Friday, December 31, 2010

Friday Five: New Year's Eve

Singing Owl Says: "I'm not a big fan of New Year's resolutions, but it does seem a good time for some reflection and planning. For the last few days I keep thinking of Psalm 90:12 So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. Among other things, that seems to say that reflection is in order if we want to learn and grow.For some of us, this has been an incredibly difficult year; for others it has been a year of many joys. For all of us, there have been challenges and questions and there have been blessings and--maybe even an answer or two! As we say our goodbyes to 2010 and look towards 2011, share with us five blessings from 2010 along with five hopes or dreams for 2011."

Five Blessings
    Blessing Number One of 2010.....  I finally got to marry that man!
and with him came the multiple blessings of  his wonderful fun-loving family (note the rabbit ears!)

We had the resources to travel this year and we took some wonderful trips.  Our honeymoon of course included seeing RevGals in TX, and another trip later in the summer took us to see Soul Sister A in the South.
And of course where would I ever be without my Soul Sisters! Through thick, thin and all the way down the aisle, we are there for one another. They truly are one of my greatest blessings not just this year but every year.
.....as are good friends in general....one of the true blessings of my life and one that I will never take lightly. (If you wonder why they all look a little silly...they are blowing bubbles!)

Hopes and Dreams
Well since they haven't come to be yet...those pictures are only in my mind.  2011 promises to be quite a year in our lives.  One that will hold many changes that are still in the planning and not yet in the "public" stage.  But what I am hoping....
  • health
  • happiness
  • peace
  • joy
  • prosperity
....and not just for us...but for everyone.  And my hope is that each of us can find ways to take seriously our part in making it happen, can take some small step every day to make the world just a little better place for all to live.
Happy New Year.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Monday on the edge of Christmas week....

It has been a very strange Advent.  It hardly seems possible that it's the beginning of the fourth, and last week, already.  I have not been in my church since Advent 1. The second Sunday I was scheduled for supply away and it was cancelled for weather, last Sunday WE Cancelled for weather, and yesterday I stayed home because I was personally a little under my own particular weather....and so it goes.  It's been strange in other ways, too.  I suspect it's partially the church  thing, but I'm feeling rather unprepared for Christmas in the sense of my spirit just not being ready. I feel rather disconnected from the whole business right now, a rather "going-through-the motions" sort of thing.

There are a whole host of reasons for this, I suspect.  I've alluded to the fact that there are some stressors in my work life right now that are making it less than a happy place to be eight hours a day five days a week.  I'm also feeling some stress in my church life that makes it a little harder than usual to be there, too. And there's that SAD thing that seems to have hit me harder than usual this year.  Maybe because winter seems to have come earlier than usual and with vengeance.  We have another 4-6" predicted for today.  It seems to never stop, and it's technically not even winter yet! It was our hope that this would be our last winter in the cold and snowy land.  We still hope that this is true, but I am less optimistic than I once was that we will actually be able to make a major move this year.  There are all sorts of reasons for this that have to do with technical rules and regs related to the licensure for my day job and how I was educated for it over ten years ago.  It seems that simply being educated for and having a license in a profession for a number of years in one state does not qualify one to obtain that same licensure in another. Oh if it were only that simple! So I'm feeling sort of glum about all of that right now.

And then there was the Lessons and Carols thing. Short story.  It got cancelled and I was glad.  Anyone who has been here for a while could not imagine that I would ever say that.  I could not imagine that I would ever be saying that.  But this year....yes. We have (well now it's had but that's another story) a new choir director.  He had his own ideas about things.  They did not include our traditional L and C but rather a much pared down version.  Somber Advent version.  Hymns, chants...from the Hymnal, lots of congregational singing.  All well and good I suppose.  But not our tradition.  He didn't ask, he just...decided.  There was to be but one rehearsal.  All that was needed really for this simple version.  It got pre-empted by a blizzard. So did the L and C. End of story. He's decided to step down after a very short tenure as CD.  It's ok.  He will stay as in the organist's rotation. That should work.

It's snowing.  It looks like that prediction is right on point. The cancellations are starting to come in. It will be a good day to catch up on end of year paperwork and maybe some much needed office cleaning. I have some really yummy leftovers to microwave for lunch, and a good book on my Nook to keep me occupied. The trick is to keep my brain busy and on task.  It likes to go off down dark little rabbit trails when left to it's own devices. So like a good minder, I must have things ready to keep it gainfully employed.

So begins the last week of the Advent that never really started. There's part of me that still wants to redeem it somehow. Get  out the wreath before it's all over. "Light the candles, banish the darkness" the small and ever-hopeful part of me says. Perhaps. Perhaps. I do know still where the box is stored.  It would not take so much to find it. One small act to beat back this gloom, one small defiance to claim this Christmas yet.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Friday Five: Christmases Past

Jan says: "Tell us about five Christmas memories you have."

Well like all things in life, there are those Christmases that are memorable in their wonderfulness, and then there are those that hold memories for other reasons.....and thinking back there are far more of the former
  • I'll start with my best Christmas memory....my first Christmas with my sweet husband. We had been dating for a few months and I kinda had that feeling about this guy.  He was sweet and funny, cute and kind.  And he drove that hot little car!  Well Christmas Eve came, and I was, as I usually am on that day, helping my Presby friends get ready for their big annual community turkey dinner that precedes the evening service. R had mentioned that he might stop by after work.  And stop by he did! He arrived just as the prep was heating up, we were in need of an extension cord...he had one in the truck.  We needed someone handy with figuring out how to hook things up....no problem, he was on it.  And the next thing I knew he was in an apron next to me scooping mashed potatoes and chatting up the diners.  After dinner and clean up we went together to my friend C's lovely service where I thrilled to hear his bass next to my soprano on the carols.  After a little lull it was on to my church to get ready for our late service.  There too he pitched in, folding the bulletins, changing the hymn board, passing out the candles, just generally making himself very useful....yep he was a keeper.  One of our college kids, home for the break was, typically, the first to note to her godmother after the service...."Oh, I see Rev. Kate's got herself a guy."  Oh and indeed she did! My friends tell me of that Christmas it was written all over me that I was a goner for him.  It's very clear that was the year I got the best Christmas gift ever!
  • This is one of those "oher ones." I don't remember why it was we moved on Decmber 21st. But we did. And everything that could go wrong pretty much did. Most of the promised moving crew failed to appear, it snowed (of course it did, it's Minnesota! It's December! Duh.) But it snowed a lot We measured it in feet as I recall. But we did finally get everything schlepped from point a to point b. And someone (perhaps it was me) insisted that there must be a tree. I was young and foolish. So on about the 23rd or 24th we went to get a tree. The pickings were slim by that point, but we found a tree, such as it was and hauled it through the snow, back to the apartment and....couldn't find the tree stand of course. So back out we went and got a new one. It was simpler. While we were out there we got some lights, knowing full well that finding ours was pretty unlikely at this point also. Back we went, into the stand, up with the lights and into the corner....fini! No ornaments, no trim. And I'm not sure we even lit it. But we did have a tree.
  • My first Christmas on the prairie.  I was sort of living in two places.  Here, but not really here.  Home was still in the big city, friends and family were there, but because of work, I had to be here.  Sad and lonely on Christmas night I fell asleep under the Christmas tree. I remember a friend comforting me and telling me that in years hence this would  become home and of course she was right.
  • Many Christmases have this memory for me from childhood....midnight Mass followed by hot cocoa and a new pair of pajamas.  My mom and I would walk to Mass a block away.  The church was always so beautiful, all golds and red, smelling of candle wax and incense.  There was no choir, but the organ was amazing and we filled the place with singing.  After church I always got to open the one present mom handed me (the pjs) while I drank my cocoa and then go to bed in the new jammies.
  • Another repeating memory from the past is my dad's Tom and Jerry's.  His recipe is lost in time.  No one has ever made them like him, thick and battery and sweet.  I got to have them sans alcohol as a kid and then graduated to the real thing as a grown up.  I bought the commercial ones and being sooo disappointed that they were nothing like his.  I can still see him in my mind's eye in the kitchen of our apartment with the big mixer working on his batter.  This was something that was all his project and they were great!
Addendum/Bonus...Well after all this thinking about those T and J's I had to go out looking on the Internet to see if I could fuind a recipe that sounded like it might approximate Dad's...and this one sounds like it might come close.  I think there may have to be a taste test this weekend. After all I do own a set of those cute little mugs!
Tom and Jerry

12 eggs separated
3.5 lbs sugar
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Beat egg yolks with 3lbs of sugar and nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves until thick and light
Separately, beat egg whites with cream of tartar until soft peaks form
Gradually beat in remaining sugar into egg whites
Beat egg whites until stiff
Gently fold egg whites into yolks.

