Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A Prayer to be used on All Hallows' Eve

O God, the King of saints,
we praise and glorify your holy Name
for all your servants who have finished their course
in your faith and fear:
for the blessed Virgin Mary;
for the holy patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and martyrs;
and for all your other righteous servants,
known to us and unknown;
and we pray that,
encouraged by their examples,
aided by their prayers,
and strengthened by their fellowship,
we also may be partakers
of the inheritance of the saints in light;
through the merits of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

--The Book of Common Prayer, p. 504.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Methodists and Halloween

Rough notes in a sort of Bible Study format. No time to make pretty and I didn't write down many references and I know a few of the questions were not mine, but most of this is off the top of my head....

Methodists and Halloween -- Yes or No?
Short answer: Methodists are not big on theory -- Wesley was not a theologian (per se). We proclaim a loving and grace-filled God to a hurting world. There is no hard and fast doctrine on all this; just ways to live. Looking at the history of Halloween and the three general rules (Discipline 2004) would be a good place to start.

Halloween is a combination of Samhain (Pagen/Druid -- harvest festival and "festival of the dead") and All Saint's Eve. (see There are echoes of both traditions in the celebration of Halloween.

Beginning Discussion Questions:
For each of the following statements, explain why for you it is true or why it is false:
1. The origin of Halloween doesn't matter.
2. Halloween is a celebration of evil and the dark forces of Satan.
3. A Christian seeks to honor and please God in all that he or she does.
4. It is okay to observe Halloween just for the fun of it.

To talk about Methodists celebrating Halloween -- here are the General Rules.
First do no harm. Some times stated as by "do no harm or any kind of evil." What practices and images come to mind when we discuss Halloween? What is it about Halloween that could be seen as harmful? By participating in Halloween, are we doing harm? Are we doing evil? (Make up your own questions!)

Second, by doing good, all kinds of mercy and doing all the good you can -- Is there a way that Halloween can be "sanitized"? What can we do to offer alternatives? Should we withdraw from participating? How can we use Halloween as an opportunity to show mercy? (Make up your own questions!)

Thirdly, by attending upon the ordinances of God, (worship, Communion, prayer, Bible study, Christian Conferencing etc) How can we teach our children about Halloween? Should we tie together the two celebrations (Halloween and All Saints)? What would that look like?

Answers to Direct Questions:
Do UM believe in Satan/Devil etc? The answer is yes, some do and no some don't. Most Methodists stress first Holy Living -- Holiness of Heart and Life and the abundant grace of God. Evil exists in this world, there is no doubt. Sin does as well -- and sin separates us from perfect communion with God. If there is a personification of Evil in this world called the Devil or Satan --that is up to debate in Methodist circles, but the ravages of evil in this world are very real. There is some debate about the book of Job -- if it is literal or allegorical. Those who believe in a literal interpretation of scripture would insist that, yes, there is a devil. For those who take a more allegorical -- no there isn't. But the upshot is that EVIL EXISTS and it's the Christian's duty to fight that evil. Where it comes from is sort of beside the point -- it's what we do about it that matters.

Another aside: people can be the hands of Christ in this world. There is a famous prayer that goes, "God has no hands but mine, no feet but mine, no mouth but mine. Put my hand to your use..." etc. If we can be the hands of God, if we do evil, can we not be seen as the hand of Satan, as well? The Flip Wilson "But the Devil made me do it!" is a passing of the blame.... We need to acknowledge that our own sinful nature, left alone, can be and can do evil.

Demonic Possession: Again yes and no. Depending on which Methodist you ask, you will get a different answer. Look here. This is one view, and there are others. But he has a great quote:
Jesus is like, "Yeah, it's cool and all, but it's not the main point. The point is that we want to deliver people from the things that possess them so that they can be free from sin -- so that their names might be written in the Book of life. Today's Demons might be things like: alcohol, addictions to drugs, internet porn, image, the love of money and power. Any thing that replaces God from being center in your life might be a demon to you and possess you. But personally, yes, I believe there might be demonic possession (just my opinion). Or as the Bard said "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy." (Hamlet, Act I Scene V)

Aside: Some people wonder if the "demonic possessions" in the Biblical witness are mental illnesses that could not be described in the 1st century.

Methodist Exorcism:
From the British Methodist Church
Since we don't stress a personification of evil or demonic possession, as such, in the US you would be hard pressed to find a Methodist minister to perform a "exorcism" with a crucifix etc on a person laying in a bed streaming nonsense syllables in a deep voice and with their head twisting round and round. BUT you will find Methodist ministers anointing with oil for healing, using water in symbolic ways, asking people to "repent and remember your baptism", asking them to renounce the forces of wickedness (look in the membership vows in the front of the hymnal) and blessing people and places.

