Friday, October 31, 2008

Friday Five

And so I offer this Friday Five with 5 quick hit questions... and a bonus:

1) Your work day is done and the brain is fried, what do you do?

There are several things that I do. I often take a nap if it is early enough. I sometimes cook. I enjoy cooking as long as I am not cooking for one. Sometimes I play mahjong on the computer.

2) Your work week is done and the brain is fried (for some Friday, others Sunday afternoon), what do you do?

For me it is Thursday evenings. Sometimes we go out to eat. It is usually an off-day for restaurants and it isn’t so hectic. Then I come home and watch my favorite TV show—CSI and J watches hers, ER. Sunday afternoons after hospital calls or lunch with my assistant is usually taking a nap in front of the football game on TV. When I was on the west coast I never got home in time to watch the football games. But then the Cowboys weren’t doing very well. Now, the Cowboys are doing well and we can’t get their games in NY, so I watch the Giants. I also watch the food channel. Did I say I liked to cook???

3) Like most of us, I often keep myself busy even while programs are on the tv. I stop to watch The Office and 30 Rock on Thursday nights. Do you have 'stop everything' tv programming or books or events or projects that are totally 'for you' moments?

The only thing that we really stop the world about on TV is for Wimbledon and the US Open Tennis. We do have several things that we watch regularly like CSI or CSI,NY but we can and do miss them regularly. We have just gotten a new TV set. It isn’t even set up properly and so have to wait until Mon. before we can watch it. No Cowboys this weekend!

4) When was the last time you laughed, really laughed? What was so funny?

The political satire for this campaign has been wonderful. It is the best that it has been for many years. I have been sent U-tubes that have been britches wetting. I have spewed coffee over my keyboard on several occasions. The best was “Don’t cry for me, Sarah Palin” done to the tune of Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina”. Also the problems in the Episcopal Church have been so awful that only the comic can make them bearable. Madpriest has kept me sane.

5) What is a fairly common item that some people are willing to go cheap on, but you are not.

There are several: Tires, auto repair, electronic stuff for Church like telephones, shoes, and professional clothing.

Bonus: It's become trite but is also true that we often benefit the most when we give. Go ahead, toot your own horn. When was the last time you gave until it felt good?

I gave 1k to a colleague who was in need a few weeks ago. It felt really good. I often give to things, but this was to a person and it was quite different.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Location, Location, Location--Revgals Friday Five

The Revgals Friday Five is about Location, Location, Location.

Singing Owl has some family moving in with her. She has moved several times and has come up with the following five:

Therefore, tell us about the five favorite places you have lived in your lifetime. What did you like? What kind of place was it? Anything special happen there?
1. I was born in Peoria, IL and moved to Ft. Worth, TX when I was 4. I never liked Ft. Worth although I still visit my family there. I liked the little town of Chillicothe where we lived and didn’t want to move. And while I lived the majority of my childhood and youth in Ft. Worth, I always felt that the town was behind the times. My folks liked it. I don’t know where my antipathy came from.

2. After college, I lived in Dallas and taught there. By that time, Dallas and Ft. Worth were becoming less distinct. Now, the two towns have almost merged although they still retain some of their early character. Dallas was more cosmopolitan but only just.

3. New Orleans was an interesting town. I was only there for a year and then move to St. Louis. It was a relatively closed town socially. One had to be a part of the “born in NO” crowd in order to be “in” but being a part of the order made those boundaries permeable. The donuts and p'o boys were awesome.

4. St. Louis came next. I can’t think of any place that I liked less other than maybe Ft. Worth.

5. Syracuse, NY was a nice place but it wasn’t until I moved to Bainbridge, NY, the site of my first cure, that I really found a home. I now serve a congregation 6 miles from Bainbridge and am trying to find a home in or around Bainbridge to return to. It isn’t location—it is people, people, people that make it home.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Songbird at Revgals has a new Friday Five:

Well, Gals and Pals, this weekend we'll be rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar's, and that has me thinking about coinage.

1) When was the last time you flipped a coin or even saw one flipped in person?

I see folks flip coins at the beginning of football games or other games on a fairly regular basis. It seems a fair way to determine things that are of some importance but can’t be determined in any other way. Every once in a while, I will flip a coin when I can’t make up my mind about what to do, but it is rather rare.

2) Do you have any foreign coins in your house? If so, where are they from?

We went to Canada this summer so we still have several dollar coins hanging around. I think I still have a small coin purse with some coins from France and the UK left over from my sabbatical in 1995—but hey, they now use Euros so maybe they will be collectors’ items one day in my dotage.

3) A penny saved is a penny earned, they say. But let's get serious. Is there a special place in heaven for pennies, or do you think they'll find a special place in, well, the other place?

I am one of those who put their change in a jar at night. I carry a billfold and not a purse so I always have coins in my pocket. That cache always goes toward vacation or some fun activity that comes up off the budget. I haven’t counted or rolled the coins lately. This may be the niggle to get me count those coins.

4) How much did you get from the tooth fairy when you were a child? and if you have children of your own, do they get coins, or paper money? (I hear there may be some inflation.)

