Wednesday, February 28, 2007


We had three minutes to move from class to class, giggling and jostling into one another. We learned early, as this was our building for 7-12, which hallways were busy, and which ones we could move quickly through, threading our way from room to room. I knew which classes someone else had at a given hour so that I could make sure to see them in this designated shuffle, or not -- a quick brush of the hand, a glance from the corner of his eye, the crush as three or four tried to move should-to-shoulder together -- not wanting to be apart for a moment more than necessary, part young, intense friendship, another part wild insecurity that if not bodily present the conversational gossip would turn. And in those moments of movement, a note would pass, furtively written during the past hour, containing random information and acronyms that we thought no one else would know, heartbreak or hope, conversation snippets. Written and then folded, notebook fringe still attached, into a small square or triangle, and palmed to that best one, containing secrets and plans and phrases that fluttered our hearts or made us blush.
We were taking notes on all around us, learning as we went along, notes to be hidden in a shoebox, slid under a bed, uncovered years later to reveal poignant messages bewteen friends, more-than-friends, hoped for romances, trite arguments, bitter words that make mindful scars.

Monday, February 26, 2007

This Cup

Last spring my grandmother died, which I blogged about here, and here, and as always happens when a generation ends, the impact of her being gone continues in little ways. I find myself thinking of her and the farm during worship or when I'm driving.
After she died and my family took on the task of cleaning out her apartment and later the farmhouse, my mother kept asking me what I want. I live states away and wasn't, for a variety of reasons, able to be with them when they boxed everything up and put it in my uncle's storage barn. I have a couple of her coats -- a fabulous red vintage rain coat, and a darling round-collared long camel-colored dress coat. And it's fun to proclaim when I wear them, "It was my Gran's." In addition to some pictures, I also took her pin cushion, still full of pins and needles, and an old clothes hanger -- which has her name on it -- her maiden name, so I figure it has to be more than 70-some years old. She was 96 when she died.
I told my mom that I couldn't think of anything specific -- there wasn't a piece of furniture or a really special painting that I associate with her. Instead, I said, I'd like a coffee cup or one of those bowls, I said. You know, the kinda ugly yellowy gold ones?

So it is that some of her cups have made it into our rotation. I don't save them for a special morning, but it's on a morning like this when I grab one out of the cupboard, fill it with hot coffee like she did on so many mornings, that I'm filled with longing and nostalgia, and a sense of memory.

Friday, February 23, 2007

In a bundle

I had/took some time this afternoon to read the magazines that I'd been carting back and forth between home and the office for the past week or so. I sifted through some worship pieces, marking ideas that looked interesting for Pentecost and Ascension and then leaving them in my colleague's mailbox. After all, in the division of duties he got worship -- though I get input. I glanced at the cooking magazine that a parishioner had loaned me, which reminded me that I need (okay, need is a strong word) to buy capers the next time I'm at a store other than Costco. That's really not the place I should buy capers. I read a couple of newsletters and checked them off and passed those along, also.
All in all it was a good afternoon of reading and idea-generating and pile depletion.
But I also discovered that part of the passionate response reflex that I have within me isn't gone/tamed completely. I thought that perhaps I had worked it out or matured or grown up or mellowed or become more something..... calm? I read a story about recruiting folks for the ministry, young folks in particular. And the questions for reflection at the end of the piece sank in my mind, attached to tags like, "condescending," "out of touch," "not accurate," "distasteful." I grabbed my pen and started writing in the margins, deep grooves forming on the other side, visible for pages I later discovered.
The premise of one question, as I understood it, was that "we" (the church? the existing? the....?) recruit young adults/people (which evidently, "we" aren't). Another probed whether or not it was a good idea to focus efforts on young people.
This is one of my hot-button clergy issues. I'm young. I look even younger. I got carded buying wine last month, and the clerk remarked that I look *really* young for my age. No longer am I fresh out of college (I've been to seminary afterall), however, by most clergy standards, I'm young. Regardless, I am part of the church -- and am part of the church leadership. Yes, I still have a lot to learn. Yes, I see the fact that at meetings of other clergy I'm young enough to be their daughter, if not in some cases granddaughter. I see all of this and I understand it, but when I read things that are directed at clergy and the blatant assumption is that the readers (clergy/churchworkers) are of a certain age (I don't know.... 40? 50? 60? older?) I get angry.
And now, hours later, I get angry again and a little bit sad, a little bit incoherent. There's so much wrapped up in this whole concept -- who is young? who is part of the church? who do we expect our leaders to be? who do we want in our pews and in our pulpits? what do we value? how do we express that value? how do we support the whole church and its leaders, regardless of a person's age? where do we focus our care? what are my own biases that I'm missing and that someday I will recognize, if not fully understand?
Perhaps on Tuesday I'll read the article again and realize that it's far more gentle than I've made it in my mind. Perhaps I won't, and my undies will be all in a bundle again. Perhaps at that point I'll formalize my thoughts and actually write a letter to the editor.

