lately, I have been thinking about changing my blog name. The title, I mean. When I first started the blog,"earthensoul" I was in a full-time pottery degree class. I also had a tiny Lilly grant that funded my first semester, so, I wanted to write about the connections with clay, earth, and my soul, spirit, faith.
I love that. but did you know that "earthensoul" is some weird character on some weird witchy (don't get me wrong, I love Wiccans) game site...and also a new-agy name for spirituality and childbirth site.... anyway.
So, this is my question. If I switch to a different blog, do I go away from Blogger? Can I still be a revgal? How does that work? Is there a better "blog" program that I would like? Would I know the difference?
I am thinking of two names: Broken Bowl and con Alma (which means with soul) or La Tierra con Alma which is earth with soul in Spanish, but I don't really speak Spanish.
it is monday. it is my day off. it is not yet 10 o clock am and I have done all I really need to do for now-- (o.k. not true, but the kitchen is mopped, scrubbed, and cleaned, bed made, living room picked up, and the professional junk removers have already been here to removed a pile of dirt in our driveway that was growing flowers --don't ask--and the dead fridge in the basement. so what about those other errands...and exercise? don't ask) in any case, after I take my dear doggies for a spin through the neighborhood, today becomes officially national art day at my house. I am going to make some tiles and bowls and platters in the basement and I am going to collect all my sources that inspire me and put them in a beautiful scrap book and I am going to make a bracelet or two and maybe some earrings. just because I want to. and because the floors have been mopped, and the dirt is gone.
literally. I might not be getting all the nitty gritty chores done, but choosing to not do one more thing before I...whatever, fill in the blank....is lovely. I might be making myself too "calm" though....;-)
My other thought for the day. Beloved was out of town for five days. When either of us leave the nest, it is a lot of work to keep up with the menagarie, but that is a given.
What isn't a given, though, is that by about the end of the third day, I am deplorably tired and lonely--even though I interact with friends, talk with neighbors, catch up on emails, whatever. Not tired from the work, but just feeling like a piece of me has been missing too long. It's like I can't do anything except what I have to...(which is plenty). Monday and Tuesday were LOOOOONG, and I felt depleted. Less than five minutes after picking up Beloved at the airport, I felt like I could take on the world. Sigh. I am so amazingly blessed.
That's it for now. Off to order Sunday School Curriculum.
Today this week my goal... Or should I say practice? Ok my practice is going to be to give myself enough time. Often I try to squeeze in so much into my minutes that I end up rushed and unaware. I've started this morning. I printed my sermon, etc last night. (yes I usually wait til Sunday am just to give the Spirit more time :-) this morning has been so full and reflective and it is just 8 am. I want to explore this more, but right now I am going to finish getting ready so I can get to church early to give myself enough time there!
Joy comes in the morning , holy One... May your joy be complete in me this morning. Amen.
Today I spent way too much time at the studio. Well, I loved it, but I had a few other things to do. Beloved is out of town for a day less than a week, so there are many chores, not to mention my work, to consider getting done. In any case, after tearing myself away from glazing and clay, I did a few errands, and by the time I got home it was time to offer all animals an early supper. So, I did. After I cleaned litter boxes. Yes, boxes.
Usually after they eat, the doggies expect their walk. I had not exercised yet, so I got all my gear on--you know, my "frog bra" from Title Nine that guarantees no bounce (which is true, it is a major masher, but I need it), the right socks, wicking shirt and capris--I decided I would jog again today, because it felt so good yesterday. (jog, not run--we are talking 11 minute miles here folks). I have been alternating days between Shredding and jogging, but I felt like I needed a jog today. The skies were threatening and the wind was picking up. I really wanted to do my exercise first, to avoid a possible storm, but then, the doggies were looking at me with those puppy dog eyes....
So we walked. 'Round the block. A bit of a shortchange, or compromise--depending on where you are sitting in stadium.
When we returned, I popped on my ipod shuffle and took off. Wind picking up even more. Dark Skies. More wind. Me, jogging to Natalie Cole...thinking," oh this will blow right over me, I am invincible, I will go the whole way, I don't have to stop at the track and do some laps and go home, I can do the whole route I have mastered twice this week...." and BOOOM!!!! A powerful downpour, rain whipping into my face so now I am jogging with my eyes closed because I can't keep them open because the rain is slicing into them....
And I get drenched. And my little shuffle, soaked and expired. Dead. Sigh.
And there is no existential meaningful point to this story.
It is just a report on what I did today, and how I figured out that God is not going to stop the wind and the rain for me so I can go jogging. Not that I expected that....
This past month has been very, very good. After returning from Israel, I have gotten into a groove where I am getting a lot done at work (could get more done, I realize, but hey, it is July)...have been enjoying walking the doggies religiously every morning before I do my other morning routines of house straightening, kitchen cleaning, I have been exercising--and feeling good. Shout out to Cheesehead who blogged about being Shredded a while ago, and I found the 30 Day Shred Workout by Jillian Michaels on On Demand....and that has made me strong enough to actually jog a tiny more than 3 miles everyother day. I think, too, I might be losing a little weight!
But that isn't what I sat down to write. What I sat down to write about is the fact that lately, when I have sat down to blog, I find I am in a "no word" state of mind. It is easy for me to pop something whimsical on the page...and whimsy is good. I believe in whimsy.
But I also believe in words, in Word, in digging and wandering about in my heart and thoughts to wonder, in words, out loud. Or, I mean, out blog. Blog out loud? Write. But the words, the subject, the wonderings are not there...I worry about being shallow. O.k., I don't worry about being shallow. I don't want to be shallow, but I guess if I wonder if I am shallow, than I am really not, because I am at least deep enough to understand what shallow is. Good grief. Now I am sounding like Paul. "That which I would not, That do I do, I wish I wouldn't do it, but I'm already through...." Hah! Now I just compared myself to a great New Testament author. That would be Narcissism! Cracking myself up here.
Back to the "no word" state of mind. Perhaps it is fear, I feel, wandering in the formless void within me...maybe I don't have the courage to let Spirit hover over that formless void, to let Spirit breathe, create, and speak what is within, to help me find those words, in their time. Oh sweet One, I pray for the grace to contemplate and meditate and give myself time in this wordless state of mind.
I looked for a video on youtube with this song by Jane Siberry, but there wasn't really one. In any case, the song got me through the last few minutes of my jog this morning. The song makes me sooooooo happy!
..and what the heck to do with our TWEENS next year for Sunday School. I am not going to waste money on buying the Sunday School curriculum, because, as one volunteer noted, she was "underwhelmed" with it.
Found some good blogs out there through a very good site for progressive Christian educators called Different Voice
It has some great links, and I resonate with the core values.
What about you? What do you use for Sunday a.m. resources with your 6-7-8 graders?
o.k., so, yeah, I live in a neighborhood where the elder italionos slash someone's tires because they don't agree with interracial dating (Rephrehensible)
I live in a neighborhood where people don't pay their water fees
I live in a neighborhood where people think "r" is pronounced "ahhhhhh"
I live in a neighborhood where people who grew up here don't wear bras....
I live in a neighborhood where dogs bahhhhk incessently, fried hair abounds, and watching out for your neighbors is blood. serious. evem if there is no blood in common.
my dear NEENIE aka VEnus, aka grossy sidewalk surfing for smelly and indescribably non-edible but tasty garbage animal remains/refuse treats searching amazing canine took herself on a walk down a very busy street.....
was recovered by young women (16 ish?)plumpish native ( as in oh sweetie, please, bras are good for you...) sweet teenagers who had a sense of...the least of these....
and all I can say is,
oh my. I love Meffa...you mafia accepting, sweet doggie loving community of Boston.
