Prayer for a Meet-Up

Holy God,
Please open my heart to her,
And her heart to me,
That your love may pass between us.


Perspective (but just a little bit)

A couple of people have just behaved like hateful assholes to someone I adore. Cruel, selfish, putting him down because it's their only possible defense of their own bad behavior.

I have been fantasizing about all the mean things I could say to them. I've been so furious that my arms tingle, my head aches, and my jaw hurts from clenching my teeth.

I suspect this may be how God feels when we all, when I myself, mistreat people. Well, maybe not the name-calling and the visions of boiling oil, but definitely the anger. It's a thought that dilutes fury with humility.

But I still don't think I should talk to them right now...


Summer Academy, Last Day!

Sorry for the delay on this one-- I was tuckered out yesterday!

My thoughts from our last Spiritual Autobiography workshop:
  • Ageism in terms of faith drives me totally out of my gourd. I'm really sad to hear the disrespect with which people speak about their younger selves. Mind, I'm guilty of the same damn thing.
  • I have a bizarre liberal liturgical evangelical theology. It's a crazy quilt theology, but I absolutely believe that God is active in our lives.
  • I feel really angry when Christians make disparaging remarks about other denominations. Seriously? Why do we need to do this? It's clearer than ever that I feel called to an ecumenical ministry. Whatever that looks like. *sigh*
  • Clearly, I was cranky during class discussion, and not paying so much attention to the writing.
  • I notice that it's not uncommon for me to learn something, not appreciate it immediately, but find more value in it later. I suspect that will be the last with the Spiritual Autobiography class. On the other hand, the instructor said that he's going to rewrite the course description, because the part that I was interested in is the part he doesn't do!
Last grief class:
  • We talked about the importance of "continuing bonds with the deceased, moving from a relationship of presence to a relationship of memory." This makes a LOT of sense to me, and somehow seems like a kinder, more whole way to be. The old way of erasing someone from our lives seems to erase part of our lives. (I guess that's redundant, but maybe still needs to be said.)
  • One of my favorite suggestions: when someone grieving asks, "Why?!" consider that it may be a protest, rather than a question.
  • We learned things about child development this week that help explain why sometimes I'm slow to warm up to people (and maybe workshops).
I think that's it, folks.


Summer Academy Writing Assignment

I thought about including this with my bullets, but decided it deserved a whole separate post.

This assignment began with a 10 minute timed writing on "a time that we failed."

After we'd done that, we whittled our story into 40 words.

Then 30.

Then 15.

Here's mine:

Denison letterhead:
Semester home, earn return.
Amazing people expect me!
Learned other people fail, too.

I'm not sure it's powerful for other people, but I loved doing it. Try it when you've got a free 20 minutes.

Summer Academy, Day 4

  • It's not taking classes that's wearing me out, nor the fact that I'm not getting home until 9:30. No, it's the fact that I'm so wound up I'm not falling asleep until midnight.
  • My new buddy (?) and I agreed after yesterday's autobiography class: we're bored with ourselves. Tired of writing and talking about ourselves. It felt tedious on Thursday.
  • I'd love to break up these classes with... volleyball? Marco Polo in a pool? Something where I can laugh and not think at all.
  • I'm noticing about myself that I'm interested in conversation (out loud, in letters, even blog ones), but the one-way stories of writing... this I may not love quite as much.
  • Hell is other people. When I'm being irritable, I'm a terrible snob about writing.
  • Which is funny, because I'm not Tolstoy myself.
  • We talked about gender differences in grief (with the understanding that they're not a rule, just sometimes the way things go). The most helpful thing I got out of this was that when men experience a loss, it may be more useful to ask, "What are the problems you're anticipating now?" rather than "how are you feeling?" This makes a lot of sense to me. I like that it's a way to start to have a conversation. By dealing with the practical rather than the emotional, we can still reach out.
  • I LOVED that Prof. Frank was very clear: the things that may complicate grieving might also be the things holding a person together. Let people grieve the way they need to. Whether you think it's the "right way" or not really doesn't matter.
  • Also: Grief is more spiral than linear. I'm certainly noticing this in my relationship with my mother. Some days I'm fine, some I'm not, and the triggers and uncertainties vary.
  • It's not unusual around month 5 or 6 (this varies, of course), for the grievers pain to peak back up to the level it was at the very beginning. Maybe that's when it sinks in that things are not going back to "normal."
I want you to know how much I've loved sharing this week with you. I'm KICKING MYSELF for not doing the same thing with the Medicine/Spirituality conference in April (though I did a lot of writing on paper, so I may go back and see if there's anything worth sharing from that). It's meant a lot to me to have your perspectives, they've enriched my understanding.