Thursday, February 22, 2007


Pastors who have been leading worship for awhile (and some who haven't) often have really great stories to tell about events that happen while leading a congregation. Children who perch inside of pulpits, women who interrupt a sermon for an announcement, various outbursts, quick-thinking ushers, seething parishioners. OK, maybe some of these stories aren't all that "great" but often they make for good conversation, even if we must be well-removed from a current situation.
Until yesterday I had few of these stories to share. There were a couple of cute-kid in the children's sermon stories that I could pull out if I needed, but for the most part my interesting worship experience was limited to second-hand knowledge, or things that had happened while I was sitting in the pew rather than presiding at the table.
I bowed my head to soak in the prayers at noon and we weren't halfway through (I knew, because I'd written them, even though I wasn't speaking them) when I heard a twitter arise from the other congregants. I was a little irritated. I mean, it's Ash Wednesday afterall, a little respect? But when I turned to greet people with the peace, I myself became a bit flustered. Flying around the sanctuary was what I first thought to be a bird. I was somehow ok with that. But when someone called out that it was not a bird, but a bat, I became all a-twitter.
I consider it a gift of grace from God that I was still able to preside with some level of decorum, considering that there was a bat swooping about the sanctuary.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Around these high holy days, I find myself being drawn to going to worship someplace else. I've long professed it to be a good idea, but rarely does it fit into my schedule to find another house of worship that offers a service at a time when I'm not actually presiding.
Now don't get me wrong, it's not like I've done a lot of looking, and I know that there's a huge Catholic parish not far from here that probably has worship every hour today. And, I'd be content to just sit in the back and pray for a moment or two, as if in a hospital chapel -- which might be what I find today.
But this afternoon, after we've had worship and in the midst of doing shut-in visits and hospital visits, and picking up the child and returning for more worship tonight, I feel the need to sit someplace holy, someplace that's not *this* holy "work" space.
I'm great at coming up with excuses not to do something -- go to the gym, or eat right, or pray more, or visit people I don't like, or talk about my faith, or call home -- and my excuses usually have to do with time, as in not having enough to do something else.
I drive right past one such house of worship in the morning, and while I put my blinker on, after I saw the number of cars, I turned the other way. I don't want to interrupt, I thought. I don't really have the time; there's a staff meeting for which to prepare, and, I need to get gas. These are little excuses, but indicative of other areas, too.
But this afternoon, in the midst of everything else, I do hope to find a quiet space in which to pray. No excuses.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

It's going to be a good day...

In my world a variety of things can indicate a good day -- well-rested from the night before, a busy but not overwhelming schedule, some cute kid thing, nothing that's hanging dauntingly over my head, not having an evening meeting, etc. Today, being Fat Tuesday, also means that it's paczki day. I'm not of a background that this was celebrated growing up. We acknowledged that tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, but didn't do much to whoop it up the day before. Perhaps if my dad had known about the paczki, he would have tried his Scandinavian hand at making these Polish delicacies. Around here, though, where I live now, nearly all of the bakeries have been advertising to order these delights early -- and by the bakers' dozen.
So, on our way to text study this morning, we made a detour to our favorite local bakery and picked up a half dozen. There was a line in front of me and when I turned to leave, a not-insignificant line behind me. We acknowledged around the table as we read through the upcoming lectionary, that none of would probably give something up for Lent -- that fasting probably wouldn't be part of our discipline. And yet, we indulged anyway.
Today is Paczki Day, and in my world that means it's going to be a good day.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Friday Five

From the RevGals.

1. What is one place you make sure to take out-of-town guests when they visit? (you can be vague to preserve your anonymity if you like)
There are lots of tourist destinations in the area of where we live. At this point, though, most folks who visit us have been to see them all, or at least the ones they want to see. So, we find a local (non-national chain) restaurant, or a quirky children's museum, or (even I find this funny) we make sure they see the church where we do what we do. Hee hee. Suburban, mid-sized church as destination.

2. When visiting another city or town, do you try to cram as much in as possible, or take it slow and easy?
I like to strike a balance -- one planned thing per day, but time to relax and have a cup of coffee, too.

3. When traveling, where are we most likely to find you: strolling through a museum, checking out the local shopping, or _________________?
Oooo... that's tough. If I'm alone, I'll spend a short amount of time in a museum and then more time in the gift shop, and then I'll find a part of town with interesting stores and people to stroll through. It's not even that I like shopping all that much, but the variety of finding interesting things that help me remember my trip but don't scream souvenir is fun. For instance, last year on our vacation this was where I spent a whole morning by myself.

4. Do you like organized tours and/or carefully planned itineraries, or would you rather strike out and just see what happens?
I like to have a lot of information about where I'm visiting, but not necessarily a firm plan of when we'll do it.