We take seriously the casting out of demons in the Bible -- esp. the ones that Jesus did. But if you look closely, you won't see Linda Blair -- you will see people in desperate circumstances being delivered from their own personal hell. At the time of Jesus, there was a general belief about spirits and demons -- everything had a spirit. Nowadays, we are a lot more "rational" about it all. We understand disease to be caused by 1)poor choices 2)viruses, bacteria etc. We don't think of disease being caused by "spirits."

So, the long and the short of it -- we would rather stress the healing portion of this all and the ministry of deliverance. Have I ever observed someone being sprinkled or sprinkled someone/ something/ someplace with Holy water? Have I ever felt a sour or bad spirit in a place? Yes -- and those "demons" respond better to prayer (that's a Biblical Jesus quote -- homework: look it up!)

Final Note:
Now, we aren't trying to sell evil short. It exists and it's bad news. But do we need to dwell on evil or dwell on and in the grace of a Loving God?

Final Final Note:
We celebrate All Saint's every year -- and my kids go trick-or-treating. But they know the origin of it all and know why I don't like some of the trappings of the entire event. No Witches or Devils at my house! But I also see it as an opportunity for my kids to talk to other kids about why they do or do not participate. We did a "Trunk-or-Treat" at the last church I served -- and everyone dressed up as a Biblical Hero (Saint) and gave away candy that tied in (John the Baptist gave away gummy locusts...) We also have had sticks of Gum that had stickers inviting people to church. This year, I'm giving away Easter Eggs and when I get funny looks, I'll say that I find Easter a more compelling holiday. (And I don't have to store those silly Easter eggs any longer!)

Monday, October 29, 2007

Calm Monday after a Stressful Week

I'm taking a Monday morning to center and calm - to search out a peaceful place. (Again with the idea of place and space.)

Yesterday after church, we took sabbath -- nothing but napping, watching TV, listening to music and a little shopping. Nice.

We watched yet another mildly incomprehensible Asian film. We watched "Grave of the Fireflies" the other night, which was one of the most disturbing and thought provoking films I have ever seen. Chaos called it "totally emo." And that it was. What was most disturbing to my Western sensibilities was the lack of resolution and the lack of hope. There was no redemptive act; there was no compassion; there was little hope. I understand that it is both an autobiographical statement and a statement about choices that Japan made during WWII, but there are certain bits that are still rather incomprehensible to me.

Another that is really pretty incomprehensible is "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" -- we watched that last night. I think I've seen it a couple of time, but the girls decided they wanted it for our DVD collection. It's easier to take than "Grave of the Fireflies" -- but still has it's incomprehensible parts. In this film there is no idea of good or evil; just honor and shame.

I missed the themes of redemption in these movies; and the clear demarcation of good and evil. I know that these are Western thought. However it makes me wonder -- if I miss these themes in Asian film, are there themes that Easterners might miss in Western film? What would those themes be? Where are the voids in our thought?

Saturday, October 27, 2007


Is the day of the funeral. Lots to do, lots to remember. I've assigned jobs and I am not going to micromanage. I'm going to let people do their jobs...

Thursday afternoon, after picking up the kids, we were driving down the main road and were passed by 5 screeching and speeding fire trucks. We watched them turn down our road ... and then we saw the smoke. It was in the neighborhood just past ours, where a lot of our friends live and by the location of the smoke, I was convinced it was their house. Instead it was their neighbors. The girls and I followed the fire trucks in and watched the house burn. It was heartwrenching. The mom is a nurse who works the nightshift and she was sleeping in the house. She had arrived home and turned on the furnace and put a load of laundry in the dryer and went to bed with her 10 month old daughter. They were fast asleep. The fire alarms in our county are wired directly to the electrical system and have a backup battery. Their battery must have been dead because the fire alarm did not go off. She slept through the beginning of the fire.

An elementary school kid saw the flames, banged on the door to wake them up to no avail. Another neighbor broke down the door and got both of them out (Praise God!) They will have problems the next few day because of smoke inhalation, but the will be OK.

The neighbors have collected food and clothing and they have shelter, but they have lost all that they owned.

The girls and I talked about this -- there really is very little in our house that is not replaceable. The kitty -- she's not replaceable. The photo albums, the girls. But most everything else? It's replaceable. I'm going to see if we have anything that they need.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Odd little thing

It's been a busy week; my sister has had surgery and is now at home, Chaos has a cold and is at home and my Aunt died on Sunday and I will have the honor to officiating at the memorial service. I'm still not well from my cold a couple of weeks ago and just getting a little tired.

But I'm doing things everyday to further the cause of lightening the load, of purposeful simplicity in lifestyle, of stuff reduction. So I did some work in the kitchen this morning, sorting the glasses and coffee mugs out and setting some aside to give away. And I started a new box of stuff to sort and shred.

As I emptied the shredder bin, there was one shred that floated alone on the top of the heap. Because I didn't put all the papers in where the lines were perpendicular to the shredder blades, it wasn't just random letters and numbers, it was a part of a sentance:

The chaplain will be available.

