Coming Home

Perhaps you are interested in learning about my trip to Scotland. I don't know what to tell you. Teri and Amy and I had a wonderful time. I'm not sure what to share -- so I'll just post a painting. This was one of the gifts of this trip for me. I actually painted. The painting here is of Iona Abbey. Nice huh? Not a bad little retreat if it weren't so damn cold (though Amy and I discovered that that's why God created whisky).

And yet, I don't really want to tell you about my trip. I would rather tell you about coming home. I know that Teri and Amy want to know. They come home tomorrow. But, I came home last night after many, many, many hours of different modes of transportation. I arrived home in Maine where a certain boy greeted me. Mind you, I arrived at 1:30 in the morning. He came and picked me up at the bus station (like I said, many modes of transportation). I had sent him a text message after my first flight mentioning that I was already thinking about what was in my bar. He promised he would take care of it. So, what does this boy do?

He shows up at 1:30 in the morning with flowers, sparkling wine and an array of fresh fruit. There was even tiramisu but I couldn't eat it. I was too overwhelmed. So, we sat on my porch and chatted and kissed until 3 or so. He also got his very own toothbrush in my apartment out of the deal. Yeah. It's good to be home. Rumor has it that he's cooking for me tonight. My job is to pick up a movie. I love that that's all I need to worry about. And I will tell you, as I told him, I feel totally and completely spoiled -- but oh it's so good. It's so very good.

Reading Challenge XIII, XIV, XV, XVI

I will start my return to America posting with the books that I read while I was away.

I started with humor -- because we all need a little David Sedaris in our lives and he just came out with a new book. I admit that he is a recent discovery for me so I'm catching up. I laughed on the plane and into Glasgow with Me Talk Pretty One Day -- which I hope a guest or member of the Iona Community also enjoys because I left my copy there.

After finishing this humor, I moved on to some girl power books. When I went shopping for books (do others do this where they pick a theme for what they want to read while they are on vacation?), I was all about the girl power. I found this book at our local independent bookseller called A Peculiar Feeling of Restlessness. It's published by a small publishing house that maintains a blog. I loved this book. Loved it. They were all short stories that were really easy to read. I highly recommend this. This is the only book I brought home with me.

I was still in Glasgow when I got to my third book, Moral Disorder and Other Stories by Margaret Atwood. Yes, more short stories. I liked this one a lot too -- though it did keep me company through Iona and most of Edinburgh. It follows the story of one woman over the span of her lifetime. It's really rather interesting. I also recommend this though my copy got sopped with water while hiking so I left it in Edinburgh where I hope someone will enjoy it.

Finally, after going on the Old Town Literary Pub Crawl in Edinburgh, I learned that Oscar Wilde had an affair with a Catholic priest who served the church pictured here. Our fabulous tour guide told us that Wilde modeled the character of Dorian Gray in The Picture of Dorian Gray after this priest. Obviously, I had to read that -- so I picked it up at a local independent bookseller in St. Andrews and read about the vanity of the priesthood. I hope no former lover of mine writes about me this way -- but it was good. Get that. I even read a classic on my trip.


Good Night Macbook

Good Night internet access.
Good Night power cord.
Good Night e-mail.
Good Night Facebook.
Good Night blogging community.

I will soon turn off my computer to practice my sermon a couple more times before preaching it and hopping on a bus to get to a plane that will take me to Scotland. It promises to be a long, long day of travel. But, even the Musicman is insistent that a proper goodbye is important. He couldn't say goodbye to me last night at the fun show where he was playing (and I had to leave early). He wants to see me off at the bus stop. Of course, I tried to talk him out of this because I have no idea what to do with the emotions that I'm feeling. That's normal, right? Well, they're already packed away for the next 3 weeks of travel. I'm taking those feelings with me as a make my way to Scotland.

