Monday, March 26, 2007

New chapel debuts ...


This is a picture of the Church on the Pike's new meditation chapel (I have been trying to think of another name for it, but have not gotten very far). If it looks like it's in the basement -- well, it is, in the former youth room. The altar itself is a very nice, solid one in oak, and memorializes some parishioners from earlier times. The altar was formerly in use by the Sunday School for their chapel service, but was abandoned at some point. So we nabbed it!

The dossal is the one that hung behind the altar in its previous location. You can't see the detail, but it's dark blue with golden fleurs-de-lis. We are so inept that we had to have one of our neighbors come in and hang it for us! Then we realized that it was so long that it covered the baseboard heater, and we were probably going to have a fire. In full panic mode, several of our thinner volunteers crawled behind the altar and pinned the dossal up with safety pins. How professional we are! LOL!

We nicked the table on the left from the larger chapel upstairs. We're hoping it wasn't used that much up there. Don't tell! Maybe the Rector won't notice.

So, as you can see, this little chapel is still kind of primitive. We are waiting for a new, blue rug -- I'm just as glad that the picture doesn't show the stains on the current one. Despite the unfinished quality of the space, we held a Lenten Quiet Afternoon on March 17, and, to our surprise, we had good attendance. We did a Bible study on the Lord's Prayer, had a period of still prayer, enjoyed some very good homemade Irish soda bread and Welsh tea cakes while listening to Celtic music, then recited the Great Litany and read Evening Prayer from the Wee Worship Book. It was a deeply satisfying afternoon.

All we need now is a rug and some artwork, and maybe some softer lighting (there are fluorescents overhead, which we don't want to use). All in all, however, we're happy with this new prayer space, and we had a lot of good fellowship putting it together! And the parish seems to have been craving a space like this, off the beaten track.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Episcopal progress!

Hallelujah!

Today's New York Times reports that Episcopal Bishops, meeting in Houston, have rejected the Anglican Communion's demand that we immediately accept alternative primatial oversight for those in the Episcopal Church who find themselves in conflict with our church's inclusive position on homosexuals. I know there has been no decision about the gay-ordination moratorium requested, or the covenant, but this is good news anyway, and an indication of which way the wind is blowing.

But I am so afraid that my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters will still be sold down the river (again) for the principle of unity. I pray this will not happen. We should take a stand (and remain there).

Would this cause a schism? And do we even care?

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Spring cleaning -- for the soul

Reading a post on Rachel's blog made me think of the housecleaning tornado that my mother called "spring cleaning." She and my grandmother, who lived with us, worked for a solid week, often during Holy Week. Furnishings got pulled out from the walls so they could clean behind them; walls got wiped down; baseboards were scrubbed till they shone. All closets got cleaned out. Windows got cleaned, and I often came home from school to find all the venetian blinds (remember them?) swimming around in the bathtub. Those blinds later found themselves out on the clothesline, drying in the spring breeze along with all the winter curtains and bedspreads. In the kitchen, the gas range got a thorough cleaning, as did the fridge.

Oh, my. I need a nap from just writing all this down. Spring cleaning for me is just like any other cleaning -- haphazard and done under duress. I hate clutter, but I find I'm quite tolerant of real dirt! And in the spring ... it's time to play in the garden anyway.

All that dirt will still be there in the fall.

And Lent is speeding by. I am trying to attack the cobwebs in my soul -- those musty corners where I don't like to look very often. Giving up elevators and escalators has made me feel stronger and more fit (all this is relative, you understand), but what I really need are extra spiritual calisthenics for these last weeks before Easter. I must get out the Bible more often. I must try to read Morning Prayer in addition to Evening Prayer.

That will do me more good in the long run than a clean house. Believe me, Mom!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Supermarket Rant #1: Ladies, keep 'em home ...

Anyone who knows me realizes that I would rather do ten loads of laundry than set foot in the supermarket. Just like I would rather eat a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich and a cup of canned soup than (gasp!) cook anything.

I go to the supermarket because I have to, not for the sheer thrill of provisioning my family, or for the challenge of chasing bargains. I go because life requires fuel, and there is no one else at my house who would be caught dead there.

OK, we've established that I am grocery-store averse. Ladies, please don't make this any harder for me.

LEAVE YOUR HUSBANDS AT HOME!

Husbands should not be allowed in the supermarket. I'm not referring, of course, to those few, wonderful husbands who actually do the family grocery shopping. Those guys are saints. Where can I find one? Hubby, I'm out of here.

I'm talking about your typical middle-aged suburbanite in plaid Bermuda shorts with his hands folded behind him, peering patiently into the frozen vegetable display chest while his wife loads up. The paunchy, bored-looking golfer who trundles along in his wife's wake (can't he even push the cart?). These guys serve no purpose! A trip to Wegman's hardly qualifies as Date Night, now does it? And they are in my way.

