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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Jesus was a Jew, and Vampires are SEXY

I should probably be sleeping, but instead I am watching the incredibly addictive HBO show TrueBlood. I like the irresistible attraction between the two lead characters, a Vampire named Bill, a former Confederate soldier and Sookie, a telepathic waitress. I love Bill’s obsessive protectiveness of her. She is also tender with him. Very sweet love story.

I worked for several hours on the Goth Eucharist liturgy tonight. After the Gathering at St.John’s, the Reverend Barkley Thompson led such an interesting class on the nature of the Trinity. It made me wonder what I think about the Trinity. I’ve definitely got a clear idea. Listening to Barkley describe some of the arguments theologians have made about the reason for and nature of the Trinity was fascinating. I am also in a Philosophy class at school filled with non-believers. When we read Augustine and Aquinas they found it easier to dismiss them because of their “basic backwards rationalization of a forgone conclusion”. They already believed, now they were just looking for reasons to support existing belief.

Barkley described God the Father as an ongoing force for creation, if we, the universe, galaxy…everything, are a bubble, we are being cradled in the ocean that is God the father and moment by moment he keeps us in existence by his will in creation. If at the beginning there was creation, when it began to be ordered there was the word, or Logos, and that word was God the son, and it is how he entered into the physical world and interacted with it, and how all things were made and for which all things were made. God the Holy Spirit is the breath that animates all life, the driving force that moves the universe. I think there’s probably more to it than that. Barkley now has his own blog which links from the new St.John’s website. It’s called The Rector’s Page and you can get to it by looking in the “Links to Related Sites” list over on the right. It’s definitely worth a look see.
I just sent him an email asking for extra info. It’s my fault for missing the actual class on the Trinity.

This Sunday’s actual class was about Jesus: who he was and his life and ministry. Barkley started off by dispelling some of the usual myths: Jesus was not a Western European, he probably looked more like this face made by a Forensic Specialist who created it from the skull of a Jewish man from the same time and place as Jesus and with the same skin tones as those used in frescoes and art found in the area. Like the picture below.That he didn’t float. That he was in fact a Jew, and not a Christian.
No real shockers for me, but surely some in the room felt that jolt of surprise I felt the first time someone said “Jesus was a Jew” to me.

Jewish Jesus

Perhaps not. They are a sophisticated bunch. Very smart and well read. I will share my views on the Trinity later, after I have had time to absorb these new ideas. I have been re-reading the Gospel of John, my favorite Gospel. I especially like this audio version I came across called “The Bible Experience: John“. Check it out. I am now at school after a successful Chalk It Out. The ChalkBoards came out wonderfully and the Karaoke was so successful I think we need to make this a regular event. It generated a ton of interest and we filled all the chalk boards. It will be good for us to be able to interact with the community on a weekly basis this way. To be visible and for them to get to know us and to know who we are. Plus we can order t-shirts and start selling them. Our logo is so cool that I think we can sell them like hotcakes. A lot of people asked who we were and what group we were with which is kind of neat. I also went to the Meditation chapel and worked on getting it sorted out a little. I have the vision in my mind now of what I want. I need to get a bag of sand, a lot of pillar candles and a ton of votives, luminaries and about 75 or so tea lights. Jan, the school Chaplain is going to see if Christ Church can loan us their censor or at least their brazier to burn incense on. Things are coming together, God willing, we will pull this Eucharist off.

Stay Tuned

The Veranda Cafe is adjacent to a gas station right near Hollins University and they offer a 5% discount to students and teachers. I’ve been eating there at least once a week since I heard about the place because they make an absolutely amazing Stromboli. It’s really their pizza crust wrapped around cheese and pepperoni with a robust, tangy tomato sauce to dip it in. A few nights ago I ate there with my friend Leigh and I also sampled their homemade baklava. It was filled with crushed nuts and honey layered between flaky phyllo. Still warm. The menu features many Greek items as well. I especially liked the chicken and rice soup flavored with lemon.

