Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Get off my case

It always surprises me when certain things I post invoke the ire of so many readers, especially the anonymous ones. Yesterday's passive aggressive rant on things that bug me about co-existing in community, seems to have been one of those posts.

The gist of my critical comments ranged from blaming the exposé on my now well-established addiction to alcohol (see earlier post where I wondered about the possibility here) to the fact that nothing changes... (as in: I was always a b*tch before so I'll always be one in the future.)

Give me a break. Anyone who thinks that living with nuns is somehow different than living with other human beings, needs to wake up and smell the day-old coffee grounds. Yes... we pray a lot; yes, we have a commitment to God; yes, we love each other and forgive each other for all kinds of things you'd get fired for in the secular world. But that doesn't mean we don't drive each other nuts from time to time. Can you spell H-U-M-A-N? With all the warts?

Some apparently can't when it comes to religious. There's an unhealthy need for (me in particular) to conform to some preconceived perception of what a religious should and should not be, say or do. What's that about? They conveniently forget that, in addition to seeing my sisters through very human eyes, I also look in the mirror. I am not, nor will I ever be perfect. (I'm not even sure I'd ever even want to be, for that matter.) Perfection is way overrated, and it's too subjective. Your idea of perfect could be my idea of hell. Given the comments... probably is.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Can you spell p-a-s-s-i-v-e aggressive?

Every now and then my paranoia gets the best of my compassion... and I go straight to "she did that on purpose!" Seven times out of ten I am wrong. She did not do it on purpose (at least not consciously). She forgot. Or she didn't even notice, or even think it was something that was hers to do. The she in these cases could apply to any one of my sisters at any given time, but more often than not, it comes down to just one or two... whose ways of being in the world are so alien to mine I get bent out of shape.

For instance: if I walk into my bathroom and hear the shower running next door, I don't flush my toilet. I don't get into my shower and turn the water on. Our pipes are ancient and the pressure is awful. Yet I can be showering away myself and suddenly be without water. What's with that?

Another example: Dishes get put away in certain places in our cupboards. One sister gets so upset when they are put in the wrong place or in the wrong order she slings them around and the bowls get chipped. I feel like slinging them myself, when I keep finding the large baking sheets on top of the small ones. They nest. Beautifully. Yet someone is either too lazy to bother to nest them or doesn't think it matters.

Then there's the sister who does everything at a snail's pace, and others are continually waiting for her. Waiting for her to finish eating, to finish getting dressed, to finish going to the bathroom. She takes her time no matter how many people are inconvenienced, seemingly oblivious to the resentment swirling around her.

But wait, there's more... one sister volunteers for everything and then only does half of what she volunteers for. Another sister never volunteers for anything and feels put upon when someone suggests maybe she could help with the workload. And then there are the passive aggressive behaviors that are too vague and discreet to point a finger at, yet irritate and annoy. Leaving your trash for someone else to clean up... making the coffee but not emptying the grounds, leaving one spoonful of food in the container so you won't have to wash it out, or using the last of it and leaving the container for someone else to wash. For me these are matters of common courtesy, the oil that keeps community running smoothly. But that is my take on the situation, and it is not necessarily the law. And even if it were the law, people wouldn't always obey.

When I came into community, I took the Meyers Briggs Personality test and came out on the fence between the P and J designations. You'd think that would mean I could easily swing both ways. However, the way it manifests in real life, is that if I'm in a room full of Js I'll act like a P. If I'm in a room full of Ps, I'll act like a J. We have mostly Ps in our community, so my J-ness comes to the fore way more often than I care to admit.

I hate this about myself. I hate that all these little things pile up inside me and I want to bite somebody's head off. I hate even more that when it gets to me I stoop to the same level and act passively agressive myself. I think for Lent I'm giving up judgment. Will that fly?

Sunday, January 28, 2007

It's all about Truth

Revised Common Lectionary for the Fourth Sunday of Epiphany:
Jeremiah 1:4-10
I Corinthians 13: 1-13
Luke 4: 21-30

Jeremiah may have been a bullfrog in some circles, but he sure didn't want to be a prophet."...I am only a boy." But God sounds a little irritable when He says, "Do not say 'I am only a boy'; for you shall go to all to whom I send you; and you shall speak whatever I command you." So much for free will.

