Friday, March 30, 2007

Friday Five from RevGalBlogPals: Holy Week, Batman!

Well, the Clergy Superbowl is almost upon us, and so, I offer up this Friday Five (with apologies for the irreverent title):

1. Will this Sunday be Palms only, Passion only, or hyphenated?
This Sunday is hyphenated, I think. There will definitely be a procession with children waving palms to begin the service. The choir is doing a cantata that I think is a Passion cantata. (No I don't really know because if I knew for sure and thought it stunk I couldn't change it anyway so I'd rather just not know.)

2. Maundy Thursday Footwashing: Discuss.
This is where I lose any "touchy, feely" credentials I might have scraped up along the way: NO WAY! I don't care who thinks this should be a sacrament because Jesus did it. Jesus peed standing up and I don't think that makes it a sacrament. Footwashing does not have the same connotations today, we have not maintained it as a meaningful service over time, and I would much rather experience someone living out the attitude demonstrated in the act of footwashing instead of participating in the ritual only to experience the abuse of their power later.

3. Share a particularly meaningful Good Friday worship experience.
hmmm ... I think the silence without any structure of a cathedral in Toronto on Good Friday. I also like a service of darkness published by Creative Communications for the Parish. It is a service of scripture with the extinguishing of candles. I recruit folks to read the Psalms from their seats (any age that can read well) and I read the other nocturnes. While it's sold for "large" churches. I have used it very effectively with a crowd of 20.

4. Easter Sunrise Services--choose one:
a) "Resurrection tradition par excellence!"
b) "Eh. As long as it's sunrise with coffee, I can live with it."
c) "[Yawn] Can't Jesus stay in the tomb just five more minutes, Mom?!?"

Easter Sunrise is my "penance" service. If I have done any wrong, I expect the sacrifice of leading Easter Sunrise to cover it.

5. Complete this sentence: It just isn't Easter without... trumpets. Which means it hasn't "really" been Easter in a few years. And we must sing Christ the Lord is Risen today. And when that is done we must have a nap!

Bonus: Any Easter Vigil aficionados out there? Please share. A few years ago at a different church, I had a woman who had grown up Episcopalian that desperately wanted me to have an Easter vigil a friend of hers with a similar background was nearby and joined in the request. So I arranged for musicians planned and lead the service. And neither of them showed. And no one else did either. The musicians and I went out to eat. I don't think that qualifies me for aficionado status.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

grief and bereavement

When I started the class on Grief and Bereavement, I wondered whose funeral I would officiate or who would die before May 8 when class ends.

Last week I assisted for a funeral at my church for a woman I did not know who had been a member. She was not living in town because her children found a nursing home for her that was more convenient for them to visit. It happens that I had been to that nursing home many times while serving a different church. It really is a terrific facility with a truly caring staff. The daughter told me she was surprised that there were a couple of nurses who cried when her mother died. She was touched by the depth of care.

The daughters requested that a retired minister be included in the service. That was a deep relief to me. He really did know the woman and celebrated her life. Some of my church members were amused to hear that my name had changed though. The retired minister has confused me with another minister several times -- not a surprise to me -- but a surprise to some attending the funeral. I let them in on the whole story during the family meal while we were in the kitchen. And I told the story again during Bible Study with a different group who also commented on the name change.

And before I had finished with that service, I was asked to go to a hospice house where the neighbor of a church member had been moved. The neighbor had been fighting cancer for some time. This was the second round and they found spots in her ribs and other bones. Then there were spots in her brain. She and her husband came to worship a couple of times because my church members invited them. But the couple were not all that interested in church or religion, etc. That is, until death was imminent. There were a few times when the husband just talked about a lot of things. He so clearly felt alone and did not want to be so alone. Tomorrow I meet with him and the family and friends he has gathered to figure out how to have "something" for his wife who died Sunday morning. They originally agreed that she would be cremated and there would be no funeral or memorial. As her death drew closer, her husband, sister, and best friend decided that it was just not right to do nothing. So we'll figure out what "something" looks like tomorrow.

So now the wondering has shifted to wondering if there will be more.

Friday, March 16, 2007

From RevGalBlogPals Friday Five: Whatcha Doin?

Name five things you plan to do today.
1. Sleep late. (done)
2. Watch movies. (doing)
3. Update blog. (done)
4. fold clothes. (later)
5. think about doing stuff for school and maybe actually doing it. (later)

Bonus: If today is about "have-to" for you as well, share up to five things you'd like to be doing today.

1. Geocaching (which I may actually do)
2. Away on vacation
3. reading for fun
4. playing cards with friends or family

28 days

I think that's how many days it's been since I've written anything here. In the last 28 days a few things have happened.

1. The Entertainer competed in a piano festival on a Saturday that includes an honors recital on Sunday afternoon at 4:00 for everyone earning a Superior Plus rating. She has never competed at this level before. She had excellent preparation with her teacher. She memorized her pieces in the first week she had them. The lesson before the competition she was playing so fast and well that I got up to look through the window of the room where she has lessons because I thought the teacher was playing; it was indeed the Entertainer.

She earned a Superior. Her one minus had the comment "you could have played more quickly." Ironically, the Entertainer had purposefully slowed down because she was a little nervous and she was trying to ensure that she played all the right notes. Honestly, I was quite relieved not to have to fit the recital into a Sunday that was already full.

When the music teacher at school heard about the rating earned by the Entertainer, she had the Entertainer play her pieces for the whole fourth grade. I think that might have been better than the honors recital.

