Friday, October 28, 2005

The Friday Five

1) Favorite Halloween Candy
Mad nostalgic affection for candy corn.

2) Least Favorite Halloween Candy
Anything "fun-size". "Fun-size" should be big, not small!

3) Best Costume Ever
My family didn't celebrate Halloween. We did get All Saints' Day candy, but we didn't necessarily dress up. So my Best Costume Ever is from college and the "Screw Your Roommate" dance when you get set up by your friends. Everyone met their dates by dressing up, wandering around the cafeteria, and looking for the person who matched.

Junior year, I was told to dress up like the Virgin Mary and find my Joseph. Remembering far too many Serious Christmas Pageants when I was a kid, I subverted the dominant paradigm by pinning a blue sheet to my head, wrapping myself in red velvet, and stuffing enough pillows up the velvet to look 9 months pregnant. And then I shouted for Joseph all through the cafeteria, saying I needed to ride his ass all the way to Bethlehem.

4) Worst Costume Ever

5) A Saint I Treasure
My deacon growing up, Jeannine Mahon. She was kind and warm and ministered to everybody in a church and community that didn't always want to do that. Whenever I came home from college, we'd have breakfast and talk about life and God and the church. I talked to her about being a priest and shared my worry about the fact that my parents don't think women should be priests. She listened, nodded, and then said "Oh, honey, when you're ordained, that won't matter. They will be so proud of you." (She also told a visiting bishop I was going to be a bishop one day!)

I'd never known someone so encouraging, genuine, and obviously loving to everyone. She died quite suddenly one summer. It was the first time someone close to me had died. I was so glad to be home, though, and to sing with the choir at her funeral. Even now, when I sing "Abide With Me", "How Lovely is Thy Dwelling Place" or "I Sat Down Under His Shadow" (Bairstow), I think about her funeral, and then about Jeannine and how blessed I was by knowing her.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

I did a rather scary thing

I told my rector this morning that indeed I might want to be a priest.

I'm now supposed to get a spiritual director (which I've been meaning to do, so this is a good kick in the pants) and meet with my priest once a month. She's scoping out the diocesan discernment process, which is currently being revised.

This is all a bit frightening, but I love and trust my priest and my parish, so I'm quite relaxed at the thought of going through this with them. And I'm in no rush, which helps. I'll be vaguely disappointed if at the end of my life, I was never called to the priesthood, but I don't need to have a vocation confirmed right now. If I'm ever supposed to, I think God and the Church will make it quite clear in their own time.

Still. Eek.

Monday Five

So I'm doing the RevGal Monday Five on Thursday. Ah well. Let it never be said I spend all my time blogging-- I wish I could do it more often.

1. What is your favorite word?
This morning? Coffee. In terms of what I think and talk about, hmm. Probably community. A word I never use but love: mistral. It's such a lovely and temperate-sounding name for a freezing, blustery wind.

2. What is your least favorite word?
It's a phrase: "That's a nice idea, but..."

3. What turns you on, creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
Laughter. Snarky comments. Big unexpected grins. People willing to find the humor lurking in nearly situation.

4. What turns you off?
Self-importance and pomposity.

5. What is your favorite curse word?
Fuck. The sharp K at the end lets you channel all sorts of emotions through it. I'd never say "Fuck you", but I do love a good "Fuck" now and then.

6. What sound or noise do you love?
Right now I'm on a massive Arvo Part kick.

7. What sound or noise do you hate?
Cheney's motorcade going underneath my window, morning and evening, EVERY DAMN DAY.

8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
Ballerina, astronaut, president. Oh, seriously? I'd like to try my hand at war reporting.

9. What profession would you not like to do?
Corporate law.

10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
"Well done, thou good and faithful servant" will suit me fine, as long as I get a little wink to show me God knows who I am!

Monday, October 10, 2005

Word verification

I've turned on word verification in the comments. I thought three comments in the time it took me to edit my last post was too good to be true!

Budding liturgists

(I've been such a punk about updating. Work's taken a lot out of me this past month, but I hope get back to thinking and posting soon.)

