Friday Five: Social Media

Kathrynzj is thinking about "the pros and cons of these relatively new means of communication and interconnecting," and so gives us this Friday Five:

1) What have been the benefits for you of social networking (blog, twitter, facebook, etc...)
When I started blogging (Holy Carp-- almost 5 years ago!) I knew almost no women in ministry. I was starting my own discernment process, and it was tremendously helpful to learn from those who went before me. It's also been a great forum to try to untangle my own voice.

2) Which medium do you use the most? Or if you use them all, for what do you use each of them?
I'm blogging a little more again these days, but I use Facebook a lot more. It's nice to be back in touch with some people-- even better that I've been able to get together (IRL) with them since we've reconnected (or connected for the first time, as with some RevGals). There are people from college that I just adored, and I'm just about buzzing with happiness being back in touch.

3) If you could invent a networking site (with no limits on your imagination), what would it provide? What would it not provide?
I think it would be something that beamed us up-- so instead of commenting on your blog/status, I could have tea with you. More a logistics/transportation thing, I suppose.

4) Who have you met that you would not have met if it were not for the 'miracle' of social networking?
Oooo, I have lots of good ones. Charlotte and Nancy, also LadyBurg. I've talked to a couple of wonderful RevGals on the phone-- does that count as meeting? And there are a handful that I'm just absolutely convinced I'll be able to hug at some point.

5) Who do you secretly pray does not one day try to 'friend/follow' you?
Well, there are a few of those. *sigh* But a couple of years ago when a darling anonymous blogger was outed to her congregation, I un-anonymoused myself and decided I didn't care who read me (because someday they might). That pretty much stands. (Having said that, there are friend requests I haven't accepted-- and a couple I wish I hadn't.)

BONUS: What was the most random/weird/unsettling/wonderful connection you made that would not have happened if it were not for the ease of which we can find each other in the computer realm?
Well, this is more than a little weird. My father (known widely for being absent and prolific) has a tendancy not to tell his current wife/girlfriend about previous families. (I know this, because I'm the one who told my stepmom about his sons from his marriage before my mom-- oops.) Well, Facebook introduced me to his first (?) son, from before his first marriage.

Yes, that's weird.

Goooooood Morning!

Over the last couple of weeks, Mr. M and I have been turning the spare bedroom into an office for me. (It is SO NICE to have a designated space to meet with directees, rather than the open floor plan living room/dining room/kitchen/entryway.)

What's equally wonderful is that there's enough floorspace to leave my yoga mat there when I'm not sitting with someone. So this morning, I rolled out of bed (in my polka-dotted flannel jammies), walked down the hall, turned on the "Classical Meditations Vol. 4" CD, and started some Sun Salutations. It was WONDERFUL.



That pace I mentioned the other day? It's much faster when it's COLD out!

*Mrs. M heads off to defrost her heiny...*


Wednesday Prayers: Family

I was taught in my teens (note: I didn't learn it then) that if I wanted a situation or relationship to change, I had to do something different. It took (obviously) years for that to sink it.

I love my mom very much, and I'd like my relationship with her to be better, so a little while back I started to do things differently. Change happens slowly, and I don't know how things will turn out. I worry about her (though I try to remember Jesus's instructions to turn our worries over to him).

I'd love to have prayers for God to guide both of us into a healthier relationship with one another. Comfort and love from our heavenly Parent in the meantime would be (and is) a blessing, too.

Are there prayers I can tack onto my corkboard for you this week, too?


Respect Your Pace

It was WARM in our little town today-- 55 degrees!

Ordinarily, I'd run outside with Mr. M on a day this nice, but (boo! hiss!) he's in the middle of being attacked by his own innards (this is a recurrent thing, and is pretty much manageable).

I was on my own, and I did not want to go. Or rather, I was anxious about it. Which was strange, because I like running, and I love being outside, and I think warm weather in January is better than getting our annual insurance rebate check.

I decided to go, and to pray about the anxiety while I was out there.

While I was praying, I thought about Mr. Rogers. My friend Danny Fisher recommended this great book about him by Amy Hollingsworth, and I just finished reading it today. I didn't really watch Mr. Rogers when I was a kid, and so I knew about the blazer-to-cardigan wardrobe change, but not much else. Mr. Rogers believed that one of the best things we can do for kids (and adults, for that matter) is to openly be exactly who we are.

Back to running: who I am is one damn slow runner. That is a fact. But praying, and thinking about Mr. Rogers, I started thinking, "Respect your pace."

Slow is exactly the right pace for my runs right now. I'm often embarrassed by it when there are other runners/walkers (toddlers) around. So I can be embarrassed by my shuffle, or I can accept that today, that's my pace, and carry on.

