decision to marry (the first time). I was 45, and this was a long-awaited dream come true. It was magical and adventurous and the manner in which it all unfolded was, for me, outside the box. Choosing to marry a man who lived in another state meant closing down shop where I lived. Sold my house. Resigned my position. I was packed and getting ready to move when it became clear that the marriage would be a mistake. 4) The decision not to marry. Oh, the consequences! See number three above. There were, of course, family and friends who already had plane tickets, deposits had been paid, the dress hung in my closet... But for me there was no place to live, no job… I was homeless for three weeks, the dogs were boarded, and the kindness of friends and the company of their cat kept me sheltered, fed and comforted. I was unemployed for 13 months, a period of time that served as a crucible for debt, doubt, and desperation.

5) The decision to marry. This was a good choice, and nearly three years later I am still adjusting. There is too much to say about how much marriage alters one's life. I am grateful to have a husband with whom I can be myself (even when it annoys him), and a life together in which we both desire the best for each other, and seek to help the other reach our personal and collective goals. We have our trials, and we have the grace that our love for each other runs deep and sustains us when the terrain is challenging.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

something's gotta give

I've been thinking about the whole "giving up for Lent" thing. Visiting and participating in the revgals blog has been such a gift, and most days I am rewarded by someone's insight, self-reflection or humor in such a way that I can feel my own spiritual life blooming within me. The movement of that growth is now pushing up against old debris and rotting resistance, and the sacrificial discipline of Lent is calling to me.

Yesterday I visited the site of an ordained writer/artist named Jan, and felt a door opening within me. I have a deep yearning to engage my creative side, and on most days I deny the yearning, believing that my time and efforts will bear no fruit. For Lent, I plan to give up listening to the voice that convinces me of that falsehood. This will not be easy, but discipline rarely is.

To facilitate this sacrifice I need to make space, literally and figuratively, so that creativity has a place to flow. I plan to read to open the road of my imagination, and finish some projects to "get me in the groove." From there I won't plan, but will pray to be led.

One Lent, many years ago, I made a stole for that season using a traditional quilting pattern. I love that stole. It is my favorite among the ones I own. It is simple, beautiful, and reminds me of that particular period in my life when God worked through a painful time to bring healing and new life. And the gift of a stole.

Already I feel the breath of the Spirit at work, along with the peace that comes with setting one's sites in a given direction. Now I feel better equipped to walk with Jesus the road to Jerusalem, and to experience the season from within more than from without.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

blessed ash wednesday

This morning I feel the solemnity of this day in the fatigue of my body. That isn't a bad thing.

Last night at church we offered the ritual of Shrove Tuesday's celebration, though instead of pancakes we had a potluck supper and decorated for Mardi Gras. We included games and concluded the evening with another ritual: burning last year's palms from Palm Sunday to use the ashes for today's service.

It was a full day, beginning with meeting Yolande at the church to start decorating. We had ordered new tableclothes--round white ones, with overlays of varying colors. We put together centerpieces that included beads, inflated balloons and hung them from the ceiling with streamers and ribbon. In between decorating stints I had an appointment in Nashville, then shopped for ingredient's for Ken's "low country boil," his offering for the potluck. I picked up a King Cake, returned to the church and began "downsizing" the palms for easier burning.

We had a disappointing showing for our party, with just 15 people in attendance. Five people who don't ordinarily particiate in events were there (they get a big "hurrah" for coming!), and the burning of the palms, which I had anticipated as a group event to be followed by a closing service of compline, didn't flow at all as I imagined. People trickled out and headed home before it was time for that, and efforts to clean up were underway, so I said my own prayers and took notes for how to promote and organize the event for next year. Still, it was a fun time, the food was good and the fellowship, as always, enjoyable.

Today I begin a Bible study. I have no idea who will come or how many there will be, but it's a start. Tonight we impose ashes on foreheads with the ancient words, "remember that you are dust, and to dust you will return." Another year marked, another cross drawn in remnant ash to bring us back to the humble reality that the poles of life define the opportunity that exists between them.

