Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Tuesday. AGain!

So, it's Tuesday and I swung by the office to check in...although no one is really around, since the office is cold. Sorted some mail, made some calls, looking out at a windy but bright New England December day. Tomorrow we are supposed to get more snow...so I need to get that durn Wovel put together. I just don't have the right tools...I need a ratchet, which in my meager and sundry collection of tools, I do not happen to have.

I was hoping to make a couple of pastoral calls, but that looks like they will happen on Friday. That's o.k.

On NPR this morning, I was listening to an interview with Juno Diaz and he said this:
The work of the artist is to strive to undermine her/his previous work.

I find that so interesting, but I get it. You want to push, pull, stretch, engage even deeper with each artistic endeavor. I find this so true in clay...whether I am making the same thing over and over, I still want to tweak it, get into more, try something a little different.....

Just a random thought for the day.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

huh.

you know when you have a Sunday where you do pretty much everything right,
but it all felt flat?
yep.
that could sum up today for me.
the liminal space felt like a huge chasm.
yes, it was a low attendance Sunday, so some of the community energy wasn't there.
the best part was coffee hour, getting to chat with some people I don't usually get to connect with.
oh well.
this happens.
and in spite of me, it was still worship,
and God was with indeed with us. I know this, because God shows up, even when we don't feel God.
Amen.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

saturday procrastination.

yes. so I got up early to write my sermon, and now, a couple of hours later I realize that I haven't done a thing but catch up on my blogreading. well, maybe that is my prep for writing...
now I will head downstairs for another cup of tea, let the cat in, and get started. and finished. yes, I will finish before noon. yes, I will, yes I will, I will, I will....
because I promised these girls a long walk this afternoon, and they are WAITING....


Wiggy


Daisy


Venus las Vegas


Fenway

Friday, December 26, 2008

procrastination

I should really be writing my sermon.
but I am just putzing about.
That's about all I have to say!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

lefse--or norwegian burritos?

Lefse is a norwegian potato bread that sort of looks like a soft tortilla. You spread butter on it and brown sugar and roll it up and eat it. My mother has made this every christmas every year of my life and beyond--and she has probably eaten it every holiday season of her life. So, I thought it time for me to start learning. It requires all sorts of special baking items like a pastry board, lefse stick, lefse griddle, rolling pin with a stocking. I have never really been a pastry maker.

A good lefse is very thin, and round.

As you can see from the pictures, uhhhh, well, my first try wasn't exactly round or thin....



Lefse balls



Pastry board and rolling pin, without its little sock.



The griddle and lefse turning stick, ready for action!



Final six. Then the electrical element died. Now, what I am going to do with all those left over balls of dough?

christmas eve day!

this is one of my most favorite days of the year. growing up, my family would go to the drugstore to eat cheeseburgers and fries and cokes at noon. we are going to do this today--b and I--in harvard square. (veggie cheeseburger, for me though).

I got up early and went to the grocery, and got all kinds of stuff to make for tomorrow. I am even going to try Songbird's Crash Hot Potatos, since no one volunteered for mashed potatoes (which I can take or leave) but I feel certain will miss the good old potatoe if there aren't any. Don't you just love the name of them? "Crash Hot Potato"? It is fun to say out loud.

so, now I need to get on the stick and write my pastoral prayer (unless someone wants to share theirs) and the welcome for tonight, and practise my story a little more.

last night I tried to make lefse. I will write more about that later, but imagine my dissappointment when my brand new lefse grill (gift from dad, stepmom, and twin sister) had a bummer of an electrical element. I made about six, and then had to just quit--since the griddle quit itself.

prayers for beautiful and deep and surprising worship this evening for all congregations...everywhere.
amen.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

tuesday.

The snow is pretty today. It is still cold, but brilliant with sun. Hard to believe that all of this will melt (well most of it) in the next few days.

This is a funny thing about Boston. If people dig their cars out on the street, they are allowed to put cones or folding chairs to mark their "spot" while not parked in it, for at least 48 hours, sometimes more. It is your...reward, I guess, for doing all the work. So, when you drive around the streets, if you see cones in parking places, you better NOT move them and park your car there. It is grounds for getting slashed tires! Thank goodness we have a driveway!

Not much going on here at the office this morning. I am piddling, you could say. I need to write my sermon for Sunday...so I could get a start on that. If I can get it sketched out, I am going to reward myself with a manicure. ( I actually have a gift certificate with money remaining on it.) My new favorite color is OPI's "We'll Always Have Paris". I ought to tidy things up a bit, too.

I feel like I am in a good space. It feels a little empty, but that is good. Maybe I am making room in my inner inn to be ready for the wild blessing of Christ-mas.

Open me, even more.
Help me be receptive to where and how the journey unfolds...
in these moments, in this day, in this week...
Amen

Monday, December 22, 2008

monday morning wanderings


It is cold and windy here in Boston. (not as cold as North Dakota, though)
I spent the good part of the weekend, among other things, shoveling 15 inches of snow. Am really looking forward to getting my wovel...or a snowblower. There are no snowblowers to be had, though.

The Christmas Pageant yesterday was great. We even had a real baby Jesus who could not have been more precious! The only thing that wasn't covered is that there was no one assigned to put away costumes. Needless to say, there was a mess. I just stashed everything in the CE Resource room, and will ask those in charge of the Pageant to deal with it. Afterwards, we had a pizza party with decorating cookies and Yankee Exchange with the Youth.

When the holidays come, my grief in not having children is heightened. This year is no exception. It is always a source of suprise that I never have had a baby. B and I consciously decided not to, but still, there is that part of me that lingers in some regret. It's o.k., we talk about it, and B is always wonderful to listen to my grief without taking it personally. Or, if so, we talk about that. Anyway, I would have been a wonderful mom. I know that. Literally, all of my friends have families. I love their children. I love all the children and babies and young people I get to work with...and my adopted nieces and nephews...and my two nephews are precious to me. I just find it curious that the unfolding of my journey hasn't included being a mommy. Just mulling on that today. A little, anyway. sigh.

So. On another note, I spent some time in my studio this morning, and am headed back down there, shortly. I working with some terra cotta clay today, doing some experimentation with carving and glazes. As soon as I finish up some stuff, I will post the pictures. The photo above is scraffito through yellow slip on brown stoneware--the picture is taken before it had been bisqued.

Peace to you on this cold and windy winter day.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Friday Five Five Things Before Christmas edition


This is what I hope Santa will bring me for Christmas. It is a "wovel"

Songbird made Friday Five quite easy today.
Five things you need to get done before Christmas.

hmm. I was just thinking of the five things I need to do in the next hour! But let me think more expansively...

1. Order and pick up pasta dishes at Comella's for beloved's staff party she is hosting on Monday. Also, go to Trader Joe's and get easy appetizers, clean house, make dessert, decorate house, get stuff like wine, soda, teas, etc. You get it.

2. Learn the story I will tell on Christmas Eve.

3. Restock pantry for guests coming on Christmas Day (just two)

4. Enjoy the snow storm that is a'coming

5. I am sure there is more, but strangely, the bulletins are all finished for the 28th and the 4th of January, sermon titles/topic in the hopper, and frankly, I am not really stressed. At all.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

what? rick warren?

I have to say, I am dissapointed in Obama's choice for the invocation giver at the inauguration is Rick Warren, Saddleback Church in California. He is rabidly anti-gay. I think if the administration wanted to reach across the aisle, which I am totally for, I think a less radical evangelical would have been nice.
Actually,
I think what would have been wonderful for the Change agenda would have been to include a rabbi, priest, imam, and pastor...and some of them WOMEN.

hmm. my word verication is "phinc" which sounds like "fink"

spooky sighting!

so, we have had a feral kitten living in our basement for the past three months. long story on how she got there. we feed her everynight, and she eats all her food, drinks water, and uses the litter box.
however, we have never seen her since the first day we took her in, when she escaped from her kennel. I named her Spooky.
but finally, last night,
we were able to trap her.
I am so relieved she hasn't turned into a one-eyed ghosty light depraved monster. She just is scared, wild, and fierce.
And a cute calico kitty.

Not sure what we will do with her now.

I am just glad to see her.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Monday, December 15, 2008

Petsmart Howl-i-days


(photo from http://www.ohmidog.com/tag/santa-claus/, but could have been from Saturday, December 13, at PetSmart!)

so Saturday, Beloved and I volunteered for Kitty Connection by taking photos with Santa at PetSmart. This is a great gig for rescue groups--Petsmart pays for everything, you just have to supply volunteers and Santa to run the booth, which is the dogtraining area in PetSmart. For that, PetSmart charges the customer $10, in which they receive a digital photo in a cute (debatable) plastic frame that says Holiday 2008. $5 goes to the rescue organization. For small rescues, this is great--much better than having a yard sale.

