Don’t hurt my kid because she isn’t like you

Don’t hurt my kid because she isn’t like you

I am a Christian… an Episcopalian in point of fact, which is one of the more progressive versions of Christianity in the United States. I was born in Mobile, Alabama but have lived in another country and multiple states because of first my mother’s jobs and then my own. I’ve lived in Venezuela, Texas, Florida, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Louisiana and come back to the greater Mobile area to reside on the Eastern Shore in Alabama. My daughter was born when I was 20 in Orlando, Florida and she was raised in several of the states above. She probably officially considers her hometown a toss up between Orlando and Mobile because all of her mom’s family is in Mobile and all of her Dad’s is in Orlando. Well, all of her Dad’s that live in the United States. Her father is actually originally from Morocco. I met him when I worked at Disney World… Epcot Center to be precise, at the Moroccan pavilion. This was long before the notion of the Middle East as a terrorist threat became ingrained in the American psyche… in fact everyone really just thought “Aladdin”  and “Casablanca” when they thought of places like Morocco. Very exotic and romantic. As an 18 year old I was quite swept away.

As my daughter grew up as a typical American kid, she tried on many religions… as I thought it best to let her explore her beliefs. Her father being Muslim and me being Episcopal… I didn’t want to force her to choose one or the other. She actually was baptized at about 9 years old because she decided that she wanted to be Episcopal. But as she got older she grew dissatisfied and explored other options. She was Hindu for a month or so and eventually she went to visit her father for the summer and started to learn more about Islam. She felt a strong connection to it and began to study it and want to practice it. Over the next several years she continued to grow and deepen in her faith and commitment until she was a full member of that religion. It was hard to accept, 9/11 had happened by then and I felt terror at the idea of what she potentially faced from my fellow Americans. It would be so much easier if she just didn’t let anyone know… but of course I supported her decisions despite my fears. There may have been some counseling involved.

Now every day my 5 foot 3 inch tall, 25 year old daughter who is in nursing school lives with people looking at her with fear and hostility. Even when she has her two small kids, my grandsons, in tow. Grandsons who I just taught to catch a football and yell “Roll Tide!” Grandsons aged 3 and 6 who will be American Muslim men one day. I mean my huggy little boys, who play with the dinosaur toys, and elephant toys, and a parade of stuffed animals, will be hated by people all over this country and there is nothing I can do about it. My daughter is automatically hated by people right now and there is nothing I can do. I can’t protect her. The only comfort is that she lives in a bigger city up north at least, where she can blend in. She refuses to live in Alabama where she is too afraid she’d be attacked. But that means I don’t get to see them very much.
Do you know what that is like? To be a regular American afraid my kid might be attacked, harassed, spit on or insulted at any time by other people in my country simply because of her religion? How is our country, which was founded in part to escape exactly this type of persecution, now a place where this is the norm?

When I go to church I look around and know most of the people there would not have an issue with me having a daughter who is Muslim, but then again… some might. Just today I had to issue a warning on my Facebook alerting people that hate speech about Muslims would result in unfriending and requesting that people who hate Muslims unfriend me. The attack in Paris seems to have sent some people off the deep end. In Alabama, the Governor has decided that fleeing the Daesh (also known as ISIS /ISIL who are literally NOT EVEN Islamic despite their appropriating the name… kind of like Westboro Baptist “Church” is “Christian,”) makes you a terrorist, even though you are running for your life and a refugee. Xenophobic, Islamophobic, and a persecutor of the poor…Gov. Bentley is like The Simpsons Mr. Burns incarnate. Someone told my daughter she was lucky she was in the US now. Even though she was BORN here and fricking grew up in Alabama, Florida and Massachusetts and played Pokemon and watched cartoons and ate McDonald’s like every other kid in the US.

So I pray that when people see her they actually see HER, my kid, my daughter, who dressed up as Pikachu when she was 8. Who played soccer when she was 5. Who attended St. Paul’s Episcopal School for Kindergarten. Not someone to be afraid of, not a terrorist, Just a young woman from the South trying to become a nurse and take care of her family who happens to practice a religion that her father taught her because it spoke to her heart. And if you happen to see a Muslim when you are out… just remember, she is someone’s kid like mine and be kind.

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Invisible Hugs

In my last post I mentioned that at a very difficult time in my life I had prayed for God to let my life be useful to others. It’s still a prayer I say every night and it sustains me daily. Every time an opportunity appears for that to happen, it’s almost like I’m receiving a special invisible hug from God. It really can transform the way you experience your daily life.

