Friday Five: Random is Back!

Karla hosts this week’s Friday Five over at RevGalBlogPals:

 

1. If you could sneak away anywhere this weekend, right now, all expenses paid, where would you go and what would you do?

I’d head back here… walk on the beach, read and sleep. And NOT answer my cell phone!

Sunset

 

2. What is for lunch today? (one of the very first FF I ever played asked this.)

I’ve learned that as a hospice chaplain, I have to have a “finger food” type lunch. I learned the hard way that eating a salad or a messy sandwich just doesn’t cut it. I try to pack one that has protein in it and is do-able on the run. So today’s Gourmet Guide includes: baby carrots, a drinkable yogurt, string cheese, peanut butter on rye, and a sliced apple.

3. Along that first-FF-I-ever-played theme, what are you wearing today?

Grey slacks, blue dress shirt and (I don’t care if it IS past Labor Day!!) white crochet-looking flats.

4. Along the Today Theme, what are you doing today?

Seeing 6-8 hospice patients and documenting their voluminous paperwork as required. That will take me until about 6 pm tonight. If I’m lucky, the traffic is light, and there’s no crises called in at 4:45!

5. Along the random theme, what is your favorite scent, and why?

I don’t like perfumes. They irritate my asthma. Natural smells like apples and cinnamon cooking to make apple butter are the ticket. Too bad these are not scratch-n-sniff!

applebutter

A Prayer for Hope and Peace

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Oh God
One who knows and sees all human hearts,
We remember.

We remember those lost in acts of violence:
Terrorism
Armed Conflict
Gun Violence
Abuse

We call to mind those who still struggle with these after-shocks:
Hurricanes
Floods
Tornados
Earthquakes

We ponder the lives missing from our lives:
Cancer
Congenital conditions
Medical mistakes
Infections
Disease

Humanly caused or a random weather event,
We still ask,
“Why?”

We have no answer
But Your abiding Presence
Your voice in the wind
Your hand in the clouds
Your beauty in creation
Your compassion demonstrated through others

Today
When we stop to remember
To think
To pray
To voice the yearnings of our hearts
Bring your hope
Give us your peace.

Thank you for always being
Our Compassionate Guide
Our Wisdom
And our comfort.

In Your most Holy Name
Amen.

Out of the Darkness: Walk for Suicide Awareness/Prevention

You don’t have to donate. I just want to talk.

prevention

In my work as a chaplain, I have come into contact with many families and patients who are struggling to respond to a suicide or an attempted suicide. It is among the hardest work that I do.

With the recent high profile case of Robin Williams, more people in the general public are understanding that there are complex reasons why someone dies by suicide. Even more important, folks are realizing that, sometimes, there can be no discernible reason at all!

It doesn’t really matter WHY. It matters that another life has been lost.

 

I want to remember some of their faces and many of their stories…

  • I remember a young woman who attempted suicide. She had not gotten her visa extended and was going to have to go back to an abusive situation. I sat and held her hand as she cried, ligature marks on her neck, family weeping around the bed.
  • I remember a man who lost his job and was mocked by his family. He was, sadly, successful.
  • I remember a family who chose to ignore the pleas for help from one of their children. She found help, but only after months of struggle.
  • I remember a young woman who broke under the self-imposed pressure of her studies. She felt like she was a big disappointment to her family and her teachers. She got help and is now a successful business woman.

All of these stories, these journeys, shaped my desire to walk beside those who need support. It’s why I’m walking in the Out of the Darkness Walk this Saturday. I’m also walking in memory of some recent suicide deaths in my own community. Ones that have shaken parents and students and teachers. While there is a “copy-cat” concern about talking about recent deaths, there is also a need for education and publicizing resources.

There is help available! And you are worth it!

In case you need to know, the American Society for Suicide Prevention has an excellent rating with Charity Navigator.  This is an organization that understands and cares, and makes every dollar count.

I am joining a team of my co-workers at JSSA on the walk this Saturday, September 13th. You can donate to me (I’d love to make my goal of $200!) or you can just give to our team for our overall goal of $3500. The link for my donors is here…

 

The State of the Chaplain: Defective Condition

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I took off the tag from my dry-cleaned garment and started getting ready for work. I had my coffee and shower and dried my hair, musing about my day and the patients that I would see. And as I reached for the final touches like my watch and a bracelet, there it was. The tag from my dry-cleaning was like a diagnosis of my inner self.

DEFECTIVE CONDITION before cleaning.

 

I started laughing. For it was true. Before, during and after my shower, this chaplain is most definitely in a “defective condition.” I’m grumpy, occasionally unreasonable and I hate being late. I’d rather read than cook, rather goof off than clean. And I hold some pretty strong opinions about a wide range of subject. (And my opinion is always right. Of course.)

I am so far from a saint that it’s not funny. I’m definitely no angel. And yet, when I tell people what I do for a living, those are the two most common descriptors they give me. “You’re a saint.” “You’re an angel.”

Occasionally I get it right and my “defective condition” gets temporarily glossed over, like a thick coat of lip gloss on chapped lips. But then the “real” chaplain shows up again.

