Saturday, November 17, 2007

Sometimes I relapse...

I am, in general, opposed to much of the Romantic movement. I love nature as much as the next person, but I love it as a wild thing to be cared for but not trusted. Nature can be as brutal as her creatures. But sometimes I relapse into a romantic attitude toward simple things.

My roommates are both gone for Thanksgiving, so I have the house to myself. This meant I got to get up late, watch the first half of the Ohio State-Michigan game in my pajamas, shower on my own schedule, and come back and watch the Buckeyes win. Now I'm curled up on the futon in long underwear and my Ohio State fleece vest, reading Krister Stendahl and Nils Dahl while my laundry runs downstairs, with the Penn State-Michigan State game in the background and a cup of tea at my elbow. And I'm actually excited about spending the day reading for my thesis, something that hasn't happened all fall. Maybe I'll even make some soup tonight - I'm pretty sure we've got stock, potatoes, carrots, celery, and onions at least. Maybe there's even some barley around.

It's a very cozy way to spend a very November day.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Burning question

For several years now, I've remembered one snippet from a children's/YA novel I once read. I have not, in all those years, been able to remember what novel it comes from. I suspect it was a fairly well-known one. It's now begun to bother me enough to ask - do any of you recognize this conversation?


What I know: It comes near the end of the book. Elizabeth is a young girl - white, I think. Charles is a young boy, her friend - black, I'm pretty sure, and the son or nephew or something of Elizabeth's family's maid/housekeeper/cook, whose name I can't remember. Elizabeth is the narrator.

"Can we have some hot tea with lemon and honey?" I asked.
[Housekeeper] looked at me. "You got a sore throat, Elizabeth?"
"No," I lied. "I just thought Charles might like some. Would you, Charles?"

Shortly after this, Elizabeth sneaks out of the house, I think to look for someone, and they find her passed out in the woods with a high fever. I sort of think the person she was looking for might be dead, but I'm not sure.


Sound familiar to anyone?

Thursday, November 01, 2007

"Grandmothers should never be allowed to shop alone"

My roommate and I were just talking about when our various families begin preparing for Christmas, and what that means to them, and noting that both of us have grandmothers who bought our Christmas presents by our birthdays (both in early October). I mentioned that my mother's mother always wanted my Christmas list before I'd opened my birthday presents to find out what I still wanted, something I always found annoying. She eventually started shopping on her own, which is usually dangerous. My roommate agreed, and said "Grandmother should never be allowed to shop alone."

My father's mother, on the other hand, lost her shopping privileges years ago. The year I was eleven, my Christmas presents from her included two white turtlenecks - one printed with stars, the other printed with hearts. I wasn't mortified, since my parents weren't making me wear them, but I was disappointed. The next year, my parents started giving her lists of things she could buy from catalogs. She fed most of my American Girls Collection obsession for several birthdays and Christmases after that, before my parents started actually shopping for her, and in recent years wrapping for her too. There was simply no reason for her still to be shopping independently for anything. We were all happier with my parents doing the shopping. Grandmothers should indeed never be allowed to shop alone, at least not mine.

Except that my father's mother also died on Tuesday afternoon, and right now I'd give anything to get a white turtleneck with turquoise and magenta hearts for Christmas this year - if it meant she were there to watch me open it.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Poem

Hugo Schwyzer regularly posts short poems, which I sometimes read and sometimes skip - today's caught me rather deeply, so I'm sharing it here.

Termination for Cause

Sir,
I had thought the terms of our agreement
Were quite clear.
You were to provide me length of days,
Model children by a docile wife, support for same;
Keep far away all disaster man-made
Or act of your own.
And a death if not quite painless
At least sudden, without humiliation.
I in turn would confess You Creator
Of all things seen and unseen, offering customary
Praise and adoration.
Regarding line four above
Your performance has been marginal at best,
And I have now confirmation
From two physicians
Of what I must deem willful disregard
As to length of days and dying.
I therefore recognize no further obligation whatsoever
To provide the aforesaid praise, etc.
Or, indeed, to acknowledge Your existence.
Any further communication should be directed
To my counsel,
Who assures me that he knows You
from of old.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Time...

*I've written a couple of pages today, and the paper's not due till Sunday. Maybe it's indulgent, but I don't feel the need to write any more tonight, especially since I've pretty much saved my weekend for writing it. (Though I should remember that I don't really have much time on Sundays for schoolwork, between possibly-double church and Top Model.)

*I have class tomorrow, but no reading for it; I have class Monday, but I've done the reading, because it's also for the paper.

*I finished season 5 of Buffy today and don't have season 6 yet. (Besides, I kind of want to sit with the end of season 5 a little.)

*I don't need to do my household chores until the weekend.

*I finished a (short YA) novel today while procrastinating on the paper. This means I've now read through most of the unfamiliar YA novels I've stumbled on in the house.

*I already made and ate a real dinner tonight (pierogies with sausage, onion, and peas).

*I've read blogs - and now I've even blogged.

*I've answered my emails.

*My roommates aren't home, and will likely go to bed or homework when they do get home.


Which leaves me with, um, time to myself. Should I start watching Angel? Should I wander around in search of a new book? (Note to self: need new fiction from public library.) Should I pick up my guitar? My knitting? Scrapbooking? I suppose I could do one of the things that always needs doing: extra housecleaning, thesis research, laundry, raking leaves (ok, maybe not in the dark, but it does need doing an awful lot). It's so rare, though, that I have this kind of time to myself, and I really only have an hour or two before it begins to be bedtime. Maybe I'll pour myself a glass of something and wander around the house until I see something interesting....

Friday, October 19, 2007

Friday Five: Food

1. If you were a food, what would you be?
Tater tot. Small, delicious, potato, goes well with anything...

2. What is one of the most memorable meals you ever had? And where?
There are a few good options - Easter dinner at Green Zebra, dorm-cooked Thanksgiving in Germany, my last night of resident camp when I was nine - but I think the most memorable meal might be one I had in Paris. My traveling buddy and I wanted to have one dinner in a nice French restaurant while we were there, so we stopped into a small place - I don't remember where. Neither of us spoke French, so we made good guesses at the menu, and since our best guess was that there was probably no veggie entree, I got salmon. I have eaten a fair amount of salmon, but only that once did it melt in my mouth. Everything melted in our mouths that night - the salmon, the mashed white substance that I think might have been cauliflower, the chocolate mousse cake - everything. It was amazing.

3. What is your favorite comfort food from childhood?
Hmm. Most of the foods I grew up on I don't eat any more - chicken soup, roast beef and mashed potatoes, beef stew, even Ramen - but I'm still a big fan of Kraft mac & cheese. When I lived in Germany, I ended up begging my parents for Ramen noodles and Kraft mac & cheese for my birthday, I missed it so much. The other students in my dorm were mystified by this neon orange food product I was making, but I didn't care.

4. When going to a church potluck, what one recipe from your kitchen is sure to be a hit?
Since I never know what other food will be there, I always take something that can be my entree if necessary - usually either Alaqua Pasta (linguine with tomato and fresh mozzarella) or black bean/corn/avocado/tomato salad. Either one is always popular - and both are good at just about any temperature, which is handy for a potluck.

5. What’s the strangest thing you ever willingly ate?
Hmm. I ate a number of things while I was in Japan that I'm not sure I could identify, but squid might have been the strangest. Though others would tell me that tempeh and seitan are stranger than squid, I guess.

Bonus question: What’s your favorite drink to order when looking forward to a great meal? Usually a good red wine - I'm a big fan of Grenaches right now. If it's a great pub meal, though, then a good ale (Eliot Ness, Fat Tire, something like that).

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Suggestions Welcome

So I was driving from Cleveland to Chicago a couple of weeks ago, and it's a fairly long drive, so I decided to listen to my entire Dar Williams discography in chronological order. So I did that, and after 5.5 hours of Dar, I decided I wanted something with men's voices instead of women's voices. So I went rifling through my CDs - all of which were in the car with me - and I couldn't find anything. I'd listened to one Jars of Clay album and both my U2 albums on the way to Cleveland. I had a lot of Beatles and some Simon and Garfunkel, but I was in the mood for something more recent than that. I have one CD with some One of the Girls and some Great Big Sea, but I'd listened to that recently too....

I'd known for a long time that I listen to a lot of women's music, but I didn't realize how few CDs by men I had. So I'm on a mission to start evening out that ratio a little. I went through my iTunes, and I realized that about a quarter of my iTunes library is actually music by men, and that doesn't count all the musical theater stuff I have that's sung by men. It's just not on CDs - partly because a lot of it is downloaded singles, rather than albums. So I'm going to burn myself some of that stuff before I drive home next time, and/or get a working iTrip.