I just haven't slowed down enough this week to blog much. Well, I was miserably sick until Wednesday...but have returned to the living. Since then, I have been living double time.
I leave for Israel-Palestine on Sunday afternoon for a week. I am not taking my laptop, but will have my tiny iphone wireless capability. I will post pix on facebook...and write about everything in my journal.
Mostly though, I just wanted to say Hi ya! to everyone out there...it seems that so many of us are dealing with deep and vulnerable issues, situations, wonderings, hopes, and fears.... and my prayer for all is that the One we know as dear and loving would reveal that tender love and care to all in tangible, real, and simple ways.
me: (at three in the morning, while on vacation) I can't get A out of my mind. She has been on my heart and in my thoughts incessantly. I can't sleep, because I am thinking of her and her family constantly, and wanting to pray always for her.
God: (at least, I think it was God) Why don't you give her up to me...let me care for her in my arms and constant care and love....
God: Well, I am the ONE to cast all your cares on....
me: I don't know....
God: You know I Am.
me: well, o.k., but don't mess up again. A has been through a lot.
Later, about 5 in the morning. I think to myself, did I really tell God not to mess up again??? Oh my.
mama and baby moose young bull moose and deer (on hike) elk and more elk...no elk babies, though.... grizzly bear (huge guy!) grizzly mama and two cubs (very far away, but oh so adorable) bison, bison mamas and many bison babies pronghorns black bear (another big boy) mountain goats and babies big horn sheep (with big curled horns!!) osprey nest and family bald eagle (in tree, looking very, very wild and proud) many chipmunks and squirrels countless hawks and beautiful birds still holding out for wolf and coyotes... xoxoxo
on vacation. sigh. what's with that? beloved and I are having a ridiculously wonderful time just unwinding from a very busy program year...
but even so, a beautiful earth mother woman friend of mine lies in the hospital...in recovery from a hip disarticulation (removal of her entire leg at the hip--like how you used to take off your barbie doll legs?) due to a giant recurrence of cancer.
going in, she and her beloved were happy that they wouldn't need to take any of her pelvis, which meant that she would be able to sit straight rather than slump... but during surgery, the doctor needed to take that important pelvis bone because the tumour in her prosethetic femur was so high up and close to the pelvis that....well, the whole point was to get rid of the damn cancer.
hasn't she been through enough?
taking her pelvis means that some of her other organs will be compromised in the long run...I don't need to whine about that....because she sure isn't.
her mantra is, I can't be a mother from the grave, but I can be a mother with one leg.
she has a lot of recovery and rehab in front of her. I can't get her out of my prayers and my mind...even while I relax...
prayers for dear A.. for her husband, her children, her doggie companions... oh sweet Jesus, you know the pain of suffering, of physical anguish, and you bore it with grace and hope... you have already given A unbelievable grace and determinedness (is that a word?) and relentless hope. be with her on this journey... surround her with strength... please, please, please, bless her with an uneventful recovery and rehab... she has been dished so many blows... and yet she keeps getting back up with fierce resolve because that is who you made her to be. please...grace her with an army of healing angels to take care of her.... amen, amen, amen.
I have a routine for my weekdays. I get up, brush teeth, and then walk doggies. Then, when I get home, I turn the coffee on... and clean the kitchen-- washing pet food bowls, loading the dishwasher if needed, wiping down the counters, and sweeping and mopping the floor. Mopping as in wet-jet swiffering. I actually love this routine... especially time in the kitchen... I clean not in a rush, but at a slower pace... and it creates for me a space for meditation and prayer. I get some good prayin' God time in that space.
And then, I am ready for my day. Or not. But at least I have had some quiet slow time within it.
Sally, over at RGBP, talks about all of the change happening in their family across the pond--interviews, new positions, oh my! Prayers for Sally! With that in mind, she offers the following Friday Five: Changing location also means packing, so next month will be a month of clearing and sorting, deciding what comes and what gets left behind...
So with change in mind I offer you this Friday five; ( if you've never moved here's a chance to use your imagination)
1. A big move is looming, name one thing that you could not possibly part with, it must be packed ? My mother's jewelry box that her brothers gave her when she was 16. As a child I loved picking through all of the costume jewelry she had in it, and I just love it. Even though I don't really use it for my stuff...it's precious to me.
2. Name one thing that you would gladly leave behind... uhhhh...so much. for starters, everything that is in our attic that isn't used or isn't luggage.
3. How do you prepare for a move
a. practically? I have moved alot. So, the packing thing is very organized for me, and I cull as I go.
b. spiritually/ emotionally? That is harder. De-nesting is difficult for me. When it is time to say goodbye, I walk through the house, or the office, or whatever is involved in the move. Saying thank you and goodbye is something really important for me.
4. What is the first thing you look for in a new place? The grocery store and a place to walk on a trail, or at least a wooded park.
5. Do you settle in easily, or does it take time for you to find your feet in a new location? IF it is a new location totally (e.g. different town, new job, etc.) it takes me at least two years, plus. Jus' sayin.
The bonus for today; a new opportunity has come up for you to spend 5 years in a new area, where would you go and why?
Five years is a long time. Maybe living on a farm, living closer to nature. Whimsically, I could say....Ireland or the Galapagos Islands...
don't have any words for a sermon entitled "unleashed".
is this what that passage means in Romans, "the Spirit helps us in our weakness, for we do not know how to pray (or preach?) as we ought, but that very Sprit intercedes with sighs too deep for words....
need some interceding... or some unleashed writing....
I wanted to play FF today, but just have been too busy to sit down. However, look what came out of the kiln this week. (picture with Iphone, so not a great photo) It's a largish platter that would be good to serve a small turkey on or roast beef. But since I don't eat meat...hmmmm....cookies?
my heart is so heavy the last two days... at first, I just thought it was the wind that got knocked out of me yesterday morning when I very clumsily tripped and fell, skinning knees and hands and bruising legs while walking the dogs... but I think it is more.
I am feel restless. so, so, restless and disconnected.
and then there are the dearest ones of congregation... five week old baby girl facing heart surgery, saint of the church facing third brain surgery in two months... and of course dear mother one, facing amputation of leg but still not clear if cancer is other places....
my heart, my energy, my God-spirit-love is with them....
so maybe that is my heavy heart. along with a couple of other things, unbloggable.
Maybe these are boundary issues, but I do love my peeps so much. I don't really care if it is "professional" or not to carry them with me in my heart and thoughts wherever I go...
