Wednesday, August 31, 2005


So many prayer needs due to Katrina. Fish and Crystal especially.

100 Things About Me

Inspired by Sue at Inner Dorothy.

1. I was only 2 pounds at birth
2. My birthweight has increased 100 fold
3. I wouldn't tell that to just anyone
4. I am an introvert
5. I envy extroverts
6. Being honest is a thorn in the flesh
7. But I can't seem to stop doing it
8. I've been sober 17 years
9. Today I dreamed that I broke my sobriety with a cold beer
10. I woke up and was tempted to do just that
11. But I didn't
12. As a child I wanted to be a ballet dancer
13. But now would settle for being a belly dancer
14. I am an intense friend
15. I worry that it keeps me from having many friends
16. Because the intense friends I have I can only take in small doses
17. But I like being intense
18. I am more merciful towards others than I am towards myself
19. When I was a teenager I bet my brother 50 bucks that I would have a book published by the time I was 50.
20. I am running out of time
21. Fear keeps me from putting the 3 books that ride around in my head onto paper
22. I haven't admitted #21 outloud before
23. I still hope to win the bet
24. My brother hopes I do too
25. Watching sports on TV is my favourite Saturday habit
26. I yell right along with the athletes - especially the curlers.
27. So much so my family often thinks I am in pain when all I am doing is encouraging the people to do their best.
28. When I was a preschooler I heard my granny tell my mom I was ugly
29. I thought that was the gospel truth
30. It wasn't
31. I am most cynical when I am around Christians
32. I often am proud of that
33. That's not good I know
34. It's easier to feed my feelings than face them head on
35. I'm trying to change that
36. People close to me prefer me to feed my feelings if facing them involves them
37. Being lonely is a new feeling
38. It is a surprising one
39. I hope it doesn't last
40. It is easier to write about my reality on here than talk about it to my friends
41. I don't know if that is healthy but I suspect it isn't
42. I have a hard time letting conversations be about the other person
43. Commenting on blogs has shown me this is so ingrained in me it's embarrassing
44. I hope to go back to school one day
45. I worry that my chronic illness will prevent me from attaining many of my goals
46. I worry that I will use my health as an excuse not to attain my goals
47. I am lazy
48. I worry that I will be a lonely old lady
49. I believe I will be a greatly loved grandma
50. I am surprised how hard it is to come up with 100 things to type about me
51. I have two sisters and two brothers
52. I am a middle child
53. I am more likely to see wildlife than another human being(other than my kids or husband) in the course of my day
54. I live far enough away from a grocery store that I only buy groceries 2x a month
55. Especially in winter, I can go from one Sunday to another without getting in a car
56. If you drive to Alaska you will drive within half a mile of my house
57. Unless you go through BC to get there
58. Number of times I've been under anesthetic in the double digits
59. So is the number of years I've been married
60. And the number of homes I've lived in
61. But not the number of kids I have
62. Had you going didn't I?
63. Praying outloud with others panics me
64. I don't do it unless I absolutely have to
65. And I wish I never did
66. I try not to feel guilty about that but I do
67. I've lived in 3 different provinces
68. And have traveled in 6 of them
69. My husband and I met as penpals
70. I was only 14 when we started writing
71. That was 29 years ago this month
72. We still write to one another when words are too painful to speak
73. When we finally met he was running away from God and I was an atheist
74. We both became Christians within a year of one another
75. We were baptized on the same day
76. We eloped
77. We have renewed our vows twice
78. Staying married is the hardest work we have done
79. I dream of painting water colour pictures
80. And making my own stained glass windows
81. I wish I could have the Blessed Sacrament in my own home
82. I would spend a good part of my day before it
83. I am afraid that makes me sound fanatical
84. It's taken me an hour to get this far in my list
85. It's easier for me to worry about the "what ifs" in life than deal with reality
86. I read about over 100 books a year
87. I panic if I have nothing new to read
88. The library was my haven as a child
89. I only have one kidney
90. Journalism was my major in college
91. My kids call me the grammar queen
92. Even though my punctuation is terrible
93. I have ambivalent feelings about my 15 years spent homeschooling
94. I dropped the TV part of my college education because I was scared of having to go in front of the camera
95. I had what it took to do a good job on TV but didn't know it then
96. I regret that my fear kept me from trying
97. I read books outloud to my kids at bedtime until my oldest was 16
98. Once I read them one Narnia book nightly until my voice gave out on the third night
99. I never fueled up a car until after I was married
100. I've never changed a flat tire

