Tuesday, November 30, 2021

The Feast Day of Saint Andrew and the Implications for Modern Life

Today is the feast day of Saint Andrew, one of the disciples of Jesus. I think of him as a background disciple--he doesn't get a starring role in many of the stories in the Gospels. Still, I could argue that this background disciple is more important than some of the more foreground disciples. What can we learn from the life of this saint?

It’s important to remember that we wouldn’t even know about Simon Peter, one of the most famous disciples, if not for Andrew. Andrew followed John the Baptist, and John the Baptist introduced Jesus as the true Messiah. Andrew believed, and Andrew brought his brother to see what he had seen. Andrew is remembered as the first disciple.

He doesn't stop with his brother--he brings all of his family members into the fold. It's important to remember that these were the early days of the ministry of Jesus, when Jesus might have seemed like just another wack-a-do preacher--the villages of first century Rome were full of such types. Yet Andrew believed and helped others to see what he saw.

What 21st century movements need our belief and our energy?

I also think about the sibling relationships here. What does Andrew think about Simon Peter, who quickly moves into the spotlight? Is Andrew content to stay in the background?

We know from the passage in Matthew that begins with Matthew 20:20, that there is competition to be Christ’s favorite. We see the mother of James and John who argues for her sons’ importance. We see the other disciples who become angry at the actions of this mother. I extrapolate to imagine that there’s much jockeying for position amongst the disciples.

Christ never loses an opportunity to remind us that he’s come to give us a different model of success. Again and again, he dismisses the importance that the world attaches to riches, to status, to a good reputation. Again and again, Jesus instructs us that the last will be first. Jesus tells us that the way to gain prestige with God is to serve.

Most of us live in a world where the idea of serving others is disparaged. We live in a world that needs more of our service. We have a lot to learn from Andrew.

By working in the background, by serving, Andrew helps make manifest one of the most famous miracles. In John’s Gospel, Andrew is the one who tells Jesus about the boy with five barley loaves and two fish, and thus helps make possible the miraculous feeding. If you ask people about the miracles of Jesus, this stretching of food is one that they are likely to remember. Very few miracle stories are found in more than one Gospel. The feeding of the crowd makes it into several.

Andrew was the kind of disciple we could use more of in this world. Even if we don't believe in the mission of the church, many of us are engaged in activities that need a kind of discipleship: we teach, we create, we parent, we care for a wide variety of people.

On this day when we celebrate the life of the first disciple, let us consider our own discipleship. Are we focused on the right tasks or are we hoping that our activities bring us glory? How can we help usher in the miracles that our world needs? Who needs to hear the good news as only we can tell it?

As we consider the larger world, we might also think about the efforts of those first disciples. Tomorrow is World AIDS Day and the anniversary of Rosa Parks' refusal to move from her seat on a Montgomery bus in 1955. Both are good occasions to consider how far we've come--and how far we still have to go.

Our world faces a variety of struggles for freedom, and we may not have much guidance from our leaders. The life of Andrew and the rest of the disciples shows how much we can do if we have a small but dedicated group of people by our side. Today is a good day to think about who those people are for each of us and how we can care for those relationships as we care for the larger world.

Monday, November 29, 2021


In so many ways, I wish it was a week ago.  We'd have been on the road just over an hour.  But I don't wish it was a week ago because I'm yearning for a long car trip.  I had a good Thanksgiving break, and I'd like to experience it all again.

I'm also wishing I had gotten more writing done, although I did enough.  As is my practice now, with any scrap of time, I turned to my computer to make some progress, either on final papers for seminary or on grading.

I went to the grocery store yesterday, early in the morning, as has always been my habit, even before the contagious pandemic stalking the land or new variant.  As I walked, I listened to the two homeless men coughing and the baby sniffling, and I wondered if I was lessening my exposure risk or heightening it by being one of the first shoppers in the store.

I am beginning to realize that I forgot to buy some items during our away time.  I looked at the shriveled sweet potatoes yesterday and thought of the times I could have bought better specimens while we were away in North Carolina.  This year was the first year that we didn't make a lot of trips to Wal-Mart, so I didn't get lights to string around our balcony railing.

It was a good time away, and while the next two weeks will be intense ones as I finish grading and I finish seminary work, I don't regret taking the time.  The fact that I wish I could go back and do it all over again makes me grateful that it was worth it.

So let me shake off my post-Thanksgiving melancholy:  time to walk while I think about Rahab and my paper that is due by 11:59 tonight.  Let me think about work.  Let me regain my focus on moving forward.

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Jingle All the Way

There is not much to say that hasn't already been said about the 12 hour drive from the mountain home of my heart to South Florida.  Yesterday the northbound side of I 95 seemed bogged down for long stretches for no apparent reason.  Yesterday, the southbound side was the lucky one.  There's that 20 mile stretch where South Carolina meets the Savannah River to become Georgia--that stretch of I 95 is always congested on Thanksgiving week-end, for reasons I can't quite fathom.

Yesterday we decided to listen to Christmas music on the radio so we would have variety.  I brought some Christmas CDs, but there will be plenty of time to hear those throughout the season that is upon us.  Across four southern states, we found the stations dedicated to all Christmas music all season long, in between long stretches of commercials.

I can think of dozens of Christmas songs, and if we add hymns to the mix, dozens upon dozens.  Yesterday we heard the same 12 songs, over and over again, most of them sung in the exact same way.  And I am left with one pressing question:

If you're going to choose one song, why does everyone sing, "Do You Hear What I Hear?"

I understand why there are so many cover versions of that John Lennon song, "So This Is Christmas."  Well, I do and I don't.  It makes me wonder if there's a more radical Lennon Christmas song that we all forgot about.  "So This Is Christmas" is rather bland, and dare I say it?  It's a bit insipid.

Of course, any song played over and over becomes insipid.  By the end of our 12 hour drive yesterday, I was ready for some punk or metal variations of songs that Bing Crosby or Frank Sinatra once made famous.  If I'm ever a famous musician, though, I think I'd stay away from anything that Crosby or Sinatra made famous.  No one will be able to hear my version with fresh ears.

We also heard interesting advertising.  There was a crime report from a small town along the way.  Someone has stolen "12 Cadillac convertors."  I had a vision of small cars being transformed into gas guzzlers.  Who wouldn't want that power?

And then there was the Christmas radio special coming up at 7 p.m. that was sponsored by the South Carolina Department of Law Enforcement, who would like to remind you that they have jobs that they need filled.

