Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

Can it really be the end of another year? Or the beginning of one? They do seem to speed by, and yet looking back, so much happens in these 365 short days. These years in particular, the one just gone and the one to come are big ones. In 2009, getting engaged, making plans....for what will happen on May 15, 2010. Now I am in no way a person who thinks that the wedding day is more important that the marriage. I am in fact appalled by that kind of thinking. R and I are working on planning a celebration that will be reflective of us and our love, and will not cost an arm and a leg, all of which does take time and some amount of work. We've been going at it as a team for some months now. And lots is done. The most of it, in fact. We have the places, the people, the stuff of it pretty much all arranged. One day last week I saw some sample invitations with all the relevant real details filled in. It suddenly became very real. It took my breath away. At a point well past I ever thought it could happen....I am getting married for the first time. To a man who fills me with such happiness on a daily basis that I can hardly contain the gratitude. Yep, quite a year...coming and going.

We went to the New Year's Eve dance at the country club last night as we did last year. And again it was a wonderful evening. Last year it was like a dream come true, and I'd felt kind of like Cinderella at the ball. There was all the excitement of being held in the arms of this man I was so clearly falling for, along with the nervousness that still lingered with the newness. This year there was nothing but the comfort of the familiarity of "us." He is mine and I am his. We share our own shorthand language, little jokes, and the safety that over a year together brings. As I danced I looked around at the space and realized that probably the next time we will be there it will be for our reception. The more "real" this becomes the more I want it to hurry fast and come!

This morning I feel kind of creaky. Clearly this body is not used to HOURS of dancing. The list of the places that don't crack, ache or twinge is much shorter than the one of those that do. But worth it? Oh yes! It's probably not helped by the fact that I went to three yoga classes this week. But that is a good thing too, as one of my intentions for the new year is to try to revive my practice as one my spiritual disciplines. There was a time when I had a thriving daily practice. Then one just ....went away. Well, it wasn't really that simple. Life changed, schedules changed, I changed, and I never really took the time or the discipline to figure out how to put it back. But the time has come. I miss it in many ways. So when the local studio offered an "intensive week" between the holidays I jumped on it and went to class three times. OY! I am studying with a new teacher also. She does Anusara, which is much more like where I "come from" in the past with yoga. I love it, but it gets me in touch very fast with how inflexible and wimpy I have become. So it's back to beginners, which is kind of humbling after all these years. But then, I suppose yoga was never really intended for competition, even with oneself!

Today is going to be a very laid back day. Leftovers, time on the couch. That's what I'm up for on this first day of the new decade.

Wishing all of you a most joyfilled, blessed and prosperous 2010.

Monday, December 28, 2009

On Not Passing Go and Getting Out of Jail

L's lawyer and I had a little e-mail exchange today. It all started because I needed some info about his upcoming release which was...yes was scheduled for January 9. R and I were going to take him down to his girlfriend's parents' house about three hours from here, and I suspected there were some things he might need to take care of before he left town. I was right on that score. However....the bad news....he has "done something" according to Mr. N and he has lost more good time. Now he gets out February 8. Maybe. Unless of course something else happens, and he loses more. Mr. N is concerned. He said in his e-mail, "I hope he makes it that long." Yes, Mr. N, so do I, so do I. When I saw him last, he was pretty much hanging by a thread by the hope of his pending release. With that now pushed back yet again....I don't know how he will stay positive, or hopeful or do the things he needs to do to stay safe in there. And every time he does's more time added. I don't know how long the total could be. In truth, I am afraid to ask. I will go see him again on New Year's Day. The new system in the "remodeled" jail does not allow face to face meetings, even for his priest. We must talk over the phone. I can "see" him on a TV screen as he sits in the public area. He sees me as I sit in the lobby, talking to him at a "station" next to as many as three other visitors. It's not very private and it's hard to talk and harder to pray. But we will do both. He needs to know we are here and caring for him. He needs to know that God is here, too. That none of us have given up and he cannot either. Of all that has gone on for him, I think this makes me the saddest. Please, please pray for L.

Friday, December 25, 2009

On Christmas Day the Snowflakes Came and Came and.....

