Friday, September 30, 2011


Rev Songbird writes:
I've got home on my mind: what it feels like, how we make it, what we carry from the past and how we separate other people's leftovers from objects that really reflect our identity. My family has had one home for the past 13 years, the longest I've ever lived anywhere. As the time when all the children are gone comes closer, I wonder where my next home will be?

So here are five questions about home.

1) Where was your first home?
A duplex in a very Italian Roman Catholic suburb just west of the Windy
City right across from the elementary school. We had a backyard with a swingset and a sandbox with little CAT tractors (from Dad) to play with. There were even garter snakes in summertime. This was my parents first owned home. Before,they had lived in an apartment. It was a brick two-story
with two bedrooms and one bathroom that 4 of us shared. We played in the
basement and I remember it getting flooded once with a 1/2 foot of water after a major rain. We played hide and seek behind the laundry sink and furnace.

2) Do you ever dream about places you used to live?
Not really. I dream of strange places that I have never been or lived.

3) If you could bring back one person from your past to sit at your dinner table, who would you choose?
Probably my Dad. He was a good dinner table conversationlist, although
somewhat argumentative. I miss him a lot and his wisdom.

4) What's your favorite room in your current living space?
Living room/kitchen - it's an open floor plan and where I spend the
majority of my time, aside from sleeping in my bed. Of course, I
do spend time in the den/sewing/ironing room where I'm on the
computer. But mostly, it's the living room/kitchen area where I'm either
cooking, preparing a meal or cleaning up, or on the couch reading or watching TV so I can be in company of our grey, Jazz.

5) Is there an object or an item where you live now that represents home? If not, can you think of one from your childhood?
My pillow/bed/duvet. They are comforting, warm, somewhat soft and
allow me to rest my exhausted mind and body. It is a retreat and
where I can sink into oblivion.
In our guest bedroom, there is picture of Gandria, Tessin,
Switzerland that hung in my parent's bedroom and reminds me of their
sanctuary in our home where all was safe and secure. Funny, it was only
this summer that I actually saw Gandria! It just represented Switzerland
and all our family ties - although my family is from the German speaking
part and not Tessin - the Italian part.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