Monday, August 29, 2005

Blazing The Trail With Laughter

My husband comes from a large family - he has 8 living siblings. When we are all together we total over 50. Yesterday we had some of his family - 35 in all - over for a barbecue in honour of his mom's 76th birthday. And though we are miles apart in how we live out our faith we can come together and have lots of laughter. I laughed more yesterday than I have in a long time. Laughter can be such a balm, a blessed relief.

On Saturday one of my brother-in-laws phoned to double check something about the get together. When I told him our oldest son had moved out that day he spoke from his heart and said, "Oh, that is sad." Exactly what I needed to hear - someone willing to validate how I felt. My own mother could not do it. I purposedly avoided talking to her on Saturday - our weekly phone date when we catch up on things - because she just wants to tell me for the nth time that this is the way life works. I want to tell her, "Don't you think I know that already?" When someone wants to gloss over how I feel, in order to be more comfortable themselves, I hear them telling me that it is wrong to own my feelings. I hear that they prefer me to pretend. It hints at crazy making. I can't do it anymore. So I was more than thankful that this brother-in-law could give voice to my feelings.

He and his wife are going through the same thing - we sat around the campfire for a while last night and wondered aloud if all these changes meant we were getting old? Was this really the way it worked? Could it be that one day we really will only cook for two? How can it be that the bulk of the parenting years are over? It's enough to make me want to run, scream and duck for cover. Kids really do grow up and fly away and make a life they can call their own. At this point, (don't tell my mom) I don't want to grasp that this truly is the way life works.

But I must and I will. Countless others have blazed the trail before me and survived. It is a new season. Opportunities and challenges await me.

Who knows, maybe one day I will even be able to laugh about it.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Garbage In, Garbage Out

I read this quote this morning from this letter and thought it said many things I can agree with. I read it originally through the Boars Head Tavern, which is a site well worth following - you can access it through my blogroll.

"Okay, class, our dumb idea for this session is this: If you memorize Scripture, pray a lot and do religious stuff, you will sin less, be more obedient and have a powerful witness for Christ in the world. The principle is: Garbage in, garbage out.

While I have taught that and believed it, I'm a lot older and somewhat wiser. I now know that the idea suffers from two fatal errors...maybe more. (I just haven't written the book yet.)

First, we are a lot worse than we think we are and it takes a lot more than we think it does to make us better.

Do you know what bothers me? Systems for godliness! I want to please God more than you can imagine and I read more books than you can imagine in the fond hope that someone will tell me how to please God. What they say simply doesn't work and, if I meet the people who wrote the books (and I often do), it hasn't worked for them either.

Every time someone tells me the ten ways to have a closer walk with God, I go off on another tangent of praying more, memorizing Scripture more and doing more stuff that I think will be pleasing to God. And, when I find that "Jesus has left the building," I keep kidding myself that He is still there and that I'm quite godly. After a while, I'm so phony I can't even stand myself.

Religious stuff doesn't make us makes us more religious.

That's what Jesus meant in John 5:39-40 when He criticized the religious people for thinking that the Scriptures would give them eternal life when, in fact, all they did was point to Him in Whom was Life.

I think it was the late Vernon McGee who said that the danger with most Christians is that we say what we are going to do, talk about what we're going to do and think that we have done it when, in fact, we haven't done it at all. That is, of course, true of religion. We think that the more we "do" religion, the more godly we are. Sometimes just the opposite is true.

The other fatal error is this: The belief that being more godly, spiritual and religious is even the point.

What is the point then? The point is Jesus.

Jesus said that if we were really tired, we should come to Him. If our lives were empty that we could come to Him and He would give us abundant life. He said that if we were sick, sinful and very needy, He would be there for us.

