Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Tuesday Topics: talk amongst yourselves

It's Lent. My goal is to simplify my life for Lent. Slow down. Spend more time with my dogs, who have been virtually ignored this last month and half - between bitterly cold weather or mud, multiple search committee essays and phone interviews, and everyday church stuff - I.HAVE.BEEN.TOO.BUSY.

Today I will send off my responses to the last search process I am entering. One church has notified me that they called someone else - which is good, I suspected that and would have pulled out if it went further... Three churches have my references, although no one has been called, yet. Two more churches are just receiving my essay responses...So....now...

Slow down. breath. work at a normal pace. find the rhythm to my life again. pray. exercise...

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Sunday Morning and I'm Sick!

Oh dear, it's Sunday morning and I am sick...cold, sore throat, and intestinal flu....been up, off and on, since 1:00am dealing with the intestinal stuff...drinking black tea only and hoping I can make it through two services that will only have a handful of people because the weather here is so bad...no cancelling though, not bad enough....snow but no blizzard, ice but not enough to stop everything...so.I. am. going. to. church.

At least it seems the cold meds, tylenol, and black tea are finally doing their job to keep my symptoms at bay and let me function...

But, after church, I'm coming home to sleep.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Monday Morning Musings

Monday. My day off. And today, I'm taking it. After a week of celebrating my 50th birthday I need to rest. I need to eat light and healthy. I need to exercise. And, I have a busy week ahead so, I'm taking this day off.

Tuesday will be filled with setting up the church for Lent, changing everything to purple and muslin, plain. No flowers, vases of bare branches, rocks, and images of a journey. Burning palm branches to make ashes for Ash Wed. Setting up fellowship hall for a festive dinner for Shrove Tues and to raise funds for refugee families. Plus a regional clergy gathering...

Wed. Ash Wed...fasting, ashes, I need a homily, three services. chiropractor appointment.

Thursday: meetings. dentist (yikes first appointment since my infection last fall, new dentist). tea with women's clergy group. prepare for vestry retreat and Sunday. Write sermon for Sunday?

Friday: pack and head off for vestry retreat

Saturday: continue vestry retreat...

Monday Morning Musings

Monday. My day off. After a week of celebrating my 50th B-D I need to exercise and eat well, s0 I'm taking a real day off! I need to rest before the busy week kicks in.

  • Tuesday set up church for Lent (a big deal, we change a lot), plus a meeting with the regional clergy, and then set up and participate in Shrove Tues. celebration to raise funds for refugee families.

  • Wed - Ash Wed., 'nuff said.

  • Thursday - meetings, dentist (yikes first visit since my infection last fall, new dentist...) and prepare for vestry retreat. Also, tea with my women's clergy group - yeah!!!

  • Friday - work in office for Sunday set up, pack and leave for vestry retreat

  • Sat. Vestry retreat and meeting...

Oh, and I need to write a homily for Ash Wed. and a sermon for Sunday....

But on this day off I am going to rest. walk dogs. blog. read. maybe go out for lunch?

Friday, February 16, 2007

RevGals Friday Five: Tourist Edition

From the RevGals Blog: It seems like this topic has been done before, but I can't find it in the archives, so......I am downtown on retreat this week. Most of the retreatants are from out of town, so I get to experience this place through the eyes of visitors. So in the spirit of tourism:

1. What is one place you make sure to take out-of-town guests when they visit? Most of the folks I know live around here, so I don't have a lot of out of town guests. But there is so much to do here (Chicago area), so the great museums are a must: Museum of Science and Industry, Field Museum of Natural History, Art Institute, The Aquarium and Oceanarium, plus lots of theater, dance and excellent restaurants.

2. When visiting another city or town, do you try to cram as much in as possible, or take it slow and easy? Usually when I go out of town it is either for a job interview or to see family. So, of course the job interview time includes trying to get a good feel for the city and community by seeing and doing as much as possible. The family visits are to places I grew up so, not much need for sight seeing, except to share with my kids the places I knew when I was younger. Mostly I like to visit, take it easy, and do a little here and there.

3. When traveling, where are we most likely to find you: strolling through a museum, checking out the local shopping, or ________? All of the above, and I really like to see the "country side." Most of the places I visit are in the Rocky Mountains, so hiking is a great option. And just enjoying and appreciating the great beauty of the mountains....

