The Things You Find

I'm still cleaning out my predecessor's desk. I found this in a file drawer today:
I cannot begin to imagine what had been in it. Sadly (or to my great relief, I can't decide), it was empty by the time I got to it.

Because I'm Glad You're Here


I just breifly skimmed an article in the Post this morning about 2 more American priests being "consecrated" as African bishops. I have to admit that the first thing that I thought was, "I wonder if this is the only way all of these defecting priests would ever be made bishops."

Our diocese when through the bishop search, it was a long, arduous process for everyone involved. I'm sure these new African, Anglican "bishops" didn't have to do the dog-and-pony show in their new Kenyan/Nigerian/etc dioceses. Here, other priests and laypersons have a vote in who gets to be a new bishop. Is anyone screening for competance, rather than politics?

Friday Five: Brace Yourself, Bridget.

This week, ReverendMother has given us a lovely, albeit slightly depressing Friday Five: Seasons Change.

It's Labor Day weekend here in the United States, also known as Summer's Last Hurrah. So let's say goodbye to summer and hello to the autumn. (People in other climes, feel free to adapt as needed.)

1. Share a highlight from this summer. (If you please, don't just say "our vacation to the Canadian Rockies." Give us a little detail or image. Help us live vicariously through you!)

Every year we go to out local town fair in late August. Funnel cake, animals, the whole small town thing. I love it.

2. Are you glad to see this summer end? Why or why not?

The day I'm glad to see summer end will be the day I'm welcomed to to Big Beach Party in the Sky. After all, we've just found Elk Neck State Park. It's not quite a beach, but it's close, and we didn't even have a chance to go back with inner tubes!

3. Name one or two things you're looking forward to this fall.
Well, our anniversary is in late September, so that's always a nice way to usher me into The Season Where Everything Dies A Vibrant Death, and then onto The Season Where Everything is Dead and Gray. (I'm a spring/summer kinda girl here, one that maybe needs to relocate.)

4. Do you have any special preparations or activities to mark the transition from one season to another? (Cleaning of house, putting away summer clothes, one last trip to the beach) .
I do enjoy swapping out the summer clothes for winter clothes. It's fun to get a whole new (old) wardrobe, and remember old favorites I've forgotten about.

5. I'll know that fall is really here when __________________________________.
I have to wear a jacket, and open-toed shoes start to seem ridiculous.


Anticipation and Joy

Of course, now I have Carly Simon running through my head.

After bemoaning my own laziness, I've been thinking a lot more about running again, and I'm starting to get excited. I've been poking around Runner's World online, reading a little Jim Fixx, and setting up a workout schedule in Excel. (The prep work gets me fired up, strange but true.)

I'm not just getting excited about being outside and moving again, but I'm excited about the spiritual reminders implicit in running-- that we care about the journey, not just the finish line. That there is rhythm and progress even when we're not moving in a straight line. That God is showing God's self to us everywhere, especially when we get right into the middle of our surroundings, instead of insulating ourselves from within the car/house/office.

Nice stuff.

So, I've got the schedule, I've got the motivation AND I'm going to sign at least myself (probably also Mr. M) up for a race in October. (The point is not running fast, the point is finishing and getting a t-shirt.) Since it benefits education, I thought maybe I'd see if my mother-in-law wanted to do the 5k walk.

Fitness, Spirituality, and Diplomacy, all in one fell swoop. Nothin' but good times ahead.


Procrastination, Fear, and Faith

I'm a procrastinator. Not with everything. Laundry (usually) gets done promptly. Thank-you cards are generally sent on time. I buy Christmas gifts well in advance.

But I find that there's a direct corelation between how long I procrastinate, and how afraid I am of failing. Not only is this irrational, but even I know it's self-defeating. When I've reached the last possible moment to get whatever-it-is done, the urgency is finally greater than my doubt.

I must mail my application for Spiritual Direction training TODAY. And so I am finishing it now. It's honest, and thoughtful, but I couldn't do it before today because it was so daunting. Not, it's a little daunting, but holding out for perfection is no longer an option, so it's OK to just dive in.

Update: Procrastination or not, I just sent in my application!


Friday Five: Cultural Edition

Sally has given us this week's Fabulous Friday Five.

I have spent the week at Summer School studying the Gospel and Western culture, we have looked at art, literature, music, film and popular culture in their myriad expressions. With that in mind I bring you the cultural Friday Five. Name a

1. Book
John Irving's A Prayer For Owen Meany. Also Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass-- it's what I read to remember how exuberantly God loves us. Oh, wait-- also the poetry of e.e. cummings, for the same reason...and Anne Bradstreet's... just about all of the transcendentalists, except Thoreau, who I think was really a wuss. (Does anyone realize how foolish it is to give this question to someone with a Lit degree and an eye toward seminary?)

