Monday, June 16, 2008


One day last week I spent the afternoon without access to the internet (OK, it was all day, but I was out of the office in the morning), and I realized that I *can* do things without a messaging, and checking various news sites, and and and, though I don't really want to. It took me awhile to find my groove that afternoon and to return phone calls, write checks, stare blankly out the window and realize that's OK, every once in awhile. Though, please, powers-that-be, don't let it be too often.

In the midst of this I discovered the desire to cut things us and paste them on more paper. Some cal it collage. Some call it mixed media. I call it a mild and cheap form of therapy. But I don't keep many supplies in my office -- a circle template, some folders that I repurpose after they've held committee reports and council statements and education proposals from pastors gone by, and some official magazines that I'm getting better at letting go of. I pulled out the file and grabbed a couple of magazines and sat down -- fighting the urge to read, again, the articles, and instead grabbing images -- faces, poetry, words, fonts. Lifting style and vision from the pages with scissor, with tear, with another purpose not yet realized.

Why was I holding this particular issue, I wondered. Over two years old now, and with a cover author that I didn't know (and still don't), it had sat on my shelf, been transferred at least twice from container to container, and still I held onto it, the large ampersand on the cover curling about itself, standout yellow on gray. On the pages were dreams, I realized, some of my dreams from before, from long ago, from yesteryear, from back then. Not realized, those offers and programs called forth from the page, come here, go there, low-residency, top folks, study with the best.

I got part way through the magazine before I started to feel that twinge, that pull, that things that said, this is why you've saved me -- because within these pages there is something more than script on paper, there is something more than programs and offers, there is something other than today or yesterday or even tomorrow -- hope, vision, dream. With that in hand, I wrote this all down, then turned to face the paper again -- scissors and glue, circle and promise, together to create a new vision from old dreams.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


My husband recently got a fancy new phone, you know, a "smartphone" that allows him to check email and send things on a qwerty keypad. It's nice and when he's driving, I use it to check things online and to send an occasional update or email. Mine is a standard flip phone, and it works just fine. However, as I find myself being out of the office more and more, on the road or simply away to places without (free) business centers or even a computer, I dream of being able to check in without having to go home or to the office. It seems silly in some ways to me, but in other ways it's a good use of resources... some might even say in this line of work, that it's good stewardship.

This morning he handed me the fancyschmancy device and said, "read this." Under the banner headline of "Smartphones Now Ringing for Women," the New York Times reported on the trend of women increasingly wanting smartphones -- iphone, blacberry, etc. He hadn't read more than the opening sentences, but as I've lusted after his phone he thought I might find it of interest.

Interesting, yes. Slightly enraging? Yep.

With quotes such as, "Women have been using them for years in business, of course, but many are finding that the phones can also help manage their families’ hectic schedules and keep them in touch with friends" Ms. Holson proceeded to illustrate that women can use a phone (and it doesn't have to be pink! WHAT?! Shock of all shocks!) to keep every bit of their life in order. You know, on top of all of the things that they do in the office. And, better still, it's not seen as "geeky" anymore to be connected. Perhaps if she'd left out the phrase "of course" that particular quote wouldn't have perturbed me quite so much. As if women had just realized that they could use a planner to schedule everything else -- and not. just. work.

Because look -- women can operate technology, too!

(Just for the record: I have nothing against the pink phone. I would happily use one if given the opportunity.)


I finished a book tonight, and toward the end, I got all weepy. OK, by the time I closed the cover, I was wiping hot tears from my cheeks. The book wasn't a literary masterpiece, by any means, but it was touching and sad.

As I was chiding myself for the tears over a silly book, I thought about the other times that I've cried recently -- a movie, a song on the radio. And then I remembered a pattern I've developed. I don't nap, even Sunday afternoons; instead I plow through the day and whatever exhaustion I'm feeling. When evening comes, after dinner and often with a glass of wine, I'll watch Ty's makeover home show. You know the one. We call it the weepy home show -- because I cry. Every. Week. It took me awhile to realize that this emotional release was helpful, necessary, whatever -- but that it is an emotional release.

So it was with the book, the movie, the song. In the many ways that I'm strong in many places, the emotions sneak up on me and I'm discreetly trying to wipe away the wetness on my cheeks before I reach my next destination, or turn the aisle in the store after looking at a particularly touching card.

When I sat down to write this, I thought, "I'm tired. It's been a long weekend." But that statement stretched into a question of week? couple off weeks? month? And so I found myself weeping tonight, tears that slid off the side of my face as I finished my book.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Honored Roads

It’s a long ways, she said. I know it’s a lot to ask. And when I sat down with her today, she handed me a map, copied from a standard atlas. Roads and highways that I’ve come to know, numbers and directions that are being written on my heart in ways that I never would have expected. Stapled to the back of that sheet, which would be available to anyone, was another map. Closer in detail, and seemingly hand-drawn, though that would surprise me, the map showed acreage and owners, creeks (or cricks) and stands of trees.

I would be honored to stand at the graveside, to pour dirt on the casket, to pray for commendation, and to be present as you say your farewells. I would be honored to walk with you, my heels sinking into the rich dirt of this corner set aside for a place of remembrance and holiness. I would be honored to sit and hear you tell stories, to hear your laughter and see your tears, to learn about this man whom you loved, whom you still, will always love, to discover anew what he was all about – service and people, reaching out to those whom he did not know, making a difference with all he knew.

This thing that we do, as pastors, is exhausting and untimely. It’s messy and yucky, and we try to move between bedside and baseball game and babies’ first cries seamlessly. Sometimes that works, and we’re able to slide here and there, filling our wells to drain them into someone else’s. I speak in metaphor and idea; I ponder and reflect and ask “good questions” and at the end of the day, the quiet of the night, with only the tip-tip-clack of nails on keyboard, I wonder if any of it matters. If any of it makes a difference. And I know, really, that it does. That this is belief and faith; that this life (mine, that of a pastor, yours) is all about moving from this thing to that one, about shifting from one to the other and being honored to simply be part.

I’m tired today, and that’s OK. These days have been full of the things that make up life – games and conversations, hands reached out over tables and across chairs in family waiting rooms, heads bowed in prayer and thrown back in laughter. The sun has shone down, making hair warm and brows sweaty, stirring seeds deep in the earth, calling, “Come out! Come out!”

In a couple of days I will drive a couple of hours, probably more with construction and traffic, and when I get there, it will be holy ground: green studded with marble and granite, surrounded by those open-country sounds of early summer, cows and tractors, big trucks and cars on dirt roads. These are not roads I have traveled before, but in the ways of heritage, they are already written in my heart. We will open the earth, speak words and read prayers, we will lift our hearts and commend, and it won’t be far at all.

Sunday, June 01, 2008


Every summer we try to "go home." Living hours upon hours away from family has advantages, but we do try to make the pilgrimage each summer, and again sometime in the winter. It's sort of the deal we struck moving so far away. We grumble about it every time, and it's hard to spend time with family in such an intense way, seeing everyone in a short, compact amount of time, trying to make sure that everyone feels like they've had their fair share of us. Of course everyone wishes that there was more time, more days, more moments.

This summer, for a variety of reasons, we don't have anything on the calendar except a lot of times that won't work. In fact, we don't have any sort of non-work related travel on the calendar at all, until October. Perhaps that should change. It might help my outlook on the world, to know that there would be time away.