Monday, December 10, 2012

A Little more Advent

 My reflection on Luke 3:1-6 cross posted from Feminist Theology in an Age of Fear and Hope
Even more than usual, the themes of Advent are striking a particular resonance with me this year. This time of waiting, of the in-between and the “not-yet” has become very familiar. The wilderness too, that wild and unfamiliar place that takes us to our edges and, if we let it, to places of transformation and new beginnings, has started to map its landscape onto my heart.

John’s familiar message strikes a ringing chord as well. While it’s true, as always, that I cannot hear the passage from Isaiah without hearing Handel’s beautiful melody … “Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God, every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill made low, the crooked straight, and the rough places plain,” this year I am hearing the words themselves anew, with sharp and clear images about just how much difference we are talking about in this altered landscape, as well as the amount of effort, movement and, yes, probably pain, would be involved in such change.

I’ve been watching the building of a new bridge in my town. It started a few years before we moved here and it won’t be all done until December of 2014. It has involved the moving of tons of earth, the removal of buildings, the rerouting of lanes of traffic, and actual changes in where roads come and go. Places that were once flat are now sloped and places that were steeper have been graded down. Men spend days just grinding on pieces of cement to make them smooth and precise so that things will fit together in just the way they need to for safety and endurance on the new structure. When the new bridge is all done, the old one, which has been a staple of the town landscape for almost a century, will be demolished, and a new pathway with four wide, smooth lanes of traffic will take us back and forth across the river. The bridge builders are very proud of the fact that there have been no fatalities during the very daunting task of constructing this bridge, but certainly there have been people injured, and there have been accidents as drivers have not adapted to the changes caused by the construction. Traffic has been slow and congested at times and it’s been difficult, irritating, and a general source of frustration for many people for several years as we wait for a new bridge to come.

Personally, too, in the last few years, there have been a lot of changes in the landscape of my life. Since 2010, there has been a wedding, with its combining of households, two more complete moves of house and town, the ends and beginnings between my husband and I of six jobs, and a return to school for him, the aborted attempt to sell a house, and recently the re-start of that effort, the beginning and premature end of a CPE program, a small stint in a parish begun in hope that did not work out, and one that seemed to have much promise that never even got off the ground. Of late, there have been some of those “close calls” with medical tests. You know the ones, where you get the call-back, “something is there, and we want another look.” So you go, and they look, and you wait, and you worry, you hope and you pray. And, even though, thanks be to God, all has been well in the end, during the waiting, at least if you are me, you go to that wilderness of worst-case scenario, every single time. It seems like it’s been the Advent of my life for quite a while now, and I’m finding myself trying to make some sense of it, and to answer the “God questions” in the midst of it.

Change and transformation do not usually happen without effort and, most often, not without some level of pain and discomfort. Being in the wilderness, by chance or by choice, often pushes our limits and taxes our endurance. Sometimes we take it on by choice because we want to grow or change and we know somehow that we need to be in an environment that will enable this. Sometimes the wilderness seems to find us, and the choice becomes what we will do while we are there. Because there is always a choice for us. Unlike the mute dirt and rock of the valleys and mountains, we get to choose whether we will listen to the message of the journey, whether we will allow ourselves to be changed by it. We decide whether we will let the wilderness do its work upon us to straighten out the kinks in our thinking, open our hearts to encompass a wider scope of emotion, smooth the rough places in our souls. We can turn and choose to see how God is present in this time, this moment, or we can hide under a rock, lost in the fear. We can open ourselves up to a new vision of things, a changed landscape, a different path, or we can cling stubbornly to “how it was, is, or should be.” We can stretch ourselves a bit to allow space for whatever new thing God might be doing in our corner of the world, or we can curl in and remain small. We can participate and co-create in the process of things being made new, or we can refuse, the choice is ours.

We are invited into the ongoing process of preparing for the coming always and again into our own wilderness of the One who is ever here/ever new. Sometimes, as my husband reminded me recently, I have to be “encouraged” to do things for my own benefit. I need to be reminded sometimes that just a little effort on that landscape will likely pay off, and might even bring joy! Prepare the way of the Lord, he is coming!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Second Friday Random Friday Five

revkjarla says: "it's the Second Friday five of the month...and you know what that means--yet another edition of a Random Friday Five! So, without further ado, let's get our random on!"

1. If a spaceship landed in your back yard, and three very cute little aliens knocked on your door and asked you to show them around Earth,where would you take them? (Remember, you have superpowers from last month's Second Friday Five, so if you need to use them for transportation, feel free to do so.) 
I think I'd want to give them some different perspectives, so I'd take them to a vast desert, then maybe to the seashore and then I'd bring them home for dinner, right here in good old small town middle America, where we could see trees and the river along with some lovely old houses.

