Thursday, June 29, 2006

And awayyyyy we goooo...

Well we are soon off to Western Mass. for our yearly camping trip- it's probably my favorite week of the year, this. We camp at a very UNrustic campground called Bonnie Brae, which is pretty much in someone's back yard- the neighborhood around us is noisier than the campers. Every year we get our camping boxes out of the basements, check everything off on the checklist that's been handed down through my family, pack and go. We hang out little sign on a tree at our site, and a big American flag, and can't wait to get the campfire lit. We do the S'mores thing, we eat tacos, I impress everyone by making biscuits on a stick, and we have a wonderful time.
The central point of the weekend is a trip to nearby Tanglewood for the live broadcast of A Prairie Home Companion. It's where Scott and I got enaged, 6 years ago. We lay out a picnic cloth and lounge around, loving the perfection of the place and listening to the show (we can't see much from the lawn) and feeling just... goood goooood joy. At the end of the show, Garrison invites everyone into the shed to sing songs and I always get a little teary, as I am apt to do in happy situations. (you know me)
On Tuesday is the fireworks in our town, the best ones around- and all our friends and family gather to barbecue and go to watch the show together. Scott's parents throw a great party on their deck and we always have a great time. Maybe this year we'll end the night around our fire ring here on the hill.
It's weekends like this when I find myself hoping that nothing will ever change in my life. I love the routines, the traditions, the rituals. I love the friends and family I'm surrounded by, and I love the life we've built.
Come on by, sit by the fire with us. Join in the joyride.

Monday, June 26, 2006

so here's the thing about that...

Don't you think that's just bizarre? There are a thousand Youth Ministers here in the RCAB, and they approach their former YM's husband? Isn't there anyone in their parish who could speak to their candidates? How about the pastor, for the love of God? If it was my philosophy of ministry that they didn't like to begin with, wouldn't ya think that my husband/colleague would be of the same ilk? And do they just possibly not know how painful that it was for me to leave there, the kids I loved, the program I had created and believed in? So, if they have any idea of that (my personal pain) would they not think Scott shares that pain?
They say that if you can work for the Catholic Church and remain Catholic, then you're way ahead of the game. These are the things "they" are talking about. How does a group of people work for GOD serving GOD'S PEOPLE and have no idea how to treat people justly and respectfully?
Scott and I talked about this all this morning, of course. His response to the DRE was securely high-road and polite, (although he offered to mean it up a little!) and really, what can you say? My version would have been "are you freakin' kidding me?" But it's not my reply to send, and it wouldn't make much progress toward God's kingdom, I reckon. I told him that leaving that parish has been one of the two most painful experiences in my career. It still feels like a divorce to me, like we broke up and went our separate ways. I don't regret leaving, I know it was the right thing to do and the time to go, and clearly (now) it was God's plan for me- but I still can't help but think "how could they let me go??"
I hate Mondays.

I was going to say "unbelievable"

So this morning, Scott forwarded an email to me, which he received from the DRE at my former parish. She asked Scott to come speak to their Confirmation class in the Fall, because their Youth Minister (who they replaced me with) had recently left. She gave a list of dates, and said "give my love to Margo".
This parish, which is a tiny spot on the North Shore of Boston, near where I live. I worked there for 9 years- at first part time, and then full time. I was one of the lowest-paid youth ministers in the RCAB, even after 7 full-time years. I completely changed their Confirmation programming to one that focused on mentoring. The new program, which I called Legacy of Faith, was (in my humble opinion) damn great, and we were starting the see the fruits after a full year of it. It was being recognized on the national level, and I was asked to write and speak about it for the NCEA.
But then I got a phone call from my pastor, telling me that the new finance committee had decided that they didn't think they could pay my salary anymore. My very, very LOW salary.
At my going-away party, I was presented with a letter opener from the staff and committee. It was engraved with my name, spelled wrong.
That Fall I returned for Confirmation, because I was sponsoring a candidate there. It was uncomfortable being there, and before the Mass the new YM asked me to stand up as a "special guest", and thanked me for being there. She then proceeded to tell the candidates that they had been given an "abbreviated" preparation for the Sacrament, and that she was sorry about that- and that next year, the kids would be going back to a 2-year preparation program so they would be getting much more. She was trashing my program, right in front of me!
Last week we heard the rumor that this YM had left, but no word as to why.
Then this morning, they wrote and sweetly asked my husband to come pitch in.

