Sunday, November 30, 2008

Paying Attention in November-Gratitude Again

I sat in church this morning thinking about that Friday Five post and all those people I listed that I am so thankful for in my life. All the people on that list are new to my life since coming here to this place. And I thought again about the Thanksgiving service last Wednesday night and how wonderful that was to be part of, and how much it marked being part of this community. There is no doubt in my mind that this was, as I say in my blog description a "spirit-transplant." God had a whole lot to do with my being here, and my being here has a whole lot to do with God.

Life has changed a lot in six years and it keeps right on turning. And it looks like I have something new to be grateful about. It appears that I am officially "seeing someone." I am, as the little red-haired girl in Peanuts used to say, "in like" with R, and by the grace of God it seems to be mutual. So we have decided to very very very slowly continue to explore our friendship with one another while not dating other people, and see where things lead us over time. I have not been a single person for approximately ever, and a dating one for even longer than that. There are loads and loads of things about this that feel like a totally new planet. I feel so blessed to be exploring it with someone who feels safe, sane and solid. We have some important values as well as interests in common, we have enough differences to make for very interesting conversation. He makes me laugh until I can't breathe. Way last summer I once said to someone, "if I could pick someone to date, it would be someone like R" (whom I actually knew very casually as the godfather of the first baby I baptized and a dear friend of a woman in my congregation). The someone I said it to did not know him and had nothing to do with making it happen. God-incidence? Perhaps. All I know is today, there is a little happiness in my heart that feels very warm and sweet and good and I am thanking God for the gift of this new person in my life.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Giving Thanks for You Friday Five

Phillipians 1:3 Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God.
Singing Owl says: "I'm musing about giving thanks for people today, partly because Americans celebrated our annual Thanksgiving holiday yesterday (I try not to just make this holiday "turkey day" even though its main feature seems to be eating till one is nearly comatose) and partly because I read the above verse this morning. It started me thinking about individuals in my life for whom I give thanks. For this post-Thanksgiving Day Friday Five, share with us "Five People For Whom You Give Thanks to God" and maybe tell us why they are significant. "

It is hard to pick just five. So of course I won't....I'll cheat some....and pick some groups. But even then this is far from an exhaustive list. God has graced me with such lovely people in my life, especially in the past six years, it is such grace and bounty, I am indeed thankful. But for these people especially, I say thanks to God.......

1. Anam Cara, sister in Christ, spirit friend and general friend C. I give thanks for her daily. She is sensible, grounded, funny, trustworthy and nonjudgmental. She takes he own relationship with God seriously and appreciates that in me. I am better person because she is in my life.

2. My Soul Sisters. C, S and A....They are each unique and wonderful. We started as a study group but have become so much more than that to one another. I share with them an uncomplicated faith-based friendship that I know that God smiles on and freely blesses.

3. My new friend R. There are many things I do not know about this brave new world I have entered as a newly single middle-aged priest. It's good to have a sweet, kind and funny guide to hold my hand along the way as I navigate some of the early stages. He is fitting that bill nicely and I am thankful he has come into my life.

4. Blog friends....this circle of amazing people, some of whom I have met IRL, and some only through this space. It does not really matter. In these last few challenging months especially I have been so thankful to be part of this RevGal network, for prayers and love and support and connection.

5. My sweet jail guy no more L. God-given and God-kept, he is such a gift in my life. To watch him navigate the struggles and pain of his life with grace and humor, to know that in some small way I did manage to cooperate enough to be useful to God in L's life makes me grateful in so many ways.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Paying Attention in November-Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving

I absolutely cannot believe it is Thanksgiving again. I am so sure it was just last week that I wrote about last year's community service and my silly dinner events;that it was the month of daily gratitude posts. But here we are. Tonight was the community Thanksgiving service. It's one of my favorite things here in my little world, and it serves as kind of a marker for me in this community. Tonight was really pretty amazing. It was held in the big Catholic church, the same one it was in the first year I attended, shortly after I moved out here. I remember sitting there in that big church that first year, all alone. I looked around me and wondered if I would ever belong in this place, ever fit in. I remember feeling very, very alone. In every subsequent year I have been more a part of this service, singing as part of a community choir, doing a reading, then being part of the clergy presence. This year, I was one of the service planners. I read, our choir sang and, the best part, I got to give the blessing. Yep,I stood in the front of a huge Catholic church and got to bless people. That little Catholic girl in me that used to play Mass was jumping up and down so hard I could hardly contain her! It was really a lovely service. We had readings from Scripture and from history and some prayers and lots of music from various groups in the community. This was followed by bars and cider and coffee in the basement. God was of course happily and tangibly all over it! In the beauty of the music and the language and the fact that it was the Catholics and the Presbyterians and Lutherans and the Baptists and the Evangelicals and Episcopalians and the Methodists and the nondenominational community church folks all coming together to be thankful and mindful and prayerful and joyful in God's name and to take up an offering that will benefit those who are the least in our community in the coming year.