2. Piece of music Shubert's Ave Maria is very simply the most stunning piece of music in the world. End of story. (But done well, people. There are lots of... disappointing... renditions.)

3. Work of art I'm sorry to say I don't have anything for this one. There's a lot of art that I find interesting or attractive, but I haven't yet been struck by anything soul-stirring.

4. Film Some of you will not be surprized to see that instead of a film, I'm going to name... YES! AN EPISODE OF WEST WING!!! Honestly, though, the finale of Season 2 is called "Two Cathedrals," and it's one of the most honest, brave, and inspiring things I've seen filmed. It's incredibly smart and very powerful. (Everybody come on over to my place; I'll make popcorn and pop in the DVD.)

5. Unusual engagement with popular culture Oh! Yes-- the annual V-Day performances of the Vagina Monologues. I performed in them in college, and have gone to see them almost every year since (got snowed out one year). Again, I find the greatest power is in honesty.

That have helped/ challenged you on your spiritual journey.
Bonus: Is engagement essential to your Christian faith, how and why?



Sloths/Slugs/Lazy People

I had a hard time naming this post, because I wanted a corresponding title and picture. Since I'm really feeling like a slug, that was the obvious option. On the other hand, have you looked at a slug lately? Let me clarify: Disgusting, yes? So I obviously didn't want to share that analogy.

Then I thought about sloths-- aren't they fuzzy little creatures that also happen to lack energy? But when I looked a little closer, not so cute. The talons alone could scare the bejesus out of someone:

So we'll just be talking about lazy people today. I can do that one. This is a reasonably accurate depiction of me when I don't want to do something (clearly including taking care of my hair, makeup, and wardrobe):

But I'm starting to become embarrassed by my laziness. It might very well be the tiniest nasty competitive streak I have: a college buddy has been competitively biking all summer, another one is running a mini-marathon in October, and a darling coworker just finished an Ironman triathlon.
Me? I'm going to re-start my once-a-week hour of beginning ballroom dance next month (summer hiatus). I'd like to be more active, I just don't want to have to actually do something. Ya know?
I used to jog. Can't breathe in winter, though, which makes me inconsistant. I've thought about some sort of league sport, but I am painful uncoordinated at anything involving bats/balls/clubs/raquets. To an embarrassing degree. (I'm having painful elementary school flashbacks now of always, always being the last one picked. Dorky little girl in the middle of rough, competative, loud girls. Not a place I want to be again.) There's always the Pilates DVD, I guess. Not real impressive, eh? I'm certainly not going to get a t-shirt out of it.
I think I want a running partner. Not Mr. M, though he offers-- he's such a softy that when I start whining he lets me off the hook. Anyone know someone who might push me, but not demoralize me? I think that's what I want.

A Little Behind Schedule

Mr. M and I will celebrate our 3rd anniversary next month. Sometime before the end of the year, I'm hoping to have our wedding album put together.
Nope, not kidding. We were on a shoestring budget when we got married, and a dear friend offered to do our pictures. Bless his sweet heart, it was incredibly thoughtful and loving of him. They were not, however, your typical wedding pictures. He takes pictures for a smalltown newspaper, and shmoopie wedding stuff is not familiar to him. SO...

When I found that my mom had taken at least 5 rolls of film that weekend (I think that's a very conservative estimate), I was afraid to hope they might be what I was looking for. She took some really good stuff. I think maybe there's something to be said for having a photographer who's really close to you: they know just what to look for during the weekend. So, now I'm scanning her pics, and uploading them to shutterfly. I'm a little skeptical about the quality of the scanner I'm using, so I'm going to order a couple of prints before I haul off and order hundreds. AND THEN, finally, we will put together the beautiful embossed album that Mr. M's friend gave us as an engagement present. Hallelujah.

One of a zillion reasons to love my Mama. One of a zillion of the ways she loves me.


I opted for "Forgiveness."

I met with my COM mentor on Sunday, and it was such a blessing. Maybe an even bigger blessing was his wife, who is just a force to be reckoned with. My Mentor believes that the spiritual director's training program is a good idea, certainly a wise use of my time over the next year or two.

We went to Mass together, and then sat over lunch for at least two hours. Bless their hears, Mentor and Mrs. Mentor listened to so many of my frustrations with patience and kindness. Mr. M went with me, and his shy self was able to speak clearly and frankly with them about his concerns, too-- I was so proud of him.

So, I've sent the following email to the head of the COM and my (on-sabbatical) mentor. Here's hoping it's respectful enough to mute the fact that I'm just hauling off and doing what I want to do:

I wanted to touch base with both of you about my formation for the next year or two.

I’m very interested in Oasis Ministry’s 2-year training for Spiritual Directors. You may be familiar with the program: G and K have both had some interaction with the diocese, and J of the cathedral is the president of their board.

