Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Today I drove up to New Brunswick for my middler assessment. The word assessment ranks right up there with the words
"co-op" and "community project" as things I try to avoid because they generally mean more work for me. And...well....I'm sort of lazy...Who needs more work? Turns out, the assessment wasn't really an assessment...it was more like a really lovely talk about all the things I think about: my seminary experience, my ministry, and theology in general....clearly, since I have a blog about such things, this is right up my street. So. That's me. Half-way through officially.
So it was a good day.
I saw some carnage today, though....along with the blue sky being brushed clean by the scrubbing brushes of the twiggy trees and the icy breeze, and the perfect, white, midwinter sunlight, my drive up the parkway was punctuated by a sight I've never seen before. As with any highway accident there is the traffic, mostly due to emergency vehicle, clean-up, and rubber-neckers...uh...the rubber-neckers could be forgiven this time because the one-car crash involved a small sedan that must've been going at some speed, skyted off the highway, flew down to the ditch, hit on its front, and flipped. When I was passing the car was nose down....hanging about 20 feet up in the trees. Yes...hung up in the tree tops along the parkway, roof towards the road.
No...I didn't have the thought of taking a picture on my phone or bloggie. It never crossed my mind. The car was empty. the windshield gone. No sign of anybody but the emergency vehicles. Lots of them.
It was all rather unbelievable....I'm now telling myself that maybe it was a set for a film.
Amn't I morbid? It always works its way back to mortality for me, doesn't it? Another example of the fragility of us...this time and space, and the fact that to leave the house angry, or to dwell on the negative is to risk having our last bit here be...well....bad.
If anyone finds out that a film crew was at Allaire today...you wanna let be know?!
I'm not so sure how I'll tie this in to the middler assessment.
Suspended between heaven and earth, life and death, past and future, we're sort of all middlers in one way or another......a celtic z-rod through a threshold of concentric circles....or something to that effect
Monday, January 3, 2011
OK....as if I had nothing better to do, I have just spent the last 6 hours working on the Burns Supper.
I honestly do feel that the musings and writings of Robert Burns speak frequently to my condition. He was a very gifted poet. I also enjoy celebrating his birthday every year. Truth be told though....this Manson Burns Supper has gotten so big that I fantasize about all sorts of crazy scenarios that would make me able to miss it.
I'm thinking that maybe I should listen to my own fantasies. If the event has gotten so big and burdensome then it is not a celebration....the tradition becomes a chore....my whole month of January becomes a nightmare! I'd like to go to other Burns Suppers...I'd even sing or recite at them! I just do not for a second enjoy the minutia that goes into pulling one off. We're now up to 90 guests and the hall raised its price by 30%!
So even as I type this I think of how free I would be if I just said, "It's over."
And then I get instantly sad.
I think, "What if the people in Lerwick, Shetland just got sick of the hassle of building a Viking ship and burning it for Up-Helly-Aa every year? What if Farmers just stopped making Halloween corn mazes every Hallowe'en because it was a pain in the butt? What if Santa just decided the trip round the world in one night and all the free prezzies was just too blinking much? What then? What then? What then?
When we stop going the extra mile we create a negative ripple that starts a chain of events and habits that....well....it's regrettable when we stop caring and we just sit there.
And so, I juggle table seatings, hurt feelings, extra guests, performers, and the dread of the annual clean-up knowing that a positive event, although taxing and trying, time consuming and soul draining goes much deeper into the culture than just the chronological space that it seems to inhabit. Creating an excellent, thought provoking event is a catalyst. Of course, there is always the possibility that the event could turn out not excellent...but even Rabbie knew "the best laid plans o mice and men gang aft agley"!
I accept that it keeps getting more bogus until the night...and then it's all fairy lights and tartan, great speeches, fabulous food, couthy music, in a hall done up like a pub in 1790. It is magic. It is.
So I continue..for auld lang syne...but you know what would be really awesome? To have a Burns' Supper dressed as vikings and then burn the hall down every year! Just kidding! Up Helly Aa memories getting in the way!
We bother because to not bother unravels life altogether.....
