Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Monday, March 30, 2009
I had determined that, much as there might be samples I would like to keep among the piles still resident in my car, it was time to part with the lot. The morning of our departure for our getaway I planned to do just that. But maybe before driving over to the senior center in town to drop them off I could take a quick pass at some of the more accessible samples to see if there were one or two that simply had to remain in my posession.
Rigel couldn't resist helping. With the back door open for access to the samples and space to sort through them, he wormed his way past me and insisted on inspecting the contents. I yielded. There are days when it's easier to turn his antics into photo opportunities than to battle his strength or his determination to be in the middle of whatever activity is taking place. So fetch the camera I did.
And yes, the fabric is now gone. I still have plenty to work with tucked back in the guest room. Now I simply have to determine what I will do with it.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
One of my favorite things about time with my grandmother was at bed time. She would "tickle" our backs as she tucked us in, reciting verses from Milne as she did so.
"They're changing guard at Buckingham Palace.
Christopher Robin went down with Alice..."
"James, James, Morrison, Morrison, Weatherbee George DuPree,
took great care of his mother, though he was only three..."
One of the things I miss about not having little ones to tuck into bed is repeating that ritual. But I can recite verses to myself and think of Pooh when the wind sweeps with gusto through the branches of the trees. I can remember with joy a grandmother who shaped me in more ways than she perhaps realized, and hope that somehow my life honors her. Perhaps the wind is one of the ways she checks in.
Here's to you, Boppy. You are loved and missed.
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Ouch is an understatement. There are no words that describe adequately the hurt impaled on our hearts.
I want to say, "remember that commandment? the one about honoring your father and mother? How does this honor your father?"
I want to say, "how does excluding your father from your life model a loving Christian heart to your children?"
I want to say, "was it your intent to be cruel, or are you simply clueless?"
Somehow I will find a way to say, "I can't speak for your father, but I'm really hurt that you didn't call us to share your news. I want to feel excited and happy, but feeling wounded gets in the way of that. How can I encourage you to include us in your life? We are aching to know our grandson."
My prayers have not been enough. My patience has not been enough. My forgiveness has not been enough. And the wounds just keep on coming...
Friday, March 27, 2009
The Early Birds became my sisterhood, and over time I have met most of them in person. Several of them have become very good friends, and three of them came to my wedding. Around the time when the message board changed one of our Early Birds began blogging. Eventually most of us turned to blogs as a place to continue to share daily news and pictures of what was taking place in our lives. It was for that reason that I began my blog four years ago. It wasn’t until recently that I began to expand my blog horizons, venturing out to read regularly the blogs of people I didn’t know. Blogging is still, for me, primarily about relationship, and it takes time for this introvert to experience a sense of that through this medium.
Through another online community, the Anglican/Episcopal message board at Beliefnet, I met my friend Jayne. Turns out she didn’t live all that far from me, and through her I met my husband. She also began blogging, and she is my first daily read every morning at Journey Through Grace.
I share all this a bit self-consciously, as so many others have logged more mouse-clicks and keystrokes than I probably ever will. With a couple of exceptions, sharing my blog-roll really is sharing my friends.
I DO want to say here how grateful I am to the revgals community for being a place for me to invest a part of myself, and in which I find nourishment as a priest/pastor, woman, and soul with a motley collection of longings. As soon as my economic situation permits, I will join you properly!
As for my blog roll:
Journey Through Grace, noted above. In addition to being a cherished friend, Jayne is also my source of getting linked up with other blogs! Like:
Telling Secrets, sister priest from New Jersey Elizabeth Kaeton’s blog. There are lots of reasons I read Telling Secrets—humor, the latest “news from the front” of the Episcopal Church, artwork and cartoons, insight… the list goes on. And from this blog I learned about:
Margaret and Helen, BFF’s for more than 60 years. What a riot! Helen writes most of the posts, and she doesn’t hold back with her left-leaning views on everything from Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh to family holiday celebrations. There are days I laugh so hard reading this blog that I need to leave the room for Kleenex.
Posting from Paradise. This is the blog of one of my Early Bird friends, Jules. She is a retired school teacher from the St. Louis area who relocated to Florida with her husband several years ago. Jules is among the best evidence that 60 is the new 40—full of energy, creativity, and a breath away from the next good laugh.
Search the Sea and Desert Year, both posted by one of the revgals. It’s hard to find words to describe how I am affected by these blogs. They are so very personal I sometimes feel that I am prying by reading them. She reveals a heart both strong and fragile, and I just want to reach out and hold her. Gannet Girl, if you read this know that my prayers and support are offered on your behalf daily.