In Corinthians we hear the familiar verses: ...Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;... And finally, from Luke, Jesus reminding the congregation in Nazareth that no prophet is accepted by those who knew him when... and that being a Jew will get them no special treatment from God. That last little bit of truth riled them up so badly they tried to throw him off a cliff.

So the Gospel message points back to the Old Testament reading... nobody (unless they have a death wish) wants to be a prophet. It's a dangerous job. Speaking God's truth will get you killed.

Our celebrant this morning explored some of the reasons why people don't want to hear the truth, especially from somebody they thought was one of them. How come this guy knows something I don't? Who died and made him king? I remember him when he couldn't blow his own nose... yadda yadda yadda. Do we feel insulted? Or inconvenienced? Will accepting the truth mean we've somehow fallen short? And if so, who are you to tell me I've fallen short anyway?

Truth and human nature... like oil and water, they need to be shaken really hard to emulisfy, and even then the particles immediately start to separate. Is it because honesty is in fact brutal? Is it because honesty hurts so much that the only reaction is violence?

In Corinthians, the pretty words (reserved mostly for wedding ceremonies) mask an even harder truth... love is the only thing that matters. Without the attributes of love: patience, endurance, humility, kindness, cheerful acceptance... anything else you may be, may have achieved... amounts to diddlysquat. Fame, success, wealth, power... worth nothing in the sight of God.

In my line of work we hear it, we proclaim it, we even believe it. But it sure isn't easy to do it.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

gender humor

While I've been doing as little as possible... surfing and reading my bloggy friends posts, I discovered a new site thanks to Jules at maced with grace. Here's a sample:

You can view more of these cartoons here.

And the reason you haven't posted is... ?

dis·com·bob·u·late [dis-kuhm-bob-yuh-leyt]
–verb (used with object), -lat·ed, -lat·ing.
to confuse or disconcert; upset; frustrate

It's been a week of discombobulation. I like the way that word sounds, probably because I don't really pronounce it right. I say "bob-uh-late" instead of bob-yuh-leyt... it should be the name for some effervescent drink. I'll have a bobulate with a twist of lime, please. When I'm discombobulated everything goes flat. Everything.

We have two sisters away traveling, one has been gone for a week. Another two were attending a workshop downtown for two days. Another sister collapsed during mass on Wednesday and was sent to the hospital, which meant another sister was gone with her the whole day. We don't have that many able-bodied sisters left when circumstances start picking us off. So we do the best we can and the rest falls through the cracks. Oh... and our clothes dryer quit heating on laundry day, and nothing would get dry. Weeks where everything seems to go wrong, or the little details all mush together and the safety net falls apart, are overwhelming. I'm flattened out. Cardboard.

I'm not doing much on my to-do list that requires any kind of deep thought. I'm addressing envelopes. I'm writing a whiney blog, not some profound treatise on the Gospel. (Not that my thoughts are all that profound... I realize that.) But I can't do much else. I'll catch you later.

Monday, January 22, 2007

He didn't read it right.

Luke 4:14-21

Our celebrant on Sunday shed new light on that old adage "You can never go home again" as the Gospel from Luke points out so well. Jesus has finished his time of testing in the desert and he's full of the Spirit (and probably himself) and has come back to Galilee. Everything is going just fine until he shows up in his own home town, Nazareth. He goes to church, stands up to read, and reads from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. According to Luke (4: 18-19) he reads: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has annointed me to bring good news to the poor, He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor. And then he sits back down. If you haven't cross-referenced that with the actual passage from Isaiah, you're probably thinking... okay, so?

But listen to this: (Isaiah 61: 1-2) The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has annointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor, and the day of vengeance of our God...

He didn't read it right.

The part about vengeance he omits completely, and he adds something actually from Isaiah 42... the part about opening the eyes of the blind. The actual passage is: Isaiah 42:7 to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.

