P.S. Thanks, God

June 5, 2010

Today was my friend’s ordination to the vocational diaconate — that is, the REAL kind of deacon. <knowing wink to my Episcopal clergy friends out there>

I had prayed to stay in the present, and celebrate my friend’s joy, not ruminate over my past.  With one fleeting exception, I was in the moment, and in my friend’s blessed and joyful moments.  The fleeting moment…not a fully welled tear that even needed wiping away, only some fleeting mistiness.

(thanks, God.)

God is good.  In fact, he even came through with extra brownie points above what I’d asked for.  At the communion rail, while waiting my turn, there I caught our bishop’s eye.  He was not four feet away, and seated at an altar chair while the vested deacons (newly and long-time ordained’s) distributed the sacrament.  I was able to beam him a (nicely reciprocated!) big genuine smile while waiting for my turn to receive Communion.  Of course, the friend got a bigger more beamy smile when SHE distributed Communion to me!  :)  And it was so AWESOME to see and hear her own ultimate beaminess this day.  What joy was hers today!  She and the other newly ordained deacon shared in giving the diaconal dismissal to “go forth into the world to love and serve the Lord”, but it was her eager booming voice that entered my ear the loudest.

Thanks be to God, indeed.

Peace!


A Milestone

May 27, 2010

–June 5, 2010–

A dear soul/spiritual friend of mine is getting ordained a deacon in the Episcopal church on June 5, 2010.

Well, I should say, “God willing and the people of God consenting” as they always humbly preface announcements of such events.  :)  (I have a feeling it’ll go on without a hitch, though.)

I first met this friend at the occasion of our shared ministry discernment weekend about 3&1/2 years ago, the last step before interviews with the Bishop for his decision on beginning the diaconal formation program.  The answer in my situation was discern some more, and come back to see me [Bishop] again.  The “come back to see me again” piece didn’t ever really happen in that context; discernment since that time hasn’t really added or subtracted much from my clarity position at the interview.  And that is tough sometimes. <sigh>

**************

Heavenly Father, if it’s all the same with you, I’d really like to celebrate new ministry directions and steps – milestones – for my friend, and for the gift of her service to your Holy Church.  Let my attentions and presence that day be in celebration with and for my friend, not ruminations over “could have been’s” and “what if’s” about me.

I know we’ve been a little out of touch in the prayer and discernment department as of late, God.  (sorry!  I miss you, too.) I SWEAR I’ll do better if you just let me make it through this special day for my friend,  keeping me from breaking down and crying over “my” stuff and unfinished business; if there be tears let them be tears of joy for my friend.  We’ll have time for the stuff that is between you and me some other time, in the privacy of  my room in prayer…I don’t really think we need to confront and rehash those things in public on my friend’s day, do we?   Keep my focus on my friend, and on you on June 5th…help me, Father?!?

Hopefully (and sheepishly), your (well-meaning!) daughter.


Excerpts of tonight’s personal journal

March 3, 2010

Recently I provided someone a moment of graciousness and kindness, and it was perceived as such by the person to whom it was directed, and encouraging.

I was a little ashamed at my felt sense of pride in that recognition of kindness and the other’s appreciation afterward.  But maybe it’s a healthy self-assessment in the face of so many other not so healthy judgments I’ve directed toward myself?

I recognize that I bask in the glow of being appreciated. Is that basking a “pure” kind of joy that is a normal and expected result of following God’s call to service, or self-puffery?

*********************

Lord, help me to be a blessing in the lives of those whom I touch.

Lord, help me to fix my gaze on you, and enjoy the pleasures in my self and with others that comes in serving, and, sure, even in being appreciated.  Keep me from both inordinate self-puffery and inordinately harsh self-judgment.

Lord, help me to be unafraid to trust you and freely and joyously offer my life for you to use me as you see fit, whether for public and greater or lesser recognized service, or for quiet unassuming care of those around me and in my personal prayers.  Help me to both recognize and accept the path you will continue to show me, all the days of my life.

Amen.


A Personal Review

February 10, 2010

Was looking over my last few blog posts.  Due to my infrequent posting, that actually took me back a ways chronologically.

I noticed my talk of piano lessons.  And my talk of getting Taize music for my mp3 player.

What prompted the review, was actually a lack of being gentle with myself over a lack of committed prayer. (another post about being gentle with oneself popped out at me.)