There is so much that is covered in our lives that is covered by grace. By a forgiving God who lets me try again. By the gentle reminders of the Spirit that I can do better. And depending on the God who Called me to help me.

Off I go to do my chaplain thing… defective condition and all.

God’s grace more than covers. And I am so grateful.

Thanks be to God.

Women Who Inspire me: Mom #RallyRevGals

As August ends, the RevGalBlogPals are sponsoring a #RallyRevGals Blogging Contest. The challenge is to write about  a woman who has been a positive influence on my ministry (whether or not she is/was a pastor). You can read more about it here… I think that I will be doing a series of blog posts on this topic, as the amazing women in my life come to mind. There are many of you (you know who you are!!) Thanks and I love you…

I started this post first, and have had a hard time trimming it to a blog post. You don’t need a biography about her. You just need to know something about her. For this post is about my mom… and it’s hard to put it into words.

First of all, she got us to adulthood. That’s no small task. Think of all the music lessons, concerts, parent-teacher conferences, permission slips, field trips, packing off to college and apartments… (We bow… we bow…)

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Second, she encouraged our inner whimsy! Among her progeny, there is an artist/entrepreneur, a teacher, an analyst, a doctor, an engineer and a pastor/musician. (Oh yeah… the costumes? She made them or helped them magically “appear”.)

And perhaps most important of all, she taught us to learn from our mistakes and try again. And again. And yet again. All the while giving words of encouragement when we most needed it. All of us from time to time had moments in our lives where we just needed a phone call. Or a week at the beach. Or a surprise package from home. She has that “spidey sense”. It’s a skill I’m cultivating. :)

uturns

 

While she was not at my seminary graduation, she made the trek to my ordination. To have her and a contingent from my family present was an incredible gift. There was a lot going on that day that my family just “handled”… but knowing their love was with me was so important.

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More than anything, she has taught me that life is something to be LIVED as long as you are alive. Not hanging around waiting to die… but enjoying the God-given moments of this life. With my dad’s death in 2000, she showed us the reality of grief, but the strength to move through it. This picture, taken a few years back, celebrates her sense of humor and her spirit for life. Her life-long faith birthed my own.

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Thanks, Mom.

Prayer for a Sunday

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Oh Lord,
It is far too easy to find things to do
that do not feed our souls.
We can shop and dine out, run errands and do laundry,
and these are tasks that do not revive us.

Yet there is work for a Sunday
that has been neglected far too long;
work that would be a unifying task
with family or church or friends.
Work that requires time to consider
“Do I need to keep this?”
or
“Is it time to let this go?”

So today,
I will engage in a task of holy reflection,
one where I think of my many blessings,
spiritual and material,
my wants and my needs,
and Your abundant Providence.
And I humbly repent
of all my excesses.

For today, after church,
we are cleaning out the garage.

May it be a holy work.
May it be a reflective work.
And may it be done quickly!

Amen.

Women Who Inspire Me: Ruth #RallyRevGals

As August winds to a close, the RevGalBlogPals are sponsoring a #RallyRevGals Blogging Contest. The challenge is to write about  a woman who has been a positive influence on my ministry (whether or not she is/was a pastor). You can read more about it here…

I thought of several women. Pastors, teachers, counselors, mothers, sisters, friends… and I won’t get to blogging about all of them. But when I think vocationally about who has inspired me and helped me take that first formational step into ministry, I first thought of Ruth.

Ruth is an Episcopal Priest. In addition to her seminary training, she has a PhD in education. She has worked in parish and education settings. She mentors, prays, and encourages. She brings a quiet authority to her preaching of the Word.

I first met Ruth through my husband and other friends who knew her from Contemplative Prayer practices. She provided a gentle grounding for the group. She is well-read, an author and a congenial friend. Many times around our table we would sit and laugh and talk for hours.

When I was in the process of discernment about seminary, Ruth was one of the people I turned to for counsel. We would sit together and talk about the challenges of vocational ministry, particularly for women. Though she is someone who has never married, her counsel to me, a wife and mother, was simple: “Ask. Listen. Allow God to show you.” And it worked.

Another aspect of Ruth’s influence on my life was to help me unpack what it meant to be “female” and “feminist” and “pastor.” The three were not at odds with one another, and they were not irreconcilable either! She invited me to allow things to be held in tension, to NOT solve the impossible, and to learn how to sit with the unanswerable. She provided me with this example as she ministered during the fracturing of The Episcopal Church. We laughed at one image of being calm in the midst of a crisis, like a duck floating on the surface of a lake, but paddling furiously underneath!

It was a perfect groundwork for the Calling of a chaplain.

Our paths do not cross as often these days. In fact, it’s been so long that I don’t have a current picture of us to put with this blog post! Thanks to the traffic and craziness of the Beltway, it would be well over an hour to get together. However, we use that old-fashioned method called “letters” to stay in touch. She remains, even by letter, an inspiration to me. I continue to be thankful for her and to pray continued blessing on the work God calls her to do.

The next time we’re in touch, I’ll tell her, “I blogged about you.” And she will probably laugh and say, “you’re KIDDING!!”

No, I’m not kidding, Ruth. You’re an inspiration to me. Thanks be to God for you.