These were assigned readings. People had heard them over and over and would have noticed the difference. No wonder all eyes of the entire assembly were fixed on him. He didn't get to pick and choose what he wanted, yet he did it anyway. He rearranged the verses, and in so doing, reinterpreted the Torah. I always thought they were just insulted because he implied that he was the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophesy, but it was much more serious than that.

I get angry when soapbox preachers take the words of Scripture out of context and use them to support their own narrow views of right and wrong, hell and damnation. Yet Jesus was taking the words of Scripture and putting them into a new context... much more dangerous. There would be no day of vengeance on this Messiah's watch, his message was one of reconciliation, of healing. The prison and the darkness and the blindness were all part of the mindset he was here to overturn. Not exactly the message they were hoping for. Still isn't.

Friday, January 19, 2007


Sometimes I worry about being an alcoholic. My mother was, her sister and husband both were, apparently my dad drank heavily before he left my mom... I have the genes and the environmental history. And I like to drink. I like the "buzz" I get from a couple of glasses of wine. I'm a lightweight when it comes to alcohol; anything over two and I'm tipsy.

The urban dictionary defines tipsy as: The state when you are drinking alchohol in which you are past light headedness but before being drunk. or... Tipsy is when you're buzzin from alcohol, but you're not hammered yet. That's good... not being hammered is a good thing.

I equate tipsy with lightheadedness, in all its manifestations... physical effects: the easy, dizzy, sort of walking-on-air feeling, where I'm aware of everything around me but in a pleasant hazy way. Psychological effects: an increased ability to do those things I normally find difficult. (ie: I had wine once before a bell choir practice and played better than I ever had. I was so relaxed that I was not intimidated by the music, and my inhibitions made way for whatever natural talent I had.) It's easier for me to talk to strangers at parties, easier to sing in front of a group.

My mother used to point to people with red noses, and say "That man's a boozer." I asked her how she knew, and she said it had something to do with the capillaries bursting in your nose when you drank a lot. It's ironic that she drank (a lot) but never exhibited the red-nose syndrome. I have a red nose. When I get teary-eyed, when I'm angry, my nose turns red. I look in the mirror on a morning after I've had wine and sure enough, my nose is red. (I also have a red nose on a morning after I've drunk diet coke, so I'm not sure it's conclusive evidence.)

Am I an alcoholic? Do I drink every day? No. Do I need to drink? No. Do I want to drink when it's been a stressful day? Yes. Do I want to drink when I'm out with friends? Often. So where is the line and how will I know if I'm in danger of crossing it? Do I want to give up drinking to find out? No. (Maybe that was the line.)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

what global warming?

People in Texas and parts of the mid-west, not accustomed to way-below-freezing temperatures and ice storms, could probably look out their windows and say "what global warming?!?"

But most of us realize that just one of the side effects predicted will be a shift in the climatic zones. Areas that used to have mild winters and rarely saw snow will experience severe freezes, while places dependent upon snow will get rain. (That's been us in New York. It's freezing now, but today is only our second cold day all winter.

Whether you currently believe in global warming or not, this week scientists have moved the "doomsday clock" forward by two minutes, not because of nuclear threat, but due to the risk/consequences of global warming.

That's a pretty major step forward in our consciousness. There's an interesting blog called The Conscious Earth you might want to visit here for more information.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Laughing matters

Last Pentecost we had our annual party in the city. A professional photographer (a friend of a friend) was in attendance (see new pic of me in the sidebar) and he captured many of us enjoying each other's spirit-filled company, often with gales of laughter. His name is Mark Stephen Kornbluth and you can view a substantial portfolio of his work here. I especially love his black and white photography, but that may be because I was once a photographer myself, as were both of my ex-husbands. (Please file that under equal-opportunity blogging... nobody gets left behind.)

Seriously, or maybe not so seriously, laughter is good medicine. The Maryland School of Medicine researchers recently showed that laughter is linked to healthy function of blood vessels. (Translate: good for your heart.) Groucho Marx said: A clown is like an aspirin, only he works twice as fast. This pain management effect has also been proven by case studies, as have the physiological effects of laughter in the immune system.

