Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Worst (Best) Joke of the Year

Once upon a time, there was a Viking, Olf the Red. Olf the Red was a terror to behold, a dashing dangerous demon on the battlefield, a pillager of perfection. But his greatest gift was predicting the weather. Viking lords far and wide sent their emissaries to Olf to ask him what the weather would be upon certain days of the year- rain or snow, rain or snow, so they could know whether to go out and wage battle or stay home and eat meat.

Now Olf did not have a nicest personality, (I mean, come on, he's a Viking, hello!), nor the best table manners. But everyone let that slide because after all, every Viking had bad table manners. Sure, it bothered Olf's wench, Gertrude to no end that he was a total slob, cussed day in and day out, and belched the whole Viking alphabet for exercise daily, but she let it slide because he was such a good weather predictor, rain or snow, rain or snow, he always go it right.

The day came when Olf grew old and died, and to memorialize his unerring weather prediction skills, the Vikings made a rousing Viking song that we still sing to this day to honor the memory of Olf's skills:

Rude Olf the Red knows rain, dear....

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Thanking God for the Rice Cooker

Recently, after years of insisting I don't like single-use gadgets in my kitchen (with a notable exception for my olive oil/measuring thingie), I broke down and agreed to get a rice cooker. It has actually turned out to be super handy, giving me perfect rice every time, eliminating my inevitable burned pans and the excitement of one of us screaming "Oh my God, the rice! The rice!", and even steaming additional food (peas and shrimp, anyone?).

And right now it's saving my life. After two days of nibbling crackers, gingerale, and broth, I decided to go wild and branch out into a modified B.R.A.T. diet- I made me some brown rice, opened a jar of all-natural sugar-free applesauce I bought from a nice farmer at Whole Foods' farmers' market, and brown rice and applesauce it is for lunch. Probably for dinner, too. And likely for breakfast. Because right now, I can't imagine ever eating any form of egg ever again. I swear, food poisoning makes raw food veganism look REALLLLLY attractive.

But I picked up a Vegetarian Times at the market today, with a cute picture of what looks like a very yummy soup... in a few weeks when everything is normal and if my mom is nice to me, maybe she can get me to make it for family dinner!

PS- YES, the Christmas sermons are all set, and I'm just working on Christmas 1 (Sunday) now!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

In Which the Vagabond Makes Good Use of Sick Time

Well, I got in a few phone calls to cancel meetings that I am missing because I am recovering from having knocked at death's door. I mean, I totally spent most of yesterday in various stages of asleep-on-couch. Today I am feeling that much closer to normal, although I maintain that I will never eat anything ever again. Well, maybe saltines and broth soup. But that's seriously it.

In the meantime, I've been working on the revisions of my board certification papers, and hopefully will have those done by the end of today. I watched Coraline (it took me two days since I was so sick), and Inglorious Basterds (definitely Tarantino, though I think not one of his best). And that is about all I got done.

I've also been reading about triathlons and charity rides. Mostly because I am woefully out of shape, especially with this slow, slow, slow recovery from the broken hand. It irks me to no end that riders with much bigger injuries than mine could be back on the bike so much faster. The rest of me is physically fit. The problem is the slow return of gripping strength in the right hand, AKA, important brake and shifting hand. Anyone have a cycle trainer they want to donate to me so I can practice indoors for the rest of the winter? But at least I figure that nothing motivates a person like riding for charity causes, and benefiting other human beings. Ah yes, that helping-other-people thing gets me every time. Even when I say I want to take a break from helping other people and all I want to do on my time off is do something that just makes me totally happy without caring about anyone else, what do I end up doing? A few years ago, I was training for Unity Tour. Now I'm volunteering for Ten Thousand Villages. And I'm thinking about doing Team in Training, and maybe I'll think about raising some funds for the Fat Cyclist: Fight Like Susan. Partly because he has a great story but the way he writes about it is so human. And he makes me laugh. And he has some great photos of Lance Armstrong. :-)

But the really fun thing that I've just started researching that involves my own sweet M (who has by the way been my hero these past few days, what with the hard-core driving to the emergency room, and the making of soup and stuff) is going to be our next adventure over the summer. Disneyworld is going to be our big expensive vacation (it's amazing what you can do by literally saving your pocket change!), but we really do love our camping. So we are starting to plan a bike tour for next summer. Yes, as in, we ride out of our parking lot on our bikes, and we ride away into the far away lands, campground to campground, with a bike loaded with stuff. On the bright side, I am optimistic that loaded panniers will cushion any crashes. It sure sounds like fun to me!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Survivor: Priest

I joked on my Facebook page yesterday about what a tough priest I was. As the Snow-pocalypse approached, I agonized over the weather. As I always do. Have I ever mentioned how much I hate being the one to decide to declare a snow day or not? It's so upsetting being in charge with stuff like this!

Finally, after a few conversations with wardens, I decided to head out to Southbury to hunker down in a hotel for the night and await the deadly snow. I also begged M to accompany me. This turned out to be a good thing, despite the fact that I had to pout a little bit to convince him to come. I also had to promise that I would absolutely not allow him to have any fun, but I would send him off to work.

We had a very nice dinner of Chinese food, where we even got a funny fortune cookie pack with TWO whole fortune cookies in one pack. Then we went to the hotel, where he worked and I goofed off. All the while, no snow fell. It was still dry when I went to sleep. It wasnt until I I woke up Sunday morning that I discovered the snow actually HAD arrived, though it was far short of the "still falling" predictions. I still canceled 8AM as the lot wasn't yet plowed.

We went to brunch. Such would prove my undoing.

By 10AM, I was feeling a little under the weather. By 11AM, it was full-fledged sickness. M picked me up and drove me home and by 4 or 5, I was in the ER being rehydrated from a nasty bout of food poisoning.

This is what I do so that my people can have their church. Yes, indeed. If they ever made "Survivor:Priest" edition, it just might come to me in that last final few...

Friday, December 18, 2009

Volunteerings!

For a long time, I'd been thinking about volunteering somewhere. True, I work insane hours. I tracked my hours for a few periods over the last few hours, and I usually just stopped counting when I hit 72. But I always felt like something was missing. Even though I work in a people-benefitting sort of job, I got paid to do everything.

I got the idea of volunteering. But where? I thought about the Humane Society, which I love and I love the mission, and I'd get to cuddle kitties and walk puppies and maybe do some dog training. But there were two main drawbacks: the drive over there (and I'm so sick of driving everywhere sitting on my tushie. I want to WALK AROUND ON MY LEGS, even though both my jobs requiring significant standing and walking. I love my Beetle, but I hate daily commutes. I miss my walking commutes!), and the fact that sometimes puppies and kitties dont get adopted and have to be put down. That would make me sad, and since one of my goals in volunteering was to do something totally happy, that could be a problem.

You see, in a parish that struggles with conflict, guilt-free joy can be hard to come by. In a hospital where my area includes the Emergency Department and Neurosurgery ICU, I deal with tragedy every day. Actually, I can sometimes handle 5 or 6 tragedies before lunch. A few weeks ago, I handled 6 deaths in my first two hours on call, and added four more before 7AM. That's a lot. The pager went off 27 times. I needed to do something where no one could get mad at me, or start to cry.

Enter Ten Thousand Villages. It's within walking distance, it's full of happy people buying stuff for their houses and as gifts for people they like, and it draws a crowd of folks who are fair-trade minded types who like to benefit the world with their shopping. And the shop is tiny and pretty and sparkly. I walk in, and as I pack boxes of gifts for customers, I am constantly saying "Oooh, I love these colors" "Oh, that's SO CUTE!" "Awwww, I have that cow tree topper too and it makes me laugh every time!"

In short, it totally fills the goal of no-stress happiness. At least for now. I like that. It's a big highlight of my week at the moment.

Actually, another highlight of my week, just so I can mention it, is when my Junior Warden shows up early at church and makes coffee. Because he's a really good coffee wrangler, and no one can make it like him, and he's one of those people who's got this gift of being upbeat and cheerful. No matter how hard I try to be in an early morning funk, he drags me out of it, even if I am kicking and screaming and trying to be in a bad mood. Actually, he could volunteer with me at Ten Thousand Villages, because he's got the great attitude down pat. But only if he can be the coffee wrangler, too!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

And a church that looks like you

And I suppose I should add that I have decided it is absolutely right to celebrate that Mary Glasspool is a lesbian. I bet people screamed themselves silly when Barbara Harris was elected, and I heard stories about how crazy the house went when Wilfredo Ramos was elected. It has nothing to do with their gifts and skills.

It's that the church finally started to look like you. So when you see the church, you see someone who looks like you and you know you are welcome here.

So I retract my earlier frustration for now, and I say let's celebrate it all, baby. Because it's time to celebrate that the church looks like more of us. Finally my lesbian sisters can look into the HOB and see what I see- a gifted, skilled person who shares their traits and who knows their struggle and pain and who can be their voice. And as a straight woman and an ally, that is something I should also celebrate. So I will not get frustrated with my sisters' celebrations. They have SO earned it, and it is time to shout it from the rooftops.

Thank you, LA- you did hard work.

PS, by next week, I expect that we'll be back to normal celebrating her gifts and skills TOO, right?

The Changing Winds

I just heard that LA elected two new BIshops Suffragan. I assume that both are open about their sexuality, though the news only mentions that one is lesbian. Personally, I would find it quite frustrating to be identified by my sexuality to the exclusion of any other gifts, skills, and sense of call that I bring to my work. Obviously, this is the big identifying feature that is making the news rght now, but I imagine she must be an incredibly gifted person. From the looks of the election, it was quite close. One twitter person called it a "diversity smackdown".

Now, even though I just said that I would be frustrated to be defined by my sexuality alone, can I just say: thank God that finally, Gene will have some company in the HOB! Finally, we are starting to elect people whose gifts we discern are right to be our various Bishops without fear of other parts of the world. Finally, we are letting the spirit call us in new directions. The fact that the election WAS so close, I think, shows how carefully that Diocese had to discern whither they were being called. So my congrats to LA. You did HARD WORK, people!

