Tuesday, April 29, 2008


This week really has been a roller coaster of emotion for me. I met with my spiritual director this morning and she verified for me that my feelings of exhaustion are well-earned. There really has been as much joy as sadness in the last week, but just the sheer... I don't know... volume of it... has taken a toll on me. I told her about how my desk and house have been a mess, my laundry undone, I keep losing stuff, and this weekend I backed into a truck parked across the street from our house. So very much NOT like me, any of that. She reminded me that these all are legitimate and normal parts of the grieving process. The grieving process! How about that!
Now we're scrambling for the possibility that we can join our youth ministry friends on retreat near the Cape. I could be SO productive here at home, but it would sure be nice to be there. Just the decision is too much for me right now. My life is good and I know how blessed I am but I guess I'm just in emotional overload.
It would help if the darn sun would come out.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

a sign that not much has changed

On our way out of the funeral this morning, we peeked in the rectory garage door- there's always good stuff in rectory garages- and found this sign, still there from when I worked there, over 5 years ago now. The maintenance man had put out the sign to keep people from walking their dogs on the church lawn. This is what he found the next day:

mortality moments

I'm almost all the way through this two-day stint of funerals and wakes, and ready to be all-the-way-through. I'm exhausted and could use a good cry. This morning's funeral for David was beautiful and touching, and it was helpful to remember through it that David is finished with his years and years of suffering.
After the funeral I saw a girl with whom I've kept in touch since leaving there- she's a junior in college now. She hugged me hard and cried so hard that my shirt was wet. Her parents are away this week and she's serving as "mom" to her younger brother and sister, and I imagine it must have been a hard thing, experiencing this sad situation as the grown-up-est.
The wake for Alex was sobering and kind of awkward. Since there were so many people there, they put the casket in the day chapel and had everyone sit in the main church while others, a section of the church at a time, filed through. They had Christian music playing and a slide show on a projector of pictures of Alex throughout his life. It was, I suppose, the only way to manage such large crowds, but it was difficult because everyone was seated as they came in, which meant you could be far away from anyone you knew, which happened to one of the high school girls I know. I helped her jump the line and walk through with friends who could help her. The kids in Alex's class have not, until now, seen a young person like themselves in an open casket.
I worked with a therapist once long ago who taught me that teenagers at some point experience their first "mortality moment"- that moment when they first realize that they are mortals. I suppose a lot of young people in North Andover are having their mortality moments this week.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

tough week

This week two former youth group kids of mine, from two different parishes, passed away. David was 19 years old and died after a long fight with brain cancer. Alex was 17 and collapsed last week after a track meet event and never regained consciousness. It's a stunner hearing about both these deaths in the same week- their deaths were two days apart.
Alex was a sweetheart and though I didn't know him well, he made me smile and I know he was fun to be around and kind. The worst part of this death is the shock of it- he had been accepted to two impressive colleges and was poised to... well, keep living. No one did or could have seen this coming and no one was prepared for it- his life just changed completely, and one week later he died. I imagine he was having a very normal day right up until his meet.
I have known David since he was in middle school- a skinny kid with patchy hair after a serious bout with the cancer that eventually took him. He told us in class one night that he didn't believe in God because God gave him cancer- but that Jesus was okay. I loved his insights into faith, his well-earned cynicism but sure hope. He was sunny and funny and strong. Just before I left his parish, we went on a white-water-rafting retreat. It was a wonderful weekend. After a silent "emmaus walk" in the campground where we stayed, he told us that God had told him that everything was going to be all right. So many of us that night came back from that walk with the same answer from God. Everything would be all right- whatever that meant.
I hope he held onto that over the years. I hope he knew that God didn't give him cancer and that Jesus was even better than okay. I know he knows it now.
So, two wakes and two funerals in one week, for two beautiful young people. Pray with me for their friends and families.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Spring updates from Lindall Hill

A bit of encouragement for my friends in Maine and Alaska. Spring is
heading your way, and it's pretty!

Looky, budding flowers!

New phlox... the rest hasn't bloomed yet. Note the black mulch, a bold new fashion statement this year!

They look just like their picture on the tag. We had these in our back yard garden growing up- I called them toothbrushes.

Pretty blues

Our tree is budding out too. Our lilac has blossoms coming in, at least 5! I didn't get a good shot of them today but you'll see them soon, I betcha...

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

All my exes live in Massachusetts

I realized today that whereas in the 20's I had ex-boyfriends, what I have now is ex-parishes.
I went to a workshop Monday and walked in a bit late, as is our fashion... there weren't any places for both of us to sit down right away, so we stood awkwardly for a bit scanning the room. I saw our intern at the corner table, sitting with all the youth ministry staff from my most recent former parish, along with the current youth minister from my first parish. It was so weird, all of them sitting together- a big blast from my past right there at one table.
I was a bit distracted by this all during the presentation, and wondered if it was weird that I was so... weirded out by their presence. I guess though that it's not the parish walls I've been effected by, but the relationships. So in that way, my weirded-ness seems appropriate. I don't imagine that all the people at that table were discussing me, or even knew their connection in me. I know I'm not a rock star- it meant nothing to any of them, but it sure was striking to me.
Thursday morning I went back to my first parish for a funeral, which was also awkward, but it's been long enough since I left there that the pain that I felt in leaving there has really faded substantially. I was happy to run into a woman that I knew back then, and to sit with her, but she told me that she is no longer a parishioner there. She said she was "forced out" in much the way that I was. It was sad to hear but also affirming- it meant I didn't just imagine the way I was treated back then, by the pastor and parish I loved.
Hey, breaking up is hard to do, but all those bad boyfriends cleared the way for my beloved One, and all those difficult parishes and their painful ends led me to the place I'm in now- a happy home for my soul.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

You looking for something?