It reminds me of an experiment I once tried that was so successful that I have just adopted it as my modus operandi. Pick a person in your life, or it can be a random colleague or co-worker. Preferably this would be someone who you find challenging to get along with. Now, the experiment is to find one thing a day to sincerely admire about that person and then find a way to mention it or compliment them about it. I know! It’s REALLY hard at first. Especially if you are angry and resentful at that person, or if they have hurt you.

You have to force yourself to drop that stuff for a bit, step back and look at them with open eyes. At first just find something easy. Maybe notice some task they are good at, or their vocabulary, or attention to detail! Maybe they notice what you do or don’t do all the time, darn them! Well, that can also be a strength. Think about that until you believe it’s one. Then let them know how you’ve been meaning to tell them that you really admire that attention to detail. It’ll be awkward as heck at first. They will be suspicious. They will think you are being insincere, flattering them, trying to get something from them. Just keep your cool, mean it and leave it at that. Then do it again the next day. Find something else, mention it and move on. It’s a discipline, like any exercise it requires effort and practice.

After a few weeks, don’t be surprised if they confront you and ask you why you are acting so nice to them. They might accuse you of secretly hating them and want to know what you are after. Just tell them the truth. Tell them you realized you hadn’t really taken a good look at who they were, and the more you got to know them, the more the “real them” began to shine through. Be sincere. What you will discover is that being honest, sincere, and vulnerable with people and just making yourself look into them and then talking about their positive traits will change everything in the way you see them, the world and the people around you. Try it. I dare you.

Switching gears a bit, I am going to talk about some kind of mundane stuff for a change now. At my consulting job a couple of the gentlemen I work with have started calling me by a nickname which I confess totally delights me. I just LOVE nicknames. My name is so unusual and I am fond of it and I guess it really suits me so people don’t generally give me nicknames. A couple of my best boyfriends figured this out about me and gave me sweet endearing ones and I was total goo. I especially liked the ones that liken me to cute animals. Who doesn’t right? I am fond of Otters for example. They live in the water half the time and so would I if I had the chance and who doesn’t want to be considered as adorable as one? Then there’s variations on the term Smidge because I’m kind of little. So nicknames are cool. They call me Cinnamon at the office here …which is great because it’s my favorite spice, I’m a total cinnamon junkie and because it sounds a bit like my name sounds:  Cinnamon= /SinJun/ So Yay Nicknames!

I got sent a few of those “greatest proposal ever” videos with these big elaborate dance numbers or intricately choreographed moments with family participation and it seems sweet and overwhelming and everything. Then I was nearby when my Mom was watching a show she follows called “The Glades.” In it, the main character is struggling with his feelings for his girlfriend in the season finale. She is in Atlanta studying while he is in Miami working. They are dealing with long distance relationship issues. Other women are hitting on him. She is guilty for taking this time to go to school for herself. But they love each other. She finally passes this big test and she is out celebrating with the women who have been training her. She decides not to call and tell him, but to drive home and tell him in person the next day as a surprise. She doesn’t have to though because he walks into the bar they are at, smiles, congratulates her and asks her to come outside. He tells her they need to talk and starts to explain that he can’t do this anymore. She objects and says she loves him, she knows they can figure out a way to work things out. She has this horrible he’s breaking up with me look on her face. He shakes his head and says he doesn’t know how they’ll work it out, but he does know he can’t do this anymore. He looks down, then he gets on one knee, pulls out a ring and proposes!

Jim Longworth Proposes to Callie Cargill on the TV show "The Glades" on A&E

Jim Longworth Proposes to Callie Cargill on the TV show “The Glades” on A&E

He says, I need to know that however we work it out, we know we are going to be working it out together. Will you marry me? She is stunned and that’s how they end the show/season.

Why do I bring this up? Well, I think this is one of the more romantic proposals I’ve seen. That may sound crazy, but here’s why. He is full of anxiety about this relationship but he finally has an epiphany that what is bothering him is that he doesn’t ever want to lose her. So what does he do? He doesn’t waste a minute, he drops everything, he goes right then to a store, buys a ring, flies to Atlanta, tracks her down and basically falls at her feet to beg her to marry him. I mean…that is ROMANTIC. That’s what I want. I don’t need or want elaborate, fancy or prepared. I want someone who is crazy in love and desperate for me to say yes and can’t wait to get to me and ask for me to be his for the rest of his life. No dance, lip sync, art gallery opening or trick will ever top that. Do you agree?

