Monday, January 30, 2006

working on my ordinary time devotional....

...and this little memory did not make the cut. but instead of the editing room floor, it's ending up here instead....

The year I was in second grade, I got to attend St Anges, a catholic school. I loved my teacher so much that I told my Protestant pastor father that I wanted to be a nun, to which he gently replied, “I think you probably mean you want to be a teacher.” I loved the playground, with it’s neat painted squares for playing a bouncing game with the red rubber balls. And I really, really loved our school song, “When the Saints Go Marching In.” With the other kids, I sang it with the fervor of a school-spirit zealot.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Friday Poetry Blog

as suggested by jo(e). This was part of a service I planned yesterday for other UCC ministers. I got the xerox of it from a workshop - not sure where it's from, but at the bottom it says, among other things that it's by Harold M Schulweis, founder of the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous.

Playing With Three Strings

We have seen Yitzhak Perlman
Who walks the stage with braces on both legs,
On two crutches.

He takes his seat, unhinges the clasps of his legs,
Tucking one leg back, extending the other,
Laying down the crutches, placing the violin under his chin.

On one occasion one of the violin strings broke.
The audience grew silent but the violinist didn't leave the stage.
He signaled the maestro, and the orchestra began its part.
The violinist played with power and intensity on only three strings.

With three strings, he modulated, changed, and
Recomposed the piece in his head.
He retuned the strings to get different sounds,
Turned them upwards and downward.

The audience screamed delight,
Applauded their appreciation.
Asked later how he had accomplished this feat,
The violinist answered
It is my task to make music with what remains.

A legacy mightier than a concert.
Make music with what remains.
Complete the song left for us to sing,
Transcend the loss,
Play it out with heart, soul, and might
With all remaining strength within us.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Living in a Super Bowl city

Let me just say right up front that I don't care even a little bit about organized sports in general. I was briefly into baseball back in the 80's when the Twins were kind of great, but after Kirby Puckett retired I just couldnt seem to care about it any more. So when one of my parishioners asked for a prayer today during prayer sharing time that the Seahawks would win today, I just gaped at him like a fish out of water and blurted out, "Oh, I don't think so" which made everyone laugh, me included. And the more I tried to say something, the more I couldn't think of anything to say and the more everyone laughed until I asked for a prayer for "all teams that God loves," or something ridiculous like that.

Afterwards, another woman told me that she saw some nuns on TV who admitted that they pray that the Seahawks will win and if "they" can do it, so could we.

Well, evidently, my inability to pray for it did not affect the outcome. Who knows? Maybe this will turn the tide and I will now become a football fan.

But I wouldn't count on it.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Friday Five

This from the RevGalBlogPals today: Please tell us five pleasures in your life, be they small or be they guilty.

1. A fire in the fireplace. We don't actually NEED a fire. It's just so soul-warming to have one going. And one of Jeff's guilty pleasures is taking pictures of them.

2. Spring in Seattle! Which, in spite of all that rain, is happening right now! The bulbs we planted in October are already 4 inches of daffodil stem! In fact, growing flowers at all instead of, you know, something you can EAT actually feels like a guilty pleasure, too.

3. Pancakes for dinner. Apple pie for breakfast.

4. Country music, loud, on the car radio and the windows down. (Yes, I said COUNTRY music, ok? These are supposed to be GUILTY pleasures. Not that I'm defensive or anything....)

5. This.

4's meme

As seen at Girl Gone Great and various other spots.

Four Jobs I've had
1. At 17, when I was working as a dishwasher and busser in Duluth and feeling very sorry for myself, I got a note scribbled on placemat that was signed "from a couple of tired but spirited New Yorkers" that encouraged me to try for waitressing job instead. The leap from dishwasher to waitress seemed insurmountable at that time, but that note kept me going until I got there. And it WAS better. More money, too.
2. Assistant to the librarian
3. Assistant to my mom
4. Assistant to Ken Bedell
And now Associate Pastor - anyone want to guess my enneagram type?