2. What is making you grumpy these days? I miss having a regular church gig, and I'm feeling very sad that right now I cannot see a way that this will change any time soon.  I try to remain hopeful and to believe that God still has a dream for the "rev" part of revdrkate, but yes, grumpy, among other things, would cover it.

3. O.K., so now that you got the grumps out, what is one thing today that will be sheerly joyful for you? R and I both have the day off together! We have been productive, cleaning the garage and taking a load to the Goodwill, and now we are free to play!

4. I am pitifully, once again, trying to grow a garden. Last year I only harvested one cucumber. This year, I have zucchini, cucumbers and tiny tomato plants. Everything is abloom, but the jury is out whether there will be any yield. So, do YOU have a garden? What are you growing? If you don't, what is your favorite fresh summertime vegetable/fruit/flower? We have a three-pot garden for our veggies, the lettuce, sadly fried before we could eat it, but we are trying another crop.  We have eaten one of our three tomatoes and are waiting for the others along with the two peppers to ripen.  We also have six pots of herbs and some flowers.  Not bad for a townhouse, I'd say.

5. If the aforementioned aliens suddenly demanded all the contents of your closet, OR ELSE (as in clothing, shoes, etc.) but kindly said you could keep three items, what would they be? My alb (hope does spring eternal, after all), my wedding dress, even though I won't likely wear it again, still, it has lots of sentimental value, and my favorite pair of capri length yoga pants that I pretty much live in.

Have fun, and as always, let us know if you played by telling us in the comments, and linking us to your page!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Off Again

As one might suspect from the absence of posts since before mid-month, the lovely consistency with which this month began has, as is sometimes the way of things, gone astray.  The courtship of my life-to-love has followed, a casualty of a nasty bronchial infection that left me limp and crouping for the better part of three weeks with what seemed like just enough energy to get through the minimum daily requirements of life.  Given a choice between time on the mat and an extra fifteen minutes of sleep, sleep won every time. Even "just lying there" as my teacher suggested had no appeal, as getting horizontal seemed to be an invitation to the little croupers in my chest to go full throttle. One day, then a week, then two, passed, and here we are, near the end of this month that began so well, back at square one. I'm discouraged by this, but not completely demoralized.  I still have hope that I can do this, and I am plotting a new strategy.

This is the last week of my job, and it is full and busy and tiring.  I think it would be folly to even think I could plan to be successful to try this again right now.  The crud is waning, but not entirely gone, so I am still grabbing all the sleep I can get and trying not to be too hard on myself about that.  But next that is a different story.  I am on a little stay-cay between the old job and the new.  There is nothing scheduled, nothing more pressing than cleaning a garage.  My days are my own.  There is no excuse, no reason not to take the time I need to get a good routine established.  I have eleven days in which to solidify this, and hopefully too, to begin to remember why it is that I want to do this so badly in the first place. To remember who I am when this is part of me, and that I like this person.

I am also planning on attending my first yoga class in my new home town.  I spoke with the teacher and in one of those lovely little serendipitous things life offers now and again, it turns out that she has studied with the woman who taught my original teacher from ten plus years ago, the woman whose intensives I attended for four years in Mexico.  I have always loved the philosophy my teacher embodied, and really resonated with this form of yoga that emphasizes the spiritual as well as the physical aspects of the practice.  I have not found this emphasized in the other classes I have taken nearly as much, so I am really excited to see how this person teaches, and hope that this too is a connection to all that was so good and positive in that for me in the past.

Other parts of the plan to assemble a life to love are sputtering a little as well. Things on the congregational front are not moving at a pace that I would like. That is not to say that at some point all will not be well, but at this point things are not quite as I had hoped.   Being patient and dealing with uncertainty are not my strong suits, but it is what it is right now, and I'm trying to accept and wait with some level of grace....not always with complete success.

For the next few weeks though, I am focusing on leaving this job, being done in good stead, then taking my week to rest, recoup and get my plan in gear.  June 11 I start the new job, and there will be much learning there with new people and new systems.  We are hoping to have a little fun this summer, too.  Maybe a little travel, a few roadtrips and bike rides.  We need some downtime together as well!

So that is the plan and the intention as we finish May and move toward June.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Friday Five: Extreme Random

revkjarla says: "Happy Friday to all of you. Today's Friday Five has no theme, other than randomness. That's o.k., right? So, just to get to know each other a little bit (even more) here is the meme":
1. What is the first thing that comes to your mind (right now) that you want to share about yourself.  Well, since I have to keep stopping whatever it is I'm doing to cough, blow and otherwise do those wonderful cold-related things, I will share that a) I have a crummy cold and b) I want very much to not have it!