Moving on to my next mundane topic…the show Political Animals: If you missed it, get ye hence and go watch it. Especially if you are a lady. Sigourney Weaver is amazing as always.

Lastly I have noticed that since I have moved back down to Alabama my total crush on big trucks has come back. Plenty of them around here too. Sikorsky, the helicopter plant is here and there are lots of truck driving men around here. They take good care of them too. A very entertaining young lady who works at the plant where I am consulting drives her boyfriend’s massive Dodge truck to work every day with its Hemi and shiny rims. It’s very intimidating when I park next to it. I think I am just feeling bad because my beat up little Nissan is really starting to sputter a bit. I’m afraid it may not last much longer. I do coax it and talk to it daily. It does its best. I miss my Audi. I really shouldn’t though. I am afraid the car buff and technology junkie in me are the pieces that cling the hardest to the materialistic mindset. Of course the girly girl within whines about my formerly frequent mani-pedis, the fancy salon and my shoe budget but I am quite the frugal fashionista now and proud of it so I can shrug that stuff off. Easy to beat that back simply by thinking of other things that money could go to, charitable stuff!

But the part of me that lusts after a nicer car with a powerful engine and smooth suspension, along with a jack for my phone so I can play Spotify through the speakers? The eternal whisper of the need for a faster, stronger laptop, an upgraded phone soon…oh and how am I even living without an iPad? Those are the hardest to ignore.

I prefer to leave such acquisitions in the hands of God now, I would rather let him provide. Not at my pace, but his. It helps me practice another discipline I mentioned not long ago, that of patience. Practice as you know, is the only way to improve.

Speaking of improving, I had my tutoring orientation for church today and it was super exciting. I met new people, I got this book

Tutoring Your Elementary Child with TLC

Tutoring Your Elementary Child with TLC

I volunteered to maintain a Facebook group. I already got assigned a student! We get to have dinner with them and then spend about an hour helping them with homework. How awesome is that? See? Another invisible hug from God.  How can an iPad compete with that? 🙂

A Prayer for Thanksgiving

I asked God to take away my pain.
God said, No. It is not for me to take away,
but for you to give it up.
I asked God to make my handicapped child whole.
God said, No. Her spirit was whole, her body was only temporary.
I asked God to grant me patience.
God said No. Patience is a by-product of tribulations;
it isn’t granted, it is earned.
I asked God to give me happiness.
God said No. I give you blessings.
Happiness is up to you.
I asked God to spare me pain.
God said No. Suffering draws you apart from
worldly cares and brings you closer to me.
I asked God to make my spirit grow.
God said, No. You must grow on your own,
but I will prune you to make you more fruitful.
I asked for all things that I might enjoy life.
God said, No. I will give you life so that you
can enjoy all things.
I asked God to help me LOVE others, as much as
He loves me. God said…..Ahhhhh, finally you have the idea.

—Author Unknown

 

 

Heart stopped

Sometimes we are arrested, pole-axed, stricken by beauty and it makes our world stand still. I am not sure how I feel about this experience. After all, it is unanticipated, it takes matters out of your hands and your reaction is pure and whole hearted. The world can look upon your face in that moment and see you in all your nakedness, awe struck and reverent. Worship can be like that, it’s why I find that I close my eyes so often in prayer, it’s why I love the Episcopal liturgy that allows us gracious space for those moments. Part of me longs for more of these moments, and part of me fears them. After all, your heart is stopped, if only for an instant. It takes your breath.

The summer has flown by, a stretch of days enjoying my mother’s company in Richmond while she recovered from surgery, feasting on the Mitford Series by Jan Karon and overdosing on summer TV series and films. I am such an info junkie. The best movie I saw all summer was The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. It’s very Not American, and very much the better because of it. The protagonist is a waif like, hard as nails hacker who has learned to bury her softness deep inside and use her rage as a weapon to defend herself. She has an uncompromising sense of right and wrong and in an age where rapists and murderers frequently escape atonement due to extenuating circumstance, she draws a clear line between victim and victimizer. It’s on DVD now, so check it out, if only so you can be amazed by how badly Hollywood will butcher the remake.