I still live life. We are hanging pictures and planting and walking dogs and all else...
but my heart is heavy. as it should be, or even shouldn't be, but the reality is, is that it just is heavy... and prayers ascending, as some revgals say, prayers ascending.... amen.
tonight is one of those evenings in New England that makes worth living here in January. it is glorious, gorgeous, and humbling in its stunning beauty and grace. everything is blooming--rhodendrons, azaleas, lilacs, irises, snowflake and snowball bushes, dogwoods, star jasmines... there is a slight cool breeze, birds chirping.... it is a perfect evening to walk dogs slowly in the neighborhood with your flip flops, sweatshirt and shorts... breathing in the tasty fragrance, spying a robin with a worm flying to her nest to share with her babies, feeling a little lightheaded from the beer you shared with your beloved, your flushed cheeks, happy eyes, gorgeous sunset kissed tops of buildings... and of course, finally, one settled displaced kitty basking in the window... ahhh... it is clearly a perfect juicy moment in time... in spite of your heart with someone dear to you who is facing amputation of her entire leg, possibly pelvis, in order to enjoy more evenings like this, with her beloved, children, and two new puppies... because three months ago, and three months before that, and three months before those, and more, there was no more cancer... until last Friday.
she will be fine, she says, and she will--there is no doubt... but you hate what is ahead for her and her family, in spite of it.. but as she says, what choice? "I can keep two legs, and get my affairs in order.. or...I can have one leg, and dream and hope of a longer future with those I love" She says, "Things don't happen for a reason. This is no reason. How vindictive would that be? Sometimes there is just shit."
God's strong spirit be with you, you say to her. She says, "God is always with me. I am so blessed."
As I said, it is a glorious, gorgeous, unbelievably humbling beautiful evening in new england. And I pray for the openess to really get it.
Daily Coyote is the photo journal of Shreve Stockton, living in Wyoming with Charlie, an orphaned coyote she rescued when very young...but it is more than photos. It is a reflection on life, on giving, on changing course...
Diary of a Mom is written by Jess Wilson, who writes about being a parent of two beautiful girls, one who has autism. It is the story of the wrenching joy it is to be a mom, the challenges and humour of parenting, and a landscape of one woman's inner life. It's a beautiful blog.
3. What gives you joy? my beloved, the cool of the morning, birds singing, wet grass, the smell of jasmine, good coffee, a good meal shared, books, quiet that is filled with the silence of secret sounds, new shoes, friends, sleeping in, Sunday afternoon naps, scritching the ears of all animal friends in our house, walking the dogs, on-demand t.v., Red Sox, pedicures, soaking in the hot tub, a nice glass of wine, sunny days, my garden, my mom, seeing redtail hawks in the sky, and a good walk or strenuous hike.
4. What is your favorite sound? hmm. favorite sound. the dogs barking when beloved is a block away from home. they get so darn happy! popcorn popping is always a happy sound. and of course, being in a wild place where all the wild unseen creatures are buzzing and chirping and crunching and falling.
5. What do you hope to hear once you enter the pearly gates? "Surprise!!!!"
6. You have up to 15 words, what would you put on your tombstone? You know, New England cemeteries have interesting epitaphs However, I won't go there. I suppose something simple, like "She did her best..." or...a nice bible verse, like "Be still and know"
7. Write the first sentence of your own great American novel.Sometimes you don't know a story exists until you start writing it...
8. What color do you prefer your pen? Forest green.
9. What magazines do you subscribe too?Oprah, Christian Century, and that's it. I do enjoy reading free catalogs, though, like Garnett Hill, Pottery Barn, LL Bean, Sundance...
10. What is something you want to achieve in this decade?Hmmm. Long term goals. Some unbloggable, but I would like to have a full ceramic studio in my basement.
11. Why are you cool?
Ummm. Not so cool, I don't think. But if pressed, I guess I am cool because I am a RevGal!! ;-)
12. What is one of your favorite memories?When I was four, I loved to go out to the barn where the cows were feeding. I would sit on the fence and sing to them. I feel certain they loved it. Another dear memory is gardening and gathering eggs with my Grandma when we lived with her on the farm.
13. Anything else you've always wanted to be asked?I would love to be Beyonce for a day.
please pray for psycho kitty...or eliot as I have renamed him. eliot came to us last night via the rescue cat lady across the street. "could you keep him overnight in your attic?" (attic, as in my office, reading room, t.v. room, cozy homey space)
"of course we can" (NOTE TO SELVES: REMEMBER TO ASK WHY??? WHY CAN'T SAID KITTY STAY OVERNIGHT AT YOUR HOUSE?)
we take eliot upstairs, prepare a litter box, fresh water, food, and a special can of stinky wet food to welcome him.
poor psycho eliot. he hasn't stopped wandering around the room and growling since 8:00 last night. I slept up here on the futon, to try and keep him company. uhh, wait. let me say I laid down on the futon, but I did NOT sleep all night. Neither did beloved, one floor below behind two closed doors. eliot is rather LOUD.
he rubs up against my legs, and growls. he wants me to scritch his ears, and growls.
clearly, he is so disoriented. clearly, transitions are extremely hard for him. poor kitty.
pray for him to orient fast!
I know he will settle in ....but wow, he is going to be a hard one to find a permanent foster, let alone permanent home.
he is gorgeous, though.
guess I will be spending the day in the attic to keep him company in his disorientation. sigh.
What an amazing morning we had, yesterday, the women who are on my CE commission. First of all, we sat down to an amazing breakfast at THE. DINING. ROOM. TABLE. at one lovely woman's dear home. Don't you love the occasions you can break out all of fun china or whatever it is that you don't use until company comes over, or a holiday happens? Scandanavian baked pancake, fresh fruit, homemade apple coffee cake, lox, bagels, coffee, tea (in a real tea pot!), laughter, smiles, serious words, communion. Who gets to go to work and do this?
And then, retiring to the living room, we prayed. We teased. We problem solved. We dreamed. We planned. And were amazingly efficient--done by noon.
I got up early... to go over my plans for the CE retreat I am leading, beginning at 9:00. I have spent the last 45 minutes reading Friday Fives. Gotta get my mojo together.
Wish I were writing a sermon rather than spending the morning fretting about how to staff our Safe Church Sunday School where each class must have two unrelated teachers, and of course, parents want only two grades together at a time (e.g. 2-3) in spite of the fact that means we need 16 volunteers each Sunday...at least. We can do this. But combining classes more would be so helpful, because 16 people each Sunday is more than ten percent of our average attendance. Plus, there are all those people in the choir. Then our beautiful group of elders who just barely make it to worship. Then those who have 'retired' from teaching after twenty years or so. Doesn't leave many to peg for volunteers.
But I am not writing a sermon, because I share a pulpit with two other people, and a thriving music music ministry that sponsors several Sundays a year. Which is great. Really it is. For the church. There is really wonderful energy and vibrancy right now.
Sometimes, though, it isn't always great for me. I guess it isn't about me. It is and it isn't --I know.
Sophia over at RevGals offers this Friday Five: As I was walking the beach today, I was surprised and delighted to find it swarming with ladybugs. The sweet little red beetles are one of my favorite insects and also my daughter's blogname--though as of this morning she was thinking of changing it to Butterfly. I'll keep you posted.
This got me thinking about spiritual insect trivia: Did you know that medieval mystics and theologians esteemed the bee for its dedicated work and transformation of ordinary ingredients into sweetness? That Spider Woman is an important creator Goddess to many Native American tribes? Or that Francis of Assisi was reminded of Jesus not only by lambs being led to slaughter, but also by worms (think "I am a worm and no man" from the Psalms)-- so he picked them up and took them out of stomping-vulnerable spots?!
In that spirit, this week's Friday Five is a magical mystery tour through God's garden of creepy crawlies!
1. Ladybugs or ladybirds? Pillbugs or roly-polys? Jesus bugs or water skeeters? Any other interesting regional or familial name variations? Ladybugs, definitely. Water Skeeters--but I love Jesus bugs, although that is the first I have ever heard of it.
2. Stomp on spiders, carry them outside, or peacefully co-exist? I DO. NOT. STOMP. ON. SPIDERS. EVER. So, if I can take them outside, I do-I think they might be happier there. Or, I just let them be. Don't you just love spider webs in trees? The corner of the porch? Charlotte's Webs?
