Her mind lives in a quiet room,
A narrow room, and tall,
With pretty lamps to quench the gloom
And mottoes on the wall.
There all the things are waxen neat
And set in decorous lines;
And there are posies, round and sweet,
And little, straightened vines.
Her mind lives tidily, apart
From cold and noise and pain,
And bolts the door against her heart,
Out wailing in the rain.
The day that I was christened-
It's a hundred years, and more!-
A hag came and listened
At the white church door,
A-hearing her that bore me
And all my kith and kin
Considerately, for me,
While some gave me corals,
And some gave me gold,
And porringers, with morals
The hag stood, buckled
In a dim gray cloak;
Stood there and chuckled,
Spat, and spoke:
"There's few enough in life'll
Be needing my help,
But I've got a trifle
For your fine young whelp.
I give her sadness,
And the gift of pain,
The new-moon madn…
(The view from my mother's final resting place, along with my grandparents and an aunt, Salt Lake City, Utah)
On September 21, 2004 I received a phone call about 11am. I was in the office at small church. The caller was my mother's roommate, a long time friend. My mother had a massive heart attack in the middle of the night and died. I left work and drove to her home, spending time with her body before she was taken away.
My relationship with my mother was complicated. She was a lovely, charming, delightful, funny, woman. She was also profoundly damaged. She was 65.
In her memory, a Mary Oliver poem. Complicated with a mix of delight, joy, and sorrow, including a child who has worked to find her own voice.
Mary Oliver - Flare
Welcome to the silly, comforting poem.
It is not the sunrise,
which is a red rinse,
which is flaring all over the eastern sky;
it is not the rain falling out of the purse of God;
God of all that is, was, and will be
Have mercy on me
As I stumble, lost
In my ways,
Ignorant of what I’ve done,
Now, dismay has taken a hold of me.
Have mercy on us, heart sick are we,
Whose joy is gone
With grief upon us
We mourn, for dismay has taken a hold of us.
Defiled are we, buying the poor for silver
The needy for sandals,
Our pockets full,
Theirs empty, and
Now, dismay has taken a hold of me.
Is there no balm to soothe this sin sick world?
Gracious God who lifts
The needy and raises the poor
Who urges within us
Have mercy on us, hear our prayers
May the intercessions in my heart
Become the actions of my hands
May my feet move into the ash heap
May I work to restore hope
May I work to restore justice
May I work to restore love
May I be bear the balm that soothes
As you would have me do
And may there be thanksgivings for everyone.
Crossposted on RevGalBlogPals and RevGalsPrayerPals
A reflection on the readings for proper 20C: Luke 16:1-13: St. Edward and Christ, Joliet, IL
There are a few television shows I love to watch. Among them are Gray’s Anatomy, The Mentalist and Brothers and Sisters. Each of these had season finales last May that I found particularly dramatic, violent and unsettling. I remember because some of them played in reruns this week as the networks prepare for the season openers. Gray’s Anatomy left us in a cliff hanger with one surgeon, a resident, about to operate on her best-friends husband, the chief of staff, who had been shot by the irate husband of a woman who had died in a previous episode.
The story begins as if it were just another ordinary day. The staff arrives for work. Meredith finds out she is pregnant and is excited to tell her husband, mr. Mcdreamy, the chief of staff. But then chaos happens as the shooting spree takes hold. Each scene is filled with some characters falling prey to the shooter while others hide and try to survi…
Someone I loved once gave me
a box full of darkness.
It took me years to understand
that this, too, was a gift.
I stumbled upon this poem again, last night, in a book I'm reading called, "Slow Love: How I lost my job, put on my pajamas and found happiness" by Dominique Browning, editor of Home & Garden before the magazine was closed down and everyone laid off in Nov. of 2008. It's an easy read and enjoyable. It's not unlike, "Eat Pray Love" except it doesn't purport to be a spiritual book, just a story of her life after being fired. She talks about eating, a lot. And about love, complicated and messy. And she talks about prayer, a little bit.
