the gift of peace and quiet
Husband and I got our greatest gift last night.
We love our two cats, Wilbur and Houdini, but their presence in the house is not always conducive to a sound night's sleep. Round about 10 p.m. seemed to be their time to wake up and start caterwauling, fighting, and causing general mayhem. We used to keep our bedroom door open at night, for them to wander in and out, but Houdini used to start hunting human body parts at two in the morning (NOT a way you want to wake up) so we kicked him out. Wilbur, however, is a pleasure, sort of, to have as a foot of the bed cat. He's easily spooked, but loves to snuggle when the humans are lying down and not making any sudden moves. So we got in the habit of inviting Wilbur in and kicking Houdini out.
Wilbur, however, decided that he wasn't often ready to settle down when we were, and so began games of "let cat in, let cat out." He howls to be let in and howls to be let out. So we had gotten to the point of giving him one "free round-trip" and then kicking him out. Which defeated the whole purpose of a cat, which is keeping one's feet warm at night, especially during our recent cold snap. Add to the mix Houdini's random moments of scratching and howling on the door to be let in (every now and then he forgets that he's not allowed) and you have a recipe for a sleepless night.
Recently husband commented that he remembered that when we would give them treats of wet food, that they would become quiet and sleepy after that. So we first experimented by feeding them at our dinnertime the other night. Hey, we were able to eat OUR meal of take out mustard pork loin from Buy for Less (Yum!) without Houdini's interference or Jack Nicholson-like stare as we eat something he's particularly interested in. Wilbur and Houdini retired to the bedroom in a haze of turkey dinner and were quiet the rest of the evening.
So last night, I fed the cats around 9:30. Sure enough, when we went to bed at 10,Wilbur was ready to just curl up and fall asleep at the foot of the bed, and he didn't make a peep the rest of the night. (Didn't do his little snuggle dance, either, so there are still some bugs to work out in the system).
The only drawback is that I'm being stalked any time I pass by, head towards, or think about going into the kitchen.
May you all be blessed by the gift of peace this season, in whatever form that takes for you.
And all the little kitties say, "Amen!"
Happy Advent! I'm not quite as into Advent as I sometimes am, it arrived so quickly on the heels of Thanksgiving. But I still love this season of wreaths and holy waiting.
In search of a quiet day with just the two of us, I ordered a Thanksgiving dinner for two from the OKC Museum of Art, who provided us with more ham than I can imagine eating and two poussins. We supplemented their fare with some cooking of my own. (See, I cook! Proof!)
Carrots, potatoes, onions, celery. . .and roasted garlic, to squeeze out of its papery skin at the end. DH doesn't like roasted garlic--all the more for me, my dear.
Roasted vegetables. . .mmm (Mark Bittman's recipe in How to Cook Everything
Meanwhile, I am sadly at the end of Noro Kureyon #124. Discontinued colorway. Out of seven skeins, I've squeezed a Lopi Lace Scarf, Maine Morning Mitts and the Entrelac Scarf seen here:
Cold weather has finally arrived in Oklahoma, so I finally get to wear some of my wooly handknits. Now if I could just finish those alpaca/wool socks sitting in my Piddleloop bag. . .
October/early November wrap-up
So. . ..
Let me sum up.
We were visited by the donkeys for Blessing of the Animals.
Over 40 of us from St. C's went to a corn maze and pumpkin patch in Shawnee.
We hosted Trunk or Treat at the church, and our partners in crime were residents of the Mid-Del Group Homes, who are always great fun and put the rest of us to shame with their costumes.
And there was some knitting. I churned out a ton of small projects recently; this one I made several inches of progress during diocesan convention. It's the Lopi Lace Scarf from one of my favorite knitting books ever, "Weekend Knitting," and no, it's not from the called for Lite-Lopi but from a gorgeous and discontinued colorway of Noro Kureyon. The scarf in the book has a nice rustic look, and the Kureyon matches perfectly with it.
Always wear your collar while. . .