Of course, our car conversations turned to this essential question:  "You can only record one holiday song--what would you choose?"  I think I would choose "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel."  It's in my range, and I like both the melancholy tone and the hopeful lyrics.

Speaking of good Advent hymns, let me go and get ready for church--first Sunday in Advent today!

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Leaving the Land of Excess

The close of a holiday week-end, with the best parts behind us, at least for me.  Today is a travel day, and tomorrow the getting ready to re-enter regular life day.  These are not the parts of Thanksgiving that make it one of my favorite days.

Part of our family group left late yesterday afternoon, and those of us staying in North Carolina made a delicious turkey tetrazzini from the leftovers.  I had made progress on my seminary papers during the afternoon, so that was a plus--a non-traditional part of Thanksgiving, but likely to become a regular practice over the next few years.

The day began with news of a new COVID variant and ended with news that the variant has now been labeled omicron and is a variant of concern, the most serious designation.  Markets crashed.  More news of the death of Stephen Sondheim, and I have already seen so many eloquent tributes that I will not attempt to add my own.  

So let me head down the mountain, with leftovers packed in ice for the long trip south.  I've e-mailed my papers to myself in case something happens to the laptop during the long trip.  Let me return to the land of sensible eating and exercise, much as I would like to live in the land of excess.

I fear we are in for some hard times ahead, both as a nation and as individual humans.  But isn't that always the truth of our situation.  Thanksgiving reminds us that humanity has come through tough times before and found ways out of no way--and yes, even as I'm typing these words, I realize that some of us have come through much tougher times than others and that some have not found a way, but humanity as a whole has, at least for now.

Friday, November 26, 2021

Important Reminders from a Stranger Thanksgiving

When I look back on my life, I'm sure there will be many contenders for strangest Thanksgiving of my lifetime.  Perhaps I will think about last Thanksgiving, the one in the first year of the pandemic where we all stayed home.  Maybe I will remember the year when I didn't bring any of my sewing supplies, one of the only years when I didn't travel with a quilt in progress, and my cousin's child was counting on me to help with the creation of a tree costume for the pageant (no problem--off we went to one of the many craft stores in the area).  But this year has been pretty darn odd, and may well end up one of the contenders for strangest Thanksgiving.

The holiday itself has been great, full of the usual stuff:  a great meal, a football game of sorts, great conversations, various projects, children who are growing up too fast.  But some of our family members decided that the pandemic is still not under control enough to gather as a group.  I support that decision, but it's still strange to be here without them.

In fact, we had a bit of a COVID scare.  Both of my cousins have children too young for the vaccine.  One of them had sniffles a few days before they came.  The rapid test said the sniffles weren't because of COVID.  We didn't get the results of the more reliable test until Wednesday morning, so on Tuesday, the day when we all arrived, my parents spent the night in a nearby hotel.

On Tuesday as we drove north, my spouse got a phone call to tell him that his favorite uncle was at death's door.  That uncle has been at death's door before, but this time seemed different.  And sure enough, Wednesday morning we got the call that death had come to claim him.  We spent some time thinking about the implications as my father-in-law and stepmom-in-law made their way to Indiana.  Would we go to the funeral?  Would we need to buy some funeral clothes?  What is the bereavement leave policy?

All those conversations needn't have happened.  If there will be a memorial service, it won't be this week-end, and thus, we would make different travel arrangements from South Florida, instead of from North Carolina, where we spend our Thanksgivings.

In some ways, spending a Thanksgiving where sickness and death keep intruding is a potent reminder to be grateful for the time we are given and to keep trying to make the most of it.  Small children do that too, and I confess that I prefer the small child to deliver the message that time is fleeting.

As I'm writing, I'm thinking of other messages that came our way during the day.  I'm thinking of Shanghai Rummy, and the message that even if you're winning or losing, one decisive round can change the outcome; it's a hopeful message or a sobering one, depending on which hand you held.  I'm thinking of the minimalist fire pit my spouse made and the fire that refused to catch flame.  I'm thinking of the bird that baked for hours but the juices still didn't run clear at meal time; however, fifteen more minutes at higher heat made for a cooked turkey that was still tender. 

I suspect that every day is full of these kinds of reminders and metaphors, if only we had the eyes to see.  When people wonder why I continue to write long blog posts, that's one reason, that it helps me to pay attention.

Today the festivities continue, in their subdued state.  We will continue trying to make the most of our remaining time together.  There will be leftovers and more good conversation and time for an outing or two.  There will be time to work on papers, for those of us who have papers to write.  

I will be thinking about Rahab (in the book of Joshua in the Hebrew Bible) and our current political situation, but I won't bore my relatives in talking about it.  I will say that it's strange to be working on that paper about Rahab and comparing New Testament versions of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus during the same week that the verdict came back from Georgia in the Arbery case--my essays will be slightly different because of that.

Happily, I still have time to write that paper, which means I can take time away from my computer and revel in togetherness time.  The strangeness of this holiday reminds me to prioritize that time.

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Thanksgiving Gratitudes

This morning, I did morning watch on my church's Facebook page from an unused bedroom in the ramshackle house at Lutheridge where my family gathers most years for Thanksgiving.  I am grateful for a church that embraces this ministry of mine, where I show up each morning to broadcast live as I read the passages from Phyllis Tickle's The Divine Hours and do some sketching, final prayer(s), and some final thoughts/benedictions.

Today I said that God is grateful for us, just as we are grateful for our blessings.  We are a blessing for God.  I am grateful to be part of a church (Lutheran, the ELCA variety) that supports these ideas that might be seen as heresy by more restrictive denominations.

I am grateful that the people who gave me my earliest training (religious and otherwise) are here with me.  I feel fortunate that I'm still on good terms with my family, even though we haven't always agreed on politics or other issues.

I am grateful for all those things we'll probably be listing today, if we're lucky:  food, a roof over my head, a job that doesn't mistreat me, relationships that nourish me.

I am grateful for so much in my life, but this year, I am most grateful for my seminary journey.  Those of you who have read this blog have followed that process.  I have wanted to do this for a long time, decades.  This year, I'm grateful to have found a way to make this way.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

The Day Before the Best Day of the Year

This morning I made this tweet/Facebook post.  I want to remember it, and maybe explore this idea in more detail later, when I don't have final seminary papers to write:

It is my favorite day of the year: the day before one of my all-time favorite holidays, Thanksgiving. This morning, I thought about how much better my approach to life would be if I viewed every day as the day before my favorite holiday: the less pleasant prep work done, the travelling complete, the anticipation of the favorite holiday to fill all the nooks and crannies of the current day.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Thanksgiving Travel, In Process, in this, Our Second Covid Year

This time yesterday, we would have already been on the road.  In South Florida, if possible, I want to leave by 4 a.m., or at least, no later than 5 a.m.  Otherwise, it's impossible to avoid traffic delays at the very beginning.

