February 10th, 2010


"She said: Babygirl, do you not know..."

Every morning, I walk by the Tufts field by the Powder House rotary and there's a woman there with her dog. This morning she told me that she sees me every day in my purple hoodie (I still say it's a dark blue, but a guy on the T the other day also referred to it as purple) and she feels so cold just looking at me, and she thought, "What if she doesn't have a coat? I remember when I didn't have a coat." I said really I just process cold differently than other people, that I have a much stronger tolerance for cold than most people so I really don't feel cold. She was like, "Yeah, but when it's windy, or rainy..." and kind of insisted, so I took the black, down, L. L. Bean coat she handed me. (Does it make it more or less surreal that earlier this winter, I was walking through Harvard T one morning and I must have looked really red or something 'cause someone came up to me really concerned that I didn't have a coat?)

Then chainkill caught up with me and I was like, "I just got handed a coat by that woman in the park because she was worried about me being cold -- restores my faith in humanity." He told me about the philosophy of the school he works at -- that everyone wants to be good (which he defines as going good things) and if they're not good it's because they're lacking certain skills that would enable them to. It reminded me of the Christian ethic that each person we encounter is a beloved child of God and so we should love them too.

The metro guy at Harvard T said to me, "You don't get the day off like your kids do?" and I laughed and said no. I thought, "How do you I know I work for Harvard University? and I thought none of Harvard had canceled for today," but as he kept talking I realized that he probably meant the public schools -- which I guess meant he thought I was old enough to have kids?

Around 9:25 this morning, I went over to get second breakfast and there were occasional flakes of snow falling from the sky :) Edit (10:08am): And Laura Ruth just emailed the listserv Subject line "I'm watching the snow start," and so I looked out the window behind me and indeed snow is visibly falling from the sky. /edit

Oh, and I got a card from my mom last night.

front (which has glitter *waves at Ari, and Amy* ):
[picture of a smiling purple cat]
Every family should have someone as AMAZINGLY NICE and SPECIAL as YOU.
Thank goodness you have an exclusive contract with us!
With Love
Plus a personal note. ♥ my mommy :)
hipster me

[Mr. Crepe] last one before Tiffany leaves

Tiffany had her (now seven months old) baby with her at Mr. Crepe last night because her partner had to work late that night.  Baby was full of energy.

He had finished his baby food and had been partaking of the avocado from Tiffany's crepe -- but he wouldn't let her feed him, insisted on doing it himself ... and every time he successfully got the food in his mouth he got so excited ... and she had to swoop in and push the food back into his mouth so it wouldn't fall out.

I told her about the poem my mom had written when I was little -- Stubborn indepdendent baby / "I can do it myself -- maybe."

I said something about him being extroverted, and Tiffany was like, "Yeah, I know, where did that come from?"  I told Tiffany that when I went to Tu b'Shvat at Havurat Shalom a couple weeks ago, Leetka greeted me at the door all "What's your name?" and "What languages do you speak?" and suchlike -- not remembering me from the Pride service -- and I said that I sat with her and her mom for dinner and Leetka kept saying, "I'm lonely!  Nobody's talking to me!"  I told her mom, "most transparently extroverted person I have ever met," and her mom said, "I don't know where she gets it from -- both her parents are introverts," and I said, "Maybe it's recessive?"  Tiffany said extroversion is actually dominant -- that introversion is recessive, so only ~25% of the population are introverts ... but ~80% of UMC clergy are introverts.

Tiffany reiterated lots of the positive things she has said to me before (and the still new-to-me formulation of me as part of the "leadership" of CWM), which was really nice.  She talked about having watched me move from "I don't belong to any church" to "Cambridge Welcoming is my church" and watching me find a home for myself in various different church communities and watching me grow into leadership -- and she said after I finished preaching I was glowing, which I had not heard before.

I told her some stories from the retreat -- about Tara talking about being a hymnal junkie and my saying that my best friend is too but I'm not and my saying maybe I should collect hymnals too and about singing "She Comes Sailing on the Wind" for Jeff even though solo singing is so not something I do (because Church challenges us and grows us) and about thinking that if I collected hymnals then I could create my own personal collection of hymns I like for use in worship services and how I found myself thinking, "Worship planning?  Seriously?"  I told Tiffany that I keep saying I'm not Called to ordained ministry because I don't want to do xyz parts of that, and I keep having to cut down that list.

She said, "At your ordination I'm just going to say, 'I told you so,' that's all."

She asked how I felt about her recent sermons on Call.

