Thursday, August 26, 2010


Lots going on in my head this morning.

What is church for? Well I can't find the post, but a seminary friend posted a rant about critiques of sermons by parishioners. When I posted on another forum that I was retiring, a friend replied that his sister was tired of arguing with parishioners. Yesterday, a group of parishioners talked about going to church for comfort. I suppose my lack of success as a pastor comes from the fact that I really don't think church should be a place of comfort. (Except for when the church should be a place of comfort it really isn't. In the face of tragedy we isolate the sufferer, smooth over our own feelings of discomfort, provide meaningless bromides.) For most whiney Americans (myself included) church, IMHO, should be a place of deep discomfort.

Yes, we are forgiven even before we ask. Yes, God loves us unconditionally. God's grace is infinite. And our reaction is to want even more comfort. We should come to church and be discomforted at the state of our country: the hungry, the homeless, the unparented children, the unschooled children, those in prison. We should be discomforted by unequal justice, by the widest gap between rich and poor since the 20s, by the shrinking of the middle class. We should be upset by lack of clean water all over the world, by hunger when the food we feed animals for our consumption could feed all the hungry in the world. We should be discomforted that our food is no longer safe. We should be discomforted that we'd rather trash each other than love the person sitting in the pew next to us. We should be discomforted by the state of some of our presbyteries and churches where manipulation is paramount and love is absent.

We should be discomforted by our self centeredness.

For some reason, the idea of a womb has been entering my consciousness. After my hysterectomy a friend asked if I felt a loss. I really didn't. I didn't expect to ever have children again. I still don't feel a loss, but the image keeps floating into my mind. There is new life growing in me, but I don't have a clue what it is. I'm just waiting, watching.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Retirement and figuring out what I am going to do when I grow up

So, I got a call (telephone, not God) this week from an interim stated supply who thought I should talk to her church about becoming their stated supply. I reluctantly agreed to come and talk to the session. I haven't heard back and I'm really relieved because I don't want to go there.

I need time to see what God has in store for me for the next few years. I am so burned out from the resistance in the congregation I serve.

Dinner last night with a group of women I don't know very well. It was so much fun. One woman mentioned that she and a friend were turning 40 and trying to figure out what they wanted to do next. Living in this time is such a gift: there are so many things for women to do and try. We can be one thing this moment and something else the next.

One thing I really want to think about is growing older. On the one hand, I fight like crazy to stay healthy (though eating my way through lemon tarts is definitely not the way to do this). I fantasize about getting my neck fixed. I want to face the reality that I'm not as strong as I used to be, that I can't do what I once could do. And it will not get better. I want to learn to accept the limitations age brings without turning into one of those women who are bitter, angry, and frozen into selfishness and rigidity. I want to continue to love life.

I think it was Joseph Campbell who talked about Hinduism as having four stages of adulthood (this was for men, but anyway, I think it applies to women). The first stage is student: learning, then making a living, then a householder and finally focusing on the spiritual nature of life.

I'm really feeling a pull to the spiritual, to being. I'm also feeling a pull to creativity.

Well, it's time to brave the heat and pull up weeds. It's a nice metaphor for what I want to do for the next little while: pull up the weeds that choke growth and life. (On the other hand, weeds are also living . . . not sure where my analogy is going now, but I definitely am going outside.)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Friday Five--Decluttering

From Jan at RevGalBlogPals

Since posting about decluttering, I am still muttering about the need for it in my house. How about you?

I'm retiring and so I'm packing up books from my study. UGH. I'm trying to catalog them by ISBN number so I can sell some of them on line. (Anyone interested in the Anchor Bible Dictionary in perfect condition?)

1. What things do you like to hang on to?
Not sure "like" is the right word. More like what do I hang on to? Clothes I can't wear anymore. I keep hoping I'll lose those 20 pounds I really need to. Right now, I'm on the road to losing about 10 pounds this year. Maybe when I retire..
Books. Except I do sell them at Half Price Books which we don't have in Memphis. My problem is that I buy books I don't read. I'm trying to use the library more to cut down on the clutter of books. I'm also putting my house on the market so lots of stuff is going to go.

2. What is hard to let go of?
Not quite sure how this is different from 1. But, now that I think about it, bad habits: eating sweets and the internet.

