Thursday, January 22, 2009
He tied the first tie. I tied the bow. He tied the double knot.
He grinned at me. "That feels so much better!"
"Better than your old shoes?"
"No - better when you help me."
I've been thinking lately that now that he's big there are certain things he needs to do on his own - and tying his shoes has been a major power struggle for us. The conversation continued.
"Yeah, it feels better to me to. Sometimes I make bad choices, and that not helping you with your shoes thing was one of them."
I'm sort of getting it that I want him to be able to do what he can do, but that frustrating him to the point of tears about something he's not quite ready to do doesnt actually help him learn to do it. I'm sort of getting it that I want him to know he can rely on me and others to help him when he needs it, not feel that he has to figure everything out by himself, even though he is very big now that he's six. I'm sort of getting it that if he has the deep confidence that help is available to him, it will help him be helpful too, when his time comes. I'm sort of getting it, but I'm not all the way there yet.
I hope he'll be patient with me while I keep learning that.
Monday, January 19, 2009
Sunday's big Lincoln Memorial show was billed as the "We Are One" concert, intended to celebrate the inauguration of Barack Obama with a spirit of unity. But for those of us watching at home, one participant was excluded -- Gene Robinson, the "first openly gay, non-celibate priest to be ordained a bishop in a major Christian denomination."
For those of us not among the million at the mall, here it is is:
"O God of our many understandings, we pray that you will bless us with tears - tears for a world in which over a billion people exist on less than a dollar a day, where young women in many lands are beaten and raped for wanting an education, and thousands die daily from malnutrition, malaria, and AIDS.
Bless this nation with anger - anger at discrimination, at home and abroad, against refugees and immigrants, women, people of color, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people.
Bless us with discomfort at the easy, simplistic answers we've preferred to hear from our politicians, instead of the truth about ourselves and our world, which we need to face if we are going to rise to the challenges of the future.
Bless us with patience and the knowledge that none of what ails us will be fixed anytime soon, and the understanding that our new president is a human being, not a messiah.
Bless us with humility, open to understanding that our own needs as a nation must always be balanced with those of the world.
Bless us with freedom from mere tolerance, replacing it with a genuine respect and warm embrace of our differences.
Bless us with compassion and generosity, remembering that every religion's God judges us by the way we care for the most vulnerable.
And God, we give you thanks for your child, Barack, as he assumes the office of President of the United States.
Give him wisdom beyond his years, inspire him with President Lincoln's reconciling leadership style, President Kennedy's ability to enlist our best efforts, and Dr. King's dream of a nation for all people.
Give him a quiet heart, for our ship of state needs a steady, calm captain.
Give him stirring words; We will need to be inspired and motivated to make the personal and common sacrifices necessary to facing the challenges ahead.
Make him color-blind, reminding him of his own words that under his leadership, there will be neither red nor blue states, but the United States.
Help him remember his own oppression as a minority, drawing on that experience of discrimination, that he might seek to change the lives of those who are still its victims.
Give him strength to find family time and privacy, and help him remember that even though he is president, a father only gets one shot at his daughters' childhoods.
And please, God, keep him safe. We know we ask too much of our presidents, and we're asking far too much of this one. We implore you, O good and great God, to keep him safe. Hold him in the palm of your hand, that he might do the work we have called him to do, that he might find joy in this impossible calling, and that in the end, he might lead us as a nation to a place of integrity, prosperity, and peace. Amen."There's also video of it on YouTube, if you want to see it in person.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
I was raised, Songbird, in the tradition you are in now. So there was no expectation of a moment of conversion, more an expectation of a lifetime of questioning, seeking, wonder.
Now I wonder, at this time in my life, still in that same tradition, if you can have BOTH a moment of conversion AND a constant turning toward?
Because I DID have a moment of conversion, which was not a dramatic one externally, but a radical internal shift/transformation. I was in a conversation with a spiritual director in which I expressed doubt, and she said something so simple "You have one foot on the dock and one foot in the boat. Just get in the boat." And then I (as she said) "got in the boat" and that was it. I have had lots of ups and downs since then, but never doubted, never questioned if there actually IS One who is holding us all, which had been real source of grief and frustration for me until then.
On the other hand, I'm not saying this HAS to happen for every Christian! Only that it was as real for me as my everyday everyday everyday waking up and saying "ok, God. help me do it the way you would want today, whatever it is."
Both the moment of conversation and the daily juggling routine took/take effort. Both are grace.
