Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Last Road Trip

It is the 5th anniversary of my mother's death -- or at least it was on May 28. This is for Mama.

My mother was really big into genealogy. I start to understand now that I have turned 40. I reach out for connections to the past as I search of a sense of heritage, of who I am and from where I came and by doing so I somehow reach into the future. It is a basic urge of humans to want to make a mark on this world, to leave a heritage, to know that we exist and know that we were.

My mother was really big into road trips. We would pack up in the car and visit cemeteries. Many of my relatives are buried in perpetual care cemeteries, but most are not. On Decoration Day (or Confederate Memorial Day) we would take rakes and plastic bags and clean up the graves of Mama’s grandparents in Marietta. In the last few years, we fell out of the habit of doing this, and now I don’t think that I could find most of these cemeteries.

Not too long ago, when Entropy was a baby and Chaos a toddler, my mother and I took the girls and her cousin Norma on what was to be our last road trip. We took back roads and twisty country lanes and ended up at a cemetery that had fallen into almost complete disrepair. Norma and my little family were the last descendents of this branch. In fact, neither my mother nor I am directly related -- it is a collateral line. Norma was the absolute last descendent. She did not have children that I know of and since she died a few years ago, I am certain I will never find this graveyard again. The last burial from Norma’s family was done in the 1870’s, however the latest stone dated from the 1950’s.

When we got there, after winding through the North Georgia mountains, we exited the car into a cool mist. It was a dank and gray November morning, the roads slick with moisture. The mountain laurel was dark and dripping wet and the woods up the hill were forbidding. Everything was brown or black except for the slash of road up the hill glowing red from the Georgia red clay. Someone had recently laid “crush and run” on the road and installed a chain with a lock across the road. Norma and I decided to go up the hill and leave my mother and the girls in my car. We began to trudge up the hill into deep woods. After a while the road gave way to a small path and branches started to slap us in the face as we climbed. It wasn’t very far -- maybe 1/2 mile, but I felt that I was entering an ancient and primeval forest. The feel of the woods was not benign. We reached the top of the hill and both Norma and I were surprised. The last pictures of the hill that Norma’s family had taken were on a Decoration Day in the 20’s. In the ensuing 90 years or so, the woods had taken over. The sunny hilltop in the black and white photographs had been completely reclaimed by the mountains. The graves beyond the little fence, down the hill had been slightly better taken care of. Many of the stones had toppled and were unreadable. More were just missing. Later Norma and I found out that some of the locals had been taking the large polished slabs of granite and marble and laying them out as paths, carved side down, in the local church graveyard. The stones were being recycled.

I felt a strange sadness as I learned this. I ached for the people I never knew, never loved, never mourned and now I would never know their names or where they were buried. Norma and I saw the ghost of writing on a large slab of stone, but could not read it. We decided to hold the stone up to the light to see if we could get the weak November sun to cast a better shadow. As we lifted the stone up, we disturbed a bed of scorpions. They skittered over the stone and our hands. We both screamed and jumped back, dropping the stone and shattering it into several big chunks. I stepped back onto another grave and my left leg went in up to my knee. I pulled myself out and peered into the hole I had made, but couldn’t see anything. Oddly enough, I wasn’t spooked at the time, but on later reflection I realize that this is the sort of stuff that Hollywood loves to use in movies. It just seemed cold and dirty at the time. Norma and I gave up after 30 minutes or so. We could not find a single grave that had not been ruined by the ravages of man or weather.

There are passages in Ecclesiastes that remind me of this last road trip. The vague sadness I felt as I saw the forgotten graveyard are echoed in the words:

“For the living know that they will die,
but the dead know nothing,
they have no further reward
and even the memory of them is forgotten.
Their love, their hate
and their jealousy have long since vanished
never again will they have a part
in anything that happens under the sun.” Eccl 9:5-6

Norma and I made our way slowly down the hill, holding hands, slipping and sliding. We didn’t fall into any more graves, although we did see a large stand of Lady’s Slippers, blooming late in the fall and some beautiful tripartite trillium. By the time we reached the car, we were warmed by our walk, the sun had broken through the trees and the fog was being burned off in the gentle rays of the sun. My mother had a tape in the radio singing with the girls “You are my Sunshine” and had poured coffee for Norma and myself. I loved and was loved, and it was enough.

