Sunday, January 29, 2006

the slow return of the light

I'm starting to fade this evening - have had a big attack of the "tireds" all day. I woke up at 7, which is rather late for me, and was uncharacteristically yawning during church (although some coffee and sugared goods perked me up for the annual meeting). I am going to try to do my promised update, although I have the feeling that I am leaving things out. Those of you who read the other Berkeley Farm Girl will probably see it in both places.

At the moment I can't find my planning guide for our Feed-the-Hungry gig, and I am El Jefe for February, so I spent a good chunk of yesterday tearing my desk and my room apart. I didn't find it (rumors that it is around the church) but did get a Really Good Feeling because, well, I threw two grocery sacks of paper OUT and the time definitely qualified as "fifteen minutes a day" in the Flylady Zone of the week. I've been trying to do "baby steps" and keep my sink clean; that, and the clear-out, has helped me feel a bit un-stuck. (See Emily's meditation for another perspective.)

Work isn't going swimmingly, although I feel better about it; actually, I've felt very interested and productive in the last couple of weeks. I am learning things, my mind is engaged, I am not feeling so overwhelmed because someone else is supposed to be doing first- and second-level filtering on the dailiness. It has been busy, and by mid-Friday I felt like I had been through the ringer, but it's not quite so much drudgery. I am learning to think like a project manager, and the realization that I am doing this has helped the wheels keep turning. I did realize that my "free time" stuff had skills transferrable to my work stuff - thinking specifically of coordinating one of our FtH gig, actually. It made me think "I can do this". I am now looking at it as an issue to be resolved by the application of my logical reasoning, etc., skills - a problem to be analyzed and solved - instead of just feeling overwhelmed, despairing, the like. I can do it.

I have had some "me time", and even with the temporary return of Horrid Winter Weather, I think I'm feeling that early spring pull as the light returns. I did some retail therapy on Amazon Marketplace, and wonderful packages of delight have been arriving at my doorstep. One of the first to arrive (the seller will get a very good rating from me) was a copy of Dante in Love, and reading the book brought back "the ancient flame" for me. I was back "in my tribe" - the tribe of the demented Dantisti - and, yes, we are all quite mad. (I have felt "alone in a dark wood", so this was an excellent time for Dante to reappear in my life.) Later, a rare copy of Singing the Daily Office arrived, and the monks sang me to sleep. Actually, at some point this past week I realized that I had been neglecting some variants of The Music Cure, and started blasting U2 at myself in the car to help further rearrange the brain cells. (It's pledge week at KQED radio, and I've already re-upped, so I am listening to CDs more.)

So, to sum up, things are not fabulous, but I am feeling more hopeful and energized, and that, I think will help me through. I'm starting to pick up the pieces of my life, which is making me feel not-quite-so-fractured.

I am grateful beyond belief for my friends and the support my various communities have shown me. I know y'all are out there, and it has helped me turn the weird-ass "YOU SUCK!" tape in my brain down to an occasional whisper. Peace, out!

Episcopalians and Technology Survey

I put it up on the church website, and in my Ship sig, but haven't been near Blogger much till now.

The ECUSA's Church Publishing group has put up a quick survey to learn more about Episcopalians' use of technology in their every day and faith lives. It is completely anonymous.

Take it here ... and pass it on.

(Thanks to LutheranChik for the noodge.)

(For the three of you who read this blog ... there will be some back entries, and I hope to be a little more regular. Life has been a little interesting lately, although I'm almost back at a point where I can write about it.)

Monday, January 16, 2006

When Israel out of Egypt came ...

Reading Exodus during MLK Birthday weekend has been a profound experience. I have heard the stories before, both the ancient ones and the more modern ones, but hearing them together was deeply, deeply moving. The ancient times, the desert wanderings, are integrated seamlessly with the things that happened in my childhood (or just before). Ancient history, living memory.

Micah notes that on the kalendar of saints, we observe their death days, not their birth days (another example of the church and the world being topsy-turvy), so MLK Jr's day on the kalendar is April 4 but Jen from the LJ Lectionary group brought out the readings "out of season".

At St. Spike's, the final hymn was "Lift Every Voice and Sing". I was standing in the back waiting to catch the vestments post procession, so I had the full benefit of an excellent trained choir backing up my own most enthusiastic singing. (Had no idea that was in the regular hymnbook!) It was wonderful, and I hear it in my mind's ear still. (That, and "Pride (In The Name of Love)".)

Saturday, January 07, 2006

The Day After

Last night's liturgy was both lovely and moving, even though just about everyone involved in it had The Cold from Hell. The serving team came through in a pinch for no-shows and it looked like they had it planned all along. The choir sang a meltingly lovely Byrd motet of "Surge, illuminare" (which I heard several times because I was early and heard them practice), the hymns were grand, the sermon was good, and there were sweet clouds of Holy Smoke. My altar guild cohort and I were the last people to leave last night; we locked the doors and turned off the lights.

(For an excellent Epiphany sermon, I refer you to AKMA's.)

The church is now officially un-Christmased; between New Year's and the Epiphany someone had removed all the greens (I saw the chapel Advent wreath in the sacristry when I came in last night, but was fuzzed enough by the cold meds to not realize that all the greens in the nave were gone too) and today about half the Altar Guild removed the creche, the angel candlestands at the altar, and the 3 dozen or so pew candlestands we use during Christmastide.

I'm glad we still have the gold brocade up for the Baptism of Our Lord this Sunday. It would feel too bare without it.

