Sunday, March 16, 2008

Palm Sunday

Let's see if this photo can be posted! This is Palm Sunday, led by Owen McD, a local piper!

Angels Among Us

One of the ladies told me last night about her little granddaughter, who sometimes comes to church with her. The little girl did not want to come to church this Sunday.

"The angels sing too loud," she said plaintively. Angels?

"Yes, they don't have wings or anything, but they have the long robes and big sleeves down to hear" (gesturing somewhere around her knees) "And they sing really loud".

The little girl's grandmother usually sits close to the choir in their long robes. Truly a noise they make!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A Squirrelly Evening

Above, one of my Feline Defenders.

So, last Wednesday I was sick with the flu. I got sent home from church. (yes, they sent the priest home!) I went to bed about 8:30PM. I heard my kitties playing with each other- leaping, yowling, batting a toy back and forth.

So I thought.

About 1AM, I woke up and had to go to the bathroom. I flipped on the light, and to my abject horror, discovered a still-twitching squirrel body on the floor! (And two exhausted cats.)

There was screaming and jumping up and down. M. came running upstairs and saved me from the horrors. He deposited the body outside. Truly I do say unto you, Ew.

I've since been having some nice conversations with the parish about exterminators, chimney covers, and maintenance that needs some updating. Sure, I know we are not a wealthy parish. But when I am faced with a dead squirrel at 1AM, it's time to get my landlord cracking.

I still love you guys and stuff, but spare me the squirrels. In my HOUSE! Ick! Ick!

Monday, March 3, 2008

The Blind See for the First Time Ever

Per request, for those of you who asked:

I’m going to tell you a story.

I wasn’t born deaf. I had normal hearing until I was about five. It started dropping then. By the time I was a teen, I had lost most of my useable hearing, and with it, my ability to understand spoken word. I received a cochlear implant when I was 20. Now, many people think that it’s an instant process, automatic. But it actually takes quite a long time to learn to hear again. I knew how to read, (I had learned quite early), so I could read words like ‘M-O-M’ and ‘M-O-T-H-E-R’ on a page and know that those letters referred to the woman who had given me birth, but I found that I had no idea how the word sounded. I thought I knew how it sounded, but I soon found that what I thought was not right.

I didn’t have a phone until I was about 22. I was implanted at age 20. It took about two years for me to be able to understand enough spoken word to really start talking on a phone. I had no concept of loud and soft- everything sounded the same to me. I would be walking across campus and screaming at my friends, who would say, “WHY-ARE-YOU-SHOUTING??” and I’d scream back, “BECAUSE OF THE NOISE!”. They’d respond, “THAT”S JUST A CAR IDLING, IT’S OK!” It took me a long time to start learning loud and soft.

When I was 22, I got my first phone. But I can’t recognize voices by sound alone. I never had to, before. My mother would call, and conversations would go like this:

Her- “Hello, Betsy!” Me- “Hello… who are you?” Her- “It’s your mom!” Me- “Do I know you?” Her- “This is your mother!” Me- “What’s your name?” Her- “Kathy. It’s your mother!” Me- “What’s your full name and how do you know me?” Her- “It’s Kathy Bagioni, your mother!” Me- “You just wait a minute!” I’d leave the room, and run and get a friend in the dorm. “You need to tell me who is on the phone!” They’d come to my room, pick up the phone, and say (facing me where I could read lips), “It’s okay, it’s just your mom!”

Me- “Oooooohhhh!” Now I get it! “…. Hi, mom!”

I still can’t recognize voices very well. I could probably tell, say, George from Ginny on a good day. I probably couldn’t tell George from Todd off hand. I just never had to before.

Jesus walked into town and put mud on the eyes of a man born blind, and now he sees. He’s stunned, and the whole town is in an uproar. The townspeople call him over: “Who did this to you?”

“I don’t know.” Of course he didn’t. He probably had no idea. He’s never had to use his eyes before. He has no idea what Jesus looks like. He has no idea what he looks like, and probably no idea what even the temple looks like. His has been a world of counting steps, of knowing the timbre of voices, of knowing that hot sun meant daylight and that cool breeze was nighttime. He literally has no idea who changed him.

“I don’t know. I only know that now I see!” And the townspeople drag him before the Pharisees, into foreign territory. They are all engaged in this theological discussion: who sinned? Who freed him from the sin he committed? And all he can reply is: “I don’t know”. He’s completely overwhelmed by the new sense of seeing. Of course, I love his sense of humor. The Pharisees keep asking him who opened his eyes and gave him sight, and he replies, “Wow, what a marvel this is! You are the seeing people, and you can’t tell me who opened my eyes? Don’t you speak and say that only God’s prophets can do miracles? If he weren’t from God, he could do nothing!”

“Give glory to God, you’re a sinner!” reply the Pharisees. I love that. Give God the glory, because you are a sinner! You sinner, you- give glory to God! Praise God or else, you sinning sinner in sin! They called his parents. That was rich. The blind man had no idea who his parents were- he’d never seen them before. He couldn’t have told their house from Adam’s, and couldn’t have told his mother from a stranger (unless she spoke to him). He’d never seen anything before. He just didn’t know who these people were. “I don’t know who that man was, “ says the blind man. “I only know that now I see.” And they cast him out.

This is where the story gets most interesting for me. This man has spent his entire life as a beggar. He’s been counting his steps from place to place, using touch to find his way here and there. He knows people by their voices. He doesn’t know what a face looks like. He doesn’t know sun. He doesn’t know roads. He probably has no depth perception. He’s never needed depth perception. And here, he’s cast out into city streets. He’s lost. He has no idea how to find his way about. He doesn’t know what his temple home looks like- he’s never seen it before. He couldn’t even go to his mother’s house for refuge- he has no idea where it is or what it looks like. He’s utterly cast out.

It is here, where Jesus goes to find him. Jesus doesn’t wait for the blind man to come find him. I find that Jesus was rather perceptive that way. Jesus hears this man has been cast out and he goes to find him where he is. The blind man is in trouble, lost and helpless with this new sight. Jesus goes to him to help. “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” he asks the blind man. Sure, the blind man would love to, if he only had any idea who he was! “And who is he, sir?” Even though Jesus was the one who put the mud on his eyes and gave him sight, the man still cannot identify Jesus. He’s never had to identify anyone by sight.

“He’s the one speaking to you now,” says Jesus. Listen to my voice, that is how you know how to identify people. “Oh,” now I get it, “Lord, I believe.”

We are a people of a church of a God who comes to find. Our God doesn’t wait in a high and separate chamber until we stumble into the right path. He doesn’t heal us and send us on our way with no teaching to know how to use our new selves. We are a people of a God who comes to find us, to walk the paths by our side, to lead us where we need to go. Thank God for that. We are a people of a church where Jesus walks up to us and says, “Come with me. I am the one you were looking for.” Where we go from there is up to us.