“Go, eat your food with gladness and drink your wine with a joyful heart for it is now that God favors what you do. Always be clothed in white and always anoint your head with oil. Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun -- all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun. Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might for in the grave where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.” Eccl 9:7-10

I read these words differently now. My mother, my husband's mother, his grandfather, my grandmother: they have all died since I wrote these words. I sit now and remember them and I remember the love they had for me and I give thanks that I had them in my life -- and one day I'll find that graveyard and show the girls and let them join in that love and those memories.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006


I am starting new things ... and handing over old things.
I have been accepted in a CPE program at Scottish Rite Hospital this summer ... starting tomorrow.
We have found a really good babysitter for the kids (although it's really more for entertainment value than childcare.)
The family and I are going to take a couple long weekends at the beach, rather than one full week. The girls are going to have music lessons this summer -- guitar and piano (Entropy wants to play the drums ... I think we'll wait for next year!). We are going to clean a little every day, instead of marathon cleaning once a month/semester. We are giving up popsicles for yogurt. We are going to eat more fish and vegetables. Fruit instead of sweets. Big changes.
Today we are going shopping for clothing for me that looks more "business casual" than "seminary student."
It's an inbetween place/time for us all. Both exciting and anxious.

Monday, May 29, 2006

A Prayer for Pentecost

O Spirit of the living God, Thou light and fire divine,
Descend upon Thy church once more, and make it truly Thine.
Fill it with love and joy and power, with righteousness and peace;
Till Christ shall dwell in human hearts, and sin and sorrow cease.

Blow, wind of God! With wisdom blow until our minds are free
From mists of errors, clouds of doubt, which blind our eyes to Thee.
Burn, winged fire! Inspire our lips with flaming love and zeal,
To preach to all Thy great good news, God’s glorious common weal.
-- Henry H. Tweedy

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, ‘Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.’ All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, ‘What does this mean?’ But others sneered and said, ‘They are filled with new wine.’

--Acts 2 1-13

Breathe on us God
Let the violence of your Spirit sweep among us and
Make us discontent.
Fill our churches with the overwhelming sound
Of your rushing wind -- your ruah.
Prepare us for the coming of your Spirit
Let us listen with anticipation the teachings of Jesus the Christ:
Make our hearts and minds be ready to receive
The blessing of the Holy Spirit,
Prepare us to be filled with the strength of his presence

Breathe on us God
Prepare us for the coming of your Kingdom
A perfect kingdom where no sword is drawn but
The sword of righteousness,
A perfect kingdom where no strength known but
The strength of love:
Breathe on this world your breath and so spread your Spirit,
So that everyone in the broken world may be gathered under
The banner of the Prince of Peace,
So that everyone in this broken world may be children of one Parent.

Breathe on us God
Prepare us for the perfecting of your Church.
Set up on fire for your Word.
Perfect us with a burning desire to do your will.
Let us speak to each person in this world
In language they will understand.
Fill us with all truth, in all truth with all peace.
Where your church is corrupt, purify it;
Where it is in error, direct it;
Where your church does not promote your kingdom, reform it.
Where it is right, strengthen it;
Where it is in want, provide for it;
Where it is divided, unite it;
We pray in the name of Jesus Christ your Son our Savior. Amen.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Things that make you go Hmmmm....

I've had rather picky tastes when it comes to teas for quite a while. I'm still looking for this facinating tea that I had a few years ago that had the most complex taste. It was a first flush Darjeeling -- a taste of muscatel, a hint of smokeiness, peaches and roses.

Now I discover there are gourmet salts. Yes, salts.

OK, I'm intrigued.

Thursday Poetry Blogging

Every year on the way to cut our christmas tree, my family passes a historical marker honoring the Poppy Lady. The red poppy was first introduced as a symbol of remembrance of memorial day by a university teacher, Miss Moina Michael. She graduated of Columbia University in the early 1900s and in 1918 was teaching at the Univeristy of Georgia. She was moved by the plight of young men leaving home, some of them her own students and volunteered for the Red Cross training at Columbia University. At 49 years of age it was decided that she was too old to go overseas to nurse the wounded and so she stayed for a while in New York at the YMCA to train others to go overseas in her stead.

On November 9, 1918, she sat with a cup of coffe to read the newspaper and read this poem.

In Flanders Fields
By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army

IN FLANDERS FIELDS the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Dr. John McCrae served as a doctor in the South African War as well as France. Although he was a battlefield surgeon for quite a while he noted that it was impossible to get used to the suffering, the screams, and the blood, and McCrae said he had seen and heard enough to last him a lifetime.

At Ypres he was to work around the clock for 17 days, snatching sleep where and when he could, but the wounded kept coming. "I wish I could embody on paper some of the varied sensations of that seventeen days... Seventeen days of Hades! At the end of the first day if anyone had told us we had to spend seventeen days there, we would have folded our hands and said it could not have been done."