Though I am taking a hint from Teri and calling an internet fast, I know it's a lie. I'll be alone for 5 days. I will probably check my email. I might even blog. But, I do indeed have the intention of turning it all off for the next 3 weeks. I wish you well in these next few weeks and hope that God blesses you with a wonderful end to July. God knows, August is going to be amazing.


The Element of Surprise

"You were not part of the plan," Musicman absently remarked this morning driving me home this morning. "But, your best element is surprise."

I think I asked something stupid about whether or not he liked surprises. I had also just asked the stupid question of whether or not he would return my calls in three weeks when I return from Scotland. I'm not good at this. Clearly. As much as Musicman has been taken by surprise, I have been too. This is most unexpected -- but it's sweet and romantic and wildly exciting.

I divulged a secret to him last night -- something I don't share about myself ever. Or nearly ever. And yet, I thought at that moment that it was important for him to know. And it was. He needed to know this. Not for him, but because I needed him to know it. Of course, the response is what scared me. He could have responded in any number of ways. But, when I did the girly thing of asking him what he was thinking (which he does more often than I do), he told me that the strangest thing was that it didn't scare him at all. I replied: "Well, that freaks me out." At least I'm honest -- but I'm totally shocked by the welcome surprise that this boy has offered. I cherished dinner and drinks with him last night. I loved watching him on stage and snuggling with him afterward. It's a surprise. It's all a great surprise. And now, I have that stupid girly grin again. Sigh.



I did the unthinkable last Sunday and used the Gospel Lesson to talk about generations. Jesus invited me to do it with that crazy question: "But to what will I compare this generation?" (Matthew 11:16, NRSV). I also happen to be reading Robert Wunthow's After the Baby Boomers. Slowly. But, I'm reading it. So, I couldn't resist. I went for it.

I spoke to the generations older than me in the congregation about the differences of how we define ourselves and whether or not this leads to the "progression of American society" (that line I stole from an essay on This I Believe). Of course, I didn't say anything too direct about this. I'm just not that kind of preacher. I ask questions and hint at what I mean. If you know my real name or where I serve, you can find the sermon with a little help from Google. That is, if you are dying to read it. I'm not assuming you are. Crazy Pastor, you should be writing your own sermons.

Anyhow, I got this email today from a clergy man (an older clergy man) that reads my work blog and my sermons. He said this:

You’ve done it again. I have just read your sermon. As a “Baby of the Boom,” let me say, Well done.
Blah. Blah. Blah. He adds his own sermon illustration for my sermon (which he always does). And then, finally concludes with:
As always, THANK YOU. Don’t stop writing or speaking.

This is a compliement that I'm missing somehow. I know it is. I'm just not comfortable with it for some reason.


Reading Challenge XII

Today, while pushing myself on the treadmill onto the next page, I finished Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light. The priest that edited the letters together did a wonderful job in some ways. In other ways, he just repeated what Mother Teresa had already said. I wanted more depth than he offered as her letters were intense. I wanted some additional commentary that I guess is too early to offer.

I was surprised by Mother Teresa. I thought she was more of a kindred spirit than I found her to be. I struggle with her atonement theology. No, I hate it. She condemned abortion as the one thing that keeps the world from peace. I see her point, but I don't agree. But, I really, really struggled with her throwing herself into the crucifixion of Jesus. She wanted to experience pain, loss, poverty and hunger to bring herself closer to Jesus -- while she doubted that he was even there. It's an authentic telling of the spiritual journey but somehow hard to read. Interesting though. Definitely interesting. Now, onto some lighter reading, I hope.


This is what I'm thinking about the Gospel Lesson.

I'm thinking about what it means to be integrated so that our whole self is participating in the Realm of God. Jesus hints at this in the 23rd verse when he invites (I see it as an invitation) to bring our emotion (understands), speech (hears) and action (bears) into that Realm. I wonder what that means though when we are scattered across the path, rocky ground and amid the thorns. Can we ever be that integrated? Or are we just that scattered?