Laughter causes an increase in the number and activity of T cells and natural killer cells, the cells that fight foreign cells and cancer cells; increase in gamma interferon, a blood chemical that stimulates the immune system; a rise in immunoglobulin A, an antibody that fights upper respiratory tract infections, and more immunoglobulins G and M, which help fight other infections.

Immunoglobulins or hobgoblins, I don't really care which... I just need to keep laughing. At everything. Especially at those things some people think should be exempt from laughter: tradegy, religion, bodily functions... to name a few.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Epiphany Man

On the eve of the feast day (and national holiday) of The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. I think it's appropriate to take a look at how we despise the radical thinkers of our time until their thinking has made an impact for change. Then we celebrate them, enshrine them, have holidays in their honor.

I lived in the South as a child until I was six years old. I remember riding through "colored town" with my grandmother, on Sunday mornings, looking out the window at the black people getting into their Cadillacs as they were leaving for church. Grammie would shake her head in disapproval. "They always have nice cars," she told me, "but they live in shacks." I was more interested in their lovely outfits. It seemed to me (at five) that they had their priorities pretty straight if they dressed up so nice for God. I remember once being thirsty when we were downtown, and seeing a water fountain, wandered over for a drink. I couldn't reach the faucet, so an elderly black man kindly lifted me up. He had just placed me gently on the sidewalk when my grandmother snatched my hand and dragged me away. "Don't ever drink from a colored water fountain! What were you thinking!" I was thinking I was thirsty and there was water... what's a colored water fountain? Children aren't born racists, they are made that way.

Americans once said we stood for: Truth, Justice and the American Way. Am I so naive to be the only one not to get that the concept only existed on the after-school episodes of Superman? Perhaps. Yet it existed in the heart of Martin Luther King, Jr. He spoke radically for his race, for his ordinary human rights, for justice and change.

Like Jesus, he was killed for his message of warning and his insistence on change. And, like Jesus, we've given him a national holiday to say thank you very much. Don't ask for anything else. You got your integrated water fountains, now shut up, and please go away.

Yet the Epiphany season is upon us. We've put away the creche, packed up the ornaments, thrown out the tree, swept up the lingering needles... now what? Epiphany is about: NOW, we do something.

We've been offered a gift... a gift of light in the darkness of our thinking. Yet it's so much easier to pull out a leftover sleep mask from some airline flight, and cover our eyes to the real work that needs to be done... to the suffering and injustice still going strong in the world. It's easier to say "not my problem, I didn't start it, I didn't do it, not my fault."

Of course it's my fault. I either create, promote or allow the world to be the way it is. Bush may have created the mess in Iraq but he had plenty of greedy promoters to help him along, and he had even more negligent/indifferent citizens who allowed it by saying "I can't do anything about it... I'm not in charge."

Martin Luther King, Jr. had a dream, not just a good speech about it. He was willing to do something about that dream... An Epiphany man if ever there was one.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Anger virus

I have two ex-husbands. If and when I post about one and not the other, old rivalry issues seem to spring up. On a good day, that's amusing. On a bad day, it's annoying. (I am annoyed.) I think there's an anger virus circulating, and the vaccine for it hasn't even been thought of, never mind invented. My second ex-husband is angry because I wrote about my first ex-husband's non-wedding anniversary and not about his, which, for the record, would have been thirty years on December 11th. If I had stayed married to him. My daughter-in-law has been angry (very angry) with apparently good reasons for the past few days. She used four-letter words to vent her frustrations. She has also been sick... and illness, more than any other adversity, can bring me down to scum level.

I had the dreaded annual physical yesterday. Good news: blood pressure is low. (I was on high blood pressure medication.) So... of the four prescriptions I'm taking, two have been discontinued. Bad news: Osteoporosis. Now I have a new pill to take once a week. I asked about the one Sally Field advertises (afterall she was the flying nun) but insurance doesn't pay for that one. It figures. Then came the blood test: I hate that part worse than all the other poking and prodding. I have small veins that roll... a lab technician's worst nightmare. Yesterday was no exception. Four puncture wounds and black and blue lumps on both arms later, he was finally able to extract the two vials he needed. Peeing in the cup was easy... all that damn water I'm drinking I guess. (label under TMI?)

