What's Out There?

When I first started blogging, I was also just beginning the ordination process. I was looking for a way to process my experiences, and maybe find some common ground with people. I wanted to know that I wasn't (totally) nuts, and that the Episcopal church and the process can be a bit ridiculous.

Today, I realized that what I need now isn't confirmation of the craziness, but affirmation that there are places where it works. My parish, in many ways, doesn't work. That's the nature of a human institution, I know. But some places do work better than others, yes? So it's time to learn about the places that work better. Poking through blogs, visiting parish websites, really talking to more people, maybe people outside of my diocese. I'm ready to find out what makes them work, and strive for those skills and qualities. Isn't it a beautiful, simple, obvious thing to do? That's why it's taken so long to occur to me.

In some ways, this will be a private search. But I can do what my heart is telling me is healthy. At times I've wondered if I need to leave the Episcopal church. Today, I'm wondering if I can get to know all of it a little better first.


Light 'n' Happy Crushes

I've got a serious post running around in my brain, but I'm not ready to lasso it yet. Instead, can we play for a minute? I was just over at ms. reverend or not's blog, and she was talking about Billy Collins. Whom I think is darling. Which made me think of David Baker and Stanley Plumly, other middle-aged poets whom I have (completely age-inappropriate) crushes on. Also makes me think about how my favorite girlfriend and I were discussing crushes on fictional characters (raise your hand if you have one on Owen Meany).

And crushes are important. It's good for us to have people in our lives who make us giggle a little, who contribute to our feeling good about ourselves. People are fascinating, complex, beautiful creatures, and enjoying them is a precious skill. Good crushes aren't quite sexual in nature, though they may remind us that we are sensual beings. They're not gender-specific, either. Flirting with people not in line with your sexual orientation can be a light, affirming, caring interaction.

So, out with it: any fun crushes?

Loafe with me on the grass, loose the stop from your throat, Not words, not
music or rhyme I want, not custom or lecture, not even the best, Only the
lull I like, the hum of your valved voice.

-Walt Whitman, Song of Myself (on whom I have yet another crush)

Caveat for those who are concerned: Mr. M is always my favorite crush. The better things are with him, the more likely I am to flirt. He's always my priority.


Conventional isn't the same as Necessary.

I was wandering through a bunch of blogs by fellow 'Piskies this afternoon, and I read something that I've heard in a thousand different ways, maybe literally hundreds of times.

Someone was discussing their path to ordained ministry, and refered to their "obligatory young adult lapsed phase." Now, there are so many under-40 RevGals that I shouldn't need to point out that lacking a loving community of faith in your 20s and 30s isn't even close to obligatory.

Here's my concern: more often than not when we say that young adults "just don't come" to be part of faith communities, we're saying it doesn't matter. We're saying that's just the way it is, and it's fine. We're saying they don't need us, and we don't need them. (Have I mentioned that I think discussions with a clear "them" and "us" are usually headed into dangerous territory?) When I started attending my first parish out of college, I was told that I had no peers because no one comes to church until they have children. And the people who said it were very comfortable with that answer.

Young adults, like everyone else, have spiritual needs. Young adults, like everyone else, need loving support. Young adults, like everyone else, have times of wisdom and of foolishness that we can all grow through. And individuals of all ages have a vast spectrum of gifts to share.

Admittedly, I can't speak for all young adults. I can speak for myself, though.
As a young adult I:
  • can probably be a pain in the rear sometimes (like now?).
  • may have ideas that conflict with some traditions of the church.
  • may feel intimidated about speaking up.
  • am trying to juggle the beginnings of career/family/relationships.
  • am sometimes overwhelmed by the long-term affects the decisions I make now may have.
  • want to better understand how to know Jesus , instead of just knowing about Jesus.

All of those things can have a place in a healthy church.

An awful lot of our parents felt disillusioned by their own religious upbringing, so I don't think it's fair to assume that we will be in church after we have kids. Many of us don't have a faith tradition to return to. I was extremely fortunate, in that I had several loving faith communities growing up, but I'm not convinced that's the norm. I recognize that my peers need (and often want!) a relationship with God, and a place to explore their spirituality, but don't have places where they feel safe to learn and grow.

So many of us mainline denominations are terrified of anything approaching "evangelism"-- myself included. I have awful images of judgement where there should be love, of dogma where there could be encouragement and imagination. But I don't think we can assume that people will just happen to wander in the doors of our churches in droves (though praise God if that's the case!), and I don't think we can afford to dismiss millions of people because that age bracket just doesn't come.


I've seen this a few times, I'm finally giving in:

From What Privileges Do You Have?, based on an exercise about class and privilege developed by Will Barratt, Meagan Cahill, Angie Carlen, Minnette Huck, Drew Lurker, Stacy Ploskonka at Illinois State University. If you participate in this blog game, they ask that you PLEASE acknowledge their copyright.