Still, I've been looking for some new music anyway, so I'm open to suggestions. I already wanted to get more U2, so that's covered, but what else should I be listening to? I tend to listen to a lot of women singer-songwriters, but I don't always respond as well to men in that genre. I'm probably more interested in pop/rock/alternative kinds of things - I like U2, I used to like BNL and Blink182 a lot in the 90s, I like Stephen Kellogg, I like both Guster and John Mayer, to the dismay of some of their fans. I'm not a big fan of Bruce Springsteen or John Mellencamp. Anyway, I'm listening more to the radio for ideas too (especially since I'm also interested in getting more current pop music into my collection), but I'd welcome suggestions from my readership.

Monday, October 15, 2007

As promised

I preached yesterday at Reconciler - my first time in the pulpit (ok, at the crossing) there. I did it without notes, but I think this text is pretty close to what I actually said yesterday.

***************************************

I’ve had a lot of weird dreams recently. I had a dream about a snout coming out of the ground. I had a dream that I got married, but my mother was wasn’t around to remind me what to do, so I ended up wearing a t-shirt and cut-offs to the reception. And I had one where I was fighting with a close friend, and the fight got bigger and bigger, worse than any fight I’ve ever had with any friend before, and we were screaming and yelling, and then I picked up a ceramic mug and I hurled it at my friend’s head, and it hit him, and the mug broke.
I woke up then, before I could tell how badly the mug had hurt him, but I’ve been thinking about it ever since. It scared me, a lot. I don’t like to think that there’s a part of me that’s capable of that, that would ever do such a thing - to anyone, let alone to a friend. But I also know that part of me is there, that part that almost craves violence, that threatens to erupt in an angry outburst. It’s always been there, and I’ve spent a fair amount of energy training it to stay back, and also trying to appear to the world as though that part doesn’t exist.
I’ve done a pretty good job at that. Most people think of me, maybe not as a gentle person exactly, but not as a violent one or even an angry one either - at least I think not. And that’s fair, at some level, because I’m really not actually prone to violent outbursts either. I may have dreamed that I threw a mug at someone’s head, but I haven’t actually done it. And mostly, I can be pretty satisfied with giving the impression that that kind of rage isn’t hiding in there.
And then I hear a passage like this one from 2 Timothy. “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved by him, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly explaining the word of truth.” Holy... Really? I can pull the wool over the eyes of the people around me, even over my own eyes a lot of the time. But I can’t trick God. God knows better. God knows my need to be ashamed.
And I know it. Just like I’ve always known that part of me is inclined to uncontrollable anger. I’ve always known that it’s just waiting to erupt. I’ve always been scared of it. And so I’ve always known that need to be ashamed. And knowing all that as I do, I’m very aware of how limited I am in my ability to “rightly explain the word of truth.” And so I wonder - am I really the one who should be explaining the word of truth? It seems like there’s just so much shame standing between me and it.
Except that somehow that’s not quite the end of this story. Because another funny thing happened this week. Someone pointed out to me that that part that could get uncontrollably angry isn’t just a darkness in me. It comes from my darkness, absolutely, and it’s that shadow side that I saw in my dream. But that uncontrollable anger comes from a fire deep within me. And that fire is the source not only of frightening rage, but of power and strength. It’s the fire that allows me, even spurs me, to be rightly angry when things are just really messed up. It’s the fire that made me speak out and then eventually leave the Intervarsity group in college because I couldn’t stand the way they treated my queer friends. It’s the fire that makes me stand up to people at school when I think they’re abusing their power. It’s the fire that lets me speak with assurance when I’m convinced of the truth of something.
And as I realized this, I heard the passage from 2 Timothy echoing in my head again: “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved by him, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly explaining the word of truth.” Hunh. If the uncontrollable anger that makes me ashamed before God comes from the same fire that I just said lets me speak with assurance when I’m convinced of the truth of something…. Maybe I’m not incapable of rightly explaining the word of truth after all. Maybe rightly explaining the word of truth doesn’t mean I’m expected to have it all together - or even to have this angry piece of me completely pinned down. Maybe it means doing my best to make sure that that fire is being fed by the Holy Spirit and not the fires of selfishness or of self-hatred, and then letting that fire fuel my speech and my work. Maybe that's how I can present myself as a worker who has no need to be ashamed.
I suspect I’m not the only one who’s known this kind of anger and darkness. I know I’m not the only one who has a fire burning inside like that – I’ve seen it in a lot of you already. I’ve seen it in the way Jeremy talks about international debt and Jubilee. I’ve seen it in the way Kate talks about Jesus. I’ve seen it a lot here. And maybe your fires don’t threaten to burn out of control. Maybe you don’t feel like you need to keep that fire screened in all the time. Or maybe you do. I don’t know.
What I know is this: my dream this week made me wonder whether I was safe to touch - whether I was endangering those around me just by being near them, by being in relationship with them. I wondered whether I ought to pull myself back, separate myself more from the world, in order not to catch my neighbors on fire just by standing next to them. But then I began to wonder also, even if I learned to keep that fire totally contained, or to put it out altogether – would that just change the problem? We need more people to stand up for the voiceless more often, more people to question power, more people to speak words of comfort with assurance more often – not less. We do have to face the possibility that by touching things with that kind of heat, we may set them on fire. But if we can find ways to tend those fires carefully, to let them be fueled by the Holy Spirit – maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Hesitation #943

One of the multiple reasons I'm not totally sold on an academic future.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Once more into the fray

I've decided that the thesis proposal is a very odd sort of document. I'm supposed to tell my readers everything I don't yet know about my research (having not yet done said research), and what I intend to conclude (still having not yet done the research), including why I want to do the research (that I'm supposed to predict the results of) and how I intend to go about it.

I do in fact understand why the proposal is a useful thing for both student and committee. It's just also an odd thing.

And, to be fair, it's a thing I just don't really feel like writing right now. Which is of course why I'm actually blogging. I mean, yeah, I could be working on Sunday's sermon or reading for tomorrow's class to procrastinate, but I'm not. I'm blogging and talking to Froggy online.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Observations on my brother's wedding photos

*Well, first, of course: my baby brother's married!

*I'm short. I knew this, of course, but in the pictures of the ceremony you can barely see me over my sister-in-law, and I'm two steps up.

*There are many, many women in my brother's past who are very sad that he is now married.

*My brother was so not expecting an Ohio State garter. It was very funny, even if I don't much like garters.

*There were hula hoops. I love that there were hula hoops. I love even more that my mother won the hula hoop contest, and I wish very much that I could link you all to the picture of my mother hula hooping.

*There are some very sweet pictures of my father with Heidi. It makes me very happy to see her look happy in the pictures of him kissing her cheek and welcoming her to the family.

*The pictures of my brother and mother, on the other hand, just make me want to cry. In a good, sweet, my-baby-brother's-all-grown-up-but-he-still-loves-his-mother kind of way.

*There were a whole lot of people in the Allegheny picture. Holy cow, do they still have a lot of friends from college. I don't think I could have invited that many college friends when I was in college.

*I'm still bummed that I didn't get to dance with my brother at all that night, being unwilling to stand in line and pay two bucks to take a shot before dancing with my little brother.

*There are very few pictures of family, which is sad. Almost all the reception pictures are of the college group.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Bit thickheaded, here

So, in Stephen Schwarz's Children of Eden, the snake sings a song called "In Pursuit of Excellence" in which it tries to convince Eve that she ought to eat the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden. I've been listening to this music for almost ten years now, and I just now noticed that the snake is plural in this song. That is, I'd noticed that the show's creators have in mind that multiple people will form the snake, with multiple voices, and in that sense I noticed that the snake is sort of plural. But when I've done/seen the show, it's only been played by one person, so maybe I didn't think about it as much?

Dunno. But I'm listening to it now as I read an essay about Genesis 1-3, and I just noticed that in the show, God is very much singular - played by a single man, always called Father - and the snake is very much plural - enough so that it says "be in pursuit of excellence, like us. Yet, in the Bible, God moves back and forth between singular and plural in these chapters, where the serpent is never referred to as anything but singular.

I'm inclined to think still that the snake is plural because it's a good stage device to use multiple people, and with multiple voices it makes certain sense for those voices to say "us." But now I'm wondering whether Schwarz (or someone involved in the show) reversed that plural with any intention....

Monday, September 17, 2007

Have I mentioned that I like having a kitchen?

I do. I like it that an hour before my housemate has class, we can say "Hunh. What do you want for dinner?" and she can commission me to do something with couscous and asparagus, and I can go throw together whatever we have* and make a delicious dinner in time for her to eat before class.

Someday, our kitchen will have in it a working oven, and then we will be happier still - but there's a lot you can do with a range. Yay cooking.

*Tonight: asparagus and tomato sauteed lightly with onion, garlic, basil, and oregano, and topped with toasted pine nuts, over a bed of whole wheat couscous.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Fall Semester Gender Balance Award

After the rush of the summer, and a break from both blogging and school, I'd nearly forgotten one very important ritual for the beginning of the term: our Gender Balance Award. Luckily, today one of my professors said to me "I thought of you when I made the syllabus. I didn't want to be on your list again."