To make the classic Tom and Jerry:
Preheat a 6oz mug with hot water and drain
add 1 HEAPING dessert spoon of batter mix
add 1/2 oz JAMACAIN RUM and or/ 1/2 oz good BRANDY
add hot water to taste

Friday, December 03, 2010

Friday Five: December Survival Guide Edition

kathrynzj says: "Whether a RevGal or a Pal most of us in this cyber community have enhanced responsibilities during this time of year. We also have traditions - religious and secular - that mark the season for us in a more personal way."

For this Friday Five please let us know five of the things that mark the season for you.
  1. Light.  Whether sparkling on trees, lighting the dark winter night or glowing from our candles in the sanctuary as we sing Silent Night, it's all about the light.
  2. Music.  From the glorious and sublime (think Handel's Messiah done well) to the sappy and sentimental (the Charlie Brown kids caroling), yep...it's all Christmas
  3. Music...subpart 1a...Lessons and Carols.  Very special and sacred part of the Christmas tradition at our little church.  Bittersweet this year for more than one reason. Likely a blog post to come.
  4. Must. Surprise. Someone.  There has to be something, somehow every year that has that element.  Some gift, some activity, something I can pull off that has an element of surprise and hopefully joy and whimsy
  5. Feeding people. Whether it's a meal or cookies at home, or helping my Presbyterian friends with the Christmas dinner, it's just not right unless someone gets fed!
And the bonus? Tell us one thing that does absolutely nothing for you.
That would have to be the GIANT tasteless conglomerations of decorations people put together that light up the countryside for miles, don't go together in any meaningful way and seem to just exist to be bigger than the next guys.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

To Dream Perhance to....Panic?

I woke up twice last night just short of panic.  This has not happened to me for a very long time. So long that I had almost forgotten how very bad it feels to come out of sleep gasping and disoriented.  I think I was having nightmares, but I don't remember.  There was something about a snake and, the second time flashes of bright colored fabric. But what it means...who knows?  I have never even really been quite sure what school of dream theory I subscribe to.  The random flashes of the synapses, that we, makers of meaning that we are, simply must put story to?  The "digestive system" of the brain, working through the flotsam and jetsam of the day, putting it in order and figuring out where and how amidst the options available to store this feeling or that memory? An arcane and magical set of symbols, tapped deeply into the collective unconscious or some other deeper Knowing that helps us connect, if we are willing to attend, through our dreams to deeper and greater truths?  Or all of this...or none?

All I know for sure is that it is not a nice way to start the day.  However, it does feel, as we say in my biz, rather "mood congruent" for the way of things of late.  The last time I had these nasty night panic things, as well as waking anxiety at the level I'm now carrying it, was during my internship.  Those were twelve long dark months that I'd never wish to live through again.  I'd like to think that I am personally a lot healthier now and have a lot more going for me in the coping skills department, as well as a rock solid support system and safety net par excellence.  But I also know well my vulnerabilities.  This generally is not my favorite time of year.  It's cold, it's dark and people often demand cheerfulness of a level that I just can't quite muster. It's pretty much taking what I have to get up and get here, be here.  And I am practicing some restraint (the filter posts to the contrary), which takes even more.

I note that I am still capable of gratitude and I consider this a very good sign.  Small things that really are not so small...R's knowing when all is not well, coffee in the bloodstream, the waggy Maggie in the morning kitchen....the small Voice that reminds me..."it will pass, it will pass." The knowledge that there IS a cruise out there somewhere with my name on it, and that this time next year......anywhere but here....these things help too.  But today is a darkish one.  And I am plodding through.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Filter Failure (again)

Well I lost my filters again. Yes it was another meeting.  This time it was my peers and direct supervisor. (Last time I lost it with the Executive Director!) Maybe I should not be allowed to attend meetings.  Or should be required to be muzzled prior. I used to be so good at this "sit quietly and keep your counsel" business. But lately....things just spill out of me. They are true things.  They are honest things.  But they are not always prudent things to say, nor are they always said in the most...um, shall we say...."nice" way. I'm afraid my feelings are pretty apparent...and they are not the "nice feelings" either.  I'm angry, frustrated, agitated and incensed.  I'm tired of people who have never been "in the shoes" saying how it it is and how it must be.  I'm really sick of people with no vision and no sense of mission disrespecting and discounting my education, skills and experience, but even more importantly, the lived experience of the people we are here to serve by micromanaging and setting up silly petty rules that exist only because "the consultant says" they should and only the bottom line counts more than anything else. (Yep, last time I checked I still worked for a non-profit.)

So I am praying for patience and a greater sense of discretion (or a big roll of flesh colored duct tape).  The little numbers in the counter to the right are significant.  The Next Great Adventure cannot begin until this one has run its course.  There is a commitment to be kept and I cannot afford to do anything really egregious.  My work here is not done, either.  There are people with whom things are still to be accomplished in our time remaining. So one day at a time. Breathing and praying and....skipping meetings? Maybe I need to find that goat again. Or another lovely animal that I can hold and not allow to be "got" by the powers that be. I am open to suggestion at this point.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Service # 8

Tonight was the Community Thanksgiving Service, and it's really not over until I come home and write a blog post about it.  This was my eighth one here in Little Town on the Prairie, and the march of them has measured my years here, metered my progress in folding myself into the life of this community.  The first year, sitting alone in the expanse of the Catholic Church nave wondering if I would ever fit in this place, know anyone, belong.  The second and third years, singing with the community choir, knowing a few people, feeling a little more settled.  By year four I was a lector, year five, I walked with the clergy for the first time.  Years six and seven I was on the planning group.  This year I was again with the clergy and read the Gospel.  It was bittersweet as so many things are...these "lasts." It's an odd thing to know so far in advance that we really are leaving this place. Not exactly when or for where, but to know for pretty sure and certain that by this time next year I will be somewhere else but here.  So many things then are these "last times" that have become part of my life here.

With the way things have been of late, there is a part of me that could pack and go tomorrow.  But there are commitments that must be kept, and I know that we will be here at least through Spring.  So there will be many of these moments, these quiet little goodbyes with their bittersweet edge.  It has been a good ride here and I'm hoping that this bumpy patch now does not portent a bad end.  That would really make me sad.  I have rarely loved a place as much as I have this one.  Nor have I ever been in one physical location where as much emotional transformation has happened to me.  I connect here with much that is good in my life, much that is wonderful and special, and I would like that to be what I take away, not the sad and bitter feelings that I have right now. I am gathering in gratitude for all that has been and trying to be hopeful that this trying time is a short season, passing quickly and forgotten easily.

At our service tonight, the sermon focused on thanking those who have made a difference in our lives.  A local printer donated thank you notes to pass out to the congregation and the preacher asked everyone to take one home, write it out and mail it to someone who has been significant for us.  He encouraged us all to begin the note, Dear _____, "I thank God for you because..." I did take a note and have someone in mind to send it to.  But in addition, I have another thank you note to wtite.....

My Dear RevGal blogger friends,
I thank God for you.  When I found this ring it was at a time in my life when I really needed to know that there were other women out there doing what I do, thinking how I think, wondering about what I wonder about, laughing and crying, praying and struggling and trying to live authentic and faithful lives "in the midst."  You, my blogger friends, have been with me through some of the best and worst stuff I have gone through in my entire life....endings, beginnings....deep pain and great joy... and your  support and common sense and good humor have carried me through it, gotten me over it, and probably more importantly over myself. Meeting some of you on first 2 BEs has been so awesome (especially that first one...oh my...talk about your liminal space) and I am SO looking forward to BE4! So even though I am not blogging as much (or getting around to my blog reading either...sigh...) you are the best and remain in my heart with much gratitude as well as in my prayers.  So blessings and thanks to the  RGBP bloggers in my life.

Maybe....

