Declaim, Declare, Pledge, Vow

It’s been a month of inspirational speech. Words have played a central role in my life in the last month and they still ring in my ears and resonate in my heart.

Barack Obama’s acceptance speech called the country to hope again and was followed by divine sermons by the Reverend Barkley Thompson, and words of invaluable support and guidance from the Reverend Lisa Graves.  There were moments of life changing conversation, dialogue and oration that have planted seeds of transformation within me. I can feel them germinating as the ideas that Bishop Light spoke of at his sermon at the Ordination of David Dixon take hold and grow. Ideas about service and the role of the church in the world. I can feel those ideas reaching for the sun as I recall Dick Schmidt’s sermon last Sunday, where he talked about the Parable of the Landowner who pays the servants who start early and the ones who start late the same daily wage. Who do you identify with he asked? The early bird, angered and envious that someone is paid the same as you for half the work? Or are you the person who is the recipient of the grace or gift of the Landowner. Or are you the Landowner, free to give as he pleases with a deep understanding that there is enough?

I can feel those seeds of transformation burst into leaf when I recall the Right Reverend Bishop Michael Curry and his passionate analysis of the Gospel of Matthew and his retelling of it as God’s message to us that we are all a family. That we are kin to the world. That in Matthew’s geneaology of Jesus, the women mentioned, Rahab, Bathsheba, Ruth…were not even Jewish. They were foreigners every one. That God had been “mixing it up from the beginning”, trying to tell us we are a family. Not Jew, or Gentile, Muslim or Buddhist…but all connected. Responsible to each other and for each other. Oh, I do his preaching no justice here, I took his words in and there they are swirling and whirling and singing to me like a wonderful call to battle. To change, to transform, to follow and become what it is I am intended to become so that this message spreads…that Love is the answer, the only answer in our broken and mistrustful world. That Jesus was right and all the ignoring it in the world won’t change it.

In this month I have sat at the side of the man I was seeing as he confessed his love for me, courageously, openly, with no expectation of an answering hand to take his. Mine reached for his without thought or volition, with a deep knowledge and certainty that had not even reached my consciousness. I have been made speechless by experience, lacking my own words to express the things and feelings that have passed through me. What can you do and say when you look into someones eyes and there is a transparency there, a stillness so quiet that you can see yourself, a depth so great it matches your own? I cannot even capture it now. This is beyond what I know of love, that usual aching burning need to capture, control, possess someone. That push me pull me, give me what I need and I will give you what you need rollercoaster I have always experienced. There is none of that here.

There is simply this stillness, this wholeness, this feeling that when we two are together we are somehow outside of time and not of the world. I don’t quite know what to make of that at all. Except that it has become precious beyond price or reason. Indescribably dear and valuable to me. Whatever happens it is if he and I will always be of each other, two halves of one whole, whether united physically in space and time or seperated by them, we are in essence connected beyond breaking.

Oh yes, words have been my wine this month and I am drunk on them. In a golden honey warm cinnamony harvest wine kind of way.

Thought, Word and Song

I am planning on incorporating some new features into my blog once in a while. The last one I added was the ability to subscribe to my postings via email, available above the calendar to the right. Today’s new feature and an ongoing one, is the song of the moment. It’s a song that I listened to more than once on any given day. Today’s song is Land of No Return by Wild Sweet Orange Wild Sweet Orange - We Have Cause to Be Uneasy - Land of No Return. You can listen to a sample by selecting the iTunes link/icon and it will open in your iTunes player. If you don’t have iTunes, then I truly think you need help. 🙂

Just kidding. But I highly endorse their product. I am a Windows user, but in some areas I think Apple makes sense. This is one of them. If I were to have 2 computers, my second would be a Mac.

Today was actually quite a happening day. I went to the White Oak Tea Tavern near Fincastle with the always wonderful Reverend Lisa Graves and we enjoyed our English Breakfast tea, me with cream and her without. I poured. We also had chicken salad served with warm fresh baked bread and grapes. Mine was full of cranberries, apples and pecans. She had the warm chicken salad complemented by spinach and Parmesan. The conversation was esoteric per usual and we discussed everything from mystical experiences, to the books we are reading, my daughter’s wedding, my somewhat recent broken heart and interactions with less than nice guys.

