Saturday, September 21, 2013


It's not Friday. I know. But still, here are seven quick things about which I'm excited. (Warning: this post is chock-full of exclamation points, so you may want to sit down to read it, lest the excitement knock you off your feet.) There are so many things to look forward to right now, and here they are in no particular order.
1) GOF! Our parish Generations of Faith program starts TOMORROW OH MYCRAP TOMORROW??? Are we ready? Yes! We are! And it's going to be great. A few years ago we stopped the insanity and started hiring a guest speaker/performer for the September session, giving us a WHOLE MONTH to put curricula together,figure out teachers, make group lists, add kids who have been turned away from other parishes (oh yes, that happens)... so tomorrow and Sunday we just... host. Hospitality and fun, seeing families we haven't seen for a while, welcoming new people, and putting finishing touches on decorating and food and tech. It's a wild, crazy time, but I am psyched to get started!
2) Real TV! Oh how I've missed my stories! Thank God for such summer tidbits as Broadchurch, Drunk History, The Newsroom and Under The Dome (that last one being a little embarrassing to admit). But I can't wait to finally found out How He Met Your Mother,and see my pals on Parks and Rec, Modern Family... oooh and Michael J Fox is back on tv! I know, I'm a junkie.
3) This frickin' Pope!! Check out this headline: "Pope Francis proclaims an end to the Church of small things" I can't tell you the thrill that a headline like that gives me. Honestly, I couldn't get through two paragraphs of that article before I started choking up. It's so so good.
4) The winter! I know, I know. Famous last words. And this is the first year EVER that I've looked forward to winter. Maybe it's old age or maybe it's the crazy humidity of this summer, but I'm just sick of sweating! I'm ready to bundle up with my electric blanket, and pull out my scarves, and make soup.
5) On a related note, I'm excited about a winter with a dog. I can just picture her romping around in the snow, ice balls on her fluffy toes... and easier-to-scoop-poop! Oh yes, winter is promising!!
6) I'm finishing up my NPR trifecta this Fall with tickets to Radiolab LIVE in Boston! This completes the set with a trip to see Garrison Keillor in the summer, Wait! Wait! Don't tell me! at Tanglewood last month (which is where we usually see GK... it was so cool to see something else there in the dark! Usually we bring a picnic and wine and accoutrements, and the show is mid-summer from 6-7:30 or so. But this show was on  Thursday, so we got food there at T-wood, brought a simple set-up, and watched the show out under the stars. It was fun and beautiful).
7) I started writing this on Thursday and now it is Saturday, and we've had our first GOF and now I'm looking forward to the second one. HURRAY for time passing and good things coming!
Here's a picture of one of the above-mentioned items. Just, instead of pine needles, picture fluffy snow, and ice balls on those toes.

Saturday, September 07, 2013

3 little words

On our recent family camping trip, siting around the campfire, conversation naturally turned to religion. Ha! I wonder if this is something that happens in other families? But hey, if you have churchies in your family, this is the risk you run.
Still, I am not one for religious debate- I don't mind talking about faith (I'd much rather write about it) but I do worry about saying something wrong or worse, not-quite-right. I feel like religion is such a tricky thing to talk about well, especially in group-chat kind of settings. So when we started the conversation, I kept quiet, except when I couldn't.
Often, in those settings, people just want to say what they want to say- they're not looking for insight, I find. But within a group I think there are also people who earnestly long to know, really have questions they'd love to ask. And there are inevitably, I think, people who are wondering why we don't all just shut up about this stuff, or who think it's crazy, or who have been so badly wounded by some church that they are seething through the whole conversation.
Anyway. I've been thinking about one of the questions that came up that starry night- the "where was God" question. It's the bazillion dollar question- I just saw it handled rather badly by a vicar on a BBC show, in fact, today (Broadchurch! Are you watching? It's not a church show, it's a mystery, and wow it's good!).
The question goes "where was God when this bad thing happened?" If something bad happens to one person and something good to someone else, does that mean God picked them to bless, rejected the other? Was someone being punished by God when something bad happened? Or, on the other hand, was someone being blessed by God in return for good behavior, or strong faith?
Well, here's what I think.
I think that like we read in 1 John, God is Love. Ta-daaa!!! No, no, there's more. This idea, that God is Love, is the key to that "where was God" question. If God is Love, then when you ask "where was God" you can also ask it this way: "where was love?" It's an easier question to answer- of course, you can look at the very worst of situations and find love. Say, for instance, that your friend has a terrible accident. Where was love? Maybe love was in his family who came to visit him in the hospital. Maybe love was in the nurses who cared for him, in the blood donated by strangers... maybe love was in the co-workers who sent flowers. Maybe love was in the friends who arranged for meals to be cooked for your friend while he was recovering. Maybe love was in the heart of your friend, who resolved to change his life. But what if your friend died? Love is still there, in all those places. Love abides in accidents, in illnesses, in the darkest of war.
But love- it does not keep us safe. It does not save us from harm or hurt. Love just... loves. Love manifests, love sustains, but love does not do tricks. Love doesn't keep track of faith or good works, Love does not reward, love does not punish.
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 
Doesn't that scripture seem suddenly more radical? And, if this is true, doesn't it necessarily have to change the way we think about how God works? It changes the way we pray and the way we worship- it changes what we expect of God, and it changes how we share our faith with others. God Is Love are the three most life-changing words I've ever heard. 

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

It's practically summer again!

It's crazy, innit, that it's September already? School started in our neighborhood this week, and oh how things are ramping up at work as we prepare for the beginning of our faith formation year. Time does truly fly, and although I'm half mourning the summer already and half longing for cooler temps, I'm also half-dreading the impending WOOSH of events and activities and half-taking comfort in the fact that before I turn around, it will all be over with. Somehow my stress is eased by the fact that the Fall will zip by as fast as the summer did. Soon I'll be saying "remember when I blogged about how fast this time would go? Seems like yesterday!"
I gues this comfort in the wildly fast passing of time is related to my unease with suspense. I don't kow how it will all end, but somehow knowing it WILL end is soothing to me. How weird is that?
This month we kick-off Generations of Faith with a guest performer (halleluiah, I don't have to know what I'm doing until the second session! Thank you Frank Runyeon!) and that means I have logistics to figure out, meetings to have, and creativity to muster. I'm half-looking forward to getting it going and half... prematurely exhausted. Ha!
Here's a daily online retreat from the Irish Jesuits, in case you've not heard of it yet. Breathe. Breeeeeathhhhhe.