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.

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Better late than never

Wow it’s been almost a month since I last posted. My internship at St.John’s Episcopal is really time consuming. The Mary of Nazareth class went well, we had 10 attendees and the rector gave me an atta’ girl. Tomorrow is the big day when I will actually preach at the 5pm service. The bonus is that my aunt Anne, uncle Brian and cousin Amber are visiting from Florida and they will be there.

Some of what I’ve been doing lately: participating in Eucharist services at nursing homes; acting as project manager for Adult Vacation Bible school for the upcoming week. It will be centered around the Millenium Development Goals.
Working to manage the relaunch of the church’s website. Oh and the Diocese asked me to come and demonstrate a few things at the Parish Communicators Conference at the end of the month.
I got my plane ticket to Orlando for Bonnie’s wedding. I also went ahead and got that Coldplay ticket for August 3. It’s a Sunday, so I will just drive up to DC in the daytime and drive back after the show. I hope I have time to visit the Nat. Cathedral while I am there.
I saw Wanted which was underwhelming. Worth going to see for the visual effects, but not much more to it. Hancock was a little better. Hellboy II is next up and I adored Pan’s Labyrinth (same director) so hopefully I will also enjoy it.
The biggest summer movie left has got to be The Dark Knight. I’ll probably go to Thursday’s midnight showing.
Still no sign of The Fall. *sigh*
If I leave early enough on Sunday I bet I could catch it in DC before the concert. Hmmm. I will investigate.
I’m feeling better about my path. Not missing the corporate world as much lately, or the money that went with it. Touring Roanoke’s rescue mission was inspirational and powerful. Two friends from church are on the Ghana mission. I expect that must be a life changing experience. I hope to go to Africa one day. Ever since I was young and saw Out of Africa a dozen times…it’s been a longing in me.
I made dinner for the whole assembled family tonight. Beef Stroganoff, steamed broccoli and Parker house rolls followed by apple pie and super premium vanilla ice cream.
I miss fencing and can’t wait to get back to it.
I think I will try to get to the driving range soon too. Take the edge off.
I have been riding my new bike a bit and that helps but I still feel like I am not pushing myself enough.
I also just switched to DirectTV to feed my habit and now have twice as many channels as with regular cable. Still have TIVO!
Yay.
Next on my toy agenda? First the scooter and then in October, the iPhone.

Currently listening :
Viva La Vida
By Coldplay
Release date: 2008-06-17

Ups and Downs

You know how it feels when you are in the zone? Everything cranking right along. Then all of a sudden, something throws a wrench in the works and it’s back to square one. I tend to get philosophical when this occurs. While definitely not happy to have been sick for the last 10 days or so, it gave me a lot more thinking rather than doing time. I might be stressed right now because I have fallen a little behind, but being so forced me to admit the fact to a couple of my teachers and ask for extensions. Asking for help or extra time feels like cheating or not living up to my own crazy high expectations so it’s difficult for me to do it. But bringing myself to do it and talk about it with my adviser helped me immensely. I have a problem with these internal expectations. My adviser is adept at helping me be more realistic…i.e. human. It feels good to have taken the risk. Every time I do, I feel myself growing in a way. It’s loosens me up inside somehow. About 4 years ago now, I was asked to name my biggest fear, and after reflecting upon it for a while, I realized it is failure.

Now, I try to be careful when I start to get worried about failing in some way, and to do the opposite of what my instinct is. I never want to act out of fear. I know it’s impossible to achieve that, but it’s critical for me to slow down and make sure that I am not acting from that fearful place. If I do, it just sets me farther back.

Example: When I am late in finishing an assignment, I will stay up all night to complete it. Then the next day and the next and the next. Since I never give myself room to do less that the best possible work, I wear myself out to the point where I can get sick for 10 days.
Silly huh? A couple of B’s won’t kill me if they happen.

So I am focused on the idea of this as a learning experience. I registered for Fall Semester today. Unfortunately Fencing is not offered again, but I am now practicing with the fencing club and I can make up the classes I’ve missed by going to a make-up session at the YMCA where our teacher has a public class on Saturday. Yay!

This is how intense my life is: I have class tomorrow morning, then I will work on catch up all afternoon in the library, have fencing class from 6-7 then be back on campus for a Spiritual and Religious Life meeting at 9pm.
I’ll then have class all day Thursday, followed by fencing club at 5, the club I started for Episcopalians at 6:15 and then home to work on papers.
Friday, I have class in the morning, I can catch up on some work Friday afternoon and if I have finished it all, I will absolutely go see Forgetting Sarah Marshall as a reward on Friday night. It just doesn’t feel like Friday night without a movie.

