Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Jamie - Thank You Thank You!

Yes, she gets TWO thank yous. 

Jamie is coming "home" with me once again to share the joys of family and the pains of traveling. Doesn't she rock!

Happy Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Bulletin Back - Thank You!

The back side of this morning's bulletin at church offered "ten good reasons to be grateful now" rather than waiting for Thursday. They are important enough for me to reproduce here:

1) For the brave and diligent leadership of John Thomas, General Minister and President of our United Church of Christ.

2) For all the church volunteers: trustees and deacons, greeters and ushers, babysitters and teachers, waiters and dishwashers, and all those who bring the same casserole to every church supper [yum!].

3) For our church choirs, who sing like the angels in heaven... most of the time [hey! the psalm says make a joyful NOISE to the Lord].

4) For our pastors, who give even more than we ask, which is more than we should.

5) For the Christmas Fund, which cares for our retired pastors and their surviving spouses in need. 

6) For all those who work and pray for Christian unity, here and around the world.

7) For this congregation and for the United Church of Christ.

8) For God's creation, which renews itself daily despite our constant abuse and neglect.

9) For our next breath; and life itself.

10) And, above all, for the overflowing blessings we receive every day from the stillspeaking God.

 I give thanks for this list, UCC! 

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Rest - Thank You

Yes, I know "rest" is not a person whom I can thank, but it is a gift of the Creator for which I am very thankful.

For some reason, several of our staff members have not been sleeping well this week. We collectively lamented 2am wakings, sudden realizations at hours when work should be the last thing on our subconscious minds, and preparing for the day at 4 0'clock because sleep just wasn't going to call us back again that morning.

But last night I finally feel I slept. 

Yet rest is so much more than sleeping. It's the letting go that so many of us can't seem to do in this age of doing doing doing. It's the not being "on" that so many clergy-type tend to embrace more than necessary. It's the choice of reading a comic book or playing mahjong or curling up with your kitties for a nap rather than reading the Christian Century, writing a (very) late newsletter article or cleaning the (very) messy house. 

So for the gift of rest, I give thanks today. And, now, I'm going to turn OFF my computer and rest.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Solid - Thanks Dad!

Of course I'm going to express gratitude to my father as well. And the gift that I most strongly relate with him is that he's always been solid.

I can't think of a time my dad wasn't there. Even when he worked 3 jobs in order to keep us all fed and warm, I still remember his ever solid presence.

He was present when I said my goodnight prayers, kneeling at the coffee table that held his pipe (I loved sniffing that pipe); he was present when I was having "hissy fits" over my math homework in 6th grade (God bless his patience!); and he was present for all my major life transitions, including our big ol' lesbian church wedding.

Many years ago, his and Mom's friends named him "St. John the Meek" because of his quiet manner ... but there was always the solidity underlying his calm. There are times I wish I could have inherited more of his solidity, and perhaps I can strive to grow more into it; but for now I'll just celebrate that he has always shared his with each of us. 

Creativity - Thanks Mom!

It seems so sad that we relegate thankfulness to one day - or if we're dedicated, perhaps one month - of the year. While we may experience gratitude often, we don't tend to make it a priority of spiritual practice. Here is my attempt to extend my remembrance of gratitude for more than a day.

I'm thankful for my mother's unending creativity and the ways she has continually blessed me through it. 

As a child, I remember watching her sew (our family still has photographs of the multitudes of dresses and Halloween costumes she made me as I grew). As an adult, I marvel at her ability to create ministerial stoles and chancel paraments from visions in her head and costumes for both modern and historical plays.

Our house always held the scent of something cooking, baking or being canned. I remember that, if she didn't have the ingredients, she'd "make do" with what she found (I'm especially grateful for that, as I often search the fridge for dinner and just throw things together - Jamie, on the other hand, is NOT thankful for this). 

My mom was superior at coming up with games and entertainment for my brothers and I. With blankets hanging in the doorway to keep the warm air in our living room, sleeping bags to spend the night and an open-lidded popcorn maker in the middle of the floor, she made a cold winter evening into a night of playful rule-breaking (popcorn popping into the air and onto the floor?!!). And our annual snowasaurus-making was ooh-ed and ahh-ed by the other kids on the bus. Remember the "Little Blue Brontosaurus" story? We woke up the morning after our first endeavor and, yup, found he really was BLUE (mom and her food coloring).

So for all of this and so much more, thank you, Mom!

Friday, November 7, 2008


Presbyterian Gal over at RevGalBlogPals posted this week's Friday Five... and it feels gooood (*week-end sigh of relief*). She says:

After an exhausting election here in the states it's time for some spirit lifting! Join me with a nice cup of tea or a coffee or cocoa and let's sit back and read the Funny Papers!

1. What was your favorite comic strip as a child?
As a kid I was always getting yelled at by people waiting because I read EVERY comic in the funny pages except Prince Valiant and Dennis the Menace. I remember the Sunday comics included 2 insert pages, too (not just the front and back we get now). Who can choose?!

2. Which comic strip today most consistently tickles your funny bone?
Rose is Rose by Pat Brady. It's laughs are uplifting and playful and loving and always life-affirming. And Rose's alter-ego kicks my butt with laughter.

3. Which Peanuts character is closest to being you?
Lucy - but I would never pull the football away!

4. Some say that comic strips have replaced philosophy as a paying job, so to speak. Does this ring true with you?
I'd have to think longer on this. Some strips definitely make you think about the world, social ills, politics, etc, but others are just fun for silliness' sake.

5. What do you think the appeal is for the really long running comic strips like Blondie, Family Circus, Dennis the Menace as some examples?
No clue - I'm going to read other's answers though!

BONUS QUESTION: Which discontinued comic strip would you like to see back in print?  I really enjoy the Far Side. All the episodes in hell make me laugh.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Festival of the Dead

Our church celebrated Totenfest (Festival of the Dead - in the same vein as All Saints') this past Sunday. We dedicated the ground for a new Memorial Garden, and we spoke the names of friends and family who'd died in this past year. It was an incredibly moving morning - I even cried in front of the entire congregation during my Homily (I blamed the choir for singing such a beautiful song). 

As I searched out resources for the Memorial Garden dedication ceremony, I found this poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. I didn't use it for anything except my own prayers and meditations beforehand. But I wanted to honor it's place in my musings this week.


Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I like that ancient Saxon phrase, which calls
The burial-ground God's-Acre! It is just;
It consecrates each grave within its walls,
And breathes a benison o'er the sleeping dust.

God's-Acre! Yes, that blessed name imparts
Comfort to those who in the grave have sown
The seed, that they had garnered in their hearts,
Their bread of life, alas! no more their own.

Into its furrows shall we all be cast,
In the sure faith that we shall rise again
At the great harvest, when the archangel's blast
Shall winnow, like a fan, the chaff and grain.

Then shall the good stand in immortal bloom,
In the fair gardens of that second birth;
And each bright blossom mingle its perfume
With that of flowers, which never bloomed on earth.

With thy rude ploughshare, Death, turn up the sod,
And spread the furrow for the seed we sow;
This is the field and Acre of our God,
This is the place where human harvests grow.