It's been a long day with a few too many things in it in a week that has been much the same...I am way beyond tired, but I wouldn't have missed this thing for the world. Church can just be the best fun sometimes.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Paying Attention in November-The Strugggle

I have been trying not to think much about the whole falling shoes business. There is no point to thinking about it. When last I heard from the "official world" there were ten similar situations on the desk, I was in the second five. This was the first desk. There are two more desks before we get to the decision place. Yep lots of hoops before we get anywhere near knowing anything. So I figure the back burner is a good place for this. I have done everything I can do except for the praying...and you all are doing splendidly in that department, too. I can tell. And I was doing pretty well with this. I had kind of stopped obsessing. I had started sleeping again, smiling again, having fun again. I have been thinking about other things, my newly interesting social life for example....which is way more fun to think about than this thing. Until today. Today I was hit with a new thing. Today I found out that I am going to have to disclose information about this thing to people that I would just as soon not have to.....While it is in process, before there are conclusions , I must say, "yep, there are shoes, they fell, here's the story, all the details...." It seems never to end, the consequences of what I did because it was the right thing, the only thing. My first response this morning was to just quit. I want to give up, run away, hang it up now. How many more surprises like this are there I wonder? There have already been so many costs to this thing. I am wondering what else I could do, what else I could love besides this job. Or maybe wanting to love it is asking too much. Having had that once....I should perhaps just be grateful. I know I can do other things, I have. I have in fact done lots of other things. All the way from managing a hardware store to professoring. I am resourceful, and I could find a way to do with less if I had to. I do not like this place. I want to be back where I was before this morning, back in the place of faith that said "no matter what." I also want to settle back into being ok with not knowing and not feeling like I have to act. I really don't want to do anything tender a resignation, pack up the dog and run off into the sunset!

It is almost Advent. Advent is very up there for favorite liturgical season. Usually I love the waiting, the sense of anticipation. This year I'm not so sure. Anticipation hasn't been my favorite thing of late. I've ordered an Ignation Exercises book I plan to start in Advent. I've started daily yoga again. The intentions are good. I have started asking God very directly for a good ending for this thing. As I've said before that has not been my prayer style. But desperate times, you know. Way back at the beginning I was told that if everything went very very fast I could know something very early in the new year. If that were to happen, and the outcome is the best possible one, it could mean a great deal to me in some very important ways. So that is what I am asking for. And hoping. God is holding my life. Yes, I know. In the fear and the darkness, in the pain and frustration. The faithheart knows while the rest of me is having my little meltdown. I think it might be time to find my wing and head for that back burner again.

The Superior Scribbler Award

Katherine E. at Meaning and Authenticity has given me the above blogging award known as the Superior Scribbler. I am honored. Thank you.

This is a traveling award, and there are some rules....

Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass the Award on to 5 most-deserving Bloggy Friends.
  • Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author and the name of the blog from whom he/she has received the Award.
    Each Superior Scribbler must display the Award on his/her blog, and link to this Post, which explains the Award.
  • Each Blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler Award must visit this post and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky List which is at the post which explains the award. That way, we'll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who receives This Prestigious Honor!
  • Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules on his/her blog.

It is so hard to choose as you are all such Superior Scribblers, but in this moment, I specifically honor these five scribblers:

Cecilia at Closeted Pastor who writes of struggles large and small with great compassion, authenticity and wisdom.

Imingrace at God-incidences who is discovering the joys and challenges of a new call as small town pastor, and writing about them with humor and a reflective spirit.

Verde at Justice Desserts. If you have not been there, you should go read. Verde was my BE roomie, and this blogger is scribbling about saving the planet in ways large and small. She gives me inspirarion to do small things intentionally that make a difference.

Mary Beth at Terrapin Station because she and her blog are such a delight. I never know what she is going to write about on any given day....puppies to politics, birding to office moves....and it's all from the heart!

And last but certainly not least, my friend Eliza at Praying (A)Way. Student, Intern, "In the Process" in TEC, engaged, getting ready for yet another exciting trip...and reflecting deeply and writing wonderfully about it all.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Paying Attention in November - Coming Around Again

Finally! As I put my key in the lock of the red door this morning I had that sense of coming home after being too long gone. It's been six weeks since I had preached or celebrated--the longest interval since ordination. As always, I was in early to have that time of peace and quiet. Time to fold and stuff, organize and fuss and this morning, time to just sit. I needed that time. It was a full weekend, full of fun social things that brought me God's grace in many ways. But sometimes there is need of this direct time, unmitigated by anything else. Just God, me and the silence.

