Friday, October 27, 2006

RevGals Ghoulish Friday Five

1. Do you enjoy a good fright?
No. I've had some bad stuff happen to me that make me less than enthralled by scary happenings, because sometimes it's not a game.

2. Scariest movie you've ever seen
I'm with RM - "Silence of the Lambs" tops my scary movie list. When I was a teen, "The Exorcist" was way up there on the scare list. For some strange reason, an old movie called "Soylent Green" scared the *** out of me when I was in college, but who knows why.

3. Bobbing for apples: choose one and discuss: a) Nothing scary about that! Good wholesome fun. b) Are you *kidding* me?!? The germs, the germs!
I don't find it scary. I don't worry about the germs. However, as someone with temperature sensitive teeth, I have been unpleasantly surprised when my mouth hit the water once or twice in the past. Yeeoow!

4. Real-life phobia
Having to walk in a dark place at night in a less-than-savory neighborhood. See #1 above. Something similarly scary happened to StrongOpinions last week, and we're still both a bit freaked out by it.

5. Favorite "ghost story"
The opera DonGiovanni, and the ghost of the Commendatore. If you've got to have someone scary, make him a good singer. Second best: "Hamlet." What can I say? If it's in iambic pentameter, it can't be all THAT scary!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Prayers, Please-

...for dear L. She had become engaged to a wonderful man (after a number of years as a single mother) and was looking forward to the wedding in a few months.

Her fiancee was found dead of a heart attack two days ago.

Give rest, O Christ, to thy servant W. with thy saints, where sorrow and pain are no more, neither sighing but life everlasting.

Sometimes God gives us gifts that last a lifetime, like a slow-burning candle. Sometimes God gives us gifts that are like a meteor shower, exploding with beauty, but so very transitory. Who is to say which is the greater gift? We can only thank God for His gifts, even as we grieve their transitory nature.

Almighty God, Father of mercies and giver of all confort: deal graciously, we pray thee, with all those who mourn, that casting every care on thee, they may know the consolation of thy love; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

We love you, L. We loved W. for loving you, and we grieve with you.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

No Rest for the Weary

...not when there are two cats in the house.

I was up early this morning, getting ready for a field trip to a funeral home. I was just getting dressed when I heard a mighty crash from downstairs. I went downstairs and the two cats were in the kitchen, looking nervous. A marble cheese board which normally resides on the counter was on the floor, broken in two. I suspect one or the other of them tried to jump up on the counter onto it, and it slipped off and broke. In thinking of the expressions on the cats' faces, I'm reminded of the first words my dear husband learned as a second-grader in Belgium many years ago: "Ce n'etait pas moi." The cats always speak French when they do something bad; they think it makes them seem less guilty and more charmant...

Then it was off to the farmer's market for beautiful apples, then to the funeral home, and now I'm hip-deep in Hebrew and Liturgics et al for my exams next week. Later I've got a rehearsal for a concert I'm singing in tomorrow, a fundraiser for a homeless ministry here in Your Nation's Capitol, and a dinner part tonight. I'm trying not to feel guilty about the time spent away from studying. It will be what it will be.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Word for the Day: Hesychasm

So a goodly part of the day was spent doing abstracts of previous lectures for my New Testament study group. Reading, analyzing, winnowing out the important factoids and themes. It's necessary work (our mid-terms are next week) but it's not the most rewarding stuff in the world.

I took a break to go to Evensong at 5:30. It was a wonderful and peaceful end to a rainy, cool day. I love the quiet. I love the singing. I love the meditation on Scripture (great reading from Jeremiah tonight). I love the incense. It's an opportunity to take the time to go deep into prayer, which is often very difficult to do. Mostly I love the darkness in the chapel (this service is lit by four candles and just a bit of light over our psalters) and the quiet.

After evensong, I came back home, finished up the fifth lecture write-up, and cooked dinner. I had grand plans for studying Hebrew, but I was too tired, so I went upstairs with my big book on icons, to research an icon of unknown provenance in the seminary's Oratory. I got what I needed (it's a Harrowing of Hell, probably a copy of something from early Moscow school), but I got lost in the wonderful book, reading and remembering why I love icons so much.

And I found out about hesychasts, who spent their life in silence so they could meditate and pray. They may have used repetition of the Jesus Prayer as a meditative tool. It's an ascetic practice from the 3rd C, noted by Chrysostom and the Sayings of the Desert Fathers.

It also informs the work of some of the early icon writers. Some of the proponents of the practice were the subjects of icons as well.

The thought of quiet and a disciplined meditative practice seems very appealing right now, although I doubt I could sustain it for the long haul. Maybe just an evensong's worth of hesychasm...

Friday, October 13, 2006

Sex Ed For Clergy

One of the requirements in this diocese for all clergy, seminarians, and paid staff in parishes is that they take two sexual abuse/misconduct prevention classes, one targeted at protecting children, one dealing with issues for and about adults. I spent my Thursday at the Adult class.

I wanted to take a shower when I came home.

I understand the importance of this training, and I buy into the ways we need to prevent such bad acts and protect ourselves as clergy.

I just wish this was a different world, and we didn't have to think about it. One of my seminary classmates was there with me, and she and I were disturbed to see that one description of bad acting sounded frighteningly like some behavior we've observed in one of our classmates, who has, as they say, "issues." The surprising thing in both of our minds is how we thought our rigorous "process of discernment" was supposed to take folks like that off the front burner until they had worked through those issues. I guess it doesn't always work that way. Dang.

