Friday, March 31, 2006

Miracle Grow

Talking to P. McG this week I got to use the phrase "in catechumenical clover" which pleased me no end. I like clover. Being in it, or just talking about it.

There is a small clump of clover in the parking lot outside of the newspaper.

I walk by it every day and it gives me great comfort. Growing up, my backyard was covered in clover from the first blushes of spring through mid-summer. Now that I live in Texas with our once-annual explosion of bluebonnets the memory of months of unassuming flowers popping up everywhere just delights me. There were other flowers too--in my backyard I mean-- violets and buttercups and lily of the valley which overtook the yard after my grandmother planted for her mother who --like her-- was named Lillian.

I wasn't allowed to pick the lily of the valley and the buttercups and violets didn't really hold up after being picked, so I'd sit on the ground, happily ensconced in my own imagination, plucking the clover, making chains and mats and occasionally trying to eat one just to see what it tasted like (my idea that it would taste like honey did not hold up to rigorous testing).

I'm always rooting for the parking lot clover clump. Every Tuesday the skinny Mexican men in torn pants and face masks mow it down and yet, by Friday there it is again in full clumpy glory with shorn stumps hidden by new growth looking fat and happy as a country friar.

Here endeth the lesson. There are plenty-eth of 'em.

this post was brought to you by two days of rain and a goodly amount of dirt

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Mowin' with Rowan

I know this is a discernment diary and should be Serious because Priests are Serious and all that good stuff, and since I've only written 24 entries you probably judge me based on what I've written here which is mostly goofy and not quite reflective of my inner state. Let me assure you my inner state is positively littered with big oozing blobs of Kierkegaardian angst and whathaveyou. Oozing y'all.

That being said I heart Rowan Williams with big puffy Anglican hearts. I mean, look at him. Don't you just want to have him over for dinner? Doesn't he look like he's just about as much fun as you can possibly be without having to ball up your underpants in the glove box afterwards*?

I almost wish he wasn't Captain Alphabet (ABC) because if he were just the professor who lived next door, we could be friends. On Sundays we'd both be out in the garden, I'd be separating my clumps of daffodils and he'd be trimming his azaleas and maybe we'd get to talking about our favorite poets, and he'd spout some John Donne right off the top of his head and I'd return with some Rumi and then his wife would come out with a pitcher of gin and tonics and little sandwiches with the crusts cut off and tell me Donne was a boring self-flagelating ass and Rowan Douglas Williams don't you *dare* touch one of those sandwiches until you take your gardening gloves off and sit down like a civilized human being.

Ah, good times.

*y'all, I have never done this. Ever. I'm not That Sort of Girl.

This post was the three time winner of Absent-Minded Professors Monthly "Eyebrows of the Month" award

Monday, March 27, 2006

Offset printing and other sacramental wonders

There was a party for Young Adults at the Rector's house last night. I had a wonderful time. I cannot say enough good things about our rector David, his wonderful wife and their charming chilluns. He is exactly the sort of priest I want to be, and although I hope to have a smaller parish --our congregation is about 3000--he is just a delight, as a pastor and a person.

I was mildly (mildly = completely) freaked out about this shindig, because it was a very small sort of coming out. I'm a fairly new kid to the parish and I wanted to make sure everyone liked me and all that good stuff. Of course it went fine. Actually, I joked with my friend Craig that I was going to meet my future husband there. Not because I actually believed it, but because how cool would it be if I had said it and it actually turned out to be true?

Of course, I managed to escape un-betrothed --what can I say, it's a gift-- but it was wonderful to meet so many folks my age, including some fine gentleman of marriageable age who may **fingers crossed** actually be straight. The best part? When everyone had left except for Ms Ember Days and me I was telling some story about how on a tour of the newspaper, a kid asked me how offset printing works and I, not really knowing too well myself, struggled for an answer. David popped his head in from the kitchen and said "when you're in the church you can just say 'it's a mystery'"

This post was shot on film, burned onto an alloy plate, and hooked onto a printing cylinder next to some rubber stuff...I don't know what happened next

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Flashin' for Jesus

Y'all, I got totally owned in class today. (Own: verb. American slang. To win, to beat. To be a show off who thinks she's so great just because she knew what ember days are even though I totally knew what they were too but didn't say anything because "the days you write the Bishop" struck me as a sort of smart ass answer.)

