On my pre-ordination retreat, our retreat leader was quite consistent about telling us that the life of an ordained person was a life of intentionality. “Oh, yes” I thought, ‘just what I need.” As a strong J on the Myers-Briggs scale, I’ve lived most of my life attempting to “get organized”, and never quite feeling as though I’ve managed to achieve the goal. I don’t know what I thought would happen the following Sunday night as the Bishop laid hands on me and prayed, but alas, there wasn’t any magic, and I still find myself struggling with intentionality. So, what do I attempt to be intentional about? Here’s my list (not in order of priority)

1) Keeping myself organized; this means to keep an up to date daytimer, to check it regularly, to spend time early in the week looking over my week, checking my To Do list and making any arrangements and adjustments necessary so that I don’t find myself in the wrong place t the wrong time. Success? I’d give myself a B+ on this.

2) Prayer: Although I’m pretty good at observing the practice of Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer and/or Compline is more of a struggle. Although I long for them, times of contemplative or meditative prayer are even more of a struggle (possibly because of #1). I’d give myself a C on this one though.

3) Eating and Exercising: I’m trying really hard on this one, and doing quite well with the exercising (at least recently), I’ve discovered Aquasize and love it. I have some friends to go with and they will encourage me, even when I don’t feel like it. The eating heathy thing is more difficult. I’m having to relearn what it is to be single (my daughter is in the process of moving away from home), and I often find myself grazing for a meal rather than actually taking time to cook a nutritious and tasty meal. Rating C+

4) House and yard work. I’m pretty good about this. I hate clutter and if I lose motivation, I simply turn on “Hoarders” and usually half way through the episode I find myself up and cleaning. Rating A

5) Family: I find that with only 1 day off and being caregiver for my Father, I have to schedule in time to connect with family. Often my day off is spent taking Dad to appointments, etc, and it can be exhausting. The older I get the more aware I am about the need to be more intentional about making sure that I do spend time with my children and grandchildren. It is hard though, between my schedule and their schedules. I’m looking forward to the days when they are involved in things and then I can just hang out watching them at their activities. Rating C.

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All Saints/Remembrance

This Sunday is, as they say, complicated. Not only is it the Sunday after All Saints (which we didn’t celebrate last Sunday because it was the kick off to our annual Stewardship Campaign) but it is also the Sunday before Remembrance Day. I also want to keep the focus on Stewardship in front of the congregation. As I said, it’s complicated.

But I think that there is a way to weave this all together by exploring the idea that we are stewards of not only the faith of our forebearers, but also that we have been entrusted with the care and upkeep of the heritage of our faith and the heritage of a place to worship.

I have come to love the worship space here, partly because of the light. Along the south side of the church there are a serious of incredibly beautiful stained glass windows. Each of these windows is flanked by gold tinted sidelights so when the sun shines through them, the whole of the worship space is infused with light. The yellow sidelights and the rich colors of the stained glass change the light in such a way that the blond oak woodwork almost seems to glow. As well the church is filled with that particular atmosphere of peace and serenity that comes from being filled with over 60 years of prayer and praise, laughter, tears, joy and sorrow. It is a place where people truly do experience the presence of the Holy. It is a sacred space. Often people come and want to look at the church and when I bring them into the sanctuary, they literally catch their breath.

But whose building is this anyhow? How do we be true to and honor and respect the hard work and sacrifice that our ancestors in the faith have made in crafting this beautiful place? In considering “the communion of saints”, this “great cloud of witnesses” that are cheering us on, what would they ask of us? Is this place simply a place where we come and soak up sanctity, or is it a place that we hold in trust for those who have come before as well as those who come after….who are those who came before, who are those who will come after…

The theme of Remembrance Day is “Lest we forget”. What are we in danger of forgetting….are we like the foolish virgins letting out lamps burn out because we have failed to bring enough oil to keep them burning? Will the bridegroom find us sleeping when he arrives?

