Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Conference!


I really had to resist the temptation to title this "Desert Exile."

Arizona. July. 1200 (more or less) Christians from around the world. My denominational conference.

"One of these things is not like the others, one of these things just doesn't belong. Can you tell me which thing is not like the others, by the time I finish my song?"

I know it's less expensive (relatively speaking) to have a conference in the desert in July. But oh dear Lord, the water consumption! And ten (10) (TEN!) days away from my own house and nice firm bed...and all the community projects (which I am sure will fall apart without me--NOT!). And all my friends...the Professor will have to find someone else to do wings with on Wednesdays, Monsieur won't have anyone to drink his cider with, Music Man won't have to think up words, the Yellow House will overflow with undrunk beer, Office Man won't have anyone to pick up after, and who, oh who, will keep Brit Boy in line?

Anyway, enough whinging, as Brit Boy would say. In all reality, I am looking forward to this very much. It's reunion time, it's study time, it's worship I didn't have to plan (although I am helping with it in a very very minor way), there's a bit of party time (aka "fellowship" in church talk), it's even a bit of vacation time. It will be nine days (I'm taking one day off, RDQ!) in the desert with my colleagues, my friends, my mentors, and my teachers.

I can't get packed and out the door fast enough.

I will attempt to post once or twice, but if you don't hear from me, it's because RDQ and I are by the pool with teh kd and teh Banderas, who are SO not delivering sermons this week.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Come Out, Come Out Wherever You Are, and Meet the Pastor Who Fell From A Star....

I think I'll be cross-posting this one to Lavender Chronicle...

See, the thing is this. A few years ago, my mother moved back to the town where I (and my sisters) grew up. She went back to the family church. She became active. All this is great, totally in keeping with my mother's spirit and not the point of this spiel anyway. It's just to lead into the fact that she's come to know many of the other women at the church, through Bible study and the women's group and so on. Her last name is different from mine, by the way.

Well, at the mother-daughter Mother's Day brunch last month, a woman who looked vaguely familiar sat down next to my mother, and began talking. She looked at me intently, glanced at my name tag, and asked if my last name was "Pastor." At that moment, I recognized her, she recognized me, and much laughter ensued. She and I were part of a small group (four) that spent a lot of time together in high school. We were the four musketeers of TeenyTown. One of us has moved out of state and our lives. But the fourth member is not far away, and so we agreed that the three of us remaining in-state (or sort of in-state in my case) had to get together.

It's set for this coming week--dinner at a restaurant not far from my mother's home.

But. The reunion situation wasn't one in which I could exactly come out. You don't drop that on the table in the middle of a church Mother's Day brunch, just before the nice man gives his talk on Wild Birds of Our County. I couldn't mention "my partner" as a hint because I don't have one (partner, that is; and the way things are going currently, my next partner may be a guy--which is a whole other post--and so wouldn't have helped anyway). I did give her my card, but it doesn't out me either. On the other hand, if we're going to renew our friendship, I have to come out. I spent too long in the closet to go back in.

So. I will be coming out to two old friends from high school whom I haven't seen in close to twenty years.

In telling this to my current friends, the reaction has been mixed. Brit Boy thinks I'm a "madwoman" (yes, that's a direct quote). The denizens of the Yellow House think it will be interesting. Music Man says to have an alternate form of transportation home (I'm to ride with one of my friends). The Photographer wants to be a fly on the wall. Other reactions have ranged from a shrug to "it will be fine--they were your friends," to a wistful "wish I could have done that."

Well, I'm sure my mother would have warned me if she had thought there would be "issues." She knows the one woman well enough from working with her in the church to tell me.

I guess my musings are more around the topic of coming out as a continual process (or "pro-sess" as we say in the land of maple leaves). There's always someone who hasn't heard or you've just met, a new doctor or real estate agent or whatever. Now, I know my former partner was listed in the last reunion booklet (four years ago), , so if one or the other of these ladies was paying attention they would have picked up on it. But they may not have. Or they may have and didn't want to mention it.

So. There may be no drama at all--or one or the other may be startled. But I remember these two from a long way back. I'd like to think they haven't changed much from the accepting, intelligent, friendly people they were then.

I don't think I'm a madwoman for coming out to them--even in the British sense of the word (i.e., only slightly nuts), and while it may be highly entertaining for those not involved, my guess is that, in reality, it will be low-key and no surprises, with no need for extra money for cab fare.

Stay tuned. Promise to update later.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Friday Five: Hot Town, Summer in the City...


Friday Five from the RevGalBlogPals...

...or town, or suburb, or hamlet, or burg, or unincorporated zone, or rural area of your choice---pretty much anywhere but the southern hemisphere, it's summer. (Australians and others, consider this an invitation to take a break from winter for a while.)



