Wednesday, April 29, 2009

On the Road Again

I'm about to get on the road again. It's actually not until Saturday. And I can wait. It's that peripatetic time of year again when I go traipsing around the state doing my clergy thing. And the month of May is going to involve a fair amount of that.

Saturday it's off to the big city for a convocation on the mission strategy networking effort that our diocese has been about for the last few years. I volunteered to be a group facilitator. What was I thinking? We have been instructed to gather at 8:30 for our marching orders....and I am not making the three hour trek until Saturday morning as I have an obligation Friday night on the home front. Oh, dear....departure at O-dark thirty before the birdies are up I fear.

And since I am over on that side of the state it makes no sense to trek back, as clergy conference starts Monday up thataway, so I'll spend the rest of the weekend hanging with friends and maybe taking in some fine retail therapy options. I'm looking forward to CC this year as Phyllis Tickle is our presenter, and it should be fabulous.

Then Wednesday it's back home to the day job where I can settle in till the 15th when it's back to the cities again for an exciting opportunity to get to visit with our PB Katharine. And then the next day I'll hop down the freeway to worship with her at the "other cathedral" a couple hours away....then home again, home again across the state. Love that windshield riding life!

At the end of the month it's off to another part of the state for the "Total Ministry Summit" where we gather with all the teams who do what we do to catch up on who's who and what's what. Love those folks and all the meet and greet....but whoosh! There goes another weekend! And here comes another drive.

I am so grateful for books on CD. That and really raucous music to keep me awake. I mean let's face it. After almost seven years of driving back and forth and back and forth, I have seen this scenery. I could almost make this drive in my sleep, but would prefer not to if I can help it. So good amusements and quantities of caffeine are in order.

This coming month really is shaping up to be busy. All of the above, the day job, preaching twice and finding time to miss R who will be trekking off to Norway to visit his daughter who is studying abroad. And there are tryouts coming up for the summer musical about which decisions must be made. It's The Sound of Music and I have always had the Reverend Mother fantasy. Well, now's my chance....but thinking about the time commitment is a little daunting....especially looking at how much the summer already holds. I've been realizing lately how jealous of my free time I have become....and how much I used to fill my time with things to avoid having that same free time. Hmmmm.....

I realized I have hardly posted about the BE2. And I have yet to share my pictures with the RevGals. Perhaps after clergy conference there will come a time "when life slows down" and I will have some time to reflect on that as well as what Phyllis will offer us. Well I can dream, can't I?

Friday, April 24, 2009

"It's a Bucket List Friday Five, Gals and Pals!"

Singing Owl asks " you have a "Bucket List"? In other words, from the movie of the same name, five things you want to see, do, accomplish, etc. before you kick the bucket?"

Well of course there are way more than five. I often think I'll have to live to be very, very old to accomplish everything on my list, but here are some of my top ones this morning.....
  • Travel to Ireland and try to connect with some of my relatives there if possible (which would mean I'd have to get serious about my genealogy again and find them!)
  • Learn to play that cello that has been sitting in the corner of my dining room since 2004
  • Go back to school....maybe distance something related to Scripture studies or preaching....or to learn to speak fluent Spanish!
  • Take a hot air balloon ride
  • Go on a Mississippi River boat cruise from St. Paul to New Orleans

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

And after we left the Retreat.....

Today I am here in my office trying to get back in the swing of the day job....Monday night I was here at Chase Field, Phoenix. The Diamondbacks won!
Monday afternoon I was here in amazing Sedona
Monday Morning I was here for sunrise at the Grand Canyon
Sunday afternoon I was just......
What fun! More to come....but I really DO have to get to work now.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

To BE...

All my bags are packed....and except for that pesky niggling sense that I have that I have forgotten something important that always comes with travel...R and I have been over the list, it's all covered, and if it's not, either I don't need it, or Mompriest will have brought it anyway...I'm ready to go. Blessings on all who travel tomorrow. Until next week.....

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Fitting Room

Last Monday's list is history. Somehow it all got done and I am now down to a packing list. Things like camera batteries and cat food so they won't starve while I am off basking in the warmth of desert sunshine, the companionship of good friends and the peace of retreat. Retreat. What a good idea this. To call a halt to all daily events and go off somewhere, where one assumes there might be a little space.....for thought, for prayer, for ordering up the priorities.