It’s true, I haven’t been praying as I ought.  But then I backed up a bit, and realized my listening, singing along, and now PLAYING taize music on the piano is not random.  I even believe there is a certain spirituality in the discipline of practicing any genre of piano music for me.  I’ve begun learning how to improvise,if you can use the term very loosely with me (particularly if you actually are a real jazz improviser!!!) on Taize music.  What an adventure!  What poetry does for some, music does for me.  It gets a litte frustrating sometimes to be unable to play technically the song in one’s head, just as it is to be unable to express in words the longing of one’s heart.  I believe there are real overlaps, but I think I have a better chance of overcoming the technical limitations, and allowing music to communicate at the heart level.  Makes one’s heart sort of yearn and ache.  The one I’m working with right now is called, “Jesus Remember Me.”  The lyrics are simple and repetitive by design.  The music combined with the simple lyric makes the heart to ache with longing…

Which brings me back to more traditional prayer and the longings of the heart.  I think that may be one reason why I avoid prayer.  Maybe?  Cracks you open to longings when it is sometimes easier to just keep busy, or even just be lazy with mindless entertainment, rather than be still and take some time to give God some access to your mind or heart.

I’m about to embark on a 12 week class as one of the co-facilitators for Community of Hope.  It is premised on the notion of being formed by prayer and silence, and encouraging that in the students who gather.  I’m motivated to dig in and return to  some of that, partly out of concerns of outright hypocrisy if I don’t, partly due to natural seasons of returning longings that happen to me sometimes.  But with this sort of strange feeling of trepidation.  What will happen if I pray?  (and/or what won’t happen?)  Will I find God in the ordinary, in the ways I profess to believe he is to be found and the Rule of Benedict from which our group will study asserts?  (Lord, I want to see!)  Will God confront me with something difficult to do, or ask me to change something uncomfortable about myself that I might prefer to cling to or hide behind? (“What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?  I beg you, don’t torture me!”)

Do you ever find yourself asking these questions?

Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God,

Have mercy on me, a sinner.

Something about that prayer speaks to me, with a certain assurance that the mercy is already ours, but asking for it still feels “right” and not “grovel-ly”. 

What do you think?

Be blessed!


Hellish or Heavenly?

January 12, 2010

Every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part that chooses, into something a little different than what it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, you are slowly turning this central thing either into a heavenly creature or into a hellish creature. -C.S. Lewis

A friend of mine shared this quote with me a short time ago.  I had to ponder it a bit.  In some respects, I find it extraordinarily true.  In other respects, a little too black and white, a little too simplistic.  But mostly true.

I don’t necessarily know about the heavenly vs hellish dichotomy, but I absolutely, 100%’ly believe that our choices help form us, closing off some pathways that might have been present before.  Opportunity cost, I think I recall learning in high school accounting or freshman college economics.  The notion that there is a cost to choosing one thing over another, and that some choices close off other possibilities, maybe temporarily, maybe permanently.  Of course circumstances beyond our control can have these effects, too, but the important thing to take away from the pondering of this quote, I think, is that we have some degree of self-determination in forming that central thing inside us, for better or worse.  We have that responsibility and that power.

How am I choosing this day?

These Days?

Heavenly, hellish, or some delightful intoxicating combo of saved and sinner?  Hmm.

I’ve curtailed my church involvement quite a bit from say, the past 2-3 years ago.  Part of it was God-led for a sabbath season of sorts from that particular type of ministry involvement.  (Heavenly, you might say, and saying so with purity of heart, not a twinge of irony or sarcasm.  Really, prayed over that decision, and it felt “right.”)  Part of it was self-protective, and not just the innocent and beneficial stewardship of one’s time and energy.  Nope, the unvarnished truth was some of it was defensive and walling myself away from hurt, whether actual or imagined…the heart doesn’t necessarily care sometimes about factuality and objective reality.   (Hellish  <sigh>)  One ought to try though, I think, to be open to love and possibility and keep our walls to a minimum to live life to its fullest.  Hmm.

I don’t feel the same naivete and optimism I once felt about the Church, and even life in general the way I used to.  That’s disappointing to me, because I’ve always felt myself to be an optimist.  I’m not sure I like that change to my central thing…it feels like a shift is happening.  I think I should watch my choices a little more closely and with a sense of detached wonder and interest so I don’t find myself getting sucked into automatic reflexive decisions, instead of thoughtful choices.

How am I spending my opportunity costs now?  I’m “wasting time” (in a certain sense!) and “playing” in an adult sense that works for me.  Hellish or heavenly?  Time will tell, but I happen to think more the latter than the former.

I’m playing video games.   Yeah, video games!

