Thursday, September 29, 2005


as to the power of prayer.

The GREs went remarkably well, despite my fears. I followed Quotidian Grace's suggestion and reminded myself to breathe. I said a prayer before I started, and whenever I was completely bumfuzzled by a question.

They have you do the writing exercises first, and I really felt like I got into a groove with them. I won't know the scores on them for a couple of weeks. but I'd be surprised if I got less than a 5 on the six point scale they grade them on. The multiple choice verbal and math sections came next. I think I over-thought some of the verbal questions. When the math section started, I went completely blank, couldn't remember a single rule, formula, equation...nothing. Slowly it started coming back. I guess I remembered enough, and the Holy Spirit helped. Score on the verbal section was 710 (bummed I didn't make it to 750, but I'll be quiet now) and quantitative was 650 (now you KNOW the Holy Spirit was helping me).

Thanks for the prayers. I'm so relieved that it's over with and the scores aren't mortifying!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Not Traveling, But Rather Testing Mercies

GREs tomorrow at 9 am. Four hours at the computer typing away. Just me and my #2 pencils. Fortunately, I have choir tonight to settle my nerves. Just to make tomorrow complete, I get to have my annual physical tomorrow afternoon. Heaven only knows what my blood pressure will be by that point. Ah, well, God is faithful.

For calm, for memory, for the ability to articulate, for perspective, for health, I ask these things so I may do Your work.


Sunday, September 25, 2005

Thank you...

...for the prayers. I survived the PDC meeting with some tears, a lot of talk (2 and a half hours worth) and a sense that these dear people are starting to understand the nuts and bolts of my life and why I feel called. So hard to express the metaphysical in mere words! Another long session in mid-October awaits.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Prayers, Please...

For good things: my stepson and his wife, parents of grandbaby Bryce, have told us they are expecting again. Since grandparenthood is just about the best thing since chocolate, I am very happy. May God grant them a good pregnancy and smooth delivery in the springtime.

For scary things: I'm taking GREs for seminary on Thursday. How is it that StrongOpinions, who is retaking the SATs next month, gets to bring a graphing calculator to the test and I, an ancient crone with a 29 year old master's degree in music for heaven's sake, get to bring...

(wait for it)

...2 number two pencils? Life isn't fair. Dear Lord, bring me inner calm so I can use the intellectual gifts you have given me - such as they are - to perform decently on the test.

For unknown things: tomorrow will be my first session with my parish discernment committee. A couple of hours of conversation about who I am and how I got here. How do I answer when I am still figuring that one out myself? Jesus, let me be willing to be vulnerable in this process so I can most honestly figure out what it is You want me to do for You.

I'm stepping out in faith and trying really hard not to trip over my own feet.

And my last prayer for the day:
For all those who have been affected by the hurricanes,
our thanks, Lord, for those who were unharmed,
your healing grace, Lord, for those who were hurt in ways physical, psychological or material,
your loving arms of welcome, Lord, for those who died.


Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Weird Feelings and Flowers

I went to a board meeting of our trade association tonight. Fancy restaurant, lots of very pricey wine. I was nominated to a senior leadership post. I couldn't say no, since I'm not "out of the closet" with these folks on my discernment yet.

I feel like I've got my feet in two different worlds, yet I don't fully belong to either.

Very strange sensation, indeed. I don't like being neither fish nor fowl. I just want to settle into being a duck-billed platypus, dagnabit, and be done with it.

Okay, speaking of neither fish nor fowl, here's a picture of one of our pond flowers. The plant from whence it came has just looked spindly and unimpressive for several months, and then, lo and behold, this amazing flower appeared. It doesn't look like anything I've ever seen before. Aren't God's creations marvelous things?

Praying for Quotidian Grace, Mr C, and all of the folks who may be in the path of Hurricane Rita...

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Continuing on the Path

My Parish Discernment Committee met for the first time on Sunday after church. As I've mentioned before, they had the first meeting without me, to hear from the rector what the process will be. A good friend of my husband's (happens to be a M.Th. grad) will chair it. Should be good. I'm so very fortunate to have the support that I do! I can't wait for the first meeting with them.

One of the young couples in the parish gave birth Sunday night to twins, born three months premature. One weighs 1 pound and a half, the other slightly less. These tiny babies, each weighing about as much as a gerbil, have an 80% shot of making it, according to the neonatologists. Too soon to tell, of course, if they will have any neurological or other deficits because of the extreme prematurity. Thank goodness they're in a superb teaching hospital, where they'll get state-of-the-art care.

It raises a question for me, though, about pastoral care. I wanted to ask you RevGalBlogPals about it, because I suspect many of you have tender hearts, as I do. How does one keep emotions in check when working with these folks? They surely don't need my tears. I want to honor their struggle to cope rather than adding to their burden by welling up. I know when I get to CPE, my supervisor will tell me "It's not about YOU, Mibi." I already know that. I'm still a softy, though. How do you manage it?