I’ve spoken with L, my mentor on the COM, and we agree that there are a number of reasons that this program would be a good fit for me at this point. I believe that active spiritual engagement with supportive peers will start to address some of the concerns raised by the COM in April. I’m personally very excited about the program; the training in listening both to one another and to God will be so valuable in whatever ministry lies ahead of me. At the end of the 2 years Mr. M and I will be in a much better position financially to start seminary.

I’m sending in my application this week, and the first retreat will take place in October. The time commitment is very manageable, and my employer is happy to be accommodating on the handful of weekdays that are required. I’m particularly pleased that my schedule will remain flexible, as I’m eager to work with you on any diocesan/parish formation you feel is necessary and appropriate.

Thank you for your consideration.


The Damn Things are Everywhere.

Mr. M and I went to dinner with a girlfriend of mine last night. It's amazing how much can change in 3 months. In the time since I've last seen her, she's gotten back together with an ex, he's moved back in, and she's expecting.

2 other friends my age are expecting their second. Another had her third last winter.

It's so important to me to be supportive and excited. But after a while it gets really hard to keep watching.


Friday Five: Word Association

Reverendmother gives us this lovely, simple word association Friday Five.

This one is patterned off an old Friday Five written by Songbird, our Friday Five Creator Emerita:

Below you will find five words. Tell us the first thing you think of on reading each one. Your response might be simply another word, or it might be a sentence, a poem or a story.

1. vineyard
Mellow, luxurious vacation.

2. root Vegetables-- carrots, potatoes, beets.

3. rescue Baby Jessica. Not sure why that's what occurs to me...

4. perseverance College graduation. That required more perseverance than anything I've ever done. (Not your typical college experience, there were some major setbacks involved.)

5. divided Unfortunately, both family and church sprang to mind for this one. People who ought to support and love one another, but who won't/can't/don't.

(Each of these appears in one of the readings from this Sunday's lectionary.)

PS-- Do you realize I look forward to the Friday Five all week? It's wonderful to have a reason to cycle through your blogs.


Getting Settled

My house is always a mess. Well, to be more accurate, I should say that it's always a mess UNLESS there are guests coming soon. It's my foolproof cleaning method.

But my desk... now, that's another kettle of fish entirely. I HATE a messy workspace. In college, I used to clean my dorm room before I worked on a project. People thought I was procrastinating, but really I just have a very hard time concentrating in clutter.

I've just started a new position, and I am replacing a PackRat. An extremely capable, friendly, sucessful PackRat, but nonetheless... I am flummoxed. I've already tossed/shredded/recycled quite a bit, but that's all just from the desktop and two small drawers. There are still 4 file drawers to go through, and 3 overhead bins. Not to mention her email folders, oh my!

Monday I stayed about an hour and a half after work to try to find the desktop. I'm seriously thinking that the best way to clear through everything might just be to come in on weekends/evening so that I can do stuff that isn't quite work stuff, but that I need to do for my sanity.

I'm also struggling to figure out what to keep and what to toss. Some of it's easy: a date stamp where the most recent year is 1989, insurance brochures from a company we stopped using several years ago. Some of it I'm sure is duplicates, but I've got to find the folders on the computer to make sure... and for privacy reasons, she tried to "bury" some information. Oy.

So, if you don't see me, please send food.


God Bless the Lit Majors, One and All.

Garrison Keillor is, as we all know, fantastic. This morning's offering from The Writer's Almanac is also wonderful. I present to you Mr. Philip Deaver's "The Worrier's Guild," from his collection entitled How Men Pray.

The Worriers' Guild

Today there is a meeting of the
Worriers' Guild,
and I'll be there.
The problems of Earth are
to be discussed
at length
end to end
for five days
end to end
with 1100 countries represented
all with an equal voice
some wearing turbans and smocks
and all the men will speak
and the women
with or without notes
in 38 languages
and nine different species of logic.
Outside in the autumn
the squirrels will be
chattering and scampering
directionless throughout the town
they aren't organized yet.


Ain't it great?

I had a "wow, it's fun to be married" moment this morning.

Actually, it may have just been a "wow, it's fun to know Mr. M" moment.

At about 7:20 this morning, Mr. M was in his car and I was in mine (today was not a carpooling day), and we both called each other as soon as we heard on NPR that Karl Rove is resigning.

Simultaneous geekiness. Gotta love it.


Friday Five: Stress-Busting Edition

Sally has given us this great Friday Five.

1. First, and before we start busting stress, what causes you the most stress, is it big things or the small stuff?
I am really pretty good about sweating the little stuff. Student loans, hands down, cause me the most stress.