My life these days is kind of like my wardrobe. I had this little meltdown Easter morning as I pulled out one Spring top after another and they hung there on me looking....well, big! "Nothing fits!" I groused, as it became clear that some changes really have occurred. It is not a bad fact it is quite a lovely one. And I am not complaining. Far from it! But it does complicate things. And requires that I take some action.

For a time I had this rather orderly little spiritual life. Practices and disciplines that were tidy and predictable and fitting. I knew what I was doing when and where. It was a routine that worked nicely for a single priest with a day job. And for a while there, I must say there was time that was begging for filling with something other than my very raw emotions. And I found that my church life obliged nicely by expanding to fill it. Taking a whole Saturday to write a sermon worked for me, as did spending many quiet hours in reading and reflection. I also was very willing to overfunction and spend as many hours as needed (or beyond) being involved in churchy things. Whatever there was to do, I did...and more. But the shape of this too has changed. And like my spring clothes, the shape of this no longer fits me. I have said no to requests to attend extra meetings, take on extra tasks. I have even told people they would have to (gasp) "do without me." And by and large, the other folks in my life are adjusting with a minimum of fussing. I on the other hand am still having the equivalent of my Easter morning clothing meltdown. "Nothing fits!" I wail as I look at my former wardrobe of spiritual disciplines and tidy routines. "And just what were you expecting?" asks my wise friend. "It has only been such a short time." Ah yes that time thing again. I forget that. It feels like forever I have known him....I forget how new we are. So, yes, I suppose it does make sense that I have not yet figured out how to be. How not to be the priest who used her call to hide from her life as in the past, or the single, solitary contemplative priest I have been for the last year .... but a woman who serves God as a priest in the context of a full and loving and healthy relationship. Finding what fits and helps me continue to grow spiritually in this season of new life.

I have said before I am not sure I know how to have a spiritual life in a time of joy. Pain has always been a good motivator for me. I'm not sure how it works without it. And right now there are some things that are not feeling too good in one dark corner of my life, so there is some push to get moving on this. The BE comes at a good time I know it will all come together. I will find my way, with the help of God and my friends, I will find a balance. New things will come, perhaps even old things will find their way back. It is likely that I will pray and read again on some sort of a regular and disciplined basis. Perhaps I will do yoga and meditate. These things did feed my soul. It is not the first time I have left them for a time. They call me back. God calls me back and calls me out. It's not all supposed to keep fitting, the same stuff, for all time, I guess. Just another adventure in God's fitting room.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Sunday, and #500

It seems so right some how that this Easter post should be my 500th post on this blog. It's also rather amazing that I have had that much to say in just two years. Two years. Those two that I have been thinking about a lot today. It was two years ago on Easter Day (April 8 to be exact) that I baptized little K. That was quite a day. We began at seven, M and I, bringing communion to one of our homebound folks. We did a full service for him at his request. Then we headed off to church to get ready for the baptism. It was my first and I was nervous, but it went fine...I managed to baptise the sweet baby without dropping her, drowning her or any of my other horrid fantasies. I didn't even get chance to get my alb off that day, and I was called to the ER to be with a client in crisis. It was a long day and one I will never forget.

There was something else about that day. K's godfather. He was a friend of her family, nothing unusual there, but there was something about him that I found interesting, attractive in a way that did not usually happen for me. At the time, I gave it little further thought, as neither he nor I were single, and I certainly had no plans to be at that far as I knew.

There has been a lot of emotion in this week. Lent seemed like it never really got off the ground, Holy week came in spades, and now I'm having a little trouble launching my Alleluia balloons. I ended up in tears more than once through this Easter day, but, thanks be to God, there have been strong arms to hold me and assure me that on this Easter Sunday, and all of those to come, at times like like this, there is a soft place to land.

Yes I have come a long way since I baptized that baby....and so has K's godfather, R.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Sermon for Maundy Thursday

John 13:1-17, 31b-35

Through Holy Week we gather as a community to remember through liturgy and ritual the last hours of Jesus life. On this night in particular we recall the last night he spent together with his friends. Depending on the lectionary, we hear either the story of the first Eucharist or the story of Jesus washing the feet of the disciples as we did this year.

