Friday, February 29, 2008

For Paul

He and his computer are both under the weather; I thought he could do with some cheering up. Perhaps we all can.



Stella Marrs is an artist local to my hometown. Check her out.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

3 x 3: a quick meme for Thursday

JohnieB tagged me for this meme. The rules are easy:

1) List three reasons for your blogging.
2) List the rules.
3) Tag three others with the thread.

a) I blog because I’m a horrid correspondent. It’s true. I started this when I was about to make a major move out of my adopted hometown (of 17 years, counting college) to seminary in California. I wanted to give my friends a way to keep track of me.

b) I kept it up because I found community, both in the RevGalBlogPals and the OCICBW crew of reprobates. I’ve never met most of these people, but I e-mail with some of them, housesat for one, and count them as friends. We keep up with each other; we encourage each other, we pray with each other. If one is hurting, others are there. Good circles to be in.

c) I like writing; I like thinking out loud, and I’m more faithful about this than I ever was with a private journal. I can use this voice for justice, and I have. I’m also aware that someone coming across this blog might be encouraged in their own path, spiritual or other. Besides, the memes and silly things are fun.

Tag:

Paul
Orthodox Mimi
Juniper

All may, some should, none must.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Still sick

I'm over the fever--but I feel about as green as this background. I've been staying out of class for contagion's sake, as I still have the cough (and not much in the way of endurance). Lo and behold, I just threw up at lunch.

Luckily, I managed neither to run nor to make a mess. What dignity I have, I maintain. But I'm feeling wiped out all over again. Back to bed I go.

Monday, February 25, 2008

I've been out with the flu

...which in itself wouldn't have been that bad, if my normally-controlled asthma hadn't necessitated an ER visit on Saturday. They gave me a breathing treatment and all kinds of meds, and a flu culture, which came back positive. I'm feeling better now; nothing left but the cough, really. But though I'm out of school until the gunk leaves my lungs, I'm not off of it. And it's not like I did much, when I was feeling miserable.

Got some catching up and keeping up to do. I'll be scarce here for a little while.

Blessings on all of you. Stay well.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Birthing

This is an adaptation of an e-mail I sent to a friend. It’s also a prayer request. Sometimes it helps me to share with someone I trust before I proclaim to the world. The feedback I got affirmed the clarity I felt, even through my inarticulateness. I’ve added a few details for context, and removed some—but much of this is verbatim. Please pray for the homeless, the exiles, and the sense of mission to them that’s being birthed in me. Thank you.

I have to make a phone call this morning, to someone I’ve never spoken with. I’m still on muscle relaxants, and didn’t take them last night, in the interest of clearing my head. I can write clearly enough, but can't sequence worth anything, when I talk. I keep starting, and stopping, mapping things in my head and starting over. It’s really frustrating.

I used to literally think in print, all the time. Until I started really trying to talk about God. Now, any concept—any at all—comes to me in images. If I could paint, it would be a lot easier.

I also used to be a much more casual blogger. Now I only write anything substantial if I'm impelled to. It often takes me half a day. I still enjoy it, and it's still an artistic process; I just do it from a completely different place. It’s both a place of mission, and of “sighs too deep for words.”

My prayer group met last night, for the first time since late fall. I talked about NOLA. I told them about the interweaving of vibrance and problems and devastation and resurrection, and why I love the city. I told them of the homeless encampment on Claiborne, and how witnessing that had galvanized me. Since I've been back, I've envisioned starting a chaplaincy for homeless people. It was the first time I'd told this group, I know my place is with the exiles and I want a collar so I can feed them. [I use that term, both physically and sacramentally.] Someone asked me, "Who is this God, who's making you want to do this?"

Damn good question. The only words I have are love, nonjudging, not forgetting anyone. The more-true truth is the image, of being shot through with a lightning bolt. Not in the sense of storminess or danger or even traveling quickly—but pure, clear, warm light; rightness. "Go. Show them that I love them."