I think the winds are changing for us. The younger voices are starting to grow into their own voice. The voices that preached fear and limits have left the church for an even more rigid church. (I'm sorry for that. I wish we could have all stayed at the table, but I have found that I just cannot make everyone get along.)

This is the sort of church that gives me hope- this emerging church that risks seeing what could be. When I hear about a Diocese that discerns so carefully as this, I imagine a nationwide church that wants new things. It makes me want to run wild and rip up pews and put the altar in the middle amongst the people as all the people of God say Amen.

Of course, Epiphany will never let me pull up all the pews and they rather mumble Amen, but you know what? I see the winds moving across the face of the church, and I like to think that the winds bless Epiphany too... just as they are. Because the Holy Spirit and God Almight truly is JUST THAT BIG.

Wow, LA. Get yourselves a good stiff drink or an appropriately, attractively presented alternative of your choice, and I wish you a peaceful night, and a perfect end.

Monday, November 30, 2009

What, a month?

Um, yes, that's right. All my online communication time got sort of sucked up in some of my other projects. Heh. Some of those projects will be done soon, though! Merry Christmas!

Did I mention that I had started full-time hours at the hospital? While keeping Epiphany until we could see if full-time plus part time was good for the parish? We're still trying that one out, but we are together for the holidays which is always great. Only mean priests ditch a parish RIGHT BEFORE the holiday with no replacement. Ouch. At the end of the day, you really can't beat a classic old stone parish for warm, fuzzy New England Christmas.

We've also been having some fun at home. We got iPhones and canceled our landline. I tracked my calls for the last few months. In September, we had over 300 phone calls. 5 of them were real calls, and all of them were people who also called my cell. Landlines are going the way of the dinosaur, I believe. We kept a basic 911 service, which also means you can still call in, if you really want to. But it'll be nice to stop the Tuesday afternoon phone calls from marketers! In the meantime, I have answered so much email on the fly that by the time I get home I have virtually no need to go on the computer. I fought the dataplan for so long that I didn't stop to think that maybe I had really gotten to the point where it would help my work life. It really HAS made my life more streamlined and simple and efficient. People are happy that I email so quickly. I should have done this months ago. Where's my humble pie?

I also got accepted to volunteer at 10,000 Villages! I love that store and I swear I wasn't motivated by the discount! After a few really, REALLY sad cases at the hospital and a few really, REALLY upset people at the parish plus assorted drama, I decided I needed to do something to help humanity and do something that was just plain happy. I just wanted a simple, 3-5 hours a week where all I did was share the joy. A good friend had volunteered in the past, and there's a store within walking distance of my house. So I applied, and I start on Friday! I get to wear cute clothes without a collar and without worrying where to clip pagers and I will help support fair trade worldwide. Awesome, right?

I'll be working on being more up to date... in the meantime, look Epiphany up on Facebook if you are on!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Great times in he life of an ed chaplain

So I stopped to get some water in the ed. Says the nurse- don't you usually work at night? Says me- well I work mon and wed morning and tues and Thursday night... I'm sorry that be confusing. Her- um... Yeah, actually. Me- don't worry. Next week I start doing mon and we'd at 4 til tues and Thursday at noon. Her- blank look. Me- it's like firefighter hours. Two long shifts on mon and we'd, but covering the overnight til tues and Thursday morning. Her- er.... Me- that probably didn't help much? Her- no, not really. Siiiigh!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Election!

It was my first election. Convention as usual was an extroverts' dream.

I was really impressed by all the candidates who stood for election. Beth Fain and Ian Douglas were out of state (as customary for non-resident clergy), but Jim Curry and Mark Delcuze were naturally both present. I must give giant kudos to the both of them. It's a nerve-wracking experience to be in the spotlight anyway, but to be standing for the election of a Diocesan Bishop must be an "Ant under a microscope with laser beam affixed" type experience. Both men handled themselves with such grace. Mark and Jim, you two are class acts, and I am so pleased to be your colleague. Granted, I serve the role of "pain in the oops!" priest at times, but ultimately, I hope to settle in on the normal end of the spectrum.

There was lots of interest in my shared positions... it seems that a few other previously full time clergy are starting to think about part timing it. Several are thinking doctorates, others are also exploring a dual role in chaplaincy. It could be months to years before some of these plans take place, but I can certainly see how we are in a changing place in our church.

And finally, welcome to Ian Douglas! I think we shocked the world as stodgy old CT elected from outside the Diocese. But I have to say it was a very grace-filled election. It was certainly a choice that took much deliberation, and any candidate would have been a great chief priest, and I say that honestly. I thought for many hours and read all the written material before making my decisions. But as it all went down, I felt that we were guided well by the Spirit.

Time to go write a sermon and a Red Door article now!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Big Changes

I debated for a bit if I should blog this, and or leave comments open. Fianlly, I decided I would do both. Just as when I told the Vestry in the first place, just as when I sent the letter to the parish, I think that leaving comments open is the ethical thing to do. I ask only that if you comment, do me the grace of either leaving your name or emailing me so we can have an honest, open conversation.

Whew.

The exciting news is that the hsopital offered me full time! It's a number of night hours, so I'll be working 2 nights a week. No, it was never my dream to work nights, and yes, I'd rather be spending my nights curled up with my hubby, but hey... it IS a dream job. To finish out my certificatiion in a place like Hartford... whew. Opportunities like this don't come ever day. I'm also humbled that the hospital came and asked me... I didn't put in for the position. I am honored that they thought enough of me to ask me to apply for the full time job. I mean... wow. I didn't even think that happened to priests.

Yet I have not, and I will not, resign from Epiphany. We have stuff planned through the New Year, both secular and sacred. There's too much happening right now. There's too many hopeful signs of life. I don't know how much longer my story with Epiphany will last... but I do believe that it goes on for a good amount of time yet. My part in that story isn't yet over.

What a roller coaster!

Dominic

Can the newspossibly spread too widely?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Registered, Tripping, and Achy Hand

On the bright side, I get to take my acolytes to DC for a trip! Nothing like a youth pilgramage! I've wanted to take youth on a trip for so long. It feels like being a normal priest. National Acolyte Festival, here we come!

Meanwhile, the broken bones are quite uncomfortable. I called the doc again just to find out what's normal. I don't know if I really believe that "hurts when the weather changes" stuff... yet. Not to mention the knee was pretty achy, the shoulder was stiff and sore, and I felt generally run down. I hate not feeling like my normal self.

And there are cleaning ladies here to clean my horrible house back to its normal state. Amazing how just 2 months of no floor mopping changes the world... Yes, folks, I DO mop at least 1 a month. But I might decide I like hiring out the cleaners. I used to say I'd hire a cleaning service after I'd met certain goals... like having a certain amount in savings, then it was paying off my car, then it was paying off certain loans, then it was having a zeroed out credit card for a certain period of time, and I realized we had done all that... and I was always finding a reason to delay hiring the cleaning service. Then I gripe because the house isn't as clean as I want it. It's probably a good discipline for me to draw the line between frugal and cheap, and to give myself permission to actually reap the rewards of having achieved my goals sometimes, eh?

Next goal: find a tailor and have my suits tailored so the jackets actually fit me! It's probably time to give in to business clothes and have them done right. So anyone who knows a good tailor in West Hartford..... chime in!

Friday, October 2, 2009

The Apple Picking Story

It is true that I typically sing the praises of Virginia, as if Connecticut were simply an afterthought. Virginia does have Northern Virginia, which is next to DC, which has the Smithsonians. Nuff said.

But in one season, Connecticut does waste the rest of the country's claims to fame. When fall rolls around, no one beats Connecticut for colors, crisp air, apple picking from the trees in the orchards, and sweet wood fires. Since I love being warm and bundled up, I welcome the return of wool socks, sweaters, vests, and scarves. And pickle sandwiches. Somehow, I got hooked on those as a kid and the combination of cool air and woo fires still makes me want a pickle sandwich, on nice crusty Portuguese rolls with some cheese. (See how I mention the Portuguese rolls? OK, which of you on my mom's side started this?)

In the fall, Virginia falls flat. Here's how I discovered that.

I had gone to church one morning somewhere in northern VA. I was driving back on roads that wound their way through green and brown trees. The temperatures just don't snap quickly enough for the real dramatic colors that I grew up with. I was having a craving for apples when my joyful eyes lit upon a sign- "Apples! Pick your own!" I pulled right over, grabbed my canvas bag (I was being a reusable bag green geek before it was cool, so I looked really enviro-geek), and marched up to the counter.

"Hi there! I'm here for the pick your own!" Great, they said. "Where's the wagon for the trees?" I ask. They respond with blank stares. "And how will I tell which tree is which type? Do you have a map?"

They responded with laughter. "Oh, no, you don't pick them off the trees!" More laughter. "Nobody is allowed into our trees. We have to keep them free of diseases."

"But... I'm sorry, I thought I saw a pick-your-own sign?"

"Oh yes!" They wave a proud, expansive arm at the lot to the other side of the building. It was covered in small bushel baskets of apples. "You can pick out any one you want!"

............................

Thank you.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Local Bike Shop... lucky they survived!

Typically, I love my Local Bike Shop. They are fun, they save your bike, and they can be founts of knowledge.

And sometimes they can be pretentious know-it-alls! As I stopped to pay my repair bill after the completion of repairs from my Big Crash, a smug skinny guy proceeded to lecture me on bike technique, even inviting me to his clinic! He smoothly informed me I was doing things wrong and came about a breath away from implying that I crashed due to sheer stupidity. Naturally, he would have been carried over that set of train tracks on the backs of angels singing hymns to his goodness.

Here's the real lesson for us. Did I use the best technique for going ovr the tracks? Of course not... I didn't see them in time to properly react. It's called "going too fast for the conditions", not "bad brake technique". When one's front tire is skidding out, you should not apply the front brake, but rather, try to float until you are on firm ground again.

you should also realize that everyone can crash, and everyone does at one time or another. Riding can be dangerous, and no one is so perfect that they avoid crashes.

