Thursday, March 29, 2007


Registering for things, buying plane tickets and making hotel reservations is definately on my put-it-off-as-long-as-possible list. After an afternoon of filling out internet forms, printing confirmations for my records and cussing quietly under my breath, I am now officially registered for:
-a clergy meeting
-a regional denominational meeting
-a national denominational meeting
and (ahhhh)
-a yoga class at the community center.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Today's Discernment Question

If you are trying to leave town for a women's retreat (which is your one solo overnight of the year) and the dryer is broken (which makes it hard to get your clean clothes dry) and the car engine light comes on (which means you have to spend extra time and money - neither of which you have - with Brian The Kind Mechanic), would you consider the events of this day the work of:

a. Satan

b. God

c. Neither. Get over yourself. Both Satan and God have other fish to fry. This is obviously simple mechanical failure.

d. Both (extra credit, read first chapter of Job)

Monday, March 19, 2007


The scene: a friend's birthday party. A birthday party for a beautiful woman who's happy to be turning sixty is a really wonderful thing, especially if the potluck dinner features The Parade of Fascinating Grains (quinoa, wild rice, couscous...).

Besides the potluck, we also did some Interplay (is this how you say it? "did some?" I'm not sure...) which is an important part of my friend's spiritual life. This is a movement-based, getting-in-touch-with-your-body practice, which generally I'm all for. Although I will say I struggle with things that are for grown-ups and are called "play," since I'm just not sure play is all that it's cracked up to be. Anyway, the kids in attendance (son and god-daughter -both 4 plus) LOVED it.

Still, I left feeling uncomfortable and wiggly because of one little interaction. At one point, Eli was shrieking in the way that let me know that louder and longer shriekings would follow. Everyone else was moving around, and some others were making noises, too. I very lovingly put my arms around him and very kindly asked him to be quiet so we could hear the gentle voice of the facilitator.

"Oh, no," said a passing woman I'd not yet met, "in Interplay we can make noise if we want. " and then to Eli, "You can make noise if you want to." Which left me feeling like a conformist, repressive dope, and an irritated, embarrassed one at that.

I broke a rule I didn't know existed, the rule that You Must Not Silence Children. Even if they are burning that potent, potent fuel at the bottom of the tank and are close to burning out.

To contrast it, consider the Orthodox church where I will go witness my friend being confirmed (called "Christmated!" Isn't that a great word?) in a couple of weeks. I expect it to be mysterious and ineffable. I expect a lot of rules and traditions that I do not understand or even agree with. There will be no shrieking of any kind and I'm prepared for that.

The problem, in an Interplay crowd, and I'm afraid in my own congregational tradition, is that we think we have no rules and no norms, when in fact there are hundreds. For my own church setting, I'm not even sure what they all are, or if I could articulate them, but I know they are there, and I sure know when they are violated. It is very difficult to disseminate the norms of a community - both to visitors and to long-time members - when we are greeted each Sunday with the all-embracing phrase that opens worship at my church, and I think at many UCC churches since it was featured in our TV ads a couple years ago: "No matter who you are, or where you are on life's journey, you are welcome here."

I've loved that phrase, and, like my senior pastor, open worship with those words on occasions when I lead. But I can see from my experience at the party last night that they are not true. I mean, we want to say that we keep nobody out, but a person who, for example, doesn't find spiritual growth through community is just not going to be drawn to church life no matter WHAT we say about being welcoming. So just by being a covenant community, we are already exclusive of those for whom covenant or community is not important. Which is actually a good thing! Maybe we should start bragging about it, instead of pretending that something truly all-inclusive is going on.

This experience last night reminded me again that it's time to stop issuing vague welcomes and start being clearer about who we are and what we stand for - not as a way to keep people out, but as a way to authentically welcome both visitors and long time members IN to what is really going on.

What do you think?

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Friday Five on Sunday night

You probably dont remember waay back to Friday when the Friday Five was
Five Things You Have To Do. But I never got around to it.
So instead, here's my list for Monday.

1. Go to the drugstore and get some more vitamin B. Or else keep bursting into tears all day.

2. And while I'm there, I have got to cross the street and return those library books, or they're going to put out an APB on me. Or, worse, take my library card away.

3. Call mom and find out what's going on. Because I swore that a while back she said she was going to a Mexican resort this week, but on tonight's message it sounded like she said she'd be leaving for OHIO on Tuesday. Which, believe me, is nothing like Mexico. I probably didn't hear it right.

4. Which reminds me. Change batteries in hearing aids. While doing that, I will probably consider the weirdness of being 38 years old and wearing hearing aids. But, I will also be glad that it's a point of conversational entry for virtually every older member of my congregation. And I'll be grateful for these new hearing aids, too, that are so much better than the old ones in every possible way.

5. 3:00 - Little Son's first peace rally. So far there's been war almost his whole life and it's time to start speaking up. But only if it's not raining. If it's raining, watch The Little Einsteins video instead. At 4 years old, he's still a fair weather activist, I guess.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

What I've been thinking about today

There are so many things that are difficult about part time jobs in ministry, but the most difficult, in my opinion, is too much time to sit around thinking and talking about stuff and not enough time spent DOING it.

Today I'm thinking about what it means to really be a Christian, and why, if I really am one and therefore a follower of Christ, there is no way that I will take in either of the people described by my colleague today - one a young man who will get out of prison 9 months early if he can get someone to offer him a place to stay, and the other a young woman and baby fleeing an abuser.

This after an impassioned and heartfelt conversation about classism, economic oppression, and our important roles as purveyors of the gospel in fighting same.