So yesterday, we loaded the last items in the car, and off we went.  We drove and drove, through morning mists and later, the foreboding clouds that told of a cold front approaching.  We stopped, briefly, in Savannah for gas and a Taco Bell lunch.  In the past, I might have made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, but the bread was moldy, and on Sunday, I didn't feel like buying another loaf.

We did not go all the way to the mountains yesterday.  Our reservation doesn't start until today.  So yesterday, we drove to South Carolina, where we met my parents, and we drove around the outskirts of the capital city, a town we've all lived in at various points.  We ate a delicious dinner at Lizards Thicket, a veggie heavy dinner that did leave us feeling weighted down.

We have some odd problems with internet connectivity.  My computer can hit the internet at the hotel, but my spouse's cannot.  He needs to teach this morning, live, from the room before we leave.  He can use my computer, if the tech support folks can reset his password, because he can't remember it.

I feel strange being here, where we have friends and family, but we're not seeing them.  That's the conundrum of our Thanksgivings:  we can't see everyone.  This year, with some of us feeling OK to gather and others not, it is even more of a conundrum.

Hopefully I will be back in January to finish my onground intensive for the spiritual direction certificate program.  I say hopefully because as we know, so much could interfere.  And then it's on to the 2nd term of seminary, as my spiritual life/career heads in a different direction.

I've gotten some grading done, in case I don't have internet connectivity for the rest of the week.  And I've downloaded what I need to work on the seminary paper that is due on Monday.

I feel like I've forgotten how to travel. I've had weak coffee, followed by weak tea, because I decided to rely on what the hotel provides.  It could be worse.

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Thanksgiving Approaches

Here it is, the Sunday before Thanksgiving.  Like many Sundays before Thanksgiving, I will be packing for a road trip.  But in some ways, it is so different this year:

--Only part of our family will gather at the ramshackle house at the Lutheran church camp where we have gathered since the early 90's.  Some of my family members have unvaccinated children:  some of them are coming, and some aren't.  The older adults are vaccinated and boosted, so we're coming. 

--That's the largest difference, of course.  We are about to enter year 3 of the pandemic.  Two years ago, we had no idea we were about to enter year 1.   We've had family members unable to attend in the past, but never for this reason.

--Two years ago was the last time we all gathered.  At that point, I was about to start a certificate program in spiritual direction.  Now I am about to finish that program, and I've started a seminary program.

--Two years ago, I had decided against seminary, at least for the foreseeable future.  So what happened?  I found a dream program in Theology and the Arts at Wesley Theological Seminary, and as I realized my job was likely to end by the end of the year, I moved forward with applying, both to seminary and for candidacy in my religious denomination, and I was accepted.  As we move towards Thanksgiving, I'm also moving towards finishing the first semester of seminary.  Lots of moving in this chunk of text, which I'm leaving here intentionally.

--We will be leaving from our condo that we're renting.  Our house that we own is still on the market, under contract, with hopes that we will be done with the sale by the end of the year.

--Two years ago, we would not have dreamed that we would be putting the house on the market in late 2021.  The housing market is so white hot right now that we decided we didn't want to miss out; we have missed out on white hot markets before, and we've felt regrets.  If you view your house as one of your investments, and if you live in a volatile market like South Florida, you must consider these things.

--I am thinking of all the people who are no longer here, both people who have moved away and people who have died.  I am also trying not to sink into depression over this.

Much will remain the same.  Our family Thanksgiving menu doesn't change much from year to year, and the kitchen is rudimentary, so the fact that we don't demand gourmet options is a gift.  We will have lots of down time, and maybe a trek to find apples.  Will the Wal-Mart still hold the same fascination, now that the children are older?  We will have grading to do, but there will still be time to read.  We will cherish the time to be together; we've always known we won't always have this gift, but the past 2 years have driven that point home.

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Seminary Research and a Tree Lighting Festival

I have spent the past days/weeks immersed in seminary work--but it's the happy kind of immersed, where the writing hums, and I can solve any of the issues that come up.  I think back to pre-Seminary Kristin who was concerned about having enough secondary sources to write her paper.  But I was convinced that if I had to, I could make a quick trip to the campus to take advantage of a better theological library than any of the libraries down here.

Little did I realize how much research has changed.  So far, everything I need has been available online.  Plus much of it is already included in the course shell.  I don't even have to do the research to find the secondary sources I need.  I do wonder if it would have always been this way or if that's a feature of grad school in a pandemic age.

Earlier this week, I made this Facebook post:  "I am a woman who did pre-internet era research, a woman who once thought that microfiche access was a huge improvement over microfilm access. As a seminary student in 2021, being able to get what I need from the library, by way of electronic resources, from 1000 miles away, I feel like a medieval monk, used to a certain kind of scriptorium, who is shown a portal into a world that once seemed only possible in science fiction."

When I got to grad school, the card catalogue was still on paper cards stored in drawers.  Over the next few years, 1988-1991, the library transitioned to an electronic database.  I was appalled that the library would just throw away the physical card catalogue, as I expected the electronic version to crash repeatedly. I'm glad I was wrong.

It still feels miraculous to me that so much is available from so far away.  And I'm amused at my outrage when I come across the occasional source that is listed as "on the shelf."

I had planned to have an evening of writing last night, as I'm trying to get ahead before the Thanksgiving break.  I also thought about going to the tree lighting in the Arts Park across the street from me or at least watching it from my balcony.  I wondered if the torrential rains would mean the event would be postponed.  When the rains stopped, I decided to go see.

I'm glad I made the effort.  There weren't many people in the park, which meant that every child who wanted to could be part of flipping the switch.  There was a bit of a pause while the politicians onstage got updated about how the mysterious visitor would arrive.  The announcement came, Santa and Mrs. Claus walked on stage, and small children ran with joy through the wet grass at the news of this visitor from the North Pole.

I felt a bit of weepiness hearing Bing Crosby sing "I'll Be Home for Christmas."  Or maybe I was already feeling a bit of weepiness, the kind mixed with nostalgia and joy and happiness to be alive to see another holiday season.  It was a good night to go out to see excited children and adults holding hands and various humans with their dogs, out to take in the holiday cheer on a strangely warm and windy night.  It was the break I needed.