Not even you, Mr. "I've spent hundreds of hours training to become certified". Let's just say you ticked me off!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Creepy fortune cookies!

Well it has been fun. In addition to the broken hand, I got the flu, then the tests came back with a bonus infection. (And I'm dehydrated.) So I get to take drugs and drink unblievable quantities of water.

M started his day with a stiff neck and a temp. Back to the doctor. Turns out he's develped a horrible cold. We decided on Chinese food for the soup. (Literally, we got soup and fortune cookies. They probably think we are nuts.)

My fortune cookie said "disease". His said "to catch a cold".

Guess they don't play...

Monday, September 14, 2009

discoveries...

1) Take a bunch of frozen peeled bananas. Put in food processor. Process. If needed, add a little water or milk. Soon, it starts looking just like soft serve. Voila! Banana "ice cream". Very good for sick priest on an edited version of the BRAT diet... no rice made at the moment, so it's more like the BAT and chicken soup diet. We don't keep normal rice on hand anyway... all ours is red rice, wild rice, forbidden rice, arborio, sushi rice... M had to make a special trip to get me plain saltines and ginger ale.

2) My cats have gotten weirdly aggressive towards my cast. They are taking and attacking the pillow I use to prop it at night. And today, Origami happily sits in my lap. But if The Cast gets in-between me and him, he'll swat at the cast and taste my fingers as if they are little aliens. Snowbeast also attacks the pillow, but spent most of his day lying in the hamper being very pleased with himself.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Tired and blah

I'm waiting for when the physical part catches up with the mental part. Mentally, I'm thinking, "rah-rah, beautiful day, let's get some fresh air and go outside and play! Just because I can't bike doesn't mean I should remain home like a slug!"

Meanwhile, the physical part catches a bug, gets all phlegmy, spikes a temp on alternate days, and says, "Right on, evildoer. We are sitting on the couch feeling crummy, sick, and miserable. Just try that 'active stuff' on me, and I will make you regret it."

I am not accustomed to this. Bleargh!!

Friday, September 11, 2009

SWEATER WEATHER!

I love sweater weather, and the warm cozy feeling of cashmere. But what I love most right now is realizing that my cast is too big to fit through most sleeves. HOWEVER, I have always hated having things tight around my wrists. My shirts are French-cuffed, and most of my sweaters either bell or 3/4 sleeves.

Does this fall into the category of "everything happens for a reason"? "I hate having things tight on my wrists!"... "oooooo, look, I can wear a sweater with a cast!"

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Redemption

It is probably safe to say it was my toughest day so far. I was in quite a lot of pain, and so tired. This was a rough morning as I simultaneously wanted scrambled eggs and toast while I also burst into tears of exhaustion right at the table. And I was hurting so much. Shortly after breakfast, I wrote the ungrateful post.

Since then, work kicked me out early so I can "go rest" since they thought I looked "drawn", the doctor gave me a more comfortable cast so my injured muscles would be immobilized and could rest, a surprise bee-themed care package AND the last season of Battlestar Galatica arrived in the mail, and M decides to bring home sushi.

Somewhere in there is either the grace or humor of God...

Tired out and ungrateful!

I had a lovely conversation with a patient yesterday. She is recovering from an illness that has threatened her ability to live independently. And she said, "I always used to be grateful... and I am grateful... just not now!" I held up my splinted hand, and said, "Let me tell you, I am so not feeling grateful today, either!" She laughed then, kicked the Nurse Practicioner out of the room, and we had a prayer for God to grant us the people around to carry us through these times.

Let me tell you, I'm so not grateful now. I've been having a lot of pain and after describing my issues to the spcialist, he moved my follow up, "let's see if you are healing so you don't need surgery" appointment up since they don't like what they are hearing. I do not feel good right now and I do not like this. I have work to do and I actually like my jobs despite the attempts of some folks to convince e that I shouldn't like them, and I want to tell these bones to stop playing, stop hurting, and heal as fast as the bruises.

And after a week of getting by on my own I guess I felt that when M returned, all that would be so easy. M would cook, clean, scrub the tub, wash the cats, fold my clothes, and basically make things right.

I was not counting on M returning from research totally exhausted from a week of 24 hour work, stuffed so full of playa dust that he was still sneezing it out last night, and jet-lagged out of his skull. He's like me after Police Week, and who else in the world has the right to work so hard but me? Hello! (ummmmmmm.... perhaps there's a message to me here...) So we became a house of two sickies when I thought he'd descend off the plane ala Mary Poppins.

On one hand, that is a testament to my perception of his abilities in regular life.

On the other, it sure shows that real life invades my happy dreamworld at times!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

One handed blogging...

The Vagabond will try to blog one-handed. She figures it might be interesting (to her, at least), to blog the little bits progress made as she recuperates.

The basic story: At mile 50 of a century, the Vagabond came across some train tracks. She was going over 22 mph, and did not see the tracks in time to respond. The tracks won that skirmish, and the Vagabond crashed, spectacularly. She went down first on the right side, getting her hand tangled up in the brake. She hit the ground with enough force to bounce up and over "like a pancake", to skid to a stop on the left. Very thankfully, her helmet absorbed the brunt of the head impact and her long sleeves and pants took the road. She has very liitle road rash, but did break an important bone in her right hand, rendering this rightie's right hand useless for at least a month.

The bike also suffered, and is now finally at the bike doctor getting its wheels trued, its brakes repaired, and its chain and cogs cleaned of grit. The Vagabond figures she is done for this season, and vows to dedicate herself to lots of hiking tis fall to compensate. Unless the doc clears her to ride a tandem... right, M?

Naturally, being a priest, the Vagabond finds it interesting to consider that all summer she had a foreboding feeling that something bad was going to happen. And she had this recurring dream of being on her bike with a broken hand.

Pshaw. No one dreams that literally, right? The Vagabond is aware, however, that her previous ability to sense what she can only call "disruptions in the force" has been uncannily accurate when it comes to hospital pagers and police calls. With M preparing for a research trip, she figured she'd be sensible. She insured M in every way she could to be sure she'd be ready for the worst and that nothing could go wrong, even finding emergency contact info for an off-the-grid event.

M came through with flying colors, healthy, happy, successful in research. The Vagabond came home from a bike trip... with a broken hand. The Vagabond is going to pay more attention to very detailed recurring dreams in the future. In the meantime, she is going to have some serious talks with her Boss In The Sky concerning whether surgery is really His plan for the life of her hand and if he might like to perform an instant miracle or at least do something about the swelling, pain, and slow healing of road rash. She suspects some life lessons on patience might be in store, instead...

Monday, August 31, 2009

Hiatus...

The Vagabond will be on hiatus for a short while. She needs some downtime to recuperate after suffering a bike crash in Vermont this weekend... she is mostly fine w lots of bruises, some road rash, and a badly broken right hand. She'll be back when can type again normally!! Cheers- the Vagabond Priest

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Back from Vacation!

No, I was not off the face of the earth. I've been on vacation. M and I went visiting fun friends in upstate NY for the first week, where we got to hang out with some really awesome friends. I'm blown away that I get to know people like the PhD candidates who just got back from India, the new attending doctor in Buffalo, the librarian who has my secret dream job, and the restaurant manager who has this really cool kid. I have to say, my friend with the kid is a genius- for her son's birthday, she invited just one other little kid, and threw a grown up party. We gave him presents, and he played with presents, and then the adults got to hang around and talk. The kids kept each other happy, and everything seemed really under control. Not to mention that having a children's librarian makes for REALLY fun story time. No one reads Knuffle Bunny like she can! Remind me again why we don't all live in the same neighborhood?

We wrapped up with some camping and more camping, including some REALLY fun bike riding in Acadia on both roads and the carriage trails. Carriage trail by bike is THE way to see the trails! Rent the tandem for extra cute points.

And now it's back to everything. I find myself pulled in so many different directions as I try to settle back down. At least my office is super cute to settle into! I'm also relieved that the wardens installed the dehumidifier for permanent drainage. Way to save the books!

Now it's a week of getting ready for my century ride on Saturday, wishing I were in better shape/20 pounds lighter like I was when I rode my last century, watching M go off on his research trip, and figuring out what needs to happen next to make this fall happen.

Sept 13 is Grandparents' Sunday, Sept. 27 is my nephew's baptism, October 10 is the National Acolyte Festival which I have to plan for a group trip, and Sept 26 is the Tour De Tribury! Whew. Now I know why I feel spacy!

For extra bonus points... does anyone with sewing skills want to buy me a plain jersey and use an embroidery machine embroider something like "EPIPHANY SOUTHBURY" or "HAVOC at EPIPHANY" (Hiking And Various Other Church-related Activities) or something? Rolling advertisements, anyone? I would say let's go red or yellow. Who wants to volunteer to make me a jersey?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Archbishop of Canterbury speaks

The Archbishop of Canterbury speaks about the Episcopal Church's General Convention. Of course we had a few hot-button topics, mostly notably, an affirmation of the place of gay and lesbian people in the life of our church.

Rowan Cantaur has interesting comments. Some of it I can agree with totally. Some of it raises eyebrows.

In particular, I am troubled by his concern that persons living in committed, same-sex partnerships are living outside the marriage covenant and are therefore living a life in sin. I read his comments on the "lifestyle choice" as referring more to the decision to not be celibate (cohabiting heterosexual couples as well as homosexual couples), rather than suggesting that homosexuality is chosen (not part of one's innate being). He seems to state that cohabitation is a sin which is unforgivable as long as it is going on. Any sexual relationship outside marriage is an unforgivable sin as long as it is going on. Sorry, but I can't go there with him on that one.

From a purely logical standpoint, if we say that a lesbian couple is living a non-celibate life and is therefore in sin and cannot be fully part of the church, then we must set the standard that all non-celibate couples cannot be part of the church. That would pretty much mean that you wouldn't have any young clergy, since all of us were in at least our mid 20s when first ordained. Knowing what you all learned in high school, what can you surmise about the average 20-something? Oh, pick your jaws up off the floor.