It's still snowing....R has blown out my driveway once today so the dinner guests could get in. R said he thought there were about eight inches at that point. That would have been since he blew it out yesterday. We did have church. And that sermon did get used after all. What with one thing and another, M did not get hers done and asked me about half way through the day yesterday..."since you have one, would you?" And of course I said yes. So we split the service, concelebrated the Eucharist and I preached after all. We had a choir of two priests, one choir member and R, who also did doubles as acolyte. The total attendance was sixteen with the four of us and the organist. But we were there and church was had and a joyful noise was made. Our little choir did a rather nice four-part rendition of "O How a Rose Ere Blooming" with very little rehearsal after we decided we had to abandon the anthem for lack of choir. We had the traditional candle lit "Silent Night" after Communion, and we sent ourselves off into the night with a fairly rousing "Joy to the World" recessional. Immediately following our service R and I hustled ourselves back to the Presby church for a very quick turkey dinner and on to C's service there. My friend and her daughter sang, C did a wonderful first person meditation from the point of view of a shepherd, and we did the traditional candle light singing of Silent Night! You just can't do that too much on Christmas Eve!

Today has been a quiet and lovely Christmas. The original plan was to travel with R's daughter to his sister's house about an hour from here. But of course that got nixed with the weather, so he invited his daughter here to have dinner with us. Her mom got invited too, so she wouldn't be alone today, and the four of us had a lovely time enjoying R's fabulous lamb curry and rice, apple pie and pumpkin cheesecake. Now the comapny is gone, , the dishes and clean-up are done, I am in my sweats and there is nothing left to do, no place to be until Sunday morning when I will celebrate and preach again.

It's been a lovely Christmas all in all. Unlikely blessings in strange places. But that, in the end is where they often come when I remember to look.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve's a Snow Day!

Anyone need a Christmas Eve sermon? I have one that isn't going to be used tonight. We have cancelled the late service, the one I was going to be preaching. So far we are holding for the five o'clock. Who knows if anyone will be there....but M will celebrate and preach, R will acolyte and I will be congregation and perhaps the entire choir as well! Such is life on the wild and wooly Midwestern prairie in the depths of winter. We have had about three inches overnight with another two to four on the way today, more tomorrow and Saturday. The winds are coming as well, so all in all it sounds like it's going to be kind of a mess.

R made it out the door bright and early. He will spend the day moving the white stuff out of the way so the last minute shoppers can get to the stores at his mall. I was going to donate blood this morning, but I just got the e-mail that the blood drive has been cancelled due to the storm. So I have nowhere to be until this afternoon when I go help the Presbys set up for their Christmas dinner. That is still on as far as I know.

That's how my Christmas Eve is shaping up at this point. Hanging out, hanging loose, trying not to stress, trying not to really care that all the best laid plans avail us nought. Trying to remember that whether or not we have a service, or sit home and pray our grateful prayers together....Christmas is still Christmas. The Incarnation did and does continue to happen. God is among us.

So in the meantime, if you need a little cheer for the day, a friend of mine sent me this link to a very funny YouTube video that a friend of hers was part of creating. I can't figure out how to embed these things, so I'll just pass it along this way:

Merry Christmas Eve to all.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Blessing Bag

I didn't have to cheat today. "Something that happened that I'm really grateful for...."

Well we all kind of know what that's gonna be now don't we? Yep....that I met R, that we fell in love and that we've decided to spend our lives together. It was just about this time last year that this whole amazing thing began unfolding. We were just talking about it the other night, how we sort of "backed in" to the whole idea of marriage and forever. Both of us were, to say the least, a little gun shy about the whole idea of love and forevering and were pretty sure we didn't want to go there. Yes, we said, we wanted to find someone to spend time with, go to dinner, be friends, companions. But more? No thanks. Been there, done that. Too troublesome and painful all together. Ha. A few months into dating it started to become apparent that we just might be having a little problem in that it was clear that we were coming to care about each other a bit more than planned. First we talked in vague and general terms, "the five year plan" and "maybe someday"....but as December turned into the new year it was clear where we were really headed...and of course on Valentine's Day we got engaged.

