Saturday, July 25, 2009

Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY 07/25/09...
Outside My Window... our bunny is probably eating what little is left of my pea plants. Hey, I don't mind sharing, but they sheared off the whole bush in one night, so that it looks like they used a weed whacker. Ah well, we got some yumminess before it all happened, and next up are the carrots! I figure the bunny won't bother with those. That whole rabbits & bunnies thing, that's a myth, right?
I am thinking... about our next camping trip, coming up this week. This time it's in Maine with my brother and his family, and it's at one of our favorite campgrounds, Scott's Cove. Problem is, payday is midnight of the day we get there... we'll have to do some stretching until we can sneak out to the grocery store the morning after we arrive! I'm excited to be camping more than once in a Summer though, and looking forward to some down time, to the sound of the Loons on the lake (actual Loons, not my family).
I am thankful for... two whole days of having nothing, really nothing, to do. We did a lot of sitting around, and ate yummy things, and got a few things done, and watched some great movies. It was kind of like a snow day, but with sun!
From the kitchen... Oh let me tell you, we had a delicious low-carb meal of chicken with blue cheese sauce, and broccoli. it was divine!!
I am wearing... sweatpants and a t-shirt. I should have changed before I wrote this. Of course, I could lie... nah, forget that. But hey, my hair looks fantastic today. Ask anyone who's seen me (Scott).
I am creating... nothing right now... but this Tuesday, what shall I bake for "Wait...what??"
I am going... back to work tomorrow, to a passel of baptisms.
I am reading... well, okay, not much- I just finished reading "My Stroke of Insight," about the scientist who has a stroke and is somehow able to observe herself going through it. Fascinating stuff- well, most of it was. She is clearly more scientist than writer...
I am hoping... for good weather this week!
I am hearing... the creak of my rocking chair whenever I move, and a movie that Scott's watching- the click of my keyboard... I love that sound.
Around the house... mess from cooking dinner, and laundry in various stages of cleanliness.
One of my favorite things... is making Scott laugh, and laughing with him. Yesterday one of our cats was in the window, staring out at something, and Scott and I both joined her at the window, cramming our faces in there to see what she was staring at. This in the midst of a GREAT old movie we were watching, on a lovely lazy day. It struck me in that instant just how much I love our life. I started laughing and then gasping, and then tears were coming down my face, and I laughed so hard while Scott was saying "what? What??" I tried to get out " I... Love... Love..... I love.... I love our life."
A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: A week of work in 3 days, then scrounging and packing, then all in.
Here is picture thought I am sharing... an old favorite of our cats, from our first apartment.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

I'm too old to attend my own program

Last night was our third session of the young adult group I'm facilitating for the summer- we call it "Wait...what??" and it's designed for high school graduates and college students and beyond who want a chance to refresh on the basics of Catholicism. We sort of billed it like "did you graduate high school and realize you forgot to learn about your faith?" The idea is giving a place where they can ask their "I never understood this..." or "I don't get this at all..." kind of questions.
Using Paprocki's "A Well-Built Faith" as a structure (well, ultimately more as inspiration than anything!), the actual lesson is pretty scant- mostly just presenting the question/topic, giving some supporting info and a story or two, then we discuss for the rest of the time.
Here's the delightful thing about young adult ministry- they TALK! Anyone who's tried to conduct a group discussion with a bunch of teenagers who are too painfully self-conscious to speak in front of each other will understand what I'm saying here. The YA's ask questions, they admit to their own feelings, they laugh, they get off on tangents and happily jump on each other's trains of thought.
Last night our topic was "Sinners... like me" and we had a great discussion about sin, forgiveness, and Catholic guilt. WW is turning out to be just what I was hoping it would be, with credit going much to the great people who come, and their young adult-ness. Can't wait for next week: "How to pray like a Grown-up!"