Summer Academy, Day 3

Cats and kittens, I am WIPED. I only had Grief and Loss on Wednesday (no Autobiography), and somehow that one class was more exhausting than both.
  • We're reading Viorst's Necessary Losses, which is about the losses that occur at each developmental stage, from birth to death. When I started reading it last week (before the class met), I was overwhelmed. HOLY CRAP. I did NOT get to experience those losses well, at the time. It's given words to grief I've been trying to process over the last year. A friend said to me this morning, "it's a miracle you can make attachments!" She's right. Understanding better helps me to be more patient with myself, also illuminates the path ahead. One step at a time, anyway.
  • We talked about "disenfranchised grief," some of which comes from avoidable losses. Even when something is our choice, there's often a loss that needs to be grieved, and lots of time people do not respect this. Quitting a job, initiating a divorce, retirement, ending a relationship are all examples of this.
  • We were reminded that, because everyone grieves in their own way, we will make mistakes when we are with grievers. We can learn from them.
  • I'm exhausted, and I'm feeling tender, but I'm also feeling held. I talked to one of the women I love most in the world this morning, and was just enormously grateful to be loved back.


Summer Academy, Day 2

Thoughts from Day 2:

  • I made a new friend! Maybe. At least a new running buddy, I think.
  • One week of classes is not enough. It feels so good to be studying, to be engaged with other people who share my loves.
  • It's amazing to be in two classes where a primary purpose is to share our stories. I love these opportunities to turn my flat first impressions of people into something much richer. I hear people's stories, and my heart expands to make room for them.
  • Unfortunately, I'm so excited that I have to keep telling myself, "shutup, shutup, shutup, shutup!" to keep from babbling. I'm the verbal equivalent of an incontinent puppy.
  • I love the writing class (as a group of people), but I don't love the practice, I think. I've got a regular routine of praying via journal first thing in the morning, and my non-prayer "morning pages" feel... a little lonely, honestly. If I'm going to be honest on paper, I need the comfort of bringing that honest to God.
  • I'm FASCINATED by the grief class. (NOT, I want to be clear, in a carnival sideshow sort of way, but as something relevant to everyone, and as something I'm dealing with right now.) I kept thinking, everyone should learn these things! And then I realized, not everyone is going to learn the intricacies of loss and grief. We can't expect everyone to study this. We need people with understanding to accompany us, instead. Friends, I think this is something we're going to come back to. There's something going on here.
I had to come back and add to that last point: when I say "people with understanding," I don't mean people who have it all figured out or who will tell us what to do. I mean people who can listen, who can be with us, who can respect where we are.


Summer Academy, Day 1

There's SO MUCH to process after my first day of Lancaster Theological Seminary's summer academy. It's my second session there-- I went the summer of '07, and the contrasts between then and now are striking. Not in the program, but in me.

Because there's so very much to process, and because in the past that's gotten in the way of my sharing anything at all, we're going with bullet points this week. (I spent a week in Ohio in August, and another in April, and both of them were profound times of formation. I still want to write about them.)

