Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Mt 10:16

So, I was sitting in my neighborhood Starbucks, fueling myself with caffeine while finishing my newsletter mailing, and there were a couple business guys at the next table, and one was doing all the talking. All of a sudden, I heard him say,

"We got to be wise as serpents, and innocent as doves, you know?? That's what we're called to do, my friend. We're called to SELL."

Intrigued by this I listened in. The talker was instructing his table mate about the fine art of persistence, of asking over and over again, of asking for contacts at higher levels while preserving the egos of contacts at lower levels, of 'testing' contacts to see how much information they'll divulge, all in aid of selling more products to a company, all in aid of revenue.

Do you suppose this is what Jesus meant?

My head hurts.

Monday, November 28, 2005

It was a terrible, horrible, no good very bad day....

With apologies to Judith Viorst, but it really *was* a terrible, horrible, no good very bad day, yesterday that is, one of those days on which it is best to stay in bed, but of course one *can't* stay in bed, not on Sunday with a church job. Because I raked too many leaves on Saturday and so my bad shoulder was hurting so much I couldn't really sleep Saturday night, so I didn't want to wake up, let alone GET up, Sunday morning. Because it was the holiday weekend so we were already short of liturgists who'd been willing to serve. Because one liturgist who had ASSURED me he had NO TRAVEL PLANS had decided a week or two ago that, gosh, yes, he WAS going to travel on Thanksgiving, and he HAD lined up a sub (good) but the sub didn't turn up (bad) but luckily I found another sub at the last moment (whew) but then the pastor tossed a last-minute change into the order of worship (not so good) but then the young fellow just ordained, you know, the one the pastor wants to have LOTS OF VISIBILITY so I am instructed to always give him the most Visible parts of the service, those that are hardest to find last minute subs for, who was supposed to serve at the SECOND service, calls right before the start of the first service to say HE ISN'T FEELING WELL SO DECIDED IT WOULD BE BEST TO STAY HOME AND REST (very, VERY bad), so I spend the first service worrying about how I am going to find subs for the parts he was supposed to do in second service (bad), so the first service runs LONG and I have to not only round up the rest of the liturgists for second service and find a sub (bad) but I also have to set up the altar for the second service because that's one of the things the guy who was sick at the last minute was supposed to do, and all this in 20 minutes WHILE MY SHOULDER IS STILL KILLING ME (just saying), so I find a sub, and get the altar set up, and still am able to be happy with the guy who tells me that his unemployment appeal worked and so he gets unemployment now that he is over his back operation (hooray), and I find enough servers for communion (yippee), and I get through the second service EVEN THOUGH I am tempted to leave and go home and go back to bed when the wonderful woman giving self-care tips for the holiday season says we should do more of what we want and not let obligations weigh us down, and I get all the altar stuff ready to wash and am trying to get out of the way of the coffee-and-snacks tear-down team in the kitchen, and who KNEW the food pantry staff decided to use the kitchen RIGHT AFTER SERVICE to cover every available horizontal surface with frozen packages of hamburger to thaw them before the distribution Monday night (AAACCKK), and they have not yet quite finalized the order of the FOUR HOUR service/concert/thing for AIDS day on Thursday at which I am to read names but I don't know when (oy), so I finally had a big meltdown. Sometimes I am just so tired of doing the kind of grunt things like coordinating and schedule-making and trying to accommodate the needs of 30 volunteers and fill in for all last minute absences and make sure things go well and make sure the altar is set up and make sure we have enough grape juice in the fridge and give the new young minister plenty of Visibility and etc., and not do any FUN pieces like singing in the choir (can't make rehearsals due to CPE supervision group though that will be over in January). And now I need to find and schedule liturgists for FOUR Christmas services (two Christmas Eve, two Christmas Day). AND get all their input for the January to March schedule, and train anyone who shows up next Sunday at 12:30. (Oh--"Liturgists" in my church do EVERYTHING except the sermon--read the scriptures, do each of the 'service parts' like offertory, congregational prayer, great thanksgiving, consecration, communion service--so I have to have 8-10 per Sunday.)

Sometimes I'd just like a pat on the back and someone to say, you do an important job. But as everyone knows the behind-the-scenes work is not visible except when it goes wrong. My boss was very kind and has lots of ideas to help. Ideas I was too tired and sore and burnt-out to hear yesterday.