Well, wow. People and pets and photo shoots--HILARIOUS! PICKY! WEIRD! FABULOUS!
Some people thought we were professional animal handlers or professional photographers. hah!

I was going to be Santa, but we were there a little late, so someone else suited up.
Beloved was the amazingly patient and cheerful photographer, sometimes taking 20 photos for people who thought their little doggie or kitty should be smiling, or posing perfectly. Only one couple decided they didn't like any of the pictures. Please. Just buy one for the spirit of giving!

Anyway, we were exhausted after five hours of doing this, but truly it was fun. I loved meeting all of the dogs and cats--animals are extremely forgiving of their nutty owners (including yours truly). They were patient as we called to them, cajoled them to sitting close to our somewhat glum Santa, happy when we fed them treats, and just generally wonderfully spirited as they wagged tails and stretched out for ear scritches and belly rubs.

I highly recommend the experience!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Over at RGBP,
Sophia writes:

This Friday Five is inspired by my husband's Lasik surgery yesterday....He'd been contemplating it for a while and was pushed over the edge by the fact that we put too much money in our healthcare spending account this year and it would have been gone anyway. (There was only enough for one eye, but the kind people at the eye clinic figured out a way to divvy up the charges between surgery and followup in January=next year's spending account). So please say a little prayer for his safe recovery and share with us your thoughts on eyes and vision.

1. What color are your beautiful eyes? Did you inherit them from or pass them on to anyone in your family?
My eyes are blue. Norwegian blue. Got'em from the family heritage.

2. What color eyes would you choose if you could change them?
Big dark brown eyes with little hazel flecks. (a girl can dream, right?)

3. Do you wear glasses or contacts? What kind? Like 'em or hate 'em?
I used to wear both. Contacts usually irritated my eyes, and I liked glasses, but had such coke-bottles that when I didn't have glasses on, I could see nothing. My first pair were in 4th grade. Now I wear reading glasses. But that is the bonus of being 45, right?


4. Ever had or contemplated laser surgery? Were you happy with the results?
Yes, yes, and yes. However, I have to say, I had to have it twice--a follow-up correction. The first time was cool, the second time I was a little nervous. But oh, oh, oh, how wonderful to SEE!!!!
5. Do you like to look people in the eye, or are you more eye-shy? Definitely look people in the eye. Eyes are the window to the soul, right?

Bonus question: Share a poem, song, or prayer that relates to eyes and seeing.

"No object is mysterious--the mystery is your eye" --Elizabeth Bowen

"I shut my eyes in order to see" --Paul Ganguin

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Tikky


hard to believe she is 11 years old.
hard to believe at just ounces over 5 pounds she can take on a doberman, if needed!
hard to believe that she is as sweet as she is saucy!

notes to self

*it's easy to feel blue when planning a blue christmas service.

*i like Mindy Smith's My Holiday CD

*sitting down to carve a very large ceramic platter covered in blue slip takes a lot more time and intention that I planned on.

*i LOVE carving pottery. it's about the third most popular thought in my head.

*it is rainy and cold. it is 2:27 pm. i am in my office. i forgot my bag so i don't have my list and books and stuff that i need.

*there is still plenty to do.

*why isn't there a naptime for adults? the preschool across the hall always has naptime. not fair.

*i am not feeling particularly inspired or motivated.

*advent/christmas makes me sad, thoughtful, hopeful, quiet.

*i wish we could be with my family of origin for just a couple of days. this christmas will be so hard on all of them, missing aric's joy.

* the titles of books on my desk are earthprayers, growing together, bread for the journey, the green bible, sacred journeys, in wisdom's path, guerillas of grace, imaging the word. isn't that a delicious combination?

*last year, a little girl in my congregation gave me a christmas card. it is on my bulletin board. it says, "pastor karla, i hope you are looking stunning. happy holidays! love, f." that must mean that sometimes i must look stunning. ;-) i hope in a good way.

*the sooner i finish my edits on sermons, the sooner i can go home.

*i am so glad i exercised already.

Monday, December 08, 2008

silent night.

this weekend was very full...christmas caroling on Saturday afternoon,then on to Sunday. Packed with the beginning of a new church school term, getting new teachers settled, worship, with advent candles, reception of new members, communion, then an adult forum afterwards,after that a youth holiday show at another nursing home, then back to church for a community crafts and carols event.
whew!
a lot of EXTROVERT energy pouring out from me. so today, I am a little left over, but in a full way.

what struck me, amidst many other things that were meaningful, was the singing of silent night in all of these venues.
first, in a small dark living room, with a housebound elder and her adult daughter who lives in a group home with other developmentally disabled adults...her daughter brought the aides and her friends from her home...and we sang a gajillion christmas carols...and when we got to silent night, it was so moving to witness the young family that was with the group of carolers....a couple with 4 children, 7years to 3 months...singing with wide eyes and rosy cheeks with this room of elders and other adults. Baby girl was sleeping, indeed, in heavenly peace...
and then,
at the next nursing home, with gangly teenagers, all self conscious and proud, singing with a large room of elders all in wheelchairs, and in various stages of chronic illness or aging...stumbling through three verses of silent night....where elders had tears in their eyes, and the teens, not really having a clue what an impact their presence was in that room...such a deep expression of what advent hope is...
and then, later in the day, singing silent night again, with 30 children and parents sitting in folding chairs, all trying to match the high key of the piano accompaniment, sweet high little voices, warbling in earnest...
ahh,
this is what glories streaming from heaven afar means.
gloriest stream, and heaven sings,
alleluia.
alleluia.
alleluia.

hope

yesterday,
in worship,
my colleague described Moltmann's idea of hope as a restless waiting.
indeed, this fits my heart these days...
Moltmann also describes hope as a "passion for the possible"...
and I can resonate with this.
so much more is possible...
and yet, the time isn't now...
it is a balanced pull between present in the restlessness, and still having passion for what is possible.
in this threshold, liminal place I am, I pray for gentleness and mercy and grace.
amen.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Thanks to Peace Bang for this....

PeaceBang has this on her website,and I just had to share it...
See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

dark at 4:30 and wandering....

The hardest adjustment I have had to make living in New England is the darkness of December. It's 4:30 pm and night has fallen all around me...and I still have meetings to go to, and if it is before 5:00 pm, shouldn't it at least stay light for rush hour traffic?
I want to curl up on the sofa and read a book, sip tea, and fall asleep.
Lucky my office only has a church pew from the 1800's and you know, people were smaller back then.
I know that for Advent, it is fitting for it to be so dark...we wait in darkness...we look for the light..we hope for the light...
we just hope...
sometimes just to endure the darkness.
Morning always comes.

I am very aware of the shroud of shadows today. I am restless...I am not feeling very challenged (NOT PRAYIN' FOR CHALLENGE, THOUGH. That's like praying for patience.) o.k.--I am not feeling creatively challenged right now...and that creates restlessness. I remember when I was a chaplain in an institution that was incredibly so much more conservative than me--not theologically (although many were)institutionally. Tradition above all else was to be kept, in spite of the fact that it held the institution back. Anyway, I felt like I had to fold up my wings and pin them inside my back...and because I didn't feel like I could fly sometimes, it really affected my groundedness. In fact, the balance was so off, I was simply stuck.

My wings now, are not necessarily folded up...I wouldn't say that at all. But I don't think I am flying creatively as much, either. Hence the shroud of shadows. I need a flight plan that will keep me rooted and free at the same time.

That's where I am wandering in the darkness today.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

smiles

This has been, in a word, a happy week.
When I am happy, rested, content,
I tend to smile a lot. Without really being conscious of it.
What has been fun this week,
is the surprise of returned smiles.
Seriously.
I have had so many people smile at me--returning my content expression...it has been so sweet.
and dear.
and lovely.

last day...

I am looking outside the window at a foggy, frosty, silvery grey misty blue ridge mountain morning.
Sipping coffee, watching the gas logs burn (pretending that they are crackling, real wood logs but grateful not to have to tend a fire), writing, my mind seriously wandering,
I am content.
This has been true rest this week. Soaked in the bones and heart and mind rest.
It has been pretty amazing...we have been completely satisfied with just spending every evening in, reading, watching old movies, unwinding in the hot tub.
Typically, on a trip here, we would go into hippy town almost everynight, to enjoy fabulous dinners and pubs at the wonderful diverse delectable restaurants...but this time, not so much. One night, sort of...but mostly, we have grazed on leftovers and little things from the store...yesterday was lunch out, but yesterday we shopped a little (ooooh, new setting for my ring, originally made by these artists and now they will re-make it into a more sturdy setting since I have a tendency to be a little hard on my rings...and ignore the price tag. The original was much, much less, and I had my own diamond, and the re-making is a tiny, tiny, fraction of that tag. Not that I need to justify, but well, it is a luxury, I know.)
Back to the point.
My body is loose, (except where I am sore from hiking and dancing in the yard)
My breath is deep and clear...
My mind, is rolling a few things around but for the most part, open and fresh...
and I know I say this all the time,
but I am so grateful.
For this moment.
For this amazing life I have.