My last year in seminary, we had a class called Dean's Seminar, in which the Dean, a former parish priest, told us the really useful things one needed to know to function as an Episcopal priest in the world, like leading vestry meetings, what to do with wedding coordinators, and when to wear your collar and when not to (yes for driving in your car, and no for sitting on an airplane).
I'm a lot more sporadic about collar-wearing than I used to be but of course Sundays are an absolute in the collar-wearing business.
After church on Sunday and some brief pastoral calls, I decided I was going to use my free afternoon to take care of something that I had wanted to do for awhile, namely, see the Roman Art from the Louvre exhibit at the OKC Museum of Art (and which ends on October 12). Louvre art? In OKC? And the geeky side of my nature also thought maybe learning some more about Rome might be good for someone who, say, studies the New Testament and church history on a regular basis.
As it turned out, I wasn't the only person who had had this idea on a glorious Sunday afternoon. The last time I had popped down to OKCMOA on a Sunday after church I had been able to grab a spot right in front of the door. No such luck this time as there were parked cars for a few blocks around.
When I finally made it into the museum, there were two lines. Fairly long lines. One for cash and one for debit/credit cards. I wasn't sure how much cash I had on me, and couldn't remember how much the exhibit price was, so I took up a spot at the end of the credit card line.
As the line inched forward, the man in front of me engaged me in some small talk about the length of the line. As we crept along, he finally turned to me and said, "Excuse me, if you don't mind me asking, but are you a sister?"
No one had asked me that since we lived in highly Roman Catholic St. Louis. I smiled and said, "No, I'm an Episcopal priest."
"Then we're buying your ticket."
I protested but was overruled. His wife laughed that he was spending her money but also insisted on buying my ticket. It turned out that they were RC but even more importantly, her mother was the parishioner of a colleague of mine in a community in a different part of Oklahoma, and they think very highly of her.
I need to drop her an email and tell her she got me into the exhibit free and let Jim Lemler+ know--always wear your collar while standing in line at a museum.
a day late and. . .
Yesterday was day two of the Medical Grand Rounds for Clergy program at the VA Hospital. We've been taking in a lot of information--the first day, last Thursday, contained introductions from geriatrics, pediatrics and ICU. Yesterday we got tours of a rehab unit, the prosthetics lab (I couldn't help but think of The Fugitive
), and the surgery suites.
To go into surgery we had to put on paper "bunny suits" and put on head and shoe coverings. One of the funniest moments of the day was all 16 of us standing in the hallway, putting on our new outfits, when the hospital staff wheeled a man by in a gurney, taking him to one of the operating rooms. The look on his face as he checked us all out was priceless. Something like a cross between "are those medical students?" and "I'm in so much trouble." Then we were escorted through the surgical area and allowed to peek into the active operating rooms. It was wild to see stuff for real--to be just the other side of the glass from heads bent over draped bodies, operating room lights on in dark rooms.
A theme that continued to come up over and over again yesterday was money. We had a presentation from a surgeon about the changes in his field over the last one hundred years. He spoke about how medicine in the US had advanced the way it had because medicine had basically been given a blank check. And so there are huge machines (one anesthesia machine in the OR cost $350,000--of course that machine keeps people alive at an incredible rate.) and new drugs--but the costs of health care in our country are spiralling out of control.
In contrast, he spoke about being on a medical mission trip to Bolivia, and performing a cervical cancer surgery on a patient in a bare bones hospital, where cauterization was done with a Sears Craftsman soldering iron (or, rather, he decided not to use it) and suction was powered by some giant machine outside the window. The nuns who ran the hospital toted up some costs and decided to charge $300 for the surgery, which the mission team all chipped in to pay.
Thinking about the costs of it all on a day when my prayer focus was on the success of the Millenium Development Goals made my head spin. What's the answer? What price is health? Is life? A prosthesis made for a below the knee amputation down in the lab (carbon-fiber) was about $8000. What price the ability to walk again for a veteran?