There you have it. A slice of my blog life.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
We're back in the real world after our anniversary getaway, which was lovely. Once again the Buckhorn delighted us with fabulous food, excellent service, stellar accommodations and its beautiful grounds and stunning view. The swans were nesting, so we didn't get to visit them, and we didn't manage to get to any of the artisan shops. But that's one of the great things about a place to which you return--there's always the next time!
We had fabulous weather on Tuesday, our only full day, and spent most of it at Cades Cove, part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is an amazing piece of land nestled in a flat, broad, high-elevation valley in the Smokies, settled in the 1820's and bought by the Park system in the 1930's. The park includes historic buildings, an old mill that still functions, churches and lots of wildlife (the biggest wild turkeys I have ever seen!). It's not a place upon which you just happen, situated 25 miles from Gatlinburg via a two-lane road that winds through the crevices of the mountains along clear mountain streams. I had no idea when I mentioned to Ken that I would like to go that it would involve the better part of a day, but it was a wonderful discovery of a peaceful and plentiful habitat. I will gladly return in greener (or autumnal) times with camera and tripod in hand!
We returned through rain yesterday in time for our Lenten program at church. We had a disappointing turnout, three women who I dubbed the "faithful few," but our program time was blessed with some wonderful sharing that probably would not have taken place with a much larger group. I would even venture to say that our sharing included the seeds of transformation, and this morning I am thanking God for the fullness and grace of our time together. It was rich.
Today the rain continues, but the blooms of spring seem to glow through the gray, and the grass and trees are greening. I love this time of year! There are mundane details on today's "to do," like renewing my car registration, and picking up some paint for the church. Tonight I have GOT to make PC calls--I have no shows booked for April, and that is unacceptable. Anyone want to do a catalog party? Let me know and I'll pop some into the mail along with info about how to maximize your sales! The host special is bamboo!!
Enjoy your day!
Monday, March 23, 2009
The timing of this celebration is ripe. Ken hasn't had a day off in three weeks, and I finally have a couple of books in which I'd like to immerse myself. Ah....
Happy Anniversary! Happy Spring!
Sunday, March 22, 2009
Saturday, March 21, 2009
May your day be one to savor, too.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
(I posted this yesterday, but have kicked it up a notch with some photos)
A friend posted an entry on facebook encouraging those battling the bulge (and other dietary issues) to participate in "spring training." No, not baseball, but the timely stepping up of trading bad habits for good ones in the world of--sigh--diet and exercise. The spirit is willing, truly it is, but this flesh is so weak! Even so...
I find hope in the fact that I voluntarily got out of the house the other day to walk through the neighborhood and enjoy fabulous weather...
hope in looking forward to the spiritual renewal that writhes through Holy Week and surprises us on Easter...
hope in the signs of renewal within me made manifest by making decisions rather than simply weighing options. If hope persists in such wonderful ways then surely I can manage to cut my portions and increase my exercise. It isn't so hard. It isn't. It's one minute, one hour, one day at a time. It's about choosing life and hope. It's about living into the best life has to offer. It's about joining the renewal of spring.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Thirteen of us gathered at O'Charley's to drink things green and make merry. We began with a non-redemptive appetizer of loaded curly chips (that globby looking mess in the picture) and a round of green drinks. We also berated the staff for not taking shameless advantage of the holiday. There were no decorations (even in the bar), no green adornments on the uniforms with the exception of a few beads leftover from Mardi Gras, and no Irish specials on the menu. The only tip of the hat was the green drinks. We were appalled. Each member of our party, upon arrival and the discovery of this crime, said to the waitress, "What do you mean there aren't any specials for St. Patrick's Day? This is O'Charley's! You know--'O' Charley's!" And the poor woman would shrug and make a "don't shoot me!" expression.
In the end the evening was saved by having a good time in spite of the poor promotional lack-of-thinking on the part of the restaurant, and the very good care of us provided by the waitress. We also enjoyed the novelty of the beer tube, holding 100 ounces of said beverage, and Ken managed to get some green on his salmon in the way of peppers (see photo).
A toast to Patrick, long may he reign over celebrations like these!
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
I have just a wee drop o' the Irish in me blood--near as I can make out, 1/128th! But then there's that part of the family tree where an adoption slips in. (A great-great-grandmother, I believe. She and her brother appear to have been orphaned, and I think her birth name was Hannon. That could be Irish! The void of her past on the ancestral chart looks like a gash amidst all the data from the other branches of the tree. But I digress.) So I may be a bit more Irish than presumed. Never fear, the Scottish part of me dominates.
