Friday, February 26, 2010

Was anyone as appalled as I with our Womens' Ice Hockey team and their almost utter lack of good sportsmanship as they pouted on the medal stand?
Ok, yes, it's disappointing to lose, but for goodness sake, at least be gracious about it and be glad for the Canadian Womens' team that beat you fair and square.
Winning is not a right or an entitlement just because you have USA on your uniform.
Be happy with a silver medal. Be happy with a bronze medal. Be happy just to compete with world class athletes.
And learn and display good sportsmanship. Be gracious. Be kind. Celebrate your fellow athletes' accomplishments. Have a good time. Play well and fairly. Anything can happen. Bad calls can be made. Do your best. And congratulate heartily and smile as you share the joy of another's win. You are Americans and on display before the world. Pouting and acting like spoilt brats doesn't help our image or endear us to the world. Put on your big girl panties, deal with it, swallow hard, grow up and get over it. Second place is nothing to sneeze at!! Be proud of silver. And ladies, learn to be gracious!
Honestly, there is absolutely no excuse for that medal platform sulking display.
Friday Five: Winter Olympics Edition

It's been two weeks of snow, or not enough snow, of heartbreak before the action even began, of snowboards and skis and skates, of joy and sorrow. At our house, we've stayed up too late, and we don't even watch sports any other time!

1) Which of the Winter Olympic sports is your favorite to watch?
Most of them - skating, ski jumping, bobsled, luge, skeleton, snowboard,
freestyle ski, Super G and Slalom skiing, hockey, even some curling. I enjoy
and find the Winter Olympics far more engaging than the Summer Olympics.

2) Some of the uniforms have attracted attention this year, such as the US Snowboarders' pseudo-flannel shirts

and the Norwegian Curling team's -- ahem -- pants.

Who do you think had the best-looking uniforms?
Hard to say, there's been such variation between different sports and countries.
I kinda liked the blue with stars on the ski aerials.

3) And Curling. Really? What's up with that?
Ahhh, skill and strategy with a polished granite stone that looks like
a tea kettle!!!! Kind of bocce ball but for ice!

4) Define Nordic Combined. Don't look it up. Take a guess if you must.
Skiing off a jump, flying through air, and landing on your feet, combined with
a grueling cross country ski course!

(There will be a prize for the best answer, but be aware, this is a judged sport.)

5) If you could be a Winter Olympics Champion just by wishing for it, which sport would you choose for winning your Gold Medal?
I'm utterly fascintated with ski jumping, but couldn't deal with the height.
I'm not a skier. I can't decide if its better to go down an icy chute at
too many miles per hour head first or feet first or even in a bobsled.
I was never good at ice skating and too heavy to be lifted for pairs skating.
I have qualified in rifle shooting but the cross country would do me in for
the biatholon.
In an ideal world - ice dancing.
In this world as I am - just for watching every night and wanting to see
more than they broadcast.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tiredness -

This Lent I am feeling tired, weary. Perhaps, I've been staying up a bit later catching the Olympics. Perhaps, it goes much deeper - back to the Dark Night - the tiredness of seeking God and failing, the tiredness of praying to the Great Silence, the tiredness of this life which is not fully alive and living, the tiredness of being away from home, the tiredness of this continued Dark Night...just plain tired.
I could just sleep an entire day, but its not possible.
I long to be close to God again, to be on the same wavelength, in sync, full and bubbling with vibrant life and joy, instead of this emptiness.
I bring to God my tiredness, me weariness, my spirit that can resist no longer - perhaps this is what God has been waiting for. Wearing me down, until I can no longer resist what God is about do, to open me more fully and completely to what God will yet bring. I am tired, Lord, oh, so tired. Do with me as you will, for I can resist no longer. Here I am, Lord. All yours. Amen.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


As I gaze out the window, the fat, juicy snowflakes continue to fall but more in earnest at the moment. Already, the van's windows are getting coated once again.
It is a very white world at present, far from the grungy, gritty, slushy, blackened snow that lined the streets just a week ago.
Yet, perhaps, it speaks of being made new, freshly clean. In the forgiveness of our sin and sins, in touching upon our mortality on this day, we are promised a new life, we are being made a new creation in Christ Jesus. On this solemn and somber day, there is a promise, a hint of something more, something new, something beyond what we now know.
I am also reminded of the traction needed to get around these snowclad roads. Not just salt but grit, ash, cinder. I need Lent to give me traction as I navigate through this dark night, enter the Lenten season and prepare for Easter. It grounds me, keeps me on track, stays me from slipping and sliding all over the place. It is a dirty, messy thing this grit, cinder and ash. But it was a dirty, messy suffering and death that Jesus underwent to save us dirty, messy folk and world stained with sin.
And so there is the grace of this fluffy, freshly falling snow even on this ashen gray and gritty Ash Wednesday. It is the grace of promise of something new, something more, something better that is buried deeply in the seed of these Lenten Days.
How is Ash Wednesday speaking to you this year?