Anyway, the point is: last night I was not up to par... certainly not ill enough to skip anything, but in a rotten mood from sore arms, a two-hour wait at the doctor's office, a lost day, and nothing to show for it but a new prescription. And I was angry. No reason... just angry. I went to bed as soon as Compline was over and slept it off. Today seems so different.

I think about my unexplainable grouchiness and how it affected my relationship with the other sisters. I snapped at one, whined to another, and finally just withdrew into my own personal pool of pity. I think about my second ex-husband's anger, a constant in his life. I wonder where so much of his anger comes from... is it part of the virus going around and he just has a terminal case? Somebody needs to invent a vaccine.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Rising Star

I've just come from one of those rare evenings that comes around every once in a while, where the artistry of a performer sweeps you away along with the time. There are a zillion constellations of rising stars in New York City, just like there are a zillion excellent restaurants. So many artists, so little time. Yet when you make time for this woman, you won't be disappointed. As I write this, I'm listening to her latest CD Closer to You, trying to prolong the experience.

Her melodies are haunting as is her voice. Her name is Ashley Davis and she sings from her soul with skill and passion... songs of longing, lost love, imaginary love... with a touch of Irish bitterness and humor. It was magic. Thank you.

(For more information about Ashley, her website is here.)


I must be on a roll for remembering what was so special about yesterday... (a day late and a dollar short, my mother used to say, whenever her card said "belated wishes"). She was one for punctuality at any cost. I ran that number on myself and others for a time... not now. Yesterday was my oldest grandson's fourteenth birthday. According to my daughter-in-law he spent his day having his appendix out. Bummer!
Well, dear Drew... this one's for YOU! Happy Birthday. (I was going to post it earlier but Blogger is punishing me for not switching to the new and improved...)

No forewarning

Mark I: 16-28
The word immediately crops up a lot in the New Testament. Today's lesson is no exception. Jesus calls Simon and Andrew to be fishers of men and immediately they drop their nets. He immediately calls James and John, and they leave with him too. None of this "Let's think it over for a minute. Do you mind if I park my boat?" Jesus calls. They go.

im·me·di·ate·ly [i-mee-dee-it-lee]
definitions: without lapse of time; without delay; instantly; at once, with no object or space intervening.

with no object or space intervening There's always space intervening in our physical world. Science has discovered that the space far exceeds the physical mass of any objects ricocheting off each other at the subatomic level, that the space between planets and galaxies is far greater than we ever imagined by simply looking at the night sky. Yet, as all things are timeless for God, all things must be immediate.

To answer a call immediately means no time for discernment, no time to put your affairs in order. "How impulsive!" we say, of anyone today who would be so irresponsible, (or as in James and John's case) that uncaring of their father's business interests. Yet this was Jesus calling, God's son. Of course they went at once, without delay, instantly.

We don't do that so much now. We discourage impulsive action, are suspect of ideas not carefully thought out. Where's the prospectus? I'd like to see your business plan. Oh no plan, other than I need to overturn the existing power structure. I expect to be in business for about three years and then be lynched by the authorities and go out in disgrace...

Right. We're with you. Yes sirree. Lets get on this immediately.

Monday, January 08, 2007


Yesterday would have been my fortieth wedding anniversary.

If I had stayed married to my first husband. I read today that marriage and raising children are two of the most difficult jobs we can attempt. It strikes me odd that, if that is true, we expect those jobs to be accomplished with no training.

We were both twenty-one and in the Navy. We were both young, lonely, insecure, and finding each other was something of a miracle in itself. I didn't really love my husband that much when I agreed to marry him, which says a lot for why arranged marriages can work. I grew to love him, simply by being married to him.

I was fat then. He told me "all the men in my family marry fat women with glasses." It wasn't true, of course, but he said it to be kind. Our first year together I lost over twenty-five pounds... melted off, because I was happy... and because I couldn't cook. I remember an early meal: I served him a pork chop for dinner. He looked confused. "Where's the platter?" "What platter? There are two of us... so there's one for you, one for me." His mother had raised three hungry boys, so there was always a platter, sometimes leftovers. It was just my mom and me, so there was never a platter, never leftovers. Little things like that I remember now with a smile... the clash of upbringings and cultural conditioning, as we two tried with all our might to become one.

