Friday, January 23, 2009

Arts and Drafts

I finished the draft of my discernment for final vows today. The process of writing it was a good one and I am glad to be done with the first iteration. Next comes final editing, hopefully complete within a week. Then, off it goes to those who will read it and respond to it.

It is a humbling experience to do this...humbling and listen for and be open to seeing/hearing the graceful, artful, movement of God in my being and life not in bits and pieces but rather a cohesive tale. The sonnet, the symphony, the abstract, the's all a part of finding voice and expression for the wonder of this journey. A student asked me recently what my vision is for what happens when we die. I said, "I believe we become the fullness of what we have sought all long..." The fullness of love, compassion, light, glory...because we are so open and so free...We are permeated with God, no inner or outer or one or the other, simply AH!" That is the direction I desire for my Life--encountering what I do not pretend to grasp but dearly hope and believe is more amazing than I could imagine. And it's already more than a little astounding.

Give me Fever...

From RevGals...It's Friday Night Fever!

The promt for this week's Friday Five: "Help! Please give us five suggestions for combating cabin fever and staying cheerful in our monochromatic world!"

1. Write a sonnet about snow. The discipline of getting the syllables/feet right will take your mind off of the drifting flakes.

2. Re-organize your books into new categories. I used to love doing this as a kid in the wintertime. Who says fiction needs to be by author? Perhaps the color of the spine seems a fun way to go or maybe it's thickness or height! And this from a librarian! Yes, you have my official okay to try this at home.

3. Make an offering to the wind! Boil up some orange peel, cinnamon, clove, etc. and take the steaming pot outside--set it in a drift--and let the wind pick up the sweetly scented steam. Homemade incense, in a way.

4. Make personalized crossword puzzles for those you love.

5. Start an email recipe exchange and try something new for dinner!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Friday 5--This One's On Me

The pals at RevGals posed this one for consideration..."Whether it's new friends or new loves or new employers, what are five things people should know about you?"

1. The wonder and adventure of God thrills me and fills me to the core of my being

2. I love, love, love, words and language...the sounds of them, feelings of them in my mouth, textures to the ear, intricacies of meaning and nuance...

3. I can speak to an audience of 500+ and not blink an eye but rate high on the Introvert scale of Myers Briggs

4. Logic and the imagination are in near constant, comfortable, conversation within me.

5. I carry a stone in my pocket every day.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


I spent my religion class today talking about oaths, swearing, blasphemy, perjury, and cursing with twelve year olds...

As might be expected, the latter term was deemed by the students the most worthy of our time. First stop, what is a curse? Wishing evil upon someone or intentionally stripping away someone's inherent dignity by calling for certain actions against them.

A student asked about why certain words became associated with cursing rather than other words that might have been chosen--an interesting and thoughtful question that got us into the context of use. "Apple" still means for most a yellow, green, or red juicy, sweet/tart, crunchy fruit that quenches thirst, fills the stomach and is commonly used in pie. But, if the word "apple" is used in a rage, verbally flung at someone in an argument, or yelled in anger, the associations might begin to change. We also talked about the actual sounds of words that would make a list of "curse words." Many are harsh sounding, sharp lettered, and slice at the ear...compared to, say, "lullaby" or even "belly button." The students are twelve, remember. The meanings behind some of the words that "make the list" also refer to crude, violent acts. So, history, sound, meaning, tone of delivery, surrounding context of delivery, social mores, who is saying it... all converge in varying degrees to determine "why this one and not that one."

I kept thinking to myself that I hope they remember this conversation, at least for a little while. Understanding the influence of the myriad of associations people make with word use and language is a lesson for living. Why a particular image of God? Why are some names for God so hard for people? Heaven? Good? Acceptable? Proper?

Yes, a rose by any other name...but also, hope is a thing with feathers. Feathers, not armor. To this writer, at least, that makes a difference.

My kids make a difference too.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Of One Accord

Water, blood, and spirit,
all of one accord,
proclaim with glory flowing:

Jesus Christ is Lord!

©MperiodPress, Feast of the Baptism of Jesus, 2009

I love the fullness of that line in today's second reading from the first letter of John-- "So there are three that testify, the Spirit, the water, and the blood, and the three are of one accord." The mystical, the natural, the human, dimensions of God meet in relationship and are symbolically, sacramentally, "incorporated" (meaning,from the root, made into one body)in the river Jordan. There is nothing to take apart, nothing that is not a part of everything else.

In a way, isn't that the very nature of claim us for God, whole and complete...messy and glorious, strong, capable, frail, vulnerable, beloved children with whom God is well pleased. With baptism, we are welcomed into a body--the Body of Christ, the Church alive and seeking, discovering and revealing.

Crossing over into a "new dispensation," (credit to T.S Eliot), we are no longer the same after an event like that. If we are to walk through our deserts with any consolation or hope, I'd say that was a good thing.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Musings of A Blog Centenarian

Consider the Lilies is 101 posts old with these lines I now write!

