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Saturday, August 30, 2003
Things I am digging entirely too much:
And thus today's post begins and ends with Swiffer. Not quite the alpha and the omega, but it's keeping me amused.
- Swiffer. I am coming late to the Cult of Swiffer, but, man, does this thing ever rock. I've just excavated the most shocking amount of cat fur from under Dennis' bed, along with my green Doc boots, which I had forgotten I owned and therefore missed when I was packing my stuff during The Unpleasantness. When it's finally time to retire the Ecco sandals I've been wearing all summer (Ecco: because just about everything else makes my feet cranky) it will be the time of the green boots again.
- Getting boxes of pirate party stuff from Rhode Island Novelty and Oriental Trading. Yar, matey, I am ready for BootyFest, which be coming up in a few weeks. I think the inflatable monkeys from Oriental are my favorite, although I'm also liking the metal pirate yo-yos from RIN. Prepare to be boarded!
- This pirate ship cake. I may attempt to make it for the party. I wish Leigh the mad scientist baker could be here. Her pirate ship cake would probably involve gun powder and cannons that actually shoot. I miss Leigh. Sigh. (yes, I know this all gets confusing with all of us having weird pseudonyms on our various sites)
- The Nouwen book I'm reading, which is amazing.
- Gearing up for fall sewing, consisting of at least three Halloween costumes for my three nieces, and a couple of other projects, including a Christening dress for my friend's baby (did I ever mention the chili pepper bunting I made as a shower present?). So far, all I know is that MacKenzie, 8, wants to be a pink genie, and Sarah, 13, wants to be a go-go dancer. I found a fabulous iridescent blue/green sheer knit with silver swirls all over it for her costume the last time I hit the fabric department at the Jessica McClintock outlet. Butterick has an Austin Powers-ish pattern which I think will work nicely and isn't all that high on the Bimbo Scale. The youngest niece doesn't have strong feelings on the topic (at age almost-three) so it's up to her mom to decide if we're going froofy or animal or what. She was such a cute little monkey two years ago.
- Burritos and movies with Jon, Ryan, and Dennis tonight. Hence my offer to Swiff his place while he's at work, which is just getting way out of hand. Swiffer stuff is way cheap at Big Lots, if you have one near you. I got a free duster in one of the packages, and that's a fine thing, too. I've gone on a search-and-destroy mission against cobwebs. Almost as impressive as Ryan's Death to Slugs project (check What's New).
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Thursday, August 28, 2003
There are good things and bad things about getting one's work email at home. Here's the bad thing.
I'm trying to get dressed and out the door this morning, and I've already had two "I know you're busy but I really really need you to..." emails from parishoners. And both are totally legitimate requests, which would enhance our ministry, and neither of them is even vaguely possible given how behind I am this week.
I'm really struggling with this right now. My energy level isn't where it could be because I'm so busy beating myself up over not being able to get everything done, and I really need to get off that train so I can be more productive and plow through all this stuff. It's also just been a frustrating week, with an extra-long staff meeting on Monday (ok, that was partially my fault, but I can still resent the loss of time), and dealing with getting my car fixed, and a much-needed hair appointment yesterday (it was too late to cancel by the time I realized how ill-advised it was, and hey, no more roots) and a partial network outage which took up a bunch of time on Monday because I'm the only person who doesn't fear the computers. I'm not sure how or if I fixed it, but the network came back up after I messed with the router and it was a good thing. My Indian name this week is Messes with Routers. Of course, I lost some work when the net conked, since the document was on the file server. Yes, I know, Jesus saves, but I guess I'd been up and down from my desk so often I hadn't done it in a while. PageMaker doesn't like that. And, yeah, I suppose if PageMaker jumped off a bridge, I would too.
Whine whine whine. Screwtape must be pleased.
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I'm currently re-reading The Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis. I'm also listening to the audiobook again while I'm driving because, hey, John Cleese.