Monday, February 15, 2010


. When February comes along, how do you feel about the coming month?
Good. It's a short month and winter's nearly over.

2. What memories do you have about Valentine's Day? Are you doing anything to observe it this year?
It was my Mom's Birthday! Always gave her a card and sometimes Valentines I made
in school. There would be birthday cake as well.
LH and I exchange cards. This year I included a little box of "Conversation Jelly
Bellies". That's pretty much it.

3. It is interesting that Monday's "Presidents Day" is not officially called that in every state. It is a U.S. federal holiday entitled "Washington's Birthday." Which is your favorite president and why?
Probably Teddy Roosevelt. Down to earth, get it done, kinda fellow. And he enjoyed
our National Parks.
I should say Lincoln since we always had Lincoln's birthday off in Illinois,
instead of Washington's or even President's Day. I always admired Lincoln's deeply
thoughtful ways and his integrity, which is greatly lacking in our statespeople
leaders today.

4. Will you be celebrating Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras? How?
Probably not, since I'm alone in an apartment. LH used to serve a church that
had pancake suppers. Wasn't ever a big fan of pancakes for dinner.
Growing up we used to make Fasnachchuechli - very thin dough squares, stretched
over a towel over a knee and then dropped into a pot of hot oil until cooked.
Then they were taken out, dried on paper towels and when cooled dusted with
powered sugar. They were light as air and fragile but so yummy!
Haven't ever made them as an adult - no time and I don't need to add to my bulk!

5. Any other ways to celebrate in February?
Well, I celebrate my birthday! Whoohoo! Usually, phone calls from my sister,
niece and other family. Sometimes, there's a cake, but generally just a
Hostess Chocolate Cupcake with a candle in it! Just enough for two!

Bonus: A Lenten book or website you recommend.
J. Barrie Shepherd's book, The Way of the Pilgrim, or Pilgrim's Way.
I can't think of it off the top of my head.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


It seems to have stopped snowing for the moment even if a few flakes are still flying around. It didn't do much overnight - thankfully - except drift which made the walk from the stairs to the van an aerobic workout! There wasn't too much to brush and scrape off the van. A break from the sow would be wonderful! Although, with the cold temps on tap for the next week, the piles of snow ain't goin' anywhere anytime soon!
I've noticed that in the piles there holes and crevices and sometimes there is that bluish, aqua tint within it. Really, rather beautiful. There was also a wee, tiny snowflake on the inside of the door armrest which looked like an edelweiss, with several points round about it like a flower. Most unusual. Juat sitting with these noticings and seeing what if anything they are telling me.
The large piles of snow, remind of the blizzard of '68 in Chicago. Everything was shut down for a couple days. I remember walking with my Dad to a Mom and Pop grocery store for bread and perhaps milk 2 1/2 blocks away. ( Couldn't use the car because the roads were so bad) Only to find when we got there, that they were already out.
Somehow we made do, and Mom baked bread. There was enough snow that my sister and I built an igloo next to the garage and were able to crawl inside it, where surprisingly, it was a wee warmer than just being outside. Ahh...the insulating quality of snow. We put out a shoebox decorated with a number for a mailbox. I don't think any mail was ever delivered!!! School was closed for a couple days and we rarely ever had a snow day off.
Our next door neighbor boy dug a tunnel through his backyard so it looked like a giant mole tunneled through the yard!
We shovelled, had snowball fights with other kids in the neighborhood, drank hot cocoa, and just enjoyed some family time.
I'm thinking, everybody should get a snow day in late Jan. or early Feb. - just because we need Sabbath time, rest time, play time, a free day like that 'free' space on a Bingo card. Maybe we all need a day to be with our kids, make hot cocoa, and just breathe.
Maybe, I'll do some of that tomorrow - after the grocery shopping, errand running, tax preparation stuff. I hear the call of a Snow Day....