I am writing from my new home in Durham, North Carolina. I have arrived and survived my first 2.5 weeks at Duke. Week one was a “pre-week” program for a limited number of students called “Project Bridddge”. During it, we studied the complicated history of Durham, race relations, poverty and class issues. We worked in local programs in the community to begin to see the “real Durham”. We visited a historical plantation, met a famous civil rights leader named Ann Atwater who was incredible and got to know each other. At the end of the week, we shared our experiences and then voted on a specific mission to donate the offering to from the official Divinity School Orientation Day worship. We picked a group called Urban Ministries. Several of us participated in the worship service and it fell to me to describe the organization and why we chose it. I confess that when the incoming Dean of the Divinity School made eye contact, my mind went blank, but I managed to get the main details out and make a passionate appeal on their behalf. Urban Ministries is downtown and feeds 200-250 people at each meal, 3 meals a day every day. They also operate a food pantry, and when we entered I was dismayed to see the shelves were bare in some of the categories. (No macaroni and cheese or boxed foods, only a few canned goods) Needless to say, I lobbied hard for this group as did others in my group who spent time there. I had the opportunity to eat with and visit with people who were having lunch there the day we went and it will definitely  be a place I donate food and time to in the future. We raised a nice amount of money from the offering, nearly doubling last year’s amount. Yay!

Orientation was pretty intense, with information and lectures on every topic imaginable from early in the morning until late in the afternoon for three days straight. I particularly enjoyed a lecture on Spiritual Formation and one on Harassment. Harassment? Yes, well I also didn’t think I had anything to learn after endless corporate seminars on this topic, but I was wrong. I am guessing many of the students (200+) in the audience were re-evaluating their behavior in light of the presentation and wondering if they may have ever inadvertently made someone uncomfortable. Thought provoking.

I secured a work study at the Institute for the Care at End of Life which is right up my alley. I am loving it. I have attended several Anglican Episcopal House of Studies events, including a retreat earlier today and am so happy to be here. I quite adore Dr. Bailey-Wells who has such a steady and sure energy about her and demonstrates a love for the church that is encouraging. I’ve already attended two Eucharists she has celebrated and they were along the lines of what I grew up with, though in Virginia, some would describe that as high. I find it comforting and reassuring. Especially in the midst of so much newness.

There is so much that is new here. A new home, a large 4 bedroom house I am sharing with a perfectly wonderful house mate. She is an English professor at North Carolina Central University. She is not here most evenings, so it is a teeny bit lonely, but once I get little Tucker here I think it will be less so. Nothing like a snuggly Yorkie to make you feel comfy. The house itself is very nice. I have both a bedroom and office, storage in the attic and then share the downstairs which has a giant kitchen, dining room and living room. There is a large deck out back. I am hankering after a rocking chair or Adirondack to sit out there and watch the birds and squirrels.

There are lots of new people to meet. Most of whom are younger than me. This never bothered me at Hollins, where it was not an issue at all. Here, unaccountably it seems to be one. I quite like one of the administrators I work with at the ICEOL, who seems more like a peer. I also have met a few people in my classes whom I have enjoyed great conversations with. But as for off hours socializing, well that’s never been my thing as my friends in Roanoke can attest to. I’m a few special friends kind of person. I like to have my own little tribe of friends and then we parachute in for events. In a nice way of course. I call it The Wicked Tribe. It’s invitation only. It originally started as a group of singletons at an Internet Conference called Shop.org back in the freewheeling days of my corporate life. We banded together at an evening event at Disney’s California Park, played games, rode rides, ate and drank together and generally had a fine old time. Since then, wherever I’ve gone I’ve found people standing with some mixture of disdain, disinterest or puzzlement on the fringes and gathered them to me. I’ve discovered that, no shocker here, they are always the most interesting and eclectic of the bunch. Which suits me down to the ground, being no lost in the herd kind of girl myself.

In all the orienting and logistics of moving and the anxiety of OMIGOD I have to move again, I completely forgot why I was here…the classes. So I was pleasantly shocked when the first one arrived and I was transfixed. It just happened to be Introduction to New Testament Greek, and I kind of fell in love with it, but still. It reminded me, Oh yeah, there’s a REASON, I’m doing all this. For the longest I was just operating on the “Because God said to” model, not really thinking about the fact that I might like it. But boy howdy, do I like it. There’s Church History with a lecturer named Dr. Warren Smith who is erudite, witty, and possesses a vast amount of knowledge of all things church historical. I love listening to him. I am reminded at every moment that he speaks of how very little I know…but I feel that changing with every second I spend in his class.  Yay Dr. Smith!

