The Quixotic Pastor

Friday, September 28, 2007

The Swan Song Friday Five

Reverendmother's timing for this particularly Friday Five is providential perhaps, as several folks I know are leaving one place to move on to another place. She writes:

Well friends, as I prepare for the birth of Bonus Baby, it's time to simplify life, step back from the Friday Five, and let one of the other capable and creative RevGals take the helm. It's been a great almost 17 months of co-hosting the F5, but it's time to say goodbye... so here's my swan song.

On Endings and Goodbyes:

1. Best ending of a movie/book/TV show
The final scene of the movie "Places In The Heart", with everybody receiving communion, everybody passing the plates of bread and cups --including two key folks in the movie that die within the first five minutes of it. My description does not do the scene justice --it's one of the best cinematic depictions of the Kindom of God I have ever seen. I always cry when I see it; I always catch my breath.

I feel much the same way about the scene in Schindler's List when the Schindler Jews climb the hill in black and white --and their descendents crest the hill in color.

2. Worst ending of a movie/book/TV show
DH and I remember leaving the theatre after seeing "War Of The Worlds" thinking to ourselves, "that was way too improbable and sudden."

3. Tell about a memorable goodbye you've experienced.
Leaving my family [and so much else belovedly familiar] in Texas to come with my partner to Michigan was very memorable. Although I suppose that was much more of a "goodbye for now." Leaving the UMC for the MCC was pretty memorable too --I think I still have noticeable scars from that.

4. Is it true that "all good things must come to an end"?
Not if one allows for the possibility of and accepts change.

5. "Everything I ever let go of has claw marks on it." --Anne Lamott
Well ... not everything. One of the reoccurring life-metaphors I experience is that of cliff-diving. Sometimes I have jumped off the cliff --no claw marks there. Other times, someone has pushed me --that usually features claw marks.

Bonus: "It isn't over until the fat lady sings." I've never loved this expression. So propose an alternative: "It isn't over until ____________________"

Everybody gets to dance.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Faith and Social Justice Retreat Opportunity in Michigan

And not just for Michiganders, but people who could travel easily to the west side of Michigan for a wonderful retreat opportunity October 19th-21st. I am SOOOO looking forward to this!

I quote from the flier:

The Together in Faith Collaborative brings LGBTQ, Same Gender Loving People and Straight Allies of all ages, races, religions and spiritualities together in Michigan to make sustainable changes within Michigan. It is an opportunity for skill development, community and team building.

I know that some of the programming being offered includes SGL [Same Gender Loving] & LGBTQ In Religion/Spirituality 101, and Creating Welcoming & Affirming Congregations. Beyond LGBT issues, there's training offered regarding Inclusive Language in Faith Settings.

The Collaborative is an intimate atmosphere, open to less than 50 participants, and provides both a retreat and reflective atmosphere for clergy, lay leaders, activists and organizers to rejuvenate and restore themselves and their spiritual connections.

Because the American Friends Service Committee, The Faith Action Network and the Arcus Foundation who supports the TIF Collaborative, believe in this work and this community, we have done everything in our power to make it accessible to all LGBTQA and Same Gender Loving communities. The sliding scale fee is $25 – $175 and covers all lodging, food and activities for the weekend starting Friday evening at 7pm and continuing until Sunday at 1pm. We are happy to assist with car pooling or ride shares as well.

If you need more information, or desire to register, just click on the link. Or, feel free to post questions in the comments and I will do my best to answer them.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Random Catch Up Musings

It's been a heckuva week since I blogged last ... here's some random catch-up thoughts.

The memorial service for the congregant who died very suddenly and very unexpectedly went well, although the whole thing felt unusually odd for me. Usually I do some of my best work at funerals and memorials and I am fully comfortable throughout the process, but this time there was this tiny nagging sense of the weird that was beyond only the suddenness of the death. Then I finally figured out what the "weird" was --I haven't held a memorial for an actual congregant in about a decade. Lots of funerals and memorials for relatives of congregants, even a few for my own relatives, but not congregants themselves, mostly because most MCC people tend to be baby-boomers. It was weird to have actually known the person whose life I was celebrating.

DH had an electromyelogram [EMG] down at the VA in Ann Arbor. That's the test where they stick electrically charged needles in appropriate extremities to measure nerve trauma and so forth. Despite the needles, DH found the experience very affirming, particularly since, for the first time in her life, someone appears to have successfully identified the source of her chronic headaches. The full diagnoses I can't even spell, much less pronounce [the Doc wrote it out for her on a post-it note] but suffice it to say that her C6 and C7 are bulging, her neck bones are shaped like this, \ , when they should be shaped more like this, ( , and she has a trigger point in her occipital region which creates spasms and pain in the muscles that stretch over her skull. Since DH would like to work as long as possible, and hence avoid much use of narcotics, the doc has prescribed physical therapy, particularly manual traction. Unfortunately, DH hasn't figured out yet how to make PT work in her job schedule, which starting in October becomes more challenging than usual since she'll be in a training class for two months in big south east city.

