Wednesday, February 25, 2009

so. it's Lent

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"

leaves me speechless.

Friday, February 20, 2009

polyphonic afternoon

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,
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.

An Altar in the World

is the title of Barbara Brown Taylor's newest book.

It is elegant, beautiful, and wise.

A. Must. Read.

I am going to use some of her thoughts to frame next week's sermon.

Would write more, but I am down for the count with a deep hack of a cough and sore throat. Today is day for reading blogs, not writing.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Friday Five: Memorable Pets

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.

Monday, February 09, 2009

a day off

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.


Thursday, February 05, 2009

Day 2.

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?

What's up with you all?

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

yet to be revealed.

(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.