Saturday, July 28, 2007

Did you know...

...that the Germans have a word for when songs get stuck in your head? It's ohrwurm... and it translates to "ear worm". Fascinating, huh? Find out more here.

It's what I've always suspected...

I always kind of thought of myself as an exotic chick, and now it's confirmed.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Volunteers of Faith

I spent most of the day volunteering at the (what's it called now? Something Garden) in Boston with my friend Noelle, for the Women of Faith Conference. We're both attending for free this weekend, because we volunteered. (Great seats! It pays to volunteer!)
I don't know much about this conference, except that people who know the people I know say it's Amaaaaaaazing. The other women who volunteered today said it would be Amaaaaaaaaaaaazing, too. On one hand I'm encouraged/intrigued, and on the other, I'm alllllll "go ahead, impress me." So we shall see what the (as my Uncle Bud used to call them) the PRODS have up their sleeves for me and the True Christians in attendance.
There were about 40-50 women there this morning to volunteer. The excitement started with a back-door entrance to the Garden (the employee entrance! I was so excited to be able to see the bowels of the stadium.) Then, after checking in, showing our ID, passing in our consent form, getting our official badges and wrist bands, we sat down in the arena seats to wait for the programs to be delivered. Our job, you see, was to put the program bags on all the reserved seats. Apparently the truck with the programs in it was lost in Boston somewhere, so we had about an hour to sit around.
When the program bags arrived, the young man who was coordinating the volunteers rallied us to action. Our job was hampered by the fact that the chairs in this arena are all of the type where the seats flip up when not in use. This was a perplexing and challenging situation for the extra- earnest, Christian-t-shirt-clad volunteers. They JUMPED to work, trading tips on how to place the bags so they'd stay and jumping ahead to the next section. Noelle and I couldn't help but laugh at how GRAVELY SERIOUSLY they took their charge, shouting out helpful tips to everyone when they thought they'd found the BEST way to place the bags. They often had to be pulled back from bagging further sections, their enthusiasm was so boundless.
We couldn't help it! We laughed whenever anyone shouted out a tip, and laughed when one would yell at another "NOOO!!! You don't DO that section! He SAID!!!!" We just couldn't help ourselves. At one point, after having been given the direction to move to section 20 oh..... 4-5 times, and everyone yelling to each other, "he said SECTION 20!!!" I turned to Noelle dryly to say "what section now?" and three earnest Christian ladies said to me "TWENTY!!!"
Okay, maybe you had to be there, but I just think it's shades of things to come for this weekend. Such earnest-ness, such Christianity, and all women. Should be interesting.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Here's the thing about Tammy Faye

I was so thrilled to find this video tribute to TF online, because it was through the Surreal World series, and in particular the episode featured at the end of this video, that I became an admirer of her. Her story here and the passion and sincerity with which she tells it really made an impression on me.
The thing about Tammy Faye is, for all her un-real-ness (the makeup and crazy teased hair and giant shoulder pads) her Christianity is for-freakin-real. I wish I had the kind of Christianity she had, and I would love to have the ministry skills she had.
God bless her.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Okay, a little more about Milestone Ministry

So you want to know more about faith stages ministry? The idea is for the Church to connect with people at the milestone points that everyone has. Imagine a church that celebrates the first day of school of their parishioners... the 18th birthday... college graduation... engagement... wedding anniversaries... retirement......... One example of how I've seen Milestone Ministry done by parishes is the celebration of teenagers' getting their drivers licenses. Parishes might have kids stand for a blessing, or have their car keys blessed, or be given a key chain... you see how this works. It's celebrating what people naturally celebrate, but also using those moments as opportunities to teach and to reach out to people.
Here's a link to a ministry focused on milestones like this- scroll down to the link to see "Daily Milestone Blessings Bowls" for an example of this. S'cool!

