Friday, February 29, 2008

OUR CHURCH


Here is a picture of our church.  The new plants and trees make the copper roof look less like a sombrero. I think it's pretty now. Though the architectural styles are rather mixed. 

Nice as it is, I wish it had been done a lot more simply, for less money so that more money could have gone to more needed places. Could have been done and been just as elegant. Don't know why we had to have a copper roof. 

Anyway, it's still our church home. Haven't been called elsewhere yet. Though I've felt rather unwelcome on several occasions. But we're not there for us, after all. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

MARK

Remember my friend, Mark who passed last month?

Pat, his girlfriend and domestic partner for 20 years, was finally able to collect his remains from the coroner yesterday. It took an entire month.

This was after getting a court order two weeks ago.

Finally she can plan his memorial. He will be cremated this week. 

Rest finally in peace, dear friend. And prayers continuing for Pat.

Friday, February 22, 2008

A HEAVENLY FRIDAY FIVE

Singing Owl writes:

"I am in Seattle assisting with family stuff and preparing to attend a memorial service (Saturday) for my sister who died of complications of early-onset Alzheimer's disease.
(Bless your heart, Singing Owl. Prayers for you and your family...pg)

I am not grieving much, since the shock and tears and goodbyes and losses have been many and have occurred for a long time now. I am mostly relieved that my wonderful sister and best friend is free from pain and confusion, and I am thinking of eternity. That sounds somber, but I don't mean it to be. I decided to have a little fun with the idea. So how about we share five "heavenly" things? These can me serious or funny or a combination of the two."


What is your idea of a heavenly (i.e. wonderful and perfect):
(added note: except for #5, I took a "heaven on earth" approach)

1. Family get-together
Nothing fancy. Really good snack food. A large table for everyone to sit where we will play cards, tell stories and laugh our silly asses off all the day and night through. 

2. Song or musical piece
Oh goodness, I love music. I have so many favorites. The one I posted a couple days ago from Jethro Tull; Kissed by a Rose from Seal; Greensleeves always moves me to tears. But there is one soundtrack album from a movie that I just know was originally written in heaven, and that's the soundtrack to "Field of Dreams". 

3. Gift
Anything with diamonds. 

4. You choose whatever you like-food, pair of shoes, vacation, house, or something else. Just tell us what it is and what a heavenly version of it would be.
Oh, might I greedily do them all? (Why yes, PG, it IS your blog).....
Food: A very moist, basted Cornish game hen filled with my cornbread, sausage stuffing
Shoes: My very broken in, scuffed toed, cowboy boots. They're men's boots because the women's boots are too dang blasted narrow.
Vacation: Hawaii. First Maui for action fun, then Kauai for quiet rest and great snorkeling.
House: A 3,000 square foot beach house on a very large estate with several guest houses for friends to stay in, with my amazing library, indoor and outdoor pool. All green, with solar panels and back up solar batteries, recycling rain barrels and all that. And my bedroom which has a double California King bed on a platform in front of a huge glass window overlooking the sea, with satin sheets and beautiful quilts that I made myself. And lots more. But you have other blogs to read.

5. And for a serious moment, or what would you like your entrance into the next life to be like?
What, from your vantage point now, would make Heaven "heavenly?"
Oh golly gee willakers. I have never ever thought of this before. I know people who have died and come back and I will go with what one of them told me, which sounds wonderful. Bonnie told me that you have no body at all, but you don't care. There's no physical sensations, but different inexplicable sensations. Astonishing peace. And a joy that's far better than sex. That sounds pretty wonderful to me. Though I'm in no hurry now, doncha know. And for me, heaven will be the most heavenly when I can meet Jesus and give him a huge hug, if that will be physically possible. 

