RE: Snow

I am praying for an old fashion snow storm on Friday..You know the kind that shuts down everything for a day or two. The snow is white and fluffy and abundant. The sun comes out after the storm and all the children of all ages play in the snow!!!!!

This email just arrived in my inbox two minutes ago. It's from a member of the church. It came out of nowhere. We were emailing about other things, and then this arrived.

I had just complained to a friend that there is snow coming on Friday. I'm not excited. I am planning to wake up early and go watch the sun rise on an island not far from my home. My friend delighted that it would be pretty. I'm more depressed because it will be cold -- and we might not see the sun actually rise through the falling snow.

As you know, Friday is the day. It's the big anniversary. And I'll admit that I broke down in tears this afternoon. I don't know why. I don't know why this sadness hits me in such a strong, tangible way around this date. But, it does. It hits me every year at this time. And now, it's going to snow. Sigh.

I should thank this church member (though I will probably just delete the email without a reply). I should thank her for reminding me about life and the possibility of resurrection. That's what I hear in her email -- a white blanket of snow that stops us from all of the chaos so that we are forced to enjoy God's creation. Perhaps it's not the familiar Good Friday narrative, but it reminds me that Resurrection is always present. It's something I'm struggling to remind myself. It's something I want to see in the sunrise on Friday morning. I want to be reminded that hope is always alive.



It's here again. It comes every year so it shouldn't be a surprise, but somehow it creeps up on me every year. This year, it seems even more so. With all of the chaos of getting ordained, I haven't really thought about it. But, here it is. It's the week. It's the week that leads to the anniversary of my mother's anniversary. This coming Friday marks the twentieth anniversary.

As I was talking with my aunt last week (my mother's eldest sister), I asked that she not visit until after this day had passed. I had to get through February 2nd first. She was dismayed that this was still a problem. That was her word. Still. As if the pain somehow dissolves with time. It's not like that. Maybe it is for some. Maybe it does go away with time. Sure, it gets easier. I have found ways to cope. I have found rituals to mark the passage of time and fill the hole in my heart. But, it doesn't go away. It is indeed still there. Still.

It still hurts. And here I am in this week. Still. Still hurting. Still grieving. Still hurting. Still missing.



21 Grams and a Wishing Wall

I just watched the movie 21 Grams. And I really love what Sean Penn's voiceover offers in the end. There is a montage of all of the characters -- in a story where all of the characters mesh into one narrative -- and these words are heard:

How many lives do we live? How many times do we die? They say we all lose 21 grams... at the exact moment of our death. Everyone. And how much fits into 21 grams? How much is lost? When do we lose 21 grams? How much goes with them? How much is gained? How much is gained? Twenty-one grams. The weight of a stack of five nickels. The weight of a hummingbird. A chocolate bar. How much did 21 grams weigh?

That last line is repeated. How much did 21 grams weigh? So, I'm left to wonder.

Walking home from the movie store, we stopped at Starbucks to get hot chocolate (it's really cold, by the way). And in this Starbucks, one of the employees has created a Wishing Wall. It happened rather simply as she served coffee every day to the same people without knowing their stories. Why were they coming at this time? What made them tick? I remember these questions racing through my head when I served coffee. Every once in a while, there is a connection but mostly, you just remember her drink and smile. But, this Starbucks barista created a "wish box" near the condiment bar. There were some simple instructions to write down an anonymous wish that would soon be created into a Wishing Wall. And there it is in Starbucks. A Wishing Wall. It covers the entire wall. Colorful post its naming people's wishes. One wished for the war to end. And another did the same. And another. Several wished for loving relationships. One man wished for the right to marry. And others were simpler. That people would put down their cell phones and laptops. That someone's brother would come home from Iraq so the big yellow ribbon could come down off the tree in the front yard. And there were others -- many, many others.

21 grams? I don't know. But, I wept in front of this wall. Something about it moved me to tears. So truly, how much did 21 grams weigh?