In fact, I've never really had a hankering to visit Ireland, beautiful as it is, though I must admit that while searching for the above photo I came across a web site for lodging that has me thinking otherwise. Check out Delphi House. The accommodation itself doesn't rank up there with the most alluring, but the scenery does. Maybe that's because it looks so much like Scotland! But I suspect that the fishing would appeal to Ken, and you've got to love a place where the dogs aren't kept out of sight. Well, if you're a dog-lover that has great appeal.
Time to step up paying off the bills so we can travel!
In the meantime may God give you...
For every storm, a rainbow,
For every tear, a smile,
For every care, a promise,
And a blessing in each trial.
For every problem life sends,
A faithful friend to share,
For every sigh, a sweet song,
And an answer for each prayer.
Monday, March 16, 2009
I wonder why it is that I am unable to exert self-discipline, and I am unclear about how motivation factors into the equation. For instance, I am strongly motivated to sell a lot of Pampered Chef for at least three reasons: income (needed badly), the achievement of a particular goal (earn a free trip to Disneyworld), and the satisfaction of doing well. And yet, I just can't get myself to the phone to make calls to schedule shows. There's a discomfort in making those calls, even though I know in my head that there shouldn't be. Some old experience or perception seems to loom so large that motivation shrinks in its presence. I can sometimes manage bursts of discipline when energy and attitude align, but such moments don't last.
The coach of a basketball team that lost a tournament round by a game-ending-buzzer basket commented that her team lost because they hadn't wanted the win badly enough. Bugger-all, what an insult to the team. In any game there will be a winner and at least one loser. There ARE times when a team or an individual doesn't give their all in their performance, and in such cases the loss can't be mourned. Giving our all doesn't guarantee results, and motivation (or the lack thereof) is not necessarily the culpit. I'm not suggesting that I am giving my all (I know I'm not)--just raising the question about how the two are connected.
Am I looking at this the wrong way? My friend Kathy always talked about "completing the transaction," a practice she internalized through her father's mantra. It worked for her, she completed tasks. But as many times as I heard her say it, and even as I hear her voice in my head, the phrase and her example aren't sufficient to affect my behavior. Perhaps she had the discipline gene, and mine is somehow impaired.
What do you think? This inquiring mind wants to know.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Often on Sunday mornings I'm scrambling to stay still. Check out the headlines, view emails, visit blogs, read the editorials at the Times, and somewhere in that mix get ready for church. Sunday mornings generally don't allow the kind of thoughtful time to write anything useful here. But thanks to facebook I am aware of what is on my mind. The real question is, who cares? Nonetheless...
This is not my desk, though truth be told, it could be. Like rabbits, the clutter multiplies and begins to take over. It seems that at least once a month I do a full-force intervention by clearing everything out of the room to sort through the chaos and attempt to bring order by purging, putting away or setting aside for action.
A very large problem is that there isn't much space to put things away, and so a neat, deliberate pile is placed somewhere out of the way. Another very real problem is that life is full of what I call "minutiae varietals:" things like church business, Pampered Chef, bills and other items all compete for attention and space "within reach" of where I sit at the computer, a vital nerve center of my life. I used to be an organized person. Really, I was.
Back in the days of corporate life no matter how obscured my desk became in the course of the work day I left a tidy desk before heading home. Papers were put back in folders, computer printouts were stacked in a neat pile, and project notebooks were closed and returned to their slot in the cabinet above the desk. The inbox captured miscellaneous memos, notes for reference were tacked to the cubicle wall, and if a stray scrap with a phone number or short-term "to do" list had no place to go it sat out of the way next to the phone. There was plenty of room for a photo or two to add color and personalize the space. Simple. Expedient. Productive.
Maybe that's the answer. Divide the desk. Pampered Chef at one end, church at the other. Somewhere in the middle the essentials of "high finance" can claim prominence so that bill due dates don't get buried under the latest alumni newsletter or a request to update a professional profile. Maybe I will finally implement with regularity the daily, timer-regulated regimen of "the dreaded filing" that will remove a pile, singularly stacked as it is, from its present place of limbo. Maybe I can reclaim the inner organizer. Maybe.
What's on your mind today?
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Friday, March 13, 2009
1. Did you give up, or take on, anything special for Lent this year?
I have a deep yearning to engage my creative side, and on most days I deny that yearning, believing that my time and efforts will bear no fruit. For Lent, I chose to give up listening to the voice that convinces me of that falsehood.