So now I'm taking the Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms and making flashcards out of all the words I don't know or tend to forget. I've gotten about half way through the A's, so if anyone asks about albs, Antioch, or the Analogy of Being I'm all over it!

this post is wearing an amice and an alb, standing at the altar, worrying about it's accidie and openly prefers the Alexandrian school to that of Antioch

Monday, March 20, 2006

Early History: Life with Mother

Since I'm on a family kick, I might as well talk about my mother as well. Trainwreck, pure and not-so-simple. Her history is partly mythic, lost in the mists of time and rumor. I don't know how much of her problems are psychological so I'm being as gentle as I know how.

With my mother, as is the case with many junkies who started using at an early age, arrested development set in and -- in my unqualified opinion-- she pretty much stopped maturing emotionally somewhere around age 16.

Think of yourself when you were 16. You were a good person of course but maybe not so much on the social skills, and a little heavy on the narcissism. Maybe your judgment in men or women wasn't the greatest and you might have not played well with others, especially those you viewed as competition, which --if you were a girl-- was every other female in the world. You had very little self-realization and a whole lot of self-pity. We've all been there --I know I have--it's a rite of passage and eventually most people get over it. Not so my mother.

In a way, I totally understand my mother. She had me when she was very young, and women tend to be a jealous bunch, especially when it comes to daddy. From the day I was born I had the great fortune (and misfortune) to be her father's favorite --not favorite grandchild-- favorite person period.

I left home the weekend before I turned 18, technically "kicked out" although I had been planning on leaving for months. I've seen my mother once since then, about 8 years ago when she and her husband visited me in college to --wait for it--exorcise the demons out of me.

Demons. Right. At that point I was Anglican, living with an aspiring priest, and leading a senior high youth group. If I had demons they were the best part of me. Still might be.

The rest is just personality. I didn't ever have much tolerance for manipulative women, women who make themselves small and weak to attract men. Maybe it's just that I could never get away with it, but that particular tactic --a favorite in my mother's repitoire--always got to me. My mother had little patience with women in general. We just never got on.

Like my father, I wish her the best but can't say I really love her, I do wish the best for her and someday, maybe we'll be able to be friends.

this post has been repeatedly warned to not use wire hangers

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Aspirant in absentia

Okay, since "confused aspirant" isn't a paying gig I try to eke a living in other ways, including as a theater manager for South by Southwest film, music and interactive festivals. The festival started on March 9th. It ended today. I introduced the world premieres of about a half dozen films and the U.S. or regional premiere of another two dozen. (interestingly enough I'm watching Ebert and Roper, and three out of the five movies they're reviewing are ones I introduced. Thank You For Smoking, Don't Come Knocking and V for Vendetta)

I am exhausted.

Also, I had a house guest. A boy house guest. Nothing untoward or unseemly, my life isn't that exciting --or judgment that bad-- but it was time consuming. Having "a man around the house" was great in a sense. It was nice to hear "morning sunshine" upon waking, instead of my normal dog drool alarm clock but I missed my bed and the alone time I need for meditation and reflection.

It got to the point where I was so desperate for some alone time with God I ducked out of the only show I actually wanted to see to duck across the street into some trashy yet overpriced sushi joint where I could write out my thoughts on the back of the carry-out menu.

Now, it's all over but the shouting, then it's back to the old routine; sacristan and lector duties at the 5:00 p.m. Celtic service, a quick dinner in the parish hall then the book store until compline.

Just another Sunday...predictable, uneventful, perfect.

this blog has had access to 200 films, 1300 bands and 2.5 hours of sleep over the past 9 days

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Will I go to hell if...

in my head I refer to communion wafers as Corpus Chrispies?

This post was brought to you by hellfire, damnation and the good people at General Mills Cereal.

