Tuesday, March 27, 2007


I admit, I haven't felt particularly penitential during this Lent. There have been many other things going on and it seems that once I came to grips with the difficulties, I just kind of sailed along. I chose not to confess on Ash Wednesday because it didn't feel like the right time. But I am feeling called to do so before the Great Vigil of Easter, so I asked Fr. Rich today if he would hear my confession after the 3 hour service on Good Friday. He asked if I had a preference as to which priest. (There will be 4 on hand that day!)

I don't.

Frankly, I am going to be nervous and shy no matter who it is. Does one ever get over that, I wonder? Fr. Rich emailed me this afternoon to say that he will be available to hear it.

This will be my first time confessing to one of my parish priests and it feels a little different. For one thing, there is no confessional box, so we will do it either at the altar rail or in the robing room (if there are a bunch of people milling about...). For another thing, I have only confessed twice before and both times were with my spiritual director.

But I feel sure that I am called to do this. I know that during Lent I have come face to face with some aspects of myself that draw me away from God. Sins, in other words, that impede my relationship with Him.

As Holy Week approaches, it feels right to begin to set the wheels in motion to offer to God the darkness hidden within my soul.

The Light is just below the horizon now...

Can you sense it?

Friday, March 23, 2007

Rest in peace

My sweet, elderly neighbor Mildred died on Saturday. Today was her funeral mass at the local Catholic church.

We have known Mildred since we moved into the neighborhood. When her husband, Tony, was alive, he was the loud, chatty one. He would show us his extraordinary garden, invite us to his many yard sales, and shout hello at us from across the street. In his later years, he started to lose his grip a little, and would drive erratically around the neighborhood in a huge old station wagon filled with stuff. When he finally went to a nursing home, we all breathed a little easier because we had been so worried he would hurt himself or someone else.

After Tony died, we got to know Mildred a little better. She came out of her shell and would stand by the fence and chat. It was tough for her without Tony. Her health started to fail and she got frail rather suddenly. She had heart problems and diabetes. But always had a smile for us, and sweets for the kids. She invited me for coffee once and talked about her sons and their wives and children. We gave her our phone number so she could call if she needed something. She said she liked that we always left our lights on at night because it made her feel safer knowing we were right there for her. At some point Nguyen started shoveling her walk every time it snowed, for which she would thank him with little packages of cookies or chocolate covered cherries.

Today her kids thanked us for keeping an eye on her all these years. The secret truth, though, is that it was a real joy for us.

She was a good friend and we are going to miss her.

Please pray for the soul of Mildred Siravo.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Great post alert!

My friend Emily has been writing about the shifts in her energy. Go Here to read it.

It's good stuff.

Reading her post made me realize that one of the things I LOVE about a liturgical church is that it has a rhythm to it throughout the year. Up and down, in and out. Year in, year out. And yet, the cycles are never exactly the same. It is more like there are intersecting energies that can mesh together slightly differently each year. The in cycle of inner examination can overlap the up (joy) time, or the down times. The outward energy, too, can be joyful one year or... what, hungry? the next.

God created cycles. When, like Emily, you stop fighting them and start honoring them, it can be an amazing thing.


A sort of sage-ish color.

I bought the can originally to paint the old buffet that serves as an island in my kitchen. But last night, in a fit of that same spring cleaning craziness, I started painting the walls and ceiling of my bathroom. I ran out of steam and paint at around 11pm.

So picture this: a 1950s pink and black tile bathroom with a white hexagonal tile floor, white trim and green walls and ceiling.

I am not entirely sure it works either, but what the heck.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Cleaning house

Spring must be in the air because my thoughts are turning towards cleaning.

I went to the Big Blue and Red store today and bought new towels and face cloths for the bathroom and new stuff for my bed.

My room is a chaotic mess, with laundry, clean and otherwise, dust bunnies, a real bunny who visits when he can and chews up the wall paper and books. I have far too many books in my room, most of them from a lifetime ago. Many no longer feel relevant, so have become clutter.

I have summer clothes in boxes under the bed and a closet stuffed with things I don't wear and luggage and shoes and even a massage table in a big black canvas bag.

The tops of the bureaus are covered with dust and spare buttons and jewelry and wooden boxes filled with tarot decks I no longer read.

My bedside shelves have all the half read or finished books from the last several years, stacked and piled and hiding one another.

There is no peace in this sanctuary.

So today I stripped the bed of it's tired quilt and tattered sheets and replaced them with a new set of damask striped 400 thread count Egyptian cotton (clearance rack score) and an ivory cotton bedspread and shams and pillows and I started pulling out all the stuff that I no longer need. Which is nearly everything.

Out it goes.

Sunday, March 18, 2007


Someone I met this morning was in a car accident on his way to the conference yesterday. He lost control on an icy highway and by the time he came to a stop the airbags had deployed and he had spun into the jersey barrier three times. He walked away shaken, but ok. His car is a wreck.

