Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Something Creative

Yesterday was kind of a strange day for me. It was Tuesday, so I had to work. Work was frustrating. I just felt like my time was being wasted with really trivial things, and it didn't make me feel important or necessary. 

I met my friend for coffee after work, and that was fun. It was good to hear someone else "complain" besides my own thoughts in my own head. It's always good to get together with someone and get a different perspective on life!

Warren and Jonathan went to bed early. I spent too much time on the internet, but it was interesting! It's so easy to get carried away, catching up on people and places. Anyway, suddenly it was after 11 p.m. and I was dripping with fatigue. But I could not go to bed, as I had not done one thing even remotely creative all day.

So, I took a deep breath. I walked into the dining room - where my journal was waiting - and looked at a blank page. I picked up a pen. With my left hand, in large letters, I wrote "SOMETHING CREATIVE." Then I took almost every one of my rubber stamps and imprinted them on the page. I picked up some pastels (which I haven't touched in almost four years) and spread them around on the page. Here's the result.
Well, I was so pleased with myself, how could I ever go to bed? I had to do some more. So I made this page, which underneath says, "Because she just had to."

 I still had one more in me, and this one - my favorite of the evening - is what happened:

 Needless to say, I went to bed (finally!) smiling, and slept better than I have in ages.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Foot Stompin' Music and High Church

So far, it's been a pretty wild weekend, at least for us! Two big events in less than 24 hours - needless to say, we are exhausted!

Yesterday we surprised Jonathan with tickets to see our favorite household band, The Subdudes. They were playing at The Narrows in Fall River, MA. We went for an early dinner, then headed southeast. It wasn't until we arrived that Jonathan figured out what was going on, and he was pretty excited! Lucky boy, that kid. Although we've had the tickets for awhile, we decided to make it a celebration of his great mid-term report card; also, Friday was National Adoption Day, so we threw that in as an excuse as well.

Before the show, Jonathan hung out in the "rest room" with the band and during the show, they even dedicated a song to him! One of the band members is a childhood friend of mine. John Magnie and his family lived across the street from us when we lived on St. Paul Street in Denver. His sister and I were best friends for a long time, even after we moved and they moved. We never lived far from each other, but sort of lost touch over the years.

My mom and their mom were best friends for over 50 years, so it was always easy to keep tabs on them. And, we all knew that "those Magnie kids" were perfect because we were frequently asked, "Why can't you be more like the Magnies?" John and I laughed about that last night, actually. It was great to see him again. Here's a picture of me and Jonathan with John "Soul Patch" Magnie.

We got home well after midnight and had to sleep fast, because this morning we were going to see the Presiding Bishop!

Bishop Katharine Jefferts-Schori was celebrating Eucharist at All Saints Church here in Worcester, in honor of their 175 anniversary, and also to honor the ministries of all the Episcopal churches here in Worcester. I've admired this woman ever since she was elected, and thought how lucky I was just to be able to attend this service. Little did I know how important it would be to "hang out" with my son!

We were standing inside the side entrance to the church, waiting for Warren to come back and help us figure out where to sit. The door opened, and in walked this woman with a big suitcase. Jonathan immediately recognized her, and walked over to where the Rector of All Saints was standing, greeting her. After she said hello to him, Jonathan stuck his hand out and shook hers and said, "Hi! I'm Jonathan!" Since I was standing right behind him, she turned to me AND SHOOK MY HAND, TOO! Unbelievable, but true. My son, Mr. How Do You Do!

The service was great - a huge choir, made up of choirs from around Worcester, a brilliant sermon delivered by the PB, and - as it turned out - we had 3rd row seats! So we even got great pictures during the service. Afterward, there was a nice reception and I met a few nice people (imagine that!) and saw some familiar faces. As we were getting ready to leave, we had to go back to the church to pick up the St. Luke's Charter, which had been presented to the PB as part of the service. Jonathan saw her in a room behind the altar, filling out the attendance book, and made a bee line for her. Warren and I followed, and next thing we knew, this happened.

And then, Warren asked if I'd take his picture with her...
And THANKFULLY someone in the room offered to take a family photo. So now I'm really happy, as you can probably imagine!
She's a really nice, gentle-spirited person. We had a little bit of a conversation before we left, and she's just very, very kind. I'm so happy I got to meet her! Thanks, Jonathan!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Happy Birthday, Sweet Katie!

I spent about 30 minutes out front this afternoon, blowing bubbles! It was such a beautiful day - clear and crisp - but the afternoon sun sort of put the wind at ease for awhile.

And so, in honor of our Katie on what would be her 20th birthday, I stood on the front walk and blew bubbles. I'd forgotten about the little "church bubbles" we passed out the morning after her Memorial Service. Everyone there that morning sat and blew bubbles. It was quite emotional. Doing this simple act this afternoon reminded me of many wonderful people who were there for us during a really difficult time. My heart swelled with gladness, knowing that we do not walk the rough paths alone. I'm grateful for every friend I have who reminds me on days like today "I am thinking of you" and I know that I am blessed

Blowing bubbles...such a simple act! I watched the bubbles, taking their wings and going off to do what they do. It soothed my soul. Although it was impossible to watch the path of each bubble, part of me wants to believe that at least one made it to heaven, and that Katie was there to catch it - laughing in her funny little way of laughing!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Happy Birthday, Amy!

