Thursday, August 30, 2007


When I was in college, one of my professors was a former nun. She was of the angry subgroup of former nuns, and that was fairly obvious in her teaching. She insisted that God is a woman- and not only is God a woman but we should all believe that God is a woman. She showed evidence of the fact, research and scholarly writings and such.
One day in class I got on her bad side- I said "I don't know, I think it's like when you were young and got a Teddy Bear Hamster. When a kid gets a TBH, they give it a name, according to what they want- that is, if they want a girl hamster, they name it with a girly name. If they want a boy hamster, they give it a boy name. From then on, that hamster is a boy, or girl to their owner (Until little Max has babies and becomes Maxine). I posited that God was like that for us- if we need a female to relate to, God IS female. If we need a Father God, God IS male. And fatherly. If we need a hazy floaty disembodied image like the ghosts in that Ghostbusters movie, then I think God can fill that too.
Of course she did not like this answer and moved on rather quickly to change the subject.
To me, God is definitely male, and definitely fatherly. My Spiritual Director helped me identify the other day how closely linked my prayer style is, to my communication with my Dad. Dad is indeed a great father and great man. I've often marvelled at how much he enjoys each of us, his 5 kids, making us all, I'm sure, feel like we are unequivocally his favorite. (In my case, of course, this is true, I am obviously his fave.) He's not a chatty guy, and doesn't call for whoever he's with to be wicked chatty either- he's happy to talk, but also happy to ride in the car in silence. Our communication is mostly light stuff- I don't go to my parents with much pain anymore, mostly good news and stories- but it is clear he likes talking with me, and being around me.
SD pointed out how my image of God is one where he is laughing at (with) me and rolling his eyes, and loving me. Rings a bell.
But hey, if there wasn't Dad, I think my next best image of God would be a big old dog. So there you go. So, you just never know. I think God is big enough and God-enough to be who/what we be.

I knew all along

With all this hubbub about poor ol' Mother Theresa this week, it certainly has gotten me thinking. I knew about her doubts and faith crises, because a friend of ours who worked with MT's AIDS ministry in the US, has been telling the story for years. I remember him telling about her as a doubter- Mother Theresa!! I felt so relieved because here I was, a minister, with the holiest faith possible. (That is, it had lots of holes.) To hear that SHE doubted, even while trying to do God's will, was good news for me. It meant that I could do the same. I could serve the very God in whom my trust was shaky.
When Mother Theresa died, and when Pope JPII died, everyone hailed their wonderfulness, drowning out the few small voices who whispered "well.....". I've read articles about Mother Theresa, criticizing her for being "first and foremost interested not in providing medical treatment, but in furthering Catholic doctrine and--quite literally--becoming a saint." (that's from Christopher Hitchens' book Missionary Position. I know, It's Christopher Hitchens, but still, I'm just sayin'.)
But sainthood, I reckon, isn't so much about perfection as it is about intention. The intention, beyond all difficulties, barriers, doubts, and persecutions, to serve God in the best way that one can. Now that's encouraging!!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The only thing we have to fear, is...

I've been thinking a lot about fear lately. I don't remember feeling fear like I do now, before 9/11. A few nights after the attacks in NYC, a huge thunderstorm came in while we were sleeping, in the middle of the night. A huge thunder clap woke me from my sleep and my new instinct was fear- were we being bombed? Was this an attack? Were we at war? I don't ever remember thinking these things before that night, thunder or no.
I'm in the middle of a neat article in this month's downeast magazine, (sorry, the article doesn't seem to be online, but the magazine is great, check it out) about a woman who lives in NYC and summers in Maine. She talks about the difference in parenting styles between the two- specifically, the different types of fear that plague the two groups of parents. She tells a story of visiting a friend and witnessing a llama kick the woman's child in the chest, knocking him flat. The parents brushed him off and sent him on his way, and didn't even sue the llama's owner. In later conversation, she hears Maine parents deride Cheerios because they're "so full of sugar!!"
I guess we all have our fears, and what is paralyzingly scary to one person can seem trifling to another. I was telling my spiritual director the other day that along with the sadness and shock that came with the miscarriage, the other notable feeling I had immediately was the disappearance of FEAR. When I had looked ahead as a pregnant woman, I saw fear at every step. Soon after the 3 month mark, we were due to start testing for Down's, Spina bifida, who knows what else. And what about stillbirth? Would some scary man steal my toddler when I looked away for a fraction of a second? Would a dog bite her? Would she get Lyme disease? Would he die in a car accident? What about war? Etc.... etc.... etc.........etc...........etc.......................... Somehow, with the awfulness of the miscarriage, came the relief that, at least now I know how the story ends. It was like looking ahead at the last page of the book.
I guess everyone who goes ahead and has children is plagued with all those fears that I had, and yet, they do it, sometimes even more than once! Parents impress me for their bravery. Now, for me, the only fear that remains is the fear I'll get pregnant again.
I worry about a world so fearful. As I was walking today I passed a field that I would have happily plunged into as a kid- it was full of waist-high weeds and grasses and flowers and I would have tunneled in there and made a fort, decorated it with whatever I'd find in there... but today, kids can't do that without safety gear on, and a tick-check immediately afterward. I rarely see kids outside playing without their parents these days- so different than the world of my childhood. And in the Catholic Church, we are flat-out teaching kids to be afraid of all adults, even their parents and grandparents. What is this generation going to look like when they are adults? What kind of adults will they be, when they were taught all along that adults are people you have to keep yourself safe from, who are not allowed to touch you in any way, or speak to you in public, or be alone in an elevator with you? Are we making future adults who will be dangerous, because they think that's what adults are supposed to be?
Now there's something to be afraid of.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


Our first bona-fide pumpkin!!! Woo hoo!!!