I said at some level I'm like, "Yes, that's Tiffany's theme this season -- you, congregation, can and will do great things after I, Tiffany, leave."  She joked, "What are you talking about?  It's in the lectionary -- it's GOD'S THEME, Elizabeth!"

I said that I definitely also heard myself in the sermons (by which I meant: "I know that I am one of the people you particularly have in mind").  She said, "I'm glad you heard yourself in those sermons."  (In a really kind way.  Though yes of course also a really loaded way.)

She said she hoped I would continue to be in leadership in the church, that she always appreciates my feedback, and that she thinks I'm particularly good at pointing out, "Yeah, this is all well and good for us insiders who know how everything goes, but..."  She literally used the phrase "welcoming the stranger."  I forget sometimes that that is part of What I Do -- because now that I'm such a long-standing and involved member of various church communities, I've lost some of my attentiveness to the outsider's experience of church.  I appreciated the reminder.

Addendum: Housemate, having read this entry, says to me, "So you were caught in the act of worship planning," and, "I'm just going to start introducing you to people as 'my roommate who is definitely not resisting a call to ministry.'" We agreed that my thinking seriously about it doesn't mean I have to do something about it next week or anything -- despite many people's half-joking "so when are you going to seminary/div school?"  I said that for a while I was knee-jerk reacting because I'd had so many people tell me that clearly I should be doing this thing, and I didn't think so, and gee are we surprised that my response to people telling me how they think I should live my life is to say "No way"?  And having said "no, you're wrong" so many times, it would mean admitting "Okay, you were right all along" -- except that hey, I'm still doing it on my timetable (i.e., they weren't right all along, because it wasn't right for me Then); I've had an "imaginary div school plan" for years, and it's only recently that I've and I'm still not sure about this whole grad school thing.  I can continue to be involved in the leadership of my churches, and I can continue to write sermons (yeah, one of these days I would like to get back to actually doing that on a regular basis) and grow into worship planning, and basically keep being serious about church and continue actively discerning.  I love my day job less than I used to, but I'm still not in a rush to leave.  Really, I'm not in a rush about any of this, and that is OKAY.

[Rest and Bread] "Your hands are cold -- first time ever."

[FirstChurch Mailing List] I'm watching the snow start

Dear Beloved,

Wouldn't it be fun to bundle up and come out in the snow to church tonight for Rest and Bread at 6:30, and our big leadership night at 7? We'll have bread and wine at Rest and Bread and pizza at 7:10. Music for meditation begins at 6:15.

Snow angels are showing up around 5:30 to prepare the way of the Lord.

Hope you all can come, will come.
Laura Ruth
When I left work, snow had only accumulated on the coldest patches of ground, but I was still busting out gleeful walking through campus -- really dunno whether that was actually related to the weather or not, 'cause I was kind of like, "Where did that come from?"  When I left church around 7:30, the snow was falling more heavily (though I wouldn't actually call it "heavy") and it was windy and the ground was mostly all covered.  When I got home, my housemate said, "So the snow is about 12 hours behind schedule."

We finally changed the altar cloth to green for Ordinary Time (I liked having it white, so I wasn't agitating for liturgically appropriate -- and white is what I'm so used to on the Communion table, that I think after Epiphany I just didn't register it as a parament).  And we adjusted the Call to Worship again.  And Laura Ruth asked me if it would be okay if we added in "I Surrender All" as a transition between Confession/Grace and Communion -- actually, she opened by asking, "Do you know [sings] 'I surrender all...'?" and I said I'm familiar with it enough to recognize it when she was singing it but not enough to sing it on my own without looking at the words, and she said they were thinking of adding it into the service for Lent blah blah blah and I said I didn't remember it well enough to know if I have theological problems with it -- "Not that that would necessarily stop you from using it, which is fine" -- and she said they'd actually changed the language some, so it's, "I surrender all ... my loving Savior ..." and I said "I like it thus far," and she said that was it, and I said I was okay with that.  She wiped her brow in relief :)  [Looking it up now, I guess we're just using the chorus.]  And Keith asked me if I had any Assurance of Grace I'd like to swap out the current one for, and I said I really like the one we're using now, and I really hadn't thought about liturgical planning for Lent.  He said they were leaning toward keeping the current one, but that if there was one I'd been burning to use -- "But you probably would have told us already if there were" :)  He asked if his playing piano for the meditative music worked, and I said yeah, and he said something like he knew I could be trusted to tell him if I didn't think so, and I said yeah, I might not necessarily volunteer that opinion but if I'm asked outright...  He said that's rare and valuable -- to have someone willing to give honest negative feedback.  I said there are times I hesitate, because I think the person asking doesn't really want to hear my honest negative opinion, but yeah.


