Friday, August 27, 2010

A Day Off

A day of rest and recovery. I spent the morning taking "rest" as a serious task and then roused to use what produce remains in my fridge before trash night in soups, salsas and prepping bags for future morning smoothies! I'd like to compost here, but with such a tiny yard and no garden to speak of, it sounds like a silly task. That said, I find that most of my "fresh" meals made with fresh produce occur at the end of the week so my garbage doesn't rot too much before Saturday morning!

I find great peace in the kitchen. I pray as I chop and add vegetables to soup stock. I ponder the Holy Spirit's intercessions as I whiff roasting peppers and tomatillas in my oven. I've found relief today in blanching kale and manipulating the "waste" water into creating stock for tofu vegetable soup... I reveled in new territory as I explored the world of salsa verde in my teeny tiny food processor.

I feel rested. I opened myself to peace and God's peace found me. Now, nearing the close of day, the football game is underway at the high school-- whistles and cheers pour in through open windows. A crisp edge has settled in on the air and I can just *feel* the need for sweaters rounding the way.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Nothing like a homesick camper to take away all hope of restful sleep and bedtime joy for a week.

I've been surprisingly not homesick since the move to WV. I'm sure it's connected to the large number of family celebrations and milestones occurring on a regular basis this summer... I am, however, finding that I am becoming unquenchably "friendsick." Although I am learning to laugh aloud on my own, I miss the entertainment of deep friendship. I miss sitting with a group of women around a coffee table and sharing our rich experiences of life. I miss sitting in The Boy's apartment and laughing at the antics of three twenty-something men. This feeling never sticks around for very long-- a fleeting moment or perhaps a day or so-- but when it does, I find it hard to pick myself up. The busyness of the ministries here have certainly helped to push me forward, but some days I am slow to find motivation.

I've made friends with myself here. I walk the dog every morning at his pace. We stop and smell every nook and cranny for a mile each direction. And then most nights, I grab my weights and head out for a few miles alone or dragging a reluctant pup. I eat healthier here, too. I've made a pact with myself to take better care of my insides. I use my blender more and drink my daily smoothie in a large wine glass. It feels less "hippie" (as The Boy would say) and more self-indulgent that way. I've mastered dry-frying tofu for recipes like Thai Red Curry and Ginger Stir Fry. I've introduced new vegetables to my diet (still no raw tomatoes).

Life is beautiful here. And considering it's only been about a month, my learning curve has been incredible. I have the sneaking suspicion that this "friendsickness" will follow me the rest of my life. But, once more, a new depth has been added to the richness of the "communion of saints" as we gather around the Table. I long for more frequent communion with my brothers and sisters. I know the seminaries push us to introduce weekly communion to our churches, but I also revel in the ache for communion, which continually draws me back to God.

So here I sit at my kitchen table, spinach smoothie in a tall wine glass... friendsick, on the verge of tears, pining to be united with the saints in communion, and clinging to my God.

...clinging to my God. The God of my friends, in whose security rest the saints. I've got the hunch that I'm right where I'm supposed to be.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Hold My Hand

Working in a nursing home is different from leading BINGO. It's different from singing for a group of residents like I did in my youth. No, working in a nursing home means investing in people. It means sitting down with a woman whose brain is pulled in many directions and whose words don't form coherent thoughts. It means validating even the craziest of stories and bringing a smile to someone's face.

Serving as a chaplain in a nursing home means holding the hand of a resident who weeps. Even when they can't communicate the reason for their tears. It means leading a bible study with people who have read the Bible cover-to-cover, forwards and backwards and who have memorized more scripture than anyone else you'll ever meet.

Serving as chaplain in a nursing home means daily being humbled; it means witnessing the love of Christ in new and various ways; it means opening oneself up for profound change and intense relationship with people who may or may not have much time left on this side of the kingdom.

It means choosing to invest richly in the Kingdom of God and not in things of this world.

And it also results in an intense nap at the end of every shift.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

A Cozy Spot

I wish for extended Autumn. Today's temperatures peaked around seventy degrees-- perfect for an open sweater and a gentle breeze. This morning began early and remained busy clear through to the afternoon and these weary bones were happy to be home.

It's funny. I've found my nook in this house. It's cozy, with an empty seat waiting for good company. There's room for the dog and plenty of sunshine... unfortunately, it will only be good for a few months longer! It's the front porch, you see. I've purchased some hanging plants and a bird feeder, continued the valiant battle with the trumpet vine, washed the lawn chairs and purchased a small "coffee table." Just now, as I sit here, with the mountains in the distance (hugged ominously by dark, heavy clouds), a humming bird is buzzing around chirping at the dog. Tucker seems mostly unfazed... he's munching on a pork femur from the Dollar Family General. I may regret that purchase later, but something about long Sundays in his crate makes me a softy for a Sunday evening treat.

Busy as it was, though, today was filled with glimmers of God's grace and love. I have been so welcomed into these churches. My second service ends with hugs and beaming smiles. I received multiple invitations to meals and family functions. I'm quickly learning about the hospitality of God's people and challenged with preaching the Gospel to a people who routinely teach me about radical love.
The busy pace of the weekdays here is renewed and challenged on Sundays. PC mentioned today a nugget of wisdom I'd like to carry with me throughout my life in ministry. "When Sunday is seen as the end of the week, it's difficult to carry out the tasks of the following days... but when Sunday is seen as the beginning of another week of service in the Kingdom of God, it can be a driving force in your ministry."

I continue to meditate on Colossians 3 as the words from Kyle Childress' recent article ("Oversized Expectations") roll around in my brain. My tweets occasionally have the hash tag #rurallifeisdifferent. I'm growing to see this as an important lesson, not only for me, but for everyone to learn. Rural America is being "megachurched" on a regular basis... perhaps it's time we learn to live into our own identity. Perhaps it is time for us to set aside our greed and our oversized expectations for what life here should be like and thrive in the middle of what life really is.

Ah, well. It is Sunday evening. I'll step down from my front porch pulpit and go back to watching my ornery puppy roll in the grass like a cow. Perhaps we'll make it out for a long walk tomorrow if the weather cooperates.