Well there is no fallout so far.  Maybe because it's before the holiday and follks are kind of distracted.  Or maybe what I said was really outrageous only in my head. Or maybe the person who would be most outraged by my remarks didn't even hear them (despite the fact that she was sitting two feet from me at the time). The latter is what I really think. Which is why I of course I was upset in the first place.  I feel like one of those characters in the Charlie Brown cartoons talking away about whatever is utmost on my mind and it going out into the world as "wa-wa-wa-wa-wa-wa-wa." That seems to be my impact level, lately.  And it's not just at work in the day job.  It's happening in my church life, too. I seem to be reduced to an insect who buzzes around making noise that at most annoys people but certainly means nothing of significance to them. In my head I think I am saying things that might matter.  But I am met with blank stares and silence...or in the case of e-mails a complete lack of response..like I didn't even send them.  It's a wierd sensation, this verbal invisibility cloak.  I'm trying to just stay in my good Zenish observing mode, not get all caught up in it, take it personally and such.  But there is no sermon yet for Sunday.  There is no work getting done at work beyond seeing the folks and being present to them. I am vastly tired and very glad that tomorrow I can just forget the whole business and eat turkey, weather permitting.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Some Things

Some things you just cannot say on Facebook.  Like "I really need better filters." Especially when it's the middle of the day and one has no business being on Fb any way.  But it's true...I do need them, even though it is the middle of the day.  I need them now and I needed them in the meeting this morning when I did not have them.  I knew I did not have them when I saw the faces of those who have known me for several years as a pleasant and fairly easy going person go round-eyed and white.  I knew I did not have them when I heard the tone of the "Please let me finish..." Oh well. They were gone.  And I said what I said without them. Dies cast. Words fall. Nothing said was untrue.  Not even unkind.  Just unfiltered and perhaps a bit less than judicious. Life will go on.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday Five: Unexpected Thanks

Jan says: "With the American holiday of Thanksgiving being less than a week away, I tried to think of some questions for Friday Five that could be connected to this, but in a new way. So here is my one try:" Name five things that were unexpected in your life that you are now grateful for....
  1. Marriage.  I mean really! Who knew? I was not planning it, expecting it, really even wanting it.  And here I am six months in happier than I ever thought I could be.
  2. Priesthood. Yeah, that one wasn't exactly on the radar either.  Oh, passing thoughts now and again.  But it just kind of crept up on me, this vocation.  And here I am...four years into this ordination thing, and still grateful.
  3. Never in my wildest did I imagine that I'd even go to college (no one in my family ever did before), let alone keep going and going and going all the way to a doc.  But I am grateful for the doors it's opened to allow me to participate in people's lives as a therapist.
  4. My dog Maggie. Never thought of myself as a dog person, really.  She was kind of an impulse.  But a really good one.  Can't imagine life without her sweet face now.
  5. That I would finally be any kind of a "techhie."  (Yes that's my husband you hear laughing in the background!) But I AM far more than I ever thought I'd be and I am grateful for the ways that my computer and my android and all the things they do make it possible for me to stay connected with the tendrils of my life in all it's many places.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Friday Five: It Is Well With My Soul Edition

kathrynzj says, "We lead privileged lives. True, some are more privileged than others but the fact that we are communicating right now via technological devices puts us in the privileged category. There are many perks in my life for which I give thanks and then there are some that make everything right in the world during the moment I am enjoying them. I'm wondering what a few of those things - five to be specific - are for you. To help you along here are just three of mine that I will write more about on my blog: drinking coffee out of a real mug, walking into my home after the domestic goddess has been there, participating in the RevGalBlogPals Big Events."

This could not have come at a better time!  I have been feeling well...sort of cranky and, um, shall we say, less than grateful lately, and this really reminded me that despite the fact that things are not perfect in RDK's little world (and why should they be!?!) I do lead a life of great privilege and have much to be grateful for.  So here's my list for today:

1.  Topping my list of thankfuls anytime I stop and give them has to be the amazing people that God has graced my life with.  First...my amazing and wonderful husband...He has to top any list.  He loves me unconditionally, he has my back.  He supports me emotionally and financially (a first for me in relationships..yeah I know I'm a slow learner!) And he is so darn FUNNY...we laugh a lot...and when life is stressful, as it has been lately, that really is something to be grateful for.  My other friends are also such gifts.  We were talking in our ministerium meeting yesterday about the struggle to have good supportive friendships as a clergy person...and I just looked across the table at C and thought...Yep...God has been good to me on this front as well.  It is such a good thing to have someone to talk to who gets me and gets it...the whole church and clergy thing...who is living it, too...who can laugh and cry about it and share perspective in the way that only a fellow traveler can. And my list would not be complete without my Soul Sisters...friends extraordinaire with whom I have shared the laughter and tears and stuff of life of the last eight years of this crazy amazing transformative journey.

2.  The tech things...computers and phones and GPS's and all manner of things that even though sometimes I have a bit of a love/hate relationshipwith them....really I do find them to make my life better and simpler.  And as our hostess today says, without them, I would not be communicating here...and indeed would not have all the lovely RevGals in my life who are such an important part of my world community.

3. I'm going to be grateful for simple things like pavement. We have been without now for about six weeks.  It may be coming (the curbs are in, hurrah), and there is hope for the rest before the snows maybe. It gives me a sense of how much more complicated life could be...and I don't so much like it!

4. I have a new appreciation for family.  Mine is acquired and still fairly new to me.  There are surely a lot of them and they are pretty spiffy. I have sibs in law and a lovely daughter (I hope she would not mind that I have taken her on in that way) toward whom I feel growing affection and great pride. It is clear that she is her father's daughter in so many ways, and I delight in seeing that as well as in the ways she is uniquely herself.  I enjoy watching "the Clan" interact and getting to know how my sweetheart was shaped and formed by his relationship to and among them as well as simply getting to know them in their own right.  Because they too are funny and most often times among them are just plain good times.

5. My job.... Simply having a job,  and then having one that is meaningful and that makes a difference.  These are good things and a privilege.  It's been kind of hard here lately and sometimes keeping that privilege front and center gets to be a challenge. But this is a good reminder and I shall endeavor to be mindful of gratitude.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Rest Well Bridget

 You know how it goes,  you are prepping a sermon and somewhere in Textweek, one link leads to another and you find yourself reading someone's blog...that links to another blog...with a sidebar of an interesting name...and so you go read her blog.  Well that's how I found myself a week or so ago at a blog called My Manner of Life.    I got to reading (the way you do sometimes when you "meet " a new blogger), and it seems that about a month ago, the author of this blog faced the loss of one of her beloved cats. Part of her posting about this difficult time included (bless her!) some thoughts about and links to liturgical/prayer resources for the loss of our companions in this life who do not happen to be human.

This could not have come at a better time.  I have just come home from that last goodbye to my sweet old Bridget.  Dr. Scott said she was probably somewhere upwards of a hundred in cat years.  Nobody knew for sure.  She was already a grown kitty when she came into my life some fifteen years ago.  We had a good run, my quirky green-eyed girl and I.  She left this life very peacefully, and I know that she is where the good kitties go, having a nap, chasing a mouse, eating her favorite crunchies with no aches or pains in her ancient old self.

We will pray the prayers for her tonight, and when her ashes return there will be some small liturgy to scatter them in the place where she watched the seasons change and the birds roost. May the Lord grant you a peaceful night and perfect end my sweet furry friend.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Songbird starts out with this old favorite in a Friday Five about friendship....
If you're ever in a jam, here I am.

If you're ever in a mess, S.O.S.
If you're so happy, you land in jail. I'm your bail.
It's friendship, friendship, just a perfect blendship.
When other friendships are soon forgot, ours will still be hot.
and then says...."I'm thinking a lot about friends these days, the ones who rush to you in times of trouble, with a casserole or a socket wrench or an invitation for coffee or lunch or a trip to the foot sanctuary. We meet friends in school or on the playground or at church or in the workplace and even on the Internet. Even as blogging has experienced some decline, the community here has been strong.
For today's Friday Five, some questions about friendship."
1) Who is the first friend you remember from childhood? My first friend was Magda Blum. I must have been about four. She and her family were from the Dutch East Indies and I have NO idea how they ended up in my little town in Iowa.  But we were the only little girls in our neighborhood and for the time they lived there...maybe a year or so, we spent lots of time together with our dolls and our trikes having a wonderful time.

2) Have you ever received an unexpected gift from a friend? Valentine flowers at my office the Monday before Valentine's Day (so I could enjoy them longer) from my sweet husband, who is also my best friend.

3) Is there an old friend you wish you could find again? Or have you found one via social media or the Internet? I have some kind of mixed feelings about this...but I think about finding "G" again.  I have blogged about her in the past....  the older friend who was so important to me during my high school years and then ended our relationship abruptly.  The friendship was a mixed blessing in many ways...she was a positive formative influence in my life, but also abused the power she held in some ways.  I guess I'm curious as to whatever became of her and maybe would like to get some closure if that ever would be possible.