Saturday a.m. it’s off to the synagogue for a World Religions assignment. (We attend a service in a religion other than our own and then write a paper about it.)
Saturday p.m. is my make up session for fencing at the Y. Then I need to make un-iced cupcakes for my Sunday School class. We are using them in one of the activities. It’s decorate and eat with a Christian message. Good for 2nd/3rd graders.

Sunday is just my favorite day of the week. After Sunday school, which is joyful, I get to go to service for myself. I then go home for a break which I usually employ by napping. I get back to church at 5 for the evening acoustic worship, where I get to be a Chalicist and sometimes read the prayers. This is followed by a church dinner and a class. Right now we are learning about the Proverbs of Jesus. It’s a time when I can totally put day to day and me out of the picture and focus solely on God, his church and his people. Wonderful.

Now that I’ve mapped it out, it doesn’t seem bad at all. 🙂

I am also excited about an assingment in English. I loved the journal we read for today which is by a painter, Robery Henri, and I feel inspired to paint something myself. I think I am going to do that for the assignment, which is about expressing a creative response to one of the journals we’ve read.
Now I just need to pick a subject.

Dual Majoring: Film and Religion

I had my second test in Leadership in Africa today. My teacher in that class is very good. His lectures are dynamic, entertaining and informative. It’s one class where I am learning a lot. It helps that I am a blank slate on the topic. Most Americans are actually. I hope to one day visit that continent and work to end extreme poverty.
I have not yet determined whether I should become a filmmaker focusing on social justice/religion or a priest. Or both! I like the idea of both. I love them both and I see film as a way to communicate about faith and the role of good in the world. Maybe I could do film school and then seminary.
I have been trying to find something to do over the summer that would guide me. I had an internship arranged at my church but it fell through due to a lack of funding from a sponsoring organization. The good news is that the Assistant Rector emailed and wants to take me to lunch next week to talk about my plans which might mean another offer for summer. Actually working in a church full time would teach me so much. I love all the clergy at St.John’s and I have been happiest this year while I was there. Serving wine during communion, reading the prayers of the people, being a torchbearer at Christmas and teaching Sunday School. The only downside of the film festival was that I had to miss teaching last Sunday.
I will probably take video production in the fall. I must confess that film is less than forgiving. I look forward to the opportunity to produce in digital. I have some strength in the editing software, probably because of my years of computer experience. It came naturally to me. In fact that was the strongest part of my work in film production. I managed to scrap together a movie from 5 minutes of film footage, which had a flare in every few frames. I added sound effects and non-sync voice. I was the only one in my class to do that. We showed our films with the Video class and they did not have any of the problems that dogged our work. They did not have any problems with light or a limit to how much they could film or how much film multiple takes would use. There was no 5 day turnaround to check the dailies. With all those restrictions removed, I could easily tell some of my stories. I can hear a train in the distance, it’s very loud, I suppose the air is clear tonight and the sound is traveling well. We are watching The Piano in film class tomorrow. It’s been so long since I’ve seen that. I went to the theater to see it when it came out in 1993.
I have 2 papers to write tonight, one on Revelation, a one pager and a 3 page rough draft for English. So I better get to it. 🙂

Hallelujah! The Lord is risen.

I love this stained glass at my Church. It’s the centerpiece of our worship. It is incredibly beautiful when the day is beginning, the sun streaming in, as it is in this picture I took. It couldn’t be a more perfect subject either.

I actually have this picture as my wallpaper on my cellphone.

I got a new dress for Easter, it’s really pretty and looks like a 1950’s dress with a full skirt. It’s kind of like what the girl on Pushing Daisies wears. Mine is white and has pink embroidered filigree around the hem. I had a little white sweater too. The dark haired girl is Chuck and she has a bunch of sweet retro dresses.

For Easter I received a Dove Dark Chocolate Bunny and some Sugar Free Peeps with Splenda.
I gave my mom some lavender soap and hand creme. She loves that scent.
I went to the 7 a.m. service while it was still dark. The sun came up during it. This particular event is called “The Great Vigil of Easter.” We all received candles and a few minutes in we light them as a sign that Jesus is reborn.
Then I went home and got my mom for the 11:00 a.m. service where I was a Chalicist. Joyful.

I skipped the 9:00 because they had 3 baptisms. Afterwards mom and I went out for Brunch at Trio. Easter doesn’t feel like Easter without Brunch.

The rest of the day I spent in bed, recovering from sleep deprivation. Overall, a great Easter. I wish my daughter was still Christian and lived with me. I miss her so much during the holidays. Perhaps someday she will come around.