Oh holy one,
on this day, this first day of advent,
knowing that we begin in shadows and flickers of light,
hopefully hoping against all hope but with deep hope because you give it...
the candle in my heart is glowing, firm, strong,
and today, this week,
help me to offer that light and warmth
to places that are cold...and on short fuses...
amen.

Friday, November 28, 2008

just today...

beloved and I are have rented a rustic cabin in the Western North Carolina mountains for a week. we have been here since last Monday afternoon. we have slept a lot, read, hiked, jogged, and ventured into hippy-town to do a little grocery shopping and sampling of local micro-brews. ;-)
in the past, when we have done this, we probably would venture into hippy-town almost everyday. but this time...not so much. which is mildly ironic, since the cabins we have had in the past have been less rustic than the current one....
anyway.
we have hiked my favorite all time hike,
we jogged on a river trail that brings back so many memories--but that is a separate entry...
I cooked thanksgiving dinner--abeit with a little help from expensive grocery boutique store...
and we have watched both nights of the finals of Dancing With the Stars, as well as football, Saturday Night Fever (yes, with John T.) and another movie with no point...
oh,
and we visited Highwater Clays
showroom and store, and after I almost had a heart attack when I walked in-the tools! the wheels! the underglazes and frits and clays!! the slabrollers! the gorgeous books and breathtaking pottery all around!!--I am pretty sure I left drool on everything I touched and looked at. What bliss.

so...today it is grey and shrouded in frost and cool temperatures. it is quiet, with the smoky aroma of fresh coffee on the pot, the gas logs warming the cabin...beloved is sleeping...
and I am breathing deep..
the wonder of it all,
the beauty of fulness,
the love of this perfect moment..
oh yes,
how grateful I am.
Holy One..
thank you,
for being so present in this moment (ah, I hear you singing thru that bird outside in the tree...)
a call, I imagine,
reminding me that You Are as present in every moment as this moment.
Grant me the grace to know You more.
Amen.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

on abundance...a pastoral prayer, with prayers of the people

O Holy One,
We come before you this morning,
Mindful of the abundance of our lives,
And mindful of the scarcity and fear in our world.

We bring to you this morning the concerns of our hearts…
For those people and places we can’t get out of minds because we are aware of their pain, their transitions, their struggles, and the hopelessness they face.


We also come to you this morning grateful…
Grateful for this moment
Grateful for the abundance of this congregation that is called to be your light and your hope to one another and to the world.
Remind us, o God, of all that we have to share, to give…to those who need your grace and love in the lives.
Remind us, not to hoard, but to give recklessly and with joy
Out of the thousand upon thousands of blessings you bestow upon us.

Holy one, we live in the abundant love of Your heart--
In the friendships you give us, the means by which we live,
The health we have--.
And even in the struggles we face,
The knowledge in our hearts and minds that we face nothing alone, but always with You, above us, below us, around us and in us.
Thanks be to You, o God.
Thanks be to you, o Christ,
Amen.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Funny Friday Five

Over at RGBP, Songbird is cooking Thanksgiving Dinner. I am laughing at her questions, because although I like to cook, her questions are far too technical for MY kitchen! ;-)
1) Do you have a food processor? Can you recommend it? Which is to say, do you actually use it? I have a coffee grinder--is that close?

2) And if so, do you use the fancy things on it? (Mine came with a mini-blender (used a lot and long ago broken) and these scary disks you used to julienne things (used once).)
see above

3) Do you use a standing mixer? Or one of the hand-held varieties?
hmmm. I think we might have a hand mixer,if it made it in the move two years ago. I will have to look. I guess you could say I use a spoon.

4) How about a blender? Do you have one? Use it much?
Yes! yes! yes! I have a blender. It is red. I used to use it alot when I had to grind up dog food crunch with water for our sick lab Annie in her last days. I also use it when I make butternut squash soup, a couple of times a year.

5) Finally, what old-fashioned, non-electric kitchen tool do you enjoy using the most?
I like my garlic press. Plus, it is the only kitchen tool that I can think of besides spoons and knives and forks.

Bonus: Is there a kitchen appliance or utensil you ONLY use at Thanksgiving or some other holiday? If so, what is it?
Well, I don't have one of these, but I really would love one to carry on the tradition of my mother making flatbread and lefse for the winter holidays. It is a lefse griddle.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

"Through You, I am at Play"

It's Wednesday.
Just out of 90 minute staff meeting.
A staff of three, and we meet for 90 minutes weekly. Yes.
Anyway.
I have been thinking about this line from A Prayer Book for the 21st Century by John McQuiston II from the Wednesday Morning Canticle (Thanks to RevCrystalk for the recommendation)

"Before the oldest of my works,
From the timeless I was...
Before the beginning,
I was there...
My delight is in you day after day,
and through you I am at play.
I delight in the children of all people."


And through you, I am at play...
I wonder,
How God is playing through me today?
Is it the brief but lovely phone calls that connect me and my beloved during the long workday? I think so.
Did God play through me yesterday, when only one of my commission members show up for a meeting, so we played with our iphones for an hour, exchanging ideas for great applications? Silly, but yes.
Will God play through me this afternoon, as I administriviate? How?
Keep it light,
the Holy One beckons and reminds me...
Live in the play, the dance of life.
This is it. Enjoy dear one.

Oh Holy One,
Play through me,
fully and wonderfully today.
Help me remember how to play.
Amen.

How is God playing through you today?
p.s. my word verification is ferrhe, or furry. God plays through my furry fun friends, too!!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Supplication (Concerning the Parable of Talents)


In this blustery windy morning,
In a world where nothing seems sure anymore
We gather together,
In our worry, in our questions, in our shaky hope.
Lasting, faithful God,
Where it seems like the options are limited,
Where life seems either/or
Where there are those—us?--who don’t care off whose back their security is gained,
Where there are those—us?—who simply hide and hoard all of who we are in fear
Because there is so much potential for harshness, cruelty, uncontrollable outcomes.
We cry out to you.
Help us, we pray
To imagine other possibilities,
To dare to risk something other than what has always been done before.
Take the energy around our fear, and transform it into power that leads, that loves, that risks, that knows You are with Us.
Use our lives, our faith communities, to be the economy of Good News,
Another way to live in this world that respects all life,
and where all life is lived to fullness in You.
Amen.

(photo from farfromfrostburg.blogspot.com/2007_08_01_arch..., used without permission, yikes!)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

oiling the wheel


(photo from stock photo on google)

what a day!
I spent it as if I didn't have something important to do, oh,
like finishing a sermon. We slept til 10 am, then I did a little pottery work, we walked doggies, cleaned house (uh, just a little), did errands, went to lunch, and stopped by a friend's house to celebrate a birthday.
The last hour I have spent drooling over new pottery tools, talking to my mom, and blog surfing.

This text is hard, the parable of the talents (MTW 25:14-30). Matthew takes the original parable in Q, first seen in Luke, and fits it to his purposes of talking about the parousia. Don't sit around. Risk what you have been given. The master doesn't tell the servants what to do with the talents they have been given, but in his absence the first two servants do some pretty creative investing to double the talents they have been giving.

My heart is with the third, fearful servant. Burying money in the ancient world was a very reasonable thing to do. In fact, in a society who regarded those who created wealth as suspect (the only way to get rich was at the expense of someone else) this is what they would do.

And yet the master deals harshly with the servant who does what would be regarded as the best thing to do.

If parables are supposed to tip things upside down, shake up the balance of power, this parable doesn't seem to do so. Those in power crush those who aren't. What on earth is Matthew thinking as he tells this parable? Is he ignoring cultural norms to make a point about risking?
Could be.

The master is not God, I do not think. There are some biblical scholars who hold that view. And a talent is money--15 years worth of working!--it has nothing to do with ability, with god-given gifts--it is money. However, if Matthew is trying to create some symbolism in this story, maybe the talent is God. God in us, as one commentary writes.

God--is as valuable as money was for the ancient Jesus followers. What was important--was the God-life. And in the waiting for the Parousia, the Jesus followers just can't bury that treasure--the presence of God as they experience, but go out, and try to double that presence in the world. If we hoard God, hoard community grounded in Christ, then we will be cast into the edges of darkness..because it community can't be hoarded. It dies. It withers. It gets dry and crumbly and boring.
Indeed, what keeps community vital is the continual open door, and continual practise of invitation.
Which is risky, in a world economy that values riches, financial stability above all else rather than living in a Jesus-centered economy that throws riches to the wind, and challenges us to risk...even at the risk of losing ourselves to find ourselves.