I knew it would not be for long. The organist and the choir would come, and with them the teenage granddaughter playing the flute today and the toddler grandsons for the Sunday school. And soon the altar guild person, the acolyte, the lector...each with a greeting, a comment, a question. But for this little time, silence was.

By the time the processional started I was not touching ground. Practicing the anthem, running the hymns, greeting folks, seeing people come....old and new, I could feel the joy in me growing. As the service began and I looked out at the congregation assembled there, I realized anew I much I do love these people whose lives God has joined with mine. They are such a varied mix, young and old, long time members, Episcopalians since birth, mixed with folks who are visiting with us for the second or third time and for whom church is a new and actually kind of dicey prospect. L is there every Sunday now and this of course is a great joy to me. He often brings along a friend or two. Our kid population is growing too, we had six for the once a month Sunday school today!

The singing, the praying, the preaching, the chance to offer the bread of heaven to these hungry souls....each precious moment felt very new and special again. God's presence was so tangible it almost overwhelmed me at times. More than once the tears almost came. Perhaps it is good to take breaks to appreciate things anew. Clearly it is good to be back where I belong.

Note: A version of my sermon from today can be found at the The Feminist Theology Blog

Friday, November 21, 2008

"Mix and Stir Friday Five"

Songbird says: "In a minor domestic crisis, my food processor, or more precisely the part you use for almost everything for which I use a food processor, picked the eve of the festive season of the year to give up the ghost. A crack in the lid expanded such that a batch of squash soup had to be liberated via that column shaped thing that sticks up on top.
Can you tell this is not my area of strength?Next week, I'm hosting Thanksgiving. I need your help. Please answer the following kitchen-related questions:"

1) Do you have a food processor? Can you recommend it? Which is to say, do you actually use it?
Oh takes me back! Last Thanksgiving morning, two hours and counting from the arrival of guests, my food processor bowl got firmly stuck on the base of the thing. Thinking to help it along a bit in the letting go I thwacked it, gently of course on the handle, with a hammer. Yes well, it was not the best of plans and subsequently there was an emergency trip to the big box place for a new food processor and a "begin again" with whatever it was I was making in it. Food processors, I find, are one of those things that I don't use often, but when I need one nothing else will do. The one I had, the one that succumbed to ill-fated impact maintenance, was a spendy one. It survived about two years of infrequent use. My new one is the Black and Decker (love that!) $30 version. It's holding up swell so far and I haven't had to thwack it yet!

2) And if so, do you use the fancy things on it? (Mine came with a mini-blender (used a lot and long ago broken) and these scary disks you used to julienne things (used once).
I use the bladey thing that goes in the bottom. I keep finding that other stuff in drawers still in the plastic bags with the instructions and warranties from food processors long long I'm thinking I must not be using them, either.

Do you use a standing mixer? Or one of the hand-held varieties? I have my mom's standing mixer. It's a General Electric that is, I think about my age. That would be like older than dirt in case anyone is interested. It still works and I have the bowls, the orange juice attachment, the whole nine yards. What I can't find since my last move is the beaters. I'm guessing if I got really serious about it I could probably track them down in some antique mixer place on the net. I did have a hand one. I broke it. It was a $9 from the Dollar Store, so there is that. Mostly I whisk, or punt with the blender.

4) How about a blender? Do you have one? Use it much? I do indeed. Until recently I had two, and a thingy that made smoothies. But I cleaned house last summer and decided this was all most excessive. I have now one blender. I use it to make smoothies, gazpacho, margaritas, and sometimes things that are supposed to be done with mixers! It's a cheapy too and it's making kind of an ominous grindy noise and leaving little shavings on the base every time it's used. Hmmm. I have been thinking new blender, and it is one small appliance that I would actually spend a little bit on. Maybe a glass jar, retro Oster. Love those. Maybe even a RED one!

5) Finally, what old-fashioned, non-electric kitchen tool do you enjoy using the most? I do enjoy my whisk. Good for many things...delumping sauces, frothing the coffee milk, getting the tomato soup to not be that nasty consistency, returning older yogurt to edible condition,....I could go on and on....but I will spare you.

Bonus: Is there a kitchen appliance or utensil you ONLY use at Thanksgiving or some other holiday? If so, what is it? As much as I have been arguing with myself about the need to downsize and get rid of stuff, I still have some "seasonal" themed serving pieces...and Thanksgiving is one of the holidays that I seem to be strong on...turkey serving platter, pilgrim salt and peppers, turkey gravy boat, leaf themed serving dishes and napkin rings. Christmas of course has its own set of stuff. I'm considering the continued need for these things in my life....maybe next year I will decide.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Something to Do for Those Who Serve

I got this e-mail from one of my co-workers today and I thought it was a great idea and told her I'd pass it on to the blog folk.