Saturday, June 24, 2006


I've just finished the online course I've been taking about the National Directory for Catechesis. That's the new doocument by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops about Faith Formation. It's a great document, and I'm glad I took the course, so as to force me to read it. I must confess that I didn't read it quest as assigned... some weeks I did answer the questions without reading the chapters, but I did go back to read it all.
The things I take away from my reading are that faith formation must be constant and purposeful- that every action we take as church should be seen through the filter of catechesis (teaching). I love the thought of that. Here's a takeaway quote from the document:
"Christs relationship with his disciples also reveals God's own methodology as the model for all catechetical methods. In a sign of basic human affirmation, Jesus chose his apostles; they did not choose him. He established a bond of friendship with them that was the context for his teaching. "I have called you friends," he said, "because I have told you everthing I have heard from my Father." He engaged them in lively conversations by asking them probing questions: "Who do people say that I am?" He gave them hope: when they saw him coming toward them on the water, he said "Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid!" After he taught the crowds, he explained the meaning of his teaching to his disciples "in private". Jesus said to them "knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven has been granted to you..." He taught them how to pray. He sent them out as his apprentices on mission; he instructed them, "Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me." To sustain them on their mission, Jesus promised to send them the Spirit of Truth, who would lead the Apostles to all Truth."
Now that's a model for ministry.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

I am the woobie!

This year, (more and more each Spring actually) I am loving gardening! I never really got why people were so into gardening, what with the dirt and the bugs and all that. But I do love it. My little garden out front is bursting with pansies, and out back I've planted young morning glory plants which will grow and vine up the giant shrub that divides our property from our neighbor's. It's a neat little secret flower bed that's mostly for my pleasure, since it sits just outside the kitchen window and I can watch the flowers bloom while I stand at the sink to do dishes.
Last year I realized that gardening and youth ministry have much in common. As I was tying pieces of string to give the glories something to climb until they got tall enough to reach the shrub, I thought about how this is our job as YM's= to be the bridge for kids' faith until they can latch on in a real way, as adults with adult faith. In the Godbearing Life, they talk about adolescents needing adults as "transitional objects". A T. Object is something like a blanket (blankie! Woobie!) that helps toddlers feel comfortable in different situations, because their T.O. is there. For adolescents, WE get to be the woobies that help kids feel grounded through all their changes. What a blessing!
We may not be the vine, but we can be the strings that lead to the vine...

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


The news is out, big layoffs finally official from the Archdiocese of Boston. Rumor has it that Kathy and Steve have kept their jobs, but the office is being combined in the Family Life Office (whatever that is!) and the Young Adult Office. Boston used to be the diocese that set the bar- and now we're seeing Youth Ministry pushed aside and moved out of sight. I don't know how much the OYM staff can do, in this kind of a setup, and if they can't do much, I can't see the RCAB keeping the office alive. Maybe it's the best thing that can happen- we can wipe the slate clean, start building great things in parish Youth Ministry, build strength on the regional level, and then the future Bishops will see a need for diocesan leadership again someday. Part of me wonders if that is what Fr. Tom planned in his last years there?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

be here now

I left my retreat with an assignment, I believe. Well, two, really. One is "Be here now". That's an expression that's used often on retreats and wilderness experiences that is meant to focus people on being in the moment, instead of worrying about the future, or even about what will be happening next. When you spend your energy in fear of the future and what might happen, you tend to miss a lot of what's going on around you. I spend a lot of my energy wondering wondering worrying about just what God's plan is for me, where I'll be a year from now, what I'll be a year from now... my silent time with God this weekend (too short!) got me thinking it may be time to slow down and Be Here. Now.
The other assignment is about listening. I saw a Dharma and Greg episode once where Dharma was in a hospital chapel, talking to God. Her spirit-guide (read: dead native-american-indian guy) came to her and asked what she was doing. She said "I'm talking to God!" He said something like "Oh, God- the creator? Ruler of the Universe? Lord of all things? And you're doing all the talking?"
I talk at God alot- it probably sounds like "wah wah wah" to Him...and I'm not good at silence. I squirm and fidget a lot, and my mind goes in weird directions, anywhere but here/now... but I want to work on that. I'm going to try to put some silent time in my days this Summer. Maybe it'll catch on.'s quiet time!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Now it's 83 degrees!