Jesus and his disciples are gathered at supper. They are tired, dirty, carrying with them all the stuff of the day….literally. When people gathered for a meal, the typical custom was for someone to wash the feet of those gathered. It was a practical thing, it made gathering for dinner much more pleasant. Most often it was a slave who did this, sometimes a peer, but never the rabbi, the teacher. But Jesus takes it upon himself to wash their feet. No one else was doing this necessary act….so during supper Jesus does this act of servanthood, this act of love.

Having loved his own…he loved them to the end….he did indeed….and I think not simply in terms of loving them to the end of his life….but to the end….to the greatest extent they could be loved…..unconditionally. He loved them when he called them as disciples and they dropped everything and came. He loved them when they had faith and seemed to actually get what he was about. He also loved them when they were completely faithless and seemed to lack the most basic understanding of his message even after being with him day by day for three years. He loved them even when he knew that one of them would betray him.

Love. What passes for love for us so often is really a complex stew of so many other things! Want, greed and unmet need. The demands of our undifferentiated egos, the cries of our wounded inner children. The strident calls of the culture that tells us that our needs must be met and that “all we need is love” and that surely it can be purchased in some shiny packaged form of whatever they are hawking at the moment.

We are not talking about “love as a feeling” as we often think about it, but rather love as an action. Writer and theologian CS Lewis talks about this as “gift love.” He says that this is love born of fullness. The goal of gift love is to enrich and enhance the beloved. Gift love, Lewis says, is like a bountiful, artesian well that just overflows, arcing out to bless all it touches. Lewis says that God's love is gift love. And then he says, "We humans are made in the image of such everlasting and unconditional love."

Theologian the Rev. Dr. Brooks Ramsey has said the point of the incarnation was that “God became like us so we could become like God.” In our becoming more Godlike we are called to a love that becomes a particular kind of transformative act that changes and shapes us more and more into the kinds of persons who can love as God loves, who can indeed follow the commandment that Jesus gave his friends that night. Of course this isn’t easy. It means that we must stoop to serve and wash the feet of those who hurt or frustrate or betray us. It means we must continue to act in love and to serve in love. It means that we have to do the countercultural things, the difficult things….the things that require us to remember who and whose we are. John says that Jesus got up during supper to wash the feet of the disciples becasuse he knew that he had come from God and was going to God. Jesus sense of who and whose he was was clear and strong. His sense of his identity and of his mission was sure. Remember Ash Wednesday when we reflected on the idea that the "dust" that we are is the same as that of all the matter of the created universe, the same as that of the supernovas and the stars, the glaciers and the canyons, the earth and the air... and that really it is all really part of God? What I said that Ash Wednesday night was that as I marked the cross on each forehead, it seemed as if what I was really saying was "Remember that you are of God, and to God you will return." Jesus Knows with an unwavering certainly as C said on Sunday morning, that he is of God and it is to God he will return. And while he is still on earth for this short time with his friends, he wants to give this them last message, this last commandment so that there will be no mistake that they indeed are his friends, his followers…..Love one another in this way….as I love you….in this way. We are loved in this way. God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that we too could know who we are, beloved of God, the God who loves us beyond belief who longs to grace us and transform us with His love into such lovers. In the ACTION of such loving we change…..become the gift lovers.

Lewis' depiction of gift love really is the foundation of the way Jesus loved. And the great good news for us is not only that we are loved by God, but also that this is our deepest identity as well. If we were not capable of this we would not have been created for it! Theologian Karl Barth once said, "Jesus is the name of our species, in relation to whom we are still subhuman but, nonetheless, called ultimately to become." Jesus would not have given us this new commandment if it had not been possible for us to accomplish it.

While we do not do a traditional foot washing service, the symbols of that act are here before you as a reminder of Jesus’ willingness to do whatever was needed in love, and his command to us to do the same. Over the next three days we will see just how far he was willing to take his love for us. We will see the gift of his willingness to undergo the loss of his earthly life by painful and humiliating crucifixion in order to defeat death for our redemption, giving us his ongoing gift of himself in the presence of his spirit among us forever. And we remember not just the end of his life, but the whole arc of it, as we hear again that final commandment “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The Middle of It All....