4) Do you like to get your good friends together in a group, or do you prefer your friends one on one? Yes.

5) Does the idea of Jesus as a friend resonate with you? I'd have to say not so much on this.  I think my upbringing might get in the way here.  I was not raised with "Jesus loves me" as much as I was with "Jesus died for my sins" and with that huge sense of gratitude/guilt to get out from under...it's still hard to think about the equanimity that equals friendship.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Friday Five: Connecting

Jan says: I am currently reading Bowling Alone by Robert D. Putnam, where he explores the changes in community in the USA in the 20th Century. He explains how communities, people, and especially children function better when they live where there is high social capital. Basically, it means that "relationships matter." We all know this because Christianity (and other religions) emphasize the Golden Rule: 'All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye so to them; for this is the law and the prophets.' Matthew 7:1
So here are some questions to ponder for this Friday Five about connecting with:"
1. Self: Who was your hero/heroine when you were about ten years old? I think it may have been a tich later (or not...it's a ways back to remember) but I loved Maria in The Sound of Music and Jo in Little Women Both of them seemed real to me...people who felt deeply about things, were frightened and confused and yet went after the Big Dream in their lives.

2. Family: Who are you most like? Who is most like you?  As a kid I was one of those ugly duckling children that that Clarissa Pinkola Estes wrote about who feels like she landed in the wrong family...Introvert to their extrovert, interested in all the "wrong" things...I really never felt much "like" anyone.  We were not close-knit as far as extended family so I didn't really have the opportunity to find out if there was someone out there in the branches of the family tree who shared something with me, either.  In retrospect though, I would have to say that my mother and I do share some characteristics.  She was loyal and loving and spiritual and those are things I do see in myself.  She also gave me some physical characteristics...some I cherish and some...well not so much!

3. Friends: How do you stay in touch? Face-to face when possible and when not....thanks be for all the tech...e-mail, blogs, facebook, phone (cell these days), skype, IM, text, and now and again....snail-mail.

4. Neighborhood, community: What are ways you like to be involved? It seems to kind of wax and wane...I did community theatre for a while, and also belonged to some other community groups when I was single but have let that lapse for now.  I seem to be "nesting" which I guess is appropriate, and hopefully will move into a more involved and active season again at some point.

5. Job/church: Do you see a need that will help in developing connections? This sometimes is a tough one for me.  I am a dyed in the wool introvert, and with two vocations that call me out into day long contact with people, sometimes what I want (and actually need) is to disconnect at the end of the day.  And yet there are needs and calls and demands and expectations to be connected at church and in the community as well as my own desires to be in relationship with those I care about.  It gets to be a balancing act sometimes, and one I don't think I have a good handle on sometimes.

Bonus: A link or anything else about connecting.

Friday, October 08, 2010

A Fall Word Association Friday Five

SingingOwl  says: "Hello everyone! The Canadian geese are excited, forming up and practicing, encouraging each other with honking, the Wisconsin fall color is at peak where I am, and in Kohl's Dept. Store the Christmas decorations are up. Yep, Fall is here. It's my turn to do the Rev Gal Blog Pals Friday Five. It has been a while since we did one of these word association Friday FIves, so here goes, with an autumnal theme. I know, fall is one way on this side of the world and different in other places, but please bear with me as I post words that say FALL--at least where I am.

Give us the the first word that comes to mind (you know how that works, right?) and then add a little something about why, or how or what."
1. Pumpkins make me think about fields full of them waiting to be picked,  or wagons by the roadside with those great big ones and little tiny ones alike all for sale."It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!" Pumpkin pies, warm from the oven, pumpkin soup with a hint of curry, making Jack-lanterns with crosses for the All-Hallows service, the slippery gloppy feel of pumpkin innards and the hot nothing else like it smell of burnt pumpkin top whem the candle gets too close.

2. Campfire is singing and talking late into the night, telling spooky stories and deep truths. It's sparks flying up into a black sky, the smell that's so good there (and so lingering on your clothes the next day!) It's hot dops and marshamllows on a stick-- the latter catching fire and getting all crusty-gooey good.

3. Apples are that riot of smells in the apple house at the orchard, the first taste of cider for the year, the hayride. Pies cooling on the rack, or being eaten with cinnamon ice cream. Apples are the tart one covered in caramel on a stick. 

4. Color Every one imaginable.  The blue, blue sky.  The changing leaves.  The incredible prairie light that I love in this place.  The pink cheeks whipped up by cooler days and outside activity. The harvest bounty.

5. Halloween Kids and costumes!

And since it is REV Gals and their Pals, here is the bonus question, sort of a serious one:
What does the following passage from Daniel 2 make you think about?
"Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;
Wisdom and power are his...
He changes times and seasons."
Oh how good it is that we are not in charge...
We with our limited minds and imaginations and thoughts. 
We who lack the wisdom to use well the power we do have.
We who fear change.
We who grasp the waning seasons.
God is God...We are not....It is good.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Thoughts While Painting the Porch Window

Well it seems the monsoons are taking a break and we are finally having some really awesome Fall weather. Blue skies, sunshine, great temps....it's so gorgeous.  And we are taking advantage of every minute we are not at work to get those outside chores we neglected all summer done.  Garage roofed and painted...check.  Front porch walls inside and outside trim painted...check.  Outside basement door replaced, garden put to bed....well it's not ALL done...but there is a plan!  And there is an "inside list" in process too for the days ahead when the weather won't let us be outside anymore.  It ALL has to get done.  No more procrastinating.  We have a goal to get this place painted, cleaned, purged and pruned of unnecessary objects and we will get there.

I think a lot while I paint.  I was thinking yesterday about discernment.  About that whole lovely, messy complicated process of sorting out whose will is whose in my life.  About how I get MY internal voices (especially those anxious ones) to pipe down long enough to hear the Still Small One.  About risk and trust.  About letting go and letting myself be led....and how hard that really is for me....and how I really do believe in my heart of hearts that if I just get it figured out well enough, have enough control of all the bits and parts and pieces, leave no small thing to chance....that somehow that will be the thing that will make it all right....whatever that might mean!

Eight years ago I left my nice secure life, my house of eighteen years, my church and my friends, my town and all that was familiar to go off, all alone across the state to do something new.  It worked out pretty fine.  From it I ended up with a new good job, a home, a very lovely husband, great friends, not only a church...but a congregation in which I share leadership as a priest and my student loans paid off.  I also have a whole new sense of myself as a person as a result of the life events that happened during these eight years...events that I know would not have transpired had I stayed put, stayed home, stayed....safe.  I knew when I made the journey into the unknown back then that God was calling me out into it....I could not have said into what or for what purpose, but I knew for certain that it was about something bigger than me.

That call came out of something practical.... the need to find a way to pay back student loans. God, I believe, uses the circumstances of our lives as well as the promptings of our hearts as ways to move us towards the places we are called. So discernment.  What is the next call, the next adventure?  Where do our hearts draw us or our life circumstances take us?  Because this adventure will be an "us" adventure.  This story will not be first person singular, but will be in two parts.  Two minds discerning...better than one?  Two hearts attending to where the Spirit might be leading. Someone who helps me calm and quiet myself to hear that small Voice.

So the porch is looking good.  And at some point...there will be answers.

Friday, October 01, 2010

"RevGalBlogPals Friday Five: Sometimes It's Just a Job Edition"

kathrynzj says: "Greetings Friends! This week, despite substantial planning, the staff here has been reeling a bit from the wave of fall start-up programming combined with conversations looking towards Advent and Christmas. There is a lot to be excited about (Children's Choir sounded great!), but there are also some things that we just have to suck it up and get through (didn't we just do Officer Training last year?). So for today's Friday 5 I thought we'd hit on the things that give us energy in ministry and the things that take it away:"
1) What are a few of the tasks that you find tedious/energy sucking in your ministry position? Please note I said 'tasks' not people :) Meetings! Bah! Don't like them, never will. Having said that I realize that they are a necessity of parish (as well as other corporate) life.  But I am particularly peeved by those that are ill-planned, badly-executed and go on and on and on.  But tell us how you really feel Kate! 

2) Is there anything you could do to make one of them better? My main strategies are either avoid or be in charge.  I'm not saying those are the best strategies....I'm just sayin' they do work.  Seriously though...I have been trying to model "good meeting behavior" when I run meetings.  Like having an agenda and sticking to it, keeping to time, keeping it short (really if you can't get it done in an hour and a half...does it really need to be done?), asking folks to be prepared, and if they are not, asking them to "report next time or distribute information."  And being direct when "thanks, your time is up..."