Love is such a powerful thing. I have known this intellectually...but I know it now with all my being. I have changed as a result of knowing this man in all sorts of ways. I feel freer and braver, softer and stronger, safer, calmer and less "wound." I laugh way more than I used to and I find life is a lot more fun than it used to be. I know that I face the world with a true partner, if I fall there is someone to catch me, and no matter what hour of the day or night, if I need him...he's there.

So as I look at the gifts under my angel tree, I am grateful for each one. But I am most grateful for the one sitting in the recliner next to the tree.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Blessing Bag (just a little cheat)

So this morning I pulled out "Something beautiful was....." and I gotta admit....I was kind of not in the mood....and I finished the sentence ".....NOT the snow!" Or for that matter the forecast. We are a mumbling and a grumbling out here as we look towards the next few days. Or at least some of us are. Some of us who are wiser and more sanguine about the whole business are saying things like, "no point in worrying ahead about things you can't control, it will be what it will be." But of course I am. Worrying ahead. When will it hit? How much will there be? What will happen to the Christmas services? What about Christmas Day? Will we travel or be at home? Who will come? Will it be ok? Yes, yes, Kate is worried about many things. it is one of things I do best. And used to do even better. I am, of course, wound much less tight than I used to be, though today you might not know this. I do worry about all of those who are taking to the highways this week. Some of my friends have long trips planned. Important trips to see loved ones who are ill, for Chrstmases that hold great meaning to them and their families. I pray that they will be able to make these trips and make them safely. Our own plans are small. We will have church. I have less than a block to walk. So even if the driveway is blocked, I will be there, as will R. Where two are gathered, there will be a Christmas Eve service. On Christmas Day an hour drive to the future SILs if the roads are "go." If not, a lovely Indian dinner at home with R and his daughter and perhaps another snowbound refuge or two. All will be well on this homefront. Even if, as the weathermongers on MPR are saying, "It's like the storm of October '91. I remember that one--we had three feet! So though I am a bit grumbly about it right now, I'm working on letting it go, on seeing the sparkle as it sits on the trees and reflects the Christmas lights, on appreciating the hush as it absorbs the noise of the traffic, on realizing, as my wise R says, that it is not mine to control, so I might as well just let worry go and let it be what it will be anyway!

Monday, December 21, 2009

And a 1 and a 2 and a 3....Ho Ho Ho!

Hard to believe, but we're into the final week. And I have achieved the third Ho in the Christmas joy meter. I think it's having things done for the week to come...the sermons are writ, the plans are made, the packages are wrapped and tucked under the tree...and I can just finish out the work week and enjoy myself for the most part. There was a brief blip a couple days ago when I realized that there was another Sunday left in December after Christmas....and that it was mine. But that sermon too is now done, and all is well. I finished the last of the shopping this weekend, and R and I did cards last night together. We wanted to use the "Christmas letter" opportunity as a save the date for his family, so he wrote a funny one to them including the "big news" for those who didn't yet know. Sitting there with my little angel tree sparkling away, carols playing, laughing with him as I messed up addressing yet another envelope....I had such a sense of feeling that this was all exactly right.

Today's Blessing Bag question was "What is one your favorite Christmas traditions?" We talked about lots of them in the Friday Five last week, but one I didn't mention there that came to mind as was out on my quest this weekend was "the ornament." When I have been with someone, I have always tried to find a special ornament for them each Christmas. This was very challenging this year. I am still not entirely satisfied with what I ended up with. I knew what I wanted and it just was not to be had in this town. I had to settle for something a little more traditional. But I know that in the end R will know that it's all about how much I love him (even if it is a little on the mushy side) and he'll roll with it.

The day job tasks on to it.....Happy Monday.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Friday Five: Christmas Traditions

Jan says: "Christmas traditions vary from family to family and from regions afar. I've been pleased that my oldest son's wife AA loves to be with our family for Christmas, though I don't think we do anything out of the ordinary. It helps that DC has one brother and two sisters to liven up our home.Since I finally decorated the Christmas tree and have started baking Christmas cookies, I am thinking of Christmas only being one week away.So for this Friday Five, tell us five things about the traditions in your family." Think of....