"Something cool that Xerox is doing If you go to this web site, LetsSayThanks you can pick out a thank you card and Xerox will print it and it will be sent to a soldier that is currently serving in Iraq . You can't pick out who gets it, but it will go to some member of the armed services. How AMAZING it would be if we could get everyone we know to send one!!! This is a great site. Please send a card. It is FREE and it only takes a second. Wouldn't it be wonderful if the soldiers received a bunch of these? Whether you are for or against the war, our guys and gals over there need to know we are behind them."

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Paying Attention in November-Turning the Corner

I'm not sure what exactly has occurred, but I seem to have turned some corner. I don't know if it is simply the passage of time, or grace or the presence of something new to think about, or the fact that even I can only worry about something for so long, but I seem to have just....let it go a little. It started with the weekend when I slept through the night and woke up rested. It was not a fluke. I have continued to have better nights and more peaceful mornings. Sunday morning my first conscious waking thought truly was "God is good...all the time." And I have a sense of feeling "lighter" in some way about things. Nothing has changed, no word has come from "officialdom" about my future. But somehow it matters less. Maybe it is because I am having a little fun, or choosing to look for the positive. Perhaps I was just getting really, really tired of being in that lost and anxious place. Or maybe my heart finally won over my brain...with a little help from God and Dietrich Bonhoeffer

The Soul Sisters dove into Discipleship tonight. Unfortunately for most of the group, it was not a happy swim. Soul Sister C was not with us as she is off visiting her son, but S and A did not find Bonhoeffer to their liking at all. This came as a let down to me as I am finding this book to be such a gift, and I do think what I've read there has something to do with what is going on right now for me. I resonate so strongly with what he says, I feel affirmed by Bonhoeffer's theology, that my own difficult experience is contextualized, validated and given greater meaning by understanding it as part of a work of discipleship grounded in grace. What he says makes sense to me and excites me. It's visceral. I want, as I said to the SS's, to roll in this book like a dog in grass, to apprehend it with all of my being. They on the other hand feel let down by the message. They find him "dry and churchy." Sigh.

I wish that I could articulate theology better, to help them understand how it is that this works for me. "Explain it to us, Kate," they say. "Tell us how it is you understand this." And I cannot. I only know what is in my heart. And for that sometimes, words are simply not enough.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Paying Attention in November-Gratitude

This time last year I was spending a whole month just being grateful. Every day I was finding things to be thankful for, and it changed my life. This year that would be a much bigger challenge as life is a little pinchier, a little closer to the bone than it was 365 days ago. And yet...if I look just a little, I can surely find things to be grateful for now as well. Indeed in some ways that is part of what makes this thing so very painful--the fact that I love my life here so very much and do not want it to change or end. But today I have been thinking about the things I am thankful for, kind of having my own private Thanksgiving, a little early.

So I am officially grateful for:

  • My wonderful boss who has had my back in all that has been happening, who asks how I am doing in all of this and who tonight took me along to a local event, just because she thought I might need a little outing with the girls
  • Her boss who similarly has made a point of telling me of her support and belief in me
  • All of the love and support and prayers of my fabulous friends IRL and in blogland who have called and e-mailed, commented and hugged, left blogstones, spent time, left notes, provided perspective, made me laugh again and just generally let me know that you all are here and I am not alone with this stupid pile of shoes. You are all God's gifts to me
  • L's safe return to the world
  • My congregation who has just rolled with me for the last nine months and seem to just accept me
  • Date nights
  • Smaller clothes
  • People who watch my back just because we are all in this place together and they care
  • My courageous clients who manage to go on in the face of odds that would simply knock me over, and who teach me the greatest life lessons every day.
  • Yoga (and the return of the daily practice)
  • Books
  • Paint and my new found courage to play with it
  • For the fact that this Sunday I finally get to celebrate the Eucharist again....six weeks has been way too long.
  • That I have not despaired and, despite fear, my faith heart has continued to prevail in leading me back to my Wing where I find my safety in the surety that indeed God has my life.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it is for today what comes to mind. Thanks be to God.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Paying Attention in November-Thoughts on Fear

I have been thinking about fear today. The slave in this morning's Gospel who buried his talent, certainly that is where he was coming from. And since fear has been such a strong theme in my life lately, it got me thinking about how I might be "burying" or constraining myself as a result of my own fear. I feel it in myself...this unwillingness to risk, to live as flagrantly as I might once have done, even when I know something is the right thing to do. I did start reading Bonhoeffer. And like at Convention, suddenly there is a larger context here. The choices I make, the actions I take, they are part of something larger, or perhaps ought to be more consciously so. The choice I made that ended up landing me in my little puddle of hot water pales before the life and death of the camps. And yet I do find myself asking myself now and again...."if I had known, if I had known..." Because Bonhoeffer did have that at least, a fairly clear sense of how much trouble his resistance would cause. I don't know if that is better or worse. If someone had said to me, "Kate, if you do will fall. No doubt it is the right thing to do anyway, but be warned, it could have these consequences..." would I have said "I am still doing it because Jesus said this is what we are to do and I am following Jesus?" Or would I have been as afraid as I am now and have buried the idea, kept silence, let someone else figure it out, cut and run.....