It looks to be a beautiful day. Thanks be to God.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

learning from humpty dumpty

There are lots of things they don't teach you in seminary. The bases that are covered are primarily academic, with some preaching thrown in (not enough, considering that this is the primary place of impact for many in a congregation), and a handful of courses in the area known as "the practice of ministry." The latter is insufficient.

Blame the pesky shower again this morning, but I got to reflecting on a situation which led me back to some of the inadequacy of our preparation to lead congregations. For instance, we had a single session, led by a priest visiting from another time zone, on conflict. This is quite laughable when you consider the amount of time and energy that conflict consumes in the life and times of a cleric. As a result of an ill-equipped conflict resolution toolbox we end up fending for ourselves and learning on our own, often from our mistakes. This generally means that conflict isn't handled well, if at all. On most days human beings are conflict-averse, and all sorts of other interesting behaviors emerge as a result.

One of the things I remember from our afternoon seminary session had to do with stages of conflict, and how, if you've reached stage four (the Final Stage), you have passed the point of no return. Like humpty dumpty after his tumble from the wall. Those pieces just aren't going to be reassembled.

All of which is to say that there are times when we simply lack the training, experience or innate skills to know best how to approach a situation when it arises. I'm not afraid to ask for help when I find myself in those shoes. I'd much rather appear uninformed and inexperienced than allow a a situation to escalate or deteriorate into what the military describes so colorfully as a SNAFU: situation normal all fouled up (or in similar manner, to borrow additionally from Ken's lexicon: FUBAR: fouled up beyond all recognition). And yet, even with training, natural gifts and the availability of wise counsel, we are dealing with human beings who, like us, are flawed and broken and wanting desperately to find wholeness in the midst of life's messes.

And that brings me to the little graphic above, if you're still with me. Brokenness is inescapably connected to healing. To draw from the humpty dumpty image, we may experience anything from puncture wounds to complete shattering. No matter the extent of our wounding, we yearn for restoration.

Whether we were complicit in losing our balance and falling from the ledge or we were pushed, the end result is the same. The faith of the Church is that God raised from the dead one who was beyond repair, and in that raising made life new again. Jesus still had his wounds and he didn't forget the life left behind. He was changed (we use the word transformed), made new in a way that reflected the power of life over death. We can choose to attach ourself to that power, to seek new life and, in time and with healing, overcome the pain and sting from the death-grip of our wounds. When we make that choice we stake a claim in Life, and from that follows the grace that leads to healing, and from there to wholeness.

Monday, February 23, 2009

dashing through the morning

Busy day yesterday, and too late an evening watching the oscars. No surprises except that there really weren't any disasters in the fashion department! Our favorite was Penelope Cruz.

Had a good and productive vestry meeting yesterday; in adult forum we talked about Lent and how we could help ourselves make the most of the season spiritually (wish I had the time to write some reflection on that--maybe later. hmmm, might make a good article for the newsletter, which I need to do in the next couple of days); had a good crowd at worship, including a visiting young family with two little ones. I even remember their names this morning! In the afternoon I watched some golf while waiting for the usual nap to set in (I'm anticipating Tiger's return), and then it was time for the red carpet.

Today Yolande and I are shopping for mardi gras decorations for tomorrow's party at church. No more boring pancakes for us! Now to figure out some games and activities to turn this into a real bash! I've also got to prepare for a new Bible Study program we're starting on Wednesday, so my work is cut out for me in these next few days!

Off to catch my breath and be on my way!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

mid-winter muse

This poem was posted on one of the revgals blogs (sorry I can't remember which one!), and touches on, for me, some of the inner meanderings of the soul at this season. It could just be me, but the fact that Lent is right around the corner might have something to do with it!

God of all creation,
of bare forest and low northern skies,
of paths unknown and never to be taken,
of bramble, sparrow and damp, dark earth.
We thank you for loss,
for the breaking of the dimming year,
We thank you for light,
even in its seeming midwinter failing,
We thank you for life,
for its hope and resistance,
Like a seed dying and living.
—Rachel Mann

Saturday, February 21, 2009

beware the shower

I don’t sing in the shower. I suppose if singing spontaneously was in my nature (as I know it is for some) then I just might. Instead those few minutes in the morning are times of reflection. I enjoy the luxury of feeling the just-right heat of the water pouring over me, and as I savor the physical warmth my mind often floats to unsuspecting things.