3. Favorite insect? Inch Worms. I love how they inch!!!
4. Least favorite? Roaches.
5. Got any good bug stories to share? In spite of my proclivity towards preserving all life, when I lived in Florida, the roaches were the size of large cats. (slight exaggeration) If I found them in the house, I would suck them up in the vacuum cleaner and take the bag out to the trash.
Bonus question: share a poem, song, quotation, etc. about insects. "Inch worm, inch worm, I love you!!"
and, of course, (all together now)
"The itsy bitsy spider went up the water spout..."
even though I don't write anonymously, I want a new handle for my blog...and I am thinkin' an new blog with a catchy name. for now, I just changed my "name" to revkjarla, Kjarla is my NPR name (see post sometime last week.)
I can't figure out how to make the blog look more cool. more personalized...so for now, I will just play with the colors, and ponder upon a new catchy title.
Every first Sunday in May, Boston is host to a twenty mile walk in order to raise funding for Project Bread, which sources food banks and shelters in Massachusetts with food and dollars for their programs. There has been a significant upsurge in usage of food banks and community meals, in these economic times.
So, although my congregation is supportive of the event, and even is the half-way check point of the walk, we typically don't have but more than two or three walkers. Our biggest fundraising walker--who usually raises at least 2,000 in pledges, was unable to participate because of a foot injury.
I was not going to let this go. So, I shamelessly canvassed the congregation to support "Team Eliot" by sending emails from our listserve. If no one could walk, then I think that supporting it was essential. They didn't dissapoint! And, four other walkers joined me--although only two of us walked together.
We started downtown at the Boston Common, around 7:30 a.m. and got to Eliot right before church started. (ten miles) We had a great time talking, and my walking buddy also snagged a slice of pizza in Newton Centre, just sitting out on the sidewalk in front of Bill's Pizza, hot and juicy. Half-way up the block, we heard someone saying $2! $2! What we thought was such a generous gesture of support for walkers, was actually lunch being sold outside!
At Eliot, we stopped in and said hello. My walking buddy then went back up Centre Street to visit with a friend of hers who was volunteering for the event. Most people walk about half of the walk. It's the solidarity that counts.
I hung out a while, at church, and then thought to myself, hey, the first ten miles walking was pretty manageable. I feel pretty good. So, I decided to walk the rest of the walk.
Oh my. I supposed if I had treated it like a leisurely stroll along the Charles river, and stopped to enjoy the view, eat lunch, etc., my legs and feet wouldn't have turned to jelly by mile 16. But no, I just wanted to get the thing over, and powered to the finish before 1:00 pm. I averaged 4 miles/hour--which I think is good for walking.
Wow. By the time I made it to the T, and my beloved picked me up at my home station, I could barely walk at any pace! My knees felt like they would give out, my hips were sore, and I learned that there are muscles that I have never used in the front of my quads. All I can say is that I am very grateful for Advil, and for our hot tub.
However, as I pushed myself to finish, in spite of being miserable, and not sure if I could really finish, I kept thinking of all the people in the world who have to walk at least ten miles to get safe drinking water--daily--(just google Water for People) I thought, this is really important. I am walking--with people cheering, offering snacks, fruit, and water. Many people walk--just for survival. I may not know what that is like...but at least my feet and body have had the experience of walking twenty miles. At least I know what that part feels like. It is a helluva distance--to go to GET water.
So. I am glad that I made myself do this. There are so many in our world that live so much closer to the earth and to survival...whether in cities, or in the deserts of another continent. It is just good to be reminded of that in a visceral way--and to continue to chip at doing my part with the riches I have to offer.
Over at RevGals, Sally writes: It is the first of May, or as I have been concentrating on dialogue with folk interested in the new spirituality movement this last week, it is Beltane, a time to celebrate the beginning of summer. The BBC web-site tells us that:
Beltane is a Celtic word which means 'fires of Bel' (Bel was a Celtic deity). It is a fire festival that celebrates of the coming of summer and the fertility of the coming year. Celtic festivals often tied in with the needs of the community. In spring time, at the beginning of the farming calendar, everybody would be hoping for a fruitful year for their families and fields. Beltane rituals would often include courting: for example, young men and women collecting blossoms in the woods and lighting fires in the evening. These rituals would often lead to matches and marriages, either immediately in the coming summer or autumn.Another advert for a TV programme that has caught my eye on the UK's Channel 4 this weekend is called Love, Life and leaving; and is a look at the importance of celebrating the seasons of life through ritual and in the public eye, hence marriages, baptisms and funerals.I believe that we live in a ritually impoverished culture, where we have few reasons for real celebration, and marking the passages of life;
1. Are ritual markings of birth marriage and death important to you?
Absolutely. In my seminary apps and in my professional profile, I write that my deepest call to ministry is to be with people in those moments of life that are marked by ritual---I love baptizing babies, blessing marriages, burying the dead, closing a pastoral visit with prayer...they are some of the richest moments in ministry...
2. Share a favourite liturgy/ practice.
3. If you could invent ( or have invented) a ritual what is it for?
After living in one place for 13 years, right after college, I developed some deep relationships, and adopted family ties. The decision to leave that home and go to seminary was huge--because I knew I probably wouldn't return there. My friends developed rituals of blessing, and goodbye that were tender and gorgeous. At a party, everybody brought a clear/crystal candle holder to gift me with. We sat in a circle, and lit all of these candles in sparkling candlesticks and votive holders, and each person offered a treasured memory and a blessing. This was a gathering of friends, mentors, parents of children that I taught, colleagues...it was pretty amazing. In addition, I had this beautiful community of women friends--we were all about the same age--such a group of sisters! (and NOT at all affiliated or franchised with church.) Anyway, when we came into the house, we all had to take of our shoes. They sat me down in a chair, and each woman washed my feet and gave me a sister blessing. It was so tender (I have really ugly feet, and this was true vulnerability for me) and strengthening.
Wow. What a wild pack of love that was. I have been so blessed. I have so much more I need to give in relationship to what I have received. O.k., back to FF.
4. What do you think of making connections with neo-pagan / ancient festivals? Have you done this and how?
uhhhh. LOVE THEM. First, I should say, that before I went to seminary, I was in a coven. While still a practising Christian. I laugh because I think I was the first presbyterian witch! Anyway, we celebrated midsummer with berry pies, wreaths of flowers on our heads, an illegal bonfire and drumming. It was GREAT.
5. Celebrating is important, what and where would your ideal celebration be?
Well, my beloved and I, have only had private ceremonies to be partnered and married. I would love, on one of our anniversaries, to have a renewal of vows with a party/celebration afterwards--with dear friends and family. However, my ideal celebration is marking our anniversary, every 4th of every month.
usually, when I preach, I try to participate in the RevGalBlogPal's preacher party. thing is, my goal is to finish today, because tomorrow is a. supposed to be glorious, and b. we have great seats at the 4:00 Sox game, against the Yankees. I love afternoon games.
However, I am only 233 words in...and want to finish, at least the first draft, by 5:00. It is now 3:30. I believe this is doable. If I would quit checking my email and facebook and stuff.
I am working with the lectionary text from Luke and then one verse on the Great Commission. It is What if Everybody Came Sunday--I am cracking up here, because I feel certain that we may have lower attendance than usual! I have had a lot of emails from folks saying, "we are so sorry, we can't come, we hate to miss it..." I am also cracking myself up here because I don't really have anything special planned except I got a really yummy nummmy cake from a real bakery--not Costco!