Two things from GK

I love Garrison Keillor. Yesterday, I caught the Writer's Almanac on the way to work (somehow I often miss it). And he talked about Virginia Woolf who seems like someone I would love. Instead, I have not been able to get through a single one of her books. I skimmed A Room of One's Own in college. It just didn't work for me. But, yesterday was Woolf's birthday. And GK quoted her:

"So long as you write what you wish to write, that is all that matters; and whether it matters for ages or only for hours, nobody can say. But to sacrifice a hair of the head of your vision, a shade of its colour, in deference to some Headmaster with a silver pot in his hand or to some professor with a measuring-rod up his sleeve, is the most abject treachery."

Isn't that brilliant? I need to remember that when I write a sermon or in my journal or on a wall. Or whatever. And then, GK read this poem that captures my heart. So, I have to share it.


She just wants an understudy, a body
double for the days when she does
not feel like appearing in any of the roles
she has assumed and/or been assigned.
She places an ad in the paper. Wanted:
one wife, mother, daughter, neighbor,
friend. Live-in OK. Own car necessary.
No lines to memorize; everything ad-
libbed. No days off.

"understudy" by Beverly Rollwagen, from She Just Wants. © Nodin Press. (I have no permission, hopefully I won't get in trouble.)


Shock and Awe

I can't believe that it happened. But, it did. Hands -- all kinds of hands -- rested upon my head and shoulders when I become a member of the ordained clergy yesterday. I don't feel any different even though everything has changed. And yet, I truly can't believe it. Wow.


Puking for Jesus

They say that you should feel awed and overwhelmed when approaching ordination. I have been told this a couple of times as I have expressed my anxiety about Sunday's events. But, should I be puking?

I finally made it to my parent's house yesterday. We went out for a family dinner to celebrate my father's birthday. The food was wonderful, though I admit a little rich. But, is that why I couldn't sleep last night? I slept for about 4 hours last night. And in the middle of those four hours, I woke up to vomit. Maybe it was the rich food. But, something tells me it's really my nerves. So, three days before I'm ordained, I'm puking for Jesus.



It's Ready.

This is it. It's ready. This is the painting that will be completed at my ordination on Sunday. Soon, the people of God will add their mark to this creation.

And then, it will hang on my office wall.

Thought you might like to see it.

Being Change

Today, I had lunch with the Senior group at church after getting off the phone with the Sea Wall Singer. The Sea Wall Singer is a UCC pastor in California who is making his way across the country -- in the peace bubble -- singing songs of peace. It's such a simple idea. See for yourself: http://peacebubble.org/. I arrived at lunch to ask one of my colleagues if she has heard about the Sea Wall Singer. I'm a little excited about the possiblity of his possible arrival to Maine. I didn't really mean to spur conversation among the women that I was seated with.

But, I ended up explaining the Sea Wall Singer to the whole table. As I had heard on the phone, I emphasized that it was a message of inner peace which echoes with the mantra I heard time and again last year, "Peace is possible." This man in bubble makes me hope. The greater hope arrived from across the table from one of these wonderful ladies that continue to surprise me. "Ya know," she said. "I used to really resist change. I didn't want anything to change. But, as I get older, I find that I want change. Actually, I hope for change." I had not said anything about change -- just that peace offers hope. And then there was a chorus of affirmations as eyes turned to me.

Am I the change that they are looking for? It's such an awesome responsibility. I'm awed at the very possibility. And with this hope, I depart tomorrow to become change. I begin my journey back home to become ordained. I will forever be changed.


Snow Day

I remember when I used to be furious that it would snow on holidays. I'm grateful for the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. And I was as a child, when I relished in the day off from school in January. It was usually a day spent studying for midterms -- as my little sister is now. But, now, MLK means a lot more to me. Having moved to a really, really white state, I appreciate his legacy even more. I wonder what leaders will emerge to fight the good fight at the same time that I wonder about my own racism.