So far, there isn't much conversation in the comments about another theme of the post, which is the underlying tension of calls to ministry/motherhood (or fill in the blank where motherhood is to be whatever your Other Call is). I think about and pray about that tension in my own life all the time. Could I be a Rock Star Pastor by now if I had not married a disabled person, had a baby, etc? Perhaps. But is Rock Stardom really what God wants from me? I dont think so. Because this constant tension is what makes my call really authentic. I am always trying to practice what I'm always trying to preach - that God wants our WHOLE lives. That EVERYTHING can be a prayer, can be in service to God, can be for the creation of the realm to come.
So that my soothing a 6 year old (and I"m doing LOTS of that lately) is as important and as much an answer to the call as writing a sermon. When I'm able to remember that, I'm just so grateful that I get to do both.
Saturday, January 03, 2009
Although we know it is not The True Meaning of Christmas, E totally scored in the present department this year. Here he is with the best one: drum set from Grandma. Yeah, grandma! He like to try and play along with Obvious Child. Not easy for your first gig. He's jumping in with both feet. Also, a Lego Star Wars Video Game (how many layers removed from reality is that? I lose track) that he loves and a head lamp that he would like to wear all the time. I had to draw the line at wearing it in the car. That little light in the rearview mirror is killer.
Speaking of the True Meaning of Christmas: the Christmas season in general = very weird. Because snow kept falling, we kept rescheduling and cancelling things at church, which took a surprising amount of energy and was sadder than you'd think.
Speaking of sad: However, the opposite of sad was lots of time at the sledding hill (which was all joyous and extreme fun, except for that one walk home where I actually told a cold cold wet wet child that I "WOULD ask for a ride home, but you are being so whiny that I'm embarrassed." Yikes. Who is THAT lady?).
Speaking of interactions with our children that we would actually like to remember: the little Methodist church across the street had a Christmas Eve service, so we got to go and hear the scriptures, and sing the songs and I reflected (not for the first time) that with a story that good, really no-one needs to preach on Christmas Eve. (Ignore this if you love the Christmas Eve sermon, but if you hate it, go ahead and add a couple of carols instead next year. Everyone will thank you for it.) Anyway, getting to hold my boy on my lap while we lit our candles and sang Silent Night was totally sweet, and I treasured it.
Speaking of things we treasure: If there's anything cuter than a 6 year old telling you he has a "twick up my sweeve" and that twick turns out to be secretly reading after lights out by the light of the nightlight, I ask you to show it to me.
Speaking of cute family members: As a reminder that I am known and loved just as I am, Mr. Juniper sent me this quote, cause he knows I'm nerdy like that:
The Cavanagh Company of Greenville, Rhode Island makes about 80% of the communion wafers used by several Christian churches in the US. Some customers say the Cavanaghs have such a big market share because their product is about as close to perfect as earthly possible. "It doesn't crumb, and I don't like fragments of our Lord scattering all over the floor," said the Rev. Bob Dietel, an Episcopal priest.
Speaking of scattering fragments of things: someday I know it will be a hilarious story how, running out of the house but worried that our slippery front walk would jeopardize the present-getting, I quickly dumped a lot of what I thought was grass seed from a half open bag I found in the shed, but it turned out to be fertilizer (read "poo"), so then I thought I'd fix it, which I did by dumping some cat litter on it we had left over from the Great Cat Experiment, but I grabbed the nasty scented stuff by accident, so then whenever anyone entered our house for the next three days they had to basically walk over 8 feet of used cat box, until I scraped it all away. One day that will definately be a great story, but I'm just not ready to laugh about it yet.
Speaking of great stories: I got a call from the Ibot company that stopped my breath briefly when they said they are going out of business. But luckily, we are in line to receive one still, if we can get it ordered in time, which is the end of January. We are one step closer to that, because for a Christmas present we got a letter from our insurer saying they would actually pay for it, which, as it is violation of their policy to pay for this kind of technology, we did not expect at all. But keep your fingers crossed for us, if that is your spiritual practice. A few more paperwork hurdles still need jumping.
Speaking of things that come in the mail: We did not receive hardly anything we had ordered by Christmas day (our friend who works at UPS says stuff was coming in and they were just stacking it up in a corner and delivering to businesses only during all the snow the week of Christmas), and our tree looked very sad indeed. So Santa, with whom, as you know, I have a very love/hate relationship TOTALLY saved us. We ended up writing lots of little notes from Santa about how the sleigh kept getting stuck in snow, yadda yadda yadda and that's why he (E) would not be receving a drum set TODAY, but that he (Santa) was keeping an eye on things and would make sure that everything arrived in the due course of time. Which E actually really liked, and he ended up reading those little letters several times throughout the day on Christmas. So, thanks, Santa. We owe you one.
Speaking of gratitude: Life is so very sweet. Not making any resolutions, unless it's one to notice that more often.