So here, gentle readers (and forceful ones), is this term's breakdown, now that I've finally figured out what classes I'm taking.

Anglican Polity: Five books. The Constitution & Canons of the Episcopal Church don't really have an author, per se, but I'm comfortable claiming that the majority of deputies and bishops voting on said laws are men. Certainly those who developed the originals were men. As it happens, the other four books are all by men as well. (One is a compilation, but it's edited by men and I don't think we're reading anything by a woman.) Rating: Unacceptable.

Pentateuch: Four books. One by a man, one by a woman, one by a man and a woman, and one by two men. Rating: Good. Not totally in balance, but a little better than just acceptable. (It's not part of this particular award, but bonus points for racial-ethnic balance as well as gender balance on this syllabus.)

Relevance of Judaism in Modern Times: Um. We don't actually have books for this class. (ducks) But it's a really good class, I swear.

Thesis: Um, it's my thesis. It doesn't really have a syllabus. Neither does it have books, yet, though that will change. But it's not really a contender.


If you've been paying any sort of attention at all, you'll know that Pentateuch is the clear winner of this semester's Gender Balance Award! Congratulations, Frank!

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Things I Never Would Have Believed #49, 854

I never, never would have thought I'd be relieved to hear that Madeleine L'Engle had died. But when my mother called tonight with That Voice, and said "Honey, I'm not sure if you've heard yet, but..." I was expecting way worse. I was expecting to hear that someone younger, healthier, and more immediately and physically a part of my day-to-day life had died.

Two hours later, though, I'm deeply sad. (I know this is a couple days old for many people; I've been offline a lot.) I knew she'd had health issues for the last five years, and that the chances were slim of her ever finishing her (rumored) novel about what happens to Meg Murry after her kids have grown. Still, there's something very final about death, even with resurrection to lean back on. And despite my initial reaction that she wasn't a part of my day-to-day life, she's had more of an impact on me than most people who I've seen more of.

I first read A Wrinkle in Time when I was 8, because she was coming to preach at our church. I don't remember a whole lot, but I do remember certain pieces of both the sermon and the adult forum that I skipped Sunday School to hear. I don't think I remember any other sermons until I get to about age 15 or so. I was enraptured enough with both her presence and her writing that I read the whole rest of the Time Trilogy right off, and kept reading her stuff as I could find it. There's now very little of her work I haven't read, though there's still a little left. It's impacted my writing, my theology, everything. In fact, it's quite possible that A Swiftly Tilting Planet may have saved my life at one point in college.

When I moved to Germany for a year, there were five books I decided I couldn't live without: the Bible, the Book of Common Prayer, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Certain Women, and Little Women. Four of those were (at least in part) because of Madeleine L'Engle - despite excellent experiences in the rest of the church, my attachment to the Bible and the daily office come largely from her work.

I'm not sure what to do with this; not sure how to say thank you and good-bye to this incredible woman. I'll say compline tonight, and go to morning prayer tomorrow, and that will be a start, and I'll probably start rereading a lot of her stuff in the coming days and weeks, but all that only does so much.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Yes, I'm preaching again

Or trying to. I'm supposed to preach at my brother's wedding on Sunday, and I'm having a hard time coming up with things to say about wedded bliss... or marriage in general, really. So here:

You Are a Purple Crayon

Your world is colored in dreamy, divine, and classy colors.
You hold yourself to a sky high standard, and you are always graceful.
People envy, idolize, and copy you without realizing it. You are an icon for those who know you.
And while it is hard to be a perfectionist, rest assured it's paying off!

Your color wheel opposite is yellow. While yellow people may be wise, they lack the manners and class needed to impress you.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Um. Hi.

Ok, I have no real excuse for not blogging. I've had time for other things, like West Wing and Buffy. And dinners! Yay cooking. And setting up a Facebook account, as promised. But I'm out of the habit, and haven't had much to say. So, um, hi. I'm doing really exciting things like getting a room ready to paint and cooking and looking for things in boxes. Oh, and I have two wedding sermons to write soon. So I'm not really sure how much I'll be around at all. I'm not really in the mood, and I'm not really doing much to speak of. Maybe I'll be around more again when classes start and I have more need to procrastinate.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Spiderman!

You scored as The Amazing Spider-Man, After being bitten by a radioactive spider, Peter Parker was transformed from a nerdy high school student into New York's greatest hero. Peter enjoys the thrill of being a super hero, but he struggles with the burdens of leading a double life. He hopes someday to win the heart of his true love Mary Jane, the woman he's loved since before he even liked girls. Right now, he just wants to make it through college and pay his bills.

The Amazing Spider-Man

83%

Captain Jack Sparrow

58%

William Wallace

58%

Batman, the Dark Knight

58%

Neo, the "One"

54%

The Terminator

46%

Maximus

46%

Lara Croft

42%

Indiana Jones

38%

El Zorro

38%

James Bond, Agent 007

38%

Which Action Hero Would You Be? v. 2.0
created with QuizFarm.com

Guess what I have?

A kitchen!

In celebration of which, I'm having dinner guests as often as possible. Tonight's menu: spaghetti with asparagus, tomato, and lemon. Next time we'll add a little more seasoning, but there will be a next time. 'Twas good.

We now return to our regularly scheduled cleaning.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Made my parents cry...

Didn't mean to, of course. But here's the sermon I preached this morning that did it. Turns out, it's hard to keep preaching a difficult sermon when you can see your parents crying at it, but somehow I managed to preach this sermon three times this morning. Now, I'm going to bed.

****************************

I remember the first time I heard the Indigo Girls’ music. It was a Tuesday night when I was 11 years old, and I was sitting around a campfire at Girl Scout Camp listening to one of our counselors sing songs with her guitar. And she started this one:

I’m trying to tell you something about my life
Maybe give me insight between black and white
And the best thing you’ve ever done for me
Is to help me take my life less seriously
It’s only life, after all

And I was hooked. Partly because I thought that counselor was about the coolest person ever, partly because I liked the song itself. We sang that song every night that week during our unit campfire, and when it came time to go home, I determined to find the song and buy the cassette. I had no idea then that the song, “Closer to Fine,” was the definitive Indigo Girls song, nor did I know what a major role the Indigo Girls’ music would play in my life over the next fifteen years.

And I also didn’t know, that week at camp, that as I was sitting around a campfire learning that song, that same night my grandfather was dying of a heart attack. I didn’t know that he had died until my parents came and picked me up from camp on Friday.

I didn’t have much experience with death at age 11. No one in my family had died within my memory, and I’d never been to a funeral. It was hard for me to wrap my head around my grandfather’s death, hard for me to know how to let go. But I remember standing upstairs with my family and Nick White,* before the funeral began, and I remember Nick saying to us that this service was not to say goodbye, but to say thank you – but then acknowledging, “Some thank-yous are harder to say than others.” I knew what he said was true, but it didn’t help me feel any less sad about it. I missed my grandfather fiercely for a long time.

Of course, I’ve never had an easy time letting go. So it’s a little strange in a way to think that “Closer to Fine” became my greatest musical refuge through middle school, and remains deeply significant to me. Maybe I’m just thick-headed, but you wouldn’t know to look at me that I’ve been listening intently to the message of “it’s only life, after all” for fifteen years. But while I’ll be the first to admit that I still tend to hold onto life with a vice grip, I think it’s made some inroads. And I think there’s something to this message.

Now, maybe this seems like the wrong week to suggest that we need to hold life lightly. 5 people have been confirmed dead so far, with more missing, after Wednesday’s bridge collapse in Minnesota. And while it doesn’t take the rug out from under us the same way that the tragedies of Katrina or September 11 did, it’s still shaken us. Its very ordinariness calls to our attention how fragile and temporary are the things we take for granted – from bridges to homes to our very lives. And while five is not a particularly high body count, each of those five people still had friends and family and acquaintances who must now mourn that death.

So yeah, maybe it’s not the best week for this conversation. But when is it ever the best week? We ought to talk about these things on bright sunny days, when there’s not a cloud of trouble in sight and we can talk dispassionately, prepare ourselves, think objectively about life. But those days are so few that it seems a shame to darken them with such topics.

And even if best weeks came around, or came around more often, I think today’s Gospel warns us that we can’t afford to wait for those best weeks. If we wait until we’ve planned and scraped and taken care of everything else on our to-do lists, we will find that we have run out of time. Today, now, we must begin to loosen our grasp on life.

Now, don’t misunderstand me here. Several years after the Indigo Girls released “Closer to Fine,” Indigo Girl Amy Ray said in an interview that when she first heard the song, the line "it's only life, after all" struck her as being incredibly blasé about something that she felt was so sacred. It took her awhile to see the truth of that line in the context of the rest of the song, but in stepping back and listening to the whole, eventually she learned to sing that line along with her bandmate. I think that’s what we need to do with this idea. It’s not that life is not sacred. I think if we read the rest of the Gospels, the rest of the Bible, that’s clear. Life is incredibly sacred. But precisely because it is so sacred, we need to treat it with respect by holding it lightly. There’s a Madeleine L’Engle character who says “The only way to deal with something deadly serious is to try to treat it a little lightly.”