If we set that standard for our gay and lesbian parishoners, then we have to set it for our hetero parishoners. Oh, Lord, could you imagine if we started refusing communion to the notorious sinners who cohabit? There would be lots and lots and lots of people... young people, divorced people, old granny people and seniors (!) who would not be getting communion!!

I think it is clear that our society, and our church, has moved beyond the point where it considers co-habitation and non-celibacy to be a major sin. I can't think of one clergy person who would refuse to marry a cohabiting couple. We've gotten over it. Some people are given the gift of celibacy. For those of us who are not, we are forgiven. And we move on.

From a theological standpoint, it also makes no sense to claim that a person living in a non-celibate relationship is committing such a sin that they cannot serve God. Since we just established that co-habitation is a non-issue for most of the American public (at the least, the public that I live in), are we then saying there is a sin out there that God can't forgive? If I can sin and then reap the rewards of forgiveness, I expect that all my fellow human beings can too.

Finally, there's the question of relevance. We live in a world where children are still starving, cancer is still not cured, and God's children are still not free in every corner of the earth. Is cohabitation really the issue that we are going to let tear apart the body of Christ? Is it really that important? Can you honestly expect me to believe that God will make or break eternity based on who we learn to offer eros love to? I sort of thought God would be more interested in the whole honoring God alone and loving our neighbors as ourselves thing... or perhaps the striving for justice and peace and respecting the dignity of every human being... or seeking and serving Christ in all persons. I must have missed the parts in the Creed where it said that cohabitation is such a big sin.

I know there are plenty of issues and theological bents I have not yet touched on and can't touch on in a simple post. But I hope I have at least expressed my discomfort with the lifestyle-choice language Rowan used.

Celibacy is a gift some people are given. Sexual love is a gift that others are given. We can't claim the gifts that are not ours. We can only seek to live out the wholeness of who we are exactly as God made us. And God made us to grow as a whole community, to love our neighbors as ourselves. So easy, and so impossible.

Monday, July 20, 2009

New Office Pictures!

As promised... things are still slightly disarrayed in these photos. Bear with me! You'll see green walls, warm yellow-beige trim, and curtains with cranberry for a highlight. The cranberry highlight was just me talking crazy talk, but it turned out that it really just nailed the place. So it's not ruffly or overly feminine, but clean and modern-but in keeping with the character of the place. You want my office don't you? That's right...

Sunday, July 19, 2009

New office (pics to follow)

Ah, yes, that last post was depressing, no? On the bright side, I got a couple coffee date offers out of it. Now, if I can just swing a lunch or two, I'll be convinced that melodrama is beneficial.

In the meantime, I have gotten quite creative, found a few names of you under-the-radar clergy, and got permission to invite Lutherans to celebrate if needed. So I'll be hitting up a few resources. It's tough, sometimes, being the small church. Even though I will offer them the standard supply compensation, I can't offer any extra bonuses like a comfy couch, lunch with the Mayor, or a limo to the church. Granted, I remember my own days as supply and the size of the church never mattered. A tiny church not too much larger than Epiphany always made the day worth my while with a scrumptious lunch afterwards (Church of Our Savior, Montpelier, VA. Sweet, sweet little country church whose "coffee hours" are to die for!). A much larger church had dreadful to non-existant coffee hours, but the people were so joyful and happy, and I was a newlywed whose new husband would come with me, so it was always a great day. As a matter of fact, I can't remember a bad supply gig.

So maybe being the small church will be just fine, after all. I mean, I do have an awesome new office to share with them. And our Junior Warden makes the best coffee in town, no contest! (Sorry, Starbucks.)

I will shortly post pictures of the new office, and remember to post more of my happy, upbeat side (at least, after I get a few lunches out of it...) My vacation is coming up in two short weeks, so I'm busy planning some camping and some relaxing. I think it might be great to take a few books with me and spend a whole day at the campsite, sitting around, boiling water for tea, and reading under a sunny sky. I am fairly certain our beat up old popcorn pot will make the trip.

In the meantime, I'm off to visit a few stalwart parishoners who are sick and in hospital. Stop getting sick, everyone! What is it this summer??? But I'm stopping at the New Morning Market first to score some vegetarian sandwiches and ginger ale first! Yummy! M's secret comfort food is fried chicken. I always find him out. Mine is tofu sandwiches. I know, the shame, the shame. But he never seems to find me out... I usually confess first!

Peace!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Treading Water

Ah yes, blogging has been slow of late. We are in the middle of the General Convention of the Episcopal Church and I am rather frustrated that I am not there. I'm still irritated with colleagues who won't let me get involved because they think I'm either too young or too involved in my "other job". Damn it, if you want to get certain priests involved, you have to accept that some of us are freakin' bi-vocational and that our ENTIRE WORK AND LIVES is ministry and priest-work. That means that the work in a hospital is ALSO priest work. Meanwhile, I'm treading water here in CT. I've got some vacation coming up in three weeks, and thanks to a clergy shortage, I'm having some trouble finding pastoral emergency coverage and supply. Several parishoners are threatening to leave or at least take their business to a different church for those three weeks in August, and several others are attending a different church for the summer.

News for you, cupcakes. This is what a clergy shortage looks like. It means the clergy have to draw tight and careful boundaries around their time off so we don't burn out. Burned out priests do no one any good. You found that out already. And a clergy shortage means that sometimes, you will want a priest and you won't be able to get one. Yes, it stinks.

It's a symptom of our long, long lack of good stewardship and investment in our spiritual life and our churches. For such a long time, we've been phoning it in, living off endowments and expecting that the church is always there even if we aren't really invested in it.

For so long, we were the church that was comfortable. What happens now? Do we stop being the church that is comfortabe, and become the church that is prophetic?

Or do we just tread water until the tide has gone out and we can walk on the sandbar until the tide comes again to wipe us out?

Sorry if I sound frustrated- I'm a little cranky since I want to go out and bike ride and train for the century, but with a sermon and a shift and phone calls to make that just can't happen this morning. It'll happen tomorrow, my day off. But trying to have this night owl operating on that morning schedule... yech!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Final Papers

I'm about to finish a final paper. I've changed my schedule for this month to accommodate taking a class in Church Administration. I supposed I thought it would be a smidge stale, with plenty of books about how-to-do-this-and-that, and a few assignments of poring over budget sheets.

Instead we spent our month with a few books of on things like "Purposeful Church Administration" and the "African American Church Management Handbook", and instead learned not the fine details of Administration (which is truly different in all contexts) but the wider view of what administration can do as a ministry for your church. Imagine that. Leadership and direction as a calling, and all the church work (even the business!) as God's work. My Vestry isn't gonna know what hit 'em.

But they are ready for it.

In the meantime, I haven't really had my regular days off, I'm behind on my paper because I went bike riding on a few stolen moments when the weather this dreary month HAS been not-raining, and I'm going into a 9AM-8:30AM shift- I'm working days, followed by an overnight. Kinda sucks schedule, but it's balanced by a good boss, so I can handle it. And M promises me diner breakfast tomorrow.

In other news, my final paper is on demolishing the priest-parish relationship as marriage paradigm. I've never liked it and I am destroying it! I will abide by Prof. B's suggestion to keep it, though, and consider re-visiting it over the next 20 years.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

"So what kind are you anyway?"

I was in the hospital last week, and it seemed to be "guess the chaplain's religion" day. Four different families tried to guess my faith. I was wearing my usual required nametag and a clergy collar (dog collar style, thanks). For some reason, EVERYONE that day was guessing that I was Jewish. Where did that come from? The answer to follow...

One such exchange went like this... Him: "So, what kind are you? I'm Roman Catholic."

me: Well, I serve an interfaith population.

Him: Okay, that's great. I would have figured you... were... Jewish.

me: Well, that's funny! I'm actually an Episcopal priest, serving an interfaith population.

Him: Not Jewish?

me: nope, sorry. Episcopal priest, serving interfaith.

Silence. Then, him: Oh, you know, that's fine. I just would have figured, you know, you have that... (gesturing in front of his face, apparently hoping that I will realize he is referring to the large prominent appendage attached to everyone's face).

me: Nope, sorry, not Jewish. I just have a really big nose.

him: Yeah, that nose.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Simplicity

So... this post by Peacebang on simplicity has gotten me to thinking. One of my Dreams For the Future involves buying a solar decathlon house and living totally off the grid. Wouldn't that be awesome? I'm actually taking M this October to see the solar houses. Many of them are gorgeous- compact yet spacious. Some include gardens right in or on the house itself. A few of them are so drool-worthy I would move in right there on the Mall if I could.

Yet I recently wrote about my inability to give up my beloved Hybrid bike. Part of solar house living involves living in a smaller space than society tells us we need. It requires giving up of stuff, paring down, simplifying, and making great use of all storage space. Obviously, I have recently demonstrated my inability to get rid of a rather large piece of stuff simply because I love it.

Yet, I recently have cut down tremendously on the amount of sugar I eat. I have this odd relationship with food, and I have discovered that if I get sugar in the morning, I go into this rollercoaster of blood sugar all day. The cure, of course, would be to give up sugar. You'd be amazed how addicted to it we are in this country. However, I recently started drinking spinach (and other dark green) smoothies. Yes, it looks odd. Yes, the taste takes a little getting used to, but after a few days I started realizing I felt great. Then I somehow stopped wanting as much sugar. I didn't need sugar in my coffee. I could see a pile of M&Ms in the office and not want even one. I know. Odd, right?

SO I started doing some google searches. Some folks have this theory that as you give your body the dark greens, it gets the nutrients it has been starving for, and gives up the desire for sugar. It has what it wants.

I wonder if that is what will happen if I ever accomplish that solar house dream? I will get the off-the-grid simple life I want, so I will be able to spiritually release this desire for stuff, and this thought that I must keep the good things I have for fear I will never find another. Perhaps someday I'll find the sort of balance that releases my fear of loss.

What do you think?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

New Life?