Yes, the Chaplain is available. Time for a little prayer.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Like I didn't know this

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm

You're probably in the final stages of a Ph.D. or otherwise finding a way to make your living out of reading. You are one of the literati. Other people's grammatical mistakes make you insane.

Dedicated Reader
Literate Good Citizen
Book Snob
Fad Reader
What Kind of Reader Are You?
Create Your Own Quiz

Monday, October 22, 2007

I'm Shredding

I have a new toy from Amazon -- a new shredder. My parents never threw anything away. I have tax returns that are decades old; EOBs (insurance papers) for medical procedures that were performed on people 10s of years ago on people long dead. Bank statements that are approaching 25 and 35 years old.

I don't want to just toss these things in the garbage -- for more than one reason. It is indeed a security risk. Just because these people are dead doesn't mean that their identity can't be stolen. Anything with numbers on it should be shredded.

But there is also a finality to shredding. It can't be undone. In these bank statements, I am finding things that are vaguely disturbing -- repeated donations to charities I find not always on the up and up; evidence of purchases that were not particularly wise; checks to people that I wonder about -- who was this person and why this amount? But, perversely enough, I'm more disturbed at my LACK of emotion about these expenditures. What is past, is past. What is done, is done. All is forgotten; all is forgiven; there is nothing left but the shredding.

And yet, I am finding it disturbing enough that I'm dreaming. I've dreamed about my parents signatures; their names. I find myself staring at that oh so familiar handwriting for long minutes. I dreamt of their signatures being erased and by my hand. I dreamt that I am erasing my parents. I wonder if that is so -- and I wonder if I am erasing them or their power over me (still, at my age!) The second dream is different; I'm not erasing them, I'm taking my embroidery thread snips and snipping away the threads that are holding their signatures down, so that their names can float away free. In this shredding, I am finding a sort of forgiveness -- and absolution.

Grief can do funny things to us. There is the deep irrationality of fresh grief -- the grief that caused me to cry out, "Oh! He's going to be so cold! I didn't give him a blanket!" as they lowered my father's body into the ground. I can still feel that emotion 12 years later. It's irrational. It's the same grief that caused my sister to rescue my mother's toothbrush from the trashcan seconds after I had thrown it there. Maybe it was too soon to go through her possessions -- it was a scant day or two after the funeral. I threw it in the trash and she cried out a long sighing, "No!" and scooped it up before either of us had time for rational thought. This type of grief is a reflex, it's a flash, it's a moment of deep overwhelming emotion.

The grief I experience now is deeper, softer; the edges are rounded. It's more rational. As rational as seeing how a shredder can deal forgiveness to handsful of old sin. It's gentle and dressed in gray and will be a companion for a long time.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Retrograde, take 2

Cleaning out drawers in the kitchen, I wanted to go ahead and count and use my Betty Crocker Reward Points. Much to my dismay, they are no more. After 44 years, they closed down the catalog! NOOOOOOO!!!!!

I have thousands and thousands of points! I've been collecting them for 10 years! Argh! I wanted a new mixer!!

Retrograde to the rest of the universe, I am,
The Retrograde Reverend Mommy.

Update: New Game -- Name that Parable!

And he told them this parable: "The boxtops of a certain rich woman produced a good crop of Betty Crocker points. She thought to herself, 'What shall I do? I have no place to store my boxtops.' Then she said, 'This is what I'll do. I clean out this small drawer and put the points in a bigger one, and there I will store all my Betty Crocker points and Boxtops for Education. And I'll say to myself, "You have plenty laid up for many years. You will even be able to get a mixer! Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry." '

"But God said to her, 'You fool! This last year we canceled the catalog program! What are you going to do with all these useless boxtops?'"

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Kids think they invented Emo

Emo was here long before they were...

I found this video of Johnny Cash on YouTube. It's NIN's cover song "Hurt." There is a piquancy found in Johnny's singing that is carried by the heaviness of his years and his grief for June. This was his last video before he died. These words fit so well with some of the thought processes of the elderly. I don't know how many people I've been with who have watched all their generation pass on into the night.

This has been thought provoking. How does one minister to this generation without empty platitudes? How can I offer comfort and hope -- without tripping into the trite and shopworn phrases that can become our stock?

All Through the Night

Sleep my child and peace attend thee,
All through the night
Guardian angels God will send thee,
All through the night
Soft the drowsy hours are creeping
Hill and vale in slumber sleeping,
I my loving vigil keeping
All through the night.

While the moon her watch is keeping
All through the night
While the weary world is sleeping
All through the night
O'er they spirit gently stealing
Visions of delight revealing
Breathes a pure and holy feeling
All through the night.