It is Wednesday. It some ways that is the middle of the week and in others it is simply the beginning. As far as the checklist goes, much has been accomplished. Meetings and appointments are completed. The sermon for tomorrow is sitting neatly printed on the table in the hall near my newly washed alb. The article for Friday's paper is off two hours before deadline. And despite the fact that I grouse and complain every year that it comes in the midst of Holy Week....I feel refreshed and renewed for having gone to the Renewal of Vows yesterday. Yes, we do this every year. And no, it's not like being re-ordained, or re-baptized. Once, for either of those is most surely enough. This is renewal. Recharging. Refreshing. What it does for me each time I go is to help me remember why it is again I signed on for this....and do we not all need to be reminded now and again? Yes even (or maybe especially) in Holy Week. The Bishop preached from John Peter was hurt that Jesus would question his loyalty and how we too, get hurt by so many things....the slings and arrows that get tossed at us from without by the all too human folks of our little flocks, and the even sharper points of the self-criticisms with which we wound ourselves when we feel we are falling short of being who God calls us to be as priests and deacons. It was powerful. It made me cry. And it made me glad I was there.

Oh, and the Bishop knows I'm engaged now, too. As with other important people in my life, someone else beat me to the punch and told him for me. Ah, well. He seems pleased, if a tad surprised. "We will talk soon," he says. And I'm sure we will.

Tonight we begin the Holy Week services. We will start with Tenebrae. We have not done this before. The liturgy consists of the gradually extinguishing candles while psalms are chanted interspersed with scripture readings, until only the Christ candle remains. Tomorrow we will have our traditional Maundy Thursday service. We will have Eucharist and I will preach. We will chant a penitential psalm that says to me...."Yes it is Holy Thursday" all the way to my bones. We strip the altar and leave the church in empty darkness. Good Friday there will be the Stations, though not with our amazing organ accompaniment this year as he is on sabbatical. Our organist has composed interludes that are so interwoven with each Station....the organ groans, it hisses, it whispers and shrieks....I will miss that this year.

Literally I will miss that....R and I will leave on Friday to be with his family until Saturday evening. This is perhaps how we try to have the clergy/family balance thing? I don't's my first shot at it. I just know I want to have some time with them, even part of them, on this my first Easter in this clan. I have observed the operation of this family net now and have felt its power in my own life and I know with sure certainty I want to be there, within, belonging.

And so the "real" Holy Week begins....may we all be blessed by whatever it brings.

Monday, April 06, 2009

The Last Week.....

Sermon writing procrastination.....

Two things wrangle for space in my head and heart today....The first is, there is too much in this week and it will never get done. I feel overwhelmed and tense and a little frantic about it all. And the second is that it is Holy Week! And suddenly yesterday at the Palm Sunday service....I just fell in. The reading of the Passion, the anthem we sang, the whole bringing back once again of the whole holy cycle....I'm there. Yes, bring it on.

The second does not, in any practical way change the reality of the first. There are too many things and not enough time. My schedule, like all of yours this week, is frightening. The bullet list:
  • Dentist appointment today at noon
  • Meeting tonight
  • Get the Maundy Thursday Sermon finished
  • Trip to the Big City 3 hours away for renewal of Ordination Vows Tuesday which will pretty much cover the day
  • My own Bible study Tuesday night
  • Article for the Newspaper (Wed noon deadline)
  • Holy Week Services and choir practices starting Wednesday
  • Wednesday night Bible study at church
  • Shopping and prepping for Easter dinner with guests
  • And I still don't have my taxes done and am in no way ready to get on a plane in a week and half and go anywhere.

But it will all get done, and by Thursday night I will stand in the pulpit and preach the Good News that God so loved the world that Jesus gave the ultimate gift for our salvation. I might, if I feel like I do this morning, even cry as I preach it. And when I look at it that way, the rest just kind of falls into place.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Friday Five: Time-Out Edition

Sally says:"Holy Week is almost upon us, I suspect that ordained or not, other revgal/pals calendars look a bit like mine, FULL, FULL, FULL.....Jesus was great at teaching us to take time out, even in that last week, right up to Maunday Thursday he withdrew, John's gospel tells us he hid! He hid not because he was afraid, but because he knew that he needed physical, mental and spiritual strength to get through... So faced with a busy week:"

