Friday, September 29, 2006

Cooler weather and massive cleaning are forecast ...

A cold front has come through and we are enjoying a welcome break from early-fall warmth and humidity. The low tonight is predicted to be in the low 40s -- time to haul out a light blanket, at least. I'm too cheap to turn on the furnace for AT LEAST another two weeks!

Fall is my favorite time of year. I love the colors, the scents, the crisp air. And it always seems like a new beginning -- I guess because I am still somewhat in tune with the academic year, and with church programming, which follows largely the same pattern. And I need a new beginning very badly. I've been in a slump; you could call it a time of aridity. My house is a mess, my prayer life is laborious, and my "exercise program" has become a myth. Actually, it's usually a myth!

So this time is as good as any to try to get things in order. The whole weekend lies ahead, with nothing much planned (it's a miracle!). Time to get going.

Monday, September 25, 2006

OK, get a grip ...

At the end of last week it became clear to me, through items which arrived in the mail, that someone has been using my name to attempt to open credit card accounts! Yesterday morning, in examining my credit report, I learned with some bemusement that seven such attempts have been made in this month alone!! Someone has been very busy pretending to be me! (I wonder if he or she also wants to be middle-aged, short and plump? I'm a package deal.) Now that I have set up security alerts with all the credit reporting agencies, this type of attempt won't be successful (I hope). I tried not to lose much sleep over it all, in any case.

And yet -- this event did bring home to me the fact that my reputation for reliability, reflected in my good credit record, is very important to me. Despite all we hear at the Church on the Pike about how infinitely precious we are to God, just as we are and with all our wrinkles unsmoothed, apparently I also care quite a bit about my "good name" and my financial reputation.

So much for humility, and leaving behind earthly things. Just the minute you think you may be making a little spiritual progress -- whack! Creatureliness smacks you right in the face. So I can talk all I want about Jesus being all I need, but I was certainly in a rush to prevent the identity thief from being sucessful (and I was quite vocal about what a creep he or she must be!).

Deep breath. I have a looooong way to go on this journey, haven't I?

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Musings on The Genesee Diary

This past week I've been reading Henri Nouwen's The Genesee Diary, which he wrote during the period June-December, 1974, when he was on retreat in a Trappist abbey in New York State. This is something I would love to do, even if only for a month. Actually, a week would suffice! Now that I've been back at work for a few days, I can barely recall that I was on retreat at all. Clearly this is something I should do a few times a year.

What I like best about Nouwen's diary is the essential humanity of the man that is evident no matter where you open the book! He writes about his own, most human, foibles, which he has brought with him even into this holy place: hurt feelings, petty jealousies, aggravation when assigned unfulfilling work; and about the niggling worry, as the term of the retreat passes, about whether what he has learned about God and about himself can be taken back and demonstrated in his normal daily life.

One passage I find particularly appealing deals with the author's observation of birds' habits in relation to some of his own:

"Sometimes it seems that every bird has institutionalized one of
my defense mechanisms. The cowbird lays her eggs in some other birds'
nest to let them do the brooding job; the Baltimore oriole imitates
the sounds of more dangerous birds to keep the enemies away, and
the red-wing blackbird keeps screaming so loudly overhead that you
get tired of her noise and soon leave the area that she considers
hers. It does not take long to realize that I do all of that and
a lot more to protect myself or to get my own will done."

This passage speaks to me particularly because I thought of the cowbird every time I dropped my children off at daycare! And how often have I picked a fight with someone I love for no good reason? If only we didn't leave our good intentions (and our good behavior) inside the church when we come back home after the service ...

Friday, September 15, 2006

At last! I have a desk!

At 53, I finally have my own desk! Break out the camcorder!

OK, I guess it's not a big deal. But for years, I've been conducting household business, journaling, etc., on a cramped, narrow little table that we bought years ago for the kids to do their homework on (they never used it, of course; they preferred their bedroom floor, when they did homework at all). It has two tiny, shallow drawers, not nearly enough room for all the junk accumulated in running a household, and a little wooden chair that's painful to sit on if you have arthritic hips. So when my husband and I stumbled across the discontinued rolltop desk in an unfinished furniture store, we got it as my birthday present.

It's monstrous, and takes up a whole wall of my little study. It has every nook and cranny that I could possibly desire: little drawers for stamps and paper clips, little doors that open to reveal secret cubbies, and three big drawers down each side of the knee-hole ... it's heaven!

I know I said this blog was to be about my spiritual life, but getting my own desk has been a spiritual experience for me!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Back from retreat ...

I've just returned home from our parish's first-ever retreat, held in Atlantic Canada on the shores of the Northumberland Strait. Some of us elected to fly there, some to drive; I was among the drivers, which probably accounts for the fact that I returned home somewhat worn down. Flying would have been a better option.

The spot was beautiful. We had 4 housekeeping cabins, among which were distributed 11 people. Right out our front door was the cliff-edge, and below it, at low tide, was a rock-strewn beach great for beachcombing. I love beach-glass and little, odd-looking rocks, and came home with so many that I haven't had time to sort them out yet.

So, what I learned: living in community is HARD WORK, not to be undertaken lightly. My two cabin-mates got into a (relatively minor, in retrospect) fracas the first full day of retreat, and there I was, stuck in the middle, eyes wide as a saucer, wishing to be invisible. Later on, we all got along just fine, but I found myself walking on eggs all the same. I can deal with conflict if I have to, but I prefer to stay away from it. This makes me a relative creampuff at work, and drives my boss, who is anything but a creampuff, crazy.

And then there's the fact that some of us did not know what to expect of a retreat, and clearly thought that social-and-sightseeing possibilities got short-changed. At the same time, others felt the pressure to be social when what they really wanted was a long, reflective rest (I fall into the latter camp).

All this proves is that you can't please everybody! All in all, it was a good week, with many lessons to be learned, and much still remaining to be thought through ...