Saturday, February 28, 2009
Friday, February 27, 2009
Here are some decisions that changed my life.
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
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.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
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
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.
Monday, February 23, 2009
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Saturday, February 21, 2009
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
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.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
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
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
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.
Monday, February 16, 2009
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Friday, February 13, 2009
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
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Monday, February 09, 2009
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
Saturday, February 07, 2009
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.
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!
Friday, February 06, 2009
Tuesday, February 03, 2009
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
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.
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.