I hold my friends’ lives pretty tightly. But if I have to be willing to die myself in order to be fully Christ’s, then I also have to be willing to trust that even the death of those I love most will not separate me from the love of God – or, perhaps harder, that it will not ultimately separate me from the love of those people. I have to learn to trust that I can indeed hold life lightly – others’ as well as my own – because this life is not our last chance. Our earthly life is not all there is to life.

We know that our earthly relationships can draw us either closer to or farther from God. Yet it never occurred to me until this year that even our healthy, loving, relationships might be among the possessions that can possess us – that when Jesus says “one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions” that might include people. Of course, we can never truly possess another human being, but we talk all the time as though we can – “Be mine” “He’s taken” “She belongs to him.” Indeed, the world around us often encourages us to tighten our grip on the people we care about, as though we could control either them or the relationship that way. I’m thinking, for instance, of the Eagles song that says

Lying here in the darkness
I hear the sirens wail
Somebody’s going to emergency,
Somebody’s going to jail
You find somebody to love in this world
You better hang on tooth and nail

But hanging on tooth and nail won’t keep the person you love from going to emergency, or for that matter from going to jail. And it has some serious repercussions for the relationship. If you’re hanging on tooth and nail, it doesn’t leave much room for things like gentleness or perspective. It makes it difficult to step back and ask what’s best for either person; to savor the time spent together; in short, to spend that time loving each other. In other words, holding life too tightly not only gets between us and God, it gets between us and those we love.

And really, that seems like just a stupid waste of life. If anything, I’ve probably tried to hold onto my friends’ lives even tighter as an adult than I did at age 11. But earlier this year, in a moment of weakness, I agreed to let a seminary friend watch the video from when St. Paul’s Youth did Godspell the first time around. Some of you know that Emily, a friend of mine who played the Jesus character, has since died. I still miss her terribly. After we watched the last scene, where Jesus returns to his friends after they’ve carried his body offstage, I told my friend, “I just want her to walk back in for real.” And he looked at me and said “It may take an unfair amount of time. But she’s going to.” And for just a moment, by trusting the friend who was in front of me, I was able to loosen my grasp and trust God to hold onto life for me – not only mine but Emily’s and my grandfather’s as well.


*Previous rector.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Friday Five: Pilgrimage

1. Have you ever been on a pilgrimage? (however you choose to define the term) Share a bit about it. If not, what's your reaction to the idea of pilgrimage?
Yes. In 2002, I spent Lent traveling around England, Wales, and the Scottish Highlands. I'd had a hard time finding anywhere to worship in Germany and being on pilgrimage in English-speaking countries with Anglican churches everywhere was really refreshing.

2. Share a place you've always wanted to visit on pilgrimage.
There are a few - Ireland, Russia - but always the Holy Land, ever since I can remember.

3. What would you make sure to pack in your suitcase or backpack to make the pilgrimage more meaningful? Or does "stuff" just distract from the experience?
I barely remember what clothes or books I took on pilgrimage - but my Bible, prayer book, journal, and camera were indispensible. I don't think my Bible and journal have ever gotten so much use as they did those five weeks.

4. If you could make a pilgrimage with someone (living, dead or fictional) as your guide, who would it be? (I'm about thisclose to saying "Besides Jesus." Yes, we all know he was indispensable to those chaps heading to Emmaus, but it's too easy an answer)

Like Jane, I can think of a few excellent companions, but for a guide? That's tough - partly because I so enjoyed being on pilgrimage without one.

5. Eventually the pilgrim must return home, but can you suggest any strategies for keeping that deep "mountaintop" perspective in the midst of everyday life?

Nope.

Must be preaching time again...

... 'cause Spud's back online! That's right, folks, camp is almost over and I'm preaching at my home parish on Sunday, so I thought it was about time to get back to procrastinating. I mean, blogging. Blogger tells me I haven't posted since May 28, so here's a brief recap of the summer before I revive my RevGalBlogPals status with a Friday Five.

~Graduated from seminary. Have apparently mastered divinity.


~Got ordained to the diaconate.

~Trained staff

~Directed two core camps and two day camps (Sorry, don't have pictures of that yet. I forgot to bring my camera cable with me this summer.)

~Worked as nature specialist for a day camp that I didn't have to direct

We clean up the camp Monday and Tuesday, with an end-of-camp staff dinner Monday night. Before that I have to finish my sermon for Sunday and write staff evaluations. Oh, and my cousin's wedding shower is tomorrow. And my future sister-in-law's is next week. And I'm moving soon. But before I do that I need to organize and turn in some reflections and recommendations for next year's camps. So, I'm not quite out yet - but there's light at the end of the tunnel. If I can just manage to survive the next four days, I should be able to handle the next couple of weeks after that.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Swamped

Working on the last paper/journal of my M.Div. career right now, and hoping to finish it tonight, but camp is oozing in through every window, door, and crack in the foundation right now, and threatening to take over my life sooner than I can afford to let it. Likely to be fairly incommunicado for a while.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Quiz

I'm so supposed to be writing a play church paper right now. I'm so watching Gilmore Girls and reading blogs and taking quizzes instead.... Must... be... productive....

Your Dominant Intelligence is Linguistic Intelligence

You are excellent with words and language. You explain yourself well.
An elegant speaker, you can converse well with anyone on the fly.
You are also good at remembering information and convicing someone of your point of view.
A master of creative phrasing and unique words, you enjoy expanding your vocabulary.

You would make a fantastic poet, journalist, writer, teacher, lawyer, politician, or translator.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

today sucks

Ok, I had a decent morning. But job has sucked big time and needs fixing, classes sucked, I have a meeting tomorrow I really don't want to go to, and someone acquired my debit card number and used it for two good-sized wire transfers tonight. (My bank called pretty immediately to verify them, so they've been reversed and all is clear, but it still meant an hour on the phone, getting a new card, etc.) Today sucks.

As requested

The play church service went very well, in the end. I got a chance to practice in front of a friend that morning, which helped a lot. It turns out I'm actually more comfortable doing it when there are people around, which was a surprise. It's also sort of amazing how real the whole thing felt - the sermon was a real sermon, the prayers for healing were real prayers, but even the invalid eucharist felt pretty real. It's also pretty cool - I'm glad that's not the last time I get to do it.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

back

Both play church and the senior retreat went well. Now I'm glad to be back in my own space.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Y'all lied

Ok, dear readers. When I took Use of the Voice two years ago, and got freaked out by having to chant Gospels and especially Eucharistic Prayers, you told me not to worry, that by the time I got to play church and graduation, I'd be ready.

Not so much.

I'm cool with the deacon thing. But today I have to preach and preside at a service of public healing with Eucharist, and I'm way freaked out. Way, way, freaked out. We start at 1 pm CDT - if you think of it, say a little prayer that I survive, and preferably don't screw up too badly. (Oh, but I won't be able to post and let you know that I've survived until probably Saturday or Sunday, because as soon as classes are done today the seniors head off for our closing retreat.)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Gilmore Girls

The blogosphere is beginning to bubble with news and speculation about Gilmore Girls ending. I'd like publicly to note that I'm watching through the whole series on DVD, and have not followed season 7 at all, and thus do not wish to hear anything from anyone about what has happened this season or how the show ends. You managed it with West Wing; you can do it with Gilmore Girls! Thanks!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Song of the Week

Great Big Sea for the past week. Sadly, I think it'll continue to be just as apropos for another week or two, but I'll post it this week anyway.

"Consequence Free"

Wouldn't it be great, if no one ever got offended
Wouldn't it be great to say what's really on your mind
I have always said 'all the rules are made for bending'
And if I let my hair down, would that be such a crime?

[Chorus]
I wanna be consequence free
I wanna be where nothing needs to matter
I wanna be consequence free
just sing Na Na Na Na Na Ne Na Na Na

I could really use, to lose my Catholic conscience
Cuz I'm getting sick of feeling guilty all the time
I won't abuse it, Yeah I've got the best intentions
For a little bit of anarchy but not the hurting kind

[Chorus]

I couldn't sleep at all last night
cause I had so much on my mind
I'd like to leave it all behind,
but you know it's not that easy

[Chorus]

Wouldn't it be great, if the band just never ended
We could stay out late and we would never hear last call
We wouldn't need to worry about approval or permission,
we could - slip off the edge and never worry about the fall

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Random thoughts and questions

~It's hard to practice the absolution with a straight face when you're absolving four Care Bears (one of which is winking at you) and a Care Bears Cousin. Also it feels kind of weird randomly absolving your stuffed animals every time you walk by them.