Four movies I could watch over and over again:
1. Mary Poppins
2. Amelie
3. Singin in the Rain
4. The Big Lebowski (so embarrasing)

Four places I've lived:
1. An RV
2. A 700-foot square apartment with a man, a wheelchair and 2 cats
3. A house on the edge of a great park
4. A house with mostly two-prong outlets

Four TV shows I love to watch:
1. We
2. don't
3. have
4. TV.
But, well, we do watch those Bab 5 re-runs on DVD from time to time. Does that count?

Four places I've been on vacation:
1. India
2. England and Scotland
3. Disneyworld AND Disneyland
4. Cascade Mountain Loop

Four websites I visit daily:
1. google or wikipedia
2. RevGalBlogPals
3. Songbird
4. Urban Abbess

Four of my favorite foods:
1. A really great bowl of oatmeal or grits (really).
2. Donuts, especially Top Pot
3. Peanut butter
4. Hot buttered toast - even better with cinnamon sugar and honey
hmm, it's a carb sort of day, I see. ask me again in the summer, and it might be more balanced.

Four places I'd rather be right now:
1. Anyplace sunny (wait! the sun just came out as I wrote this! is that a bonafide answer to prayer, do you think?)
2. in a movie theater watching a movie when it actually first comes out instead of having to wait for DVD
3. on top of Little Mount Si with a picnic
4. Minnesota (Probably the only one to say THAT in January, but I'm undeniabley homesick for the land of the Chosen Frozen these days)

Tag to you, if you want....

Saturday, January 14, 2006

And speaking of adorable geniuses...

Just take a look at what my son did at snack time today, without any prompting or assistance of any kind from anyone. It is true, as Jeff points out, that he has some "J" issues, but for goodness sake, he's only three years old! What will be next?
Pi to twelves places out of Cheerios, I'm thinking.

Why we have the internet....

...#31 Finding out how boys we had crushes on
after two brief and extremely chaste meetings
when we were 14 turned out.

Remember the question from yesterday's post:
"Luke Harding, where are you now, I wonder?"

Well, I glanced at that today and thought,
""I guess I could just find out"
and got to this photo in in two googles.

Here is where I found it.

Yep. That's him alright.
Still smart. And tall probably. And still dreamy, if you go in for that geeky kind of thing.

Sad News

Bob Feldman's memorial service was yesterday.

Bob was my boss when I worked for free, and later for a little bit of money at Red House Records in the late 80's. When I went for my job interview, he ended our time together by asking me if I could score him any drugs and then clucking his tongue at what college students had come to when I stuttered, "uh, no."

Anyway, somehow I realized he was joking and stayed. And it was so great to work for him. He was funny and smart and he really, really cared about muscians and about getting good music out there. When I knew him, he was still a life-long bachelor, but he sometimes introduced me to people as his "daughter from a previous marriage." He taught me how to produce a concert, how to shepherd a record from beginning to end, how to get your way. He loaned me money once when I needed it.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Friday five - Travel

Leaving home whether for a week or a month can open space in our hearts, minds and souls, allowing the Spirit to move in ways unexpected. Seeing new places and meeting new people can change our perspective on the world. And sometimes getting out of town can be just plain fun!

As per the Rev Gals, here's the Friday Five.

England, 1984
I Was a Teenage Nanny. I was so homesick, which was a big shock. At 14, I had been pretty convinced that I was ready to take off forever and start my own life, but I learned that I wasn't. However, things I loved were: getting to really know and even love another family, exploring in tidal pools (so exotic for a midwestern girl), eating scones with clotted cream (dont tell ME the British dont know how to cook...), meeting a dreamy boy with a movie star name (Luke Harding, where are you today, I wonder?), seeing Loch Ness (but, sadly, not the monster), visiting anti-nuclear resisters camped outside Greenwich Common (my first introduction to that brand of activism), and, most wonderful of all, meeting up with my best friend from Minnesota while we were both in London and going to a hilarious play with her and her mom.

