Saturday, January 31, 2009

And Addendum to the Previous Post

Hmmmm, as I was reading this evening, I remembered how much I have preached on "Fear Not" since I have arrived here. I think my body understands things don't know consciously.

Interesting Answers to Things I've Wondered About

Wow! We had a session retreat today. Our mission statement is to share our love of God with young people (or something like that). So an elder repeated our mission statment in a comment. Then about two minutes later, she said that a new couple with their two children made her afraid. I asked for clarification and she said that she was afraid that they would need something we couldn't give them. Then another member echoed the same sentiment. If we have new families attending, then they might need things we can't give them. Their thinking is entirely on what the new folks might demand from them instead of how they can share God's love with those folks. Amazing. I just never would have thought of that. Their fear of change came through loud and clear in other ways, too. Now, I was an active church member for 15 years before I went to seminary. It just never occurred to me that the reaction I heard today was a reaction anyone could have. I understand being afraid of change because it is unknown, it is risky, it is well, different. I understand not wanting new members because it means maybe we might be asked to change. But being afraid of new members because they might be needy is a bit weird to me.

I spend Friday night at church with movie night and most of today at the retreat (which actually was quite good, all in all). I was thinking that tomorrow was Monday. It's not. It's Sunday. I have to get up and preach. By Tuesday, I will have worked 12 straight days. I was planning to take Monday off (since I didn't get Friday), but I have to meet with someone and there is not other day in the time frame we need to meet. And my sinuses are killing me.

I am struggling with whether I stay with them until they die (we can stretch it out). They seem to want to stretch it out. I will lose our clerk this year sometime (whenever his house sells) and lose our treasurer in about three years. (Yes, I will lose them; it's a loss for me.) That leaves me with one solid member that I can talk to who understands me and what I see as "church". My guess is she will probably leave soon after those other two.

Movie night was fun, though. We watched the Bucket List. It was probably much less depressing to watch it with a whole group (including five teens) than by myself. Our music director's surgery was postponed another week. I did tell her that you don't throw up like Nicholson did because of chemo (at least not the kind they do for ovarian cancer). If you take your nausea meds. (I forgot once and that's all it took.)

Thanks for listening. I think I'm going to go cry right now.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Friday Five

From willsmama at RevGalBlogPals
As some of you may know I am in the midst of my first home purchase. It is a new-build and so some of the fun was picking out upgrades and major decor items to my taste rather than walking into a previously owned home that needed to be upgraded room by room (pink and teal tiles in the bathroom, anyone?). As much as decorating is not my thing, I did try to embrace the moment because just how many times do you get to have a do-over on kitchen cabinets/floors/countertops?

And so, my questions to you this fine Friday involve your home past, present or future...

1) If you could, what room in the place you are currently living would you redo first?

First, you have to know I have a perfect house. It is a 20s bungalow (not quite Craftsman, though there are some beautiful Craftsmans in my neighborhood). It was completely redone just before I bought it. The remodeler added a great room to the back. It runs across the entire back and has big windows overlooking the tiny back yard. I had the back yard redone. It's all patio with a koi pond and waterfall. It is lovely. And the house is just about perfect.

2) What is the most hideous feature/color/decor item you have ever seen in a home?
When I was looking for a house here, (I think I saw 70 or 80), almost everyhouse had a red room. What were they thinking. I asked my sister who has remained a Southerner and she said that Southern Living seemed to feature red rooms. And the laundries were the strangest things. In one house you couldn't open the dryer door completely because the water heater was in the way. In another, the washer and dryer were moved onto an otherwise great back porch. I don't know what one does when it's 20 degrees (and we've had cold weather here for a few days).

3) What feature do you most covet? Do you have it? If not, is it within reach?
My house is just about perfect. I never particulary wanted a whirlpool tub, but I love it. I now can't imagine not having one. And my refrigerator has one of those water/ice thingies on the door. I wouldn't have bought one that way, but I love it.

4) Your kitchen - love it or hate it? Why?
The only problem with my kitchen is that it is the passage way between the old house (and the dining room) and the great room where I live. It's OK, except when I have people over. I used to just close the messy kitchen door. Now I have to leave enough time to have a mostly clean kitchen.

5) Here is $10,000 and you HAVE to spend it on the place you are living now. What do you do?

