Saturday, November 1, 2014

November 1, 2014 Meeting Friends...

*I am participating in something called NaBloPoMo November 2014.  It is a challenge to write everyday during the month of November.  Saturday and Sunday are free writes, but Mary Beth over at RevGalBlogPals offered the following prompt:

RevGalBlogPals began around 2004/5 when a group of us somehow found each other on blogs. Today, write about how you met a friend/group of friends. Where? How? How has the relationship changed; how has it stayed the same?

It was my first day of third grade, and at a new school. 
Rickard Elementary.  My teacher was named Mrs. Russell, and to my 8 year old self she was old and not very warm.  Actually, in my mind, she looked like my Grandma Lee who died when I was very young.  So, I was a little scared.

Plus, we had only been living in "town" for about a year.  My mom had finally left my alcoholic father at the end of first grade--up until then, we had lived on our farm year round in Western North Dakota.   We spent second grade in a tiny rental house near the first town school I  had ever gone to.  Imagine, going from a two room school house, where the entire first grade was four children, to town school, where there were three sections of second grade, 25 kids in a class!  Not a great situation for a shy withdrawn 8 year old.  But I made it through, made some friends, and was fine, for the most part. 

But then, my mom remarried.  And with that marriage, we moved to a different neighborhood, and a different school and now there was Mrs. Russell.  And a room full of 8 year olds.  

I went home for lunch that first day, and my step-dad asked me if a certain girl was in my class.  Turned out, her sister was either married/dating my stepbrother (who I barely knew).  I can't remember the exact timing.   Indeed she was in my class, and went I went back to the playground to look for her. 

My memory is that she was playing marbles, but that could be fuzzy.  I know we met on the playground.   And we became fast friends.  Dear friends.  We were in the same class in 3, 4, 5 grade; and during junior high and senior high we continued to hang out. If it hadn't been for her,  I think I would have been so very lost.  I considered her my best friend.  My heart friend. Soul friend.  For years we kept a journal, that we passed back and forth, writing to each other intermittently and mailing it back and forth......we have stayed connected closely and loosely for the past 43 years.  Perhaps more loosely in the past years, but to this day, I know she would have my back if I needed her.    And I am grateful.  

Thursday, July 24, 2014

A Summer Weekday, and a Prayer

So,
I haven't written much for the past, oh, five months.
But, I haven't really taken the time...I have been writing in other places--sermons, prayers, Facebook, etc.

Today, though, it is very quiet in the office. I am now the only one here--the office is only open from 9-12, T-W-Th....and I have been taking my time today to do a few things I have wanted to do, but not gotten around to.  Except for the two big things I really need to get to, which is the church website, and vacation bible school.

Well, I did make 8 phone calls on advocating for the passing of a state bill regarding gun violence.  That's good ministry, right?

I find myself thinking back to a year ago.   What a sad internal space I was in, as I was in limbo professionally.  I am so grateful to have moved out of that space, and grateful to be in this interim place of ministry.  It's exactly where I needed to land, and thank God that God knew that.  I don't know if I was too sure, but I am glad that I said "yes!"

I am coming up on 14 years of ordained ministry.  Most of that ministry has been as an associate pastor, with lead pastoring during sabbaticals and medical leaves.   Somehow, I think this is viewed as a blight on my record--but I have to say it's been great to have colleagues.   I imagine my next move being to a solo or lead pastor; but it may not be.  I was thinking that I need to remember that 14 years is a whole lot of rich experience, and that there is pretty much nothing I haven't experienced, and yet everyday is different and new.  

....and so I continue reflecting....on a warm Thursday afternoon.  I met with my clergy community of practice, and what a beautiful, strong, smart group of colleagues.  I don't know how I got so lucky to land in this group, but it is a saving grace, monthly.

I am thinking about Matthew 13 today. About Words.  About parables.
About mustard seeds and leaven, treasures and pearls and fish.

With that, I am going to simmer and go for a walk.

Dear God,
For this moment, this holy ordinary moment,  I give you thanks.
As I yell at the puppy "no, LEAVE IT" and the birds sing outside my window,
As a cat mewls, and traffic swishes by,
I give you thanks.
As I remember sweet conversation with ministers,
and enjoy a salad with herbs from my garden and fresh roasted corn,
I give you thanks.