I don't know yet where I’ll end up. But I know that this wanting to feed the homeless and the exiles is the right path.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

I blame Paul

...though I certainly can't blame him for the results.



You're the time of day right around sunrise, when the sky is still a pale bluish gray. The streets are empty, and the grass and leaves are a little bit sparkly with dew. You are the sound of a few chirpy birds outside the window. You are quiet, peaceful, and contemplative. If you move slowly, it's not because you're lazy – it's because you know there's no reason to rush. You move like a relaxed cat, pausing for deep stretches that make your muscles feel alive. You are long sips of tea or coffee (out of a mug that's held with both hands) that slowly warm your insides just as the sun is brightening the sky.

The description's accurate; I am "quiet, peaceful, and contemplative" in my natural (non-student) state. The time? Ouch. I'm usually awake by then--but far from social, at that hour.

It's 12:30 now. Off to lunch!

In search of time-management tips

These are all things I need to do; some today, and some as soon as possible:

• Read for my online church history class
• Post on Blackboard for same
• E-mail the sacristy and see if I can snag a preaching time*
• Look up when I’m preaching for class, and read those passages
• Finish my CDO profile (who am I kidding; all I’ve done is register)
• Send a couple of e-mails, that both take emotional energy and thought
• Pay a bill I’ve been forgetting—involving about a 30-minute round-trip walk
• Get my brakes fixed
• Organize my homework for the weekend

I also need to make an appointment with my advisor, and go to the bank. (Trying to add items to a bulleted list, in Blogger, only makes a mess.)

I’m going to the Ranch tonight, and will be there through Saturday. (I have to serve in church, before God gets up Sunday morning.) I’m capable of studying there, but will also be hosting, hiking at least a little, and catching up with my friends. So today is the best time I have for school. (I’m only staying through chapel tonight because one of my favorite people is preaching.)

When I had an adult life, I got the things done that I needed to. I kept commitments and I felt responsible. I’ve not been good at that, as a student. This is my last academic semester, and it’s still early. I’m trying to head off a mid-term breakdown, and just learn some basic skills. How do you organize your time, when there are lots of little things you need to do, and some that take more effort, focus, and energy?

*I actually did that, while I was writing this, and it took all of three seconds. So there’s one less thing.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

I love this

Humorous Pictures
more humorous pics

I don't normally blog things as trendy as LOLcats, but this time I had to. Enjoy.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Book meme

Tagged by JohnieB. Here are the rules:

Pick up the closest book of 123 pages or more.

Go to p. 123.

Read the first five sentences.

Post the next three sentences.
***

The closest book to me that is mine is How to Preach a Parable, by Eugene L. Lowry. (Nashville: Abingdon, 1989.) Here is my offering:

"....Why, those last folks hardly had time to work up a sweat, yet you
make them equal to those of us who have borne the burden of the day and the
scorching noontime heat."

But the moment of injustice happens as we knew it would. The text
provides a marvelous understatement: "They grumbled."

I expect so.

Note, I said the closest book that is mine. I'm housesitting for one of my favorite people, an ever-more-fraudulently retired CDSP faculty member. I'm sitting on the floor in his office, right now.

He taught me Anglican Ethics and a reading course on Stringfellow, last year; so it's not surprising that the closest book to me at the moment is Work in the Spirit, by Miroslav Volf (New York: Oxford, 1991).

From the chapter entitled "Work, Human Beings, and Nature":
In the remainder of the book I will attempt to answer these
questions.

A comprehensive theology of work would need to discuss these issues much
more exhaustively than I am able to do here. If I were to attempt to
develop a full-blown theology of work, I would far exceed the limits of this
book. What I intend to do here is only to sketch some basic aspects of
work's relation to human beings--to their nature, their needs, and their other
significant activities--and to their natural environment.

There you go. As for tagging others to play: all may, some should, none must. Have at it, if you've not been tagged already.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Lenten Friday Five (on Saturday morning)

Stolen from Paul, who stole it from Diane, who got it from RGBP.