My title is "Why does it Matter?" and basically I am asking all of us, myself included, "why does church matter? why does God matter to you? why does being a Christian matter?" I think it is important that we ask ourselves these questions...especially when we get too comfortable. so, basically, I am going to testify tomorrow....and see what happens.
off to get another diet coke from downstairs, and back at it.
what are you doing right now? procrastinating anything...or enjoying some glorious weather????
so, after getting Sunday's bulletin together, and catching up on some email, and besides cleaning the kitchen and getting Shredded (thanks to another revgal who blogged about this--Cheesehead!) I have pretty much been useless today. I spent the past hour (I kid you not, and if you are a member of my church and reading this, please know that I am usually OVER productive....) shopping for shoes on Amazon AFTER I looked for a few important resources that I learned about over the BE2 weekend. (I just put them in my cart, but didn't press "pay")
I do have plenty to do... I guess re-entry is a little harder than I expected--especially since it is school vacation week and it is like an empty tomb around here. No one is here, 'cept me and Chester (not real name) the person who comes from the cleaning service. AT my office, not home. (sigh.)
The day is rainy and grey...and I miss the brilliance and warmth of the desert.
O.k.--I read this on a local blog in the community newspaper. She talked about how juicy npr reporter's name are--Sylvia Pojolli, Mandolita Barcos, Lakshmi Singh...and so she came up with a formula to make up your own. First, take the first initial of your middle name and insert it anywhere in your first name. For your last name, use the smallest city you have visited in a country besides your home country.
I figured the smallest cities I ever visited were in Scandanavia, but I couldn't remember which ones they were. In any case, I came up with "Kjarla Lillesand" Pretty good name, huh?
Oh, and a gratitude. This morning, my step-father had surgery this morning on his back to relieve sciatic pain that has rendered him virtually housebound since last fall. I am happy to report that the surgeon proclaimed the surgery a wonderful success and that my step-father would be all fixed up now! Thank you God!
Back to Sunday School attendance lists, three weeks late. oy!
just checking in.. am definitely fighting something deep in my chest....but lots of tea and liquids and low key activities and pets from the furry friends should do the trick. please, please, please....
it is cold, windy, and studded with sunshine today.
I have so much to get done before Wednesday evening.
But then, Thursday...off to warm and sunshine to the BE2 in Arizona. Gotta find my plane reservations. hmmmm.
Mostly, today, I am thinking about Fiji, and the military coup there. I have seen nothing about this in our news...and to think an entire land is being held captive and censored--most Americans, I dare say, think of Fiji as this elegant place of dreamy beauty, heavenly beaches, and gorgeous paradise. Which I am sure it is. But my blog friend Wendy, reminds me that the world, while it is so small at times, is so unconnected because of power and wealth and what they deem important. She doesn't write that, I do. Please, visit her blog, and say prayers for Fiji. And while you are at it, visit her other blog where her artwork is posted. She does some marvelous images--some by scanning in actual rocks and branches and pebbles straight into her computer and then playing with color and texture.
We had a lovely service today... beautiful music, balloons, lilies and tulips and hyacinths (sp?)... happy people, squirmy children, cooing babies... even some humour.... and a wild story from my colleague about a statue named "Jesus Scourged" that made the rounds of pranks while he was a novitiate in a monastery. At the end, everyone who wants joins the choir (EVERYONE, including 5 year olds) at the front to sing the Hallelujah Chorus. What fun. And, they even sounded great! The coffee was fellowshipped, the eggs in the park hunted, prayers were offered.... and then on home.
We took the dogs to Revere Beach (pretty urban, not really pristine, but does lay claim to the oldest public beach in USA). It. Was. Butt. Freezing. Cold.
The poodles had a blast running around the waves, but of course, Venus and Fenway were surfing for beach snacks. Venus even decided to put a clump of ylechly soggy seaweed. Slimy.
We drove around a little...and then home for the Great Resurrection Nap. I slept over two hours...am a little concerned as my throat is scratchy, my body achy, chilly, and a cough developing. I have too much to get done before Thursday a.m...please please please please please please just let this be tired-ness.......
so.. holy saturday just sort of feels like saturday. it's the first saturday in a month that I haven't been busy with church stuff, and I can do family stuff all day.
last night, I was irreverently commenting to my colleague, "poor Jesus...we laid him in the tomb last Sunday....dragged him back out to be crucified again on Thursday, and then again tonight (Good Friday) we hang him back there on the cross to die again. I bet he looks forward to Saturday when he can finally rest up for the big happening on Easter morning"
which is to say, I suppose, I am ready for resurrection myself.
and...thank you Jesus, for being so patient with us.
In spite of being a New England congregational-UCC church, we do observe Holy Week each evening of this week, but not as much as I was used to as a child. However, I know culture has changed, as well. In any case, last night we had a moving quasi-tenebrae service, which involved foot washing, communion, diminishing and extinguishing of all of the lights. quite moving...
and this evening, we will have a reflective meditation service in our chapel, led by our seminary intern.
today, however, I pray to keep God in this holies of Fridays. I will go to class this morning, as usual...and pick up round the house, do errands, stuff easter eggs for the hunt on Sunday, begin working on my sermon and the service for the 26 of April...and...maybe plant some pansies in front of the church--early on Easter or tomorrow.
in all of this... dear God... help my heart keep watch with you.. help my thoughts and mind be open to how I might be moved closer to you.. so I might better be your servant.
In Massachusetts, if you are a gay or lesbian couple that are willing and able to be foster parents, DSS has a whole set of extra questions beyond what they ask het couples. ABOUT SEX. Isn't that discrimination? Promulgation of the myth that even when we GLBT folk are in loving relationships, that somehow our sexual practices are still wrong, taboo, warped, whatever? Somehow, that doesn't sound legal, does it?
I know this, because I have a friend in a same sex marriage who will be fostering her niece and nephew--DSS is involved because the parent of the child is charged with neglect. and emotional abuse.
Today is opening day here in Red Sox Nation. Looks like it might rain, so not sure the game will happen. We will see. Tonight is the final four championship. GO CAROLINA!
Hah! It sounds like I am this HUGE sports fan. I do love baseball...and like basketball, but I don't live and breathe sports. But, that's what is happening in my world today.
It is good that it is Monday. The weekend, as always, was busy. Much of Saturday was sermon writing, and errands. Sunday, was great, but long. Usually, whether I am preaching or not, I get up around 5:30 just to get in Sunday mode. I pray to be present to the morning of seeing people, engaging conversations, following up on details, etc. Usually, it all goes by too fast. I love Sunday mornings and the gathering of the congregation.
There were lots of visitors yesterday--some I was expecting, and some who were totally new. I preached on the Passion of Christ and the anointing woman, entitled "A Beautiful Thing". I wasn't sure how it would all come together, such a hard Sunday to preach--after hearing the whole passion narrative. It was more of a serious service, I think. The music was unbelievably gorgeous. Ahh!
