Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Just Another Brick in the Wall…

As some of you know, my ministry is going through a rough patch right now. I’ve spent a fair amount of time in ministry, lay and ordained (admittedly, mostly the former), I’ve been in the work force a while, I didn’t fall off the turnip truck yesterday. But the last few months have been the most difficult I have ever endured, by far.

Back in November, I went to a denominational conference. I had a wonderful time—worked my surplice off, but I had a great time. I learned good stuff; attended amazing worship; connected with old friends, renewed friendships, and made new friends; raised my profile among my colleagues (which may or may not be a Good Thing); and was energized to come back and put some of those new ideas into place.

I came back and hit a brick wall.

Now, people who know me will tell you—I’m not exactly the bulldozer type. I didn’t come back and try to impose stuff on people. I don’t lead by commanding folks to fall in line. If anything, I’m too much the opposite—I try to seek consensus when sometimes I should just lay down the law. So the wall didn’t come from resistance to my insistence. Perhaps the wall had been there all along, and I just hadn’t noticed it until I was away for a while, getting some affirmation and opening myself to new opportunities and ideas, getting some support for who I am and the work I’m doing. And then when I came back, all charged up and ready to go, there it was, in the way.

It hurt big time.

And I have continued to beat against that brick wall. RDQ and I were going to dive into new ministry patterns together…I think I jumped into an empty pool.

It’s gotten a bit better in the last few days—a lifeline or two has been thrown my way, and I think I see the light at the end of the tunnel—unless it’s an oncoming train (to mix metaphors beyond belief).

On my other blog, Lavender Chronicles, I’m talking about the possibility of a doctorate. For a while I wondered if my interest was related to my recent frustrations, and it is, but not in terms of a way out of this situation. It’s not that I’m contemplating running away to a doctoral program to avoid dealing with this situation. I’m very clear that I’m not leaving here voluntarily. It’s more that considering the possibility of a doctoral degree gives me a focus beyond this congregation, reminds me that there are other options out there just in case, gives me a constructive project to work on aside from and away from the congregation. If I want to do this PhD thing (not DMin, probably) in two years (more or less), I have to start catching up on reading, try to get a reading knowledge of another language (or two), and decide if I want to do this and how and where. It gets my head out of the pain and difficulty of where I am, of the things that I can’t control or even influence. Call that escapism if you will. It’s my reality at the moment.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Friday Five: Companions for the Journey


The RevGalBlogPals Friday Five this week is five companions for your journey.

I’m not sure how to look at this: my life’s journey, my Lenten journey, a trip in general? Some of them would be the same anyway, so here goes:

1. A mentor and former professor of mine, Denise. She is a gifted Biblical scholar, a warm, insightful and sensitive human being. When I was once going through a difficult time in my ministry, she told me (yes, it is burned into my memory, because it has served me well many times), “On your worst day, you are better than they could ever have expected.” I have actually travelled with her, under some trying circumstances, and I must say she bore the difficulties with more grace than I did. She also plays a mean hand of Hearts, always useful on a trip.

2. My friend Dan. He too, is warm and insightful, not to mention supportive. He can see the humour in almost any situation, and get you (or me, at least) to that place as well. I have travelled with him, too, and he is a definite plus for a trip--he can always find the good restaurants!

3. My mom. She loves to travel—metaphorically and in reality—and is a great companion on the way. It doesn’t seem to matter how recently we spoke—when one of us calls, we generally talk for an hour or so—about family, the meaning of Communion in different denominations, the play she saw last week with a friend, and the issues and concerns and frustrations of life. Her pastor thanked me once—she said that my mom was one of her most appreciative parishioners, because Mom knows what pastors deal with, because of her conversations with me. We can travel together down almost any path.

4. Believe it or not, my dog. He’s not much for long walks (his legs are too short), but he’s a wonderful companion on the road of life. He likes to cuddle against my feet (keeping them warm) when I'm reading, he listens well and doesn’t ask too many questions, he doesn’t demand his own way all the time, if I don’t get home on time, he doesn’t complain, he loves to ride in the car, and if he gets two square meals a day, he’s very happy.

5. Tall One, my son. Yes, he’s hard to get up in the morning, but he’s a great conversationalist, and he sees things many of us miss. He’s also fairly adaptable and willing to try new foods (and new activities, if they are represented in a “cool” way). Not to mention that I don’t see enough of him anyway, so travelling with him in any way, shape or form is a plus.

This has been a week of sheer h*ll, so it is no mistake that all these people are supportive and nurturing!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Travel!!!



Reverendmother’s Friday Five meme at the RevGalBlogPals is all abut getting out of town… So here we go!