4. Do you like organized tours and/or carefully planned itineraries, or would you rather strike out and just see what happens? If I were to travel overseas I would probably take an organized tour but even then I would want some down time to go out on my own. Otherwise I like to do all the research and plan the trip. But I like to just have ideas of what we can do and then take each day as it comes.

5. After an extended trip, what do you find yourself craving most about home? My bed and my dogs, and the routine of daily home life.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Februray 15: The Day Is Here...my big 50

Well, the day has finally arrived, my 50th birthday. Hard to believe I began this blog six months ago, in anticipation of this day. Waiting for it, moving into it, was intense some days, easy others, and included some real dark days when I was sick.
Now, thanks to some amazing care by a Jungian therapist and a chiropractor (both named Steve....we're looking at my "inner Steve", that part of myself that is being developed, the male side of me?? which came up from my dream about the vestry retreat, a Tsunami, and a male guide who led me to safety....) I am doing better than I have for years. I feel strong, centered, calm, even happy. Nothing has really changed. I am still looking for a new job. I still have lots of stress. I still have all the same stuff...but I feel good.
Go figure. It's not about denial but about facing life head on.
Recently I went out and bought two new dresses for my birthday. One, a slim black dress for dinner tonight with kids and hubby. We are going to my fav Italian place. Then I bought a fun dress for Friday night when just my husband and I will go to a French restaurant. Both dresses are unusual for me. I am looking forward to having some good food with my favorite people, my family.
But first my son and I are going out for breakfast...it's so sweet my14 year old wants to have breakfast with me on a day he has "late start" for school... then I have to spend the day in Chicago at a diocesan meeting. After that I am going for a manicure and pedicure....then dinner with my family.
All in all, seems like a good way to spend my birthday. Maybe I'll even take some pictures tonight and post them....
Ok 50's, here I come.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Tuesday Topics: Talk Amongst Yourselves

We have a blizzard. Well, almost white-out conditions, strong wind blowing and lots of snow. A perfect day for me to slow down. I get to cancel all my meetings and appointments...and ponder what I will do with this day. Some sermon prep for Sunday? Work on my packet for CREDO (an Episcopal Church sponsored 8 day retreat for clergy to review vocation, spirituality, finances, life, etc. and I have been invited to attend in April YEA!!!! - but there is lots of prep work to do). And I need to review the answers I wrote yesterday for the search committee and then send them off.

But I can do all of this in a leisurely fashion. What a gift, an unplanned day off, at least from my appointment schedule. Plus, it is really pretty outside. Would be perfect if I had a fireplace...

Monday, February 12, 2007

Monday Morning Musings

Ok, it actually isn't morning anymore. Another day off "working," writing reports from my weekend work. I spent the weekend as a group facilitator for a team of "listeners" who were discerning a group of "aspirants" and their call to ordained ministry. It's a very cool job, being the facilitator, I love group work and do it well. So, now I've been busy writing up the group report, a summary of what the individual listeners heard and experienced combined with the group experience.

Now, I've exercised, eaten, and am about to move onto answering essay questions for a search committee. Only three questions for which they want thoughtful but concise answers, no page limit. I've done this eight times in the last two years, as I discern a new call (and vice versa), so I have quite a file of answers. Still these three questions will require me to start from scratch....they don't quite fit any of the previously asked and answered questions, (of which I must have probably 50 questions and answers)....

It is a beautiful snowy day, a blizzard expected tomorrow. I need to get my dogs out, if possible. And I really need the search process to come to a fruitful conclusion so I can have a real day off.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Friday Five

Friday Five: American Idols
Yes, it's true. I've been watching Season Six of American Idol with my daughter, our first time dipping into this particular well of pop culture. In the spirit of believing you can do anything, as the auditioners so clearly do, please fill in the following five blanks.

1) If I could sing like anyone, it would be...um, Julie Andrews? Norah Jones? the lead singer of the Dixie Chicks? Not really sure...

2) I would love to sing the song ..I tried to sing lullabies to my kids when they were babies, couldn't stay on pitch. I'd love to sing the Exultet at the Great Vigil, but I just don't have the vocal stamina to make it through and stay on pitch and do it justice...so I just chant a simple tone version of the Eucharistic prayer, I can do that!

