Friday, August 31, 2007

Friday Five: Seasons Change...

Reverendmother over at RevGals gave us this Friday Five:

It's Labor Day weekend here in the United States, also known as Summer's Last Hurrah. So let's say goodbye to summer and hello to the autumn. (People in other climes, feel free to adapt as needed.)

1. Share a highlight from this summer. (If you please, don't just say "our vacation to the Canadian Rockies." Give us a little detail or image. Help us live vicariously through you!)

Standing among the tidepools of northern California with my 4 year-old. I shared with her a favorite pasttime from my childhood: squishing sea anemones and watching them squirt. I do this as gently as possible, and only a few times! They're just so squishy and cute!

2. Are you glad to see this summer end? Why or why not?

I suppose so. My husband is on the academic calendar, so the summer represents family time and a lot of teamwork regarding the house and the girls. So it's hard to transition out of that but I feel ready for the return of more routine and schedule.

3. Name one or two things you're looking forward to this fall.

Well, I'm looking forward to starting my discernment committee. At least, I have been looking forward to it until recently. Right now I'm dreading it and in terror, but I think I just have to START. Once I get a date I'll feel better. No, once I have the first meeting I'll feel better. I'm also looking forward to exploring the Saving Jesus curriculum with my church. It's the focus of our Christian formation this year and should be very interesting and thought provoking.

4. Do you have any special preparations or activities to mark the transition from one season to another? (Cleaning of house, putting away summer clothes, one last trip to the beach)

Not really. I like the idea of this. I like ritualizing passages. Especially here in California where seasons blend into one another.

5. I'll know Fall is here when I start feeling like baking apple things and making butternut squash soup for dinner...when the air gets drier and the sky gets bluer and I feel like pumpkin things...when the one deciduous tree (Sycamore) in our back yard view starts to turn orange.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Falling in trust

Something happened yesterday. I won't go into details, but something...a possibility...a hope...appeared and was a big reminder to trust God. One can hear the words "trust God" from others, but the truest way to remember this is to experience it. So I am thankful for the perspective it gave me. For the energy and hope. Why does this alway seem to happen when we're at the end of our ropes and not before? Maybe because it strengthens our faith. If it happened before we wouldn't need it as much and we wouldn't notice it as much.

Who said that "there are no coincidences, just spiritual puns." I think it was G.K. Chesterton.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Morning After

I feel better after last night's late-night post. And a little sheepish and vulnerable. But feels good to release those demons into the written word. Written word that is actually read by other unknown witnesses. I think it's good for me, if a little embarrassing. I feel the temptation to qualify those thoughts, to dilute some of the tone, but no. I'll just let it lie there and be. And here I am today, feeling a lot better and with a little more perspective. Maybe it was watching the recent film Becoming Jane. Mercy! I SO TAKE FOR GRANTED the liberties women have today. What a world it was back then. NO freedom. SHACKLES of class and fortune or lack thereof. It still exists today for many people, yes, but not for me and for that I am, at least today, grateful.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Scary to post this one cause it don't make me look good. Should probably do a bit more of this.

Authenticity. Honesty. Integration. These things don't come easily to me. Or do they? Jeez, these thoughts just feel so narcissistic, and yet they consume me lately, as I approach the beginning of official discernment. I was flipping through Listening Hearts, one of the books recommended to discerners and there was a phrase that warns against making an idol of discernment. Ouch. I am guilty.

But how can I help it? It is so overwhelming to consider a life-changing move, a huge decision that impacts others I love dearly? And all this business of "call." Do I feel called? Yes and no. Unfortunately, I feel so distorted lately. I feel so far away from that energizing life-affirming God seeking place of call that I have felt. Now I am stuck in a mire of neuroses and paranoia and fear. What if it's all just a huge ego trip? What if I just like the idea of being a priest? Sometimes it doesn't feel at all like entering into a humble life of service, but a powerful position of purpose and importance. I just need to write these words because I need to realease the power they have over me. What if I'm so full of it? I know I've written this before. What if the most loving and "Christian" thing for me to do is to resign this dream that feels so much for myself and truly live for others, like um, actually be present to my children and family and neighbors? Why do I have to be ordained? Why can't I just support my husband's career instead of threatening it? Why can't I just volunteer my time as a layperson at church? Why this insistent obsessive pull to the priesthood? Some would say it's a call. It's sure not letting me go. But I so fear its motives. I suppose that's a healthy thing, in a way. At least I'm not this egomaniac certain of God's call. But I'm an egomaniac in a different way...obsessed with this process and so doubtful. And yet....And yet....How I am to claim any sense of call when I'm so stuck inside my head listening to all these voices?