Mexico, 1985
Went with my highschool Spanish class, including same best friend from above. Although, for some reason, we spent more than half our time in Cancun, where everyone else partied all night, I mostly remember the family of 6 I saw sleeping in the doorway while we were in Mexico City. And wondering how much the money my parents (who couldnt afford it either) spent on my plane ticket could have done some real good.

Old Turtle Peace Tour, 1994-1995
With one other guy, travelled around the country for 8 months in an RV, towing a VW Bug painted like the eponymous character from the book Old Turtle, and leading workshops on peace-making in schools and churches and book stores, which resulted in THIS book. Too much eye-opening to really recount, since we visited every one of the lower 48 states, but I will say that I learned that you can find like-minded, loving people everywhere; that never knowing what the next day will bring can be energizing (and good preparation for ministry, that); that McDonald's usually has the cleanest bathrooms. Also during this time I first heard the word "eponymous" used in conversation, from the owner of Paul's Books, who introduced himself by saying, "I am the eponymous Paul" and who let his employees drink beer on duty as long as it was in a coffee cup.

Road trip to California, Spring 1998
So, I had this friend from work who was disabled and moving to Seattle to get a fresh start. I was going to California with my brother and my dad to visit my new nephew and I was really butch and figured I could help him out, so we agreed to caravan. I was already in a relationship and ready to live in Minnesota for the rest of my life. I did not expect to fall in love on the way, as Jeff and I in his van (followed by the other car but not really noticing it too much) talked for three days without stopping about the true meaning of it all and the sun set for hours and hours and hours across the western plains and the sand hill crane migration sang to us overhead.
Seven years later, we're still here.

India, 2001
Way more than you'd ever want to know about THAT is right here.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Time for bed, I guess

"Yeah, you've been watching Remington Steele reruns,
and now your knife is like a brain."

10:14 pm

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Whole Lotta Churchin Goin On

I told my pastor friend's teenager today that going to church twice in one day is probably once too much. I sort of went three times today.

My title is Associate Pastor, but really my ROLE is what it was called under the previous guy (Minister of Pastoral Care), which means I mostly do a lot of praying, visiting, and praying. So my role in worship is small. I always lead the pastoral prayer, and really occasionally do other things. I sit in the pews with the congregation, I do not wear a robe.

So today, I had my usual small role, but it felt a lot bigger because we had twice as many people as usual in worship. Some of them were a delightful extended family, there for the baptism of a gentle, mellow baby. Others were...I guess...just showing up at church for their annual renewal of baptismal vows? I don't know, but there were lots of visitors, so I had lots of extra greeting, explaining and directing to do, which was very fun but as I seem to be growing more and more into my introvert, tiring too.

The sr pastor preached on parent imagery for God, saying "imagine all the ways you love a child, and know that God loves you just like that" which actually made me all squirmy with discomfort as I considered the many ways that I have been impatient, angry, frustrated and generally a failure with my own son. I really don't want to imagine God as someone who loves just like me. My love seems so inadequate. So the sermon left me sort of grumpy and unsettled.

After the service, a member of the church showed slides from her tour of duty on post Katrina clean-up, running a shelter for homeless people who had medical needs. Like Songbird's recent post, this talk was a gift from God, an eye-opening reminder of the on-going needs there. Stories that stick out from the talk: working to keep a woman with her dog, the only thing she had left, although the rules of the shelter technically forbade it; working to turn a 400 pound, bedridden man so his narrow, rickety army cot would not give him bed sores; working to figure out the medicines of of a mentally ill patient who remembered that every morning she took "three pink pills, a big white one and a little white one," but not what any of them were called. Working fourteen or fifteen hours a day on no sleep. Working, working, working for every small thing - a new pair of glasses, a driver's lisence, a place to call home. The response can only be, "how can we help?" We've sent money, but how else can we help? The question is singing in my head still - I think it will be my prayer this week. "What can we do next?"