In the meantime, people are bracing for Hurricane Rita. Seems like we're being washed in the salt of the sea, instead of the blood of the Lamb...a much less gentle cleansing, I think.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Fall Meme (I Can't Resist)

Several of the RevGalBlogPals had posted a Fall meme. Me, too! Me, too!

Favorite Fall Food: apple crisp, with the first wonderful apples of the season.

Favorite Fall Date: October 12th, my anniversary to PH. Beautiful million-colored leaves on the ground, the family all around, PH's grad school buddy preaching, the church at dusk, my little daughter in her bridesmaid's gown and my sons in their tuxes (which they tried to bribe me to avoid wearing).

Favorite Fall Memory I: Walking around Rome, and walking and walking, in the rain, and eating Roman-style deep-fried artichokes in the Roman ghetto.

Favorite Fall Memory II: Hiking in the Shenandoah National Park.

Least Favorite Fall Memory: my ex telling me he wanted a divorce.

Favorite Holiday: Yup, I'll join the crowd saying Thanksgiving, despite the work of cooking for the clan. I actually love the work of cooking for the clan. Halloween is a close second. There's something about little kids in home-made costumes that just warms my heart.

Favorite Exercise: Walking at lunchtime around the National Mall - my office is a couple of blocks away.

Least Favorite Exercise: Raking leaves and preparing the garden for winter.

Favorite Change in Clothing: Being able to wear sweaters again. Especially old, big, snuggly ones. Not having to expose my thighs to the world in shorts.

Least Favorite Change in Clothes: Too chilly for sandals.

Best for Fall Sex: early Saturday morning, while it's still dark out, hiding together under the covers.

Best Fall Vista: northern Vermont on Columbus Day weekend: drive up the Toll Road on Mount Mansfield in Stowe. Use Lamaze breathing to calm yourself driving back down again.

Second Best Fall Vista: Skyline Drive in Virginia, but dealing with the zillion other drivers on it during leaf-peeping season is not so much fun.

Favorite Sunday Afternoon Road Trip: Anywhere they're pressing fresh apple cider, especially over in the western part of Virginia towards the Blue Ridge.

Traditional Fall Candy: Anything that comes in "Funsizers" bags.

Best Fall Aroma: Baking bread.

Fall Childrens' Memory: Mommy hunched over the sewing machine, making Halloween costumes (Robin Hood, Belle, Pirate, Bride - what was I thinking?).

Best Tree in the Fall: Northern sugar maples. Beautiful austere birches a close second.

Favorite Sound: A tie between the neighborhood three-year-olds saying "Trick or Treat" and the crunching of leaves under my feet on the nature trail.

Favorite Music: Whatever extremely loud piece - usually an arrangement of some hymn tune by Ralph Vaughn Williams - that our choir prepares for the October visit of the Bishop, when he confirms our young people. Our choir director usually plays trumpet, the organist cranks up the volume, and we all sing very loudly. It's great fun. Not necessarily a transcendent musical experience, but great fun.

Reliable Prediction: the leaves will keep on falling several weeks after we're really sick of raking them up.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

How Different People View the Hurricane and Its Aftermath

I sit on my employer's Diversity Council, an effort on the part of our very large corporation to make our world a caring, accepting, safe place for all our colleagues, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or differing abilities. Sometimes I find the work frustrating - I mean, how long can we keep talking about these topics and still not get it right? - and other times I am in awe of my colleagues as they try to go deep on these issues. The council has about 30 people, of different ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations, and levels within the company.

We started out our session today talking about what we had observed about Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath.

The white males talked first, and observed the fact that a great divide between the haves and have-nots was revealed, and that while they were disappointed in the government response, they were gratified that everyone was now pitching in, particularly the private sector and faith-based organizations.

Then the people of color talked. Oh, my, how they talked, about how it feels as a black person in America seeing your brothers and sisters so poor and desperate and so ill-served by the government that's supposed to provide some safety net. They talked of the pain of seeing the poorest and weakest - the oldest and youngest - left by the side of the road to die. They talked of the hurt they felt in seeing people so misjudged ("Why were they so ignorant not to know to get out of town? Why did they steal a TV set in a place with no electricity?"). Some of them couldn't even talk, they just cried.

It reinforced my own pain - I was pretty close to tears much of the time - and reminded me how far we have to go yet on issues of social injustice. It reminded me of how far we still have to go to even see those who live below the poverty line in cities and towns all over America.

The rich man wouldn't give a drop of water to Lazarus, the rich man who had so much [who among you has fed Me when I was hungry?].

The day will come when we who have so much will ask Lazarus for help. How will he respond to us?

