Wednesday Prayers: Girding My Loins

I have a phone call to return today, and I'm VERY nervous about it. It's the next step (not even a big step) in something that could be SO EXCITING.

I'm going to pray for a while first, because that's the commitment I've made to myself in this venture: pray every single step of the way. Pray before doing anything. I want to stay right in God's hip-pocket on this one. It's too scary not to.

For perspective, for courage, for openness, and for this one step, this one phone call. Will you pray for me, too?

And how about you? How can I be praying for you?


Mix Tape Vol. II: Cities

This Mix Tape partnership that my friend Julie and I have going is just RIDICULOUSLY fun. I'm so surprised at how much fun it is.

After a holiday (both of us) and relocation (her) hiatus, we just swapped discs again. This time, the theme was Cities. I'm learning that making mixes is a lot like novel-writing-- it's impossible to make the story do anything but what it wants. I kept trying to make a mix for a specific place, and my playlist was not having it. Finally, I realized it wanted to be a drive through the different neighborhoods of a city. At the end, it was a damn fun collection, and I'm glad I let it be what it wanted.

On the first mix, I used music I already had. This time, I went hunting for a fair bit, and part of the fun was discovering new stuff. The other great thing was arranging the list once I had the songs. Dave always helps me with that part, and there was a LOT of giggling this time. The pairings got pretty silly. (Alizee --> Right Said Fred, anyone?)

Find a buddy, and start making mixes. Trust me.

  1. Shame on You (Indigo Girls)
  2. Danza Kuduro (Don Omar)
  3. Down at the Twist and Shout (Mary CC)
  4. She Asked Me So I Told Her (T-Model Ford)
  5. Cleaning Windows (Van Morrison)
  6. Rosie (Joan Armatrading)
  7. Golden (Jill Scott)
  8. Jaco (Yasmin Levy)
  9. Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien (Edith Piaf)
  10. Moi...Lolita (Alizee)
  11. I'm Too Sexy (Right Said Fred)
  12. Money, Money, Money (ABBA)
  13. Big in Japan (Tom Waits)
  14. Womanizer (Britney Spears)
  15. Mdlwembe (Zola)
  16. Que Onda Guero (Beck)
  17. Maria's Wedding (Black-47)
  18. I'm Downright Amazed (Atom and His Package)
  19. We Built This City (Starship)


My Mother's Daughter

On my way to the optometrist this morning, I saw a bumper sticker so funny that I literally did laugh out loud-- and loudly. It startled me (and made my day), because it sounded exactly like my mom's laugh. That wouldn't be a surprise to anyone who knows us both (though the cackling-in-stereo is unnerving to the uninitiated). She has a fabulous sense of humor, and an incredible ability to find humor hidden in unexpected places. I remember one summer car ride with my mom and my husband-- she and I had invented a game that had us roaring, and poor Dave had no idea what was going on.

I think people believe that estrangement means absence of affection, respect, wonder, admiration, love. In my experience, that's not true at all; I still feel those things for my mom. It's more like taking shelter in a storm, while longing and praying for clear skies.


Open and Affirming

After a a recent local gathering, I mentioned to a friend how frustrated I am with not fitting in here. She asked, "Do you think anyone feels like they fit in?" I've been thinking about that question ever since she asked it, because I've had the sense that we were talking past each other. She was kindly and wisely pointing out that everyone feels different, but that's not what I meant.

When I think of fitting in, I'm not talking about blending in. I cannot imagine a group entirely made up of people like me (merciful heavens). To me, fitting in means that there's space for my unique shape. The puzzle pieces aren't identical, but nobody has to grab the scissors to force everything into place. It's not about homogeneity, it's about acceptance-- and I've had that. I still have that, in a surprising number of places. But I don't have much of it locally, and it's damn lonely. I appreciate the people who really know me so much more now.

Are there places where you fit it, where you're loved (and known) as you are? Is church one of them, or is that a place where people don't really see and hear each other? We talk about Open and Affirming churches as ones that are LGBT friendly, and that's really important to me-- but I wonder, can we take it beyond that? Can we celebrate the craftsmanship displayed in each person's particular self?

I want everyone to be welcome. When I think of call and ministry (which I do, all the bloody time, because I can't get the topic to shut up in my head), over and over I think of hospitality, which I understand to mean welcoming each unique God-beloved soul. And I think that's how people fit it.


Wednesday Prayers: For a Grieving Family

O Comforting One,
Compassionate One,
be with us all
when we suffer loss
and ache with the pain of grieving.
Give us a glimpse
of the way it will be
when love will never be taken away,
when life itself will not be diminished,
when all that we hold most precious
will live and remain with us forever.
-Miriam Therese Winter
I learned today of a family's loss, and I remembered hearing Paula D'Arcy say that anything will be the wrong thing to say to someone grieving-- mentioning the loss will sometimes be wrong, not mentioning the loss will be wrong, too.

