Monday, February 25, 2008

Back on track?

Things have settled down a little at home. We have cleared the air, and we have a plan. That's all I can ask for right now.

So ... the diet resumes. I lost three pounds somewhere, but of course there are miles to go yet. I have stopped being hungry and resentful.

At least, I thought I had.

I came home to an empty house, so the only ones who had to be fed were myself and the three canines. Having provided for them, I microwaved a Lean Cuisine pizza (4 miserable points) for myself.

It wasn't bad, even if it did need a chocolate cake chaser. Lacking a chocolate cake, I sat there gloomily regarding my empty plate.

Then I noticed it. A teeny, tiny, nearly microscopic piece of sausage had escaped from the pizza, and landed on the tablecloth next to my plate.

But I was not the only one who noticed. Shadow, my nearly 12-year-old standard poodle, had fixed her beady little eyes on the prize. She looked from me to the sausage, quizically. I moved my hand a fraction of an inch closer to the morsel.

Shadow pounced. I pounced. Having hands, I got to it first. Down the hatch!

Oh no, I could hear her thinking, Has it come to this? She looked at me indignantly, shook her whole body, and walked away.

Has it come to this? Indeed. Will I be eating the Iams dog food next?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Patience among the thorns

"Family troubles" have prevented me from blogging for awhile.

I don't need to burden anyone with the details. But somehow I had gotten the notion that, once my kids were adults, their problems would be their own. That they would have sufficient commonsense to solve them (better still, avoid them). That I would somehow be on a higher, "post-parental" plane, looking down benignly (sort of like the Deists' "watchmaker" God), while the kids made their own way.

Yeah, right.

Ain't happening.

I left home at the age of 20, and never looked back. Never needed to be rescued from myself. Never needed to draw on my parents' emotional resources. Never had them up all night, or pacing and muttering to themselves. So, nobody warned me.

No one told me that, when my child made a bad decision that broke his heart, mine would break also. No one warned me that adult children sometimes need more mothering than they did when they were little. That they could do things that would consume me with anger, amazement (not in the good sense), and fear. That I might not be able to sail gracefully into old age, worried only about stiffening joints and the health of my 401(k).

"These are the times that try mens' souls." I have been thinking this all day, but cannot recall who said it. More to the point, from a Christian perspective, Mother Julian assures us that "all shall be well"; and Luke Bell, OSB, a monk at Quarr Abbey on the Isle of Wight, believes that all our errors and troubles, even the most grievous, will end up woven in as bright threads in God's eternal plan:

"He uses the circumstances of our mistakes, and even our sins,
to create the beautiful pattern of his providence. In the radiant and final
beauty of the blessed in heaven, what was at the time a huge mistake
becomes a part of the perfection of the finished picture."
--A Deep and Subtle Joy, p.86.

So I'm holding these thoughts, trying to remain detached enough from my own distress to be able to offer the help needed at this time. And I'm praying that, in the end, the pattern comes out right.

Boy, am I praying.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Saying goodbye to a church

Today was my last day at the Church on the Pike. Ash Wednesday will find me at the Church on the Hill, hopefully with my transfer of membership already in process. I decided it would be good for me to start Lent in a new place. It was hard singing with the choir for the last time, going to coffee hour for the last time, leaving the parking lot for the last time. I'm pretty sure I made the right decision, but it hurts nonetheless. I turned in my church key, said goodbye to a few people I'll keep in touch with, and left quietly. Then I went (I blush to admit it) for a little retail therapy. It takes so little to cheer me up -- a handbag at 75% off will often do the trick.

This morning was the Church on the Pike's annual meeting, however, so I did stay long enough to see what the official spin would be on the many departures this past fall and winter. I was not disappointed. Those who have left were justly characterized as those who could not "buy into" the church's vision. This means, of course, all those who were unwilling to do the fundamentalist goose-step along with Uncle Rick Warren and his "purpose-driven" schemes for growth and glory. Yeah, I guess I have no buy-in. Guilty as charged! Micah 6:8 has always seemed sufficient to me:

He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the LORD require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?

I don't know, is this too reductive? Do I have to take classes, sign pledges, and join a "life group" (whatever that is; it sounds like a life sentence) to be a member of the Christian family? Do I have to accept the Bible as literal truth, and believe that God planned out every aspect of my "purpose" before I was born? Isn't it enough to be baptized and try to live like a Christian?

If I have to follow the Saddleback and Willow Creek boys, I am in big trouble!

My new church, the Church on the Hill, is not into the "purpose-driven" stuff at all, thanks be to God. And the Lenten program there, which I've already signed on for, features the history of Anglicanism. It will probably have lots of intellectual content! So take that, Rick Warren! Take yourself off in your Hawaiian shirts and leave me alone!