Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Shall We Gather?

In the first meeting of "Introduction To Nonprofit Management" this evening at Portland State University (which was AWESOME, btw, and PACKED - 45 students), the prof, at the request of the school handed each of us our syllabus individually, rather than just handing someone in the front row a big stack.

This, so we dont "die from flu germs passed on paper when it is handed around the room from person to person." He also told us that Multnomah County is making plans to have up to 40% of their workforce absent for up to 6 weeks this winter.

He said many other things, too, in two and a half hours that flew by. But this is what I'm thinking about tonight. How are we going to respond to the flu at our church?

I've read some little articles that are like, "well, keep hand sanitizer in your sanctuary and don't take communion by intinction," which is all ok advice but doesnt get to the heart of the matter for me which are questions like:
1. If it is advised (or even required) that we don't assemble, should we anyway?
2. And if we don't gather for worship, how can we be agents of healing, community building and spiritual formation anyway?
3. How do we care for the sick? What sort of care will they need?
4. How do we take precautions without fueling hysteria? What is the line between careful and fearful?

The only sort of half formed idea I have is to update the phone tree (again) and to send it along with a letter to the main callers asking them to be ready to make more "check-in" calls than usual. But that seems like such a bare minimum - there must be other ways to get ready besides stocking up on hand sanitizer....

Do you have plans? What are they?

Saturday, September 26, 2009


Thing I Love About My Job #476

A cheery note was left on my car windshield. Found it again today when I was vacuuming out the front seat and got cheered all over again.

Friday, September 25, 2009

A Baby With Teeth

In my dream, I am giving birth. When the baby is born (not in the hospital room where I started up the dream, but on the sidewalk for some reason) he is a real ugly one, with sharp pointy teeth. Suddenly, he is a man and I ask him, "What do YOU want your name to be?" and he opens his mouth - maybe to say - and I see he still has an extra row of teeth.

This dream woke me up in the middle of night a week or so ago, heart pounding. For a minute I felt like that that cartoon woman who slaps her head and cries "Oh, no! I forgot to have a baby!" and wondered if it meant I really WAS supposed to have had another one, and now it's too late. Then, even half awake, I did a little self-applied spiritual direction. "Usually images in dreams are metaphorical, honey. You might want to think about what you are giving birth to right now." And then I relaxed and went back to sleep.

Then, a couple of a days ago, I heard a part of an interview with a woman who's written a book called The Curse of the Good Girl. I only heard part of the interview, but the messages were familiar - that girls grow up believing that if they are just good enough - nice enough, sweet enough, perfect enough- they can bring order to the chaos of daily living. I have had quite a lot of that good girl thing going on for most of my life but I have to say that now that I am
a) 40 and
b) holding a job which requires that I exercise more than a little authority
the good girl thing is just really not working for me anymore.

It will not shock you to learn that sometimes the response to constant sweetness and niceness and affirmation is not honey but, in fact, vinegar. Sometimes you must raise your voice to be heard. Sometimes you have to hold up your hand and interrupt and say "You may not speak to me that way." Sometimes you even have to say, wait for it, no.

So I've been practicing all these things, with - as they are rather new skills for me - sort of mixed success. Nobody thanks you for setting boundaries, it turns out. They dont gush, "Oh, that was so nice of you!" Instead, when I step out of the good girl thing, they look a little shocked and dismayed, like I've just handed them an ugly little pointy-toothed baby. I feel a little sad, too, because really I'd rather hand someone a tiny, sweet, pink bundle of cuddles any day.

But the flip side of all that nicey-nice stuff is a burning resentment that is not generative, but is in fact, death dealing. It's the poison you keep drinking hoping that other people will die from gratitude. But they never do. Thank you enough, I mean, or recognize enough all the very very very nice things you have done. And then you keep dying - little by little - inside.

So that ugly baby, even if it feels like an unwelcome intrusion, is at least the start of some new life. A new life that will grow big and tall and toothy, maybe even faster than I think is possible. Maybe even right before my very eyes.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Ten on Tuesday

1. The visits to this blog (according to site-meter) have now reached an all-time nadir of 6 per week. ::waves to the 6 of you, whoever you are:: Hi there! I love you, you optimists!

2. I walked by a house today that had 2 apple trees and a pear with fruit just falling off of them. And I thought, I could come back and pick those and spend Saturday canning apple butter. But I'm not going to do that. See, 15 years ago, I was all about the whole food, slow food, low food movement. I ate organic and local and raw and vegetarian and home-cooked. I made lasagna from scratch - lasagna so delicious that people would ask me the recipe for it at potlucks! I had rows of glass jars of beans and grains in my kitchen. I look at the rest of the world, and it's like we're on escalators, moving past each other in opposite directions. While you are making homemade vegetable pizza with your kids, or canning the tomatoes you bought at the farmer's market, or browsing the internet for cake recipes using whole wheat flour and soy milk, I'm standing in front of the freezer at TJ's going, "OMG! You can just BUY lasagna ALREADY cooked and heat it up!!?? Why did no one tell me about this before??"

3. Got a grill this summer from a friend who was downsizing, though, so there is that. And although it is propane, which even my Harley driving neighbor says freaks him out, I havent blown anything up. And it's true that hamburgers cooked on a grill are 473x better than other hamburgers.

4. Speaking of Things We Got This Summer: cable TV.

5. However, in spite of what I have always believed, I am not going to become a fan of Dancing With The Stars. :::Shudders thinking of Tom DeLay dancing to Wild Thing with a woman in leopard...what would you call that? ....thong?::: And no, I am not linking to it. Google it yourself.

6. In the never say never department, I seem to be growing my hair out. I'm kind of doing a modified curly girl method thing with it. And since my husband described my hair today as "wavy and luscious" in casual conversation, I'm going to keep it up for a while anyway.

7. E is funny these days. Entering that stage I remember from my own life, where he uses words bravely, without fully grokking the meaning of them. RE finding something to watch on television: "Remember, I am watching, so choose something public." Public in that sentence meaning "any show that will not scare the bejeezus out of me." Meaning, any show about the pyramids and Egypt. Turns out, Egypt is like the new Friends. Any time day or night, you can learn something about the pyramids on TV.

8. New theory = it was not slaves, but highly skilled and well compensated craftspersons who built the pyramids. Which reminds me of Sarah's ex-boyfriend who, when working in a museum as a guard, heard a tour guide gush, "Life in ancient Egypt was GREAT." We've always laughed about that, but maybe she was on to something!

9. I have been surprised once again recently to discover that sometimes people are thoughtless. And downright rude even. It's really very shocking every time I re-discover that.

10. My secret for keeping my weight more or less steady is to not buy any butter. Because no butter = no buttered toast and then really, what's the point of eating? That no butter thing, though? Not going so well since I saw Julie and Julia. Still. I do recommend it. The movie, I mean. Not the butter.