All my leftover Easter candy is melting! Must eat it now!

82 degrees

That's the temperature in my office right now. How about that! I am sweating off my body fat while getting ministry work done! I'm a lucky girl.

Yes, I'm a little cranky today- I admit it! It happens! I don't feel like seeing anyone I work with face-to-face, (although a visit from my assistant was very nice!) and I just can't wait to get out of here and to Bible Study tonight. I love that Bible Study is on Monday nights, because Monday is my unhappiest day. Not because of the typical back-to-work-after-the-weekend misery, (I come back on Sunday) but, I guess because it seems like the poop always seems to hit the fan on Mondays.Today, just as on schedule, the poop has hit the fan. And, did I mention, it's HOT in here?

Walking into Nancy's house is almost like my soul goes "ahhhhhhh...." The food is always comfort food, and the company is always buoying. I can't wait to get there.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

waiting for the brick

I just rolled in from the first (of many I hope!) Youth Ministers' retreat that I've attended in a loooooong time. (Not since Jim used to offer the YM's Ski Retreat... those days are sadly gone and sorely missed!) We stayed at a little piece of heaven called The Mellos, run by the Dumaine family, in Jacksonville VT. WELL worth the trip and the best place ever to have a retreat, summer or winter.
Our theme was "the still, small voice" and we used the scripture 1 Kings 19:8-13. It was so perfect to be way up there in God's country (literally)and, after seeing the majesty of the mountains and the beauty of nature all around us, to focus on listening to God's whisper to each of us.
I recalled a quote (I can't remember where I found it, years back.) It goes: "You can listen for the whisper or you can wait for the brick." Every time I happen upon that quote, I resolve to listen more closely to the whisper... and of course God knows to get His brick ready for throwing!
I'm thankful for the wonderful people in Youth Ministry in the Boston area, for my God-sent friends, for the great conversation we had around the campfire, and all the laughter we shared. Retreats always seem to come just at the right time. I'm ready to get back in the game again.

Thursday, June 15, 2006


Scott is giving me a hard time, because I misrepresented what he was doing early in the morning yesterday. It wasn't 8th grade graduation (I fixed that and wrote "last Mass at his parish school") and it wasn't exactly the "last Mass at his parish school" either- it was the final, closing Mass for his parish's school, which is officially, as of now, closed. For good. The Mass was the final, last one. Ever. And it wasn't AT the school, it was at the church. Okay?
Also, he blames the rain glut that we've been experiencing around here, on the fact that my blog is called "Too bad it's raining". For this I take full responsibility. And I'm not complaining.

Why Wait?

I've been thinking a lot lately about how upside-down the world is for kids these days. Especially this time of year when every grade level is having a "graduation" and everyone is getting awards for something, or everything... when 8th graders and Junions and Seniors are having proms and semi-formals (there's no semi about it- kids at semis are a heck of a lot more formal than I am at yer average wedding!).
It seems like when I was in high school, it was about getting ready for adulthood. Semis and proms were to give us practice for when we were glamorous adults, attending our own adult soirees... teaching us how to behave and walk in heels and dance backward (although we never really went backward but rather around and around...). Adulthood was something we were all striving for.
Now, it seems to me, we are encouraging young people to cram all the experiences that used to be "adult" into the first 22 years of life. When I speak to young people, their focus is on college, not adulthood- they have all picked out colleges but have no idea as to what their majors will be, or what they "want to be when they grow up". it seems that the message to kids now is that life is good up until your graduation from college, that they should get all the fun in NOW, before it's too late. No one, it seems, talks with kids about what adult life is, or can be, or should be.
It makes me wonder if anything is special to kids anymore. If you've been to three proms, with three new gowns and three limos and three hair/nail/makeup appointments, how special is your senior prom? If you've graduated four times in full cap and gown and tassel regalia, how special is high school graduation?
Maybe kids today have a bigger, better capacity for seeing the specialness in things that they've done before.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