One of my friends just emailed me to ask how things are going with "the new man" (her term, not mine). She outlined it as a quiz. There were 10 multiple choice questions. Yes, she's funny. Amazingly, all of my answers reflected that I'm entering into an actual relationship. I don't do relationships. I just don't. Not that I don't want to. It just never seems to happen. I usually go for the wrong guy. The unavailable guy. The asshole. You know the type. But, now, I'm interested in a nice boy. A nice boy that plays music, has passion and cooks. Um, yes, that's me freaking out. Luckily, my sisters in Christ remind me that I'm not the only one that feels so insane most of the time. The new Single Rev Gal's Guide to Life article is just brilliant.

I'm about to go on vacation -- an insane, nearly three week vacation to a country where the dollar is useless. I'm traveling alone for one week (actually 5 days) and then meeting up with two other YCW whom I hope to find at the train station next Saturday morning without cell phones. Eeeeek. I love my alone time but this trip is making me nervous. I finally feel like I'm settling into my relationships here. I have awesome friends that email me with silly quizzes. I have a possible new relationship with a boy. And I'm leaving for three weeks to be alone. This doesn't really add up for me as I pack my bags.

Deep breath. I know, it'll be fine. It'll be great actually. But, I'm a ball of emotion. All good emotion -- you know, because God is good all of the time. But, that doesn't change the fact that I'm a ball of emotion.


God is Good

I sometimes forget this. I forget that it's possible that God is at work in all aspects of our lives -- even when we can't make sense of these things. But, it's true. God is good.

I went to the hospital. Baby and Mommy are doing well. They are both bruised and aching but they are well. They are healthy -- and God is with them. Praise God. God is good. All the time.

It's a nice reminder in the week before vacation. I leave for Scotland on Sunday. I need to remember that God is good. All of the time. And working in my life. I need that to be the good news of my retreat to the land of my ancestors.


Bad Chaplain

This has been one of those great weekends of unexpected wonder. I spent all day at the beach. I went to bookstores. I saw old friends. It was just wonderful. And I have the sunburn to prove it. And the boy is out of town -- but there have been some very cute text messages. It goes without saying that he's cute.

And then, I arrive in church today. Early as I still had to do the list of prayers. Or at least, print the list of prayers. I wasn't the slightest bit excited about my sermon -- but oh well. We sing. We call ourselves to worship. The list of prayers from the narthex arrives in my lap. I let out some unexpected inappropriate noise as I read that one of our newer members is in the hospital after her water broke at 6 months. Obviously, I left church and went to her side. (After worship, don't worry.) She was in labor. Might I add, I've never been remotely near a woman while in labor. I was clumsy. I felt awkward, but I wanted to be there. i wanted to know that she had support -- that God was with her even though this didn't make any sense. She was going to be operated on. I was overcome and left. This was something I learned to do well in CPE. I could always leave. Getting there was harder. I had promised I would come back, but the more I thought about it today, the more I talked myself out of it. They weren't ready to talk. They didn't need me yet. So, I'm going in the morning. I don't want to smother them -- but I admit I have no idea what to say. Do premature babies survive? Is this dire? Am I too optimistic that their first wedding anniversary might be their son's birthday? I don't know how to prepare myself for this visit. I don't even know what to think.


Reading Challenge 2.0

Erica posted this things called The Big Read, from the NEA, designed to encourage community reading initiatives. They’ve come up with this list of the top 100 books, using criteria they don’t explain, and they estimate that the average adult has only read 6 of these. So, we are encouraged to:

1) Look at the list and bold those we have read.
2) Italicize those we intend to read.
3) Underline the books we LOVE (I’ve used an asterisk)
4) Reprint this list in our own blogs

Here goes…What about you?
1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling* (I am still in the middle of the series, but it counts)
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee*
6 The Bible*
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell* (One of the few books I have read twice -- thus proving I'm a drama queen. I love Scarlett.)
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald*
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck (I got halfway and hated it)
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres

39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown

43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving*
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery*
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood*
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding

50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel (Another I couldn't finish)
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley*
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac (Yet another I couldn't finish)
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett*
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath

77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt (I couldn't get into this at all)
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker*
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White*
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom (Seriously? Why is this on the list?)
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

That was a little bit fun. It reminds me of the challenge my college friends and I put to ourselves to go through the AFI 100 Best Films of All Time. Good stuff. However, there are several books that are not on this list that I think should be included. I wonder...