A guest organist was practicing on our organ while we were busy moving things into the room behind the organ, but I figured if he was a church organist (this may be our visiting recital artist) he is probably used to having the altar guild moving things around during practice.

Friday, January 06, 2006

The Epiphany Three

Well, tonight instead of going home and sleeping (again), I will smell the sweet waft of frankincense at St. Spike's.

I have three gifts for my readers at the Epiphany:

1. I have been neglectful in promoting the existence of St. Jerome's Chapel, a Godcasting project of the talented (and charming) Micah Jackson, a spinoff of St. Jerome's Library. Micah is a gifted preacher (yes, I have heard him "live") and does sermons in written and .mp3 format for the various feasts and fasts of the kalendar. I will, however, say that his in-real-life delivery is much better (riveting, in a word). [ETA: Micah says that he's working out his recording technique for the podcasts.]

2. A pal from EFM tipped us off to the existence of the TV special version (on PBS) of Bruce Feiler's Walking the Bible. Ok, so the first one is done, but you can catch the next two. (Sorry, I went home sick that day and slept, only to wake up when the show was on.)

3. I love the Orthodox concept of Theophany ... it's all Epiphany and the Baptism of our Lord rolled into one. Bits from the litany, via an educated poster on the Ship of Fools:

Today the time of the feast is at hand
Today the grace of the Holy Spirit descends
Today the Sun fills the world with splendor
Today the clouds drop down
Today the Prophet and Forerunner approaches
Today the Jordan is transformed for healing
Today the whole creation is watered by mystical streams
Today transgressions are washed away
Today Paradise is opened
Today the bitter water is changed to sweetness
Today the whole creation shines with light

There are apparently 25 "Todays" so I'm looking for the rest. But I just had to share.

Monday, January 02, 2006

A Day of Rest

First, for LC - it's wet here, but the worst of the flooding is in Marin and Sonoma Counties, north and closer to the ocean from here. The bad thing is that I am heavily reminded of 1986, which was our last Huge Flood Year (also over New Year's weekend) during which levees failed in the Central Valley and put a lot of land under water. I also heard that Pasadena got rained on for Rose Parade the first time since 1955, which didn't help my mood any, because '55 was the year of the massive flood on the Feather that flooded my mom and her family out of their house at Christmas.

I had to go out twice today in the rain. The second time was to a surprisingly (given how few people were out and about the first time) crowded Trader Joe's. It was coming down in sheets, and I had to wait in line for the longest I've ever done at that store. I was cold and wet when I got home.

I turned up the heater and removed my jeans. My plans to trundle everything down to the basement for washing were defeated by Miss Maggie, who was sleeping most adorably on the pile. (Pic when I feel like uploading and editing it.) So I crawled under the covers with Exodus (catch up on the EFM reading!). After Pharaoh let them go, I curled up ... and an hour later woke up from a sound sleep relaxed and seeing bright sunshine in the west through the kitchen window. Maggie had been sleeping on the laundry the whole time, but woke up, yawned, and moved, which allowed me to throw the holey house-only jeans on and go downstairs. I felt relaxed.

Re yesterday, I realized that I was slightly disoriented by the Change of Celebration, as I am accustomed to singing Christmas songs on the Sunday after Christmas. But I completely loved the readings we had: short and sweet. I've been reading Bruce Feiler's Walking the Bible as a companion to my OT studies, and the "Aaronic blessing" is mentioned frequently.

"The LORD bless you and keep you
The LORD lift his countenance upon you and give you peace.
The LORD be gracious unto you."

It's one of the few bits of Bible I remember well from my teen days, mainly because I sang it in some choir or other at some point and music makes it stick in my brain. The above is, I believe, how we sang it. (Confession time ... I didn't know the Creed by memory until I got to Grace and started not only saying it, but singing it, weekly.) But it was really great to see it in the service. I love it when I can make these connections with what I've been studying.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

New Year's Day

All is quiet on New Year's Day
A world in white gets underway ...
(U2, New Year's Day)

I was on call Christmas weekend. Got called twice on the Day (once in my sleep) and spent most of the day of the 26th in the office. Needless to say I have been discombobulated about the special days after Christmas, although LC and bls have been holding up the side. The mega-stress of the previous week had lifted somewhat but I was still working 7-6, dark to dark.

I almost bagged on my friend B's New Year's Eve day open house in SF (starts at 1, so one can get well home before amateur hour starts in earnest) because I was feeling sorta blah and the weather has been beyond foul, but we got a break between the storms on Saturday afternoon so I decanted myself onto BART and went over. That was nice because it's a big part of what my friend Adam calls Middle-Christmas.

This year I did not have to haul myself over the Bay Bridge to go to church at the Cathedral on New Year's, which was great considering the weather and my general decrepitude.

I almost feel like a human being again after a day of puttering around the house, including lots of cuddles with Maggie-cat and making some lemon curd. And I look forward to having another day to putter tomorrow.

At the grocery yesterday, I happened to be wandering through the kosher section, and remembered something I'd read recently on Velveteen Rabbi. I bought two yahrzeit candles for my grandmothers, one who died on 12/25 and was buried on 12/30, and the other who died on 12/30. I've been burning the candles when I've been at home. Tonight I hope also to catch up with something I had planned for the 26th, which is to listen to Mozart's Requiem in honor of the tsunami victims (and, at this point, my grandmothers).

In a lot of ways I'm not unhappy to see the back of 2005. Much that is good happened before Things Fell Apart, some has managed to happen since, and I hope to get it back and hold onto it in '06.