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Friday, July 11, 2003


We were talking about signs this week in our small group, and I remembered one of those 'Jesus throws a sandal at the back of my head' moments in my life.

When I started working at St. Ned's, I was going to another church. Also Episcopal, but the average member was right around retirement age, and I just didn't fit in all that well. I used to joke that I was The Young Adult of the parish. I liked the clergy and the staff, but I was really isolated within the congregation. Although I was involved in several things, nothing was really pushing me spiritually. I was so lonely, but I thought that if I just kept trying, I'd be an insider eventually.

One weekend about 4 months after I'd started working at St. Ned's, I read something on a message board from someone lamenting the quality of the churches around her, and I started to write back a very perky response saying that if she was in the bay area, she should come to this really great church...and I described St. Ned's. Thwap! What was I doing? I was inviting people to come to this church, talking about how supportive and loving the community is, and how the emphasis is on spiritual growth and transformation and how the Rector just Gets It...but I'm not going to this church. I'm sneaking into the back of a place where I don't feel supported or even especially wanted instead.

Jeebus Melmo, how much more obvious does this need to be? Do I need a burning bush?

I had a meeting with the Rector at the other church a week or so later...I was in complete turmoil, because I knew that I wanted to be at St. Ned's but here I was talking to the other church about a vocations committee and I didn't know how to just break things off. I thought it was going to be a really hard, unpleasant conversation. Except...right away, the Rector said that she kept thinking that maybe I should go to St. Ned's, and go through the vocations process there.

Note to self for the future: when something is in alignment with God's will, God clears the way for it. Discernment 101.
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Thursday, July 10, 2003

expansion module

I'm still trying to figure out what, exactly, is happening to me. Last night as I was falling asleep, I realized that, physically, I feel like there's a great deal more space inside my chest. Like my chest is on hinges and could fly open at any moment (this may explain why it's so hard for me to find a bra that really fits), releasing...I don't know what. Something good, anyway.

I keep thinking of the dove on the Holy Spirit window by Louis Comfort Tiffany lately - I have that same sort of bursting-energy feeling.

My breakfast reading this week has been The Inner Voice of Love by Henri Nouwen. It's a series of short meditations, which are actually journal entries from a very painful time in Nouwen's life. I've pulled two of them out here. It's not his most pleasant book, certainly, but he and I struggle with some of the same things and I'm finding it helpful. [a much more accessible bit of Nouwen is his book on prayer, With Open Hands]
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Tuesday, July 08, 2003

basic Episcopalian, or what is Sara talking about anyway?

A couple of links which may be useful to anyone wanting to know more about those wacky Episcopalians.

Episcopal Church USA welcome center - a great place to start. Note that the sub-navigation is on the left side of the screen.

Peek Through the Window - I want to re-design this site every time I look at it, but the information presented is a good overview of the Episcopal church. beliefs | worship


Book of Common Prayer

The Daily Office - try out morning or evening prayer without leaving your computer

Note that none of these links will answer the fundamental question, "why couldn't you have picked a name that is easier to spell?"
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Monday, July 07, 2003

things done and left undone

I went to the children's service yesterday before my paper flower workshop (which went really well, btw - it's possible that I was a bit nervous; all of my dreams Saturday night involved gym class, which is never a good sign). I was especially struck by the confession; all of the children receive seashells to hold while they think about their mistakes and regrets for the past week, and then they put the shells into a bowl where they're washed clean while the priest pronounces the absolution. And everyone leaves ready to start over.

It's really that easy, isn't it? You know, I sit in the Rite II service every Sunday and say the words:

Most merciful God,
we confess that we have sinned against you
in thought, word, and deed,
by what we have done,
and by what we have left undone.
We have not loved you with our whole heart;
we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We are truly sorry and we
humbly repent. For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ,
have mercy on us and forgive us;
that we may delight in your will,
and walk in your ways,
to the glory of your Name. Amen.

and I believe that I Get It, and then something simple like the seashell ritual happens and I realize that a lot of those little kids holding shells probably have a better grip on grace than I do.

I'm grateful for the liturgical year; we've only been using the confession for a few weeks now, after retiring it during Easter season, and it feels fresh to me again. I know I sometimes zone out in church, letting my lips run over the familiar words without really grasping their meaning. Sometimes I find myself saying, "thanks be to GOD" with the wrong sort of inflection when a reading ends (nothing like a slow reader with a nice dry section of Numbers to make a person start looking for burned-out lightbulbs in the ceiling). I admit that sometimes, church just doesn't work for me in the moment.

I used to worry about this. I used to think that I had to be feeling Very Connected With God every minute of the service in order to be doing it right. Fortunately, that isn't the case. For one thing, there's a lot going on there, more than I can take in with my overly-buzzy, Sunday morning brain. So I've decided to be ok with just letting whatever connects, connect, and leaving the rest for the following weeks. Right now, the confession is resonating for me. Some weeks it's the creed that really gets to me, some weeks it's the first few sentences of the eucharistic prayer.

I try to pay attention to what cuts through my defenses, and also to what brings them out. The latter usually points to someplace where God and I aren't on the same page. Lately, I've been having an urge to flee right before the Peace. I'm just really prickly lately and don't want to connect with people any more than I have to, I guess. I'm in an awkward, gangly state at the moment, neither here nor there, and I'd be perfectly happy to just go and hide out until I'm molted or hatched or whatever the hell is happening to me is finished. So, every week is an exercise in being who I am, where I am and asking people to deal with me as-is. And they always do and I often get surprise hugs and feel a billion times better afterwards. So it's not like I even know what I need or want but I hang in there and it seems to happen anyway. God is crafty that way.
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from the wires

Just had to share this one with you - why you shouldn't taunt God:

(07-04) 03:31 PDT FOREST, Ohio (AP) -- A guest evangelist was preaching at the First Baptist Church in this small northwestern Ohio town, emphasizing penance and asking for a sign from God.

At that moment, the church's steeple was struck by lightning, setting the church on fire and blowing out the sound system.

"It was awesome, just awesome," said church member Ronnie Cheney, 40, of rural Forest.

"You could hear the storm building outside ... He (the evangelist) just kept asking God what else he needed to say," Cheney said. "He was asking for a sign and he got one."

Cheney said the lightning traveled through the microphone and enveloped the preacher, but he was not injured.

Afterward on Tuesday evening services resumed for about 20 minutes, but then the congregation realized that the church was on fire and the building was evacuated.

The Forest Fire Department quickly doused the flames.

Forest is about 60 miles south of Toledo.

[AP story ripped off from SF Gate]

Am I the only one who wonders if the Forest Fire Department has ever stopped to think about their name?
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