Friday, March 03, 2006

Dust you are ...

Ash Wednesday was a challenging day for me. The weirdness at work continues still, with an underlying layer of High Anxiety, and my minimal food consumption didn't make me spiritual, just hungry and cranky (especially on a very energetic day at the office). So I was feeling miserable, all right, but not sure that it was for the "right reasons".

Late in the afternoon I did a brief peek into the Ship of Fools Forums. We are going through one of those community moments; a woman who joined us early in the year turned out to have a stage 4 brain tumor, and was basically let out of the hospital to die in peace at home (being a resident of the UK where they do civilized things like that). Something someone had posted at the end of that thread really set off the waterworks (quietly because I was at my desk). I was at loose ends when driving home until I decided to just push the waterworks by listening to "Fields of Gold" and "Over the Rainbow" from the Eva Cassidy CD that is in my car player. I got home drained, ate a light supper, washed my face, and toodled off to the church.

The familiar rhythms of setting up (and the seasonal task of putting a lot of the fancy decorations away in the closet) helped rearrange my brain cells to some extent (and, as always, I get to hear the choir do their final practice ... bonus!). I was delighted to see J. who has been absent from church and our EFM class for weeks due to a bout with pneumonia (and some bad side effects from the meds) and also pleased to see Chris and had a brief chat. But the service itself did calm the storm in a number of ways. First off, it was A-Okay for me to have a somber face, so I just rolled with it. Second, there was a lot of sober silence, in places that we don't usually have a lot of silence, and that worked for me just fine. Of course this was punctuated (St. Spike's being what it is) by some UTTERLY STUNNING choral music. The motet on Psalm 51 was an excellent opportunity to sit and contemplate. I spent time on my knees, I spent time just leaning back in the pew.

Several of my cohorts showed up (actually, I wasn't on the schedule officially either; it was a good example of teamwork) which was useful as we needed to do another big sanctuary change for a funeral (to emphasize the "dust we are" even more) on Friday. Again, the rhythms of work are useful; wash the dishes, fold the linens, get the gloves on and haul the Paschal candle out from the closet, make sure the cat isn't in the church proper, and turn out the lights.

I find that what I "take away" from my participation in public worship is musical as often as not. We sang "Great is thy faithfulness" the day after I got my narsty letter from the IRS, which was a very moving experience at the time (it sure reminded me of my Methodist childhood!) and the echoes did pop up occasionally during that very dark week afterwards to comfort me. I've definitely been hearing that motet the last couple of days.

I was in an improved frame of mind the next day. Had a useful discussion with the therapist about directions forward in the work weirdness and zoomed in and out of sleep at my acupuncturists, sending my prayers to Maia (the dying woman) during my more lucid periods. I went straight to bed afterwards, but when I woke up this morning and checked in, I learned that she had fallen unconscious the night before. It will probably be a matter of days.

Updated Saturday am: Maia died last night, surrounded by her partner Al and many friends. She lived and worked all over the world; in Bosnia investigating war crimes (she was a forensic sociologist and criminoligist by trade) and working on reconciliation, in Israel and Palestine building bridges, in Sri Lanka (don't know the details but there's plenty of opportunity for reconciliation work there!) and I don't know what else. She will be missed.

Rest eternal grant unto her, O Lord, and light perpetual shine upon her.


Blogger Emily said...

Isn't it funny how liturgy seems to mirror life in so many ways.

Sounds like a full week indeed.


March 04, 2006 7:56 AM  
Blogger LutheranChik said...

Amen to your prayer.

And amen to Emily's post. At our Ash Wednesday service, we were informed that Ken, one of our most faithful and involved members, was at that moment in an operating room, having multiple-bypass surgery...he'd gone in for arterial testing in the morning, and the doctor was so alarmed that they immediately admitted him. And then, minutes later we were having ashes smeared on our heads as the pastor gave us all a blunt reminder about our mortality; and then a few minutes after that we heard, "Rend your heart and not your garments." I hadn't been in a very focused mood walking into church that evening, but my mind was soon concentrated powerfully.

March 04, 2006 3:34 PM  

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