Ladies, please don't plant your pensive spouse in front of the Gatorade when I'm trying to get my five weekly bottles. Don't leave him expectantly contemplating the Campbell's tomato soup as if waiting for a can to speak to him. There is no reason for him to stand in front of the dairy case with the door open, staring raptly at the 2% milk with a beatific expression. He doesn't know what he's looking at! And I need to get past him to get my Egg-Beaters!

Maybe I will write to Wegman's and suggest that they install some kind of playroom for husbands. All they would need is a couple of TV's with (of course) remote controls, or (even better) a few non-lethal power tools for them to play with. That way we women can get the real work done.

Because, you see, I'm afraid of having an accident. I'm worried that I really might mow down some poor clueless husband in my dash for paper towels. I'd hate to have that on my conscience -- even if he didn't know what hit him!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Fresh from the humor mill ...

I don't read a lot of the humor I get on email, but this one seemed worthy of posting, in view of the potential schism in the ECUSA about ordaining gay folk and celebrating same-sex marriage. I wouldn't ordinarily poke fun at Leviticus (honest!), but this is too good not to pass on. All the fundamentalists can just sit on this and spin!

"Dr. Laura Schlessinger is a radio personality who dispenses advice to people who call in to her radio show. Recently, she said that, as an observant Orthodox Jew, homosexuality is an abomination according to Leviticus 18:22 and cannot be condoned under any circumstance.

The following is an open letter to Dr. Laura penned by an East Coast resident, which was posted on the Internet. It's funny, as well as informative:

Dear Dr. Laura:

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate. I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the other specific laws and how to follow them:

1. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates
a pleasing odor for the Lord - Lev.1:9. The problem is my
neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them.
Should I smite them?

2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned
in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would
be a fair price for her?

3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while
she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness - Lev.15:19-
24. The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but
most women take offense.

4. Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both
male and female, provided they are purchased from
neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this
applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify?
Why can't I own Canadians?

5. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath.
Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am
I morally obligated to kill him myself?

6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is
an abomination - Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination
than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this?

7. Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God
if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear
reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is
there some wiggle room here?

8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including
the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly
forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?

9. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead
pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I
wear gloves?

10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev. 19:19 by planting
two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by
wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread
(cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and
blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the
trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them?
- Lev.24:10-16. Couldn't we just burn them to death at a
private family affair like we do with people who sleep
with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

I know you have studied these things extensively, so I am
confident you can help. Thank you again for reminding us
that God's word is eternal and unchanging.

Your devoted fan."

Enough said. Let's get on with fighting HIV in Africa and stopping genocide, please!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

On remembering Margaret Mead

I am frustrated with my children.

This is not a new feeling, but now that they are adults, I try to treat them as adults. So I don't act out. But I want to!

My 20-year-old daughter is a brilliant girl, studying biology. But she is still clinging to the same boyfriend she had in high school, who is not in college, and works for a nearby borough in the Public Works Dept. He's a sweet guy, and I'm fond of him. But I don't think he'll go the distance. I think if she marries him, she'll be sorry later. I want her to take a risk -- meet new people. Easy for me to say! As she points out, this isn't my business.

My 23-year-old son is a challenge of a different sort. He has hated school since kindergarten, and has finally dropped out of college (for the third time). Now he's thinking about trade school. I think it's a good idea -- but I've seen him quit school so often that I have no faith in this new plan. How do I muster up any enthusiasm? I need to bite my tongue, that's for sure.

About twenty years ago, I went through a Margaret Mead phase, reading all of her books. I remember little or nothing now of what she said, except for one observation, in Blackberry Winter, her account of her youth, when she points out (I'm summarizing, and hoping to get this right) that the most fortunate children are not those children who are simply wanted, but who are also the very children their parents wanted (italics mine). Twenty years ago, this statement really hit home when I read it.

I was not, not for one nanosecond, the child my parents wanted. Both were athletic; I dreaded gym class. Both were outgoing; I was shy, bookish, and liked to fade into the background. When challenged, however, I was stubborn (indeed, I still have a mouth on me). I disdained the social graces, and was never the "little lady" my mother wanted (and I'm still not, I guess, going to work in jeans and a tee-shirt every day). Even after I'd grown up, my mother felt she had to lie about my job, telling people I was the Director of the library where I work, instead of a lowly line supervisor. It's amazing that I don't feel any resentment about all this -- just a kind of bemusement.

But it's not the way I want my kids to feel, and I hope they don't. Which is why my argumentative tongue is firmly bitten most of the time. I'm not God, and can't make my children in my image. I should have known this long ago. I, of all people, should have known it.

So I'm just loving them as they are, and I'm hoping that's what they need.