I find myself wondering if there are signs of new life going on at Epiphany. When I first came there was a surge in attendance for about four months, before a drop-off and a return to deep bickering. I admit it was a frustrating time. Giving dropped to deadly levels and I feared it would be a few short months before Epiphany was made "comfort measures only" and allowed to die.

But then, somehow, something started to turn around. I think the people who were the most tired started resting after they resigned their positions, and they are starting to show joy again. Then a baby was baptized and a few weeks later, a grown-up was baptized. We looked to the congregation and ourselves to fund the special decorations for Pentecost... and got such a great response that not only did we decorate Pentecost, but we had enough to fill up the Flower Fund for over a month's worth of flowers. Unexpected guests risked joining us for the off-site picnic and people were happy and welcoming. The Vestry had an awesome first retreat and came up with several wonderful, exciting, and DO-ABLE ideas. Congregants are discussing sermons and future sermons via group email.

And now, two (count em!) two couples are beginning the process of marriage prep. I don't know if they will decide to go with Epiphany for their marriage ceremony, but in my time here, (two years in the fall!) we haven't had one request for marriages. Now we have had two requests for marriages within 4 weeks.

What is happening here? Could it be that our little patient on life support is slowly starting to get better? Is the day coming when we can take Epiphany's vent out and let it breathe on its own? Could it be that something very special is happening to this little place, and that maybe, just maybe, this little stone church will make it after all? Could it be that we are feeling hope? Could we be infected with the virus of joy?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Things We Love

Well, my hopes of going for a very first ride on my 30th birthday present were dashed by the intermittent rain. Usually rain would not stop me, but for a brand-new bike, I would like better conditions while I'm still in the "breaking in and getting used to" stage. Crashing because I slipped and couldn't figure out my gear shifter system in time would be simply embarrassing.

Here it is., except that mine is red and white.

I was offered the opportunity to trade in my hybrid for this one. I seriously considered it, to the point that I actually signed the deal. But when push came to shove, I just couldn't do it. I found that I loved it, as much as I try not to love things.

I just couldn't be at peace with the giving up of my hybrid. Now, I do have a small house. (1000 square feet). I don't have a lot of storage space. I just drove my mother insane last year by forcing her to give up stuff and I would have cleaned out a lot more stuff if she had let me. Even my dad was seen saving a few jars from my purging efforts. I'm glad that, in my house, I have used everything at least once within the past year. Anything in the house that isn't used gets pitched. (The wedding gown will be an exception...) We are even getting ready to glean some bouldering crash pads and the golf clubs since we just don't like our lives cluttered up more than they are. So it made so much sense to trade in the hybrid. It's a thing, I told myself. You shouldn't love things.

But something kept stopping me. Something kept saying deep inside that the hybrid was for a different style of riding- an easy, flat commute or trip to the farmers' market. Something knew that I had an awesome hybrid and I just couldn't overcome the fear that if I let it go, I would want it again. And I love it.

And sometimes, perhaps it's worth it to hang on to something if it fills a unique love. I rode charity rides and centuries on that thing. It weighs over 30 pounds and I remember crashing when I was so tired I couldn't get a cleat out of a pedal, and getting right back on after the rest stop. That bike has grit.

So it's certainly the biggest thing I love that I"m keeping, but that's how it is. It's down in the basement, waiting for its next ride. And I'm at peace.

And dying for the rain to stop so I can ride the flashy new road bike.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Fascinating...

So it would seem my recent post and comment back to a deputy has raised some eyebrows. Some of which was accurate (indeed, grammatically, addressing clergy as "Rev." is improper, but let's save that for another day). I responded to one poster that perhaps some source of my frustration lies in my bi-vocation. Being a chaplain where I punch a clock and a priest where I don't is TOUGH. Some days I love not knowing what will roll through the hospital doors, but other days I wish for the creative outlet of the parish priest role.

I'm taking a fascinating class in Church Administration at the moment. We are busy talking not just about how to administrate the business of the church, but we are busy grounding it in theology. A church is more than just a business. Last week, we discussed whether God is co-dependent and whether a church-pastor relationship can accurately be described as a metaphor. I had a lot of fun arguing back that the marriage metaphor is inherently problematic as it essentially puts us as pastors, the church (bride of Christ), and God in a three-way. Bad imagery! Bad! Time to re-envision the pastor-parish relationship, no?

At any rate, I do wonder if my frustration and sense of alienation stems from that bi-vocation. I am not fully in one world or another. I am not fully heard in either location. I don't have time to do grant-funded research projects at the hospital. Nor do I have time to attend every church meeting, where you make the connections you need to have to have the sort of voice I want.

As our church changes, I imagine bi-vocational clergy will be on the rise. It'll be hard, but we need to find ways to incorporate the voices that are not heard. We are not hearing enough of the voices of the bi-voc, nor the voices of the young clergy. So many of us just haven't gotten the right connections. What could we be doing?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

No young people in church, eh?

Every three years, the Episcopal Church, in its infinite wisdom, elects a bunch of people who are in the right place at the right time and have the right connections to go to a thing called "General Convention". While some delegates are awesome (like my friend and classmate who rocks), some have been delegates to convention since before I was born, it seems. Since I'm nosy, I like to follow their mail list as a kibitzer, the non-delegates who watch all.

Recently, a discussion started about the dearth of young people in the church. A younger priest (by this, I mean under 40) responded that perhaps this was related to the dearth of younger clergy. This turned into a discussion of the Process.

Now, on a personal level (and why I'm posting this part on my blog and not the Diocesean blog!), I think that CT's process is long and grueling. I had to take extra exams and go home for what seemed like infinite committees. I felt grilled to the core. After the enlightening experience of the firey week of hell that was GOEs, I had to go home for further talks with the Diocese. (To this day, I thank God for Marge M-A at VTS who leapt to my defense and saved me with phone calls from professors to assure my Bishop that I was NOT actually a heretic or an idiot.) Yeah, the process is grueling. But now that I'm a few years on, I recognize that it was invaluable formation, and I don't think I would have traded most of it.

No, the problem in my priestly life came after the second ordination. Perhaps I should have realized something was amiss when we had to call the fire department the day before the event to put out a fire in the church. Ever since, it seems I've been on an uphill fight. I have not had the lucky chances of fate, connections, or calls that my peers have had. I haven't gottn to go to work in a cool Cathedral, or transistion easily from job to job. I've landed in a place where my parishoners are slowly coming to accept me, but where I certainly felt the scathing glares from my more elderly congregants. I'd suggest crazy new ideas, and be fought down. I've been reminded constantly that I could be their granddaughter.

Meanwhile, certain colleagues shut me out of a controversial, but I believe essential stand towards ensuring we can provide equal measures for all couples- gay or straight- because they wanted to protect me. I was then furious, and remain irritated, that even at the age of 29 and 30, my elders treate me as a child, and refuse to allow me to take responsibility for my own actions. yes, I know that getting involved in that movement will mean certain churches won't want to hire me and that I'll get angry email and that many people are not as liberal as I am. But I believe it's the right thing for our church and our faith and our culture, and I'm grown up enough to stand up for what I believe in.

Trust me, when you treat grown adults like way ward children, yes, we get tired of it. And yes, many of my age peers have left the church.

Trust us to take on the mantle of leadership and risk. See what happens then!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Happy lunch box!

I'm still processing what happened this week in California, and being slight frustrated that I can't up and move into the middle of the action right now. (Not that I could get arrested. While I am so thankful for those with the courage to stand for their convictions, with the sort of work I do and the community I work with, getting arrested could potentially damage my ability to do certain types of emergency work. It's not a calling that is mine at this time in my life. Which is why I'm glad to have friends whose bosses encourage them to be arrested for the cause!)

In the meantime, I channel my energy into lunch. I'm a bit of an amateur foodie. I'm a little bit obsessed with what I eat, when I eat it, and what it looks like. I'm also really fussy about texture, which is probably a large part of the reason I'm vegetarian. With tofu, you never get icky gristle! One atom of gristle will cause me to lose my appetite for an entire slab of otherwise delicious fish. Sorry, mahi mahi... I should be thankful that I live in a country wealthy enough for me to have the luxury of losing my appetite!

Anyway... this is Martin's lunch bento for today. It's salad from OUR GARDEN!, with nuts, cranberries, and a lemon vinagrette. He has grapes, Israeli couscous, two pieces of drunken goat cheese (courtesy of the Whole Foods mini-cheese basket), and a sandwich made up of basil from OUR GARDEN! and glazed tofu from our tofu/bok choi dinner, all on a piece of ciabatta. (The ciabatta is one of those Whole Foods deals- 99 cents, and I got six pieces out of it!)

It was of course wrapped in a cute bento wrap, which is just a large square of fabric tied around the bento. This box is my new favorite box. Mr. Bento (the large lunch jar) is great for soups and ethnic food like pastas, and when you need to take extra snacks. But I'm finding that for my smaller summer cravings, this one is just right. A handy hint- for salads, pack a dressing in a small container (you can see his tucked in the corner of his salad). And those silicon cupcake cups? Useless for baking unless you like flabby, unbrowned baked goods. But awesome for keeping small lunch items distinct, and also excellent for baking mini crustless quiches.

Please don't hunt us down and steal our lunches...

Saturday, May 16, 2009

WHOOOOOOOO-HOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!

Here's the Results: The first is the overall placement out of 356 runners and walkers. The second # is our bib number. Then our names (we are all teammates- Andrew is our Bishop. I put him in for comparison's sake!), then our time, and our pace!

