Friends Like Whitman

Walt Whitman has been my favorite poet for about a thousand years. I love his expansiveness, his generosity, his gravity, his joy, his oomph!

One of my favorite bits from Leaves of Grass is where, accused of contradicting himself, he explains that "I am large, and contain multitudes."

There aren't a lot of people who are willing to see and know our contradicting parts, much less love us with them, but this week was a riot of knowing friends, and it was glorious. People who see me as saucy and spiritual, compassionate and capable, funny and bright, kind and bitchy.

It's such a gift to be seen. It's a holy thing to be seen, to be recognized. (Perhaps we can even say that
there is an element of evil in willfully not seeing people. How can we love our neighbor if we won't really look at our neighbor?) Some remarkable people go beyond, seeing us in the fullness of who we can grow into.

I'm wagging this morning, thinking of M and J and S and L, all of whom (magically, it seems) know and love me.

May you experience the same drenching in blessing.


Wednesday Prayers: Arse Over Teakettle

We're into the second week of a new routine, and I'm still getting my bearings, so consider this a free-for-all. Let me know how I can pray for you, and until next week, I'll be here, trying to get right-side-up.


Wednesday Prayers: to St. Ina

Dave and I are dog-sitting a sweet pup for a friend this week. I'm not particularly close to this friend, but I like her a lot, and I know that her dog has been quite a blessing to her. She's a darling, lovable animal-- the only reason I'm not posting pics is my belief that you don't publicly share photos of other people's kids. Still, there's been some chaos in welcoming a dog into our cat household, and some stress in working out a system that's good for everyone.

Which brings me to Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa.

I love Ina Garten. Dave likes her, too (mostly the way that EVERYTHING she makes includes at least a stick of butter), but he doesn't like the non-cooking scenes. I love them. Sure, they're contrived, painfully staged, and a little silly. But I love the example she sets: she leaves dinner for friends who return from a long trip, or she makes a pot roast for someone who has last-minute houseguests. These things aren't convenient-- they require (in church lingo) her time, treasure, and talent. They're an offering. In non-church lingo, these things take up her valuable, limited time and energy. She's modeling being a good neighbor. I don't care if it's cheesy, I like any reminder I stumble across for how to care for others. I like the example, the encouragement, the exhortation.

I miss a million opportunities to love people, and at least half the time that I take the opportunity, I flub it somewhere. But love is what we're called to, right? To love our God, and our neighbor as ourselves. So this week, we're trying to walk in St. Ina's shoes, loving our neighbor in practical, tangible ways.
Creator of all, make the roof of my house wide enough for all opinions, oil the door of my house so it opens easily to friend and stranger ,and set such a table in my house that my whole family may speak kindly and freely around it.
-Source Unknown (Hawaii), edited
How are you giving or receiving love this week? Let me know if I can pray with you about it.


Last Day

This is Dave and I, in the lobby where we met (when I was just a 22-year-old temp), on his last day of work (yesterday). There just aren't words for how big a role this place plays in our story. I've got a big ol' lump in my throat just thinking about it.


Wednesdsay Prayers: For New Endeavors

Dave starts a new job next week-- it'll be his first time as a new kid in 13 years. That's a big day.

One friend has just started an organization devoted to helping adults connect to the teens in their lives. It's a new venture, but her passion for its purpose has been around for a long time.

Another friend has an interview tomorrow-- praying that it goes well, and that both she and the foundation discern clearly whether they fit together.

Still another friend has begun dating after a long relationship has ended.

I'm thinking of the courage and hope required in each beginning that anyone undertakes, and about the magical possibilities when we take our first steps into a new phase. As I pray for them, I keep thinking of the hymn, "God of Grace and God of Glory." So this week, it's my prayer:

From the fears that long have bound us,
Free our hearts to faith and praise.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
For the living of these days,
For the living of these days.
-H.E. Fosdick
How about you all? Any newness I can pray for? Any longing for newness?


Phone Call Poll

Between e-mail and texting (well, and snail mail, but that's my own wee quirk), I almost never pick up the phone anymore. One of my new year's resolutions has been to call at least one person per week. I haven't quite done it (unless you're willing to allow an average of one person per week).

One of the big reasons I don't call is that I'm afraid no one else does anymore, either. Then it feels some combination of intrusive, and like... well, like I'm into them more than vice versa. (Yes, I know they can chose not to answer. Also, I don't feel this way at all when people call me. And yes, sometimes my inner 16-year-old calls the shots. I'm working on this.)

So, I thought I'd ask: Do you still make personal calls? Head over to the poll on the sidebar. And, if those options aren't adequate, or you'd like to elaborate, tell me about it in the comments.


Wednesday Prayers: Praying the What-Ifs

Dave got a new job-- hooray! We're very excited about this, as he'd been feeling ready to move on from the old one for a while. He's 35, and he's had the same employer since he was 23. That, my friends, is quite remarkable. BUT, we'd been expecting a new job to also mean relocation, and it won't. I'm adjusting.

As I adjust, I'm thinking that there really won't be any reason at all not to (at the very least) take a few seminary classes this fall. That idea is damn scary to me. Exciting, but also terrifying. Well, classes themselves aren't scary at all-- THAT part is just thrilling to think about. (My butt's about to wag right off thinking about it.) But there are nebulous ideas around the fringes that are scary to me-- we'll call them Vocations That Shall Not Be Named.

So I pulled out my prayer journal, and prayed the what-ifs. Literally. I listed every fear I could think of. What if I lose my voice again? What if people hate me? What if there's no place for me?

You know the answer to all those what-ifs, right?

I am going to prepare a place for you.
I will never leave you nor forsake you.
I will be with you

Do you need to pour out your what-ifs? Would you like me to pray them with you?


A New Semester

I'm thinking of my grandmother this morning, because I'm praying with her rosary.

Gram passed away this summer. My theology about the afterlife is uncertain at best, but this morning when I thought of her, I hoped that our life with God after we die is like a new semester-- none of last semester's failings follow us. (I was not a very good student. I clearly remember how much I loved the beginning of the semester, when I hadn't ruined everything yet.)

She was a funny, bright, interesting woman who had made some horrifically, catastrophically selfish choices. I loved her, and I was furious with her. I deeply resented the armor of helplessness that she put on, shielding herself from accountability.

I don't understand her faith. She was observant in worship, but not in life. She was Catholic, attended Mass every weekend and regularly brought communion to those who weren't able to come to church. One of my very favorite memories from childhood is praying the rosary together at bedtime when I visited. (In fact, years ago I told my mother that the only thing I wanted when Gram died was one of her rosaries. Gram sent one immediately.) But so many of her choices, her actions-- let's say they did not reflect the fruit of the spirit, and leave it at that.

I hope Gram has been made whole, has become who she was created to be. I hope to one day meet that restored person.