I got a dime when I was a kid. Howcum when you get old and you have to have teeth pulled, the tooth fairy doesn’t come??? It just seems so unfair! Those teeth have seen good wear and tear! They deserve to be honored! No kids, no tooth fairy. It must be discrimination! Guess we need to organize and see if we can get AARP to lobby!

5) Did anyone in your household collect the state quarters? And did anyone in your household manage to sustain the interest required to stick with it?

J collected them. I don’t know if she got all of them. If I get out my jar to count my coin, I know she will be over my shoulder!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Traveling for the Faith: Friday Five

Traveling Friday Five:
MotherLaura is a bishop and so she has to travel much of her ministry. She has come up with an interesting Friday Five.

So for today's Friday Five, you're invited to share your experiences with the exciting, challenging world of business travel....

1. Does your job ever call for travel? Is this a joy or a burden?

Seldom does the ministry call for travel. Parish ministry is about local travel. But as I travel 40 miles one way to the congregation, I could say that I travel regularly in my ministry. At present that travel is quite beautiful. We have had a long fall with the color on the trees lasting weeks rather than a mere few days. The drive is almost all interstate so it is fairly easy driving.

The few times I have had to travel for business have been interesting—a conference here, a funeral for far away friends. The travel is out of the ordinary and therefore maintains interest even with airline delays, or inclement weather.

2. How about that of your spouse or partner?

J’s and my life are fairly distinct so it is not unusual that we travel separately. But since we are both clergy, we often go to the same conferences or meetings. I enjoy time to bounce new things off her when we are together. A telephone call at night suffices when we are not traveling together. Time away apart allows the one at home to go out to dinner for their favorite food and to watch their favorite TV program, or just time to read.

3. What was the best business trip you ever took?

I think the trip to the 1985 General Convention of the Episcopal Church. I was newly ordained. J and I flew to TX and borrowed my brother’s camper van and we drove to Anaheim stopping at the Grand Canyon, Taos, and other SW tourist places along the way. We parlayed our vacations and the business meeting together. It was my first General Convention and that alone made it awesome.

4. ...and the worst, of course?

The worst was to a diocesan clergy conference. I wanted to tape the discussion because J couldn’t attend. The bishop took exception to my taping the discussion, got paranoid and accused me of all kinds of stuff. I tried to explain that I was trying to take something back to J. He wouldn’t listen and in front of the whole conference he “ordered me by virtue of my vows” to give him the tape. It was the end of my relationship with the diocese. He will not allow me to work in the diocese and bad mouths me to colleagues constantly.

5. What would make your next business trip perfect?

A real sense that I am doing what God has called me to do.

Friday, October 3, 2008

St. Francis Day Friday Five

Rev honey at Revgals has offered a very provocative St. Francis Friday Five Questions. I pass on her rather long introduction because it is filled with valuable information on Ss. Francis and Clare.

Today is the day that we remember and celebrate the life of St Francis of Assisi, here is a description of his early life:

Often named the Patron Saint of Animals and the Environment, there is much more to St Francis:

Saint Francis is called the little poor man of Assisi. He was born in the year 1182 in the town of Assisi in Italy. His father's name was Bernadone. Bernadone was a very wealthy merchant of Assisi. Francis was a very good-looking boy. He was merry and soft-hearted. So he had many friends. All the noble men's sons were his companions.

Francis was brought up in luxury and gaiety. He spent a considerable portion of his wealth in extravagant pleasures. He used to drink with the young princes of the land.

One day Francis was joking and laughing with his friends. A beggar came along crying for alms. Francis, who was soft-hearted, gave whatever he had in his pocket to the beggar. His companions mocked at him for his charitable act. Dispassion dawned in his heart. The sight of the beggar set him thinking about the poverty and misery of mundane life. He gave much money to the poor. His father thought that Francis was wasting his money and rebuked him.

Sometime after this, Francis was laid up in bed for many months on account of some serious disease. He was about to die. But the Lord saved him as he had to carry out a definite mission in his life. The nature of Francis was entirely changed. Francis prayed to the Lord for light and guidance as to his future. He had a vision of Lord Jesus. He made a strong determination to renounce his old way of living to tread a life of purity and to dedicate his life to the service of humanity.

As soon as Francis got well, he informed his parents of his determination. They were disappointed. They became angry with Francis. Francis gave up his old ways and habits and set up to serve God. He distributed clothes, goods and money to the poor. His father was very much annoyed towards his son. He said, "Is this the gratitude you show to me ? I laboured hard and amassed wealth. You are lavishly wasting it on these miserable wretches".

Francis' friends mocked at him and teased him. His father turned him out of the house. Francis lived like a beggar. His old friends even pelted him with stones and mud. He bore everything with patience. He wore a coarse dress and ate simple food.

Francis went on to travel from village to village preaching the love of God. He invited people to join him in his life of service if they were willing. Bernard, a rich man of Assisi, was very much attracted by the saintliness of Francis. He joined Francis. He was the first follower of Francis. He placed all his wealth at the altar of God. Eleven others also joined Francis. They distributed all their wealth to the poor. Francis and his followers went all over Italy preaching, teaching, healing and blessing wherever they went.

