Thursday, December 27, 2007
And so this evening (I didn't manage to make good my escape from the office in time) I AM the doorkeeper, in charge of jumping up when the buzzer sounds, to admit a whole retinue of young singers -- well, young = twenty-somethings mostly. They are here to rehearse.
Every year on New Year's Eve, Most Holy and Undivided hosts a very special concert...the group assembled first ten years ago in support of a doctoral candidate in choral music who was specializing in the music of Pierre de la Rue. (The fun part of advanced work in choral music, as I've come to see, is that one needs collaborators!!!)
In the succeeding years although the members of the group have scattered hither and yon around the planet in the manner of their generation, they somehow manage to reassemble in Prairie Metropolis around about Christmas...and as they're all here anyway...why not have another concert?
The music is generally speaking either "early" or "contemporary" -- a cappella -- there is champagne and Ghirardelli chocolate in the intermission... and over the last six or seven years this has become a very hot New Year's Eve ticket indeed, in these parts.
They're all in the nave, not far from where I sit, getting properly "tore in" on a Kyrie. And they will rehearse intensively from now until Monday evening, when the place will be packed to the doors. Their concert always ends with an audience-participation version of "Auld Lang Syne."
I can hardly wait.
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Sunday, December 23, 2007
The faintest promise of daylight in the southeastern sky.
I think we're ready.
Field Marshal Viscount Slim ("Slim of Burma" if any WW2 aficionados are reading) used to say that all engagements with the enemy were fought uphill, in the rain, at the point where two or more maps joined. Christmas is a bit like that: uphill, in the snow and ice (at least in this hemisphere), and at the point where two CALENDARS join, just to remind us that life is real and life is earnest and we weren't put here to enjoy ourselves; or at least, not MERELY to enjoy ourselves.
May you all have the right calendar in hand when needed over the next two weeks!
Saturday, December 22, 2007
The national pension and continuing education office exerted themselves and yesterday in the mail, among the Christmas cards, was a cheque representing reimbursement for a summer course I took two years ago. In Rome. Which is partly why it took me so long to send in my claim. Like...SURE this was continuing education. Not a holiday. Nope. Education all the way, yup.
Anyhow, blessings be upon our much-maligned bureaucrats down there in National Hindquarters, Christmas is now FULLY FUNDED, folks -- or as my beloved Dad used to say,
"Throw the cat another canary, the heck with the expense!" (Not just the cost of the course, but the plane fare also...huzza!)
I sally forth this afternoon to find mildly staggering gifts for the offsprings. Cuz they're first-rate offsprings.
Friday, December 21, 2007
It's too soon to be confident about this, but yesterday I was aware of there being a LOT more energy at my disposal than has been the case for a long time. Usually when I get home ... everything falls off the to-do list except "the couch" and "the remote" and promptly lapsing into a kind of coma.
But not so last night -- I made a foray to the supermarket, bought a huge order of groceries, got them all out of the car (except the two frozen turkeys in the trunk, which are coming to NO HARM where they are -- it's ten below again) and into the house, cleared space in the fridge, got the perishables put away, loaded and ran the dishwasher, DEALT with a great pile of paper.
Maybe I've turned some kind of corner here. I did realize this morning that I had gone down to the front door and fetched in the paper and the milk without stopping to think about navigating the stairs! H'm! And I've got through 24 hours without outraging ankle, knee, or hip.
Or maybe it's just thinking about what holiday baking I could, realistically, do this week and next, that has improved morale.
Bright sunshine today in the bitter cold -- at the winter solstice here the sun gets no more than 15 degrees above the southern horizon. I'm not even sure of that number, it may be 11 degrees. Ah, but starting tomorrow!!!
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
1. Reading...I am a print addict.
2. Writing letters and receiving them.
3. Fresh clean bed-linen.
4. Long soaky baths that smell good.
5. Driving across the country -- it's hermitage-time.
6. The mountains, especially in the East Kootenays, especially Radium Hot Springs.
7. Jigsaw puzzles, crossword puzzles, Sudoku puzzles (they all have SOLUTIONS!).
8. Sleeping in -- AND staying up irresponsibly late -- and waking up very, very early.
9. Prairie skies.
10. Baking bread (and eating it).
11. Making soup (and eating it).
12. My kids -- and their spouses!
13. My honorary grandson.
14. My six nephews and four nieces.
15. "A fine Episcopal mass in a modest and sunny sanctuary..."
16. "The St. Matthew Passion and a big choir leaning into it like sled dogs on the tundra."
[the last two I cribbed from Garrison Keillor, upon whom be peace]
Peace be upon you all, too.
I tag Yearning for God, Rev. Dr. Mom, and seeking authentic voice.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Some more fun from Dave Walker, blessed be he. Find more cartoons you can re-use on your blog from weblogcartoons.com.
I stayed home yesterday, horizontal too, most of the day; I am still feeling the after-effects of the late-September sprained ankle, and Sunday those effects settled in the knee, disastrously...to the point I had to go and filch a stick out of the Sunday School costume cupboard just to be able to get about in the chancel at all.
A parishioner caught up with me in the evening at the annual Choir Party, and lent me the very stylish walking stick her son had made for her, during some bygone incapacitation. Her take on the situation I like: "if we have to be in pain, we can at least be elegant."
So with everybody's urgings ringing in my ears, in four-part harmony, I took Monday off. Our office is closed on Mondays too, nobody picking up phone messages; I had stuffed my pager in the bottom of my bag; and last night at midnight #1 Son said, "Mom, I think your purse is vibrating..."
Oh help. Four ignored messages. Today is catch-up-and-apologize time.
The day's bed-rest was very helpful; and leaving the house this morning I "stepped funny" again and twinged the knee once more...this is so very boring!
Friday, December 14, 2007
Someone has just sent me an email complaint from a mother who felt that she had become invisible to her children and her husband. They seemed to see, not a person, but a source of food, clean clothes, and assorted help: “Can you fix this?” “Can you tie this?” “Can you open this?” At other times she felt like a mere clock, a car, or a TV guide. The sense of “no one seeing” afflicts more than just busy mothers. You may remember the climactic scene in the movie Joy Luck Club when the dutiful daughter finally cries out to her mother, “You never SEE me.” And that same “no one seeing” is what drives the belief – we learn it young -- that even negative attention is better than none.
This sense of invisibility is especially trying in a community of faith: hard when we feel our individual efforts have no effect, harder when we fear that our collective witness as disciples of Jesus Christ is invisible to the world, and perhaps even to God.
The troubled Mom in my email is comforted when a friend gives her a beautiful book about European cathedrals, “with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.” The book reminds her that builders were often anonymous, and few lived to see their work finished, but they worked with passion because they believed that God saw – what even generations of worshipers would not and could not see, tiny details of carving, detailed mosaics, far over anyone’s head. “Why do you take the trouble over something no one will ever see?” “Because God sees.”
Part of the joy of this season, part of the blessing of the birth of Christ, is its assurance to us that “God sees”; like the mother in Joy Luck Club, who proves to her daughter that she DOES see, God sees us, and is delighted to see us—not peering anxiously to catch us doing wrong, but noting graciously all our fumbling attempts to want to be the people he created; all our stumbling choices for life over death, for faith over fear, for hope, for peace, for joy, for love. God, we may be sure, hangs around to see how it all turns out. God has the patience for outcomes beyond our imaginings.