I am not sure we know how radical that is...
on Sunday mornings of glorious music and fervent prayers and laughter over coffee hour.
If that is our God-life...then what are we risking to...double it? triple it?

Just thinking here.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

wanderings....

This morning I...
- ordered some yummy books from Amazon...including The Green Bible, how cool is that?
-penned our weekly e-newsletter
-am still in my pajamas at 11:04 AM
-but got up at 7!
-But am working on administrivia
-am considering going to my alma mater seminary for inauguration of the new president.
-am considering going to the RevGalBlogPal Big Event.
-am thinking about the future.
-cooked dogfood
-should clean the kitchen, take my shower, get on in to the oficina
-can't believe I don't have a meeting scheduled for all day.
-am thinking about lunch since is is now 11:04
-excited about vacation in two weeks.
-am looking at two chipped nails that I can either paint over, or remove all paint from all nails. hmmmm. which will take less time since I really need to get in gear?
-am thinking about these clogs but know they would be a crazy purchase.
-am thinking my shoe wardrobe should contain more than clogs, but I like them.
-am listening to Venus bark b/c she wants to be let back in. I am on the third floor.
-am wondering why my thoughts are so random and not so deep...
-am grateful. I feel good today.
-am grateful. for health, for ministry, for love, for challenges...even for procrastination in moderation.

Amen!
Can she just wait? Like two more minutes? Venus! Be patient!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

invocation



In the shortening of our days,
In the lengthening of these deepest nights,
We turn to the light within,
The precious light of grace, of truth, of hope.
You are the light,
Open our hearts, to tend that light…
With the oil of prayer,
The oil of music,
The oil of worship,
Oh Holy One,
Give us oil in our lamps,
Keep us burning, burning, burning
So that your Flame of love
Can stoke the heart of the world,
In the shadows of our living.
Give us oil in our lamps,
We pray,
Amen.

(photo from spectrum.com)

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Flurry...

You know,
I can't believe I haven't written for a week. I keep putting off writing, as if it were a frivolity, something to do in my spare time (does that exist? for anyone?)
Indeed, life is full.
We live in an urban, sort of blue collar neighborhood...and things have been nuts. There was a dog attack on another small doggie that my beloved got in the middle of, trying to save the dog being attacked. She got pushed down...but was able to save the doggie, who only lived because of her bravery and her generousity when we took the animal hospital for emergency surgery. The people who own the attacking dog are living in substandard conditions. They feel victimized because we filed a police report. (what?)Our neighbor across the street thinks we should have settled this "peaceabley" rather than file a report. (What?) She says our neighbors feel really bad, but love their dog, which is a really nice animal (what?). Oh, and did I mention that no one from the attack dog house ever came over to see if my beloved was o.k., or called the owner of the little doggie that was torn to shreds, with broken ribs, injured kidneys, bruises every where and punctured lungs? (How neighborly is that?) Not to mention the owner of the injured doggie, well, has a big heart, but is not the greatest of social skills and so she is wreaking havoc, although we just try to encourage everyone to drop it. We aren't asking a dime from anyone. We do feel obligated to report the vicious attack--because there could be quite possibly a next time. We would prefer (and we are animal lovers extroadinaire) that the dog be put down, because my beloved doesn't feel safe living two doors down from a vicious animal that was clearly out to kill, for no reason. But we aren't demanding that, and the animal officer won't do that. He will just write it up. We are fine with that.
We would feel more like neighbors if one of the three adults in the house with the vicious dog would at least leave a note, make a phone call, stop by, and say something like "we are so sorry this happened, are you o.k.?" or "how are you doing?" or some sort of acknowledgement. Sounds decent, doesn't it?
Our neighbor across the street feels like we are over-reacting, basically.
WHAT???
And these, dear readers, all three of you, are the Days Of My Life.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Friday Five...for RGBP

So over at RGBP, Willsmama (who is one hilarious woman)writes:
As I zip around the webring it is quite clear that we are getting BUSY. "Tis the season" when clergy and laypeople alike walk the highwire from Fall programming to Christmas carrying their balancing pole with family/rest on the one side and turkey shelters/advent wreaths on the other.

And so I offer this Friday Five with 5 quick hit questions... and a bonus:

1) Your work day is done and the brain is fried, what do you do?
Many of my work days don't end until 9:30 or 10:00 pm. If that's the case, then I honestly will come home, put my sweats on, chat with my beloved, and relax with a glass of wine. If I get home at a normal hour, walking the dogs is really nice.

2) Your work week is done and the brain is fried (for some Friday, others Sunday afternoon), what do you do?
Face plant nap, the kind that when you wake up, you discover drool on your pillow.

3) Like most of us, I often keep myself busy even while programs are on the tv. I stop to watch The Office and 30 Rock on Thursday nights. Do you have 'stop everything' tv programming or books or events or projects that are totally 'for you' moments?
That's a good question. Reading a good novel. I don't want to read when there is other stuff going on. My favorite is reading in bed, before I go to sleep. I just love that.

4) When was the last time you laughed, really laughed? What was so funny?
About five minutes ago when someone sent me a photoshopped photo of political candidates dancing on Dancing with the Stars. It was so out of context, it was really funny, to me, at least. I laugh a lot, though. I get cracked up many times a day.

5) What is a fairly common item that some people are willing to go cheap on, but you are not.
kleenex, eyeliner, lipstick, and shoes. (so shallow, I know)

Bonus: It's become trite but is also true that we often benefit the most when we give. Go ahead, toot your own horn. When was the last time you gave until it felt good?
Before we moved here, we cared for a feral cat colony doing trap, neuter, and release (tnr). This was costly, both financially, time-wise, and heartwise. It felt like we were making a difference, until the property owner (a non-profit Christian institution) decided that all of the cats needed to be gone. We tried to save them, but didn't win. So, it was sad, but good. I guess. Since we have been here, we have helped our neighbor who runs a cat rescue alot, by taking in fosters, trying to work with ferals to tame them, etc. etc. Not always convenient, but the person is the real giver is our neighbor.


This is just so funny, I had to post it:
Let us know in the comments if you played and I'll come around and visit. The first 50 are entered into a drawing for a new car (sorry, that's a lie. We are immersed in political attack ads here in the US that lie and so I thought I would join in). Seriously, go ahead and let us know if you play. I will visit. And buy you a new house (lie). The last person to do the Friday Five is a socialist and hangs out with computer viruses (STOP!).


As always, comments and programming on this station do not necessarily represent the view and values of the revgalblogpals website or its associates. If you are an American citizen please vote by Tuesday or your computer will self destruct in 5 seconds...

Thursday, October 30, 2008

cold out now....

I know.
It's not snowing.
The sun is even shining.
The wind is breezy and bold.

But it is starting to feel like November. When everything is really dead and grey and cold, but no snow.

I don't like the inbetween time of the transition. When it isn't fall really, any more, and it is not quite winter.

Makes me restless.
and my toes are cold.

Monday, October 27, 2008

my mon-Day

so today after I took my beloved to the airport for yet another business trip...I went to the studio and made
1. test tiles
2. 3 little bowls, also to be tests.
3. put one vase and one oval plate on the bisque cart.
4. slathered slip on another larger oval plate that I hope to carve (if it doesn't dry out.)

Then...I went to Target and bought four long sleeve t-s to wear under sweaters and a diet dr. pepper. ($40)

and to Ulta to get gel eyeliner and a brush ($30 bucks!)

then home, where I cleaned the kitchen--washed dishes, comet-ed the countertops, scrubbed the stove (all sparkly now) and swept and mopped the floor and the front entry way (why don't we pay someone to do this??...oh, yeah, can't really afford that right now)

then ate lunch and finished Augusten Burrough's book, "Dry"

watched two episodes of Entourage on demand as I worked out on treadmill and elliptical.

took shower.

talked to beloved several times inbetween all this stuff.

fed dogs, fed feral cat living in basement. Her name is Spooky. I have never really seen her. long story. for another time.

wrote a piece for newsletter. checked email.

went out to grocery store.

walked big doggies around the block--second time today.

cleaned up pee-pee in hallway from one passive agressive 5 pound poodle that did not get to go on second walk.

and am currently procrastinating editing a paper for a dear friend of mine.

all in all, a lovely day off.

am grateful.
for all I got to be today.
amen.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

pain and suffering...

am acutely aware this evening
of loved ones tonight
that are in pain,
that are in soul-suffering,
that are so very dear and brave and courageous and good.
please send Your sweet angels
to hold them,
to offer courage,
to affirm their wisdom...
and bathe them in your comfort and your grace.
amen.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

spiritual practise time...