3) What are a few of the tasks that you find energizing in ministry? I LOVE LOVE LOVE doing liturgy...always have, and hope always will.  I like the act of preaching even though sometimes the prep...not so much (although there are times it's good too). This may sound a little strange, but I have found that blessing people is a very holy moment...every single time I have the privilege of doing so.

4) If given a quarterly spiritual day, how would you want to spend it? Going somewhere to a quiet (and hopefully lovely place to just be, relax, read, pray.....

5) If given a quarterly spiritual day, how would you actually spend it? Catching up I fear....or getting a jump on the next sermons or whatever.....

BONUS: What would your Dream Ministry job include? I would love to run a healing center where people who have need of a place to come and stay for a while (how ever long a while is) could do so.  There would be work and space, prayer, good food, companionship and peace, the opportunity to be listened to, offerings of practical skills...communications, job-seeking, budgeting, life-skill stuff...and connections to other resources.  There would be space for yoga, meditation, prayer, regular liturgy....a garden, a chapel.....and I'd just kind of....preside....over it.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Thursday Thoughts

Ok so it's Thursday....halfway through in fact.  I'm back from clergy conference...a challenging time in which we tried to have honest conversation with each other about a number of things, look the future of the church in the face (and how we all might fit in it)....and not be too anxious about any of that.   In my free time this morning I've been wrestling none-too-successfully with Sunday's Gospel as I'm preaching Sunday and I have pretty much nothing at this point that feels worth saying. Can I say I'm tired?  So of course I am taking the avoidance route! Always a strategy when I can't find a way through....just ignore the whole business.

I really am feeling very "waffly" these days about a number of things....running kind of hot and cold.  I find I can get kind of momentarily enthused about things...workwise, churchwise, home and self-improvemement wise...but then, without too much ado, I seem to fizzle before action.  I'm not sure what that's about.  The waning of heat and light? Burnout? Early onset of the annual seasonal funk? I'm feeling "with" the apostles, needing an infusion of something..."increase my..... faith." Sure, that would be good! And yes, I guess I take comfort in what I've been reading in a lot of the commentaries...an increase is not the answer...what you have is enough, what you are is enough.  Can I extrapolate?  Dare I?  That maybe I can just be for now?  That maybe what might constitute faith in this case also might include faith in "it will be ok" even without my doing it, willing it, fixing it, changing it or making it happen ....at least for right now.  That I might rely for bit on God and grace to simply carry me along without too much efforting on my part?  That there might even, who knows, be something I could learn here....remember here? 

At any rate, the day is moving along, even if I am not, and the tasks are calling...so back to it.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Monk in the World Day 7 Conversion

 "Conversion for me means to always allow myself to be surprised by God. It invites me to a sense of wonder and awe and recognizing that God's imagination is far wider than my own." Christine Valters Paintner

I have a relationship with conversion that goes back into my past as far as I can remember.  God and I have been playing hide and seek with my soul since I was old enough to know there was  God....and I have often been surprised.  I have often been surprised by God's tenacity with me, with the creativity and gusto with which pursuit was waged over this one soul who often, for years at a stretch gave no signs of even being remotely interested in relating back, and at other times fell into love with this same God with a passion that would please even the most ardent of suitors.

I have, at times longed for an altar call....wished  for the chance to make public proclamation of a commitment of my converted self, as if somehow that would, once and for all seal this thing, end this chase, stop this run round and round that we do, God and I.  We do it still, and still I am amazed at the will to pursue this soul, this willful child....gone again a-wandering.  Not so far, not so long it's true....but somehow lost to God and Self again. somehow strayed. Strayed to place where it's easy to forget, to lose sight of the wideness, the expanse of God. To get mired in the minutia of human trivia and forget that this is not all, this is not it.

Christine cites the line from Benedict's Rule "always we begin again." I am it seems never really converted but always in that process somewhere, always converting, again and again at the point of beginning.... and God it seems takes this chance to always be doing something new. Because I am frequently caught off guard by God.  Awe and wonder?  Perhaps.  And sometimes just plain stark shock. God of the Universe...calling me back...yet again to be surprised by love.

Friday, September 24, 2010

"Friday Five: We Who Sing Pray Twice"

Mary Beth says: "Music is a part of the human experience, and part of religious traditions the world over. It is evocative and stirring, and many forms of worship are incomplete without it.

Our title comes from a quote popularly attributed to St. Augustine: "He who sings prays twice." A little Googling, however, indicates that Augustine didn't say exactly that. In fact, what he said just doesn't fit well onto a t-shirt. So we'll stick with what we have. "Singing reduces stress and increases healthy breathing and emotional expression. Singing taps into a deep, age-old power available to all of us. When we find our voice, we find ourselves. Today, sing like you mean it." And let's talk about the role music plays in your life and worship."
1) Do you like to sing/listen to others sing? In worship, or on your own (or not at all?) I LOVE music in al forms and find worship without it to be...well a little quiet for my taste.  There is nothing better than singing beautiful music with others in praise and worship.   It's especially good when it is done well, but enthusiasm counts, too. And I sing everywhere.  In church, at home, in the car, in the shower....yep. I'm a singer.

2) Did you grow up with music in worship, or come to it later in life? Tell us about it, and how that has changed in your experience. I grew up RC. We sang. There was no choir in the church of my childhood except at funerals (when it was the seventh and eight graders) and some years at Christmas.  Otherwise it was congregation all the way. Some of my best memories of church are singing beside my mother.

3) Some people find worship incomplete without music; others would just as soon not have it. Where do you fall?  I like me a little music with my church I do.

4) Do you prefer traditional music in worship, or contemporary? That can mean many different things!  It can indeed! Generally I lean to the more traditional. However, I think there is a place in worship for many things...as long as they are well-thought out, well- executed and are a good fit for the time and the place.  Last Easter for example, I had been getting a litte whiney about "blah" church music and was thinking aloud with R about this whole topic...I said I wondered what would happen if a "traditional" Epsicopal service had a praise band infusion.  Well...God having a sense of humor and all, it just so happened that we were visiting R's sister on the other side of the state for Easter...and guess what? Yep! PiscoPraise.  Oh. My. As I said... well-thought out, well- executed.... good fit for the time and the place....yeah not so much! Can you say the Easter Jesus Polka?  But then on the other hand, we did a Celtic Eucharist on St. Patrick's night.  We used both traditional and contemporary Celtic music, I played a bohdran...and we got great feedback...right time, right place, right stuff.

5) What's your go-to music ... when you need solace or want to express joy? A video/recording will garner bonus points! Taize, taize, taize!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Monk in the World Day 6 - Sabbath

My name is Kate and I am a recovering Energizer Bunny.  It's true.  I used to go non-stop from the time I got up in the wee small hours until I fell into bed exhausted at the end of the day.  I had three jobs and I usually spent upwards of twelve hours a day in my office...including Saturdays.  Sunday...after church...I'd spend another four or so.  I prided myself on being able to maintain this schedule.  I was tough, I was energetic, I was unstoppable.  And I was running full-tilt from my life.

Things are much slower these days.  I go to work at 7 and leave at the dot of 5, Monday through Friday.  I can't remember the last time I worked on a weekend.  I did give up the teaching job.  Three was one too many.But in the time alotted I manage to do my day job and also get sermons written. (I preach usually 1-2 times a month)  I have learned to work ahead and to write in "bits and pieces" rather than do marathon Saturdays.  Of course there are meetings, services, pastoral care visits, articles to write, and other things that do go on outside those hours...but overall life has gotten a lot saner.  I play a lot more and take time to do things like going to yoga class, hanging out with my husband and my friends and even watching TV (something I used to say, somewhat pridefully I'm afraid, I "didn't have time for.")  R and I go for bike rides, walk the dog, go geocaching, cook together and sometimes....just sit and do nothing!

