Monday, March 31, 2008

more wrinkles... damn.

I'm finding new wrinkles when I look in the mirror.

I don't especially mean the ones on my face, although they are definitely there... but the parts of my personality that have changed, are changing... it's scary. I've always known I was an introvert, but now the energy required to stay focused and present in a group setting wipes me out. Totally.

I was away for three days on a Cursillo weekend renewal retreat. If I break it down into segments, little pieces, individual parts... it was okay: informative, fun, inspirational, a good time. If I try to describe it as a whole, it was a waste of my time, a drain on my energy, an annoying barrage of too many people, too many personalities, too many needy, inconsiderate, thoughtless bodies that I was just not up to contending or coping with. When I finally arrived back at the convent late Sunday afternoon, I couldn't wait to hug my sisters... I was so glad to be home! I could hardly wait to sleep in my own bed.

Geesh! Where did that all come from? The truth is I love to travel. I love to meet new people, to experience new ways of being in the world, to learn new information. Apparently living in a convent has stripped away my natural protective barriers, because another truth is also making itself apparent: I cannot stand crowds. This could be a real problem... good thing today was a rest day for me. I slept til 10:00 and took a nap at 3:00. I'm hitting the sack before 9:30 too. Wiped. Out.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Six words

Melissa tagged me to write a 6 word memoir. I looked at a few of the others... they all had such great ideas! Whaaaa whaaa whaaa. Then I got inspired ( another word for compulsive/obsessive) and wrote about fourteen before I came to my senses.

I'll just give you the first one (or three):

Live, love, laugh... or die trying.
No guts, no glory. (Often gory.)
It's all the
same to me.

  1. Write your own six word memoir;
  2. Post it on your blog and include a visual illustration if you’d like;
  3. Link to the person that tagged you in your post, and to the original post if possible so we can track it as it travels across the blogosphere;
  4. Tag at least five more blogs with links; and
  5. Don’t forget to leave a comment on the tagged blogs with an invitation to play!
I was tagged by Melissa. I'm tagging Pat, Jules, Natty, alto artist, and my daughter-in-law. Yes, I know Melissa already tagged her, but she's a born over-achiever so she should get to do two if she wants to. besides, she's MY daughter-in-law.

Saturday, March 22, 2008


Jesus is laid in the tomb

This is the final image for my series Stations of the Cross. I started working on it several years ago when my church asked the artist's guild to create images for each of the fourteen stations. Mine was Station 11: Jesus is nailed to the cross. The scripture that accompanies this station specifically mentions that he was crucified between two thieves, and that was my focus for the artwork, an abstract that depicts the Christ only as a blur of red between two other colors.

It's taken me a long time to complete the series, and for now, at least, it is finished. You can view them all here. Scroll down and move back up to see it in sequence (if that's the way you like to do things.)

Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday

"Losing that job was the best thing that ever happened to me." "I'm not glad I got cancer, but it sure made me more appreciative of life in general." "It seemed like such a bad thing at the time, but in retrospect I'm glad it happened."

That's how we are brought up (as Christians) to believe in "Good" Friday. It was a horrible thing at the time, but the fact that it happened was good for us.

We recite a number of articles of faith in our religion... that Jesus was the son of God, the only one, born under peculiar and holy circumstances, that he suffered, died and was buried... that he rose from the dead and sits beside God, that he will come back... to judge whoever's left and those already dead.

But we go on to elaborate on these articles, (which were never part of what the disciples believed to begin with,) and we add more intent and presume a righteous understanding of who Jesus was, what he knew, and why he had to die for our salvation. We also presume that God wanted him dead for God's own purposes... whatever they might be.

Because of this righteous understanding of who God is and what God wants and how God works, we go on to draw conclusions that may or may not be true in the long haul. One in particular is that the New Covenant of Christ supersedes the Old Covenant that God made with Abraham, and later, Moses. If time is not linear to God then this cannot be possible. Christ made a new covenant with his disciples on the night before he died. He made it in the context of the Passover meal, in the context of the established covenant.

Jesus also shortened the ten commandments on two occasions: the first when he said, in answer to a question, "Love God, and love your neighbor." Ten distilled down to two. When he spoke to his disciples that night, he made it even simpler: "Love one another as I have loved you." Simpler maybe, but certainly not easier.

"Love one another as I have loved you." cannot possibly equate to kill the infidel, annihilate the heretics, burn, pillage and destroy. It cannot equate to judging people as believers vs. nonbelievers, Christians vs. Jews, Jews vs. Muslims, Catholic vs. Protestant, East vs. West, Democrat vs. Republican. (You get the picture.)

My guess is we have no idea what happened on that first Good Friday, nor why. We have background, a few "facts" as recorded by early historians. We have the stories told by his followers, and they will always contain some grain of the truth. Probably more important, we have the example of his disciples who afterwards, were willing to die the same awful deaths their Lord had died. They understood the new commandment.

I'm not sure we do in this generation.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Palm Sunday

I was brought up in the Protestant tradition where Palm Sunday was the day for marching bands, palm waving and hosannas. It was not to be confused with the events that occur just a few days later.

