Sunday, May 31, 2009

Saint Middle School

I had a lovely morning today at Saint Middle School. Although my official last Sunday with them was two weeks ago, they asked me to come back today for a farewell. They gave me some very generous gifts - so kind and such a stretch for such a tiny parish.

I gave them the icon that I made for them - not everyone realized at first that this wasn't something store-bought, but something I had made for them over several months. I do hope they have a building someday soon to hang it in.
Several members of the choir there will be participating in the choir that will sing at my ordination on Saturday - it is so wonderful of them to make the long trek into Old Town for the event. Good folks. They were very good to me, and I am grateful for all they have done.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Rolling, Rolling, Rolling

StrongOpinions and I left Your Nation's Capitol at 6 this morning, headed up to the Big Apple to get her stuff out of her apartment for the summer. She has found someone to sublet and finish out her lease, since the neighborhood is way too sketchy and the roommates are unsuitable. We are still negotiating what will happen in terms of housing for September. I left her up there staying with her friends - she is going on up to her father's in New England tomorrow, and will wend her way back down in time for my ordination next weekend.

It was a marvelously easy drive up - only a couple little spots of traffic. The only challenge was making it from the Lincoln Tunnel to the West Side Hwy - the surface traffic was bearish. We got up to her place, climbed the four flights to her apartment, packed her stuff, carted it all downstairs, and loaded it into the car. One giant LLBean rolling duffel with clothes, one large clothes hamper full of shoes, several boxes of books, one tote full of kitchen stuff - she is her mother's daughter. Then we drove down from Spanish Harlem to Columbia, wandered around the campus a bit, and had some lunch at a French bistro. Quite lovely. Then I got back into the car and headed south. I managed to avoid traffic jams almost all the way home (the usual snafu on the Beltway because of a couple of rain-induced accidents) and I made it back through the door by 8 pm. Listened to Peter Gomes' "The Scandalous Gospel of Jesus" on the iPod for most of the ride...might be an accessible book for the right church small group to go through, chapter by chapter.

Things I noted on this trip:
  • the girl is not a housekeeper. Her room in the apartment was pretty chaotic, consistent with her room at home when she is in residence. So why did it surprise me?
  • the city, even when overcast, still enchants. I wish I could find a job there, but even if I did, I couldn't afford to live there, so it will remain a lovely fantasy.
  • Columbia is the kind of university I should have gone to as an undergraduate, but my working class parents couldn't even conceive of me going somewhere like that (even though I probably would have been admitted to Barnard, then the women's college there, given my grades and SATs and such). The girl is fortunate to have been aware of the possibilities and to have been encouraged to explore them.
  • even though I grew up in the NYC metro area and have been driving in and out of the city since I was 18, StrongOpinions felt it necessary to check if I knew the way to find my way back out of the city and over the river. I'd be ticked off if I wasn't so charmed by our mutual love for the city.
  • I am no longer the chic New Yorker that I was when I worked in the city as an international software consultant (another life ago) in the early '80's. I felt quite lumpen in my jeans, twin set and sneakers, except when we were in Spanish Harlem, where the women are more "traditionally built." Had I worn a sequined, low-cut tank top, I would have fit in even more perfectly. Ah, well, another "fashion don't" moment for Rev-to-be-Mibi.
  • people watching is still my favorite city activity, and the most affordable one.
Just count me grateful to be home with car and nerves intact. I'm lumpen here, too, but somehow I can't seem to get very worked up about it.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Becoming Fruitful

Today's offering from Inward/Outward is this lovely quotation from Meister Eckhardt:

"Becoming fruitful as a result of a gift is the only gratitude for the gift."

It reminds me again why the late poet and philosopher John O'Donahue said "Meister Eckhardt is the man." It also explains my unease as I sit in this wait-state between the end of school and a call to some sort of job somewhere.

After some rattles of interest last week, things have gone quiet again. I was to have met someone for a conversation about a possible job yesterday afternoon, and the person didn't show. I am presuming it is because the power was down at his church - their phones weren't answered yesterday afternoon, nor is their system receiving emails. Still, a tad aggravating to not receive a phone call, unless his calendar exists only on his computer network.

At the heart of it, I view my vocation as a precious and surprising gift. I've spent the past few years working hard to properly prepare to be fruitful, to live out the gift of that vocation. The silence right now is deafening, and is also frustrating. This is, of course, my own impatience opening me up to unhealthy musings about why I haven't heard anything definitive from anyone, except for turn-downs.
Being fruitful is what I long for. Patience is a burr under the saddle; persistence is the only virtue that remains.