Actually, there is nothing that needs to be done. I told you I have the perfect house (at least for me)
BONUS: Why do you think there was such a surplus of ugly bathroom tile colors showcased in all homes built from the 1950's right through the early 80's?
On my various house hunting tours, I learned that I could date a house from the color of the tile. What is so wrong with white? It goes with everything. My upstairs bathroom is white. The one downstairs has a sandy/pinkish stone tile on the floor and in the shower, but not elsewhere.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


I'm a Calvinist so I'm at home with guilt. I don't like it, but it's a natural feeling. To make a short story long, Tuesday I had some friends over to talk about the congregation and how to save it (whether to save it). So, they suggested finally, that I spend some time praying about what I want and need. And so that's what I did a lot of yesterday. At 62 I'm nearing retirement. I need health insurance and the denominational plan will let me stay in unemployed status for 18 months (during which I will pay about $600 a month). I could stay in "actively searching for a call" status for 2 years (you can switch to unemployed from that, but you can't switch from unemployed to asfac). So, I'm OK in terms of insurability, other than the cost. And then I was trying to figure out how much money I need to live on. So, I spent some time thinking about money. Then the guy who comes around looking for work or a hand out came back and knocked on my back door. I'm not too happy that he came to the back door. But, I answered the door and he wanted some money. I told him I couldn't give him any more money. He said he was hungry and so I made him two meat loaf sandwiches. Then he wanted some water. Then he wanted more water and a Bible.

So, I live a comfortable life and he is sleeping on the streets in the cold. (No one seems to like the shelters). He tells me he is looking for a job and can't find one. I'm not sure whether he had been drinking last night, but that really doesn't matter. I just don't know what to do. I don't know how to help him. I think he is lonely, but I don't want to befriend him. And so, I feel guilty. And it only will get worse. Lots of people in the neighborhood hired him last fall, even into early Jan to do yard work. I'll hire him again when I have work to do. I give him money when I don't have work for him to do, but I can't solve his problem. And so I feel guilty.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

More musings on cancer

Our music director will have surgery in a couple of weeks to determine whether she has ovarian cancer. Somehow, it is easier to have cancer than to see it in someone else. I am worried, until the surgery to know what stage it is. She is about ten years younger than I am. There is nothing I can do. At least with my cancer, I can decide, have some control. From the outside, it looks like chaos, something out of control (which it really is). And besides, I was in denial for about a month.

I'll be with her before her surgery (she has a lot of family coming into town to be with her, too).