No boyfriend visit this weekend and mom is in Richmond working at the new job. Dog sitting for a friend from church. I’m looking at a new place for me tomorrow. So many wonderful shows on TV. The Office is back on, and Pam and Jim are engaged. It was so romantic! Heroes is just rockin’ my world. I’m still totally in love with Peter Petrelli, after all, according to a Facebook quiz I AM Peter Petrelli. Grey’s Anatomy is OK…but not sure if I like it as much as last season. I am enjoying Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and Dirty Sexy Money.

Monday is “Chalk it Out” at school. That’s an event the Spiritual and Religious Life are sponsoring where we are putting a couple of big chalk boards that we made out and writing a question on it while encouraging students to write their answers in chalk. Since Monday is the KickOff we are doing Karaoke and unveiling the new logo we selected at it too. I also have to write a couple of new poems to turn in this week.

I’m deep into the process of writing the liturgy for the Goth Eucharist on the 22nd. I’ve asked one of my fellow students to DJ the music I’ve selected and I am working on the leaflet . I’ll recruit ushers on Monday. I will ask Lisa about putting it in next Sundays bulletin at St.John’s. I finished the advertisement this morning for school.

Wednesday I meet with the Bishop. It’s the first official step to starting the discernment process in the Episcopal church. If approved, my rector, Barkley Thompson, will select a group of parishioners to meet with me for six months to determine if my call is a true one. If it is, they will recommend me to the Vestry. If they approve me, they will recommend me to the Commission on Ministry. Then they decide what to do with me.

Starting on Wednesday night I’ll be on Fall break, and I am going to Greensboro to meet my boyfriend’s mother and stepfather. We plan on seeing Max Payne late Thursday night, and then on Friday we’ll drive to West Virginia to meet his father and stepmother. So a big weekend/fall break for me. Actually, kind of a big week all around.

Oh yeah and the RedSox won tonight!

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.

Redefining my life, one day at a time

Today we finished up Vacation Bible School. I was so impressed with the wonderful job that the others on the VBS committee had done.

One man adapted High School Musical to become Bible School Musical and all the kids learned cheers and some basketball tricks as well as  songs by heart. They also learned a dance routine and performed the whole thing for us tonight. Each night they tied their theme to a bible passage, like the Parable of the Sower, and environmental sustainability. They did an activity related to the theme, like planting ivy to prevent erosion.The lady in charge of Children’s Discipleship collected donated basketballs for the classes and then tonight announced they would be donating them to the boys and girls club. Pretty cool.

Some of the other things they did were making walking meals for people who come to the church seeking assistance so we can at least give them a snack before referring them. Each bag was decorated by the kids and has water, tuna or chicken in a can, some raisins and other treats. They also made cards for the kids at the Ronald McDonald house.

The adults came up with eight suggestions for the church after reflecting on what we learned throughout the week. I was very pleased by the support and appreciation of the participants. I love all the people at my church. They are so warm and giving.

To be completely honest, though it was hard work to produce VBS, it just made me want to do more. It sharpened my appetite for outreach.

The hardest thing I’ve had to do at St.John’s has been the Tuesday Morning Outreach where St.John’s distributes gap funding to prevent evictions and utility loss. It is so difficult because I have too much empathy and I wanted to help every single one. The program is tightly run and we are only allowed to give out small amounts to stay on budget. We give around 20k a year but I wish we could do more. These are regular people, some with handicaps that are teetering on homelessness. They are so earnest and anxious that it hurts me inside.

When I was younger I had a Near Death Experience or NDE. While dead for all intents and purposes from drowning, I could see that we are all connected by invisible energy, an energy from God that is a part of Him , the source of all. Heaven is a return there, to be made whole, to go home. Everything you do here to assuage the loss of that presence, that unbelievable safety and happiness, is a pale shadow of what you will get when you pass on. We look for it in other people, in our jobs, in entertainment. We look in bad places but also in good ones…like when we create or give or experience communion and the joy we feel echoes what we have lost.