3) It would be really cool to sing at.....The Great Vigil, The Passion on Good Friday...I don't really have any fantasies of singing...I did sing with a bluegrass band in college, that was fun (just local bar stuff, but fun singing).

4) If I could sing a dream duet it would be with the lead singer from Cold Play...Chris Martin (?).

5) If I could sing on a TV or radio show, it would be Sesame Street ('cuz they sing fun stuff)...or maybe a cool powerful song on Greys Anatomy.

But actually, I'd rather dance - I always watch the dance shows - I've never watched American Idol....so give me music and I'll dance before I'll sing.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Tuesday Topics: Talk Amongst Yourselves...

Yesterday, my day off, as I "prepared" for a phone interview for a potential new call, I spent some time watching, "Ten Years Younger." The show was about a 51 year old woman who wore her hair in a simple cut and naturally gray. Her clothes were basic jeans and baggy shirt, no make up, and glasses. Strangers had to guess her age and put her at about 59 years old. After the week of treatment (face and skin care - laser, hair cut and color, simple make up lesson, and new clothes) strangers guessed her age to be 42, or 17 years younger than the first time.

I have struggled with the role of age and appearance for those of us women who are leaders in ministry. How "young" do we need to look... or is there some advantage to looking a little older and perhaps wiser?

I wear my hair very short. I do a simple color process, which my hair dresser calls a "glaze." This is applied once every two or three hair cuts with the intent of "pulling" out the "natural" pigment in my hair. This reduces the gray and gives me a highly textured color, like lots of highlights and low lights and a blend of gray. It's interesting and I like that I am not applying color to my hair every month or so. I am now considering growing my hair out a bit, just so it's not sooo short. (But I may not make it). I also wear make up whenever I have official business to attend to, meetings, worship, etc. But not on days when I just work around the office. I also wear professional attire, suits, etc. unless it is a casual office day. And my nails are always manicured (which I usually do myself).

So, what is every one's experience. Does it really matter? Is it cultural - some places, like large urban areas might have an expectation of "professionalism" in attire that other places may not? Does it help to look younger and more professional for a job searching process? Or does some age convey a sense of wisdom, experience, and authority? Are women clergy supposed to be simple in appearance (no make up, no nail polish??)...

I'm thinking in particular of women leaders like Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton, Condolezza Rice - all women who look much younger than they are but still hold positions of authority.

Maybe it is a balance between just enough "age" to convey your experience and enough youthfulness for people to be drawn to you...I think, like it or not, people respond to women's appearance first, before anything else.

So, what does this mean for women in ministry and our efforts to find a call that satisfies our needs and passions?

Monday, February 05, 2007

Monday Morning Musings

Once again my day off rolls around, and with a phone interview tonight for a potential new call, it won't really be a day off.
  • I am walking the parallel path doing two things at once - discerning the path for the parish I presently serve (should I "priest-up" and stay or is it better to leave, in which way will the work that needs to be done get done?)
  • The second path is discerning a call to another parish - I am in six searches now (or three, since I haven't heard from a few of them in awhile, but then that happens). It takes a long time to go through the search process and I can't really wait until the place I am at runs out of money....although that is pretty much now anyway...
  • We had our annual meeting yesterday that included lots of fun but also some difficult work. I now need to work with the leadership team to turn our work into something tangible.
  • The church treasurer is really mad that the meeting yesterday (annual) was focused on discerning and not problem solving. He wanted answers, decisions, and conclusions. Because in some ways the writing is on the wall. But as I said to him, we (vestry, leadership, treasurer, have been talking about this for months, but the parish is not in the same place, we need to bring them up to speed).
  • I am really trying to get the parish to see for themselves what is happening and then to find within themselves the enthusiasm to move forward.
  • I'm tired.
  • Schools are closed today because of the wind chill (that's never happened).
  • So, no time alone on a day off to be in a quite house, to process the events of yesterday, and to prepare for the interview tonight.
  • I will just have to make the most of the situation.

Sunday, February 04, 2007


Today we had our annual meeting and approached it in a very different way. For the last month I have asked the parish to be in a discerning mode, which we continued today. People (most of them) were ablet to stay with the process. A few were upset that we were not getting to the nuts and bolts problem solving, but most were able to do the work. I was very pleased with the effort people put forth.

