Johnny Appleseed Friday Five

Singing Owl offers us this unusual Friday Five:

Raise your hand if you know that today is Johnny Appleseed Day! (I didn't, but I do remember the stories from elementary school!)

September 26, 1774 was his birthday. Johnny Appleseed" (John Chapman) is one of America's great legends. He was a nurseryman who started out planting trees in western New York and Pennsylvania, but he was among those who were captivated by the movement west across the continent.
As Johnny travelled west (at that time, the "West" was places like Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois) he planted apple trees and sold trees to settlers. With every apple tree that was planted, the legend grew. A devout Christian, he was known to preach during his travels. According to legend, Johny Appleseed led a simple life and wanted little. He rarely accepted money and often donated any money he received to churches or charities. He planted hundereds of orchards, considering it his sevice to humankind. There is some link between Johny Appleseed and very early Arbor Day celebrations.

So, in honor of this interesting fellow, let's get on with the questions!

1. What is your favorite apple dish? (BIG BONUS points if you share the recipe.)

I like fresh apples better than raw, but Dave loves it when I make blueberry and apple pie. I'll have to get back to you with the recipe.

2. Have you ever planted a tree? If so was there a special reason or occasion you can tell us about?
I've never lived in a place where I could plant a tree! That's the down side of moving so often, I guess. (Though clearly, it didn't stop Johnny. Ah, the glory days before apartment complexes and Homeowners Associations!)

3. Does the idea of roaming around the countryside (preaching or otherwise) appeal to you? Why or why not?
Mixed feels on that one. As one who has roamed around the world, I'm not as scared of the idea as some people are. When I moved here, I thought it would be a good place to put down "roots" (hee hee, pun intended), but I feel really ready to move on.

4. Who is a favorite "historical legend" of yours?
Don't have one. Was never wild about historical legends. I'm starting to enjoy Greek mythology, but I don't think that Atalanta is who we're getting at with this question...

5. Johnny Appleseed was said to sing to keep up his spirits as he travelled the roads of the west. Do you have a song that comes when you are trying to be cheerful, or is there something else that you often do?
Anytime I'm stressed out, singing in the car helps. Doesn't matter what it is.

But since you gave me this opportunity, I'm going to tell you that last night I went to the BEST. CONCERT. EVER. Abigail Washington and the Sparrow Quartet. Mind you, part of that quartet is Bela Fleck! They were unbelievably marvelous!


Identity Theft

Miriam-Webster defines prejudice in the following ways:

1: injury or damage resulting from some judgment or action of another in disregard of one's rights ; especially : detriment to one's legal rights or claims2 a (1): preconceived judgment or opinion (2): an adverse opinion or leaning formed without just grounds or before sufficient knowledge b: an instance of such judgment or opinion c: an irrational attitude of hostility directed against an individual, a group, a race, or their supposed characteristics

My mom has joked that my groups of friends always look like a mini-United Nations. Growing up in the military, all over the world, that was very normal. Of course I'd talk to anyone: anyone was the only person there to talk to! We were all, constantly, the new person or the outsider. We lived abroad, we lived in DC, we lived in Southern California: all places where diversity was the norm. I've sat on the wall at Arlington cemetary, talking to a stranger for a couple of hours. I've prayed with a a woman in the foyer of a Catholic church whom I'd never seen before, and haven't seen since. I have truly enjoyed talking to anyone. And I'm mad as a little wet hen when people are unwilling to try to know other people.

I've been remarkably lucky, in that I haven't experienced much prejudice personally through the years-- or if I did, it was flagrant, and so I didn't take the judgements personally. Lately, though, I'm experiencing a situation where someone thinks one thing about me, and I know in my bones it isn't true. I also know that I've spent almost no time at all with this person, and I've been completely baffled by how he reached his conclusions.

Judging someone without knowing them is prejudicial. Period.

I feel like I've just been smacked on the side of the head. I'm stunned. I've been struggling and struggling, trying to understand this man's misconceptions, frustrated because he didn't know me but had odd expectations of me.

And now I'm even more confused. Because you have to know that I would hate to give something up because of Prejudice. Ignorance. But at the same time, when you're a sole voice, what can you do?


Books as Hope-Givers

I have always been a lover of books, and today I come to you, dear ones, to solicit your advice. Could you please recommend your favorite load-lightening and hope giving books? I'll share some of mine with you to get things going (click on any of the images to get synopsis/reviews).