Sunday, January 25, 2009

My sermon

Following Jesus

One of my Old Testament professors in seminary would often say, as we tried to figure out the meaning of a text: “All our understandings are provisional.” He meant a lot in that short sentence. Sometimes our understandings of a text are provisional because we will learn more about the text. A new copy of the text will be dug up somewhere in Palestine or Egypt or Syria or will be discovered in a synagogue in Israel or even buried in the archives or a museum or university in Europe. A fragment of Isaiah that is older than any we have will be uncovered. Sometimes our understandings are provisional because we personally will learn more about the text. We will read the Greek or Hebrew again and see a different nuance than we had seen before. We will understand a word differently. We will see that the word can have a slightly different meaning than we had considered before. Sometimes we will read a new commentary or a scholarly article and gain insight into the text that we hadn’t had before. Sometimes our understandings change and shift because we have changed or shifted. Perhaps the Holy Spirit has moved in our lives in a particular way. Perhaps changes have happened in our lives so that we see things differently. Perhaps we have just had a new insight. The more we study a text, the more we learn about it, the deeper our understanding becomes.
I bring this up because as I studied this text, thought about it and prayed over the text, my understanding of the disciples shifted. In Mark’s Gospel and in the other gospels to a greater or lesser extent, the disciples never really understand who Jesus is. Mark, in particular, emphasizes how utterly clueless the disciples are. They see the miracles, they participate in healings, they sit with Jesus as he explains the parables to them. Three of the disciples named in the text this morning: Simon whom we know as Peter, James and John, go with Jesus to the mountain top and see the transfiguration. And they still don’t understand. Even after the resurrection experiences, there seem to be things these disciples just don’t understand about Jesus.
For a long time, I have understood this in a particular way. In the early church, the disciples in Jerusalem understood Jesus in a particular way: they saw themselves as a Jewish sect. They were primarily Jewish and those who followed Jesus were Jewish. Paul then comes along with a revelation of Jesus and an understanding of following Jesus that included those who were not Jews in a different way. The two parties disagreed about many things. If you read Acts and Paul’s letters you can see those disagreements. Mark is written after Paul’s letters, towards the end of Paul’s ministry. I have always thought that the reason Mark paints the disciples as such doofuses (is that word still used?) is that he was reflecting Paul’s view of Christianity. I believe that Mark adopted Paul’s view of Christianity and so he believed the disciples in Jerusalem did not understand meaning of Christianity. And so, if they didn’t understand when Mark was writing his gospel, then they must not have understood what Jesus was saying when Jesus taught them. Thus, Mark’s gospel reflects his understanding of the disciples’ misunderstanding of Jesus from the beginning.
As I began to study and think about this passage, I began to see something different. Jesus has begun to preach his battlefield report that God was working in the world. From the text, it seems like he was just walking along the lake one day and sees Simon and Andrew and asks them to follow him. And then he does the same thing with James and John. From the text, it seems Jesus knows nothing about these men, except they are working; they are fishermen. We have no idea what drew Jesus to them, why he chose these four. There must have been other men out fishing that day, but Jesus chose these and they followed.
Jesus spent the next three years with them. They were together almost all the time. They wandered across Galilee with Jesus. They were there are Jesus healed the sick. They were there as Jesus cast out demons. They were there as Jesus fed the five thousand (not counting women and children) and as Jesus fed the four thousand. They were there as Jesus walked across the lake and calmed the storm. Simon, Peter as we know him, James and John were there as Jesus was transfigured on the mountaintop. They were there during those last days in Jerusalem: the triumphant entrance, the teaching at the Temple, the last supper, that Passover that Jesus spent with them. They were in Jerusalem when Jesus was tried. Peter was there, denying that he knew Jesus, even as he remember Jesus’ telling him that Peter would do exactly that and Peter’s fervent denial. They were in jerusalme, though not at the cross, when Jesus was crucified.
Through this, Jesus loved them. From the way Jesus looks at Peter when Jesus tells Peter what will happen on that fateful night, that Peter will deny all knowledge of Jesus, you know that Jesus loves these men. And they are clueless about what this all means. They are clueless about what Jesus is actually teaching. They are clueless that Jesus will be crucified. They are clueless that Jesus is the Messiah. And it doesn’t seem to matter to Jesus. Jesus loves them. Jesus continues to be with them for those three years.
And so I wonder, what is really important? Does it really matter that we understand all the theology around Jesus? Does it matter if we get it right? Almost from the beginning, Christians have argued over the meaning of who Jesus is, what the meaning of the resurrection is, how it happened. The church has split again and again over matters of theology. Was Jesus fully human and fully divine? What is the relationship between God the Creator and Jesus? And what about the Holy Spirit? Who can forgive sins? How do we best worship God? Should we sing hymns during our worship? Can we have images of Jesus and the saints in our churches? And what about the saints? Should we ordain women? Should we ordain gays and lesbians? Do we really understand completely the meaning of Jesus’ life and teachings? What is really important?
What is really important? The text begins with jesus’ message: The realm of God is near. Repent. Believe the good news from the battlefield. God is at work in this world. God is in control. Turn your life around. The disciples never got it right. And yet, Jesus loved them. They turned from their previous lives and came behind Jesus. They cared for the sick and the outcasts. They loved one another and those whom Jesus loved. They were a community that cared for each other and that reached out to care for others. They shared the good news from the battlefield. God is in control. They may have never understood, but they followed where Jesus led them.
Thomas Merton wrote this prayer:
MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you a re ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone. Amen and Amen.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Friday Five RevGalBlogPals

Here in snow country we are settled in to what is a very long stretch of potentially boring days. The holidays are over. It is a very long time till we will get outside on a regular basis. The snow that seemed so beautiful at first is now dirty and the snow banks are piling up. Our vehicles are all the same shade of brownish grey, but if we go to the car wash our doors will freeze shut. People get grumpy. Of course, not everyone lives in a cold climate, but even in warmer places the days till springtime can get long. Help! Please give us five suggestions for combating cabin fever and staying cheerful in our monochromatic world?

You have my sympathies. It's going to be 60 today here and sunny. I'm going for a bike ride. I once lived in Cleveland Ohio and then in southern Michigan. So, I know about cabin fever. My cure: cross country skiing. I was so much happier when I discovered cross country skiing. I'm not good at it: I fall all the time. Just strap on the skis and go. Just do something to get outside. Take a walk. If the sun is shining, spend a little time outside, no matter what. If the sun isn't shining, it's not as much fun, but get outside. I was also much happier when I discovered long underwear.