It was not a totally bad day though because I *did* go with friends to see an Advent lessons-and-carols service at the Episcopal cathedral, complete with vergers with wands, procession, candles, chant, and the like. It was beautiful and VERY centering. Just what I needed!

And a good night's sleep and a long walk with the wolfhound have made me readier to face the day. Which includes reviewing the *entire* address list for the wolfhound club mailing, because people are complaining they haven't got their mailings (tough when I haven't heard they subscribed), and printing labels, and sticking labels onto envelopes, before going off to hospice to play chaplain.

Sheesh. Do you know it's a bad day when you look FORWARD to meeting with a man dying of cancer, who has proclaimed himself an atheist since an unspecified Bad Experience with the Catholic church while serving as an altar boy??? (I met with him Friday--he is sad and angry about his illness, afraid of dying but not able to articulate that in more detail; worried about his wife, about whether she'll be OK, whether she'll have enough money, etc., etc. All I could do was draw him out, listen, acknowledge, and then when he was done talking tell him how much I admired his honesty and courage. His wife told him LOTS of people admire him. And then he was able to ask, what do people admire? and we both told him. He is a man who has apparently LIVED some incredible values including generosity, patience, loving kindness, friendship, etc. I told him he had made a big impact on the world, and that while I could not take away his painful feelings, I wanted him to carry that piece with him too. He dozed off then; I hope it helped. God. Poor family. He is younger than I, and has only been married a few years. He found his love late but knew her right away. I so wish they'd had more time.)

Thanks for listening. OH, and I found out that I don't show as 'updated' on RevGalBlogPals, and I don't know why.

It *is* Monday, isn't it? Off to check names and do labels.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Where did the week go?

I am *not* doing this week's Friday Five, because it has to do with Pie, which is an Occasion of Sin for me. Especially pumpkin pie. Scrumptious, golden pumpkin pie, oh my heavens, I think I could eat a whole pie in one sitting. Though a good blueberry pie is close, and sweet potato pie? A foretaste of heaven to be sure.

Finished my one fall quarter seminary class and am now focused on CPE, church job, wolfhound club newsletter, vacuuming, and LEAVES. It seems that Thanksgiving Weekend in my neighborhood is a traditional Leaf Blower weekend, so I'm going to go out and rev up my contribution shortly. I just can't let everyone *else* make noise while I remain quiet. And so far I only have four big bags to line up next to the curb, in contrast to a neighbor who must have at least a dozen. So I'm behind and need to catch up. Plus, it is a beautiful day, a day to be outside. One can always vacuum when the weather is bad.

Catch y'all later! Gotta go pile me up some LEAVES!

Friday, November 18, 2005

Friday Five from Songbird

First book I remember--I can't remember the title but it was a Little Golden Book and had something to do with ducklings.

Picture Book I would like to climb into--not quite a picture book, but I had a beautifully illustrated copy of The Secret Garden that I would still love to climb into.

Favorite series of books, then--Winnie-the-Pooh (has to have the old illustrations by E. H. Shepherd)

Favorite series of books, now--that's tougher, I have a bunch. I'll pick one: Jane Haddam's Gregor Demarkian series

Character you would most like to meet--again, I have a ton, but I'd love to meet Jane Lawless and her sidekick Cordelia from the Ellen Hart series, or Father Tibor from the Jane Haddam series I picked above, or V. I. Warshawski, or... or...

Last childhood book I re-read--sheesh, I can't remember at all. Probably a Dr. Seuss one--yes--The Cat in the Hat Comes Back.

Cool! Now I have to go back to my paper, yikes.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

I'm still here, honest, I am ...

CPE still goes, and it is finals time for my one seminary class. I am trying to write a ten page paper. Meanwhile my dog club thinks I should be proceeding full steam ahead on its newsletter; I have to compose a five-minute Sunday Project before, well, Sunday, all of the dogs think I should be paying more attention to THEM, I am temporarily annoyed with my denomination, and what I'd love most to do is spend a day in bed surrounded by good books and trashy magazines, dozing off and on. Whine, whine, whine.

I have a special soft spot, it seems, for ladies of a certain age who are, as "the lingo" goes, "pleasantly confused." The other day such a lady kept wandering from somewhere else on the hospital floor down into our unit, and each time she did, someone would take her arm and very politely escort her back to her room. She had hair askew (I sympathize), a hospital gown, and fuzzy slippers, and she was clutching, very tightly, a stuffed toy cat. When she would arrive in our unit she would say vaguely confused sorts of things that suggested she wasn't quite in touch with reality. The fourth time she arrived, our social worker escorted her back to her room and, thinking to make pleasant conversation, asked, "And what is your kitty's name?" The lady gave the social worker a most condescending look and said, clear as a bell, "THIS is a STUFFED ANIMAL." One for the lady; the social worker returned, saying she felt put thoroughly in her place!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

You meet the nicest people on their deathbeds...