The fear now is an ugly thing. It makes me smaller and narrower. Like the slave, I bury things that I am given rather than investing or sharing them or flinging them out there to see what would happen if they landed on good soil and took root and grew. I find myself holding back from love, protecting my heart from those it would naturally go out to. My light is not shining, I am not salt or yeast. As I read next Sunday's Gospel, this gives me great pause. Because as always when we do not do the Gospel work, of course it is the least who suffer. The poor in body or mind or spirit, the ones who need us most. The ones my fear locks me away from. It is a vicious circle. And only I can can end it--with God's help of course. But God will not force my hand. I must chose. The talent was handed to me. What will I do with it? Time will tell.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Paying Attention in November...Riding the Life Coaster with God

For the first time in a very long time I slept well and did not wake up in a panic in the middle of the night. When I did finally come to this morning, it was not in my typical state of anxiety and sadness. I might have even been smiling a little as I woke and said a prayer of thanks for just an easy, delightful night of fun conversation, laughter and feeling just....well...good!

It was particularly needed yesterday as there had been some things in the day that had brought me face to face with the whole lurking life event yet again in a way that was particularly painful. I'm afraid if it had been a night alone it would have been really tough. But as it was, I found that over six hours went by in which, other than filling R in a little bit about what's been going on, I didn't think about it all! I have to think of course that all of this is no accident. God is all over it. I had been thinking about that little "nudge" to R for a long time, but I was reluctant for all sorts of what turn out to be silly reasons. So I finally did a really sensible thing and prayed about it and kept getting a sense that it really was the right thing to do....and finally did. I also prayed to be a little more courageous and transparent and authentic when I was with him...and of course God came through on that front, too. We were both able to say some things about our histories and our fears, our boundaries and expectations that created a good basis for a beginning friendship.

Today has been a good day too. A little work, a little play, some time conversing with a friend, nothing too pressing. Time to savor some good memories. It was kind of an early Sabbath. Tomorrow is forecast to be warmer, so after church the plan is to clean the gutters. Not my favorite pastime, but one that needs to be done--and time is seriously running out, I'm afraid. But for the rest of the night, it's dinner and knitting and a little Bonhoeffer, as we start Discipleship this week in Soul Sisters and I have to get my first chapter read. Dinner is the rest of last night's Mexican, so that will be easy. So that's next on the agenda. For tonight in this moment, all really is well. Thanks be to God.

The Date Update...The Fun Was!

No calls from the ER, and despite the absence of margaritas (due to the on-call status) it was a really, really, nice evening. A total TEN on the date scale! Any man who can make me laugh til my stomach hurts is someone I'd like in my life. Laughter has been in short supply of late and he is, among other things, a really funny person. On our first date we closed the coffee shop. Tonight we closed the restaurant. I'm liking this trend!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Just for Fun

The new flirty little top and the new pants and I are going on a date! My first friend, R has resurfaced (with a small coax) and has invited me out to the local Mexican place for dinner. The coax was a simple "hi how are you?" e-mail....he made the it's all good and off we go!

Only potential glitch....I'm on call. So we pray for a quiet night in the ER!


Friday Five: Remembrance

Sophia says: "Earlier this week the U.S. celebrated Veterans' Day, known in many other countries as Remembrance Day. At this time last year I was commuting to a postdoc in Canada, and I was moved by the many red poppies that showed up there on people's lapels in honor of the observance. Unlike a flag lapel pin, which to me has political connotations and implies approval of our current war, the poppies simply honor the sacrifice and dedication of those who have followed their consciences by serving--sometimes dying--in the military.This week's Friday Five invites reflection on the theme of remembrance, which is also present in the feasts of All Saints, celebrated in many liturgical churches on November 1, and All Souls--known in Latin cultures as the Day of the Dead--celebrated in some the following day."

1. Did your church have any special celebrations for All Saints/All Soul's Day? We celebrate All Saints/All Souls as we always do, by having a space in our service for people to come and light candles and say prayers for loved ones who have died. Before the service, a table is set up with votives and people are invited to fill out a small card with the name of their loved one and place it before the candle they will light. This year in addition to my family members and friends I began my own tradition of lighting candles for those whom I have I celebrated funerals.