Picture above is "Still Life with Watermelons and Apples in a Landscape" Luis Meléndez (1715-1780)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Random Dots of Tuesday

  • I went to the eye doctor for my annual visit, fully expecting that my visual acuity had gone to hell in a handbasket given the quantity of reading and computer time this past year. But no! The reading prescription had to be cranked up a notch, and otherwise all the numbers were the same. In the interest of experimentation, and because I am always losing my glasses, I am now trying monovision contact lenses (left eye for reading, right eye for seeing distance). We shall see. The distance thing works fine; the reading thing not so much yet, but I do need to adjust to this.

  • A priest friend called last night to tell me that she received a call from her sponsoring parish about four hours north of here. Unbeknownst to me, she comes from one of the parishes to which I made application this past week. They seem interested, asked her all sorts of questions. She told me all about it (she has worked with me and likes what she has seen) and gave me a lot of helpful info about the church, the community, and the folks on the search committee. I would like this one to go to the next step and enter into some conversations with many ways, it would be a very good fit for me. Nice to know I'm (possibly) in the running for something.

  • Another priest called regarding another job about an hour north of here...shared some interesting things about the place and seemed somewhat impressed with me. We will see if the search committee wants to go the next step.

  • Leaving in two hours for coffee with another priest friend who has an assistantship open. This one is in my old neighborhood, and I have mixed feelings about that. I don't know if it is a fit or not, but it is always good to have conversations with good people. You never know where the conversations lead.

  • Yet another friend made a call on my behalf for another position north of here.

All of this feels good - like stuff is moving in the right direction.

Speaking of things moving in the right direction, I'm excited about the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the US Supreme Court. I want to read more about her track record in the appellate court, but what I know so far sounds very promising. A Latina on the, se puede!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Ascension Day

TOH to Seven Whole Days, one of my favorite blogs in the whole wide world.


Our commencement happened this morning. You can watch it here if you like. It was lovely, with the exception of a slightly balky PA system. I graduated with honors, for which I thank my husband, editor and cheerleader extraordinaire; the Holy Spirit,who gave me inspiration when the brain was not coming up with stuff; and Sister Mary Malachi, my eighth grade teacher. who beat the rules of expository writing into us with the paddle from one of those kids' paddle balls. Some lessons stick better than others.

Our commencement speaker was the Rt Rev Barbara Harris, retired suffragan bishop of Massachusetts and the first woman ordained a bishop in the Anglican communion. Powerful words on being a movement rather than an institution, and on working through the church for social justice.

There was a reception afterwards for us - lots of lovely little finger foods and such. Too many people for me at an emotional time, so I was ready after a half hour for us to leave for luncheon at a nearby restaurant with the family. We had a great time, and headed for home at about 2, after which I crashed. I'm still pretty tired with the heat and the emotion of the day, and with eating wayyyy too much.

It was wonderful having PH's family and StrongOpinions with me for this event, and I am grateful to have come this far. where I go from here, God will let me know in due time.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Random Dots of Graduation Eve

  • Various and sundry in-laws, plus StrongOpinions, arrived yesterday evening. We ate a lot, laughed a lot, drank a wee bit, and enjoyed each other's company. Unfortunately, somebody brought a cold with them, which I now have inherited. Since I have to be a cantor tonight, it is slightly worrisome, but I shall prevail!

  • Still trying to figure out exactly what I'm going to wear tomorrow, since it's going to be hot and the cassock and surplice and academic hood are pretty warm. We're going out to lunch after the graduation and reception, so I think I can't get away with a bathing suit. I suspect the Gold Bond powder will be liberally applied.

  • Got the lovely news that I will graduate with honors. Working hard does pay off. Not necessarily with a job (yet) but with the pleasure of knowing it was a job well and faithfully done.

  • Getting a job is still a work in progress. Please pray.

  • Thesis advisor was so taken with her icon (the St Paul that has been on this website for a while) that she is going to start taking classes with us. Very wonderful!

  • This is a time of turning away from one source of light and heat to another. There are brief moments of chill in the process, bits of clouds overhead every now and again. We need reminding that behind the cloud, beyond the chill, is the warmth and love of Him who provides all.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Today's Sermon: John 15:9-17

I had a major surprise earlier this week. And it’s a surprise that will warm the hearts of some folks in this room, who made a pilgrimage out to the Udvar-Hazy Space Center a week ago Thursday to see the premiere of the new Star Trek movie on the big IMAX screen.