So let us hope, make peace, rejoice, and love one another with confidence in the sight of God, walking forward steadily together into the New Year.
In this season, I wish you all joy and peace in believing!
Thursday, December 13, 2007
What are your three favorite Christmas songs and who sings them?
"Let It Snow" was the first song I ever sang, according to my mother...
"Once in Royal David's City" -- whoever sings it (not me, cuz I'll be crying) -- a nice English boy treble is good, though!
"Of the Father's Love Begotten" --sung by any good choir
What are your three favorite Christmas foods?
Marzipan on or off fruitcake
Plum pudding and hard sauce
The whole nine-yards Christmas dinner thing -- turkey and stuffing and spuds and gravy and sweet potatoes and brussels sprouts and tomato aspic and whatever else can find room on the table!
OR Canadian pea-meal back bacon, cut thick, for Christmas breakfast.
What are your three favorite Christmas movies?
Miracle on 34th Street--the original version
A Christmas Story
When we lived up north, the mining company brought in a movie to show as a treat after the school Christmas concert, which was short; total enrolment in the school = six of us. And what they chose was a kind of musical hodgepodge called Carnegie Hall. It had a plot, which was unnecessary and foolish, but it also had wonderful cameo appearances by Lily Pons, Rosa Ponselle, Jose Iturbi, Artur Rubinstein, and who-all else. For a very long time I thought that was about the acme of cinematic art.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
We buried the younger son a few months ago. In a way I think his relationship with the church was always entangled with memories of his father in a way that wasn't totally helpful... his attitude was proprietary, certainly, but at the same time ironic and jokey. Or maybe he just didn't like ordained women.
The elder son I never met, but I've met HIS sons, and we got on very well. This man spent his working life in research on behalf of Major Mining Corporation, inventing all sorts of things that improved productivity and miners' safety. His relationship to the church seems to have been much more positive and straightforwardly devout.
SO interesting to contemplate.
We had a nice service with Holy Communion, 3 classic hymns AND the Nunc Dimittis--with the discreet and tuneful help of the Director of Music/Organist, I managed to sing it, to the chant by Joseph Barnby, which is just about the most basic, generic sample of Anglican Chant (which rocks) that heart could desire.
The readings were the Eucharistic readings for today -- Isaiah "on eagles' wings" and the Comfy Words out of Matthew 11. Lovely and consoling and Advent-itious all at once.
And the family have been generous. We ask for a donation to the parish for funerals/memorials, out of which we pay the musician[s] a decent honorarium. There is no "stole fee" for the clergy, funerals not being an elective procedure in the way weddings are...clergy do collect a fee from the specified donation for a wedding. So usually families then make a "gift" to the clergy.
And I admit it does come in very handy at times.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Each week he picks two hymns, one for an Offertory and one for a Recessional. He plays some hymn tunes by way of prelude; accompanies the Sanctus and the Agnus Dei, and plays during communion and during the ablutions. Most Sundays -- it's a nice example of "tacit bargaining" -- he and I come to the end of the ablutions neck and neck: he finds the tonic chord just as I set the burse back on top of the Sacred Stack.
And his music is GOOD: the offertory hymn is often an effective precis of what the sermon was supposed to be...his accompaniments are sensitive and restrained...his selections always seasonally apt.
Unfortunately, his health is NOT good: arthritis, asthma, diabetes...and what with ongoing physical discomfort, and plenty of practice, his outlook is usually of such gloom that Eeyore is a Mexican Jumping Bean in comparison.
Matters came to a head about a month ago; he was too ill to come in and play for us one Sunday, and later that week I had a carefully typed letter from him resigning his post as of December 30th, Advent and Christmas being his very favourite seasons, hymnodically speaking.
But last week he asked whether he could prepare a Processional Hymn for December 30th, as well as the usual two; and this afternoon he met me in the hallway and said, "You know that letter I sent you? Could I ... have it back?"
I said I thought he could; we both had recourse to our handkerchiefs; and then he went and practised on the organ, and if ever I heard happiness in music, that was it.
God is entirely good, and the people of God have their moments too.
Presently the feminine counterparts will arrive, and knit, much to the same effect.
I've been asked this morning to help someone trace a private adoption from about 40 years back -- an adoption that may have been arranged through this parish. This is going to involve some very discreet consultation...
It's relatively mild today, no need to plug in block-heaters. Tomorrow we may get close to a thaw.
Arrangements are in place for tomorrow's memorial service, for the son of a former Rector (1927-1941); it should be quite small, mainly family members still living in Prairie Metropolis...but they've asked for 3 rousing hymns AND the Nunc Dimittis sung, so here's hoping the organist and I are in voice tomorrow afternoon!
Lots of paperwork still besetting us...
Monday, December 10, 2007
A miscellanea, today.
~ first of all, it's milder -- ten above, Fahrenheit, this morning -- a long way from a thaw, mind you, but so much easier on people, and vehicles, than the below-zero of the past week. Some new snow also. Rabbit tracks in the front yard, but not in the back.
~ I took the first part of the morning for some domesticity: ironing, reloading the dishwasher, sorting bills to be paid, feeding the recycle bin and the shredder, cleaning the litter-box.
~ the old cat, as seen above, appears to be holding her own; we're not sure that her eyes respond to changes in light-levels quite as thoroughly as when she was younger; sometimes her pupils seem to be "stuck on fully dilated."
~ and the business of the church goes on. First of all, consultation with the music director and the band leader on microphones and sound board. Firm, clear, e-mail composed by music director for distribution to lectors and intercessors to leave the lectern microphone strictly alone...even though they pride themselves on their diction and their projection (and therefore turn the mike off, or point it the other way, or mess with it generally).
~ then the phone -- message about one of the parish teenagers who has been ailing for a month, nobody knows why, can we add her name to the prayer list. Message from a prospective bride asking for information. Message from a parishioner announcing we are sold out of international-aid Christmas cards, and do we have his correct financial information?
~ live phone call from elderly parishioner asking to have another parishioner's sister added to the prayer list as she starts treatment for colon cancer.
~ live phone call from elderly parishioner reporting that she has had a hard day: she attended the funeral of one of her bridesmaids this morning, when she went to put her glasses on one lens fell out ("and there I was, as blind as a mouse"), she went and got her groceries and took a taxi home, and why hasn't she received her offering envelopes for next year? (that one was easy, they haven't come in yet)
~ live phone call from another prospective bride planning a September wedding. E-mailed her our wedding policy brochure.
~ checked on activity on Facebook and in the blogosphere.
~ letters to write and a half-dozen phone calls to make, and some excavating of the top of my desk...clearing the decks for the week ahead.
~ there is also HEAT in my office, hurray, a respectable and livable 68. I was getting a little bored with 55...
Sunday, December 9, 2007
I don't think this shot is going to give away any identities; but this is my mother, and me, probably in the spring of '45. NINETEEN forty-five, that is, not 1845...
