Friday, September 29, 2006

Search

One of the cool little things you can have with a website is a counter that tells you how many people have visited. Mine gives you some fun details, like how they found me. I can actually click on a link and find people's google search terms.

Big Dunk gets a few searches. I think they are looking for basketball stuff. Sacrament of reconciliation got a hit recently, as did conditional baptism godparent.

What I don't know is if the people who surf over actually read any of the posts. Judging from their searches, I am guessing they are spiritual searchers, too.

So, I am going to say a little prayer for all the strangers who happen by the Big Dunk on their way to deeper relationship with God.

Yes, get baptised. Yes, confess. And if slamming a ball through a hoop works for you, do that too.

I wish you all peace and God's love.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Pray without ceasing

1 Thessalonians 5:17

When I was in Chicago last summer, I was very aware of God's presence throughout the whole week. I would catch myself thinking of him. I felt him everywhere. I was floating on a cloud of love.

Lately, I have been so grateful for the presence of God in my life. I have had many moments when I was almost ecstatic with joy.

But I have also found myself realizing that a time has passed when I haven't thought of God at all. I will suddenly remember God, and notice that I hadn't been concious of him. Usually this happens after I have been working, doing a party, or at a board meeting, or dinner with the family. I will kind of wake up from the fog of my busy life and become aware, once more, of God. Which isn't to say that the time I was oblivious was bad. I was just going about my business.

In Way of a Pilgrim, the pilgrim teaches his heart to say the Jesus prayer so that he can pray without ceasing. He can pray at night, or when talking to someone else. He prays for every waking moment, and every other moment too.

Is that possible? Is it possible to become so concious of God that there are no moments of forgetting?

What do you think?

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Consolation prize

Saints often speak of spiritual consolations.

I think the term 'consolation' is interesting. God is consoling us. He is consoling us because we need consoling.

I have been commenting on the 'Dunk lately that it seems that the closer I get to God, the further away I feel. It happens that I came across a passage in The Imitiation of Christ that says that very thing. So maybe God offers us consolations to reassure us that even as the distance feels greater, it is not.

He consoles us because we yearn for him. He comforts us because we need comforting.

Spiritual dryness has been very painful for me in the past. I have experienced the absense of consolation as a kind of punishment. Sometimes I have abandoned my prayer practice altogether.... other times I managed to perservere, grudgingly, and forge ahead. It reminds me of when you are training a dog. Give him a liver treat often enough and he'll come when he is called even when you don't have one to give him. God is offering me the liver treat of spiritual consolation lately. Like an eager puppy I tumble towards him with my tail wagging. But eventually, I pray, I will obediently come to him even when the treat is nowhere to be found. Maybe I will even learn that the yearning to be near him is treat enough.

St. Ignatius of Loyola discusses this here. See, especially, the 3rd through 5th rules.

Monday, September 25, 2006

The Imitation of Christ

I recently bought a copy of Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis.

It is a hugely influential book. Therese of Lisieux, for one, quotes it in her writings. It is sort of a 'how to' manual for building a deeper relationship with God. I am about a third of the way through and I am getting a lot out of it so far. It is true that the language can be tough. The translation I have (I bought it at the Catholic book store) talks a lot about 'hating the world and all that is in it' in order to more fully love God. We must despise everything worldly. This smacks a bit of Jansenism to me.... But on some level, I get it. I understand that in order to grow in Christ, I have to shift my focus from the things the world loves towards building a deeper relationship with God. If I can get beyond the language, I have much to gain from this book.

The part of The Imitation that deeply resonates for me is that if I wish to help bring about peace in the world, I must develop a sense of inner peace. This is not a matter of listening to new age music, hanging pretty pictures and burning incense. It is about being in a deep, committed relationship with God. I must practice remembering that in all things, in all interactions, in all circumstances, God is part of the process. He is there. He sees everything. He knows everything. The Imitation stresses that if that is true, then we need only please God in our interactions, not people. This speaks volumes to me. I have been a person who always tried to be 'the best' at everything. Whatever that means. My natural tendancy is to seek recognition for my achievements. I try to minimize my failings. I am delighted when people tell me how wonderful I am. Thomas scoffs at all of that. God is the only one who counts. St. Therese gives some wonderful examples of this shifted dynamic in action. For example, she talks about having a major revelation about a passage of scripture, but another nun takes credit for the idea. Instead of correcting her, St. Therese lets everyone think that the other nun did, in fact, come up with the idea.