1. Favorite summer food(s) and beverage(s)

Food: Steamed crabs, hands down. Devilled eggs, Raspberries. Blueberries. Especially over home-made ice cream.

Beverages: Iced tea.

2. Song that "says" summer to you. (Need not be about summer explicitly.)

For some reason, “Brown-Eyed Girl.” Also “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” probably because it was very popular one summer when I spent a lot of time by the pool listening to the radio. Any camp song.

3. A childhood summer memory

Long car rides to visit family; this was pre-air-conditioning in cars, so it was hot and sticky and my sister always sat on my side of the backseat.

Sitting in the breezeway (screened porch between the garage and main house) with my family eating dinner or watching TV or reading. We lived out there in July and August.

4. An adult summer memory

German beer gardens, sitting under the chestnut trees, drinking a radler-mass (half lager beer, half lemon soda), eating roast chicken and listening to jazz.

Lying on the beach at Rehoboth or Dewey Beach, going into a sort of zen trance; the sound of the waves mesmerising me, the cries of the seagulls and children a counterpoint, the warmth of the sun baking me…a state between awake and asleep. Very restorative.

5. Describe a wonderful summer day you'd like to have in the near future. (weather, location, activities)

Now are we talking reality here or fantasy? I’ll do both.

Reality (i.e. what’s likely to happen): Gardening in the morning, with a leisurely lunch on the porch, followed by a stroll downtown with friends, perhaps dinner at an outdoor cafĂ©, and the evening spent, again, on the porch with them in conversation and drinking good wine.

Fantasy: At my seaside cottage, with my (currently non-existent) significant other; stay abed late, luxurious brunch on the deck overlooking the water, followed by an afternoon on our beach, swimming and sunning, then dinner with friends on the deck with a sunset sail afterwards and nightcaps by the fireplace (it gets chilly by the water after dark).

I notice these have in common: friends, food, being outside, and certain beverages.. I’m not quite sure what that says about me.

Optional: Does your place of worship do anything differently in the summer? (Fewer services, casual dress, etc.)

In the past, we’ve moved to the basement. I think we’ll stay where we are for now, in a smaller room upstairs that is air-conditioned. It’s more intimate, anyway.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Books!

Sally has made me jealous by reporting her trip to the Cambridge (England) book shops. As a result of her trip (well, she was really there for a conference), she offered the following Friday Five.


1. 1. Fiction what kind, detective novels, historical stuff, thrillers, romance????

Mostly literary—historical or modern-type literary. Some science fiction and fantasy, but I have gotten extremely picky about that over the years. I have a few favourite SF/fantasy authors who I pretty much stick to (Guy Gavriel Kay, Joan Vinge, Dan Simmons, to name a few), unless someone whose taste I trust recommends another one.

2. When you get a really good book do you read it all in one chunk or savour it slowly?

Oh, savour. I rarely have time to read a whole book at once anyway—or even quickly.

3. Is there a book you keep returning to and why?

King Hereafter, by Dorothy Dunnett. Her contention is that MacBeth (yes, of Shakespeare fame) and Thorfinn were the same person—it’s an obscure bit of Scottish history, but she does magic with it. KH is multilayered, historically accurate, and heartbreaking. DD creates the most amazing characters—they’re not cardboard, not puppets. At the same time, she makes you (the reader) work a bit—she rarely has the characters explain anything outright, so you have to pay attention to implications and hidden meanings and remember what was said about the topic before… Yes, there are mental gymnastics involved. But her Thorfinn is one of the most amazing literary characters of all time. I read it slowly, then when I finish, let it sit a week or two so I can recover—then start it again.

4. Apart from the Bible which non-fiction book has influenced you the most?

Coming Out Spiritually, by Christian de la Huerta. I’ve mentioned this amazing book before here. Christian makes the point that to come out as a gay man, lesbian, bisexual person or transgender person is not enough—we must also “come out” in a spiritual sense. We must claim our spiritual identity as well as our sexual/gender identity. I read it at least once a year. If Christian offers a workshop at a conference or meeting you are attending, I highly recommend it. He will expand your mind in ways you didn’t think it could go, trust me.


5. Describe a perfect place to read. ( could be anywhere!!!)

My favourite is on a porch, in rocking chair, with a glass of lemonade or iced tea at hand, my feet up, and some good music floating out from the open window. Paradise. It doesn’t matter where that porch/deck is, either—ocean beach, lake, mountains, back yard…any or all are good!


(please note: I have tried several times to correct the formatting, but Blogger isn't playing nice today)

Monday, June 11, 2007

Better Preaching Through Less Writing

I had my annual evaluation yesterday.