2. Exercise or chocolate for stress busting ( or maybe something else)?
Neither exercise nor stress (though I find that if I'm exercising regularly, I stay a lot calmer). Prayer for stress-busting. Also, singing-- badly and loudly, of course, and usually in the car. Doesn't work for Student Loan Stress, but works great for scary traffic or after/before tense meetings.

3.What is your favourite music to chill out to?
For deeply peaceful music, I love Renee Fleming.

4. Where do you go to chill?
Outside, to a place where there is water. Preferably an ocean, but I'm going to have to get back out of a landlocked state for that to be a regular thing again. (I've come to the conclusion that if you grow up near oceans, you just can't convert to being an inlander.)

5. Extrovert or introvert, do you relax at a party, or do you prefer a solitary walk?
Extrovert, but for me that means that I'm very attentive to the people around me, and I really do need alone time to decompress.

Bonus- share your favourite stress busting tip!
Joan Jett, volume all the way up, and me singing into my wooden-spoon-microphone in the kitchen. Oh-- and the croquet mallet mounted on my wall reminds me that I'm tough when I need to be.


Forgiveness or Permission.

Most of us are familiar with the old saying, "It's easier to get forgiveness than permission."

I don't really agree with it. I make a joke of it every so often, but my general feeling is that it tears away trust, and that's extremely hard to gain back.

Having said that...

I'd really like to do an ecumenical Spiritual Direction training program. This is what I alluded to a while back-- the thing I could do while I was on hold with seminary. There's a cost, but the time commitment is not massive. I could easy engage in other formation while I'm doing it. My job is willing to accomodate it.

But I don't think my rector will like it (mostly because it's not Anglican, doesn't follow his model of "Spiritual Direction should be given by an ordained Anglican, period"). No idea whether the COM will like it, though it would address their concerns. Who knows about my bishop?

I'm a Postulant. I'm Officially In The Process. But I'm not going anywhere, exactly, because we cannot afford seminary right now-- I'm thinking roughly two years. It may well be a BIG HUBBALLOO if I sign up w/o my (on sabbatical) rector signing off. On the other hand, I'm a Postulant On Hold for the foreseeable future because of finances. I'm not sure what the point of postulancy is if you don't head right off to seminary. I'm concerned that I might slip through the cracks, and if that happens, I would really regret not taking this training opportunity. I'd hoped to talk to the head of my COM about it while my rector is on sabbatical, but I'm not sure I'm going to get a chance to do that.

Feedback would be great.

Just a Quick Hello

I'm just poking my head in, having noticed that I'm not the only one in the blogosphere who's been taking a nap lately.

I'm going to try to get last week's sermon up soon, and maybe a couple of recipes that Mr. M and I have played with. Last night I made fantastic lemon custard cakes-- unbelievable! So that recipe should be here soon, too-- with pics, I hope.

Hope everyone's holding up in this sweltering heat. Mr. M and I have been camping for the last week and a half. By "camping," I only mean that we've moved the mattress from the guest room (in our un-cool-able upstairs) to the living room (in our almost chilly downstairs). It's a little odd, but makes things more comfortable. (Funny how Central Air doesn't always quite do what you'd hope.)

Hang in there, folks!


Friday Five: Pilgrimage Edition

Reverendmother was kind enough to post this Friday Five for us.

1. Have you ever been on a pilgrimage? (however you choose to define the term) Share a bit about it. If not, what's your reaction to the idea of pilgrimage? By the standard definition, I haven't been on a pilgrimage. That lovely week-long drive from CA to OH when I was 20 feels like one, though. Freedom to notice, freedom to think, celebrating being in my own company. Beautiful trip. I'm still really grateful that I had the chance to take it. I don't think I realized at the time how precious it was, though I certainly did enjoy it.

2. Share a place you've always wanted to visit on pilgrimage. Nope, no "one place" for me. I love the journey more than the destination.

3. What would you make sure to pack in your suitcase or backpack to make the pilgrimage more meaningful? Or does "stuff" just distract from the experience? Stuff is definitely a distraction.

4. If you could make a pilgrimage with someone (living, dead or fictional) as your guide, who would it be? (I'm about thisclose to saying "Besides Jesus." Yes, we all know he was indispensable to those chaps heading to Emmaus, but it's too easy an answer) My gut, knee-jerk reaction is that pilgrimages are solo journeys for me. Then I realized that in this life pilgrimages ought to be something we do together, so I'm really not sure what my answer to this is. It's so hard to find deep peace with other people. Something to think about.

5. Eventually the pilgrim must return home, but can you suggest any strategies for keeping that deep "mountaintop" perspective in the midst of everyday life? (don't mind me, I'll be over here taking notes) Making space for intentional quiet is my answer on this one.

Afterthought: I find such beauty in the Friday Five: one set of questions, but an amazing range of responses. These differences are gorgeous and joyous today.