Here’s the surprise: I discovered that Biblical scholars – or scripture geeks, as some folks call them – may also be Star Trek geeks, too. One of my Old Testament professors, JFW, talked last week about the new Star Trek movie and some biblical parallels.

Now if this sounds a little like those books that talk about the Gospel according to Harry Potter, let me reassure you…that’s not where I am going with this.

But J talked very convincingly about some of the physics of Star Trek and its application in the Gospel of John, and what she said had great relevance both to the Gospel passage we read today, and the ending of my time with you at St. Middle School.

So how many of you in this room know about the space-time continuum? You engineers, put your hands down…I know you know about it. But what about those of us who AREN’T engineers or rocket scientists?

Well, here’s the little bit I know about the space time continuum. We understand our world in terms of space – the three dimensions. We see it, we feel it, we are a part of it. But there is actually a fourth dimension, one that really changes our perception of our world…it is time. Time can radically shift the way we perceive the shape of our world.

Think of it like this: how many of you have given directions by saying “well, you take a right down by where the old Hecht’s store used to be?” You and I both know that the Hecht’s store isn’t there in our present time, but we alter our perception of present space by referring to another time. How many of you have said, “Well, that was before I met your father?” Who we are is the same as that person from back then, but somehow we are changed.

It’s like those episodes in Star Trek where they jump to warp speed and break all the rules of time and space, making all sorts of weird time anomalies. Here’s a really nifty bit of Star Trek trivia: in the Voyager series, the Krenim weapon ship used by Annorax worked by pushing the target outside the space time continuum, thus deleting it from history.[1]

Time changes our perception, and it changes relationships. The old rules don’t apply, or at least they don’t apply in the same way.

This is just what Jesus is talking about in this gospel today. It is nearly the end of Jesus’ time with his disciples. He is waxing almost poetic in his great love for them. He tells them that their job, going forward, is to love one another. And not just to love one another, but to love as he has loved them, to be willing to die for each other. And he talks about how their relationship is now changing, that they are no longer subordinates, but his friends. Jesus, the savior, the son of God…says they are his friends. He has entered their lives, he has taught them “everything I have heard from my Father.” They have been transformed by his loving teaching. He has been transformed by their loving discipleship. And now they are no longer teacher and student, they are his friends.

Although several elements of the story are different, we, too, have shared a transformation. I came here almost two years ago, to be your seminarian. You didn’t know me. I didn’t know you. All I knew was that there were many things I needed to learn and this seemed like a good place to do that learning.

What I discovered in this particular space time continuum was that we were both transformed. You welcomed me, you encouraged me, you told me what I needed to learn, you entrusted me with your stories, with your joys, with your secrets. I was changed not only in the ways I expected – in my learning of the practice of ministry – but also in some surprising ways. I learned to trust my instincts, to listen for the story beneath the story, to preach in an approachable way. I doubt I would have preached on Star Trek when I first got here.

We were both transformed when Pastor J left to join her husband C in Southern Virginia. My original plan – that she would serve as my supervisor in the Field Ed experience for the full two years – was thrown out the window. There was a very real possibility that I would have to leave St Middle School in January, something I did not want to do. With your encouragement, I asked for permission to stay as your seminarian, to walk this journey with you as part of my learning about transitional ministry. I got a new job description: I was to be a “continuing pastoral presence.” Some weeks, that meant proofreading the bulletin (with mixed results) over and over until we thought we had it right. Some weeks, it meant briefing supply clergy and herding acolytes. Some weeks, it meant vestry meetings. Some weeks, it meant conversations about troubles and illness and death. It was all rich. It changed me.

I hope, too, that my work among you was transforming as well. I hope that you learned a little bit. I hope that I was a comfort in a time of change. I hope that my imperfection helped you all to realize that everyone in the Body of Christ is imperfect, but if we minister faithfully, whether we are laypeople or clergy, we honor God.

I came here as a stranger, intending to be taught. I leave it as a friend, having learned much. And I am reminded of another fact about the space time continuum and Star Trek – if you accelerate to warp 10, you exist on every point on the space time continuum. Even if you aren’t there physically, you’re there on the continuum.