Love, to thee my thoughts are turning
All through the night
All for thee my heart is yearning,
All through the night.
Though sad fate our lives may sever
Parting will not last forever,
There's a hope that leaves me never,
All through the night.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Pray for Rain

As often and as sincerely as possible. We are beyond Extreme Drought. We have entered Exceptional Drought. We will soon not have water for anything -- showers, washing clothing, dishes. We will be able to truck in water for drinking and cooking, but I've never experienced anything like this.

Bear Creek Resouvoir is almost gone. Just a big mud puddle. That's the main water supply for Winder to Athens. Lanier is 25 feet low. People are using metal detectors on the dry lake bed looking for lost objects that were dropped into the lake. Altoona is extremely low. We soon will be in the middle of Water Wars. The Corp of Engineers are continuing to release water downstream, to keep alive certain endangered species. But Atlanta needs the water, too. So everyone is suing everyone else. Yeah, we are going to solve this problem in the court system....

Pray for rain.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Morning Prayer -- Psalm 142

In Psalm 142, the psalmist is lamenting his plight (maybe it's David?) He is imploring God for help, crying out to God and telling how his enemies have set a trap. He prays for rescue because he feels utterly alone, exhausted, and may even be imprisoned. Maybe for him, prison is a metaphor for his distress or maybe he is actually imprisoned. In the last two verses, he makes vows to praise God, because he knows that God is indeed faithful and will always come through.

New King James:

1 I cry out to the LORD with my voice;
With my voice to the LORD I make my supplication.
2 I pour out my complaint before Him;
I declare before Him my trouble.

3 When my spirit was overwhelmed within me,
Then You knew my path.
In the way in which I walk
They have secretly set a snare for me.
4 Look on my right hand and see,
For there is no one who acknowledges me;
Refuge has failed me;
No one cares for my soul.

5 I cried out to You, O LORD:
I said, “You are my refuge,
My portion in the land of the living.
6 Attend to my cry,
For I am brought very low;
Deliver me from my persecutors,
For they are stronger than I.
7 Bring my soul out of prison,
That I may praise Your name;
The righteous shall surround me,
For You shall deal bountifully with me.”

The Message:

1-2 I cry out loudly to God, loudly I plead with God for mercy.
I spill out all my complaints before him,
and spell out my troubles in detail:

3-7 "As I sink in despair, my spirit ebbing away,
you know how I'm feeling,
Know the danger I'm in,
the traps hidden in my path.
Look right, look left—
there's not a soul who cares what happens!
I'm up against it, with no exit—
bereft, left alone.
I cry out, God, call out:
'You're my last chance, my only hope for life!'
Oh listen, please listen;
I've never been this low.
Rescue me from those who are hunting me down;
I'm no match for them.
Get me out of this dungeon
so I can thank you in public.
Your people will form a circle around me
and you'll bring me showers of blessing!"

I highlight the important (to me) bits.

First, God knows. God knows that we become overwhelmed. Life does that. But God also knows our path and God will provide. Through God's people, we will find refuge and help. God's people will form a circle around us and through them will shower us with blessing.

There's a verse in 1 Cor 10 that is often quoted:
13No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he'll never let you be pushed past your limit; he'll always be there to help you come through it.

A couple of notes here: Paul is writing to the church, not to individuals. This is a promise to us through the church -- the you here is community.


Earthmom tells me that Mercury is retrograde. I haven't the foggiest what that means -- and to be frank, I don't put much stock in astrology (if any.) (another parenthetical: actually, there are times that I wonder if the Wise Men, the Magi, were astrologers. I know enough to realize that they read the stars in some mysterious ways -- and I've helped out with enough Planetarium programs to realize there were indeed portents in the sky oh so long ago. God is all-powerful; God created the stars and the sky. God has written things in nature that if we have eyes, we can see. All creation shouts praise to God -- why not the stars?)

But if there is anything to astrology -- if there is anything to the flow of gravity or energy or chi or whatever (the force!), I can believe that Mercury is retrograde. I certainly am retrograde recently. Retrograde, simply put, means that even though the planet is indeed speeding along its proscribed path through the universe, to us the planet seems to be going backwards.

I am retrograde with my universe right now. It appears that I am going backwards. I'm not involved in anything "important" (and we can debate exactly what THAT means!) -- no school, no big church project, no embroidery project, no writing project (except that may change a little). My big thing is just getting all this STUFF out of my house.

Jung would tell us that the house is the person -- that parts of the house are parts of ourselves. The main living room/kitchen is our public life, the bedroom is our intimate life. The basement is our sub-conscious, the attic is our awareness of the "other" (i.e. God) or the higher life above us. I am cleaning house. And it's not going so fast. I have a self-imposed deadline of next May. I would like the majority of it done in March. If I am to become (God willing and crick don't rise) a Probationary Elder and move in June, I need both houses -- my interior life and my exterior life -- in order.

So, I have recycled an entire box of paper this morning, sorted a rough sort of pictures/mementos from the grandfather's house (which made me blue -- we need to cherish the people in our lives while we can) and began to sort two drawers in the kitchen, throwing away what I could. I may even take pictures of the results in a few minutes.

