Going Home

While in seminary we lived at the Capital Yacht Club in D.C. aboard our boat.  Arriving home after class one gray, drizzly day, dock-mate Rhoda ran up to me, sobbing uncontrollably.  “S,s,s,Sam ran out of his 9 lives. We want to b, b, bury him at sea.  Would you do a f, f, funeral service?”  Gosh, my first funeral, I couldn’t say no.  Donning clerical garb, grabbing my prayer book, I boarded Tom’s john boat.  Rhoda and Sam were aboard.  At the end of the Washington Channel, Tom shut down the engine as all eyes scanned the water for marine police.  Apparently it is illegal to bury any dead body in the channel.

In my most reverent voice, I started.  “Grant that your servant will be resurrected with…” Oops, I don’t think cats are resurrected.  And, I know cats aren’t servants. I continued, “We remember this day our brother….” Oops.  Sam is not human.  Dodging further human references, I commended Sam’s soul to God, committed his body to the deep, and prayed for the grieving Rhoda.  Sam was in a large, square box.  I nodded to Tom to throw Sam overboard.  Rhoda stood ready to toss rose petals on Sam. Splash. Oh. My. God. The box was floating.

Image result for images of floating styrofoam box

Hauling in the bobbing Styrofoam box, we opened it, and wrapped in a plastic bag, tied to two cinder blocks, lay Sam’s cold rigid body.  Rhoda became hysterical. I knew the police would arrive and arrest us.  Tom stood stone mute. Nobody moved. A torrential rain drenched us.  I said, “Forget the damn box. Just throw Sam and the cinder blocks overboard.”  Tom did.  Rhoda emptied her bag of rose petals. Sam sank and went home, over the rainbow bridge.  We motored home sucking up the rain. WOW. My first funeral – priceless.

A Good Hair Day

We all (at least the ladies) know what a bad hair day is, right?  I have them regularly, like right now.  Today I’m waiting for guests to come and play bridge, and I sit here with bad hair.  Really bad.  I even need a haircut. Well, into the shower, wash, wash, rinse, rinse, condition, blow dry, poof – “Good Hair Day!

But what is a “Good Hair Day?”  Really?  I recall my wedding day (both of them) and one of the main priorities was that my hair look perfect!  Not close, or nearly so, but perfect.  If that meant hours at a hairdresser and a bag over my head until the event, so be it.  There is something about hair that we women obsess over.  Ask my daughters – I nag about their hair all the time.

At a conference years ago a black woman said that white women obsess about weight and black women obsess about hair.  I disagree.  I think women of any color obsess about both of them!  The scale may just tip a bit more to one side than the other for some.  Skinny women with perfect hair don’t obsess about much of anything, but perfect women like that are robots.  Fat women with rotten hair obsess about both and then there is everyone in between and you can place yourself wherever you want on the continuum.

I wonder however, if we would know a “Good Hair Day,” when we had one.  You see, a “Good Hair Day,” is as much about how we feel about ourselves as how our hair actually looks.  I have had one of the best hair days in my life lying in the ICU after having major surgery and surviving it.  I know my hair looked like hell, my face was bloated beyond recognition due to the eight hours of surgery lying face down on the gurney, and the hospital gown did nothing to enhance the blob of body lying in that bed connected to a dozen kinds of tubes.  But….it was a “Good Hair Day!”

I think too that a “Good Hair Day” is also about how good we feel when we say or do something that makes someone else feel better or live a better life.  Or how we feel when we’ve done something to help ease the aches and pains and sorrows of the world around us.  For Christmas last year and this year, I gave several bee hives, with instructions and all the parts including the bees, to families in third world countries to help them earn a living.  I felt good about that.  It was another “Good Hair Day.”

Have a “Good Hair Day,” even if you are having a bad hair day!

Failure

Failure is one of the words in my lapsed Lenten discipline.  It is also I. There are currently 22 words I have not addressed.  I’ve read them, daily, as they are sitting on my desk in plain view.  I meditate on them and think about memories or thoughts each one evokes.  Some, like number two, Something Purple, washes over me like a waterfall – Lent colors, my chasuble, my favorite jumper, a cherished silk blouse long gone, royalty, a rainbow ribbon.  Failure.  Me.  While I can ponder those words, something deep within my soul keeps me from attacking my keyboard each day and jotting down a few words about a word.  I wonder if Jesus ever got up in the morning and said, “I’d love to go talk to a few people on the corner about love, but man I’m really just not that into it today.”  Maybe one day Mary said about 11 am, “I just don’t have the energy to bake any bread today.  We’ll just have some wine with our stew and be done with it.” I know that Moses didn’t feel much like doing a face-to-face with Pharoah.

So, I accept that I am a Lenten Discipline Failure.  But, maybe only halfway.  I mean, after all, I DO read them. Daily. I DO ponder them, daily. I just don’t write about them daily.  Probably never will.  I’m sorry Jesus, and thanks for forgiving me.

Here then are those 22 words, plus the last 4 for you to ponder:

  1. Loss
  2. Something purple
  3. Success
  4. Bread & Wine
  5. Fasting
  6. Fire
  7. A Verse
  8. Heart
  9. Bible
  10. Joy
  11. A stranger
  12. Ruin
  13. Healing
  14. An idea
  15. Journey
  16. Water
  17. Failure
  18. Longing
  19. Community
  20. A book
  21. An old treasure
  22. Darkness
  23. Cold
  24. Remoteness
  25. Favorite prayer
  26. Jesus.