Sounds sort of like Jesus, doesn’t it? When he tells the disciples to “Abide in my love,” he isn’t saying “abide in it just when I’m sitting here alongside you.” He is saying that same thing he says at the end of the Gospel of Matthew: “I am with you even unto the end of the age.”

That’s the ultimate transformation that comes to us on our space time continuum: wherever we are, whenever we are, Jesus is with us. Always. Loving us. With us. It doesn’t get better than that.

And in a small way, that’s the joy that overcomes the sadness of this moment when I bid you goodbye. Our time together has been one of transformation and love. So wherever you and I go, whenever we go, we are together, bound in a space time continuum that is the Body of Christ.

You are no longer my teachers; you are my friends. It doesn’t get better than that.



Friday, May 15, 2009

Friday Five: Friends

Jan has given us a great Friday Five:

"today let's write about the different kinds of friends we have, like childhood friends, lost friends, tennis friends, work friends, and the list goes on. List 5 different types of friends you have had in your life and what they were/are like.As a bonus, put a link to a new (to you) blogging friend and introduce us!"

1) The Call-In-The-Middle-Of-The-Night friend: the person whom I could call in an emergency (and have) without thinking twice about whether it would wake her up, or her kids, because she knows I would do the same for her (and have).

2) The Woman of Wisdom and Power friend: who taught me wonderful things, and continues to teach me wonderful things, and says that I teach her, too, which is the ultimate compliment.

3) the Adult Child friend: I have a few of these, and one of the joys of this stage of life is that our relationship has shifted (think this Sunday's gospel: John 15.9-17) from a parental one to a friend one. Even my youngest (now 21) is starting to evolve into this kind of dialogue, and I am blessed in our conversations (mostly).

4) The Mentor friend: we don't talk often, but when we do, it is because I need some sage advice. This friend always is there for me in this way, with humor and grace.

5) My husband: he exceeds all categorization. Enough said.

Bonus: Mike is a junior at my seminary - very bright and funny, with big ideas. He stretches my mind, particularly about young adult ministry, every time I read his blog and talk to him.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Random Dots of Remarkable

  • I did my last bit of schoolwork at Big Old Seminary this morning - a group presentation on an ethnographic study of a young-adult predominant neighborhood. We rocked - what a great, diligent, creative team!

  • Then I served as acolyte for noon Eucharist, serving with our dean (quite cool) and chanting the fraction (also quite cool). The preacher was delightful and brilliant OT professor, who actually gave me the hook I needed for my sermon for this coming Sunday (who knew Bible geeks could also be Star Trek geeks?)

  • Then I paid my massive copying/printing of the last effects of the thesis. Many trees died in the production of this project. I repent me of my (copying) sins!

So I am done. I'll have a few more little things to do (leading Morning Prayer tomorrow morning, singing with the choir in the service tomorrow night and at Commencement, serving as a cantor for the Service for the Mission of the Church next Wednesday), but the school-school stuff is done.

Remarkable. There were times (this past year particularly, with the medical issues that landed me in the hospital more than once) that I wondered if I would make it through. And now here I am, at the end of this journey, looking down the road at the next part of the journey. One week from today, I will graduate, and a few weeks later, I will be ordained a transitional deacon in the Episcopal Church. I still don't know where I will be called, but I know at some point I will be called.

God is good. I am grateful and hopeful.

- And now I am off to tea with seven of my most delightful senior friends plus one faculty member. I suspect champagne will be drunk, in addition to the tea. For that, too, I am grateful!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Today was the competition for the Dudley Speech Prize for graduating seniors at Big Old Seminary. We each had to read Isaiah 6:1-8 (the call story with the coal and the tongs and all that) and then either read part of the Great Litany (BCP p 150) or Eucharistic Prayer Rite 1, prayer 1 (the one with more participial phrases than anything in the Pauline corpus). I think there were about 20 of us who did it.

It was an oddly lovely feeling to do the Eucharistic Prayer standing at the altar, reading from the altar book, doing the manual acts that accompany it. No chalice or paten or elements, of course, so it was rather like dancing on one of those mats with the footprints and arrows and numbers instead of spinning in the arms of a dear one, but it still was close enough to send a chill down my spine.

The Isaiah reading is one of my favorites; I've been meditating on it for several years. I hope I did it justice. I had read at the noon Eucharist and had gotten compliments for those readings (Acts and 1 John), so I hope the mojo continued.