I'm up early

Here's my day today: right now I'm helping Scott get ready for work (It's the last Mass at his parish school this morning- I set the alarm for him for 6:03, but apparently the volume was down so low that we slept until, curiously, exactly 7:03). At 9:00 Martha arrives and we head to the airport. I have Wednesday Walks around the Blocks today at 2 and again at 5:00 (that's my brilliant Summer programming: come take a walk with me!) At 7 I'm seriously considering going to Kindergarten graduation. It's not a miserable day, but a loooong one. Maybe it's the early hour, but I'm not feeling very deep or verbose today. If I think of something nifty, I'll post something later. Yawnnnn...

Sunday, June 11, 2006

who's the boss?

Scott and I like to take day trips and visit Catholic churches. For one reason,they always have clean bathrooms, and for another, we like to look at their bulletins/architecture/youth ministry offices/youth rooms...
Sometimes, we meet the people who work in these neat churches, and get to ask them questions about their Youth Ministries, parishes, etc. Scott used to introduce us by saying "we work for the Archdiocese of Boston". I would bristle when he said it, (even before THE SCANDAL)because to me, it sounded like we were pulling rank- elevating our own positions- we weren't mere Youth Ministers, parish workers, lowlifelowlevel grunt workers, we represented the RCAB.
When THE SCANDAL did come, it became a whole different issue- who would purposely admit to working for the RCAB, even if they did? We consciously changed our introductions to "we work in parishes as Youth Ministry coordinators".
The truth is, I'm not exactly sure who is my boss. My paycheck has the parish name printed on it, and is signed by my pastor. My parish is a part of the RCAB. But, am I?

Friday, June 09, 2006

Thanks for the Mom and Dad-ories

Today we begin our journey up to Maine to celebrate (in the rain... I'm not complaining!) my parents' 50th Anniversary with their friends and relatives. People are coming from all over, and we are really looking forward to seeing everyone. I can't imagine being married that long. I mean, I expect to...
I remember my mother realizing that she'd been married longer than she'd ever been single. Can you imagine?
Pray that we all get there safely, that Mom and Dad have a great time, that we all keep our eyes open in the picture, that we have no food catastrophes and don't forget anything important... pray that we'll be in tune!
We're singing our own version of "Thanks for the Memories", rewritten with our own memories.

Here's a preview, but don't tell my parents!

Thanks for the memory
Of life at 19 Elm, of home movies on film
The climbing trees and camping trips with Mom and Dad at the helm
How lovely it was!

Thanks for the memory
Of rainy afternoons, silly camping tunes
Back to school Septembers and many happy Junes
How lovely it was!

Many's the time that we feasted
And many's the time that we fasted
Oh, well, it was swell, and it lasted
We did have fun and there’s more to come

And thanks for the memory
Of watching Eagles score (or not), of taping Dad’s nap snores
Of dinners at the table and big trips to the store
We thank you so much.

Thanks for the memory
Of 5 kids with the flu, what else could we do
But bunk-in in the living room and wait till it was through
How lovely it was

Thanks for the memory
Of graduation days, happy wedding days
And birthdays and Christmas days and anniversaries
How lovely it was!

We lived through some wild and glad times
Got stung by Dad’s honey-bees
And though we’ve also had some sad times
We’re all for one, still have such fun

So, thanks for the memories
That made us who we are
It’s been so good, so far
We really are so lucky to have parents like you two
We hope you know we love you and we know you love us too
And thank you so much.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Secrets? I got secrets.