2. What is your favorite piece of jewelry or accessory? Why? This is the chain I wear every day.  It is sort of a talisman.  Each thing on it has special meaning or reminds me of something...the cross in the center is the oldest piece and was a gift to myself when I started formation for priesthood. The little circle charm came next.  It was a Christmas gift from a friend, and has a shooting star on it and says, "Discover, Dream. Explore." The bird is from a shop in Mexico from BE 4 and is to remind me that "even the birds...." The medal is Joan of Arc, purchased this year in NOLA after BE 5. Joan is my patron saint (the given name I never use) and is for courage.  The blue stone charm came from BE 5 as well, and reminds me of the ocean.

3. If you could have a starring role in a T.V. show/movie/series, which one would it be, and what wouldyour character be like? It would be one of those "cozy" mysteries where the main character has a day job...Therapist? Priest? Both? In addition she just keeps happening upon fascinating situations requiring her and,of course, her trusty partner, (my smart, handsome husband, natch!) to bring their wonderful intuitive and other gifts to solve them.

4. What is one thing you will eat this weekend? Oatmeal with raisins.  It's the Sunday morning tradition at our house for R to get up and make this for breakfast.  We will also have other great stuff, too.  He cooks!

5. How do you waste time? (If you do, that is...) The computer! It even tells the world....randomly..."Kate is playing this that or the other thing."  I find myself thinking about the things I could/should be doing, exercising, cleaning, writing something great and meaningful.  Then I pop some more bubbles.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

A Quiet Saturday

It's quiet here today, at the end of our first full week in the new house.  I'm pretty amazed by how settled we are.  Oh, there are things to be done of course.  There is nothing on the walls yet, and a few boxes are still to be dealt with.  But it's not the important stuff.  That has all been pretty much unpacked and put away for most of the week.  There really is something to be said for a slow steady move over several weeks.  It gave us time to bring things in and put them away, so that the last day really was just the remaining essentials (and the things we needed the strong young relatives' help with the heavy lifting).

I have been off to clergy conference and back.  It seems that our CC tends to fall around big events in my life,  moving, weddings, things like that.  I am happy to say that even with the going and coming I have sustained my morning yoga practice for six days now!  I am giving myself "permission" to take Sundays off.  If I get there it's a bonus, but we tend to spend the morning together having a nice breakfast, getting ready for church, and I think that too, is an important part of this "life I love" rebuild.

Our original plan for today was to take in some of the Cinco de Mayo festivities in the Big City upriver.  But the combination of less than ideal weather and R being down with a nasty Spring cold has derailed that.  Right now I am listening to the comforting sounds of both my husband and dog napping peacefully. The revised plan includes a little errand running and our own Mexican dinner right here at home.  I have no church responsibilities on my calendar for a good long while now.  There is some pulpit supply off in the future, and plans are in the making for more involvement at my church here, though the when and how are still to be determined.  I need to be in wait and trust mode.  Not my best thing...but it too is part of the practice I guess.

So being slow today, taking it easy, no expectations....gee, that sounds like a weekend!

Friday, May 04, 2012

Friday Five Birthday Edition

Kathrynzj says: "There's a birthday for an adult member of my family today. I will admit, I'm not very good at celebrating birthdays. Sadly, the adults in my life have suffered from this affliction. I do manage to rally for my son (now age 7). I could bore you with my own personal history of birthday laments which may have led to this attitude... but I won't (you're welcome). Instead I'd love to hear your birthday memories."
1) What is the first birthday you remember? I think I remember my seventh.  There was a party of little girls from school and the neighborhood. Someone had a tantrum, someone threw up, someone's mommy had to come get her because she didn't have her party manners on. We played Pin the Tail on the Donkey.

2) Do you recall a favorite gift? While it was not technically a birthday gift, it did replace one, so I think it counts. The bike from R has to be one of the best gifts ever.  You can read the story here:

3) Has anyone ever tried to surprise you for your birthday? Did it work? Was it fun? Oh yes...once.  Fun?  Mmmm, don't know if that is the word I'd pick.  Memorable maybe. My roommate did manage to pull off the getting the people there without my knowing pretty well. There is a picture of me as they all jump out and I look properly surprised. Then she also decided to further surprise me with those candles that won't blow out.  That was where things really got surprising! The candles did what they were supposed to do, relit and relit...right down into the sugar frosting, which started to burn, which set off the smoke detector.  The only way to stop the firs was to pour water on the cake and the only way to silence the smoke detector in our old house was to hit the circuit breaker.  So while one person was running for water to drown the cake, another was hitting the lights. We went from bright, burning, blaring chaos to sudden silence in complete darkness. Once the lights came back on we surveyed the damage.  The once lovely cake now said "Ha  B...........Y" amidst globs of burnt flowers. It was pretty much a loss.  As one of my friends said, "well, it was pretty surprising."