My counter, wayyyy at the bottom of the page, tells me about the people who look at my blog. It tells me where the lookers live, and how they found my page, and the coolest thing about that is what google searches led people to my pages. Here are the last 9 google references:

(go ahead, click on the picture, fool)

9. TDBI (that's the Too Dangerously Beautiful Idea)
8. Elfed Myself (seriously? With all the people who've elfed themselves, mine is what you come up with at google?)
7. Cat actress (I have no idea)
6. Cat pheromones (remember that failed attempt at reconciling my fighting cats?)
5. Do U hang the American flag when it’s raining (no.)
4. Is it safe to take a shower when it’s raining (yes.)
3. Happy Cat Pheremones (sic)
2. Milestone ministries (hey a ministry one! cool!)
1. Describing rainy day (huh. Must be a poet looking for inspiration. Hope they found it at my site!)

Funny, huh, what you can know about the world these days?

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

another million dollar idea (two new posts)

I think they should name that hawk who lives at Fenway Park. I think they should call her BRUIN because she's a Boston Hawk...ey.


I threw my back out this week. I did it... washing my hands. Yep, that's it, I just leaned forward to wash my hands and suddenly I sort of slumped over the sink, in awful pain. Weird! Scott, my knight, jumped into action and ran for the aleve. Since then he's had to pick up everything I've dropped and listen to me groan every time I change positions or cough. He's pretty great.
I don't know if I've mentioned that I'm turning 40 this year.
I'm not sad or weird about it but I do catch myself watching for new signs of aging. I am kind of fascinated by the fact that my body is changing. The last time I was at the hairdressers, I eavesdropped on the conversation between the customer in the next chair, and her hairdresser. She said "You know, it was like it allllll went downhill when I turned 40. Suddenly, every time I look in the mirror--- EVERY TIME--- I look different! Something looks older every time! My eyes went, my hair changed, and I just looked OLD all of a sudden!!" Is this my fate?
As interesting as it all is to me, I don't want to spend my life making a symptoms-checklist, subtracting points from my total and waiting to hit zero. I know I can't turn back time but I do want to live, while I'm alive. I may not ever look like I did at my peak, but my life is so great.
Now, somebody come help me out of this chair.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

keys are good

Our maintenance guy gave me a new set of keys at work with a tag on them that says "keys are good." I've decided to keep them on there, because, it's true.

I could beweeeeve I could fwyyyyy...

Today I was listening to the Bryant Park Project, one of my favorite daily NPR shows. It's two hours long but it usually takes me an entire work day to listen to the whole thing, between games of tetris. Just kidding. It does take me all day though- between phone calls and chats with co-workers and hard, hard work.
Anyway. Today on the BPP, they featured a story of a tantric practitioner who was on a live tv show in India, and claimed that he could use his powers to kill another person on the show. (Apparently tantric has more to it than the whole sex thing.) Anyway, the host of the show (or maybe another guest, I had a bit of a hard time following who was who) said "okay, if that's true, kill me now."
It's kind of a long story- the tantric guy agrees to kill him and says it'll take 3 minutes. The time passes and the host is not dead. He asks for 15 more minutes. Still alive. The Indian tv station runs the show, live, into the next half hour with the words "BREAKING NEWS" across the bottom of the screen. Finally they agree to do a big deal gathering where he'll perform the Gigantic Spell of Super Destruction, or something like that. The host says "Sure". This, alas, is not effective either and the host lives on happy and smiling, and the tantric guy's rep. is seriously damaged.
I laughed, marvelling, through this whole story and the accompanying youtube videos, and then thought, "there but for the grace of God go I."
Well, not really- I wouldn't threaten to kill anyone with my religion or philosophy, and don't belong to one that claims I could anyway. In fact, my faith isn't one that would easily be used to do physical harm in the way the tantric guy said he could. Emotional and spiritual damage, yes- but not killing anyone with my chant.
But, I wondered what the tantric guy is thinking now- he put all his faith in his chant and ritual to do this big feat, and in front of the entire country, he fails. Where does he go now?
When I was little, I remember sitting one day at St. John's- I don't remember why I was there, because our parish was St. Charles, but whatever- and looking up at the beautiful church architecture. It's a beautiful church with paintings on the ceiling and high peaks and marble and whatnot. The space above the pews seemed massive to me then. I remember thinking to myself, "I could fly right now."
I really believed that if I put my faith in God, and stood up on the back of the pew in front of me, and pushed off, I could fly around that empty space above everyone. I BELIEVED it! But, I didn't try. Because... what if I couldn't? I'd be completely embarrassed, standing up on that pew back and tumbling into the laps of the people in front of us.
I was extremely disappointed in my own lack of faith in God. I could see how weak my faith really was. I still kind of wish I'd given it a shot- but now I guess I'll never know if God and I could have made miracles way back then.
How many of us are so faithful that we're willing to put our own faith to the test? Where would we be if we failed that test? Is it better not to look that closely at the possibilities?