5. After an extended trip, what do you find yourself craving most about home?
So many of our extended trips these days are to visit family, which means for us that they're packed with relatives gathering to see us (we're the only ones in the family who live out of state), and very little time for us to simply be by ourselves or to do anything besides sit and talk. I guess the simplicity of being home -- doing laundry, making my own meals, running errands.

Thursday, February 15, 2007


It's been cold, and snowing, and cold and snowing, and my blogging has gone the way of the cold and snowing.... becoming a bit blank and fuzzy. Eh, I think. I'll write tomorrow. Not unlike my attempts to go to the Y, though with my pretty new rockstar shuffle, that might be changing. In the midst of the cold and the snow, I've seen old friends, connected with a mentor, rejoiced over the birth of a new baby (not mine, not pregnant, not desirous of becoming so, just for the record), had a moment of clarity about change and transition -- I've had a lot of it, recently -- truly a moment of shock at the obvious, read something about hearing criticism about ones art that I was able to apply directly to my life in ministry -- after all, isn't what we do in the church all about art and nuance and creativity and perspective and as we move through life we can only control our actions, and not someone else's reaction to it -- positive or negative. Yeah, it was a good reminder for me, too.

Just as I looked out the window at the falling snow and felt a sense of quiet within (clearly I didn't need to leave the house at that moment, or my delight would have been short), as I tip-tapped across the well-shoveled crunchiness the next morning, there was a return of a grind. That's really far too dramatic for the situation, but I noticed the snow crunching and noticed the incongruity of my sleek high heels next to the startling white of the snow and discovered that some things in life seem silly and as if they don't go together and somehow it works. It just works. And other times we wear the most practical thing for the weather and still end up on crutches for 10 days in January (college experience, it wasn't the initial fall that hurt so much as the subsequent attempts at walking across an icy campus on crutches).

They might not make sense, these words on this page, even to me, but they are there. And that's a start again.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Late Night Randomness

I've always been a cyclical insomniac, which worked well when I procrastinated and needed to stay up late. Now, not always so much. Though it does provide an opportunity to get caught up on reading blogs, etc. Tonight I even was able to order energy-saving light bulbs for just the cost of shipping because I filled out some silly thing from our electric company that I never would have made a point to do otherwise. This is what my life has become.

The crazy-business that comes from being sick and out of the office, and then out for meetings, and then simply too busy to even return calls -- a little nutty. But who isn't busy, really? I'm feeling better, though am at that point of the cold where I sound worse than I feel.

I'm feeling the need/desire to get rid of some clothes -- things that don't fit and I haven't worn, that I know I won't wear, that aren't flattering, etc. Same with some shoes. However, I also would love to have a close girlfriend in my life who could help me with that process and then go shopping with me. Unfortunately that person doesn't exist in my immediate vacinity at this point.

As I become more fiscally aware/responsible/connected/budget-oriented/whatever-this-mortgage-is-causing-me-to-become, I'm recognizing that change is hard -- and I'm not always very good at it. But, I know that I type that from a place of privilege. I paid bills on Monday and was able to pay them all, in full.

And then the insurance-adjusted bill from our five-day hospital stay came. Of course I'm able to give thanks for health and life and insurance within the gasp of that expense (and experience) that was decidedly NOT in the plans.

I'm yawning, but not tired.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Product, Productive, Productivity

In college I discovered that I wrote papers much more efficiently if I wore shoes -- even hard-soled slippers often did the trick as I wrote, re-wrote, researched, wished I hadn't procrastinated, called my friend across town at 0300 to discuss our brilliance, made plans to meet him at the local breakfast place for re-writes and edits at 0500, made bad coffee in my room, and somehow managed to crank out a paper (or two).

I would have adopted a similar writing "strategy" in high school, if not for my mother and her penchant for bedtimes. I still wait until the last minute, though sleep has become more precious as the years have gone along, and the friends I can call in the middle of the night has dropped significantly.

This morning I'm paying bills, and soon will be filing them -- getting ready for tax time, though April has lost much of its focus since we pay things quarterly. Instead, there are four dates that I dread. However, I find myself walking about the house this morning -- slippered feet wearing a path about, and my jeans presenting a more put-together and washed presence than the rest of me. I'm paying these bills and being productive, but the methods remain, smooth like grooves.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Flavor shots

Chocolate: that which can bring and hold a group of women together like nothing I've experienced before. We laughed, we cried, we dipped marshmallows and strawberries, we ate too much and sat too much and I called it work.

Baklava: one of the first desserts that I shared with the one who was to become my husband, on a dreary spring break trip. He shared his dreams and I relished the sweetness of honey, flakiness of the dough. It was ten years ago this spring.

Cashew chicken: a meal alone this week, that I kept making spicier in the hopes that it would clear my head. It didn't.

Lemon: tonight, in my tea, with honey. In my plop-plop, fizz-fizz, that I hope will help me sleep.