Back to Greek, my professor is named Nathan Eubank . It’s hard to pick a teacher sight unseen, so I Googled them and I liked what Professor Eubank said on a few esoteric websites. I am SO glad I did that. He is funny, creative and encouraging. It’s a challenging class, and frustrating because there are only 5 girls in a class of 25, so I already feel surrounded by testosterone. In addition, most of the boys are just that, boys. Their brains are still squishy and young and they memorize with ease. You can just see it go in and stick. I, on the other hand, have to flog my older brain like a sluggish pack mule. Maybe I could take some kind of vitamin. If only I could stand to eat fish. Ick. Yet still, it’s my favorite class. When I can read a word, or make sense of a declension I feel *such* a surge of adrenaline. I think to myself that I really WILL be able to read the Bible in Greek in the near future and I feel my heart about to burst. Yeah, I am determined, it will happen. Then there is my Intro to Old Testament Class. Keep in mind that my Church History and Intro  to Old Testament classes have over 200 students in them. We do meet later in a smaller precept course for discussion on another day. My Old Testament teacher is the same person who gave the Harrassment lecture, Dr. Anathea Portier-Young. She is a brilliant scholar who interprets the OT in such a serious and thought provoking way. It’s like she takes every line and unpacks it, giving us the Hebrew and adding context, explaining its place in the whole…it’s incredible. I’ve never heard/read the OT this way. I also have Anglican and regular Spiritual formation classes. In regular Spiritual formation, you share your spiritual call story with a small group and a leader from the Duke community. My leader is Father Rommen, an Orthodox priest. He seems a wonderful fellow. In Anglican Spiritual Formation, it’s a little more demanding, with commitments of attendance to events and to morning prayer. I quite enjoy the discipline.

My last class is Introduction to the Ministry of Social Work. In it we will read about the intersection of Christianity and Social Work throughout the centuries and in modern society. Since I am keenly interested in pastoral care, especially for those near death and dying, I felt this was the best match out of the classes offered to me. There were two classes I really wanted to take but they were only open to second years. I have them on my to do list. One is an Exegesis of Luke class and one is about Death and Grief.

I feel as though I am about to dive into a river at full flood. I am not sure how often I will surface to reflect and add to my blog. I hope I will be able to write often, because I will doubtless need to reflect on this transformational time. If my workload and the intensity of the study is any guide however, I am not sure that will be the case. I came home last night, my first Friday of classes, and fell into bed at 6:30 p.m. I woke at 9:00 a.m. this morning. Other than answering a phone call, I slept the night through. Phew! I was exhausted. This is only the beginning.

Should I pray for strength? I will. Should I pray for an open mind and heart? I do pray that, daily…

What I  really pray is that I will survive those heart stopping moments with grace and ask no more of them than that they continue.

Longing

Copious amounts of reading and writing for school leave me little time to write for pleasure, though I have so much I want to get down here. Most importantly, my discernment meeting helped me to ask myself the question, what is a priest? What do you expect of one?

Of course, I think I’ve spent the last 2 years thinking about what other people would expect and also applying my crazily high expectations of priests onto that role myself and asking myself…huh? what? Me?

But it’s strange. All that worry and fear went away the very moment I surrendered completely to the insistent pushing from God. I say pushing, but the instant you surrender it isn’t pushing any more, it’s pulling, a wonderful, warm, embracing drawing you closer to where you were made to be.  Caught up in the “fishing net of God”, waiting to be drawn up into his boat. Then you scratch your head and wonder what the heck you were struggling so hard for. Once, while in prayer and while still questioning the whole idea, I got the clearest little montage of a horse in a burning barn in panic, and a calm figure soothing the horse, covering it’s eyes, and leading it out. How much that seems to apply. For we walk by faith and not by sight…

Somehow I feel sure that God wouldn’t lead me somewhere I shouldn’t go, as long as I follow him and not any selfish desire of my own heart. If I do that, I shouldn’t need to fear being up to the task, because he will make me up to it, educate me, form me, shape me to his desire and task.

One other thing, I am reading the Hindu mystical holy writing, The Bhagavad Gita and reading it gives me the same sensation as the first long pull off of a cold bottle of water after a hike on a hot day. It sinks into me as if I were drought stricken crop lands and it was the rain…

It’s beautiful and I am grateful beyond words for the class that features it and look forward to every other tiny piece of theology that comes my way. Nothing interests me more than exploring the nature of God and the paths to him.