This is incredible to imagine. I know for a fact that if I were in the same situation, I would seek to make absolutely sure that everyone knew it was my idea. I would probably try to do it subtly so people would think I was humble. I would be furious with the other nun. I would be appalled at not getting credit for my brilliance.

But why? Why, if it is really a matter between me and God, would I care?

That is the part of the Imitation that blows my mind. It never even occured to me that true humility is letting go of the worldly measurements of success altogether and focusing on sitting at the feet of my creator and offering EVERYTHING to him.

The chasm between God and me is growing by the day. My ignorance is clearer and clearer. And yet I can only be grateful and delighted that I am seeing the truth of my nature. I can only be relieved to offer myself to God completely... faults and all.

(PS: These are not my ideas. I stole them from a 19th c. nun and a 15th c. theologian. They don't seem to mind.)


Sunday, September 24, 2006

The Divine Word


Two of us gathered in Jesus' name today. We met in a tiny room off the main parish hall and read the gospel lesson and listened.

Listened for Gods message for us.

Listened to each other as we shared what we thought God may be asking us to do.

Listened, with open hearts, as we each prayed to the Beloved, on the other's behalf.

We spoke.

We spoke the word that God laid upon our hearts.

We spoke out loud what we believed God was asking us to do.

We spoke prayers over each other.



Today we met with God, and each other, and listened and spoke, in the presence of Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

Amen.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Longing

I was driving home from a kitchen tools gig this evening and happened to have Dave Matthews on the cd player when it occured to me to wonder why I love his music so much. What is it about him? And the thing that occured to me as I listened was that he has this incredible sense of longing in his music. His voice is plaintive... his lyrics are all about yearning and desire. And although he is usually writing about love affairs or sex, there is something deeper and more universal in his songs.

When I first fell in love with God, I realized that for me, all love songs will forever more be about God.

For some reason, Dave, more than most musicians, seems to be religious. I bought 'Busted Stuff' about 2 years ago, fairly soon after my conversion, and sat in my car in the rain in a parking lot near the ocean and listened to the whole thing, crying for joy. It isn't that great an album. In fact, it was going to be relegated to the cutting room floor except that a bunch of kids started selling pirated versions of it. So the band released it and I got a copy and heard stories about God in it.

Dave Matthews sings about longing.

And one of the truths I have discovered on my walk with God is that the closer you get to him, the more painfully aware you are of the gulf. And as long as we are flesh and blood, we are destined to be in a state of perpetual longing for the deep, true, connection that maybe will only come when we die. Longing is so much a part of being a Christian, for me, that when I hear of longing in others, I resonate with it deeply.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Praise God

Thank you, Beloved, for healing my precious child. He is getting better every day. I praise you and thank you.

And thank you, Beloved, for healing my soul. I praise you and thank you.

Let me be fearless as you draw me closer. Let me offer myself to you in faith. Let me be fearless.




Saint Therese of Lisieux


I first heard of St. Therese when my brother in law, a very devout Roman Catholic, came to RI on a pilgrimage from Texas to try and convert the rest of the family. Most of his siblings had left the Catholic faith on becoming adults and he had apparently received a vision or a calling to drive here and try and convert them back. As I was a non-believer, I was on the conversion list, too.

He had a series of photos he had taken of a concrete block he found in his yard with an iron cross embedded in it. It was a sign, he said. He told us about a town in Eastern Europe where some kids had seen images of the Virgin Mary. He told us about St. Therese. And he told us, at the dining room table of my house, that Catholicism was the only option if we wanted to go to heaven.

A fight broke out.

I went to hide in the kitchen.

My husband's family is a very stubborn and can be, shall we say, emphatic, about their opinions.

This incident occured at least 10 or 11 years ago. Since then, I was peripherally aware of this 'Little Flower' who had somehow managed to be canonized. I had heard about her, mostly in comparison with the 'Big' Teresa (of Avila) whose works I have read.

Sometimes God whacks me over the head with things. With the little flower, it was more gentle. A mention of her here... a comment about her there. My Spiritual Director recently suggested that the little flower might handle a situation in a certain way. A few weeks later I found out that Mother Teresa had named herself for her.

