Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Day 19:NaBloPoMo- Blog Fail

I tried to blog every day in November, but life happened, including a family member hospitalized, an unexpected funeral, the router at the manse is on the blink, and I am trying, trying, trying to keep my head above water. I did get to the gym a lot. There's that.
I've accomplished a lot of good stuff since last Friday. But it wasn't National Write a Sermon month, or National Bake Cookies Month or National Visit Lots of People in the Hospital Month. I serendipitously started my Christmas shopping, found amazing yarn for 75% off, and spent a whole Saturday with the good folks of the Presbytery of Chicago. I've cooked some pretty fantastic meals, too. I've thought a lot about our presbytery's desire to look ahead with hope and the resolve to do some things differently. We got very bogged down with the title of "community organizer" for a new staff position, the job description for which was overwhelmingly approved. The title bothered some and excited others. For that exact reason, I was intrigued by the title, because it engaged folks in immediate discussion. Pretty brilliant. As an assembly, we granted the search committee permission to choose the title for the position. I can't wait to see what they decide. So, I've failed at writing a bog post every day for a month, but what I've learned is that having the right tools is important. I think I could have maintained a nineteen day streak if the computer at home were behaving. I'm shaking the dust off that failure nonsense. I didn't meet the challenge, but I blogged consistently for the first half of the month, which is better than I've done in a long time. That's not failure. And I have beautiful new additions to my yarn stash. That's never a fail.

Friday, November 14, 2014

NaBloPoMo- Day 14: Blessings and Thankful Hearts

Our women's group met for lunch yesterday and the soups were phenomenal. The topic for the afternoon was gratitude and one of our parish associates gave the presentation, which was thoughtful and filled with poetry. I was asked to give the blessing. Here's what I shared: Food for Thought-- “A woman once told me that she did not feel the need to reach out to those around her because she prayed every day. Surely, this was enough. But a prayer is about our relationship to God; a blessing is about our relationship to the spark of God in one another. God may not need our attention as badly as the person next to us on the bus or behind us in line in the supermarket. Everyone in the world matters, and so do their blessings. When we bless others, we offer them refuge from an indifferent world. “ (Rachel Naomi Remen)
We Bless Each Other-- Turn to a person next to you and offer a blessing. “May God bless you today with a grateful heart” might be one. Another option: “May God, who loves you, bless you to love others this day.”
Our Table Blessing-- Gracious God, Source of all Blessings, You have been extravagant in your generosity. You have planted within us the seeds of hope. You have nurtured within us the saplings of faith. You have harvested the fruits of your creation and spread before us the feast of all possibility. Words cannot express our thanks with extravagant generosity. May we offer our lives to you in acts of compassion for one another. May we walk gently upon the earth, ever mindful of our gifts of breath, of love, of life itself. Amen. (Anne G. Cohen) Images from here and here and here.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

NaBloPoMo- Day 13: A Trellis

We have a purple clematis that grows outside our house. It's massive and we attach it to its trellis each year with whatever is close by. Sometimes we use twine; one year we had grosgrain ribbon at hand and used it. We've used twist ties from garbage bags, embroidery floss, some of the string we use to tie up our newspapers before recycling them. It does not seem to matter a bit what we use to tie the clematis to the wooden trellis. It stays affixed all season and looks lush and beautiful every year. It is blooming where it's planted and it is thriving.
Part of my formation as a part of the clergy renewal program in which I participated for two years at Our Lady of Grace was to study and to learn about the Rule of St. Benedict. I read a portion of the Rule each day on my Kindle. (I'm hoping St. Benedict doesn't mind a slightly higher tech approach to his brilliant rule. It really works for me.) Another part of that time, which concluded last May, was to write my own rule. We learned about an approach to a personal rule for life being like setting up a trellis on which one's life can be lived. For some reason, for the past six months I have resisted writing a personal rule. Friends in the program have completed theirs and e-mailed them, and with a start, I recall that I need to complete mine, too. (There's a lot of stuff that applies to no one else but me that I put off doing in favor of the triage of life that is really common. I see the pattern. I really do.)
Last week, my friends at the Benedict Inn, which is one of the arms of continuing education and renewal offered by the Sisters of St. Benedict who changed my life (no exaggeration) two years ago, sent this small announcement within their newsletter: "A Trellis that Supports Your Spiritual Life A Rule of Life serves as a trellis to help support your spiritual life. This evening will introduce you to what a Rule of Life is and how it might help you on your own spiritual journey. It is a way to help you pay attention to what makes you a better you! Thursday, Nov. 13, 7-9 PM Sr. Jennifer Mechtild Horner, OSB"
How much more of a nudge do I need? If I lived closer to Indianapolis, this would be the night. Except, I have been introduced to what a Rule of Life is and how it might help me on my own spiritual journey. (Note that the workshop will be held tonight.) My trellis, my rule, definitely needs to include time for reading and personal devotions each day. It needs to include time for intercessory prayer. Some part of the trellis should represent time with my family. Time is fleeting and life is simultaneously strong as iron and fragile as gossamer. I want that time with my nearest and dearest. Some part of the trellis needs to be daily, physical exercise. Duh. Duh. Duh. A portion of the trellis must be a little creativity. I write a lot, so I envision this part being knitting, cooking, quilting as another place in my brain to utilize. I think the feet or the arc of the trellis would represent gratitude. I've had a practice for a while (a blatant steal from my friend ADC) of praying a grateful prayer each morning and then accompanying that prayer with a thank you note to the one for whom I am grateful. I love this practice and it has sustained me in ways I never would have imagined.
My world is filled with people who practice a Rule of Life far better than I. What am I missing? What would you suggest that I add or edit? After hearing from you and considering your great thoughts, I'm ready to call this my rule. Project done. Trellis installed. Life to be savored some more.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