A recent reflection was this. Several years ago I attended a series of lectures held annually at my divinity school. It was the tenth year since my graduation, so in a sense it was a reunion year, but I didn’t know many of the people in my class who had returned. Most of the lectures were fabulous, and I chose to attend a reception where I hoped to see some people I knew. Socializing in a group of people mostly unknown to me is not my favorite thing to do, but I thought it would be worth the discomfort.

One of the people I knew went through the ordination process with me. Betsy was a year or so ahead of me, both in the process and in school, but we overlapped enough that we had sufficient time to get to know each other. I credit her with my introduction to the phrase “holy leisure.”

Our conversation, however, didn’t go as I had thought it might. It was a difficult, challenging year for me professionally, and those same difficulties and challenges had a debilitating impact on me personally. Trusting Betsy, I shared my vulnerability with her. She was compassionate in her response, but she was also candid. She told me I should get some help.

Ouch. I was looking for a shoulder and she gave me truth. Actually, I was getting help, but my pain was deep and the road to healing would be long and exhausting, and I was just at the beginning of that journey. Inwardly I cringed at Betsy’s remark, and felt small. In my less than confident state I imagined that she was looking down at and judging me. I wanted to run the other way, and forever more avoid her.

For some unknown reason all of this came back to me in the shower. What also emerged with that memory was the awareness that Betsy was no longer an imagined demon, but an honest encounter at a bad time. “How had that happened?” I wondered. In the days following my conversation with Betsy any replaying of it left me feeling uncomfortable. But then life pushed me on, and I forgot about it. I can only conclude that somewhere in the intervening years I grew up. Along the way and through the healing that took place my wounds became places of exploration and discovery that doubled as balm for the pain.

Why do I share this? Over and over I encounter individuals that resist revisiting people and places associated with painful memories. It has been my experience that to touch back into a wound leads to the realization that the pain has receded, if not gone away, and that power comes from the discovery that we are more whole than we had presumed. I was reminded of that in the shower, and hope that in sharing this others may feel encouraged.

Friday, February 20, 2009

friday five: taking a break

A la revgalblogpals, how I would spend some "break" time (this assumes a few things, like dog care, a clean desk...):

1. a 15 minute break: playing sudoku
2. an afternoon off: making handmade cards
3. an unexpected free day: hit the road and travel local byways, eateries, and places of interest wtih my husband and camera in tow. 4. a week's vacation: The Grand Canyon. I've never been, and I've always wanted to stand at one of the lookouts and be totally awed by one of God's amazing works.

Either that or a week at the beach with my scrapping (as in scrapbooks) sisterhood.

5. a sabbatical: head to Scotland, my favorite place in the world, and the place where my spirit is most at home. I love the landscapes--from rolling lowlands to rugged highlands. I love the colors, the sheep, the people, the heather, the castles (ruined and otherwise), the history, the late light of summer. I would photograph, improve my watercolor abilities, read and write.

And you?

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Thanks, Mom, for forwarding this.

is it in or is it out?

The hybrid version of my car (color and all), which essentially looks the same. Mine is not a hybrid because hybrids have an automatic transmission. I'm a stick kind of girl. Just so you know.

Yesterday I began to grieve. GM announced that part of its plan for the future was to eliminate the Saturn line. I have been a proud and loyal Saturn customer for 15 years, have put over 315,000 miles on my three Saturn vehicles, and saw myself as a committed Saturnite for generations to come. Well, you know, as long as is feasible.

This morning I received an email from Saturn suggesting that they are not going to be out of business; that they were set up and continue to be an independent operation affilitated with GM; that the future, while uncertain, looks exciting, and they wanted to assure their customers of the company's ongoing viability.

I don't know what to believe, but I can tell you this. I have several years to start paying attention to other makes of cars. I just hope that mine doesn't think I'm cheating.

PS. Read Gail Collins today. I laughed out loud so many times...

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

a hosue of windsor?