So, when I went to the church supply store to pick up a card for Fr. P's installation, I bought the "Story of a Soul" a slim autobiography which is the only writing St. Theresa did. And unlike most of the mystical writings I have attempted of late, I actually finished this one, in record time. I couldn't put it down. (And, incidently, Fr. P, your card wound up being my bookmark, which is why it hasn't arrived yet. I will put in the mail today and when you get it, you now know that it has been on a journey through St. Therese's book with me!)

Whenever I have read any spiritual treatise, the thing that always blows me away is that I can usually relate to something of what they say. I read and say, oh, I know what she is talking about. Or, yes, I have had that happen. With the little flower, I found myself nodding at every page. Yes. I understand this. I have felt that. I want to be more like that. It isn't that I am a saint in the making. No, indeed, just the opposite. It is that the saints are so... normal. At least in the sense that if you have any kind of interior life with God, it might very well look something like the relationship that someone else has with God. So, what feels profoundly unique to me is actually not that unique after all. Saints seem to be normal folks who have put their relationship with God at the very center of their lives. Which is really what all Christians aspire to, isn't it?

I loved reading The Story of a Soul. It reminded me that in my life, there are many opportunities to offer things to God. It reminded me that I can let go of many of the things which I used to find important and focus on the one thing that really IS important. And it gives concrete examples of how to do it.

This 'little' book packs a big punch.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Backup

The cesspool guy was flirting with me.

First, he commented on my hair.

"I love your hair" he said. "Is that your natural color?"

I said yes, it was, and joked that I have my grandmother to thank for it.

"A lot of people would pay big money for hair like that."

I probably smiled. Secretly, I believe that my hair is one of my best assets.

I moved the toys that were strewn about on the driveway so he could back the big truck in.

Our toilet overflowed earlier today so I had called Nguyen, who came home and announced we needed to get pumped out.

I made a call to the cesspool people. The receptionist told me that they would be out this afternoon.

"Plug your nose" the guy said as he fastened the hoses together. "It gets pretty bad when I turn the pump on."

I went in the house to get a check and when I came out, he pointedly asked me

"how is your husband?"

I didn't recognize the question for what it was until after I said "fine" and then went on to tell him that Nguyen is doing well and still working with Ed, the cesspool service owner's cousin. (This is RI after all. You would never call a complete stranger to pump the crap out of your cesspool.) When he said didn't know who Ed was, I suddenly realized that he was, in fact, trying to ascertain my marital status.

"I have to go" I said, handing him the check.

And ran in the house to call my husband.

"Guess what?" I said. "The cesspool guy was flirting with me."

"Did he empty out the cesspool?" Nguyen asked

"Yes," I laughed.

"Ok, then," he said.

I was kind of relieved when the truck pulled away. The truth is, I don't really know how to respond when strangers flirt, and actually find it a little threatening.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Staph meeting

Noah has one of those virulent, antibiotic resistent, super bug staph infections on his leg.

I am keeping my concern to a dull roar. I am trying not to freak at every little itch I feel. And I am resisting checking his leg every five minutes to see if the infection is spreading. We used a permanent marker to draw blue circles around the bumps so we would know if they got bigger or smaller. So far, smaller, but probably not due to the generic antibiotic he was on over the weekend. Maybe his daily salad habit and the beautiful sunshine have given him a super immunity to combat the super bug.

Our doctor says that she hasn't seen this particular infection in 20 years. And has had three kids hospitalized with it in the last week. She is having us put goo in our noses and has Noah on a super bug killing cocktail that tastes about as horrible as a sulpher based medicine should. Monster farts in a bottle. 3 teaspoons of the stuff twice a day.

And yes, we are dousing everything with Purel. Which is probably one of the causes of this bad bug in the first place. But at this point it is a necessary evil.

I appreciate your prayers on this one, gang.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

God doesn't do anything half assed.

Fr. Rich's sermon today was about how we often get things half right when it comes to God. We think we know what things are about, but we sometimes only know the half of it. Luckily, God seems to have a better grip on the big picture and whenever we are unsure of things, we can trust him to know what's going on, right?

Whenever I get a tug that God wants me to do something, my response to him is always:

"ok, but you have to give me the strength to do it."