Imagine my horror the first time I experienced Palm Sunday in the Episcopal church... where the service starts out with a parade around the chancel, but then things get very ugly as the Passion narrative is read (or worse, acted out.) I was flabbergasted. "Give the man a few days to enjoy the ride," I thought. Betrayal and death will come soon enough.

I've had to endure many a Palm Sunday since that first one, and I have to admit the tradition has grown on me. Ask anyone who's life has changed in a matter of minutes. They will tell you that security is an illusion, that all we truly have is the moment we're living in.

For us to go from "Hosanna in the Highest!" to "Crucify him!" in less than fifteen minutes, then, is not so unlikely.

I have avoided crowds most of my life. They scare me. There is a crowd mentality that takes over and it can be nasty and unpredictable. In Jerusalem the crowd was swayed to blood lust. Those who would have been sickened by it probably stayed home. There were several Palm Sundays in the beginning of my life as an Episcopalian that I found one reason or another to stay home too. But showing up is important. Showing up and standing up for what we believe is probably one of the most important choices we can make. Even if it seems to make no difference at the time.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

This Birthday Boy is Four!

My next-to-the-youngest grandson Gabriel celebrates his fourth birthday today. His first visit to New York City was with his family in December (for my life profession) and he stole the hearts of all my sisters.

When we went out to dinner afterwards, he and I got to sit together, and my friend snapped this picture of us. I've added a cake for him to blow out the candles. Wish I could be singing "happy birthday" to you, sweetheart, but I'll see you later this year.
love, Grandma

Thursday, March 13, 2008

the secular world

Interesting day, today. One of the side effects of finally getting a New York driver's license was that my name and address were put back into the system. I was called for jury duty.

This hasn't happened since some time in the 90's when my electric bill targeted me, and I served four days on a personal injury case that settled the day we were to begin deliberations. It was kind of disappointing to hear all that testimony and then not get to even talk about it.

It was probably just as well. The final day of testimony had included a sobbing wife (ala Tammy Faye/mascara) explain in lurid detail how her sex life had been totally ruined by her husband's depression over his chronic back pain, which was, of course, caused by his fall from the scaffolding on a job site. Up until that tearful rendition, the plaintiff had had the jury in his pocket. We all just looked at each other, as if to say, "Me thinks she protests too much!" and the tide of opinion turned in that moment.

Well, I can't say that for sure. We didn't get to talk about it. But I rode the subway home after we were dismissed with another juror who felt the same way I did. Fast forward to today: another personal injury case. Only now I'm a nun in the secular world. You may think we'd be exempt from jury duty, but that's not the case. Hardly anybody is exempt anymore. Those of us called to this particular panel spent the entire day being questioned by two lawyers, plus a judge. They haven't finished. We must return tomorrow morning for more of the same. It's obvious many of us will be disqualified. But here's something I learned... never say "I don't know." They can't stand that; it makes them crazy.

I said it a few times. It was the truth. Boy do they get cranky when you say "I don't know."

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Lazarus! Come out!

Today's Gospel was the Lazarus story. Our celebrant reminded us that it's probably the longest story (21 chapters) and contains the shortest verse (Jesus wept.) He went on to make an analogy with the ever-popular "books for dummies", in that the Gospel of John could easily be called "The Gospel for Dummies" because it includes everything we need to know about the nature of God and the nature of Jesus. He also noted that this central chapter, the raising of Lazarus, would probably qualify as one of the Top Ten Moments in Salvation History.

I've read a few commentaries this past week on the Lazarus story, in preparation for this, the 5th (and last) Sunday in Lent. Some writers have specifically commented on the part where Jesus is "deeply disturbed"... Always a popular theme... wondering why... speculating on all the various reasons that the Son of God might be disturbed.

Okay, I'm no different. I think we're all guilty at some point of looking to our sacred texts for justification of our own particular slant on the way life works, or ought to work. I'm in the camp of those who believe Jesus didn't always have all the answers, that he spoke off the cuff, ad libbed, and sometimes made it up as he went along.

I interpret the story of Lazarus this way: whether he planned to be so late or not, his delay caused a number of consequences. For one, sweet Mary and faithful Martha were both overcome with grief, and neither could help but add the dig "if you had been here..."

Knowing that his action (or inaction) had caused their grief was bad enough. But he was really late, and the body had already begun to decompose. How much physical reversal would be required for a body that had not had breath nor blood supply for four days? Of course he would be deeply disturbed. All his previous resurrection miracles had occurred prior to entombment. This would be very different. Still... Jesus went for it.

As I've noted before, the faith of those wishing to be healed, (or of others... friends or relatives) has been documented over and over as practically indispensable to the miracles that Jesus worked. Martha didn't disappoint him. "Yes, I believe that you are the Son of God..."

"Lazarus! Come out!" And the rest is history. Except there is no recorded history about the man who emerged from the tomb after four days of decomposition. Was he a mess? Did he have severe brain damage? Was he disappointed to be alive again after experiencing the mystery of the other side? Why is nothing ever mentioned about Lazarus again?