Last night we made a visit to a parishioner who had a few things on his mind that he wanted to share about the church. Until macular degeneration did its damage he was a fabulous woodworker and craftsman. He and Ken got into the subject of making furniture, and by the time we left, we had our arms full of woodworking books.

One of them, in particular, was about the Windsor chair. (It's okay, I can hear you yawning from here.) This was like winning the lotto for Ken. There's a Windsor chair at Melrose that Ken loves, and now, with book in hand, he has become a talking encyclopaedia on the subject. Yes, by default, I am learning too, but I will spare you. It's just nice to see Ken's face light up and hear the enthusiasm in his voice as he talks about the chair.

Wishing for you light and enthusiasm today!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

who paints

There are some wonderful ways that I take after my mother. One of them is that we stay in touch with people from our past, and maintain those contacts through personal visits when possible, even if it's been years since our last face-to-face.

Case in point. In 1997 the General Convention of the Episcopal Church was held in Philadelphia. A college friend, Wendilee Heath, lived outside of Philly with her family. I don't think I had seen Wendilee since we graduated from college 18 years earlier. But we had stayed in touch, and when I made plans to spend a few days at GC that summer, we arranged for an overnight visit.

It was a wonderful time of reconnecting. That's the beauty of genuine friendship--there is substance that transcends time, space, and the life that fills the gaps between contact. It was from Wendilee during this visit that I was first exposed, in a concrete way, to homeopathic medicine and the many benefits of natural healing, natural-food eating and some of the nuances of wholistic health.

Subsequent to that visit in Philly Wendilee discovered that she had a talent for painting. She and her family also moved to Maine. She now paints full time in a variety of media, and does beautiful work, much of it inspired by the natural beauty that surrounds her home.

I confess my jealousy. I have long wanted to learn how to paint with watercolor, and an effort to do so several years ago was so disappointing (with the instruction) that I have not ventured into those waters again. An email from Wendilee this morning, and a visit to her web site may just be the lure that I need to try.

Visit her website. Enjoy the decisive, yet gentle strokes of her brush, and the eye that captures beauty. I'm eager to have some funds once again so that I can buy one of her pieces. Is there anything more stunning than birches in the fall?
Have a great, and colorful day.

Monday, February 16, 2009

A baby will be buried today. Prematurely born and incubator-nurtured, at four weeks of age a mistake by a nurse cost him his life. He is the grandson of one of my PC hosts, who is also a friend of my friend Yolande.

Ken and I went to the visiting hours yesterday, and while there, Yolande and I went to see the baby where he was laid out. Yes, he was tiny and still undeveloped, yet even in death he had a presence. Yolande asked me to say a prayer, and I was able to get through some words until I got to the phrase, "bless you," and then that was all I could continue to say. Tears were streaming down my face for this child I had never known.

In my 15 years of ministry I have never buried a child or a young adult. I have buried friends and family, parishioners I had come to love, and extended family of my flock who were strangers to me. I guess those are simply the cards I have been dealt. I suspect the day will come.

Today I am thinking about a life that will not mature, and the grief of parents whose dreams are shattered and whose hearts strain with loss at every breath.

Sleep, baby, sleep. In peace may you slumber.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

i heart you

Sending love and cyber hugs to you all today. I can't tell you how much I appreciate the friends (and Mom, who is also my friend) who come here to visit. Most of you are far away, and I want you to know that it matters that you stop by to check in and read what's going on in my life--what I share about my day or what I think about one thing or another. Many of you are friends I met through the internet, and except for Clare and Mama Jayne, I have had the good fortune to meet you in person (and Clare will visit from New Zealand this fall!).

How amazing is it that Jayne, who I met on beliefnet, introduced me to Ken! That Jules, Pam and Janet came to my wedding. That Jules, Kip, Janet and I have spent weekends together in all sorts of places (Cleveland, Florida, on a cruise!) and that the tonic of our love and laughter sustain me in times when I am feeling neither. That I think of Moni every morning when I pour my coffee because I remember that she likes her coffee hot (every morning!). And then there's Gail, Maria, Karen and Kellee, Early Birds whose faces I can picture laughing. What joy you all bring to my life, and love that warms my heart.