  • Traditions you always do....For much of my life a church service has been part of the Christmas tradition, and often the "midnight" or late service on Christmas Eve. My mom and I went to Midnight Mass together every year up until I left home for college. We were able to resurrect that tradition for a few sweet years again before she died. Now of course, it's often the service I'm doing which makes it very special for me in lots of ways.
  • Traditions you always cook or eat....This is a hard one. For many years it was oyster stew with the family of my ex. But with the end of that particular relationship that changed. Last year I thought I would try my mom's old fashioned fudge. I made something resembling chocolate cement, so I don't think that will become a tradition. The closest thing I can think of is turkey. It seems that whether at home or at the Presbyterian church where I helped out with the Christmas dinner last year, and plan to again this year, or at a friend's house....there is always a turkey in there somewhere!
  • Traditions you would like to start ...Continuing to be less focused on "stuff" and more on the other parts of the season. I'd like to make more gifts if time would cooperate, to spend more time just "being," to go caroling, or to go see the lights, to sit in the quiet and enjoy the peace of the night.
  • Traditions you would like to discard...obligation gifting
  • Anything about your family Christmases...One of the things I always remember about my kid Christmases is that I always got a new pair of pjs. It was the one gift I got to open when mom and I would come home from midnight Mass. They were always flannel and I would wear them to bed that night. I can still call up that new flannel smell and the feel of the sizing as I snuggled down into bed, still chilly from the walk home from church, the hymns still running through my head. Santa was still to come, all was right in my little world.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Blessing Bag

    I was going through my desk drawer this morning looking for something to put a Secret Santa gift in when I ran across a little red Christmas bag full of folded slips of white paper. For a minute I was puzzled and then I remembered, "Oh the Blessing Bag!" An Advent or two ago, my friends the Presbyterians did this as part of their Advent observance, and I had liked it a lot and joined in. Basically the idea is using the bag as a trigger for thought or meditation by simply picking a one of the slips and letting your mind go. The slips in my bag say the following things:

      Something that happened that I’m really grateful for is...

      Where did God show up in my day?

      I felt joy when...

      Something I think made God happy was...

      One of my favorite things about my family is...

      I felt at peace when...

      One of my favorite Christmas traditions is....

      Something beautiful was...

      One of my favorite Christmas memories is when...

      I felt loved or loving when ...

      If I could take baby Jesus a gift, I would take...

      So I'm thinking that for the rest of Advent, in the interest of ramping up that joy quotient in the right direction, I'm going to resurrect my blessing bag....starting now.

      Ok....I pulled the one about being grateful for family....that's a good one for today. I'm thinking about my "new" family, the K's, or "the Clan" as R calls them. And Clan they are. They are big, they are raucous, and they stick together and love and take care of one another, even when they do not always see eye to eye or even particularly like one another on a given day. Today R is off taking his dad to a funeral. He got up in the wee dark hours to drive off to fetch him and deliver him a couple hours across the state. He is doing this because his sister called and said, "L died and dad wants to go to the funeral." R said, "When and where?" That's how it is with these folks. "The piano needs moving?" "The roof needs shingles?" And the Clan culture says as many as possible will appear to help. The Clan culture has made it possible for Dad to remain independent in his own place. It has also made it easy for this new future"outlaw" to feel welcome and at ease despite the sheer numbers of them to be met and sorted. The Clan culture, going back into generations has shaped who R is. Deeply good and generous, the best and broadest that term can mean. I tell him he was raised well, and I mean it! I have had a deep longing in my heart for family and I am really grateful for this one.

      Tuesday, December 15, 2009

      Ho, Ho.....and I could be going on Three

      I just attained "Ho" number two and I could be headed for three. The cause is a first....I have finished my Christmas sermon ten days before Christmas! I don't even have my Christmas shopping done this is very strange, but I am not complaining. I had some holes open up in my schedule this morning and suddenly found myself with a few hours of bonus free time and so I thought I'd just play with some ideas that were floating around in my head....and lo and is written. It is on the short side, but that is a good thing. I'm on for the 11 p.m service and no one is going to want to hear me going on and on anyway at that hour of the night.

      And now, I think I will resume Adventing.