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Moving Day #10

Yesterday, I moved my father for the 10th time in 6 years. A number of years ago I recognized the pool of sadness that lies within him. It has revealed itself in a number of ways, but often through discontent with where he is. No matter where he is or what the circumstances he always is looking over the hill to see if the grass is greener…and of course, it is; at least in his mind. The move yesterday, (to another floor in the same complex) was the first time that he has been ambivalent about a move.

By the time I got to his place, he had already phoned me a number of times and I could tell by the messages he left that he was very confused and anxious. When I arrived and met with the administrators to do the paperwork, I was told that he had been sitting on the floor in his new empty suite, unsure of what to do. My first sight of him was when he came off the elevator, disheveled, unshaven and poorly dressed shuffling behind his walker that he had loaded with a pile of towels.

The shock of seeing him like this left me numb.

My father is an old-school gentleman, always very concerned with his appearance, always in control, always perfectly dressed and groomed, not this wild haired, wild eyed confused old man. I spent the rest of the morning trying to settle him down and make it better. I wanted to at least give him a comfortable place to sit in the new suite, but the job of trying to get him to sit and wait for me as I moved his chair and footstool, reminded me of the days when I was mother to toddlers.

He spent the rest of the day in his chair in his new suite, forlorn and confused as all the activity of the move swirled around him. So very, very sad…watching this man who had always been so perfectly in control of his life, a caregiver to two chronically ill wives and my grandparents, an executive, a charming and competent man, reduced to the position of a helpless child.

As I write this I am grieving the man he was and struggling to come to terms with the child he is becoming. Good night Daddy, I will miss you so much.

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Scattered! Friday Five

The Bonus question: The first thing that came into my mind was, I sure hope I can get the link for this posted properly on the RevGals blog!!!

1. I chronically lose my glasses. Even after nearly a lifetime of wearing glasses, they are the first thing I remove whenever I get home, or into my office, or where ever I can do without them. Occasionally I even forget I’ve pushed them onto my head.

2. My daughter came home last night after seeing Ides of March and was raving about it (which she seldom does). I also watched the trailer for the Elmo movie and it was so heartwarming and smile making that I think that is number two on my list.

3. Comfort food of choice is chips and dip with a tall cold glass of Pepsi. Second choice is an A&W Teenburger combo with onion rings and root beer. I’m just a fat and salty kind of gal.

4. Story time. Tell us a story of one your favorite people that has touched, blessed your life. Only ONE??? I’ve been blessed by so many, but at the top of my list is my friend Gail. We’ve been friends forever (since we were 13 and 14) and she’s always been there for each other, through thick and thin, marriages, divorces, children, parental illness, graduations, ordinations and all the rest. She is one of those friends who you can go to see and even though it might have been months or even years since we’ve been together, we carry on right where we left off.

5. To focus myself, I turn to my lists. I am a compulsive list maker, if I’ve got my list, and my daytimer, I feel pretty well in control of my life and they keep me centred and calm. I use iCal and a free app “Paperless” on my iPhone and between the two of them I am pretty well organized. Having said all that, I must say, I’m not compulsively driven by the lists. I’m always ready to move something to another day if something more interesting comes up, but the lists do help me feel focused and somewhat centred.

Recently, I’ve become aware of how Sunday calms and centres me; the weekly discipline of preparing for Sunday worship, gives my life a wonderful rhythm as I move through the seasons of the liturgical year. I have a pattern for preparation that I follow fairly closely (its on the list) and I find that the hour or so I spend each day preparing for Sunday has become a touchstone of my life, it is the stillpoint around which everything else seems to revolve.

Now, off to see if this will link….

BONUS: Share the first thing (or second thing) that comes to your mind after your read this!

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Seeking for hidden things

Over at RevGals, Sandy posted about how the idea of seeking reminds her of the game of hide and seek. In that attitude of playfulness, here are the things that seem to have gotten hidden somewhere that I am looking for.