Spring will come, I promise you!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

I ran today. I'm training for a sprint triathlon: 400 meter swim, xxkm bike ride (I just don't remember) and a 5K run. I'm swimming 900 yards right now (but in a pool with a wall to turn on and grab a breath every 25 yards). I'm swimming really slow; about 28 minutes for the 900 yards. I'm struggling to work up to a 30 minute jog (which will be about 3.5 km). My goal is to work up to jogging 5 K three times a week. The biking will be fine. If I can get strong enough to do the run part easily, the rest will be OK. My goal is to finish.

Our music director is seeing an oncologist today. Possible diagnosis: ovarian cancer. S**t. I'm going to try to run by the clinic where she is seeing the doc today before her appointment. One third of American women will have cancer at some point in their lives (for men it's one half). Much of that is either curable or the person is old. But ovarian cancer is rare. Only 22000 women in this country will have it this year. So, how can the two of us have it? What are the odds (evidently 100 percent). I just hope if it is cancer (and I hope it isn't) they will have caught it at an early stage. She is going to the best cancer facility in the city. (Not where I went unfortunately, but that's another story--I just wanted the tumor out the fastest way possible.)

And I still have a sermon to write.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Friday Five

From Songbird at RevGalBlogPals
Although written by a young man, this song from "Rent" became an anthem for women of a certain age ready to be taken on their own terms. Maureen and Joanne love each other, but they are *very* different.

Whether it's new friends or new loves or new employers, what are five things people should know about you?

1. I am a bitch. Don't expect me to be a simpering-sweet Southern belle pastor type. I'm not.

2. I am an unabashed liberal. Don't give me that namby-pamby progressive label. Full-out total liberal.

3. I love the scriptures. I love reading them, seeing the nuances there, being awed by the literary power of them.

4. I love to be outside. I love hiking and biking and swimming. I love being in the sunshine. I love scuba diving. I love being a part of God's world and enjoying God's creation and God's creatures.

5. I love to travel and to experience different people, places and cultures. Don't expect me to go to the usual places. I can do that when I'm older. And, no, it's not a mission trip to China or Mongolia that I'm on.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Help! Advice Wanted!

The congregation I pastor has a significant (really significant) anniversary next year. I really don't care about anniversaries. For churches. They look to the past, not to the present or the future. So, a session member came in and wanted to talk to me about the celebration. Her idea is for special things to occur all during the year. There is already someone ready to chair the celebration committee. I told her that I don't really like anniversary celebrations, but if that's what the session and the congregation want to do, then it's fine with me. She wants the session to talk about this at our retreat. We are having quarterly business meetings and won't have a business meeting until March, which she thinks is too late.

So, either tell me I'm off the wall about anniversaries and I should get on the bandwagon and celebrate with them (I will celebrate with them) or help me figure out how to get them to focus on mission and not themselves. Or some middle way.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Friday Five Pancakes

From Sophia at RevGalBlogPals

1. Scratch or mix? Buttermilk or plain?
Mix. Neither buttermilk or plain: blueberry! I either throw in fresh blueberries or frozen.

2. Pure and simple, or with additions cooked in?
See number one

3. For breakfast or for dinner?
Breakfast, of course, or brunch. Dinner????

4. Preferred syrup or other topping? How about the best side dish?
If blueberry, then homemade blueberry syrup. (Cook down blueberries, water and sugar until you like it) and whipped cream. If plain, then jelly of some sort.

5. Favorite pancake restaurant?

You can get pancakes in a restaurant? Actually, the inn run by Calvin College in Grand Rapids had Belgian waffles with frozen strawberries and whipped cream at their breakfast bar. Wonderful!

A new height of dumbness

A new height of dumbness.
Scientists in Britian have developed a test for a gene which is linked to ovarian and breast cancer. A little girl has been born who is being called "cancer free".
What BS. Just because you have the gene does not mean you will develop cancer. And just because you don't have the gene, doesn't mean you won't. I wish I knew the statistics, but I would guess far more cancers are linked to environmental hazards than to genetic risks.

One more example of human beings thinking we know more than we do.
Last day on the island. No diving. There's a 24 hour rule (used to be 12) that one should not dive 24 hours before flying. Since there are old divers and bold divers but no old, bold divers and I'm an old diver, I follow the rules. We did two dives off Klein Bonaire, a small island about a mile off the city here. (Bonaire is shaped like a boomerang. Klein Bonaire is at the center of the curve.) We spent some time with an eagle ray on the first dive and squid on the second. No green morays this trip. The coral was in better shape--there is no development on the island. This seems to imply that development is what is causing the decline in the health of the reef here.