Monday, February 18, 2008

Jethro Tull - Life's A Long Song, 1971

Here is one of my favorite all time songs. It has nothing to do with Presidents. Or having a day off. I just wanted to hear it today. And thought you might enjoy it as well.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

THE SWORD OF SIMEON

“THE SWORD OF SIMEON”
BY PRESBYTERIAN GAL
(I wrote this two years ago. I was going to perform it. But I never did. Here it is for this Lenten season. A bit early. But I'm not going to post for awhile)

(Mary, the mother of Jesus at the foot of the cross on Calvary.)


(Eyes closed) I take it back...take it back. Choose another. I want to open my eyes in my 14 year old body, with my mother and father asleep in the next room.....before the angel.

(Opens eyes. To God) How can you expect me to live with this? Watching my son bleeding, beaten...dying. I don’t understand. You cannot have intended this.

This is my child. This body carried him, delivered him into this world, nursed him, held him, sang to him. Bandaged him when he fell, bathed him when he was dirty, soothed his tears, and oh....oh how I loved him. Love him. Now...this....I can’t fix this and it’s.....

All those signs so long ago. Joseph and I always believed, knew that he was destined for God’s work. But not this. This makes no sense.

Except for Simeon’s warning. No woman just delivered of a child wants to hear what Simeon had to say. “This child is destined to be a sign which men reject, and you too shall be pierced to the heart”. I didn’t listen then. Didn’t want to. But I remember it now. And how many times did that come true.

(Now, to Jesus) From the very beginning. Running, hiding from Herod - to Egypt, so far from our home. Terrified he would find you and kill you.

And coming home from Jerusalem when you were 12. Believing you safe, walking with your friends only to find you missing. Thinking you lost, or worse. I was so angry when we found you in the temple. Joseph had to hold my arm back from striking you. And you, standing there teaching, teaching the scholars and doctors of the law. As if you had studied years longer than they. And how they listened to you! With such respect...this did not register with me until later. I only saw my fear, then anger.

Anger and then pain hearing you say, so simply, “didn’t you know I’d be here in My Father’s house?”. Rejecting our home. The home Joseph and I worked so hard to make safe and happy. And Simeon’s sword turned in my heart again.

Then life was so peaceful. Happy even. Watching as Joseph taught you how to be a carpenter. You were so good at it. I still use the matzoh board you made for me. I see yet your little boy’s face shining when you gave it to me.

You were good with the business too. Your father.....Joseph was always so proud of you....as was I.

I had forgotten, almost, the circumstances of your birth. Then Simeon’s words came true again.
Joseph died and you made sure I was provided for from the business I always thought you would run. And you left.

For those forty days...if I’d only known where you were I would not have worried so much.
No one could tell me where you were. Just that you’d seen your cousin, John. John baptized you in the Jordan. A dove appeared from nowhere above your head and the voice of God was heard declaring you His Son. Then no one knew where you’d gone.

You came back, finally. But you were different. And everything was changed with us.
You called people to you. And they came. They found you. And you started to preach about the Kingdom of God being at hand. Oh, you were so good. How the people listened. Such large crowds.

And the miracles. So many miracles. And you, always humble and just matter of fact. Always surprised by the awe and wonder in the peoples’ eyes. Saying it is of little consequence, how anyone can do miracles. God can do so much more. Calming the storm of all my questions. As if I were now the child.

Then the study and the talking till all hours of the night. Such urgency with you, as if each day was....well.

Then I came to visit with you and not even unpacked yet, our relative goes to get you. I heard you then, did you know that? I heard you say “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers and sisters? The one who does the will of my father is mother, brother and sister to me”. As if I had never loved you, mothered you. What pain I felt again from Simeon’s sword.

But I didn’t leave. I stayed. In the background. Trying to understand. Finally, finally I saw that you were not rejecting me. You were preaching to me as well as your followers that God is what matters most. Following God. And all who follow, including me, are your family.

It took so long because I believed that in order to hear your message I had to give up memories of being your mother and you, my son. I didn’t realize that it could be both, together. And that you were giving me a wonderful gift - a huge family to love and look after. But I always pictured you here, with us. Not dying, .....before me, now.