Barbara, you and Jimmy are family to me, and I treasure your friendship more than you know. And Mom, there's too much to say about you, but I love you with all of my heart.

To my near and increasingly dear friends Yolande and Shannon, I am so glad to know you and call you friends. And I will clean out cupboards and kitchens with you any day!

I know that there are a few others out there, and not being mentioned doesn't mean you don't matter, because you do. That you take the time to check in is evidence of relationship, and I value all those who are part of my life.

Happy Valentine's Day, one and all. I heart you!

Friday, February 13, 2009

friday five

(Thanks to Revgalblogpals, a new daily read for me, for this week's blog inspiration. Look for Friday Five to appear regularly. Say, on Fridays!)

The foster puppies, Dooley, Brenna, Ema

Today's topic is memorable pets. Well, you know me, I'm a dog lover. Growing up we had a cat and my brother had gerbils, and though I love animals all around, dogs are close to my heart. The five most memorable:

I have to begin with Dooley. Dooley offered many firsts for me: my first rescue, my first mutt, my first small dog, my first snuggly dog... I lost him last March to heart disease, and my grief is still just a lump in my throat away. Dooley had more personality than most people, and was a bit Jekyl and Hyde: happy, fun and loving, and grumpy/snarly. Junior called him Mr. Grumpy (affectionately, of course). My pictures of him mostly show a sedate Dooley, but that's because when he was happy and playful he was simply in so much motion that you couldn't get a picture fast enough. Though I regret that, I carry happy images of him in my memory, even on his last day. Among all of my dogs, his loss has been the most difficult.

Brenna, Beloved Border Collie. I picked her up on the sheep farm where she was born in midstate New York (her picture is from that day). True to her breed she was smart and energetic. She was also a lover. She loved to burrow her face close to you, whether that meant your lap, your neck, or your feet. She was a happy dog and a wonderful companion. She would chase after anything that you threw, and wouldn't hesitate to bring you a stick from the yard to let you know it was time to play. One day she was so enthusiastic about chasing after sticks that she picked one up in her mouth only to have it move. Turned out it was a grown black snake. After that I began to work on my snake phobia. Brenna hated thunderstorms, and would often climb into the bathtub for refuge if I wasn't home. If I was home she would attempt a bodily merge. She died while I was on vacation, supposedly from a brain tumor, but I'm beginning to think that she got into something toxic, like chocolate.

I've included two sets of pups in this list. One is the five puppies I fostered this past Christmas. They were half of a litter orphaned at two weeks of age. I have a wide maternal streak that never got exercised with children of my own, so caring for and nurturing these pups meant a lot to me. They are now in new homes, and I saying goodbye to them was tearful, but happy. The gift of joy they gave me far outweighs what I gave them.

The other pup is Ema, Junior's chocolate lab, now 11 months old. Newly discharged from the army, Junior came home for a couple of months while he began shifting gears to civilian life. Ema came home shortly thereafter, and a couple of weeks later showed symptoms of parvo. While Junior took care of loose ends in Savannah, I tended Ema. She was part of my life and our family for six weeks, and caring for her through those tentative parvo days deepened the bond between Junior and me.

I can't isolate a fifth from my other pets. I had four Shelties. The first, Bonnie, was a gift at Christmas when I was ten. She had a litter of four pups, and was hit by a car three weeks before that Christmas while the pups were still at home. We kept one, Tammy. After Tammy came Avalon, and then Rory joined her. They each were special, precious and memorable (like Avalon barking at flies on the wall). Rory started a trend for me of having two dogs at one time, and I have had as many as three. If we had enough space here at home I would have a kennel full of rescues and fosters.

Thanks for the visit down pet-memory lane, revgals!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

keeping upright

Life feels like this picture at the moment, though as with most metaphors, it has its limits. I'm attempting to navigate the vessel of my life through uncertain winds and through choppy waters. As of this moment (in the picture), I'm maintaining equilibrium. Conditions are favorable, but challenging. The scenery is fabulous. I'm outfitted appropriately against the elements. My wits, my attention, my experience, my willingness to be aboard and providence are what keep me upright. It's tiring. And conditions can change at any moment (favorably or otherwise!)