2. Have you been able to stay with your original plans, or has life gotten in the way?
Bonus: Share a favorite scripture, prayer, poem, artwork, or musical selection that speaks Lenten spring to your heart.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
This is bliss.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Let me explain. These are decorator samples of fabric, the kind that hang in neat, color coordinated rows in upholstery and decorating shops. The fabric these samples represent have all been discontinued, so the samples were slated for the trash. "Not so fast!" or perhaps sentiments to that effect, were how they ended up with me through my friend Yolande. I never got to the sorting task on Sunday but began to tackle it yestesrday without the detriment of wind that plagued us the day before. But then, I forgot about the detriment of Rigel! With the back of the car open he just couldn't resist checking it out and doing his part to, ahem, help. You have to understand that one of his greatest joys is romping around the yard with something in his mouth. Even better if it doesn't belong to him, if you get my drift. Fortunately the swatch of fabric that he got was not one I was interested in keeping.
Monday, March 09, 2009
It began last night as I went to bed, with tears of grief for Dooley flowing from a place deep within me that in turn merged with older tears and mummified memories. I sought out Mary, my new best friend. As I tried to quiet my tears I turned to her, and she offered her lap for my weary head. I understood in an instant why she has such broad appeal as a source of comfort. She understands. She has faced hope, despair, anticipation, joy, sorrow, disappointment, loss and surprise. She knows the cost and promise of saying yes. She knows. She is the Eternal Mother.
Dreams poked at uncomfortable realities and shook loose enough layers of debris that my consciousness was cluttered with them when I woke. I lingered in the safe cocoon of bedding long enough to identify a single culprit of disquiet and turned it over and over, as though the action of doing so would polish the sting from its presence. Oddly enough this was the answer to a prayer. I recognized the signs of God's activity and asked what he was up to. He usually doesn't answer my questions directly, but this time it was a simple, clear message: he was assuring me of his love.
The prayer being answered is for transformation. I thought I had been healing from the collective wounds inflicted by the Church over the years, but in fact the scar tissue has built up like layers around my soul. They protected and numbed me, and clogged the arteries of my spirituality. I was shriveling up. Time for preemptive CPR.
It occured to me that the years' accummulated layers needed to be scraped off to free and breathe life back into what is buried within. And it struck me. How ironic that a week spent applying layers to what began as a blank slate should lead to the revelation that another set of layers holds the key to the next step in this journey. And there is more. So much more that awaits me.
As I keep company with Mary today and yield to the work of transformation I give thanks for the opportunities that break through barriers and point us to paths previously obscured by all manner of good and well-deliberated intentions. The grace of this day is that there is One wiser than I who knew it was time for me to be here.
Sunday, March 08, 2009
Saturday, March 07, 2009
fellow journeyers at the chapel of the cathedral following our closing eucharist
We did learn why an icon is referred to as written rather than painted. In Russian and Greek the word for both is the same; the Word of God is written in line and color; and the strokes of the iconographer are much like those of the caligrapher. Whatever it is called, the experience is mystical and transforming, and it is hard to find words adequate enough to describe it.
Friday, March 06, 2009
Though I am eager to finish my Icon and bring it home, I do not want this day to come to its inevitable conclusion when we all bid farewell and head our separate ways. I have so enjoyed this company of journeyers and have been reminded, yet again, of the pleasures and gifts that come in community.
More tomorrow. Right now I'm in a mad dash to get ready to head out the door. Blessings on your day...
Thursday, March 05, 2009
Each day we begin with Eucharist, followed by a time of sharing reflections and responses/reactions to the day before. It was interesting that essentially all of us ran into frustrations on the second day. The writing has a subtle intensity about it, and as we each sighed with relief with every piece of shared frustration the laughter in the circle grew. As one person related, the laughter served as therapy for her, who left a difficult situation at home that morning. The adult son of our teacher, Teresa, deployed yesterday to Afghanistan, so there are any number of us who carry burdens that are eased by the balm of this holy time of creation in creation. I wish there was more time to spend in conversation with each other because it is clear that some wonderful things would grow from this collection of journeyers.
Yesterday we also added a new element to the week's experience--the blessing of hands. After our time of sharing a single votive was lit and placed in the center of our circle, and the lights were shut off. We are in a basement room, so this was it for light! But gradually our eyes adjusted, and out of the darkness one of our members sang the chant from the opening of the Easter Vigil, "The Light of Christ," to which we responded, "Thanks be to God." The veriscle and response is sung three times, raised in pitch a bit each time, followed by a period of silence and then another repetition. We were bathed in the mystery of that powerful chant, the light overcoming darkness and the grace of silence penetrating our souls. At last the silence was broken with a prayer, and the lights came back on. From there I blessed a bowl of water that would be used to rinse each other's hands. We returned to our work following that exchange.