2. How about Veterans' Day? Our church doesn't do anything special, but personally I just take some time to pray for those who have and are making this sacrifice for us.

3. Did you and your family have a holiday for Veterans' Day/Remembrance Day? If so, how did you take advantage of the break? No, it was a work day.

4. Is there a veteran in your life, living or dead, whose dedication you remember and celebrate? Or perhaps a loved one presently serving in the armed forces? One of my "special" vets is someone I've mentioned before...a client who is a Nam vet who is discerning a kind of second call vocation to peace and social justice after a career working with vets. We have some very wonderful and wide-ranging discussions and I see the Spirit alive and at work in his life. I also see the pain that still remains and profoundly impacts him from his Viet Nam experiences and his resulting life with PTSD.

5. Do you have any personal rituals which help you remember and connect with loved ones who have passed on? I don't know that I have rituals as such, but I talk to my mother all the time. And when I am celebrating the Eucharist I often have an experience of feeling a crowd of presences around me that I presume are those who have worshipped in that space for years before...or perhaps others who have just come to join us that day for the communion of saints.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Paying Attention in November-Back to the Future WW Version

Well as of this morning, as a lifetime member of Weight Watchers, I could return to meetings for free, as I have once again reached my "goal weight." Not that I necessarily want to go there at this point, but it just kind of struck me as interesting, the way things kind of come around and go around in life.

In the three years or so prior to my move across the state I was a faithful WW member and had lost a whopping 132 pounds. I had a great group and a wonderful leader, and the support I found in that program was a great part of my success. I had maintained my loss for about six months prior to my move, and kind of thought I was "over the hurdle" when I moved out here. I was wrong. The group here was very different. The leader somehow could not understand why I wanted to come every week. She seemed to have the attitude that since I wasn't paying (as a "Lifetime" member I got to come free) I was simply taking up valuable chair space, and that there should be no reason for me to "need" to be there. She made it clear that she did not want to hear my opinions about things...she was the leader and no newcomer upstart should be offering tips or suggestions to her meeting. So needless to say after a couple months of this warm and loving treatment, I stopped going. Now I am not blaming her for my weight gain. But anyone who has been in this struggle knows that accountability is important. And I had lost mine. And then we factor in a new place, loneliness and isolation and the fact that I was an emotional eater...a recipe for extra pounds! I was managing to hold the line for a while through getting a lot of exercise until I was thrown off a horse at my riding lessons. Unable to sit on my posterior even for yoga for several months....they started creeping back, and by the time I had been here four years, half those pounds had found me again. As of today they are gone. Ever since my ordination two years ago I have been losing weight. It's partly desire and effort and partly the "side effect" of a medication that has suppressed my appetite, which I do not complain about, believe me! And I have to admit, lately, it's been a lot about stress as well. The girl who used to eat when upset is now a person who can't eat when upset. Who knew this could happen!

So in honor of this return at long last to the WW magic number, yesterday I went to the local clothing store where there was a 50% off sale and had me a little retail therapy, purchasing a flirty little top for future date nights (hope springs eternal), a sweater and pants, all in a size that is six down from the one I was ordained in a little more than two years ago! When I started this process the first time I did not have a number in mind. The program gave me one. I don't have one this time either, and I'm not saying I am "done" now. I started out with the idea that I would "just try it and be curious about the results" then and it worked and I have been that way this time and plan to continue with that plan as it seems to be working so far. I do like my new clothes though....especially that top. Now if I just had someplace to wear it.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Paying Attention in November-Before and After

I look at him and I wonder if he ever thnks about his before Before life got so complicated, before he had all those other people to answer to, before the labels, before things started to go down this path instead of that one. Because I think about my before. Before complications, before questions, before I decided that one choice had to be made, never imagining what the cost would be. I wonder sometimes, had I been given the gift of foresight would I have made the same choice, felt the same need to do the same things? I'd like to think so, because no matter what the outcome, it was still the right thing in that moment. It was, by my best discernment what I was called to do in that situation. And when it comes down to it, what else can we do but what we beleive we are called to?

Our lives are linked,his and mine, in some way that I certainly did not plan, did not choose. It was a simple Bible study. He was there and I was there and God connected our lives. It was very clear to me that I was to go back and see him. I did not want to particularly. I don't like jails. But it was very clear that this was simply an....expectation. So I went. And went again. And over time a bond formed between this unlikely pair....the streetwise beyond his years young man and the definitely no-so pastor....and always, always....God was there. Through jail and the house and the apartment and jail and now out again it is always God who connects us to ourselves and each other, who holds us both in the dark places and the joyful times. It really is very simple. Really.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Paying Attention in November-On the Hard days

Mornings are definitely the hardest times still. It is the first thing that hits me when I wake up, this unfinished business, this thing that hangs over my life and stands to alter it forever. This thing over which I have no power. I have been dreaming a lot since the falling shoes event. Complex and endless sagas full of interweaving plot lines full of complications and drama. I am often called upon to save someone or take some risk. I often wake up before I get to find out whether or not I succeeded at my quest. And when I wake up, it is there. The great unknown. I spoke to someone last week who is "processing" a piece of this. There will be no news any time soon..late December maybe, but more likely January sometime. That is a very long time.

