Thursday, September 21, 2006
And I will get to that post, but I wanted to take some space to reflect on what happened earlier today. I received a phone call earlier this afternoon from the parishioner of a friend of mine in a town about 45 minutes away. The parishioner's daughter lives near me and is dying of cancer. Today she was given weeks to live, could I please come visit.
Many of you who read these posts are clergy so I know you will understand and not judge that although in voice I agreed, my selfish zone was more focused on one final meeting, packing, other minor tasks and getting out of town.
As all of you would do too, I sucked it up and I headed over. I was nervous because when the best club in your bag is your 'sense of humor driver' it is intimidating to think that your visit to a dying stranger may leave you relying on your less trusty 'theological sand wedge' or 'small talk putter'. I reminded myself to be myself and to rely on a ministry of presence.
Once there tension lifted almost as soon as I walked in the room and we talked, we laughed, we cried, we prayed... I cussed. Yup, you read that right. Briefly told, she broke down and wondered what she had done wrong to deserve this and I told her that was bullshit (I of course told her WHY that is bs, but you get the point).
It turns out her step-father was a preacher in a more conservative, evangelical denomination than mine that puts its focus a bit more on works and a little less on grace. She has been to funerals where the deceased were never mentioned, but the altar call was. She doesn't want that. She has been to funerals where the preacher said, "I never met insertname, but..." She doesn't want that.
I told her that I would say, "Tori and I go way back..."
After I left her side her mother followed me out and told me that she would send payment to the church for my time. This caught me by surprise and I of course refused. She insisted and I tried to find the balance between not wanting her to feel as if she had insulted me and not wanting her to pay me money for something I am Called to do.
Finally I told her that if she felt it were necessary she should donate it to her church but "please know that being invited to stand with a family while they are engaged in the biggest battle of their lives and in their time of greatest grief and sorrow is an honor and a privilege."
I meant it. And I wondered as I drove away, how often - even in ministry - do we not only get to have these moments of privilege but do we also get the opportunity to redeem an entire profession... and maybe even the way one dying woman can now look at the One who created her and has loved her and will welcome her.
When she arrived we had both The Boy and The Dog gated in with me in the living room as she walked into the adjacent kitchen. I waved to her and said, “Good Mornin’!”
To which she responded, “Hold on, I’ll get you the cup.”
Turns out she thought I had waved to her and shouted, “Urine!”
What an odd way to welcome someone into your home.
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
- My husband stays home with our son while I go to work. This in and of itself does not preclude me from the award, but the fact that I am usually okay, even happy with this choice does knock me down in MotY points.
- We have determined that for our family's mental health it is best if I do not attend pediatrician appointments. This one severely hurts my chances, because c'mon how many moms out there MISS pediatrician appointments. I just get too wound up and filled with lunacies such as they are only saying we are doing a good job but really they are going to have to take him away OR that the fact that his head measured three inches smaller has nothing to do with the fact that he is flailing away at the nurse taking the measurement but rather that he has some rare strain of head contusion normally only found in a small town in Greenland.
- I am way behind on all the things we should be doing in order to have the best possible chance of getting him into Harvard. He has had no lessons of any kind yet, prefers to pretend his crayons are a telephone rather than draw, carefully places his food on his spoon and then proceeds to eat with his other hand, and does not attend any kind of pre preschool. He can count to three by skipping one and then saying two twice. I know what he means, but will the admissions counselors?
HOWEVER, I do think I should be reconsidered for the award because this morning I had the bright idea of washing a used key ring and all of our random keys and I gave them to him as I recognized his love of keys and also his burning desire to hide the keys that we begrudgingly let him play with and then wondered why one of us had placed those same keys in the doggie bowl or underneath the couch or in the (non-burning) fireplace.
No need for an official proclamation or a public award ceremony. The big grin and hug I received and his proud declaration of, "KEYS!" is all I need.
I humbly accept this award for all working moms everywhere and especially for my friend who when she saw another toddler pointing out red, blue and green to her toddler exclaimed out loud, "Oh shit, I forgot to teach him colors!"