Friday, November 19, 2021

Coming Out from the Shadow: the Lunar Eclipse and the Poetry Submission

This morning I went outside, onto the back parking deck where the view of the sky is most unobstructed.  I took library books to the car, but my real reason for venturing out was to see if I could observe the eclipse.  It's been cloudy and raining, so I knew that I would likely not see the moon.

I scanned the sky to the west, where I knew the moon should be setting.  Was that glow behind the building the moon or light pollution?  Then the clouds shifted, and I saw part of the moon.  Was it the eclipse shrouding it or clouds or both?  If I hadn't known an eclipse was happening, I'd have just assumed the clouds were acting as shadow.

Tears welled up, a curious reaction in some ways, although in other ways not so strange.  It's been a tough week, in a tough season, in a tough twenty-two months in a century that's beginning to seem like a rewind of all the human progress that happened in the last century.  I'm old enough now that when tears come, I don't try to suppress them (although I might try to find an unobtrusive way to cry, if I'm at work).

I got the library books to the car, and the rain pattered a bit more insistently.  The clouds covered the moon, and I went back inside to finish my poetry submission.  I haven't submitted much since I started seminary.  In part it's because I have other work to do, seminary work, which consumes much of the time I used to have available to make poetry submissions.

But in part, it's because submitting is suddenly expensive.  When it was the cost of 2 stamps, 2 envelopes, some paper, and some ink, I didn't mind.  I have trouble paying $3 to submit a poetry packet electronically, but that price is cheap these days.  It's hard for me to want to pay $4 and up to submit to a journal that has been rejecting my work for years, if not decades.

And I know that the odds are ever longer.  When I first started submitting, back in the 1990's, there wasn't the explosion of MFA programs that we see today.  In the past, I'd have done a big batch of submissions each fall and hoped that the odds might tip in my favor.  This year, I just didn't have the energy or the time.

But it's hard to give up the dream, the variety of dreams that circle around my poems:  the dream of becoming a better poet, the dream of my poems finding a wider audience, the dream of a book with a spine, the dream of inspiring the next generation, the dream of finding a way of having more time to do creative stuff and the hope that poem publications might lead to that.

So this morning when I saw a tweet that said that a poetry journal was still looking for poems, and when I realized I hadn't submitted there before, and when I liked the work that I saw there, and when I saw that they accept submissions via e-mail, I decided to come out from the shadows and submit.

And because the possibility of publication still makes me happy, I resolve not to let this part of myself be eclipsed by the other aspects of myself right now:  the administrator who has to get certain tasks done because we're short on people to do them, the seminarian with papers to write, the woman who is trying to sell a house.

The elusive dream:  integration of all of these selves.  Let me continue onward.

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Of Breakfast, Wedding Dresses, and Exegesis

At this year's retreat, none of my friends went to breakfast.  Part of me understands.  It was heavy food that I don't usually eat; think bacon, sausage, eggs, along with several other options, like waffles, sausage gravy, and hot and cold cereal.  No smoothies, my usual breakfast, anywhere.  For me, that's the point.

Yesterday, I made this tweet/Facebook post:  "I am thinking about breakfast on retreat, where the talk often turns to cooked grains. 'Did you eat oatmeal or grits or cream of wheat as a child? Butter or sugar on top?' I overheard a 20 minute conversation at a different table on Sunday, and I keep thinking about the metaphor/symbol/theology that is possible from a simple bowl of cooked grain."

I have not gone on to write that poem or that piece of theology.  But I did write a poem over the past few days.  I had one of those vivid dreams the other night, just before I woke up, which is when I usually have my most vivid dreams.  I was wearing a wedding dress at the beach with the tide coming in.  My sketchbook and markers were on the sand, and I picked them up just in time.

I wrote a poem of 3 stanzas (3 so far--I may not be done), and each one starts with this line:  A woman in a wedding dress wanders.  The poem can't decide if it wants to be surrealistic or something else, and I'm not sure it's a problem.

What I really need to work on is my writing for seminary classes.  I have 2 exegetical papers due soon.  There's a part of me that says, "Wait?  We have another paper to write?  Didn't we just do this?"  Yes, in a way we did, for midterm.  And now it's time to do it again.

That writing will have its share of joy too, once I get started.  There's always this rush of contentment, once the seminary writing is underway.  Hopefully I'll get to experience that today.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Teaching Update: The Speech Class and the Ungraded English Essays

Yesterday, I discovered a batch of papers that I hadn't graded yet.  I've had them since Oct. 22--yikes.  And to make matters worse, I thought I was caught up with my grading in that online class.  The one student who did write me about missing grades wasn't in that class, and I wasn't behind in grading for her class.  Of course, now I doubt myself, and I will spend a spot of time today making sure I am as caught up as I think I am.

I wrote my class an apology note.  I did not tell them that I don't know what happened.  Let them imagine me spending the last 3 weeks reading their papers and savoring them.  Sigh.

Today, to counter the spiral of bad feelings that yesterday's discovery triggered, let me remember some kind things that my in-person Speech class students have offered me.  I was the Speech teacher of last resort.  I had a Speech teacher lined up, our in-house expert, but once the COVID Delta variant arrived, she decided she didn't feel safe teaching in person, and I wasn't allowed to let her teach remotely.  I had another teacher lined up who would have been a great alternative to the expert, but she got a full-time job a few days before the class started.  The back up to the back up had a conflict with a class that he was already teaching.

I had some conflicts too, primarily a standing 11:00 a.m. standing meeting/teleconference every Wednesday with fellow campus directors and our boss.  But since I was on site anyway, I could figure out a work-around.  We would meet when the class started at 9:00 a.m.  There would be an opportunity to give speeches.  Then we would talk about a specific type of speech (introduction, evaluation, narration, argument, etc).  I would go to my meeting, and they would work on their speeches.  We would reassemble near the end of the class time to have another opportunity to give speeches.

I decided that since public speaking is such a source of anxiety for people, I would grade them on the process, not the product.  They would get a grade for both their work as speech giver and as audience member.  I had a rubric that told them how much they had to do of each.  For example, to be eligible for an A, they had to give 5 speeches and to be an attentive audience member for 5 speeches.  The semester would give them plenty of time to do that.

Although I will still be willing to meet with them today, they are done with their speeches.  I feel a bit bad about that, like if I was a better teacher I would have filled the course with so much content that they couldn't possibly be done early.  I am certain that my students are not spending much time pondering how they haven't gotten their money's worth.