~Did Campbell's Tomato Garden soup always have so much zucchini? I'm pretty sure I ate Tomato garden a lot my year in St. Louis and my first year at SWTS, and I don't remember a particularly large amount of zucchini, but I poured a can into a bowl today and it looked like a lot, so I checked and found that zucchini is indeed the third ingredient, after water and tomato puree. This is very sad for me.

~828 words is way too much for the intro and conclusion to a 5-7 minute sermon. It's actually not a bad problem to have, though, since I have until Thursday to work it out.

~It's kind of strange that I have a stuffed raccoon (a purple one with a heart-shaped lightbulb on his belly, but a raccoon nonetheless) given how little I like raccoons and how much I really don't think they're cute. I'd sort of managed to forget that my Care Bear Cousin is a raccoon until I went to "anoint" him for "healing" this afternoon, and up close it's very clear that he's a raccoon. (That's not as weird as it sounds - I have to do a practice healing service in our play church class this week, so I'm practicing praying over stuffed animals. Hmm. Yeah. I guess it's still almost as weird as it sounds.)

Parents are funny, #498

In honor of Mother's Day, here's another way that my parents are funny, funny people:

My parents are pretty insistent on us addressing the ordination invitations traditionally - so, Mr. and Mrs. Man, or Mr. Man and The Rev. Woman, etc. I've pushed back on a few names where I know it's important to people, but mostly that's how the invitations are going out. (Which also means some people who would probably prefer another form will get the more traditional address... sorry.)

I just looked at the list they sent me, though, and I noticed two things: first, they seem to have made an exception for cousins. My two women cousins who are coupled but haven't taken new last names are listed as Ms. Allison and Mr. Bob, and Ms. Amanda and Mr. Jeff. Which is hilarious to me, given their traditionalism on the rest of the list.

Second, one of the clergy I put on the list is listed simply as The Rev. Woman, despite my having mentioned that the invitation should go to The Rev. Woman and Ms. Partner. Which is, of course, a lot less hilarious to me. I think it's an oversight, not an intentional thing, but it's still worthy of an eye-roll in the parental direction.

Ah, parents. Happy Mother's Day, everyone.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters

If you are, know, or think you might ever meet a girl or young woman, and you haven't already been persuaded to pick up Courtney Martin's new book Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters, go read Hugo's review of it now. I'll try to post my own thoughts about it when a)I finish the book and b)I'm a little more coherent than I'm feeling right now.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Hebrew gone

Also English syntax. Sorry. I imagine in half an hour or so I'll have returned to normal English. But the Hebrew exam is done, which means that the Hebrew course also is done. It means also that I have the rest of the term to ponder music, meaning, and liturgy. Hurray for that!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Song of the Week

Ani Difranco this week, after a friend pointed me back to the phoenix the other day.

32 Flavors

squint your eyes and look closer
I'm not between you and your ambition
I am a poster girl with no poster
I am thirty-two flavors and then some
and I'm beyond your peripheral vision
so you might want to turn your head
cause someday you're going to get hungry
and eat most of the words you just said

both my parents taught me about good will
and I have done well by their names
just the kindness I've lavished on strangers
is more than I can explain
still there's many who've turned out their porch lights
just so I would think they were not home
and hid in the dark of their windows
til I'd passed and left them alone

and god help you if you are an ugly girl
course too pretty is also your doom
cause everyone harbors a secret hatred
for the prettiest girl in the room
and god help you if you are a pheonix
and you dare to rise up from the ash
a thousand eyes will smolder with jealousy
while you are just flying past

I never try to give my life meaning
by demeaning you
and I would like to state for the record
I did everything that I could do
I'm not saying that I'm a saint
I just don't want to live that way
no, I will never be a saint
but I will always say

squint your eyes and look closer
I'm not between you and your ambition
I am a poster girl with no poster
I am thirty-two flavors and then some
And I'm beyond your peripheral vision
So you might want to turn your head
Cause someday you might find you're starving
and eating all of the words you said

Monday, April 30, 2007

Song of the Week

This song has made it into both my theology of music class and a recent post this week. It's the song of the week.

Language or the Kiss - Indigo Girls

i don't know if it was real or in a dream
lately waking up i'm not sure where i've been
there was a table set for six and five were there
i stood outside and kept my eyes upon that empty chair
and there was steam on the windows from the kitchen
laughter like a language i once spoke with ease
but i'm made mute by the virtue of decision
and i choose most of your life goes on without me
oh the fear i've known
that i might reap the praise of strangers
and end up on my own
all i've sown was a song but maybe i was wrong

i said to you the one gift which i'd adore
the package of the next 10 years unfolding
but you told me if i had my way i'd be bored
right then i knew i loved you best born of your scolding
when we last talked we were lying on our backs
looking at the sky through the ceiling
i used to lie like that alone out on the driveway
trying to read the greek upon the stars
the alphabet of feeling
oh i knew back then
it was a calling that said if joy then pain
the sound of the voice these years later
is still the same

i am alone in a hotel room tonight
i squeeze the sky out but there's not a star appears
begin my studies with this paper and this pencil
and i'm working through the grammar of my fears
oh mercy what i won't give
to have the things that mean the most
not to mean the things i miss
unforgiving the choice still is
the language or the kiss

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Songs to Make Me Cry... For the Wrong Reasons

AKMA has a post today linking to the AV Club's list of songs that make them cry. As a lifelong crier, I don't want to denigrate any such list too much. I'm moved to ask, though, why they all seem to be by men.* Really? even when it comes to tears, men are the only ones worth citing? I thought that was supposed to be women's special domain.

It took 25 comments even to get Joni Mitchell in there at all. Hello? River? the remake of Both Sides Now? her cover of Hallelujah? pick any grouping of Joni's music and you'll find a tearjerker.

Here are my 18 tearjerkers, then, to counter the men's. Yes, they're mostly women. Yes, there are repeat artists. Yes, all that is partly on purpose and partly because that's what I actually listen to.**

1. She's Saving Me - Indigo Girls. This is the song that has most consistently made me cry over the longest period of time.
2. I'll Miss You Till I Meet You - Dar Williams. I'm never sure whether she's singing this for an ex, or a dead friend, or a dead ex. I don't really care - it's heartbreaking either way.
3. Don't Lay Down - Catie Curtis
4. Tangled-up Puppet - Harry Chapin
5. Leavin on a Jet Plane - Peter, Paul, & Mary. I wept for months after leaving camp one summer, listening to this song over and over.
6. Hallelujah (I don't care whose version, really - mostly I listen to either Joni's or Rufus Wainwright's)
7. Fields of Gold - Eva Cassidy's version
8. River - I came to this song on the Indigo Girls' version, but Joni Mitchell's version works equally well
9. Hurt - but again, I don't really care whose version. Cash's and Reznor's are heartbreaking in different ways.
10. Fighting Chance - Melissa Ferrick
11. Don't Cry Anymore - Catie Curtis
12. Fields of Athenry - my version is by One of the Girls, but I'm sure there are more commercial versions out there.
13. Fatherless at 14 - Kendall Payne.
14. Hold On - Sarah McLachlan
15. And So It Goes - Billy Joel
16. American Tune - Paul Simon
17. Untouchable Face - Ani Difranco
18. Language or the Kiss - Indigo Girls

*Admittedly, some of these aren't bands I know at all. Maybe there are women in them; maybe one or two is even primarily/exclusively composed of women, though I doubt it. I still don't see anything that makes women artists visible.

**And, no, I'm not even letting myself use musical theater tunes, which could be their own 18 songs.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Temporary Sanity

Sorry, those of you who don't read this on a feed.

I'd meant to change the colors here for a long time. But since I really never look at my own blog, I kept forgetting how awful-looking it was.

So, I decided that if I was going to put off doing anything with the template, I'd at least pick one that was standard and boring rather than unsightly in the meantime. I'm hoping to remember to play around with it more soon, because I actually don't like this much, but there we are. Also, I'm going to have to reconstruct the links, and that will take me a bit of time to do - but then, my links were out of date anyway.

Friday Five: What are you...

1. Wearing - Dark cuffed jeans and a nearly-lime green cable knit 3/4-sleeve sweater, green and brown argyle socks, and brown clogs.

2. Pondering - my favorite saints

3. Reading - the book about preaching and powers theology that some of my friends had in their preaching class last term, the name and author of which I cannot remember, because people just called it the powers book.

4. Dreaming - I had a dream last night that one of the same hymns was used at both evening worship and noon Eucharist today. Not exciting, I know.

5. Eating - Right now I'm really hungry and envying Tripp's Aztec hash, but soon we're going to dinner, at which point I will probably be eating either sushi or green beans with bok choy at Koi, or bibim bop or cashew tofu at Mandarin House. Except now that I've mentioned bok choy, I'm craving the vegetable risotto from Wild Mango. Which is in Cleveland. Sad.