1. A night of interrupted sleep.
2. A day off that doesn’t involve running errands, taking anyone to appointments, or fielding church phone calls.
3. A week that unfolds the way I have envisioned it in my daytimer.
4. the woman who used to stare back at me from my bathroom mirror rather than the stranger who is there now.
5. more moments to reflect and give thanks for the joy of right now.

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What happened to August?

September always catches me by surprise. All of a sudden, the long hot days of August begin to shorten, the odd yellow leaf floats down from the trees I walk under like stray confetti and dot the sidewalks. Suddenly, the children are going back to school, fall programs begin up and I know that the next time I get to stop and take a deep breath will be Epiphany.

Even though I enjoy summer, I love autumn. This morning my dear one made a big pot of ratatouille with the ripe tomatoes, zucchini and onions from our garden, it is still comfortable enough to sit outside (even though a sweater might be necessary) and the mosquitoes seem to have disappeared into whatever place mosquitoes go until next spring. My roses are still blooming and with the shorter and drier days, the interval between lawn mowings is lengthening. I love the beginning of new programs, taking me back to the first days of school where the clean blank pages of new notebooks seemed like open doors leading into new adventures; waiting to be filled with new ideas, new learnings, new understandings.

As I stand before a new year (I don’t care what anyone says, I believe September really is the beginning of a New Year), I stand before an open door of new possibilities, new opportunities and new adventures. Even though I know that we will soon face those days of cold and winter, for me, autumn offers a time to revel in the goodness of the abundance of summer, storing up hope, promise and the memory of God’s goodness that will carry me through the days ahead.

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And in the beginning (for the 6th time)…..

I treated myself to a bit of a lie in this morning, as a birthday treat so now it’s nearly ten am and I’m sitting here sipping my morning latte and considering my day, and how it feels to be embarking on my 6th (!) decade.

I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer, but this day comes with an awareness that I am no longer at the top of my game as it were, and yet, I also am probably more content, more accepting, more comfortable in my ow skin (saggy as it is) than I ever have been. I don’t miss the angst of my teen years, the searching of my twenties or the pressure of my thirties. My forties were rich and full and as I look back, I think it was that decade where I really began to feel comfortable with who I am, but on the other hand, I also felt pressure to accomplish. As I entered my 50’s that pressure to “do, do, do” resulted in returning to school, starting a second career, becoming a Grandmother, ending a marriage and becoming a caregiver, renovating a house and doing some travel. Now, as I peer into the future, I see the next ten years unfolding before me as a time of settling into my identity, of learning how to “be”.

I’m not one of those fabulous 59 year olds who is fit enough to compete in marathons, or take on long hikes or bike trips, but I do enjoy a certain level of physical activity, swimming, golfing, canoeing, My stamina wasn’t what it was when I was 40 or even 50, but that just gives me an opportunity to stop what I am doing and enjoy the fruits of my labor.

I enjoy good food, and am to the point where I’m willing to live with the possible health risks rather than miss out on the culinary delights that give me pleasure. (And, I can always take a long walk afterwards.) I’ll never be rich, but I think I’ll be comfortable as I approach my retirement. I enjoy reading and learning and that I’m looking forward to having more time to explore those things. I’ll probably never find the perfect purse, fit into those size 8 jeans, be totally organized, have a spotless house, or grow orchids, but that’s ok. I have learned how to compromise, accept my lumps, bumps and crape-y skin, be flexible with my time and embrace the inevitable distractions that come my way. I know that I don’t need to worry about becoming a hoarder and my house is usually presentable enough for company, and that I don’t really like houseplants.

I want to spend the next 10 years learning to simply “be”, to enjoy the gifts of each day, to discover the joy of being present to each moment and experience. I don’t have a sense of wanting to leave a legacy, that’s already been done (for better or for worse), I think that my 60’s are going to be fabulous after all!

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