He related this to us at breakfast this morning. He wanted to be home. We worried about him having to drive his rental all the way back to Connecticut. We wondered whether we should drive him. No, he said. I'll be ok.

But during the Eucharist he was weeping. I don't know why. Fear. Sadness. Anger. Relief. Gratitude? I went over and stood behind him during the offertory and laid my hands on his shoulders and held him for a moment,

Praying to God in thanks and praise.

After the Eucharist

After the big service today, there was a lot of consecrated wine and hosts left. Fr. Rich knows I am obsessed with the host and chalice so he invited me to join him in going to the altar to drink and eat what remained.

Really? I said. Are you sure it's ok?

It was sweet wine. Heady and thick. I knocked back half a glassful in a big single gulp and then ate two of the little round crackers.

I thirst...

I took another big sip from a pottery chalice when it was offered to me.

Be careful, one of the several priests said. It is 18% alcohol.

It's ok, I thought.

I am already drunk on him.

Thoughts before the Eucharist

There are a lot of priests... each wearing their clerical collars. The women still look to me like their collar is a badge of honor. There is an air of "I told you so" about them. Maybe the men look that way too, come to think of it.

In another life, I might have wanted to be a priest. To be the one to stand at an altar and ask God to turn a lowly cracker and a sip of common wine into the body and blood of our Lord, Jesus Christ. I am still in awe every time I see it.

But I am not sure I could navigate the humility and hubris of the collar. I am not sure I would ever get over feeling self conscious.

And then there is the small matter of running a church.

Saturday, March 17, 2007


You are a sweet taste in my mouth, Oh God
A joyful flutter in my heart
The beat of a drum, thrumming in my veins
The breath of Love in my lungs
To you, my Lord, I give everything
From you I get everything
Bliss, oh Love, is mine

Friday, March 16, 2007

Snow and sleet and hail and rain

Well, no hail, but plenty of the other stuff as we drove towards Worcester Mass to attend a Provincial Seminar on growth, vitality and evangelism in the Episcopal Church. But we got here before the worst of the Nor' easter and settled in for a plenary session on conflict management, followed by a break, dinner and a few glasses of red wine sprinkled throughout.

I have my own room.

Since it is Lent, I am not watching the latest updates on Anna Nicole. Instead, I bought a book of poems by Mary Oliver, which made me think of my former UU church. I also bought a book of hours based on the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer and the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. (I might already own that one, come to think of it. I'll have to check when I get home. I know for sure that I haven't read it.)

I am typing this in a little room off the lobby of the Doubletree. The keyboard sticks but I really wanted to check in and say that it still shocks me a little to be in a group of Christians.

Because Jesus comes to us in such a personal way and I always find it marvelous that he comes to you and the other guys at the table and that person over there, too. He is a big lover, that one. He loves us all. And sitting in a room full of Christians still feels, at times, like a kind of abundance I never believed could be true.

And yet, we are still on this walk alone. Even in a crowd of believers, I manage to feel like I am an outsider. But maybe that is the nature of living as fallen beings in this fallen world.

I'll check in tomorrow. In the mean time, peace. Good will. Love.


It is said that once you commit your life to Christ, the devil takes great delight in tempting you in various ways. While I don't necessarily believe in little guys with horns and pointing tails, I do notice that I am tempted by things from my past on a regular basis. Things I know for a fact aren't good for me.

For instance, when I first quit smoking 16 years ago, I would have dreams in which I smoked. I would wake up in a panic, trying to remember if I had really lit up, or if it was just a dream. Sometimes, in the dream, I would realize I was smoking and get upset.

Same thing when I gave up sugar and refined flour. I recently had a dream I was chowing down on some kind of gooey muffins and woke up feeling like I had betrayed myself.

So it is with tarot reading. About a year ago I decided that I wasn't going to read for people (or myself) anymore. I began to feel, more and more strongly, that it was too easy to inadvertently cause harm to people. I am not a licensed therapist. I am not God. (LOL, neither are therapists!) So it is inappropriate for me to be giving people advice about how to live their lives. At that time I had just finished reading the bible in a whirlwind 90 days and came to the conclusion that while there are instances of God's people with the gift of prophecy who were able to use it for God's purposes, it was too much hubris for me to put myself in that category. And more importantly, I knew that there were times when the people I read for were using my reading as a substitute for their own relationship with God, and that is clearly proscribed in scripture.

So I put down the cards and haven't picked them up since.

But here's the thing: Like my dreams of smoking and eating cranberry walnut muffins, tarot occasionally comes back to haunt me. After so many years of looking at the world through the patterns of the cards, I still, on occasion, 'read' the signs. I'll be driving along and look at the sky and it will remind me of Waite's knight of swords. Or I will realize that I am in the midst of a 'Sun' cycle. And a couple of times in the past week or so have been asked to read for others. It is an opportunity for witness, I suppose, when I gently but firmly say no, and explain why.