1. Did you celebrate Mardi Gras and/or Ash Wednesday this week? How?

I wore beads to class on Tuesday; does that count? A few that I'd gotten from a tourist trap in the Quarter, and some from church. I didn’t quite dare wear my Mardi Gras hat to school. We had Carnival last Sunday at church, wherein I juggled banner and beads (not entirely successfully), got homesick for New Orleans, and was happy that my church in San Francisco was as much into the festivities as they were. (It was weird to be back on this planet, though.)

Ash Wednesday: Ashes, both in chapel at school and at church that night. A friend and I rode BART there and back together; it was nice to have the company.

2. What was your most memorable Mardi Gras/Ash Wednesday/Lent?

Gosh, I don’t know… maybe one year (in the late ‘90s) when I didn’t give up anything, but a housemate gave up chocolate. I hoarded Cadbury eggs all that season, and gave them to her on Easter morning.

She was doing the church thing; I was involved in my interfaith community. That was the first year I kept a Lenten prayer journal. I’ve done it off and on, since.

3. Did you/your church/your family celebrate Lent as a child? If not, when and how did you discover it?

You don’t “celebrate” Lent; you observe it. I don’t remember giving anything up until high school, when one year I gave up chocolate. I certainly didn’t take anything on, in those years. I think my mom gave things up, but I don’t remember what or how regularly. So the clearest answer is, “sort of.”

I discovered it truly (as truly as I have), the year when I hit on the journal idea. I don’t remember doing Lent at all, for years before that. I knew I was missing something, but I wasn’t completely ready to go fully back to the faith. I could have gone to church, but wouldn’t.

It’s amazing how we keep ourselves in exile.

4. Are you more in the give-up camp, or the take-on camp, or somewhere in between?

I wish I could steal Paul’s answer:

I am in the slow down, de-clutter your life, and fall in love with God again camp….I believe most of our giving up is superficial, often silly, and self-deluding and would vote for giving up despising ourselves. That might go a long way toward re-learning to love God and others.

Alas, I don’t know how to slow down in my last semester of school. It’s not the same as flakery (which I’m good at); it takes a depth of intention, and focus, and planning, and discipline, that I don’t know if I have.

I gave up despising myself last fall, but it’s still a battle.

I am in love with God—but so much builds up between me and that reality, I don’t often remember just to be there. If I could give up anything, just because I choose to, it would be anxiety about me and what God's calling me to and homework and last term and where I'm going to do field ed and where I'm going to live and how I'm going to pay for it and student loans and getting my brakes fixed and...

Hmm. If I can breathe that, I can pray it. If I can pray it, I know I'm not alone.

5. How do you plan to keep Lent this year?

I planned to do the journal thing, and I still think I’d like to. But honestly? I’m looking out the window at a beautiful spring morning. The best thing for me, in this season, would be to take lots of walks.

As far away from Holy Hill as I can.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Thank you, Mimi!


Mimi and Grandp√®re had an extra copy of this CD. She gave it to me, because I love her city so much. I’m rocking out to it right now. It got here today, on Mardi Gras.

Feeling “homesick” in a good way. I lived there only for a month. Everything in me wants to go back. Before I went, I’d have told you that I didn’t like jazz all that much. That’s because I equated it with public-radio, New-Agey stuff. I heard a lot of street musicians in New Orleans, and their music is not that. Real jazz is an expression of the vivacity of that city. If I heard it in San Francisco or Seattle, it wouldn’t sound the same. This music is so organic to that place, and it’s a place I’m thoroughly in love with.

This CD makes me sad; it also makes me happy. It’s fun to listen to. And it inspires me to pray for New Orleans all over again; for the resurrection in the devastation, the lotus in the mud. (Yes, I spent years with Buddhists, though I never became one. The imagery fits.)

I want to go back. I want to support the spiritual rebuilding, if not the physical. I pray that I can. There is so much work to do.