We are facing many challenges at home. The combination of last year's misfortunes (my loss of income, the economy, a client of Ken's who didn't pay a significant bill) leave us scrambling now. We are not ahead of the game, and the options available to us are disheartening. Ken says he's tired of fighting against the odds to keep his business functioning. I'm juggling making payments on bills. Somewhere in an online article I was reading about how to improve your credit rating. It suggested cutting back on luxuries and making bigger payments toward credit card debt. I laughed. Luxuries? There is no discretionary income. We haven't seen luxury in I don't know how long.

There are people better off than us, and certainly, these days, there are people far worse off. On the continuum of struggle, I venture we're about in the middle. It is what it is and we are where we are.
From my perspective we hold on, we pray, and we work toward and anticipate a shift in our favor. But Ken is discouraged, weary and does not appear to see the possibility for hope that I feel in my heart.

So I ask your prayers.
For all who suffer in this economy.
For favor to fall on Ken's business.
For Ken's spirits.
For strength, patience and wisdom for me as I keep him company during these "for poorer" and "for worse" days.
For prosperity for our nation.

I'd really like to sail in the kind of circumstances that allow me to revel in the experience. I pray that day comes sooner than later.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

words of my father

There was a citizenship quiz posted on AOL, and, a bit cautiously, I decided to take it. Out of thirty questions, I missed one (the age minimum for a candidate for president--I confess I'm not cursing myself for not knowing that fact). I guess that means I am worthy of citizenship.

One of the questions, the age at which one is entitled to vote, reminded me of a conversation long ago that I had with my father. At issue in public debate was the matter of lowering the voting age from 21 to 18. Dad was in favor, and I remember his singular reason: "If they're old enough to be sent to war, they're old enough to vote." Made sense to me.

Recalling those words got me thinking about the wisdom of my parents (by my own perception) that I have captured somewhere in my memory. I say "somewhere" because I don't appear to be able to access that information on demand. A subject, like the questions on the citizenship quiz, will evoke a memory, but I could not otherwise have recalled that little snippet outright.

I'm thinking that when these moments of memory pop up I ought to start writing them down and collect them somewhere. Reviewing such a collection would offer an interesting perspective of the impact my parents' values and opinions had on shaping my own beliefs. It would, of course, be an incomplete picture because it would be an incomplete list. Still, it would be something. As my father ages and becomes increasingly frail (he will be 85 this week), the desire to make tangible those pieces of influence becomes important.

Time for a little reflection. Time for a daughter to honor her roots.

Monday, February 09, 2009

listen up!

Is anybody there? Does anybody care? Does anybody see what I see?
John Adams, 1776 (the musical)

I mentioned back in the fall that I had taken to reading editorials pretty regularly, a practice I have continued. Although I think Maureen Dowd must be on a detox diet of some kind (the toxins are showing up in her writing), I often wonder if the persons or groups to whom some editorials are directed ever pay attention to them.

Not surprisingly, many pieces of late have been on the economy and the stimulus bill. Others tackle the environment, education, health care, the middle east, and sometimes we get a break from political issues for more reflective looks at issues with softer edges.

It's a safe bet that the White House press office is reading all manner of papers (and editorials), but I hope that there are senior staff members, if not the president himself, that do the same. I say this because I find that there are a lot of good, thoughtful ideas generated from a collection of columnists that think proactively (as opposed to some of the rabid reactive columnists), and I live in hope that some of these thoughts and ideas stand a chance of being heard at the top level. Too much is at stake not to pay attention.

It was this editorial in today's Times that got me thinking about this. Again.


And lest you think that my only pleasure found in the Times is cerebral, I share with you my favorite section of the times, the Metropolitan Diary (which, sadly, only appears on Monday). It offers a very human and often humorous view of New York. Read the whole thing. I am still laughing about the last entry.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

i love facebook!

I can't remember when my friend Sue first sent me an invitation to join facebook. Months ago. I resisted. One more online site that I just couldn't keep up with. Then a second friend invited me to join and I thought, "why not?"