Saints of Favor

Name your four favorite saints, your favorite blessed saint, and the person you think should be canonized.

Thecla - both a favorite and one who should be canonized, since she's a saint in the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches but not in ours
Mary Magdalene
Augustine of Hippo
Mary, the mother of Jesus

Mother Theresa is really the only blessed I know, unless you're counting all the people the Anglicans have added to our calendars but who aren't Catholic saints. I've included them in the regular saints, though.

And I tag Tripp, Lauren, Ryan, and Susie.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Song of the Week

Or maybe Tuesday will just become the new song-of-the-week day. The song for the last week comes from the musical version of The Secret Garden, and it's been on my mind through a couple of conversations with different friends in the last week.


Hold On

What you've got to do is
Finish what you have begun,
I don't know just how,
But it's not over 'til you've won!

When you see the storm is coming,
See the lightning part the skies,
It's too late to run-
There's terror in your eyes!
What you do then is remember
This old thing you heard me say:
"It's the storm, not you,
That's bound to blow away."

Hold on,
Hold on, there's someone standing by.
Hold on.
Don't even ask how long or why
Child, hold on to what you know is true,
Hold on 'til you get through.
Child, oh child
Hold on

When you feel your heart is poundin',
Fear a devil's at your door.
There's no place to hide-
You're frozen to the floor!
What you do then is you force yourself
To wake up, and you say:
"It's this dream, not me,
that's bound to go away."

Hold on,
Hold on, the night will soon be by.
Hold on,
Until there's nothing left to try.
Child, hold on, There's angels on their way.
Hold on and hear them say,
"Child, oh child!"

And it doesn't even matter
If the danger and the doom
Come from up above or down below,
Or just come flying
At you from across the room!

When you see a man who's raging,
And he's jealous and he fears
That you've walked through walls
He's hid behind for years.
What you do then is you tell yourself to wait it out
And say "it's this day, not me,
That's bound to go away."

Child, hold on.
It's this day, not you,
That's bound to go away!

Limited Time Offer

Today in class, the guy behind me leaned forward and said, "Hold still, there's a sticker in your hair." He pulled it off, handed it to me, and said, "You're 30 cents off."

My class was relatively amused by this alone, but way more amused when I looked at the coupon sticker and said, "Yeah, but only if you buy two packages of butter."

Thanks, guys.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Two Thoughts

One: Tofu dogs go well with avocado. Tofu dogs go well with mac & cheese. All three together is a little weird.

Two: On Thursday, one of my friends turned to me and said, "When are we going to see One of the Girls again? I wanna be a groupie! Can we be groupies?" This seriously totally made my week. It's so much more fun to be a groupie when you're doing it with fun people as opposed to alone.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Friday Five: Joy

It's probably been months since I've done a Friday Five, but I actually have time to blog this Friday. Here we go:

Tell us about five people, places, or things that have brought surprising, healing joy into your life.

Hmmm.

Preaching. I expected preaching to challenge me intellectually, creatively, and emotionally. I didn't expect it to love it so much, and I definitely didn't expect to find healing in crafting my own sermons the way I have with several of my better ones.

My roommates. When I first met my current roommates as prospectives, one seemed sweet and nice but I wasn't sure how much we had in common, and one seemed kind of overeager to come to Seabury. (Yes, they know this already.) I didn't mind being placed with them, but never expected them to be the incredible blessing in my life that they have been this year.

My internship with ECM. I honestly didn't know ministry could be that incredible. I learned a lot from that community about what joy and healing even meant. (Their new chaplain is a lucky man.)

Falafel. I know it sounds strange, but it's true. When I moved to Germany, I didn't think I liked falafel. Discovering that there was this delicious, readily available, affordable, protein-rich, vegetarian meal all over the place, coming off a year of not being able to eat very well, provided an intense joy and a lot of healing for my body and spirit, even if it may not have been the very healthiest option to eat that much fried food. I still love it, though it's hard to find really good falafel over here.

My little "corner" just inside the altar rail in the Seabury chapel. It took me a couple of years to find it, but it's just a perfect space - for prayer, for napping, for praying while napping, for solitude.... It makes me sad to have Easter, because we take down the rails until Pentecost, which is more or less the rest of the year.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Song of the Week

It's the wrong day of the week to be posting this, but I've slipped out of the habit. This one is meant for last week, but could go for this week too. It's the second movement of the Brahms Requiem; I'll post the German original first and the English below.

Denn alles Fleisch es ist wie Gras
und alle Herrlichkeit des Menschen
wie des Grases Blumen.
Das Gras ist verdorret
und die Blumen abgefallen.

So seid nun geduldig, lieben Brüder,
bis auf die Zukunft des Herrn.
Siehe, ein Ackermann wartet auf
die köstliche Frucht der Erde
und ist geduldig darüber,
bis er empfahe
den Morgenregen und Abendregen.
So seid geduldig.

Denn alles Fleisch es ist wie Gras . . .
Aber des Herrn Wort bleibt in Ewigkeit.

Die Erlöseten des Herrn
werden wiederkommen,
und gen Zion kommen mit Jauchzen;
Freude, ewige Freude wird über
ihrem Haupte sein;
Freude und Wonne werden sie ergreifen
und Schmerz und Seufzen wird weg müssen.


For all flesh is as grass,
and all the glory of man
as the flowers of the grass.
The grass is withered,
and the flowers fallen away. (I Peter 1:24)

Be patient, therefore, brethren,
unto the coming of the Lord.
Behold, the husbandman waiteth for
the precious fruit of the earth,
and hath long patience for it,
until he receive
the early and the latter rain.
So be patient. (James 5:7)

For all flesh is as grass . . .
But the word of the Lord endureth forever.
(I Peter 1:25)

And the ransomed of the Lord
shall return,
and come to Zion with songs
and everlasting joy
upon their heads:
they shall obtain joy and gladness,
and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
(Isaiah 35:10)

Monday, April 16, 2007

Weird Person #5, Reporting In

Ok, Ref tagged me for this a couple of days ago, but I've had trouble completing the assignment, so here it is finally:

Rules: 1) Post six weird things about yourself; 2) Tag six weird people to do the same.

1) I'm not a huge chocolate-peanut butter fan. Now, I do like Reese's cups, on occasion. But most chocolate peanut butter stuff - ice cream, easter eggs, whatever - is just way, way too sweet for me. I'm told this is really, really weird.

2) Phobias. I'm unnaturally afraid of both marsupials-resembling-ROUS's and tickling. I know admitting to that second one makes it look like you should now try tickling me to see it in person, but I promise you it will cause lasting damage to both your person and our friendship if you do.

3) I have an apparently weird memory for certain details, especially dates and spatial arrangements. I can tell you my high school boyfriend's birthday, or where in my food crates the canned ravioli is, because they just stick in my head, taking up space that could be used for other things.

(Ok, figuring out what's weird about myself is hard. I've been thinking for two days now and I'm still having trouble.)

4) Oh, I tend to cover my stomach with my hands or arms almost no matter what position I'm in. I'm told that's a little weird.

5) I actually prefer room temperature drinking water to cold drinking water. I don't like my drinks too cold. I think this may come from my time in Germany, but I'm not sure.

6) There are probably people somewhere on this planet who think it's weird that I feel compelled to post this meme. If you don't think that counts as my sixth one, you can count my phobia separately, or comment and tell me what I've missed!

I'll tag: the Archer, Emily, Marisa, Nicole(though I'm not sure she reads this), and Marie.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Happy Bengali New Year

In celebration of which I just had some really yummy aloo gobi, spicy potatoes, and some sort of paneer dish. Oh, and some rice pudding. And they were homemade. And did I mention they were yummy?

In other news, if anyone runs across the sermon that's begging to be preached in Seabury's chapel for the feast of James Lloyd Breck this year, please send it my way. Barring that, I'll be spending most of my free time between now and Monday noon scavenging for it.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

For the record

I don't listen to it that often, I know - but I'm once again convinced that if I could have only one musical work for the rest of my life, it would be Brahms' Ein Deutsches Requiem. It's extraordinary.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Resurfacing

I'm - well, not diving back in, if I'm titling this post resurfacing. I'm starting back up again, I guess, with another song of the week. The last couple of weeks where I missed them, I had songs of the week that I didn't really want to explain, so I didn't post them.

At any rate, I missed a significant amount of Holy Week due to illness (which was also responsible for my not blogging). I went to all the services, but I still missed large chunks of them. So I'm in a weird place now where we seem to have skipped from Lent to Easter without hitting the Triduum. And today, I've been listening to Joni Mitchell's version of "Hallelujah" on repeat. It just seems appropriate to make it the song of the week for the last week.


