Friday, January 25, 2008

Preaching dream

Maybe it's the pain meds, but my dreams the past two nights have been wild. The preaching one was fun, and included one of my faithful readers.

The setting is a blend of two churches which don't in any way look alike, and the preacher is to speak from the baptismal font-turned-lectern in the rear of the church.

As preacher, I stood at the font and began my sermon. When I paused for a breath, a founding member arose and, as she always did in real life, started talking excitedly about the early history of the parish, bumping me out of the "pulpit." I said, "You'll have to sit down. I'm preaching," but she told me, "I was in this church years ago and I know things no one else is here to recount." So she wouldn't sit.

Another woman came to speak up, with her own account of things historically true, and the two of them were giving off sparks of animosity towards one another for stealing the limelight. I stepped into the middle of them, and said, "Both of you -- that's it. I'm speaking." But they didn't care.

Then, wearing a fire rescue suit and hard hat, Laurel appeared with two long water hoses, and blasted both women with the hoses. They went away. But I don't remember if I ever finished my sermon. I think we all were quite wet.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

God with us

This was a day when clearly I knew God was with me. Some days, there is no question. I was driving after a 5-inch new snowfall down the interstate to work, at what I thought was a safe speed, when I hit black ice. My trusty white Honda swerved and circled, and I have no further memory of anything till I crashed into a guard rail and landed in the median with blowing snow covering my windshield. I had no idea where I was, nor had badly I'd damaged myself or the car.

What I most remember thinking was how much my chest hurt. Then I got out of the car, calmly called John on my cell, described where I was from locating an exit sign, then called my church.

Within ten minutes or less, a fire truck and state patrol came and were just wonderful when I blanked out while answering their questions; they took me to a safe place where I met up with John, who a bit later transported me to the emergency room near home.

Good news: nothing is broken. No one else was hurt. Not so good news: how could my chest hurt so much when nothing is broken? The car really is damaged, maybe can be fixed but maybe not. How did I walk away from this accident? The ER doc said, "God was watching over you, that's for sure." And I know, and firmly believe, that God was there with me, helping me out of the car, and maybe rolling eyes when I wanted to offer pastoral care to a young man in much pain in the ER waiting room.

Please be careful out there. And wish me success in not seeing the crash over and over every time I shut my eyes. So far, I think that will take some time.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Books for the Lenten season

I'm on the hunt for books to use during my weekly Lenten meditations at noon. So far, I have Nouwen's Show Me the Way, Selected Poems of Thomas Merton, no doubt some T.S. Eliot, passages from Anne Lamott, and of course the appropriate lectionary passages for each day. I need more ideas. Now that there isn't a bookstore right below my bedroom, I can't easily page through books that look appealing. So please let me know of any books that you like so well that they come to mind right away.

Monday, January 14, 2008


This past weekend was noteworthy and celebratory for many friends. Ryan got married, Matthew was ordained to the priesthood, and several seminarians left for their "plunge" experience in Vermont, Florida, Washington, D.C. and ____ (I've forgotten the fourth place). I hope they all have fulfilling days and return with great stories.

I managed to awaken at 4:30 a.m. yesterday in order to get to church on time to preach at all three services. We had cake and champagne after a baptism. Pouring champagne was not my idea, but since I mentioned it in my sermon, our rector pulled out a bottle from his closet and said, "You pour." Typically serious people reacted with big smiles and unexpected laughter. But among all the comments I received, the one I found most dear came from a 12-yr-old, who greeted me at the passing of the peace with, "I liked your sermon!"

Our attentive choir director said, "I knew you'd work in food somehow!" Um, is champagne considered food?!

Friday, January 11, 2008


I miss Fridays at Seabury. Despite having Friday classes EVERY term (even one on Friday afternoon, the last term of my senior year!), I felt brighter on Fridays. I'd walk to Peet's to read, and then cleaned the apartment. It's not too hard to clean a space that small! I'd swiff the floors with a sort of monastic attitude, feeling that cleaning floors was a blessed kind of work. Then I'd light a stick of incense in the clean space, and anticipate going to the chapel for Evening Prayer as the sky turned from shades of dark pink to all dark.

Friday Evening Prayer never was well attended, so the "regulars" created a special bond. The service provided more of a meditative atmosphere as things out in the cloister grew quieter and quieter.

Then, sometimes we'd go to dinner, at places that I still miss. Ah, Lulu's...

Here at home, we also have Friday evening traditions. We enjoy homemade (usually, but not necessarily always) pizza, crack open some vino, and watch a movie. Tonight, we'll watch a Poirot DVD, one of the very few we haven't seen in that series.

What do others do on Friday evenings? I'm just curious.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Loud, Louder, LOUDEST

The MRI experience was so noisy (banging and high pitches) that I wanted to laugh -- but that's not allowed when you're keeping still. The test shows a bulge in the lower back, causing the sciatic nerve pain. And yes, I did work out sermon details in my head during the test.

My former classmates may find it hard to believe, but I am not preaching on food this Sunday. Now that the lectionary has turned to Matthew (yay for that Matthew course!), Jesus and his followers aren't eating all the time.

But I am talking about champagne and celebration. We're baptizing a beautiful little girl. The New Year feels like such a time of possibility. Even through moments of much discomfort and nerve pain, I feel such joy in my work, such blessing to be in this place.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Funny kind of sermon prep

Has anyone experienced an MRI? I'm having one today and don't know what to expect, other than needing to keep still. I found out that the pain I've had in my leg is sciatica, and the recommendations from my doc include injections at a local pain center (yuck) and physical therapy. But for today, I'm just wondering about the MRI experience. I figure that if I have to be still for an hour, at least I can work out Sunday's sermon in my head.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Dinner with organists

It's been great to have Noah and several organist buddies here for dinner all this week. Tonight, one of them asked something unexpected, which made me think of our friend Cliff in Napa, who loves praying Compline.

While digging into homemade pizza: "I have a question about Compline." David went to Compline in Seattle recently, and the choir processed in to a setting of the Magnificat.

"The Magnificat isn't normally part of the Compline service, is it?" he wanted to know. I fully realize that I'm a liturgical nerd, but I enjoyed this as a topic of dinner conversation. I love these organ students! They're leaving tomorrow, and the house will be Way, Way, Way too quiet.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

What is today?

1. Iowa Caucuses! Yes, we're going.
2. My parents' 60th (!) wedding anniversary.
3. Damned cold (though now up to 3 degrees).
4. Day Two of the GOEs. Hang in there, friends!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Christina Rossetti had it right

Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
snow on snow...

Trees and bushes, lawns and cars and sidewalks are covered with last night's heavy snow, and we awoke to even more blowing white crystals this morning. The shovels and shovellers grow weary. It's a quiet day, a good day to read and to bake and to give thanks.

Happy snowy 2008.