I will basically agree to do almost anything knowing that in myself there is not the strength or courage or brains to do it, but God has all those things and can lend some of those attributes to me for awhile.

Last week, after the fiasco with the kids wiggling in the pew, I left Grace wondering if it was time to hit the road and find a new church. Again.

On Tuesday I went to the bible study. On Thursday I got a call from the assistant Rector asking if I would be willing to facilitate a Lectio Divina group for Adult RE on Sunday mornings. This, for all of you who know me, is God throwing me a bone.

Now, it is true, I would prefer if someone else were facilitating the Lectio Divina group since I am trying to avoid leadership roles, but I have been dying for such a thing since I joined Grace almost a year ago, so if God is asking me to do it, I say YES! And ask him to give me the tools to do it as he wills.

This morning I recruited one woman for the group and next week we are going to start. I am really excited.

In other news, I had a big fight with my kids about having to go to church at all today and I ended up yelling at them, at Nguyen, and finally shutting myself in my room for a good cry. Then I pulled myself together and dragged them, kicking and screaming, to church. I was grateful for the corporate confession. And grateful that they were a little quieter than last week.

I throw this one right back at God:

Beloved, You keep telling me loud and clear that you want us at Grace. You know as well as I do that I am not 100% comfortable there. You know I am willing to be there for as long as you want me to be. Thanks for the Lectio Divina thing. I am really really grateful. And please give me patience with the boys.

Amen.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Installation


Fr. P was installed, this morning, as the new vicar of a cute little church in an old mill town in New England. He invited Nguyen and the kids and I to attend and I must say, it was a pretty moving event.

First, the church was stunning. It is a medium sized granite building, with gorgeous, dark stained oak pews and what looks like a chestnut ceiling. It is warm and cozy and a very comfortable scale. As I was sitting there, I felt that perhaps the designers of churches such as these knew a little something about ideal congregation size. This church was designed to be a family, or at most, pastoral sized church. It never intended to be huge. It never aspired, architecturally, to be a mega anything. Rather, the intent, which is clear from the way it was designed, was to create a sense of community and intimacy. From what it sounded like this morning, that has been more or less the case for the last 150 years.

An installation is sort of like a wedding. There were clergy from all over the state, including the Bishop. The people of the church turned out in their finest clothes. They made a beautiful lunch and invited friends and family as witnesses. In essence, Fr. P is marrying this congregation. It is a mutual relationship where the parties agree, for better or worse, to grow together in their relationship with each other and God. They grow, in God's love, towards healing and wholeness and discipleship. It is powerful to recognize the hand of God at work in bringing these two parties together. When Fr. P, (the bride, LOL) walked down the aisle towards his pulpit, I got a little choked up, I admit.

Yesterday I met with my former minister (and baptizer.) I shared with him that my attitude towards marriage has shifted over the last couple of years. For most of my marriage, I think there was a kind of unspoken and unacknowledged 'escape hatch'. In the back of my mind I always thought that divorce was an option if things didn't go well. Since becoming a Christian, though, I have come to believe that marriage is a sacrament... and the option of bailing out has evaporated. What is amazing is that since then, I feel like my marriage has improved significantly. Now, with the escape hatch closed, running away is no longer a choice, so I am forced to figure out what needs to change. I am forced to do real work rather than blow things off. I have to look at my own behavior and attitudes and adjust them for the long haul. It has made me much happier in my marriage than I ever was before.

I wonder if that is sort of how it is for Fr. P and his new congregation. They have chosen each other for richer, poorer, in sickness and health and are committing to working together through the joys and difficulties inherent in all relationships. All in the name of God's love. In Jesus' love. Which, as it happens, was the subject of Fr. P's most wonderful sermon today.

When Fr. P made his vows, he knelt, facing the altar, to say them. That is how we ought to approach all our significant commitments to God. In humility, with love and a little awe.


Congratulations, Fr. P.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Brushes with greatness

The RevGals Friday Five is about meeting famous people. Here are my answers:

1. Tell us about a time you met someone famous.

I didn't actually meet him, but once I tried out for David Letterman's stupid pet tricks. I had a rabbit that could pull a man out of a hat. To get to the audition, I put the bunny in a pet carrier and took a cab across manhattan. By the time we got there, she was understandably freaked out. Then, a studio full of dogs and cats didn't help matters at all. The producer was very nice about it, until Bunny pissed all over her. At which point it became clear that we were NOT going to get famous on David Letterman. Lost dreams. Alas.