One of the things I’ve been thinking of, is starting a chaplaincy for homeless people. Too early to tell, whether that’s a call, or a dream. I know there is need for it, though—and not only in NOLA, but every major city. The need there is so great, but there is desperate poverty in my own back yard, though I live in an area known for its affluence. We shall see what comes of this idea.

Anyway, thank you again, Mimi and Grandpère! Oh, and if you buy this for yourself (or a friend), a portion of the proceeds goes to the New Orleans Musicians' Village.

Looking for Lenten practices

I don't believe in giving things up; I'm more interested in taking things on, and I don't need encouragement to punish myself. I have friends who have gone vegetarian for Lent, and I was one, year-round, for more than 15 years. I respect that choice, very much, but I'm not following it. The reasons I'm not, now, have partly to do with the vegetarian options at school (sometimes great, often not), and partly because I spend a lot of time with omnivorous friends. I don't want to ask them to change for me.

It's very, very easy to beat myself up; my practice in this season needs to be gentle. I've pretty much decided to revive my on-again, off-again prayer journal. I may do the Ignatian examen in that context.

What are you doing for Lent?

Happy Mardi Gras!

indian_greenpurple_500

(Image courtesy NOLA.com)

New Orleans, I miss you.

And here's an article about the Mardi Gras Indians.

Well, this is kind of cool.

I stole it from Paul, who stole it from PJ. None of us buy into this stuff, but silly quizzes are always fun.


You are the World


Completion, Good Reward.


The World is the final card of the Major Arcana, and as such represents saturnian energies, time, and completion.


The World card pictures a dancer in a Yoni (sometimes made of laurel leaves). The Yoni symbolizes the great Mother, the cervix through which everything is born, and also the doorway to the next life after death. It is indicative of a complete circle. Everything is finally coming together, successfully and at last. You will get that Ph.D. you've been working for years to complete, graduate at long last, marry after a long engagement, or finish that huge project. This card is not for little ends, but for big ones, important ones, ones that come with well earned cheers and acknowledgements. Your hard work, knowledge, wisdom, patience, etc, will absolutely pay-off; you've done everything right.


What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.


This result is so wrong that it's laughable; I'm in at least one proverbial doghouse that I know of, and am so far from completing anything, all I can do is roll my eyes. It's the beginning of the semester; I haven't even had all my classes yet. I'm also feeling overwhelmed with everything I have to do this spring. (Then why am I blogging, you ask? I'm lying on a heating pad, because my shoulder still hurts. This is the easiest thing to do in this position.)

Truthfully, I'm blogging to ask for your prayers, and suggestions, and anything else to keep the paralysis of overwhelm at bay. There are things I need to do, and things I want to do, and I've got to get them done. Prayers and suggestions for focus, efficiency (ha!) and time management are very much appreciated.

The next thing I'm going to do, is sit up and call the physical therapist. Then I have forms to fill out, for school. One of them requires math skills; the other, prayer and thought. I'd like to finish both, before chapel. Then I have lunch, and after that, an advanced preaching class that I'm really looking forward to.

It is nice to be reminded, even by a Tarot card, that things will come together, though.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

My week

...as seen at Episcopollyanna's.

Work = Very little
Home = Shifting
Head = Muddled, thanks to muscle relaxants
Mood = Anxious, optimistic, hopeful, sad (yes, you can be all of these at once)
Friends = Fantastic, loving, playful, and insightful
Family = See above
Prayer = Action
Reading = On paper, not since the flight
Bible study = Would be a good idea
Awareness = Moderate
Sleep = Heavy, drugged, and often
Fun = Intermittent
Love = God, my friends, this world, New Orleans

I need to gear up for school; classes start Monday. I have a long list of chores that I need to do this weekend, and processes that will continue well into spring. I'm lying on a heating pad right now, having more-or-less awakened from a Flexeril-induced nap. I want my mind and body back.

So, logically, I took a silly quiz.