On May 2, 1915 one death affected him more than all the others. A friend and former student, Lt. Alexis Helmer, had been killed that day and McCrae treated his wounds to no avail. Lt .Helmer was buried just outside of the field hospital in a cemetary that now stretches for acres and acres. McCrae had to perform the funeral ceremony because there was no chaplain.

The next day, there was a reprieve in the flow of the wounded to his station and he saw the wild poppies dancing in the wind in the ditches and among the graves and he wrote this poem. It was too painful for him to have it published himself and so another officer sent the poem to Punch and it was published in 1915.

Moina read the poem three years later in a New York paper, after McCrae had died from exhaustion and pneumonia while still serving his field hospital. She was moved by the poem. She felt that he passed the torch to her personally and described her experience as deeply spiritual. She felt called by the voices which had been silenced by death to remember. From then on, the Poppy Lady wore a poppy as a sign of remembrance and a symbol of "keeping the faith with all who died."

Perhaps you have a vet who sells the little paper poppies every year in your congregation. If you don't understand the meaning, it might be easy to dismiss him or brush him off as a bother. It doesn't matter if you support the war or not. Memorial day is a time to remember those who have died in the service of their country -- rightly or wrongly. It's a time to mourn the loss of loved ones who were pulled away by that service to die -- and to mourn that war is even possible in this sin-torn world of ours.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

OK, a funny observation...

Since I met some of the different RevGals at the Festival of Homies, when I read their blogs now, I actually can HEAR the words in the appropriate voice. Wild!

Morning Prayer

*note: If you read/pray this prayer with me today/anytime, please add an "Amen" or similar phrase in the comments.

I was there to hear your borning cry,
I'll be there when you are old.
I rejoiced the day you were baptized,
to see your life unfold.
I was there when you were but a child,
with a faith to suit you well;
In a blaze of light you wandered off
to find where demons dwell.

When you heard the wonder of the Word
I was there to cheer you on;
You were raised to praise the living Lord,
to whom you now belong.
If you find someone to share your time
and you join your hearts as one,
I'll be there to make your verses rhyme
from dusk 'till rising sun.

In the middle ages of your life,
not too old, no longer young,
I'll be there to guide you through the night,
complete what I've begun.
When the evening gently closes in,
and you shut your weary eyes,
I'll be there as I have always been
with just one more surprise.

I was there to hear your borning cry,
I'll be there when you are old.
I rejoiced the day you were baptized,
to see your life unfold.

-- John Helgen,The Faith We Sing 2051

1 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity.
--1 Timothy 2: 1- 2 (NRSV)

Creator God,
You have been with me my whole life and I know you will walk with me and be with me forever. There are times when you seen distant and time where you seem as close to me as my own skin. As my life unfolds, I ask that you make your presences real to me -- and help me see you. Open my eyes, so that I can see you love in your childern, your beauty in your creation and your grace in this world.

Creator God,
You have given me blessings and gifts that surpass my understanding. You have given my family and friends blessings. You prepare us through your grace to be your hands here on earth. Pour into our hearts your love -- such love towards you and your children that we may obtain your promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Morning Prayer

This is a day of new beginnings,
time to remember and move on,
time to believe what love is bringing,
laying to rest the pain that's gone.

Christ is alive, and goes before us
to show and share what love can do.
This is a day of new beginnings;
our God is making all things new.

-Brian Wren, 1978

Colossians 1: 9- 14 (NRSV)

9 For this reason, since the day we heard it, we have not ceased praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of God's will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so that you may lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, as you bear fruit in every good work and as you grow in the knowledge of God. 11 May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. 13 He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Lord of Life
Lord of Glory
Lord of Creation
Lord of Love,
You make all things new. Every day is a new beginning in you. Every day is fresh. I rejoice in your beautiful world. I give thanks to you for the gifts you have given me in such abundance. I thank you for Your Body, the church, which surrounds me and supports me in that love.

Lord, may I be filled with the knowledge of Your perfect will.
May I be filled with your wisdome and understanding so that I can live a life worthy of You.
I desire nothing more than to please you.
Make me strong with the strength that comes from You, so that I can indeed be prepared to endure all things with patience.

I pray for my children today. I pray that they grow in the knowledge of you.
I pray for my little one's health again today. Her beauty is breath-taking to me and I fear for her fragility. Keep her in the palm of your hand. Heal her according to Your will.

This I pray in the name of the God who became flesh and dwelt among us.