2. There are two places where the United States government prints "folding" money. One of them was visited by a fourth grade class that included the Entertainer and her mother. Talk about a cool field trip! The Federal Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Western Currency Facility has a great little movie that tells about the facility followed by a tour where you see the "real" thing and learn even more. If there's a small FW on your "folding" money, it was printed at the Federal Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Western Currency Facility. The hallway is above the work space with lots of windows. Every time someone working on the floor saw faces in the windows they smiled and waved.

The security was incredible. Everyone entering the facility has to ride a "money bus" from the entrance to the main facility. But you can't get on the bus until you have been scanned in a tube that reminded me of the transporters on Star Trek. One mom had to take off her 4 inch heels and her 3 necklaces, 5 bracelets, 3 rings, and ear rings before she could be cleared.

We also saw a demonstration of the way money used to be printed using a spider press. The guy doing the demonstration was terrific. He gave the information in a way that captivated the fourth graders and all of us learned something about how our money used to be printed.

Later we learned about star dollars. Dollars that are actually reprints, substituted for the original that was not perfect and could not be released. At the Federal Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Western Currency Facility, they call them "lone star" dollars. That evening, in my change from something, I received a $10 lone star dollar. We thought that was way cool!

3. In the last 28 days, the SportsQueen has gone back and forth between quitting band and staying in band. She was finished, done. Then the band director handed out music for "Veggie Tales," "Pink Panther," and something else I can't remember right now, so now, she's in. I think. Registration for classes is due Monday. We'll see what actually gets turned in.

4. The SportsQueen is beginning softball. Her primary desire was to be on the team with her friend that is already 13. Since she is 13, she had to move up divisions and SportsQueen decided she would "play up" to be with her friend. Turns out the league had problems with numbers of girls registering so the divisions were combined and the girls are both playing on the same team as last year with the same coach. That's a good thing!

5. Meanwhile, back at the church, there's a young youth group kid who is doing scary things. Scary enough that I worry about doing a funeral.

6. For my Grief and Bereavement class I have to write reflection papers. I've written 6 out of 10. I'm ready to be done with that part, reflection papers aren't my favorites. I also had to watch Schindler's List and write a paper about death, loss, and grief based on the movie. I had never seen it before and did not know it was 3 hours until I had the movie in hand. I had planned to watch it while the girls were at their dad's. Then the girls ended up with me instead. So, my best laid plans weren't.

In college, I took a theology class on evil. We used the Holocaust as the lens. We watched propaganda produced by Hitler as well as documentaries. We saw pictures. We went to a local synagogue and listened to the stories of survivors and saw their tattoos. I already knew the facts of the movie. I knew about Amon Goeth. The movie had no surprises except the end.

I was profoundly moved by the fact that there are fewer than 4,000 Jews in Poland today while there are over 6,000 descendants of Schindler's Jews. I was also moved to tears as I heard the survivors tell their stories and realized that their stories are told in the movie. And I now recognize the tradition of leaving a stone.

7. My church hosted an Emmaus event, I went with church folks to Candlelight, and I am on a team that had a team meeting last Saturday. That's three weekends in a row of Emmaus stuff in the midst of everything else.

I think Emmaus is another tool in the spiritual toolbox that helps folks grow spiritually but I'm glad I don't have any Emmaus stuff this weekend.

8. However, as I drove to the netherlands for the team meeting, I did make sure I knew where some geocaches were. I picked up several on the way home. I also got one after a conference committee meeting, one before an Order of Elders meeting, more than one after a doctor's appointment, and several traveling to and from class. I now have found 190 caches either alone or with the girls.

All three of us hid a cache not far from our house. We were in the cul de sac visiting/playing with our neighbors. Our neighbor keeps her nephew during the day and when her sister came to pick him up she ended up joining the conversation. Geocaching came up and the sister figured out that we were the ones that had hidden that particular cache. She told her 4 yr old son that his star eraser came from us. The Entertainer is the one that insisted that we put the small erasers in the cache. So that conversation turned into a connection too. The Entertainer was beaming as the 4 yr old put it all together.

9. Sometime in the last month, the SportsQueen discovered the movie Pride and Prejudice. She loved it. She watched it multiple times. She made her 13 year old friend watch it with her. We'll own it, I'm sure. We went to HalfPrice Books and bought the book, they didn't have the movie. The SportsQueen loves to read. I think she has just "discovered" Jane Austen.

10. And my sister is pregnant! She is "due" about the middle of October. My niece is 3 and has not decided that she wants a baby yet. Maybe she will by October.

I talked to my sister yesterday. She had one of those days. And I said, "You probably don't remember but maternal grandmother was an English teacher and she always said, "Beware the ides of March."" My sister said, "I always say that. I said that today. I didn't know that was from maternal grandmother." Funny, how traditions influence us even without us realizing it. My sister attributed it to studying Julius Caesar. She just didn't know her susceptibility from the family. "Beware the ides of March."

11. Both last month when the 15th was on Thursday and this month, the treasurer did payroll a day late. The "normal" day for checks is Friday. So for two months in a row the payroll checks have been a day late. And, today, I'm a dollar short because the ones I have are already designated for something. I'm the only one for whom this check is the primary source of income. Everyone else is part time. I really hate it that money is tight enough that there are times when a day does make a difference. But I won't say anything to her because I want to save face. And in a little bit, I'll go get the check that is now ready.

And that's the short version of the last 28 days.
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