Friday, September 15, 2006
David Letterman used to have a feature on his show called "Brushes with Greatness." Members of the audience would share stories of encounters with famous people. And so...
1. Tell us about a time you met someone famous.
Alright due to being at the right place at the right time I have met a good many professional athletes but I think the majority of my readers will be more interested in the fact that I have been one of those Today Show groupies you see hanging out behind Al Roker as he does the weather. After the show all four of them (Katie, Matt, Ann and Al) went around and had their pictures taken with folks and signed autographs. They all were very nice.
The best story from all of that is a tad on the gruesome side. As some of you know I had an accident in 1999 that resulted in the amputation of my left ring finger. At the time of the Today show my hand was still lightly bandaged but you could see that I had four fingers, not the standard issue five. But human nature being what it is most folks would see the bandage, not take note of the number of fingers present and simply ask, "What happened to your hand?" - including Matt Lauer. When he asked that as he squeezed in for a picture I simply shrugged my shoulders and said I cut my hand while dunking a basketball. He nodded, the camera clicked and he was off to the next cluster of fans.
(Side note: I did not do it dunking a basketball as I am a white girl with a 1" vertical leap.)
2. Tell us about a celebrity you'd like to meet.
Hmmm, good question. I am not really big on the celebrities, but I do feel like I would be a great loyal friend to one and if they ever start hiring those (kind of like they hire publicists) I should send in my information.
3. Tell us about someone great who's *not* famous that you think everyone oughta have a chance to meet.
Alright, this is probably taking this in a different direction than most, but I have often thought that I would like women who are in emotionally and/or physically abusive relationships - because they think they deserve no better or because they think that is all that men are about - I want them to meet and hang out with my husband affectionately known here as TDH. He is such a good man who respects women, supports me and our marriage and is an excellent father. One of the reason I am so happy to have a son is because I know at least one little boy is being raised to respect women.
4. Do you have any autographs of famous people?
Alright, this is for the sports lovers out there. I have two baseballs; one has all of the signatures of the 1961 Yankees (Maris, Mantle, Berra, etc...) and the other has all of the signatures of the 1978 Yankees (Jackson, Chambliss, Randolph, etc...). I also have a couple of Bucky Dent's and an autographed Mark McGwire rookie card (although I have a sneaking suspicion the signature was forged, not that it matters anymore).
5. If you were to become famous, what would you want to become famous for?
Since it is a big pipe dream anyway, I will stick with my childhood dream of becoming the first female Major League Baseball player.
Bonus: Whose 15 minutes of fame was up long, long ago?
Wow... this list is neverending. I'll start with: Paris Hilton, Brittany Spears and the iwwy husband, Michael Jackson, Fox News talking heads, Barry Bonds, the she-bang dude (American Idol), Nicole Richie, Terrell Owens, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Rick Warren, (that's enough for now, not to mention the sitemeeter hits I may get now).
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
And yet the amount of work that I have to complete between now and then has got me so completely freaked out, I am not even enjoying the sweet anticipation of a week away.
If that is not sorry enough, my son now sees me and immediately waves and says, "Bah-bye."
Just thought I'd share... back to work
One of the stories about this same woman that makes me laugh out loud whenever I think of it took place at a pretty stressful time in her life so we'll give her a break on that, but now that we know everyone is ok - healthier than ever even - we are allowed to flat out laugh at this.
She and her two adult children were rushing through the hallways of the city hospital trying to track down where her husband was. As they turned the corner they saw a directional sign in front of them that said: ICU/NICU. She glanced at it and with frustration threw her hands in the air exclaiming:
"Oh great... Spanish."
Even with the seriousness of the situation the story goes that her adult kids doubled up with laughter right there in the hallway.
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
As we were walking down the hallway I stopped to introduce him to some of our Sunday School teachers and as were about to walk away one of them remarked to me, "You need to stop losing weight, look at you." The rest said similar things and I thanked them and made some comment about how it is all in how you wear your clothes (this is true - I have lost relatively no weight).
After we were safely outside he said, "You know I have often heard female clergy say that they are treated differently but I have never seen it quite like that. They would have never said that to a male."
I just smiled and nodded my head and told him that is exactly why I don't wear earrings.