(Back to God) This is too much for me, please. Oh God, no. I cannot release him. You spared Abraham, why not me? Why can’t I die with him Lord? Please. Let me die here too.

(To God) You expect too much of me, your “bless-ed” among women. How am I to see you as a loving God in this? I don’t understand. How does this kind of pain serve you?
 
(Pause)
(Listening)
What’s that son? What are you saying? John? I am John’s mother. John is now my son? What cruelty is this? No! No....no.

Oh....oh my. I think I see. (Looking around) I see your followers. Scattered. Confused. The same ones always coming to me with questions about you. Needing comfort. (Looks up) This is why isn’t it? This is why I cannot die with you. And why you need to know that John will care for me. Ah, yet my sweet son.

(Looks up) How is this now? The sky turns dark in the afternoon? But there are no clouds. (Realizes)

Not yet God. There must be another way, please. Yet I cannot stand to see him suffer so. Do not take him from me! Please!

What? He will never be taken from me? How can that be?
How can I let go when it rips my heart in two? How? ....But I must?

(Sighs) I suppose I’ve always known...deep down, somehow, that the path would lead here.
A beginning of a new world....an end for mine. Yet my beginning too. It’s too much today.
Forgive me, my son. Forgive me God. Know that I do not like this. But I will submit to your will. You came from God, now you return.

Yes, it is finished.

ALL ON A WIN-MER'S DAY


Here in Southern California we have finished with our week of winter, are into our half week of spring and will jump into summer with dispatch, I am sure. The weather is just gorgeous. 


It is a week to take the sweet with the bitter. And if you can, put them together in chocolate. That's what I say. So without further ado, and in no particular order



My computer is home!!! Healthy and clean. Just needed some reg'lar maintenance.  And now I have Google Earth!! Plus some other spiffy gizmos that make the doodads run faster.

Wonderboy is sick. He spent most of the night chasing his runny nose around. I've dosed him with Benadryl and he sleeps now. There will be no school for him today. But I will have to go in at some point with a 5 piece set of luggage to pick up his work so he doesn't fall behind.

My friend Mark still lies in the coroner's morgue. Even though a judge approved an order to release him. It should happen by the end of this week. Pat is hanging in there. What an amazing and wonderful woman she is. 

Planning Easter for Wonderboy. I think I'll combine quarters in the plastic eggs, with scrips of Bible verse. He knows it's coming and he'll have the basket o' chocolate and marshmallow caramel goo. But those plastic eggs. He loves to find them and last year I put change in 'em. This year we'll go with the more grown up version. I'm sure I'll here the eight syllable "Moooom". But there you go.

And that is all. No new stories. I have a Lenten piece I am going to put up. It was written as a performance piece, a monologue. It's Mary at the foot of the cross, watching her son and savior die.  

As hard as all the weekly kerfoofle ickness is, I still marvel thankfully at what a blessed and priveleged and comfortable life I have. Even without enough sleep. And how thankful I am that such a fine fellow as Wyld looks after things so that I can raise my son safely and enjoy what I have. 
Although some of the weekly kerfoofle ickness does make for some fine jokes. It just does. 

Thursday, February 07, 2008

REFLECTIONS ON EARLY CHILD DEVELOPMENT.....or.....THE PATH TO ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE

It's a rough cut from someone's TV, but it clearly demonstrates my early path of motherhood that has led me to the hell that is third grade. (I would be the Jennifer Saunders character)

Monday, February 04, 2008

PRAYERS FOR PAT

It's been more than a week since my friend Mark died.

This morning, Pat, his girlfriend, went to court to petition that the coroner's office release his body for burial. They've been holding him saying that they have been waiting for other heirs. There are none. It's a long story, and not mine to tell. Suffice it to say, that I'm praying for good news this afternoon.