Friday, March 07, 2008

Be warned

As I mentioned before, I'm part of a Lenten Book Club with three other women of various Christian backgrounds. I'm probably the flaming liberal of the group and the others are at varying points on the conservative spectrum. Today we had a spirited discussion on the topic of BOREDOM. (Does that strike anyone as funny besides me?)

The title of today's reading was "See Boredom as a Warning", and Nouwen's opening premise was that "boredom is a sentiment of disconnectedness." I have only just realized he used the word sentiment. Throughout the whole discussion I was thinking symptom. (Both "s" words, right?) A symptom is often a warning; maybe that's what got me off track, but a sentiment is an emotion. When I am bored I don't feel much emotion at all. Certainly not enthusiasm nor passion. If I'm really bored I don't feel anger or resentment either. I feel emotionless.

From my own vast experience with boredom, I am totally in sync with the disconnected part. His second premise, however, (which threw many in our group for a loop) was that we can be both busy and bored. He went on to support this thought with the idea that it's when we think what we do has little or no meaning, and we keep doing it, we will be bored at the same time.

Nobody but me felt that was accurate. Some cited examples of how it might be true for non-Christians, or how it used to be true for them, before they became Christians, but I am the odd woman out who still believes it's absolutely true for me still.

So what conclusions do I draw from all this?
  1. I'm not really Christian? (Alas, always a possibility, but not probable.)
  2. I'm more honest than they are? (Nice try, but no cigar.)
  3. They are deluding themselves?
No, actually I think this lesson has more levels than any of us have explored. And I don't find the possibility of exploring them the least bit boring. I'll let you know if I figure anything (of significance) out.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

thoughts for today

The longer I live, the more clear it becomes, that the contradictions of life are part of the master plan... seemingly disparate, they connect and bind.
We cannot just be and do not understand. We just have to trust that this is so. We see in each other what we are blind to in ourselves, both the darkness and the light.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008


Whew... you know what? Failure (in and of itself) takes the pressure off. Maybe I knew that, maybe I didn't. The challenge of the blog365 club was finally getting to me. I failed.

I didn't post on Sunday. I actually had something to say... about the Scriptures for the 4th Sunday in Lent... about how they all had to do with sight, and blindness, light and darkness, blah blah blah. But that's exactly how I felt about it. So what? Blah blah blah. I let the day slip by. And then I deliberately turned off the computer and went to bed. Yesterday (our day off) I slept late. I still had nothing to say. Then I got involved in another one of those Korean soap operas. They aren't exactly soap operas, (they are little mini-series stories) but with the improbable and totally schmaltzy plot lines, they are a lot like the stupid soap operas I could never stand to watch on American television.

So what's different about these that I have a minor addiction to them?
  1. They are wholesome. No illicit sexual implications, how refreshing.
  2. These young people are all kind hearted people. Even the villains have complicated reasons for the evil things they do...
  3. Honor is always an issue, whether it is the cultural honor that pervades the Asian lifestyle, or the underlying sense of selfless love... for me, a very Christian concept.
  4. The misunderstandings that propel the plot twists are so farfetched (from my Western point of view) that they play out like fairy tales... and I (still) have a childish fascination with fairy tales. I wanted to be Cinderella when I was little. If I can't be Cinderella, then maybe someone else can...
Unlike the first one (Stained Glass) I found in the library several months ago, this second one ( Save the last dance for me) actually had a happy ending. That's it. Now I'll be one the lookout for the next one.

Saturday, March 01, 2008


Yesterday... leap day... or whatever you call it, was a day off for the blog365 club. I took advantage of it, although I see others wrote anyway... some born over-achievers, and some who were saving their day for a different day, another occasion. Not that it says you can do that in the rules. Not that I would care a twit about the rules...

I think if I'm getting tired of writing every single damn day, then people who read my blog must be getting tired of it too. Drivel is all I can manage sometimes (like today) and while drivel is just fine for morning pages, I feel some kind of obligation to write something coherent for a public audience. "Morning pages" are from The Artist's Way, a sort of self-help workshop book for artists by Julia Cameron. It's not new. I first read it in 1994, but I think it had been out a couple of years before that.

The same friend who took me to k.d. lang turned me on to it. She was living in New York at the time; I was still semi-employed in Florida, trying to decide which way to go with my multiple careers. I was doing massage therapy and freelancing in audio visual production, not especially happy with my dwindling bank account, yet not exactly motivated to do anything about it.

I had been a computer animation artist, but I had also held one of the best jobs in town. The market was way off and those jobs were scarce; if I wanted to continue in that field I'd have to move to Atlanta or Orlando. Massage therapy, while lovely (and very healthy) was back-breaking work. I had already figured out I didn't have the physical stamina to do it enough to pay the bills.

So along came The Artist's Way. Within a few months I had written my first ever story about God, called "Another Christmas Story" and was packing up my stuff to move... lock, stock and barrel to New York City.

Timing is everything, right? (So if you read that book, Melissa... be very, very careful.)