Fear is a very sneaky thing. It just nibbles away in such tiny little bites that sometimes you don't even know its having at you. It whispers its little half truths so seductively that you can be lulled all the way into a new country of terror before you even know you left your safe home.

I'm afraid all of this is making me a bit bold with God. I find am pleading more in prayer. I don't know quite how I feel about that, but I guess I am certainly in good company throwing myself on God's mercy. I find myself asking for specific outcomes, not something I generally do in prayer, and I'm not sure how it sits with me, to tell the truth. But when I wake up and find myself at the same time crying and praying, it comes from where it comes from....and all I can do is pay attention.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Paying Attention in November-Sunday, Sunday

It was church, church and more church today....I started with the Presbyterians because my Soul Sister S's choir was having a Cantata and I like to go support my local friends when they are having stuff! Prior to going there I had stopped off at my place for a quick choir rehearsal for the Thanksgiving Eve Community Service at which we are singing, and to drop off my food for today's Harvest Feast. After worship with my Presby friends, I headed back for the feast. L was there with a new friend from CH. It was clear he was happy to be back among his church community and was getting a kick out of bringing us a new person. They both enjoyed the dinner and N says he liked our worship service and plans to come again.

After we were all well-stuffed, my fellow priest and team member M and I grabbed our vestments and headed up the highway to a neighboring town. We had been invited to participate in the installation of one of our colleagues, a Lutheran pastor, who is taking on a five point team ministry position. Our organist, who is also a friend of his, played organ and piano music for the service. M and I got to lay our hands on S with all the local Lutherans and it was generally just a lovely celebration. Afterwards, we all retired to the church basement for some good Lutheran coffee and an assortment of homemade Icelandic and other Scandinavian goodies, the names of which I cannot pronounce, never mind think about spelling.

So its been a rather ecumenical sort of day, full of music and prayers and fellowship of all sorts. God was present in the expected ways of the prayers, the liturgy, the Eucharist at the installation service, in the moment when all of us gathered to lay our hands on S and bless his new ministry. There was then, as there often is in such moments a tangibility of Presence, a movement of Spirit energy that is just somehow more there. But God was also there in being able to look across the room and see L laughing with another member of my congregation, all dressed up in his suit for his first day back at church. God was there in the abundance of good food and laughter we shared as we ate together and enjoyed each others' company. God was there as we presented our Intercessor with a plastic-canvas cross-stitched United Thank Offering box that M and I found for her at Diocesan Convention. She tirelessly heads up our UTO drive year after year after year and when we saw the boxes we just knew she had to have one...they were just, well...cute like her! And right now I am finding God's peace in being home at last with nothing more to do, no place else to be for the rest of the day.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Paying Attention in November - Good News Edition

L is home! I got the news as I arrived at CH today that he was there, too! I hadn't heard from him for a few weeks but had heard through the grapevine that there was a chance he might be arriving there at least temporarily while he looked for a place. He is very thin, but oh so happy to be out in the world again. The staff was able to take him over to get his clothes from storage this afternoon, and tonight he was going to have a chance to call his mom who is recovering from cancer treatments. Sunday he will be back with his congregation for worship and we will be able to feed him up at our Harvest Feast. As always, it is ever so much better to see him in regular clothes and walking free! He brought amazing drawings that he did in jail and had many stories to tell. He also has every card and letter that anyone sent him and he totally lights up when he talks about how much he loved getting that mail from "RevKate's peeps." He's talking about the future, a job, school maybe, finding a place. He seems hopeful and positive, ready for a new start. As always, we are both so very grateful for your prayers.


Presbyterian Gal says: "After an exhausting election here in the states it's time for some spirit lifting! Join me with a nice cup of tea or coffee or cocoa and let's sit back and read the Funny Papers!"
1. What was your favorite comic strip as a child? Definitely Peanuts

2. Which comic strip today most consistently tickles your funny bone? Family Circus

3. Which Peanuts character is closest to being you? Charlie matter how many times that stupid football keeps getting pulled away, I just keep on believing next time it will really be there!

4. Some say that comic strips have replaced philosophy as a paying job, so to speak. Does this ring true with you? I don't know about the replacement, but there is often truth in the humor, philosophical and theological as well. In college I took a J-term theology class based on Charles Schultz cartoons called Can Man Believe in the Great Pumpkin? It was pretty awesome way back there in time!