I've been carrying the book around in my bag, and pulled it out on Tuesday while I was on the train to go pick up my car, which now has fabulous new brakes and a non-glowing engine light (naturally, the computer showed nothing wrong to cause the light to come on in the first place, so my mechanic just reset it). Since I've read it a couple of times already, I tend to just flip to a letter at random.
This missive from demon Screwtape to novice tempter Wormwood struck me:
You must have often wondered why the Enemy does not make more use of His power to be sensibly present to human souls in any degree He chooses and at any moment. ..Merely to override a human will (as His felt presence in any but the faintest and most mitigated degree would certainly do) would be for Him useless...He is prepared to do a little overriding at the beginning. He will set them off with communications of His presence which, though faint, seem great to them, with emotional sweetness, and easy conquest over temptation...Sooner or later He withdraws, if not in fact, at least from their conscious experience, all those supports and incentives. He leaves the creature to stand up on its own legs--to carry out from the will alone duties which have lost all relish. It is during such trough periods, much more than during the peak periods, that it is growing into the sort of creature He wants it to be. Hence the prayers offered in the state of dryness are those which please Him best... He wants them to learn to walk and must therefore take away His hand; and if only the will to walk is really there He is pleased even with their stumbles. Do not be deceived, Wormwood. Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy's will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.
My favorite thing about Screwtape is that it is such a slight and funny book, which will kick your ass if you let it penetrate your mind even a little bit. Here's an especially nasty bit:
When you have caused him to assume that the trough is permanent, can you not persuade him that "his religious phase" is just going to die away like all his previous phases? Of course, there is no conceivable way of getting by reason from the proposition "I am losing interest in this" to the proposition "This is false." But, as I said before, it is jargon, not reason, you must rely on. The mere word "phase" will very likely do the trick. I assume that the creature has been through several of them before--they all have--and that he always feels superior and patronising to the ones he has emerged from, not because he has really criticised them but simply because they are in the past...You see the idea? Keep his mind off the plain antithesis between True and False. Nice shadowy expressions--"It was a phase"--"I've been through all that"--don't forget the blessed word "Adolescent."
Ouch. Um, I think I see something shiny over there. Must go investigate. Cannot continue conversation, as you are clearly not describing any thought process I've ever had. Nope. We have nothing to talk about.
I picked up Henri Nouwen's The Return of the Prodigal Son this evening and am looking forward to reading it. Been feeling a bit prodigal lately.
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Monday, August 25, 2003
Figures as soon as I decide this is my ministry, I get writers block. Many false starts over the past couple of days.
There's some fabulous stuff happening in my life right now that I'm going to hold close for a little longer, but know that there's a happy glowing thing and the world looks like a pretty wonderful place from where I'm standing. I just don't have the right words yet. When they show up, this will be the first blog I tell, promise.
Nice to have some joy back. I miss it when it goes away, but at least now I've finally figured out that it will always come back. And it only took 33 years to learn that, so imagine how smart I'll be when I'm in my 60s. I'll just be a giant pulsating brain in a jar, yesirree.
There's a Godly Play thing where, instead of extinguishing the Christ candle, the light is changed. The light that is one place is changed so that it can be in all places. The light of Christ changes into smoke and then becomes invisible, but stays with us. The Godly Play trainer said that it's a bit of a burden for some families, because their children fight over who gets to change the light of every lit candle, but the kids always remember the explanation and say it to each other, which is so cool. I am really jazzed about starting Godly Play in a few weeks. I'm sure it will be completely awkward and strange at first, until we get the routine established, but then it's going to be so great.
Sorry, I have that same tangent every time Godly Play comes up. I'm just really excited about it . Anyway, I love that image of the light that is invisible but still present. I'm starting to think of joy that way. I can't always see it, but there is this little spark of joy or faith or something that is with me all the time, even during those really icky times when it feels like I'm out in the desert and everything seems hopeless. It's so much less scary when I remember that it isn't going to last forever, and that I still have everything I need to be joyful again when it's time for that.
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