He said that He came to love the people who couldn't pull off the religious thing. He said that He was a shepherd and not a butcher. He said that He loved the sheep and gave His life for them. He said that He was light for darkness, bread for the hungry, water for the thirsty and that, if we came to Him, He would never kick us out.

In fact, His harshest criticism was reserved for the religious, the sanctified and the pure.

The spurious idea of "garbage in, garbage out" is just that...spurious.

I don't know about you but I'm quite good at multi-tasking; to wit, I can memorize Scripture, pray and sit in church and, at the same time, hate, lust, covet and be really ticked off and unforgiving toward the person who is sitting next to me in church. Not only that. I found that the garbage doesn't come from the outside but is a lot closer to (Mathew 15:10-20).

Am I saying that one shouldn't read and memorize Scripture, that prayer and going to church are bad things? Are you crazy? I'm a Bible teacher, I couldn't survive without prayer, and I make my living working for the Church.

To play on the words of C.S. Lewis, those who run to Jesus get Him and His love with forgiveness, eternal life and sometimes even godliness thrown in. Those who focus on godliness get neither Jesus nor anything else.

He asked me to remind you.

(Not Lewis, dummy. Jesus. :-) )"

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Deliver Me From Me

I'm being soothed as I type - listening to Mark Mallett - that's his CD on my sidebar - sometimes I let others' music speak to God for me.

Every day just seems to get more painful instead of less. I'm not handling it well. Tears are under the surface and flowing over every time I turn around. It is a familiarity I do not welcome. Five years ago I had a nervous breakdown and these tears are reminiscent of that time. Tears that came unbidden over darn near everything. All I am clinging to right now is that as painful as that time was in my life, it brought such deep healing. Today all I have been able to say to God is that I feel broken. "I feel broken Daddy," is my cry. For so long my conversations with God have been about me showing up and He doing His work in me. I keep telling God that I trust Him to work in my life....that I open myself fully to him to do His will. Must it be so painful? I have moments when I tell myself to get a grip and a perspective and smarten up already. But they are only moments and I seem to have no will to do any of those things and I suspect that is a good thing. I say it because I feel like a 5 year old kid and my tears are making lines through a dirt stained face...and it is so uncomfortable being present in this moment.

Before church this past Sunday I talked with Father Charlie about my faith journey. About how when I come to Mass I lay myself bare before God in a way I have never done before and don't do elsewhere. There are no secrets, no hiding places when I come before Jesus. I am in His presence and I am known in a most intimate way. Knowing how deeply I am loved at my most honest and worst gives me hope. Hope while stuck in denial is different than hope grasped for in reality. Thankfully God continues to have hope in me either way.

But I do confess that becoming who God created me to be is a different picture in my head than the reality I live day by day. I can't see the transformation taking place - and I know too well how deceiving a mirror can be. How come a person is always so shocked when they see a photo of themselves and it doesn't match what they see in the mirror?

I am trusting God has this pic of me in His head and it will outmatch anything I could dream up on my own. Despite feeling like God is doing skin grafts I keep surrendering. Walking through the fires. Crying the tears. Seeking His comfort. Being in the moment. It is free for the asking but it costs everything.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Shaking Loose

The leaves are changing colour as I sit here and type this. It is not unusual up here to have all the leaves on the ground by mid September.

Most years this fills me with dread. It means brown trees, brown earth and a horizon that seems forever blah. Winter can come as early as the end of October and stay for 7 months. This is perhaps the first year where I am willing to embrace the seasons instead of wishing them to go away. Maybe because I am in a different season of my life and I recognize that I have to be truly present in it to reap the benefits of going through it.

Within a few weeks two of my three kids will leave home for good and the third is working full time and has decided not to continue his schooling. For the first time in 15 Septembers I won't be opening new textbooks and burying my face in their inky perfume. That season of my life has come to an end - and not unlike the puzzlement of summer fading - "Where did it go?" seems to be my mantra these days. I don't know where I fit in my kids' lives anymore and I don't know how to sort that out. Truth be told I don't know how to trust that I will still be important to them. It is projection at its finest.