So, yesterday evening I received a call from the church where I interviewed. I had thought that they would call their denominational office yesterday morning to ask what other interims they could interview. They did call the denominational office but to request the proper paperwork to be filled out. Apparently, I impressed these poker faced folks. It just goes to show you, that you never know. I think God likes to surprise one in that way. Just when you think it is over or hope shrivels up, bam! God puts it right in your face and surprises you.
I feel like I'm walking into the lion's den here. The folks are very wounded, anxious, fearful and I will have to win them over with gentleness, calmness, with the peace of Christ our Lord, yet challenging them with change, and to cheer them on into the new life God desires for them as a community of faith.
And I am the one who is anxious and fearful as well, learning a new liturgy and book of worship with which I am not familiar. Knowing that the position is so part-time, I will be limited in what I will be able to do.
And each church has some unique tasks and ways that they do things. I pray that I won't screw up the liturgy too much. I will be on probation for the first couple weeks, scruntinized under a microscope of can we live with this interim pastor? a female? one not of our denomination?
God has called me to walk into this lion's den and I hope that God has some more good surprises in store for them and for me as this interim unfolds. I pray God will give me the strength, the wisdom, the creativity, the love and the grace I will need to minister and serve these beloved of Christ.
God, you have opened the way for me to serve these your people, I hold you to your promise that you will be with me and providing me all that I need to minister well with them. Thank you, and may I find courage from all your faithful who faced fearful situations and continued to trust you for all things, for life. May I do the same. Amen.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Today I felt a bit like Hildegard von Bingen as I cut down my tarragon, washed some of it and some thyme that I inadvertantly pulled out while pulling out garlic chives gone crazy-wild, and hung them to dry. I also reserved a few sprigs and have made my own two bottles of tarragon vinegar which works really well in making Asian Cole Slaw and other salads where Balsamic may be a bit heavy. I made a concoction of white vinegar and added some malt vinegar and it will cure for 2 weeks.
I already made my own pesto with basil from the garden and it is now resting in our freezer, awaiting a bowl of pasta to coat and savor.
I imagined how Hildegard carefully cultivated, dried, and used the many variety of herbs to cure ailments in her time. Somehow, through time and different cultures there was a kindred spirit there between us of growing
and harvesting your own herbs and enjoying the fruits of your labor in the foods that you cook and create. You know exactly where it came from and it is way cheaper than McCormick!!!!
There are still a few more herbs to harvest that can wait yet - marjarom, the rest of the thyme, oregano, sage, and some hyssop. I have to pull the tomatoe plants tomorrow. Then when I return, I will work on the rest of the herbs and pull all the remaining weeds and grasses that felt entitled to encroach upon my garden, put down the Sweet Peet and Osmacote and it will be ready for winter. I will wait to cut the sage and rosemnary until closer to thanksgiving. It depends upon the weather.
To you, Hildegard, I lift my tarragon in praise and thanks to you for your incredible Christian witness and life, to your imaginative and creative spirit, and your soul of compassion and grace.
Interviews are interesting events, you just never know how it's going to go or what you'll be asked, or how people will respond. I've had my share of them. I don't get quite as rattled as I used to, perhaps, that's a good thing. This last interview is really up in the air.
They are a very anxious, wounded people and try as I did to be a non-anxious presence and assuring, I'm not sure they were convinced. I would be near totally opposite of what they have had in a pastor and that in itself, would be a good thing. Being of a different denomination might be a disconcerting factor to them although I have served in that denomination before.
There's just no telling what will come of that interview.
It will be as God deems best for them, for me. And I will live with that.
It certainly would be very challenging and there is some healing and process work that would need to be done.
In the meanwhile, LH and I will head for the Beach, even though it will be cool and fall and there won't be any sticking of feet into the cold water, and play and just be. I have some books to read and two still on the Kindle.
When we return, then I will actively seek what else might be out there and available. And will have to prepare the garden for winter and the flower beds as well.
I remind myself that I can only be myself and that God is in charge and to trust the slow work of God. Grant me patience, O Lord, and hopeful expectation for a place to serve. Amen.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

So, I have an interview tomorrow for a very part-time interim in another denomination. I am anxious as I always am for one never knows what one will be asked. I will be praying much today and tomorrow, so that I can be a non-anxious presence to the ones who are really anxious and uncertain about their future and the journey of this interim time before them.
I will be learning new things all over again!!! That is the beauty and anxiety that comes with interim ministry - learning new things and reliance on God to make one able.
I am ready to serve again and have had a full summer off. (Almost guilty for having such time off and going to the Beach, visiting my niece and my trip across the pond - for I hear the tape in my head that those who don't work shouldn't spend what they don't have on such luxuries as vacation!) Perhaps, though, God was restoring my soul in this time after the year and half away from home and the need to let go of the congregation I finished serving. I was graced with the opportunity to attend my aunt's memorial service and to speak at that service (even if I stumble in my German) and I am so thankful and grateful to have been able to be there and be with what is now, extended family - all my cousins. I wouldn't have missed it for the world. And I know my Aunt was just tickled to see us all there together to take leave of her and her influence on our lives.
I supply preached at 3 different churches of this denomination this summer. Again, I see that as God preparing me for this possible new interim. Funny, that I never supply preached for my own denomination this summer!!! Makes me truly wonder at how God works so mysteriously and wonderfully.
The position is woefully part-time. However, I am thankful merely to be serving again. And will keep myself open to what may yet come to be.
It is difficult to make a life this way and to piece together some semblance of a life. LH and I both a have a few more years within us before retirement and it almost feels like retirement now. Only we can't afford to retire this early in life.
But I am grateful for this opportunity to serve and to minister and to get to know another community of Christ's beloved.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