She asked about my plans for the upcoming year and I was happy to share them. I hope I can get the internship in January in DC. Yesterday I heard that the selected intern would also get to go to New Orleans for a couple of days to do some Katrina mission work. How cool is that?! They will even probably have scholarship money for the airfare. *sigh* I hope they pick me. I am anxious to see if it has improved after my last experience working there soon after the storm. It gave me a stomach ache to see what that storm did to that town. But to be in DC all of January. To get to go to the National Cathedral once in a while, to work in the “Church of the Presidents”… to be there during the inauguration! That would be spectacular.

After that I stopped in at the church and checked on website progress. There were a few glitches going on, but I think I’ve unkinked the worst of them and gotten things back on track. Thank heaven for Scott Sonia. He is my former Lead Designer and eventually Design Manager at Bose and quite brilliant. For friendship’s sake, he is looking over the CSS (programming) of the current template the resource at St.John’s is developing and helping him troubleshoot it. What a sweetie. I miss working with Scott. I also recently heard from another dear colleague. She was the Editor of Bose.com and the manager of all my writers. She is also sincerely missed and I think about her often. It’s really what I miss about Bose. The people that I loved and sometimes, just being able to work with people that understand what I am talking about when I get jargon heavy.

Of course now I am learning a whole new set of jargon and am a complete novice. Nothing like being a beginner to remind you of your humanity and ultimate powerlessness…and help you rejoice in that. It’s strange to believe it, but even a year ago I wasn’t where I am now. Sure I was in school, I knew I had to follow the path towards the priesthood. I felt that clearly it was what God wanted from me, but I wasn’t exactly thrilled with giving up my Audi and the 6 figure job or the power that went with it. I’m afraid I liked my $400 salon visits and weekly shopping trips. So it was with some amazement that I realized on my last trip to DC, that I didn’t look on people around me who were still living my former lifestyle with envy. Instead I just felt relieved. Relieved that I was over that part of my life. I think my belongings and trappings possessed me as much or more than I possessed them. Even a year ago, I would have come back from that trip and started looking at jobs in my former field with frustration and longing. But not anymore. Now I just feel…content. The most amazing and simplest realization I had during my internship had to be this…I really do belong in the church. It’s as if everything else I’ve worked on has been an exercise in trying to cram 10 lbs of potatoes into a 5 lb sack. Have you ever felt that way? You are always shrinking yourself to fit into an ill fitting role? That you make yourself less to accomplish the task at hand?

Or can you turn to a colleague and speak the most secret parts of who you are in almost a short hand, and they would understand? Or like me, you could witness a moment of worship on a high holy day of special transcendence and see the same reverence and joy reflected in their eyes. You suddenly know you aren’t alone. That they see what you’ve been seeing your whole life and that for once someone else understands. You are not alone. What a gift.

My mom, being a mom, said that the church was getting a good deal to have me work there for the summer so not to be too humble. But I just can’t see it that way. I feel so incredibly lucky to have found this, my vocation, what I was actually MADE FOR, that I am profoundly grateful for any little thing that I am allowed to do. Every time I serve at the altar it is euphoric. It is joyful. When I went to the nursing homes and administered the Eucharist with the Rev. Lisa Graves I felt like I was in the middle of a codeine buzz. I know what that feels like because I’ve taken it for migraines. Trust me, it feels really GOOD. So, if I am allowed to do this for the rest of my life it will be a tremendous gift.