Race Results:

Overall Bib# Name Time Pace 130 302 ELIZABETH T C 33:53 10:55

141 1 ANDREW S 35:31 11:26

143 303 MARTIN T 35:37 11:28

144 31 JAMES B 35:38 11:28

199 297 CARL S 46:08 14:51

I finished as the #3 clergywoman! Yay! I was surprised that I came in at 33:53. I stopped for two walk breaks as my iPod froze up (I'm SO TRAUMATIZED!! My beloved iPod is DYING! Can I even begin to tell you how constant a companion that thing has been on training rides, backpacking trips, and regular travel for the past 5, 6 years? I LOVE that iPod!) and I reset the machine. I was getting pretty tired, and the iPod started singing an old 80's song- "All I Need is a Miracle". I laughed a little in ironic irritation, turned a corner, and raised my eyes to see the Finish Line in sight. So I laughed for real, and finished the run in style. There was a gracious and beautiful lady who I had been pacing the whole race, with a gorgeous head of silver hair. I had outpaced her during that last song, and as we approached the finish, she came up on my side and was about to pass me. She'd been a WONDERFUL pacer all race.

Of course I ran her down. Those competitive instincts popped up outta nowhere, I swear!

M followed a few minutes later, a few steps behind the Bishop and step by step with James, a parishoner who I can't even TELL you how proud I am of him. A few months ago, he swears he couldn't even do this in an hour, and he just devastated the course and finished in a *very* respectable time. Carl followed a few minutes later. I am also proud to say he was the one who did NOT run anyone else over at the finish line.

I was very happy to finish as number 3. M and I came home, had a lovely and well deserved nap, and then a fan-TASTIC dish of pasta primavera. Does this day ROCK, or what?

Tomorrow, I will be sportin' my medal at church- Epiphany, all told, has donated over $500! For a church with an ASA of around 30, this is pretty. damn. fantastic.

Amen!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Secret Solace Job

Well, if I tell you all about it, it's no longer a secret solace job, eh? Here goes.

When life as a priest gets too stressful and crazy, when it seems like too many people are frowning at me, making angry comments in the background, or sending unhappiness in my direction, when too many young kids die on the tables at the hospitals from sheer unbounded stupidity, and when I stumble home at 8 at night knowing I have to get back out there by 8 the next morning...

I dream of becoming a librarian. I would specialize in acquisitions. I'd do my duty at the intake desk... *beep*, *beep*, *beep*, "Excuse me, sir, you have a fine. 25 cents, please... Thaaaank yo-U!" I'd read advance copies of awesome writers and writers whose terrible prose should never be inflicted upon the English-speaking public, and I'd decide which ones to order for my library. I'd clock in at 9AM and clock out at 5PM, and perhaps do one or two special events a week. I'd expand the library usage by setting aside a beautiful hall to be a possible site for wedding receptions and I'd host my own anniversary parties there. I'd spend my days surrounded by soft sunlight filtering down through the skylights, whispering around the smell of old paper.

Things have been rough, vocationally, lately. I've been wondering if maybe I (and the 40 some-odd people who got me through this process, plus all my Seminary professors, my field ed supervisors, and all my CPE instructors, not to mention the Bishop of CT), have made a colossal mistake. Maybe this is not the right field for me.

And I search out all the schools for library science in my area, and wonder just how long the commute to Simmons really is.

And then, the next day, I install myself in the coffee shop, where I am right now. And I read all my saved up articles and my neglected emails and keep working on that Sunday sermon.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Whew...

Ah, yes, I have gotten called out for not posting in almost a month. In that month, we've had Easter, several birthdays, a very intense time at my hospital job, and a planning for the summer. Man, am I looking forward to the summer! The church will be slowing down for a bit, but M and I are now planning our next wilderness trip! Yes, my family lets me know they think my idea of "most relaxing vacation" is their idea of "hell come to dwell in earth". In response, I post the above two pictures. The glowing mountaintops are bathed in what is called "Alpine Glow". That is dusk in the wilderness. The lake is Cathedral Lake, with the early morning sun just peeping into the morning. These were taken in and near Cathedral Lake, where we went on day #2 and 3 of our wilderness trip. There is no way to get here except on your own two feet, carrying a pack.

Family, that is what you are missing. Just sayin'.

Most exciting, though, is that we hit $250 at Epiphany in our fund-raising for the Bishop's 5K! We did this ALL without stumping for money at the church. Yes, I did announce it this week at the church and invite anyone who wanted to add some sugar to the honey pot, but the main point was that we had ALREADY ACHIEVED more than our goal! In fact, our first goal was $250, then I got scared we would not make it, and lowered it to $200. God obviously had to show God's uppity little priest-who-knows-all just what was what when we make commitments, and inspired our friends to send surprise donations. We hit $250. Exciting!

I know it's not the biggest amount, but if you consider that a church of less than 35 ASA has contributed over $500 this year alone to the Bishop's 5K, I think we did a pretty dang good job.

So think good thoughts for us and pray for our legs. We'll be doing our best for you on Saturday!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Days with My Father

Quite possibly the most touching thing I've seen on the internet in months... Day With My Father

If you read this, though, just make sure you are in a good location. You'll look a little weird if you are laughing or crying in Starbucks.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Good Friday Sermon

“It is curious that people who are filled with horrified indignation whenever a cat kills a sparrow can hear the story of the killing of God told Sunday after Sunday and not experience any shock at all.” -Dorothy Sayers.

The story of the crucifixion is over. It has ended where it started- in a garden. Jesus and his followers ate their last meal in the groves of a garden. His followers returned there with his body to lay him in Joseph of Arimathea’s tomb. As the shadows lengthened, for Jewish Sabbath and Passover begins at sundown, they left the tomb filled with a precious burden. Jesus is dead.

On Good Friday we celebrate this story completed. This one has come full circle. Jesus’ mission has been completed. He ransomed himself for his followers. None of them were hurt or killed during his arrest and trial. He even made provisions for his mother. And now it is finished. His body has gone back to the garden and there he lies, dead.

God seems to be rather fond of gardens, is he not? You see, the human story began in a Garden as well. It was in a garden, Eden, where God used to walk openly. Yet, somehow, we became distant. We became separated. We all left the garden.

On Good Friday, as twilight darkens the skies around us, we leave Jesus lying dead in the tomb. We know what death is. We’ve seen it before. We know its finality. We know what the dead look like. But of course, we are Christians. We are Christians because we know more about this story: that in two days, we return to this tomb.

Yet let’s not jump ahead so quickly. You see, our human story began in a garden. And while we know the ending of Jesus’ story will, in two days’ time, not be an ending at all, how can we know that about ourselves? Our human story also began in a garden. And we too will certainly die one day. Will our resurrection ever come? It could be days… weeks… months… perhaps never. Do you know for sure that you will rise again, and that you yourself will stand upon the earth and that with your own eyes you will see God? Jesus lies dead. His body is in the tomb. You know what death is. You have never seen anyone rise again after dying have you? This is just a story we tell. What do you possibly know for sure?

On Good Friday, we walk with Mary as she grieves. She knows only Jesus’ death. We watch the apostle who Jesus loved take his mother Mary into his home. Her son is dead. We watch a bereaved community care for each other. That is the reality we know. We stand here in a stripped and bare church. This is our reality right now. Our story started in a garden. Jesus’ story came full circle, back into the garden where it started. It is over now. It is over.

We read together Psalm 22. That is the ending of a story when we leave Jesus in the tomb. God has forsaken us in our time of trouble; yet we call out and seek him. In Psalm 22, God is distant, but because of his other saving deeds, we remember his works. God is far from us. Jesus lies dead. Perhaps that is best.

No. No, for how could we trust in a God who is so distant? How can we trust in a God who forsakes us? How can we trust in a God who is dead? ……………….. There must be something left to the story. There must be some hope. Jesus’ story has come full circle. It began and it has ended in a garden.

Our story has not yet come full circle. Humanity’s story began in a garden walking side by side with God, and humanity is still alive. Our story is not yet over. Perhaps that is our hope. Perhaps there is something still to be told in our story. Perhaps there is a journey yet to be taken, for we have not yet returned to the garden we came from. Perhaps that is our hope. Our story is not yet over.

Jesus lies dead in the tomb. As twilight deepens and night falls, we leave for supper and leave him utterly alone. …………………..

Perhaps we have not yet come full circle after all.

Perhaps God’s plans have not yet been fulfilled.

Perhaps the good news of this day is found in the very darkness and silence. This twilight will pass into night, and night will pass into a grey dawn. And the sun will rise and set on a Holy Saturday. And tomorrow night, a new fire will be struck.

The story has come full circle, from garden to garden. Perhaps the story is not yet over.

Good night.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Palm Sunday

So Palm Sunday has come. During the epic-length, but very cool service (musical homily, gospel read in parts, Jesus and Pilate perfectly cast), we had a time for healing prayers. This is a part of service that Epiphany's Liturgy Committee wanted to experiment with for a few months- first Sunday, healing prayers. This is the second time they've been done.

Now, those of you "in the know" may know that Epiphany has been a parish that had a Past. Their size shrank to life-threateningly small. They are essentially a parish that is on life-support- working very very hard to keep that next breath coming in. It can be hard for them to celebrate when things go right. (The bake sale and luncheon were VERY successful. The choir sounds great and has a new member! There were 41 people in church today.)

Yet so far, both times, a kid has come up for healing prayers. They come just like the adults, sit down, and we talk, just like adults.

In Epiphany, the kids feel that all parts of the service are open to them. There is nothing about this God that they are "too young for". The church and its rites and its sacraments are theirs. They feel no compunction about claiming their place in the line for prayers or bellying up to that altar rail.

And that is very, very right indeed. Hallel.... oh, wait... seven more days!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Fund-Raising Page Up!

YAY!!! The Epiphany fund-raising page is up at THIS PAGE. We are fielding a team again for the Bishop's 5K. I want to put ALL our funds in this page so we can meet our goal of $250.00. We already have one big donation and can be sponsors of something. I'm really excited, since this is a great endeavor that helps one group help dozens of groups that help hundreds of kids all over Connecticut.

Please consider checking out our page and marveling. You are also welcome to donate- EVERY CENT COUNTS! Come on, show 'em that a small church can rock the casbah!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Sometimes Sermons Don't Work...

Despite the plethora of sermon-preparation resources at my fingertips (from online sources to my trusty old books and notes), sometimes sermons just don't GELL.