I am teaching this class at a small, private school with very high tuition.  There is nothing I could teach that I feel is worth the amount of money that they are paying for this class.

Happily, my students are much more appreciative than I am. I had one student tell me that she really liked the flexible approach to the class, that at first she thought she wouldn't, but she had really come to appreciate it, especially since the Program classes she's taking are much harder and not flexible at all.  She said, "Your class makes me look forward to Wednesdays."

At the end of last week's class, after the last students gave their last speeches that would qualify them for an A, I told them that I was surprised that they had seemed to have none of the fear of public speaking that I had heard that the students would have and that they didn't need the weeks of additional practice that I would have expected because they were so at ease.

One of my students said, "That's because of you.  You make it low stress."

I'm taking that as a compliment.  Students have enough to provoke fear and anxiety in their lives. If I can be a source of flexibility and helping them get through the week, that's all the praise I need.

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Week-end Creativity Report

I have had "Faith of Our Fathers" running through my brain for a few days.  In a way, it makes sense--we sang it at the retreat.  But we also sang so many other songs.  Why does my brain seize on that one song?  It does this every week, so it's an ongoing question.

But not every Sunday ends this way:

My friend played her ukelele, and we sang along at the top of our lungs as we drove the Turnpike south to home.  Why didn't my brain seize on one of those songs?

I did bring my ukulele (it's the smaller one laying on top of the chord chart in the front bottom middle of the picture), even though I was fairly sure I wouldn't be working with it too much.  That's what I love about it--it's so small and lightweight.  

I spent much of my time working on seminary classes and sketches for an online class that I'm taking that is journaling through Barbara A. Holmes' Crisis Contemplation:  Healing the Wounded Village.  Here's my favorite sketch of the week-end:

Here's what inspired it:

"The truth of the matter is that we live on a mysterious planet, with other living beings, whose interiority and spiritual realities that are just beyond our cognitive reach.

If life, as we experience it, is a fragile crystal orb that holds our daily routines and dreams of order and stability, then sudden and catastrophic crises shatter this illusion of normalcy.  . . .

As a crisis reaches the point where we experience spiritual and psychic dissolution, contemplation takes the form of a freefall through our carefully woven safety nets of 'normalcy'" (p. 19-20)

These words, along with the ones I wrote down earlier on Saturday, about safety nets and spider webs, were ones I was thinking of as I created this sketch. I was remembering the quote mistakenly, thinking that life was held in a fragile crystal cup, an image I also like.

Sunday, November 14, 2021

What a Difference a Day Makes: the Weather and Photo Report

This morning's sunrise over the lake was much more spectacular:

As a reminder, here's that same scene from yesterday morning at almost the exact same time:

Yesterday I created this FB post/tweet:  As I have moved about this morning, the phrase "otherworldly" keeps coming to mind."

Above is the picture that inspired it.  It's of the lake about an hour after sunrise, although when I have envisioned the surface of Venus, I've thought it would look like that picture.

I haven't taken all sunrise pictures.  There have been birds:

And these pictures of a reedy lake, in case I ever need to preach/teach about Moses parting the Red Sea.  My Hebrew Bible teacher tells us it was probably something more like this picture than the Charlton Heston movie:

But still, I think my favorites will end up being this morning's pictures.  Until I take the next batch of what captures my imagination.

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Lutheran Women's Retreat in Year 2 of a Pandemic

I'm at a WELCA retreat, the first time we've gathered in person since the last retreat I was at, here at the Lake Yale retreat and conference center, back in 2019.  I came here for a number of reasons, but mainly because I'm increasingly feeling disconnected from so many people, and a long car ride to a week-end retreat seemed like it would be a good way to begin rebuilding connections.

Back then, I remember that I had decided that I would pursue a certificate in spiritual direction, not seminary.  And now, I am about to finish that certificate, and back in August, I began a seminary program.  Last night, the assistant to the Bishop brought greetings from the him, and she asked for a show of hands how many seminarians we had in the room.  I was so happy to thrust my hand in the air.

The room was not as full as it was 2 years ago, but I expected that.  I was relieved, actually.  I wanted to be able to spread out, since the chairs were set up side by side as if we don't have a global pandemic raging across the planet.  I didn't wear a mask, since I was able to sit far away from everyone.

I will probably not go to any of the workshops.  To be honest, the topics don't call to me this year.  But I'm also worried about how many people will be in the room with me for over an hour, likely unmasked.  This year, unlike 2 years ago, I have my laptop with me and plenty of seminary work to do.  That will be how I will be spending much of my time.

I wondered how the food service might be different, but so far, it seems the same as it was 2 years ago, a cafeteria type serving line.  Last night, unlike 2 years ago, we only had one main dish offering, but that's fine with me.  There's always a huge salad bar and a choice of soup, if the main dish wasn't acceptable.  Last night, it was ricotta stuffed shells, a perfectly fine choice for me.  The cups are disposable, which I find an odd choice, as the plates, bowls, and silverware get washed.

I went for a quick walk this morning to try to catch the sunrise.  It was surprisingly misty/foggy.  

I heard booming sounds.  It's strange to be a place where the sounds of gunfire are humans hunting wildlife, not humans hunting each other.  I do feel safe, although there was a strange minute where I was at the shore of the lake, with the gunshots getting closer.

The outside of the buildings is still the same, and likely to ever be so.  Two years ago, I described the aesthetic as cinderblock, metal, and sand.  But the place has a remodeling effort underway, and I'm in one of the remodeled rooms.  In fact, it's so recently remodeled that I wonder if they forgot to bring back some of the furniture.  I'm in a one of the more accessible rooms, so maybe the lack of a chair or any place to sit except the bed, maybe that's intentional.  So I went and got a chair from somewhere else.  It's not the most comfortable, but it will do.  The mattress is phenomenal, and that's what's most important to me.

Let me see what the day will bring.  The sunrise this morning was certainly different from two years ago.  Here's a picture from an hour later than those above:

It's very otherworldly, which is a good adjective for how I feel today.

Friday, November 12, 2021

Restless Hearts: A Different Method of Evaluation

 At the end of my Spiritual Formation for the Practice of Ministry class the other night, my professor talked about the various spiritual practices we've been exploring, and how to evaluate them:  what do we want to try, what is working, what is not?  She said we should ask "Where is our desire for God in the practice?"