For instance, I yawn almost every time I say the Lord's Prayer. Somewhere in the middle. I remember the day it started, I must have been 7 years old or so, really young. I was in the front room of our old house, reading something by the hall light, which I did every night. I must have decided it was time to pray and turn in, but when I prayed the Our Father, I couldn't get through it without yawning. I felt awful! I mean, how disrespectful is that? The more I tried to make it through the prayer without yawning, the more I would yawn. I went to sleep hoping it was just a one-time thing.
But now I'm 37 years old, and I still yawn in the middle of the Lord's Prayer. It's kind of amazing what your mind can do. Watch, I'll try right now:
Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed by Thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.

I have other secrets, like the fact that often when I am supposed to be solemn and serious, I think of the funniest, worst-case-scenario, and it makes me laugh so hard I lose complete control of my self. For instance, once at a parish retreat when the speaker was painfully, dreadfully boring, I imagined what would happen if I fell asleep from boredom, slipped forward, hit my head on the pew in front of me, slid to the floor and bled all over the place. I pictured the faces of the people around me, stunned, and thought about the speaker going home and shuffling through his index cards, thinking, "I have GOT to liven up this talk!" I laughed so hard that I was crying and snorting, and no one but me knew what I was laughing about, except for the fact that it couldn't be the boring talk that everyone else was listening to! Ah, I have such happy times in my head.

Well, that's enough about me... yawn, snicker... for tonight...

oh sheesh...

The one day I mention Amy Welborn on my blog I get up the gumption to leave a non-anonymous comment on her blog! She's probably WAY to busy to visit my little ol' corner of the interweb. I'm pretty sure she doesn't even know I exist. Right. No problem.
Scott read my DaVinci post and I asked him, "do you think I slandered the Church too much? Are they going to shut me down?" and he chuckled. "slandered? No... you were honest..." That's not all that comforting. That said, I just came back from the bathroom and had to really keep myself from flushing that davinci book. It's "The DaVinci Deception" by the way, and it's put out by Catholic Exchange. It's hooey. I'm sure Amy Welborn's book is head and shoulders above it!
(Hi Amy! Love your blog! Heh heh...)

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The DaWhat now?

This month Lifeteen sent out an anti-DaVinci code book with their Liturgical planning aids, cds and beach balls. I put it in the bathroom at the Convent because that's where I know it will be read. I've gotten to about page 18 and have decided that it's pretty silly, overall. The bits and pieces which deal directly with the "facts" of the book are fairly vague, and try to steer the reader around the block without actually answering their own question (the book is written in a question and answer fashion). They say things like (and I don't have the book in front of me, as I don't blog from the bathroom, so you'll have to just go with me here) Q: what about that Opus Dei stuff about flogging yourself? Do they really do that? A: the flogging that Opus Dei members allegedly do is nothing compared to how hard we work out in the gym! See, suffering for the greater good isn't weird!
The rest of the Q/A's are even sillier, like Q:why did he write Sophie's character so wimpy? Which is about the authors writing style, or something else wayyyy beside the point. It's wasted time, reading this little pamphlet. I know there are lots of debunking books out there, I'm not sure who chose this particular one to send to Youth Ministers. I've read lots of blogs and websites about it, (Amy Welborne is obsessed..!) which worry and fret about the damage this fiction book is doing to the Church.
The problem, as I see it, isn't that Dan Brown wrote a bunch of crazy-but-almost-believable stuff in his book. The problem is that the Church has become an institution about which it's easy to believe... that is, it's not entirely unbelievable that... well, I mean, the Catholic Church has lied and hid really big deal things before! And we know how Big the Big lies were. So, if they'll hide and lie about such Big things as those, who's to say they wouldn't hide and lie about Jesus having kids with MM?
The problem, then, is not that people are trying to spread lies about he CC. It's that it's not hard to believe the lies. The Church, as I have heard the story, used to have an impeccable reputation. That's gone. It's not going to come back by criticizing a fiction mystery novel.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Joyride picture...

That there's the place to see the Joyride print that I mentioned earlier, plus lots of great pieces from Stephen Huneck, a Vermont artist. Enjoy!