I started working on this one on MONDAY. I spent 5... that's FIVE... hours in the library researching and poking at this sermon. I took three of my own books. I hit up the libraries resources. I drank a whole bottle of water and wore through the battery on my computer. I made a few pages of notes.

Still nothing.

All week long, I read the words of other priests also wrestling with this passage.

Still nothing.

M asked me what I was preaching on.

Nothing.

It's after 11, a time when I usually have at least a draft to work from. What on earth am I supposed to do? Urgh. I have no sermon. John is a most frustratingly obtuse writer, really. Where are we supposed to focus with these musings of his? You'll note there are NO cute children's sermon illustrations centered around THIS passage.

What's a priest to do?

Input is invited from any of my colleagues, active and retired, who happen to be reading this. RC, where'd you get to, these days? Haven't seen you for months!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Not a day over 30...

I turned 30 on Tuesday. It still sounds rather shocking. As a child, I used to actually feel *different* on major life occasions. I *felt* 7 when I turned 7. When I got my final report card in 2nd grade, I *felt* like a 3rd grader. That softened up from here on out.

I felt rather depressed for a while. I mean, my only real life goal by this point was to survive and to become a reasonably productive member of society. Being that I run around with people who carry guns and get in scuffles for a living, I think I've done decently. No major work-related injuries, and the last broken nose was thanks to my late dog. I haven't managed to break anything in the last few years, and have successfully not caused any fires, car accidents, or dropped innocent babies for a few years now. I'm about to finish my taxes. And I recently realized that all my awesome friends are turning 30 with me! All those girls from Leach 1st floor are with me! So, survive, and become reasonably productive. Mission accomplished.

But what now? I'm a 7 on the Enneagram scale. We are always looking for the new adventure in life. I do confess to feeling stagnated in Connecticut. It feels so same-old. I have said about three times a week that I'm moving back to Virginia (thanks to CT's horrible winter!), but I know that I left Virginia for good reasons. Grad school for M, the chance to work for Bishop Smith in THIS diocese, the chance to be closer to family and see if they like me any more. (Secretly, I think my family is on a mission to convince me to buy a house and start having babies. It's kind of depressing, really, to realize that they seem to expect me to be the Priest all the time. They look at me funny when I swear, drink a second glass of anything, or make a superstitious gesture. And then expect I will fulfill all the family religious rituals. PRESSURE!)

I've been dreaming weird dreams lately. I have always dreamed VERY vivid dreams. I've always been able to dream lucid dreams. But lately, I'm finding dreams full of silver keys, that I put into locks and turn with all my might... but they won't unlock. What's behind those locks? What's there? What's waiting? What's next?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Book Clubs And Teaching moments

Last night was night two of the Lent Book Club series. The book is "The Shack", which I admit was an interesting surprise. At times, the writing tends to the glurge-eriffic (a little melodramatic and emotional, perhaps), and at times, I'm not totally on board with the God (are we creating a new stereotype of the black woman as big, happy, and deeply spiritual?), but it was a reasonable read that is creating good discussion.

Granted, I would have liked to see a larger group. After an initial group of 17, I split the tables up into three groups (two for the book club, one for the Vestry), and hoped to stimulate more discussion in smaller groups. 17 is a little large to have a real in-depth discussion. But with several Vestry members AWOL, we were able to keep the group in one group after all. I got a lot of flak and talk-back on splitting up into groups. My favorite comment was, "Well, everyone will just sit with everyone they know, and we won't get to know anyone else!". Well, if that's the problem, then you need to learn to say to your friends, "Hey guys, I love ya, but I'm going to go sit with that group over there to get to know someone new, ok? We'll do lunch."

The vestry had a nice meeting, though a few grumbles are re-surfacing. The vestry is doing a great job of being very can-do and positive thinking. We get some grumbles, like around the Palm Sunday service. The Liturgy Committee and I decided to have just Morning Prayer, followed by rehearsal for the Passion Gospel, then a BIG, All-stops-pulled Palm Sunday service at 10. Last year, I had a ton of complaints that there was no communal reading of the Gospel. This year, I'm responding to that. But honestly, in a parish with an average Sunday attendance of 25, you can't do two all-stops-pulled services in one day. You gotta put your energy and your eggs in one basket. Is it ideal? No. But I'd rather have one service done really, really well, then two services just half-baked. In a part-time parish, even at the "high holies" of the year, I feel we best serve God by doing liturgy deeply and well- even if it means fewer liturgies. Do fewer services and do them astoundingly well, rather than a lot of services badly done.

Of course, I'm a little confused right now. I was getting complaints that I just DID things and didn't teach anybody what was going on. Then I started going over services with the participants before the service so we could all understand what was happening and why, and I started doing short explanations before the service of new bits of the liturgy. Now I am getting the complaint that I'm being too "teacherly" and spending too much time explaining when people just want to worship. Oy! What's the balance?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

On Flying Squirrels and Defense of Parish

Regular readers might recall the Adventures last summer involving the flying squirrels. They were tiny little guys back then- probably small enough to curl up in a half-cup measure.

I opened my office door into the parish hall today, ready to pull the easel out into the hall for use in tonight's class, when who do I catch red-pawed in the middle of the floor but one big ole fat flying squirrel? I made a startled squeaking sound (okay, I screamed a little). He just stared at me, probably aghast that he was caught. I dropped the easel, pulled the liner out of my wastepaper basket and prepared to capture him.

I'm not sure if he was slow because he's fat and out of shape, or if he's just dumb, but he sure wasn't moving very quickly or doing a very good job of plotting his escape route. I caught him, took him outside, and released him.

He promptly leapt into a pricker bush and got his little flaps of skin all caught on the prickers. Don't worry- I was all set to help him, but he just twisted around and used his paws to un-catch himself. He must do that a lot...

I wonder if catching squirrels is the same principle as catching trout- you catch and release the young tiny ones, so that by the time they grow up a little, they are bigger and tastier. Of course, they've also gotten smarter, so you have to be a little sneaky in how you catch them. This squirrel certainly hadn't improved in intelligence at all, but he certainly got bigger and fatter.

Well, guys, that is YOUR PRIEST at WORK! Forget sermons. Forget visiting. Forget committees. It's all about defending my people from the onslaught of VARMINTS. I am the servant of the Junior Warden, who officially records in his logs that he is working to eradicate the Varmints. You go, Jim. I'll be waiting with the wastebasket for the next one.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

On Not Traumatizing Young Kids

So, the Old Testament today was Noah and the ark. (You know, great flood, God saves, rainbow in sky...) For the sermon, I had a great prop of a simple boat-shaped pulltoy that I have filled with Ikea finger puppets of animals. At the 10 o'clock, I invited the kids up and had a conversation with them on the story. The idea was to use play to discuss myth and legend, and how Noah's ark wasn't a real story, but a legend passed down so we could know a great truth about God (God intimately interacting with God's people through salvation). The kids were 7 and 10.

Developmentally, they are just getting into different places. I asked, at one point, how could there be a ship where a desert-dwelling elephant and a swamp-dwelling frog could both be happy. The 10 year old replied that the ark was just the precursor of the big cruise ships, and they'd just be at different ends. There they go, with the image of the giant, city-sized boats of today floating in their mind.

When I got to the part where I started working on "the story isn't factual", I started seeing the seven-year-old's eyes getting bigger and bigger and a look of abject horror growing on her face: the same sort of look kids get when you are about to destroy the tales of Santa Claus. Whoops!

A lot of quick restructuring happened, right then. The rest of the sermon pretty much blew, since it all hinged on "the story doesn't have to be real in order for us to know a great truth about God". But at least I did not make a seven-year-old cry in church.

Whew. Poor kid's mom is going to have her hands full. "Mommy, why is Noah and Thumbelina different types of stories?"

Somehow, developmental ages never came up like that in Seminary. No one ever cautioned us to be careful around Noah and kids, lest we destroy the magic.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Reasons to Know Jesus Loves Us

I initiated a new Policy-from-on-high in this here parish that I rule with an iron fist. I was getting kind of grossed out at "leftovers" getting left in the parish fridge for sometimes weeks at a time. Sure, they might be cookies from the cookie walk, but I'm sorry, after they've been frozen, defrosted, put out for coffee hour, and refrozen a few times, they're done.

I put up a sign reading "Items left in fridge over 2 days may be tossed or eaten. (The Pastor likes eggs and cookies). Please label your items if you don't want them eaten!" The first week, I got a dozen eggs, a few cookies, and few slices of toast out of the deal. Then I cleaned out the junk (as in, that nasty bottle of ketchup with the expiration date of last May).

This week, the fridge was empty of contraband! Good thing I brought lunch. There was only milk, chocolate sauce, and orange juice. What is the health conscious pastor to do!

Fortunately, because I work for Jesus and I think he might like me just a little... chocolate milk actually has LESS SUGAR and fewer carbs and more protein than orange juice. Therefore, chocolate milk is healthier for you!

Amen to that!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Score One, Church School!

Wow, two do-good parish events in a week. Today, we were going into sermon time. Typically, after the gospel, the kids go out for a little church school called Sunday Breakout. Because of Safe Church, we require that the teacher have a second adult with them. Usually, a parent has been going.

Until today!

A brave and intrepid choir member (whose kids are all grown up) got up, and elected to assist in Sunday School. Can I even say how much that rocks to have a non-parent helping out with the kids? I think the moms were really relieved to be able to stay and hear the sermon (and snuggle her newest baby) while their older kids were getting some educatin' going on.

So- choir member D.J., thank you SO much for going out! That was awesome! I hope you guys all had a great time with Breakout teacher C.S.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Score One, Parish!

Those of you in the know are aware of what a struggle it is for my little parish to fully embrace hospitality. I just wanted to give them a little shout-out for some do-goodin' today. That's right, little Epiphany, there was some good stuff happening today.