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Thankfully, we did not get as much snow as predicted. I did have to trudge through 3 inches of new snowfall to my van. Then spend time brushing the snow off the van and scraping the icy windows so I can see enough to drive safely. I had to back up twice, in order to get out onto the street.
When I arrived at church, nothing had been shoveled and only half the parking lot had been plowed. So, I got out the shovel and spent 50 minutes shoveling three entrances and sidewalks and putting down salt. After all the psuedo Meals On Wheels were here preparing meals and the drivers would be showing up to make meal deliveries. It would not have been so bad, had I not been having tinges in my back lately - the kind that are have been the precursor of when my back gives out (tight, balled up muscles). We'll see how the back reacts.
It would have been nice for the custodian to call before I shovelled and salted everything to say she wouldn't be in til say 11 am.
As I gaze out the white window, I will have to brush off my van before driving back to the apartment for lunch. And I will have to take off my shoes, put on my boots and bundle back up. Some days, Florida gleams gold and issues forth her siren call - "Come, come away to sunny Florida!"
The kids all got snow days. I should have had one too!!!! But not tomorrow, I go home tomorrow and I don't want anything to come between me and going home.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

The snow is now falling, just light, litte snowflakes that deceive you into thinking that they couldn't ever amount to much. But they do add up and this is just the start. I would think that school will cancelled tomorrow. I doubt our committee will be meeting tonight. And I pray, I won't be snowed in or if snowed in, that we don't lose power - my heat, light, ability to cook is all electric. I would much prefer being snowed in at home with my greys and LH. But I could make the best of things here. I have reading materials and some clay to prepare for Ash Wednesday.
I just don't know where an extra foot or more of snow will be piled. Or how I can shovel out my van since I don't have a shovel. At least at home, it would be in the garage and we have a blower and shovel.
Fortunately, I slipped into Shopping Mecca last evening for my eye exam and a new pair of boring, safe glasses. Yup, I've been losing my place preaching from my manuscript. I am using mid-range for far, and reading for mid-range. Started about the first of the year. Since, it's been 2 years since my last exam and new glasses, I was due. I just want to see more clearly! I will also get new lenses for my present frames since they do make more of statement and I really like them. I just couldn't give them up and be blurred and not read for a week or ten days - maybe more if we lose a day or two with the snow.
Happy Birthday to me! A new pair of glasses and a new pair of lenses. That way, I'll have a back-up pair of glasses since I'm now so dependent on my tri-focals.
According to the optometrist, from age 46-57, every year or two, your eye sight gets "more and more out of whack" (Joe Pesci from 'My Cousin Vinny'). After age 57, it sorta levels off. Great! Isn't middle age just more fun knowing that?!!?
For now, I see not as clearly as I will, and through a veil of snow.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Did I say spared? Compared to the Mid-Atlantic, we were spared. 10 inches at home, 16 inches were I serve. Piles of snow are everywhere and with the sunshine and blue skies, the snow reflects even more light - a bright white. Just in time for Transfiguration Sunday!
Not enjoying my traipsing at least 4 times a day through the stomped path in the snow from car to the rickety stairs of the apartment. Good exercise though!!
Looks like we're on track to get some more snow tomorrow afternoon into Wednesday. I pray it won't be more than a couple inches.
The church parking lot was plowed but still somewhat snow packed and icy. We still had a fair attendence especially because of Scout Sunday and the Cub Scouts and their parents.
The parking lot, after two days with sunshine is pretty clear and dry pavement-wise. So was our driveway! The sun is good to help melt and dry up pavement.
It was somewhat foggy this morning and the trees and bushes were coated in ice and white - more beautiful than words can express. In places it was foggy and when the sun came through on my long drive in - there was a partial sun dog.
With all this bright whiteness around me, it sets the mood for Transfiguration Sunday.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Saturday morning and it is still snowing. The wind has created some deeper drifts and I am thankful for our snow blower. As soon as it abates later this morning, LH and I will be out blowing and shoveling. The greys were up to their thighs and chest in snow and they are tall dogs.
I am hoping to return to the apartment late, late this afternoon, praying that the roads will be clear by then and our allotment plowed out somewhat.
It will remain bitterly cold and snow again on Tuesday. This white landscape will be with us for awhile.
It also means that fewer people will be at worship tomorrow, which is Communion Sunday, Scout Sunday and Souper Bowl Sunday.
Not able to do much today except scrub out the shower stall and do some tax preparation.
We have been spared major snowfall all winter, until now. I pray that this will be the last of it.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

