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'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'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'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 that I know would not have transpired had I stayed put, stayed home,  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.