Retrograde is a matter of perspective. I am indeed going forward, speeding along my prescribed path right now. Soon enough I will appear loop forward, but I know that I've always been going forward -- I need to learn to rest in that assurance.

Monday, October 15, 2007


Stay with us, Lord Jesus, for dusk is falling.
Accompany us on our road, revive our hearts, take pity on us and fill us with hope,
so that with our brethren we may recognise you in the Scriptures and in the breaking of bread.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever.

** Tired today -- all things are slightly off. Entroy's face is swollen and bruised, her arm hurts. We all slept too late and that makes us slightly "off" today. Then I had a flat tire -- tried to change it and part of the jack was missing. The car is still parked in front of Chaos' Girl Scout leader's house until the LH can deal with it.

It's the Theology of Being Overwhelmed. More later....

Too much excitement

Last night, while Entropy was supposed to be getting ready for bed, she was up to her usual stalling tactics (can I have a glass of milk? can I warm up my sock (the child is emotionally attached to a sock filled with rice that you can heat in the microwave...)? can I have one more hug?)

Well, Chaos was squealing because the cat was licking her fingers -- Entropy runs to the living room to see (in her bedroom slippers) and trips over her own shoes (that she left in the middle of the floor). She bonks her head very hard on the wooden arm of a chair. There's blood everywhere. The LH presses his hand directly on the wound, I get a towel and ice pack, I hold her while the LH calls 911.

I somehow get re-dressed in my clothing while holding her and the ice pack (I must be a contortionist.) She's screaming that her arm hurts and there's blood everwhere and then she gets shocky. By the time the paramedics leave, she's better -- she's got a cut between the eyebrow and the eye, on the outer edge, parallel to the eyebrow. And it's just bleeding up a storm. It took a while to clot.

We got her to the ER -- no damage other than a really bad bruise to the arm and 5 stitches on her eyelid.

Phew. Thank you God.

Her first request to me? Mommy, hold me and pray.

Already there, kiddo.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Esoteric New Grass and Mongolian Blend

Went to Nickel Creek

Went to Nickel Creek concert last night at the Fabulous Fox.

The kids had never been to a concert at the Fox before -- and they had never been around that kind of crowd -- there were Adult Beverages and the distinct odor of illegal substances. It was a good lesson -- "Mommy, why are they acting so stupid?" Heh.

The crowd was not your usual symphony crowd -- much closer to a rock concert crowd. It is amazing how rude people can be at times....

All in all it was a great concert. We didn't sit close enough to see everything we wanted to see, but they did have it turned up to Rock Concert Levels and so we heard everything great (even with the rude talkers/shouters/screamers whatever.)

Chris Thule is very active on stage; he stood next to Bela Fleck a couple of times, making Bela's deep stillness even more evident. Bela was great -- I love his "esoteric" banjo music. There were times it was like -- playing the banjo isn't hard enough, so I think I'll use my elbow like this and then tune and detune the strings while playing. Amazing. This is Bela Fleck and the Flecktones doing "Sinister Minister"

Bela Fleck joined in some of the songs.
They ended with this:

and I must say, they do it much better than Brittney.

The last song of the evening.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Alternate Universe

And Jesus began again to teach by the seaside. And there was gathered unto Him a great multitude, so that He entered into a boat and sat in it on the sea; and the whole multitude was by the sea on the land. And He taught them many things, and said unto them in His doctrine: "If thou let y equal the square of x added to x multipled by 3 and this being added to the number 4, yea, verily, you have there the kingdom of heaven."

And his disciples Peter and John were confused by this teaching, not understanding. And Andrew said, "Yes, there he goes again -- Jesus always teaches in parabolas."

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Book of the Day -- Slack

I just ordered this for the loving husband:
Slack: Getting Past Burnout, Busywork, and the Myth of Total Efficiency (Paperback)
by Tom DeMarco (Author)

From the Amazon Website:
Another entry in the small but growing management library that suggests purposely slowing down and smelling the roses could actually boost productivity in today's 24/7 world, Tom DeMarco's Slack stands out because it is aimed at "the infernal busyness of the modern workplace." DeMarco writes, "Organizations sometimes become obsessed with efficiency and make themselves so busy that responsiveness and net effectiveness suffer." By intentionally creating downtime, or "slack," management will find a much-needed opportunity to build a "capacity to change" into an otherwise strained enterprise that will help companies respond more successfully to constantly evolving conditions. Focusing specifically on knowledge workers and the environment in which they toil, DeMarco addresses the corporate stress that results from going full-tilt, and offers remedies he thinks will foster growth instead of stagnation. Slack, he contends, is just the thing to nurture the out-of-box thinking required in the 21st century, and within these pages, he makes a strong case for it. --Howard Rothman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Sounds interesting. VERY interesting. Sabbath for the corporate world.