The question still unanswered, still sitting heavily, rushed from there to the installation of the new pastor at the big church in town. Although I'm not really a big church kind of person, I will admit that the ritual spoken words of welcome and covenant, not to mention the humungous choir, heart-stopping music and general air of pomp and circumstance was pretty awesome. The very best part was the guest preacher, this rock star, Lillian Daniel (Here is the only picture I could find of her on-line. Lillian, dude, you totally rock! Tell whoever does your church website to put a big, big photo of you on there somewhere!). She was prophetic and funny and spiritual and smart - in short, everything that a preacher should be. She had THIS great one-liner, for example: "People sometimes tell me, 'that worship didn't do much for me' and I tell 'em, 'good thing it wasn't directed at you, then.'"

But there was something about this service - which was stirring on so many levels - which was well, just more MALE than I'm used to. I've been trying to explain this to myself for almost an hour and I keep typing and then erasing what I typed and trying again. These are good men, maybe even GREAT men, like my all time hero John Thomas, that I'm talking about. They may even call themselves feminists. I am certain that it would never be their intent to exlude women, or oppress them. But (with the notable exception of LIllian and few other very short parts for women) there were just so many of them.

I've been keeping up on-line with the Rev Gal Blog Pals and Rachelle and I've co-convened a women's clergy group locally and at our church both us pastors are women, and I think I've really gotten used to a way that woman lead liturgy and a way women sound. Which is different in such a subtle way, that I can't even put my finger on it, except to say that this morning we sang "I was there to hear your borning cry" and "Spirit, spirit of gentleness" and then at the installation we sang "Beneath the cross of Jesus" and "Lift High the Cross." Does that make any sense?

I am grateful for both ways to worship, and at different times I can be fed by both (when I'm feeling really down with Jesus, for example, I just dont want to hear another thing about Sophia....), but I am aware that there's a certain way of being in worship that feels like home, and another way in which I am a visitor. It makes me wonder who's feeling like a visitor in the pews that feel like home to me, and whether I can do anything about it. Everything that we create, liturgy included, comes out of this lived experience, you know? Seems like the only way to have real inclusive language in worship is to have as many diverse voices as possible in on the planning. Or to accept you can't feed all the sheep and just let them fade away. Both are uncomfortable to me. More questions with no easy answers.

So then it was 4:00 and time for our regular Sunday night dinner potluck with a few good friends that feels like church, espeically when we hold hands and sing before we eat and then the kids don't eat anything because they are way too busy building forts out of the couch cushions.

And now, I've definately had enough church, and enough questions for one day. Time for prayer and then, hopefully, rest.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Two Shallow Poems (Warning: No Deep Water)


It's funny.

Just yesterday,
waiting for that annoying but not deadly
rattle to be fixed on the van
and killing time in the nursery across the street,
I introduced my son for the first time to aloe.

Ooo, it's prickly, he said, holding out his
one-soft-touch-finger, which he unfurls
for excursions like this one.

Yes, I say, but inside is a cool and wonderful juice
that will make you better if you get burned. Remember?
A burn is a special owie you get from something hot.

Then today, I had to use the aloe we have on the shelf,
the juice already extracted, bottled and labeled with an American flag,
after I burned myself on the hottest, longest burning blaze we've ever had
in our suburban fireplace.

Guess I better not introduce him to the
heart defibrillator they just installed
at the airport.

Wisdom OR
Words I Scribbled in Front of Last Year's Calendar
and Then Needed to Remember Today
After Three Hours and Fourteen Phone Calls
Resulted In Her Saying, "But I Don't Want That."

"They took from
you what they needed
and you are not
because they
didn't need more."
JW, 3/14/05

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Not without God, I can't

So, in trying to pick up a little extra cash, and because I love to do them, I asked by DH to pass the word around at his workplace that I am available to officiate at weddings.

At 5:34, he sent out this message, along with my contact info:

Ordained minister available for weddings and commitment ceremonies.

As you plan your wedding, it may seem that you are drowning in details. There is so much to think about and so much to do, that it’s easy to lose sight of the true meaning of the day – the promises that you and your intended will make, in the presence of God and witnesses, to spend your lives together.