9-11 Anniversary:
I need and want to remember 9-11. The brave souls and innocent lives lost that infamous day due to extremist Muslim terrorists.
However, I am appalled at some of the gatherings taking place. The nearby big city has a display with a clear film on which people can write the name of someone they've lost in the past ten years. Come on. Why are you demeaning all who died in those attacks that Sept. 11th day and taking the focus off of them and onto your own lost loved ones who died that had nothing to do with 9-11?
This is not All Saints Day, which for all of you unchurched people, is a day of honoring and remembrance of all who died in faith - especially our loved ones.
Memorial Day is to honor and remember those who died in service to our country in past wars.
Veterans' Day is to honor and remember all who have served our country in the armed forces, especially survivors.
Sept.11th is to honor and remember those who lost their lives in the
World Trade Center, Shanksville and Pentagon, both civilians, flight crews,
firefighters, EMS, and police, in the terrorist attacks.
Why must event planners cloud the true meaning of these days by making of them memorial times for own loved ones and not keeping the proper focus where it belongs - less on us and more on others? It boogles my mind and totally frosts me. I find it terribly demeaning to the families and survivors of those attacks and those who lost their lives.
I pray that people would retain their focus on the true meaning of 9-11 and remember their own lost loved ones at another time, especially on All Saints Day. Come to church that day. Hear prayers for those we've loved and lost, light a candle for them, etc.
Just don't do that on 9-11. Think instead of those families, survivors and nearly 3,000 people who lost their lives senselessly to a terrorist attack on our nation.

Friday, September 09, 2011

From RGBP comes this friday five challenge:
I don't know about you, but I am a notoriously messy creative worker. My workspace at home, and at my office is always littered with books and papers and mail and pens and keys and mugs....and tschotske (momentos, weird things, etc.) I am looking right now at a pair of dice that someone gave me that have "God" on each side, so that anyway you roll 'em, you end up with God. Different, right?

So, this Friday Five is all about YOUR tschotske in your workplace. Describe five things in/on your workspace (however you define workspace--I tend to spill over onto bedside tables, end tables, coffee tables...create wherever I land) that are special to you! Bonus points for pictures!

When I am serving, my office has quite a collection of items, here are 5:
1. Broken mug from Athabasca, Canada. It is a wonderful hand thrown
green and natural glazed mug. I was broken-hearted when it slipped out
of my hand in the dishwasher and broke. I glued it back together and
it is now my pen and pencil cup and I still get to see it most every

2. Ironwood angel. I found this angel in St. Armand's Circle, Sarasota, FL
in 1997 when my Mom passed away. It is a simple carved ironwood angel
with halo and wings and was a comfort to me. The angel sits on the desk.

3. Antique painting of a Swiss field with mountains in background.
Although, I think it is a print and is yellowed from age. It hung in
my grandma's living room and I usually hang it on the wall where I
serve to remember my roots.

4. Pottery bowl. It is a small bowl which I threw on the potter's wheel
at a Princeton Con Ed class. A fellow student who was a potter glazed
it with blue fish and dots along the rim and then fired it for me. I have
it on a book shelf and
use it on Ash Wednesday for the ashes.

5. Lucite cross made from recycled used tea bags and painted with tribal
geometric patterns on each square bag that makes up the cross. It came
from Cape Town, South Africa and was made by a cooperative of women to
earn money. It reminds me of the congregation we worshipped with one
Sunday there.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