I could not wait to leave home and get away from my mother. Sometimes it felt like she had crawled into my brain and taken up residence there. I wanted to go far away from her so I could have my very own life. I went 2500 miles across country to do that. I never knew that mothers could come along for the ride and I spent the next 20 years trying to uproot her from my brain so that I could truly live my own life. I remember two friends who often told me it was most important what I thought about different things in my life. I couldn't wrap my head around that for ever so long. It took some hard turns and brave conversations to shake my mother loose from my brain but it did happen.

It's been a struggle to accept that my kids need to individuate. They need to become their own person. I don't want to go along for the ride when they leave this home. All right, I desperately want to go along for the ride when they leave but I recognize that is not good. For them or me.

It's one of those times when I rethink my years as a homeschooling mom. A counselor recently told my youngest son that one of the results of being homeschooled was that he was used to listening to me as teacher and mom. That other kids were used to the tension between mom and teacher and it could start a process of individuation sooner. In all reality it probably is simply that some moms want control all the way through, whether they home school or not, and I was(am) one of them.

The other day he told me he was used to doing whatever I asked him (his exact words were: "asking how high when I said jump") and that it was hard not to think he was doing something wrong (like getting his eyebrow pierced) when he followed through with a different choice. It's the kind of conversation that makes me shudder and groan. My good God, I am like that? It was no fun to hear. But we were able to talk and acknowledge the struggle to become ourselves. It doesn't mean I like it even though I see how necessary of a process it is. For so many, many years I believed that if I could get them to see the world my way that it guaranteed them the best path.

It's one thing for me to be in a place where I think my own thoughts....have individuated(at last) to the point where my mom and I are truly separate people. I know it would have been a good thing had that happened before marriage and kids. But it is another to sit here and see that my kids are on the same journey. That I am the one they must separate from to become who they were created to be.

My urge is to bless them as they leave and say, "I release you. Go in peace." It reminds me of the scene in Braveheart where Marin's father reaches tentatively to place his hand on William Wallace's head....he reaches with shaky fingers and then stops, reaches and then stops and then finally makes contact with William's forehead. Both knew it came at a great cost.

I hope I can bravely put my hand on their heads and bless them as they go their separate ways. That I will not do it tentatively but freely. It may be the best fashion accessory they take with them on their journey.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Of Sawdust and Icons

I keep thinking that I am going to be an old lady sitting in a rocking chair, living in a room full of icons, written off as someone who is super religious but has nothing of substance in her heart. Can't get that picture out of my mind. Maybe because my friend, who passed away three weeks ago today, had a room full of icons, was never without her rosary in her hand, and we never talked about our faith. I had written her off in the faith department long before her dementia settled in and our faith journeys took on some of the same hues. There are things about my journey that are so private and words are so inadequate to express them. Sometimes I find it ironic to be a lover of the Word and a lover of words and yet find myself so thankful that what cannot be expressed God understands anyway. My friend was a person of few words. She rarely started a conversation.

I am still haunted by the memory of hearing her pray the rosary amidst her pain. I think about my father in law, whose only lament at her impending passing was that it was too bad she wasn't ready spiritually. I remember how pissed off I was at him that he had the gall to think he knew her spiritual status. Then I remembered that I was guilty of the same thing. Sometimes being honest on here is a bit like eating sawdust. It's hard to swallow. I so badly want to be in some other place on the journey than smack dab in the midst of where I am. All week I kept getting this message to simply be where I was. "You try it!!" I wanted to yell at God. Then I remembered God is nothing if not Present in every moment.

We have always been pretty upfront in our home about everything and anything. No question or topic has been taboo. I grew up in a house of secrets and determined to have a home free of them. As a result I had to try to continue doing my cross stitch, without jabbing a needle in my finger, when my 11 year old daughter asked me, "Is sex is enjoyable?" - "Why , yes it is," I replied. The conversation that abounded in my head after that question was not quite so calm. So when my(now)adult daughter asked me the other day what my worst fear was, I was just relieved the question was one I could answer without my cross stitch being in jeopardy.