Warmth & Nature

Here I go again, slipping behind in my Lenten discipline of writing on one word each day.  Sigh.  It makes me aware of my human failings, even when I have vowed to be diligent.  I suppose we all find ourselves in this position from time to time. Yesterday and today’s words are warmth and nature.  Another two words I find couple together nicely.  Whenever I encounter the word “nature,” I immediately think of Mother Nature.  It is always a puzzlement to me why we call God Father, but Nature, Mother, but we do.  Neither is actually a gender.  God for me is Spirit. God for theologian Pannenberg was a “force field.”  I can accept that.  Nature, for me is our entire universe, and the Hubble Telescope photos are awesome evidence of its enormity, infinity even.  It is the birds, who I call my little dinosaurs and feed every winter.  It is the animals, including my beloved Maltese, Loki.  It is sun, moon, sky, oceans, earth, flora, fauna; it is all of creation. I suppose I could do without mosquitoes or the house fly. I love the nature in my life, particularly when it is warm and I can enjoy it fully outside of my home. I think too of Mother Nature as a Spirit of warmth and nurturing.  Okay, most of the time.  Mother Nature can be violent during tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, blizzards, all the horrors of nature.  But, on a quiet, warm sunny day, Nature and I get along just fine.  Nature is God’s creation. Nature is God’s own, just as I am. I like that.

“But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this?  In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.” Job 12:7-10

Sacrifice

As words go this is not my favorite word.  Even in Lent.  I am not one who actually makes any sacrifice in Lent.  I still eat my chocolate, dessert, or surf the net.  Rather, I prefer to do something positive, or take on a special ministry. One year I decided to give to Habitat for Humanity on a monthly basis, and three years later we are still doing it.  This year I am finding one extraneous thing in my home or my closet to donate each day.  At the end of Lent I’ll have 40 items to donate for others to use and enjoy.  I’m not sure we are called to sacrifice by God.  I am sure we are called to always be positive and to love, love, love.

“…and ‘to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength,’ and ‘to love one’s neighbor as oneself,’—this is much more important than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”  Matthew 12:33

A Word, Peace

Another pairing to catch me up on a daily basis.  Lenten discipline is hard for me, but I’m trying.  A Word. Peace. Years ago someone took a huge national poll to see what American’s wanted most.  The winner by a large margin was “Peace,” or “World Peace.”  Wasn’t that one of the main messages of Jesus of Nazareth.  Peace be with you.  We all want peace in our personal life as well as in the world.  And so we pray to God, to God the Word, for peace.  Perhaps someday all those prayers will be answered.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.   John 1:1

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philipians 4:5

Favorite place to pray, Sacred Space

Well, I’m already way behind in my daily Lenten Post, highlighting my human flaw of procrastination.  And, then the day gets away from me, and before I know it the day is gone.  To catch up I’m doing two topics:  Favorite place to pray and Sacred Space.  I do however, think they are a good pairing.  Wherever I pray, for me becomes a sacred space.  A space where God and I converse.  Where, if I am good, I listen to God.  Where, I hope, God listens to me.  I don’t really have a favorite place to pray.  That would really inhibit my praying.  I like to pray everywhere, anytime.  I remember at my Commission on Ministry interviews someone asked me what time did I put aside every day to pray ? I paused for what seemed to me like an eternity.  Finally, I said, “My whole life is a prayer.”  Everywhere then is my favorite place, and God’s world is always sacred space.

Hope

Hope.  Just the word is awesome.  Hope.  My daughter once told me that if we didn’t have hope, she didn’t think the human race would survive.  Interesting.  I thought about that a lot and came to the conclusion that she was absolutely right.  As Christians we say we live in the hope of the resurrection.  We hope for good weather.  We hope for good health.  We hope our loved ones will not die too early, or without saying goodbye, or some painfully slow death.  We hope our team will win.  We hope we will get good grades in school.  We hope our marriage will last as long as we live.  We hope people will love us. We hope, we hope, we hope.  Yes, hope may be the very foundation of our life.  As Jesus wandered in the desert, climbed the mountain top, or spoke to the masses, he most likely hoped people would hear his message to help the poor, clothe the naked, visit the prisoners, help us to live in truth, mercy, and justice.  I hope that I can live up to and into the life Christ called me to be.

“the LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.”  Psalm 147:11

Light

I’m not sure when it started, but I know today that I absolutely need light in my life.  My house is light, with lots of windows and two huge skylights.  I don’t usually dress in somber clothing, light is better, or at least bright colors.  I get sad when too many dark, gray days in a row roll by my windows.  We often hear about the “Light of Christ,” or “God is light,” giving credence to my belief that light is good.  Scriptures tell us that darkness will never blot out the light.  Oh God, I certainly hope so.  For me light is my soul food.  Nourishing my essence.  Kissing me with renewed freshness.  When I am still and wait for God’s presence, I am filled with sacred light.  I love that.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  John 1:5

A Saint

I was named after Saint Rita because my mother believed she was the saint of the afflicted.  She named me after this saint because my sister, some 8 years older than me, was born with Down’s Syndrome.  My mother thought I might take after my name-saint, Rita, and help my sister.  After my sister died at age 37, I decided to do some research on St. Rita.  Turns out she is not the saint of the afflicted, but the saint of impossible causes. My youngest daughter thinks there is nothing I can’t accomplish, so maybe the name fits in an odd sort of way.  I like St. Rita, and I have been told she is more popular than St. Mary in Italy.  I guess we all have a lot of “impossible causes.”  Human nature is just that way, a lot of impossible situations we have to pray our way through or around. I’ve never personally prayed to St. Rita, but I know many people who do pray to her. I know my mother, as a good Catholic, prayed to her and lit candles regularly for my sister. May they both rest in peace; I know they have risen in Glory and now live among the saints.

Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the LORD delivers him out of them all. Psalm 34:19