Other celebs: I ordered lunch for Joan Armatrading when she was playing at the theatre I worked for. Marcel Marceau. (Didn't say much.) , Anna Moffa, and most recently I met Thomas Keating at a lecture at Brown. Oh, and I met Vincent Price back stage at my college theater. He wanted to know if it hurt when I got my nose pierced, and what did I do when I needed to blow my nose. Like I hadn't been asked those questions 1100 times before. He was actually really nice, though.

2. Tell us about a celebrity you'd like to meet.

Dave Matthews. Seriously. Mostly just to oggle.

Who I'd like to sit down and have dinner with is Jimmy Carter. I think he would be amazing to talk with.

3. Tell us about someone great who's *not* famous that you think everyone oughta have a chance to meet.

I met a nun, once, when I was 16. Yes I had the pierced nose. And the safety pins in my ears. And she saw right through that and talked to me like the searching soul I was. I have never forgotten her.

4. Do you have any autographs of famous people?

I used to have a letter from Farley Mowat, the Canadian author. And I got Marcel Marceau's autograph, too.

5. If you were to become famous, what would you want to become famous for?

I don't want to be famous anymore. It used to be my big goal, but not anymore. But if I was going to be famous, it might be as the mother of most fabulous (and handsome) kids ever.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Life before

I used to be pro choice.

I donated money to planned parenthood. I voted pro choice as a matter of course. In fact, it was a litmus test for candidates. I sneered at the right wing christians and accused them of being willing to sacrifice poor, disadvantaged mothers in exchange for an 8 week fetus. I believed all the arguments about 'quality of life' and women's rights, and, of all things, privacy.

Then, one night, while making love with my husband, I became powerfully aware that a life was becoming inside me. The next day, at a meeting at work, I felt a little hiccup in my womb and knew, just knew, that I was, in fact, pregnant. Clearly this was not a physical 'knowing'. No one can really know, after 12 hours, that they are pregnant. But I knew as surely as anything I have ever known that at that moment, life had taken root.

For the first trimester, I tried to hide my condition at work. I would show up in the morning and eat a whole bagel, with cream cheese, at my desk and follow it with a coke chaser for the nausea. I spend my day looking perilously green. When, at 12 weeks, I finally admitted that I was pregnant, everyone laughed because they had known it all along.

There was another woman at work who was further along than I was. She was due when I was around 3 months. One day I went into work and heard the terrible news. She had given birth to a little girl who had no trachea. The baby lived for just a few moments before dying in her parent's arms. We were all devestated. I was particularly devestated, in that way that all pregnant women are when they hear of such a thing.

A week later, my doctor proposed a standard series of tests to determine the health of our fetus. Nguyen and I asked to think it over. We went out to lunch at the Four Seasons in Cranston, and over Hunan Chicken, discussed our feelings. I told him that I believed that my friend's daughter deserved to live those few seconds. That it was not up to us to decide what value a life has. That I was prepared to open myself to loving this baby, no matter what the outcome. That I would never, under any circumstances, abort the fetus. So what was the point of knowing? What was the point of testing for things we would have no control over anyway? Nguyen agreed completely. At the time, his brother was dying of cancer and Nguyen was painfully aware of how precious life was. We sat and cried together at the table. We told the doctor that we did not want any prenatal testing. We made a concious decision to leave it all in God's hands.

And so we did.


That moment, the moment of making love with my husband, the moment I knew that I was pregnant, was one of the holiest and most miraculous moments of my life. It felt as though some switch got flipped. Some great, cosmic, machinery was engaging and I could sense just a tiny bit of the whole. I could see just a miniscule hint of the big picture.

Of the power of life.

That moment changed everything.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Is it really just 24 hours since yesterday?

It feels like yesterday was days ago.

And like yesterday, I spent precious little time reflecting on what day it is.

A friend came over for dinner a few weeks ago and somehow the conversation came around to 9/11 and the more we talked, the more we realized that while the surface has scarred over pretty well, the interior wound is still (forever?) festering. We, all of us, just sat and cried together when we recognized the impact that that day had on us.