Today is my baby sister Amy's birthday. She just had some serious surgery a few weeks ago...I did not go be with her because she asked me to wait and come when she felt good, "So we can do something FUN together!" So I'm waiting...missing her on her birthday, knowing she is okay, wishing I was there. It's really hard being away from my family. Tomorrow is my brother Mark's birthday. He's much older than Amy, but always says that "Amy's birth ruined my birthday!" It's a family joke.

Amy was such a blessing to us. She was born just a few years after our sister, Anne Loretto, died of leukemia at the age of five years. We wanted a girl so badly! Back in "the day" parents just had to wait to find out what they were getting. Early in the evening on November 4, 1965, my dad called the house to day, "IT'S A GIRL!" Well, all mayhem broke loose. We (kids) pulled every pot and pan and lid and spoon we could find out of the cupboard and MARCHED up and down Fillmore Street shouting, "IT'S A GIRL!" All the neighbors came out and started clapping. We were so excited. We had a new girl in the house, and it was a good thing.

But poor Mark! Nobody hardly paid attention to his (11th) birthday that year. It was all about Amy. Luckily, he never held it against her; they are good friends, and always have been.

So, Happy Birthday Amy...and Happy Birthday Mark tomorrow! I love you guys, and wish I was closer so we could celebrate together -- you know, go dancing or something - like old times! (Just kidding!) If I was there, we'd go out for a beer and talk about inconsequential stuff and go home feeling like we were on top of the world. That's how families get along...talking about the inconsequentials. Gotta love it!

Blessings on you both. XOXOXOXOXO

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Celebrating Those We Love But See No More

The first Tuesday evening of every month, St. Luke's has a Healing Service. There's a core group of about 8-10 people who faithfully attend, and there is a team of folks who are available to offer healing prayers for those who request it. It's all very "private" yet public - they are in front of the church, but with music playing it makes it a more private experience. In other words, the folks in the pews don't have to try to strain to hear what's being prayed for - they can't hear it, so there's no need to try. Does this make sense?

Well, tonight's service was a little bit different in that we were also acknowledging All Souls Day. Yesterday was All Saints Day - which honors all the "famous" saints (like Luke, Anthony, Mother Theresa, etc.). All Souls Day is to honor those people we love who perhaps didn't make a big mark in their public life, but left great big marks on our hearts.

In many cultures, this is a big deal. I'm most familiar with the Mexican tradition of Dio de los Muertos, or "Day of the Dead." We first learned about it when we lived in Austin, and celebrated our own saints there every year...and have done so - privately in our home - ever since. We have a few little decorations that we put out. One thing people like to do is to "try to lure" the deceased person's spirit back by leaving out things that the person loved - like chocolate, cookies, or tequila! They use lots of flowers - mostly marigolds - and it's a festive occasion, not a sad one.

So, at St. Luke's last Sunday, we set up a space and people brought in photos and mementos of their precious saints. We, of course, took a picture of Katie and of bowl of "Runts" candy. When she was little, she would only fall asleep in her old car seat, in her bedroom, on the floor. And she had to have a bowl of Runts in her lap, otherwise she would not go to sleep! Call it crazy, but it worked. Long story...later. Others brought chocolate...someone even set a Dunkin' Donuts coffee cup next to the picture of their saint!

During this particular service, we also read aloud the names of people who are "saints" to members of our congregation. It was very touching, especially to recognize so many of them. After these names were read, people were given time to recite even more names of departed who were not on the lists.

I was kneeling next to Jonathan during this part of the service. This child of ours - who fifteen minutes before had been the bane of our existence, knelt there are prayed - out loud - for "those who lost their lives on 9/11...for all the astronauts who have died in service to our country...for all the firemen who died in the Cold Storage fire...for victims of the earthquake in Haiti...and he went on and on. It was so touching to me. I just started weeping! Where did all that come from? How could this child become so centered and prayerful, while I was just seething at him a few minutes ago? Then it occurred to me that God was present, and Jonathan had been tapped on the shoulder and encouraged to go with his heart. Why not me? Probably because I wasn't paying attention. Well, let me tell you, after that I did start paying attention and things turned around for me. That church was filled with something tonight, and it wasn't incense! It was the love of God, sitting among us, tapping us each on the shoulder as a reminder of how much we are loved and valued and precious to God. Each of us! All the time! How cool is that?

Jonathan is finishing up his homework, but all I want to do is sit on the couch and just snuggle up with him and get some of that wonderful energy of his to flow into me. I will never forget this night, his prayers, God's presence, and...hopefully, my very own preciousness in God's sight.