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

blasts from the pasts

I'm rethinking friendship...
I remember telling one of my youth group kids that life is like a river, and that we are like twigs floating along that river, and that at various points other twigs would float alongside us, and then the current would take us different ways. The point being, friends come and friends go.
And, I really have believed that. I think it began when I realized with surprise that I was no longer friends with the high school students I'd graduated with- the soulmates I had bawled and cried about on graduation day, swore I'd never lose touch with, knew in my heart that we would be friends for LIIIIIIIIFFFEEEAGGGGAGAAAAWWWW..... But by sophomore year in college, I'd lost touch with most of them. In my defense we did not have facebook back then, or AIM, or even email! To keep in touch then meant hand-written letters, or saving a coffee-mug full of quarters for a phone call in the phone booth in the dorm hallway. Besides, I had a whole new crop of besties, and didn't feel like I had much to tell my old friends after a while. It was too much work to update each other on our lives after so long between contacts. (What? You dyed your hair blond? When did THAT happen? Six MONTHS AGO?)
But by the time I graduated from college, I was resigned to the idea that soon, I'd lose touch with most of my college friends, too- even this was before email, and now everyone would be moving on and moving away.
I kept in touch with a few important friends, and lost touch with a few important friends. But after years, even my most important friends drifted away and were replaced with new Social Work friends, who were then replaced by Youth Ministry friends.
Then, just about everyone was pushed aside (but not replaced) by my husband. I knew, though, too, that this happens when one gets married- and in truth, most of my friends were getting married or having children too, and entering their own silos. A group of my friends, "the girlies", have done pretty well keeping in touch- we all worked in one way or another at a group home nearby, and all of us have moved on now to a variety of different lives.
I'm not good at keeping in touch with my friends when they have children, I'm sorry to say. I am no Auntie. It's terrible but it is kind of like having a friend that gets deep into some hobby, I don't know, like Ju-Jitsu... and all they want to talk about is Ju-Jitsu. I don't do Ju-Jitsu- I'm happy that you love it, but describing the moves in detail doesn't make me love it. I love my friends' kids, but I don't do kids. I know that makes me a jerk.
But I'm there when trouble hits, I know that- if you're in crisis (even if it's a Ju-Jitsu crisis!) I'm there. I'll bring you comfort food, I'll sit with you in silence, I'll run errands for you. (Oh, but I don't babysit.)
But along comes Facebook. Now I'm being contacted by old Youth Ministry friends, Social Work friends, College friends, High School friends, and even Elementary School friends!! It has been amazing how easy it has been, albeit over the interweb, to feel kinship with people that I literally have not seen (and some I'd forgotten about completely) since 1978. Our memories do connect us.
Last weekend was my college reunion- and I ended up spending the day with three of my dearest college friends. I was so nervous to see them, and they were nervous too, and I wondered how we'd catch up on 18 years of history- but by the end of the afternoon, it was amazing how easy it was to be together again... and I felt sad that I'd let all that time go by. My friend Deidre hugged me hard and said "it doesn't have to go back to not being in touch. Not again." And I don't want it to. I found myself dreaming, on my drive to work today, about the 4 of us getting away for a weekend, bringing our wedding pictures and old stories, and getting to know each other again. Now, I guess, I see why people do that.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


The job posting for the Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry position in the Archdiocese of Baltimore is up, and it sets me to dreaming... as a kid in youth ministry, with my newly-discovered call, I set my sights on eventually working at the diocesan level in my home state of Maine, where YM was progressive, professional, and devoted at that time. I don't know how things are there now, but I've always kept my eye on that office, because, hey- who knows? I feel quite sure that I'd never ever ever get a position at the A-Diocesan level here in Boston. I'll leave that at that. But Baltimore, lovely Baltimore... Scott and I have long looked at Baltimore as the promised land. They actually do stuff- a lot of great stuff! Recently they took a long hard look at the sacrament of Confirmation (something every diocese and YM office should be doing), for instance. They are taking a strong lead in the ultra-important area of adolescent catechesis. Oh, and Compass? So cool. If only Baltimore was in Boston. Sigh...
Still, it's tempting to imagine what I'd do in that position. I have been critical, I know, of the decisions made by our own office in the past few years, so I've spent some time with the question of "oh yeah? What would YOU do then?" And here's what I think I'd do, to start. I think I'd spend a year traveling around my new territory, meeting YM's and finding out what is going on in parishes. I'd read a LOT of bulletins, websites, parish reports, and I'd attend a LOT of YM events, both parish and diocesan. I'd serve on the teams of diocesan activities, as retreat team member, as kitchen crew, as small group leader, as grunt-person. I'd be doing lots of setting up and cleaning up, and I'd attend so many meetings it would make the average person's head spin. I'd ask everyone a lot of questions about how things have gone, how things are going, and how things could/should go in the future. I'd have a lot of dinners, lunches, and coffees with a lot of pastors and YM Coordinators. And I'd do a lot of praying and faith sharing with diocesan staff.
And after all that, I'd get down to work, having identified the mission of the office, and getting people on board with working toward that mission. I love the job description for the Baltimore job- it is a great description, too, for the parish Coordinator of YM. It occurs to me that my description, up there, is similar to how I'd start at a parish YM position, too. Last week our staff discussed that we must not consider our congregation as a big white piece of paper to which we are bringing the color. We must give our people credit for the gifts, talents, and yearnings they bring to the table. The Archdiocese of Baltimore is already doing great work, what an amazing position to step into... their next Director is going to be very blessed to join that team.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Rest In Peace

Tonight after Mass we followed PJ's craving to Yoki, our favorite sushi restaurant. Oh my word the food there is so good. We took a table on the sidewalk, where the balmy weather was just perfect, with a beautiful breeze.
When our server came to the table, Scott asked for the owner, Tom. Tom is a parishioner, and leaves the restaurant every Sunday evening to come to our 5:00 Mass. Whenever we visit his restaurant, he comes by the table several times to check on us and chat with us. He has shared some of his faith story with us, and the ongoing theme in his stories has been, really, surrender and obedience to God's will. He is a prayerful and holy person, and joyful in a way that only a prayerful/holy person can be.
So, when Scott asked about him tonight we were shocked to see the waitress' tears- she told us that Tom had died- they had just been to his wake and his funeral is tomorrow morning. It was such a stunner. Tom was 26 years old and died of pneumonia- he had no health insurance and waited too long to get help for himself. A friend of his in the restaurant told Scott that when Tom was at his sickest, he told her that he was willing to go whenever God called him. His understanding that being a Christian means obedience to God's will was true to his heart until his last breath. I'd love to believe that I could do the same at 26 years of age, but I know I could not have. I'm thankful to have known Tom, and been witness to his example of holiness. RIP