I will say the wrong things. But I will still care for those who mourn, and will pray that God can make something of my inadequacy.


The Gym, and Good Old edward estlin

I went to the gym today for the first time since knee surgery (healing got complicated a little, and recovery's taking a bit longer).


I took the Aquafit class. My classmates were all older ladies, and they were so gracious. Despite all being buddies, they were very friendly and helpful to me, the newcomer.

It felt so good to move for an hour.

All I can think is my own modification of an old e.e. cummings poem: "i like my body when it is moving. It is quite so new a thing. Muscles better and nerves more." (Advance warning: the original version is not about Aquafit. Ahem.)

I suspect I'm in the minority here, but I really believe, down in my bones, that we worship God with our bodies, and not just with our hearts and minds. Joy, strength, frustration, weakness: these are all attitudes that bring me to God. Whether I need to heal, or I'm feeling that glorious exhaustion from perfect exertion, I'm powerfully engaged with God's creation: my body.

Wiggle your toes. Stretch your arms and fingers wide. Enjoy the gentle massage across your cheeks as you wash your face tonight. Whatever you can or can't do today, I hope you're finding joy in being incarnate.


Havin' The Blues with Willie

Dave's been working long hours, and headed in this (Saturday) morning.

I may be feeling a little melodramatic about it.


Weekly Prayers: Japan

The Huffington Post has a great list of ways to help Japan.

Otherwise, all I've got is the hope that "Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God." (Rom. 8:26-37, NRSV)


Polishing Shoes

Last night Dave and I laid awake considering international disasters, political, natural, and nuclear. Overwhelmed, scared, sad, frustrated by our inability to do anything at all. Guilty about our own incredible comfort, conscious of the precarious nature of security.

Prayer felt like a cheap answer. It's truly not, though circumstances like this sometimes breed cheap prayers, prayers that distance "them" from "me," prayers that contain the unspoken belief that we're untouchable, and that disaster and heartbreak are what happen to other people.

Today I polished shoes; it's on my weekly chore list. I still don't know what else to do.


Ash Wednesday Prayer: Small-Minded

At your command all things came to be: the vast expanse of
interstellar space, galaxies, suns, the planets in their courses,
and this fragile earth, our island home.
By your will they were created and have their being.

From the primal elements you brought forth the human race,
and blessed us with memory, reason, and skill. You made us
the rulers of creation. But we turned against you, and betrayed
your trust; and we turned against one another.
Have mercy, Lord, for we are sinners in your sight.
--from Eucharistic Prayer C
BCP p. 370
Considering my own smallness heightens my sense of magnificence. Being a speck in a dazzling universe puffs me up much more than being a Big Fish in any particular pond. Contemplating my brief life, and what will become of my body at the end of it should be an exercise in humility, but instead it's a moment of wonder. When the ocean disappears into the horizon, when the stars speckle the night sky, I feel very small-- and I feel steeped in something immense. It's powerful to behold that sort of magnitude, and while I'm tiny and limited, just the act of recognizing some of the grandeur of our universe makes my soul expand to reflect it.

Today, as we remember that we came from dust and return to it, I'm not feeling expendable. I'm feeling like an intrinsic part of an astonishing world.

How about you? Where in the universe are you today?


Wednesday Prayers: Failure

One article linked to another, and somehow today I stumbled onto the promo information for the Epic Fail Pastors Conference. I'm going to email and beg them to let me (layperson, spiritual director, wanderer in a denominational no-woman's-land, and perpetual discerner) attend. Go check it out yourself-- I've typed half a dozen different explanations, and can't nail the beauty that I see in this offer of integrity and mutual support.

I cried. I kid you not, I cried. The whole concept still has my heart vibrating with the glory and exhilaration of taking risks, of love and joy and freedom and the adrenaline that rushes when you're elbow deep in whatever it is that YOU DO, and to hell with somebody's metrics for success.

I've been in a rut for the last few months, and I've been... tentative, tepid, circumscribed for longer than that. It's a horrible feeling-- like my self is withering. It's harder the older I get. When I was younger, I didn't have responsibilities to anyone else. Today, there's more pressure to remain a manageable, unobstrusive size (spirit-wise, not pants-wise). Freedom is harder. The risks are bigger.

I'd love to know if the payoffs are, too.

Failure is not nearly as big of a deal as shriveling up.

My prayers this week (and for heaven's sake, please help me out here):
Sin boldly.
Fail spectacularly.

What are yours?


Adding to My Chagrin

This afternoon, while tugging the top of my tank top, my hand slipped and I whacked myself in the face. Hurt like the dickens. Was also very, very funny. Because all I could think of was this:

That, my friends, is about the level of sophistication you can expect from me.