I admit to breaking the rules of our subdivision this week. I break them every summer at least once. It is a ridiculous rule to begin with. I was even told by a parishioner once that the EPA would override this subdivision rule because it saves energy and is green.
This week, I put up my Swiss-imported portable laundry line that I have had for years. It's a big thick pole that opens into a huge square with four sides of lines and and 5-6 lines on each side. Like a big table umbrella. I had lots of laundry from the trip - cotton shirts, linen pants, a linen/rayon jumper, etc. I'm tired of cotton shirts shrinking in the dryer and usually line dry them now in the basement. But the days were warm and sunny, and I had a lot to dry.
So, I put up the laundry system and hung my shirts, pants, dress out to dry. And they dried quickly and well. There were no undies or unmentionables hung for the neighbors to see. Just outerwear.
And when I went to gather the dry laundry, it smelled so fresh and clean. Mmmm....I had near fogotten that wonderful fresh laundered, sun and breeze dried scent. It was so wonderful. I would like to do it more often, but don't want to press my luck. I saved lots of electricity by not running loads in the dryer. It doesn't smell as good when I hang it in the basement.
Frankly, I think temporary clotheslines should be allowed here. It is a such a green and energy saving way to dry your clothes or bedding. And the scent is luscious.
I doubt that any of our neighbors who can even see it will say anything.
I have never been reported as of yet.
So, every summer that we are here. I will break the rules and have the best smelling laundry of anyone and a few extra bucks in our pockets. And the planet is grateful. It doesn't bother me to see laundry flapping in the summer breeze. Surely the enormous children's play towers and stations are far more obnoxious than some laundry hanging from a line that can be removed as if it had never even been there.
Yes, I am guilty of breaking the rules. And I am not in the least, remorseful.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Six years ago, a most handsome, elegant and refined fawn colored greyhound came into our lives. He was wonderfully proportioned with nary any scars from his racing career. He had come from Ft. Myers and it was quickly apparent that he had been well loved all of his life. He always tried to get into one's lap even though he had long ago outgrown that possibility, but he took to standing over one's legs and pressing close to one's body. He loved chest rubs that lasted 15 minutes and always wanted more. He could charm the devil himself. He was a bit of a sneaky thief, stealing the last two bites of my sandwich off my plate when I went to answer the doorbell, and quick to sneak a lick off a plate when you weren't looking. He wasn't satisfied with mere kibble, he wanted left-overs added to it. He took to the couch and love seat, snatched pillows when he could thinking they were large throw toys. He was a lazy greyhound and only ran when the other greyhound got him going. He was content to be retired and a beloved pet and companion. He was even tempered and delighted in having the underside of his chin and neck stroked. He had one small flaw - he didn't like being disturbed when he was lying down and would growl and lash out. One greyhound rule is, never disturb a sleeping greyhound. Two greys we had didn't like to be disturbed and two don't mind at all. You just don't know with them. Jett, had been returned to USADOG after a family adopted him even though the organization didn't think it was a good match, the family wanted Jett. Understandably, because he was such a good looker. They had a small child who couldn't resist petting a sleeping greyhound and Jett growled and bared his teeth. The family returned Jett. How fortunate we were to take him home and give him the home he deserved. It was hard to ever be mad at him because he oozed charm. He moved with grace, light on his feet and with his size, his long tail carried elegantly. He charmed us with his good looks and endearing personality. He was easy to live with and a joy in our lives.
Yesterday, Jett crossed Rainbow Bridge. His cancer had tired him out, his leg wound oozing and bleeding with a stench that even daily cleaning could not erase. He wasn't eating much even when tempted with rice, and canned dog food and left-overs, although he greedily munched on Milkbones.
He was becoming thin and it wouldn't be long before he wouldn't have the strength to go out or stand up. His eyes were sad and said, "I had enough." He had problems getting comfortable lying down and even with some pain medication to ease the pain in his leg which he favored some, the delight was gone from his eyes. I knew it was time. I knew I couldn't let him waste away and lose all dignity. It was just a matter of days.
Thankfully, he waited until I returned home and was so joyed to see me. I know he missed me and Momma's rubs, hugs, and kisses.
And so, LH and I, had our beautiful beloved Jett put to sleep, and spared him some really awful last days.
I suppose that is the salve to my grief - that we spared him a few days of additional misery and that each day, each year he was with us, was a gift and grace and gave him a second chance at life. He was trusting and good with the doctors and all that he endured the past year and three months - two surgeries and recuperation. It's just that cancer couldn't be eradicated and his wound after this last surgery couldn't ever heal properly. I know we did the right and good thing by him and it eases the hurt just a little.
He graced us with his elegance and beauty and goodness and I am forever grateful. He rests in my heart and now bounds across heaven with Earl, Baruch the Beagle and Benny.
Perhaps, eventually, we may get another grey. For now, it's just LH, I and Jazz - our wild child grey, who has lost his buddy. Now, he'll get all the attention and all the left-overs!
Thanks, Jett, you were beautiful inside and out. Love you forever.