Thursday, May 18, 2006

Just an observation

A week can seem like a very long time.

Not that I'm not learning stuff.
It's just a lot to do in a week.

I'm just sayin'.

better than the speakers at the conference are the RevGals.
I wish some of the speakers would run just a little shorter so that we can get on with the important stuff like talking, eating and drinking.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Morning Prayer

Awake, awake to love and work!
The lark is in the sky
the fields are wet with diamond dew
The worlds awake to cry
their praises to the Fount of Life
Christ Jesus passes by.

To give and give, and give again,
as God's own grace is free
To spend yourself nor count the cost
To serve most gloriously
the God who gave all worlds that are
and all that are to be.

-- From the Kentucky Harmony

3 For you have been my refuge, *
a strong tower against the enemy.
4 I will dwell in your house for ever; *
I will take refuge under the cover of your wings.
5 For you, O God, have heard my vows; *
you have granted me the heritage of those who fear your Name.
6 Add length of days to the king's life; *
let his years extend over many generations.
7 Let him sit enthroned before God for ever; *
bid love and faithfulness watch over him.
8 So will I always sing the praise of your Name, *
and day by day I will fulfill my vows.
-- Psalm 61

My soul is alive and free
And soars on the Wind
that blows through the tree
and caresses my face.

Your Spirit is breathed in me
Causing my dance of Joy
Your Spirit causes me to sing
and your Love sustains me.

God, I give you thanks
For those who have helped
Sustain me. For those whose
Spirits are mirrors of Yours.

God, I give you thanks
For the beauty of your creation
For the gifts of your earth
For the gifts so abundant.


Monday, May 15, 2006


I'm going to the big RevGal meetup today --

I've ripped my pants!! And I will have no time to go get another pair!!


Update: another Aarrgghh!!

I cut my hair on Saturday b/c of a wad of bubblegum (don't ask). This morning I ran out of hair product that I'm fond of. I used something Chaos uses -- I now look like the wild woman of Borneo. Uber bad-hair-day.

So, I'll be the one with duct tape all the way down one leg and the weird hair. I hope the resturant will let me in.


Friday, May 12, 2006

Ordinary Time Book

Support independent publishing: buy this book on Lulu.

On Sale now for $18.99

Support independent publishing: buy this book on Lulu.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Morning Prayer

Entropy is sick today. VERY bad croupy cough. Of course, since last Fall and the rheumatic fever, I'm paranoid about her health. So we are at home today and I am praying she's better by Monday and the festival of homies (Festival of Homiletics, for those not on the RevGal ring).

Precious is the heart of love;
may, at length, such hearts be ours;
God, please send down from above
your love and truth divine.
And may they cleanse our willing souls
of earthly ills and make them whole;
for Christ did come to share our toil
and will not spurn our prayers.

From Psalm 90
15 Call upon me in the day of trouble; *
I will deliver you, and you shall honor me."
16 But to the wicked God says: *
"Why do you recite my statutes,
and take my covenant upon your lips;
17 Since you refuse discipline, *
and toss my words behind your back?
18 When you see a thief, you make him your friend, *
and you cast in your lot with adulterers.
19 You have loosed your lips for evil, *
and harnessed your tongue to a lie.
20 You are always speaking evil of your brother *
and slandering your own mother's son.
21 These things you have done, and I kept still, *
and you thought that I am like you."
22 "I have made my accusation; *
I have put my case in order before your eyes.
23 Consider this well, you who forget God, *
lest I rend you and there be none to deliver you.
24 Whoever offers me the sacrifice of thanksgiving honors me; *
but to those who keep in my way will I show the salvation of God."

Good and Gracious God,
You are the beginning and end.
You are the creator and beginning of our existance.
You have commanded us to love our enemies.
God, that is a hard teaching.
Help me to love them.
Help me to pray for them.
Lead them and us from prejudice to truth
deliver them and us from hatred, cruelty, and revenge
I want to pray for Justice -- but will wait for your time.
In your good time I know you will enable us all to stand reconciled before you

Good and Gracious God,
you forgave your enemies while suffering shame and death
Strengthen those who suffer for the sake of conscience;
when they are suffering and hurt, save them from speaking in hate
when they are rejected, save them from bitterness
when they feel imprisoned and helpless, save them from despair
And help those of us who stand at the sidelines
to have grace to respect their witness and to discern the truth,
that our church and our society may be cleansed and strengthened.

