Monday, June 29, 2009

The Mask

I had a pretty compelling dream on the mission trip about accidentally killing some of my parishioners. (I went into such a panic in the dream, that i went on the Rush Limbaugh show to explain it!!! Hmmmmm) And then found out that Audrey had a similar dream about killing parishioners.
After some conversations with others, I came to the conclusion that this may be about the fact that we - like everyone,of course - wear a mask or a role that makes us comfortable and probably makes others more comfortable. And when we take it off, we are afraid others may be hurt and reject us. So, I ended up writing this poem or prayer or something.

I want you to love me with my mask intact
and you do
But you invite me to venture out beyond it
And like a game of peek a boo I flash the world
Fearing rejection and ridicule

I want you to love me with my mask intact
and you do
But you create an unease within me for the artifice, the condescension, the superficiality of others
and so I see and avoid and condemn the affected

I want you to love me with my mask intact
and you do
but you help me to realize how heavy it is becoming
I sweat under the effort of keeping it in place
as I perform and please and keep smiling

I want you to love me iwth my mask intact
and you do
but compassionately and continually you whisper
that I can let go
and discover the treasure that is found deep within

Mission Trip

I returned two days ago from the annual mission trip and I am different than when I left.

On a physical level, I stepped on a nail and had a tetanus shot lastweek plus I have poison something (ivy? sumac?) on my legs, on a financial level I had a $100 copay for the emergency room for the tetanus shot (!!!!), and on a spiritual level I am amazed by the blessing of the week.

My church took 11 people which included 6 kids and 5 adults. Audrey came with 11 kids from her church and only her as the adult and Frits (also from Tennessess) came with 4 kids. We met a group of 5 from Pennsylvania who were part of our group. Amazingly one of the women, Pattie, grew up in West Chester Pa - like me! She was younger, but still it was fun to talk about places and foods we had in common. (tastikakes?) By the end of the week we had all bonded. One of the women who came from Pa was a nurse - which is a real gift to a mission trip! We all fit together so well!

Our wrok was not construction - but destruction as we helped remove two foundations from houses and begin the demoltion of a 100 year old home. With many unskilled workers, there was work for everyone and it was satisfying. It was the first time in my life that i have worn a hard hat and I learned how hot and sweaty THAT can be. We got amazingly dirty every day but it was on the whole very satisfying.

Mission trips are really indescribable and there is this sense of you had to be there to appreciate the sense of accomplishment and comraderie. At the same time there are always issues that arise as you see how cranky people can get at times. Not to be sexist, but the immaturity of the kids comes out with risky behavior with boys and drama with girls. But somehow it is all part of the deal.

The blessing of my life is that I get to share so much of this kind of thing with Audrey. We have done 4 mission trips together and many camps together so we both have an understanding of what it is all about. Her presence always means that I have someone I can talk to who usually speaks my language and shares my humor.

There was this question about whether this is the last one for her since her time at her church is now over. But what I keep learning is that God works in ways that we cannot predict.

When I was preparing for the trip this last month, I kept saying - "This is my last mission trip." But really, who knows? When it is all said and done, I hate to give it up.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

What a Weekend

My last post was "Slow me down Lord"

Now it is Sunday morning and I am getting ready for church. There are clothes in the dryer for packing for the mission trip today and I am checking out my bills electronically before I go and - oh year, there is preaching this morning.

As I ruminate on the weekend, I am thinking a Mission Trip might prove restful!

Friday night we watched the movie "Doubt" at church. I had already seen it and knew it was an important film with much to discuss. We stayed late to talk about it.
In the middle of the movie I got a call from my brother Geoff who told me that he had heard from my cousin Natalie about her mom, my Aunt Shirley. It seems that her colon cancer is inoperable and there is nothing they can do and she is going immediately into hospice with maybe 72 hours left! Her husband, my Uncle Sam, died last month. This seems unbelievable. Geoff later spoke to Aunt Shirl via a speakphone and said goodbye for all of us. I feel like all weekend I am internally reverberating with this information.

On a practical level, my cousins will do a memorial service for her in August and my brothers and I will attend that. Somehow. It is alot to consider.

Saturday Marnie and I went to the Gay Pride Parade downtown. I have always wanted to go and was wondering how many churches participated. I heard that there were 17 churches that had representation in the parade. My dream would be that next year our church will have some way of being in the parade. We will see. It was quite a day - happy to run into Nikki there and we saw Neil from BG who was on roller blades. There was such a variety of people that I wanted to just sit and watch everything.
Glad I went.

Saturday evening we had two weddings. I officiated at Sean and Amanda's. Sean is the grandson of Mescal, a saint of the church who passed away a month ago. They lean toward the "Pagan" and so it was my first wedding where the bride wore red, the groom had a black scarf on his head and there were many tattoos in evidence. Sean wrote the service using mine as a reference and gave it to me in final form an hour before the service. Not really my way of doing things - but there were a lot of extenuating circumstances. The wedding was in the garden of our church and supposed to start at 7 - but Sean thought more people might come, so we waited 15 more minutes. That kind of gives you a sense of how informal it all was. However, no matter what the differences, love is the same and the moment that the bride and groom recognize that this is it - is always tender.