      Monday, December 14, 2009

      Breathe In....Breathe Out

      That's what R kept saying to me all day yesterday as I ran from one thing to the next. It was a long, busy, churchy day. I preached and celebrated at St. J's in the morning, had the nursing home service in the afternoon and last night it was Lessons and Carols. In between I managed to get the house decorating done. We decided less is more this year. There is a table top tree in the living room that I call my "angel tree." It's the tree I started the first year I moved to the prairie when I was feeling so alone and isolated out here. I decided I needed a little Christmas. so I went to Goodwill and bought a small tree, bedecked it white lights and scoured every store in three counties for angel ornaments. Every year since an angel or two has been added. Sometimes it's a supplementary tree, sometimes it's the main one, depending on the year. This year it is accompanied by R's tiny tree on top of the piano and my mom's ceramic one that comes out every year no matter what on the buffet. That, a bit of garland and the creche complete the decor.

      We had a nice full house for Lessons and Carols. A choir of fifteen and fifty or so in the church. In our little place that counts as a big crowd! Our soloist was wonderful, and we didn't do so badly ourselves for the most part. It was fun to look across at the choristers and see my own R singing away in the bass section. Today I have tune snippets running in my head and feel a bit muzzy from a liturgical hang-over. Today holds a full slate of clients, Christmas shopping to be done over lunch and a yoga class after work. R is cooking us Indian food for dinner, so that should help my recovery.

      There is something about this time of year that always makes me so nostalgic and "remember when-ish." I leaf through pages of Christmases past, thinking about where I have been and the twists and turns my life has taken. I am very content and exceedingly grateful. But it has still been hard to find something that feels like joy. I'm still running up to Christmas on about the one Ho scale. This time last year I was crazy falling in love, the year before I was crazy falling apart. This year I think I am sitting in some calm place that resembles but does not yet feel like normalcy. I look at the little angel tree twinkling away in the corner and think of that first Christmas here seven years ago. I knew that God was calling me to something new when I left the security of the only life I had really ever lived to come to this strange place alone, to be in solitude. Little did I know all it would entail! That first year I cried myself to sleep under the angel tree on Christmas night, lonely and homesick. I've traveled far since then for sure. Finding a place, finding a home, finding a love. "Surely it is God who saves me.....I will trust in God and not be afraid......."

      Friday, December 11, 2009

      Friday Five: Soon and Very Soon

      Sophia says: "It's the last week of the semester here so I offer another very simple Friday Five in honor of the past, present, and eschatological dimensions of this powerful season of the church year."

      Please share five ways that God has come to you (your family or friends, your church or workplace, our world) in the past year, that God is coming to you right now, and/or that you are longing and looking for God to come.
      • God comes in love. In the last year for me of course that has been most obviously and tangibly present in the love of my sweet and wonderful R. Even though it embarrasses him completely when I say this, I feel that understand how God loves me ever so much better since I met him. He finds me wholly acceptable, he has my back, he rejoices in my joys and aches along with me in my hurts. I had before a kind of intellectual understanding of "this is how it must be to be beloved." Now I know.
      • God comes in love again. R of course is not the only place I find the love of God made manifest in the people around me. The love of friends always sustains me. I have been so fortunate in having people to sustain me in times good and bad. Through this whole long year plus of the falling shoes there has been the support of my Soul Sisters, my anam cara C, the blog friends met and unmet, my priest friends M and C from my team here. Literally everywhere I turn....there God is in the face of someone.
      • My wing. I wrote about "my wing" a lot last year as the way I experienced God's presence...tucked under all warm and safe and secure, like a mother hen and her chick. This year for a while I've not been in that space as much. I know it is not God who moves away from me, but I get distracted and wander off into another place. I have trying to find my way back there. It is an Advent longing.
      • I seem to always find God in music. It might be liturgical (almost always), but it could be classical, or wailin' blues, or someones beautiful poetry sung to a guitar line. Or it could even be the bum-ba-ba-bum of a bass line that transports me on any given day.
      • God-incidences. Yes I do believe. Even though there is a part of me that wants to be all scientific and sophisticated, my mystical Celtic soul wins every time. God does break into the world in ways I do not understand or apprehend. That book that "mysteriously" falls into my hands that has just the right words, just the right thoughts when I need them most. That person I have been thinking about for a week who turns up on my doorstep or voicemail. The random comment that makes everything fall into place in my brain. The thing that happens that is the prayer's answer, whether I know it or not at the time. Random happenstance? Perhaps. Or not. God is God and I am not. So I think we'll leave it in the mystery and believe and just be grateful.