I recently accepted an invitation from my elementary aged daughter to be part of a three-generation girl sleepover.  Yup, my daughter, myself, and my mom all slept in the living room after making truffles, other snacks, and playing on the Wii.

I got Dance Dance Revolution to play and exercise. (it really is fun!!!)

I’m taking piano lessons.  Yeah, me!  I had a few when I was younger, so I’m not a complete beginner, and I was a pretty good trombonist in high school, but I LOVE the piano.  It’s the kind of thing I can lose track of time while I’m at it. (in a good and holy way.)  Oh, is this ever FUN!!!  I’ve missed music and the tugs it makes on my soul…  It feels good and right to be back at it.

This playfulness and wasting time is heavenly and hellish at differing times.  And it’s changing my inner self.  My central “thing.”

I believe God’s going to use it for good, who knows how.  Let’s see how the next leg of this ol’ journey goes?  ;)


About Me, revisited

May 30, 2009

I updated my “About Me” page today.

You see, in there I had previously referenced that I was still informally involved in the diaconal discernment process in my diocese of the Episcopal church.

As of Thursday, the letter to the bishop went in the mail.  I’m closing that chapter.

I feel pretty good about it.  Most people probably assumed I’d exited a long time ago, informal and off the radar as my explorations and Process was.  I don’t even get questions in my parish anymore.  Haven’t in a long time.

Close friends and spiritual confidantes I have been blessed with along the way have heard my wonders and struggles over these years.  Good, spiritually healthy struggles, please don’t misunderstand me.  Inwardly, it still occupied a great deal of my mental energies, despite my outward public appearances to most.

Until recently.  Then I was reminded that I really should be writing some sort of update on my discernment, or quite possibly finally saying goodbye.

Along with good bye to discernment is good bye to coordinating my small parish’s  Sunday school.  I have decided that I simply need a break.  The timing of the break may prove to be an unexpected blessing if it opens the door to an infusing of new ideas and energy in new leadership, or it may be terribly unfortunate, as we’ve been without a rector the past year, and are now on the brink of getting one.  No matter.  I had to listen to my heart on this one.  And I really and truly feel that God has laid his blessing on this…taking a break, and taking some time for renewal.

Heavenly Father.  In times of seeming silence and aloneness we need to call on faith that you remain near.  I trust and believe that you remain near, and are working in me to accomplish new growth, which I trust and believe will bear good fruit in due time.  Keep me receptive with wide open arms to what blessings and missions lie ahead…after I take a brief rest that is!  Amen.


Facing our darkness

May 25, 2009

I enjoy a blog called “real live preacher.”  I read this particular post a month or so ago, and some of the stuff reminded me of some of my stuff.  Wanting to be good, denying that darkness that lives inside all of us, etc. etc.  Recently I had an occasion where I allowed some of my darkness to surface and am currently pondering it to try and make some sense of it.  I haven’t decided yet if it was healthy or not…too soon to tell.  But it brought back to mind this blog post, and I thought you might find it interesting, too.

http://reallivepreacher.com/node/1384

Here’s a little taste, if you like.

That’s an interesting thing to say. “I’m trying to be what I’m supposed to be.” What are you supposed to be?

Okay, yeah yeah. I get this. I know. You’re supposed to be who you are, be yourself, all that. I get that. I’ve told people that myself. It’s just…I AM a person who wants to be what I’m…supposed to be. You know, do the right thing. Be the right person.

Okay, let me try again. I’m really not trying to catch you in some ontological paradox. I just don’t get it. You say you want to be what you are supposed to be. And I just want you to tell me what that is. Who is this person you’re supposed to be? How would you describe him?

I don’t know. Nice? Nice to people? Caring about them and just, you know, where you go places and interact with people and it’s better because you were there. People are better off. You help people when you can.

Okay I’m still not really getting it. How about this: we’ll allow that somewhere in your mind there is an idea of what a man is supposed to be. And let’s agree that this man you want to be is a wonderful man. Just a smashing person. Leaving beauty and healing and well-being in his wake as he goes through life. Real Jesus-like.

I’m not trying to be Jesus.

Well Foy, who are you? I mean now. Forget the man you are supposed to be or want to be or will be or whatever that is. Who are you now? Let’s imagine that there is no god looking over your shoulder, okay? And you’re in a secret room with someone who will never tell anyone what you say. And further, this person is going to think the best of you. So even if you felt like punching someone in the face, you could say that and the person listening knows you would never do that.

(a portion has been snipped out—go read the original!)

What did you say?

What I said was “F*** everyone in the world but me!”

———

Of course, I don’t mean it or anything.

I know you don’t.