A good couple of services this morning, some new folks checking us out, some young people looking for a wedding venue...I always feel encouraged when they come and worship FIRST, instead of phoning to ask when the church might be "open." "Well, how about Sunday morning?" I ask...and have had them hang up in my ear, right then and there. Good rollicking Advent hymns; and St. Nicholas arrived betimes, and distributed chocolate coins to the good, and dog-biscuits to the "faulty" -- in this case a representative of the heating system in the building, and the tenor section in the choir. Much mirth.
Our new honorary assistant celebrated, leaving me "nothing to do but preach"...and that was sufficient...he does good liturgy and is a quick study of the local anomalies in how things are done.
Fun of the morning was the long-experienced lay assistant, reading the Intercessory Prayer from the prayer book at the early service, who besought the Almighty that all Bishops, Priests and Deacons might "rightly and DULLY administer thy holy Sacraments." Duly, you goober, the word is DULY. sigh...
We have survived the panic over WHY THERE IS NO HOT WATER; and the panic over WHERE ARE THE LEAVES FOR THE FANCY TABLE IN THE UPPER HALL; so I think I'll go home. The ladies of the parish celebrate WINE'N'CHEESE this evening, aka "whining and cheesiness" at which I had better make at least a token appearance...
and tomorrow is also a day!
Saturday, December 8, 2007
Today would have been my mother's 92nd birthday. These are some of the flowers that we put in the church in thanksgiving to God for her life.
At my desk in the afternoon of what has been a brightly sunny day, with a little more moderate temperatures.
A string orchestra of young people is at this very moment playing a concert in the nave...with considerable verve, if not perfect intonation. We have become a favoured venue for recitals and small concerts, especially since the new grand piano arrived a couple of years ago...a thank-offering from one of our couples to the glory of God and in gratitude for 50 years of a happy marriage.
(Ah, they seem to have got the pizzicato part all together, excellent!)
Heaps of work to do both here and at home before bedtime.
The banquet last night was fun, plenty of nice food...and there was a little three-piece band (with recorded rhythm tracks) for dancing afterward. It's a long time since I was asked to dance...I was flattered, but declined as gracefully as possible (having had hot packs on knee and ankle all afternoon).
The management of the housing agency begs ~~or cadges~~gifts from local merchants, enough for each of the attendees: gift certificates from the supermarket, vouchers from restaurants and cafes, little luxuries from the drugstore. Much hilarity when these are given out.
Tomorrow being the 2nd of Advent -- there will be a special visitor at the end of the later service; one of the tenors in our choir will impersonate the bishop of Myra...to general mirth...
And the orchestra has finished up triumphantly with a truncated version of the William Tell Overture, RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF WHICH a woman phoned to ask whether she could be baptized without actually, like, y'know, joining the church, "because like I'm not sure I would want to join a CHURCH, I just hafta be baptized..."
Friday, December 7, 2007
After physio, seniors' early-bird breakfast at the department-store diner...and then back across town to pick up new eyeglasses. A big improvement, although the floor, and the computer keyboard, and my lunch (and my hands and feet!) all look rather bigger than I'm used to.
The optometrist is in the art-gallery end of town, so I used up the last half hour on my parking meter wandering in and out of galleries, looking at paintings...just LOVELY...and refreshing to the spirit.
Popped into the church office to check messages, emails, Facebook, blogs...and "the breadman" came by while I was here: a parishioner in his early seventies who married his childhood sweetheart about a year ago, en secondes noces, and has been incandescent with happiness ever since. He expresses this by giving people things...especially wonderful artisanal bread from the bakeries he and his new wife frequent. Bless their hearts. I have two huge beautiful round loaves to take home with me...to fuel a little sermon-work this afternoon (interspersed with ironing). I have a "Christmas" banquet to go to later on this evening -- residents of three seniors' apartment buildings, staff and Board members. That should be pleasant and undemanding!
Thursday, December 6, 2007
And this was a morning when "nice" was at a premium, I admit. I'd just opened an email from a parishioner who went AWOL some time ago, without explanation; in response to my enquiry as to where and how she is, I got a tirade. In the interests of not whining, I'll omit the details -- other than that I'm accused of "grimacing" when, at a recent Bible study, she launched into a disquisition on auras, and people who are gifted and can see them etc. etc. Apparently my facial expression convicted me of being "ignorant and closed-minded."
I hurt. And I was glad of some "nice."
And I'm glad of blogging friends too. (If any of you are into auras, I apologize! and I assure you I'm holding my face very straight! Nary a twitch!)
We are promised a break in the weather by Sunday, it will be welcome.
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
It is still cold, and it goes on snowing (TIDDLY POM), just a little, just enough to make the roads surprising all over again every morning.
Vagaries of the postal system -- I've had three successive issues of the Times Literary Supplement all in the last couple of days. The TLS is favourite in-bed reading -- nice and light, so if I fall asleep and drop it, it won't hurt me (unlike, say, the Larousse Gastronomique--ouf!)
In the most recent of the newly-arrived issues is a very good review by John Polkinghorne of books by John Cornwell and John Humphrys -- I like Polkinghorne's mind (hey! I agree with him, but that's not the whole story) and frankly at this point it is a comfort to find anybody on either side of the New Atheism debate with any detectable mind at all. Somebody pointed out -- maybe it was Terry Eagleton? -- that while the statements about religious faith and about Christianity made by people like Dawkins and Hitchens cause serious, careful, responsible Christian thinkers to clutch their heads in despair...so does the thinking, not to mention the behaviour, of a great many Christians...
I remember one of my students at Local University who said he couldn't understand why I was going to be ordained, when "everybody knew" that "anybody who has anything to do with religion, and, like, churches, is, sort of...well...DUMB." And he seemed quite intrigued by the notion that there was anything to LEARN or to THINK ABOUT in religious belief, at all--although flatteringly willing to take my word for it, when I assured him that if he ever really wanted to give his brains a work-out, I could introduce him to a couple of fellows named Rahner and von Balthasar, just to name two.
Now I have to write a letter to a dear elderly parishioner who is HONING to donate a stained glass window in memory of her late husband, and has set aside what she feels is quite a munificent sum, so to do -- and it is; but it would buy a stained glass window about the size of a cat-flap, and it's my job to point this out to her, gently and lovingly. Who's the patron saint of tact, does anybody know???
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Sunday evening was intense -- great turn-out for the Lessons & Carols, crackling good reading and roof-raising singing -- and then an absolute MOB for the potluck. We had set tables for 110, and had to find two more tables before everyone could be seated...AND there was food left over.
To my great joy, the folks from St. Fearfully High attended in large numbers and STAYED in large numbers, and indeed looked comfortable and happy and well-fed. It was most gratifying. These folks have tended to be more than a little isolated from the rest of the diocese for a number of reasons...it's good to feel that we've broken that down just a little. Of course we didn't pose them any specific liturgical problems such as female celebrants, either. But it is good to know that we can do together, what we can do together!
And our friends from the Mothers-Against-Drunk-Driving had left us a couple of dozen white roses so we had flowers to give away to the kitchen volunteers at the end of the evening as well!
so this morning I tried the Spice Quiz, results below. I suppose "salt" is what I'm SUPPOSED to be, after all. Darn. I was hoping for "FENUGREEK" or something a little jazzier... Maybe all that 50%-50% is a reflection of the ever-lovin' via media too...maybe?
