Saturday, April 26, 2008

Perspective

I was ready.
I mean REALLY ready to seriously lay into a particular airline that I am pretty sure has waved good-bye to its hey-day and is now thoroughly embracing mediocrity. As the shareholders gather around the smoky embers of their investment in ruins they might want to inspect closer and I think they will see the cloth that makes up the cots that line one side of the terminal and wonder if maybe the better investment just might have been customer service... or a few more planes to help the weary traveler get home on the actual day assigned... and maybe even their bag too!

I am not a grumpy person and so there were moments of humanity. I spent a good amount of my time in the airport sprinting from one terminal to the other (I dare say no small feat at one the size of O'Hare). Ticket and eventually airline carrier changes made me suspect and a target for an added security check. A full day and overnight of travel made me so... ummm, 'ripe' that the security agent actually asked me to go ahead and put my arms down.

We shared a good laugh about the sense of smell and how it is so strongly tied to memory and recognition to which she responded, "I remember me some doozies!"

I was ready to write a rap of righteous anger and frustration, but then I finally came through the doors at an airport that was not the original one intended, but thanks to my Mom, close enough...
and there he was.

Looking at least half a foot taller than I remembered him, bold red shirt tucked into his cargo shorts and new Cars sandals, "Mommy!" he came running into my arms. It was a hug they make movies about and his declarations of "I love's..." and "I missed's..." made the hassle of the last 24 hours disappear.

He talked and acted so grown up I half expected him to ask for the car keys but instead he asked me to carry him to the car please, which I did. Once home after a circuitous journey of picking up our car (but not my bag) at a different airport we played outside or rather he did while I watched and tried to not be so obviously attempting to soak in every independent moment of this young boy with suddenly no trace of toddler showing what. so. ever.

And then for whatever reason he decided to be Piglet to my Pooh (or maybe I was Tigger to his Roo?) and I sat on the swing that hangs from our great oak and he sat on my lap and as we would both lean waaaaay back he would giggle hysterically and when we went forward he would shout, "we're flying, we're flying!" all while I was attempting to make a permanent imprint of our flying lesson in my head.

As a sandy-haired little boy and I soared back and forth over the earth and he leaned into me with his giggles and innocent exhortations to fly, the scent of his neck both sweet and salty at the same time danced with my allelulias and I thought, "This is how I will recognize heaven."

Friday, April 25, 2008

Full

I entitled this post 'Full' because 'Cup Runneth Over' is a bit too cliche'.

The truth though is, my cup does runneth over. I feel like in a turn-around of a month - which really isn't THAT long looking back from this side of the valley - I have gone from desert, cracks-in-the-earth dry in mind, soul and spirit to soaking wet from a full dousing in emotional, spiritual and intellectual blessings.

The last one on that list surprises me as I have at turns hidden behind and even thrived in my adopted and proclaimed role as 'the class clown' and/or 'the jock', never the academic. At least in seminary (as opposed to college which is a post for another day) I did the work and my grades were respectable but I never would be caught dead uttering phrases like 'historical-critical thought' or 'contextual theology'. And if a difficult question was raised I would content myself not with trying to find the answer but with trying to find the exact right timing to utter the tentative response, "Jesus?" in order to get the biggest laugh (that still does get a great HUGE laugh, by the way).

This past week, I was invited into a group by someone who took a crazy chance that not only could I bring the funny... I could also bring the thought. I was honored, I was nervous, I was tentative and as the time became closer at hand I was: Freaked. Out.

I did the work. I hoped that my longer time in practical ministry would offset my limited rememberings of academic works and I showed up to the table.
And it was good.

I have remarked in previous posts about my faith journey and my stubbornness about accepting that God is in the details. And yet at the time MOST necessary, when I was passed out from dehydration panting on the floor and barely had it in me to press '9-1-1' my dry, empty soul was refilled.

First through strengthened friendships, touch, space to BE, and a reminder that I do care and that I am Beloved. And then through new friends, diving into the Text, being welcomed to the Table and realizing that Jock and Funny are not the only things that name me.

If you have been a part of that piece of the journey this last month you know who you are and thank you.
If you have been a part of who allowed me to be on that piece of the journey this last month you know who you are and thank you.

In Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith Anne Lamott opens her book with the story of being in her own dry place and meeting up with a friend that she is able to help through the random act of the "ham of God." Her words echo my own thoughts on how quickly we can go from dry to full:

"Later, thinking about [my friend], I remembered the seasonal showers in the desert, how potholes in the rocks fill up with rain. When you look later, there are already frogs in the water, and brine shrimp reproducing, like commas doing the Macarena; and it seems, but only seems, that you went from parched to overflow in the blink of an eye."[i]

I work for the Lord and yet I have been totally caught off guard by how quickly my one word description for who I am and how I am is no longer 'done.

Friends, I am 'full'.

[i] Lamott, Anne. Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith. New York: Riverhead, 2005. Pages 9 – 11.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Thou Shalt Not Flog Theological Cliches

"paradigm"
"living into"
"affirm"
"shadow"
"What I hear you saying..."

We are still allowed to use the above words and phrase, but there WILL be a penalty.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Clicking My Heels

And so I am now somewhere over the rainbow and involved in a lectionary study group which after day 1 has been such a blessing. I am not an academic and I don't know many of the others here and yet I have felt quite welcome.

When you are presenting academic/exegetical/homiletical papers surrounded by folks who have opened their Greek and Hebrew texts FAR more recently than you AND who won awards in seminary at graduation, rather than on the flag football field, it can be quite intimidating. But these folks seem to be my kind of people and so far I am hanging in there.

Of course, I don't present until Thursday and Friday and there is something beautiful to be said about that.

Listing Straight is here as is Reverend Mother and ShyChiRev. It's good. And I am once again grateful to the BE because if THIS had been my first post-Easter stop, it would NOT have been good for anybody.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

ooo, that hurts

There is a special kind of stab to the heart when one's child says 'her' name.

Friday, April 18, 2008

All-American Girl

A couple of days ago I...

- Deposited my tax refund (only because I could not legally sign it right over to the accountant who is WELL WORTH IT!)

- Voted in my state's primary because I am going to be absent next week.

- Made an illegal left turn because I didn't think that the sign really applied to me. Fortunately, last year's taxes were not enough to pay for a cop there to catch me!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Choose Wisely

When you are outside where the tractors are mowing
and the plows are spreading
and the birds are chirping
and the chipper is chipping
and you are having a hushed but stressful conversation when all of the sudden the church chimes start to LOUDLY play the hymn that you sang at your wedding do you...

a) laugh
b) cry
c) both
d) stop and stare dumbfounded
e) kick him in the nads!!!

For the record I did (a) which kept me from doing (e).
He did (d) then (c).

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Sweet Salve of Nurture

In my outline for last Sunday's sermon under III.B.2. it says "Sweet Salve of Nurture". If anyone could tell me what the HECK I meant by that, I would greatly appreciate it because as I told the Preacher Party it sounds like a genteel southerner's swear or an Oil of Olay Product. (edited to add that originally I spelled 'genteel': g-e-n-t-i-l-e. Duh.)

Today I told The Boy's teacher that on Thursday he may be showing signs of transition since tdx's significant other was moving in and The Boy would be meeting her tomorrow. She looked appropriately stunned and said, "Wow. That was fast." I just nodded my head yes and then she said, "How are you doing so well with all of this?"
I just kind of mumbled something but I was thinking, "Honey, you have no idea..."

1 sermon, 2 papers and a newsletter to write before I leave Sunday afternoon for a week-long lectionary group. Should be an interesting week for a non-academic like myself.

I have been doing some thinking about co-dependency, what it means, how even the healthy can fall into the trap. I have been doing some thinking about how someone at seminary actually mentioned to me that they felt called to ministry because they like to be needed. I have been wondering if somewhere there is a bumper sticker that says:
Parish Ministry. Where co-dependents are paid to be co-dependent.

Probably not.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Grace Abounds!

One of the things I appreciate when I go on a retreat is when the speaker 'gets it'. The first thing that Mary Marcotte told us as we gathered on our first night together is that, "Grace abounds." If we felt like our souls would be better served sleeping in or hanging out by the pool or whatever, we should go and do that instead. 'Grace abounds' soon became a bit of a rallying cry and it was nice to give each other permission to just BE.

Flash forward to almost everyone's travel on Monday and it was a little bit harder to find the grace abounding. Not only is getting off the cruise ship and cattle calling your way through customs incredibly anticlimactic, but the nation was blanketed by bad weather and so many of us were about to face quite the adventure getting home.