5. What do you think the appeal is for the really long running comic strips like Blondie, Family Circus, Dennis the Menace as some examples? It's like being able to go home again and visit your old friends from the past, the nostalgia factor, and sometimes they are funny!

Bonus question: Which discontinued comic strip would you like to see back in print? Far Side...I miss my dose of warp.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Paying Attention...Quest for Fun Edition

6:00 p.m. In fifteen minutes I have a coffee date. Details to follow.....................

Later....the details. OK. It was I'd say about an 8.5 on the first date scale. He is nice, pleasant and polite. We talked work, politics, families and a little bit of below the surface stuff about ethics. We laughed a little. It was....comfortable. I will say this....there are certain advantages to having a job where I meet and talk to people all day long. It kind of makes dating a piece of cake, I just sort of fall into that mode and off we go! I also didn't feel very much like impressing anybody tonight....probably not a bad mindset for a first date either, all in all.

I was home about ten minutes and he called and wanted to know if I was free for lunch tomorrow. Uh-oh.

What is really just all too funny about this....Saturday night I went to a fundraiser with a friend. it was a dinner dance and I had no date to dance with. I left feeling pretty sorry for myself and was grumbling to God about it. I don't usually pray for specifics in my prayer life, but this time I did. I asked directly if I could please just have a date, and soon! God could I think be having a good laugh right now. Be careful what you ask for!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Paying Attention in November # 3

I watched him with tears and awe as he he spoke. And I said to C, "If this presidency thing doesn't work out, I think he's got a great future as a preacher." This is the first time in so long I have actually wanted to listen to my president, the first time I can remember feeling hope as I listened to a political speech. I don't use this word lightly, but I do feel that there is something prophetic in this man. Called for just such a time as this? Perhaps. It has been known to happen.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Paying Attention in November # 2

My clients truly are my teachers. The first person I saw this morning is one of my best. He never fails to make me laugh at least once when I see him. And he has taught me so much about compassion and forgiveness and moving beyond what afflicts you that sometimes it takes my breath away. V could so easily be a bitter angry man, given all that has happened to him, but instead he was telling me how he has decided that he feels compassion for his father who abused him, and that he realizes that if some of the hard things that have happened to him had not done so, he may not be the man he is. So he has come to peace with the events of his life, and on a good day, even feels gratitude for them. God was all over that hour.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Paying Attention in November

"Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now." Matthew 6:34a The Message

Given that the calendar is an arbitrary thing, and life has its own seasons that sometimes do or do not correspond, perhaps the simple change of a month need not determine a change of practice after all. The days called November may or may not bring news that will tell me anything about my future, as least as others have the power to determine it. They may have as much waiting and unknowing in them as did the days called October. It's likely that I will have as much need as ever to ask the question, "where is God in this, anyway?" So it may be a good thing to continue to develop this habit, this practice of just generally being on the alert, to be looking for God, not just in this hard thing, but in all things. Or maybe especially in all things, in other things.

It has been so easy to get consumed by this life predicament of mine. To see it as the only thing that matters, the only thing that is. Even as I write that, I feel more than a little chagrined with myself. While the world is going to h**l in a handbasket about the economy, a friend is suffering with pain over loss far greater than my own could ever be, I am having my own personal little meltdown. But there it is, it's simple truth, it's just hard to get past it sometimes, this incredible preoccupation that envelopes me. But I really want to try. I want to get bigger. I want to try to stretch myself to find God in more ways here. To try to get back to the original intention of this practice a bit and see if I can see how many ways God is doing things in my life and the world around me. I want to see if I can find some joy again. I want to take a leap of faith this month somehow and act as if I do believe what my faith heart says....that God is holding my life, that God's dreams for me are grounded in love, and that whatever will be some kind of well that I can, with God's help, live into.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

A New Month

So somehow it got to be a new month. C asked me today what I was planning to do for November. I told her I was planning to avoid being hit by any more falling shoes, though I knew she was talking about the blog. Was I going to keep doing a daily post? Looking for God? Daily gratitudes like last year? Truthfully, I don't know. I don't feel a commitment in me at this point to anything, and yet I know that now more than ever spiritual discipline is vital to the health of my soul. I am treading spiritual water here and it would not be very hard some days to simply stop and let myself be sucked into the vortex that wants to claim me. I know I cannot let that happen and it would seem that being accountable by writing something daily in this interactive compassionate witness space would make the most sense as a hedge against that. The question is...what? Something as in anything, or something specific? Perhaps I should just keep on keeping on looking for seems, after all to be working so far to hold me up in the darkness that is now. Any input will be gratefully received.