Yesterday I got a phone call from my step-mother about my brother. It appears that he has disappeared. He's not returning phone calls or emails. They're trying to decide what to do without ruining the relationship. It's such a complicated dance and I have no idea how to support my family -- as much as I want to. I feel the need to begin with this detail about my life before I continue my post. I mean, the rest is going to be very indulgent. I feel like I'm falling. That's literally what it feels like. I'm not sure what will catch me -- it could be God or my brother or even the Musicman.

After all, you can't really be that grounded when you are making out as much as I have in the past week. It's just not that possible. On Tuesday night, before this phone call arrived, I texted Musicman to ask what he was doing that night. I had a craving for ice cream. He had rehearsal but we were going to try to work around it. It ran late, but he invited me over to his place for ice cream.

I assumed that this meant he was pulling something out of his freezer -- but I went. I didn't care. I drove the 20 minutes to his house. No problem. But, there was nothing in the freezer (well, I'm sure there were but I didn't see it). Musicman made me fresh ice cream with fresh peaches and coconut milk. I could melt. Literally. I could melt. There was a cocktail that accompionied the ice cream. I was determined not to spend the night which meant that I needed not to drink that much -- but I did have a taste. OH. MY. GOD. So, we had a picnic and talked about our days.

And then, our conversation got a little deeper. Musicman is nervous about my history as a motherless daughter. He's dated a series of women that were not over this loss (which I reminded him, you never actually get over). However, it complicated his relationships with them with what he characterized as "darkness." I was asked to explain how this loss affects me on a daily basis. There. I fell -- because I had no idea what to say. How do I explain how this affects me? I can psycho babble about it until I'm blue in the face, but that's not what he wanted to hear. And then, he stopped me. He told me not to answer the question. He didn't want to know. He just needed to ask the question. Of course, I can't stop thinking about this question and I'm still wondering what my answer is. And you know what this made me think yesterday? As I wrestled with this question and thought about my unrealistic fear that I will die at 33, I realized that this boy -- this Musicman -- might just make me the best version of myself. Not because I'm trying to impress him but because somehow he brings out those best parts of who I am. I have no idea how. I've heard people say this before, but I've always thought that they were drunk or daft. And then, here I am. Not so bitter and wondering if I just might be falling.

And I won't tell you about the making out or the hour-long phone call last night before he goes out of town for a week, but know that this is good. It is very good. In that same falling breath, prayers for my family please. Lots and lots of prayers for all of our hearts.


I Learned Something New Today

I participated (sorta) in the *new* Coffee Talk on Google Chat today with my sisters on YCW. There were 17 of us on the East Coast. And though they were teasing me about my recent blog posts -- especially Alex -- I learned something really cool.

See, there are two YCWs (that I know of) that are not English speaking -- and they blog. I've been sorta curious about what it's like to be in ministry in Sweden. I mean, I'm Swedish. My father wants to retire there. It would be so cool to be able to read their blogs, but I can only say "thank you" and I'm not even sure I know how to spell it, so reading their blogs has been out of the question.

But, then, I found out about Google Translator, which seems pretty easy. So, go read in multiple languages and live into the season of Pentecost.

And for those of you that are eager to hear about my dating life, I haven't really got much to say. We'll see what the evening holds. He's been talking about inviting me over for dinner (did I mention he cooks?) and not staying up all night for once. Sleep would be nice, I admit.