Your Score: Salt
You scored 50% intoxication, 50% hotness, 50% complexity, and 50% craziness!
You are Salt!
You may be bland, but life just wouldn't be the same without you. You're plentiful and you come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colours. You bring out the flavour in whatever you touch and have been the world's best preservative for millennia. You rock.
|Link: The Which Spice Are You Test written by jodiesattva on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test|
Sunday, December 2, 2007
My mother used to say -- but only of a living thing, such as a child -- "Oh, you're as cold as a FROG." So I felt I was in familiar territory when I came to read Robert Herrick's grace,
"Here a little child I stand,
heaving up my either hand;
cold as paddocks [=frogs] though they be,
here I heave them up to thee;
that a benison may fall,
on our meat and on us all."
My sassy aunt used to say, "Colder than a witch's...ankles" -- and I was all grown up before it occurred to me that she had emended that phrase to make it suitable for family use.
It was TWENTY BELOW Fahrenheit outside my house this morning. And inside my car. And also inside my shoes, which had been in my shoe bag IN my car overnight. Very refreshing to put on when I got to church, wow.
At this point we are three services down and one more to go. Two Eucharists this morning. The Mothers-Against-Drunk-Driving Candlelight service this afternoon. My plan to make them think it was time to move to another church, next year, failed. "Oh, you always give us such nice words," they said. I was hoping for something more on the lines of "Skleros ho logos," but no. So I SUPPOSE we'll book them for the first Sunday in December again next year, sigh. Besides -- on what other occasion am I escorted to my prayer desk by an honor guard of police officers, including Mounties in full red serge and all? (Also "packing heat" but I try not to think about that.)
Speaking of heat, I do WISH these groups would not prop the back doors open (at twenty below) while they carry in their paraphernalia. And while they stand in the parking lot discussing who will carry in which paraphernalia. It makes me testy.
And now the final practice is underway for the Advent Lessons and Carols...the choirs of Most Holy and Undivided, and St. Fearfully High...
The lectern Bible is all marked with the seven lessons. We have readers, for all seven lessons. We have come to a consensus on how many verses there are to "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel."
There is no sermon, homily, address, or reflection, THANKS BE TO GOD.
And then we go downstairs and EAT, huzza. My orrechiette'n'shrimp'n'vodka-sauce casserole is warming up. I opted not to make the shrimp salad. Too chilly...and fludgeon-like.
Saturday, December 1, 2007
Advent One is always somewhat fraught, because in addition to the two morning services, and the Advent (NOT Christmas!) Lessons and Carols in the late afternoon, we have become the preferred venue for the Mothers Against Drunk Driving (known around here with moderate affection as the MADD Mothers). Their service is a kind of wake for the victims of drunk drivers...attended by police, EMTs, firefighters, correctional-service personnel (that's "jail guards," in case you wondered) and sometimes civic politicians. There is a lot of weeping and candle-lighting and usually some music, of a sort, and the clergy (that'd be moi) are asked to "say something spiritual." This may be the year I reflect on the place of PULLING ONESELF TOGETHER, FOR PITY'S SAKE, in the grieving process.
Time to go home and make my all-purpose, fills all gaps in the menu, special potluck supper salad: Curried Shrimp and Rice (with peas and raisins) Salad. "It's protein! it's carbs! it's vegetables! it's cold, so it must be salad!" If I were to put chocolate chips in it, it'd be dessert also. We have a major potluck supper following the Lessons & Carols...and I have night-before nerves that we might run short on some component thereof.
I found a message on the answering machine from a pleasant-voiced lady named Doris (not a parishioner), who was under the vague impression there was some sort of a concert here tomorrow. Called her back, explained about Lessons & Carols, pointed out there was a potluck, told her to bring scalloped potatoes. She sounded a bit nonplussed, but I figure sometimes you save time just by being flat-out DIRECTIVE in these situations.
Last night we were all at the cathedral for our bishop's final eucharist and leave-taking. Four months from now, God willing, we should have a new one. Or at least, know who the new one will be. It's a might interesting process, and not entirely free of politicking (yes, in the church).
Friday, November 30, 2007
To take the taste of that away -- best ever gift? Christmas of 1952, with the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth in the planning stages, and Eaton's Christmas catalogue had a QUEEN DOLL, inside cover, upper lefthand corner--the PRIME placement in that great document! She had a brocade dress and velveteen mantle and -- I think -- a tiara. And on Christmas morning she was under the tree. I was just dumfounded...
1) dessert/cookie/family food
Well, I am in deep trouble here, plainly, because I LOVE FRUITCAKE. NOT the supermarket kind, which is way too heavy on dry cake and cheap, small raisins. But the real home-made kind. I love Christmas (aka "plum") pudding also--and that's a topic for another seasonal blog. Is there any hope for me do you suppose? Somebody else mentioned corn -- I admit, CREAMED corn is high up on my gag-o-meter. I guess as regards food dislikes I'm of the same cast of mind as Hoss Cartwright -- somebody asked him once if there was anything he didn't like to eat and after some thought he ventured, "Raw fish and maple syrup?" Although I've seen that on a menu too. In Ferociously Touristy Mountain Paradise: breakfast on one page, sushi on the facing page. We live in strange times.
2) beverage (seasonal beer, eggnog w/ way too much egg and not enough nog, etc...)
Some distaste expressed in the blog-o-sphere for Hot Tom & Jerry (the McGuffin of a great, great Damon Runyon story though)...I don't care for seasonally-flavored coffee. If I want a candy-cane, or butterscotch candy, or egg-nog, I'll go have some, but I don't want any of them or their synthetic simulacra contaminating my coffee.
3) tradition (church, family, other)
I can't think of a single detestable tradition -- maybe because I've managed to extirpate all the ones I didn't care for and then forget them! I guess I could live happily without ever hearing "Winter Wonderland" and "White Christmas" again, though. Too many school Christmas concerts.
Anything emanating from the C*ca-C*la corporation. By the way I saw a GREAT inflatable the other day -- a carousel, and the horses even went 'round and 'round. Come on, gals, it's not about good taste!!!
5) gift (received or given)
Oh my... my grandmother used to give my younger brothers tin DRUMS at Christmas. A certain latent hostility (not all that latent) was perceived in this tradition. But other than that, I think I'd best take a pass on this category...
Thursday, November 29, 2007
I've already fired off two texts to the editor of the parish newsletter -- I believe this morning he's somewhere between New Delhi and Dar es Salaam, though I may be mistaken about that. I cannot begin to imagine what technology allows him to edit and format our newsletter "on the fly," as he's doing, keeping in mind what day it is at both ends of the process, so we can get it photocopied in time for distribution on Sunday. Just phenomenal...and I'm VERY grateful.
It remains COLD. -25 C again this morning outside our house in the outer ring of the inner 'burbs of Prairie Metropolis. Not so bad--as long as the car starts, but it's only +15C in my office (that would be yer 60 degrees Fahrenheit, there)...bearable with heavy sweater on, and a micro-waved wheat-bag in the small of my back, but if it gets any colder I'll have to light a candle and put on some Bob Cratchit gloves, I think. We have 25-year-old boilers, very inefficient, and a kind of jury-rigged system of controls, partly pneumatic and partly electronic and ALL finicky.