When I was running my life at top speed, I was very very tightly wound. I had little patience for anything that messed with the schedule (or anything else for that matter, I think now!) All of that busyness served a purpose in that it kept me from having to take a very close look at some things that, at the time seemed pretty darn scary.  But it also took a toll.  My overfunctioning as I did kept some other people from stepping up and being responsible at times.  Sometimes I still grouse about "being the grown-up" but then I have to remember that I am still reaping the fruits of what was sown

Having more balance, more Sabbath in my life is really a good thing. I am having a lot more fun for one thing! Things do get done...well maybe not as perfectly as they once did...but then maybe perfection is not really the goal anyway! It's a really lovely world that God has created, full of joys and wonders.  It's hard to appreciate them fully when you are hurtling past at top speed.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Monk in the World Day 5 - Work

Today's theme is (again) appropriate as I am back at work after having been out sick for two days. In today's reflection Christine talks about the importance of being present in our work. I'm struggling with that right now.  Today for the obvious reasons--I'm still under the weather and it's hard to focus on anything other than that.  But it's bigger than that.  I really love what I do, in both my vocations.  Both being a therapist and a priest are, as Christine says, meaningful and creative for me, both feed my soul and help me to feel that I am being co-creative with God as part of something so much bigger than myself.  In both I feel that I have the opportunity to use my own gifts as well as to bring something to others.  I know that this is a gift and blessing and not to be taken lightly.  Nonetheless, I have been struggling lately.  I have in my day job a touch of "compassion fatigue," I think.  This is the longest stretch in my career in which I have done therapy without a break and I think it may be taking a bit of a toll.  There are also some workplace factors that add stress.  Funding cuts that demand that we all do more...and more....and more, and some of the politics of the workplace that have never been my thing, but that I have to deal with nonetheless.  In my priest life too I have found that I have lost a bit of the excitement that characterized that first couple of years.  There too...a little bit of "just tired" and a bit of wrangle fatigue are taking a toll.  I'm really trying to identify some ways to inject some new life into both of my beloved vocations.  My solution in the past when things got kind of wane-y or stale was to "do something" which usually meant take something on, add a project, a group, volunteer for something.  I have no desire to do any such thing at this point. My actual inclination is to lie low and do little.  I'd love to be able to take a sabbatical....but alas, therapists and non-stipendiary clergy don't seem to be doing much of that.  We do have clergy conference next week.  And our new bishop is structuring it to be much more like a retreat.  So perhaps there will be some refreshment there.  And there will be change in the future....though we don't know just what shape that will take. But it will be a new and different way and place to do this work of mine.

In the meantime, I like the suggestion about having "...gratitude for the chance to do work which supports you."  Gratitude has been a powerful and helpful focus for me in the past when I needed to get myself to a better place.  And I am grateful that I found, late in life, as it turned out, two vocations to love, two things that I actually would do for love not money, two things that support me in so many ways.  Looking ahead I see that the next topic (since I am now a day behind myself) is "Sabbath."  Maybe if I get a little better at finding the balance there, along with remembering to be grateful I will be more open again to how much I really am blessed by work.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Monk in the World Day 4 (on the fifth day)

It's five days in to Monk in the World, and yes, I am posting on day four...  I missed what feels pretty much like an entire day of my life yesterday to some very hard-hitting crud.  I didn't even wake up until almost three and never really did feel like I was totally functional.  At some point I turned the computer on, but never made it to the e-mails or the blog.  Today is a little better.  It's only slightly past noon and I am up and have taken nourishment....that seems to be staying put!
The day 4 theme is Nature, and in the practice section, Christine says, "Claiming our inner monk means remembering that we are the children of the earth, and the earth is in our bodies.  Allow the trees and birds to offer you their own wisdom about living a monastic life." She reminds us to slow down and notice the natural world, the trees, the beauty of the earth and all of creation.  R and I went on another of our road trips this weekend.  This was a quick motor "up North" and back to attend a family wedding.  He is particularly good at noticing things about the countryside as we drive through....which of the crops are ready to harvest, who is plowing rather than just letting a harvested field lie.  He also sees the birds I miss, and he knows things about why things happen as they do in the fields we pass.  Because of this, and because we are spending more time in the car, I am more aware of all that is out there....how much color and texture and variety in just one passing scene, how the light falls differently on the golden corn than it did just a few short weeks ago when the sun was higher and the crops it shone on green.

Who thought taking a road trip could be part of a monastic practice? But of course it can...any moment can.  It's all about remembering to pay attention, and being more intentional about really seeing what is there.  That is my "aha" moment for today.  Today my body is forcing me to be slowed down, to take things easy.  It's a luxury to have time to sit, to read, to just be.  The sun is shining on a tree that is starting to turn and the colors of the leaves are amazing.  Maggie the Peke is resting happily in the sun with her friend MomCat, and it's very sweet and peaceful just to be here, hanging out, getting well.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Monk in the World Day 3

Today's topic is "community.  This is" a subject near and dear to my heart, and the questions spoke to me.

Where in your life do you experience a genuine sense of community or soul friendship already?

I have gone seeking community it in many places....religious life, traditional and non-traditional church groups and in friendships.  In the past few years I have been very blessed to find "soul friends" those people who are with us on the spiritual journey in an especially deep way.  I found this kind of friendship with my Soul Sisters, the study group I have been with for going on now five years.  We began as a Bible study group but have really become family to one another sharing all sorts of joys and sorrows and growing pains over time.  C is also an anam cara to me who literally has carried my through some of the most challenging times on my spiritual and personal journey as well as being there for some of the greatest times of joy as I met and fell in love with my beloved R.  And he too is a soul friend.  Deeply spiritual and gifted in himself he brings yet another perspective to this journey as we share our lives on this deep level.  I really have been richly blessed


When you slow down and listen to your longings for spiritual companionship, what are some of the qualities which rise up as essential? What is true of all of these people is that they are authentic.  Each of them has a unique spitual life of their own....not one of them has the same belief system or the exact same understanding of God as the other, or for that matter as I do.  And this makes for true richness in our relationships as we explore how it is we understand and relate to the God of our own unique understanding. Another quality is the willingness to seek and be open to the numinous, to be willing to accept that we cannot understand, will never really know in this life what it's all about, how it all comes together....and that is really all right.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Monk in the World Day 2

The theme today is "hospitality." Christine says of this, that we are "...meant to extend this hospitality within ourselves and seek out the stranger who knocks within on our hearts - that part of ourselves that has been neglected or shut out.  This inner and outer act of hospitality are intimately connected.  As we grow in compassion for the places within which challenge us, we are able to extend that compassion toward others."

This is very apt for today.  XDO is getting married today in my little church. And yes, I am one of the clergy who will be extending the words of blessing upon their happy little heads.  It is a good thing this wedding.  Not only for the obvious reasons, but because it brings us full circle, XDO and I.  To a new and good place in this journey of us....in these lives that have run in courses that have twined and intersected and now gone their (sort of) separate ways.  I have learned much from these last fifteen years.  For one thing, clearly XDO and I should be with the people we are with now, and NOT with each other! But I also learned so much about myself being in and leaving that relationship.  One of the biggest lessons was just what the quote above talks about....accepting that part of myself that has been shut out and neglected. In saying goodbye to XDO and that relationship I said hello to Kate in a whole new way.  It was scary and it was new and it was radical.  But as I began to develop compassion for myself, it was so clear that there was no way that my true self could ever survive and thrive in what was so clearly not working...really for either of us.

Some people think it is strange that I am marrying my ex....to someone else of course!  But to me it feels like the good thing, the right thing...yes the hospitable thing to do. It is clear that C and J are as good a fit for each other as R and I are to each other. They are able to enhance each other and bring things out in each other that we could not do.  I have an acceptance of C now that I could not have when we were together, and truly do celebrate and bless this union.  So off we go to the wedding wishing much joy to the DO who now belongs to another....with my blessings.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Monk in the World - Day 1 of 7

So here we are again. As I have said a time or two, I'm a little frustrated with myself and my having become a very occasional blogger in the last year or so.  I am not stopping be here as often, either to visit my friends or to do my own reflections. This is indicative of the state of my life at this point.  Very full, undoubtedly wonderful, but a bit lacking at times in moments of quiet reflection, of pausing to connect my absolutely amazing and joyful life either to my own center or to those I've become close to in this space.  I've made plans a time or two to "just get here and blog" but that has been about as effective as some of my other plans to get myself into some kind of reflective space....so when I saw what Christine was offering at Abbey of the Arts with the "Monk in the World" series I thought, "aha, just the thing to get me thinking and reflecting....and blogging again!"  So I'm on day one, and thinking about the two questions posed as starters.....
What is one thing in your life you could let go of for the next few days to make space for the grace of silence?  We are talking initially just a little time. Christine calls it a "window" of time....and I'm thinking of the morning when I practice my yoga and sit....maybe trying to be just a little more quiet for just a little longer before I go rushing headlong into the day.  I know that sometimes on the mat even though my body is doing asana my mind is more engaged in mental gymnastics....thinking ahead into the day, running through my schedule, having those "rehearsal conversations" in advance for the skirmishes to come.  Maybe I could let go of that and practice presence in the practice, actually be there while I'm there for that time, mind and body all of a piece....at peace.

