Chapter 346, In Which Mrs. M Begins To Bang Her Head Against The Wall...

Last night, Mr. M and I were at the hospital until about 10, because it turns out that a problem (that Mr. M's surgery last year should have taken care of) is back.

I cannot imagine how to adequately express sufficient frustration and anger and sadness over everything he went through for over six months, only to discover it didn't take care of the problem.

So, my other half is at home feeling miserable today, and I'm at work pretending that I'm going to get something done today.


The Violence of Silence

I've been thinking about this a lot today, about the different ways silence can damage people.

A friend of mine is not "out" to all of her family. My own dear Mr. M is only now learning that he has a voice worth listening to. In both cases, my reaction is, "How can you feel loved if you don't feel known?" It breaks my heart that so many don't feel safe being open, being themselves.

Of course, that's not the only damaging silence. I think of how many of us come from families who have hurt us, and then told us that we don't talk about family things with other people. How many women have been abused, but too ashamed to seek support and affirmation.

As far as I can tell, speaking truth in love is the most healing thing we can do for one another. We're not helping our kids when we shelter them. We're not helping those who hurt when we pretend we've never been through hard times.

It's looking to me like ministering is going to be a vunerable profession, because truth has to come from our own bruised, tender places.


The Inner Mallet Released: Part 1

Two weeks ago, I went to Hyundai to buy Sally's successor. They didn't have a stick, just an automatic. Being a stickler and a purist, I held out for a manual transmission. Which it took the dealer about a week to find, and which they had driven in from Jersey.

Monday, I test drove it. Today (Wednesday) Mr. M and I took the day off work to take care of some things, and to buy our car.

We got there, and were told that we couldn't have it today. We're going to have to go back Saturday now.

The price will go down now.


I Just Received This Month's Most Upsetting News.

West Wing has been cancelled.

I love President Bartlett. I would have voted for him twice. Actually, I would have voted for him as many times as I could have gotten away with. hee hee.

I want to be C.J. I want to play poker with Toby. I want to watch Charlie give everyone sass.

But mostly... I want someone to reassure me that Josh will remove his head from the dark recesses of wherever-it-now-resides and marry Donna.


And Grace Shall Lead Me Home

It's not about what we deserve. I remember an old cheesy Christian rock band who sang, "If we don't get what we deserve, it's a real good thing. If we get what we don't deserve, it's a real good thing." They were dopey, but had a point. I'd be pretty screwed if I had to take only what I deserved. Fortunately, I have friends and family members who are filled with grace.

I'd rather have a love I don't have to earn. I'd rather have a love that's freely given. I like that I don't have to work for my friends' affection, and that I feel safe with them even when I'm being a bonehead. Because that's what friendship and love are about: gracious kindness and affection. I like the comfort of our wrinkles and pimples showing. I feel comfort in the openness of being flawed in community. There is peace that comes with accepting the grace of God, and the grace of those who love us. When Jesus told us, "I bring you my peace, my own peace I leave with you," he was leaving us his unconditional love.

Which is why beautiful Dr. M and I think the last verse of Amazing Grace should always ring out with joy, and not falter in self-conscious voices:

When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’d first begun.



I've talked to my priest, I've talked to Rev. B, and now I have to write to the Bishop, but: I'm taking some time to slow down the process. I'm not going to seminary this year.

I still feel called-- more than ever, really. But I feel like my roof has fallen down on my head, and my foundation has rotted underneath me. So, there's a lot of painful tearing down and rebuilding that I'm going to have to focus on before we uproot ourselves.

Please keep me in your prayers.


Feast and Famine

In this week of hell (that I really believe can be an instrument of God's grace), I have been absolutely swaddled with love from those around me.

The old cliché is that you don't know who your friends are until disaster strikes. My happy discovery is that I have far more, and far better, friendships than I've been aware of in past months.

Tom D. is the male equivelent of Mildred. 77 also, and like Mildred, stronger and healthier than I expect to be anytime soon.

Also more generous than I think I may ever learn to be.

He's a humble man. Not in the sense that he's unassuming--he has beautiful posture and a decent sense of propriety. But in the sense of really being in touch with his humanity, and his weaknesses, and turning those into the strengths of empathy and generousity.

He has offered to be of help to both Mr. M and myself. I think he's just the sort of man we need in our life.

The Queen is Dead, long live...

the new car payments.

USAA just called. Sally is officially done for.

I don't think I even have any pics of her.

Very, very sad.


Anger Management

It's official. I've bought myself a croquet mallet. I've decided that this is the best way of handling my anger. I'm thinking about painting it, haven't decided how yet.