I was headed from NOLA to Chicago to mid-PA. Here is my Monday/early Tuesday morning journey:
7:30AM - Served breakfast for the last time by a wait staff that you could easily tell was tired of putting napkins in our laps.

8AM - Begin journey off the boat.

10ish - Arrive at airport, earlier flight to Chicago gone, next one scheduled is the one I am on @ 3.

10ish to 11ish - Beignets and Au Laits with Ruby and Songbird.

11ish - We say good-bye to Ruby after the two of them humiliate me by making me take their picture in the airport. I mean really, does anything say tourist any more than taking your picture in the airport?

12ish - Beers, lunch and Opening Day baseball. I actually found drinking beer helped with the feeling that I was still on the boat. I actually felt steadier on my feet the MORE I drank... and so I drank more than one, something I usually don't do at the airport.

1ish - Receive the following text message from my Mom: "Checked flt - order another round"

1ish to 6ish - Airport fun with Songbird who was headed on the same airline through Washington DC. By this point I had tried to get on that same flight or an earlier one or a later one because that is closer to home than Chicago is, but they were not having it and kept assuring me it was better to stick with what I had.
Songbird's plane was coming from Chicago so she was waiting as well. We snacked, we talked, we drooled over other people's laptops, we recharged her phone, we walked around, we moved away from the farting German, we killed time, we saw other BE'ers show up after having enjoyed a lovely day in NOLA and coming in for their later flights. D'oh!

By this time I have accepted that I am going to be sleeping in the Chicago airport over night and she has accepted that she is staying in DC overnight. She is also concerned for her son, Snowman, who was traveling as well and looked to be stuck in Chicago.

After 6ish - My plane finally loads, I fall asleep almost immediately and the plane leaves the gate.

7ish - I turn on my phone and text Songbird: "Sitting on the NO tarmac" to which she responds: "Yes, I am looking at you."
Apparantly all we had done was turn away from the gate.

7:20ish - Plane heads back to the gate to let off anyone who wants to get out. At this point my luggage is on that plane, but I already know I will have to stay overnight in Chicago. The information they have given me about Tuesday's flights has me not getting home until late afternoon Tuesday and I am starting to seriously miss The Boy. I need to get home and I am not quite sure how to get there. It is tempting to stay on that Chicago-bound plane because at least then I will be one step closer to home.

7:25ish - I call my Mommy who tells me to get off the plane. Her take on it is that there is bad weather everywhere and her experience has been that it is better to get off the merry-go-round and start again in the morning. Plus I could track down BE'ers still in NOLA to stay with whereas in Chicago I would be all alone (except for the 1,000's of other stranded travelers).

7:26 - Ring the bell to let them know I am getting off the plane.

7:28 - GRACE ABOUNDS!!! Receive Songbird text: "Seats on plane. r u ge8tting off?" (the typos attest to how fast she was trying to get me that message because the DC flight she was talking about was boarding)

I got off my plane, got on hers, called my Mom and asked her to come and pick me up. Finally in DC we dropped Songbird off at her hotel (her early flight the next day meant she couldn't come home with us), drove home (a dark and rainy drive) and arrived at my parents' house where I found The Boy sleeping.
By late the next morning I had my van out of the long term parking lot at the airport AND my bag which came in on the first flight out of Chicago.

6:30 AM - The Boy wakes up and sees me there and exclaims, "Mommy! Are you still on the boat?!"

No buddy, I am home and grace abounds.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Is that a Talent?

Today through a variety of events including outdoor mud, potty training and ketchup with our tots and hot dogs The Boy and I created an entire load of laundry.

As you were...

Friday, April 11, 2008

Lord in your mercy...

Please pray for my friend today and if you are prayer specific, beginning at 1 c.s.t would be great.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Changing Viewpoints

At the Big Event (which I have posted about and will most likely continue to post about ad nausuem) we were asked, "What makes you tired?" It was our second gathering, but our first 'let's get to it' discussion. I made a concerted effort to be an active listener and not spend the time before my turn thinking of what I was going to say. In fact, I honestly think I could tell you what other folks said, or at least come close.

So when it came my turn I hadn't dwelled on it at all but what came out was the loneliness of the high road. I talked about feeling as if I was on the top of a cliff and for as far as I could see there was no one else there. I wasn't going to jump (for you therapists out there), it was just an image of how alone I felt, and that made me tired. My feelings of isolation and loniless had made my view dark and painful.