So, I was speaking with someone the other day, who was listening well, and offering insight.
I know that I am at a place where I really need to take the time to discern, listen, and focus...and we were talking about that. I said, "wow, I really feel like I need to really be intentional about listening and praying about this...but I just get busy and forget about it until I sit and talk about it with someone like you...I used to be really good at this, journaling my heart out, taking that quiet time every day..."
Wise one said, "isn't that a little ironic and sad--that you, as a spiritual leader don't have time to be spiritual and listen to yourself?"

uh...oh....kay.

Guess who has some priorities mixed around???

So, I am wondering, do you have a daily spiritual practice of intention with God, and with year heart? Is it yoga/meditation? Journaling? walking slow? sitting in a chair and praying? Do tell. I am pretty certain my quiet time in the car while I drive to my office is not exactly cutting it for me right now--especially if I am trying to listen to NPR at the same time!

Monday, October 20, 2008

crazy dreams...

maybe it was the extra garlic in the whole wheat pasta, or the licorice gumdrops I snarfed down yesterday afternoon at our association meeting, or possibly the dissappointment that my Sox lost the AL pennant and another run in the World Series, but I had some zany crazy wacky dreams last night....
1)a nightmare. I dreamt I saw these women kidnapped and killed--shot--actually by these evil men in black. although everyone knew it happened, no one appreciated the trauma and fear I felt.

2) I was at my dad's farmhouse (doesn't exist anymore, the home of my early childhood). I was there with pottery colleagues, and it the bedrooms were divided up into studios. Outside, my dad had this sickly baby camel whose fur was a beautiful indigo blue. she was on a very short chain, and couldn't move or lay down.
my dad came into the house, and a very adult me said, we have got to call a vet immediately. My dad started to get defensive and said don't ask me to apologize...and I said I am not asking you anything, except to do the right thing. this animal is suffering, and you know it. I will pay for the vet, whatever. she shouldn't be in pain or suffering if she is that sick. He sheepishly relented, and the vet came. We put the baby camel in a large crate...she walked around, she was much better just off the chain and in the house. She settled into the crate, and a kitten came and curled up with her. The vet said that yes, the camel is sick, but she will get well. He also said that other people had baby camels from this litter, and they spoiled them, and two families got kicked out of their houses by their now bossy entitled camels. He suggested we have firm boundaries and rules for the baby camel so she didn't take over the house. I said, "don't worry"

3)I am a little boy, but me. About 9-10. Apparently I have done something against the law, or being scapegoated. The police are looking for me, and they will do anything to find me--including torturing my family. So, I run away and become a muslim actor in bollywood movies, where I dance in them. We set up a secret code so that I can tell my family this is me, and that I am o.k. My family is so happy, and they send secret code messages back to me, to tell me to stay. I am still being hunted down, and even though the charges are false, they will still throw me into prison for life.

4) I am young and beautiful. I am going to a big, fancy party, with several beautiful gorgeous friends. We have a benefactor who gets us these delicious evening gowns. Mine is a burnt orange paisley thing with leggings and a flowy top. I am stunning in it.

All right. That is all I remember. Carl Jung, have at my unconscious! I know these dreams are all parts of me!
Oh my. It is hard being me sometimes!

Thank goodness it is Monday, my day off, and I have a day completely free of outside commitments. I can do what I want to get done at a very leisurely pace. What a gift!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Time on Tuesday.

I find myself today in a lull. Sure, I have things to do. Probably some church growth things to read, visioning to envision, finish those bookmarks for the fall fair, count Sunday School offering, organize a living gift fair for Heifer project for December, make some pastoral calls (in person and via phone and email. it is 2008, you know.)
But all of it is not pressing up against me,
my attention isn't being demanded in this minute,
I have finished up my list for the day, had most of my meetings.
I check my calendar. Nope. nothing scheduled this afternoon. My early evening meeting is cancelled, and I just have Coordinating Council tonight.

I find that I have time.
How strange is this?
No one ever has time.

I sort of feel guilty about having a stash of time on my hands.
I wish I could give it away. My friend Jess could use some of this time.
If there was a way to "bank" time and give it away to people who need it, wouldn't that be great? I would still take the time I needed to be balanced and fulfilled and not overstretched....

but today I am bemused by this few free unscheduled hours.

I have time.
It is GORGEOUS outside.
This weather will soon sink into snow and dark and cold and winter.

I think I will put my time to good use...
and revel in the sunshine
and go for a long walk along the river...
and pray.

I am grateful, for this time.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

gratitude...

I am grateful today...
for all your kind notes and wishes and prayers for Venus...
I am grateful today...
for the sweetness of understanding and compassion from you as I grieve and miss Bussy....
I am grateful today...
that Venus tumor is BENIGN (sp?)
I am grateful today...
for cool air, turning leaves, my tired but quiet soul...
I am grateful today...
for the 12 years that Bussy had here...living in Kentucky, North Carolina, and Boston..for his dear nature, for the way he cudddled up to Venus, for his tingly meow, for his wandering soul, the way he slept (the KING of snoozing and relaxing)and for his beauty...
I am grateful today...
for breath and breathing...
I am grateful today...
for Miriam who wants me to come over and knit with her....
I am grateful today...
for my home, my beloved, the animal friends who live with us...
I am grateful...
for the kindess of others,
and I am grateful that you, God, give me the courage to embrace that kindness.
I am indeed grateful.
Amen.

Monday, October 06, 2008

on death and dying...

I am leading a discussion group on "Living for a Good Death" in which we consider the concept of death, our own deaths, and listen to one another about our feelings about death. We are using poetry, scripture, and the Bill Moyer's video series on death and dying. (this is not my original idea. Thank you Claire, for sharing what you did at your church so that I could cobble this together!)

We have had some fruitful conversation, and it is interesting what bubbles up. I think that people are comfortable in talking about loved ones who have died, or the questions of death, but we are still working towards expressing our own feelings about our own deaths. It is something we all do, and yet we never talk about it. It's important, I think. There are some choices we can make...even if we die suddenly.

It is ironic to me that since starting this series, I have been faced with two very different situations of "death" in our little community of animals that live with us. Venus, is possibly facing a diagnosis of terminal cancer. I am thinking positively, but I am also being realistic. We know that our treatment choices will only be palliative, rather than trying to "save" her life. She has a great life.

This morning, however, the shock of sudden death slammed fully into my life. I was upstairs, reading the paper, drinking coffee, relaxing on my day off, when the doorbell rang. It was only a little after 7, so I knew it was my neighbor, Marie. When I got to the door, she wasn't there, but her car was parked kind of funny...and then she came out of her door with a blanket, and shouted to me, "Buster, your Buster, I think he's been hit by a car."
I couldn't believe it would be Buster, because he never leaves our block to go to the busy street.
I was wrong.

My dear Buster was laying in the middle of Riverside Ave, dead. He had been hit by a car, and there was blood everywhere...(I will spare the details) and I just fell on top of him and started screaming like a crazed person. Marie, bless her golden heart, wrapped him up in a blanket, and urged me back over to my house. I was crying, I was hysterically talking, my whole body was shaking, and I just kept cradling our kitty in my arms, rocking...while Marie just stayed and hugged me, even though she was late for work. She took Bussy away from me, and told me to rest and not go anywhere. She put him in her fridge (now that is neighborly!) and said one of her volunteers would take him to the vet to be cremated.
(I will write more about Bussy when I can...)

[Important note, perhaps out of guilt or fear that you might criticize the fact that he was outside at all. Buster was the one cat we could not keep inside all the time when we moved to New England. We tried, very hard. But he voiced his serious displeasure by spraying everywhere. After a couple of months, we realized that he would be happier in and out, even though it was more risky for his life. Again, a "good life" question. Bussy was a horse farm cat, an outdoor cat, who mostly preferred sleeping on the porch than inside. We brought him in every night, and when we left during the day. Although I am sick to my stomach that he got hit by a car, I still feel we made the choice for Bussy's sake. We would have preferred him inside--well, without the spraying.]

As I sat alone (dear beloved was at the airport, boarding a plane for Texas) in the house, I just let complete and total feeling wash over and through me. I didn't move, I didn't think, I just felt Bussy. I don't know how to explain it.

After awhile, I knew that there was no way I was going to let a stranger take my Bus to a strange vet to be cremated. So, I got dressed, went across the street, found Bus in the fridge, and placed him in the car. His body was so limp, still, almost warm, still, so, so, sweet...and yet dead.