I didn't write this to have an answer, but spending the day looking at hugely expensive machines to keep us alive (and who doesn't want them) while thinking about those who have no medical care, no prenatal care, no clean water--it was something that made my head spin.
I pray that we may have grace to realize our privilege and sort out our economic issues while not forgetting those billions around the world who have nothing.
Let me explain. . no, let me sum up
We went to Utah.
Shawn and Carol's cat investigated my purse.
I knit a demented tea cozy.
I knit the most beautiful thing I've ever made.
Maybe I'll have more words in September.
on the road with Jacob
Sermon, Eucharist, Royal School of Church Music Summer Course, Tulsa
Last time on “As the Book of Genesis Turns,” Rebekah the wife of Isaac, daughter-in-law of Abraham, discovers a prophecy of God related to her twin sons; Jaccob manipulates his brother Esau out of the elder brother’s birthright; Isaac tells Esau to prepare to receive his patriarchal blessing but Rebekah sneaks Jacob in to get the blessing instead; Esau threatens to harm Jacob; Rebekah and Isaac send Jacob away to find a wife—and it is on that errand that our story opens this morning, with Jacob, who has technically supplanted his elder brother. He seems to have won and yet at this moment he has been exiled from his family—not knowing if he will ever return—and beyond the vague instruction to go get himself a wife, has no idea what will come next.
In a time when any one of us can hop on a plane and fly safely across the globe, or drive a hundred miles in a day without thinking about anything more than the cost of the gas, it is hard to put ourselves in Jacob’s place on that lonely evening at Bethel, with nothing but a stone for his pillow. To be sent away from your family in that time could be a death sentence. Anyone could rob you or take vengeance upon you without your family’s protection. And there was no QuikTrip, no AAA to help out if your donkey broke down, no McDonald’s oasis on the Canaan Turnpike for a quick bite. Jacob is alone, no family or servants. Alone in the wilderness, even the simple act of falling asleep means taking a huge risk.
Jacob the underhanded—Jacob the deceiver—left alone in the darkness to contemplate the actions that have led him to this moment. If he’s thinking about God at all—and up until this point there is no evidence that he cares at all for the God of his ancestors—he probably thinks that his actions have left him to be abandoned and condemned.
So imagine his surprise when God appears to him in a dream and assures Jacob of the promise God made to him and his family. It is undeserved and unmerited and yet Jacob has received God’s favor.
IT would be easy for us as observers to wonder why God has chosen this dysfunctional family and this individual in particular to invest in, to build God’s plan for the future. This one? Really? A liar and a cheat? A manipulator and a thief? The legitimate heir according to the rules of society at the time—Esau—has been tricked out of his inheritance for THIS guy—and it’s part of the plane. On the surface, betting all of the money on Jacob seems like a strange plan indeed.
And yet, Jesus reminds us in this morning’s Gospel that the casual observer is not privy to God’s understanding of individual human beings in the parable of the wheat and the weeds. The particular weeds Jesus refers to, when they are young, look remarkably like wheat—so it is only in the fullness of time that it will be obvious what is productive and fruitful versus what is empty and void. And it is God’s job, not ours, to make the final judgment between the two.
That God has a place for Jacob and Esau—God does not abandon Esau, either—is good news for you and for me. That only God can tell the difference between weeds and wheat is good news for you and for me. It’s all very good news for young Ethan, baptized this morning. Nothing we do is removed from the realm of God’s care and love, and only in the end will God what is fruitful and what is not. So we can let go of worrying whether we are good enough to be part of the kingdom of God. If God can make use of a cheat and coward like Jacob, and slow-witted, impulsive Esau—God can make a place for any and all of us.
Whether we are safely immersed in a loving family or on the road to exile like Jacob, God does not abandon us. The road may sometimes be dangerous, but God is always with us, blessing us in our faults and our gifts. We may not always be able to see the vision of the kingdom, the ladder connecting heaven and earth, but in baptism and communion we are connected to it, always being reborn out of exile in the wilderness into everlasting life.