Yesterday I led the Rite-13 class at my church. St. Margaret's has just started the Journey to Adulthood program in earnest this year, and our group of Rite-13ers is a great one-- thoughtful, smart, energetic, talkative. This Sunday, I had planned out a lesson on collective prayer. And we got to it, eventually.

As soon as the kids walked in, one who had been to the early service said "I don't get the Gospel today. It's weird." Well, it was. Forget collective prayer, we had to address Jesus' weird parable first. Luckily I'd read Dylan's blog entry before heading over to church. I borrowed (and cited!) her point about wedding garments being designed to bring good fortune on the marriage, making the larger point that parables are often obscure to us because they reference customs of 2000 years ago. Then my co-teacher and I had to make the less comfortable point that some of Jesus' parables seem to have been obscure to his listeners 2000 years ago. That we don't get The Gospels, Exhaustively Annotated by J. Christ. Every sermon I've heard on this parable ends up taking a different line on it, which means Jesus' point isn't clear. We'll never know exactly what he was saying.

Well, the kid who'd brought it up didn't like that one bit. He said "But I like everything to be clear! I want to know exactly what it means." And my wise co-teacher said, "If you learn one thing in this course, and that's that we'll never be able to know what everything means, you'll have learned a lot." So true.

I found myself in complete sympathy with that boy. I love to find the point of things, whittling down obscure phrases until they have one crystal clear meaning. I've been drafting legal documents at work, and while I'd never want to be a lawyer, there's something immensely satisfying about writing something that can be construed one and only one way. I have to find a way to balance that intellectual curiosity with an acceptance and welcome of mystery, and do that in a way that doesn't just become laziness: "Oh, I'll never understand everything anyway, so why don't I just bask in the mystery?"

Why do I think this will be a lifelong challenge?

Anyway, back to the kids. After talking a bit about common prayer as the cornerstone of what it means to be Episcopalian/Anglican (and a tiny bit about what the Anglican communion is and a how we're praying together with people across the world and across the centuries), we looked at collects. We broke the structure of collects down:

Address: "O Lord,"
Ascription: "Ooh, you are so big, so absolutely huge. Gosh, we're all really impressed down here, I can tell You."
Request: "Forgive us for this our dreadful toadying."
Consequence: Monty Python's chaplain didn't really get that far!
Doxology: "Through Jesus Christ our Lord....AMEN."

The kids read the collect from the service, translated it into their own words, and pinpointed each component. I read them another one on angels, broke it down again, and we talked a bit about the language we use in church: why it's formal, how it needs to reflect the entire congregation and communion, how it's a way for us to talk to God and also to remind ourselves of God's nature, our relationship with him, and how we ought to live in that relationship. (Collects really pack a punch.)

And then we wrote our own. I'm so proud of the kids. They did a great job of coming up with topics, so much so that I had to promise we'd write a new collect each month! They needed only a little help to grasp that a collect could and should address a specific issue/need, but with language general enough that all could pray it. They settled on writing a collect for schoolwork. At first they started off saying "We should pray that we can get our schoolwork done fast so we don't have to worry about it and so we can get good grades, go to college and make a lot of money." My co-teacher helped steer them back to the larger points of education, and then there was no stopping them. Here's what we came up with:

"Dear God (1),you created wisdom and knowledge (2), give us focus and concentration to do our schoolwork well, so we can further explore the world we've been given (3) and do the work you have given us to do (4), through Jesus Christ our Lord, AMEN."

If we write a few of more general relevance, I'm going to ask if we can slip one into the service. Wouldn't that be a great way of underscoring our youth's importance to our church life?

(1) "Let's make it like we're talking to him", said one girl. Which we were.
(2) I'll cop to this being the teacher's suggestion.
(3) This was the final version of one student saying he did well in his schoolwork so he could go on a mission to Mars!
(4) "Let's put in that bit from the service about the work you have given us to do", said the other boy, pointing out it covered schoolwork, their future careers, the lot. See? Smart.