I think I did well. I suspect I'm on the short list for the prize. I don't think we will know until Commencement who won, but it was a delight to see my OT professor, one of the judges, smiling broadly while I said "Woe is me, for I am a man with unclean lips and I live among people with unclean lips."

Knowing my proclivity for salty language, truer words were never spoken!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

And in the Category of Most Graceless Turn-Downs

I offer you this:

"... we have concluded that you do not meet several of the attributes the Lord is leading us to desire in our next rector. As others have applied who more nearly meet this expectations, we have decided to drop you from further consideration."

I guess my walking on water was not up to snuff.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


Mother's Day has been a little odd, with none of my kids anywhere near. One called, the others sent lovely flowers and will probably call later since they're on West Coast time. I'm so glad they are all coming to ordination.

I spent the weekend at the beautiful diocesan retreat camp way far away - it was my next-to-last time with Saint Middle School and I can tell in the way that things have gone uncomfortably silent that they probably aren't going to offer me even part-time work during their transitional period. Not a total surprise, since I can see what the numbers look like as well as anyone.

What has been most difficult about this long hard slog with no results on the job front is all the folks asking me what's happening in my search for employment. God love them, I know they love and care for me, but every time I have to say I don't have anything yet, it hurts a bit. I know the question isn't meant to hurt, and that this is my stuff I'm working through, but it feels like the broken glass of failure spoken aloud.

So for those who love me, know that you will be the first to know when I've got good news (or for that matter, vaguely promising news). Just pray, please. For that I'd be very, very grateful.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Plugging Along

I'm wrapping up the final group project for my last class, and just sent it off to my group for their edits and comments. I'll be glad to get this done.

No news on the job front. No further word from the little parish nearby that's looking for a rector. No further word from Saint Middle School, who had intimated that they wanted to keep me on part-time to keep things going during their transition time. The other places that I'm intrigued by haven't posted their parish profile yet, so I can't even apply there. I've sent out several more applications. This is getting very old indeed. I'm truly tired of hearing people say "whatever church gets you will certainly be lucky." I'm not feeling the love, and every time I hear another classmate has been called, I rejoice for them a lot, and grieve for myself a little.

And now the series of "lasts" begins. One of the practices of Big Old Seminary is that we meet for small group worship and advisee meetings with our advisor every Friday, in our advisor's home. Since our advisor is retiring in June, we all were feeling it a bit today as we had our last small group worship. We've had our last Wednesday Community Eucharist already.

It's a bittersweet feeling.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Keeping Fingers Crossed and Praying and All That Good Stuff

I've gotten a callback from a possible job opportunity, to be rector of a small multi-ethnic parish near here. Yeah, there are problems in this place, but there are also very interesting opportunities. It also comes with a rectory, which in this housing market is a good thing indeed.

They wanted recordings of sermons, and I sent them the two I submitted for the Big Preaching Award (haven't heard anything back from them yet, BTW), so we'll see what happens next. In any case, it sure feels good to have something vaguely positive to say on the job front!

It's also my understanding that St Middle School wants me to stay on board on a part-time basis to keep the trains running on time until they call someone or until I get a job. They haven't officially asked, but I was told by someone who should know that I am about to be asked and should be prepared for the question. Of course, they may decide they want to call me, but who knows. I'm trying to suss out how I might structure part-time work with them, probably something like identifying the needed blocks of time, then calculating out what percentage of a full-time job that is, and then calculating it against the diocesan guidelines. But first they need to figure out what they want me to do for them...on a part-time basis, of course.

As a dear friend said this morning, this stuff is exhaustipating!

Friday, May 01, 2009

Good News

No, don't get all excited. It's not a job or anything...

It just dawned on me that I've got time to knit again.

A rational person would look at the decreased workload as time to clean or pack books or something like that, but we know I'm not rational. I'm happy to knit.

Friday Needs and Wants




A job.

Hitting the Mega Millions (which is up to $220 million, by the way).

A vacation.

I suspect I am going to have to settle for numbers 1 and 2 for the moment.

The publication copy of the thesis is printing as we speak. I will take it to be bound this afternoon.

I completed three of the four assignments for my last class, and the final one is a group effort that will be done next Thursday.

I have some writing to do for the research project, and I intend to knock it out this weekend, come hell or high water.

Last, but most definitely not least, I've just received the invitations for my ordination to the diaconate on June 6th. Woohoo!