During coffee hour, we celebrated a 95 birthday....I missed most of it, because I was busy talking to visitors. One couple I met, are here on sabbatical from Korea. He is teaching religion at BC, and is a professor at a Jesuit university in Seoul. I asked him (wild stab here) if he knew my dearest friend who is a professor at a another theological school in Seoul. He said, oh, yes~~I know her work! Guess she is doing pretty good over there--she is a prolific writer and theologian. Small world. And very cool. After swishing into to coffee hour, I talked to another congregant who was looking for simple children's prayers she could record so her child could listen to them at night before sleep. I showed her our resource room, and she was in heaven picking out prayer books (I have a pretty good library of children's books in our resource room. It is really nice.)Then there was a meeting to talk about the landscaping plan in front of the church--we are repairing crumbling columns and uneven sidewalk (replaced with brick)...and pulled out some really unruly yew bushes. It will make the front of the church a little more inviting. The whole plan emerged quite quickly, but it will look great, and take care of some much needed repairs.
Then, home...did a little work in the back yard, talked about 40 minutes to someone who needed to vent and be listened to...and got back to church for a youth karaoke party at 3:00. I got home after 7.
So...you see why I am happy it is Monday!
A little down time is good. I am going to take the next hour and journal and pray...then do some mopping and kitchen cleaning...run out for an appointment....squeeze in some time to finish some little pottery boxes I am making, exercize...and be ready for a meeting at 7:00.
Today, Dear God, there is much in my heart...some of it is unbloggable, some of it I just don't have the energy to articulate... I am grateful for this day... Grateful for your presence. I just need to rest in you today. amen.
you don't have a name... you were part of a household... where did the nard come from? you probably had some means... your tears. your tears. your tears. hmm. do you have tears in this text? no. no tears. who are you?
what moved you to do this beautiful thing...
you anointed Jesus as a king would be.
anointed him because you saw who he was...and you heard what he was saying... and before your story, the priests and scribes were plotting... and after your story...Judas is making a deal to betray...
and the twelve don't get it.
A beautiful thing, Jesus says, is what you have done. or...the greek translated more commonly as a good thing, an ethical thing. like almsgiving. I like 'beautiful'
I dont' know.
I know you are speaking to me.. about taking what is precious and beautiful...and using it to touch others...to touch the suffering Christ in others...to.... speak to me, ancient sister. speak to me..give me wisdom to hear your story, to share your story...to make it all make sense, somehow.
I mentioned before that I am in a group of colleagues praying daily during lent, and we check in once weekly.
How has this been transforming?
For me, I have experienced an abundance of love and compassion and joy and connection with everything and everyone around me..and to Christ within. It is like I want to embrace it all and say... Oh, oh, oh! You are loved! You are wonderful! You are...baptized, a child of God, and the Divine knows and cares.
I found myself walking with my youth in Times Square...and we stopped at a light, and I just was so crazy with delight for them, I leaned over and said, "I know this is nutty, but I have to tell y'all, I just LOVE YOU!" They grinned. Then we walked into the M & M palace or world or whatever.
The same tenderness breezes through me as I sit at potluck dinners with four 90 plus year old women as we discuss the movie Chocolat and God....
or when I am walking in the park, marveling at the tenacity of Canadian Geese swimming in the freezing Mystic River.
Just thought I would share that. No point. Just sharing.
p.s. to those asking about family in ND--all is well and all are holding up. My immediate family lives in the NW part of the state, and reports from other extended family is that everyone is holding their breath, but so far....so good. Thanks for asking!
...since I didn't get home last night until after 9:30, and my congregation is on the other side of BeanTown (west) from where I live (north) but I gotta say this--
I JUST LOVE ME THE REVGALBLOGPALS!!! Even though mostly I surf through posts when I can't take time to write comments all the time..so I am mostly on the periphery....but I gotta say it. ALL OF YOU ROCK.
The depth of this blog community, the humour, the support, the articulate theology and thoughtful reflections and oceans of juicy diversity... ahh. love it.
What a taste of heaven on earth all of you are.
Looking forward to BE2...and...for someday, my first RevGal meetup!
really gotta run now, so I am not too late for meeting far across beantown. (can I shower, make lunch, walk dogs, exercise, eat breakfast in 20 minutes??? uhhhhh)
today I was jogging in the park along the river. (jogging slowly) I came upon the stone pillar in the middle of the lawn that marks the name of the park, and a huge redtail hawk was perched on it....we were eye to eye, about five feet apart. The hawk calmly watched me as I ran by...and then I stopped and turned around to gaze at its wild beauty until it flew off in majestic glory, soaring over the river, circling back, and landing in a tree, with another gorgeous redtail.
Hawks are fierce, strong, a little scary sometimes, but for me, a symbol of the Holy Spirit...I need that wild fierce presence of God filling me and with me for the living of these days. Amen.
I am in a cohort of people being trained to be a church coach for evangelism and vitality in our Conference. One of our projects together is reading the book, "Unbinding Your Heart" by Martha Grace Reese which is a forty day commitment to daily prayer, and weekly meetings to pray for one another, and talk about how our prayer lives are moving (or not) as well as talk about some of the ideas in the book. The "unbinding" series is part of a larger "real-evangelism series" written for mainline denominations that are wanting to embrace growth as a mission, and learning the practice of invitation rather than relying on the attraction approach of growth. (If we are doing what we do, people will be attracted to us and come). Outreach is a whole other topic, and I digress.
The book is intended for congregations--for forty days, a congregation cancels all meetings, and instead, they work through this book--personally and corporately in small groups that meet weekly. I understand that congregations that have gone through this process are markedly transformed. Understandable. They are praying for one another and the world in a focused, regular way.
Gay Reese's reflections are really wonderful, I have to say. They are accessible for anyone, and yet deep. They remind the reader/prayer of mindfulness in everyday life, and she provides an array of scripture to read and reflect upon. My prayer life has become incredibly consistent by using this tool, and I have to say I am beginning to be much more "all of me here in the moment" than I ever have.
It's a little scary, too. I am learning that I am the kind of person that doesn't easily give up control--she makes the remark that some people are the kind that say "oh, thanks God, for the tip! It all makes sense. So give me back my life now, I can take it from here". OOOhh. I get that. I pray, I receive, and then go on my independent way.
I pray for a heart and life steeped in prayer. But, if this sort of things happen, I better, as Annie Dillard says, get a crash helmet--it is the Creator of the Universe I am being vulnerable to, you know? This is pretty risky.
Ahh. It has been a very busy week. Four nights in a row at work, with multiple meetings/potlucks/visits. In spite of being busy, it all was great. I just LOVE what I get to do.
This morning, though I felt like a brick wall had crashed over me. We got up to go to a WW meeting at 8:00. When I got home around 9:00, I crawled back into bed for just a few more minutes. I literally didn't wake up until 2:00 pm, and then I had to make myself get up. I have been really tired lately--it is true fatigue--and I suppose I need to go and get some bloodwork done. I have had episodes of chronic mono in the past, and although I don't think that this is it, I do think getting it checked would be good. Besides being fatigued, I feel good--my heart is light, I am satisfied and grounded emotionally and spiritually, I am exercising regularly, and I even have lost a little weight. I have energy--in spite of the physical fatigue.
The day today is gorgeous. I am waiting for a delivery, and after that happens, I am going to take Fenway for a walk/run through the greenway. She will like it, and I will love the sunshine on my face and body. It is still a tiny bit cool, but the sun makes all the difference. Last night I was talking to one of our 7th graders, and he commented how daylight savings time makes a world of difference. I have to agree. I LOVE these kids in our confirmation group. Again, who else gets to do work like this for a living? I know that some pastors/congregations have touch times, conflict, personalities, difference of opinions, and that is probably true in pockets where I get to serve... but that has been true anywhere I have served. In spite of the level of conflict or difference of opinion or vision, ministry, being with people, loving people, being on a journey with Christ together, ahh...well, it rocks. I love it.
