Thursday, February 26, 2009

Four Jobs. Lots of Work. I'm Loving It!

Whew! My life is at warp-speed again. So much to do. I'm grateful, though, that I seem to be sailing through it all. Last year, if I'd had all this in front of me, I think I'd have been stressed out.

Perhaps the working-out is helping. Plus, I'm taking Juice-Plus, which also seems to be giving me more energy (I've never really liked veggies, and this stuff is suppose to be freeze-dried immediately after it's picked off the vine so it retains its nutrients.) Plus, I'm seeing an acupuncturist, mostly for the carpal tunnel on my right hand, but she's also treating me for weight loss, same price. We'll see.

I've been planning Lent for about a month, and now here it is! Brochures are made--I did one for all the activities, one for Centering Prayer, and one for Walking the Labyrinth. Love the creativity involved in making these brochures. Publisher makes it easy and almost fullproof, but gives enough variety that I feel the brochures are really something I've created.

Ministry is such a difficult thing. I hear it from many of my clients and of course I've witnessed and experienced it myself. So many who are called to ministry are feeling-types who'll just give and give and give and give until there's nothing left. Their efforts often go unappreciated (or at least the appreciation is unexpressed), they often have no friends outside the church /seminary / hospital, and they have big demands and responsibilities at home as well. Then it's so easy to feel overwhelmed, then you're close to burnout.

But the rewards are so incredible. I look out my office window and see this beautiful Welcome Garden. We have a labyrinth in it, an oak tree in the middle filled with wind chimes, new plants and flowers that will soon burst into colorful bloom, lovely benches for just meditating. It's truly lovely.

Yesterday morning I spent a couple of hours meeting with two women who are directors of church-related agencies in town. I've known both of them for two or three years now. We are planning a series of events--we're calling them Elephant in the Room Events--which will hopefully be held at my church through our Wellness Ministry, that will address some of the most difficult issues in our culture today: childhood sexual abuse, domestic violence, mental illness, childhood grief and grief from suicide. As the three of us sat and planned yesterday, we all started to feel the excitement of it. Palpable. It is truly exciting to be able to work toward something so good, and so important. I love it.

Yesterday afternoon I spent an hour doing some premarital counseling. Again, what an incredile joy! This couple is especially fun because they have a good level of self-awareness going on already. Imagine that! At 24 years old! :-) I'm impressed and just feel so privileged to help them engage their awarenesses in an even deeper way.

Last night we had a Cabinet meeting before our Lenten Ash Wednesday service. And it was a fun meeting! Imagine THAT! :-) We're all concerned about whether we'll have to cut salaries again, but in the midst of that, these folks were lighthearted and not making it a doom-and-gloom thing. And I think they all wanted to be there; they didn't come out of duty but because their church is important to them and they love it. Wow.

Today I get a little break (I could be working on the prospectus for my class, but I'll do that tomorrow and Saturday), before seeing a couple of clients at my satellite office. And then tomorrow I get to be at HeartPaths, the organization that trains spiritual directors and at which I'm adjunct 'faculty.' I'll love that as well.

Four jobs. Lots and lots of work to do. I'm loving it!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Dual Standing

It's official: I now have dual standing in the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

I spent yesterday morning being "examined" by the Church & Ministry Committee. They "approved" me after asking me questions mostly about UCC polity, some of which I really flubbed, but the committee passed me anyway! Thank goodness!

I spent the afternoon at church as well, participating in our church's Planning Retreat which lasted from 1:00 until about 5:00.

Then I was off to friend Life Giving One's house to pick up little Julia for an overnight at our house--a sleep-over which included my granddaughter M as well. J is 3 and M is 2. For the most part, they managed to have a great time together. I think it helped to have them both here at the same time. For one thing, little M fell asleep without a fuss, having J in the bed next to hers. Whew!
They are such delights to have around!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Skunk Funny

Seems there was this family of skunks being attacked by some hungry wolves. The mamma skunk said, "Alright now, children, let's all put our heads together and think about this."

As the wolves kept getting nearer and nearer, the mamma skunk said, "Children, there's nothing else for us to do now: Let us s-pray!"

(as told by our preacher this morning...no idea where he got it)

Becoming Women. Becoming Adults.

I was witness to something extraordinary last night. Truly extraordinary.

Lovely Passionate Feminist (LPF), who will turn 21 this week, landed a major role in The Vagina Monologues. She's been part of this play for each of her three years in college, but been part of the chorus or a trio. This time, she had her own monologue: Crooked Braid.

For those of you who don't know--and I didn't until LPF got involved in this--The Vagina Monologues is produced on college campuses every year around Valentine's Day. The reason? To draw attention to violence against women. It is a powerful, powerful play, based on the interviews conducted by Eve Ensler. (Not sure if that's Ensler pictured above or not, but that's the photo on the website). When Ensler asked women about their vaginas, many of them took that opportunity to speak to her of that which is at the center of their being as women. They spoke of their pain, their joyous breakthroughs as human and therefore sexual beings, their deepest desires, the miracle of their embodiment, and...yes, again, their pain.

LPF's monologue was that of a Native American woman. She spoke of being married to a man who beat her. Beat her to a bloody pulp, then apologized, then was unfaithful and blamed her, then beat her again, sometimes almost killing her. A cycle of violence, which, we learn, was witnessed by her husband against his own mother, and which has been witnessed by their own son, so the cycle continues. After we have witnessed this woman's individual story of brutal cruelty, the monologue ends with words signifying her understanding of the context of Native American peoples and how that context has emasculated many of their men-- and how, of course, she has, in her very body, born the brunt of that violent sociocultural emasculation.

The monologue itself is so important. But it is not what I meant when I wrote that I witnessed something extraordinary.