Just a little Vent session

Warning: I am about to vent about mom things.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAaagjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjj. Okay, I feel better. Ya know, I really have nothing to complain about. But I'm still pulling my hair out. I'm a "stay-at-home" mother of a 2 year old and a 4 year old. I am just so TIRED of never being able to complete ONE task. AND what's really getting me today is I spent the morning taking them to a park and met a friend there and I just wanted to complete ONE sentence with her. It was absolutely impossible to carry on a conversation. I brought the kids to a fun place where I wanted them to just PLAY without me so I could have an adult conversation. Forget it! I felt pulled in so many directions and I spend so many of my days pulled in all these directions and it feels like I'm going mad. When I tell Husband about this, he listens, but doesn't really get it, because whenever he takes them for a few hours he manages to complete 3 loads of laundry, play with them beautifully, and tidy the house, without breaking a sweat. But I struggle. And it has a lot to do with me being with them all day every day. I love them. I live in a ridiculously beautiful city. But unless I spend the whole day on the floor with them (which I am not willing to do), it feels like a desperate attempt to just do ONE thing without them screaming and whining and trying to kill each other. This will be better when the 4 year old starts preschool. And I know that I have particularly "active" children. On my worse days I take it personally, but I've realized lately that it really is their personalities. And it will be wonderful later...they are so full of personality. But sometimes I envy the dull sweet well-behaved children I observe sometimes with their mothers. Of course, I'm sure I'm just catching them at a good moment. sigh. Sorry. I just needed to do this. I SO hope my desire to go into the priesthood isn't because I'm desperate to get out of the house. I know it's more than that but I wonder sometimes. Thank God they're in quiet time right now. bye.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Waking up to my life

Today as I was at the beach with my family, life hit me. Does this ever happen to you? It was as if I was floating along in my day, doing the tasks set before me, then WHAM I realized what was actually around me. I stared at my little girls frolicking in the sand and the waves. WOAH. I have two daughters! And this is what they look like!! I remembered back to my teen years when I daydreamed about what my children might be like some day. And here they are! And here I am! Trippy. And wait a second, look at that hot guy. That's my husband. The same guy I bitch at and take for granted a lot of the time. He's so handsome. And look how he plays with his daughters. It was like a DOSE of the PRESENT. of the MOMENT. That we so rarely allow ourselves to experience. I think it was brought on by one of my favorite authors Annie Dillard. I'm re-reading her authobiography An American Childhood and in it she writes:

What a marvel it was that so many times a day the world, like a church bell, reminded me to recall and contemplate the durable fact that I was here, and had awakened once more to find myself set down in a going world.


Time streamed in full flood beside me on the kitchen floor; time roared raging beside me down its swollen banks; and when I woke I was so startled I fell in.


Who could ever tire of this heart-stopping transition, of this breakthrough shift between seeing and knowing you see, between being and knowing you be? It drives you to a life of concentration, it does, a life in which effort draws you down so very deep that when you surface you twist up exhilirated with a yelp and a gasp. Who could ever tire of this radiant transition, this surfacing to awareness and this deliberate plunging to oblivion - the theater curtain rising and falling? Who could tire of it when the sum of those moments at the edge - the conscious life we so dread losing - is all we have, the gift at the moment of opening it?

Help! Attack of Atheism

I know you've had one. An atheism attack. My most recent one happened two days ago after I read about the devastating earthquake in Peru. I know there are horrible things that happen every day. And I shake my head at them, heave a sigh, but move on pretty easily. Probably too easily. But the fact that 85 people died while worshiping in church has just pummelled me. They were praying and the walls caved in. Is nothing sacred? I know children die unjustly every day. And this should send me into despair as well. But it was this that did it for me.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Friday Five, Word Association Redux

Today is Friday Five from Rev Gals. I'm not feeling particularly verbose today, but I like these words:

Below you will find five words. Tell us the first thing you think of on reading each one. Your response might be simply another word, or it might be a sentence, a poem or a story.

1. vineyard
Well, I think of all the vineyards in these lovely mountains of Southern California...all the wineries and vines full of grapes...and how they're all covered in smoke and ash right now. I think of the great movie Sideways and all the commercialization it's brought to this part of the world, bringing the good and the bad with that. I think about how the vines will continue to produce sweet delicious grapes despite these wildfires...which brings me to the association with the next word...

2. root
I think of roots as the saving element...they go deep down into the soil where they draw deeply from water unaffected (to some extent) from the smoke and dirty air above.

3. rescue
the image of a live-saver comes to mind...the kind a lifeguard might throw to me in a pool.

4. perseverance
Man, I need this now. Perseverance in not giving up on me.