I will do a parishioner's memorial service a week from Sunday. She had a note in her Bible that said that she wanted to beat her cancer (which she did) to give other women hope. I like that sentiment. When I visit an ovarian cancer forum, I see women with stage four cancer seeking hope, that other women have made it. Does hope make a difference? I know it is supposed to, but does it?

I ran today. Second day of second week of couch to 5K. It's still relatively easy: jog 90 seconds, walk 2 minutes, repeat for 20 minutes. I'm still hoping to be on target for a mini sprint triathlon in September. It will take hard work, though. The pain from the hernia repair seems to be mostly gone.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Every Day in Bonaire is a Great Day!

Today we dived Windsock named because there once was a windsock nearby. I'm not sure whether it's still there, but the airport is. It's a great snorkling location at high tide, but there is (was?) a lot of elkhorn coral and fire coral to navigate in and out and around. My son took me through a fairly sandy entry and helped me on with my fins. From thence we went, except we didn't. I forgot to turn on my air. Fortunately I have a habit of sucking on my regulator before I actually get in the water, so my son could turn on the air while I was still standing up. From thence we headed out to the drop off, except we didn't because I forgot to turn on my dive computer. Actually I thought it was turned on, but I guess it needed to be turned on again. And so, I had to go up to the surface because it won't turn on underwater (a design flaw if there ever was one). From thence we started along the reef toward the south end of the island. Except we didn't. I misread the current and thought I was headed against the current. My son turned me around and we headed toward town. I get the ditz of the day diving award.

The coral seemed battered, but this area does get battered in the storms. I'm not sure how much is due to run off from construction. There has been an enormous amount of construction since I was here last about four years ago. The building we are staying in is new this year. A couple of lots away, they are tearing down a perfectly nice house for a McMansion (I suppose). Across from the airport, several new developments have gone in. And now, with the global recession, I would imagine unfinished buildings will be left here to languish. There is one that has been here for at least eight years at the southern end of the island. It's a shell and an unsightly one at that. When we first started coming here in the mid 80s across from the airport were shell of buildings. They stayed unfinished for probably 10 years until they were either finished (I think) or torn down for a new resort. I am hoping with the Dutch taking over the governing of the island, there will be more oversight of developers and more requirements that they have financing before they start. It seems that most of the buildings are build with the idea that apts will be presold to finance construction.

It isn't a particularly beautiful island (above water). It is a desert. The island is basically poor. They are dependent on imports for all their food. (Yesterday the restaurant owner apologized for not having salads. There is no lettuce on the island right now.) I'm hopeful that the new government relationships will focus on economic development especially for the locals who have heretofore been pretty much overlooked. On the other hand, the Dutch are notorious (here) for their racism, so who knows. There are few jobs for young local men.

Gotta go diving.


On Monday, my octopus (the regulator for a buddy should he run out of air--my buddies have always been male, so no s/he) was free flowing. That means that rather than delivering air on demand, air was swooshing of the regulator. My son and I decided to dive anyway, but go off the beach in front of our apartment. And off we went. It was OK, but the exit was a bit tough. The water near shore was so silty that I couldn't see where I was going. My son warned me away from one rock and I hit my knee on another. It was bleeding, looked worse than it was. I think it must have been fire coral, because I had welts on my knee around the scrape. But it didn't hurt or itch. I'm just not strong enough to manage an exit through surf if the bottom isn't firm. And those rock-free, coral rubble-free places are few and far between here. (In fact, I'm not sure I know of any) So, yesterday, we went to Oil Slick. It's a great entry--just jump in (of course getting to the jump in place is over eroded ironstone which is sharp). And someone has put in a ladder, so one just pulls out of the water on the ladder. I checked the ladder and the bottom step (which at low tide was at the surface level of the water) was broken. So, there was no way I could get out of the water there. We then went to the place in town where we had done our check out dive to sign up for boat dives. I said, so why don't we just go in here. I knew I could get in and out fairly easily. The dive is not a great one. There are tons of tires that I guess have fallen off boats or have just been dropped in the water. But we saw the octopus we had seen before. It is amazing to watch it change colors, shape and texture. Lots of queen angel fish. All in all fish were fairly sparse.

I have been walking or running every morning. I am amazed that when I exercise hard I don't have pain from my hernia surgery. If I don't, then it seems I do. I don't understand the connection, but it's an easy fix.