Sacred Text: Matthew 19:16-29 (Inclusive Bible version)

Keith did the Reflection, and he talked about approaching the text from multiple perspectives -- said we tend to read this text from the perspective of the rich person, to feel it as a judgment on ourselves and to take the discussion in the direction of what do we do with that tension, but that while yes, living where there may be violence but not war, hunger but not starvation, we are in some ways in a position of privilege, but there are other places and moments where we are very much not in a position of privilege -- having our marriage not recognized by the government, being afraid to come out to people we love, being victims of racism or harassment, etc.  He said that Jesus' primary audience wasn't the rich and powerful, and that one message of this passage is that the Kingdom of God is so important that we should push all else aside for it, and so maybe we can be thankful when there is less between us and the Kingdom of God.

Yes, I totally said "Kindom of God" when I did the Call to Confession (I talked about how sometimes we turn from opportunities to do good and sometimes we actively place more stuff between us and the Kindom of God -- and I said "Reign of God" at one point as well, and I talked about God welcoming us into [God's Kindom, or whatever term I used] of love and peace and justice).



Apparently Lenten morning prayer service will begin on Ash Wednesday and will include an Imposition of Ashes?  And then there's a 7pm Ash Wednesday service with Imposition of Ashes (no Rest and Bread, though the chapel will be open at 6:30 for meditation).
Lenten Midweek House Church - The early Christians went deeper in faith by gathering in faith by gathering throughout the week in small groups for prayer, conversation, and a holy meal.  We do the same each year during the 40 days of Lent, a time of deeper introspection and spiritual growth.  This year's Lenten theme is "Simple Shifts."  Every Wednesday in Lent we'll explore a different way to simplify our lives -- YOU will create the agenda on our first Wednesday together, and every Wednesday thereafter we'll explore one topic to determine what Christian scripture,tradition, and new revelation have to teach us.

Wednesdays work like this:

6:30 Rest and Bread worship
7:10 Simple Soup Supper
7:35 Small Groups
Edit: After I'd gone to bed Wednesday night, someone emailed the listserv announcing a pancake breakfast after church this coming Sunday. /edit
ACCOMPANY IMMIGRANTS IN DETENTION - Some Boston-area church folks are organizing to visit detained immigrants in Suffolk County Detention Center once a month.  The idea is that as people of faith, we offer accompaniment as spiritual caregivers to detained immigrants.  We don't offer legal help or advocacy, we offer our presence, hear people's stories, and let them know that they are not forgotten.  This is part of a larger campaign around immigrant rights that's being organized by the New Sanctuary Movement, a coalition of churches.  A faith-based group that does spiritual care-giving at the detention center, the Refugee Immigration Ministry (RIM), is doing a comprehensive training for anyone who'd like to commit to the visiting program.  [...]  The visiting schedule will be one Monday evening a month 7-9 pm-ish, plus a "support" meeting once a month (which may be optional).  Visits are usually done in pairs and you should be able to commit to one year of visits.
I think I can't make the trainings (it's Thurs. Feb. 18 - Sun. Feb. 21, so it would mean missing my second Singspiration in a row, plus being late to the first CWM led by the new pastor) but I was thinking later that this would be really good practice for being in ministry (since my big resistance to ministry is that I don't want to have to care for people -- I totally do care for people already, but those are people I chose at some level or another, not a congregation I got handed).

And while I'm thinking about giving of my time and talents: Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic


Edit: Oh, so there was annual leadership meeting after Rest and Bread, but all were welcome to join for dinner, so I did (yay pizza -- though I would have liked the toppings in writing).  FCS-Ian (Church Moderator) said, "If anyone feels moved to offer a blessing over the food, then we can move over to the pizza," and Althea said something like, "I move that we say grace," and he said, "I didn't mean it had to be so formal" -- I honestly don't know whether she thought he was seriously saying we had to formally move to do this (it occurred to me later that the meeting hadn't even been called to order, right? so you can't make any formal motion -- yeah, I am so going to end up purchasing a copy of Robert's Rules of Order along with all those hymnals, aren't it? And yes I know various denominations have their own meeting rules, but I'm not sure I'm that hardcore and if I were to be it would be the UMC rules I would be learning and I feel that Robert's Rules is always a valid neutral default.) but NGL my default reaction was "seconded" -- though I didn't actually say that, 'cause Ian spoke first.