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.