I have two more slightly less-urgent letters to write this afternoon -- some calls to make -- and then tea with a friend, home for supper, and -- God is very good -- an early bedtime for once.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
I have got not-blog-related work piled up to my eyebrows here, so this will be a short post. Reading last night -- actually, re-reading, +Rowan Williams on "The Body's Grace"...trying to come to some simple (ha!), clear, hopeful, firm way of talking about sexuality to the faithful in these Excitable Times.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Last night was a treat -- supper out with a friend of 30 years, and then the Moscow Ballet, Swan Lake-- both our daughters were bun-heads back in the day, so one way and another we've seen a lot of dancing.
Most of it, admittedly, better than what we saw last night. Blessedly, we got the giggles simultaneously...in the 2nd act, when we realized Siegfried looked exactly like a man trying to remember where he'd left his car keys...clutching his brow, rushing eagerly off stage, drooping back on again...
But...the costumes were pretty and the music altho' taped WAS Tschaikowsky, and the baby swans were engaging, as always.
And we had lots of time to visit and get caught up...having met at 5 for our meal, in view of an 8 o'clock curtain (well, we just hate being hurried when we're trying to find a place to park).
Monday, November 26, 2007
We had 4 or 5 inches of snow overnight also; intersections are a bit skittery but not too bad.
Mugs -- I've been enjoying people's inventories of mugs -- and their pictures; so I'll talk about seven of mine (can't do pics yet, sorry), and if you read this, consider yourself tagged, 'kay?
1. at work; a souvenir mug with a picture of Mt. Robson, highest peak in the Canadian Rockies; gift of a parishioner. Reminds me of highly successful photography of Mt. R. done by #1 son at a very tender age -- "127" film, does that give you an idea? We caught the mountain for once unobscured by cloud, and he scored, big-time!
2. also at work; black mug with stained glass window design from the National Cathedral in Washington, gift from beloved former assistant in the parish who had departed for that undiscovered bourne from which no traveler returns (in Canada, that means "the States"); part of a Christmas present, along with Cathedral hot chocolate, mmmmmm.
3. (the rest are at home); large delicate bone china mug with violets on it, belonged to my mother and came to me with oddments of her china.
4. large sized Christmas/winter design mug with a matching lid, both dishwasher and microwave safe despite complicated high-relief design, I love it and use it to warm milk for lattes. Gift from a parishioner.
5. White china mug commemorating the United Empire Loyalists -- family gift (from the UEL side of the family)
6. White china mug with all-over peony design, Christmas gift from the (Anglican) Sisters of St. John the Divine, who formerly had a Priory here in Prairie Metropolis.
7. plain octagonal clear glass mug -- purchased from a rummage sale because I like its look.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
We have a lecture first, on where all the sample beers were made and of what and for how long -- and so forth -- complete with implausible descriptions of what they taste like! And we have regional munchies to complement the beers.
A happy conviviality, even this evening, when participants had to tear themselves away from watching the Grey Cup game (think "Superbowl," only in Canadian football. Yes, it's different...).
So tonight it was English beer, and Scottish beer, and things like sausage rolls and kippered bits and English cheese (oh yum).
And then one of our parishioners talked a little bit about her experience of the Camino de Santiago this fall, with gorgeous slides.
And the right team won the Grey Cup. GO SASKATCHEWAN!!!! woo woo woo woo woo (etc. ad lib. ad inf.)
Friday, November 23, 2007
I got to the dentist and launched the paperwork to get our benefits-insurer onside with the New Crown on Busted Molar project. Meantime our dentist -- we're relied on him totally for almost 35 years -- built me a little biting surface out of some magic gorp or other, solidified by his assistant with the Purple Fairy Light...all is comfy there.
Went to physio again this morning, came away and went straight to the optometrist. My old one had retired. The new one appears to be about eleven...
But isn't it a treat when you can ask the questions you need to ask? and get straight answers? and answer questions and not get that "you're too knowledgeable, who do you think you are?" look.
And it's all good news, no glaucoma, no cataracts, no macular degeneration. New prescription, though...then to find frames that don't make fun of my face. I don't think Versace had me in mind when they designed their current line. We settled on some nice Donna Karans...HELLO THERE, insurer!!!
Also bought myself a lipstick this week for the first time in about 15 years. Whee! The Daughter Unit assures me it doesn't make me look like a Painted Jezebel...much relief.
Talked to my counsellor this afternoon, and now I am peeling everything off the top of my desk, re-organizing work space and task-files...
Again this morning at the physiotherapy clinic...listening to inspiring conversations going on all around me. It would be such a good thing to approach our moral and spiritual health, our discipleship, our growth in faith, with the same candour and gentleness and kindness that is in play among the recipients of physio. (I think this is going to be a sermon one of these days!)
For instance...one of the clients was exercising by propelling herself around and around the clinic space on a little wheeled stool (which squeaked ferociously). Another client asked, "How many circuits today?" -- "Oh, seven or eight!" -- "Way to GO, girl, when I first saw you you could only do ONE..."
Thursday, November 22, 2007
I know this isn't global warming or peace in the Middle East, but it narks me.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
No doubt this morning about what season this is -- "minus 18" on the dining-room-window thermometer. That's "old-fashioned zero" if you haven't gone metric. Lots of frost to scrape off the car windows and mirrors (I tend to forget the mirrors, until I'm on the road). And I don't think my one and only yarrow plant, even in its sheltered position sort of under the tall cedar at the corner of the house...is going to manage to bloom after all. I think "she's done" for this year. We got all the way to a big stalk with a big flower head, still in bud...but that's it.
The Taffeta-cat is still among us. She tottered to her dishes this morning and ate a bit of kibble and drank a saucer of milk and some water. By the time I left for work she was on my son's bed, purring loudly.
I am playing hooky from a meeting -- in favour of a consultation with the parishioner who makes everything work, about our security system, specifically the door-monitor and remote door-unlocking mechanisms. That just seemed more pressing and more productive than the council of churches and a presentation which I've actually heard before.
I have an errand to run before I present myself at the dentist's office for discussions about a broken molar. I think it's crown time...sigh.
And then another errand to run, and then dinner with my kids and my daughter's in-laws.
Son-in-law convocates tomorrow as a Doctor of Music. What finer way to honour St. Cecilia, patroness of church musicians?
Son-in-law is also Director of Music at Most Holy and Undivided, which makes the chancel a pretty dynastic locality of a Sunday morning! Daughter is up front among the altos, Number 2 Son radiating good humour in the bass section. Let joy be unconfined!
Tomorrow wraps up with a big choral concert downtown, son-in-law conducting the city's "big" choir (=120 voices or so)...parents sitting well to the fore and trying without success to look modest.
Just found a website for "Scriptural Reasoning" which looks intriguing (I'm tempted to say, "about darn time too") -- with ecumenical and interfaith dimensions as well...and wrote a long e-mail to a very good friend in a clergy-killing parish.