Today, when we were coming back from WW, we (Beloved and me) made a bet about when Target opens. Don't ever question me about Target--I know my Target, trust me. We bet a pair of shoes, if I win, a new running outfit if Beloved won.
Guess who won (and I didn't initiate the bet, Beloved did. So. Sure. of. Rightness.) HAH! I won. Then Beloved mentioned that of course because there is an economic crisis, I would of course, being thoughtful and frugal, forgo my booty. Huh. hmmm. Well, maybe for now. But spring is coming, and sandals must be had. Don't you think? ;-)
Again, another random post. But, well, maybe it is spring fever.
Thank you for the Joy in my heart, oh Joyful Holy One. Amen.
randomly, I am thinking about these things. I am at the age now, where it is not uncommon for my peers to be dealing with a terminally ill parent--or a sudden death of one. It's huge.
I now know personally two people in very good professional jobs who have been laid off. One was done with grace. The other sounds like a complete knock-out out of nowhere. I also have a colleague whose two sisters have been laid off in the past few months. It can happen to any of us, and to any one we know.
My neighbor has a new puppy, baby Bella, the Bernese Mountain Dog. She is hilarious.
This is a good moment, this pause as I feel the keys under my tapping fingers, listening to the drone of the vacuum cleaner that someone is running across the hall in the pre-school room, while a very loud mommy picks up her child and puts her in the bathroom and tells her not to lock it. That would my cue to lock it to see what would happen. Am surprised the child did not take advantage. The mom is really loud, though. Now she is explaining about Girl Scout cookies.
My heart aches, especially for the one friend who was laid off yesterday.
I wonder when the snow will melt after the dump of 12 inches yesterday.
There is a little boy in the preschool who gets in trouble EVERY day. He is having a hard time. I suspect he might have some special needs. Prayers for him...and his parents....
The sun is absolutely brilliant this afternoon. Wonderful.
I need to clean my office. Someone just came by and asked me if I was moving. (four giant boxes arrived today, full of specially imprinted church mugs--plus a box of curriculum, and another box of old pictures somebody dumped in my office. Plus two Trader Joe bags full of stuff, and an overflow of papers on the floor to be filed. Sigh.) I am not moving.
I can't get the Beyonce song, Put a Ring On it, out of my head. uh, uh, oh..uh, uh oh.....
I wish I could dance like Beyonce
Time for me to stop writing. My stream of thought is deteriorating.
we had a lovely service tonight. with candles. with flash paper. with chants. and remembering our baptisms. and even, a potluck supper.
I do love lent. the drawing in. the emphasis on intention. the invitation to conscious journey.
Tonight I was reminded, by someone who is fairly new to our community how foreign church can be, and yet people are still willing to come because they know they will find something like God In Community there--in spite of being in recovery from abusive or spiritually absent religious community experience in the past.
"uhh, what is a hymn again? I just was saying I had a mystical experience when the choir was singing. wasn't that the hymn?"
Looking at me, said, "I am so new at this. Isn't that the hymn? When the choir sings by itself? " Looking at the music minister, who was trying to figure out what anthem was so touching, said, "don't worry, you aren't responsible for what makes me and God click"
I close my eyes.. and listen.. to the grey whistle of the wind whipping against everything... and underneath that is the traffic of trucks and cars racing down the avenue.. but a little above that is the humm and gentle gurgle of the radiator... while Daisy's snoring keeps the rhythm and sometimes the faint roar of a jet enters in, on its way to Logan, or just taking off to somewhere, somewhere, somewhere... and then there is the occasional solo line for a sparrow, chirping alone from the tree beyond my window... and Lucky cat, warm against my side, breathing so softly, blocking my way so I can't get up without disturbing his peace... so instead, I breathe in his peace, and the ordinary symphony of this moment. amen.
This week's revgalblogpals FF is to name five memorable pets.
I say, oh my! Only five?
I will try.... In no particular order: This is our Lucky cat, who is old and crotchedy and whines a lot these days, except when he is fast asleep, and he looks like a bunny-angel. Beloved rescued him off the side of a road where a farmer had shot him. Rushed to the vet, Lucky survived, albeit with a bullet still lodged under his skin. You can even feel it to this day.
What can I say? Aren't poodles always memorable in their silly, high energy ways? This is Daisy and Tikky, 11 and 10, respectfully. They still act like 3 year olds.
This is Callie, who has more personality than any human or animal or plant should ever have. She is currently leaping from the chair to my desk...then I pick her up, put her down so I can type, and then she just keeps doing it. Relentless. But loves her bling!
This is Venus las Vegas--she survived major surger this fall, and is doing well. She is truly our angel. Besides having lots of arthritis, she has recently started to lose her hearing. But not her love!
Buster crossed over the Rainbow Bridge this fall. He could not have been more sweeter. He was the calm, even-tempered, laid back presence in our family. We miss him.
This is Cowboy Kojak the One-eyed wonder. We found him in a parking lot, skin and bones and what looked like an eye injury. The vet said he might live a month. He spent two and half years terrorizing our household. I could throw him over my shoulder and do dishes, and he would purr and be so happy. However, he hated all four legged creatures and he would prowl the house to chase poodles, cats, and other dogs. We had to lock him up at night so the other kitties could come out to play. Oh, and did I mention he had chronic diarrhea for those two and half years? However, he learned to mellow slightly, and I just loved him. He loved me, too, in his own way. I know he is raising hell over the rainbow bridge now.
This is sweet Annie. We only had her six months. We adopted her at 13 years, after she retired from being a guide dog. I never knew a creature before that truly embodied the word--Joy. She was the most happy-pants thing in the world. She died from cancer, but she had a rich life.
So...that's it for now....but I have to say our animals enrich our lives in so many ways. We all miss Molly, even if we only knew her through the virtual world of blogging. We are grateful for the ways in which she was God's Blessing to so many, and we celebrate her life. Love to Songbird and family as they walk through this great loss in their lives.
yay! it's monday....and I am just lounging, drinking coffee, and looking at my List of Things to Do. Just looking, mind you. I have already crossed off cleaning the kitchen. Still have to go out into the yard and pick up another layer of poop that has emerged in the melting snow. Ylech. At least it is sunny out. Must exercise, must hem pants, must get manicure ;-), must read, must walk doggies. Everything else is gravy.
The women's retreat was really, really great. We had around 40 women, and I had organized our time into three sessions, based on three poems by Mary Oliver. St. Mary Oliver, I should say. The first was The Summer Day--you know, the one that ends with "tell me, what will you do with your one wild and precious life"....that phrase became the sharing question in the large group: Tell one thing wild about you, and one thing precious to you or about you. It was fabulous--hilarious, dear, teary, and again, hilarious! I had asked them to each bring a poem or scripture that they treasured, and was going to use this in small groups, but we ran out of time. So, I asked several volunteers to read theirs during our brief worship time before "relaxing" time. It was beautiful.
In the morning, I used Oliver's poem, "Prayer", from her collection Thirst to launch morning devotions around the topic of prayer. For scripture, I had a list of mostly NT verses about prayer, and then I talked about my journey with prayer, with descriptive language for God, The Lord's Prayer, and more. Then, we broke into small groups, and I asked them to share with each other how they engaged in prayer or meditation, when they prayed, if they prayed, etc. THEY LOVED TALKING ABOUT THIS. Honestly, I thought it was a risky question, because it is so personal, but they appreciated the diversity and integrity of the sharing in their groups.
