Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The The proud and the profoundness

Today I had the best time in the world. I want to tell you so if you are considering taking a job as a church chick you will read this and say, “Yes, brother. That is the job for ME”. First of all, we didn’t start our week with Monday. We started it with Tuesday and I am telling you that it made the whole day special. New. I saw unexpected faces at the front desk. I was psyched for the Monday crew, and was greeted with the Tuesday crew. That was unexpected and delightful. I love the Monday crew, don’t get me wrong. I love the whole crew, but just the shift in expectation gave an air of serendipity to the whole day.

I got to pick up my work buddy and bring her in for staff meeting. She had surgery last week and wasn’t supposed to be driving yet, so I picked her up in the convertible and we breezed our way into work to start my week. I say my week, because she won’t be back til next week.

We had a chicken feed staff meeting. Not too much to scratch about, and so we shook our feathers and chatted over this and that and I tell you readers, it is the rare occasion that allows us to do that. Chit chat creates bonds, you know. It is important. Not gossip this and that, mind you, but chitter and chatter among friends. It was so refreshing.

I took my recuperating friend to lunch. She was such a good sport today, just coming along wherever to do whatever. We decided to pick up lunch and take it to my oldest daughter’s new work place. I haven’t seen her new digs and the time seemed right.

While we were in the drive through, I got a call from work. I was right in the middle of ordering, so I said, “Can you hold on ? One minute.” I put the phone in my lap while we organized our lunch choices.

Then we ordered. The waitress was having a full moon day and finally released her inner frustrations by saying over the intercom, “Oh for heaven’s sake, Geese Louise” I figured she wasn’t scheduled for today and they called her in at the last minute and the last thing she wanted to do was work the window. I was sad in my heart for her because there are days for all of us that we just don’t want to work the window, aren’t there?

Well, we ordered, pulled up and waited. Then something very subtly suspicious happened. I heard a little voice. I thought it might be inside my head, and I looked over at my passenger to see if she was noticing it, but she didn’t seem to, so I tried to ignore it. I began evaluating the voice. It sounded vaguely familiar and had a rather urgent tone to it. I could tell this even though the volume was muted.

I thought I heard my name- “Melanie, Melanie, Melanie, I, I’m still here !" is what it sounded like. Then-

OMG! I looked down and saw my phone face down in my lap. “AH I forgot!!” I picked up the phone and apologized profusely. My passenger was laughing so hard I felt like I was sitting in a Jiffy pop pan. We were laughing, she from finding it funny that I would forget a phone and be not the least bit alarmed at hearing a fairy, far away voice while sitting in the car -and me, from utter embarrassment. The window chick was not the least bit amused. I know this because I never saw her teeth. Her lips were so pursed they were pocketbooked shut. AND she shorted us an order of onion rings. I hope she fared better through the day.

Anyway, we went to my darling daughter’s work place and parked in handicap because my partner was, indeed handicapped for the day. She worried that we would be towed, and I said we parked here because we needed to and I even left a sticky note on my dash that said “surgery.” I am not one to take handicap spots for granted, but my friend was tired and by some luck, she had not burst her stitches with our laughing outburst at the drive through. I figured if I got towed in the 20 minutes we’d be there, it would be worth watching.

We had a tour of the workplace, and I loved seeing my oldest in her professional mode. She does that well. There is a tone in her voice that is smooth and clean and it is a gift she wears well. I get to see her all around that persona, but rarely do I get to experience that side of her. She also seemed very much at home in her new job so I was proud. I was proud to find the place. I was proud to see the laminated labels she made for her office door, I was proud of how she organized the supply cabinet. I was just plain proud. She took us to see her own “Biz” copy machine which is really a Pro75Workplace Xerox. Big Big Big time. We may try to get Biz and Pro75 together sometime. Her Pro75 can email, and Biz accepts orders via computer, so they may have some other duplicated interests, we’ll see.

Anyway, she introduced us to each area with a little side comment.

"Here is the man across the hall’s office.. I don’t know his real name because everyone calls him porkchop. "

“Here is the meeting room…. The Pro 75 is just on the other side of that frosted window….”

“This is Mr. Jones’ office. He’s 4 feet tall, try not to look down on him”

Okay, she could have said, “Don’t look at his wandering eye”, or “ Do NOT notice that he has 6 legs.” My friend and I immediately fell apart with silent giggles. How can you set us up like this? How can we NOT notice ?? Well, we were a mess. I was glad Mr. Jones was not in, because I would not have known what to look at when we met him.

If her voice had not been so smooth, it would not have been nearly as funny. It was like my mind accepted the professional tone, and then I actually absorbed the content of her comment and my mind was filled with a picture of a tiny person, much like the tiny voice that has summoned my attention at the drive through.

My daughter was glad to be rid of us, I’m sure. I had fun visiting her.

After that, my boss sent me on errands and what a day for it. I drove with my top down and got what we needed without too much fuss.

I didn’t really get anything done inside today, but my heart was well fed with reminders of why I like this job so much. The variety and the connections make it a great place to be.

When I returned, I had an assistance person to help, and we went back and forth over a new issue. Gas. Car gas. I realized later that this will probably come up more often now. It isn’t enough that electricity and other utilities call for our help, but now gasoline can be added to the critical list.

Another daughter called to tell me that she is a great time manager because she went to school today and learned 4 weeks’ math in 2 hours. Oh, parenting is such an adventure. I mean, what are we to say to comments that are delivered with such excitement? “ Wow, that’s great honey, you’re a fast learner” tagged along with, “ So, just think how much you’d have learned in the 4 weeks you were catching up to., probably a whole year’s worth or something?” I’m just glad she is working hard now.