      Thursday, December 10, 2009

      Check, check, check

      OK....the wind has died down, the temp is still in the you don't want to know range. (It's minus eight in case you really DO want to know). The car groused a bit, but it started, and there were no driveway events. So all in all, we are off to a good start today. I'm on-call for the day job today and my phone rang while I was in the shower. Now while that's better than in the middle of the night, it does have it's complexities as well. Like finding a pen to get the info down, and the fact that all my referral info is out in the cold, cold car. Thankfully, they live here too and can be patient with such human fraility.

      Further progress is being made on the "get'er done" list. All writing tasks have been accomplished and the ones that needed to be sent off have been duly dispatched to their respective places. The remainder of today will be spent in catching up on day job paperwork that got neglected while I was mad rushing to meet all the other deadlines. Tonight R and I are going to a holiday concert. The group is called Tonic Sol Fa and they are quite fabulous. They started out as a local group in one of the small cities not far from here and developed a national following. I try to catch the holiday concert every year if I can. This will be R's first time to go with me, so it should be fun. Saturday night is the holiday party for his part-time job. We are going bowling! Other than on wii I haven't bowled in years, so that should be interesting. I am laughably bad. So bad that I have been known to throw my ball into the next lane. When we used to go regularly back in the day, other bowlers would request not to be next to us.

      Then Sunday it will be church, church, and more church. Mine, the nursing home and mine again for Lessons and Carols. I only hope to be transported once again by the singing of the L and C. It is often the thing that jumpstarts my Christmas spirit. Something needs to, because it is a little on the paltry side. We have some garland on the porch railings and an Advent wreath. This could be it. R is in retail. He is not gung-ho about my home decoration....he has been there and done that with wreaths and trees several weeks or so ago already at his mall. Some years it really matters to me....last year it did as I reclaimed my space. This year, not so much. I don't really Christmas shop anymore. That used to get some juices flowing. But there is little of that to do, and the pushing of the Heifer and ERD buttons, while very satisfying, is just not quite the same. So I'd say on the Ho-Ho-Ho scale I'm about at a Ho. Not really Bah-Humbug as I have been some years, but not really at Merry and Bright either. I think I have not totally recovered from last week's adventure as far as my mood and general state of being. And I am aware how many people are struggling right now with losses and suffering of various kinds. My clients, my friends IRL and in blogland. Sometimes that awareness makes it hard to get that holiday jolliness all ramped up.

      On a bright note....XDO has found someone new and is getting married on Friday in a small private ceremony. They seem very happy together and appear to be well-suited to one another. I wish them blessings and a long and happy life. This is good for us all.

      So I guess that's about it from the cold snowy prairie. Time to go to work and get that paperwork caught up.

      Wednesday, December 09, 2009

      Makin' a List and.....

      Whew! It's Wednesday and I am still slogging away on that sermon. I have checked some of the other stuff off the list. That may be by way of procrastination, or it may be just getting other things done....but....I am still staring down the barrel of John and his vipers looking for joy. At any rate, the newspaper article is sent off, the robes are neatly hung and waiting for the singers, the coffee spill on the church carpet has been attacked with the Little Green Machine, and my service bulletin for the nursing home is done and waiting to be sent to the copy machine.

      It's minus twenty-seven here today with the wind chill. The snow is blowing like crazy. I have already had two cancellations for this afternoon. Two hours in which I can write, with more possible. Given that I'm about halfway there, that should be plenty of time if the Spirit and I can stay on the same page and I can keep my mind from wandering. There is certainly no temptation to go outside for any reason. It's not a lovely day in the neighborhood. My morning began with R having to push me out of the driveway. Always a great start to the day. Front wheel drive avails us nothing when the drifts are deeper than the axles. At least I'm dressed for it....five layers when I left the house, not including the scarf and hat, hand warmers in the mittens (two layers of them to protect my delicate digits) and some serious boots today, no little girly shoes. When the first thing you are aware of when you wake up is the sound of the wind, it's not a day to dress frivolously.