Gosh, that cart looks swell in front of that horse

The Much Admired Professor McGonigle was gracious enough to talk to me last night about seminaries. He is fascinating. I felt like I should have been sitting at his feet taking diligent notes. P McG talked to me about seminaries. I wish I'd had a tape recorder. My heart still belongs to ETS, the seminary about 2 miles from my apartment, but I've started to warm --just slightly-- to the idea of VTS. Good ole Virginia Theological Seminary is in a league of its own, and sort of a known quantity since I grew up in the area and my former roommates are VTS graduates. However as its name implies VTS isn't actually in Texas. I'm not really excited about the idea of possibly leaving Austin, but I'm opening up a little, just a little, to seminaries outside of the Lone Star.

The Close was a good, informative read. I'm not sure if I'd want to be best pals with Chloe Breyer --the young, liberal, Harvard grad who chronicled her first year of General Theological Seminary--, but I'd gladly share my Greek notes and a slice of pie with her. Not that I've actually taken Greek, but I've got a knack for languages and I suspect she's not a heavy eater. Just a guess. There didn't seem to be a lot of God in her seminarian experience, which reinforced P. McG's observation that seminary isn't a priest maker.

Pastoral Snare didn't end especially well. She sent me a nasty email. It was a typical break-up letter, so the name calling, personal attacks and the stilted, over-formal language were all par for the course. I only read enough to feel embarrassed for her. I can't blame her though, besides, I could have written the same letter to Michael when he first broke my heart. Sure the names would have been different, but the wild-armed flailing around for anything that could possibly hurt the person who hurt me so badly would have been the same. That being said, I'm glad it's over.

This post was brought to you by People for the Ethical Treatment of Asterisks

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Pastoral Snare: Vegas Edition (part II)

A priest once told me the moral code of Christians, boiled down and melted to sterling, was "Do the loving thing." Too bad "the loving thing" can't be identified like a math problem.

After the blow up I stayed with the sister. Too frustrated and tired of being manipulated by the friend. I think I did some good but I wasn't entirely sure I did the right thing. Later that night my coworker wandered back into the hotel room like nothing had happened.

Last night, my friend and I rode back to Austin alone. I was telling a story of how I didn't think I could have chicken noodle soup as a kid because my neighbors the Shapiros said it was Jewish penicillin, and I was --of course-- allergic to penicillin. She "corrected" me by saying Matzo ball soup was Jewish penicillin, I said fine, but where I was from, it was chicken noodle soup. I tried to get on with my story. No luck. She wouldn't let it go and I finally lost it.

I didn't yell, or scream or even swear, but, after a good 20 minutes of silence --a lot of thinking and a lot of prayer-- I let it all out, or at least most of it. I called her on the strange and desperate attention-getting techniques. I called her on the impropriety of her work behavior. I said I wanted to be there to be her friend, but her odd behavior (jumping up and down shouting "I'm a robotic kitty! Meep! Meep! Kitty!" in the middle of Accounting) made it hard. I hated not being able to finish a sentence or have a normal conversation. I didn't hit below the belt and said each thing as tenderly and compassionately as I could, but it wasn't fun. It's hard to say "you act like a petulant 7 year old and people genuinely wonder if you're brain damaged, and if you don't change your behavior I worry you're going to end up without any friends at all" without actually saying that.

She's gone through her whole life functioning with the petulance and petty manipulations of a child because people have allowed her to do it. It hasn't gotten her anywhere and as she gets older --deeper into the world of the Grown Up-- her behavior has become more and more of a problem, not just professionally, and she doesn't even know it.

Was it the loving thing? I don't know. I did it with love, does that count for anything? I made a huge effort to stay calm so I didn't say anything important from a place of anger. Actually, if I had to hear something like that, I would have wanted it said to me in that exact way, and by a friend who cares for me.

So what's happened The Day After? I don't know.

She didn't come in to work today, which is par for the course. I sent her an email with the company's employee assistance program, in case she wants to talk to somebody. I mean, that's a whole handful of bitter pills and I don’t envy her. I just hope she takes what I said to heart, not as an attack, but as something done out of affection. The loving thing.

This post was brought to you by something that didn't stay in Vegas

Pastoral Snare: Vegas Edition (part I)

"Fabulous Las Vegas" is the most egregious misnomer since "Lay School."