1. What is one place you make sure to take out-of-town guests when they visit? (you can be vague to preserve your anonymity if you like)

Here in River City, we have an amazing waterfront. At one time in the city’s history, it was covered with docks, stores, etc. Now it is a miles-long park, with sculpture gardens, playgrounds, topiary, snack bars, fishing spots, fountains, benches, etc. Every year in late June, there is an amazing fireworks display over the river—a joint presentation of River City and Big American City Over There. They’re celebrating JuneTeenth (the celebration of the Emancipation Proclamation ending slavery in the US) and the Fourth of July—we’re celebrating Canada Day. Everyone in River City, pretty much, goes to the river that afternoon/evening and watches. The best fireworks I have ever seen—and I’ve seen plenty. So I would take (and do take) visitors to see the riverfront, but if they are here at the right time, they see the fireworks, too.

2. When visiting another city or town, do you try to cram as much in as possible, or take it slow and easy?

That would depend on why I’m there. If I’m in town for a conference and have an afternoon when none of the sessions appeals to me, I’ll leave the conference and do some sight-seeing. But if I’m there on vacation, I try not to schedule too much at one time—it is my vacation, after all!

3. When traveling, where are we most likely to find you: strolling through a museum, checking out the local shopping, or _________________?

Probably the museum or historical sites. The other alternative is just wandering the streets, getting a feel for the place, maybe sitting in a sidewalk café reading the local paper (assuming it’s in a language I can read!).

4. Do you like organized tours and/or carefully planned itineraries, or would you rather strike out and just see what happens?
I try to strike a balance between planning—so I get to see what I want to see—and spontaneity, so that I can take advantage of opportunities, or take an afternoon off if I want/need to. That unplanned part of a trip may be the most memorable part!


5. After an extended trip, what do you find yourself craving most about home?

My bed. That and my own dresser/closet. I get very tired of unpacking and repacking. I took a two-week trip through England, Wales and Scotland once, travelling by train. About halfway through I realized I had brought way too many clothes. Now I make a point of packing half of what I think I need—and twice the cash!


The photo is of Salisbury Cathedral in England, and yes, I did take this one myself, from a bridge over a small stream near the cathedral. The light was amazing that day--we went from Salisbury out to Stonehenge, and I got some great photographs there as well.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Blessing of Relationships


(On the Sunday closest to Valentine's Day, I like to do a Blessing of Relationships, which recognizes all the relationships that are important to us. Here's what I'm doing this year; it will be right after the sermon)

Today we celebrate the relationships in our lives—those relationships that bring us joy, that nurture and support us, that bring us comfort and love and hope. Perhaps that is your relationship with a partner—Valentine’s Day is coming up. But these supportive and loving relationships can be with a friend, as I feel supported and loved by my friends, or by family--my mother and son and my sisters and my uncles. Whoever it is, bring those people to your mind now, name them in your heart….

(Pause)

Holy One, pour out your grace and love on us and on our relationships—all our relationships. We thank and praise you for those that nurture us, that give us hope and joy. Bless us, bless our relationships—with partners and spouses, with friends and loved ones and families, with those we know well, and those we are coming to know, with our co-workers and with our fellow-members in this congregation and in your church around the world. Where our relationships have become tattered or broken, heal and repair our hearts and spirits, knit us again into your pattern of love. Give us grace always to thank you, the source of all love and blessings, for all the relationships in our lives. In all your many names, amen.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Sing, Sing a Song...

This week’s Friday Five from Songbird at RevGalBolgPals is an American Idols edition!

Here we go…


1) If I could sing like anyone, it would be either Josh Groban or Judy Collins. That clear, effortless soaring voice is what I aspire to (and rarely achieve).

2) I would love to sing the song--no, I can’t name just one. There are some I think I sing better than others—the Alleluia from Shrek, The Highwayman (Loreena McKennitt version), to name two; and some that are just way too much fun—I Know What Boys Want (The Waitresses), Lucky (Melissa Etheridge), When You’re Good to Mama (from Chicago), and I Am What I Am (many versions). I wish I could sing well enough to sing the Pi
é Jesú from John Rutter’s
Requiem.



3) It would be really cool to sing at Wolf Trap Farm Park (outside Washington, DC) or the Kennedy Center, or Madison Square Garden, or Red Rocks Amphitheatre (near Denver, Colorado) or the Hollywood Bowl, or at the General Conference of my denomination.

4) If I could sing a dream duet it would be with k d lang (see hot photo above), Josh Groban, or my sister, whose voice is stunning.


5) If I could sing on a TV or radio show, it would be probably the last time that show was ever on the air! I would love to have sung on the Carol Burnett show… maybe Saturday Night Live in its heyday during the 80s.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Still Breathing...

Hello out there....

Yes, I am still here. Not likely to go anywhere, either, with the cold outside.

Haven't had time for blogging--my time and energy were used up elsewhere this week, and then I took a much-needed mental health weekend.

But I'm back, and I think I'm comin' out swingin', so beware! I am so over being accommodating!

Hoo hah, Tawanda!!

(To be continued....)