Time to go.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Started off the day with a couple of quick loads of laundry and a load of dishes. Then I had a few minutes to sit with the old cat in my lap. She's been not quite herself for about the last month -- she's 15 or 16, as near as we can tell (she came to us as a stray) -- doesn't seem to be in any great pain or distress, but she walked about, uncertainly, for a couple of days with her head cocked sideways, like what used to be called "a wry neck" -- she did look quite eldritch. We wondered whether she'd had a stroke or something of the kind (do cats have strokes? anybody know?)
But she continued to perform all her usual functions, and after a few days she seemed to get her problem sorted out; but the last day or so she has been very inactive, just wanting to lie still and not stirring when we come near.
This is a sadness...especially as she is the last cat in the household. She's always been very large, built more like a tomcat, and at one point weighed about 15 pounds -- with long hair in a kind of clouded version of the tabby pattern. We named her Taffeta because of her looks.
The first piece of work this morning was a sortie to a local mausoleum for placement of ashes -- a twin urn in white marble, to be placed in a niche about eight feet from the floor. Fortunately one of the mourners undertook to get it in position. NOT MY WORK, I thought, firmly. There were about a half-dozen family members present including a toddler and an infant in one of those "bucket" carriers. The toddler shook my hand manfully after the brief service, thereby causing all the aunties to resort to their hankies again.
Back to the church to collect the Super Secretary and away to a civic luncheon launching one of the major winter charity drives...the local council of churches promotes one shelter-focused charity every year at Christmas, in a program called "No Room in the Inn" (for fairly obvious reasons). This year the project is a new transitional facility for immigrants with refugee status or special needs generally. It seems very well and imaginatively designed to meet those needs.
Back again to the church and some paperwork and a brief sitdown with the knitting group before a parishioner came in for counsel...and absolution, eventually. Some reading, some blog-surfing, proofreading the Sunday bulletin... and a pause to admire the knitting group's BALES of yarn. They gave me one big bag full of the most gorgeous, subtle variegated colours...prayer shawls and afghans, woo hoo, I'll be busy all winter.
Monday, November 19, 2007
In other fun departments -- preparations for Advent Lessons and Carols at the beginning of December! This year we are inviting one of the smaller parishes in Prairie Metropolis -- let us call it "St. Smoke" for it is most fearfully "High" -- to join us for the service and for the following potluck.
All well and good, but arrangements were complicated by the intervention of a para-church group devoted -- ostensibly -- to the promotion and preservation of the Book of Common Prayer. Before we quite knew where we were, our annual Lessons and Carols service was about to be labelled and publicized as a PB Society event, for the purpose (this is the part I boggled at) of promoting membership in the Society, and increasing the membership at St. Smoke (nothing wrong with that as a development).
Time to point out to the interested parties that worship at Most Holy and Undivided is conducted for the purpose of giving glory to God, and building up his faithful people. There may be yelling. The rhetoric is already deteriorated to the level of, "please just tell us if we're not welcome."
Sheesh! I'm delighted that the Rector of St. Smoke has been a man and a brother in all respects in this disagreement. I anticipate we shall all have a fine time at worship and then pass the scalloped potatoes to and fro in perfect amity. But in the meantime it's all a bit noisy.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
I have a small Holy Communion service mid-afternoon at a Seniors' Assisted Living complex on the south side of the city. There may be as many as a half dozen elderly ladies there. One of them is the "instigator" -- no sooner was she moved into the facility than she was knocking on doors, identifying resident Anglicans, and bullying them genteelly into attending our monthly service! They're a most endearing bunch...
And then the day ends with dinner with a home-group...3 couples...plus self and #1 Son -- otherwise he is at home alone, having Sunday dinner alone, which would probably have been INSTANT NOODLES -- and that's just NOT right...
Tomorrow will be a full day with Vestry meeting in the evening and a lot of prep to do beforehand.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
The sermon doesn't usually take this long -- but this week it's been hanging fire. Part of the trouble is that even I can remember what I said about the Peaceable Kingdom the last time we passed through the lectionary. I'd just seen the Hicks painting, in its upstate New York home, bought the postcard and all...so I had a good time with that, with all the critters.
But this time, oh dear, what to say. Part of the problem with solo ministry is not getting to hear other preachers often enough...and after a time everything I put together seems to come with a terrible built-in echo factor, like a faulty long-distance connection: "I'm sure I've said all this before-ore-ore-ore...."
Woke up early this morning and lay like Scrooge and thought, and thought, and thought, until finally I decided to make this sermon a reply to last week's sermon; the paltriness of the returned exiles' little home-made temple, in contrast with the grandeur of the Herodian temple...and God's commentary on both those human experiences. The thing is not to be immobilized, paralyzed by either disappointment or awe...not to be deflected from the goodness and faithfulness of God, and his invitation to us.
I don't want to get too far into eschatology...Advent is coming, with the invitation to preach on the four last things.
Spent a pleasant hour this morning in conversation with our prospective Honorary Assistant. I am feeling very much heartened. I think this will work well.
Friday, November 16, 2007
Stayed late, or later, last night and went ruthlessly through several cubic feet of paper, finding many amazing relics of this'n'that.
One more Big Pile, one more Little Pile...I've also been to the bottom of both the handbag and the book-tote in the last 24 hours.
I think that may be the discipline I need -- to empty everything I carry every 24 hours and look at every single item I'm carrying around.
Good and happy developments in the last 24 hours -- vestry meeting is impending on Monday night -- but now I have two excellent positive things to report!
Long-standing parishioner of great tact and acumen, here at Most Holy and Undivided (actually a 3rd generation parishioner) has volunteered to take charge of co-ordinating Pastoral Care--keeping track of who's in hospital, or in difficulty, who needs to be visited, who is willing to do parish visiting, when training sessions for parish visitors can be held, and so forth.
One of many Engagingly Quirky Practices in this parish is to refer to the co-ordinators of the various ministries, all of them, as "Stewards." This means that there is no one-word label for, er, actually, what other churches call "Stewardship" -- which is therefore called "Financial Giving." (No, I don't know why they decided to do this. Possibly to confuse the Boche, who can say...)
But I digress. This is a happy appointment, for the newly appointed Pastoral Care Steward has extraordinary awareness of how our people are--ALL our people, from the oldest inhabitant to the most confused newcomer.
And the second happy development is that the Purple-Shirted-One appears to have recruited me an Honorary Assistant for light clerical duty in the parish, chiefly liturgical and homiletical. Please note "Honorary" = "without pay." I am hoping for "respite" to the tune of one sermon and one celebration per month, which would make a big difference. We meet tomorrow to confer and collude, over coffee.
And I am eating tabbouleh salad.
And a young recitalist is practising Chopin, with great skill and brio, on the Big Piano in the nave -- about 20' from my office...in preparation for Sunday afternoon's concert here.
God is very good.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
The service ran smartly; good hymns, good feeling, and there was a most excellent sermon blending our thankfulness for the occasion, our thankfulness for Samuel Seabury's consecration, and our thankfulness for the Church herself.
As visitors from the city we were repeatedly warned at the party afterward-- "use your high beams! watch out for deer on the road! it isn't the one that you see crossing the road, it's the two right behind him that get you!" but we didn't see any deer or other critters -- and the one rock flipped into the air by a passing truck did no damage--just made a very loud and startling noise.