I've heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don't really care for music, do you?
It goes like this
The fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty in the moonlight overthrew you
She tied you to a kitchen chair
She broke your throne, she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Maybe I've been here before
I know this room, I've walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew you
I've seen your flag on the marble arch
Love is not a victory march
It's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

There was a time you'd let me know
What's real and going on below
But now you never show it to me do you?
Remember when I moved in you?
The holy dark was moving too
And every breath we drew was hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Maybe there's a God above
And all I ever learned from love
Was how to shoot at someone who outdrew you
It's not a cry you can hear at night
It's not somebody who's seen the light
It's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Stations of the Cross

If you're not already, I strongly recommend that you head over to the Archer's place this week and follow with him as he posts ArcherComics stations of the cross. They're quite well done.

Edited to add: Oops. Forgot the link. The link now there is to the Archer's intro to the stations - click around from there.

Another shuffle meme

if your life were a soundtrack, what would the music be?

1. open your library (iTunes, winamp, media player, iPod)
2. put it on shuffle
3. press play
4. for every question, type the song that's playing
5. new question-- press the next button
6. don't lie and try to pretend you're cool

opening credits:
Language or the Kiss - Indigo Girls

waking up:
Perfect - Children of Eden

first day at school:
It's a Fine Life - Oliver!

falling in love:
Unforgettable - Natalie Cole

breaking up:
Teenagers, Kick Our Butts - Dar Williams (seems to me this would go better in some other place...)

prom:
Candle in the Wind - Elton John (not a very happy prom, I guess)

life's okay:
Sin Wagon - Dixie Chicks

mental breakdown:
The Temple - Jesus Christ Superstar (Savior complex, anyone?)

driving:
Spin, Spin, Spin - Jim Croce

flashback:
One Headlight - Wallflowers

getting back together:
Into the Groove - Madonna

wedding:
Touch Me Fall - Indigo Girls (Rock.)

birth of child:
Spring Street - Dar Williams (Interesting...)

final battle:
The Cobbler - One of the Girls

death scene:
Goin' Up - Great Big Sea

funeral song:
Breakfast at Tiffany's - Deep Blue Something

end credits:
In Lonesome Dove - Garth Brooks

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Apologies...

... to my roommate. Apparently I stole ("borrowed," I like to say) Kay's soul today. I spent the morning cleaning the chapel. Then I came home around 1, and since I had momentum and it was my weekend, I cleaned the bathroom. Only first, I thought I'd clean the pile of dishes I had, before I cleaned the sinks. And then, I realized the fishbowl needed cleaning, so I figured I should definitely do that before I cleaned the sinks, so I did. And since I was in a cleaning mode, I did the floors in the common room. And then Jenny Jo got really excited at the idea that I might finally wash the exploded champagne off the coffee table, so I did that, and while I was at it, I washed the doily that lives on the coffee table. And then I realized that the bathroom sinks were really clean, so I did some hand wash. And then I took a shower myself. And I came into the common room and found a piece of dust on the floor that I'd just cleaned, and, sadly, took it across the hall to Jenny Jo, jumped up and down, and said "I JUST CLEANED THAT!!"

Thankfully, then it was time to go get dinner and watch basketball.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Spring Quarter Gender Balance Award

Welcome back! It's that time again... I'm back in real classes, and have more or less a sense of what books we're likely to use in each class. So without further ado, here's how this term pans out:

Hebrew: Still using the same books as last term - a grammar by a man, lexicon by men, grammar handbook by two men and a woman, and the Hebrew Bible. Still only nearly acceptable, though it's not like I expected any change of books mid-course.

Theology of Music: Two books. Both are by men. (These don't count, but all the photocopies are by men too). Rating: Unacceptable.

Practicum in Liturgical Celebration: As you'll note in the original post on gender balance, I only count required books here. This class requires on the syllabus several of the recommended books, but they still don't count. I'll check when I get home, but as I recall, there are six or seven required books, and I think they're all by men. If so, that rates another unacceptable.

Pastoral Administration: No books. Ineligible.

Meaning and Ministry: Granted that the reading list isn't absolutely set, our likely list includes three men and three women, I think. Maybe four men and three women. Rating: Excellent!

Unhappily, there are once more several unacceptables. Happily, I can at least give the Gender Balance Award this term - clearly, it goes to Meaning and Ministry. I think that'll be true even if I get home and discover that Practicum has something by a woman, since M&M is a pretty even split so far.

from Cecily

What Be Your Nerd Type?
Your Result: Literature Nerd
 

Does sitting by a nice cozy fire, with a cup of hot tea/chocolate, and a book you can read for hours even when your eyes grow red and dry and you look sort of scary sitting there with your insomniac appearance? Then you fit this category perfectly! You love the power of the written word and it's eloquence; and you may like to read/write poetry or novels. You contribute to the smart people of today's society, however you can probably be overly-critical of works.

It's okay. I understand.

Drama Nerd
 
Social Nerd
 
Artistic Nerd
 
Musician
 
Gamer/Computer Nerd
 
Science/Math Nerd
 
Anime Nerd
 
What Be Your Nerd Type?
Quizzes for MySpace

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

In an effort to induce sleep...

I know I should go to bed, because I'm exhausted and it's 11 pm. But while I'm exhausted, I'm not at all sleepy, and since I've been sleeping poorly lately, I'm trying the tack of "not getting into bed until I'm sleepy" for a little while (though in about half an hour I'll give up and try the "maybe I'll sleep if I lie down" approach). And I felt like a meme, so I poked around on the internet and found this one that I've done before, but not for a year-ish, so I'm resurrecting it: the iTunes meme. (Put iTunes on shuffle. Answer the questions with song titles as they come up. No cheating.)

How does the world see you?
In the Name of Love - Mary Chapin Carpenter

Will I have a happy life?
Tear You Apart - She Wants Revenge Lovely.

What do my friends really think of me?
Smile - Natalie Cole

Do people secretly lust after me?
Once Upon a Dream - Jekyll & Hyde Oh, my.

How can I make myself happy?
Lullaby on a Christmas Chorale - Smith College Chorale Not really sure how that translates to method...


What should I do with my life?

Free in You - Indigo Girls So I should... fall in love? Again, not so concrete.

Will I have children?
Teen for God - Dar Williams I guess that's a yes, though that's also a fate I'd like to spare any future children...

What is some good advice for me?
The Longest Time - Billy Joel This is advice how?


How will I be remembered?

what better said - k.d. lang nice!

What is my signature dancing song?
You Learn - Alanis Morissette Sad, really, since it's not much of a dancing song. Maybe my signature dancing style is supposed to be modern... you could do a decent modern or lyrical piece to that, I guess.

What do I think my current theme song is?
Get Out the Map - Indigo Girls Sure, why not?

What does everyone else think my current theme song is?
The Hudson - Dar Williams Because everyone else is confused and thinks I'm a native New Yorker?

What song will play at my funeral?
Hark the Herald Angels Sing - Various Artists I'm assuming that the various artists at the funeral will be the congregation, and that I'm going to die around Christmas - which makes it really a pretty decent pick for a funeral. Well done iTunes.

What type of men/women do you like?
Son of a Preacher Man - Dusty Springfield I swear I didn't fix that answer. Really.

What is my day going to be like?
Benedictus - Simon and Garfunkel A girl could do worse. Can I call that in for tomorrow instead of today, since today's now over?

Not My Life

Seen today somewhere on BlogHer:

"I suggest, though, that you pair your yoga pants with a nice casual sweater; I wear mine with my cashmere crew neck and a tee that's longer than the sweater, to keep my midriff covered."

Ok, except for a few people who have family in the cashmere business, I don't know anyone for whom cashmere counts as "casual." And I'm quite sure I don't know anyone at all who wears yoga pants with cashmere. I'm just saying - if you're trying to advise the general blogging populace about how to wear yoga pants without embarrassing themselves, maybe you want to pair them with something most people own?

Edited to clarify:
I guess by casual, I don't mean "informally, with jeans or khakis" so much as "with yoga pants or pajama pants." I think that within the realm of things sweaters can be made of, cashmere is not at the casual end of the spectrum. And even there, I guess I mean "standing in front of a drawer wondering what to throw on with yoga pants" rather than "happening to have both on at once" which I
find less weird. I'm also thinking of pure cashmere, which tends to
be pretty pricey, rather than cashmere blends. It's possible that the author has in mind something more affordable than 100%. It's also been pointed out to me that there's a difference in men's wear and women's wear, which I think is true. I hadn't really processed that piece, since the article on BlogHer was specifically for women.

That may or may not actually clarify things - I'm pretty exhausted and not entirely coherent today.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Gratitude

Tonight, I'm grateful for my friends. Thank you all for your patience, your fortitude, your bravery, your humor, your tenderness. I love and admire you.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Coffee...

As it turns out, watching one's way through Gilmore Girls while giving up coffee for Lent proves very difficult.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

How far have we really moved?

I'm sitting in class (yes, in class), and we're talking about how music is involved in our being missional. I'm hearing people suggest that what we need to do to engage missionally with secular music is to listen to secular music; to speak the gospel in the language of that culture; to be daring enough to wear clericals to a rock concert, etc.