I'm particularly enjoying fairy tales lately, like this one:
I also really love books about people who love books, like these:

I love homey books, where people laugh and look after one another. Those are good in both the fictional and non-fictional varieties:


Mrs. M Ponders Alternatives

Since breaking up didn't work the first time, I'm left pondering a little.

Could those of you who are part of other traditions tell me a little about your polity? What works, what doesn't? What makes you feel hopeful, what has you concerned?

I would really, really appreciate your input.

Fall Equinox Friday Five

Thanks to Songbird for this week's lovely Friday Five:

It's that time of year, at least north of the equator. The windows are still open, but the darned furnace comes on early in the morning. My husband went out for a walk after an early supper and came home in full darkness.
And yes, where we live, leaves are beginning to turn.
As this vivid season begins, tell us five favorite things about fall:

This year is actually the first one that I haven't been dragged into autumn, kicking and screaming all the way. I'm looking forward to it, maybe because the summer was so busy. It feels really right for things to get cozier and cooler.

1) A fragrance
I LOVE the smell of leaves on the ground. The first time I really experienced that was at college in Ohio, and the smell still takes me back there. I think college is where I learned (rather late, I know) to play, so leaves are a really happy smell for me.

2) A color
Orange! Of course orange! Because they're the color of... SWEET POTATOES!!! Mmmm... I was saying just yesterday that it's time for those tasty tubers again!

3) An item of clothing
My 14-year old cowboy boots. I'm wearing them today for the first time this season. I love them. These suckers will live forever! They're brown, and scuffed (though I realized last year that I actually can polish them!), and the toe of one is raggedy from where my old roommate's rabbit chewed it. I love them. (Though, don't tell, but I'm going to find me a red pair this year! Too much Footloose in formative years? Maybe.)

4) An activity
I love being outdoors, doing just about anything this time of year. Frisbee, running, biking. It's just gorgeous.

5) A special day
Well, next week Mr. M and I celebrate 4 years of being married! And I keep noticing that I enjoy him more every year, so 9/25 is definitely going to count as my special day.


Mrs. M Shamelessly Compares Herself to Abraham

Now the LORD said to Abram, "Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."
-Genesis 12:1-3

My experience of call has been that we almost always talk about call to, rather than call away from. Biblically, though, I can identify an awful lot of calls away. Abram away from Ur, Moses and the Israelites away from Egypt (technically that one was to the promised land, but when you're wandering in the desert for 40 years, I think we can count this one as feeling more like a "from" than a "to"), all of the apostles.

I mention this to remind all of us that God is in the leavings and the endings, and not just in the new beginnings. When we're leaving, God doesn't offer to meet us at the other side. God doesn't tell us to call once we're free from our current entanglement. Setting things aside, leaving, making changes-- sometimes those are the acts of faithfulness, even more so than taking things up.


In Which Nothing of Any Striking Significance Happens

There's not much to report right now. It may well be the calm before the storm, but it's quiet. We've had rain-then sun-then rain- then sun lately, which I like. I'm a huge fan of rainstorms (they're really comforting, I can't explain this), but I get moody when it's gray too long, so it's been nice.

I'm in discerning overload, but I'm not doing it alone, which is wonderful. I'm wincing a little, because Episcopalians talk a lot about discerning ministry in community, and my experience with the process hasn't been that way at all. Those discerning with me are not people with whom I have relationships at all. Admittedly, in the early stages, I had a parish discernment group,and my vestry recommended me, but at the diocesan level I wouldn't say I've experienced community.

But, as I'm starting to ask broader questions, I'm finding that wonderful people whom I really enjoy are just racing out of the woodwork to be part of discernment. And that is a tremendous gift from God. And very possibly a nudge.


Mrs. M Joyfully Embraces Dubious Theology

For many, many years, my mom has given me the gift of these wise words:

"God didn't take you this far to drop you on your head."

I'm not totally convinced it's sound theology, but it is a reminder that God is always with me. As is Charlotte's wonderful liturgy (in comments).

I'm having a rough time right now, but God is loving me through a lot of people. It's pretty extraordinary. (And I'm letting them. Also extraordinary, frankly.)