Why not, indeed? I have reconnected with several college classmates with whom I had lost touch, and one of my roommates from div school days. I am particularly excited to have found Jyothi (pronounced Joe-tee, accent on the second syllable), who got her masters in international studies. And thanks to facebook I now know she is living in Dublin and today heads to Warsaw. I am just tickled.

It is an amazingly fun and easy way to be "caught up," as well as learn little things simply by what people post in their status bar. To use a retro phrase, it's cool!

I now visit facebook multiple times a day just to get a smile and think about people who have been part of my life and that I still care about. And you never know, this might get a bunch of us to our 30th college reunion this fall.
Anne is heading to the shower...

Saturday, February 07, 2009

favorite things

I missed yesterday's Revgalblogpals post, which was to list five of your favorite things, so I am using it today for this post. I have to say that limiting a "favorites" list to five is an exercise in cruelty! I have a lot of favorite things, but I stuck to five. These are not necessarily my top five, nor are they in any order other than as I encountered these pictures in Picasa. But my five, today, are these:

1) Dogs (that's Flora, of foster puppyhood). I think you probably already knew that.

2) My Sisterhood. There are really two sets of sisterhood. One is the Cabana Crew, a group of scrappers who know each other and with whom group get-togethers are planned. The other is comprised of what I call my "far flung" friends, who live at a distance and who are tonics to my soul. The latter are pictured here: Barbara, in Augusta; Jayne, in north GA; Carrie (and Katie) in St. Louis; and Judy, in CT. There are some others who fit this category who aren't pictured here.

3) Sheep. Thank you, Jules and Mom, for keeping me supplied.

4) Laughter.


5) Solitary pleasures like crossword puzzles and sudoku.

There are many people that ought to be included here, but I intentionally avoided going that route so as not to hurt any feelings. I know how sensitive I am about perceiving exclusion. Besides, this is supposed to be a small list!

Today I am doing a couple of other favorite things: meeting with Epiphany's women (see earlier post: they rock!) and a Pampered Chef party. I am also doing some prep for tomorrow--a sort of "primer" on the bible for adult education, and of course, the sermon. There are so many goodies in tomorrow's lessons, and I am hardpressed to choose just one.

Blessings on your day!

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Friday, February 06, 2009

back in the saddle

I've had my nose to the grindstone the last few days working on the church's newsletter. It's the first since my return, and although it was hard to get it started, "once begun is half done," as the saying goes. Still, it is time consuming, especially the clip art! But fun, too. What is different this time around is that I can now create a pdf and email the newsletter out to parishioners. Like today. No printing, folding, addressing, stamping, putting in the mail. I will still have to create a few hard copies the old-fashioned way because there are folks without computers and email, but OMG, the savings in time and money is fabulous. Three cheers for technology!

In the meantime I've been very annoyed with the press (and the public) for raking virtually everyone over the coals for as much as sneezing without permission. Obama, Michael Phelps, you name it, no one is safe. And the Republicans are chastising democrats en masse on the whole tax thing. I'd be willing to bet that more than a few 'pubs have placed calls to accountants to address those "look the other way" incidents on their own records. Just consider the law of averages, people. I imagine Jon Stewart is taking notes with glee.

So that's my ramble. Dull days here in the cedar city. Busy, but dull. Here's hoping that life is more interesting in your corner of the world!

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

above the fold (well, sort of!)

Last week I received a phone call from a writer for our local paper. He wanted to know what sort of reaction the church had to some events happening in the larger church, specifically the defection of two dioceses from The Episcopal Church (our national body). Were we talking about it, and what were we saying?

I told him frankly that we weren’t talking about it because we were busy focusing on mission and ministry. I could tell by his silence that he was a little confused. I went on to explain to him the events of the last several years for Epiphany so that he would have a context for understanding why we weren’t focused on national issues of controversy. I could hear him scribbling at the other end of the phone, and exercised caution with my choice of words. I had not answered the phone with any expectation that a conversation would ensue with a journalist, or that it would end up in print. But it did!

The next morning I had an email from a friend saying she hadn’t had a chance to read the article yet, but congratulations! I emailed back, “what article?” She, in turn, replied, “the one in the paper.” Okay, well, duh. I subsequently learned that my chat with the journalist had, in fact, become an article in our local paper.