The gospel of kindness and love of Francis soon spread all over Europe and earned for him the name of St. Francis. People called him the little poor man of Assisi. He lived for ever in the hearts of all men.

St. Francis collected many followers and founded the Order of Mendicant Friars or Franciscans. The members of this Order have to take a vow of poverty, chastity, love and obedience.
St. Francis gave up his mortal coil in 1228.

I would like to dedicate this Friday Five to St Francis of Assisi.

1. Saint Francis experienced a life changing call, has anything in your journey so far challenged you to alter your lifestyle?

When I was in my twenties and a new Christian, I went on a mission trip to the mountains of Mexico. I realized by the standards of the people of the mountains of the area, I was rich although I had been raised lower middle class. About 3 years later I entered religious life and took on the life style of one who vowed poverty, chastity and obedience. I did not pursue that vocation, however; it was not my calling, but I have lived celibacy, poverty and obedience to God ever since. I am aware that even the little I make and have in this country is far beyond what most people of the world have. It is not guilt producing, but it is sobering and reminds me not only to be grateful, but to advocate for those who have not.

2. Francis experienced mocking and persecution, quite often in the comfortable west this is far from our experience. If you have experienced something like this how do you deal with it, if not how does it challenge you to pray for those whose experience is daily persecution?

As a lesbian, I have not escaped mocking and persecution. I presently work in a denomination not my own simply because the powers that be of my home church cannot understand the prejudice that is rampant in the diocese and the harm it is doing to people who merely wish to serve God. It is the lie that we are welcoming and reconciling that I cannot tolerate. I fight the anger it produces. But I would rather be mocked and be persecuted than give up the integrity of who I am and the integrity of the Gospel.

3. St Francis had female counterpart in St Clare, she was influenced by St Francis sermon and went on to found the Poor Clare's, like the Franciscans they depended on alms this was unheard of for women in that time, but she persisted and gained permission to found the order. How important are role models like St Clare to you? Do you have a particular female role model whose courage and dedication inspires you? If so share their story....

I have many female role models from Teresa of Avila to Molly Ivins. It is the women in my life that have made it possible for me to follow a career in the Church. Suzanne Hiatt, one the “Philadelphia Eleven” and one of the first women ordained in the Episcopal Church was one of those who helped me. A couple of nuns in the order I belonged to were powerful images of what it mean to be faithful. But often it is the community of women that I have around me that gives me the greatest support and encouragement. It is generally in that community that I bounce off my ideas and theology. It is there that I can give and take enough to help me grow to a better person.

4. Francis loved nature and animals, how important is an expressed love of the created world to the Christian message today?

It is often in nature that I find God. The past few weeks with the change of the colors here in the Northeast, God has been so present in the autumn leaves. Nature is neither benevolent nor malevolent. After witnessing the aftermath of Katrina or perusing the photos from the Hubble Telescope, I am brought to my knees in awe. God is so beyond what I could ever ask or imagine and so I am drawn to embrace a God that is so beyond what I can comprehend and yet honor a God who came as a child.

5. On a lighter note; have you ever led a service of blessing for animals, or a pet service, was it a success, did you enjoy it, and would you do it again?

I have had one blessing of the animals. I do not believe it was especially successful. I have been tempted to do a St. Francis Day Blessing here at my rural church. But the bishop made her visitation last week, and it was too much to do for this week. Perhaps next year.
Please grieve with me. A family in my parish lost their home to fire this week and lost 2 dogs and 3 cats in the blaze. I have been grieving with them.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The theology of Fall

When one drives through the Northeast during October, it is easy to develop a very personal theology of God. The beauty of the changing colors seems so personal, as if God had painted the hills just for me. Today the commute to my office was one in which I could have no music or talk from the radio. No book on tape could add to the breath catching sights that shouted their yellows, oranges and spruce-green contrasts at my eyes. Only the still silent voice of God could accompany the awesome views.

Fall light is quite special too. The grey-blue of clouds force a golden lens to the day-glow orange that some of the maples throw. White birch bark trunks add a stark distinction to the fiery reds of their leaves while the evergreens mark their constancy of near-black against the rolling terrain. Sunlight dances in and out of my ride playing tag with the rain that wants to overcome the day.

Artists, poets, choreographers, and musicians have tried to capture this season. All fall short. It is only the individual eye that can appreciate the work of the Divine in this season. And while it is important to keep in mind the greatness of God’s creation, it is sometimes important to just be silent in the color of a single leaf tinged with all the radiance of the season.

I have not written much since I returned from vacation. The trip was just the kind of quieting of the soul that one wants of a true time of relaxation. Words do not begin to explain the joy of the appreciation of God’s world. It is better to just stand in the awe in silence that to try to circumscribe it with words.

Now, this is a very difficult stance for a preacher. And so I take up my laptop once more to try to find words to fill in for the indescribable, the ineffable, that which cannot be painted verbally. Sometimes it is anger producing to be forced to try to describe that which can never even be fully comprehended. And then there are those times when one must babble on, not saying anything that can really capture what the eye or the heart beholds.
Lord, no wonder there are so few good preachers—it is so hard to do.