It's a great way of reminding us of the primary purpose of a spiritual practice:  it's not about self-improvement, self-enrichment, self-care, although those elements can come about because of our spiritual practice(s).  The primary purpose of a spiritual practice is to train us to meet God.

She talked about the quote by Augustine (pronouns modified from Augustine's use of first person to collective third person):  "Our hearts are restless until they rest in God."  She said we will know when a practice is right for us because our hearts will rest.

Her way of framing the issue was so unique that I wanted to capture it.  Modern society trains most of us to think about our actions by what they bring to us.  I might evaluate spiritual journaling by asking if it's made me a better person, a more faithful Christian, and more efficient thinker, on and on the list could go.  Many of us might also think about the practice from a different angle:  does it bring us closer to God?  But how can we know?

We might also bring the voice of our inner critic to the evaluation of the practice.  We might assume that we're doing the practice wrong or that we're lazy or that we're stupid, on and on the list could go.  For me, thinking about whether or not my heart is resting in God is a way of silencing that inner critic so I can focus on the more essential question.

I suspect that this way of evaluation could be useful in other areas of life too.  Are our restless hearts calmed down?  Can our restless hearts find that rest?  And what is the larger purpose?

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Veterans Day in the Second Year of a Global Pandemic

Veterans Day 2021, the second year of a pandemic, when I can feel case numbers ticking up, as surely we all knew they would once colder weather arrived and people went indoors to breathe on each other.  I think about the forces that shape society:  disease and war and random terrorism that catapults a culture onto a different trajectory.

Before Veterans Day was Veterans Day it was Armistice Day which celebrated World War I, the war to end all wars.  Except it didn't.  Research the amount of death in World War II and try to process that many humans gone in just a few years.

Will we some day say the same thing about these pandemic years?  Which is the more efficient killing machine, war or disease?  They so often go hand in hand, so it's hard for me to know.  And I know it depends on the war or the disease.

But it is Veterans Day, not Memorial Day.  Let us now praise all veterans, the ones who saw combat and the ones who kept watch to try to keep combat from exploding.  Let us praise the families and all the support staff, the ones who make it possible for veterans to do what must be done.

Let us think about the reasons why people join the military, reasons that have nothing to do with love of country and the desire to serve:  health care, college expenses, lack of other employment options.  At some point today, let us think about how we could craft a society that offers more options of all kinds.

Let us make treaties that don't trap us into responding to threats with ever expanding violence.  If Archduke Franz Ferdinand had lived to be a boring elder, how would the 20th century have been different?  No Treaty of Versailles might have meant no Hitler.  No Hitler might have meant no creation of the modern nation of Israel.  No World War I means that the Bolshevik Revolution might not have happened and thus, no Soviet Union.

Once I might have wondered if we were headed to a world with fewer veterans.  But a world without veterans seems impossible in my lifetime.  It does seem possible that fewer of us will know veterans.  I think of my college friend's father and his obituary that listed all the wars he'd been part of in his long life.  That kind of veteran experience seems increasingly rare.

So today, let us spend some time staying mindful of the older holiday of Armistice Day, and the modern incarnation of Veteran's Day. Let us remember to give thanks for the sacrifices of so many who have made domestic peace possible. Let us pray for the government leaders of all our countries, in the hopes that they'll continue to avert catastrophes of all sorts, from the economic to the armed conflict to the planet destroying variety.

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Sketching through the Season

At some point earlier this year, I saw the work of Rebecca Vincent and fell in love with the way she uses layers of lines and textures as she creates fields and the sky, waves and the depth of the sea.  With this sketch that I did in September, I tried some layers of my own, inspired by her work and my yearning for autumn:

That sketch clearly influences this sketch that I worked on in mid-October:

And then I decided to do something more abstract, with bolder lines.  I added the buildings in the left upper side closer to the end of the time of creation of the sketch:

As I drew this sketch, still influenced by the idea of bolder lines and shapes, I was thinking about sea level rise and climate change.  But I'm also seeing a descending dove.  Intriguing!

Yesterday I started a class where we will journal our way through the Barbara A. Holmes' book Crisis Contemplation:  Healing the Wounded Village.   My first sketch was inspired by exercises on p. 13 in the Preface Practices, how we came to know our family histories. For me, it wasn't in genetics or DNA, but in the stories we tell or were told, the connection to both farms and mountains, the faith that gets seeded (or lies in fallow soil) for each generation to sprout/grow/harvest in new ways:

Monday, November 8, 2021

Time Passages

Last week I looked at my syllabus for my Spiritual Formation class (the one for seminary), and I had a small jolt.  It's the week where we discuss spiritual journaling, and I had a sudden, intense memory of when I first looked at the syllabus, back in mid-August when it was first available, and I saw that we would be exploring spiritual journaling.  I remember thinking, but that's practically mid-November--that's so far away.  And now, here we are.

I checked out a book from the public library for the class, and I renewed it as many times as I could, and now it is due.  I don't need to check it out again.  The class is pretty much through with that text.  But it's another indication of how time is zooming away.

I realize I come to this blog periodically to write about this, and I offer no apologies.

Daylight Savings Time, and its ending, gives us another reason/way to think about time.  Yesterday driving home from church, I forgot that I had yet to change the clock in the car.  I thought about how late it was getting.  A bit later, as I was preparing lunch/dinner, I realized what had happened, and it was like I got an extra hour all over again.  Until bedtime, of course, when I made this Facebook post/tweet:  "It is 6:50 Eastern Standard Time. My body thinks it is an hour later, which means I am still keeping toddler bedtimes. If I laid down right now, I bet I would sleep until morning, by which I mean my usual morning wake up time of 4 or 4:30."

In some ways, this past week-end was a regular autumnal week-end, full of chores and school work and grading and cooking.  In some ways, it was unique:  I preached the All Saints Sunday sermon for example (for sermon notes/summary, see this post on my theology blog).  I had a strange assortment of aches and pains--was it related to the booster shot that I got Friday night, the slightly cooler weather that arrived (finally!) along with the end of daylight savings time, or something else that will remain mysterious?

And here we are, the end of another week-end, the beginning of another week of seminary classes.  I feel just slightly behind, although I know there will be time to catch up.  And I know that there's not much time left:  in this semester, in this time before the house sale closes, in this month, in this season, and in this year.

Saturday, November 6, 2021


Last night, I popped downstairs to go to the Publix pharmacy to get my booster shot.  While I was waiting to make sure I had no adverse effects, I let the blood pressure machine take that measurement.  I was relieved that my blood pressure was in the normal range because a few weeks ago, it was in the borderline range.  I had hoped that the borderline measurement was a fluke, and I still hope that, but I'll keep monitoring.