So it hurts when I can’t give, serve, create, worship. Right now I feel so much longing to do and be more for God. I know He loves me and made me as I am, but I wish to be better, more, worthy of his unstinting grace.

I feel as if I don’t know enough to do what I was made for and I still have almost 2 years before seminary. There will be learning along the way…but I wish I could figure things out now. For example, I want to help grow Tuesday Outreach, but how? I wish every parishioner sat in on a Tuesday. I wish I could organize a tour of the rescue mission for church attendees.

I WILL organize one for students at Hollins. Whether it is through the Spiritual and Religious Life Association or The Canterbury Society, it can only do good things to involve students.

On another topic altogether, I really want to see the Dark Knight again. I feel like I want to etch Heath Ledger’s final performance into my mind so I will be able to recall specific scenes. When I think of the difference between the character Ennis, he played in Brokeback Mountain (another phenomenal performance) and the Joker, it’s astonishing. Oh, what more might he have done?

August is fast approaching. I have to start weight training a little and work hard on cardio and lunges so I will be fit for fencing by the last week in August. Can’t wait to bout again.

I am looking forward to my classes. Especially drawing and video production. I am sure I will enjoy advanced creative writing too. I’ve always wanted to improve my skills as a poet.

My mom is thinking about a new job in Richmond. If she gets it I am not sure what I will do. I will need to either transfer to a different school, like Virginia Wesleyan or University of Alabama, or live on campus after all. Time will tell.

I love that about life. I can’t wait to turn the page on my story every day. Sometimes I think that my life is half over and I may not even have met all the main characters. Pretty cool to think about.

My first sermon!!

Before I post my sermon I have to mention that it was unlike anything I’ve ever done. I will confess that it felt amazing, right, golden. I was so worried about giving it I didn’t even think about people responding to it afterward! After it was over, so many people came up to me to say in their words “how much I liked it and how honest it was, vulnerable in all the right places”. One woman even came up to me and said her kids, notorious squirmers, “hung on every word.” I was about to die from embarrassed pleasure.Tonight one of her kids even came up to me to tell me she liked it. I’ve never had so much affirmation. My visiting family were so wonderful too. My mom recorded it on her cellphone and just looked smug and proud. Not smug in a bad way but more like…it was proof that this journey we are on is the right one. I kept finding myself blushing and feeling a little overwhelmed at the response. I was so anxious about giving it. I think I was using it as a litmus test, a referendum on whether I am doing the right thing. I feel pretty darn certain, but I still am a little disbelieving that I might actually get to do this for the rest of my life. It is the custom in the Episcopal church to say a short prayer before getting to the sermon and that will be included at the start of it. Considering how much I worried about it, it just seemed to flow right out when I needed it to. Thank God for that.

Matthew 13:1-23

Come Holy Spirit and kindle in us, the fire of your love.

Take our minds and think through them,

Take our lips and speak through them,

Take our souls and set them on fire.

Amen

Like many Episcopalians, I have spent much of my life having the Bible read to me every Sunday. I used to think of reading it myself, but every time I cracked it open, the format, the language, even some of the content made it difficult for me to follow. So a few years ago I decided that I just had to do something about that. I went to a Christian bookstore to pick out a new Bible, and stumbled upon The Message. I don’t know how many of you have read it, but it is a paraphrase and not an actual translation and it can be comical in its choice of language in some parts. It made the Bible seem friendlier, more approachable somehow. For the first time I was able to read the Bible cover to cover.

There are lots of problems with the Message; the liberties taken with language can be surprising and shocking. Here’s an example: in the New International Version, Matthew verse 22 reads: All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s Message through his prophet. In the Message it says: This would bring the prophet’s embryonic sermon to full term.

This had the effect of making me wonder what it said in the familiar King James Version or better yet, the original Greek. Soon I had amassed quite a collection of Bibles and my reading usually involved many of them.