I came home to wonderful, delightfully sane PH, who doesn't have any issues (or any issues he has complement mine delightfully). We went out for an anniversary dinner that we could ill afford, but life is short and we both were ready for a treat. It cleaned away that icky feeling I'd had all day in the class. Life is good.

I'm past my whine-fest of the other day - thanks for understanding.

Friday Five: Creature Comforts

Thanks to ReverendMother for this lovely Friday Five - it made me feel relaxed just thinking about it:

1. Comfort beverage : a pot of white jasmine tea, or a mix of Diet V-8 Tropical Splash and sparkling water, or a glass of Sancerre.
2. Comfort chair: the big old burgundy leather sofa in the living room. I stretch out on it with my nice warm laptop on my lap and websurf, or I put the laptop down and pretend to read wile actually dozing.
3. Comfort read: silly mindless detective novels and thrillers, or nonfiction about food.
4. Comfort television/DVD/music
TV: Grey's Anatomy and House...I've always had a thing for doctor shows.
DVD: Anything with Alan Rickman, or the Vicar of Dibley videos, or anything with Helen Mirren.
Music: Carrie Newcomer (just like RM), Bryn Terfel (great Welsh bass-baritone), Thomas Quasthoff (great German bass-baritone). Bach. Some Mozart. Anything done by Yo-Yo Ma.
5. Comfort companion(s): PH, of course. The cats, although only Spooky seems to like to cuddle up next to me. My friend L, who's been a pal through thick and thin.

The other great comfort thing is a nap. That's my Sunday pleasure: falling asleep for an hour or so on the aforementioned sofa, with the New York Times magazine section on my lap, and a pot of tea on the table beside me. Bliss!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Want Some Cheese with that Whine?

I volunteered to be a class chaplain. It's the sort of thing I love to do, and that I think I do pretty well. Apparently a number of other folks felt the same way, and also volunteered. I didn't get picked.

So now I feel like an eight year old who didn't get picked for the school play. Cranky and rejected and wondering why I'm doing this.

Yes, I know it's childish.

Part of the challenge of going to seminary is having to redefine myself. No one here knows me as a very smart person. I'm not feeling terribly bright these days, frankly. No one here knows me as a good musician. I'm intimidated by the choir director, who has very strong opinions, not all of which I agree with. No one here knows me as an excellent administrator. The folks who got elected to those sorts of roles are living in the dorms and were elected because they were popular amongst the dorm residents.

So today I'm feeling old, dumb, unwanted, and invisible. I'm doing it to myself, of course. That doesn't make it any less painful.

Somebody please kick me in the butt and tell me to stop being such an idiot.

Monday, October 09, 2006

What Day Off?

I'm working my way through Leander Keck's "Who is Jesus." Only problem with reading this stretched out on the couch is that I keep dozing off. This may be the sum total of restful activities for this three day weekend.

PH has been down in New Orleans for the past several days, gutting houses in the Lower Ninth Ward with a team from our church. He's coming home tonight, tired and a little sore, but glad to have done the work. I've missed him so much. I can't wait to pick him up at the airport tonight.

I've been doing all the wonderful stuff one does when one is alone for a few days: catching up on laundry, planting a hundred spring bulbs, watching a couple of videos, cooking dinner for two other friends from seminary who are part of our midlife seminarian group (giving them a break from the refectory cuisine), cleaning, problem-solving from afar for StrongOpinions, whose phone gave up the ghost, taking stuff to the recycling get the picture.

For my Field Ed prep class, I went out on my third church visit yesterday, to a corporate-sized church. This category is for churches with over 450 members. The church I visited has 1500 members, with seven services from Sat. night through Sunday evening. Very, very low church, and very conservative. They are going through 40 days of discernment after which they will decide if they are leaving the Episcopal church. From the sermon that was preached, they've already decided they're leaving. The only open question is whether they'll try to affiliate with the Anglican Church in Nigeria, Rwanda, or Uganda, or form something else entirely here in the US. The priest told us that ECUSA is preaching apostasy.

Suffice to say it was rather difficult to sit through.

The Sunday before, we visited a tiny African American church across the river. No magnificent Steiner Renk organ with trumpets en chamade, just a little electric organ that had seen better days. No thirty thousand dollar sound board and awesome praise band, just a rector who could preach with power and joy and a five member choir that got the rest of the parishioners singing, too. No fancy Newcomers' Welcome Center, just parishioners that all wanted to greet us and give us a hug and ask us "are you going to be our seminarian?" No message filled with political rancor, just a sermon that encouraged us to take on the responsibility of all that God calls us to be.

Guess which one I liked better?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

R.I.P. Moses

At 11 pm last night, the phone rang.

Never a good sign, since the universe knows I'm incoherent after ten.

It was StrongOpinions, in tears because Moses, her gecko, died while she was in class. She hadn't thought he was sick, although he seemed a tad sluggish to her. She came home from food-shopping, and there he was in his little habitat, on his back. She was inconsolable. I talked to her and tried to soothe her from afar for a half hour.

This morning in chapel we celebrated the feast of St Francis of Assisi, who is known, of course, for his great love of animals. All I could think of was poor Moses, and poor StrongOpinions, who shares Francis' deep respect and love for all of God's creatures, even the least of them.

I told her tonight that I admired her love and care for her little gecko, and that he had a good life with her.

Not that I'm anxious to see another gecko in our household, but I think I'll miss the little guy.