At the same time David Koomson and Flo were getting ready for their African wedding in our fellowship hall. David and Flo are from Ghana. It was supposed to start at 6:30. We had talked about what doors for their guests to use so that they did not disturb the wedding in the garden. Both groups were "fluid" with time - so of course, as the wedding in the garden was taking place - in the background there were guests to the African wedding entering with lots of food. It was different to say the least.

Part of the African wedding was that David and "his people" were to stand outside the building and ask to come in. And Flo and "her people" would eventually let them come in. At :15 as I was leaving David came to my office and introduced me to his "Elders" they were now ready to begin. Chuck and I decided to go out to get a meal and then maybe return for the dancing - but we were so tired that we just came home and went to bed.

All in all, it was a day full of different experiences which represents the wonderful diversity of my life living in Columbus.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

For Summer - Slow me down, Lord!

Last weekend I had a discernment retreat for the Wellstreams program as I have completed my first two (of 5) semesters to becoming a spiritual director. This is one of the closing prayers that was shared. It speaks to me

Slow me down, Lord!
Ease the pounding of my heart by the quieting of my mind.

Steady my harried pace
With a vision of the eternal reach of time

Give me....amidst the confusions of my day,
the calmness of the everlasting hills.

Break the tensions of my nerves
with the soothing music of the singing streams
that live in my memory.

Help me to know...the magical power of sleep
Teach me the art .... Of taking minute vacations of slowing down.

To look at a flower; to chat with an old friend or make a new one;

To pat a stray dog; To watch a spider build a web;

To smile at a child;

Or to read a few lines from a good book.

Remind me each day
That the race is not always to the swift;
that there is more to life than increasing its speed.

Let me look upward
Into the branches of the towering oak

And know that it grew great and strong
Because it grew slowly and well.

Slow me down, Lord,
And inspire me to send my roots deep Into the soil of life's enduring values

That I may grow toward the stars
Of my greater destiny.

Friday, June 12, 2009


A week ago I was driving home from Chicago after the memorial service for my sister Ellen and the lunch at the restaurant.
And now we just go on with our lives. And grieve.

It has been a week that has felt very strange to me.
I have received lots of cards and emails from friends which really meant a lot to more. More than I would have imagined.

I have done what I usually do - 3 worship services - Sunday morning, Sunday night and Tuesday morning, a class for Wellstreams, a board meeting and Bible study.
But it has felt different - I have felt different.

Grief means that I just am tired, and sad, and kind of cranky.
Everyone says to take it easy - and I have tried - but what do you do? I don't know.
Anyway, this is what has helped me:

Walking in the woods

Talking to my daughters

Reading junky novels and magazines

Bible study

Sitting on the front porch

Anyway, I thought I would write about it. I think of Tom and Sarah and Sam and Sean and wonder how they are doing. We all respond differently.

I am grateful for faith and the knowledge that God is good - all the time. God is here with me as I can't get away from my sad and cranky self.
It will get better.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Blessings in the midst of trials

This has been a long day.
It started with the memorial service for Ellen at 10:30 AM. Audrey officiated and I did the memorial address. In it, I mentioned one of the blessings of the last week - it was that Ellen passed away on Sunday May 31st. She was determined to hang on until Samantha graduated from high school. She did on Saturday night, they saw the video and Sunday morning she died. At the time she was at home and the house was full of kids. This was how she would have like it. A blessing.

I came home at 10:30 to a number of condolence cards. And I find it has been so meaningful to read them. Now that I am on the receiving end of cards like this, I realize how much it means.

One of them said:
"May it comfort you to know that death cannot diminish the important ways your loved one touched your life,
that grief cannot take away the happiness you shared,
that sorrow will fad in time....
but love remains forever."
It DOES comfort me.

Another said
When we lose someone we love, things change...
life changes
But the love in our hearts grows stronger, deeper,
even warmer than before."
This is so true

Rosalea from Bowling Green wrote and said
"Just remember that sisters are forever, warm memories may sustain you, your faith is strong."

And Sister Carol Ann from the Wellstreams program sent a card that said
"Your sister Ellen will be remembered by the Dominican Sisters at the celebration of the Eucharist in the Congregational Chapes of St. Mary of the Springs."
And it just touches me, all of it.
Cards are a blessing

One more trial with an amazing blessing contained within. We all drove home from Chicago today. Chuck and I went through Toledo and Kacey, Marnie and Audrey drove through Indianapolis. Audrey was spending the night with a friend before going on to Nashville for a week fo church camp. They had an accident and the other car was totaled and theirs is no driveable. The blessing - and it is a great blessing - is that they were not hurt. Not hurt. Everything else pales in comparison to what might have happened.

I thank God - as tired as I am right now - for God's perfect timing, for friends that care and send cards and emails, and for accidents that hurt property and not people.

God is good, all the time.