Worship was a bit different in that as I began to preach I was 'interrupted' by God and sermon time was really a skit I had written. The role of God was played by my father bellowing in his Jewish, Brooklyn accent into a microphone in the back of the Sanctuary. The critics LOVED it! Young and old raved about what a great job my Dad did and they are right. He was perfect for the part.
Hopefully a healthy percentage of folks took home the real message which was that our Sunday School this year has a lot to offer every age. I think most of them will although I am not quite sure what one young woman will take from it since at the back door as she was shaking my hand she said:
"How convenient for you. Since you were interrupted like that now you can just use the sermon your wrote for today next week."
Monday, September 11, 2006
- A high school classmate that I knew really in name only died in the towers.
- Seminary classmates brand new to their own calls were faced with visiting young widows and families.
- One of my clergy colleagues rushed over to the home of one of his parishioners who worked in the WTC and when he walked through the door the wife initially thought it was her husband. Her relief turned to anguish right before my colleague's eyes.
- My friend was an army reserve chaplain sent to work at the dumpsite and then at the morgues. She will never recover emotionally from that assignment.
Compared to their stories, mine just adds noise.
Friday, September 08, 2006
- Blowing off a meeting last night that ended up lasting 5 hours.
- Watching how excited my Dad was that he cooked The Boy's meal ahead of time so that when we got there it was already nice and cool. He was just so proud of himself.
- Beer, steak and the new NFL season all in one night.
- Finding some space to blog. It's been a busy week.
- Driving the pick-up truck a church member gave to us to borrow.
Peace friends and have a good weekend.
Thursday, September 07, 2006
The Wednesday before that appointment I received a call deep in the night that the infant grandson of members of the congregation was rushed to the hospital. His father who grew up in the church was away on business and the mother after placing her son in his bassinet did what all new mothers are encouraged to do... she laid down to get some rest. When she got up not twenty minutes later her baby boy was blue.
CPR. 911. It was all for naught.
He was 13 days old.
Calls were made and services were arranged. It was decided that he would be buried in the the church's cemetary and the service would be on Monday, the same day as our ultrasound appointment.
It didn't take me long to figure out that I would have a hard time presiding over a service with such a tiny casket while being pregnant myself. I couldn't imagine reconciling those images and my heartfelt grief for this young couple with the images I assumed we would see on the screen of a healthy boy or girl of our own. So I changed the ultrasound appointment to the following week.
Hindsight tells us that if I had gone to that appointment I probably would not have been able to officiate at the service having learned that the child I carried was also deceased.
We are all grown ups. We know that in life we rarely get a true happy ending and that is the case here. We have been blessed with a beautiful son and yet there is a part of our hearts that will never recover. The ripples from the SIDS death I described above keep on going as the couple has since divorced and the grandparents no longer come to the church with one of the reasons I think being that seeing that headstone every Sunday is just too hard.
In the meantime The Boy has found a new place that he likes to play... and talk as if to someone... and leave his toys. Eery is not quite the word because it is not as sinister as that. Comforting is not quite the word because there is no true comfort in tragedy such as this.
They say a picture speaks 1000 words and I guess somewhere in there is the right one, but I am not sure what it is...
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
Monday, September 04, 2006
I remember this when Princess Diana died. I just felt sad. I didn't sign a mourning book or send flowers or anything... I even refrained from buying the Elton John song (seriously, you and Bernie couldn't write a NEW song for the Princess of Wales, even I could have just changed the lyrics). But I digress...
I feel that same sadness today at the news of Steve Irwin's death. I didn't know the man and certainly couldn't understand why he did the things that he did, but it did seem that more than any others he really knew what he was doing. And gettin pierced in the heart by a sting ray seems like such a fluke.
I wonder if his family is grappling with that too... as if they could understand if a crocodile got him in the water or he let a snake get too close but this was so random.
I also hope they keep all the editorials and news shows that read emails away from them. There will be a lot of folks saying really stupid things about how he had it coming because of the way he led his life, but really what do we know about it? He grew up with these animals under his father's guidance and was a passionate conservationist. What seemed crazy to us, might have been perfectly reasonable to a man who had that kind of training.
