I’m so blessed to live in a beautiful house that has a beautiful yard. And, for the past few days we’ve had the most gorgeous, sunny, warm, california-like weather. Ah, it’s spring.
This morning I sat on my back patio and drank my coffee, surveying the yard and listening to the birds. All signs of life are returning to my yard. The mint that had withered and died under all of the snow is sprouting out from under the earth again – green and alive. The trees are blooming – wonderful shades of pink and white blossoms are all around. The non-blooming trees are showing tiny little buds of green leaves beginning to creep onto the dull, brown branches. Even the weeds are making a comeback, overtaking as much of the flower beds as they can. Finally, after 5 months of bleak, brown, yuckiness the yard is coming alive again. And, as I sat there, I realized that I am coming alive again too.
I haven’t blogged much this past year. Ok, I haven’t blogged at all for 9 months. This has been such a hard year for me. The ending of my marriage was incredibly difficult and filled me with so much grief. At the same time, I was overwhelmed by the priesthood – learning so much and always feeling just a little bit behind. I loved my job, but it in the end was caught in too much dysfunction and had to leave that position. Nicholas’ mental illness, while not getting worse, is not really getting better either. I spent so much time and energy talking to doctors, researching treatments, and helping him get from day to day. I’ve spent the year feeling under water, not sure if I would be able to do everything that needed to get done without drowning. I’ve felt a bit like I was in a black hole, trying despearately to crawl my way out – full of fear that I’d never succeed and that the grief and the loneliness would eventually just consume me.
I think that’s why I haven’t been blogging. I am so emotionally raw and vulnerable; every time I tried to write, I would read the words and they would seem so whiny and full of self-pity. I wasn’t able to see the world with anything but fear and sadness.
As I sat on the porch today, watching the world come back to life, I realized that it is time for me to come back to life too. It is Easter – it is time for resurrection! I am still grieving, I am still worried, I am still scared to death. But I am also incredibly hopeful. I’m hopeful that the empty void in my life leaves room for God’s creativity. I’m hopeful that I have come to a place where I can really surrender, really yield, to God’s plan for my life. I’m ready for what God has in store for me now. I’m ready to be alive again.
I think next year will be the time for jumping down from the fence and mixing it up a bit!
We give thanks to you, O God, for the goodness and love which you have made known to us in creation; in the calling of Israel to be your people; in your Word spoken through the prophets; and above all in the Word made flesh, Jesus, your Son.
Today, at the big ‘ol confirmation (59! candidates from about 10 churches), the Bishop celebrated. When he said Eucharistic Prayer B, he changed the words to:
We give thanks to you, O God, for the goodness and love which you have made known to us in creation; in the calling of the children of Abraham to be your people;
And I’m trying to decide what I think about this. I think I understand what the bishop was trying to do. He was trying to make God’s “chosen people” more inclusive – not just the Jews and the Christians, all the descendants of Israel, but also the Islamic people, who are descendants of Abraham as well. On the surface, it seems like a good idea to be inclusive, but I’m not sure it works in this context.
God did choose the people of Israel for a specific purpose – to set themselves apart so that they could have a singular relationship with the one true God. From the context of that relationship, Jesus was born and thus opened everyone to a relationship with the one true God. The boundaries of the special relationship were broken open and everyone had access to God.
Now, this doesn’t mean that God didn’t have a special relationship with the descendants of Ishmael. It also doesn’t mean that God didn’t (or doesn’t) have a special purpose for God’s relationship with the people of Islam. But it wasn’t this special purpose – God’s relationship with Islamic people does not appear to have the same purpose as the relationship that God began with the descendants of Israel.
And, for me anyway, it would seem that in the context of the Eucharistic Prayer, we are thanking God for the special relationship with the Israelites because it led to the “Word made flesh, Jesus, your Son.”
I don’t know..I’m sort of mulling it around. What do you think?
At some point a woman came out and sang all the songs from the armed forces. Having grown up singing many of them on the 4th of July with my family, it was fun to hear them sung. Though I must admit that I didn’t know that the merchant marines had their own song – that was a new one.
After some more formalities, the woman returned and began to sing “God Bless America”. All of a sudden, what had begun as just a few quiet voices in the crowd, became the whole crowd singing along in force. We happened to be sitting on the steps of a large building – we were about half way up – so we could hear the voices coming from behind us, as well as next to us. It was quite a sensation to hear a crowd of strangers since together with such force and unity. We sang it twice, with the singer adding her voice as harmony near the end. It was just beautiful.
I must admit that I haven’t been much of a patriot the last few years. I’ve been saddened by many of the choices that our country has made. Internally, we have become greedy – chasing after more and more wealth, until we practically collapsed our economy. Externally, we became prideful and arrogant, believing that we know best and making decisions on a global scale independent of the counsel of other important nations. Yet, in the midst of all of that, I continue to be eternally grateful for this place that I live. For all of our faults and all of our errors, my life and the lives of my children are incredibly easy and blessed because we live in a place that is mostly free of corruption, where we know that our water and our food is safe, where education is free (if not equal in quality) for all, and as a general rule we are physically safe from harm. Joining in the prayerful song asking God to care for us was really moving and I’m so glad that we got to be there right at that moment.