I told her it was being in pain. In the past 5 years I've developed an allergy to all the major pain killers and I hate pain. This week when I broke my toe and wouldn't let my husband examine it very closely she said, "Wow, you really are afraid of pain, aren't you?" I shot back rather loudly, "Listen hear I had three babies with no pain meds, so there." And in a quieter voice I said, "I just can't do toes." I don't understand why the doctor would give me all kinds of medication to bring a baby into the world but no pain medication to bring a toe back into alignment.

A few nights ago my youngest son started telling me about trying to make a car fishtail down our gravel road. He thought it made a cool story. Every one else in my house feels this is a skill building exercise. I freaked out before he even was done telling me. Ever-honest daughter tells me that I better get a handle on my fears. "Save them for when they are needed, not for after the fact that said son is just fine and the car didn't roll down the ditch and flip, never mind all the horrors her mom could imagine" was the gist of her opinion. I told her I just can't handle that kind of stress anymore. She tells me my reaction to him will guarantee that he will never again tell me some stuff and I tell her I am just fine with that. She gives me a look that says dementia is making a comfy nest in my brain already, then tells me that nothing has ever been taboo to talk about and none of them are used to not telling me it all. "Just put me in the room with my icons already, ok?" I wanted to yell at her.

When I looked at the icons in my friend's room they meant nothing to me. Nice statues but that's it. Nothing that connected with my heart. So I assumed that because I saw it that way, that's the way it was. But I look at what are already icons to me in my own home and each has a story. My rock that is split into 4 pieces reminds me I am broken and in need of a saviour. My hoola hoop reminds me to be childlike and not be ashamed of it. My hand held drum reminds me that I came from the earth and to the earth I will return. I dream of having a wall of rosaries - each one significant to a place on my journey - not unlike the altars that they built in the Old Testament as memorials of encounters with God. Even in writing this post I can see myself having a nice glass holder of sawdust - a reminder of the honesty of the journey. And you readers would be the only ones who could recognize the significance of it. Oh, the infinite number of times I have thought that what I saw, was the way it was.

For a moment the other day when my daughter asked me what my biggest fear was I was so tempted to lie and say, "Oh, I don't have any fears, I just have Jesus." The reality is that I have a multitude of fears and I have Jesus. I keep expecting that because I continue to be open about the journey that my honesty will morph into something more palatable than sawdust.

"Oh taste and see that the Lord is good." - Psalm 34:8a

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Inner and Outer Realities

Ever since a friend helped me make the connection between pain filled accidents in my life and inner pain I have noticed how careful I can be not to have those accidents. To pay attention to the inner pain before I do something that manifests it in the outer realms of my being. This has been a pain filled week so far for me. Inner conflict and outer conflict. Sorting through truth and fiction in my life and having to deal with realities in the lives of those who mean the most to me, my family. It is hard work. I want the courage to face it and I want the strength to deal with it all the while wanting to curl up in a ball and pull the covers over my head until it resolves itself without me. The only thing is that it involves me so either I want to be a part of it and go forward or I know I choose to live with the consequences. Blah.

That probably doesn't make a lot of sense without the details but there are some things I have chosen not to write about on my blog and the details of this pain filled time is one of them.

Today I stubbed my toe so hard that it was similar, but softer, to the crack you hear when a baseball bat connects with the ball. I don't know if it is broken. My heart feels broken. I have broken my toes so many times that I know by now they won't do anything other than splint it and tell me to keep it elevated. My husband is an ER nurse and when he checked it and wanted to touch it I would have kicked him except that would have hurt worse. (Did I mention I am not a great patient?) It is the first time though that I can recognize that there is inner and outer pain connecting in my life. Let me clarify that every broken toe is not some symbol of inner pain...I don't have some dumb pat answer for every ill that comes our way in life. I just know that sometimes outer pain seems a blessed relief to dealing with the inner pains of life. In the meantime I will keep my toe and my prayers elevated.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

This and That

I'm sitting here thinking about how I welcome change in my life but I don't want it to cost me anything. My friend who died recently - I wanted her to be free of pain but I didn't want her to have to die for that to happen. My son is moving out in a few weeks and I want him to move into the adult part of life but I don't necessarily want him to move out for that to happen. I want to continue to lose weight(35 pounds so far this year!) but I don't always want to have to make healthy choices for that to happen. I want to have my cake and eat it too in most every phase of life.