What came from it: We discerned that what's most important it Building up Christian Community, which is very tough to do in a world filled with distractions, and that it was going to require us to make some commitments, which will add some stress (but worth it).

Mostly what I hoped for was for folks to understand that the health and well-being of this parish depends on them. The people need to be inspired and inspiring - grass roots stuff....The energy was good over all.

Now the vestry (our governing board for the congregation) will take the ideas and form a plan for the future. This plan needs to take into consideration the building of community within the realistic boundaries of our resources of time, talent, and finances. Then we will take it back to the parish. (This will include such things as: reducing the expense for our music director - hiring some one for less; probably going for a part time priest; may include merging with another parish somewhere down the road...and what ever else they come up with).

So because of the work of the parish today, we (vestry, leadership), can make some good decisions that takes into account what everyone is hoping for.

Oh, and my sermon (reading Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, and connecting it to the disciples having terrible, horrible,....day and how Jesus met them and meets us in the midst of darkness (the deep waters) and brings us to the light)...this sermon went over well - short, fun, to the point.

Now, we'll see where it all goes. I have a Super Bowl parish party to go to and a few weeks of work ahead of me to bring all of this into a cohesive direction...

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Clarify What's Most Important....an annual meeting report

What we have before us lies on the cusp of being either depressive, discouraging, and potentially panic filled - or an opportunity to see this time as one asking us to be adaptive to the challenge, open to possibility, hopeful, and therefore quite possibly transformational.

I have invited us to approach this time, from the end of December until today, as a process of discernment and prayer keeping ever mindful of the need for a good sense of humor.

Discernment is an ancient Christian discipline, a practice that involves self-reflection, asking questions, taking risks, and…paying attention to what is going on deep inside. This paying attention requires us to focus on the subtle and the sublime – listening to overtones, paying attention to what quickens inside of us, surrendering ourselves to God’s love. It’s paying attention when we are not at all sure where we are going. Diana Butler Bass in Christianity for the Rest of Us says, “Discernment is an odd guide, however for it not only points the way on the journey but is a sort of destination in itself.” Pg 96.

Mark McIntosh, who led our adult forum several years ago and preached a sermon on being distracted from prayer by eating Doritos, suggests that discernment entails more than just listening for the spirit. Discernment has five phases: faith, distinguishing between good and evil, practical wisdom, sensitivity to pursue God’s will, and contemplation of wisdom. Together these take us past a technique driven or self interest self help spirituality. Discernment happens on an individual and a communal level.

Today we are not going to engage in a problem solving solution based process with quick fix answers. I want us to spend some time in silence and some time talking with our table groups. And then some time sharing with the group as a whole.

What we are going to look at are ideas for how we can adapt to the challenges before us – these challenges are – how to be good stewards of the resources we have before us. How to best use our resources of time, talent, and finances, to shape and form us for the future of this parish.

I want us to be careful to not get so bogged down by nuts and bolts that we lose sight of our real job here today. I don’t want us to rush into problem solving and coming up with solutions. I want us to be calm, focused, and willing to engage in creative conversation, silence, and prayer.

The process will look like this:
The treasurer will give us the report on the parish finances, how we ended up 2006 and also the proposed budget for 2007. You may ask us questions about the report and budget but let’s not have a problem solving discussion. Refrain from saying, at this point in time, “Let’s do this” or “let’s do that”. Try to suspend all impulse in that direction for the time being.

Following the treasurers report we will watch a power point presentation that guides us through our recent history. Then we will move into some discerning time: to do this, I will offer a prayer, invite some time for silence, give you a question, invite more time for silence, than ask you to discuss the question as a group at your tables.

I will repeat this four times for four questions. Between each question we will come together as a group and see what has risen up among us.

Clarify what matters most. Remember don’t focus on nuts and bolts stuff, move to a deeper level of what matters – move beyond simply needing more money or more people to what really matters most.

How is this most important aspect in balance with other things?

What is the trade off?

What is the central task for our parish to live into what matters most, balance the other things, and live with the trade off?

(The rest of the meeting will be determined by what has happened up to this point...)