Home safely by ten-thirty.
And today is also a day.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
"Oh the mountains are very pointy,
and the prairies are very -- not;
and in between is lumpy,
and boy have we got a lot..."
I'll be traversing part of the "lumpy" section this afternoon -- and back again later in the evening. My erstwhile curate and henchman at Most Holy and Undivided is now in charge of the parish in Resource-Extraction-Based Medium-Small Town in the hinterland, and tonight is his service of induction.
So it's very good that there's no snow in the offing! Number-One Son is coming with me for company. We don't often get extended conversation time--this is doubly a treat.
And I have NO liturgical responsibilities upon arrival; I can just stand about looking proud and affectionate!
Monday, November 12, 2007
I like to take Friday off...when it's possible, which isn't always; and when it isn't, I try to take a few additional hours for myself here and there during the week.
Tonight I have no meetings, for a wonder; I'll be busy until quite late at least two evenings this week on top of some really long days (and considerable driving), so I think I'll get myself home here posthaste.
Enquiry from excellent Sunday School teacher as to what on earth Isaiah is getting at in 65:17-25...and how to frame it for senior-elementary young'uns.
Some possibility of friction between Sunday School teachers who want to use their class time between now and 25/12 to TEACH, not rehearse a pageant -- and the parishioner in whose head dance visions of pageants of Cecil B. deMille extravagance. This is where we put the tips of our fingers together judiciously, and counsel patience and clear communication.
Reading Mary Margaret Funk,"Thoughts Matter," which just came back from the person who had borrowed it...also Dan Needles, "With Axe and Flask," which starts out as a lovely spoof of Canadian "local histories" and turns into something much more serious when he brings his fictional township up to the period of the First World War -- very striking reading for Remembrance Day + one!
Sunday, November 11, 2007
I preached on the text from Haggai*: "How does it look to you now?" about the moments in life when all your hopes have come to nothing but rubble, and the Lord says "Take courage; work, I will be with you." I tied it to bereavements in time of war but also to marriage breakdowns, loss of work, loss of health, and so on--"And how does it look to you now?" Sort of worried that I might have composed the all time Big Downer of a sermon...but lots of concrete feedback after the service -- "That's just how it felt."
Now for a wonder there's nothing on this afternoon's schedule so I'm creeping home for a nap and some domesticity...and exercises!
*Fun last week with a parishioner who insisted there was no such book as Haggai and if there was, it wasn't in the Bible, because SHE couldn't find it, for heaven's sake. I admitted that if you were to blink you would miss Haggai, all right. Eventually she was mollified.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
Friday, November 9, 2007
Then a quick trip to the far corner of Prairie Metropolis to the physiotherapist: ultrasound and heat and some more Creative Activities with rubber tubing. The shoulder still hurts; but now it hurts like, "mmmm, exercised yesterday, didn't I" and not so much like, "Oh help, I've been injured."
Off to the bank later this morning to put the finances in order ("Owe no one anything -- including VISA")... some Very Important Pieces of Paper to convey to their final resting place, and then a couple of cheerful pastoral notes to write...
Meantime The First-Born has borrowed Harriet-the-Chariot for a run to the airport to collect his supervisor, in town for a week or so.
Daughter Unit is home safe from her week in LatterDayLand, much to the joy of her mother -- and her husband of four months.
Back to the to-do list; this is my Official Day Off, and I have wild hopes that I may get home before dark for once.
Thursday, November 8, 2007
1. I celebrated my fifth birthday with my parents, an RCMP officer, a postmistress, a telegraph operator, two steamboat officers and an Oblate missionary = total guest list.
2. I never completed a grade in the same school I started it in, until High School.
3. I've now lived 34 years and counting in the same house.
4. I've slid down the brass pole in a fire-hall.
5. I've seen the ice go out of the Yukon River in the spring.
6. My most beloved vehicle to date was a high-mileage Ford half-ton. Red, it was. Sigh.
7. I'm near-sighted.
8. I love tea but I can't drink it on an empty stomach.
9. I started university in Honours Modern Languages because I was going to be a high-school French teacher; ended up in graduate studies in English Literature in an ivy league school ("Crimson" is a CLUE) and have never regretted it.
10. I'm trying to learn Biblical Greek.
There! whew!! Did it!!! and I tag I am Chorus and Foreign Footsteps and Doodlebugz
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
Monday, November 5, 2007
Sunday, November 4, 2007
Preliminary fun was taking the parish photograph for a farewell gift to our bishop...this took some time but we managed to capture all the choir and all the children minus one or two in the nursery as well as NEARLY all the congregation. We timed it for about 10 minutes into the service, before the children went to Sunday school, after the "sidlers-in" might all be present. Trying to get the whole gang together in one place is like Uncle Henry trying to trap the wild turkeys (does anybody else remember that story?)--anyway, all were in good humor, although it made the service longer than usual even before we launched into "For All the Saints" as the recessional.
Visiting Bass Soloist gave us "Come My Way, My Truth, My Life" as Communion music -- much joy. George Herbert had a lot to do with my being an Anglican in the first place; well, actually, in the second place...it still resonates.
Daughter Unit has gone on a business trip, solo, her first, to LatterDayLand, reports happily that she has arrived safely and is planning to create retail havoc in those parts with her fat Canadian dollars. Son-in-law Unit is bach'ing it. Their first time apart since the wedding in July. He is trying to take the opportunity to train the two cats NOT to demand a feeding in the wee small hours of the morning.
SNOW this morning when we got up -- and ice all over the concrete apron in front of Most Holy and Undivided. Bless the parishioner who went out and spread rock salt on it for me.
Saturday, November 3, 2007
This morning they've been talking about conflict resolution, family expectations, more communication skills...this afternoon they have a half-dozen workshops from which they can choose three -- everything from ballroom dancing to family law. Finally we wind up with a banquet at a local country club. I'm on duty this afternoon for the workshop session on Spiritual Issues and Awkward Questions.
In the meantime...I've been in the kitchen for about two hours assembling the soup-of-all-soups for their lunch. Starting with about two pounds of sirloin steak...always a good way to start! We have a gluten-intolerant participant, I have to go and warm up something separate for her (there's barley and pasta in my soup -- does anybody know? is there gluten in barley?) Serving soup allows me to do a mini-presentation on "why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good." All in, this soup has cost between $30 and $35 -- it will feed 27 people amply, with seconds. And it tastes good and is full of nutrition... and all that chopping is highly meditative!
Friday, November 2, 2007
The ferocious green rubber-tubing for exercise against resistance has been replaced by the feebler red rubber-tubing, good news!
And it seems to be an OK plan to accept one of the kind offers from parishioners to loan a tens-machine for the duration. On the other hand, or with the other hand, I suppose I could also just stick a fork in the toaster, mmmmmmm, tingly goodness.
Came out of the clinic to find all the women's groups in the north end of Prairie Metropolis had bazaar stalls set up in the mall...including the women's groups of not one but two Anglican parishes...wearing the clerical collar means purchasing pies, under these circumstances.
And finally a late breakfast in a low-end department store diner...bacon and eggs, and seniors' conversation flowing all around and over me.