Friday Five: Vulnerability

Sally was very thoughtful in this prayerful and sad time in our community. Here's her Friday Five:

I have recently been reading a book entitled Jesus wept, it is all about vulnerability in leadership. The authors speak of how Jesus shared his earthly frustrations and vulnerabilities with a select group of people. To some he was the charismatic leader and teacher, to others words of wisdom were opened and explained and some frustrations shared, to his "inner circle of friends: Peter, James and John, he was most fully himself, and in all of these things he was open to God.So I bring you this weeks Friday 5

1. Is vulnerability something that comes easily to you, or are you a private person?
It's hard to say. I've had people tell me I'm too reserved, but they've always been people I didn't feel safe with. I've also had people tell me they don't know people as open as I am. It really comes down to who I feel safe with.

2.How important is it to keep up a professional persona in work/ ministry?
You know, this is something I've been talking about a lot lately. I'm not sure that "professional" is the word I'd use, because that sounds a little clinical. I do think that strong boundaries are really important. I think there are times to let other people know that you make mistakes/have hard times/have good times, but I also think we have to be cautious to make sure our sharing isn't just for our own sake.

3. Masks, a form of self protection discuss...
I think less of masks and more of armor. I don't necessarily see myself pretending to be someone else when I need to be protected, just not revealing all of who I am.

4. Who knows you warts and all?
Mr. M. Also, a good handful of college friends. (So much so that sometimes I say to them, "I can't believe you know all the stupid things I've done, and you still love me." Their response? "Yes, but you know mine, too!")

5. Share a book, a prayer, a piece of music, a poem or a person that touches the deep place in your soul, and calls you to be who you are most authentically.
I turn to Whitman for prayer a lot, and lately I've really been drawn to this. I don't know that it calls forth my truest self, but it does resonate with my truest self:

Why! who makes much of a miracle?
As to me, I know of nothing else but miracles,
Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan,
Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward the sky,
Or wade with naked feet along the beach, just in the edge of thewater,
Or stand under trees in the woods,
Or talk by day with any one I love--or sleep in the bed at night withany one I love,
Or sit at table at dinner with my mother,
Or look at strangers opposite me riding in the car,
Or watch honey-bees busy around the hive, of a summer forenoon,
Or animals feeding in the fields,
Or birds--or the wonderfulness of insects in the air,
Or the wonderfulness of the sun-down--or of stars shining so quietand bright,
Or the exquisite, delicate, thin curve of the new moon in spring;
Or whether I go among those I like best, and that like me best--mechanics, boatmen, farmers,
Or among the savans--or to the soiree--or to the opera,
Or stand a long while looking at the movements of machinery,
Or behold children at their sports,
Or the admirable sight of the perfect old man, or the perfect old woman,
Or the sick in hospitals, or the dead carried to burial,
Or my own eyes and figure in the glass;
These, with the rest, one and all, are to me miracles,
The whole referring--yet each distinct, and in its place.
To me, every hour of the light and dark is a miracle,
Every cubic inch of space is a miracle,
Every square yard of the surface of the earth is spread with the same,
Every foot of the interior swarms with the same;
Every spear of grass--the frames, limbs, organs, of men and women,and all that concerns them,
All these to me are unspeakably perfect miracles.
To me the sea is a continual miracle;
The fishes that swim--the rocks--the motion of the waves--the ships,with men in them,
What stranger miracles are there?


Cheesy song or no, it really IS hard to do.

Do you remember the last time you broke up with someone that you still really loved? Let me refresh your memory:

- You feel very, very sad, and cry in the car a lot.
- They really are wonderful, you just aren't right for each other.
- You wonder if you can still be friends.
- People don't understand that even though it needed to happen, it's still very, very sad.
- You wonder if your mutual friends will stop talking to you.
- They're still an old love, and you may always have a sense of "what might have been."
- You're worried about hurting them, worried about what they'll think-- because they mean so much to you that their opinion matters.
- You think about giving back your key to their place, and can't stop crying.
- You still sincerely want the best for them.
- You spend a lot of time trying to figure out how you could make it work.
- You miss them for a really, really long time. You know that, even though it wasn't meant to be, there are things about them that no one else is ever going to replace.

Well, I just wanted to let you know that it works about the same way with an institution.


Without A Net

I've been having frustrating conversations with God lately. Here are a few examples:

Me: Please tell me what you want me to do.
God: I want you to do X.
Me: Really? I'm not sure about that idea.

Me: This is a tough decision-- do I take the tidy, straightforward, well-mapped option, or do I fly without a net?
God: Well, flying without a net is your decision. But does it look to you like I'm letting you take the tidy option?

Me: I'm really scared. I don't want to make a decision for the wrong reasons.
God: I am really, really big, and I'm in this with you.

Stay tuned, friends.