In what ways do you experience silence as a presence and fullness in your life rather than the mere absence of noise?  This question filled me with sadness and longing for a time when this was the truth and reality of my life.  It was, I recall, a journey to get to that place, begun in a hard year of solitude that pruned away a lot of what I thought I knew and thought I required but that left me with a clear and distilled sense of who I was and what might be important to me.  It has slid away a little again,  my life is in a different season yet again than either the solitary journey or the one that followed.  I do not know how to balance silence and joy, though I have a sense that it is possible.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Friday Five: Insomnia Edition

Mompriest says: "Last night was a restless night in my home. We are dog and cat sitting for our daughter, which means we have a combined household of three adult humans, four large dogs, two cats, and one kitten. And for some reason the dogs, cats, and kitten, all wanted to sleep in OUR bed. Did I mention that it's just a double bed? Did I mention that it was warm in our room - too cool to turn the air conditioning on but no breeze to blow the cool night air in....add to that my general age-related tendency toward insomnia, and it was a difficult night for sleeping. A number of my facebook friends seem to have similar challenges sleeping....So, on that note our Friday Five today will focus on sleep, or the lack there of. "

1. Are you prone to sleep challenges? Insomnia, snoring, allergies? Other sleep challenges? I have intermittent insomnia.  It tends to show up, logically enough I guess when I am more stressed and when I have something the next day that is weighing on me.  I seem to get to sleep ok, but then wake up at about three or so and then just can't seem to get back into good sleep.  I also am "of an age" where I have that "hot and cold" thing going on...so some nights I play cover toss a lot. R loves that!

2. When you can't sleep what do you do? Toss and turn? Get up and read? Play computer games? When I was single I used to listen to the BBC on MPR in the middle of the night ( and learned a lot of interesting things that way!) But now I don't want to wake my sweetie, so I turn the waves on the white noise machine back on cuz he can sleep right through those, imagine myself on the beach and breathe and pray myself back to sleep.

3. When you do sleep do you remember your dreams? Or just snipets of them? Usually just bits that make no sense and make me shake my head and ask, "Now what on earth was THAT about?!?"

4. Can you share a funny or confusing dream you've had? Or a dream you have over and over? When I am really anxious about something I will have the "phone dream."  I am in some situation where I desperately need to call someone and either the phone has no numberpad, I can remember the number or there is some other issue that keeps me from reaching out and touching whomever.

5. When you don't sleep how do you get through the day? Lots of coffee? or a nap later in the day? My life does not generally allow for naps, so I am endlessly grateful for the presence of strong black coffee on those days.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Friday Five: Clutter .....

Jan says: Since posting about decluttering, I am still muttering about the need for it in my house. How about you?

1. What things do you like to hang on to? Like? I'm not sure...but I do keep books and papers.  I have, for example all my tax returns dating back to the 70's.  I know, I can let them go....but there they are.  Books...I have books from grade school! R is telling me I must purge for the move in future.  I know, I know....but the books are a hard one.

2. What is hard to let go of? See #1.  I also tend to accumulate and keep office supplies, sewing and crafts stuff and shoes.

3. What is easy to give away?  Easier though not a cake-walk, clothes that I no longer want/need.
4. Is there any kind of stumbling block connected with cleaning out? I have this struggle with "well if I get rid of it I might need it" and every time I start getting past it, I have some reinforcement that it's true.  Who'd ever think for example that I'd need that box of registration paperwork and catalogs from graduate school? I don't know how many times it almost went to recycling.  But just this week I absolutely needed one of those old pieces of paper to verify something! So I guess that box will be staying on with me.

5. What do you like to collect, hoard, or admire? I have a collection of hammered aluminum ware. I debate about keeping it several times a year. Part of the problem is "what to do with it?"   I also have some old and "antique" kitchen ware and small appliances that is displayed in my kitchen that I am pretty attached to. But I think a move will help me decide about what stays and gos.  The last time I moved though, it cost me more to get rid of the things I was not moving than it did to move the things I was! ( Dumpsters, appliance haulers, landfill fees, etc.) So this time I plan to start the purge earlier and be smarter about how it goes away.

Bonus: Tell us about recycling or whatever you can think of that goes along with this muttering about cluttering. We do recycle.  I'm proud of the fact that more goes in that bin than the trash most weeks.  I tried composting...not too successfully, so gave that up.  Our grass and branches go to the local yard waste site, we buy things from the re-use store and thrift if we can (saves money and feels good to re-use or give things another lease on life).  But it still seems that there is a lot of "stuff" in my life that, some days feels like it owns me. So I know there is a purge ahead and I know I could do that ruthlessly and still have plenty of stuff!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Thanks to a WI Farmer and the Government....Freedom!


Yesterday was kind of a BIG day.  I paid off the LAST of my student loans.  Only because of the grace of God and the National health Service Corps, I might add.  When I finished my doc program I owed the equivalent of  the cost of a moderate house...and my payments and "mortgage" were about equal to buying one too! The was I figured it, if I paid $1300 a month for the next thirty years, I'd be just about done.  There were only two problems with that scenario. 1) I did not HAVE an extra $1300 a month, and 2) graduating as I did, shall we say, a little later in life....thirty years was going to take me WAY past any one's idea of a graceful time to retire.  I had deferred and forbore, and it was, after being out of school a bit, definitely time to pay the piper.  This all came to a head on my birthday back in 2002.  I was sitting in a field in Wisconsin celebrating my birthday with a friend.  S has always been one not to pull punches with me, and as I was bemoaning my "fate" of a lifetime of loan payementss with no retirement ever in sight, she hit me with the one-two..."So....are you just going to sit around and complain about this thing, or are you going to actually DO something?" I knew the something she was referring to....the National Health Service offers to pay back loans of those in health and allied professions who agree to work in underserved areas for a period of time.  We had talked about this as an option when I was in grad school, but I had hemmed and hawed and put off seriously thinking about it.  It was a risk, I'd have to move...somewhere....my life would have to essentially (or so I thought) be put on hold for the 5-7 years required to complete my service obligation.  And where would I end up?  (Visions of underserved areas to me didn't include my own state at that time.) But I heeded S's words and when I got home again, I looked up the NHSC.  I checked the locations for places to serve and found there were a number of them within a three hour drive of home, and some even had been given a rating that led me to believe that I would have no trouble being accepted for the program should I be applying from one of them. Hmmmm....This might work!.The next step would be a job search. I thought that would take time.   Imagine my surprise when I opened the Sunday paper right there in my own kitchen, and there was one of my sites....in my own state, looking for a psychologist!  So off went the resume, and very soon I was toodling across the state to an interview, then accepting a job and packing to set off on the beginning of  what turned out to be far more of a life-changing adventure than I had ever bargained for.  In addition to the obvious benefits of NO MORE STUDENT LOANS....I have gained  fabulous friends, ordination, which of course has led to more wonderful adventures all on its own, and best of all my amazing husband!  Not bad for eight years. So I'm toasting the National Health Service Corps.  A great deal all around.  People in underserved areas get good clinicians to come and work with them....and those clinicians....doctors, dentists, nurses, too....get relief from a huge debt burden! This is something the government has gotten very, very right. Thanks and blessings NHSC.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday Five: Dog Days of Summer

Singing Owl says: "Here in the snow belt state of Wisconsin we long for the first signs of spring--perhaps a crocus poking up through the snow, or a pussy willow bud popping out even beneath ice. The first appearance of robins, that most cheery little hopper of birds, causes widespread rejoicing. Spring is followed by summer, a time for home-grown tomatoes, watermelon, corn on the cob, all sorts of "fests," back yard "fry outs" (what they call a barbecue here, for some reason) and trips near and far.  I love summer, and wait anxiously for it every year. So how is it that we have arrived at the hot and humid "Dog Days" of August, and I have not done nearly enough of what I planned to do? I want to pack in as much as I can before snow flies once again. How about you? And what is happening for those of you who are in a different hemisphere than I, and it may be cold?"

1. What is the weather like where you live? It's HOT and it's HUMID and I LOVE it!!!! Yes I know, I know, that makes me some kind of wierdo.  Everyone around me is moaning and complaining and I am reveling in it.  We were in SC for a little vacay last week where it was more of the same and I LOVED that too.  It makes me feel good, what can I say?

2. Share one thing you love about this time of year. Well other than that it's hot and humid...I also love that it's light FOREVER, and the days go on and on and on so we can go out and play after work.

3. Share one thing you do NOT love about this time of year. Mosquitoes.  We grow 'em large and we grow 'em vicious and they find me tasty.