It felt to me that I witnessed LPF move into herself last night. Perhaps I am projecting. Perhaps if she reads this she will not resonate with it. Still...my intuition is strong.

LPF is passionate about issues of social justice (as is her sister, btw--it's gorgeous to see and hear them give voice to their passion). LPF stood up there last night and told this woman's story, and believe me, the whole audience was in rapt attention because LPF WAS this woman: standing proud against that which sought to make her a victim; righteously angry in the midst of an intention to beat the anger out of her; and so incredibly articulate in the face of the Unspeakable.

Finding our passion goes a long, long way toward fashioning our sense of self. When we allow ourselves to be passionate, we experience the triumph of love over fear. (And fear is the biggest culprit in a weak sense of self.)

Like all of us, Lovely Passionate Feminist has known pain in her young life. What I witnessed last night tells me she is not allowing it to determine her. She is transforming it toward the good, the strong, and that which is true for her. I am privileged to bear witness to this.

As we all stood in the aisle of the auditorium last night, congratulating her, talking and laughing, I suddenly felt as if I were saying goodbye to the LPF I have known. Tears stung my eyes. She is leaving childhood behind her. Vestiges of it will remain, of course, as is true for all of us, but last night I felt like I actually witnessed part of the movement, the transformation. I felt true and deep joy, but it was a bit painful, too, for now she must confront the inevitable pain of living without the "cover" of childhood innocence. (Does that make sense? As is often the case with powerful experiences, I'm finding it difficult to articulate the feeling.)
_______________________

Well, anyway---One more thing. Speaking of my daughters by marriage, I'm going to need to find another name for Beautiful Genuine Musician--she told us yesterday that she is changing her major from music to Ethics. She wants to study social ethics. I was just blown away and so very happy for her.
Wow. WOW. WOW.

As always, I am so grateful to be in the lives of all of my children-by-marriage and their significant others.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Sharing our Sadness

I'm continuing to workout. My trainer said I'd start to really want to workout after about three weeks. I knew that wouldn't happen, so in my mind I thought, well maybe after six weeks.

Nope.

Doesn't matter, though. I remain committed. And the great thing is that at each session I'm able to visit with a dear friend of mine, M, with whom I share the cost of the trainer.

Like me my friend M is feeling deep sadness at hearing the news of a diagnosis of cancer for our common mentor, A. After our workout session this morning, I went with M to Starbucks where we shared a few moments talking about why he has been such a crucial person in our journeys. At one point my friend said, "I just needed to be with you, Katherine, to share this sadness I feel."

We both teared up.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Wish I Could Sing

I wish I could sing. When I was growing up I wanted to sing like Dionne Warwick or Barbara Streisand or Joan Baez. Oh! I would just sing and sing and sing along with their records and pretend I was onstage and belting out this great song, full of emotion and daring.

My sister and I would often sit at the piano and sing from all this huge collection of sheet music we had. Such FUN! Great memories.

Tonight was Evening Prayer, just like every Wednesday night at my church. I do a little Taize service -- beautiful really with lots of candles. And I use a CD of instrumental music for the songs. People kind of wait for me to begin the singing/chanting. Ugh, it's ugly. I'm OK on the lower notes, but I can barely make the C above middle C anymore. My voice just creaks and screaks and breaks. Pitiful.

I wish I could sing.

Monday, February 9, 2009

"Sometimes, You Just Know"

As I was working out this morning, I listened to Carrie Newcomer. Her song, Geodes, is a prayer. Pure and simple. A prayer. Here are the words:

You can't always tell one from another.
And it's best not to judge a book by its tattered cover.
I have found when I tried or looked deeper inside
what appears unadorned might be wondrously formed.
You can't always tell but sometimes you just know.
'Round here we throw geodes in our gardens.
They're as common as the rain or corn silk in July.
Unpretentious browns and grays, the stain of Indiana clay,
they're what's left of shallow seas, glacial rock, and mystery,
and inside there shines a crystal bright as promise.
All these things that we call familiar
are just miracles clothed in the commonplace.
You’ll see it if you try in the next stranger's eyes--
God walks around in muddy boots,
sometimes rags, and that's the truth.
You can't always tell, but sometimes you just know.
Some say geodes are made from pockets of tears,
Trapped away in small places for years upon years,
pressed down and transformed,
‘til the true self was born,
and the whole world moved on
like the last notes of a song,
a love letter sent without return address.
You can't always tell one from another.
And it's best not to judge a book by its tattered cover.
Now I don't open them to see-- folks 'round here just like me,
we have come to believe there's hidden good in common things.
You can't always tell but sometimes you just know.
You can't always tell but sometimes you just know.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A Grapevine

Oh, isn't this beautiful? It's another breathtaking painting by my friend The Artist. Take a look here.

Carpal Tunnel Surgery

The surgery itself wasn't bad--of course I was asleep! duh!! :-) I mean, everything happened on time, we didn't have to wait long...David was there with me (his joke-telling was really fun; his obvious concern was even better!)...I felt fine as we left.

Last night was a different story. I assume it was the anesthesia, but something caused a monstrous migraine--the kind that gave me nausea and had me throwing up (more than once, but that's more than you care to know!)

This morning, except for this PAIN in my hand, I'm okay. The pain pills the doc prescribed are taking the edge off of it. David got me all set up here in bed. Everything is at hand--my right hand, that is--I have my laptop, my phone, my books, my favorite quilt, a cup of coffee, the sun shining through the windows. It's good. And I don't mind typing with one hand.

If I can stay awake I'm going to work on my paper for the UCC ministerial partnership--I have to write a history of the UCC, go through an interview process, and then the Association votes on officially recognizing my Disciples of Christ ordination. After that, I'll have official dual standing in both denominations.

Anyway, that's my day. I'm assuming that within a very few days I'll be pain-free and very happy that I had this done!