4) Do you have a favorite birthday dessert? It used to be a toss-up between good cheesecake (baked please, very dense, NOT the jello version, and NO toppings) and Dairy Queen cake, but since the arrival of the Sweet Husband who makes the most amazing cakes, I think it would be his lemon layer cake.

5) Describe what would be your 'perfect birthday'  Right now? A quiet day, just the two of us. Sleeping in, then  maybe a little day trip somewhere. Just meandering, talking, laughing, good food at some point along the way. That would do it.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Home Again

This will be another short one, simply because it has been a very long day. It started in a retreat center (with some time on a yoga mat, may I say?) moved through a morning with my Bishop and clergy peeps as we prayed, reflected and talked together about how we can care for God's people, each other, and, not least of all, ourselves in our work of ministry. Then it was into the car and off to the office for three hours of group and a couple clients.  By then it was WAY past time to get myself home to the Sweet Husband. Three days apart is still much too long. I found him grilling chicken for our dinner. We caught up on our various days and I sent him off to bed. His days start in the wee dark hours and end while it is still light. On this day, mine too, will end before dark, I think. I am not at all sorry that tomorrow is Friday, and it too starts bright and early. As always, it was good to go and spend time immersed in my clergy world, and as always, it is so good to be home.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Day Three and Still Going

This will be brief as I am typing on a tablet and it is not my favorite thing. I just want to be on record here as saying that it was mat day three...yes even at clergy conference.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Being Accountable

Day 2-Mission Accomplished!  As predicted, it was a little harder to manage this morning. I had to be in the office by 8, my commute has changed from about 10 minutes to about 40, and I am going directly from work today to clergy conference so I had to make sure I had all my "stuff" to haul along on that trip.  But I did find my way to mat and prayerbook, and while perhaps I was a bit hurried and distracted, I was there and there counts.

Monday, April 30, 2012

New Beginnings

"It all begins with intention." wonderful yoga teacher/mentor
It was the first morning here in our new place and I determined that this will begin well, this new adventure. I do have the intention here to make a new start, to do all in my power to create a life I can be in love with.

I have been thinking about those bits and pieces of the life I once loved.  They seem to fall in two broad categories...the ones I have some control over and...of course, the ones I don't! So, not being entirely without sense, I thought it would seem reasonable to put my energy into that second category.  I used to have a lovely morning ritual of yoga and morning prayer.  It was a gentle and sweet way to start the day, and I seemed to be able to face whatever came with greater mental and physical flexibility.  Somewhere along the way, however this practice got lost, and though I have thought a lot about and wished a lot about getting it back, I have never really taken action to do something about really making that happen.

Today was the day that changed.  Early on in the day, before too many other things could happen to derail me, I took myself to the space I have already created for my practice.  All the right things are there, the mat, the props, the music, the prayer book.  It it a lovely room, in its other incarnation, our guest room and my creative space.  A comfy futon couch lives there, as does our electric fireplace.  The walls are a deep soothing blue, the floors are wood.  The windows are big and let in the wonderful morning light.  I have assembled there all the things that speak to me of Spirit, the things that remind of times when I did take my practices seriously, and what went on in my life as result.

I was a little anxious when I faced the mat today.  I have been attending yoga classes on and off, but they have been primarily of the "restorative" variety.   While I do enjoy them, and to some extent "need" them of a Friday afternoon, I don't find that they require either the physical or the spiritual discipline that my own practice, well-done, asked of me. So I began gently with some cow and cat stretches.  I remember FB telling us that even if all we did was lay on a mat for a time each day to begin a regular practice, it mattered, it was a beginning.  But soon I found myself moving into the familiar rhythms of my old routine of asanas, ending with my my sun salutations...stretching and bending back and forward, down to the mat and rising again. Emotions ran high, laughter and tears all from the same deep well. I ended sitting with Morning Prayer. It was indeed, a good beginning.

The rest of the day was busy and productive.  More unpacking and settling.  I tamed the bathroom, got the office in at least a semblance of working order, figured out the very high tech washer and dryer enough to accomplish some laundry. Midway through the day there was a trip to the office to see a client and do some necessary paperwork, then some errands, a dogwalk and making dinner for my sweetie. The sweetie and I did a quick post-dinner trip for some things I need to take along to my clergy conference tomorrow. Then it was home to bed for him and last minute packing for me as I'll go right from work to the conference tomorrow.

I think tomorrow and, of course, the days that follow will be the test of my resolve.  It was pretty painless to start this today when I did not have an early morning commitment and I could be leisurely and take my sweet time about it.  Tomorrow it's up and out bright and early.  But even then, I intend to make time, even if it's just a few brief minutes, to go to the mat, to open the space and possibility for whatever might happen there. Writing here will keep me honest, keep me accountable. We will see how it goes.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Falling In Love Again

This post has been rattling around in my head for days.  It starts and stops and starts again, but always, it begins the same way, with this thought, "I really need to fall in love again."