I thought, "Respect your pace" all through my run-- 4 miles gave me a good bit of time to meditate on it. As I padded along the asphalt, I thought about all the ways that's a good policy: in running, in discernment, in relationships, we should respect our own pace. I thought about the epistle to the Hebrews, and the admonition to "run with endurance the race marked out for us."

And I had a really, really nice run today.


Many Members

Is it just my experience, or is it more widely true that in churches that use a lectionary, the preacher generally preaches on the gospel reading (rather than the Old Testament or epistle)? This bums me out a little, as I think we're missing some important stuff.

The epistle reading this morning was from the twelfth chapter of Paul's first letter to the Corinthians-- the "there are many members, but one body" passage. I was glad just to hear it today.

I've been reading a lot lately, Nouwen and Merton, but also Mandela and Mr. Rogers. What I'm struck by again and again in these people is an incredible capacity to love others-- a capacity that seems to be rooted in their own acceptance (sometimes hard-won) of which sort of member they are. Being members of one body works both ways-- we accept those that aren't like us, and we respect ourselves as valuable despite differences.

I hope someday to know the peace of that acceptance.


Friday Five: On the Road Again

Songbird (posting from a BUS!) gives us this Friday Five:

1) What was the mode of transit for your last trip?

In December, Mr. M and I drove to North Carolina, and then to Ohio a week later. I know it's not great for my carbon footprint, but there are very few things I love more than the open road. It's fun with someone else, but I especially love solo road trips. For me, the freedom is exhilarating. I have visions of a 1960-something Mustang convertible, and a floppy-eared dog.

2) Have you ever traveled by train?
Not yet! But I would really like to. (Here's what I can't get past: it takes longer than driving, and is often more expensive than flying. If it were less expensive than flying, I'd do it in a heartbeat.)

3) Do you live in a place with public transit, and if so, do you use it?
I don't now, but I loved the Metro when I lived in D.C. It's still one of my favorite parts of visiting the capital. Also, when we lived in Okinawa (8th grade for me), we didn't live on base, and I took public buses home from school. Oh-- and we used the subways in Frankfort. *sigh* I'm very fond of public transport.

4) What's the most unusual vehicle in which you've ever traveled?
The vehicle itself wasn't unusual, but I once drove cross-country with my mom is a jam-packed Volkswagen Cabriolet. With a cat.
It's the one road trip I have no desire to repeat.
5) What's the next trip you're planning to take?
Ooo, I have lots of them planned, and I'm so excited! After I quit my day job last summer, Mr. M and I realized that this gives me a chance to spend time with all the people I adore (sadly, almost none of whom are local). So, I've been all over the place, but in the next few months, I'll head to a slumber party in New Jersey, a fun race in DC (also Mr. M's birthday), and Dayton, OH for a CONFERENCE!!! (Whoot! Professional development! I am SO EXCITED!!!!!)

Dang, I feel peppy just playing the Friday Five this week.


Gold Stars in Church

Earlier this week, I listened to two people discuss this Sunday's gospel reading. I have to be frank with you, I came home disgruntled. Somehow, they missed entirely Jesus saying that he came for the poor, the blind, the oppressed. Instead, they thought about how proud everyone must have been that the local boy turned out so well, and isn't it great that Jesus is our Messiah?
I was disproportionately irritated. "Were they listening?!" I asked Mr. M. "What does it even mean to them, that Jesus is the Messiah, if they're not concerned with what He came to do?"

So I spent a good day and a half rolling my eyes and feeling frustrated (both mature and Christian behavior on my part, obviously), and then I remembered that feeling resistance to something is a good reason to pray. So I did.

And I realized, "Jesus is the Messiah!" is a great Sunday School answer. When the Gospels reference Hebrew prophesy, we're trained to recognize that as shorthand for, "Jesus is the Messiah! Jesus is the one we were waiting for!" That answer gets you the gold star. But we don't ask, "Why were we waiting? What did we need? What do we need now? How is He saving us each day?"

Most of us want the gold star. For most people (I'm going to make a generalization here, and maybe someone can tell me if I'm in the right ballpark), especially people who have been in the church for several decades, it is not OK to give a different, possibly wrong, answer about God. It is often not OK to ask real questions in church. Uncertainty is scary for all of us, but uncertainty coupled with the threat of punishment (from authority figures, or from God's own self), is understandably too much to risk.

And so, I hope in ministry that we can get rid of some of those gold stars. I'm worried that they're serving double-duty as shackles.


Wednesday Prayers: Where are you, Caroline Grace?