Friday, February 02, 2007

RevGals Friday Five

Friday Five: ch-ch-ch-ch-changes
Change is a given in life, yet it's not easy for any of us. So strap on your seat belts and let's talk about it:

1. Share, if you wish, the biggest change you experienced this past year. Wow, I've had lots of changes this last year: daughter graduated from High School, son started High School. I had my first major illness and hospital stay. I have started seeing a Jungian Analyst - who is also an Episcopal priest (way cool) who is helping me discern my life, stresses, and dreams (as in the stuff that I dream about at night, and my hopes and dreams....)

2. Talk about a time you changed your mind about something important. I discerned a call to a church, was one of two finalists and the vestry became deadlocked, unable to decide between the two of us. The vestry wanted to do site visits and other things that the search committee had done. The whole process felt like they were not ready, and I pulled out. Broke my heart, but was probably the right thing to do. That church started their search all over and spent better part of another year discerning, then made a call for a new priest. Me...I'm still figuring that out...will probably take a new call this year, two years later....

3. Bishop John Shelby Spong wrote a controversial book called "Why Christianity Must Change or Die." Setting aside his ideas--what kind of changes would you like to see in the Church? I've been reading "Christianity for the Rest of Us," by Diana Butler Bass. She has some ideas about the future of the Church that I think are on target: essentially she says that we are living in a world facing the end of the "old established voice of authority" church (1950's church). As a society, we are a people suspicious of authority, focused on the individual choice. We are also a people (society) who have become rootless, aimless, we move around and lose connection. We yearn for community and family, even if it is non-biological community we construct. Church can be that for people. Churches need to take on intentional practices of ancient Christian disciplines, making them new again and authentic to the community (ie prayer, hospitality, worship, beauty..she lists 10 "disciplines"). Her thesis, when communities (church) take on one or two of these disciplines and develop them in a way that shapes and forms how they know themselves to be Christian, human, then the community grows in faith, grows in size, grows in Spirit.

4. Have you changed your hairstyle/hair color in the last five years? If so, how many times? for the most part I have let my hair go grey and kept it short. I tried to grow it out last spring but lost patience with the shaggy look. I may try again. (*sigh*) Also, my hairdresser now adds a "glaze" to my hair every three hair cuts, which brings out the natural pigment and reduces the silver tone of grey. Still have grey, just not so much. Looks natural and I like it.

5. What WERE they thinking with that New Coke thing? Never tried that new Coke, sounded awful...and kids said it was...I stick to iced soy lattes, iced tea, or hot versions in the winter....I think I could go for a Starbucks mocha latte right about now...

and now I have sufficiently prograstinated that I have to skip exercising and get ready for work...ahhh too bad, poor exercise bike will be lonely today....

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Approaching 50 Countdown

Ok, as of today I am officially two weeks from my 50th birthday. I initially started this blog as a place to process my thoughts as I approach this landmark year. In the days since September and the birth of this blog I have already had experiences that surpass any of my previous 49-1/2 years;

  1. In October I attended the first gathering of women clergy in the Episcopal Church:IMAGINE, held in Kanuga, NC
  2. Our new Presiding Bishop attended the conference
  3. Also in Oct. I was nominated to be the EMM Refugee Program Liaison for my diocese, working closely with Episcopal Migration Ministries and Interfaith Refugee and Immigration Ministry and local churches to help resettle refugees
  4. In Nov. I got very sick, with a terrible infection, which landed me in the hospital for 11 days. I am still recovering, the numbness remains in my chin and lip, a symptom of the infection.
  5. In December I started seeing a Chiropractor for the first time, ever. He has really helped me feel well, using a holistic approach to healing. (I've only had one traditional adjustment, mostly he does accupressure).
  6. I've been working with a Jungian Analyst who is helping me sort out my dreams and discern my call. He happens to be ordained as well...cool guy.
  7. My most recent dream: while on retreat with our vestry we are caught in a Tsunami. I am washed away and led up the embankment by a man, a guide, my inner "male" side being developed???
  8. I lost 15 pounds while being sick...I wonder if I will gain it back. Either way is ok.

So, now I am two weeks away from the big day...and the countdown begins....

(I know, there is lots of life after 50....but one still needs to make it through and past that exact day....)....

Homily for the Festive Eucharist at the closing of the Episcopal Women's Caucus

The readings that we chose for the service tonight were all picked specifically for this service because they lift up the role of women ...