Bold the true statements.
1. Father went to college.
2. Father finished college.
3. Mother went to college.
4. Mother finished college.
5. Have any relative who is an attorney, physician, or professor.
6. Were the same or higher class than your high school teachers.
7. Had more than 50 books in your childhood home.
8. Had more than 500 books in your childhood home.
9. Were read children’s books by a parent.
10. Had lessons of any kind before you turned 18.
11. Had more than two kinds of lessons before you turned 18.
12. The people in the media who dress and talk like me are portrayed positively.
13. Had a credit card with your name on it before you turned 18.
14. Your parents (or a trust) paid for the majority of your college costs.
15. Your parents (or a trust) paid for all of your college costs.
16. Went to a private high school.
17. Went to summer camp.
18. Had a private tutor before you turned
19. Family vacations involved staying at hotels.
20. Your clothing was all bought new before you turned 18.
21. Your parents bought you a car that was not a hand-me-down from them.
22. There was original art in your house when you were a child .
23. You and your family lived in a single-family house.
24. Your parent(s) owned their own house or apartment before you left home.
25. You had your own room as a child.
26. You had a phone in your room before you turned 18.
27. Participated in a SAT/ACT prep course.
28. Had your own TV in your room in high school.
29. Owned a mutual fund or IRA in high school or college.
30. Flew anywhere on a commercial airline before you turned 16.
31. Went on a cruise with your family.
32. Went on more than one cruise with your family.
33. Your parents took you to museums and art galleries as you grew up. (Please note that these were largely museums containing planes, trains and automobiles … and submarines, tractors, etc. If it had an internal combustion engine, we went to see it. I went under protest. Fun times.)34. You were unaware of how much heating bills were for your family.


Friday Five: Good Books Edition

Today, RevHRod gives us this Friday Five:

The website promoting this piece of art says, "For the first time, the worlds most influential religious texts are brought together and presented on the same level, their coexistence acknowledged and celebrated”. The shelf is made of reclaimed wood that contains seven religious books. The designers have put them – literally – on the same level.Well, pish posh! I think that some books ARE better than others! How about you?

What book have you read in the last six months that has really stayed with you? Why?
I've read a lot of Spiritual Direction books for class, and I've read a lot of fun books, but I haven't read much that was thoughtful without being work-related. I've got nothing on this one. (Though if you want a beautiful one on Spiritual Direction, Gerald May's Awakened Heart is great.) NO, WAIT, I LIE!!! I just peeked at the next question, and realized that it's children's books. I didn't read Madeleine L'Engle as a child, I just started last fall. I've loved her.

What is one of your favorite childhood books?
Early Childhood: Harold and the Purple Crayon.
Young Adult: There's a series about the Melendy children by Elizabeth Enright and they're WONDERFUL. The Saturdays, Spiderweb for Two, The Four-Story Mistake, Then There Were Five. I think there are more, but it's been a long time.

Do you have a favorite book of the Bible? Do tell!
I love the Gospel of John. I love Isaiah. I really enjoy Exodus.

What is one book you could read again and again?
John Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany. I could not begin to count the number of times I've read this book.

Is there a book you would suggest for Lenten reading? What is it and why?
Something quiet. I like poetry for Lent, it makes me settle down a little better. I'll take suggestions if anyone has some, because most of my favorite poets are exuberant (Whitman, cummings).

And because we all love bonus questions, if you were going to publish a book what would it be? Who would you want to write the jacket cover blurb expounding on your talent?
I almost left off this bonus, because I really don't know the answer. Mr. M, however, has said for a long time that he thinks I'll write a book. (I assume we're not including my Sr. research, which will certainly not be published: "Deception and Disguise in Eighteenth Century AngloAmerican Women's Literature.") So I'll leave the unanswered question here, as a reminder of his faith and expectation.


Lighten Up

OK. Discernment is important, and questions of where and how we serve God are important, but sometimes we have to address other issues.

Like underpants.

Specifically, Days of the Week underpants.

One of my favorite friends (the one with whom I'm running the Pig) and I were talking about Days of the Week underpants (DotWU). I have two sets, but they're getting quite old. She doesn't have any, but wants some.

These suckers are harder to find than you might think. And some of them are EXPENSIVE! Not to mention a little boring.

I should probably take a minute to explain my philosophy of underwear: the tackier it is, the luckier it is. Because of my love of college football, and my cheerleading days, I consider red underwear the luckiest. In college, my roommate bought me a red pair with silver threads, and feathers on the sides. THAT was lucky underwear!

So, I'm thinking about my awesome friend, and these quirky underpants we're searching for, and I'm starting to think... why not MAKE them? Not from scratch, but either stamp or paint or iron-on the wording, and then GO NUTS with the decoration.

I would love suggestions from any of you crafty people out there.

(In the interest of full disclosure, this is the one girlfriend that Mr. M thinks could get arrested with me one day. She's incredibly fun. And when I have hairbrained ideas, and my other girlfriends reign me back in, she's standing there say, "Yeah, that's a good idea!")