Monday, September 12, 2005

Greek et al

Tonight's our first Koine Greek class at church. I've been studying on my own, using a computer program, but I think I'll progress faster with the stimulus of a class. Our rector was a classics scholar while in college, and it should be a good group.

He's also lined up my parish discernment committee (the next step in my discernment process) and will nominate them for the vestry to approve next week. Can't wait to get started! Nine sessions. One organizing meeting, five sessions with me, one with PH, one to vote on whether they'll support my move to postulancy, and an optional last one to review my writeup of the process.

On the "Oy vey" front, StrongOpinions says that Useless Boyfriend, who will leave for school in the Midwest next week, has pledged his undying love. They're thinking of living together when he's done with school in two years. She will then be a sophomore in college. All I can hope for is that Paris Hilton or Brittany Spears, or someone of that ilk, will spirit him away before the die is cast. Ah, well, StrongOpinions is a smart girl and a beautiful one, and hopefully a better life choice, or even better, a better temporary choice, will appear on the radar screen once Useless is out of the way. She is too young for anything like this. Do I sound like a scheming mom? You betcha!

Saturday, September 10, 2005


This has been the week for pastoral care of many sorts. I've mentioned a parishioner who is angry with our rector because of what she perceives as a lack of pastoral care in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Her solution to this was an email to the vestry in complaint. Another parishioner and vestry member jumped on board - darn that triangulation - and the rector responded by being very defensive. So I spent a goodly amount of time talking with both of them, trying to get them to calm down the rhetoric and to reach out to each other as faithful Christians. Not sure how much I accomplished there (maybe a teensy bit), but I think it was work I was called to do.

Last night we had the parents of the pregnant teen who's living in our basement over, so we could all sit around the table and talk through the plan for the future. We've made clear that we'd like them to be in their own place by Thanksgiving. They are both looking for work again, and she is starting to get help through the county for medical care, etc. Her mother is so very angry, and really started to lash out at both of them. Not productive, of course, and she reduced them both to tears before we could refocus the conversation to the future needs of the forthcoming child. At the end of a long and difficult conversation and a couple of boxes of Kleenex, we all had a plan that we think might work, and we think a lot of the venom was discharged. I'm hoping it is the beginning of a healthier relationship between them all. At the end, the mother said, "I guess I've got to stop being so negative about this. It doesn't help." True words.

In both cases, I was struck by the difficulty of forgiveness. Barbara Cawthorne Crafton wrote a beautiful piece on forgiveness yesterday . Our lectionary tomorrow is Matthew 18:21-35, about how many times we are called to forgive. The part that really hit home was how forgiveness is not really for the other person whom we forgive, but for ourselves, as a way to getting back into right relationship with God. In each case in my owrld this week, the lack of willingness to forgive stood in the way of a person's happiness and sense of wholeness.

I think of a problem we had a few years ago when our prior rector was being attacked by a small group with a specific agenda. He eventually left, although I think this incident was just one part of his decision. One of our parishioners, who had really adored him, continues to be unhappy about he was treated, and regularly talks about wanting "justice" for what happened to T. She still is angry at another parishioner, whom she feels urged T to leave. Several of us have talked to her about the fact that her view of the situation was not true, and even if it were, she should move to forgiveness. She's stuck in the moment of her anger, and stubbornly doesn't want to let go of it. Whether she thinks she'll get justice - whatever that represents to her - if she clings to this anger, or whether it ties her to fond memories of T in the past, I can't say. But I do know it stands in the way of her moving forward.

Looking back on my divorce, it took me a very long time to forgive the ex for ending the marriage. Until I could, I was stuck in that awful moment, and was only half a person. Once I did, I could be so much more present for my children, and it opened my heart to the possibility of love again, which led ultimately to my remarriage to PH.

I'm also dealing with an ugly situation in my work right now - the blame game is in full force, and I'm part of the team trying to resolve it - so once again I'm challenged to forgive those who are acting in their own self-interests in this situation. While I'm angry, I'm not at my most effective in coming up with a solution. So I should take some of my own good advice, and not pick at the scab of my anger, and look forward to my Lord.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, having mercy on me, a sinner.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Various Good and Bad Things

I went to the eye doctor today. I had suffered a few months ago from a bout of optic neuritis - an inflammation of the optic nerve which may or may not be related to incipient MS. It was a frightening thing, suddenly going from almost perfect vision to 20/400. The immediate problem was resolved by massive doses of steroids, bringing my vision back to some sort of reasonable functionality, but it has not come back one hundred percent, and at this point is unlikely to. So I went to the eye doctor, he tested me out (20/100 in the right eye, 20/50 in the left) and problems with both distance and close vision. No surprise there, so it's time for bifocals. I was glad that my vision can be corrected back to 20/25. Bifocals, though. Ah, well, I am very grateful to be seeing as well as I can, and that glasses will further correct things. Now if I could only lose the 15 pounds (okay, almost 20) that I gained from the steroids, life will be good.