Good and Gracious God,
from you comes every good and perfect gift:
Send down your Spirit down upon our people, our ministers, our clergy, and upon the congregations committed to their care
Send your healthful Spirit of grace upon them
and pour upon them the continual dew of your blessing.
Grant this, O Lord, for the honor of our Advocate and Mediator.

Good and Gracious God,
You are the Good Shepherd of your sheep
you gather the lambs in your arms and carry them in your bosom
I commend to your loving care my child.
Relieve her pain, guard her from all danger, restore to her your gifts of gladness and strength,
and raise this child up to a life full of your grace and glory.
for your dear Name's sake. Amen.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


I keep 3 different lipsticks. One in the bathroom with my makeup, one in the purse and one in the desk drawer. Or really, it should only BE one, but usually is two or three in each place.

I'm out of my favorite shade of lipstick and I don't think it's being made anymore. The remaining shades are either too light or too dark. What should I do? Should I go shopping for more?

Why do I not feel "dressed" without the lipstick? Is wearing lipstick a necessity for you? Should a clergywoman even wear lipstick?

My decision this morning: I'm going to go without. (Eeek! is what my brain is telling me right now) Rather than too light or too dark, I'm going bare. (Eeek!!)

Then I'm going to go visit the Clinique booth sometime this week......

(post script: Now I feel totally shallow. I just got an email asking permission to crosspost a poem. Shallow and vain, am I today.)

Monday, May 08, 2006


I’ve noticed something in myself. I encounter a letdown after a big project. I invest blood, sweat and tears most of the time into them – and there are huge labor pains, a big release and then I let go. After a couple of days, I’m in a numb stage and it reminds me of nothing so much as post-partum depression. A certain listlessness, a certain restlessness, a desire to watch melancholy movies or play piano pieces in minor keys.

The melancholy is nice to begin with – as Jaques claims about himself in Shakespeare’s As You Like It, I “sucks melancholy from a song, as a weasel sucks eggs.” For a while, it’s a nice place to be – melancholy without maudlin. But then.

It’s like the feeling you get when you don’t brush your teeth for a long time; they get rough and mossy. Or when you don’t get dressed and hang around the living room in your pajamas. It’s OK for a while, but.

So today, I sit around, sipping hot tea and eating split-pea soup. Tomorrow, I’ll begin again.


Morning Prayer

Psalm 22 from the BCP
Praise the LORD, you that fear him;
stand in awe of him, O offspring of Israel;
all you of Jacob's line, give glory.
For he does not despise nor abhor the poor in their poverty;
neither does he hide his face from them;
but when they cry to him he hears them.
My praise is of him in the great assembly;
I will perform my vows in the presence of those who worship him.
The poor shall eat and be satisfied,
and those who seek the LORD shall praise him:
"May your heart live for ever!"
All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD,
and all the families of the nations shall bow before him.
For kingship belongs to the LORD;
he rules over the nations.
To him alone all who sleep in the earth bow down in worship;
all who go down to the dust fall before him.
My soul shall live for him;
my descendants shall serve him;
they shall be known as the LORD'S for ever.
They shall come and make known to a people yet unborn
the saving deeds that he has done.

"Thus I was taught that love was our Lord's meaning. And I saw quite clearly in this and in all, that before God made us, he loved us, which love was never slaked nor ever shall be. And in this love he has done all his work, and in this love he has made all things profitable to us. And in this love our life is everlasting. In our creation we had a beginning. But the love wherein he made us was in him with no beginning. And all this shall be seen in God without end ..."
-- Julian of Norwich

Lord God,
draw my heart to your heart.
guide my mind to your mind
fill my imagination with your will
fill my will with your desire
dedicate my life to your purpose
make me completely yours.
make your love, my love.
keep me in your peace
show me your essential nature.

Saturday, May 06, 2006


I habe a code.

(translation: I have a cold.)

I'm on cold medicine and I keep doing silly thing. I forgot to bring my SS notebooks home, so I can't update the roles. Oh well.
Then I forgot to close the front door and I put the sugar in the refrigerator. I erased my worship calendar from the computer. I forgot to hang the phone up. Stuff like that.

I have arranged a substitute for my sermon/communion thingy. Worship service, yeah, that's the word.

I did remember to save the Mediashout before I shut the Windoze machine down.

I'm going to take a nap now.

Oh yeah, and there was something about a book to be published.....

Thursday, May 04, 2006

What am I doing??

I ask myself -- What am I doing?
I have a takehome final due tomorrow and what am I doing??
I'm nursing a cold and reading blogs, that's what I'm doing.

I think I'll turn the internet OFF now....

Tuesday, May 02, 2006