4. How will you spend the remaining days leading up to Autumn? Playing outside as much as possible. Biking, geocaching, taking the kayaks out to see if I can find get the hang of paddling in a straight line...more or less.  But we also have some chores that must be accomplished as well.  The garage MUST be re-roofed before the snow (ugh) flies and it needs a paint job, as does the front porch.  There are a few other "outdoor musts" that are on our to-do list as well. So we'll try to balance that with our fun time.

5. Share a good summer memory. Oh, hard to pick just one!  The wedding and our honeymoon of course got summer off to a pretty good start. Our trip to SC to see Soul Sister A last week and her hubby was great, too. This has been a really good summer all in all!

Bonus: What food says SUMMER to you? My gazpacho ( a takeoff on Moosewood's recipe from the original cookbook and not bad if I do say so myself), anything R grills, and of course potato salad!

Friday, August 06, 2010

Memories, Memories Friday Five

Sally says: "This year Tim and I have planted and nurtured a vegetable garden, and I have just spent the morning preparing vegetables and soups for the freezer, our veggie garden is producing like crazy and it is hard to keep up with, that said it'll be worth it for a little taste of summer in the middle of winter :-). That got me thinking of the things I treasure, memories are often more valuable than possessions."
How about you, can you share
A treasured memory from childhood? I did not often have the chance to do things with my dad.  He worked hard and didn't play much.  However, one sunny summer day just he and I took a daylong boat excursion on the Mississippi.  The boat was a paddlewheeler.  Her name was the Avalon. Amazingly I still remember this...I was probably all of nine at the time.  He bought me a little captain's hat and we sat way up on the top deck in the sun and looked at all the sights.  It's a memory I will always hold of him.


A teenage memory? Those were some tough years. Probably some of the best times though were with music, singing, playing in the orchestra.  It was a time I found something I was good at and had passion for, something that I could get lost in.

A young adult memory? My days in the convent were at best a "mixed bag" in many ways. But I do have one great memory of a night a group of us gathered for some reason out on the hill behind the novitiate. Some people had guitars and we sang and had prayers and then just sat in silence for a while.  Suddenly the heavens just erupted with the most amazing meteor shower.  It was very brief but quite spectacular (and I don't think we knew it was coming). It stunned us to silent reverence.

A memory from this summer? Well, no doubt the BEST memories from this summer are those of our wedding.  Although I have to say. the trip was a close second, and all the fun we have been having around here since has not been too bad either.  But of the wedding....still, best moment...walking up the aisle and feeling that moment when I could not go one.more. step. without his hand in mine...reaching out and there he was, just like I knew he would be, just like he always is.

A memory you hope to have? Oh I hope to have lots and lots and lots of great and wonderful memories with my fabulous husband!
 
Bonus- a song that sums up one of those memories...here's the song we danced to at the wedding...Jimmy's our guy and it sums up our philosophy, if things are hard....breathe in, breathe out, move on....it will get better.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Friday Five: Love the one You're With


Kathrynzj says: "This Friday Five will post while I'm at the beach which for me is more than a vacation destination, it is a trip home. I have found it quite easy to wax nostalgic about the places I used to live (well, except for one) and have begun to wonder what it is I like about the place I'm living now? For instance I sure do love the beach, but this picture was taken about 30 minutes away from my house - not too shabby! "
And so I ask you to please name five things you like about where you are living now... and as your bonus - 1 thing you don't like.
  1. I like the size of where I am in that it's small enough to get to know people but not so small that people know everything you're up to.
  2. As I may have said a time or two before...there really something about this prairie light.
  3. I have made really really good friends in this place as I have in no other. I don't know if that is about the place, the people in the place or the place I was in when I came to the place....but none the less, this is the place where I found them!
  4. This is where I found I my true love.
  5. It's nice and flat for biking.
The "don't like" is definitely the lack of retail opportunities.  We have two marts and a ko and a wee downtown that's kind of spendy.  Anything significant in the way of shopping is a good two hours from here.  It gets kind of old  to have to make what is basically a day trip for retail therapy.  But the good has outweighed the bad for nigh on eight years now, and for a place that I thought of as somewhere I was coming to "do my time" to get my loans paid back....well it's been far more, far better and a great trip so far.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Friday Five: Decisions, Decisions

Songbird says: "Since I've been in the midst of a discernment process, I've done a lot of reflecting on how we make decisions. But don't worry, I'm not going to ask you to reveal a dark story about a poor decision, or a self-flagellating story about an embarrassing one. Let's keep it simple and go with five word pairs. Tell us which word in the pair appeals to you most, and after you've done all five, give us the reason why for one of them. Here they are:"
1) Cake or Pie
2) Train or Airplane
3) Mac or PC
4) Univocal or Equivocal
5) Peter or Paul
Funny....I don't have strong preferences for any of the pairs, and probably could just have easily gone the other way....hmmm....equivocating I guess . But as for #1...since meeting my husband, it's cake for sure. His are hands down the best I have ever eaten. In fact, they are so good he must be discouraged from making them too often!

Friday, July 09, 2010

Friday Five: Forgetful Jones Edition

Songbird  (humbly) says: "No, it wasn't my turn to do the Friday Five, but it was my job to confirm the new person whose job it is, so herewith, the Forgetful Jones Friday Five:"
a) What's the last thing you forgot? Well we "sort of" forgot to go to an open house this week...but really it wasn't so much we forgot as that we went on the wrong night due to the fact that we were relying on information passed on by a friend rather than doing the responsible thing and digging out the invite.

e) How do you keep track of appointments? In the phone.  Used to haul around a big ol' planner. Now it's all in the tiny Razor...much lighter and it has an alarm to notify me as far in advance as I need to know where I am supposed to be and what I need to be doing there!

i) Do you keep a running grocery list? Sort of.  We do menus (usually) on Sundays after church and then shop for the week after scouring the house for what's low...but if something shows up in-between there is a "place" for a note to add it....if we remember and it gets there. But it seems that one or the other of us is always off to the store for something during the week...and there's usually an "oh by the way, while you are there would you get..." too.

o) When forced to improvise by circumstances, do you enjoy it or panic? Yes.

u) What's a memory you hope you will never forget? Walking up the aisle at the wedding....the moment my hand just sort of "came up" and reached out to R....I literally felt like I could not take one more step unless I grabbed that man and held on for dear life.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Saved-the Scratchy Edition

I am thinking this morning about discomfort and being saved from it.  It's hard not to think about it....I'm itching! A lot. I apparently have something that is rather inelegantly called "lake itch" which I seem to have acquired from my little kayaking adventure on Monday with the Soul Sisters. Apparently some of the lovely little creatures that live in the lake like to also like to camp out with us, and if you don't quit yourself of them quickly enough after leaving with the water they get..... er...under your skin and create little bumpies and all manner of itchiness.  My resident expert who has spent a whole lot more time on and in the water than I have tells me cool showers and calamine and time are the remedies of choice. So I have been freezing and slathering myself as directed. Dosing with Benedryl last night helped too...it either calmed then down or knocked me out enough so that I slept through them.  But I am grateful for whatever little salvation comes from the itch.  They don't all itch all the time, but seem to take turns.  It's distracting and annoying and I am happy for moments when they all seem to "sleep" at once. R says it will all pass in a few days.  It cannot come too soon.

So as I sit with the folks whose discomfort will not pass so easily, those whose pain is not assuaged by a cool shower and some topical analgesics, I think about being saved from our various pain.  How we save ourselves and one another, how we are called to this.  That Samaritan heard the call. Heard it enough to go and reach out and offer help to someone who probably thought he was about as attractive as one of my little biters.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Saving Myself from Things I Should be Doing

Yes this is procrastination blog post.  There are things I could and should be doing.  I could tie up a couple work-related things in the last few minutes of the day.  Or I could slog along some more on the half-finished sermon for the nursing home service for Sunday. I have energy for neither of those things.  Nor do I have any deep thoughts about the topic of "Saved" or any other topic for that matter.  I am way more tired than I should be for a Tuesday....especially one that was the first day of the work week. 

There seems to be a lot of what my friends across the pond refer to as whingeing going on around here. Both R and I seem to be dealing with a lot of folks who can't quite seem to get their stuff together, make messes of things, don't seem to want to take responsibility for the fact, and want to blame others....loudly and at length for it.  It's making us both a bit cranky with these folks.

Are they my neighbors, too? Oh bother.  I just hate it when the Gospel refuses to leave me alone, even when I want to leave it.