Mostly she talks about trying to find purpose and meaning in her life, and to some degree finding it through gardening. Makes me want to pick up a shovel, at least in more than the figurative way I have been shoveling this year. The book, and the poem, remind…
Reframing Hope: Vital Ministry in a New Generation by Carol Merritt Howard, reviewed by The Rev. Terri C. Pilarski
When I first began reading Carol Howard Merritt’s on her blog, Tribal Church, I found much of what she had to say echoed that which I had already read, thought about, or was implementing at my small church. I wasn’t sure why there was so much excitement about her and what she was saying. In Reframing Hope Merritt has synthesized the ideas brewing around church dialogue and concerns about the shifts of a postmodern world and its impact on church life. Reading this book was exciting providing me with a focus for the questions I’ve been asking myself for years. She addresses many of the questions I’ve pondered about what it means to be church today and how we build dynamic communities of faith without losing our denominational identity. For example she says this:
“Church leaders are often told that in order to reach out to the image driven MTV generation of Christians, we …
(dust storm sun, Arizona, from the files of mompriest)
Merciful God, who created the heavens and the earth and all creation God who weeps with us over the sins we commit, destroying the earth in so many ways, But most especially on that tragic morning of destruction, when what was left was waste and void; A hole, fires all around, and yet no light leaving us quaking in sin. Ours. Theirs. Create in me a clean heart O God A sinner who repents And put a new spirit within me. Be patient merciful God, With our stiff-necked ways, Blot out our transgressions The ways we hurt ourselves The ways we hurt others The ways we hurt you, Eating the bread of greed. Wash us from our iniquity Help us see our transgressions And not just the ones we think Others commit Help us, heal us With your love Create in me a clean heart O God A sinner who repents And put a new spirit within me. God of mercy and grace Who creates, renews, restores Who forgives and heals Help us to be agents of Hope. To forgive as you do. To love as you do. To b…
I wrote my first post on this blog four years ago today. In that post I reflected on my son and his friends coming home from school for lunch. It was one of the first weeks of high school and these 9th graders were enjoying the freedom of leaving campus. We lived about a block away, so our house was an easy stop for food. I made a lot of sandwiches in those days....
What I wrote about in that first post was the conversation we had over lunch, about what the boys remembered from 9-11-01, which had taken place five years earlier, when they were just in 4th grade. They didn't remember much.
In the four years since I wrote my first post, and in the nine years since 9-11-01, the landscape of my life and this country has changed dramatically.
There has been hardship beyond anything I could have imagined.
There has been much sorrow in my life and the lives of those I care about, deeper, than I could have anticipated.
(Sunrise at Grand Canyon, photo from the files of Mompriest)
I am filled with joy when the day dawns quietly over the roof of the sky. Life was wonderful in winter. But did winter make me happy? No, I always worried about hides for boot-soles and for boots; and if there'd be enough for all of us. Yes, I worried constantly. Life was wonderful in summer. But did summer make me happy? No, I always worried about reindeer skins and rugs for the platform. Yes, I worried constantly. Life was wonderful when you stood at your fishing hole on the ice. But was I happy waiting at my fishing hole? No, I was always worried for my little hook, in case it never got a bite. Yes, I worried constantly. Life was wonderful when you danced in the feasting-house But did this make me any happier? No, I always worried I'd forget my song. Yes, I worried constantly. Life was wonderful And I still feel joy each time the day-break whitens the dark sky each time the sun climbs over the roof of the sky. (Eskimo Song, from "Earth Prayers&q…
"Hey, I was here first...." three of the four dogs at the foot of the bed... It's Monday after a busy weekend. I woke to cloudy skies and warmer temps than we've had for days. Sadly the warmer, more humid temps made for restless sleep. Well, that and the fact that we are sharing a small house with four big dogs and three cats, each vying for a space in the bed. Unsuccessfully, mind you, but trying nonetheless. And a few of them were successful in finding a spot, temporarily. The kitten, too small to jump up just climbed up. I haven't checked the sheets to see if they are snagged or torn from his sharp baby claws. Sleeping, or trying too, as I did last night, and following a weekend of work, I woke achy and in pain, neck, shoulders, arms, back.
You see, we're staying at our daughter's place. She is out of town, meeting her boyfriend's family for the first time, joining them for their annual Labor Day Michigan camp out. Well, actually they are staying i…