And I just had a memory of a Saturday night worship service when I was in high school, at a youth conference. During testimonials, two peer ministers got up and confessed to the rest of us that when they'd left the night before for a rock concert, they'd decided to put their peer ministry crosses inside their shirts. (Peer ministers wore big wooden crosses so they could be identified - actually they looked a lot like pectoral crosses that bishops wear.) They talked about why they did it, their shame in wearing the crosses and then their shame in hiding them, and then wondered about the witness they might have given if they'd had the guts to wear them outside their shirts. (We probably also talked a lot that weekend about using rock music for Christian messages, about seeing the spiritual messages in rock music, etc. Those conversations were really common at these gatherings.)

And now I'm wondering: What does it mean that ten years later I'm sitting in seminary having almost exactly the same conversation? Are we coming up with decent ideas that we're just still not acting on (and then why not)? Or are we coming up with the same ideas that sound fresh but just aren't working - and then what else is there instead? Either way, it sounds to me like the conversation has gone stagnant, and I'm very aware that I'm not helping that at all.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Hmm.

It's probably not in my long-term best interests that I can have no idea where my checkbook is and then find it almost immediately on my desk. Probably I ought just to clean the desk and do the actual filing. And yet, finding it so immediately doesn't really motivate me to do the cleaning and filing....

Sunday, March 18, 2007

A Very Good Day

I probably shouldn't post this until the day is over, for fear of jinxing it. Maybe I'll save as draft and post it later. But today is a very good day. For the first time in about a year and a half, I got to go to church where I wanted to, with friends, and have brunch at Lucky Platter afterward. I've missed doing that. Now my floor is clean, and in about 20 minutes friends will come over bearing dinner, and we will watch RENT (at which point Kay will finally have seen it). Then we will get on a train and go see One of the Girls play, which I have not done for a year. I may not have gotten much of a spring break this year, but condensing it all into one day makes today a pretty good one.

Song of the Week

Yes, I'm back from Ohio, though I don't think I told you all that I had left. Here's this week's Song of the Week, thanks mostly to a pretty perfunctory psych eval while I was home.

And yes, I realize that the last several posts have all been song-of-the-week posts. I'll try to get a real post or two in this week between songs.


Closer to Fine

i'm trying to tell you something about my life
maybe give me insight between black and white
and the best thing you've ever done for me
is to help me take my life less seriously
it's only life after all
yeah

well darkness has a hunger that's insatiable
and lightness has a call that's hard to hear
i wrap my fear around me like a blanket
i sailed my ship of safety till i sank it
i'm crawling on your shores

i went to the doctor, i went to the mountains
i looked to the children, i drank from the fountains
there's more than one answer to these questions
pointing me in a crooked line
and the less i seek my source for some definitive
(the less i seek my source)
the closer i am to fine
the closer i am to fine

and i went to see the doctor of philosophy
with a poster of rasputin and a beard down to his knee
he never did marry or see a b-grade movie
he graded my performance, he said he could see through me
i spent four years prostrate to the higher mind
got my paper and i was free

i went to the doctor, i went to the mountains
i looked to the children, i drank from the fountains
there's more than one answer to these questions
pointing me in a crooked line
the less i seek my source for some definitive
(the less i seek my source)
the closer i am to fine
the closer i am to fine

i stopped by the bar at 3 a.m.
to seek solace in a bottle or possibly a friend
and i woke up with a headache like my head against a board
twice as cloudy as i'd been the night before
and i went in seeking clarity.

i went to the doctor, i went to the mountains
i looked to the children, i drank from the fountains
yeah we go to the doctor, we go to the mountains
we look to the children, we drink from the fountains
yeah we go to the bible, we go through the workout
we read up on revival and we stand up for the lookout
there's more than one answer to these questions
pointing me in a crooked line
the less i seek my source for some definitive
(the less i seek my source)
the closer i am to fine
the closer i am to fine
the closer i am to fine

Monday, March 12, 2007

Song of the Week

Last week's song of the week was not, in fact, a Dar Williams song. Not that far off, perhaps - it's an Amy Ray song - but not Dar:

Put It Out For Good

I hear the rock show winding down at the high school
Kids out on the sidewalk, waiting for a ride
All the punks and the queers and the freaks and the smokers
Feel like they’ll be waiting for the rest of their lives

Alright I hear what you’re saying to me
Alright I hear what I just can’t do
But I got this spark I got to feed it something
Or put it out for good

The stadium lights were breaking through the bleachers
I spent all day pushing tissue roses into chicken wire
Hey S.G.A., I’m an overachiever of the wrong persuasion
A pep rally kid, a new gender nation with a new desire

Alright I hear what you’re saying to me
Alright I hear what I just can’t do
But I got this spark I got to feed it something
Or put it out for good

Rub up against it till you it gets inside you
Rub up against it till its understood
Those aren’t your friends talking shit about you
We’ve had it bad, we’re gonna make it good

Alright I hear what you’re saying to me
(rub up against me till its alright)
Alright I hear what I just can’t do
(rub up against me till its alright)
But we got this spark, we got to feed it something
(rub up against me and)
Let it burn for good, let it burn for good

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Song of the Week

Ok, this is last week's song of the week, but I didn't get around to posting it on Saturday. I know it's another Dar song, but really, last weekend all I could think is that every seminarian should be so blessed, even if I could have thought of other things I'd rather have been doing.

If you're gonna get your heart broke, you better do it just right,
It's gotta be raining, and you gotta move your stuff that night,
And the only friend you can reach isn't a good friend at all,
And you know when he says "Now who dumped who?" that you never should
have made that call.

I had the blessings, there's nobody there, there's nobody home,
Yeah the blessings, at the moment I was most alone
And aimless as a fulltime fool, the joke was on me,
I got all of those birds flying off of that tree, and that's a blessing.

And the blessings were like poets that we never find time to know,
But when time stopped I found the place where the poets go.
And they said, "Here have some coffee, it's straight, black and very
old,"
And they gave me sticks and rocks and stars and all that I could hold,

I had the blessings, a moment of peace even when the night ends,
Yeah the blessings, can we meet? Can we meet again,
At the crossroads of disaster and the imperfect smile,
With the angel in the streetlamp that blinks on as I walk on a mile, the
blessings.

And the best ones were the ones I got to keep as I grew strong,
And the days that opened up until my whole life could belong,
And now I'm getting the answers, when I don't need them anymore,
I'm finding the pictures, and I finally know what I kept them for.
I remember, I can see them, see them smiling, see them stuck,
See them try, I wish them luck and all the blessings.

I was fast asleep at three in the morning when I got the payphone call,
And she said, "Did I wake you up," I said, "Hey, no, not at all."
And she said, "I got this suitcase and I don't know what to pack,"
And I said, "You can take anything you want, just wait and see,
It's not a release, not a reward, it's the blessings,
It's the gift of what you notice more,"
And I walked out and I watched her kick the big pile of the night,
And we sat down and we waited for that strange and empty light.
Yeah the blessings...

See them smiling, see them stuck,
See them try, I wish them luck and all the blessings.

The Everything Test

I'd paste in the actual code for this quiz, but one of the things it rates is your level of sexual experience and your hotness rank, and while I'm willing to be open with almost anyone about much of my sexual experience, I also don't think it's an appropriate thing to display on a blog that my parents, bishop, COM, youth group, campers, etc. might read. I reserve the right to monitor that particular discussion, thanks.

I'd be interested also to know how they came to their conclusions. Mostly, I think internet quizzes do a pretty good job of assigning the labels, but this one has me somewhat off. Certain things are right on: more religious than atheist, more emotional than logical, more idealist than cynical, politically about 68% liberal, stereotypical mix of yuppie and hippie, fairly high on intellectual and religious, more artistic than engineering, little experience with chemical substances. Then there are some that could go either way: more lazy than workaholic, more rebel than traditional, more leader than follower, more concerned about self than concerned about others. But it also says that I'm 100% adventurous, and I think we know that's not true, so I'd be interested in how they came to that (specifically, how much of my adventurous score comes from the fact that I identified as bisexual?). And, it says I'm more extroverted than introverted. Yeah - I refer it to last week's 80% introvert score (not to mention my super-high Myers-Briggs I number).

My favorite box, though is the "socioeconomic" one: "Your attitude toward life best associates you with the Upper Class. You make more than 0% of those who have taken this test, and 77% less than the U.S. average." Yeah. That's got "overprivileged grad student" written all over it.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Back

Home. Safe. Exhausted.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Imperfects and Imperatives and Infinitives...

I'm in Ohio, diligently misunderstanding Hebrew, and cursing the powers that have conspired to keep me from being in class to learn it this morning.

On the other hand, the dry cleaners are going to turn around my gray pants today.

Yeah. This is a really boring post. This post is about nothing except procrastinating on more Hebrew. I'll go away now.