I've been dealing with a friend at our church who is understandably terribly upset about the Hurricane Katrina mess; she's from New Orleans and still has some family who are unaccounted for. She was very unhappy with our rector's sermon on Sunday - felt it didn't do enough to address those who were affected. I will agree that it wasn't a very pastoral sermon - he's an academic and pastoral care is not his forte. She decided to express her unhappiness with a letter to the vestry, plus an email to me ranting about the rector. This, of course, is the rector who is my presenting priest in my discernment process. I tried to point to the lectionary (what he had preached on, namely, Matthew's account of how we should deal with people with whom we are in disagreement). Her response was that she had tried that before with him and it hadn't worked. After church on Sunday, he had cornered me to complain about how she was "going after him." So I'm in the middle of this ugliness, just trying to be supportive of her without getting caught in triangulation. I think she's calmed down a little bit. She is taking that tack that he is the way he is, and won't change, so it doesn't help for her to rant. I know, however, that I'll hear from him about how mean she is to him (he's a wee bit needy...well, a little more than a wee bit, to be truthful) when he really needs to acknowledge the pain she's currently going through, so she at least feels listened to. Needy parishioner + needy rector= bad feelings/paranoia/stress. Our assistant, who is very pastoral, is on vacation this week, so I can't look for her to intervene, so I guess I get a little chance to be pastoral to both of them. He's used me as a sounding board before when he's upset, but the dynamic is very different now that I'm in discernment. Thank goodness for PH, who is always a good source of strategies to deal with such things. This is where having a spouse who is a professional therapist and also ordained clergy really helps.

Strong Opinions made it back safely from her trip to the North Country to her uncle's wedding. I asked her about the ceremony and she was quite opinionated about it, as always. "It only took five minutes. No prayers, no nothing. Very unimpressive." The prayer comment amused me, as she is currently claiming to be an agnostic/Buddhist. Two years ago she claimed to be a Rastafarian, and before that, belonged to the Church of Kurt Cobain. A few years in a Christian elementary school and many years of Sunday School aren't completed washed out of her system, it appears. She drove up north and back with Useless Boyfriend, who cannot drive - I think I'm happy about that - so she did it all, thirteen hours up and thirteen hours back.

Stonemason is still working and doing reasonably well. He hasn't asked for any money from me this month, which is always a good thing. He's trying to sell his little Saab so he can buy a pickup truck - more suitable given his current employment. We shall see if that comes to pass.

Litigator seems to be adjusting well to being back at college. He's continuing counseling for his alcohol use. Please, Lord, take care of the boy.

So should I practice my Koine Greek now, or pratice (eek) my algebra for the GREs? Or should I go downstairs and hop onto the elliptical trainer? Or should I have a piece fo chocolate? Hmmm....

Saturday, September 03, 2005

The Supermarket

One of my Saturday rituals (while PH is off bicycling 50 plus miles - yes, he is insane) is to go to the Farmer's Market, and then to the supermarket, for our week's food.

The Farmer's Market is in our town's courthouse parking lot, and has a little over a dozen vendors, mostly truck farmers from the outer counties of Northern Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. It's beautiful, food - fruits, veggies, dairy products - many organic. It's not inexpensive, but the flavor is awesome.

The supermarket is bright, full of great food, including very fresh seafood. I use my little clipped coupons to keep the cost down.

I usually love this experience. I've done a menu for the week, planned my shopping, more or less, and can do it efficiently in 90 minutes for the two stops.

Today it was depressing. That old Catholic guilt hit me, as I took note of the ease with which I can feed my family healthy food. In my head, a videotape keeps running of desperately poor people in the heat, with nothing to eat and no place safe to sleep. I know that the National Guard is in New Orleans and Biloxi and Mobile now, bringing food and water and moving people to safer venues, but I keep thinking of what these people went through, particularly the youngest and the oldest of them, and my heart breaks for them.

Am I the only person who thought it ironic and unsurprising that the only survivors who had a photo op with the President were white, cleaned up, cleared by the Secret Service?

The Washington Post quoted one of the New Orleans survivors as saying "black people must be marked in some way" to have such horror visited upon them. The heart breaks once again.

So, as I stood in line to pay for my groceries, I picked up one of the "donate $5 to the American Red Cross" slips and added it to my pile of goods - we had already made a larger donation to Episcopal Relief and Development ( for the victims of Katrina, and felt slightly disgusted with myself that I wasn't doing more.

Dear Lord, help me never to forget those who are hurting in body and in spirit. Help me find the resources within myself to do more, to leave my comfortable world, to not delegate to others the work I should do myself. help me to look at the hard pictures. Let me never turn away from the hurt, so I remember to help Your children. Amen.