Saturday, January 1, 2011
I cross this threshold into 2011 as I do when crossing all the important thresholds....full of the hope and the plan to not be such a slacker.....hmmm.....we'll see how long that lasts! It's funny, as with all thresholds there is the rational, the intellectual, the indefinable Spirit of God always present....and the traditional, which quite frankly, for me, is blinking superstitious!
So, the New Year plan is this: I'll like blog every day, save all my receipts, never procrastinate, I'll take better notes so that when I start writing a paper I'm not like...."Which book did I read that cool thing in???", I'll exercise and meditate, I'll eat only small portions! You know....it'll last until tomorrow, or maybe tonight if the pudding is yummy...I'm middle-aged, friends....I know myself pretty well. To resolve will only work if I can find a way to solve the issues of Attention Deficit Disorder, gluttony, selfishness....the list goes on!
But it is the new year, and one has to make an effort. Again. Really, the circle of the year is so full of "new years" and thresholds marking changes, that this is just another in a constant rolling cycle of clean slate options. This is a blessed thing. It's a chance to reinvent yourself and try a new tactic for being more organized....more efficient....more creative....more loving.....
I have tried my best to "put my house in order"....and have not even come near to the job that my mother and grandmother did in the run up to the new year. In large part, this is due to the fact that we have far, far too much stuff! But that's neither here nor there.....it's natural to want to start afresh clean....with some organization....and a game plan....not so much for the superstition of guaranteeing a good year (although I don't deny that that still lingers in my mind) but for the sense of being prepared to weather the wind and waves in which life might toss you.
I did arrange a fabulously handsome, tall, dark first-footer, for those of you aware of the Scottish New Year traditions! Thanks Dave Farmer! :) I had the proper foods for eating....we melted tin on the fire and threw it into buckets of snow for the shapes to be interpreted. (I think this is a Norse tradition not a Scots one...but it's fun!)My shapes were very eagle-esque from every angle, so I hope that means I'll soar through Koine Greek translations of John with the ease of....well...an eagle!
This past year has been both tempestuous and mild. Usually, I blog when things are good.Towards the tail end of the year things did go a bit pear shaped...I didn't blog about the gun crazed scary people, the house so messy that it smelled of hamsters when we don't even have hamsters, the overgrown flower garden, the under-grown vegetable garden, the termites, the chanked pool-liner that we won't be able to afford to replace, the gutters ripping off one side of the house, the free Audi A6 I was given that dropped its front-end in the middle of the night...on the New Jersey Parkway... sixty miles from home...in a nor'easter....actually, I should blog about that after the fact....in hindsight it's pretty dang funny...This sort of stuff only happens to me.
It's been a year alright. A simultaneously wonderful and scary year in which I learned a whole lot....and was confused and disturbed a whole lot.
So many of my friends are out of work...abandoning homes and moving someplace cheaper...or where there's work...Here's me, half-way through seminary and wondering how this family will survive the next year and a half...these three boys: one my husband...struggling with the fact that I'm not really around now...unable to be any help financially, and of minimal help in all the ways where I once carried the ball! At a critical point in his own career. One boy, quite nearly a man, pondering his place in the universe, often trapped in layers of thought that is age appropriate, yet painful, as peeling back those layers of thought reveal how vulnerable we all are. And one boy...still very much a playful child... eating as many Mike and Ike's that he can cram into his mouth and making huge living-room sized racetracks with blocks and matchbox cars...his deep thoughts shining through unexpectedly throughout the day-to-day stuff like sunbeams through storm-clouds...and I'm often not home to appreciate it. And, of course, like the rest of the world, I wonder if there will be a job at the other end of seminary when the government says "Right....give us all that money back! Um....NOW!"
Still...amid all this tension, I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that God is in all this. I admit I don't always know where or how....but I know.
So we organize as best we can to weather the storms....to fix the annoying and not productive bits of us....but really now it's about the loving. Being more loving to see each other through those stormy moments. And for that loving...Thankful. Really quite extraordinarily thankful!
And God is in this.......
in the broken and hirpling community that supports me, and R, and the boys every moment of every day! The laughs, and the cups of tea and coffee, the shared chocolate bars, the Glenmorangie, and the email and fb encouragement, that is so constantly present.....
There's God! And over there! And in this! And in them! And through me!
For all this love I am thankful!
Happy, happy New Year!
Onward and Upward!