I like this Board. I received a very constructive evaluation. Sometimes an evaluation is, “You’re great, we love you,” which is nice, but not helpful. Sometimes it’s “We think you’re awful, we can’t wait until your contract expires,” which is not pleasant or helpful. This Board does a good job.

One of the suggestion/comments has had me thinking ever since. They thought the sermons I preached from outlines were actually more engaging and real than the ones I preached from a manuscript. As some of you may remember, I did preach from outlines for a while earlier this year, but went back to manuscripts (I don’t remember why).

The truth is, at least for yesterday, that procrastination and the temptation of time spent with friends instead of the sermon got the best of me this past week—so while I knew where I wanted to go with the sermon, I hadn’t sat down with it and worked on it. So what I preached from was my outline (detailed), with needed facts, quotes, names, etc—factual stuff—written in, and the rest left to me, or more accurately, to the Holy Spirit moving in me. Well, the Spirit did some moving indeed—turned out to be a good sermon, and they said so.

My seminary preaching professors kept pushing us to preach from outlines, and I resisted greatly.

But now I have to admit, they were right. Imagine that!

With the manuscript, I was tied to that as to what to say—of course I would depart from time to time, but most of what I said was right there in front of me, and I didn’t feel free to go beyond it—and I didn’t have the spontaneity of simply talking, either.

So I’m going back to outlines for a while. It doesn’t mean any less preparation—but it may allow me to improve my preaching!

Friday, June 08, 2007

Friday Five, Travel Edition

Friday Five!

Cathy of the RevGalBlogPals ring asks:

Suppose you were told to pack some essentials for a trip to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Describe your location, in general or specific terms and....

1) What book(s) will you bring?
2) What music accompanies you?
3) What essentials of everyday living must you take (as in the health and beauty aids aisle variety)?
4) What technological gadgets if any, will you take with you or do you leave it all behind?
5) What culinary delights will you partake in while there?

As a bonus question, what makes for a perfect day on vacation for you?

Well, this one is near and dear to my heart. I’m up to my nose in stuff—I realized the other day that I have exactly three days in June with nothing scheduled—which means I’ll be using them for writing sermons. July is going to be even worse, I think, with my denomination’s conference the first week, three weddings, and our local Pride celebration (for which I am vice-chair) the rest of the month. I am so getting away in August.

Location: At the moment, I’m leaning towards my favourite retreat centre, GilChrist, in southern Michigan. I had a very fulfilling week there this past fall. On the other hand, that would be solitary, and while in some ways I will probably want a break from people, I’m not sure I want to be totally alone. On the other other hand, I don’t have a special someone to go anywhere with, so it may be a moot point. Maybe the ideal location would be one that offers opportunities for both socializing and solitary reflection.

Books: A mix of fun things I’d like to read and may even have started but haven’t been able to find enough me-time to read and those things I want to read for professional development or that are simply more serious. Are we looking for titles? Here are a few: Iliad, Dan Simmons; Praying Twice, Brian Wren; The History of Sexuality Michel Foucault; In Memory of Her, Elisabeth Schuessler Fiorenza; The Gospel and Science Fiction, Gabriel McKee; catching up with my New Yorkers.

Music: A mix of kd lang (of course), my meditation music,and Loreena McKennitt, with Brit Boy’s house music mixes (great for a workout), and some Bob Seger and Jimmy Buffett for road music.

Essentials: Shampoo. Toothpaste and brush, hairbrush. Soap. Deodorant. Razor. That’ll do it.

Technology: Well, if I had an iPod, I’d take that, but as it is, I’ll take a CD player (whether personal or portable), and my laptop. Even if there’s no Internet (maybe especially if there isn’t) since that’s how I now write—journals, letters, etc..

Food: The meals I enjoyed on my retreat last fall have set a pattern for me. Roast chicken, cheese, salad, fruit, crackers, eggs (a variety of ways). A few relishes and snacks—sweet gherkins, lime corn chips. Of course, that’s for a retreat where I’m doing the cooking. If I were at a hotel/resort/spa/B&B, I’d explore whatever is good locally—specialties, local wines/beers, fruits, etc.

Perfect day: sleep later (but not too late), journal on the deck/balcony over coffee, big breakfast, sight-seeing/shopping/seminar/galleries with a congenial companion in the morning, late lunch, back to home base for reading/writing/swim/walk, then with/after dinner conversation with a larger group. The rest depends on the company…!!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Graduation, Exhausted Edition

Ten hours each way driving by myself.

One son, graduated.

One friend and her daughter, baptised.

Many meals (steamed crabs, BBQ, Pakistani, Italian), eaten.

Many friends, reunited; many more stories told and memories remembered.

One exhausted RP heading for bed.

Good night.