I got to my vet, with him wrapped in the blanket, and they let me be alone in the room. I held him, cried, apologized, told him what a great spirit he was, told him why beloved was not there.....I opened the blanket, to touch his furry paws...and just to make sure he was really, really gone.

The physicality of being with his dead body was important.

I said, good bye, dear one. Thank you, you sweetest cat ever.

And

I was able to let him go.

Even though I am incredibly saturated with sadness.
Amen.

Venus is SO much better.


My little trooper love dog is doing so much better.
She is home from the hospital,
has effective pain management...
is getting stronger and sassier by the hour.
She even gave a few "barking" cheers when we watched the Sox game last night.
We won't have biopsy reports until later this week,
but it's o.k.
I am just glad to have her home,
and happy to just be with her.
Amen.

Friday, October 03, 2008

sigh.


so, I went to the hospital to see my Venus.
It was rough. She is such a gracious being, and wagged her tail when she saw me. She ate a treat. The ICU tech was helpful and great. But when she left Nini (Venus) and me alone for awhile, Venus laid down on her blanket, and I laid on the floor next to me....and she just whimpered the whole time. I have never heard anything like that come from her, ever. She was in so much pain.
Yes, it was a major surgery--the incision is huge (6 inches, at least).
It just broke my heart.
She looked at me as if to say, "what happened to me? why do I hurt so much? I am really miserable"
I was ready to cry with her, when Sarah (ICU tech) came into check on us.
She said that after the IV morphine drip, which stopped last night, I guess, she hasn't been given anything.
W.T.F?????
We wouldn't do that to a human, would we?
I begged her to ask the doctor to give her some tramadol, something to ease her pain.

I am going back to check on this in this evening.

I feel so guilty putting her through this, even though it was an informed decision that we thought was best. It is just killing me.

So, I did a little comfort care--I went to mcdonalds and ate two cheeseburgers. Mind you, I am a 98% vegetarian, so you know I am upset. I don't eat red meat AT ALL. But I heard that Micky D' burgers are mostly soy. Anyway, for me, it is ultimate comfort food from childhood.

Then, I got a manicure for some physical pampering and two lipsticks, because lipstick always fits.

But I don't feel better--and I know it didn't make Venus feel better either.
I probably should have gone with praying, first. I am so damn human sometimes. Forgive me Venus. Here is my prayer, which I breathing in and out, mantra style.

God be with Venus.
Ease her pain.
Help her heal.
Help her know we love her.
Amen.

St. Francis Friday Five




OVER at RGBP, Sally is dedicating Friday Five to St Francis of Assisi.
I must say this is quite fitting for me right now!!

1. Saint Francis experienced a life changing call, has anything in your journey so far challenged you to alter your lifestyle?

I had been resisting ordained ministry for a while, because I am a very progressive, liberal leaning Christian, and I didn't see a place for me in the "church" in spite of being in professional ministry for 13 years! I was working on a masters in english literature while still teaching bible at a presbyterian day school...and one of my 8 year old students asked me to preside at his grandfather's graveside service, because he saw me as his "pastor" (according to his mom). So, I did. And when I was peeking under the astroturf with 5 third grade boys, looking at the hole in the ground, and looking for the dirt pile hidden by more astroturf so they could each get a fistful to drop in the hole, while talking about beginnings and endings...I knew I was doing what I was meant to do, and knew that I was being called to full-time ordained ministry, however that worked out. It was a very special experience.

2. Francis experienced mocking and persecution, quite often in the comfortable west this is far from our experience. If you have experienced something like this how do you deal with it, if not how does it challenge you to pray for those whose experience is daily persecution?

I had a colleague (in a d. min. class) when she realized I was in a same-sex relationship ask me if I thought I was an abomination. That wasn't really persecution, but I did have to take a step back, breathe...and then engage in a loving but agree to disagree conversation about biblical interpretation. I pray for LGBTQ kids all of the time...for their safety, for acceptance and welcome, and for people to talk to when they need someone.....especially in places where they are subject to being called abominations and told they are going to hell or need to CHANGE because it just isn't what God wants for them....

3 .St Francis had female counterpart in St Clare, she was influenced by St Francis sermon and went on to found the Poor Clare's, like the Franciscans they depended on alms this was unheard of for women in that time, but she persisted and gained permission to found the order. How important are role models like St Clare to you? Do you have a particular female role model whose courage and dedication inspires you? If so share their story....

Dorothy Day, Mother Teresa, Oprah, Jess Wilson and her daughter Darby (and Kendall!), my sisters, my mom, my spouse, my neighbor Marie whose passion keeps this organization alive ummm there's hundreds more but I will stop now....

4. Francis loved nature and animals, how important is an expressed love of the created world to the Christian message today?

Uh. yeah. Stewards of the earth? Climate Change? I would say the most important issue in the church today is advocating for global action to stop/reverse global warming. See Bill McKibben's website, www.350.org Other wise, bad pun that it is, we, and our children, and our world, are toast.

5. On a lighter note; have you ever led a service of blessing for animals, or a pet service, was it a success, did you enjoy it, and would you do it again?

Everyday at my house is a blessing of the animals, since 11 live with us! Yes, we are nuts! However, yes, I have led several animal blessing services, and LOVE them. I think dogs should come to worship every week! However, there are many that disagree...so...oh well. As a p.s. my dear Venus had surgery yesterday to remove a mass from her liver. she made it through surgery (thank you God...and now we are waiting for biopsy results. I covet your prayers for her strength to return quickly and for her happy bark to soon be back home with us....

Saturday, September 27, 2008

sad. conflicted.


so my sweetie ni-ni (short for Venus) is sick.
but the biopsy is not clearly indicating carcinoma.
it isn't clearly indicating the tumor on her liver is benign.
instead, it indicates that something is wrong, but it could be anything from diabetes to hepatitis to pancreatic cancer or worse.
so. what to do?
if she had cancer, we wouldn't do surgery, because at 13 years, we believe palliative care would be best, especially because the doctor says that if it were carcinomic(is that a word?) they couldn't guarantee the surgery would get everything.

but now, this thing could be benign. the only thing holding us back from surgery is our fear of anasthesia (sp?) on older beings. Venus is 13...and healthy. We know that older people under anasthesia run the risk of "never being the same" afterwards. This was true for my beloved's mother...and for my grandmother, I think.

we think we are going to wait and do another ultrasound in a month. if things have changed, then we may have a better idea that it is cancer. if things haven't changed, we might do the surgery.

but now I am thinking...maybe we should schedule the surgery and take the chance.

she is so happy and lively and sweet and good and dear...we just want her to have the best life ever.

sigh.

Friday, September 26, 2008

waiting.



Yesterday, I spent the entire afternoon (four and half hours) at the Massachusetts Veterinary Referral Hospital. Not a real sexy name, right? I was taking Venus for a consultation with, get this, an Vet of Internal Medicine. Who knew? As we waited to be seen, I scanned the wall of fame of the thirty some doctors employed there. There were cardiologists, radiologists, orthopedists, emergency medicine specialists--This is a real hospital for animals. Since there are a multitude of animal members of my family, well, I am glad this place is just 15 minutes away. But I digress.

I hated taking Venus to this appointment. A couple of weeks ago she had a routine blood test to check her thyroid levels (she takes medicine for that). Her thyroid was fine, but her liver enzymes were up. Our wonderful, wonderful, best ever vetrinarian doctor suggested some more tests, to find out more information. I knew she was concerned because she described an elaborate series of tests if the first test didn't come up with much. This. is. not. good. We agreed to a bile acid test (whatever?) and x-rays. NO TUMORS OR GROWTHS that are visible by Xray. Whew!
However, the bile acid test revealed that definitely my angel dog has a malfunctioning liver. So, we were referred to the MVRH to get an ultrasound (better to see INSIDE the liver) and possible needle biopsy. My wonderful wonderful vet said that it could possibly be hepatitis (manageable) but cancer can't be ruled out (because of her age).

This is a dog who is happy and playful, and although 13, is very healthy.

So, Venus and I are waiting for the consult with the Internalist. She is at first nervous (hates those terazzo floors) but she settled in and took a nap. She is really cute right now because we got her shaved so she looks like a puppy or a dog-bear. The doc was great--she looked over the labs while sitting with Venus on the floor rubbing her belly (Venus' belly). She didn't think the liver numbers were that bad, so I was hopeful. She suggested the ultrasound.

They could do it , like then, well in a half an hour. I thought I would just talk to the doctor, and schedule the appointment for a later date. (dang, I don't have ANY reading material at all) So, I consented and signed a paper that estimated the cost for the day would $850 bucks, if they needed to do a biopsy, too. Gulp. Venus might need to get a paper route.