The Very Best

I'm pretty sure my friend Mildred is the very best woman I know. She's got 50 years on me in age, but she's a heck of a lot younger than I am. She's incredible.

I called her this morning, because I can't imagine getting through any crisis without her. Sure enough, she was supportive and loving, and made me feel more confident and peaceful.

It has been said that if you have 3 or 4 close friends with whom you can be completely open and safe, you've had a very rich life. I feel sorry for anyone who doesn't know Mildred.

I don't know if I've ever had someone tell me that they loved me, and so were hurt that I was hurt. And I'm sure I've never known anyone else who could hurt when I was in pain, but could still so fully love the one who hurt me. She is a gracious, remarkable woman.

Mildred says that when we tell Jesus anything, his response is, "I know, and I love you." Theologically, that's sound, but when you put it in such simple language, it's also deeply personal. What a way to think about prayer: coming to God in rage and in pain and in joy, and receiving the answer, "I know, and I love you."

I want to be just like her when I grow up.

"I know my God won't give me anything I can't handle...

I just wish he didn't trust me so much." -- Mother Theresa

On top of everything else, I was in a car accident yesterday. I'm OK, just stiff and sore, but I don't know that the car will be fixable.


The Age Game

I have a darling girlfriend from college. Sometimes, when we explained how we were feeling to one another, we'd use ages as descriptions.

This afternoon, I was feeling 6:

"If I was kidnapped or run over or smashed by an alien spaceship, then I bet he'd be sorry!"


My prayer this week is as follows:

"You're really a son of bitch, too!"

For over a year there's been an issue I've worked really hard to resolve. I found out yesterday that someone important to me has been sabotaging it the whole time. I feel betrayed and furious and very not-valuable.

Don't know how to fix this, but for the next couple of days, if you want to get ahold of me, call a local hotel.


Internship Beginning

I started my internship today at Tiny Olde Church. (The above picture is life-sized.)

My biggest observation: my own priest has been so deliberate about preparing me that this may be a bit of a let-down.

Tiny Olde Church has Sunday attendance of about 60-- this morning it was 30 at the first service, and 28 at the second. Almost all are over retirement age. There were two students in the youth group, none in nursery or Sunday School. Everyone was very warm. I have to say, I really enjoy spunky people, and I think TOC has at least its fair share of those.

I'm told by my supervising priest that the congregation really wants to attract a younger crowd, and she's hoping I can help with that. I didn't have the heart to tell her that my best friends locally are all over 50.


The Voice

John Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany is probably my all-time favorite book. Owen is an odd little hero, but he's amazing. He writes a prep-school column titled "The Voice," and while it's not popular it is exceptionally perceptive.

I thought of this today because I think I'm starting to put words to an impulse I've had for a while.

I sat in a meeting this morning listening to my co-workers discuss how they were going to meet our County Commissioners' desire for measurable outcomes from the Drug and Alcohol programs that we fund. Because there's simply not funding to track clients after they've received treatment, this is no small obstacle. Also, it's hard to say what "success" is when you're dealing with human programs. If Client A loses his sobriety, but is still seeking treatment, I think that's a partial success. Other people might think it was a waste of taxpayer dollars.

I left the meeting thinking about how the Commissioners make budget and contract decisions based on politics-- which decisions are going to get them re-elected. I can respect the fact that, to an extent, that's how a democratic system is meant to work: I'll let you make the decisions as long as I approve of them. So it seems to me that we need to make it clear that spending money on social programs WILL get people re-elected. In this county, right now, I don't think it would. So we need to start by better educating the public about what addiction is, and how it is most effectively addressed.

So what's all this have to do with the price of tea?

Well, I've been thinking a lot (that whole postulancy application, remember?) about what priesthood means to me, and why I'm pursuing it. One thought is that I really want to be listening to people. I've heard ministers preach about how before Jeus healed a man with leprosy, he touched him, and in that act affirmed a man who had been ostracized even before he was made clean. I think deep listening is the same kind of loving and accepting act. But I think that is incomplete if one doesn't, through that listening, speak for those who are not being heard.

I'm feeling more all the time that real ministry is prophetic. Not Left Behind prophetic, not dwelling on the Mark of the Beast and the "end times," but carefully observing where God's light can fall to heal and strengthen, and revealing that to others.

This Month

Lest anyone lose track of what's going on, in January we have:

the 7th: Internship begins
the 9th: Physical
the 11th: Psych Eval
the 25th: GRE

Theoretically, I'm going to get seminary apps in this month, too. Hmmm. Not real sure about that one.