Out of the blue, today, a friend from one of my old online tarot communities sent me a spread of cards and asked for help interpreting them. I looked at it and all kinds of things sprang to mind. The cards were shouting (as they often do) and it was an act of will and obedience to send her a note explaining that I would pray for her instead.

God, give me the strength to do your will in all things. Let me do what is healthy for myself and others. Let me be a light in the lives of others. Let me trust in your will.


Thursday, March 15, 2007

18 and up

Last weekend was delightful.

We stayed in a bed and breakfast in South Yarmouth called The Captain Farris Inn. There was a canopy bed, double jacuzzi and a private entrance to the room.

Who knew, after 18 years, that we still would have so much fun together?

We ate dinner at an Irish Pub (courtesy of the Inn) and drank Jamesons and Smithwicks and ate lamb stew and lazy man's lobster.

We walked on the frozen ice on Skaket beach until I accidentally fell through and got soaked up to my knees.

We found a gorgeous walk along a salt marsh and tidal flats that wound around the beach head and ended with a killer view of the ocean.

We took bubble baths and read our best sellers and ate our chocolate and drank our wine and, well, you know the rest.

It was a blissful time.

At one point, while sitting by the fire at the Irish pub, I leaned over to Nguyen and said

"I think the two biggest accomplishments of my life have been my kids and my marriage."

18 years down. Many more to go, God willing.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Bath and Bodyworks

foaming bath gel in Eucalyptus: $2.50
2 best sellers: $24.75
1 bottle of red wine and a couple of pieces of Dove dark chocolate: $12.00
1 buttercream mint candle: $1.50

A weekend (without kids) on the Cape for our 18th wedding anniversary: Priceless

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Taking a break

I have a kitchen tools gig tonight with a myriad of things to do before hand, but want to check in and say a word about this whole, crazy, being a Christian thing.

Today I had to admit that I probably am no longer a baby Christian. I think I might very well be a toddler now.

For one thing, I think I have been weaned from God's breast. In the early days, God's consolations were like mother's milk to me, nourishing and sustaining my relationship with him. No longer am I the fretful child squirming on his lap. Now I feel safer about exploring the world on my own, knowing all the while that if I need to, I can run right back to his arms.

I am starting to walk a little.

I have found I can take a few steps
before falling on my ass.

(Is that a swear?)

Thank you, Lord.

In my prayers this week:

My dear Fr. P who hasn't been feeling his best lately.
My Rector, Bob, who took 14 kids from Grace and traveled with them to South Africa for the World AIDS conference this week.
Fr. Rich who is holding down the fort at Grace.
M.E. whose dad has just been diagnosed with liver, back and lung cancer.
JMK's nephew, who just came back, injured, from Iraq.
And my dear husband, who continues to face economic uncertainty.

Be with all of them, Lord.

Saturday, March 03, 2007


For all your prayers, my friends. Things are looking better this week.

We still aren't sure what we are doing with our business, but we have gotten past the despair stage and are squarely into 'curious'.

What I mean by that is that we are curious about how this will unfold and what the future holds. We have less fear. We seem to be trusting that God has a plan and will reveal it as he wills. There are still wrenching decisions to make, but we don't have to make them today.

Plus, one of the amazing things about being a Christian is that there is always the potential for redemption in suffering. God's grace infuses even the darkest moments. He can use the bad for good. So even in sadness or despair, there are elements of grace. I have been finding them, sifting through the grief to capture them. And in so doing, notice that the grief recedes.

A week into Lent and I have failed at almost everything I promised. I haven't been reading the New Testament every day. I haven't been celebrating Compline with my kids every night. I have been cussing a blue streak. About the only things I have actually managed so far is the 'no tv' and no meat on Fridays.

But I have felt close to God in the midst of it. I pray that he will forgive me, even as I believe that he has already done so.

Thursday, March 01, 2007


This raw, ripped apart veil thing can be tough. Yeah, hanging with the Big Guy for a month and a half is good. Yeah, nothing brings us closer to him that the occasional bout of suffering. Last year it was my health, this year's line up: financial insecurity.

God's schedule seems to be getting more precise, too. In this case, two days into Lent, my husband and I found ourselves in a financial crisis. (My husband owns a small machine shop. Needless to say, manufacturing in the US is all but gone and we are just coming to realize that our business is in serious trouble.)

What to do? Do we cancel our tithe? Fret about the grocery bill? Sell all our assets and move to Vietnam?

Or do we trust?

Change is imminent and I am cycling through all of the Kubler-Ross phases of grief. But I am remembering that God has not forsaken us and am sometimes managing to find joy even in the midst of loss.

Oh, and the TV thing has been good. I think when we do finally pull it back out of the basement, we might just ban it from the living room and stick it in our guest room.