So, the short of what is a long story, is that indeed the ultrasound revealed a sizable tumor. Damn. They did the needle biopsy, and the results are back. But only the doctor can give them to me. I have called and left two messages.

It's 5:40.

No phone call yet.

Waiting. Still.

Monday, September 22, 2008

this is what I am thinking about today...

...it's a gray cold Monday morning....a little dreary.

...my dreams last night. very full of crazy energy. for awhile I was a shy sad cat and then turned into a human who was gifted with this gorgeous cardigan sweater with buttons that didn't work with all kinds of thing hidden in the pockets, like square glasses made out of pipecleaners and yarn, and then many strands of beads that kept breaking as I pulled them out of the pockets and then all of a sudden I was chasing a mad old hedge hog in this house because I didn't want the dogs to get him and when I picked him up he kept spitting at me and then lept onto the kitchen counter.

...thinking about going to the library.

...wondering how my 14 year old sweetie dog is doing at the vet. she is having xrays and bile acid tests. her liver is malfunctioning and this is obviously a problem.

...when I listen to the news and hear stories of bombing in Pakistan and political unrest in other parts of the world where people fear for their very lives everyday while living ordinary lives is astonishing for me to grasp. my little white privileged american self has never and may probably never really get that. I say a prayer...and wonder what that means for me as God's person in this world. What am I called to do, to announce, to live....we just have so much. this mal-distribution of wealth and comfort and opportunity is....a quandary.

...and still, I am delighted with my red patent leather mary jane clogs. (shaking my head at my poor pitiful self"

...am wondering how long this head cold and sore throat are going to linger in my body. I don't feel so great.

...wonder how worried I should be personally about job security in light of the financial crisis in our current time and place. Am not so much now, but...don't want to have my head in the sand, either.

...am grateful to have some time home today, even if I don't feel great and I should be cleaning house.

...thinking about what to preach on next Sunday.

...how I love the alternative reality of my Mondays.

...how grateful, in spite of worries and thoughts and concerns, that I can breathe and know that God is here, with me, now.

Amen.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

RGBP Friday Five

Over at RevGals, Songbird writes about the change of season. She put for this Friday Five:

As this vivid season begins, tell us five favorite things about fall:

1) A fragrance
Does late afternoon sunshine on turning leaves smell? Because that is what I think of.

2) A color
Burnt orange, golden yellow, and chocolate brown. (yeah, I know, that's three)

3) An item of clothing
My soft soft soft corduroy jacket...and my old seminary sweatshirt.

4) An activity
Dog walking, hiking, and of course, apple picking (in SPITE of being ALLERGIC to apples! why am I allergic to apples? so weird!)

5) A special day
o.k., this is so nerdy, but I LOVE World Communion Sunday. It is always the first Sunday in October, and I associate it with the season, the feel of the air, community, and connectedness to the beautiful diversity of global Christian expression. 'Course, Halloween is a close second.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

note to self.

don't eat more than two slices of fiber one bread per day.
trust me.

has anyone read

The Shack?

What do you think of it???

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

rock solid grace.


So, like many of my other clergy friends, last weekend was a big one. First, on Friday, we hosted an ice cream social on the front lawn of our church, complete with live band, free ice cream, and balloons. The point was to be a presence in our neighborhood, as well as be a re-gathering time for our congregants--or a time to bring a new friend looking for a church home. I am happy to say that we had tons of people from the neighborhood, from young families from the pre-school we house, to senior citizens who saw the sign to a lovely group from a home for people with special needs and beyond. All we did was advertise for free in our local village paper, and I made a bunch of "Burma Shave" signs that were up all week. The signs seemed to do the trick, as a lot of people said that is how they found out.
I highly recommend putting signs up for any event that you want to attract the public to. But I digress.

Since the ice cream social took quite a bit of time, I was feeling less than prepared for my Sunday School Orientation the next morning. Yes, I had an agenda. Yes, I had a general idea of where it would all go. But I wasn't quite clear on how to pull it together with meaningful spiritual moments. But the Spirit was quite clear.

Secretly, I didn't expect many people to come. You can imagine my surprise and pleasure (and panic) when pretty much all of my teaching staff for the whole year showed up!

After coffee and fruit and all kinds of yummy breakfast pastries, people started to get settled around the tables. As they were being seated, I ran into my supply closet to look for stones so I could give one to everyone. All I could find was fake plastic jewels. I gave everyone a jeweled "rock" and said, just hang on to this for now. (At this point, I had no idea what I was going to do with them, but I figured I could improvise something.)

After doing a really fun community building activity, I introduced the curriculum, which is called "Rock Solid" and read the bible verse about the wise one building a home upon the rock. (get the jewels? rocks, right?) Then, I shared with them an entry from a friend's blog, (she and her family are part of our church family), entitled God Makes A House Call Well, of course the point of me sharing the blog entry is that Jess' daughter, Darby, is a wise spiritual angel and she is talking about rocks and God. Here is an excerpt (but really, read the whole entry!)

... I asked [Darby] how she thought that God might be like a rock. “Well, Mama,” she said, “You know how when you see a rock split open sometimes and it’s really beautiful inside? There’s crystals and colors and all kinds of stuff in the middle?”

I nodded, wondering where she might be taking this.

“Well,” she continued, “It’s just like that with God.”

She seemed perfectly satisfied with this, but she could see that I needed a little further explanation so she continued on. I sometimes wonder if she thinks, “Poor, Mama. She’s a little slow, isn’t she?” But if she does, she never shows it.

“You see, Mama, when you look at a rock you have to BELIEVE that it has all that beautiful stuff inside. You can’t see it, but you just KNOW that it’s there. Just like you know that God is there, INSIDE.”


So, you see, it was much more fitting that my wonderful, loving, beautiful teachers got colorful plastic jewels instead of grey stones....because they help children (and children help them) find the beautiful stuff of God inside of us.

Thanks, Darby.

And...thank you, dear wondrous Spirit of God.
Amen.

Monday, August 25, 2008

'kay

..music getting better. John Legend!

so...maybe it is just because...

I am watching the democratic convention on my computer screen...but so far...
ho hum....and what is with the elevator groovy music?

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Visiting Gertrude


(St. Philips Church, Barbados)
(it's the only picture I could find. I know it is small!)

So, the other day, I was sitting in my office, working on a huge filing project. (o.k., so I haven't filed a thing in 18 months, what's the big deal, right?) and my phone rings.

It's the new activity director at the nursing home facility where we do a protestant communion service once a month. We don't have congregational ties to this place, but this service has evolved over time. Any way. The AD, whom I have never met, said that he had a resident that was asking to speak to a Priest, whoops, a Reverend, and could I visit her. Her name is Gertrude. Sure, I said. Could I come this afternoon? (Note: it was already "this afternoon") Of course, I said. I will be over in about 30 minutes. But I don't look much like a reverend today, I mention. (I am in hiking capris shorts and a silk funky tunic) He laughs. Doesn't matter, he says, and hangs up.

Dude, I think to myself, could ya give me any more information? I am wondering, is Gertrude dying? Is she expecting like, a Catholic Priest to do last rites? Is she agitated? Obviously, I am not going to find out until I get there. So, I dig around on the shelves and locate my tiny bible, pop it into my purse, and drive over to the nursing home, praying for awareness and presence and for Gertrude. When I arrive, I am directed to the memory care unit. When I pass through several locked doors, I am directed to a little living area, where several elders are sitting around a table, "watercoloring"--entailing a cup of watered down paint, and a coloring book page of flowers. Gertrude is sitting quietly, painting her hibiscus flowers a pepto-bismol shade of magenta.

"Ms. Gertrude?"
She looks up at me.
"I am Pastor Karla. I am the reverend. I am here to visit you."
"You are the reverend?" She smiles. "oh, how nice!"
"Gertrude, someone told me you wanted to have a visit with a pastor. Would you like to visit for a while with me?"
Gertrude is focused on her painting. "No," she says, "I don't think so."

So, I watch her for an eternity of seconds. Then I try to make some small talk. Not much luck. I try to get some information out of the staff person at the table, but she isn't very communicative. Obviously, since this is the memory care wing, I don't really expect Gertrude to remember that she was wanting a "reverend" but don't you think the staff might give me a clue?
"Gertrude, would you like me to come back another time?"
"No!"
"Well, I am going to pull up a chair here and watch you paint"
"That would be nice."

I ask her some questions and through the course of this, she tells me her church is St. Philip's parish in Barbados, and she proceeds to list all of the parishes of Barbados (11 in all) and repeats them several times. Then she starts to sing "Jesus Christ is Risen Today" and I sing with her. We sing it three times. She sang another hymn, but I didn't know it.