There was lots to do last week, there's lots to do this week, including a board meeting tonight, shopping for a 21st century PC for one of the churches [the one I am typing this on is still running Windows 98, has 9 gig of memory and 256 of ram] a meeting Thursday evening and a luncheon Friday in big southeast city. [Fortunately, Rainbow Pastor is offering hospitality at her place --many thanks, RP]. I'm also working on a 360 review for a friend [thankfully that's almost finished] and trying to work out airfare and other arrangements for my sister to visit me.

Why does September go from 0 to 90 mph in a matter of seconds ...?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

6 Years Ago Today I Was ...

... working in tiny little Kewadin, Michigan, far, far away from TVs. I didn't even have the radio on. It was a beautiful almost-autumn day, cool and crisp in the morning, brilliant sunshine pouring like honey into the windows as the day lengthened. I could step out of the office, look across acres and acres of farmland and orchards to see the trees just beginning to turn orange, red, yellow.

The only disaster I thought I would deal with that day was the checkbook for my BIL's business.
DH called me from her job. "Do you know what's going on?"

"Um, no."

"You aren't near a TV or a radio?"

"No, I'm in BIL's office --what's up?"

She told me that there had been a terrible accident, that a plane had flown into one of the towers of the World Trade Center. "Didn't you visit there when you were working in Manhattan last year?"

"Yes, we went up into the visitors' center and walked around on the observation deck on one of the towers. That was the first part of September too..."

"Wait," DH said, "something else is going on --I'll call you back!"

So I go back to the checkbook.

When DH called back, she said, "Honey, I think you better go down to the house and look at the TV --they think we're under attack. Another plane has flown into the other tower, and they're saying something about the Pentagon."

I gave up on the checkbook --suddenly, it no longer appeared to be much of a disaster.

And this is why, 6 years later, the whole thing still seems so surreal to me, still so hard to believe: because I was in the middle of nowhere, in almost absolute solitude, working in silence and beauty, on something as tangible and easily grasped as numbers in a checkbook.

While I was not paying attention, the world changed.


When I left about 6 pm that evening, I noticed something absolutely bizarre for tiny little Kewadin. Cars were lined up four deep on each side at the two somewhat decrepid gas pumps at the little local party store/grocery/deli. And the price of gas had shot up to $2.99. $2.99!!!

I glanced down at my gauge ... about a quarter of a tank, not enough to get me home. I'd normally gas up in Kalkaska, but I was afraid my usual station may have run out of gas before I got there. So, down the road a piece --and into the very long line at the Shell station in Elk Rapids. Probably the entire Elk Rapids police force was there, directing traffic and keeping order in the line. I hadn't waited in lines like this since the late 70's --and I damn sure hadn't EVER spent $2.99 a gallon for gas.

My car radio was tuned to NPR's round the clock coverage by this time, and I knew that every airplane had been grounded and every airport closed. Glad I wasn't at an airport.

30 minutes later, I drove on --and there was very, very little traffic. It was so quiet. Even on US 127 [for some reason I felt safer going "the back way"] I was pretty much the only car on the road. Most folks were probably at home, glued to their TV sets, thinking it wise to conserve gasoline.

I just wanted to get home.

Friday, September 07, 2007

I Mourn

I mourn the passing of Madeleine L'Engle, whose books I loved, especially A Wrinkle In Time and the Crosswicks Journals ...

May God grant her peace and may she rest from her labors in Eternal Light.

Friday 5 -Overcoming

Sally of the RevGalBlogPals shares this:

"I am preparing this Friday 5 just before I take Chris into hospital for a cardioversion, right now we are all a little apprehensive. But this whole thing has got me thinking, so many of us are overcomers in one way or anoither, so many have amazing stories to tell of God's faithfulness in adversity. And so I bring you this Friday 5:"

1. Have you experienced God's faithfulness at a difficult time? Tell as much or as little as you like...
2. Have you experienced a dark night of the soul, if so what brought you through?

I have had some pretty serious bouts with depression and "accidie", that old archaic word that has similar meaning to apathy, torpor, ennui, sloth --and is appropriately one of the seven deadly sins. God has always been there with a word in season from often an unexpected source [once it was my astrological forecast that week in the local LGBT newspaper] and a much needed lift, or kick in the pants. Annie Dillard once said, "I felt as if I were a bell and I had been struck" --I think revelation is often exactly like that.