This is a photo of the very beginning of the parade. The banner says “National Memorial Day Parade”
The street that runs in front of our town house is a fairly busy corridor. It’s not a major street with businesses or anything, but it is the way into and out of this large neighborhood back where we live. Every Saturday morning, people from all around town setup yard sales on the strip of grass that runs along that street. Naturally, the kids run out to see what “treasures’ they might find each week.
When I finally drug myself down to the kitchen to make my coffee last Saturday, I peered out the window and saw that someone was selling an exercise bike – and I was delighted. I sped upstairs and put on some real clothes and went out to investigate. The woman was only asking $40 for a LifeCycle brand cyle – that was in perfect condition and just needed a new 9volt battery. I ran inside and scraped together $40 cash – raiding the kids piggy banks and the change jar. I am so excited.
Since moving to Maryland it has become clear that going to the gym in an impossibility in my life. I can’t leave Nicholas with the child care folks at the gym and I’m not willing to pay a babysitter to watch him while I work out. I bought some work out DVDs, but found that I really can’t use them in the morning since I’d be jumping over the heads of my sleeping downstairs neighbors. But, the bike – the bike is perfect. I’ve put it in my room and have already used it to much success. I get a great workout while the kids are just playing in the house. I’m so so happy!
We have strong indicators that http://julienelson.blog.com is written by a man (99%).
Hmmm…wonder what that says about me? Am I too manly?
However, none of this is true in my personal life. I’m a “do-it-myself” kind of gal. And I’m not really sure why. Maybe I’ve really bought into the culture’s myth that I have to do it myself. Relying on others is a sign of weakness, so if I can’t do it all myself I must be week. Maybe it is a deep sense of responsibility that I’ve picked up along the way – the notion that I have to be responsible for myself and I can’t burden others with my trouble. Whatever it is and wherever it came from, it is there. I can and will do it myself, all by myself.
But, as it turns out, that can’t always be true. As of late, I’ve found myself overwhelmed with the number of things that need to get done. Some are small things (like signing Ella up for gymnastic lessons) and some are big things (like hiring a babysitter or finding a new place for us to live when our lease ends in May). I’ve been looking at this huge pile of crap that needs to be done and just don’t even know where to start with it, so I haven’t done anything. Unfortunately, though, stuff needs to get done. And I finally figured out that what I need to do is to delegate. A million people have offered to help me and I finally decided that I should avail myself of that help.
Last week I started asking for help, specific help. So far, things are working out well. With the help of others: I have found a house for us to rent (4 bedrooms, 2 1/2 bath, a pool, and less than a mile from work!), I know where to find gymnastics classes for Ella, I have someone looking for a summer overnight camp for Nicholas, Ella had playdates for spring break, Nicholas has someone to care for him during his spring break, and my taxes are done. Whew. Some of the big things and some of the small things are handled. There are plenty of other things to do, but having all of those tasks completed or in progress has taken such a huge load of stress off of me.
I don’t know why it was so hard for me to ask for help. Maybe because it didn’t really occur to me that those were all things that others could help me do. In any case, it has made such a huge difference for me not to be worrying about so much all by myself.
On a completely different topic, while I haven’t been blogging here much, I have been blogging at my church blog – just a few musings about Lent and some of the readings that we’ll encounter at the Easter Vigil.
Ella said, “I’m the most important person in the world. Because I’m me.”
Thank goodness I don’t have to worry about any self-esteem issues with that one!
The man introduced himself and told me that he wasn’t a parishioner but that he lived in the neighborhood and wanted to know where our church stood on the ordination of Gene Robinson as bishop. I asked him what he knew about the issue and he informed me that he had followed it a bit in the news and that he had recently met Bishop Robinson at a local event.
Having no idea what this call was about or whether I was about to get lambasted for having the ‘wrong’ answer, I tried to be reasonably vague, but still honest. I responded that, in general, our congregation was very open and welcoming to our gay and lesbian neighbors and that most of the parish supported Bishop Robinson’s consecration. I added, rather quickly, that if we were to ask each person in the parish that we would probably find a wide range of opinions, from those that are very troubled to those that are thrilled that Gene was elected bishop, but that as a general rule, most people in this congregation are supportive and positive about Gene.
He then went on to tell me the reason that he was calling. You see, he is retired, has been for some years, and lately has been working at Circuit City just to have something to do. We talked briefly about Circuit City going out of business, and then he told me that he had 3 computer monitors that were each just a couple of years old that were sitting in his basement taking up space and he was looking for a church that might be able to use them. Really. That’s why he was calling.
He said that if we needed them we could just stop by to get them. I thanked him for the offer and told him that I’d check with the school to see if they had any need for them and that I’d get back to him.
And this is why they pay me the big bucks.