Saturday, March 27, 2010

Belated Friday Five: Redo, Refresh, Restore

We're in the thick of it in church life as we approach the end of Lent. Palm Sunday and Holy Week await. In the midst of this busy-ness, I undertook a little redecorating here at RevGalBlogPals and found a new template for us.

It's the sort of task I like in the middle of chaos, a chance to redo something, to refresh the way I feel, to restore some sense of order.

Please share with us five ways you redo or refresh or restore your body, your space, your blog, anything in your life that needs perking up this week.


Songbird has put up an unusual Friday Five this week.

I have had several temptations to refer to Holy Week as Hell Week over the span of my career. And it has come to mind that this is going to be my last Easter before I retire. It feels a bit more like commencement or graduation than the same ole-same ole. I have found that the week BEFORE Holy Week is really the tough week rather than Holy Week itself because of the planning, music and preparation that goes on. I really try to plan everything ahead so that I can live into Holy Week as a spiritual discipline rather than just perform rituals for others. But of course ‘things’ always happen. Last year it was my mother’s death.

1. Prayer—meditative prayer. I really try to spend an hour of quiet meditation each day especially in Holy Week. It may be turning off the CD’s on my commute, or sitting in my chair with a cat by my side but it is quiet time I devote to being with God. It grounds me in who I am, whose I am, and what I have before me.

2. Look at the World—I try to spend a bit of time drinking in scenery, admiring some spiritual reading, watching something uplifting on TV or on computer. And this is a matter of choice of NOT looking at or reading things that are negative. This is not a matter of avoidance. Holy Week is such a dramatic encounter with Evil in the world, it is easy for me to bottom out in Good Friday and never get to Easter. It is always important for me to keep Easter in the picture—the hope for the world that our Lord had.

3. Looking at property listings in Ft. Worth-- Since I have lived in church owned housing much of my life, it is fun to look at some of the possibilities for a new home where we are moving. I just go on line and think of the future in this house or that apartment.

4. Clean off my desk—I am not the neatest person in the world. But one discipline I often require of myself during Holy Week is to clean off my desk. It may be something akin to stripping the altar, or perhaps seeking out the leven in preparation for Passover. But it is a physical and a spiritual renewal that usually makes the ‘neatnicks’ in my parish happy. But it does say something about welcoming Eastertide.

5. Getting a haircut.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Friday Five: Movies

Revgal Jan has sent a new Friday Five:

Whenever daughter MJ comes home on breaks from college, I get to go to movies, which has me thinking about motion pictures. Plus, it is fun to watch rented dvd's at home, which my husband prefers.

Share your preferences, opinions, and recommendations about movies! Choose 5 types of movies to discuss:
• action
• thriller
• mystery
• drama
• comedy
• foreign
• animated
• children's
• science fiction
• western/cowboy
• ?
Bonus: Tell about the first movie you ever saw and/or the last one!

I am not much of a movie buff. I HAVE seen all the Harry Potter flicks, though, Revmom! ( But then again, I have read all the books!)

I don’t have a certain category that I attend to. Sometimes I go just for the actor: George Clooney ( J. says “sigh!”), Matt Damon, Queen Latifa, Meryl Streep, etc. Sometimes I go for the subject matter: Milk, March of the Penquins?, And sometimes I go because the trailers on TV sound good:

Two of J’s brothers work in Hollywood on sets and such. We have often gone to movies just because we know that they have been listed in the credits. One of them built the room that turned upside down in Nightmare on Elm Street. One of them worked on Fargo. Family loyalty does wonder at the box office!
My earliest movie I think was either Alice in Wonderland (the cartoon version) or Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. I know I had a record of the music from Alice (one of those little colored 78’s that I sang to for years until my mother almost took it away from me!) I do remember seeing The Wizard of Oz and was very scared.

We are such technical dunces, we don’t know how to work our DVD. One we get moved and we are settled again, we will see if we can figure out how it works again.
At the moment there isn’t much out there I want to see. I missed the Sandra Bullock movie that I wanted to see. We’ll have to wait until Netflicks gets it out.

I saw Doubt last night and it really creeped me out. I couldn’t even watch the whole of it. Streep was awesome in her intolerance and self-righteousness and the guy who played the priest was powerful in his part. The topic is so present to us in our diocese that it was almost too difficult to watch. I will have to gear myself up to watch the whole thing sometime. It is an important flick for these times.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Friday Five: Spiritual or Religious?