      "If you have two coats....share one." This weather makes me think about those people who have so little, and also reminds me it's time to get cracking on my "Christmas shopping." Have to make the big decisions about what to get people this year....ducks or geese, bees or trees, or maybe some seeds or tools. Wish I were flush enough to get someone a water buffalo....well, maybe someday. It's always fun to see what Heifer and ERD have put together on their websites for holiday giving.

      Just got the word that my last appointment for the afternoon cancelled. No more excuses....the sermon will get done today! But for now, it's time to get back to work.

      Monday, December 07, 2009

      To Find the Joy Again

      I am practicing the fine art of sermon writing procrastination. I know I need to get moving....I should have been at this thing last week, because this one is going to be crazy. I preach Sunday and have the nursing home service as well. It's also our annual Lessons and Carols blow out on Sunday night. That means an extra rehearsal on Saturday, plus finding time to get over to church one night this week to get all the choir robes organized for the extra singers we import from the college and the community. Our church womens' party is Wednesday night and I have an column due Wednesday morning for the ministerial association's contribution to the local paper. Thursday night we have concert tickets, and Saturday night is a party with some friends. I am foregoing a six-hour round trip to the Big City on Thursday for a meeting. The weather forecast and my sanity just seemed to say "don't" and I listened. And then of course there is my day job!

      The theme of course for Sunday is "joy" (if you don't count that pesky little brood of vipers business). Trying really hard with that.....and not quite getting there. Friday was a pretty tough day. The falling shoes meeting had a good end overall. It is done and there is no ultimate harm. But I am still left feeling kind of shell-shocked. Clearly my understanding of what I do and how I am called to do it and theirs is very different. This would all be well and fine if they had no power to tell me how it is I should be doing it. But at least at some level they do. And so they told me that at least in one certain instance I did not do something in a way that met with their approval and in future I should not do it that way again. By extension they also intimated that my approach to my vocation(s) is probably more than a bubble or so off (by their lights), and if I wish to stay safely in the game as they play it I should tighten things up a hair. Safe to say it has raised my anxiety again. And it did not create any joy what so ever.

      It is not all dark though. Seeds were planted that with some tending could become tender little shoots of hopefullness and maybe even joy. I so knew I was not alone. I felt the love and prayers of friends IRL and virtual. There was a visceral sense of being borne on that energy and it did carry me. And then there is R. He is my knight in shining armor and guardian angel. He delivered me safely there, let me cry out my frustrations afterwards, and distracted and entertained me to help me move forward and away from it. My "God-wing" gone so long is back. Comfort right now, and maybe....just

      I know that having a group of people with power tell me I was "bad" has triggered some old stuff. The critical voices woke up, stretched and got busy again. Quieting them will take some doing and some time. But for now, I know it's just a matter of the finding the good news in here somewhere. Isaiah has been my touchstone for a long, long time....."surely it is God who saves me, and Paul rejoices even in prison. Can I do less?

      Tuesday, December 01, 2009

      O Come, O Come....

      I am trying to feel Advent-y, Advent-urous, Advent-ageous.....oh Advent-something! Instead all I am feeling is ansty! Waiting. that part ok...waiting. At least for the part that comes when I have to sit before the Falling Shoes people. I am not sleeping again. No surprise there. That is always one of my best stress indicators...along with other things which we shall delicately refrain from discussing here, but which are also indicating right now. I am instead taking naps punctuated by bad dreams. I don't recommend this as a way of getting any kind of restful sleep.

      This has been a long haul....seventeen months to be exact from the time I found out that this thing was happening until now. Seventeen months of uncertainty, of wondering, of waiting. Initially I was frightened for my future, and my primary and overriding feeling about the whole thing was anxiety. Now I am pretty sure my future will still be there in the morning, and I am getting to some other emotions....deeper darker being royally torked about the whole blasted business ever happening in the first place. Like smarting from the injustice and unfairness of it all and wanting to stomp my feet and flail my fists and tell them just exactly what I think of this whole process. Which would not be smart or helpful, or have any point what-so-ever. So I will try very hard not to do that. I will try to take the advice of those who love me. I will try to keep my counsel on that day. I will think of Cheese's lovely goat and not let them get mine. I will remember other instances of unfairness and injustice far greater than this and I will accept what comes from this with whatever grace I can muster. And it will be over. And then perhaps we can resume our regular Advent programming. And sleeping. It would all be a good thing.