Man oh Man, I wore lots of hats today.

And now, it is time to go home.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Banner part II

Well, here is the leafy banner I did . I quick quick got the leaves added on in time for their Saturday meeting. It was a fun surprise.

Then I had another interesting turn. Last week, we had a handsome young Pastor use one of our meeting rooms while he and some other leaders discussed starting a new Methodist church nearby. We spoke. I liked him right away. I'm sure his guidance will foster positive energy.

So, after delivering the banner, I got an email from the lady I made the banner for, and she said she took the tree to a weekend meeting with a Pastor who was working on starting a new church , ( her new church), and he loved it, and asked her to bring it to every meeting and they will use the words Blessed, Broken, Taken, Given ( on the bottom of the banner) as well. That's neater than neat. neeee eeet.

Thursday, May 17, 2007


This is a banner I made for the Council of Churches last year for a new project that hoped to take 4 different churches and create community among them. The year went well, and they asked me to add leaves to signify the growth. So, this is the before picture.

Friday, May 11, 2007

The power of just being

Churches are the catch -all for life. They hold onto the pain that is too great for the human form to maintain, and they set free the binding knots of suffering. Churches look like buildings, but if you will recall "Here is the church, here is the steeple, open the door and see all the people", then you already know that the building is a mere shell. Some bigger, maybe more elaborate than others... A shell nonetheless. When we enter the church, carrying our burdens and sorrows, our weeping wounds, the people inside the church become a part of all of that with us. It's called community. Even when we don't care to share, we do anyway because we are surrounded by the love God has given us for one another. Breaking up the big bad picture into smaller ones can sometimes help. Sometimes we notice the difference, sometimes our pain is so great we don't, but community and love do help on some level all the same whether we consciously share or not.

This is not to say that churches deal only with madness, and mahem. The church life is full of celebrations as well. Babies, weddings, all of life's celebrations are intertwined with all of life's hell- on- earth moments. Somewhere in there is a balance. Well, let's hope so.

The Pastor is usually the leader who fills us up regularly with God's words of love and sends us out into the world to share goodness in life. The Pastor is who we cry for when our world is crashing around us, when we cannot bear another moment of being human. Sometimes, our most trusted leaders and spiritual mentors offer us kind words. Sometimes we are given a tidbit from God's book to hold onto.

Most of the time, though, I have found the power of healing in Pastoral care has come from a Pastor's ability to listen. I know a few who excel at that art. They listen, intently, and look deep inside us and somehow, it helps. It helps a lot. There is something very immaculate about allowing our deepest, most thorny parts to come out, and to see them being accepted without limits. Often times, the problems have no immediate answer. Sometimes the best thing we can do or what we need to do is just be in the moment. Be in the pain; the darkness. These are the times when some Pastors come forth with their God -given gifts. Just being with us is powerful in our worst times. Just being.

So, what does one do when it is the Pastor who is carrying the burden? Yes, Pastors carry our burdens for us all of the time, but what happens when the Pastor is weighed down with his/her own humankind pain and suffering?

When a Pastor suffers, the tables are reversed. Whereas we (1 individual or family) may spend time with our honored Church-- guiding -light- minister to help us be in our own moments behind closed doors, or share our pain with our church community as we need to, or choose to, when the Pastor is the sufferer, he/she draws the attention of the entire congregation all in one fell swoop. What a quandry!!

As people, it is our nature to act. It is human nature to jump in and help solve problems for those around us in trouble or in pain. This is what we do. This is how we support each other.

Sometimes, there are no answers but time. Sometimes the best love we can give is our presence- our simply being present. Sit on our hands, and let it be known that we are here, and that we offer the comfort of simple love. Sometimes the hardest work God asks us to do, is the simplist. Today, let's remember how to listen to those around us. Let us work on being with each other in the moment. Listening with love and being-just plain being can be very powerful tools for healing.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Traveling stole

I like to travel. I like to travel to the grocery store and to church and to work church and to the Y and home. Occasionally, I like to go to the beach, or to meet a friend somewhere new for a little while, but mostly, my comfort zone is realllly small.

My oldest daughter has been to Israel and Zimbabwe, Cuba and Canada
My next oldest daughter has ventured to Europe
Next down the line has seen Cuba and will go to Utah and Illinois this summer
My last lamb has been to Cuba as well. They get around .

My home church Pastors are getting ready to go to Georgia that is part of or used to be part of or maybe will never be part of Russia. It has a longer name than just Georgia, but the complete title fails me now. The co-pastor team will visit a sister church there and will learn about what God is doing in that neck of the woods. They will share some of us, with them, as well.

The duo inquired about my making a stole for them to take along. They wanted something that reflected my home church, Pullen Memorial Baptist Church. Diversity, inclusion, unconditional community and support. They wanted colors of the rainbow and hints of God's spirit in this gift.

I had a wonderful time working on this, and my friends at work church were very lovingly supportive along the way. My home church friends helped me trust my own judgement. There was a great deal of love that went into this piece. I hope that whoever wears it, will feel that. Many people who don't know a soul in Georgia have given some of their own goodness and spirit .

One side is the tree of life, and the other side is colorful woven pieces that are a rainbow. I may not travel much, but I've just sent off a stole that will go across the world. It's the next best thing to clocking miles.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Mystery Radio lines

No time for much, but I heard a great line this am on my favorite radio station:
"Start that 'I told you so' business and so help me- I'll make you wish you took the trash out".