Morning Prayer -- Prayer of Ignatius

Dearest Jesus teach me to be generous

Teach me to love and serve you as you deserve,

To give and not to count the cost,

To fight and not to heed the wounds,

To toil and not to seek for rest

To labour and to look for no reward,

Except that of knowing that I do your Holy Will. Amen

-- Ignatius

Tuesday, October 09, 2007


Today will not be a real decluttering day. I have a meeting at the District Office. I've a few packages to send out and the girls have Grill Sprouts (Girl Scouts) today. I need some time to sit and think, as well. I do resolve to take care of at least one box from the garage today....

Monday, October 08, 2007

Scanning Google about "lightening the load"

I've been scanning Google about "lightening the load" -- because that is indeed what I am doing. And I found this:
Having knowledge of your subject is important in any type of photography, but with birds it is essential. If you always observe birds closely and learn as much as possible about their behavior, you’ll develop an almost intuitive sense of when a bird is going to fly. Before a bird takes flight, it often stands very alert, turning its head in many different directions, checking out its surroundings. It also turns into the wind. But most important, right before they fly, birds often defecate, perhaps to lighten their load....
(from Cornell's website on bird photography.)

I got a chuckle out of this, but then it struck me as salient -- perhaps I'm just getting ready to fly....

This Weekend

  • We moved the empty filing cabinet from the basement to the garage so that I can go through the 50 or so boxes of paper from my mom's estate.
  • We moved a shelving unit from the basement to the garage and set it where the freezer was, so that we could move the books out of the living room.
  • We moved the Amazon books out of the living room onto aforesaid shelving unit.
  • Moved bunches of boxes of papers off a different shelving unit next to the first shelving unit and put MORE boxes of books on this unit.
  • Moved assorted airplane bits and pieces to basement.
  • Moved assorted ham radio anntenna bits and pieces to basement.
  • Chaos was tremendous help with all this in the garage; Entropy tried real hard, but she just can't lift boxes like this.
  • Threw away about 2 bags of stuff from under the sink on my side of the master bath. (Entropy was great at this.)
  • LH fixed about 5 plumbing problems and cleaned the Jacuzzi tub.
  • Filled the Jacuzzi tub and sat in it for quite a while. (Hmm... next time, candles and a glass of something or another would be nice.)

I found the laundry sink. Rather I knew where it was, I emptied it out and washed some milk crates. I am going to put all the bits of china and stoneware from the garage (after it's washed) into the clean milk crates and get it ready to list on eBay or Freecycle. I'm also going to sort through one box a day from the garage at a minimum -- today it's a box that contains Bibles -- my father's Bible is on top. I anticipate some heartache with this, but it's not a bad ache -- just a melancholy one.

It took the house a long time to get to this state -- and a lot of people's stuff is here. Two of my grandmother's, my grandfather, my mother and father, the LH's mother and his grandfather. A lot of stuff. As important as it is to take care of this (and I have set a deadline of about March or June for myself), it's also important to remember sabbath time. That's why I'm not really blogging on Fridays to Sundays. Friday we are calling a halt to all things that take us away from the house -- and a halt to housework. We are going to just stay at home and enjoy each other's company. I guess from Friday noon or so to Saturday noon is my sabbath.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Theology of Stuff -- Austin Lounge Lizards

On the other shore, on the other shore
We'll have piles and piles of jeans we can't fit into anymore
We'll wear all those crazy cowboy shirts we got from Fred Labour
We'll meet all our possessions on the other shore

We'll find books we bought in college and sold for half-price unread
And sacks and sacks of earring backs lost under someone's bed
And baseball cards and army men and model planes galore
And every tiny plastic high-heel Barbie ever wore

On the other shore, on the other shore
We'll have giant storage units free of charge for evermore
Where our tax receipts will all be saved in bags upon the floor
We'll meet all our possessions

On the other shore, on the other shore
We'll find National Geographics from 1974
Our children's art will cover God's refrigerator door
We'll meet all our possessions on the other shore

(Note: sounds more like Hell to me.)