And now, I'm BLOGGING about it. So that's like talking about it twice, and I've been thinking about it all day. Just don't ask me what I'm DOING about it.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll wish you would have thought of it...

Medieval help desk

What would YOU do?

Today, I sent this off today to describe a workshop I'll be leading at a women's retreat in a couple of weeks. Any suggestions about resources to enrich this workshop, which will go an hour and a half? I've never done this one before, so I'm building it from scratch and it's for UCC women, by which you can assume a variety of comfort levels with the whole concept of prayer - from "never think of it" to "pray without ceasing..."

Intercessory prayer is prayer for others. You might wonder, "When, why and how do I pray for others? What good can my prayer do? How is praying for others different than praying for myself and how is it the same?" Together, we'll explore these questions, spend time in prayer and reflection, and share from our own lives.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Feeling better

I've been depressed for the last couple of weeks. I'm not usually a depressed kind of person, so I don't handle it very well. I've been sleeping too much and being mean to my sweet family. Anyway, I'm feeling so much better today, because of:

1. A Great! Big! Unexpected! Spa! Gift! Certificate!
That was so awesome. Mom, I will use it right up some day next week for a facial, just like you suggested. Also, maybe some reflexology - I've always wanted to try that.

2. A realization: A conversation with my spiritual director that I think I've mentioned before which basically was her saying "You come in here two ways - like you're either going to save the world, or else you're a piece of gum on the bottom of God's shoe. But the the truth is that you're actually very ordinary." Which I found unbelievably offensive, and I pouted about it for awhile. But she was right, of course. And recently, I was not chosen for a thing for which I was obviously so well suited that it would be RIDICULOUS for me to not be considered. So I swung from the savior of the world to the gum on the bottom of the shoe in a surprisingly quick time. Now the pendulum has re-swung and landed more or less in the middle, and I have re-realized that I'm just an ordinary person having an ordinary process and a sort of ordinary life. And that those things are actually good and part of God's plan. Which is less exhausting than being either Jesus Christ Herself on the one hand or A Big Fat Unlovable Nobody on the other hand. If not as exciting.

3. Another realization: It took me a long time in life to know when I was angry. When I learned how to do it (I remember distinctly the day - the year was 2000 and I was on a city bus.) it was so thrilling that I wanted to do it all the time. Sometimes, however, being angry is just a convenient foil for other, more difficult emotions. Like sadness. But it's ok to be sad sometimes, even if sad does not kick ass like angry does.

4. Yet another realization: You should not fool around with your dose of vitamin B in mid-winter. Take it all. Even if you know that God did not make you to pee that color.

5. And yet another realization: Although you would never know it from the way I'm always picking the lint of out my own belly button on this blog, self-reflection is not always all it's cracked up to be. Sometimes it really is better to just go out and do some stuff than sit around and think or talk about yourself all the time. You really will feel better, and not in a "just putting it off until tomorrow" kind of way.

6. And another realization: No matter how big a jerk I am, my husband still loves me. Which he tells me and shows me every day. It makes me depressed when I feel like a person no one should love, because when I notice him loving me, I want to yell at him all the time "What the hell is the MATTER with you?" But when I'm not the gum on the bottom of the shoe, the knowledge of it fills me with light and gratitude. Or maybe the knowledge of it pulls me out of the gum-on-the-bottom-of-the-shoe place.

7. And the final piece of information that pulled me out of my early-March depression: Sushi is delicious! Definately eat some every week! At least!

Monday, March 05, 2007


I've been reading all your blogs, which I havent done for a while, and now I'm down only to only 13 percent battery power on the laptop, so instead of the long meditation I was planning, here's a few random points of Monday night.

  • Went to vespers on Saturday night at a Russian Orthodox church with a friend who's converting (from Baptist) and I kind of loved it. Serious, mysterious, and kids everywhere. Take that, congregationalists whose 12 year olds "just can't sit that long" on a Sunday morning. Afterward, we went out for sushi. Sometimes the modern world blows my mind.

  • Jeff and I both dreamed about a golden retriever last night. A big, shaggy one - although his was red and mine was more golden. What does THAT mean?

  • There was that Rev Gals Friday Five recently about creativity, which reminded me about a post I started once a while back titled: My Beef With Creativity. I'm not sure what got me going anymore, but I had my dander up about people who talk about "creativity" but really mean "be playful like me." Because I'm creative, but not particularly playful, and if I'm going to have PLAY in order to be creative with you, then count me out. Anyway, it was something grouchy and self-righteous like that.

  • I'm so impressed with those of you whose Lenten practice is reading or praying more. Turns out doing Weight Watchers doesn't make you really feel any closer to God. It just makes you think about your points all the time (Um, vacuuming. 20 minutes. How many points is that?). But I'm keeping it up until Easter and going for something actually spiritual next year.

  • Yes, it was 60 degrees here today. And yes, I did take my son to a little woods to play for two hours. And yes, it was sweet.

  • We've been re-watching all the Lord of the Rings movies. And all the extras. And the title comes from a Tolkien word they talk about in one of the thousands of hours we've watched so far - eucatastrophe: the unexpected turning of bad to good. It's Lent and I'm getting ready for a little of that.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Date Night With A 4 Year Old

Dinner:Resist the urge to say "When I was a little girl, we didn't get cups of oranges with our chicken nuggets. We had to have french fries." Wonder in silent gratitude how you came to have the only child on the planet who doesn't like french fries.

Entertainment Part One:Play the Cars video game. Say "It's too loud. Turn it down." 14 times. Other than that, have fun.

Entertainment Part Two:

Entertainment Part Three:
You cannot go wrong with a book that proclaims on the main page that the hero has "a little extra git in his giddyup" as he rushes thru town.