Holy Friday

Another first for me, to attend Holy Friday services. According to the Reverend Barkley Thompson we do not take communion until Easter after Maundy Thursday. Bummer. So this service was about the prayers, has a silent procession, and is very somber in tone. We had watched as the clergy stripped the altar after the service on Thursday. First they remove all of the vestments and candles and then every other thing in the altar area. They cover the crosses as we approach the time that commemorates his death. They had been covered with a red shroud until Thursday and then they switched to black. It’s difficult to describe my feelings at this service. I’d just prayed the night before with my mom next to me. There was one other person in the empty church with all the lights off. It was easy to imagine myself like Jesus, alone and praying to the vast emptiness that seems to come to you the closer you are to God. Now, on Friday, the subdued service affected me deeply. I felt echoes of all the sorrows of my life. I am so ready for Easter.

Introduction or My first post

I really enjoy keeping a journal and have on several occasions throughout my life. For the past few years they have been online. I’ve found it liberating to write them, publish them and get feedback from my readers. The world has unfortunately caught on to blogging. Now, it’s all too common for someone to search out my name and blog and to learn intimate details that used to be of absolutely no interest to anyone.

When I read our assignment I ran over in my mind all the different things I could do to limit myself in my journal. My normal style is limitless, a stream of consciousness and very intimate.

Perhaps I should stay in the realm of the day to day. My struggles to attend school as an adult who has given up a lucrative career as an internet executive to follow a “call” to ministry in the Episcopal church. Having never needed an undergraduate degree to be successful, I now require one to attend Seminary if I manage to be accepted as a postulant.

Or I could focus on my internal/external emotional life and my relationships. It’s how I, and almost all women define themselves, by the success and failure of our relationships. It’s certainly what inspires the creative in me. My feelings for people, God and my relationships with them are the fuel that feeds my inspirational fire.

I’m sure I will also comment on experiences that move me, inspire me, and touch me. Art, film, even food are things that speak to my creative self in ways that are aspirational.
There’s also the election. At this particular time, we will be deciding who the Democratic nominee for President is, and I am a Barack Obama supporter. I read his book when it first came out and I have been nothing if not inspired by him and his vision of the possibility of a new America.

Today I taught my 2nd Sunday school class at my church, St. John’s Episcopal Roanoke. I teach 2nd and 3rd graders. I am now spending most of Sunday at church and it is probably my favorite day of the week. We learned about the “Golden Rule” lesson and how to find it in the Bible. (Do unto others as you would have done unto you.) We had a “Golden Rule” party to impress the lesson upon the kids after watching a video that accompanies the curriculum. We decorated cupcakes and played “Extreme Pin the Tail on the Donkey” where all the kids get to go at the same time. The idea of the party is that we are doing unto others, by throwing a party to celebrate them. I remember learning the “Platinum Rule” in corporate America, do unto others as they would have done unto them. Needless to say, I didn’t bring that up. Afterwards I worshiped at the 10 a.m. service.

Later this evening, I participated in the more casual evening service as a Chalicist and Intercessor, serving the Eucharistic wine and reading the Prayers of the People. I find this deeply satisfying, and hope that one day I will get to become a priest and serve the bread as well and preside over the service. This is a taste of what I hope will one day come and it is so fulfilling. Afterwards, there is a fellowship dinner, tonight it was Jambalaya and jalapeno cornbread. Then we have a short educational offering.

I also have a loved one, an ex-boyfriend, who is suffering from the early stages of early onset Alzheimer’s or vascular dementia. He’s 47, only 10 years older than me. He is still being diagnosed. I feel a lot of grief over this, and it is incredibly draining. It’s the kind of grief that knaws at you, like a rat chewing through the strings holding your body together. Every time I talk to him, I wonder if he will forget me sometime soon.

The high winds delivered an unwelcome injury, ripping the storm door out of my hand as I tried to close it, cold cocking me and sending me flying off of the front porch, down 3 stairs and literally 3 feet through the air to land on hands, knees and face. This is after waiting in the cold, blustery wind for Obama tickets for an hour, getting hit in the face by a stick that flew off a tree downtown and arriving home after church later in the evening to hear the stupid event had been canceled due to the self same wind. Grrr.

Since I am by nature a happy, cockeyed optimist, with a kind of deep spiritual serenity…this is most unlike me and I feel a bit off kilter. I have the Grammy’s on, and I’m eating my cheer me up candy: Nerds.

I think the best possible remedy for me tonight is a hot bath with Epsom salts, Calgon, some really nice music and an early bedtime. Perhaps I will even indulge myself with some light reading. I am enjoying a book called An Arsonist’s Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England, a novel by Brock Clarke.