I pray for all the places in the world that are going to hell in a hand basket.
Child immigrants, war refugees, planes lost, planes gunned down,
Roiling weather,  a Holy land in fear and trembling and terror for all.
God have mercy.
God have mercy.
God have mercy.

Move my heart God,
to be more justice in my life,
to love more fiercely and courageously,
and
to walk with confidence and humbleness,
into how and who and what You have called me to be and do.

In the spirit of brother Jesus I pray,
Amen.


Saturday, February 1, 2014

Sunday Prayer, Epiphany 4A, February 2, 2014

Holy One, 
You who calls us before mountains and hills, asking us to remember, all of what you have done, we shout to you our praise and thanksgiving, so that all of the valleys and foundations of the earth might hear of your deeds. 
And when we forget to remember your presence, your working in our lives, we pray for forgiveness. We pray for your wisdom to move us to open our hearts and minds to you. 
We pray for our world, 
for places that are wrought with war and fear, where refugees are forgotten, where children and elders are hungry because of the foolishness and hardheartedness of too many. We pray for shards of your blessing to break through to those who mourn, who hunger, who are poor in spirit.  May they be comforted and filled and taste a bit of heaven somehow, some way.  Help us to remember those suffer, and to never forget. 
We pray for our leaders, our teachers, our mentors, and more--especially for those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for our earth home and for those who are persecuted.  We pray for those who aren’t afraid to speak out, to appear foolish in the eyes of so many others, when they advocate for peace, for fair wages, for decent housing, for social services that work, for laws to protect children and elders; and ways to address climate change. 
We pray for those around us, in our hearts, and next to us in the pews, for your spirit to protect them, challenge them, move them closer to your love. 
Oh Holy One, you who calls us to testify before mountains and hills of your glory,  may we serve this world in which you have given us life, 
by doing your justice, by loving all kindness, and walking humbly with You in all of the moments of our lives. 

Amen. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

a long quiet...

I am feeling all quiet today. 
Not lost, but meandering through 
the interior hollows and curves of my being.

There are those bustling 'round
busy with whatever busy-ness there is, 
and yet, 
I am not.
Busy. 

I am all quiet today. 
No questions on my heart, 
no burdens I bear,
really, to speak of. 

I am all quiet today.
I am thinking of people
whom I know are very ill, 
                                            very stressed, 
               very sad, 
                                       very joyful, 
                    
and 
I hold them in the 
Light of Life and Love.

I am all quiet today, 
my flame flickers gently, 
and 
in my quiet, 
I will wait. 

Amen. 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

just a quiet morning...

It's the Saturday after Thanksgiving....Nov. 30, 2013.
We are in Vermont,
and it is all snowy and wintery and sunny and cold
and perfect.

I write (o.k. SURF the inter webs) while my beloved sleeps.

In a while, we will exercise,
pack up,
go to lunch,
drive home.

at this point, I really ought to be further along in my preparations for Sunday, First Sunday in Advent.
But I am not.
I believe I am overthinking my sermon,
wanting to be succinct, and smart, and brilliant, and educated and erudite
in the words
that are waiting to be written, expressed...
I want to be more honed, more clever,
more...probably more of what I think I SHOULD be, rather than who I am.

Help me rest in that thought God...
I do want to be more faithful in my preparation,
more in tune with your Spirit.
Not what I think I should be, or what I think others want,
but rather,
what you want....the Word that best reflects your Message to this particular time and place and people that I am serving on behalf of you these days.

Help me,
let go of my insecurities (yes, I have those, and I need to admit this)
Help me,
be completely enveloped
in your Spirit...
Help me just simply be,
and to trust in You,
and to trust in me,
and to trust this process
of listening and writing and meditating.

Take me over with your Love, dear God.
I am working on being wide open to You.

Amen.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Ms. or Mrs.?

This fall,  I had the opportunity to substitute teach.
For six weeks I wandered into middle school science and social studies classrooms,
kindergarten wonderlands,
first grade intensity,
and everything in between.

Always, in each new assignment, I was asked,
are you Ms. Miller, or Mrs. Miller.

At first, I just said, it doesn't matter.

But it does, I know.

When I was teaching in the late 80's and 90's, I was emphatically MS. Miller.
Not Miss Miller.  Not Mrs. Miller.
I didn't feel like I should have to have my marital status be a part of how my students and their parents perceived me.  Men only have one choice--Mr. -------.   I know that most people at that time and place thought that I ought to just give in to the sexist paradigm.  They all knew that Ms.  was just a feminist who was single.