Here we go:
  • I'm taking a workshop on Spiritual Autobiography, and a class on Living with Loss/Grieving.
  • There are TWO people that I know and enjoy in my classes! It's a small world of ministry in Lancaster County, and I'm so happy to run into these two.
  • Intensive writing and paying attention to loss is going to make for an emotional week, I think. I've packed a handkerchief in my bag.
  • There is some serious grace being doled out to me. One of the two people I've run into is a warm, kind pastor of a UCC church that I worshiped with briefly after resigning the process. There's no other way to say it: I've been scared of ordained ministers since I resigned. In light of that, his gentleness and encouragement have been a real blessing. Especially since I didn't join his congregation.
  • I really love being in class, talking about the things that matter most to me. The grief class is a great blend of cerebral and personal.
  • I think I'm an anomaly: apparently, most people feel more comfortable writing in plain, cheap notebooks. I love pretty journals, lovely pens. I'm not intimidated by them, I find them inviting. I like nice tools--even for the messy stuff.
  • I may be more comfortable writing than most.
  • Our Loss/Grief prof: "Certain events in our lives have not been dignified with recognition." Well, how powerful is that?! I thought of some right away, truths that we didn't want to dignify, but they were still important. This got me thinking about liturgy, which I've always loved. I've been a bit rigid about liturgy (in fairness, some of this is because I think it's so important), and when I thought about it as commemoration of events, I could see the possibility of more flexibility. I remember learning that a Church of the Brethren pastor and spiritual director held a service of blessing and release to a directee who'd been called to Episcopal priesthood (she'd worshipped in both denominations). Wouldn't it be great to honor those who discern calls out of things?
  • "What we grieve tells us what we love." Well, absolutely. But think about it. Because there are a lot of layers in that one.
  • Losses and gains are interrelated, but only the griever has a right to name any gifts that might come through grief.
That's it for now, friends, but that's a lot!


Wednesday Prayers: Timelines

Isn't she lovely? I took this picture this morning. I like a rose that decides to bloom when the temperature shoots into the triple-digits.

I quit my day job almost exactly a year ago, and in the months since then, the timeline-based vocational expectations I had have been blown apart. I've grown more in this year without business plans, checklists, and rubrics than I would have believed possible. This is the first time in my life that I've taken things as they've come-- a conference here, a class there. It's been peaceful and expansive (hopefully not in the tedious sense), all at the same time. I've been open to leadings, and they've been much better formation than the times I've had to contort myself to try to fit.

And since I've been able to practice and learn from this vocationally, one would think it would be simple and natural to take that same flexibility and apply it to other parts of my life.

AHAHAHAHAHAHA! *wipes eyes*

So, this week my prayer is to apply the same patience to my personal life that I have to my vocational one.

How about you? Are you praying to tread more lightly, or do you need help plunging ahead? Maybe some of both? Let me know, and I'll pray for you, too!



A few years ago, Mr. M and I switched to canvas shopping bags. I LOVE them-- partly because they feel more ecologically responsible, but also because they're much more comfortable for me to carry (and you'd laugh at the lengths I go to in order to only take one trip into the house with groceries). I always remember to grab the bag o' bags for the weekly grocery shopping, but sometimes I have to run a quick errand and have left the bags at home. More often than not I tell the clerk that I don't want a bag, but that's not always convenient.

SO, since we didn't have enough bags to leave a couple extra in the car, I headed to my local fabric store. One day of sewing + 2 yards of upholstery-weight fabric ($7 on clearance!), and we now have four new totes! And they're cute! And I didn't use a pattern at all, just winged it! Very exciting. So, two in each car, and I'm ready to... well, head to the bookstore tomorrow (because I have to pick up my reading for Lancaster Theological Seminary's Summer Academy).


Independence Day

Altar Ego made a great little list of things she loves about our country, and I liked it so much I decided to do the same.

In random order:
  1. Peach Pie
  2. The Bill of Rights
  3. Pork BBQ Sandwiches
  4. Cowboys, and their Boots
  5. The OSU/Michigan Game
  6. Washington, DC
  7. Rahm Emanuel
  8. Springsteen
  9. The USMC Silent Drill Team
  10. National Public Radio



At the eleventh hour, then news has come: Mr. M isn't being laid off. Budgets are being cut instead of staff.