When I was in Jr. High and High School, I had a friend named Caroline who was just amazing. She was a friend of my mom's, but ended up being an incredible part of my life. She treated me like an adult when I was a teenager, tried to teach me to trust myself, and was just generally an amazing woman. She was a poet and artist, but also an Ivy League grad and city planner. I've been thinking of her a lot lately. I don't have any idea where she is, but I miss her like crazy.

So this week, I'm praying for those I've loved and lost track of. I'm thanking God for my time with them, and asking for blessings upon them.

How about you? Any special prayers this week?


Grace in Advent

I keep trying to figure out the best way to tell this story, how to show you how magical it was for me, but I think I'm just going to have to throw everything at the screen and hope you can sift it out.
In May I graduated from Oasis Ministry's 2-year Spiritual Direction for Spiritual Guides program. At that last retreat, one of the instructors (who knew I was looking for a new denominational home) said to me, "Why don't you try the Lutherans?" Her husband is a Lutheran pastor, and she said he'd be happy to talk to me about it.
I haven't done that yet.
BUT, I did add Lutheran congregations into my worship search roster (UCC, Methodist, Presbyterian up to that point). In August, Mr. M and I finally went to the one that's 2 blocks away (why we started with the longer-commute ones, I couldn't tell you). After the second Sunday, I looked at Dave and said, "I don't need to keep looking."
  • Communion every Sunday is really important to me. Check.
  • Good music is wonderful. (When I'm in a funk, singing always cheers or soothes me.) Check.
  • What I desperately missed in the particular parish where I worshipped (by no means true of all Episcopalians) was openness and encouragement about our personal relationships with God. Check.
  • I need a community where we take communion, and we take that personal relationship, and we carry it out into the rest of the world. Check.
  • I'm very conscious of worshipping in a place where my LGBT friends would be welcomed. Check.
  • Thoughtful preaching. Check.

So, there's lots to be excited about.

But the relationship analogy still holds. And dating after divorce is terrifying. This seems good, but when is the other shoe going to fall? And if they are as good as they seem, they can't possibly be interested in me.

And then Advent began. Advent has always been a rich time of discernment for me. It was during Advent (on my 24th birthday, in fact) that I began a discussion of call with my old rector.

This Lutheran congregation began a weekly practice of lectio divina during Advent. This is right up my alley, and I'd been thinking about a low-commitment, low-risk way to get a little more involved, so I went.

The first week, I learned that the Associate Pastor has just begun the Oasis program I finished in May.

The second week, having learned that I was an Oasis grad, he asked if I would fill in if he ever had a scheduling conflict.

The third week, his kids had a Christmas pageant, and he asked me to lead lectio.

Can we all just pause with that for a second?

He treated me with respect, and he treated me like a colleague. He honored my experience, and trusted my skills.

The senior pastor came the night I led, and he participated, sharing his own struggles, and showed me that same respect and trust.

Friends, I can't tell you about this without tearing up. I don't have words for how amazing this is-- I'm just hoping those of you who have been with me for a while might understand.

I don't know where God is leading me. But I can't contain all the gratitude I have for where I am.

**Edited to add: I got to do an awful lot of wonderful stuff during The Process. As an intern, and as a plain old layperson, I had great opportunities. It's hard to explain the difference between that and this, except to say that I felt respected.


Friday Five: IF

Jan gives us this fun Friday Five:

1. If you were a color, what would you be?
I would not be one color, I would be little POLKA DOTS! I love them. Multicolored or black and white, they're darling. They're happy, but they can still be sophisticated.

2. If you were a flower (or plant), what would you be?
I would be a succulent. I'm adaptable, but I really prefer heat.

3. If you were an animal, what kind would you be?
When I read this, all I could think of was a kitty belly in the sunshine, so I guess that would be my answer. Also, sometimes (rarely, rarely) I wake Mr. M in the middle of the night because I want cake. Have you lived with cats? They do this, too.

4. If you were a shoe, what type would you be?
I would be a high-heeled sandal. That is, if I couldn't just be a bare foot.

5. If you were a typeface, which font would you be?
Courier, I think. I have a lovely old Remington Rand typewriter that I like to use to leave little notes to myself on a corkboard. I love the look of typewritten words.

Bonus: Anything connected with metaphors that you'd like to contribute.
Well, I couldn't stop thinking about Roger Whittaker's song, If, as I played this week. Here it is:


Wednesday Prayers: Thanksgiving for the Struggles

I'm feeling grateful for struggle lately. Not because I'm feeling especially scrappy, but because I've begun to recognize that struggle can be a sign of life.
  • When Mr. M and I have the same argument for the billionth time (I'm convinced most couples have one or two of those gems), I realize that we both really want a solution that works better.
  • When my favorite (stressed-out) girlfriend and I lament the loss of our fun selves, I know that playfulness is still in there, fighting to get out.
  • When I'm terrified of where it might lead, I still talk to my spiritual director about vocation, because I truly cannot do otherwise.