The other part of this story dovetails with the recent death of our friend Marcie's son. Marcie's son had been sent home from an ER after experiencing severe pain, only to be told he had a muscle spasm and he died the next day.

Mark had been calling his HMO daily for weeks to try to get an earlier appointment for severe back pain he was experiencing. His pain meds were not working. Last Thursday Pat got a call from the HMO to remind Mark about his appointment the next day. One week to the day after he died. Obviously it was urgent.

These things are bringing home to me how our medical system appears to be dangerously eroding. Or is it just severe pain that has become beneath contempt and not worthy of note?

Any thoughts or observations of your own? (PS I do not mean to deride those who work in the medical field. I know many who are truly excellent and are beside themselves with frustration at the current state of affairs. I actually don't think it's the doctors, nurses, EMT's et al. I think it's the administration/insurance companies/financial set up of the business that perhaps should be run differently than a "business")

And as an unrelated PPS, this is four young men (I say "young" as in 55 and younger) in the last year, on top of my dad, who I know, or know their family, who have died. One in a fiery auto accident; one a suicide; and the two above. 

I am afraid to answer the phone lately.

Friday, February 01, 2008

FRIDAY FIVE - Options Options Edition

From Sally this week, who will donate £1.00 for every comment on her post to the Methodist Relief and Development Fund.  So go over there right after here to read and comment!!

Sally writes:
There is so much going on this weekend that I thought I'd provide an options Friday 5!!!!
First Superbowl ( someone explain to this Brit the significance)- love it or hate it?
5 reasons please!!!!!
Second Candlemas/ Imbloc/ Groundhog day/ St Brigid's day- all of these fall on either the 1st or 2nd February.


1. Do you celebrate one or more of these?

I do not do any of it. Not Superbowl. Not Candlemas, first or second. Not Imbloc (I do not even know what Imbloc is.....it sounds a bit like a gastrointestinal issue??). Not St. Brigid's day or even any other Saints day. Nope. Just a stick in the mud protestant. And a boring non-football follower.

2. How?

See #1 above. Plus I have a note from my mom excusing me from this one question.

3. Is this a bit of fun or deeply significant?

Answering these questions is fun. And RGBP Friday Five is always significant. I will find more fun and significance as I read other folks' answers and learn more about the Saints.

4. Are festivals/ Saints days important to you?

I cannot say that they are. Though once, while in New York, walking in Little Italy, I enjoyed the festivities of the festival of St. Anthony. Though it took me awhile to understand what it was, because I only heard the "Festival of St. Antny". Correction: I now remember it is called "The Feast of St. Antny....er um uh, Anthony". 

5.Name your favourite Saints day/ celebration.

Now, while I do not celebrate Saints days, I will share two Saints who I have always admired.

Well actually with St. Francis of Assisi I have more than admiration. He left a  very comfortable, privileged life to help the poor. His ministry expanded to restoring churches, after a vision of Jesus. His legend tells of his sermons to animals and his gentle care for them.  I watched  Fratello Sole, Sorella Luna (aka "Brother Sun, Sister Moon") at least 8 times in the theater after it was released. Now I own a copy.  He was a profound influence on my faith, and his life continues to inspire me. 


I also love St. Bernadette because when she was a young girl, completely unworldly, not educated, living in a time when such young girls were never given any mind, she had her visions. She followed the instructions in the visions, against strong opposition. She had faith that they were true and she had confidence in herself to believe what they said. And she did not waver. Even though what she was experiencing was completely out of the norm for her family and town. She stuck to it, l'il Bernadette did, and made miracles for herself and others. And when she died, she did not decompose, or "corrupt" as they said in her day. Just look at that picture. Over 130 and she's still gorgeous! Update: In case you think it's from a movie, this picture of St. Bernadette......it's the real St. Bernadette, picture taken recently. When she was laid to rest her body was not embalmed or treated in any way. Amazing!!