1. What restores you physically? Depending on the time of day....a hot shower with my favorite Amber shower gel, a walk with Maggie and perhaps a friend, some yoga, or a good night's sleep if I can get it!
2. What strengthens you emotionally/mentally? Talking to people who "get" me, blogging (both writing mine and reading others), journaling and writing, reading.
3. What encourages you spiritually? Prayer, meditation, music, yoga, my SD.
4. Share a favourite poem or piece of music from the coming week. My mind is an absolute blank....and since I am procrastinating on sermon writing by doing the F5....the temptation to go searching is strong....but I will resist and simply enjoy what you provide here.
5.There may be many services for you to attend/ lead over the next week, which one are you most looking forward to and why? If there aren't do you have a favourite day in Holy week if so which one is it? I really do like the Maundy Thursday service...the commemoration of the first Eucharist, the winding down to silence and stripping of the altar, there is so much symbolism in the liturgy on so many levels, I find it very moving.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Two Weeks Until Launch

I just realized that two weeks from today I'll be in Arizona. This is a wonderful thing. However it also involves a whole lot of logistics that somehow up until now I haven't been giving a lot of thought to. On Sunday I did figure out the Park and Fly thing and have a reservation for that set up. But there is the matter of my little menagerie. Last year, even though things were dicey between us, XDO was still "in the house" to cover pet care. Now this is in my court and arrangements must be made for Maggie and the kitties. I will ask Soul Sister S about having Maggie stay, though sometimes I feel like I presume on her hospitality a lot. She has another sitter she uses for her pup, so I don't get the chance to reciprocate, and the people whose dogs I sit don't sit mine....and so it goes. She doesn't want to be it makes me feel kind of funny sometimes to ask....but perhaps this is my stuff about "receiving" from people. I have been informed by some pretty astute folks in my life that I seem to have some issues in this department. I think I can prevail on R to stop by to visit the kitties now and again. They are pretty self-sufficient and don't need daily calls, just a little top off on the food and water now and again.

And then there is the whole packing thing. I did get a couple pairs of shorts and some tops as I seem to have a little problem with last year's summer wardrobe being a little big for me. Nice problem, but it can complicate things a bit. My intentions are to pack light. I seem to always have those intentions and then end up dragging far too many things to wherever I am going. Someone suggested putting everything out and cutting half....we'll see how that goes!

And somehow between here and there is life. This weekend the Soul Sisters and I are taking a road trip to a bridal shop two hours from here to peruse the end of season clearance sales. Then we slide into Holy Week , and in the midst of the day job, I still have a sermon to write before Thursday. Easter weekend there will be some time with R's family on Saturday and with friends after church on Sunday. And someplace in there the dog needs a rabies shot and I need a dentist!

I know it will all get done. It always does. And what doesn't won't matter. Because it doesn't either. So off we go into Thursday....and the countdown continues.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Egads...It's April 1st!

And it's snowing. Not a lot. Just a little powdered sugar dusting. Nuisance snow. April Fool snow. Just enough remind us that even though the calendar says Spring....we are in Minnesota and anything can happen.

Today is Soup and Sermon at noon. I'm up as preacher with Lazarus as my guy. There was just something about recent weeks that called out for a good back to life story. Actually I have to confess to a back to life sermon....this being the last one in the marathon stretch, I did a little resurrecting myself of an Easter 5 sermon from years past. With some tweaking, it fits the need and speaks to where I hope folks are today. The S & S crowd is a mixed bunch, mainly older, mostly Catholic (since we meet at the RC church), but with a good sprinkling of all the other folks as well. I love that we do this ecumenical stuff here....the community Thanksgiving, this series in Lent, our active ministerium. It feels very right to me that we should all gather as believers now and again and pay less attention to the stuff that divides us and more to what unites us.

I found myself volunteering yesterday to preach Maundy Thursday. I was completely off the docket for Holy Week...but with one thing and another, M was going to have two services to preach and me with none....well, it didn't seem, there you go. I have had the last two Easters, but I've not had a Holy Week service, so it's time anyway. And there is that vacation right after Easter to look forward to, after all!

It is time for a vacation. Winter has been long. Despite the fact that I have pretty much floated through it, I'm tired and feeling sort of meh right now. My clients are not getting the best of me, I know. Some days my inner dialogue is more critical towards them than I like....always a sign I need a break. My spiritual life feels a little dry and dusty. Lent really never did get off the ground. Physically, I've been dragging from a cold and sinus-y stuff. On the positive side, my personal emotional life is about as wonderful as I can imagine it being. And despite the bits of burn-out, I really do love what I do job-wise and feel very grateful to be employed and secure and doing something that feeds my soul as well. But I am so looking forward to the BE2.

Sixteen and counting......