A Hard Question: Has anyone out there started the ordination process in one tradition and finished in another?

I feel like a traitor for even asking the question, and I'm positive that if discernment leads that way, it will include a stage of grieving. I don't quit when a relationship is hard, and I love to be part of growth and change. Ultimately, though, faithfulness to God is far more important than fidelity to one community of faith. I want to stay in this beautiful church that I love. I need to take God's call seriously, even when it isn't in the correct prepackaged box.

I met with my spiritual director on Wednesday, and then shuffled off to SD training yesterday, and over and over, I kept remembering the joy that comes with freedom of imagination. I kept contrasting it with this dreadful "discipline and obedience." There have been so many glorious times when God has popped up in unexpected places, completely surprising me with new plans. It seems like arrogance to believe that there is a simple, neatly proscribed timeline and job descriptions for all ministers of the church, regardless of their gifts.

This loss of imagination is making me feel old. I want to dream. I want to rejoice in the prophetic imagination that is so precious to me. I want to know if I can do that here. I want to be truly faithful.

God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be

Courage to change the things which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.
one day at a time,

Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as
Jesus did,

This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would
have it,

Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be
reasonably happy in this life,

And supremely happy with You forever
in the next.

by Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)


I have just sent what might be the most half-assed Ember Letter ever. I'm not sure if it's because my own discernment process sucks right now, or because so many others are struggling, too.

I think about our rich biblical stories:
Moses and the burning bush
Jonah and the failed voyage
David the youngest son
Isaac the unexpected child
Rahab the prostitute
John the Baptist driving everyone crazy
Jesus challenging the authorities of his faith
Jesus challenging the authorities of his faith
Jesus challenging the authorities of his faith

and I am not convinced that people are called by God into ministry by committee. I am not convinced that those in positions of authority have a better idea of what ministry could be, and who should carry it out.

I believe in accountability, and for that reason I think we need people to hold positions of authority. But when they decide what God can and can't and will and won't do, I start to believe they might not know the same God I know. Because the God I know suprises and delights me. The God I know brings wide, abundant hope, and not a narrow rubric. The God I know sneaks up on me to blow apart my ideas about what can be. This Loving Creator whispers that I need to reconsider my absolutes, not shackle others in their snare.

My God says No in love, but my God loves to say Yes.


Chili Craving

I think it's possible that no one will no what I'm talking about, or that those who do will gag, but:

I am craving Skyline chili like you would not believe. Does anyone have a recipe for good Cincinnati chili?!?!?



Mrs. M, why are you all dolled up today? Why are we blasting the B-52s and a totally inappropriate song by James?

Why, because we're celebrating the Iowa caucus-goers, of course.

Friday Five: New Year's Resolutions

This week, Sally gives us a great Friday Five. (I'm actually prepared for this one!!!)

Well it had to be didn't it, love them or hate them I bet you've been asked about New Year resolutions. So with no more fuss here is this weeks Friday Five;

1. Do you make New Year resolutions?
Mr. M and I both do. This year, we started a new tradition that I'm super-excited about. Because we both get New Year's Day off, we've decided that's Visioning Day. This year we observed it by going to the Philadelphia Museum of Art for the day. We had a plan: We each started with a list of catagories in our lives (family, marriage, work, play, exercise, etc). We split up in the morning, each roaming through the parts of the museum that most interested us, and journaling as we went about how we felt called to grow in each of those catagories. We met up for lunch, and then spent the afternoon showing each other the things we'd most enjoyed. That's how the Ms make resolutions! (Or lay the groundwork, anyway!)

2. Is this something you take seriously, or is it a bit of fun?
Both. I think I'll be better able to take it seriously because I have fun with it.

3. Share one goal for 2008.
To stop multitasking so much, esp at work. I want to create my schedule so that I can focus on one thing at a time (when possible). I think this will really bring down my stress level.

4. Money is no barrier, share one wild/ impossible dream for 2008
This is going to be the year we finally take our honeymoon! (Actually, we've been stowing away about $20/week for some time. This really will be the year!)

5. Someone wants to publish a story of your year in 2008, what will the title of that book be?
Growing Into Her Skin


You Did It! You Did It! You Said That You Would Do It And Indeed You Did!

Woo-hoo!!! I finally did it!!!

So, many of you know that I'm about a quarter of the way through a Spiritual Direction training program. Part of the program is plain ol' practice-- we need to meet with directees.

Others of you may know that I'm particularly interested, in the long run, in college ministry.

WELL, MY FRIENDS! I've finally emailed the Chaplain at the small college AROUND THE CORNER from me, and offered to volunteer my services to the college community. The Chaplain has worked with the priest that I interned under, so that's a nice connection.

I'm quite excited. If you think to, please keep this venture in your prayers.

A Brief Prayer for Working in Community

Dear Lord, please make my brain faster than my mouth today. Amen.