Ok, I admit my thoughts are not that profound today. It's snowing. We're supposed to get between 2 and 4 inches of this white stuff and I'm stuck inside. I like watching the snow fall while I listen to NPR. I like that I have this day to not spend at church. In fact, it's a day that I had planned to spend painting but insprition is lacking. I haven't painted for a long time. The last time I broke out my paints was at the inlet in Long Island with my great aunt. Painting with my great aunt is one of my favorite ways to spend the afternoon. And I miss her today. In fact, I miss being a in a studio -- like my painting studio in college. I would chat and paint with my dear friend Pronk (it's an art history term that became a nickname). We would critique each other and paint. It was wonderful. I miss that.

But, instead, it's snowing and I'm feeling restless and a tad nostalgic.


Create In Me

It will happen a week from today. A week from today, I will be ordained. I can hardly believe it.

And I have to admit, I'm not sure what to think about it. It doesn't seem possible. After all of this time, it could really be happening. Really? I'm not sure it's possible. Actually, it seems quite improbable. It all seems unlikely. But, it will happen. It will happen in the grace of the space of the church that first heard me say "yes." They are getting ready, as I try to do the same -- which, for me, requires painting. I am trying (somewhat unsuccessfully) to paint the call process. To paint what my ministry will be and what I see in this moment in time. I'm a realistic painter, but perhaps it's appropriate that there is no realism in this painting. There are layers of paperwork -- including my covenant, the church bulletin from my candiating date and pages of my ordination paper. I started with the doors of my home church. They are buried back there so much so that they are probably not noticable to any eye but my own. They are the first doors that opened to me and they are the doors that will send me out. But, it's not my style. This is not typically how I paint. And yet, there it is.

It's far from done, but there it is.

The congregation will get to finish it (after I have done some more painting). They will be invited to add the last layer in this creation. They will add rocks, if you can imagine.

But right now, I just have rocks in my stomach. I'm nervous and anxious. So very nervous and anxious. So very, very nervous and anxious. It seems silly. This should be icing on the cake. I should be rejoicing in the sweet calls and emails from friends that I never thought would make the trip. But, instead, I'm just nervous. Yikes.


Praise God!

I passed. In a mere two weeks, I will be ordained into Christian ministry in the United Church of Christ. Holy cow! I can't believe it.

It was a weird journey this evening. There were some lows, but the best part was gathering afterward with some of my favorite New York clergy for martinis. Praise God. I miss them. But, it was so good to see them.

Stepping Out

Tonight, at 7 PM, I will present two excerpts from my Ordination paper to whoever might gather in the fellowship space of my home church. This it the rite of passage in the United Church of Christ. This is my exam. They are sometimes brutal but it is just after New Years, and Epiphany is on the hearts of many a local pastor so I'm expecting (blessedly) low attendance. But, how strange. It will be held in the room that I started Confirmation when I was 13. We had sleepovers in youth group in this room. I played spoons there and watched a marathon movie of Martin Luther. It's one of those spaces with tons of memories. And boy, it is so weird to be home. I'm not sure if I am coming or going. And I can't help but feel this weird sense of "do I really live in Maine?" It's bizarre.

Though perhaps not as strange though as rereading my Ordination paper. The last section (the second excerpt I will share tonight) is about my call. How I understand it, why this community, how it has evolved... Blah, blah, blah. I barely wrote anything about the community I currently serve which actually makes sense. I was really confused and wounded when I accepted the call. In many ways, I wasn't sure if I was doing the right thing. It seemed right and I talked myself into it. I had been offered another call. But, there was issues of sexual misconduct among the clergy. It was sad and devestating, so I wasn't sure. So, as I reread my paper, I now understand why the Committee on Ordination and Ministerial Standing only asked me about the church. I didn't say anything about it. Now, I want to add to the paper. I want to explain why it is right. I want to explain how it all connects.

Rarely does anyone not pass this exam, but I'm still nervous. It's such a strange, strange moment. And I just sent my ordination invitations in the mail this morning. Yikes. Fingers crossed.