So, today, when a friend sent me a link to an article in GodSpy, I read it and was very grateful for it.

There were tiny glimpses of grace in the chaos of 9/11 to be sure, but it's enduring legacy is fear, war, sadness and grief.

There IS one, though, whose legacy is to offer light, not fear. Joy, not grief. Healing, not pain.

And that One is whom I try and remember EVERY day. Not just today, or yesterday, or tomorrow.



Blessed LOVE,

From deep darkness, there is only one path to light. That path is your love and we follow it, grow into it, and with your grace, become it.

Give us, this day,

our daily bread. And forgive us our sins as we forgive those who have sinned against us.

Amen

Sunday, September 10, 2006

And then I remember...

As I am sitting and eating a quick meal alone.

As I prepare to go to a meeting after a long day.

As I read the paper at the table.

I remember that today is my third anniversary. I got baptised 3 years ago.

And suddenly I feel better. No crankiness. A bit of meloncholy that I spend the day pissy instead of hanging out at a pond (my pond, maybe) or walking in the woods, or sitting in silence, in a pew.

But, as it is, it is a beautiful day... very much like the day three years ago. And I am really grateful.

Cranky

I admit it. I am miserable today.

First, it was the family kickoff for our new sunday school today, and Nguyen didn't want to come. Well, actually, he finally said he would come for the kickoff, but wouldn't stay for the service. I said, uh, no thanks. I mean, if the kids have to sit through the service, doesn't that send a weird message that he doesn't?

Which brings me to the second thing. Grace has moved sunday school to between the services, which means that I have the wiggly boys in the pew with me for the entire service now. Oh, sure, they gave us some crayons and paper and a little kids order of service to color, but by the end of the service I was really quite beside myself thinking that I won't ever get a peaceful moment of quiet in church again. (Can you sense how I am catastrophizing this?) (Is that even a word?)

Don't get me wrong, I love my kids. I love being with them. I get a chuckle at Emmett dutifully filliing out his puzzles on the jr. order of service and showing me proudly when they are done. But the service was over an hour long today and about 20 minutes into it the kids started and I was, well, ready to cry by the end of it.

Nguyen refuses to come.

The kids are bored out of their minds.

I was on the verge of tears all the way home.

(Breathing deeply)

I always hate reading people complain on their blogs... so I'll try and keep the whining to a dull roar in the future. (emphasis on dull? LOL)

But thanks for any comments you might have. I really need help with this.

Friday, September 08, 2006

prayer and bunny updates

For 3 nights in a row I have read the evening psalms from the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer. And prayed the little 5 part prayer that Fr. P gave me:

asking forgiveness for my mistakes
praising God
thanking God (usually these two meld together into a single love-fest)
intercessions for others
requests for myself

I read the psalms out loud.

Also, on a completely different topic:

I came home from walking the children to school this morning to find my very naughty bunny sitting on the sofa, chewing the buttons off the remote control. Going on the sofa is a new trick for him.

Now I will have no idea what channel I just turned to.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

I see God

in the relationships in my life.

Sometimes it is harder to see him. Sometimes I have to look very carefully. But if I perservere, I begin to get a sense of the presence of God in my day to day stuff and it leaves me feeling grateful.

I have been having a hard time with a friendship lately. I have been feeling heavy and weighed down because she is in the midst of a crisis and I have been her shoulder to cry on for awhile now. Yesterday, that heaviness came to a head I began to feel so tired I couldn't even function.

I asked Jesus to help me navigate this situation. He pointed to a pool of water at his feet. There was a red crescent shaped image in the water, which I realized was a reflection of the gash in his side.

"Taste it" he said.

I cupped my hands and lifted the cool water to my lips.

It was sweet.

The reflection of pain is not my pain.

So I called my friend today and said what was on my mind and shared my feelings and we talked for a long time. And I came away understanding that this process of navigating a friendship, is indeed, a gift from God. By speaking truthfully to one another, we enter a realm which requires courage and compassion and love. We can hold one another's pain without allowing it to drag us under. We can be selfless without self destructing.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

I feel emotional about God today.

I am smack dab in the midst of a very busy day, with a reiki session this morning and a meeting with the president of the board of directors I am on this afternoon. Then kids. Then kitchen tools stuff. Then soccer practice, dinner, etc.