Shouldn't there be some scary headlines today about the end of the world? It's 666 after all. I remember in the early 90's I was volunteering with Young Life and the word of the street was that the "rapture" was scheduled for a particular day. After a club meeting that night, some of the others were getting together to pray for the fate of the world.
Being a non-evangelical type from Maine, whose church thought they were forward-thinking when they banned white dresses at First Communion, this was kind of stunning stuff. Didn't Jesus tell us we wouldn't know when "the day" was coming? I mean, I'm pretty sure he specifically mentioned that... I guess prayers for the fate of the world are never wasted.
But maybe we've caught on, maybe the doomsayers think Satan's too clever to take advantage on such an obvious day. Either way, let's be careful out there, just in case- and maybe offer up some world-fate prayers.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

The Load Out

This weekend Scott and I went down to the Office for Youth Ministry. It's the soon-to-be-former OYM, because the Archdiocese is moving them to somewhere on the Chancery grounds. Word is they haven't told them where, exactly, and from what we've heard, there's no decision yet been made as to which office they'll be a part of.
It was weird to be at the OYM, it's been years, literally, since I've been there. I can't remember why I was there the last time. I remember being there so often; for monthly Youth Ministers meetings, to plan conventions and YOW and CLI and this, that, and the other thing. It was a busy time in Youth Ministry- we proudly boasted the number of professional YM's- every event sold out. They were golden, happy, busy years. I feel lucky to have entered Youth Ministry in the Boston Archdiocese during those days.
Since things have started to hit the fan here in Boston, a lot of us have wondered and guessed at the fate of Youth Ministry. Parishes stopped hiring, and people stopped giving to the "Cardinal's appeal" and now the Catholic Appeal... and the OYM was hit with BIG budget cuts, equalling out to a person, or two, at a time. We hear about other dioceses cutting their Office completely, giving their directors hours to clean out their desks. We new something was inevitable. Rumors have the OYM merging wit the "Family Life" office, whatever that is.
Why not merge with the Office of Religious Ed? With all our parishes being urged toward recognizing that faith development is lifelong... why isn't the Archdiocese organizing itself that way? Who knows?
It's been interesting to watch how both the ORE and the OYM have responded to this impending doom. From the curb, it looks like the OYM died by their own hand, while the ORE got busy proving that they are irreplaceable. It'd be an interesting paper, book, something- I'd love to hear from all the staff from both offices as to just what their plans were when they realized this change was due. Was the talk in each office wildly different than in the other? Did the emergency plans hang on the vision of the leader of each office? Does the ORE have a leader? It seems like a strong team over there.
Official move date for the OYM (to wherever they're going) is June 30. It's the end of an era, wherever they go.

Saturday, June 03, 2006


Yesterday was our five-year wedding anniversary. Five is the "wood" anniversary. My beloved had planned to takeme hiking, (you know, in the WOODS, and maybe a campfire... but rain happened, just like it happened on our wedding day. Except the rain this week was a lovely, gentle rain, and the rain on our day in 2001 as I remember it was more monsoon-like.
Anyway,, plan B was a trip for dinner at WOODman's, (a local joint where they INVENTED the fried clam. Really!) and then, as is our style, we meandered. We took a random left in Beverly and found the cutest house for sale! The realtor was Mary WOOD. Then we went to the hardware store, and then home to briefly admire the lawn and use the facilities before striking out again.
We went to the movies, (Thank you for smoking- very funny! Very dark. My kinda humor.) then to Salem to a coffee house, very nice!! Then, we somehow were hungry again... and went to Sam and Joe's for pizza. Home again, home again, jiggety-jig. At Sam and Joe's, we saw a woman wearing a sweatshirt that said "WOOD end".
Somewhere along the night, I looked down at our satellite radio and saw the title of the song playing was "Joyride". It's not a great song, but it was another neat sign to us because Joyride had been our "theme" for our wedding. The morning we got engaged, Scott gave me a print by Steven Huneck, of two labs leaning happily out a car window. He told me that this was how he envixioned our life together- a long-term, joyful journey. He was right, it has been.
Last night when he fell asleep, his belly aching from our ridiculous tour of junk foods of the North Shore, I prayed in thanksgiving for our joyride, for our little family, for our love.
I'm so loving the joyride!