Oh not with my husband (or someone else instead).  Oh my no!!!! I am as crazy in love with that sweet man as ever, maybe even more than that, as we approach our second anniversary. So no, not with him, but with my life, the whole of it, the arc of it, all the lovely little bits and pieces that fall in and out  to create every day.

There was a time when I did love my life.  A time when  I looked forward to most of every day with a sense of joy of and hope.  A time when it felt all of a piece, and I felt whole in it.  When my various worlds were intersecting pieces of something complex and wonderful that fed me and from which I turn made offerings of meaning to others.

There was work.  And while it was not perfect, (no job ever is!), it was good. I had a solid sense that I did something good, something that mattered, that made a difference. Internally I knew it and externally it was validated.

There was church.  Again, not perfect, but good, a "fit" in so many ways. There was the  rhythm of regular preaching and presiding, and the deep wrestling with the texts that came with that which enriched my spiritual life in wonderful ways, the chance to be of service in my congregation, my local community and the larger church. Again, validation, knowing both from within and without that this was good and right and fitting.

There was the web of relationships formed in a smallish community.  The ones that were close and personal -- my Soul Sisters, my Anam Cara, and other close friends, and those that simply were -- the person at the coffee shop who knew my "regular" morning beverage, the check-out folks at the grocery store and gas station who knew me by name, the smiles around town from those who knew and were known.

And even my house.  My big, old, rambling, drafty, needy house, with its porches and swing, it's very own particular charm. It all worked together to create this life that I simply.....loved.

So why on earth, I hear someone, somewhere, wondering (or perhaps it's in my head) did she leave this wonderful life that she loved so much? Good question.  Why indeed?!? It is true that to everything there is a time and a purpose and it was time. Time for change, yes, sometimes even time for leaving that which we love that has become too comfortable, to easy,  to allow for what we both hoped would be some fruitful new beginnings and growth.

Instead it has been a year in which much has felt as if it has been standing still, holding, fallow and in wait.  We have not settled-in, not in any meaningful way in any of the parts of our lives that matter to either of us.  Work, church, home, community....nothing has really clicked, taken hold, taken root.  There have been hopes and plans, tries and starts.  Things were plotted that were not sown,  planted that did not grow.  In this last year, I have not loved my life, I have simply resided in it.

I do, however, remain hopeful about our future.  One of the things I often talk about with my clients when they are struggling with an unhappy present is "What have you done  that worked for you in the past?"  So taking some of my own advice, I'm thinking about that, and hopefully we will be moving into some of those "things that worked" very soon.

We have intentionally made the choice to move our lives  into a small, self-contained community. In this community will be our home, my workplace and our church. My wise husband suggested this to me as I looked at accepting a new position, and initially I was somewhat resistant.  The plan was to be urban when we moved last year, I told him. We had "done" the small town thing. Yes, he reminded me....and happily so. Oh. Yeah. Right.  That did work didn't it? Happy, loving my life, all that. The plan here of course is not to try to recreate that previous life. That is neither possible nor desirable. But the parts that worked....those might be available to us in this new place. Proximity to the potential beloved is the first step for falling love, right? So proximate, we shall be! And from there...who knows?

My  future work setting remains somewhat an unknown quantity as a new job always does.  The portents are good however.  A future coworker has invited me to lunch, others have sent e-mails of welcome. The setting itself will be more like what I have enjoyed in the past. Our new home makes me smile when I walk in the door.  Our new church is lovely, and the people seem very welcoming as well as very much engaged in the work of the Gospel. The timeline for my actually being clergy there is still a little more amorphous than I would like. Patience? Not my best thing! But I am trusting that God does have a place for me at that very beautiful table, and all will unfold as it should. I am "in conversation" with the team, the mentor and all the folks that matter, and will wait, pray and hope.

My wise husband has suggested that we celebrate New Year's on May 15th this year.  It is our second wedding anniversary, and almost a year since our move here from Little Town on the Prairie.  It will also mark a close to this year in many ways.  Most things will be done or nearly so, and new things will be about to begin. I know there are many lessons for me in this year.  I am too close to it to see them all right now, but I trust they will unfold over time.  One thing I do know is that I need to unfurl the tight little knot that I have become if I want to allow myself to open again to being in love with life.  Loving life brings both joy and risk and I want to let both in again in full measure. May it be so.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Friday Five: Internet Connections