It is time for me to go, so I ask her if we can pray together. I ask her if I can hold her hands. She reaches out to me. So I hold Gertrude's hands and I pray for her, knowing nothing, but knowing that the Spirit knows it all. I finish, and say, do you want to say the Lord's Prayer together? She nods, but then instead of praying the Lord's Prayer, she begins to pray for me. In her dulcet west indian accent, she prays for blessings on my ministry, my soul, my family, my congregation. The words, you could tell, were called forth from deep within, words she had prayed over and over for her other pastors, for her children, for her friends, phrases that were familiar, in a candence of prayer that only a long time fervent prayer would have.

My heart caught.
It broke open.
I soaked in the balm of prayer in every pore of my skin and bones and muscles.
Breathing in, and out...listening to her repeated phrases over and over and over.
And then she said Amen, and so did I. Amen.

Instead of being the pastoral vistor,
I was visited.
By an angel named Gertrude.

Amen.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Friday Five: Date Edition

Over at RVGP,
Songbird writes:
It's Friday afternoon, Eastern Time, and this is your faithful Songbird with a calendar-related Friday Five. Due to some confusion with our dates, I'm stepping in today, although I am usually here only on the 5th Friday, when there is such a thing.

Here are five things to ponder about dates. I hope you'll play!
I would be delighted to play!

1) Datebooks--how do you keep track of your appointments? Electronically? On paper? Month at a glance? Week at a glance?
I used to have a blackberry, but now I use an IPhone, and keeping my calendar has never ever been so fun!

2) When was the last time you forgot an important date?
Hmmm. I can't remember! it seems that I forget, forget, forget...and then in the nick of time, I remember.

3) When was the last time you went OUT on a date?
One week ago my beloved and I went out to dinner at one of our favorite spots....it was great!

4) Name one accessory or item of clothing you love even though it is dated.
I have these beautiful droopy dangly angel earrings with beautiful blue crystals on them that I received for a gift about 15 years ago when the angel motif was taking off everywhere. I still love those earrings...but I am not sure angels can be out of date, can they??

5) Dates--the fruit--can't live with 'em? Or can't live without 'em?
I love dates when they are in cookies.

Monday, August 18, 2008

last day of stay-cation

wow.
has it already been a week?
but I am not ready! there is so much more organizing to be done, naps to be taken, books to be read, and some more organizing after all of that.
it will happen (maybe not those naps...)

it has been good to be away at home. it has been productive in a nesting way...in a thoughtful way...
alone with thoughts...focusing on awareness and still mind, a practise that will give me some powerful tools for what is looking to be an almost unmanageable fall line-up. breathe. be still.

be still...
and know
that God is God.
amen.

Friday, August 15, 2008

what I learn from clay....


I learn to be free and not afraid to go deep...
I learn respect....
I learn that the best creative time comes when I settle in, ask questions, wonder, and appreciate the process even more than the product....
I learn that my work is my work, and that in itself, is pretty cool.
I learn about me...
and about the One who created me...
I learn about my connection to the One...
and I am grateful.
amen.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

stay-CATION #2

so...today I did just whatever the heck I wanted. no schedule, no anything. I walked the dogs for a lovely long walk on the river...and prayed to just be aware...of the trees waving, the butterflies in the wild flowers, the dogs taking their time to leave doggie post cards on whatever bush, tree, post, fence they wanted...I breathed in and breathed out and so grateful to be alive. and intentional about loving the moment.

then I exercised. damn. why don't I do that more? I really love it.

and then hung out in my studio....carving tiles, checking out what I did before....here is a pic of my studio in the cellar.


it is good space. I am lucky to have it. I spent 4 glorious hours there today. here are a couple of the tiles I made. I am new to tiles, so I am not sure how they will turn out, but basically it is clay rolled out, cut, and then I painted teal blue slip on it, and then carved away the images. Then they will be bisqued, and then I will add a glaze to them. Don't know how much of the images will be preserved, but I can't wait to see!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

which ones?

I confess I am a dansko junkie. I looove them. I have brown clogs, black patent clogs, brown mary janes, and black mary janes that are open in the back.
But today, I can't decide.
These.....


or these???


I am leaning toward the Mary Janes...but are the clogs more practical? Does it matter?

stay-cation....

So this week we were going to go to Durango to enjoy a week in the west. Unfortunately, the trip got postponed because of other events earlier this summer, and it felt like too much to leave for another week.

I decided to take the week off, anyway, with visions of laying around and reading and napping and watching movies in the afternoon...

Yeah. Right. The first mistake made was to decide to move our office to the attic space. In the current office, we have two giant bookcases, that hold my library of theology, religion, ceramics books along with random favorites that I can't just part with--like Jane Austen, Dorothy Parker, Edith Wharton, and wicca memorabilia. These shelves are also full of CD's, paper craft and beading supplies, yarn, my yoga strap, and photo albums.

Guess what? Giant bookcases won't manuever the tight corners and stairs of our 100 year old house. Can't take them apart, because they are from IKEA, and I put them together, and well...enough said.

So, yesterday, after getting the oil changed on the car, I went to Target (is that a step up or down from IKEA?) to buy one new book case. It took me ALL AFTERNOON to put it together, because of course, I kept putting it together backwards. Then, I would have to undo it, so I could do it right. Oh, and yeah, I had to carry it piece by piece up to the attic since, well, the box wouldn't manuever the tight corners and stairs of our 100 year old house.

Did I mention, also, that I have a mysterious case of poison ivy not only covering the inside of my arm, but my nose, and in my hair on the back of the head? And, I have one more SICK doggie?

Today, I have to go back to Target to get another bookcase, in spite of trying to downsize (please, people, I can't let go of Dorothy Parker or that college textbook that used to belong to Phyllis Trible (who inscribed her name and date on the inside cover)about women and mythmaking just because....I can't.) That is after I go to the doctor who will hopefully give me a shot and after I take the doggy to the vet, where hopefully SHE will get a shot.

But, hey, it is only ten o clock....I can squeeze in 30 minutes to finish that novel I started yesterday, right?

I love stay-cation!!! (even if there is more stay than -cation in it!)

Friday, August 08, 2008

God-Days of Summer

I haven't done a Friday Five in forever, but here it goes! Over at Rev Gals, Presbyterian Gal writes this Friday Five:It’s August. An oppressively hot and humid month where many of us live.

I remember the Al Pacino movie though not much about the plot. Just that it was very, very hot. And he had giant sweat stains on his shirt.

As I pass through this year’s dog days in my felon ridden neighborhood (OK, just two housefuls. But isn’t that enough?), I am trying to focus on the blessings apparent around me, past and present, that I might not notice, necessarily. In that spirit, this week’s Friday Five goes thusly:

1. What is your sweetest summer memory from childhood? Did it involve watermelon or hand cranked ice cream? Or perhaps a teen summer romance. Which stands out for you?
My earliest memory is when I was in pre-school and my sister and I would play in my grandmother's giant garden. We would steal the sweet raspberries off the bushes and just marvel at their delectable taste. Fresh air, good earth, make believe play, and sun-kissed berries...ahhhhhhh

2. Describe your all time favorite piece of summer clothing. The one thing you could put on in the summer that would seem to insure a cooler, more excellent day.
My flip flops. Hand's down.
3. What summer food fills your mouth with delight and whose flavor stays happily with you long after eaten?
Cucumbers and tomatoes from the garden. mmmmmm.

4. Tell us about the summer vacation or holiday that holds your dearest memory.
When I was about 8, my family took a road trip from North Dakota to the Oregon coast where we had a family reunion with my new step-cousins, aunts, uncles. We rented a big house...and I remember seeing the ocean for the first time. And, playing in the waves for hours, and being terrified of rip-tides all at once. My other thought is moving to Florida right out of college to be a youth pastor. A very elderly woman in the congregation took me to the beach club where she donned her bathing cap and took me swimming into the Atlantic Ocean on a very hot August day. It was endearing. Oh, Oh, Oh, but also, I am remembering three amazing sailing trips with other young adults in my congregation to the Bahamas and the Keys. Living on a sailboat for 10 days at a time...what FUN!

5. Have you had any experience(s) this summer that has drawn you closer to God or perhaps shown you His wonder in a new way? My spouse's mother died unexpectedly two weeks ago. So many people have crawled out of the wordwork to send cards and gifts of love and beauty. I am so touched by the love of community in times of grief. It is complete and total grace. The other experience is the call of a morning dove outside my office window in the quiet of Sunday mornings. It is such an exquisite song that it breaks my heart open....every day I hear her.

Bonus question: When it is really hot, humid and uncomfortable, what do you do to refresh and renew body and spirit? Well, sitting on the deck with a really, really cold beer is nice. Or...heading to the movie theatre....