So, I'm praying about all of those struggles this week, but I'm also grateful for the hope they show me.

How are you praying this week, and how can I be praying with you?


Friday Night Sew-In!

Heidi over at Handmade by Heidi is hosting a virtual party this week-- a Friday Night Sew-In. I've been working on the same darn quilt for a couple of months now, and this is great motivation to finish the hand-quilting stage, so you can bet I'm in. Anyone else want to play? (I'll be in my polka-dotted flannel jammies, and I'll have a pot of tea ready.)


When "No" is a Miracle

I was gobsmacked by the obvious today.

I resigned from the Episcopal ordination process, from Postulancy, a little over a year ago. Most of you know that.

I felt a tremendous amount of peace about the decision, felt certain that God was leading me to leave. I left because the denomination didn't seem like the right fit, but I had serious concerns that I would never find a home. Perhaps I was a denominational orphan. I also felt totally cowed by the idea of ever serving another church-- who could want me, used goods that I was? Please understand-- I've felt this way for over a year. This has been deeply painful. I didn't fall out of love with the table or the font, I still read more theology and spirituality books than anything else, and church is still exciting to me-- but denominations can feel so clubby to start with, and I didn't grow up in one denomination, and then I left a denomination: who could want me?

On top of which, I don't have a single tidy reason for leaving. I have a number of reasons, but they're not cohesive, and many of the crappy parts of my Process were just bizarre and don't necessarily reflect on the wider Episcopal church. I could not possibly have proceeded, but many other marvelous people do.

Somehow today I got bonked over the head with another perspective: What if "no" is an active miracle? What if there are a lot of answers to "Why did you leave?" because God was working on more than one front to steer me somewhere else? (I envision God as herding dog in this particular context.) If God can use a big fish to guide Jonah, surely God can use all sorts of situations to redirect me.

The sermon I heard this morning had a lot to do with forgiveness and second chances. I thought about it all day, about the second chances I've experienced in my own life. In every case, those second chances brought something better than I'd hoped for on the first go round.

I believe that God is active in our lives. I don't know how, and I don't know why bad things happen, but I do believe that God is active in our lives.

Perhaps it would be helpful to look at the closed door itself as an active miracle of God's love, rather than believing that only the opening window that follows is God's doing.

Have you had any experience with this?


People Doing Neat Stuff

I came across this volunteer opportunity for Spiritual Caregivers for Immigrant Detainees. I would LOVE to be able to do this. I do not, alas, live in Massechusetts. If you know someone who does, pass along the info, because this seems like a wonderful program. Getting to hear people's stories, and giving them a safe place to tell them is a magnificent thing.


Friday Five: Dream a Little Dream

RevGal Sophia gives us this Friday Five:

1. Do you tend to daydream?
*Sigh* I do. Especially during "fuzzy time," that brief period after the alarm goes off, and before I actually get out of bed.

2. Do you usually remember your night dreams? Do you find them symbolic and meaningful or just quirky?
Not always, but I have for the last couple of months, and they've been strange.

3. Have you ever had a life changing dream which you'll never forget?
Yep. My freshman year of college I had one incredibly vivid dream. I'd gotten submerged in trying to help someone who was really struggling, and the dream offered a lot of perspective.

4. Share a long term dream for one or more aspects of your life and work.
Peace. That's my long-term dream. No, not in a canned-Miss-America-answer sort of way. I don't know where I'm going vocationally, and there are ways I don't know where I'm going personally, either. So as I just put one foot slowly in front of the other, I'm hoping to rest in God's peace and guidance.

5. Share a dream for 2010....How can we support you in prayer on both the short and long term dreams?
What a beautiful question. I think my dream for 2010 is to feel free to dream about vocation again. I'd love prayer for that.

Bonus: a poem, song, artwork, etc. that deals with dreams in general or one of your dreams.
I've always loved this song, which wonders about baby dreams.


Wednesday Prayer: Seeing One Another

Yesterday I met a group of people, and was blessed when they were honest. It's a gorgeous thing when we can see each other, and when we let ourselves be seen.

So, this week my prayer is one of Rilke's french poems, translated by A. Poulin, Jr.

O my friends, all of you, I renounce
none of you; not even that transient
who, from the inconceivable life, was
no more than a soft glance, open and hesitant.

How often, with an eye or gesture,
someone, despite himself, stops
the imperceptible flight of another
by paying attention to him for a moment.

Strangers. They play large parts
in our fate that every day completes.
O discreet stranger, take good aim,
as you lift your gaze towards my distracted heart.

Being attentive, that's my prayer for the week. How about you? What prayers may I add for you?