Jan says: "I have vaguely been hearing about the coming trend of people using mobile internet devices rather than desktop computers. Having four adult children, I see them using cell phones, laptops, tablets, ipods/iphones/ipads instead of the desktop computer, which I am using right nowSo I am asking you to answer the following questions about whatever device you most often use these days, first by telling us what you have:"
1. Do you use social connections, like Facebook, Twitter, Linked-in or whatever else there is? Describe how you use it/these. Oh my, yes...I am hooked up to all of it at some level, though usage varies.  I use my e-mail and Facebook, along with texting as the primary means of virtual communication, I tweet now and again and lurk there as a diversion at times, but it has never really become the part of me that it has for some of my friends.  I have noted that there are some really fascinating conversations (I guess???) that go on, especially about emergent church, that I would love to be more engaged in, even as a spectator, but I have to draw lines somewhere with the virtual world, and I guess that is one. Sigh.  Fb has many uses, connection with current friends, catch ups with people I've lost track of, seeing pics of the new baby or grand, getting great links to articles I may not otherwise have caught when my friends re-post things, seeing things that make me laugh, go "hmmmm" or YUCK or sometimes just pray for the sorry state of the world.  My circles on Fb tend to friends, family, RevGals and their churches and other churchy type organizations, so it is a good way for me to stay in touch with that side of my life while I work away in the "other side" of it. I am on Linked-in and have followed a few conversations there, but they tend to (IMHO) get a little long and drawn out and I kind of lose interest. I don't know what that says, that I enjoy following a Twitter thread more....but there it is!

2. Do you text on your cell phone? Work, friends, family? Yes, yes, and yes. I started texting with the old phone that had a traditional telephone keyboard and upgraded to a slide-out qwerty with my Android.  Much better (except for that ever-interesting auto correct!)

3. Do you play any games? Which ones? Sadly, yes. Several.  Some with bubbles, some with jewels, some with cards, some with dice, some with tiles.  Some alone and some with friends.  Some that I think were originally designed for persons much younger than myself.  It is downtime, and perhaps time that could be better spent.  Mind candy perhaps.  But then I remind myself about those studies that tell us that games are good for the brain.  I am simply keeping my synapses agile. That is my story and I am sticking to it. Play!

4. How do you predominantly use the various electronic devices you possess? I use a computer at work to do case notes, record assessment data and do correspondence, I write my sermons on a computer (though I have yet to preach from my tablet...I'm considering it). I also use the laptop, the tablet and my smartphone for e-mail, photos, music, and Fb and the tablet and computer for games.  They are somewhat interchangeable through there are limits with screen and keyboard size how much writing I want to do on anything other than the laptop. Visual: I am sitting in an airport, earbuds hooked up to smartphone which in tuned into a podcast of Krista Tippit, while I idly play with various apps on my tablet. I like the one that lets me make watercolory drawings for times such as this.  I am plugged into the wall with both chargers, sipping a mocha.  life is good!

5. How do you feel about blogging? Are you as involved in blogging as when you first started? What facilitates your blogging? Blogging saved my life.  That sounds a little dramatic, but when I was out there on the prairie wrestling with so many things, knowing there was a community like Revgals and being able to connect was soooo important.  Blogging was also the place I claimed my voice as a writer and got the confidence to say yes to some writing projects. No book yet, unlike some of my other blogging sisters, but maybe someday.   I also love reading blogs and regret there is not more time in the day to do that.  I would love to read every blog of every RevGal I know (who is still writing) on a regular basis, but it doesn't happen.  once in a while I treat myself with a binge and just read for hours and play catch up on everyone's life.  Of course the downside of that is that if something major has happened I feel like a complete schmuck not to have known.  Fortunately most of us are also on Fb and so we do keep up that way, and as many of us have commented, Fb has kind of replaced blogging in a not to satisfying, but much quicker way for many of us.

Bonus: Anything you want to add.  I always have to smile a bit when I think about myself in relation to technology.  I think it must have been somewhere back in about 2002 or so that I made the silly remark that I thought I might be kind of done with tech...that I knew what I was going to know, was doing what I was going to do....then came blogging, html codes, smart phones and apps, tablets, downloads and uploads, clouds and tweets. I'm still learning, and nope, not done, not yet!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Friday Five: Vital Connection

Sally says: "OK I'll admit it, right now I am exhausted, there is so much going on and so much to do that I fell like I am running around in small circles, add to that the fact that there is so much that I'd like to do ....

What I need to do is give myself permission (make myself) to stop and to refocus, to breath the air and smell the roses to get perspective and to rest in God's presence, and sometimes that can be hard to achieve but I know that the harder it gets, the more essential it becomes. Somewhere deep inside I hear the Spirit whispering to my soul:"
Live in me, make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can't bear grapes by itself, but only by being joined to the vine, you can't bear fruit unless you are joined to me... (John 15: 4)

So I want to ask you

1. How do you intentionally make a vital daily connection with God? What roots you and gives you life? I use a variety of things. Praying the daily office, sometimes with a prayerbook and sometimes online. I am a visual person, so my workspace has a lot of little reminders to take a minute to reconnect (a magnet, a small "mini-rosary," a photo). I also try to use place when I get in the car, sit down to eat, get in bed, as ways to remind me to take a minute to be mindful of God's love and care for me.