But in the lull, the moment of nothing, in the midst of the gap between busy things, I remember that I am head over heals in love with God.

Sometimes I feel a little bittersweet about the fact that I can share that with so few people in my life. If a friend (even a close one) were to ask how I was, or what I was up to, I would say all the things that I am up to, but probably wouldn't say that I was struggling with my prayer practice, or loving the liturgy each week, or dreaming of the day when I can pray the hours on retreat.

Which is where you, dear reader, come in. You, my friend, who reads this.

I thank God that there is someone I can share this with.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Putting it out there

I have been struggling with my daily practice since Advent of last year. Before that I was pretty disciplined with a centering prayer practice, sitting for 2 20-minute sessions each day. My actual meditation was wildly undisciplined... my head was like a little monkey dancing from thought to thought even as I was supposed to empty my head to prepare a space for God. But even with my monkey mind, I was very disciplined with the act itself. I sat, every day, two times twenty, for two years.

Since Advent, though, I have struggled with a regular prayer practice. In fits and starts I have tried psalms, a little five part prayer that Fr. P shared with me, centering prayer again, reading the Bible. But in the end I have fallen out of practice and most of the time don't do anything at all.

Which sucks.

So, today, when Fr. P asked me at lunch if I have been praying I had to admit to him that I haven't been. That I had a short stint in July where I was... but that it has been sporadic since then.

And I have committed that I am going to be able to say yes, next month, when we meet. Because I don't want to be embarrassed when Fr. P asks about it again. Because I know it is critical to my relationship with God.

Beloved,

NOTHING in my life is more important than meeting with you on a daily basis. Let me set time aside for you. Let me open my heart to you. Let me listen for you, intently, intentionally, and with joy.

Lord, please help me in this. I miss our daily time.


Sunday, September 03, 2006

It's in the sachristy

Fr. Rich greeted me at church this morning by telling me that he had a book for me.

"It's in the sachristy" he said.

"What is a sachristy?" I asked.

He laughed as he remembered that I am a newbie.

"It's where the host and wine are prepared for the Eucharist."

He walked with me to show me the room in question. At Grace it is more like a hallway, with wooden walls on one side and a counter on the other. There is a little door in the wall that contains a cubby that holds the supplies. I was disappointed that the room was cluttered with some empty boxes and other stuff. It seems to me that even if it still plain bread, the host that will become the body of Christ ought to be treated with a bit more dignity.

Todays lectionary reading is on the rules of the pharisees. Jesus gets pissed off when they question the fact that the disciples don't wash their hands before eating, thus ignoring some of the dietary laws.

This is tricky stuff. If God gave the law, why did Jesus ignore it? He systematically violates the mitzvahs, touching the unclean, constorting with sinners, hanging out with the dead. Jesus is reminding us that the law was supposed to help us grow closer to God... not be used as a club to bludgeon each other with.

I recognize in myself a tendancy to be a pharisee sometimes. The law (as it is practiced in an anglican church) is such a wonderful revelation for me that I can become fixated on it. I once got all emphatic about priests praying the daily office. Nguyen was stunned at my vehemence. It was profoundly ironic considering I don't, myself, pray the office. I get really cranky when people are chatting in the pews before church starts. Aren't we supposed to be meditating and quiet? Sometimes I even get up and move to a quiet corner. I can be intractable about 'rules'.

But sometimes those rules are the structure on which I depend when my own volition fails. The simplest rule is to get to church regularly. I go, sometimes, out of a sense of obligation. It is the least I can do, I reason, for a God who has given me so much. It is the very least I can do.

This morning, after a very bad night's sleep, I woke up late and considered skipping church. I would have to rush. I might be late. I can go on Wednesday.

I got up.

I showered and dressed and remembered that I don't eat breakfast before communion anyway, so out the door I went, with plenty of time to spare.

I love the law.

But I love God more. I pray that I remember that the law is a means to a glorious end... not the end itself.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Today:

Grocery shopping. Alone.

Vacuuming the hay off the living room rug.

Listening to the Messiah. Full Blast.

(The Lord whom ye seek shall suddenly come to his temple...)

Mom and friends for lunch.

Homemade cornbread.