Thursday, November 1, 2007
About a couple of dozen "spooks" last night, I think; I tended to fall asleep between squads--they really did come in bunches, and the sight of idling SUVs at the corner suggested they weren't all that LOCAL either. All over by about 9 p.m. -- lots of candy left -- now to put it somewhere inconvenient...
Celebrating All Saints Day at the 10 a.m. Thursday Eucharist with my minute usual congregation--we use the Book of Common Prayer lectionary and propers on Thursday, so everything is in one book...a brief extempore sermon, and then a brief "Bible study" after the service, which always focuses on the readings from the RCL for the past Sunday, mainly for the benefit of those who weren't able to hear either Sunday's readings OR Sunday's sermon. The participants are elderly...and the occasion is often as much about the stories that they need to tell as it is about Holy Scripture. It's also question time... I will never forget the third or fourth week that I did this service-cum-study, and the second reading was Philip and the Ethiopian. Up piped the littlest and meekest of the group, "Ummmm ... what's a eunuch?" So drawing a deep breath and commending my soul to God, I told her. "Well, now. I did not know that," she said. We've gone on to other blank spots and occasional long-lived misunderstandings since then...
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
I have no idea at this point how many children of trick-or-treat age are left in our neighbourhood, which is about 40 years old, and has been through several turn-overs of ownership, most of the houses anyway.
Meetings today -- a very frustrating one this morning and a good one this afternoon to take the taste of the morning away. I'm on a committee planning the city-wide service for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (pause for laugh). Things that make me lose my temper early in the morning when I don't feel well anyhow: scandalized insistence on altering the language of the liturgy to avoid any male images or pronouns, "because OUR people would just walk out of the service STUNNED." I diverted myself by reading the Excommunication Service printed in the service-book of our host-church. It seemed to express many of my sentiments on the subject quite succinctly. I think I'm a feminist, I loved Elizabeth Johnson's "She Who Is," but this is mere FUSS-POT-ISHNESS ... and the triumph of ideology over tradition... and I've no patience with it. I did remember, though, that my Official Ecumenical Hat should probably prevent me from offering violence to the brethren from other obediences.
This afternoon, by way of contrast, I took minutes for the Board of Directors of an agency managing seniors' apartment buildings. Most of the Directors are themselves seniors, and they give me great hope and comfort with their acumen and good humour.
The Rummage Sale was a vast success and raised more money than ever in living memory--I'm sure it was all that home-made soup!
We're heading into Marriage Preparation here in the parish this Friday evening and Saturday (more soup!)
Time to get on the road for home...
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Sometime during my second year here I had a moment of clarity about "the rummage." I looked at the rummage crew and thought -- they're old, they're tired, many of them are sick, (and some in fact are sick unto death), there are fewer of them than there were at the last sale. And for four days they will spend too many hours pawing around in junk and debris, surrounded by stuff that's ugly, dirty, and broken. Mid-morning and mid-afternoon, they will consume strong coffee and stewed tea and cake and donuts. Mid-day, they will consume more coffee, tea, and sweets, and some of them will eat dismal little sandwiches. They will work too hard, and get too tired, and their blood sugar will zing up and down all week, their discourse will be all complaint, and by next Sunday the negative energy in the place will be enough to kill a TREE.
So I went out and bought hamburger and vegetables and some "packet soup mix," came back, hauled out one of the big stock pots and a big knife, and got started. (We have this GREAT old 10-burner gas range!) About eleven o'clock somebody wanted to know "what smells so good?"
And thus was born the tradition that the Rector makes soup for lunch every day during rummage week. This way I know they all get at least one real meal a day with plenty of protein and plenty of fiber! (lots of grated cheese, lots of chopped parsley...) And they don't find it so easy to complain about me when I am standing over them with a two-foot-long ladle (that's my cunning)!
It's become a pattern -- Beef-Tomato-Barley-Etc. on Monday (it's sort of minestrone-ish); Ham and Split Pea on Tuesday; Chicken & Mushroom with White and Wild Rice on Wednesday...and on Thursday, "if you're very good and give me NO GRIEF whatsoever," New England Clam Chowder. Tomorrow for a change they're going to have (very mild) chili con carne. And there's enough of Monday's minestrone left for Thursday lunch for those that can't handle clams......
Chopping fresh vegetables is good for my soul. So is stirring great big pots full of thick, thick soup. And I had the joy of hearing one of the grumpiest of my mothers-in-Zion say to a visitor, "She feeds us...in every way..."
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
"The rules in one sense are that which have been found to give framework, reference, order; that without which there can be no freedom because there could be nothing to be free within or free from, there could be no movement in a vacuum. But in another sense they are that which brings petrifaction and death. In [C]hristian terms it is the church, the institution, that perpetuates (is the manifestation of) the rules -- both as life-giver and destroyer. In a sense the church is opposed to everything a free man stands for: it is that which Christ fought and which fought Christ: the denier of truth, the torturer of the honest, the servant of mammon. All this is too much felt now to go on about it: the concern of the church for power, respectability, vanity, money -- its obsession with sexual morality and disregard for any other -- all this, it is obvious to everyone except [C]hristians, is just what stops other people being [C]hristians and will go on doing so. But still, opposed to this, there is preserved in the framework of the church (how else could it be preserved?) the truth of the story, the history, the art, the secret. The church is that within which the possibilities of the freedom are held; through which is transmitted, beautifully, this experience. (How else could it be preserved except in something so paradoxical?) Within the rigid and self-seeking church have been the things that have given the chance to alter everyone."
Friday, October 12, 2007
On the bright side...he appears NOT to be a Jehovah's Witness, and therefore disinclined for conversation...
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Sunday, October 7, 2007
Saturday, October 6, 2007
It would be a handy charism this weekend -- Thanksgiving celebrations and a statutory holiday on Monday, in these parts. The to-do list looks like one of those three-prong, two-slot blivets; it makes perfect sense, except that it is entirely unworkable.
Today, a baptismal rehearsal at noon, and out to a potluck dinner late afternoon; tomorrow, the two services in the morning, one of them a baptism; the Blessing of Animals in early afternoon; Thanksgiving dinner with offspring, also potluck, late afternoon. And we're out of altar bread. And around these fixed points I have to somehow arrange the following: shopping for ingredients for my potluck contributions, assembling them, finishing tomorrow morning's sermon, assembling a reflection for the Blessing of Animals...and baking a batch of altar bread, which takes two risings. Among the resources at my disposal are three kitchens, variously equipped, one laptop computer (one printer, elsewhere), one car, one sprained ankle...
Never mind! "We can do this" is our cry. Alternatively, "Thy grace is sufficient..."
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
Flying home Sunday night at twilight, looking out the window and trying to grasp that we were eight... miles... above the farms visible below us. (Neighbouring Prairie City is just far enough away that air-travellers have about five minutes at this altitude between the end of the climb up'n'out and the beginning of the descent into...) and then watching the yard-lights come on...headlights on the roads...the beautiful sense of work being done, life going on, people coming and going about their business under the vast glowing sky.
Time to get about my own business here; a meeting this afternoon, a Bible study group tonight (Matthew, with help from N. T. Wright), and in between a couple of hospital communion visits.