2. Do you have a favourite space/ place that you go to? I had a conversation about this recently at a clergy retreat, and in talking with people, I realized that I have left my "places" behind in our last move and they have not been replaced or replicated in my new environment. I used to love to just hang out in our sanctuary at church when no one else was there.  I also had some outdoor places that I loved to go.  The other "sacred space" in my life is our little mini-Cooper when it's just my husband and I off on a road trip.  I have always connected with God through R and having this little island of time and space gives us a chance to do that. I am hoping that in this next (and I hope final for a while) move, I will be able to rediscover some places, and with a new schedule for him down the road, we will be able to have those times again, too.

3. Is there a particular passage, phrase or prayer that brings you immediately into God's presence? "Be still and know that I am God." I like to meditate on the whole phrase and use "Be" as a kind of reminder mantra when I get anxious or start spinning too fast.
4. Music- essential ingredient or distraction- discuss. Depends. Sometimes it can take me right where I need to be.  Sometimes it is noise and distraction and I want it all. off.  We have "muzak" at our clinic and even though it is supposed to be soothing, (Enya, flutes, etc.) sometimes I'd like to unplug it permanently.

5. Silence and solitude or engagement with like minded others? I am am "I" on the Meyers Briggs, so I need my ration of alone-time.  However, I also find that having companions on the spiritual journey is an important thing.  I like to sit in silence and pray or meditate in a group as it often feels like we are creating a synergy that enhances the experience.

Bonus, a poem, piece of inspirational prose or music that speaks to you of that vital connection. Would love to find and link to something...but the schedule doesn't permit today.  "Be Thou my Vision" and "Be Still and Know" are two that come to mind.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Second Sunday in Lent

It looks like maybe we are covering ground toward change.  We visited the church and looked at a townhouse today in the little town down the road.  Both got a thumbs-up from both of us.  Details on many fronts need to be worked out before this possible future becomes ours....but I always think it is a good sign when I can imagine myself there in that future, in that place....and I can in both of these.  I can see myself at some point in the not-too-distant future coming home to both that living room and that sanctuary, finding rest in both places, settling in for what I hope will be a good long time.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Day Three of the Later Lenten Attempt

It's kind of a lazy Saturday.  I'm not preaching tomorrow, so I am feeling footloose on that front.  We are going to church tomorrow in a little town about twenty miles down the road and then looking at a townhouse there.  If this all sounds like it might be part of yet another transition, yes, it could.  There are changes afoot in our lives and they do involve movement of all kinds....including the pack up your stuff and take it to a new place variety.  R and I were talking about this morning, and I mentioned that this time next month we would be giving our notice here, and that any time now we could start packing.  "Didn't we just do this?" I asked.  Well it's been almost a year, but in the larger scheme of things, it does seem like it came around again rather quickly.  Considering that I was in my last place seven years and the one before that almost twenty-five, this annual pack and go thing is a little disconcerting.  I was not always so stable of house, though.  In my earlier days I once had a period of time in which I moved thirteen times in eleven months! As I recall, I could make the entire move in a couple of large cars back then, which made it much easier.

One of my clients was talking about falling shoes the other day. That took me back. I had a few, hopefully useful, things to say to her about that. Like, try to stay in the moment, let your friends support you, and do whatever you can, whenever you can to take the focus off those stupid shoes! Trust, I said, that when they do fall, if they fall, you will have what you need to get through it in that moment.  Until then, really, there is nothing you can do about them.  And trying to provoke them into falling sooner....not a good plan, no matter how seductive it may seem in the moment.  It's a very Lenten thing though, being with those shoes, having them hanging, or suspended, however and where ever they are.  You know that at some point, they will be upon you and you will  need to deal.  It calls to mind the slow journey to the crucifixion that we remember during Lent. We know it's coming, has to come. I'm never really sure just how much Jesus knew exactly, but I'm guessing he was fairly sure he was coming to no good end.  And yet, he managed to keep moving through his life, his ministry, intensely present, real, and focused.  Did that come from that moment of when he knew himself claimed, loved by God?  Or did it evolve...through the desert and beyond, through all those days of healing and teaching, feeding and praying, a sense of coming to know not just how it was coming to be with him, the handwriting on the wall, but also the sure and certain knowledge that the suffering, whatever it might be would be for something, something bigger than anything had ever been? Just thinking, just wondering.....

