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.