The article contained a slew of factual errors, and though the quotes from me were “accurate,” they’d been edited and didn't reflect the content or context in a way that made any sense. I hate when that happens. No one else noticed, of course, and those with whom I talked later thought it was a great article and wonderful exposure for Epiphany. We’ll take it!

Now to get back to the business of growing the church. Can't count on the newspaper to do it all for us!

Monday, February 02, 2009

for better or worse

(I just need to point out that this image of a woman preaching was the only one tucked into 100's of others showing men, or graphics related to preaching. Are we surprised?)

Since the time I started blogging I had seen references to another blog, for women in or discerning a religious vocation. Revgalblogpals is a home for mostly clergy women representing various traditions and situated in locales around the globe. If memory serves (ha!) I visited there a while ago and felt oddly intimidated by what I read.

A recent reference to the site from another blog I read daily, Elizabeth Kaeton's Telling Secrets, sent me back there last week, and I have become a daily visitor. I think that, at the time I first visited, I was feeling disengaged from the Church, and the topics under discussion simply didn't interest me. Life is different now, my faith is revitalizing, and I have a tentative yearning to jump back in.

There are some staple features at revgal, which include matters related to preaching. On Tuesdays, the lessons for the following Sunday are introduced and some preliminary thoughts are shared. Last week, prompted by the opportunity to read what others were thinking about, I began my own reflections in anticipation of preaching yesterday. On Saturdays the blog is an online coffee klatch of preachers who are writing, stuck, procrastinating, or have completed their sermon preparation for the next day. In other words, there is lots of exchange and more ideas get shared than you can shake a stick at.

Consequently I was better prepared to preach yesterday than usual. This proved to be dangerous. I preach extemporaneously, and I fear that there were so many nuggets tucked into the text of the gospel that I wandered all over that holy land in an effort to share them. My preaching was richer on the one hand, less accessible on the other, at least by my take.

Now as we enter a new week with new lessons on the horizon I feel challenged to make better use of this new tool available to me. It is a wonderful gift, but I will need to discipline myself with how to use it. This abundance of riches can inform me without overhwelming me. In my enthusiasm for sharing the wealth I will need to remember that one message suffices for the week.

I also need to overcome the notion of feeling insignificant in the presence of a lot of other women who share this vocational journey. I have a lifelong issue about feeling invisible that gets its dander up when I am present somewhere and go unrecognized. My friend Jayne, who I met on a message board where I suffered from this self-inflicted malady, knows too well how this plagues me since I often lament these situations to her (here we go again, Jayne!). I will endeavor not to take this personally, because it is not personal and I know that. Still, old wounds and all...

A new week, a new thought, and so many options to explore. I'm a lucky girl.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

What, no takers on seismicity? I'm disappointed...

Friday morning I went to the kennel to bid farewell to the puppies. Oh my, how they've grown! The two that I got to know best when they were here were Flora and Wee One (or Little Bit, as Junior called her). Flora has become a cuddler, and Wee One is still small and tucks into a hold easily. They are all still just the most precious things. I wished them all a good life in their new homes, and I truly had to tear myself away, fighting tears when I got into the car and headed home. It's amazing how a couple of weeks with those puppies have touched my heart.

Yesterday we had a Pampered Chef kitchen shower for the church. Let me just say that we have an awesome group of women at Epiphany. I was running very late, and they didn't hesitate to jump in and help prepare the food. I was beating myself up for not being better prepared, and they were entirely forgiving and just settled into talking about the products and what the church needed. I just love these women. I wish I had taken my camera and had a picture of them (I may just try to coordinate that today). They had also collected orders from others and we ended up with close to a $1500 show, and $415 worth of free products. You rock, ladies!

Today the sun is shining and the sky is blue. It's supposed to be "unseasonably warm" today, and Ken is going to seize the temperatures this afternoon and get some work done on a job that has been waiting for a day like this. I will, no doubt, be taking my usual Sunday afternoon nap, but I will try to stay away and get some things done around here. The week ahead looks to be busy and there won't be much time to tend to domestic necessities.

Have a wonderful day.


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