Friday, March 02, 2012

RevGalBlogPals Friday Five: Essentials Edition

kathrynzj says: "I'm heading from unseasonably warm temperatures and no snow to a place of GREAT SNOW. Sadly, for reasons that don't need to be boringly laid out here, I am sans decent winter boots at the moment so I need to find some... NOW! In the meantime I am shaking my head at myself. How could I possibly be without one of the key essentials for living in my environment? Every area is different."
What are the 5 key essentials needed for where you live?
Out here in God's country where I live, it is the land of extremes.  So it really depends on what season we are talking about in terms of essentials.  In the winter, we all know not to leave home without the " car kit" which is a coffee can containing a candle, matches (preferably waterproof), candy bars, something bright like a red bandanna, flares if you are really savvy, and of course a pile of blankets, extra boots (yes kathryn, we all have more than one pair), and a fully charged cell phone.  This is perhaps a wee bit tongue in cheek, though people's lives have been saved by living on chocolate bars and melted snow till help could arrive. 

The big essential for me is warm clothes, in layers....lots of them!

Then of course in the "other season," (that would be road construction) you'll want a good book to read or listen to while you sit in traffic, something in the cooler to drink and possibly some bug spray to deal with mosquitos the size of hummingbirds that will dive bomb you after you open the windows for ventilation.

Yes, we really do love living here!

And bonus - what have folks looked twice at you for because you wore it out of place.
Nobody really looked at me funny.  I mean, it  was Wal-mart and I was not even wearing pjs...but the day it snowed, I went there in  a wind jacket and a baseball cap,  just because it's getting on towards Spring and I am really ready. I felt very daring!

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Patience and Trust, Lent's First Post...a Little Late

So it has been my intention to post daily in Lent. Ok, well you know what they say about good intentions. And to that I say, who are they anyway, and what do they know about my life! I do own that I am getting a late start to the daily posts. In my own defense I will say that the early days of Lent were consumed by wresting with Mark's Gospel for last Sunday and the sermon I was determined to finish.  That took until midway through Saturday, and by that point I had much nothing left to say to anyone other than the dog.

I do need to get back to writing, though.  If for no other reason, it is a good way to disperse some of my stress. Much better than going around losing and misplacing things, which is what I have been doing lately.  Last week ir was a pair of sunglasses, my favorite blue winter scarf and page three of that above- mentioned sermon.  That last one...that was discovered IN the pulpit as I completed the preaching of page two! Talk about things that are guaranteed to raise your heart rate.  I was deeply grateful that it had been one of "those" sermons. You know, the ones that you spend hours and hours and hours....looking for the right thoughts, the right words.  It was only because I had been there so long, at the river, in the wilderness and back that I had a even a small prayer of knowing in that heart-stopping moment what I might say next, how I might wrap this baby up and bring it home.  I told R after the service what happened.  He said even he, as well as he knows me, had no clue I was just making it up as I went along. This gives me hope that maybe, someday...I really won't be a word for word manuscript preacher.  But for the immediate future...I will be checking my pages much closer before I leave the house!  By the way, I also found the scarf at the coffee shop and the sunglasses under the seat in the car.  All in all good end to a stressful week.

We did an exercise in one of the groups at my day job recently.  Our task was to identify some quality that we needed to "absorb" and then imagine ourselves taking that in into ourselves in whatever way made sense to us.  What came to mind immediately for me were two words, patience and trust, as I seem to have a rather significant shortage of both right now.  I think this is symptomatic of too much change, too much transition.  March marks the beginning of about fifteen months of active change in our lives, on top of the thinking, planning and prepping that went on for at least nine months or so before that...since right about the time we got married in fact.  Which was of course preceded by a year or so of planning, prepping and thinking about that, which was preceded by another two or three years of lots of change. Really, when I think about it, it was sometime in mid-2007 that I last lived under the delusion that my world was a settled little orderly universe in which I maintained some modicum of control.  It might have been even earlier, maybe it was before I was ordained.  At some level, the when of it doesn't matter.  Suffice it to say, it has been a long and interesting ride. Parts of it have been really fun, and parts of it not so much.  I have certainly learned a lot.  And right now, I am really, really tired.

And It is not quite done, this change and transition, we still have some big stuff ahead.  Another house move, another vocational shift or two on the part of both of my hats as well as a whole lot of uncertainty on the job front for R.  By Fall the dust will all have settled and I am hopeful that I will be able to look around and say with some satisfaction, "now this is what we wished for, hoped for, worked for."  And also....we are DONE! So when we had that little group exercise today, I flung myself out there into that future with trust.  I imagined us there, happy, settled and content.  I trust it will happen.  It will  take patience to put all the pieces together.  Some have begun to be assembled, I need to trust that they will hold and others will be added on to make this big bright picture that we hope for and long for.