3. What is easy to give away?
I cleaned out my closet (not that one could tell) and gave my clothes to a homeless place where women can come once a week, shower and pick up clean clothes. Actually this was not easy. I love to give away books. I have got to stop buying them
4. Is there any kind of stumbling block connected with cleaning out?
I am lazy. I'd much rather be surfing the net than working.
5. What do you like to collect, hoard, or admire?
Books. T shirts. I have more than 100 T shirts (at least that was about 10 years ago when a friend was complaining about the number of T shirts her daughter had. I decided I'd count mine. UGH)
I also collect countries. I'm up to 73. Four more this year, I think.
Bonus: Tell us about recycling or whatever you can think of that goes along with this muttering about cluttering.
Well, I am trying to recycle my books (any takers for the Anchor Bible Dictionary--I promise a good price). I recycle all that plastic that comes into my house. I keep forgetting my cloth grocery bags and so my collection of those awful plastic bags is growing.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday Five

From Singing Owl at RevGalBlogPals

1. What is the weather like where you live? You do not want to know. For a while I was posting nothing but weather reports on my FB. Unbelievable heat and humidity. This is the third week, I think of heat index readings over 105. Forecast high today 100. It has be at 100 or above for two weeks with a couple of days at 99 or 98. The humidity makes it intolerable.

2. Share one thing you love about this time of year. When I lived where summer was a welcome respite from cold, snow and gray, I loved being outside, hiking, walking, biking, sitting outside with a cup of coffee. I can't think of a thing I love about summer in Memphis. This being the first entire summer I have spent here. I am making plans for a road trip through New England and the Canadian maritimes next year.

3. Share one thing you do NOT love about this time of year. See above

4. How will you spend the remaining days leading up to Autumn? Packing up my books and study at church, packing my bags for a trip to Bhutan, reveling in the idea of retirement.

5. Share a good summer memory. Going to Cherry Grove (near Myrtle Beach) for Mother's Day (which my mother hated), dancing at night, laying in the sun during the day, listening to my cousin explain that the rhythm method meant that you did it to music.

Bonus: What food says SUMMER to you? Fresh Michigan blueberries and cherries.

My bonus: song that says summer to me

Friday, August 6, 2010

Friday Five: Memories

From Sally at RevGalBlogPals

This year Tim and I have planted and nurtured a vegetable garden, and I have just spent the morning preparing vegetables and soups for the freezer, our veggie garden is producing like crazy and it is hard to keep up with, that said it'll be worth it for a little taste of summer in the middle of winter :-). That got me thinking of the things I treasure, memories are often more valuable than possessions. How about you, can you share:

  1. A treasured memory from childhood?
  2. A teenage memory?
  3. A young adult memory?
  4. A memory from this summer?
  5. A memory you hope to have?
Bonus- a song that sums up one of those memories

Memories. I'm not sure memories are always good. There are many in my denomination who cannot let go of the memories of the church in the 50s and refuse to consider a church that can be different. They remember the time when everyone went to church, when everyone dressed up in their Sunday best, women wore hats and gloves.

There is a video going around with syrupy music: Do You Remember? The games of childhood. But it doesn't remember when the pools were closed because of the threat of polio or my childhood friend who got polio. They don't recall the little girl with beautiful blonde hair who was a patient of my dad's who had leukemia. I remember asking my dad if she would die and he said yes. I remember crying over a little girl I had just seen. It was a time when African Americans couldn't even go to the pool. It was a time when women were expected to stay home and raise children. It was a time when women in almost all denominations weren't ordained.

One day, in forty years, there will be another video (or some other thing that you and I will marvel over) mourning the loss of these innocent days of the 2010s.

But, I digress. Memories can be good. They can help us through times of trouble. They can enrich our lives. Without memories, we could not be who we are.

So, to the Friday Five:
A treasured memory from childhood. Getting Duke from my Uncle Jim. My favorite uncle. He had taken care of me when I was a baby (I really don't remember that), but he had so much affection for me. He had a collie who had puppies and gave us one. A beautiful brown collie we name Duke I think because his mother was Duchess.

A teenage memory. Anguish, anguish, anguish is about all I remember from being a teenager. I had such a crush on a senior when I was a sophomore. One time he came over to talk with me and I couldn't say a word. Not a word. He was so good looking. (He later got old and fat, but don't we all?)

A young adult memory. My son. Watching him grow and play. He was such a cute kid and really smart (aren't all parents' children cute and smart?) I don't want to embarrass him.

A memory from this summer. Yesterday, in the Committee on Ministry meeting being prayed over by people who love me.

A memory I hope to have. Lying on my bed, surrounded by people I love, saying good bye for the last time, thinking, it has been good.

Perhaps my favorite song from my Habitat days. There was a Habitat video that used this song.