Apparently, here, in another part of the country, and a new millennium, the Miss has been dropped.  And it wasn't clear whether Ms.  was just non-sexist, but I felt like when I was asked, that Ms. meant single and Mrs. mean married.  OR--actually, Mrs. meant you were married, but Ms. was more neutral.

Here is the thing--this fall, I started off as being Ms.   You know, the whole neutral, non-sexist word.

But then, the children, especially the little ones, would call me Mrs., and hey, it wasn't worth correcting a six year old, especially as a temporary teacher for the day.  And--I found I liked being Mrs. Miller!   I  *am* married, for goodness sake.  To a wonderful woman.

So, for a few weeks, I just went with being Mrs. Miller.  The first time in my 50 years of life, and I liked the public addition to my identity.

Here is another thing--I now am at the age I don't mind it if I am called "Miss".  This happens ONLY at Starbucks, so I think it must be a customer service rule--call all the women "Miss" unless obviously she looks older than your mother.  Oh my goodness, I would have been ruffled to pieces if this happened to me when I was 33.

It's funny, though, how the title in front of our names means something.  Or not.  For example, I am proud that I am Rev. Karla, or Pastor Karla.  I worked HARD for that!   Those who have earned a post-graduate degree, whether Ph.D. or D. Min or Ed.D.   have earned that DR. in front of their name.

When I was a college chaplain, my name was always listed formally as The Reverend Karla Miller.   The students started calling me "The Rev."    I must admit, I loved that, because it was a term of endearment.

But in congregational polity, we hold close to the priesthood of all believers, and since I don't call my parishioners Ms. Polly, or Mr. Mark,  why should they call me Pastor Karla?   I know this is common in many Christian traditions.  I know that in the denomination of my cradle, Pastor is like a first name.  You just don't refer to the minister by her first name alone.  Or--you don't very often.

So, on Sunday, during the children's time, my colleague in ministry was introducing me to the children, and asked me what I would like for them to call me.  I sort of flustered in the moment, because I hadn't thought about it--in my last parish I was a mix of Rev, Pastor Karla, and Karla to all ages.    That just evolved.

Without thinking, I said, "Karla is great!"

After musing about this,  it was the perfect thing to say.

I wonder, if part of my thrill of being called Mrs. was in part because it gave me a little sense of identity that fed into my ego.  I was a Teacher!  A Wife!

Part of the landscape of the past few months of sabbatical and time off  involved a stripping off the outer ways in which I identified with the world--and gained a sense of worthiness from those identities.  Not always a good thing to do.

So I am really grateful for having that time in not being a pastor in a congregation (it can be quite heady, you know, at times....).   It gave me pause to consider my calling.  Was I continued to be called to parish ministry?  Should I start a dog walking business?  Get my teaching certificate?

It also gave me space to be myself,  reconnect with my deep self, my knowing self.   This wasn't always easy, mind you--I did a couple of temp jobs where I wanted to SHOUT OUT "do you KNOW what I AM?? A freakin' professional that doesn't give a flip about counting ceiling tiles!!!"  Humbling, at its best.  Its very best.

And I had to remember, over and over, that the most important part of me is that I am Beloved.  And that I am called to be Love, as best I can, in this world.   Whether or not I am Ms., Miss, Pastor, or Mrs.  

Whew.
Thanks be to God.



Saturday, November 9, 2013

ooossshhhhhhh

That's is kind of how I am feeling right now.
oooooesshhhhhhhh.
Like,
oy!

I am trying not very hard to not to be focused,
which in regular words is:
I am not focused.
I am not trying.
I am procrastinating.

why?

maybe it's my mind emptying itself in a weird way.

I have exhausted all the possibilities of clicks to check on facebook,
shoe sites, groupons, twitters, email, facebook, email, ummm...
landing finally to write here to get some words out of my body,
some thoughts, scattered though they may be, pushed out of my mind,
sifting through the raffles of my mind,
neurons spinning, misfiring, jumping....

moving towards the illusive quiet, still space...
a point of tiny light,
a breath,
a prayer,

help me God.
help me  to listen your Spirit,
your heartbeat,
in spite of me,
tune me to your Word, and your Silence in between.

Amen.