We took some pictures yesterday. I decided not to buy underwater camera equipment, so no octopus pictures, but a pelican and flamingo may be posted later.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Did my check out dive yesterday. While we were still in the shallows, my son spotted an octopus. We watched him for a fairly long time. He went hither and thither, changing colors and shapes. At one point he swam onto the top of a huge concrete block which holds a mooring line. The octopus molded itself into a perfect tent shape, mimicing the mooring line tie down. At the top of his head, he made a little knob with his eyes looking out. Later we saw a small hawksbill turtle demolishing a coral head. He seemed unperturbed by our presence. We watched him for several minutes. I have no idea what he was eating.

I walked this morning and thought about the dive. Diving for me is a spiritual act, a time of being totally present. I don't think about the past or worry about tomorrow. I just am there amid the fishies and the coral and the sponges and all the other wonderful things beneath the waves. I'm wondering if I can convince the congregation that a dive trip is a spiritual retreat for me and I can take study leave for it.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Friday Five

From Sally at RevGalBlogPals

First list 5 memories from 2008.

Then list 5 hopes or prayers for 2009

Memories from 2008
1. A silverback gorilla, the first I'd seen, came bounding out of the forest and stopped in front of me, not more than six feet away.

2. A total eclipse in Mongolia. Total eclipses are the most awesome, spiritual experience I have had.

3. Obama winning the election. Watching the returns with a friend.

4. Taking photographs of a beautiful blue heron fishing in a lake.

5. Seeing a brown bear at the glacier outside of Juneau; eating halibut with friends in Juneau; meeting and talking with an Inuit Presbyterian and hearing his stories.

Hopes for 2009
1. An end to violence, especially in Palestine

2. Good health for me and for everyone. Being able to finish a sprint triathlon in September.

3. Spending more time with friends

4. Getting serious about photography

5. Approval of ordination of GLBTs in the PCUSA
I went for my walk today. My hernia repair was hurting (when it hurts, it really hurts, about an 8 on a 1-10 scale) and walking seems to help it. While I was walking I was listening to a Speaking of Faith podcast on AA. One of the participants was a Buddhist who was comparing Buddhism and AA. He talked in terms of addiction being the extreme form of attachment. It is our desires that make us unhappy.

Psalm 23 says the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. I remember reading somewhere that the I shall not want is that I will not desire that which God has not given me. A secret for happiness. I keep thinking if I were back in San Anselmo (my idea of heaven), then I'd be happy. But there would be something else that I'd want. So, I'm going to be happy with what I have been given. And I have been given so much. Way more than I deserve.

Blessings on this first day of the year. I have to eat my blackeyed peas which I haven't yet.

Everyone's Doing It

Blogging about last year and this year.

The best laid plans of mice and (wo)men aft gang aglay. (Assuming I've spelt the Scots correctly.)

Plans for 2009: scuba diving in Bonaire. In two days woohoo! I'll be with the fishes (God willing) swimming around in the coral reefs.

Western China (really western China), Tibet, a total solar eclipse, northern Japan (or southern Japan)

Somewhere at Thanksgiving: Guatemala and Mayan ruins? Scuba in Oman? Lazing around Penang? Or what I did this year--recover from surgery?

Church: Just doing what needs to be done. They don't want to reach out, to change, to do anything that will help them be more inviting to others. I had lunch with clergywomen yesterday and they began a discussion of Presbyemergents what ever that is. I realized how totally post-modern I am. I would love to be in a church willing to experiment with liturgy, with space, that was interested in studying scripture, in growing in faith. But that is not where I am and I don't have the energy to move. It is a good place for me to wait my time until I can retire. Or until the church decides it's time to die.

Personal life: A friend, a retired clergywoman, and I have decided that we are both "grass is greener" people and that we want to make the most of where we are. We swim twice a week (or will when the pool gets repaired). We are going to try to cook together once a week (we both need to eat better and to exercise more). We are going to do little trips together maybe every other month. Nashville, the Natchez trace, Arkansas, all await our explorations. I want to be disciplined about photography. I would like to either shoot the equivalent of a roll a week or a picture a day. I haven't decided which.

I am trying to eat better. I've been doing this for about 10 days and am finding it realitively easy, though I need to find some more easy entrees that are low calories and full of nuitrients. I'm trying to lose weight, too. Losing weight is a long, slow slog. I still have my goal of competing in a sprint triathlon in September. But I will need to start running seriously. (I could probably finish a sprint right now, were it not for the pain I still have from the hernia repair. It wouldn't be pretty (walking the 5K for example) but I think I could do it.)

What I learned this year. I love nature and need to be outside. I love to hike and be near the ocean. And the big one which I am in semi-denial about: I am mortal.