Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Way

it was the Living Bible. illustrated.
it was paperback, and had tons of photos.
a paraphrase,
it was a smooth read.
probably the 70's version of The Message.

mine was tattered, and I underlined and highlighted passages, because I read it A. Lot.
I went to bible studies and luther league, and we would furiously underline the words we were learning about...I would add exclamation points (!!!!!)  and smiley faces, and little prayers like "help me remember this".

this was my favorite passage, from Ephesians 3:

17 And I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts, living within you as you trust in him. May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love; 18-19 and may you be able to feel and understand, as all God’s children should, how long, how wide, how deep, and how high his love really is; and to experience this love for yourselves, though it is so great that you will never see the end of it or fully know or understand it. And so at last you will be filled up with God himself.

it's still a favorite passage, albeit I now change the language to be gender neutral.

we went to bible camp every summer. and we took our bibles.  this was when I was in 6-7-8 grade. 

high school kids were our counselors, and it was a good time.  lots of laughing, pranking, worship with guitars and guest pastors, stuff like that.  the big thing was the bonfire on the last night, where we would sit around and sing songs like "Pass It On" and a very slow rendition of "Kum Ba Yah". 

the last day, 

we would get people to sign our bibles.  (kind of like signing yearbooks, as I think about it now.)
except we would share bible verses in our notes,
or prayers, 
or write things like "God's light shines through you"
and those blessings
were as holy writ
as the paraphrase of Ephesians 3:17, 
those friend blessings
carried me through 
the ups and downs and craziness
of adolescence...

I have carried that bible with me from college to my first job to my second job to seminary to my first parish, second call, third call...fourth call....for 39 years.

this summer, 

I had a fit of downsizing
my library....
and I gave that bible away, in a moment of non-attachment. 
to the object.

but I am still attached by my heart,

to the blessings and prayers,
smiley faces and exclamation points,
markers of the faith of my youth,
tiny seedlings with fragile roots
that grew deep
deep down
into the soil of God's love. 
and I still really don't understand it
and it's true you can't really fully know it, 
but still,
you have moments
of being filled up with God...
rooted firmly,
ready to fly. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


for the past six years, except for this one, 
the weekend after labor day
has been incredibly, wackily crazy. 
regathering WEEKEND. 
it would begin with a community ice cream social on friday evening, on the front corner of the lawn of the church. 
sort of a community outreach, welcoming back to school in the community, the pre-school housed in our church, the dance school, our people back from summer time..
just a fun thing 
that was a lot of work, 
but fun. 
after cleaning up late on Friday night, 
I would be back early Saturday morning
for teacher orientation for Sunday School, 
another regathering
of coffee and juice and cheese grits and fruit and laughter and catching up, 
and looking over the curriculum for the year. 
after getting through with that event, 
then home
to think about worship the next day, 
write my sermon if I was preaching, 
making sure everything ready to welcome children to Sunday School, 
write prayers and make lists for announcements,
and the like.
Sunday would be a big day, 
singing "Gather Us In",
and blessing backpacks and bibles and teachers and students, 
scooping left over ice cream during coffee hour...
by Sunday afternoon, 
I couldn't be more tired, and full, and feeling like we were off to the races for another year. 

this year was different, IS different. 
I am serving a church, just on Sundays, in a very limited capacity. 
not a lot of planning.  I am not the pastor. 
I love this church, and what I am doing. 

but I am just saying this new year, this new school year
is rolling along without my gifts and skills and what I love doing, what I know doing.  I missed getting do the "regathering" weekend, but this was my choice.  

it's o.k.
it's quiet. 
I get to be home more with my family. 

it's just a different kind of new. 
I am fearful and hopeful of what kind of new this whole year will bring.   
(Oh, and I just had a big birthday, which has always been a part of my inner regathering in my heart in the fall--oh, and yes my birthday is also the anniversary day of my ordination.  13 years, thank you!)
Will my vocational path follow a different trail than full-time congregational ministry?
I have applied for some meaningful work that would use a whole lot of what I bring to the table, what I love to do, what I enjoy....

I just don't know. 
And I suppose that is part of a new year, a fresh regathering of any kind--
Any thing can happen. 
Thank goodness my backpack is blessed. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

on the hunt....

I am at the point where I need to be doing something.

I temped in an office for two weeks.  As much as I want to rant and rave about
the experience, I won't.  Let's just say, it doesn't look like temping is the avenue
right now for me.

there is the luxury of time for me to settle in and think outside of the box.  for goodness' sake...
I have earned it.

I've spent some time on Craig's List, exploring job opportunities.  There are jobs for professional bead stringers (who knew), grill cooks, printers, and pretty much a whole lotta stuff.  Today I applied to be a part-time dog walker.


I hope they take my application seriously, because I am.  Think of it.  Exercise, furry beings that wag their tails when they see you, the pleasure of companionship beyond my own little pack.

There are people I know that are getting beat up in the church.  Not physically, but I am sure it is affecting them physically.  Some of the meanies are known church folk, some are anonymous, and beyond.  I know the church is a human place.  And people behave badly.  I've experienced that, in very, very small doses.  I am lucky.

I do want to serve a congregation again, I do want to be in ministry, and I do want to listen closely to the Spirit that Leads.

My mother is part of a lovely congregation in the north-mid-west.   I love them.  She loves them. It's a special happy place.  They don't have enough money to pay a minister full time.  But they do have a building, at least, that is small and not desperately in need of repair, like a lot of buildings here in New England.  They are blessed enough to have an amazing minister, in spite of.  They are kind, good, people.   I dream of serving in a place like this--fewer politics, ordinary people cleaning up food banks on service Sunday, bible studies on Friday mornings, and where children are celebrated.

But until that call comes,
I really, really, really would love walking dogs.


Wednesday, September 4, 2013


it's just been such
basket of turns these days...

really, since spring...
and the turnings,
the transitions...

have been enough
to feel like at times
I've been cosmically
thrown under the bus,
at times,
like it's all o.k., and I've got peace like a river in my soul....

but at other times,
sucking my breath in
and wanting to throw dishes at the wall
and break things...

and then the blissful denial times of,
curling up into a ball
and getting lost
in Candy Crush.
(yes, I have succumbed to that this summer.)

my eyes have been hot with tears of rage,
softly filled with sadness and grief,
overflowing with laughter and love.

and trying to find You in all this
has been virtually impossible.
each turning brings a glimpse,
and then abruptly disappearing
around the next unexpected turn.

Humbled. Crushed.
Hope-sick, searching,
Knowing and unknowing,
I wait for You.

it's really all I know what to do.