One of the questions my spiritual director asked me the other day was how I saw my friend's death relating to the suffering Christ went through. I hate that question. I told him that I can fathom it in my head(maybe) but not my heart. That I hear people talk about the sacrifice Christ made for them but it just doesn't register on my radar screen. I've seen people get weepy about it but I sit there and don't comprehend it one bit. I told him I felt guilty being honest with him. I can't believe how badly I still want that non-existent Christian of the Year medal and what I think are the requirements to get it.

There are so many things I just don't get in this life and while there is a part of me that knows somehow that it is a good thing - maybe even a mark of growing maturity to be more comfortable with that reality, there is also this part of me that wants all the answers now. I am really looking foreward to the day when I embrace ambiguity fully.

Thursday, August 11, 2005


I found this quote on the Brennan Manning Message Board:

There is nothing all that bad about mixed motives, unless we think they are pure. ~Falconbrother

Admitting to mixed motives is hard on the old ego. Today I am going to see my spiritual director, who also happens to be the priest at my parish. Last week when I was trying to find someone to do the music at my friend's funeral he asked me several times if I had tried this one particular couple. Eventually I told him that the music was really important to my friend's sister and this couple just wouldn't fit the bill. I believed that was true at the time. I had the hardest time finding anyone to do the music and consequently I ended up with an organist and no soloist. Today I am going to tell him it was pure projection on my part. I didn't like the way the couple did music so I crossed them off my mental list. At the time I would have argued that I had no mixed motives - that my motives were pure. In hindsight - well, you know how clear hindsight is.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Young at Heart

Tomorrow I am going to the funeral of another elderly friend. In fact she used to be a neighbour of my friend who passed away recently. In this particular community there were quite a few elderly women that I became friends with. I got to know them through a neighbourhood Bible study. I was lonely and had few friends. In the midst of a dark, northern winter I phoned up this elderly woman, whose funeral is tomorrow, and joined her Bible study. It was one of those Friendship Bible Coffee ones - the kind where you fill in the blanks and your brain turns to mush in the process. The kind I really don't like. That in itself would have been enough to discourage me from going had I not grown to love the women who attended.

Most of the women were Catholic and the woman who was leading it was trying to convert them in an underhanded kind of way. She meant well. She had no idea the other women were onto her. But they had all lived in the same community since their children were small and now in their 70s and 80s, they were more than willing to let things go and simply enjoy each others' company. They didn't hold it against her that she wanted to preach the gospel to them that they had already embraced.

One of the things that I often noticed when I listened to these women visit, was they were free to discuss their grown children's lives without fear that the choices their kids were making was going to reflect badly on themselves. There was no sense that they judged one another for the outcomes. It was foreign thinking to me, but I thirsted for the freedom they had. I was in the midst of parenting kids under the age of 10 back then and I simply couldn't relate to these discussions. Often I wondered how old a mother had to get before she made that distinction between her kids, their choices and herself.

One of the women was so funny....In her 80's she had fallen and broken her arm. It needed to be in a cast for 6 weeks. She told us that when she got the cast off she looked at her shrunken, droopy upper arm and said with some alarm to her husband, "My arm looks like that of an old woman!" Oh, how we laughed! This woman must be 90 by now but something tells me when I see her tomorrow she will still be young at heart.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Come Dine With Me....Not

So, I am outside today mowing the lawn and pondering about how none of it really matters. Yes, the lawn does need to be taken care of but no one is ever going to remark about how nice my yard was after I'm gone. I'm still mulling over my friend's death and unsure how to go forward from here. I'm numb and sad. It's not as if one says, "Oh, well, that is over with now, back to regular programming." I'm torn between two realities. Nothing will ever be the same again and yet everything will return to some semblance of normal. I mean, after two weeks of either being at the hospital seeing my friend or planning the funeral or being on the phone about the funeral or being in the hospital myself, I was out mowing the lawn you know?

