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burning like matchsticks in the face of the darkness
 
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Thursday, January 1st, 2009

Time Event
8:20p
"Yet."
That's what I always want to add to the end of the message that's been on the sign in front of Somerville Community Baptist recently -- "May 2009 Be Your Best Year!"

***

Anyway, visit with the bff...

I met Ari at Davis T Wednesday morning, and she graciously put up with my request to stop and pick up groceries -- even though it was cold and snowing and I took us the long way.  (We were already at the College Ave. exit, so I figured we'd just walk up to the rotary and then over to the FoodMaster ... forgetting what a hassle that rotary is, and how much added walking there was since we didn't go up Holland St.)  I was gonna swing by on my way to pick her up from the T, but I had an email from Laurel to respond to.

The woman who bagged our groceries said, "Have a happy new year -- and a safe one, girls."  Ari joked about this in the parking lot afterward, as our only plans for the day were going to church.  I said, "Of course; we're going to get drunk on the Communion wine and then drive home."  (When I had bumped into MikeF at the library the other day, I had said that my best friend would be in town on New Year's Eve Day and staying through to the next morning.  He made some admonition about staying safe, which implied something about drinking and/or driving, and I said that we were planning to just hang out in my apartment.)  She agreed and said, "And then go out clubbing and have sex with dangerous men."

We are so awesome that while we were hanging out in my room, like every time one of us went to the bathroom the other would check email.  Hey, we've talked on the phone almost every evening for umpteen months, we kind of didn't have a lot to say to each other.  Though we are still clearly rather attached, as she called Thursday while waiting for her commuter rail home to debrief about her afternoon.  (It had been a whole four and a half hours since I'd seen her.)

I won't bore you with the mundane details of our 26 hours together, but I did want to note that I called you Megan, mjules, and Jules in the space of about 5 minutes, not even really consciously.

Ari's facebook Status (posted earlier in the evening) said, "is celebrating the new year with her best friend in Boston by hanging out and talking church."  Appropriately, we were actually literally talking church as the clock clicked over to 12:00.  (Last year she had been writing request drabbles, wanting to ring in the new year doing something she loves best.  This year, she said, she was doing something else she loved best :) )

While waiting at Park Street on New Year's Day morning, Ari commented on the Samaritans billboard, asking if they did that (meaning, the rainbow) on purpose.  She saw the rainbow and thought, "Oh, something gay," and then saw what it was and thought, "Oh, a gay helpline," and then read further and thought, "Oh.  I wonder if that was on purpose."

Our pipes broke -- but only the ones related to the washing machines in the basement; we could still wash dishes and flush the toilet and stuff.  But since both my housemate and I are going away this weekend (leaving tomorrow), we kind of wanted to get to do laundry.  She had already done one load, and she said she'd drop me at a laundromat on her way out that evening -- but they actually got fixed before she headed out.  (Our landlady lives upstairs, which helps us get stuff taken care of quickly.)

***

Jumping back to Wednesday:
Dear Beloved,

Although it is snowing outside, we will still gather for Communion and prayer at 6:15. This evening is the crease between years, a year finished, full of joy and sorrow, and a year to come, full of hope and expectation. We will remember the year gone, and pray for the year to come. Come, if you can safely come. I'll shovel out the sidewalk on the Francesca side and light the candles.

Music for meditation will begin at 6:00 PM.

Laura Ruth
When I saw the listserv message with the "Rest and Bread" Subject line, I was worried that it was canceled, so I was glad to find it was not.  There was more of a turnout than I'd expected -- Liz and Ben, Gary, Jen, Kathy, Jenny, and us.

We really were first-in, last-out.  We got there about 5:35, which was a bit earlier than I would normally get there.  We walked into the chapel and I said, "It feels warm in here; Laura Ruth must already be here."  (The thermostat said 68F.)  We helped set things up, and Laura Ruth asked if we'd be willing to be readers (Keith was away).  So I intro'd the Psalm and Ari did the Sacred Text reading.  (She got complimented by at least two people.)