We had visitors, with three small children. One was a two-year old, who did what two years do and had himself a little two hour meltdown. The parents were visiting family and could have easily been mortified, but they sat in back. While the parents double-teamed the two-year old (taking him out to the car in shifts to calm down a bit), the usher did a fantastic job of reassuring them everything was okay, providing books for the older kids, and helping the parents get up and down. When it came time for Sunday Breakout (sunday school), the other kids in the parish invited the visiting kids to come.

At the peace, all the kids shook hands with everyone, except that I got caught in a crush of people and couldn't reach one knot of kids. So I shot them a "peace" sign, and they "peace'd" back. Well, the acolyte gave me the Texas Longhorns sign. I will have to speak with her father about that. I mean, I love the Longhorns as my brothers in Christ, but we are a Connecticut state, after all. After the Huskies, there is no space in my heart for any other college team.

So, all-in-all, a rather successful day for a parish that has struggled in the past with welcoming the stranger. I thought they did a great job today! And we had noisy kids, a giggling acolyte, a couple of dropped prayer books, and a little bit of chaos sprinkled among our order. That sounds like decent church, to me.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Safe Church?

So, there's been a very interesting conversation going on in my circle about how safe should the church be. There are many stories in church employment that go like this: priest hired as an assistant. Things go well at first, but assistant is not a doormat. Personality conflicts arise, and instead of working through them, the rector fires the priest without the assistant having any recourse to mediation, or being able to appeal, to keep their job, or to have any kind of severance for involuntary termination. Oh, and did we mention that church employees are not eligible for severance pay?

One friend pointed out that the church on one hand should be a safe place. We go to Safe Church training so that our people may be free of fear of abuse from clergy. That absolutely is a holy endeavor. She then raises the question of whether church (and God's work) ought to be truly safe. Jesus walked a little on the wild side, himself. He touched unclean people, ate with sinners. I mean, he even stood between an angry mob and a woman caught red-handed in adultery. Definitely not safe.

My own work has not been safe. I remember a schizophrenic man who wasn't always on his medication, but who was an excellent physical laborer and who helped out at every church event. I remember a rough man arriving later in the day, who was begging for help as he considered suicide. In the hospital, I walk every day into rooms where people have MRSA. In the police world, I wear bulletproof and combat boots. No, my world is not "safe". (Sorry, mom.)

But I do expect that my world should be free from abuse. In the Episcopal church, we all vow to "strive for justice and peace and respect the dignity of every human being". We all renounce the evil that is Satan. That should go for all of my bosses and my friends' bosses as well as for me and my friends.

Just because we work in the church and just because our work is "not safe", it doesn't mean that a total lack of job security should necessarily go with it. Firefighting isn't safe either, but if you have to be terminated, you have the right to be represented by a union rep and you have the right to fight for your job. Your job of running into burning buildings isn't safe, but your right to live your life free of undue fear should be.

In my ideal world, when relationships between clergy start going downhill, we should be forced to sit down and work with a freakin' mediator, even if it takes months, to forgive each other's shortcomings and to seek how we can go forward reconciled, renewed, and forgiven. Imagine what a powerful world it could be, if that were the standard your clergy were held to.

Yes, this work is not safe. We are called to go into all the ends of the earth as bearers of God's light. But I do think the church and its human relations and its hiring practices should be.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

So you have a new Dentist?

So, shortly after moving, I got it into my head that maybe I should finally get my act together and find a new dentist. The demands of residency, the long commutes, the fact that dentists in Southbury weren't in my insurance plan, combined with my general fear of dentists meant that I hadn't been to the dentist in a while. And a short while ago, I started developing a dull ache in the jaw, plus headaches. I have sensitive teeth, so I reluctantly decided it might be time to visit the dentist.

He took a long look, and declared I needed new fillings. No, wait- not new cavities. Just new fillings. The old fillings had cracked, and few parts of them had actually fallen out, leaving exposed open spots.

I mean, whoever heard of that? They bribe little kids at the dentist, by telling them that it'll be ALL OVER soon, and that you'll be ALL DONE. No one says, "You'll be all done... until you turn 29 and then we ruin your life by having to do this all over again!"

Seems like nothing, not even tooth fillings are permanent.

Churches aren't permanent either. I've been thinking seriously lately about how to shake things up at Epiphany. There's some good think-tanks going on, but definitely resistance to the idea that it's time to change HOW WE DO church at Epiphany. (At least at the 10 o'clock service...)

I didn't want to change my fillings. I was terrified. But the dentist did lots of novocaine (I'm getting feeling back now), and he did a cool thing- he went ahead and did what he needed to do, but he gave me a mirror so I could watch if I wanted to. He explained things, showed what he was doing... essentially, gave me the museum tour of "how to get a filling changed". The changing of the filling itself STILL wasn't that fun. But at least it was bearable. And right around now, it's getting to be pretty okay.

I bet I will barely mind at all for the next set of replacements in three weeks...

Monday, January 26, 2009

Not Quite Resolutions

I don't believe in resolutions. At least, not for the secular New Year at any rate. My new year and my resolutions began at the first of Advent. One of those was to be more organized and tidy. Some of my friends call me a neat freak. I live in fear of my inner messy getting out. If I ever took Ambien, I wouldn't sleep drive. I'd sleep-mess-things-up. I'd wake up a house where socks are strewn everywhere, cat dust bunnies roll threateningly across the landscape, and dirty dishes pile the counters. Since that sounds frighteningly like the place I currently make war against, resolutions to be organized are always good!

In the spirit of "More Organized", I did a great job of setting up a system of folders, to-do lists, and dividers in a notebook I call my "Book of Everything". It had 4 pockets, a to-do list, a calendar, a divider full of emergency info, a parish directory, and a notepad. Each Sunday, I choose several projects to work on for the week. One is always my sermon, but the others might be a Diocesan blog entry, the Vestry report and agenda, an article to work on, or a parish event. What I like about my system is that I always had my immediate "to do" projects at hand in my bag, which also has my keys and pagers, so I can work anywhere, anytime.

What I didn't like was the waste of paper (4-6 pages of paper for the readings, alone, each week). What my acupuncturist didn't like was the weight. I had a full size, 8x11 notebook. It *is* honestly hefty. With my laptop in the bag, it weighed well over 10 pounds, and apparently may have been a factor in the chronic back/neck pain and stress. Not to mention was the paper load and my urge to green my office by going paper-less when possible, and the need to recycle so much.

Obviously, some lightening was in order. I took a hard look at my "book of everything" and realized that I could adequately do most of my work if it were half the size, and I could stop toting so many documents if I made more use of my flashdrive. If I printed my calendars and readings on pages that were half the size, I'd save paper. My readings now take up 2 pages instead of 4-6! Global warming stopped! Trees saved! Environment rescued!

I even got to be thrifty. Typical planner binders start in the low $30s and go up over $130. What's a thrifty (read: cheap) chick on a budget to do? I went to Office Depot... on a mission! I went alone, since I'm a terrible, slow, indecisive shopper who browses, selects, debates, chooses, changes mind, puts back, browses more, has brainstorm, puts back... But I lucked out. On my third browse through the aisles, my eye fell upon this telephone address book. It was the right size, it was cute-but-dignified, and it was just 20 bucks! I also splurged for the fancy "to do" and "subject" planner pages. In high school, my mom tried valiantly to teach me to make my own on recycled paper, but there's just something about the virgin paper of the plastic-wrapped To Do list and Project pages I just can't resist. Hey, I'm printing my own calendar pages and cut down my sermon to 2 pages, what more do you want?

I took my loot home, made a martini, and spent the next half hour cutting down the dividers in my big notebook to fit. I even discovered folders that fit perfectly in our receipt saver!

We'll see how it works. Will my new mini "Book of Everything" keep me organized, allow my stressed back to heal, and fold my socks for me, or will it also fall by the wayside of best intentions?

Addendum: Jan 30. Clearly, because her mom is a pain, the Vagabond must clarify. The main calendar is kept via her beloved Palm Centro, the phone that is also her brain. It is only the CHURCH and WORK related calendars and projects that go into the Book of Everything. Things like sermons, calendars including special services, and liturgical days. Trust me, no one needs to carry the liturgical calendar around all the time. If I'm on my day off, I don't care whose saint's day it is. The book of everything is limited to work related things only. So I can safely leave it in my work bag and ignore it when not working. See? Brilliant.

Bonfire...

My mother mentioned that I should probably discuss WHY the church burned stuff the other day, lest readers be confused. Was the church protesting the secularization of Christmas? Was it a way of making carbon compost for our flower beds? Was the parish so strapped for cash they'd resorted to creative methods to keep warm? Why the heck did I dress up like a druid?

Here's the skinny- that was not a druid outfit. The Druids are actually still an extant religion in some form. No, I was wearing my classic clerical cloak. It is made by Wippell's, and was a gift from my family for my diaconal ordination. It must weigh about 12 pounds of solid wool (think old school, U.S. Navy peacoat- that kind of thick wool). I only get to wear it a few times a year, but when one is off to the cemetery or the outdoor service and wearing full clericals, a parka just looks weird at best and disrespectful at worst. Actually, in my dreamworld, President Obama will ask me to do the Invocation for the next inauguration, and I will show up in proper office vestments with my tippet, my lined cassock, my surplice, and this cloak topping it off. Not only will I be warm and toasty, I'll teach those boys how the clergygirls do it. Here in the real world, the cloak is actually very appropriate outerwear for vested clergy. And, yes, I do know it's pretty damn cool.

The bonfire is a fairly common "12th night" tradition, where people burned the decorations of Christmas and welcomed the new year. I've heard myths that, because evergreens are hung for various superstitious reasons (such as hanging holly over the door so that no evil spirits can enter the house), they collect spiritual debris and should be burned. You may make up your own mind on that matter. Others say that a large bonfire is simply a fun way to dispose of used-up decorations. Instead of a landfill or dump, reduce the trash.

In our case, we were celebrating the latest of the 1st of the Season Evensong services. It was Pam C's tree that went up. I was amazed at how quickly all those greens caught fire. I'll be very timid about ever having another greened Advent wreath! It was a simple parish event to celebrate the start of the Epiphany season. We hope that more people will join the fun next time!