Mary and Jesus now have faces and hands that actually resemble faces and hands. It took the day to apply those layers carefully, and this morning I will need to return to Jesus' face for some remedial work. His small features don't take well to a brush not skillfully guided by my hands! I think today we will also apply the gold leaf, and our work will begin to resemble a finished product. I have plenty to do to tweak some areas that need attention in the meantime.
I am already feeling sad that this week is coming to a close, but there's no sense borrowing from future grief while I can still enjoy this present time. I wish you all could share this experience--it is extraordinary.
Wednesday, March 04, 2009
The image on the left is a completed version of the Icon we are writing. After two days, mine is on the right. There's a long way to go, but can you see how far we've already come? Ignore the bright red background, that will be covered by gold leaf, as will the blue halos. The backgrounds are painted so that in the event that any of the leaf comes off, there will be color beneath it, rather than the white canvas on which we began.
Yesterday's lesson had to do with the sublety of applying color, as well as learning the trick of mastering paint. I confess I didn't do so well on the mastering part. Blending color isn't the challenge, but thinning it sufficiently and having the right amount of paint loaded on the brush is where I am doing my own version of crash and burn. I've never really learned how to paint (except for the interior kind on houses--this is waaaayyyy different) and it shows. I also confess that I was a bit distracted by the need to take care of a personal errand. Tsk, tsk! Focus is key, as is prayer.
We begin each day reading a prayer together that is addressed to the apostle Luke, as well as to Mary and Jesus. Did you know that Luke was the first iconographer? He was both a physician and an artist (and Mom, I most certainly thought of Jara!). Well, heck, why doesn't the church make more of a deal about that latter part? Just think of the artistry that would be welcomed and celebrated if that little tidbit was embraced by the institution! That's a post for another time...
Anyway, I've never been a "Mary person" in my devotional life, but yesterday I found myself praying to her for guidance as I painted. Funny how this stuff works on you. It is truly a holy endeavor, and I am so incredibly grateful for the gift of this workshop. I can't wait to get there today and begin work on the next segment of this creation.
And here's another little Icon tidbit to leave with you before I dash to my breakfast and head out the door. What we think of as "perspective" in art, lines vanishing to a point in the distance, is reversed in iconography. The idea is for the perspective to point to the viewer, so that as you look through the pane of the icon to the divine, the divine is directed toward you. Is that cool, or what?
Have a great hump day.
Tuesday, March 03, 2009
from the first day: the Icon we are writing, The Virgin of the Passion; my work-table neighbor applying color; fresh daffodils from a fellow student's yard (a cup was on each table!); our instructor Teresa Harrison demonstrating brush strokes
~Writing an icon is not unlike paint-by-numbers: you begin by tracing a pattern of the Icon and you paint/write within the lines.
~You start with the dark colors and work toward the light (think theology here).
~When applying paint you want to strive for a flat look. There is intent behind the two-dimensional look, so that the Icon serves as a window (like a pane of glass) through which you look seeking the divine.
Two of our class are from the orthodox tradition (one is second generation Serbian), one is Roman Catholic, three are Presbyterian, the rest Episcopalian. One student came from Florida, two others from South Carolina. There are two men, the rest are women.
We worked in silence, which is an amazing thing when 17 people are gathered and about a task. The silence is not about concentration, but about holiness. It was rather extraordinary.
This is very much a spiritual endeavor. One begin's with a prayer, and making the sign of the cross. I found myself at various points during the day repeating what is called the trisagion: "Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy Immortal One," and I threw in a response, "Have mercy on me," (this is Lent, after all). There were times when I couldn't manage the paint brush, and times when the paint glided precisely where it needed to be. It is exciting and humbling to watch the Icon take shape, and to have a hand (be the hand) that brings the features of Mary and Jesus into focus--she holding her child, he holding her hand and looking to the angels.
Today I know only that our work moves from the broad strokes of base color to the finer lines of detail. I can't wait.
Monday, March 02, 2009
Sunday, March 01, 2009
I WANT REAL SNOW!
I'm a Yankee, after all. I have memories of sledding, buildilng snow forts, watching the dog leap from the shoveled driveway into the yard-covered snow and not being able to move because she was up to her chin in the stuff (that was really pretty funny, and she was a good sport about it all). I remember being in New Hampshire visiting friends during a snowfall and digging out the mailbox so that the door could be opened. When I was in college in Indiana country roads nearly became single lanes because there was no place left for the snow to be plowed but on top of the pile already created by the previous passes of the plow. You couldn't see over the piles that were created (which really made driving an adventure).
Is it too much to ask? I mean, really!