...sometimes. A patient who died over the weekend completely won my heart in his last days. He was experiencing terminal agitation, and was in his agitation very fixated on the idea of home, of going home, of various aspects of home. I understand this partly as a physical phenomenon and partly spiritual, as the patient is aware of being on a journey and not being 'home,' as well as aware of being in the hospital and not in his familiar surroundings. A CNA and I spent hours sitting with him Friday night, loving him, talking to him, watching movies with him, lifting his legs back into bed over and over again, trying to make him as comfortable as we could in his agitated state. He was the dearest man--he was not aggressive or angry toward us at all despite our thwarting his drive to get up (he was too weak to stand on his own and as he was a big guy we couldn't let him try, and fall, and hurt himself and cause himself more pain). His plan, which he revealed in bits and pieces, was to take us all, all the caregiving staff, home with him to his house where his wife and family were. He was going to blow up air mattresses downstairs so we'd all have nice places to sleep, and fix us drinks and snacks, maybe order pizza, then we'd all watch movies until we were sleepy and then sleep on our air mattresses, and then he'd make pancakes and waffles for us in the morning. How could one's heart not melt? In quieter moments he'd ask me what I thought of various housing projects for homeless people, also of Habitat for Humanity. I told him, trying to speak both literally and symbolically, that everyone needed home. Then I'd ask him what he thought, and he'd always think a minute and say, "I think it's good!" looking as if he was surprising himself some. At one point we'd gotten him temporarily settled as long as we were beside him. We were watching The Old Man and the Sea; I was on one side holding hands with him (and he was gripping my hands oh-so-tight, I can't imagine how scary this place must be) and the CNA, who was very bonded with him, was on the other side, rubbing his back. We must have looked a sight, our chairs pulled as close to his bed as we could get, loving him, and feeling loved in return. I told him often that when it was time for him to go home I promised he would have anything and everything he needed. Who knows if it helped him at all, but it was humbling. There is something very immediate about the ministry of holding someone's hand in the dark scary places, just holding a hand and loving.

Friday, November 04, 2005

I am a blogging slowpoke

It's true; I thought I'd post a lot more, but have been a very slow slowpoke indeed. Posting here today to ask for continued prayers for Reverend Mommy's younger daughter who has rheumatic fever. If you want to send the little one a word of encouragement, her blog is and you can feed Maggie, her cyber-puppy while you are there.

Have got to switch out a load of laundry, scoop the back yard, and head over to the coffee shop to spend about an hour working on my Sunday Project. (For anyone who doesn't hang out on Saturday evenings in RLP chat, the Sunday Project is that word that has six letters, starts with 's', ends with 'n', and has an 'rm' in the middle). I am taking two texts from Ruth, and we will talk about Traditional Family Values as found in the Bible. Amazing what one finds in Ruth: abiding friendship between people from completely different cultures (including religious traditions); unshakeable loyalty; concern for the poor and vulnerable; bold and transgressive sexual invitation; promises kept;and the birth of new life. Traditional family values, eh? It's all there.

Ah, the United Methodists, God bless them. Their nine-member Judicial Council has affirmed the removal of credentials from Beth Stroud, who publicly outed herself to her congregation--that one wasn't much of a surprise to me. The one that *was* a surprise was the decision to overturn disciplinary actions against a pastor who had refused membership in his congregation to a man solely because the man is gay. Many find this a dangerous precedent, for a number of reasons: the idea that a local pastor can determine who will be able to join a church strictly on the basis of the pastor's personal beliefs certainly opens the possibility of segregation on racial or political grounds. Or any others. Many Methodists, including the body of Methodist bishops, feel that the church should live up to its promise of open membership. Some feel the Judicial Board did not correctly follow the Book of Discipline. Supporters of the decision point to use of language like "may" instead of "shall" in the Discipline's discussion of membership.

It is a sad time. Even though I'm not a member or aspiring member of a Methodist church, it is still chilling and hurtful to hear an organization take such a posture. But we live in a time where this is tolerated, and I don't see that changing soon.

On another note, Hi Tim and Liz!!!!! And to all a happy weekend.