Thursday, July 09, 2009


I'm beginning my third year as an Other-Than-Youth-Ministry-Coordinator- that's hard to believe. I love my current job and am not ready to leave it, I have no stirrings of wonder or urges to wander at all. But I sure do miss Youth Ministry.
This week Scott is at Catholic Heart Work Camp, and every night he calls me to tell me the best stories of the day. There are so many. CHWC is an excellent organization- they know what they're doing and offer a powerful combination of discipleship and social justice work with high-energy praise and worship and deep and meaningful faith development opportunities for their participants. This week Scott has experienced again that thing that makes a YM's job special: the honor of being able to witness the growth and deepening of faith in young people.
I think that the best YM's are at their best in retreat and camp settings; it's a chance to get away from the everyday with your kids, a chance to have the blessing of a significant amount of time with them. It's object-learning all day, and down-time where you have, literally, nothing else to do but hang out together. These are things YM's wish for all the time, and try to create at the parish, but rarely get to do. At home, ministry is often done on the fly, when you get the chance.
Every YM strives to be relational, and weekends and weeks like CHWC really give an opportunity to live that out.
So I'll admit it, I'm flat-out jealous of Scott this week and the other YM's that are there, or somewhere, away with their kids. I'm so happy for him and love to hear the stories and I know I'll be moved by the obvious differences in the faces of the kids from before they leave to their return home at the end of the week. I'm proud to be on the staff of a parish that cares enough about youth and about evangelization and service to support this kind of activity, too. But there's a green monster burning in my heart, jealous of a missed opportunity to be a part of that kind of ministry. I guess that's how I know that my calling to YM is still there- even while I'm on this side-road, I think it must be true that eventually I'll be back in that game- and there will be, I pray, many weekends and weeks like CHWC to come for me and my future kids.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Stressville, USA

Tomorrow I go back to work after a rainy, but restful, vacation. I've got some tiny knots of apprehension, as it's a busy day, with lots to do... but, I remind myself of how much I truly love what I do, and start to feel some excitement about being back in that place, surrounded by great people.
I have not been living the hermit's life though, despite the rain- Thursday I went to the grocery store. I was listening to a podcast of This American Life called "signs of a recession" and the first story they told was about the statistical rise in broken teeth during a recession. My dentist had told me just last week that he was seeing a lot more grinders and stress fractures... and this week when I went to the drug store to buy a night-guard-thing for my own grinding problem, I was surprised to find that there were very few left!
I certainly saw a rise in aggression and stress at the grocery store- it was the Thurs. before the 4th, and it was POURING, and the store was full of people. I noticed that when the store is full, with way too many people, customers counter-productively become MORE aggressive and LESS cooperative.
Today on the road I was flipped off by two different people, and saw another person flip off another driver. People are cutting each other off and waving nasty hand gestures, and scowling. I can feel the stress in the world. I see people become more internally-focused, at a time when we need each other more and more. I hope we figure this out, as a civilization. I wonder how or if things can get better if we are unwilling to cooperate with each other on little things like getting down a grocery store aisle or merging onto a highway ramp.
This week my prayers will be for frustrated people, and the young people and adults who are giving a week to helping each other and growing closer to God.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Well it's been a rainy week here in Lake Woebegone...

I'm mid-vacation and having an awfully nice time, despite the near-constant rain. I'm fighting the urges that everyone on Facebook is expressing, mourning the Summer and wishing it would just go away for crying out loud. I'm trying to take it all as a cosmic hint from the universe that I should just relax already.
We went on our annual camping trip and it was near-perfect, but for the lack of a few important people who would have been fun to have there, and who would have loved it. One of my favorite parts of this camping trip is the tinkering with the recipe of people that come each year. I used to be nervous about mixing people from different walks of my life, but learned from my friends Peter and John that it can be fun and a bit of an adventure. Visiting them was rarely a solo time, and I never knew who else would be there, and I always felt somehow proud that they'd allow me to mix with their other, cooler or smarter or way more talented friends.
Anyway, this year's trip brought 4 newbies, and it was fun to mix with them and watch them mix, and the ultimate-est fun-est to bring them to Tanglewood for A Prairie Home Companion. There is so much special about this trip that each year I feel so lucky to be there, and so proud to share it, as if I'm in a very special and kind of secret club into which I have the privilege of inviting new members.
Our week of vacation is capped at the other end with a 3rd of July cookout at our house, and then a 4th that's gloriously free of plans. They say the sun is due to come out again the day I head back in to work, naturally. Ah well, it's been a good vacation, so far, anyway.