It's true for the convent as well. We come from many walks of life, with many preconceived ideas about what monastic means. We clash over little things and argue our points. We compromise and accommodate. We have a rule to guard us, Christ to guide us, and God to help us, and still... the same dynamics we were exposed to in early childhood play themselves out. Yet in the convent there is a time of training, a period of discernment and evaluation. What is working? Not working? Where are the growing edges?

I asked a priest for a miracle to save my first marriage.( I certainly had done my share of the bungling, and had no resources left.) The priest told me "God helps those who help themselves." As far as I could see, God must not have thought I was doing much to warrant His help, and my husband and I eventually separated. I know there are couples who weather storms like ours and stay together. Sometimes they're made stronger, and sometimes that storm just becomes an old scar that never heals, and it gets dragged out from time to time to add emphasis to current disagreements.

We went on with our lives. My husband eventually remarried a lovely woman. They are still married.

I too remarried and thirteen years later divorced. I did not attempt marriage again, although the possibility crossed my mind a couple of times. Right now I have enough to do.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

The Baptism of Jesus

Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?" Jesus replied, "Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness." Then John consented. As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." —Matthew 3: 13-17

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens opening and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, "You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased." —Mark 1:9-11

After all the people were baptized, Jesus was baptized. As he was praying, the sky opened up and the Holy Spirit, like a dove descending, came down on him. And along with the Spirit, a voice: "You are my Son, chosen and marked by my love, pride of my life." —Luke 3: 21-22

This is an odd year liturgically. Yesterday the wise men came, today Jesus is being baptized. It would make sense if his were an infant baptism, like many are today, but no... he was thirty some years old at the time. We've jumped as they used to say in Quantum Leap, that old TV show starring Scott Bakula.

All three evangelists agree that this baptism was not one of John's run-of-the-mill baptisms. Matthew says John didn't even want to baptize Jesus, but Jesus pressed him. Then it all broke loose. A dove, or something like a dove, and a voice... My son. Acknowledgement for the man born so long ago under mysterious and unusual circumstances. I am well pleased. Affection, appreciation, pride... in who this man is and who he will become.

To hear a voice from God can change you forever. Sometimes this voice speaks once, and you must run on empty for a long time with only that remembrance. Bad things happen to people that God speaks to clearly, mainly because God tells them to go against the grain, challenge the system, crawl out on a skinny little limb and wait for the chainsaw.

Yet down through the ages God has spoken... again and again... Some will say "Was that thunder I just heard?" And some will say "Here I am, send me."

Saturday, January 06, 2007


The Wise Men have arrived, although the term "wise" is suspect, dontcha think? ...considering they had no clue Herod was the bad guy and that the consequence of their actions would be the death of countless babies?

Matthew seems to be the only evangelist who documents this slaughter, though, and many Biblical scholars don't think it really happened. I hope for Herod's sake they're right. Killing innocent babies is not something I'd want on my slate come judgment day. To my knowledge I have never killed anyone, (I used to confess that it was the only commandment I hadn't broken.) But how do I know that? How do I know that some inaction (or rude action) of mine caused a chain of events leading to someone's death? How do I know that money I donated to a worthy cause was diverted to something less worthy? How do I know how any of my actions affect the interrelated web of life on this planet?

I don't. I do the best I can with the information I have to work with. In this, the information age, we can google facts, opinions, and the latest scientific discoveries by typing in a few key words. But googling does not necessarily equate to accurate information. We also live in an age of instant misinformation and that is just as dangerous a the swords in Herod's soldiers' hands.

Friday, January 05, 2007

"Actually, they're more like guidelines"

Johnny Depp spoke that line in the first Pirates of the Caribbean and it prompted great belly laughs when we watched the movie together my first year in community. Much of our rule and customary had been set aside while we experimented with a circular model of leadership, and every time something new came up that conflicted with something previously cast in concrete, our novice guardian would resort to the expression.