The color of grouch

Blue is the color of sadness and also of cold, so I think it’s accurate to say that I’m a little blue. I am not sure why I am feeling so gloomy, but I am. It might have something to do with me missing my friends, church, mom and Tucker. I am not getting any exercise here either so that can’t help.

Last Sunday I worked at two services at the altar. At the 7:45 a.m. service I was a chalicist, and at the 9:00 a.m. I was a chalicist and reader. While serving at the altar I ended up being on the side where President and Laura Bush were receiving the Eucharist so I actually made eye contact with both of them. They intinct, or dip the wafer in the wine.
Whatever my own political beliefs, in church we are all the same before God. We are there because it is so easy to sin or drift away from God, and we all seek a closer relationship with him. So for that moment they aren’t the President and First Lady, but two parishioners seeking what we all do in communion, union with the holy.

At the 9:00 a.m. service I read the Epistle and chaliced as well as giving the dismissal. Pretty cool. That was something I’d never done and it was a tingly experience. Sunday I also burned my fingers on a kettle on the stove at my hostess’s house. This would be the same kettle she cautioned me to check to make sure it had water before turning on the heat since another houseguest burned up the last one. Before I left in the morning for church I put water in it and not really thinking I just turned the kettle on when I came in since I was freezing. In the interim, Ellen had used all the water in the pot I’d left. So her very nice, very expensive enamel kettle burnt up and damaged not only the kettle but the burner on which it rested. In my haste to remove it from the stove I ended up getting a couple of surface burns that blistered up on top of two of the fingers of my left hand. Ouch. It hurt so bad and for so long I went up and got some Neosporin pain relief and “aqua pad” burn dressing to cover them. I also had to report to Ellen what I’d done, since she was visiting her mother in D.C. when it happened. It was hard to make that call, but she has been so understanding about it. I felt like such an idiot and was all jangled up for hours.

I’d also heard that my 16 year old nephew was car jacked in Mobile and had a couple of men put guns to his head before he was able to flee on foot. He got glass in his feet because he’d just been wearing flip flops and he lost them in his haste to get away. The only car he and my sister had was taken and the Police said they expect it to be ditched and set on fire. He also lost all his money and his cell phone. They used his VISA debit card to buy gas at 5 different places in a nearby town called Pritchard. Hopefully he will get that back since they were fraudulent charges.

I’ve decided to take a quick trip back to Roanoke this weekend to get some things I left behind. I think it will be restorative. I’ll leave Thursday night and come back Saturday night. I am at the altar this Sunday at the 9:00, the 11:00 and am supposed to shadow a Lay Eucharistic Minister here. The woman I will be going with is really cool though. I met her last night at a training session for community organizers that I attended with the Reverend Saunders. She and I talked for most of the dinner portion about how weird it is to us that everyone intincts in the state of Virginia and even here in the DC area. We both spent most of our lives in churches where most people shared the common cup and to do otherwise was perceived as Eucharistically incorrect. We had a good old Episcopalian gabfest. It was awesome.

I also had a nice noontime Eucharist today with a visiting minister who I talked about my “call” with. She said she also got a very strong call and that she used to feel weird about it in seminary where people were saying things like , it just seems like a good career. In the long run though she said it’s been a tremendous blessing because she has never felt lost in her sense of mission. I can identify with that. I also identified with being surrounded by a group of people who were more focused on the the material, social and external world reasons for church work than any sense of the holy and awesome presence of God. This never happened at St.John’s in Roanoke, but I am guessing it is a common thing in the church.

This goes back to my philosophy of church being a place to worship God, not to make ourselves feel better. What I experienced during my near death experience was enough to inspire lifelong awe, amazement and a sense of how we can be both so incredibly small before the greatness that is God, and so dearly loved at the same time. My worship comes from that place and when I work in a service it is to that moment that I turn to meditate before it begins.

Thursday I will also work with the Hispanic Youth Group and I really look forward to it. I had a great time with them last Thursday when we went bowling. They are full of energy and life. I’ll try and get some pics I took there printed to take to them.

I will write a Lent meditation for the churches in-house Lenten publication by Friday and am ruminating on a Homily I am to give at the weekday service on Monday the 26th.

Tonight I am on my own for dinner etc. so I am thinking of driving out to the Leesburg Outlet Mall, I think I might find a good deal on a kettle there to replace the one I burned up and with tomorrow’s temps and all my warmest stuff at the cleaners I am thinking a quick dash through the bargains might be in order.

Perhaps that will de-grouchify me.

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.