If you look closely, you can see a female flower, which means the potential (with careful pollenation) for future pumpkins.

What we have here is pumpkin flower sex. sticking out of (or should I say into) the torn female flower (see the ovary at the base?) is the important part (wink wink) of a male flower. Now don't stare, let's give these two kids some time to themselves. Ahem.

Monday, August 20, 2007

I have 20 minutes to finish this post

Because apparently there is a "scheduled outage" at 4 pm.
Today, my replacement starts at my former parish. About a month ago I got an email from my former supervisor asking my opinion on this person who had applied for my position. Signed "xoxo", as usual.
I was kind of stumped. I felt a bit like I'd been asked to recommend a new wife for my ex, and how could I do that? My first choice for a replacement would be, naturally, someone who's just like me! The person who applied is, well... NOT like me. In fact, I don't think he even likes me, and that makes me not like him very much.
On top of that, I've found that the bosses/supervisor at the old place to be quite impossible to work for/with. If fellow YM friends had asked me if they should apply, I'm not sure I'd say YES. (am I making sense?)
So I was stuck- how do I respond to this query? And furthermore, why on earth are they asking me for my opinion? My opinion wasn't particularly treasured while I was employed there. Why would they listen to me, either way, now?
So, I didn't respond at all. Truth is, I've never seen this guy "in action"- maybe he's an amazing YM. I'm fairly sure he'll do well with the pastors there, which isn't necessarily a compliment on my part, but true. So who knows how he'll do? But it's a weird feeling to know I've been officially replaced. My assistants are now his, and he's probably moving my old desk to some new angle or spot, and soon he'll be meeting "my" kids. I wish everyone there the best and pray that it'll be amazingly successful, Holy Spirit zooming all over the place. But I kinda hope that he'll have to hear "that's not how SHE used to do it!" a few times before I'm forgotten!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Long time gone

Last week I had a sort of out-of-nowhere vacation. I've only been at my new job about a month, so by rights I shouldn't have had a vaca, but that I'd already committed to this week long before I switched jobs. The week was Sister Camping Trip week, and I joined my sisters (minus one honorary-sister, who just wouldn't come) on a trip to Camden, ME (the way life should be).
By the time we'd got to Augusta, it had started to pour, and it kept on raining right up to the point when we finally got our tarp up over our site. (We had excitedly pulled out the screen tent my sister brought, thinking we'd put that up over the table and lounge and wait out the rain- but although we did have the screen tent, for some reason we didn't have the poles.)
This was kind of half-camping, with the fire mostly for show and most of our cooking tools went unused... but in our defense, it rained about half the time we were there.
We visited a lot of fun shops, ocean-side-town-kind of shops, and ate out at some pretty great spots, crested mount Battie (by car), picnicked with my brother and his family, and visited my nephew at Summer camp. The trip topped off with a deeeeelish dinner at my sisters' house, with most of my family there, and a little birthday celebration for several of us.
I am the youngest of five, and there's a big gap in between kids 3 and 4, effectively slicing us into two little sub-sets of kids. My brother and I are a year and 2 days apart. And growing up, my oldest sister and I were WORLDS apart (a whopping 10 years- doesn't seem like that much now, but then, it was big). My middle sister is the hub of the family; all of us connect to her and through her. It's funny how alike we are, after all, and how different.
It was fun hanging out with my sisters last week, and I hope we'll do it again.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

a day in the (wild)life

We spent the day looking at nature, and being looked at by nature. Here's what we saw, anyway...

We went to the Audubon park in Ipswich, where you can feed chickadees from your hands!

We also shared with a hungry chipmunk who wanted in on the action.

a red-eared slider checked us out, but was not interested in birdseed.

meanwhile, back at the ranch, our first carrot has been harvested (and it was delicious).

and Pip has bagged herself her first bunny.

All this, and no tick bites! We have a very good life.


Monday I'm off on a camping trip with my sisters. We're going up to Camden, ME with our tents, tarps and... laptops. Come on, it's the OTs! There's no need to camp like barbarians!
Anyway. So we're heading up to Maine for the week, and the weather forecast is looking good. I am really looking forward to book-reading time, to racking up a bit of a tan (finally- despite my best efforts this Summer I still look Norwegian) and eating great camp food (and some restaurant meals, yes...).
I haven't been to the Camden/Rockport area in years- we used to go up there for basketball games when I was a cheerleader for the Mt. Ararat Eagles basketball team. But my most significant visit to the area was when I was in 6th grade. My parents took my brother and me there on a day trip to see the foliage- it was Fall... did I mention that? No.
We visited the transportation museum at Owl's Head, then went to a rest area for lunch. I remember that I had theeeee most delicious tuna fish sandwich for lunch, then I zipped up my coat, grabbed my dessert (a twinkie) and went to jump on the big boulders that lined the walkway there.
After taking my last bite, I put my hands in the pockets of my jacket and went to take the next jump- but I tripped. Instead of a graceful leap, I fell face-first into the next boulder, and my hands were in my pockets, so I couldn't break my fall.
I broke my nose, bit through my tongue, fattened both lips and blackened both eyes. After calming me down and mopping up the blood we went to the emergency room (the very same one that the Chief Justice visited just this week after his seizure!) where they fixed me up. I ate ice cream (melted) for every meal for a couple of days, and wore a splint.
I'm expecting (hoping!) for a much less exciting trip to the area this time around. Hey, maybe there will be internet access at the campground, and I can blog about the whole-lotta-nothing I'm doing!