Okay, a little back story. A few months ago a friend from work had an awful break up with her long distance boyfriend. I was in sympathetic girl mode when she *casually* mentioned she was probably going to visit her ex for her birthday "just so I won't be alone" I knew it was a trap, but rushed right on in where angels fear to tread, offering to do something, anything with her instead. That's how I found myself in Vegas for a long weekend with my friend and her sister.

I didn't want to go to Vegas with her. She isn't a bad or intentionally unkind person but she is extremely needy, and behaves strangely to get attention. I'm not sure if she's just acting out or if there's something more seriously wrong with her, but it is very hard to take, and although I don't like to admit it; I'm her friend mostly because she doesn't have many others..

All went fairly well until the night of her 27th birthday when --after an ill-advised but harmless comment from her sister-- my friend shouted "You ruined my birthday!" and proceeded to throw a spectacular temper tantrum before running away from the crowded restaurant in tears. The sister and I were both in shock.

I knew I was supposed to do something. Both of these girls were in need of pastoral care, but I was confused.

•Do I stay and comfort the sister, whom I don't really know but is obviously distressed --and in my opinion, right-- or do I chase after the upset, possibly unstable friend, although she was indulging in some pretty unacceptable manipulative behavior?

•How do I comfort anyone without picking sides?

•How can I remind them of God's unwavering love without turning them off when both their beliefs in God are tenuous at best?

•More importantly, what was going to happen to that free piece of chocolate cake?

this post was brought to you by a criminally fat slice of uneaten birthday cake

Thursday, March 02, 2006


I've often wondered if part of my interest in ordained ministry is partially based on some misguided notion that if you're a priest, everyone has to love and respect you. It's only now, six years into the process, that I realize my answer is an emphatic "are you high?!"

Y'all there's just no damn point in striving only to be liked; what matters is striving to be good. Not just doing good, because y'all know how easy it is to do good for the wrong reasons (collection plate guilt, anyone?) but being good. After that, everything just falls into place and if it doesn't...well, that's okay too.

I mean, I want everyone to love and respect me. Of course I do, but I've come to accept that some people will just not like me and accepting it, I mean really accepting it deep down in that murky place that still sort of wants to be prom queen took a long damn time.

I can thank a girl named Meghan for finally hammering the lesson home. Meghan and I weren't really friends, but we travelled in some of the same social circles. I respected her and wanted her to like me...and then I made a mess of her life. I didn't do it on purpose of course; but that doesn't matter. Friends, to this day she hates me, and it took me about two years and an entire wardrobe of hair shirts to realize that actually, it's fine if she hates me. She can hate me and I can still be good.

I'm never going to have a 100% approval rating. No secular politician does and no religious figure even comes close. Hell, I'd be surprised if God hisownself would even make it past 50% in the Gallup polls most days and that's with favorable market conditions and a good report from the Fed.

Oh, and the post title? That little fraction of a whole? It's Babe Ruth's lifetime batting average.

This post was brought to you by realistic expectations and a pocket calculator.

Shortish thoughts on a longish absence

Y'all, I've been Sick. Not just sick, but Sick, as in Too Sick for Pancakes. Do you have any idea how sick I have to be to not eat simple carbs? Let me put it this way, when my internal organs pretty much stopped functioning for three years, I still had an English muffin and marmalade each morning for breakfast. Missing the Shrove Tuesday pancake supper was a big bummer. Instead I lassiez-ed les bon temps rouler by sitting in bed, drinking cough syrup and watching Duck Soup for the 200th time.
Would you like to know what I love about being Anglican? When I went into the Ash Wednesday service today with a cup of water to the inevitable coughing fits the lector said, "honey, we can get you a gin and tonic, just wave to the greeter"
Remember how I said driving past my church in ruffled panties and gogo boots perfectly illustrated the dichotomy of my life? Here's another one: ash-streaked forehead hidden behind blue-streaked bangs.
In 20 hours I will be in Las Vegas. I'd rather be in bed.

This post was brought to you on the rocks with a twist
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