days 3 and 4, with pleasant stuff between

On day three, we talked about learning styles- multiple intelligences and similar type-ing, and then learned a technique for writing lesson plans in a way that will feature the major learning styles, giving learners opportunities to have their style featured at least once in the lessons we teach. The structure, called 4Mat, which maybe all teachers already know about, but which sort of blew our minds. We analyzed lesson plans from published texts to see how well they used (or didn't use) the structure, and then made some adaptations to their plans to make it all fit and work better.
Last night, our office manager at my new parish had us all over to dinner at her house. We spent hours at the table, eating great food and laughing and telling tales and teasing each other. Already I feel like a family surrounds me, and I feel comfortable and not only welcome, but vital. And I haven't even done anything yet. At the end of the night my new pastor gave me a hug, and said "I love you, we love you, and I'm so glad you're here with us!" I thought, I am going to work HARD for this guy.
Then today we talked about teachers, their heart and souls- we talked about Great Teachers We Have Known, and I thought about my new pastor and how he is poised to bring out the best in me. He expects greatness from me and I expect to give it.
I love these weeks. Weeks like this have been important and formative in every stage of my career. I love all this new information that makes my head swell with new information, ideas, and possibilities. John Roberto is one of those Great Teachers I have Known, to be sure. I am anxious to get back to work and try my new skills.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Day 2, briefly because I'm tired.

Today we finished up the Discipleship practices, and started looking at personal and family milestones as opportunities for catechesis and evangelization. We divided up the life stages of a person and looked at how we could program in our ministries to help people connect these stages and milestones to their faith life and God's presence and action in their lives. We worked hard on that all day, and came up with some pretty brilliant (if I may say so) ideas for programming.
But one other important thing I learned today was that if I had to drive to work like that every day, through traffic like I do to get to the Institute, I would seriously consider destitution and homelessness as a viable alternative. I want the names and numbers of whoever coordinates the traffic lights in the Cambridge area, because they should be forced to sit in traffic there daily until they rectify the situation. The institute is around 30 miles from my home, and it took me an hour and a half to get there on Monday. Today I left 15 minutes earlier and got there 15 minutes LATER than yesterday. Egad.

Monday, July 16, 2007

ILFF: Facilitating Lifelong Learning and Faith Growth

Remember last year when I went on and on about the Institute for Lifelong Faith Formation? Today I started part-2. This one is about tuning in to the different stages and needs of our parishioners across the generations. We know what we want to do: we want to lead our families in the formation of faith- we want to help them experience conversion and transformation. How do we do that? John Roberto, our facilitator and guru, said today (and I reckon he's quoting someone), "Learning is change- if it hasn't changed you, you haven't learned it." He's making a distinction between being taught and really learning- this, he points out, is how some people you may know can get through years and years of quality education and still be stupid. And it is how you and I got through years of religious education without becoming better Catholic Christians.
We talked about the four longings of the people we serve (including us!);
the Longing for Justice
the Quest for Spirituality
the Hunger for Relationships
and Delight in Beauty
... the best example I can think of as to why it is important to know these things is this: when I was in high school, I remember learning for the 3rd time how to write my name in hieroglyphics. I wondered why we never talked about things I thought were more interesting and more important, like WWII? In our catechetical programs, do we spend our time teaching and re-teaching the basics to people who long for depth? With significant longings like these in people's lives, what more do we need to know when we start to look at how to serve our parishioners?
It proves to be a thought-provoking week. The homework readings are deep and full of statistics and buzz words and head-spinning detail, but the discussions and activities at the course are fruitful and challenging. Are you still reading? :) I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

New Job, fresh start

I've started my new job, which promises to be wonderful. Everyone so far has been so friendly and helpful- I share a kind of office suite with two other women, lovely women who are very professional and friendly and helpful. We've all been moving and sorting this week, because not only am I moving in, but the other two have been displaced from their offices because of an asbestos removal project in the basement of the rectory, which is where our offices are. I've noticed that we share this quality- we want to be helpful, but we don't want any help. We have been sneaking past each other with our boxes so as not to incite a helpful gesture from each other. "noo no, I've got it!"
In fact most of my first week has been hunting for furniture, dusting and unpacking. My computer is now set up and I have email and the internet and all the accouterments.
(yes, I did need spell check for that.)
Next week I'm off to part two of the Institute for Lifelong Faith Formation, the first week of which I loved and raved about here on TBIR last year. I can't wait!
Tonight on my way home, I took a detour that led me all over a new town, past a water main break, through a neighborhood, by a man wearing a large sign that said "GOD HAS A PLAN FOR YOUR BABY" (hmmm...) and over the river and through the woods. It was a nice little side route. I'm all about new routes these days, and stepping off the trail. Let's go!