Thursday Bullets -- Mostly Theology of Space, Stuff

  • The freezer is gone! Yeah!
  • I gave about about 75 children's hangers to a lady doing a church commission sale. I like it when the things get used for a good cause.
  • The sofa got looked at -- and rejected once again. I guess it's time to go to Goodwill with it.
  • I went to Goodwill and purchased Chaos khaki pants and black pants for two different orchestras. She'll never wear them again -- why pay full retail?
  • Coming home I drove past The Avenue. If you deemphasize certain letters -- tHEAVENue, you can see why it's the premier retail area on Mall 124 (Highway 124 -- more retail space in a stretch of two or three miles than in any Mall in the world.)
  • tHEAVENue is nicer appointed than any church I've been in (well, maybe not Peachtree Road UMC.) More people too. And again I wonder if American's real religion is Materialism. We worship stuff and the acquisition of stuff. (In the Theology of Star Trek, it's easy to see the Japanese as the Klingons (Samari and Bushido and all that) -- Americans are probably the Ferangi.)
  • I've been thinking about possessions -- I've a real wealth of books right now, especially books I haven't read. I have enough unread books, that if I read a chapter or two of a book and I'm not getting into it, I just toss it into the "sell" bin. Because of inheritances and whatnot, we have more than I could ever want, much less need. Telephone insulators, costume jewelry, Hummels, china, kitchen stuff. Do I possess these things or are they possessing me? The ease of replacing the book du jour makes me realize how ultimately replaceable most stuff really is.
  • And stuff is really pretty easy to get -- I used to find interesting embroidered polo shirts for the Loving Husband to wear. Then I had an embroidery business and realized how easy it is to do embroidered shirts. (I actually have about 400 shirts upstairs that I am going to have to get to someday...) Stuff is so replaceable. I have great wholesale sources from these days where I can get just about anything. Hence the 100 ball pit balls. Seemed like a good idea at the time ...
  • Trivia of the day: we see about 3000 pieces of advertising a day. Wow. That's a lot. What's the message there? Buy stuff and you will be happy. Corollary: if you don't buy our stuff, you won't be happy. Buy stuff because you are worth it. If you don't get our stuff, you aren't worth diddly. If you want to feel loved, get more stuff! Love is stuff -- stuff is love. If you don't have stuff, you aren't loved. My question? Where is God in all this? Do we think of God as just another kind of "stuff"? Is God just another thing in our lives that's replaceable?
  • What does this mean for the forms and contexts I call "Church Smorgasbord", "Drive-By Church" and "Consumer Church"? What's the church to do in this consumer society? Are we too embedded in this culture to ever really do anything?

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

So far this week

I've disposed of:
  • all the food in the freezer
  • 2 dozen clean canning jars
  • 14 assorted glasses
  • 6 chipped mugs
  • a bag of Underpads for a bed
  • a wheelchair
  • a wheelchair transfer board
  • a pair of crutches
  • some books
  • a pink comforter
  • a "bed in a bag" -- queen sized Ivy patterned
  • 100 balls for a ball pit
  • an umbrella

Left in the garage unclaimed
  • blue loveseat
  • brown Lazy-Boy recliner
  • a freezer (actually, this is in the driveway)

Still in the garage (and determining if I keep, trash, sell or give away)
  • two large boxes of craft stuff
  • a Sunbeam Mixer
  • 12 more glasses
  • 50 prewrapped Christmas gifts from about 7 years ago (party favors) -- who knows what they are?
  • paper box full of candle ends
  • two packages of Barbie clothes, unopened
  • my mom's genealogy files (keep)
  • bank statements from 1950's to the 1980's (they never threw anything away)
  • 2 milk crates of chipped mugs, unchipped mugs, bowls, plates, etc.
  • 1000 pounds of books (maybe 12 boxes or more?) -- about 1200 books
  • two really nice dining room chairs from the 1940's (keep)
  • my nice floor lamp with foo-foo lampshade (black marabou feathers.)
  • hundreds of clay pots, plastic pots, African violet pots
  • four folding card tables or suit case tables
  • a fireplace grate
  • three shelving units
  • and the list goes on...

Pictures 247 and 248 of 365 -- Birthday!

The Loving Husband made the cake

Is it a croon or a warble?

Morning Prayer -- Awaken my Senses

Dear God,
Open my eyes to the beauty of this day.
The yellow of an egg yolk in a blue bowl.
The scent of bacon frying in the pan.
The soft caress of the morning breeze.
The sound of children at play.
Awaken my senses.
Let me see, hear, and feel the beauty around me.
And be aware of the presence of the Great Artist in my everyday world.
-- William Webber

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Morning Prayer -- Psalm 51, The Message, Cleaning, Theology of Space

Psalm 51 (The Message)

1-3 Generous in love—God, give grace!
Huge in mercy—wipe out my bad record.
Scrub away my guilt,
soak out my sins in your laundry.
I know how bad I've been;
my sins are staring me down.

4-6 You're the One I've violated, and you've seen
it all, seen the full extent of my evil.
You have all the facts before you;
whatever you decide about me is fair.
I've been out of step with you for a long time,
in the wrong since before I was born.
What you're after is truth from the inside out.
Enter me, then; conceive a new, true life.

7-15 Soak me in your laundry and I'll come out clean,
scrub me and I'll have a snow-white life.
Tune me in to foot-tapping songs,
set these once-broken bones to dancing.
Don't look too close for blemishes,
give me a clean bill of health.
God, make a fresh start in me,
shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life.
Don't throw me out with the trash,
or fail to breathe holiness in me.
Bring me back from gray exile,
put a fresh wind in my sails!
Give me a job teaching rebels your ways
so the lost can find their way home.
Commute my death sentence, God, my salvation God,
and I'll sing anthems to your life-giving ways.
Unbutton my lips, dear God;
I'll let loose with your praise.