Since returning I have had our church's first softball practice without tdx. I have literally turned around in the gym and run right into TOW1. I have been told by tdx that TOW2 is moving up here Sunday... this Sunday.

And yet, my viewpoint has changed. These are no longer symptoms of the dark forces coming to get me. These are hurdles to jump, minor incidences to ignore and painful moments to recognize and then move on from there. Having returned from the BE I still remain on the high road. The cliff remains part of my imagery but now I am facing the other direction. I have reached the end of that road and I have begun a new journey. And now when I look around me there is a large group of women (and men) surrounding me and supporting me.

After the loss of our first child my wise friend came to preach amongst my congregation and he gave everyone permission, no matter how big or small their own wounds may be, to say, "Ooo, that hurts."

The difference for me since the BE is that I can say, "Ooo, that hurts," but instead of my viewpoint only being my wound or my lonely cliff, my viewpoint is the gathering of saints around me via computer, phone and last minute pizza plans and I can hear about 20 women plus my parents and other friends I was ignoring say, "Damn straight it hurts... but you're going to be alright."

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Quote of the Year!

"Oh my God, is that thing real?!"
- tdx, 4/9/2008, 0857 est, manse kitchen, demeanor: open-mouthed gaping.





Monday, April 07, 2008

What I Learned During Spring Break... ummm, continuing education

I am always wary of coming back from an event on only an emotional high. Emotion is good, and sharing them is a HUGE reason why I am better, but actual lessons learned are good too and probably end up going further.

As a Youth Director I veered my kids away from those big events purposefully arranged to whip the kids into a frenzy and then do a huge altar call and watch as peer pressure does its thing... year after year... to the same kids.

It is important to have a passion for God. It is equally important to know that God is there for you even when you don't necessarily 'feel' it. I counted on that BIG TIME during my Holy Weak journey... or as my administrative assistant calls it: The Dark Place.

So, here is what I KNOW thanks to the Big Event:
I don't just enjoy working with a team more than alone, I thrive in it. Right now I don't have a team at work or at home and that is something that eventually needs to change if I am going to be in a really happy, joy-filled place.

No matter the pluses and the conveniences it is time for me to leave this place.

For me, at this stage of life, internet at home is not a luxury, it is a necessity. This is what I told the internet guy and why he came to my house Friday after dinner.

If you are feeling lower and lower because you are seeing yourself from someone else's point of view, then by all means switch viewpoints!

Just because you cannot actually see or touch people does not mean they aren't there, and that they don't care incredibly deeply for you. I was absolutely stunned by how many of the BE participants not only knew who I was and what I was going through but couldn't wait to see me to make sure I was ok. Wow.

In the future, when I should sink I need to fight against lonely and insular and REACH OUT! I realize I have absorbed tdx's 'stay insular' ethic and I need to get out. So, "yes, thank you admin, The Boy and I will come over and play Wii and he can trash your house," and I just invited myself (and the Boy) over to my friend's for pizza tomorrow night so I get to hang out with two of my favorite - okay, my two favorite - local clergy women. Even though it is 45 minutes away. And even though it is last minute. V-I-C-T-O-R-Y!

People who possess the spiritual gift of 'being there' and allow you to swing wildly off center (for me that's loud, constantly talking, and 'because I'm 12' jokes) so that you can return to a healthy center, truly encompass God's grace.




I think what we encountered was Sacred Space; a place to be where we needed to be with no judgment and plenty of mercy. Throw in the midnight buffet and I think I just described the banquet table in heaven.

Stupid Land Legs

Well, finally the 'still at sea' feeling has left me and I am finding I am quite sad about its departure. Emails fly between all of us as a virtual lido aft deck, but still. Somehow cow-spread laden, allergen-loaded central PA is not quite the same as this:




There were many lessons to glean from this trip, one of them is what it means for the server to be served. More later on this but in the meantime, if someone could just come and put my napkin in my lap for me, I think I could very well move on with my day.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Comic Relief

Taking a break from a near completed sermon because my son's stage in potty training reminded me of this story.

During tdx's family reunion in the summer of 1999, we all stayed at one son's house in northern Philly. It was a LOT of people in one house so we went outside as much as possible. Fortunately most of the kids were MORE than happy to just swim in their pool.