Mainly, I feel for his 8 year old daughter who has to live with the knowledge that this happened while he was taping something for her show and for his 3 year old son who will not get to grow up in the footsteps of his Dad like Steve Irwin did.
Friday, September 01, 2006
First my thank you's to everyone who has said a prayer for me and my family whether spoken or unspoken. Thank you. I was trying to keep my post brief (and grateful) yesterday so I did not include a lot of what happened including the rude State Trooper, how absolutely frickin’ demolished our car is, the joys of realizing you have JUST taken collision insurance off said car, and the doctor visit to document my injuries (minor) and get x-rays.
I am sore today, but not any more sore than I have been at other times in my life. I have reawakened some old injuries, but I expect I will be fine.
Thanks again everyone for your comments and cyber hugs with a special thanks to ‘ppb’ for the booby hug.
And now to the Friday Five as presented by reverend mother on the revgalblogpals website (how cool is it to inspire a Friday Five... although next time I hope my Nobel Peace Prize is what does the inspiring, not my latest foible).
Big gentle hugs, soft pillows and heating pads to Will Smama, our resident matriarch and preacher/blogger/procrastinator who was involved in a bit of a fender-bender this week. We're very grateful she's OK, just a little shaken up...In lieu of flowers, I send this Friday Five out to her. Let's all be careful on those roadways.
1. Driving: an enjoyable way to clear the mind? a means to an end? a chance to be quiet with one's thoughts? a necessary evil? the downfall of our planet and its fossil fuels? Discuss.
When we vacation, we drive. I like to drive. I get this from my mother who was always frustrated by the amount of other moms who would sign their kids up to do things, but would not be willing to drive there.
When TDH and I go anywhere I drive, he reads the directions. Occasionally we have been in reverse roles and it becomes clear quickly that we need to switch... immediately.
2. Do you drive the speed limit? A little faster? Slower? Have you ever gotten a ticket?
On our back country roads - through farmland, not housing - I speed. Occasionally there will be a State Trooper back on those roads and I am always a bit miffed that they would pick on the locals rather than those crazy truckers on the Interstate. Favorite conversation with a congregation member about one of those speed traps:
HIM: Gotta trooper hiding out by the Smith Farm.
ME: Wow, did he get you?
HIM: Nah, I flew right over him!
As for tickets, yes I have gotten them. All for speeding. Most unjustified... mmmm, hmmm - yeah right.
3. Do you take public transportation? When? What's your opinion of the experience?
There is none available here. This is one of America's biggest flaws. Right now we are a 1 car family and fortunately that is doable for us. But for a lot of folks in a lot of this country there is no public transportation available.
4. Complete this sentence: _____________ has the worst drivers I've ever experienced.
Massachusetts. Now, I grew up in NJ so I know all about offensive driving, rather than defensive driving. You have to be aggressive and you count on other folks being aggressive too. If you are all on the same page it makes sense. But Massachusetts drivers are beyond aggressive and have entered the realm of kamikaze. They just dive across interesections and fly around traffic circles figuring you don't want to get into an accident either.
On the other side of the spectrum you have PA drivers who are too passive (except for the woman yesterday) and don't know how to merge. It is a combination of folks on the ramp not getting up their speed and folks on the highway not moving over.
5. According to the Census Bureau, reverendmother's fair city has the 6th longest average commute in the United States at 29 minutes each way. How does your personal commute rate?
Well, on a good day, if my key works in the church door... 45 seconds. In bad weather, it can actually be faster. Once there was a fender bender in our parking lot that I had to go around so on that day it was 50 seconds. And if I turn around to wave 'bye-bye' to my son through the door it can be over a minute... even 2.
Bonus for the brutally honest: It has been said, and the MythBusters have confirmed, that cell phones can impede driving ability almost as much as drinking. Do you talk on a cell phone while driving?
Yes. But I do not answer my cell phone while I am driving because I realized I was going to ridiculous lengths to pick up the phone. I was not on my cell phone yesterday, and that was the first accident related question the State Trooper asked me. I think it will be awhile before I drive and talk on a cell phone.