Who I am as a person is what matters in the end. At least that is the conclusion I have come to at this point. And for the most part I am comfortable with who I am. My periods of self loathing are less frequent. I can be honest about either side of me - the shadow or the light without overt condemnation or angst. Pride still sits there and waves its wand when I don't give God credit for the light but even at that, I can live with myself. I'm not always willing to lift the dark up to the light and be changed. I can get comfortable with my pissyness. It all just means I am human. It doesn't mean I don't ask God to change me. But it also means there are times when I don't ask God to change me.

I have over 100 blogs bookmarked on my desktop. That can be a dangerous thing when you don't want to change something and then find it staring you in the face in an innocent blog post. Today I was reading one of those kind of posts and it kind of got me in the gut. It showed me part of who I am. You're going to have to read the link to get the rest of this post. Here is my comment on it:

This hits me in a raw place. There were lots of people in the church I used to go to that I would never consider inviting over for a meal because I just didn’t want to have to put up with them in my own home. I have thought lots about what an intimate encounter it really is having someone share a meal. If I was indiscriminate about who I had in my home for a meal it would force me to treat them as equals or at least stop kidding myself about how lacking I am in this area and how unwilling I am to change.

I used to reason that my diningroom was too small to have people over. That is what I told myself when I thought about those people I didn't want to have over for a meal. The ones I felt convicted to invite over but didn't want to bother with. The rest of the time we made do just fine. And then I told myself it took too many spoons to have certain company but I seemed to manage when I wanted to. I just want like minded company. I like good conversations. I don't want uncomfortable ones around my dinner table unless I am the one talking. I don't mind making others uncomfortable but I don't want it the other way around in my house.

I have thought about what it means to me to invite someone over for a meal. It means I acknowledge them as my equal - that I believe we really are equal in God's eyes. I can talk about grace and love with the best of them. But this is one area where I don't walk the talk. And it's not because I don't invite them over, it's because of my heart attitude about it. I could invite them over and soothe my conscious but it wouldn't necessarily mean I had any change of heart.

When I read the post about Jesus and meals today I thought, "Oh shit - this is begging to be held up to the light."

Friday, August 05, 2005

Converting to My Point of View

I am sure at the funeral today I will get people talking to me about how sad it was that my friend was a Catholic and therefore not going to heaven....that is if they manage to get over the shock that I am Catholic too. Several family and community members will be there who know nothing of my conversion simply because our relationship does not lend itself to the sharing of the deep things of life. I get sick of people thinking they know the eternal destination of everyone. And while I do my fair share of acting like I am God and days when I really think I have some kind of influence on my fellow man as if I am God - I guess I think I am better than to think I know where someone is going. Oh boy - gotta watch what I start typing - I can type myself into a corner lickety-split! Hmmm - I can think I am better than the next person so fast. Ok, let me say this - I don't want to judge a person's eternal resting place. It's frankly, none of my business. I can hear some people sputtering, "but, but what about the great commission?" In the spirit of St. Francis - I try to preach the gospel every day of my life....I try not to use words to do it.

Here is a link to a great post about pointless squabbling. Steve has a great blog.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Hearts and Prayers

Thank you for your thoughts and prayers. Keep them coming!! I was fine today until this evening at the funeral prayer service. Heart arrythmias again all over the place. Tomorrow at the funeral I have some speaking parts and my heart pounds good over stuff like that at the best of times even though I like public speaking. Ah, gee how is this for humour - I typed pubic speaking - then caught it and corrected it. Won't even begin to wonder what that would be....but it did cause me to stop and chuckle!

Tonight I have the Eulogy to write yet. Are there ever any adequate words to express the lifelong journey of a fellow human being? I don't think so. Her grandsons and son were supposed to get me the information for the Eulogy(my husband is reading it) today but no such luck. So tonight I cornered them all individually at the prayer service and jotted down notes. It's a good thing I let go of perfection. I could have my panties in a knot over it.

I asked them if they had to tell someone about their grandma, what would they say, how would they describe her?

What do you want to be remembered for?