I am an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ (a liberal and progressive Christian denomination) and it would be my honor to work with you, as we create a ceremony that draws on tradition while honoring your unique personality and background. In addition to weddings, I also perform commitment ceremonies for gay and lesbian couples.

I will travel anywhere within three hours drive of Seattle. If you are looking for a venue, I can check to see if my home church is available for your date. (The church comfortably seats 200 and has an ample reception hall.)

We will meet three times to get to know each other, to plan the wedding ceremony and for pre-marital counseling. Pre-marital counseling is an opportunity to talk about some issues that come up in most relationships. This is generally a gentle and affirmative (and often even fun!) process for you as a couple.

My fee for three planning/counseling sessions, attendance at the rehearsal and officiating at the wedding is $300 (plus mileage if the wedding is outside Seattle city limits.) If, after our first meeting, you decide that I am the not right fit for you, there will be no charge and no further obligation.

At 6:10, (less than an hour later) I got a reply! Woohoo! I actually thought it, "Woohoo! This is really going to work!" But the couple is looking for a "non-spiritual, secular wedding." I'm trying to figure out how to gently as possible let them know that as a person who's made vows to be a minister of God, I can't just do a "secular" wedding - because the vows make it impossible, but also because I literally cannot imagine trying to make those words having any meaning without reminding the couple and all the witnesses of the Third in their marriage. Having only been married five years, I can tell you we never would have made it THIS long if it weren't for the fact that God sustains, loves, challenges, helps, carries and embraces us every minute of every day. The worries and sorrows of marriage are just too great for two people to try and bear alone, and the joys are too tremendous not to have a place to give thanks.

So I will sadly have to tell them that I cannot do it, even for $300 plus mileage. Hmm, I wonder what my price WOULD be for that....Nope, I cant imagine it for any amount of money.... And I'm back to the drawing board with my little ad, too. I guess mentioning God only one time was a little too subtle the first time around.


Monday, January 02, 2006

random links

Great food for thought on women in minstry over at My True Self.

Aw, shucks. MIxed in with her usual breathtaking wisdom and general kindness, Rachelle has something nice to say about me here. I'm all blush-y. (And now I think I've finally really caught up in reading all the blogs I usually check in on)

Three cheers for Duluth! My hometown, the city of brick mansions and steep hills rising off Lake Superior in northeastern Minnesota..a stronghold of blue-collar progressivism mixed with old-fashioned Midwestern patriotism., makes the national news for one man's anti-war effort. (Weirdly, I don't know him. He must be the only DFLer in town I'm not acquainted with. Although, we DID move from there seven years ago. I suppose some new people might have arrived during that time.)

Anthem to Geekiness - Lazy Sunday video from SNL.

A heart rending article from the LA times about a young woman, reunited after 20 years with the woman who was denied the right to adopt her in the 1970's.

A funeral director tries to bring a little much needed humor to his work. And fails.

According to Moneybags, at A Catholic Life, ST JOHN OF THE CROSS has chosen himself to be my patron saint for the year. I'm so mired in protestantism, I'm not sure what this means, but I'm looking for similiarities between the two of us (as per the assignmnent). I've been drawn to the Dark Night of the Soul, since I heard it quoted in a life-changing sermon in 1993 or so, but the quick read I gave it in seminary did not do it justice. Maybe this is my year to really dig in. In doing some cursory research about John himself, I'm impressed so far with his passion for the direct relationship between God and people, which I share. And I hope that in the coming year he will guide me in being courageous, as I think he was, and also in taking risks for my faith, as he did. Well, maybe NOT EXACTLY as he did. I pray this is not my year to go to prison, for example.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Two More Christmas Stories

Aren't you already kind of bored of New Year's News - the recaps, the promises for the future, the resolutions - and ready for nostalgia about Christmas? Thought so. Turn your mind, then, back to A Week Ago Today to Christmas 2005. In two stories.