Of course, there was one sister-in-law who had to prove her home schooling skills (nothing wrong with home schooling, but you know the type) so every kid had to report what they had learned that day around the table. Whatever. Most of them complied, albeit grudgingly, but 3 year old 'J' would get shy and never say a word.

One day she took all of the kids (14 of them, ages 3-18) to do science experiments and on a hike to gather this and that and when they got home they potted plants and talked about seeds and nature, etc... Pretty cool, actually, and a lot of work on her part.

I then took all of the kids to the park and we played and played and 'J' - the 3 year old - needed a potty break. Something he had never done outside before and needless to say thought was WAY cool.

So once we returned and cleaned up and ate dinner it was time to go around the room and say what we had learned that day. The kids again pretty much complied although it was nothing earth shattering until she got to 'J', "Now J, what did you learn today?"

silence.

"J? I am sure you learned something today, can you tell us what it was?" To which J yells at the top of his lungs:

"DON'T PEE INTO THE WIND!!!"

Friday, April 04, 2008

Revgalblogpal Friday Five: God Revealed Edition

With this Sunday's gospel reading in mind, that wonderful revelation of Christ to the companions on the Emmaus road. I wonder where you might have been surprised by God's revelation recently.

So with no further waffle I offer you this weeks Friday 5:

How has God revealed him/herself to you in a:


1. Book
Here is where I reveal that I have read nothing of importance in a very long time but I have high hopes for the book on my desk that I have read a few paragraphs and have become intrigued: Practicing Our Faith, Dorothy C. Bass, ed.

2.Film

Horton Hears a Who. Not because it was in any way revelatory, but because it was The Boy's first BIG movie and he sat on my lap (so that the theater chair didn't flip him) and we snuggled through the whole thing while I listened to him giggle and tell me not to be scared because it was just a movie and I took liberal sniffs of his sweet head and neck.

3. Song
As I struggled with life immediately pre-BE I heard a George Strait song called I Saw God Today. As I am a person who sometimes misses God in the details I really appreciate this song and appreciated the moment when I first heard it.

4. Another person
Absolutely, all of them:



5. Creation

Bonus answer: your choice- share something encouraging/ amazing/ humbling that has happened to you recently!
While international geocaching I suddenly realized that I actually cared how Vicar of Hogsmeade felt and wanted so badly a victory for her. When you are in survival mode, you don't care about anyone else so I considered the fact that I actually did to be a sign that I was getting better.

The Proof is in the Pics!

Thanks to The Typist for pics from our geocache adventure.




Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Solidarity Tattoos


It is hard to post stuff because typing on the computer causes my inner-ship to rock, but here is a pic of the solidarity tattoos I blogged about last night.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The Big Event 2008

Some Bloggable Facts:

The colors of my tattoo match the colors of the Gulf of Mexico as seen from the aft deck of the ship.

I am now an
international geocacher.

As great (and plentiful) as the food was on board, what really made me full was stuffing myself with
Cheese and (St.) Casseroleand other wonderful “dishes” on board.

Sometimes
line dancing on the deck of a catamaran can be a spiritual exercise. Seriously.

Anything, and I mean ANYTHING, sounds better when said in a
lilting British accent.

When one has been broken and isolated all hugs are readily accepted.

Any day where the toughest decision is margarita on the rocks or margarita slushy, is a good day.

‘(((ws))) - (0) - ]*’ are not unconscious typos. When you receive one, stop. And know that you are loved.

Sometimes Easter breaks through after you leave the church building.

Sometimes two desserts is exactly what Jesus would do.

Seek and ye shall find… Lady of Guadalupe made out of “alabaster”…
at half price!

Grace abounds.

After months and months of rowing it sure was nice to be on a ship with its own engine!

Tattoos – even painted on – are a valid symbol of solidarity.

Belly laughs are the Word of the Lord.

If Sunday School offered more ‘greasy beat-downs’ (massages) there would no longer be an attendance problem.

A picture is worth a thousand words and can sometimes be the mirror of a
singing soul.

Not all of these are my story to tell. Some are reflections of what others experienced. For me it is just so good to finally be on the other side of The Dark Place. I feel like I kicked off the bottom of the deep end and I am finally making my way up to the surface. Grief cycles, so I may go down again, but hopefully I have made my way closer to the shallow end.

We're Back.
I'm better.
Peace, friends. Thank you for rowing.

Brief Update

We're back.
I'm better.
More soon...