Health update

I went to Kaiser Wednesday, to follow up from the ER in NOLA (when I was diagnosed with whiplash). Dr. Lai and I talked for awhile; she actually spent time listening to me. She gave me generic Flexeril (a muscle relaxant), and more monster-Motrin. And a referral to PT, when I asked if I needed it.

I forgot to call the physical therapy office; will try today, and if not, Monday. Flexeril makes me tired and loopy, and I really want my body (and head) back. Wednesday night, I was acting drunk, though I thought my head was clear. I was told I moved like the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz.

I halved it, yesterday, and felt some better. Still, I’m really tired of being uncoordinated and sleepy. On meds, my back feels fine, but I’m drowsy and sluggish. Off them, I have a clear head—and it feels like someone’s grabbing my shoulder blade, not gently.

She did say I’d recover completely, though. And it should be quicker than the 2 ½ months the doc at Touro told me. (The one who showed me his neck-surgery scar, bless him, and panicked me so badly that they ended up doing a CT scan to appease me. It came out clear.)

Friday, February 01, 2008

God be in my sleep, and in my waking

I had another calling-dream, last night. I got a string of them last fall, but hadn’t had one in awhile. My usual dreams, when I remember them, are surreal, disconnected shreds of images. This one was clear as could be. When it happens, you know.

I wrote this all out, this morning, and held off on posting it. Some people read this, who may influence my next steps. I don't want to cause them to fear for me. But I've shared this with a couple of friends, and been affirmed for it. I've taken that as encouragement that my fears will be unfounded. I don't even mean to be "thinking outside of the box," but I believe that my ministry will be. I think I'm sharing this publicly, to keep myself accountable. If it resonates with other people's stories, dreams, and longings, that may help them on their own paths, also.

In the dream, I was either working, or heavily invested, in a large, established parish in Virginia. (Why Virginia? I guess because it says “establishment” to me. My mother’s family is from there.) I was part of a leadership circle, but I don’t know exactly what my role was. I was with a group of people standing outside. Some others were in the building.

I was standing on the steps, watching a locksmith change the lock on the front door. He was installing the largest latch I’d ever seen, about as big as my hand. It was a heavy, dull-brass colored metal, visibly obvious; you couldn’t miss it. And we weren’t going to be given keys.

Church politics played no part in this. The building wasn’t sold or litigated. We weren’t exiled in any emotional sense; no one was taking our home away. But it was clearly not our home, anymore. I remember mentally blessing the locksmith as he did this. I can’t recall the exact words spoken to us, but I know that we were sent forth in joy. The message was clear: “Go out into the world.”

My best friend is visiting, for a conference at CDSP. We’ve been talking a lot, about how NOLA changed and redefined things for me, and what I feel called to do. I’ve expressed doubts about whether I’m called into parish ministry—but I still absolutely want to feed people, and to bless, baptize, and absolve them. I’m not Anglo-Catholic by any stretch (though a friend who is, questioned that), but I am deeply sacramental. And I do feel called to live that ministry.

I don’t have any sacramental authority, and I won’t until the church blesses that in me. But I know exactly what I’d be doing right now, if I did: I’d be out on Claiborne Avenue, under I-10, celebrating Eucharist with the homeless people camped there. I’d find some friends, and do the same thing in soup kitchens, and in rough neighborhoods, and in neighborhoods struggling to come back. We’d be feeding people, and blessing community, in the places one would least expect to find God. These are the people who need that love most.

There’s nothing wrong with material wealth. All of us need God’s love. I’m not writing this to judge anyone. Many people I know give very generously, and responsibly. I respect them very much for that. I’m glad that they have it, to give. And I know that God is, at all times and in all places, including a church building. My own community has been fantastic to me and for me. I believe in that absolutely, and I’m grateful for them. I’ll do field ed in a parish context, and I’ll learn a lot, and build relationships, and love it. I may be called to that work, also. But I believe that my deepest calling is to go out and find those who need to be found, and to bring awareness of the presence of God to places where people have stopped looking. That’s what I wish I could be doing, right now.

I wonder if there are ways that I can.