There have been other moments of relief this week.  We got a shipment of paper this week.  When I made the office supply order, I added 1 box of paper (a box contains 6 reams) to get the cost to where we would get the free shipping.  Much to my surprise, 21 boxes came.  I knew I didn't mean to order that many.  I distinctly remembered looking at the total cost, and it was not what 21 boxes of paper would be.  I went ahead and accepted the order; we'll use paper eventually.

I went back and looked at the order.  Sure enough, 21 boxes.  Could I have transposed numbers somehow?  Come to find out, the person on our end who approves/finalizes the order added the extra paper, but didn't tell me.  He's lucky I didn't reject the shipment.

Another moment of relief:  finding the book that was lost, the book that I needed to refer to in my discussion post due today in Hebrew Bible class.  I thought I had added it to the stack of seminary books, but last night, after I got home from my shot, I couldn't find it.  I searched through the stack of books several times.  I looked several other places:  the table where I had been reading it, the nightside table where my spouse might have put it if I left it out.  Not there.  I sat down and wrote what I could without it.  I searched again.  I wrote some more.  And then, I thought about my computer bag.  Sure enough, there it was.  I must have tucked it in there in the hope that I might have time to write yesterday at lunch.

I was able to get the discussion post finished, and I'll read it one last time before posting it today.  Today should be a good day:  a Zoom session with my quilt group, seminary writing, and then we need to make a push to get everything out of the house that still remains.  It looks like we will be closed by Nov. 17, and I will be out of town next week-end.  We left a few things in the house, like pictures on the wall and books on the shelves, in case the sale fell through.  I also need to look in every cabinet, just in case.

Part of me does think that if I've lived without it for the last 3 months, maybe I don't need it.  But I also know that the buyer gets one last walk through, and I don't want to be moving these items on the night before we close.

Last night, as I waited for the pharmacist to give me the booster shot, I thought about how much has changed since I got the first shot in March.  Back then, I had applied to seminary and been accepted, but I wouldn't go to the candidacy committee until July.  Back then, the real estate market was just heating up, and we weren't thinking of selling our house.  Back then, my school had just been bought by new owners who planned to close my campus; I figured I would have a job until the lease ran out in September or maybe if I was lucky, until December.

Where will we be 7.5 months from now?  

Friday, November 5, 2021

The Weather Commits to Rain

It is the kind of morning where the universe kindly tells me, "No.  Do not go for your morning walk outside."  It is pouring rain, the kind of rain that says the weather has made up its mind, not a drizzle, not a mist, but a commitment to rain.  There is a pulse of lightning, a low rumble of thunder.  The radar shows a big, globby mess parked over us.

For the next hour, I will try not to think about flooded streets, king tides, and all that must be done in the coming weeks (getting to work, house sale, that kind of thing).  For the next hour, I will smell the pumpkin bread that I put in the oven to bake, a bread batter that I whipped together when I realized I would not be walking.  I will delight in this smell of autumn, and I will write.

I had gotten a late start to the day, late for me, with some computer glitchiness and trying to troubleshoot a power strip that has stopped working.  So in a way, I'm glad to have some writing time.  But it does remind me of one of my chief frustrations with my life and the way my brain works.  I do my best ____ first thing in the morning; fill in that blank with writing, exercising, any number of activities.  If I don't do these things in the morning, I'm not likely to do them later.  Even on a day when I'm not at work, I'm not likely to do them.

But of course, I am also feeling a bit of weariness, so I'm not at my best writing self this morning.  It's been a week of writing accreditation documents on a tight deadline, with not as much supporting data as I would like.  Sigh.  There's also something about November, when my schedule begins to catch up with me.

I made this Tweet/Facebook post the other day:  "This is the kind of week/month/year I'm having: I saw the tweet about Starbucks rolling out holiday coffees tomorrow, and my first thought was a sincere "Yippee!" despite the fact that I rarely indulge in those drinks (because of the calories and expense)."

I like the spirit of this Tweet/Facebook post.  It shows some weariness, yet also that even in weariness, there is the potential for joy.

Thursday, November 4, 2021

Dream Time, Sabbath Time

I have been dreaming of falling in slow motion through a beautiful sky and last minute parachutes clipped to my jacket by someone who could defy gravity.  It sounds like a scary dream, but it was more like a flying dream.  A few nights ago, I had a rising water dream that was more like a raft party featuring colleagues who will soon be moving back to our campus than an apocalyptic plot for a dream.  It does not take a psychologist to interpret these dreams, now, but I am intrigued by how they are not bad dreams.  I call myself the Apocalypse Gal, but maybe I am not.  Or maybe we're not at the apocalyptic moment I was expecting.  I go through life expecting apocalypse, after all.

I thought of my dreams, in part because dream life fascinates me, in part because the teaching assistant for last night's Spiritual Formation for Ministry class asked if we dreamed when we slept.  He posits that if we don't get to a dream stage, we're not getting deep rest.  I realize that people can dream and not remember their dreams, but putting that aside, let me just say that the vividness of my dreams would suggest that I'm getting rest.

My tiredness might say otherwise.  It has been a week of rushed accreditation writing at work, the type of writing that leaves me fried in the best of circumstances, and this week has not been the best of circumstances.

So last night's discussion of Sabbath time in my Spiritual Formation for Ministry class spoke to me on so many levels.  We talked about carving out time, either a whole day, or in 4 chunks of time (morning, afternoon, evening, an 8 hour sleep time).  My small group partner and I agreed that finding 8 hours to sleep is hard; I can find the time, but I can't guarantee that my body will sleep.  Would inserting an hour into each day be a good start?  In my Covenant Discipleship group, we agreed that it would be a good start.

In the virtual synchronous class portion, my professor responded to what I had written in a discussion post.  Here's what I wrote in response to Barbara Brown Taylor's chapter on Sabbath in her book An Altar in the World:

"She connects to the subversive nature of keeping the Sabbath: “. . . there is no saying yes to God without saying no to God’s rivals. No I will not earn my way today. No, I will not make anyone else work either. No, I will not worry about my life, what I will eat or what I will drink, or about my body, what I will wear” (p. 139). This idea continues to intrigue me and seems worth more consideration. I want more ways of resisting consumerism, capitalism, and empire, while being grateful for this idea that couldn’t be more simple.