I, however, who celebrated my birth yesterday, have not reached so significant a number in the eyes of many. I like my years, though. The cumulation of experience has taught me much about things important and trivial...what it feels like to love, the deep brown-burgundy of a buckeye fresh from its husk, how to change homes and be okay, how to make friends, the taste of Pablo Neruda's poetry, the awareness of sacred nearness in a hummingbird fly-by, the grace of being patient and calm enough to have butterflies land on my toes while reading in the sunshine, how to laugh, how to be compassionate toward someone who has caused great pain, why man hole covers are round, the collective noun for a bunch of rhinos, and how to say "little dog" in Portugese.

Yesterday my day began with bringing treats for the faculty and kids. Together, they ceremoniously inhaled two batches of dense Midwestern seven-layer-cookies while wishing me well. Some of my kids asked for the recipe. It's a funny thing writing baking instructions for an 11 year old. I sent a copy to someone else and their response was "I think this might be the best thing I read all day. I particularly like the advice to punch two holes in the top of the sweetened condensed milk can before pouring." Later in the evening, the student sent me an email thanking me for taking the time to send her the recipe...and she had "proudly told my family that my teacher baked her own birthday treats and they were REALLY GOOD."

My school day ended with another student encounter. I walked out to leave and there was a clump of kids waiting to be picked up. They were in day's end high spirits, it was coming on dark, and the moon was out. I stopped to chat with them and we ended up standing there, heads tipped skyward, pointing to the moon and discussing whether we could see the man in the moon or a woman with long hair playing a piano. (I had a friend in Middle and High school who taught me to see her.)

I walked away smiling to myself and full of thanksgiving. I think it was Teresa of Ávila who said "All the way home IS heaven." I understood a little of that in a new way yesterday. Never too old to learn.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Birthday Parties

Tomorrow is my birthday. Tomorrow night there will be angelfood cake and buttercream frosting after dinner. Every birthday for as far back as I can remember, I have had angelfood cake and buttercream frosting. I find that somehow reassuring. Most other unique celebrations over the years have shifted, adapted, changed, out of necessity, choice, what have you, but an angelfood cake has made an appearance on January 5th. I baked cookies to take to work--the students in my religion class are going to flip their twelve year old lids. Can't wait, actually.

In recent years, I have come to adopt a small piece of the Epiphany service as a liturgical birthday party for me too. The trumpets, the trombones, percussion...incense, singing, clapping, and joy...a couple of hundred people choosing to be together, making and sharing peace and good will. Giving hugs and kisses, shaking hands and wishing well. being and bearing Word.

To be a part of all that...what greater gift could there be? I am so glad to be alive.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Annual Reading of Eliot

Epiphany brings with it an annual personal tradition. I leaf through my second copy of an old Longman poetry anthology (the first has been read, loved, and written on into non-portable fragility) and find T.S. Eliot's "Journey of the Magi," settle into a quiet corner of the couch with a mug of good strong coffee, and read his words outloud--feeling the journey in the rhythms of syllables, hearing it in the musing reflection of one of the Magi.

There are parts of the poem I now know by heart. This evening, I text-messaged a friend and in it asked if he knew the poem. All he had to do was begin his response to another question with "A cold coming home..." which told me that he did. This idea of knowing by heart has come to me in spades this Advent and Christmas. I told someone this morning that reading the lectionary these weeks has been like flipping through a family photo album, remembering stories and events and the assortment of characters involved.

When we look back at pictures, we do not recreate the event as it was. We come to it as we are when looking. So too these readings of people walking in darkness and seeing a great light, tales of people arriving to celebrate the baby and bringing gifts of homage (and licorice! Bottom drawer of "my box" in Amahl and the Night Visitors), the record of Word becoming flesh and glories streaming from heaven afar. I recognize people, settings, events because I have met them all before, known something of the journey, and witnessed what I understand as the wonders that flow forth and have as their origin the Heart of God. I have also seen death...and understand something of the confusion experienced by Eliot's Magi.

It is a mystery in heart that can only be borne by a knowing by heart. Snatches and snippets are memorized, but the story lives full and wondrous, revealing and ever revealed.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Friday 10

From pals at Rev Gals

"As we look back we may come to understand how God has worked in and through us in joy and sadness. how we have grown against what may seem impossible odds. As we look forward we may do so with expectation, and we may do so with fear and trembling. As we look back and forward in New Years liminality I offer you this simple yet I hope profound Friday Five in two parts:

First list five things that you remember/ treasure from 2008

Then list five things that you are looking forward to in 2009

From 2008

1. Recognizing myself in letters received from my father whose life was saved *because* of an aneurysm rupturing.

2. Having my poetry included in Lessons and Carols--watching and feeling Word live in a new way.

3. A particular visit to the Metropolitan Museum that left my heart singing a song it didn't know it knew and that it continues to hum.

4. My month in Mexico and subsequent contact with friends made there

5. Writing an important letter that will affect the rest of my life--asking to begin the process for final vows

For 2009

1. The possibilities of an extended international experience

2. The writing that might come from that-- the chance to write in different settings about new facets of God that Iare revealed.

3. Settling deeper and deeper into the wonder of God and finding ever more freedom there

4. Unknown adventure

5. 1-20-09!!!!!!!!!