NaBloPoMo- Day 12: Looking/Seeing, Hearing/Listening

So, hanging out in doctors' offices and hospital waiting rooms and grocery stores and the gym, for heaven's sake, are teaching me in new ways that we're just too busy as a society. We are pressed by deadlines, billable hours, insurance requirements and the need to Get.Things.Done. In addition to being busy, or crammed full, we're not very patient as a society. It's a little bit scary, because impatience or inattention can lead to error at the worst, or inefficiency, frustration or wasted time, at the least. Prescribing medication for the second time, when the doctor has been warned that the patient does not tolerate it well, leaves everyone comprised. When the patient representative asks someone four times in the span of ten minutes if they have a living will or advance directive, it makes for inside jokes and smiles, but really, it's just an example of inattention and not listening to oneself or others. No, really, what it does is leaves people feeling that they haven't been listened to. And honestly, there's nothing quite like the sting of feeling unseen or unheard. And there's nothing better than those increasingly rare occasions when someone listens well, sees clearly, "gets us". I wish it didn't feel so rare and exotic. Image from here.

NaBloPoMo- Day 11: What a quiet day looks like

Our church office is closed today, but Veterans' Day is one of those funky holidays. Some businesses and schools observe it; others do not. Bank holidays are considered church office holidays where I serve, kind of a planned snow day. It's great for staff morale, but today three of us showed up to take advantage of the phone ringing less frequently, so that we could catch up on some writing with deadlines attached. Hilarity ensued when the phone rang no less often, and we couldn't ignore it. We yelled into the air, "We're closed" and then answered the phone as usual. Folks stopped by and rapped on the door to be let in. We should have been clearer, and we will next time and swap our outgoing voice mail messages for some "office closed" words and place a sign on the outer door indicating that we are closed. Then it really would feel like a quiet day.

NaBloPoMo- Day 10- Be Careful What You Wish For

As it turned out, today was very different than I had hoped it would be. My beloved's test was short and sweet, and I thought it was the only hospital visit of the day. A phone call mid-afternoon brought news that my stepfather's pre-surgical blood test needed to be redone, so we dashed over and got that done. By 5:00 p.m., we learned that the re-test showed a dangerously low sodium level, so the surgery was cancelled and we were advised to head to the emergency room. It was a busy evening at the local ER, and it took three hours and forty five minutes to be seen by a doctor, who admitted my step-dad and I headed home, after he was sent up to the medical floor, for dinner and dog walking. The week is shaping up differently than it began. I got a good pot of soup underway before the day took its unexpected turn, and got a lot of knitting done in the emergency room. Sadly, the trip to the gym got shelved, but there is always tomorrow.

NaBloPoMo- Day 9: Planning

Here's what I started and saved before our home computer crashed. (I really have blogged every day this month. I've just been unable to post.) Tomorrow is quickly filling up with errands, which is part of what a day off is meant for. We'll be up earlier than usual to get my beloved to the hospital for a test, then back quickly for a furnace inspection. After that, the day will be less scheduled, but the to do list will keep me close to home. On days like tomorrow, I enjoy setting some goals to weave into the day. I'm planning to knit a little, read a little, exercise a lot, and make butternut squash soup. This, friends, is the prescription for a perfect day, in my book. Let's hope.