    Psalm 119:10-18
    Sacred Text: the Ecclesiastes 3 (NRSV) reading on a time for everything.  [I told Laura Ruth afterward that it throws me to hear that reading in a progressive church because I hear the passage as saying that there are times when each of the things listed is good.]
    Reflection: Laura Ruth talked about how we want to control things, but that's futile, and the best thing we can do is to turn our hearts to God.
    Echoing the Ecclesiastes passage (which she hears as a statement of just how life is) she read from one of the readings for the Jewish New Year (which she did say was in September -- I was worried there for a bit ... though Ari commented later that in the Reflection she talked about the January 1 New Year as if it were a part of the church calendar, which, no, the church's new year already happened at the beginning of Advent) and the whole time I was thinking of "Who Shall Live" video that Sneaker linked to back at the Days of Awe earlier this year.
    She invited us to hold our hands out, resting, cupped, and to think about, in one hand, "What could have been," and, and in the other hand, "What was not."  (Both Ari and I thought, but did not say, "But those are the same thing.")  She said that then she would invite us to think about "What happened this year" and "What we hope for next year."  After outlining this, she said something about "these two things," which in retrospect I think she must have meant these two sets of things, but at the time Ari and I thought, "But that's 4 things -- or 3, really."
    She said we were going to do this instead of our usual prayer format.  I don't like changing the prayer format.  I had prayer requests in mind, and they did not easily translate to this new format -- especially since it is implied that one is supposed to pair them.  It is bad enough that on Sunday morning the Prayers of the People are: our prayers for the world, our prayers for our community/s, our prayers for ourselves and our family/s, and our joys -- I am not good at compartmentalizing like that, but before they open the floor they go through that outline, and if I went there regularly I would get used to it enough that I would appropriately catalog my prayers in advance (like how I usually think of a Challenge and an Affirmation in advance of CAUMC small group).
    For Communion we had wafers.  (Apparently Laura Ruth hadn't had time to defrost the bread.)  Laura Ruth actually broke one of the wafers when she got to that part in the liturgy, which, um, good, but it is really weird to hear Jesus breaking bread and see this little white wafer being snapped.  We also said "This is the Bread of Life.  This is the Cup of Salvation," and I realized the next day that this felt weird because we usually say, "This is the Bread of Life.  This is the Cup of the New Covenant."
    Ari commented later that there was a responsive not in the bulletin -- "the gifts of God for the people of God" / "Thanks be to God."  I said I thought that was because Laura Ruth had tweaked the liturgy because there was a part where it said "the gifts of God" or something and I kept saying "Thanks be to God" and catching myself because that wasn't actually a moment where the congregation was supposed to respond.  But yeah, it's an intuitive response to me now, but it should be printed in the bulletin because it wouldn't be an intuitive response to all comers.
    Ari and I also talked about how at the beginning of Communion we do the unison Sanctus from the bulletin and then when we get to the Thanksgiving at the end everyone's put down their bulletins and forgotten that there's another bolded part and so there's this nice intro that ends with "printed in your bulletin" and perhaps the intro should be rearranged so it begins with mentioning that there's a unison bit in the bulletin.
    We're back to doing  "Abide With Me" as the Closing Hymn.  I was expecting a Christmas hymn (for we are in Christmastide), but I was actually pleased because "Abide With Me" is one of the things I would sing to myself while waiting at the train station and it was irking me that I couldn't remember all of the second verse accurately.
    Laura Ruth did the announcements and a Blessing/Benediction and said something about "until you come back here on Sunday" before closing with the traditional "Now go in peace, to love and serve God," and I assured Ari that we are not usually that pushy.

Speaking of directive worship [possibly I need a better shorthand term for this? but I can't think of one], I was glancing at Jeremy's blog on my GoogleReader, and his most recent post talks about how (in churches, as anywhere) "the language of insiders can be inhospitable to outsiders."

***

One of the things I asked for for Christmas was microwavable glasses.  My aunt emailed me some options and I decided on these from Williams-Sonoma.  I figured 8.5oz would be fine, but my aunt asked if I was sure since they also have 13oz, so now I'm undecided.  Possibly I should go to the Williams-Sonoma store at Copley Place and see if they have them so I can look at them in meatspace and decide.  Anyone have any thoughts?
9:20p
"Abide With Me"
I may or may not go into actual mediation work, but I seem to be making a habit of playing counselor (more of the listener role than the advisor role, I think, though definitely the latter quite a bit particularly recently).  Which is not a new thing, though I feel like it ebbs and flows.  My very first year in college I stayed up late on AIM many nights with friends in crisis, and that's always what I think of when this comes up, but truly it's something I've done a lot.

CAUMC-Meredith has said, more than once, in Affirmations that I'm a really comfortable presence to be around, which is a descriptor I still haven't entirely internalized.

***

My mom commented:
I think that "never-ending list of things to be concerned about" is part of your maturity. You actually notice, and are concerned, and that's a good sign. Makes your mother-wolf's heart warm.
While I know this -- that being aware of and attentive to stuff outside yourself is part of being a grownup -- I don't think I'd thought to connect it to the idea of "maturity" per se.

***

She emailed me about my "how do pastors do it?" and in part talked about Linnea's work as a hospital chaplain.
She had very clear boundaries. She was totally present in the moment, and somehow learned to let it go when she wasn't. I learned that when I worked on a hotline in high school. But sometimes, all your training and defenses aren't enough and you still get creamed.

I tend to think that is the cost of loving. But I also think it's sacred ground. When I am "watching one hour" (ref: Jesus in the garden with the disciples), I feel closest to my core reason for being here.

Your people are blessed to have you there to lean on.
That's intense -- the idea of this being sacred ground.  It reminded me that one of the things I learned* in 2008 [which didn't even occur to me to put in my year in review, 'cause I didn't think of it until I read my mom's email] is an appreciation of the value of trust -- of what a big deal it is (can be) for people to trust you with things, and more about how to honor that trust.

----

* cryptic sidebar - thinking aloud and keeping it for my own referenceCollapse )
9:25p
SF (pre-departure)
I've been checking my work email approximately once a day over the break.

While Ari was getting her stuff together before we headed out this morning, I checked my work email -- I almost didn't 'cause I didn't want our parting to be colored by me being all cranky (yesterday I'd had a number of emails requiring I do an assortment of work, which was really inconvenient timing).

There was an email from Ian from yesterday afternoon, titled "please read: final AEA logistics," and for a split-second I thought, "What is there still left for me to do?" but it was an email to everyone going to SF with a sort of refresher summary of need-to-know for the weekend.

From the email:
SA Elizabeth will be in San Francisco.  (SA stands for "Super Assistant," if you didn't know.)
I literally felt like some of the weight of all this had been lifted off of me.

I emailed him back: "You make me feel so much better about doing all this work.  Seriously, I mean it."

I'm now back to worrying that the binders we sent won't have arrived, that I won't be able to figure out how to connect to the hotel wireless, that something will go wrong with the catering, etc., but it was a nice feeling at the time.

***

flight plan:

Fri. Jan. 2: United 177 [11:20 am - 3:03 pm] BOS-SFO
Mon. Jan. 5: American Airlines 194 [1:35 pm - 10:00 pm] SFO-BOS

Staying at the Hotel Nikko.  I'll have my cell and a loaner laptop, so I should be reachable.

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