16-17 Going through the motions doesn't please you,
a flawless performance is nothing to you.
I learned God-worship
when my pride was shattered.
Heart-shattered lives ready for love
don't for a moment escape God's notice.

18-19 Make Zion the place you delight in,
repair Jerusalem's broken-down walls.
Then you'll get real worship from us,
acts of worship small and large,
Including all the bulls
they can heave onto your altar!

This is powerful. This is my Genesis week (or Genesis Year, as the case may be.) My space will be cleaned -- and this heart shattered life is ready for God's love. Praise God!

Picture 245 and 246 of 365 -- "Frostless"

Frostless, it claims.

It lies. I haven't defrosted this freezer since I began seminary. I think it's time. In fact, I'm throwing all the food away and I'm going to try to freecycle the freezer (like anyone would want it!) I don't need a freezer like this right now.

I'm trying to freecycle a sofa as well -- no takers so far. And about 2 dozen used canning jars (need new seals.) Yesterday I got rid of a wheelchair, a wheelchair transfer board and a pair of crutches (a local little town's Senior Center was most appreciative.)

I've received several boxes of books from an unnamed RevGal who collected stuff for Katrina Relief and shipped hundreds of books (mostly novels) until they cried "Enough." I'm looking through them (did you know you can send Media Mail for really cheap?) and listing what I can on Amazon. I've bunches of things that won't sell -- Grisham books, romance stuff. I'm going to take some of them to the used book stores, but if anyone wants a "Love Package," just email me your addy at candlemb at bellsouth dot net. When you receive your package, you can send me something .... or donate some money somewhere. Or both. Mindy gets the first "Love Package." I may get a cow in return!

Oh, and did I tell you that Chaos played with the ASO? Just checking (and yanking daughter's chain a bit!) =o)

Monday, October 01, 2007

Pictures ?? of 365 -- ASO Day

the back of Chaos' head ....

Chris Rex

Violin clinician

Chris Rex and the back of Chaos' head

More of the back of her head....

My camera battery died early in the day. I'm going to download the movies next....

Morning Prayer -- from

Grant unto us, O Lord, nerves of steel
that we may dare to sing a new song -
and teach others to sing it too.

Grant unto us, O Lord, iron hands
that we might grasp the nettle of new music.
yet, grant unto us, O Lord, velvet fingers
that we may touch tenderly the sensibilities of Your people

Grant unto us, O Lord, feet light as feathers
that we may tread softly on the eggshells placed in our path
yet, grant unto us, O Lord, firm footsteps
that we might follow where You would have us go.

Grant unto us, O Lord, occasional failing memory
that we may forget the harsh criticisms of our taste in music
yet, grant unto us, O Lord, memory clear as crystal
that we may remember the joy - and comfort -
that our words and music bring.

Grant unto us, O Lord, the tongues of angels
that we may create harmony of discord.
Grant unto us,O Lord, shoulders of Teflon
that the mud that shall be cast shall not stick.

And above all else, dear Lord,
grant unto us space and time in our busy-ness
that our souls may touch your soul -
and we may learn to sing the songs
that our souls shall sing for ever.


Monday Bullets

  • I found out that orchestra moms are necessary -- I handed out band-aids, kleenex and a tampon. We also handled two emotional problems, a nosebleed and one nauseous cellist. One poor kid didn't have a cello (never got the story straight -- he either broke it or left it at home.) One nickel in a cello and one slipped bridge. I understand that there was a broken bridge in one of the other orchestras. Ouch.
  • I found out that aging musicians who never had children don't handle middle schoolers extremely well -- 13 year olds are indeed a special breed. One ADD kid was driving a 70 year old clinician crazy by 1:30 -- the meds must have worn off. He was twirling his bass 'round and 'round, poking other kids with his bow and actually sat on his bass at one point. The topper was about 12 trips to the bathroom. The musician now knows that ADD is REAL.
  • There was a disparity between the kids; there is such a wide range in Atlanta. Really rich kids were paired with really poor kids; the rich kids had "fashionable" clothing, iPhones, Sidekicks and many had lots of private lessons. And there were some who were just plain rude and spoiled rotten. My "bossy teacher" persona came out in force. Too bad I couldn't keep an iPhone....
  • I stopped by and purchased a "cello coffin" at our favorite strings store. I have too much money invested in that cello to risk a separated neck or a broken bridge. Soft cases are OK when transporting back and forth to lessons, but in a crush of a crowd -- I'd much rather have a hard case.
  • I'm proud as punch of Chaos. I must have told people a dozen times yesterday, "Did I tell you that Chaos played with the ASO?" I think I got on Chaos' last nerve with that.
  • I'll try to upload some video/pictures this morning.
Oh, by the way, did I tell you that Chaos played with the ASO??