I am going off the Lectionary this week. Infact, last Sunday, I did the calling of Simon. This week is Scout Sunday and also Souper Bowl Sunday. As is tradition here, where I am serving, on Scout Sunday, usually a story or two have been read, with a brief reflection geared to the Cub Scouts.
By sheer providence, as I perused Amazon, as I am wont to do and have to practice restraint from ordering since my budget doesn't allow for much, I had a list of a few books I and my budget would allow. When, somehow, I happened upon a book, "14 Cows For America" by Carmen Deedy based on a true story of Wilson kimeli Naiyomah about the gift of a Maasai tribe to the United States following 9/11. The artwork is really gorgeous as well, illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez. So, intrigued by it, I ordered it and found it true to the reviews. It will be the story I share this Sunday and offer words on compassion.
Little did I know, when I ordered the book, thinking it might work for a children's message some time ( although a bit too long for that), that I would be using it so soon. Truly, it was providence.
It is a very moving story about the gift of compassion from the Maasai to America that is little known. Hope you have a chance to check it out sometime.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

February is the month of my birth, a cold, short month. My birthday, more often than not, falls during Lent, which is partly the reason I have never given up chocolate for Lent, so that I can have some chocolate cake or delight on my birthday! (Well, and if truth be told, during the rest of the season of Lent as well. We, Swiss, are not about to give up our chocolate!)
I find it most intriguing, that my calendar contains this quote from John O'Donohue, "May all that is unlived in you, blossom into a future graced with love."

In this dark night of my soul, to find this quote in the month of my birth, is as though God is speaking to my very spirit and heart. I will be holding this quote close to me, contemplating it and praying with it the rest of the year. Words of invitation to examine in this dark night and to hold onto hope for what is yet to come and be that is and will be graced with love. Words of comfort to wrap myself in when overwhelmed by the not-yetness of our lives. Words of assurance that God is in this dark night with me and leading me through it to a time to come when new life and new things, unknown at present, will grow and and be. Words of strength that pull me when I stumble and fall into ditch of discouragement and despair.
Perhaps, this is God's birthday gift to me in this dark night. Something to cling to, a word of encouragement and grace to bring me through the year and this time. It isn't much and yet it is everything. A simple quote in a calendar, randomly placed as thought by most or some, yet serendipitiously there by the grace of God in my understanding. Every little piece, every tiny glimpse, every shred of connection I see and make (by God's Spirit) will hold me to God, will I welcome into my soul and being for the grace it is - mundane, or trivial. God works in all things; great and small, serious and funny, worldly and otherworldly, permeating the material with the spiritual, making it holy by infusing God's presence into it. How can I ignore that or turn from it? I can't and so, each little scrap that speaks to me and my soul, I will honor and hold gently, for in it, I hear God, I find God's presence and it is all I have in this dark night.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Not by choice, but the church was without internet for two days! I sorely missed it, especially checking my e-mail. By late Thursday afternoon it was up and running again, only it was time for me to leave.
I did manage to pull my Ash Wednesday service together. Still have to tweak the sermon and the communion liturgy.
My day off is spent doing my banking, errands, grocery shopping, laundry, etc. and rarely have time to be on-line. This week it will include a visit to the Vet with Jett who needs his rabies vaccine. Always, something!
The church is getting primed for a discernment process that will make a good Lenten disipline and spiritual practice. So, I have been busy with that.
As often in interims, there are staff changes. To date we have - a new choir director after not having one for over a year. We hope she will be with us for at least a year.
And now a new church secretary, who is really the old church secretary who left to start another job and got downsized.
So, things are in flux and changing and moving here.
Not so in my life. We are at a standstill, waiting for God, waiting for what comes next. I had hoped to move through this dark night, but it is longer and lingering with little movement or small movements in tiny spurts. I function on the outside and the inside suffers and longs and sends out gossamer threads of hope to the Great Silence. All the while, missing the delight, the savoring, the joy that is a part of life and has been so much a part of me. I pray it will come back one day - deeper, richer and fuller as it has in the past.
As our internet was off-line, so I feel off-line from God and not by choice either. But I keep trying to make the connection, I keep praying to the Great Silence, knowing GS hears me and learning to live inside this dark night and befriend it. I have the feeling I will know this dark night very well long before it is over.