After a break, we made prayer beads. I gave a little history on prayer beads, and then showed them how to make an Anglican Rosary, or how to adapt it to an Earth Rosary; and also showed them how to make LovingKindness strands, if that is what they wanted. I asked them to choose beads that spoke to them; and to choose a number of beads that was significant. I had purchased a ton of beads--about $100 dollars worth, besides others bringing some to share. I wish you could have seen the sight of 40 women, ranging from 27 years to 94 years old, beading together, on the floor, on chairs, at tables, helping one another, talking, laughing, relaxing, and very intentional about making a meaningful creation. My heart rejoiced. I loved it--every minute.
After lunch, we had a closing communion service. We used the poem "Thirst" to talk about what we thirsted for in our lives and for the world. That became our prayer. After the feast, we blessed the prayer beads, by passing them around the circle, one by one. The creativity was stunning. Truly.
Those 24 hours were full of the glory and grace of the Divine. I am so grateful to have been a part of it.
What bliss. In spite of it being 9 degrees outside, we have had two days of beautiful, joyful sunshine. Love soaking up my vitamin D the natural way!
Today I am finishing up my plans for the weekend retreat, getting things ready for Sunday, ordering curriculum, ordering 4th grade bibles. I had a lovely coffee meeting with a young woman who has been visiting our congregation...I love this part of my ministry--when I can spend time with people, and hear their stories and hopes and thoughts and regrets and....everything. What can be richer?
(picture from a national geographic forwarded email thingy with lots of other great pix) Sometimes, I feel like this monkey, free, happy, in the middle of a treasure.
I was fortunate to be able to have the weekend off last weekend. A trip to NYC made it all the more fantabulously fun, in spite of frigid temperatures. A highlight, among many, was seeing the musical "Billy Elliott." Elton John wrote all of the music. It was so great. I highly recommend.
Today is our weekly snow day, it seems like. Once a week we seem to have a dump that snarls traffic and waylays plans. Poor kids around here are going to be in school until the end of July because there have been so many snow days. (slight exaggeration.)
Am trying to settle in and plan my women's retreat for the weekend. Of course I have a theme and many pieces, but it is putting it all together. PLUS not overpreparing. My church girlfriends like to have plenty of time for talking, talking, talking, and just having fun. It's a balance, for sure! The theme is from that beautiful Mary Oliver poem that asks, "Tell me, what do you plan to do with this one wild and precious life?" I have asked everyone to bring a poem, piece of scripture, or short reading that has been a source of strength for them. We are going to make prayer beads (how fun will that be?) and have time for large and small group sharing around strength, faith, and spirituality.
I am in a good place. In spite of obvious concern about the economy, the strain it puts on people's lives and budgets, as well as the strain on all of our church budgets (I suspect there are many congregations facing shortfalls this year), I have hope. Or, at least, I have no worry. My heart trusts in what will be, and I truly believe Julian of Norwich when she says "all shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of being shall be well." (I might not have this strictly quoted.)
So. We do what we can do, be kind as often as we can to whomever we can--when we remember--, we acknowledge that the people we encounter have lives that have trouble and joy just like our own...and we hope that we can be as gentle to others the ways in which we hope others are gentle to us. Oh. yes. and we pray. Amen.
Well, first. Let me say a few things about the Wovel (to the left) that I got for Christmas, while I worry about the load of snow piling up on my rooftop that is incredibly heavy from moisture, wondering if my roof will cave in. Please. That would wreck the weekend plans to getaway to NYC. I digress. The Wovel is like a snow shovel, except, as you can see from the picture, it has the capacity to move a lot of snow. This is a great tool for when the snow is light and fluffy, or when you don't have five feet of snow already piled up in your driveway, frontyard, backyard. The problem, is as the snowbanks get higher, it is increasingly difficult to try to pop it up that high, and you just end up making a mess that you have to go to your old fashioned shovel to fix. In addition, the wovel has a pretty big shovel on it--which does in fact move a lot of snow, but one needs a lot of space to maneuver it--and since I am a urban dweller, there's not a lot of room to manage it. I would suggest a wovel lite, or mini-wovel, wovel petit that would make shoveling the tight areas feasible. Would I throw 100 bucks at it again if I could do over. Probably. But, I am sorely tempted to check out the sales on the snow throwers (as they call them up here). But, speaking of snow throwers, I feel like there is a little bit of competition between the two 20-30 something guys on our block that have these machines. It is really sweet--it is as if they are racing each other to help out all of the neighbors to blow their snow for them. Next door Fireman Guy was a little late in getting out, and across the street Hocky Guy had not only done his own sidewalk, but the neighbor across the street, next door to us, and all of the my driveway that he could. Wow. Lovin' that. Fireman Guy (also new to the neighborhood) had to go further down the block. I am sure that secretly he was so dissappointed he couldn't do our sidewalk--we are the best next door neighbors ever. So, he did two driveways down the block. I was curious to see if he would do Skanky neighbors next to him, who have the dog that attacked another dog and my beloved while she was trying to save it. I couldn't really tell. And, just randomly--why can't it be a rule that all snow should be light and fluffy and never wet, heavy, slushy, sleety, messy, icy stuff? It would be such an improvement. NOT that I am complaining or anything.
It's Monday. It is sooooo cold outside today, but I am home, and can't go anywhere until I get an important delivery that we missed on Friday. So, I have exercised, checked email, and now will settle in to do some planning for a women's retreat I am leading the first weekend in February. Anybody got something great?
Anyway--there are a ton of things I should be doing, but I have been chilling out, surfing, shoe shopping...later I will bundle up and take doggies for their stroll. I am dying to get to the studio because I made all of these test tiles and I am so curious as to how the glazes came out. Hopefully the box I have to sign for will get here SOON.
In the meantime, the house is so quiet. Every single one of the nine furry friends that live here are happily snoozing.
I had an opinion I wanted to post, but I can't remember what it was!!! silly.
well, not really. just off to the gagillion things to get done today.
But, just had to tell an urban wild story. Yesterday, a guy like this one took exactly one hour to kill, pluck, and eat an entire sparrow in my pristine snow covered back yard. Now it is full of tiny feathers.
(picture totally not used with permission, a google result.)
when playing Friday Five late, one should read other's plays before playing. let me offer one or two less superficial things you should know about me:
1. I can't hold a conflict or issue that needs to be resolved very long in my heart. I have a deep need to not harbor resentment, or misunderstanding. It's about peacemaking.
2. I am incredibly adaptable and flexible. For example, if a child in my Sunday School want to move up to the next age level because her friends are in that class--I say "go for it!". If I make a plan, and someone says...you know, maybe we should add this or subtract that, its great. If I walk into a room, and it isn't what I expect, I go with the flow.
3. I love to collaborate. Love, love, love it. Really collaborate. That being said, at times I can be a tiny bit type a--you know what I mean--a sort of "it's easier to do it myself and get it done..." I am better at this than I used to be...but it creeps up.
4. It should be no surprise that I have a deep passion for the non-human world. I think that the veil between me and trees and plants and animals--wild and domestic--is fairly thin. I am no dog whisperer or Jack Hanna--but my heart hurts when I see a tree cut down for no reason, or possums in the back yard because their habitat has shrunk.
5.If I could be a rock star for a day, I always thought I would want to be Madonna. Now, I would rather be Beyonce.