Sunday, September 23, 2007

Manchester Orchestra

Aaaargh, I did it again! I proved my ignorance about popular music, when I really didn't mean to.

After tonight's Taize Evening Prayer in a beautiful space with the biggest crowd the chaplaincy has had since last spring, I settled in at a table of what appeared to be grad students. Hunting for a way in for conversation with one of them, I noticed that her mug advertized "Manchester Orchestra." Since many of the undergraduates who come to our church are string players, I made an assumption here, too. I said, "I noticed your mug. Do you play in an orchestra?"

They were so very nice to me, when they could have rolled their eyes and laughed. "No," she said, "actually, The Manchester Orchestra is a band from Atlanta. She added, "They played on David Letterman about two weeks ago." "Ah," I said, but I wouldn't have seen that, either.

Really, I don't live in a cave. It just seems like it some nights.


Friday, September 21, 2007

Sometimes God sends a dream

One of my readers asked for stories about campus ministry. It's been hard work, primarily because I started with no existing student group -- no, not one! The previous chaplain had not been able to function for some time (about three years, according to most sources), for some very valid personal reasons. But I came on board to build up a program from dust.

Apparently I was discouraged when I went to sleep. We now have a steady group of students who come to church each week, but the group at present numbers 5 or 6. Three of them are music majors and play in the demanding university orchestra. At our campus ministry committee meeting last night I asked my committee to join me in showing up where the students do their work. So, for instance, two of them committed to attend the first orchestra concert of the fall, next week. I'm pushing for attending plays, readings, lectures -- wherever our undergrads or grad students or faculty are spending their good energy, we need to show up. Showing up matters.

During the night, between episodes of wondering if we're ever good enough for the work God gives us, I dreamed that I was in a classroom where several voices were breaking in more loudly than mine when I began to speak. Suddenly there stood my former spiritual director, K, whom I last saw in Evanston in May. She took over the room, hushed the others, and rested her hand ever so lightly upon my arm. When I was in tears, she pressed more firmly, so that I could not doubt that I was supported.

Sometimes God sends a dream, and upon awakening, we see circles of golden light dance near the ceiling. And then it is not so hard, after all, to start a new day.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Blessed are the roofers

Today I'm blessed because I still have parents, who called to sing "Happy Birthday." My mom told me, "I woke up and said, 'My little 3-pounder grew up!'" It sounds as though, in her eyes, I have now reached adulthood. I was supposed to be born in mid-November, but even then I probably felt the need to get all things done immediately.

I'm blessed because my dearest one arranged to have a shipment of Peet's coffee arrive at our front door. ;)

I'm blessed because the roofers didn't show up this morning, so I'm not spending the day hearing WHAM! WHAM! BANG! WHAAAAAM!!! Thank you, oh thank you, roofing company!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Unexpected Package

I'm just back from two days in Des Moines. Yesterday all new clergy (or clergy in new cures) attended Fresh Start (a program promoting wellness, and associated with Credo) and today I sat through a five hour Board of Directors meeting in order to present a ten minute update on the state of campus ministry. Grr!

When I called home last night, I leared that someone at Seabury had sent us an intriguing package. It was described as relatively small, soft, and not the shape of a book. I couldn't wait to come home and open it!

A short while ago I unwrapped the mysterious gift: in the package were three solid pieces of Seabury's crumbled chapel wall! What a fabulous, unique reminder of our time in chapel. No one's ever sent me part of a wall before!

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Remembering Madeleine

My rector amazes me. It seems that he personally knows a good many people from his varied ministries and travels; yesterday he said that Madeleine L'Engle was a personal friend, someone very formative in his own daughter's life. So, we're in the beginning stages of planning a simple evening memorial prayer service in Madeleine's honor on her upcoming birthday, November 29.

I'm soliciting a paragraph, or a few sentences, from any of you for whom this amazing writer's words swiftly tilted your own experience of life, of God, of belief and hope. There's plenty of time, but if you think you might contribute here in some way, please let me know soon.


Saturday, September 08, 2007

Another sign that God has a sense of humor

God's humor resurfaces anew as I make preparations for our upcoming U2charist, as advertised on posters all over the church and on our website. What's so funny, you ask? I'm to be presider and preacher, and I've never been to a U2charist, even though I've had two fairly recent opportunities. As a cradle classical musician, I've been wary of the sheer noise level at these events, and stayed away primarily for that reason.

The first time I ever heard U2's music was during a class called Gospel Mission, when our dear professor preceded the playing of a U2 song by saying, "Everyone will know this one." And, sigh, there I was raising my hand afterwards, wanting to hide under the desk as I said, "Sorry, none of this music is familiar to me!" But after a while nobody was shocked anymore, and a thoughtful classmate made me a CD of songs with which I might want some familiarity.

So, tomorrow I finalize preparations at the paint-your-own-pottery store, where students will design and paint three sets of goblets (chalices), salad plates (patens) and candle sticks. After we bless and use these at our service (the first ever in Iowa), we'll take them to be used at Diocesan Convention, where an even bigger U2charist is in the works.

Good things about this: I get to preach on Luke (again)! And I'm borrowing beautifully made, brightly colored vestments that came from Africa. I just hope to be at home with the music and the setting, so that I can get out of my own way as I lead God's people toward the vision of a world where we labor to make poverty history.

Until then, though, I could use some prayers.

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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The Irresistible Apple

While walking laps at the mall, I passed a colorful display for a new line of products in the soap/lotion/candle categories: Irresistible Apple. My hackles were up instantly. If I am told that something is irresistible, I am enough of a rebel to object that no one else can tell me whether a product is irresistible.

I love apples. It's fall (or at least, it's September) and apples sound delicious. The packaging on the "Irresistible Apple" lotion and soap drew me in through their deep garnet colors. So I sampled the lotion, as passersby are encouraged to do. The fragrance was clean and pleasant, the price reasonable. But in the end, I could not purchase this product because of its name. Please don't tell me what I can or cannot resist.

Oh, and as a side note, the lotion smells absolutely nothing like apples. Not even a hint of apple breaks through. So it's not irresistible, there's no apple, and I find it amusing that I'm writing about this to distract myself from missing my friends in Evanston!

Monday, September 03, 2007

Rest In Peet's

After pouring coffee into my Peet's mug this morning, I noticed this obituary for Alfred Peet, founder of Peet's Coffee & Tea.
Peet didn't think much of American coffee, and even taught the founders of Starbucks to roast the good stuff.

I miss Peet's in Evanston. I say this at home routinely. The efficient and friendly baristas anticipated my order as I walked into the shop. They called me by name, and told me stories about themselves. I'd set up a study corner at the counter, and sometimes when the store wasn't busy, a barista showed up bearing a sample of the featured specialty drink or slices of muffins. Sigh. I miss Peet's.

RIP, Alfred, and thank you.


Saturday, September 01, 2007


It was time for a new color. The blue background looks very peaceful, although it also reminds me that I miss the lake. All of the links work, too -- but it sure took some time to redo them! I hope y'all enjoy the change.