5. divided
Well...the church. That comes to mind immediately.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Seeking Christ

I'm enjoying this book right now: Taking the Plunge: Baptism and Parenting by Anne Kitch. In Chapter 10, she writes about the part of our Baptismal Covenant that asks Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself? She writes: "We're marked by the sign of the cross on our foreheads to signify that this bond with Christ is sealed. Yet this ritual is a symbol for something true for the entire world. We believe Christ saved all of creation. Through baptism we choose to participate consciously in that salvation. Nevertheless, Christ saved the entire world, baptized or not. That's why we can seek Christ in all persons. We can look for in any person that which is the redeemed image of God. What does this mean? It means to look for that which is risen in one another - that which is beautiful, powerful, and loving. This promise asks us to 'seek' out the image of God in others. We are actually to go looking for Christ."

I love this. Of course, it's nothing new, but it hit me in a new way when I read it this morning. I've witnessed so many baptisms and I've read those words so many times, but never really paid attention to the "seek" verb. I love the notion of actively seeking Christ in others...especially in others in whom Christ is hardest to see.

She connects this to parenting and offers a story about how we as parents need to avoid knee jerk responses, even when our children may have acted terribly or disrespectfully. Not that we should avoid harsh discipline, but that we need to take a breath and really listen past the behavior and sometimes just offer grace and love them through their ugliness. I could REALLY work on this. When Center of Attention spouts off some of her attitude I tend to fly off the handle. Nothing gets me going more than when she is blatantly disrespectful. And of course I shouldn't allow this behavior towards me. But perhaps I can be the grown-up and take into account the time of day, her level of fatigue or hunger, the situation at hand, and sometimes offer a hug instead of a reprimand...or at least just let it go sometimes.

Anyway...this book offers much to chew on and great ideas for living out our baptismal covenant as parents and creating a spiritually nourishing home environment.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Hail, Mary, full of grace

Husband and I left the kids with my parents and we drove up north one mile to the town of Mendocino...time to get away together for an afternoon and evening. It was beautiful on the road, but I was in a funk. Under a shadow. In the grip of icky grumpiness. There's just something about being around my parents and brother...I just get dark and judgmental. Such a shame because we're in this beautiful place together and it feels like I can't control it. Husband sweetly turned to me from behind the wheel and asked if there was anything I wanted to talk about. "Not really", I sighed. I didn't feel like exploring it. We arrived in town and grabbed lattes to go and walked out to the headlands and found a spot atop a rock jutting out over the bay. It was unusually still...usually very very windy this time of year. And I felt my tension melting away. For one hour we just vented...but it wasn't gossipy mean venting, it was more like just letting go of thoughts and feelings...together. My mood lifted and I felt so close to Husband. It was so therapeutic being alone together in the open air with all that beauty around us. We were sifting through a lot of stuff. At some point, I shared my worry about I feel called to be less greedy and more free and less of a hoarder and more of a giver...we had a good talk, but I felt weighed down by this. It was time to go and we meandered back through town, all the shops closed for the day. But there was one with its doors wide open and golden light pouring out. "Wisdom House" the sign read and I saw an incredibly inviting image of Mary in the front entrance and I had no choice but to go in. It was just too inviting. I walked in and I was surrounded by the most healing and powerful and womanly images of Mary. I'm sure some of the paintings were goddess imagery, but so many of them were Mary. I gushed to the artist, the shop-owner, how much Center of Attention would love her gallery...she loves Mary. But it was me to whom these paintings ministered. Husband and I spent 15 minutes in there but I left feeling so peaceful and joyful and just okay about everything. It's was only later, after reading through her catalogue, I realized how "new age" you could label that place. But there was so much beautiful divine feminine energy in pretty much knocked my socks off, and I am sensitive to new-agey stuff and stay away from a lot of it. But I am so grateful that Mary reached out to me yesterday, reminding me how loved I am, reminding me how beautiful I am and how hard I am on myself. Thank you, lovely woman, full of grace.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Technologically spoiled

Well here I am "up north" as we call it and it appears I won't be blogging as much as I hoped. It takes FOREVER to check email and use this computer...I'm so used to my DSL at home and this is dial-up. So...that's my lame excuse in case I don't write much while I'm up here. We've been picking huckleberries today...will make a pie with Center of Attention later. Should be fun. And we were hiking along the tidepools and almost stepped on what looked like a big rock...turned out to be a huge sea lion! Glad it reared up when it did. They are loud right now! So loud that they can keep you up at night. The cutest thing EVER: in the middle of the night, I woke up and heard The Two Year Old stirring in her pack n play...she was just lying there making her little sea lion bark, imitating them. She did it a few times then rolled over and went back to sleep. A delcious moment for me. The rest of the family arrives tonight and I'm making paella. yummy! I'm enjoying Sara Miles' book Take This Bread. I'm only a little way in, but loving her description of the Eucharist. Anyway, be back soon, I hope.