Today’s Gospel reading recounts Jesus telling his disciples a story in the form of a Parable. The interesting and wonderful thing about parables is that you can read them over and over again and take something new away every time. In Reverend Thompson’s class on Parables he noted that the Sower is profligate in his spreading of the seed. That God is always spreading the word and His love, and that it falls on all kinds of soil: shallow, rocky, weedy… yet he is unstinting in his sowing. A peasant at the time wouldn’t waste seed like this. He’d carefully plant and husband it.

I thought about that and the idea of God raining his love down upon us always, generously, patiently waiting for a good harvest. That is comforting, exciting and also a little bit scary. Because it made me wonder, what kind of soil am I?

Honestly… I think I have been more than one.

For many years in my childhood and youth, the word of God was something that punctuated the moments in the service between hymns. I really loved singing as a child and that’s what I liked about church.

I would say the seed was a little wasted on me at that point. Fallen on the footpaths of my inattention.

As I grew older, while actually listening to sermons I would start to feel an inkling of God’s presence, and the reality of the good news. When I was in church this would fill me with energy, I would sign up for lots of things and then inevitably lose interest.

I was willing to do a little for God, but not much. Kind of like a friend you don’t see too often. You might give them a call or meet now and then, but you aren’t really committed to being a part of their daily life, or having them as part of yours. My soil was rocky and shallow.

In my early 30’s I really began to understand some of the messages that God has sent us. The truly revolutionary nature of Jesus’ call to follow Him… no doubt a natural consequence of actually reading the Bible.

I was becoming more committed in my relationship to God, but He was still a sidebar, an afterthought. After all, I was raising a daughter all by myself, excelling at a high powered career and trying to be a good citizen too. I had so many people and constituencies to please that I failed to please any of them. Bills, job stress, and the process of day to day life choked out my passion for God. My soil was littered with weeds.

But something stuck with me. In the back of my mind, whirring away, I continued to puzzle and piece together the meanings of what I was reading and hearing every Sunday. I didn’t really want to believe it. I mean what would happen if I had the kind of relationship with God that he was asking for?

I could only imagine.

Quit my job? Devote my life to charity? Make my whole life about Him? My heart lurched in fear. I looked around at the people I knew, and none of them seemed to be troubled by this element of the Bible.

I remember sitting in the National Cathedral one Sunday and thinking, if I could do this every day, worship and think about God I would be very content. Something I wasn’t used to feeling.

So I submitted, I gave in. I prayed that God would use my life as He willed. And something amazing happened. I went to my rector and talked to him, telling him all about my feelings. He encouraged me to listen to that small, still voice. He helped me understand that I was starting to feel what God can do when you invite him into your life wholeheartedly.

I left my career, went back to college and made God the center of my life. I started to get to say Yes a lot. Could I teach Sunday School? Yes! Could I serve at the altar? Yes! Could I give a sermon? Well, I can try!

I only worried about pleasing a constituency of one. Not me…God.

It’s too soon to tell whether I will be the good harvest!

But it really might not matter. Because the Good News is that there are always some favorable responses, some growth. It doesn’t matter how many, it will be enough. God provides the increase.

The story of the sower is not a scary message, it is an optimistic one. It says that God is calling us always into relationship, into PARTNERSHIP with Him. We can use our free will and choose to work with God to make the future better than the past.

God purposely limits Himself in order to create this partnership. To let us choose Him. Otherwise we would be automatons, going through the motions and blindly obeying in absolute certainty.

There is an old story that illustrates this: A minister and a parishioner were talking about her garden. The minister complimented her, saying “What a beautiful garden you and God have made.” Response? “You should have seen it when God was doing it alone.”

Jesus makes it clear in the story that God wants Him and all His followers to sow the seed. To work at growing. Even in a difficult and indifferent world. God will provide the soil, the sun and the rain to carry out His share of the partnership. That’s why he sows so generously.

Jesus understood the tension between self-centeredness and God-centeredness. After all, it took Him 40 days in the wilderness to put aside his desire for popularity and power. It might take us a little longer, but the seed will keep falling, and eventually our world will be transformed.

AMEN

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