But as I type that sentence, I realize I’m writing from a place of privilege as someone who has workplace flexibility and resources. I am also writing at a time of workplace upheaval: jobs vanishing, workers who have decided that their old jobs are too toxic, workers on strike, caretakers who can’t do what they once could—in this current environment, does our approach to Sabbath change?"

My inner Sociology major is fascinated by that last question, but my professor focused on the idea of privilege.  She said that Sabbath is not a privilege but a gift, a gift for all, and the fact that we live in a society where so many of us have to work at so many jobs to make ends meet is a sign that our society is broken.

We didn't stay on that aspect long, although my professor did say that it will take much work and many votes to make transformation at the wide societal level.  She suggested that we focus on what our individual churches can do.  She said that she had been a member of a church where people occasionally had trouble making rent, and it wasn't a cause of shame, it was accepted that rents are high and people might have trouble coming up with the money.  So a call would go out, people would donate to the rent fund, and members would avoid eviction.  She talked about the times we could offer Vacation Bible School that would be more convenient for neighborhood moms and dads.

I like the idea of shifting my perspective so that I see Sabbath time as a gift freely given, not a privilege bestowed by God.  But I don't want to forget that it is a privilege that many of us in industrialized nations don't get to enjoy.  I do want to do the work to see that change, so that all may have a day of rest.

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Slow Seminarian

I chose this title in part to remember that I'm tired because of the accreditation writing I've been doing.  That kind of writing always leaves me drained, but it's worse this time.  We've discovered that we have a few reports left to do for a Nov. 15 deadline.  We thought a program was ending, but now, maybe it's not.  We are missing some information, but proceeding anyway.  It's not writing that I can delegate, because there are very few people left to delegate to, and I'm the one with all the documents and the knowledge of how to do the writing.

As I approached seminary class last night, I worried that my accreditation-sloggy brain would detract from my enjoyment of class, but I'm happy to say it did not.  After class, I stayed to get some information about spring classes.  My professor talked about an elective that she's offering face-to-face, and I asked if she would be likely to offer it again.  She made a sad face and said, "Well, electives are on a 3 year cycle, so it will be awhile."

I said, "That's O.K.  I'm likely to be here in 3 years."

We laughed merrily, but of course, I'm serious.  This morning I thought about my meeting with my advisor, who said, "We know students are here for a reason, that you want to get on with your lives as pastors."  I thought, no, not necessarily.

I've waited a long time to return to school, and I'm in no hurry to rush through it.  I do remember feeling this way about undergraduate school, my first year, that year when I was rapturous about the learning process.

I'm also a slow seminarian because I'm trying to proceed cautiously.  I'm in a season where I feel like changes are coming at a pace that is fast and furious.  I'm trying to remain focused and clear-headed, which isn't easy when I have accreditation writing to do.

Slow and steady, running this race.

Monday, November 1, 2021

Resources for the First Days of Climate Talks

How interesting that these first day of climate talks take place across the triduum of Halloween, All Saints Day, and All Souls Day.  While I don't have a poem that makes use of that conjunction (but I will!), I do have plenty of poems that ponder climate change.  Here's one that seems to fit best for this first day of climate talks in Glasgow; it's from my chapbook of the same name, and it first appeared here, with haunting art work to accompany it, at Escape Into Life. :

Life in the Holocene Extinction

I complete the day’s tasks
of e-mails and reports and other paperwork.
I think about which species
have gone extinct
in the amount of time it takes
to troll the Internet.
I squash a mosquito.

He drives to the grocery store
to pick up the few items he needs
for dinner: shark from a distant
sea, wine redolent of minerals from a foreign
soil. He avoids the berries
from a tropical country with lax
control of chemicals.

As she packs up her office,
she thinks about habitat loss,
those orphaned animals stranded
in a world of heat and pavement.
She wishes she had saved
more money while she had a job.
She knows she will lose the house.
She wonders what possessions
will fit into her car.

Maybe you were hoping for less poetic resources.  The website for the meeting is here.  For something less dry (pun intended), I loved this article that has the author going to new condo buildings in Miami Beach where she posed as a wealthy buyer and reports on sea level rise and its impact--or puzzling lack of impact--on the high end real estate market.

I first heard about that article in this episode of Hidden Brain that explores the idea of what happens if we approach the issue of climate catastrophe either like Dunkirk or Normandy, those WWII situations.  You may have to scroll down to look for the episode "We Broke the Planet:  Now What?"  I also liked this episode of It's Been a Minute, which didn't seem like the same old, same old about the topic.

It is hard to believe that these climate talks will make a difference.  It is hard to understate how time is running out--or may have already run out, for some of us in some locations.  Sigh.

Triduum and the Hinge Moments of Autumn

It is November 1, and I am sad to see October go.  I think of October as one of my favorite months, and it is, but it can also be a difficult month for me for all sorts of reasons that revolve around weather (hot, humid, why isn't it cool yet?) and memories.  

It feels like a sort of hinge moment, and the season of autumn is full of them.  Nov. 1 means that my favorite season, the one that I define as Sept. 15-Dec. 25, is well underway, and soon I will have the larger regret of all of my favorite season being in the rear view mirror.  Pre-emptive grieving--that's me, through and through.

We had some trick-or-treaters come by at 3:00 on Saturday, and then we ate a lot of the Halloween candy.  Yesterday, I went to get more candy.  We rarely get more than 1-5 trick-or-treaters, but I always buy candy as if it's 1975 in the suburbs, and we will get hordes of children.  So, of course, yesterday we got no trick-or-treaters.

I felt a bit of sadness last night--surely it was about more than our lack of trick-or-treaters.  This morning, the sadness lingers.  Will I be less sad about Halloween being over if I think about All Saints and All Souls? If I think about a triduum of days, instead of just one? If I think about the ancestors and the more recently gone and what haunts us all?

I am thinking of this terrific post where James Lumsden talks about the practice of a memory box, as a way to reconnect with one's ancestors and loved ones.  It can become an "All Hallows altar of personal icons."  And the good news is, it's not too late.

This article by Christine Valters Paintner reminds us that we are entering into an entire season of reconnecting with a deeper wisdom:  "As the earth prepares to enter winter, she sheds what she no longer needs and moves inward. We live in a world illuminated by artificial light and so we often forget the wisdom to be gained from being in darkness. With the busyness of our lives, we resist the call of winter to fallowness and to contemplate what mortality means for us."  She posits that this time can become a time of reconnection:  with the hopes and dreams of our ancestors and with our own hopes and dreams--and with a deeper sense of mystery and insight.

May all of our hinge moments swing us towards reconnection.