3. Share a Bible verse, song, poem that has brought you comfort?

Once, when I found myself in the Abyss, over a thanksgiving holiday when I was housesitting for friends, I glanced at one of those "a word of wisdom a day" tear-off calendars they had in their kitchen window. They hadn't torn the sheets off for about a week, so it was as if the message had waited for me to find it: "When I learned the distinction between being in control of my life and being in charge of my life, it made all the difference."
That is also the thanksgiving holiday when I learned that very often, thanksgiving is a discipline, not a feeling. When the apostle Paul advises us "In everything, give thanks," he doesn't mean "be thankful for everything" in Pollyanna fashion. He means, "seek diligently to find something for which to be thankful at all times."
That proved to be a key directional sign on my pathway out of that particular instance of the Abyss as I struggled to find something for which I could thank God. Some days it was "Thank you God that at this moment I am able to breathe ..."

4. Is "why suffering" a valid question?

Yes, especially given that so often the roots of human suffering really aren't as mysterious as we make them sometimes [although the roots are often complex]. Examining the "why" of suffering may offer a path toward healing, wholeness and hope.
At the same time, I think it is intellectually dishonest only to ask "why do bad things happen?" We must also ask, "Why do good things happen?"
--which I suspect is the far more interesting question.

5. And on a lighter note- you have reached the end of a dark and difficult time- how are you going to celebrate?

Usually with some kind of ritual that marks an ending and a new beginning ... I have burned things, buried things and bought new things. I have smudged things. I have had long conversations with pictures propped up in a chair ... I have kept some old things, but renamed them, imbuing them with new life and meaning.

Bonus- anything you wish to add....

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Woman Talk

This morning I had a Hot Flash. Oh ... Crap. [Not what I wanted to say.] I had visions of Joan of Arc and spontaneous combustion. At least it was mercifully brief.

Aunt Flo is here for her usual, every 28 day, very regular visit [there for awhile she arrived 15 minutes before the 11 am service every fourth Sunday --that was truly a pain in the anatomy] and I suppose that MAY have something to do with it.

I'm hoping that's it.

Surely I'm not really old enough to be menopausal --or even peri-menopausal. In fact, today I was carded when I bought a 6-pack of beer ... so that couldn't possibly be it. Right?


[ahem] RIGHT?

Please tell me that I don't have to read up on Croning ceremonies yet.

Inspiration from MLK Jr.

This Sunday, both churches will have outdoor worship services at the homes/farms of church members followed by potlucks.

The services will be different from the usual, as one could imagine. The sermon time will feature more of a discussion centered around questions like these:

If you could do anything at all to make a difference in people's lives, what would it be?

What do you want to be remembered for?

What epitaph would you want on your tomb?

What gift would you give to God? [I know it's not Christmas, but think of the Magi and --if you must-- the Little Drummer Boy ...]

Some of the texts I am considering using are:
Possible Legacy Texts: Matthew 13:44-46 [selling all one has for the kingdom]
Matthew 26:13||Mark 14:9
[woman who is remembered for anointing Jesus]
I Cor 3:10-15 [hmmmm]

But here's the really awesome stuff I read today. I'm thinking of utilizing these quotes from MLK Jr. for a Contemporary Witness selection:

"I submit to you that if a man hasn't discovered something he will die for, he isn't fit to live."
-----Speech in Detroit, June 23, 1963

"The church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society."
-----Letter from Birmingham Jail, April 1963

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."

"The quality, not the longevity, of one's life is what is important."
Martin Luther King Jr. (1929 - 1968)

"If a man is called to be a streetsweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great streetsweeper who did his job well."

There is a method to my madness with this ... but I'm not going to say more about it at this point.

In the meantime, in about an hour, DH will arrive home, and I will drive her to the local Hyundai dealership where she is going to buy an Accent.

As a social worker who drives all over 5 or 6 counties, she really needs something more gas efficient than her Ford F-150 With The Biggest V-8 Gasoline Engine Ford Has Ever Made. That works great for hauling stuff and towing the 5th wheel ... but not for driving all over God's Creation.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Worldview Quiz

Some of these results don't surprise me ...

You scored as Cultural Creative, Cultural Creatives are probably the newest group to enter this realm. You are a modern thinker who tends to shy away from organized religion but still feels as if there is something greater than ourselves. You are very spiritual, even if you are not religious. Life has a meaning outside of the rational.

Cultural Creative
















What is Your World View?
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