Secular Memory: Or Kafka Goes to the Video Store
Our wonderful little neighborhood video store is closed on Christmas, so I went to a Blockbuster after Christmas dinner - it was late but we were all wired from the day and ready for some mindless frivolity. After waiting at least four and a half hours for the couple in front of me to complete their extremely complicated transaction, which seemed to involve something about trading their first born son for their movie, an antsy 3 year old and I got to the counter.
Me: I used to have an account at the Blockbuster in my old neighborhood. Can I use that account here? Stay right here by me, honey.
Him; (with extreme hostility) Do you have your CARD?
Me: Gee, I dont think so. I havent gotten a movie there in more than a year. Eli! Don't touch that, ok?
Him: Well, then you can't. Wait a minute. Let me call the store and see if they have you in their system, then I can issue you a new card.
Me: Can I just open a new account here now?
Him: Nope.
[There is now a long pause while the manager tries to call the other store and then hangs up and starts paging thru a huge book - the book of life? No. Evidently this is the book of all the other Blockbuster stores in the world.]
Me: Elijah, come back over here! Um, what's happening now?
Marginally Nicer Girl Behind The Counter: You didn't have an account at that store, he's going to call another store and try them.
Me: Wait. Can't I just open a new account? No, I CAN'T take you to the potty right now.
Him: Oh, no, we can't do that.
MNGBTC: Now that we know you have an account, we have to be sure you don't have a big bunch of late fees or something.
Me: So you're saying, I COULD have opened an account, if I hadn't told you about the other store?
Him: Well, it's too late for that NOW, isn't it?

Unbelievably, I continued to negotiate (with both the manager and the toddler) and eventually actually rented the movie, which was Elf, but now every time I look at the box, I remember that horrible, horrible conversation and all the fun goes right out of the idea of actually watching it.

I keep thinking about what I should have said, but didn't.
Something like, "Look, you stupid fuckers, I had to work today too, but you don't see ME being an asshole, do you?" comes to mind.

The movie is due today. But, according to the MNGBTC who handed to me, I have a "seven-day grace period." Which starts tomorrow, so I guess it'll probably sit there for another week, unwatched. I'm sure there's something profound about forgiveness, love and the True Meaning Of Christmas to be said about the "seven day grace period", but I'm sure I don't know what it is.

Church Memory or Room At The Inn
We organized this spontaneous Christmas pagent at church on the morning of the 25th. The senior pastor and I passed out costumes and the people there - almost all grownups - dressed up and acted out the story.

The only baby was with a visiting couple who also had a 3-year-old with them. They said they'd be willing, honored even, to be the holy family. They walked up as relaxed and confident as if they were Mary and Joseph every Sunday of the year. When it was time, they put that baby right down in the manger on top of the scratchy burlap that we hadn't covered with anything softer because we expected to have a doll-baby there, and she kicked her legs and waved her arms, all sweet and charming.

All of the other folk (mostly the hard-core types you'd expect at a church that only worships together on Christmas Day once every seven years or so) were as kind and welcoming as I could have hoped to this new couple, and circled around them when their part of the story came. Angels, the halos all crooked on their gray hair; wise men in bathrobes over their church clothes; shepherds, lugging those stuffed lambs we got somewhere under their arms. We were all laughing and joking about how silly and fun the whole thing was. But for just a moment, as we all stood or knelt around the four of them - Mary and Joseph and Baby Jesus and Toddler Jesus - everyone took one big breath and let it out at once, like sometimes happens in a group. And everyone was quiet for just a second.

And the Christmas story (which frankly after weeks of preparation and then re-telling and re-hearing and re-singing in different ways, I was pretty much all over) was new again, for me at least. Of course, I thought. This is JUST what it was LIKE. They came as strangers, they laid their baby in an uncomfortable place and then people started arriving. Uncertain, not expecting anything particularly holy to happen, maybe even joking around. And suddenly, all at once and all together, they knew the angels' words were no joke - they were as true and real as anything they had ever heard, and anything they would ever hear again.

Do not be afraid. This is the good news. This the Messiah.

Gloria in excelsis. Amen.