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

What Really Matters

My fellow blogger Natala has a series of posts that are well worth the read. They are sobering and heart wrenching. Please take the time to read all of them - it will take about 20 minutes. If you start at part one and read right through you will have lots to think on by the time you are done part eight. I read the last part the morning after my friend had passed away. There are things that come surrounding life changing events, like the death of a friend, that will forever be a part of the journey. Reading these posts is one of those for me.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Every 5 Minutes

Funeral plans for my friend are almost all finished. My part is finished. It has to be. I spent the night in ER last night being monitored for heart arrythmias. Not a good thing. Too complicated with my other health issues for the doc in this little hospital to deal with. Tried to get ahold of my family doc today and he is gone on holidays. Tried the specialist close by and she is gone until next week. Booked appointments with them both. Got hooked up to a Holter Monitor for the next 48 hours. I look like I am wired like a suicide bomber. This is one way for my body to get my attention so that I will remember I have limitations. You get this piece of paper with the monitor where you are supposed to write down every time you have symptoms - my heart is flip flopping every 5 minutes. Finally I just wrote on the form - every 5 minutes. I thought that made more sense than writing in a time for every 5 minutes in the next 48 hours!

Would appreciate prayer - I need to stay in my pjs(that will be easy) for the next two days and I need the arrythmias to go away.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Blood in the Garden

There are so many decisions to be made when planning a funeral. And so little time to get it all done. My brain is boggled. My body is more than weary. But plans are falling into place. I am able to let go of it all coming together in perfection. There was blood in the garden - we forget that when we shoot for perfection. I've learned that a forgotten line, a baby crying at the (seemingly)most inopportune time, a mistimed burp or (heaven-forbid) fart are great reminders of our humanity. I need to learn to take myself less seriously. I bought myself a hula hoop not too long ago in an effort to laugh and play more....I certainly have the hips to keep a hula hoop aloft. Just gotta learn that rhythmic swing needed to keep the hoop in the air instead of around my feet. I'm a sight to see I tell ya.

I sit here and wonder for the umpteenth time about how life just goes back to normal after a we do the things we need to put closure on it all and then what? We get back to the day to day reality of the here and now. I wonder what it looks like to honour a life for the long haul. At funerals I have often had the urge to stand on a chair and yell at people. I want to shake them awake. I have never been able to understand how someone can go into a funeral and come out of it unchanged. How's that for a judgement of people's hearts that I haven't the foggiest idea about?

I have been hyper aware of little things since my friend died. Like walking barefoot across the lawn and feeling, really feeling, the grass on my feet. Being thankful that I can take a breath without pain and without struggle. Enjoying the warmth of a cup of tea around my fingers. Choices - I get to make so many choices in a day. I am just so glad to be alive.

When I was sitting with my friend I thought alot about the stuff that doesn't matter in the end. If I am granted a long life my body will sag and break down. It won't matter if I ever get down to that ideal number on the scale. It won't matter about any of the material things in life. I want to be remembered for who I was not what I did or didn't have. It's just all so easy to say and so very hard to actually live it. I'm no different than the next person. I wonder when I will get back to whining and moaning about whatever the reality in the here and now is in my life. I'm sure I'll let you in on it when it happens. I'll lose perspective, I will. I just want to remember enough to be open to the changes that can happen deep inside while I live on the surface of life.

I've had to think about how forgetful people get when someone they remember the good and act as if there was nothing bad. It drives me batty. I mean have you ever heard a eulogy that said the whole truth? "We all know the guy was such an asshole." Have heard that left unspoken at funerals. That's probably for the best but I do wonder how honouring it is to only represent part of it. God honours the whole of it. Maybe stuff gets left unsaid because it is too painful. I have seen my friend's family each deal with their guilt of unspoken mends that needed to be made that will be forever left as is now. But it has bothered me to hear them say she was such a saint. She wasn't. She was fully human. The rifts in the family were not one sided affairs. Maybe we deny(on purpose) a portion of our own humanity when we fail to look squarely at the deceased's humanity.

Life is messy. Death is messy. I am messy. And maybe I am just so sleep deprived when I sit here and smile, yes smile, that it's all so messy. It's such a long way from trying to distance myself from the fact that there was blood in the garden. And I know that is good news. The Good News.