An old friend recently got in touch and was featured in a magazine. I think that’s generic enough, because actually I have 2 old friends, who have both been featured in magazines recently. However, one of them has a pretty tough job according to this article. He’s kind of surrounded by people who have abandoned many of the tenets of behavior of say…an Atticus Finch. I use him as an example, because he is one of my heroes and an all around gentleman. So, my friend is surrounded by people who aren’t gentlemen, they’re churls, villains, punks. What effect can that have on him? Does it make him think that this behavior is the norm? Or is it the case that in the darkest of surroundings our own light shines the brightest? Can his own good example influence others? Perhaps he is the only positive influence for many of these misguided and lost boys. It really is a dilemma. It must seem unrelenting. I know it would to me, the endless profanity and adolescent humor. The lack of honor or principles. Most of all, an inability to show respect and courtesy. Of course, our society as a whole places less value on these basics of good citizenship. But that’s probably because citizenship is no longer taught in schools. After all, we aren’t citizens anymore, we’re consumers. And the consumer is always right. Since each consumer is an individual with no need to be conscious of the feelings, indeed existence of another human being, it makes it even easier to devolve into the crudest of social interactions. Anyway, it made me feel very sad for my friend and wish better for him. I always knew he would do well and go places. That is no surprise at all. I just wish for his sake that his travels might take him to a place where he can be surrounded by people that bring out the best in him, because it’s always better to use your superpowers for good rather than evil. 🙂

It was my second night on the job tonight and I worked with 2 young gentleman. I rather enjoyed their company. James and Stephen were very professional. I shadowed James but he actually just let me wait on his first table of 7 since tonight was “Prime Rib” night. That means there is a carving station with prime rib, a chicken dish, a couple of side dishes, rolls and a salad bar. I just made beverages and cleared plates. There was no bartender tonight so I got to make some drinks too. It’s actually a lot like hosting a party in your home since it is a private club. Everything is low key, it’s all charged under the members name and billed to them monthly so it’s very non restaurant feeling. It was fun tonight. Tomorrow I get to work at an 80th birthday party. I hope I get to sing Happy Birthday!

These last few days I have been thinking about love. How it enters your life, sometimes softly and sometimes like a bolt from the blue and how it leaves. Whether slowly, withering day by day or in fire or ice. Occasionally I see someone who reminds me of somebody who stole a little piece of my heart and for a moment some old loss washes over me anew. Just an instant and then I shake my head and it’s gone.

I like this poem, because it reminds me of that thought, of love, how it can permeate us, our lives.

Love Like Salt
by Lisel Mueller

It lies in our hands in crystals
too intricate to decipher

It goes into the skillet
without being given a second thought

It spills on the floor so fine

we step all over it

We carry a pinch behind each eyeball

It breaks out on our foreheads

We store it inside our bodies
in secret wineskins

At supper, we pass it around the table
talking of holidays and the sea.

I just read a fantastic interview with Barack Obama regarding his selection process for choosing his VP. He’s also just a really smart man, and what a pleasure to read such thoughtful, to the point answers to questions.

High Tea and Workin’ For A Livin’

I only have a moment to write but I wanted to jot down a few thoughts about my first day at work. I liked the manager very much. His name is Casey and he is warm and has excellent instincts as a manager. It looks like he is at the beginning of overhauling a somewhat broken system so it is nice to think I might be able to help him in some small way. He offered me an extra night of training tonight and I took it, because we ended up getting a little busy by their standards last night. The young lady who was assigned to train me, was less than enthusiatic about letting me assist her so that wasn’t fun. I did however, end up getting to talk to one really nice family and hope to wait on them myself one day. I know I did a good job because they left my trainer a great tip, and tips aren’t standard at this country club. There is a service charge added to the check and supposedly we get 2% of the pooled service charge added to our checks though many of the staff complained in my hearing that this wasn’t so. I was happy I got her a good tip. We get paid $8 an hour though so we don’t have to worry about tips, but if you are trying to pay rent with that I can understand why you would wish for tips. The people we waited on were very nice in general. I did hear one kind of racist conversation near the end of the night but I just rebutted in my head as I cleaned and reset the table nearby. That made me feel better.

I am off to have tea with my Spiritual Director and dear friend, the Assistant Rector at St.John’s. We are doing a kind of follow up to my internship. I plan on writing a more in depth review of Tropical Thunder later after a couple of conversations with people. The discussions have sparked some reflection I’d like to get down.

Barack Obama is supposed to announce his VP pick anytime now and I am hoping he will pick Kathleen Sebelius. I really like her.