Mompriest posted this Friday Five that is quite thought provoking:

Yesterday I attended a led conference by Diana Butler Bass. She is presenting new ideas on the state of the church and why there is hope for Christianity. One of her premises is a Newsweek/Washington Post poll from 2005 that states that 55% of the people in this country describe themselves as religious AND spiritual.

Without going into detail about her understandings of religious and spiritual (you may want to attend one of her conferences, if you can) share with us five thoughts ideas or practices that you consider to be "religious." Then share with us five thoughts, ideas, or practices that you consider to be "spiritual."

For example one thought about religion might be that it is "salvation" Or an idea about religion might be that it is an "institution" and a religious practice might be "going to church." An example of spiritual thought might be a phrase from a poem, a spiritual idea might be the inspiration for a piece of art and a spiritual practice might be meditation.

So, five thoughts, ideas, or practices that are religious....and then five thoughts, ideas or practices that are spiritual. OR are they the same thing to you?


I have been to one of Diana Butler Bass’ conferences but it wasn’t on this topic per se. And there are a few comments that I have come up with re. Spiritual/Religious that I want to make:
First of all, in my mind the two go together because I am truly a church woman. But, I do not mean that spiritual and the institution of the church are necessarily the same. Growing up in any church means that from the beginning of one’s faith, we confuse our relationship with God with the institution and family. The boundaries between the “do’s and don’ts” of parents get confused with the do’s and don’ts of God. Prayer gets confused with liturgy and ritual. We confuse the mega myths of life with the facts of faith and we often use the boundaries of church as boundaries of faith. As we grow we find those boundaries too confining and we jettison those boundaries for something “more spiritual” when all we are doing is claiming the boundaryless dimensions of God. So I come up with the following list.


1. Prayer—usually meditative, contemplative (non liturgical). Allowing me to empty myself of me and inviting God to enter. Centering on communion with the One I love and who loves me more than I can ask or imagine.

2. Music—listening, singing, playing it over in my heart and mind. Sometimes it is religious music but Mahler’s Seventh is enough to fall on my knees.

3. Spending time with a friend or a parishioner at the heart level. I do not have to look for Christ when people get to me at a heart level. It is like an open door to Christ that emerges.

4. Fishing—standing in the middle of a stream with bugs flying off the water concentrating on casting my line with a lightness of hand. Taking in the glory of creation.

5. Driving—I spend so much time on the road these days that there is a meditative element to driving. Most of my driving is on the interstate so it isn’t in congestion so I get to admire the scenery. Once again the glory of God’s hand in creation envelops me.


1. Liturgy—I love the church when it comes together to worship, listen to the Word and gets into worship. My favorite is Christmas Eve which is so magical with everyone with glistening eyes remembering their childhood, children anticipating Santa and hearing the ancient story once again.

2. Church conferences—I love them. I love being around people who are about the same life I am. The business meetings are a bore, but I am usually interested in the way that we shape how we come together: the policy statements, the canons, etc. (Ok, I know I am weird!)

3. The ethos of the Church—Having worked in another denomination for the past 3 years, I know how much I miss the familiar boundaries of my own denomination. My faith is, I believe, is unbounded, but the world in which I live and move and have my being does have boundaries to keep me sane. I love the givens of my denomination: the things that we laugh about, the ways that we discuss our faith. It has been difficult to be in another denomination because I have not been as facile or as glib in it as I am in my own. It has to do with being home.

4. My faith in God is not dependant on Belief. There are no creeds or statements of faith that I even consider when it comes to my relationship with God. (It is why being an Episcopalian is so right for me) So often Religion means “what we have learned about God”. And I think that about half of the parishioners I have had approach God this way instead of inviting God into one’s life.

5. Ritual—All people have ritual. We in the Church have brought ritual to an art form. One of the problems of the present day is that the rituals are changing: the ways that we live have changed. We are no longer living in small towns where all ritualize relationships the same. We are no longer having sit down dinners so that communion has the same meaning. We are not gathering at the swimming hole in the summers to enjoy the dip in the pond. We are no longer finding solace in coming together to mourn our sinfulness. If the Church is going to survive, we are going to have to find new signs of Christ’s presence in our midst and learn what is powerful in those rituals.