Thursday, July 24, 2008

Good Grief (kinda)

I can't seem to shake the sounds of the tender but uncontrollable sobbing from a parishioner who's just lost his mother at the ripe age of 95. (It was expected in part, but she went downhill very fast).'s never really "expected" when it's final. She was also the matriarch of our church.

At the same time, I can't seem to shake the silence from a close friend who's also recently lost her father, who's inundated with the details of her life, her work, her family as well as some tension among her siblings. I understand, kinda.

Lastly, I can't seem to shake the grief roller coaster I'm on, slowly and silently grieving the 1st anniversary of a 10 year friendship irreparably severed one year ago today. It triggers other losses as well. You know how it goes...

Psalm 30 reminds us that "weeping may endure for night but joy comes in the morning." I'm not a biblical inerrant, but here's a time when I'd love this to be literally true for all of us.

What is grief's shelf life? What can we "DO" to 'get through it'? How do we find those who are willing to share the burden without offering anxious silence or giving advice or disappearing?

Only God knows.

For me, the diversion of pastoring to others in their grief gives me a 'vacation' from mine own. Other's grief also helps me realize I'm not the only one not having a Summer crafted by HGTV.

I think grief is a state you're sent to un willingly, like one outside your own region, where you think no one will like you, understand you or care for you until you return home again to happy land.

But then Grace appears and calls from afar. An email from an old friend resurfaces unwittingly, or a piece of good news arrives, or work demands your undivided attention and offers you another respite from grief's treadmill.

Grief is not good ,Charlie Brown, but it joins us in membership to a community which we'd all rather not be joined, but where others can speak our language...Or sit with us as a non-anxious, loving presence. It also gives us compassion for others and their places of darkness and loss.

And then of course...there's Paul. Say what you want about him. He deservedly gets a bad rap for being ignorant/obnoxious about women and dramatically adding to the disenfranchising of the Gay and Lesbian population. But still, he is able to let God's message, through Jesus Christ, speak in Romans beyond his own judgemental din.

" I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us."

Right. I'll try to remember that before I order my next pepperoni, extra cheese grief-numbing pizza.

But Paul goes on.

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Rom 8:38-39

No small gift that Rom 8 is part of the lectionary for the last Sunday before I have 3 Sundays out of the pulpit (save of course the memorial service in the middle of my vacation, for the Matriarch).

Whether you are grieving with others or for yourself or by yourself, or if you've finally surfaced from grief's grip and can ride the waves without getting sucked down by the undertow of loss, may this scripture bring comfort to you....and to those whom you love... and to those whom no one loves.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A paaaarfect day

Tasteless Lunch with a tasteful, really smart friend? $34.50
Copies of sections of helpful Romans commentaries that I don't own? $1.30
Greens fees on an private golf course where I still seem to have visitor privileges $30.00
Refreshments with a beloved friend in her backyard garden apres golf? she wouldn't say.
Cost of gas to get to beach by midnight for last round? $20.00
Cost of re-balancing personal life with life as a minister?


Sunday, July 6, 2008

Helpful Reminder

Was just over at Terrapin Station and she was reminded by another blogger to list things we're grateful for. This is timely as I wrestle with an issue that cropped up and bit me unsuspectingly at lunch, while with a beloved friend from Seminary, so here goes:

1) Double the attendance that I expected at July 4th weekend worship this AM
2) Double the positive comments from preaching from Romans 7-one of the beastiest scriptures, I've ever wrestled with
3)Air conditioning, even though it's only moderately hot
4)the BE-ers who keep me going-- I feel like you live near by!
5) Many pots/pans in the sink-evidence of a dinner party in my usually empty, guest less manse
6) Leftover sangria from said gathering (sipping...)
7) Having dinner with parents this evening. They make me crazy but they're alive and well-and still happily married--I know I'm in a minority when I say that.
8) Basil that grows new leaves, every 15 minutes
9) Jersey tomatoes (sans Salmonella) that go with said basil
10) The nap I'm about to take after I finish this
11) Gratitude for any of you who read this and keep me in mind from time to time

Friday, July 4, 2008

Stupid, but blessed...

RevHRod blogged about 4th of July memories via Friday at Five.

Last night's memory takes the cake.

I was with friends, enjoying a super 4th of July celebration at a lovely lake-side home.

Hot grill, cold beer.

The neighbors were setting off their own contraband fireworks but the real show was slated for dark, at the other end of the lake, viewed from my friend's boat, as always.

We decided (against all weather predictions and dark skies) to get in the party boat (aluminum) and go out into the middle of the lake (with all the other idiots) to watch the fireworks.

All was going well; the usual ooohs and ahhhs and of course the "kinda big finish".

But the “Grand Finale” happened 2 minutes after we had turned to head for home.

That’s when God's lightning show started. Bolts and thunder came out of nowhere and 'dern' close!

Imagine then about 250 boats scrambling at 'lightning speed' (but um…safely) in the dark, with nothing but tiny running lights, to get home, “in -between the raindrops”. It was like watching modern day whalers scrambling in search of Moby Dick (with Jaws music playing in the background).

The bolder the lightning, the more the kids shrilled; the harder I prayed--not just for our boat, but all the boats and their cargo.

Then the real rain came with vines of light like you see on “Storm Chasers”. We hugged the land and I prayed harder and faster.

Then the winds started to whip up.

The lake became Gennasaret, but Jesus was NOT asleep in the back.

"Don't you even CARE that we did this foolish thing that we need saving from now?"

More lightning, louder thunder, higher kiddie shrills, faster prayers...

As we approached the dock, the lake was now a sea of waves. Getting there was one thing- docking in these waves, another.

When we were close enough for me to leap onto the dock and grab a line, our passengers jumped off the boat, titanic-like and scrambled for land and cover, while 3 of us stayed to secure and cover the vessel.

Oddly, standing on a wood dock in torrents of wind and rain, securing a canvas cover was a menial task after worrying and praying mightily for 20 minutes for the safety of 1000 or so boaters.

Snap-Snap-Snap. We're outta here!

For a bunch of well educated, usually-very-responsible people, it wasn’t the smartest thing we’ve ever done...but a story to tell the grandchildren or at least work into the Romans text this Sunday. I know what I should do (stay on land in safety), though I do the very thing I hate (go for the fun and worry about the consequences later).

There IS a wideness in God’s mercy…

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


Sunday: Got through 3rd and final wedding of the month. Touching, swanky, delightful and....delighted to be done. Got home at 11:30 and yup, I left (well slipped out actually) before the entree was served!

Monday: was sleeping peacefully until parishioner called the manse(twice!) leaving messages about stuff that was neither an emergency nor my responsibility. It was the last straw. I called one of my beach buddies, packed a bag and ran way from home.

Tuesday: Slept in at the beach and was awoken more pleasantly by children yelling down the street, racing to get to the ocean with the snap-snap of flip flops. I walked the beach, swam in the ocean, took a nap, made dinner with friends.

Today: Played hookie (again). Played golf with a new friend who's fascinating and fun and could give 2 s****s that I'm a pastor.

Home now. Cool drink in hand, ice pack on knee and enjoying breezes from the A/C.