That's exactly how I'm viewing my New Years Resolutions this year. I did make a few. Some are good for me... things like "drink more water". But I realized that drink more water is too vague. So drink more water translates to: for every cup of coffee consumed I must drink half a liter of water. That's doable. (Where did that stupid word come from?) I'm on my third cup of coffee, so that means I must drink another bottle of water. I've made a good start but it doesn't mean I'll remember to do it every time. The point is to drink more water, so the cup of coffee=bottle of water is more like a guideline.

Resolutions that are too idealistic or impractical or done out of guilt just don't have much staying power. One of my resolutions is to cross off everything on last year's to do list. I'm definitely making headway there... mostly because I have an added stipulation that I can't start any new project until I complete at least three that are unfinished. Today I made two doctor's appointments and sewed a button on my winter jacket. That counts as three, dontcha think?

Thursday, January 04, 2007

To be heard...

Our celebrant this morning explained that he'd been away for the weekend visiting friends, one of whom was preaching last Sunday on the text from John. Apparently she had asked for feedback/reflections to help her develop her sermon. He had given her some thoughts which she didn't use, so we got to hear them this morning.

That struck me as both funny and profound. (His words were worth hearing, by the way.) But it is our human need to express our thoughts, to be heard that hit me. He had some thoughts. He wanted them heard.

My own thoughts are all tied up with what he said, which is essentially that God's Word has to be dealt with. Whether we embrace it, ignore it, discount it, or despise it, we are in relationship with that Word every moment of our lives. He went on to expound on the very idea of our relationships... both with God and with each other. What words (language) do we use to create those relationships?

I think of my own words and my own relationships. How many times do I say things thoughtlessly that inadvertently hurt someone else? (More often than I care to admit to, I think.) It also made me think of the words the anonymous choose when they wish to be heard. What is the real need behind the abusive language? What relationship are they desperate for?

Perhaps being made in God's image has a new dimension I've not considered... that need for relationship, that need to be dealt with, to be heard.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Tick, tick, tick... (again)

Every time I go to post, Blogger wants me to upgrade. Frankly, I'm chicken. I know that eventually I'll have no choice; they are trying to phase out the old system, but I'm in no hurry. I tried it out with the artwork blog and the whole process just seems clunkier. Google log-in, another password to forget... some days I can barely remember what day it is, never mind another password. I'm not suspicious by nature. (Just ask the guy I dated for almost two years before I found out he was married.) But I am suspicious of upgrades since the last OSX security enhancement blew out my email access. These days I'd rather leave well-enough alone.

What's that about? I once was willing to try anything new. "I'll try anything once" actually became my motto in my forties, after my second divorce. I was so unsure of who I was, what I believed, what foods I liked, my favorite color... I had to start over pretty much from scratch. Some of that exploration was fun, but it was also a lot of work. Rebuilding any life is a lot of work. I'm sixty. I don't have that kind of energy now.

So available energy becomes one of my discernment factors. What environments drain me? Where do I feel energized? Where can I rest? Not bad questions, I think.

Monday, January 01, 2007

The P Words

Potential is procrastinated potency. (That's today's attempt at profound alliteration)

Seriously... I've been thinking about my New Years resolutions and my Old Years diversionary tactics... how I managed to make a good start at a few things and then they just fizzled out. Or I fizzled out. (Some things needed to fizzle, I'm not talking about those.) I'm talking about the intangible commitments that were the underlying reasons for the tangible to-do's:

for example... I've had make doctor's appointment on my to do list for four months. It is (was) time for my check up. I feel fine. (most of the time) I take my four different medicines every day (most of the time) and I don't really expect bad news when I go see her. So why haven't I made that appointment? It has to be something other than laziness.

I spend much of my day unconscious. I like it that way. What's that about?

On so many occasions I have mourned the waste of potential... the potential of a good relationship, a better job, my own potential for deeper thought (or even scarier: deeper commitment to action.) Today's On a Journey meditation talked about personal potency being one of the things Jesus came to show us... to teach us. We are not as helpless as we like to think. For me it comes down to procrastination. For whatever reason... I procrastinate, I delay not only what needs to be done, but what I want to do. What's that about?