Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Natural World

My buddy Guy Wonders over at Cul de Sac Blues was talking about the fauna in his neighborhood. He isn't exactly in an urban wonderland from what I can tell. But he isn't in the backwoods either. Where the wild and civilization meet is often a strife-ridden and violent place. Or a little bit of paradise depending on your perspective.

I've had some nature shock at the new church. At First Church we use the sound of traffic like white noise for meditation. At UUCC there is quiet, and breezes. At First the moon looks really cool when paired with the bell tower and the street lamps. At UUCC the moon is a powerful and palpable, but a lonely luminary presence. At First Church people walk by on the sidewalk with their dogs. At UUCC there's nature. NATURE.

I'm not real nature-fied. I'll fight all day long for wetlands, national parks, and natural habitat preservation. But that fight occurs in my urban home or office. I love to walk. On sidewalks. I love to watch the sky. From my front porch.

UUCC has given me some nature shock. Around UUCC things rustle in the grass. There is much hopping and flying away when my steps approach. Until I learned the way of the grass, I walked through a strong sticky spider web EVERY time I approached the building. And at my first fellowship event, butterflies were flitting about the picnic tables. Emerson would be in heaven. Thoreau would approve. It makes my nose itch.

But I am getting used to it. When I arrive, I close my eyes, relax, and sigh peacefully. When I leave, I look around and smile. Autumn is going to be great over there. But, isn't autumn great everywhere? Outside of First there is a gingko that turns yellow seemingly overnight. I take its picture every year. I will NOT be taking pictures of the hopping mysteries of UUCC, but there will be much sniffing of the air in reverence.

As long as I can still see my car, it is wonderful.

You're Gonna' Hate Thursdays

My best friend has a dreadful and inappropriate joke about hell, the pun of which is, "You're gonna' hate Thursdays." This is his stock phrase whenever he knows something is going to be unpleasant. It essentially means, "When things look like they won't be too bad, they get worse."

He went to the dentist last week and discovered he's going to have his gums deep root-scaled. As he shared his impending misery he quipped, "You're gonna' hate Thursdays." When I took on two churches and realized that I'd suddenly be working over full-time when I hadn't planned to go full-time for another 2 years, he said the Thursday remark. And, as is the case, when you hang out with someone long enough, his line is becoming my line.

I am thinking about this line now because I will be going to Las Vegas soon for the National Funeral Director's Convention. I can't wait for the convention. No, really. Check my blogs from last year's convention. I love this convention, but Vegas?

I'm not really a Vegas kind of gal. I don't gamble. I don't wear make-up most of the time. I don't like conspicuous consumption. And the water and electricity waste alone might put me into a funk for years. (I'm still not over a trip to Phoenix at the turn of the milennium.)

I met a man who travels for business at a birthday party a month ago. He talked to me for ten minutes and when I told him I would be going to Vegas he said, "Oh, you're gonna hate Vegas." Uh Oh. Hate it as much as Thursdays?

Why? "You're a Unitarian Universalist minister. You are going to hate Vegas!" Dang.

Well, I leave on Sunday the 7th. I will be posting while there. So you'll be finding out shortly whether I'm in funeral heaven or whether it is Thursday all week. Let's hope that it is better than projected. I mean: me and 1600 funeral directors for three days. How bad could this possibly be?

Besides. I 'll be back home by Thursday.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Jefferson Bible

In a week and a half I will be giving a sermon on The Jefferson Bible at First Church. I read in the preface that the Rev. Dr. Forrest Church credits the book with his calling to go into the ministry. When I opened "my" copy I noticed something equally auspicious.

It turns out that my copy isn't mine at all. It belongs to my husband from the days when he wasn't my husband. (The Glory Days, I joke. The Dark Ages, I mean.) It is thoughtfully inscribed by my mother on the occasion of his being commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Army.

Little did she know that 7 months later he and I would be married 11 days before he rushed off to the first Iraq War. 3 years later he was out of the military and there was much rejoicing. 4 years later I would begin my journey to ministry. 6 years later my husband, like Jefferson before him, became a lawyer. 10 years later (almost to the day) I was ordained. 12 years later our first child was born and we named him Jefferson. 17 years later I finally give a sermon on the book.

My mother will happily take the credit for all of this. Or she'll give Thomas Jefferson the credit. Either way she is happy. I, on the other hand, feel like she should be giving this sermon. See you on the 7th of October and one of us will deliver a sermon. Who knows what wheels this could put in motion.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Trying to break out and giving up

Now that I am working two jobs, I am sleeping great. By the time my head hits the pillow I've been a wandering zombie for at least two hours. It turns out that reclining sleep is always better than sleeping while walking, talking, and working.

I am unaccustomed to good sleep, however, so my nightly habit of cracking open a book continues in spite of the fact that I can barely get to 10 on my sheep count. And what does a weary double minister read to escape from the day?

I was asked this at our Church Book Sale this past weekend. I was standing surrounded by very good fiction and people who love it, but I had to admit that my bedtime reading has been Victor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning. Sometimes I am too ministerial for my own good. What kind of duckbrain clergy works too many hours and then fades to black at night wiith a holocaust/pschology memoir? Okay, well, most of us, but that's what I mean. So predictable.

I believe that accountants should go to sleep reading art books and poetry. Artists should be working their way through Carl Sagan and some string theory. Rock musicians should be slogging along through Sartre... again, undertakers need to brush up on their Carl Hiasen and absurdist Irish plays, and ministers... well, obviously I think something other than Frankl is called for.

I wanted to break the mold so I picked up The Confessions of Max Tivoli and gobbled it down in about a day. Why do I do these things? It felt like wolfing down a whole bag of Peanut M&Ms. I'd already read this book. It had a different cover, a different author and was called The Time Traveler's Wife, but it was the same book. Great premise, but the actual novel, ummm, it will be a very good movie.

I'm back to Frankl, now. Predictable? Yes. Geeky minister? Absolutely. But I had my walk on the wild side. It's not for me on a daily basis. I can't handle the pressure of popular fiction. When I finish Frankl, I'm headed straight for Bertrand Russell and no one can stop me. Except maybe Paul Ricoeur.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Can't Say I Didn't Warn You

Since the inception of Auspicious Jots I have been honest with you. You know it is true. It's right there on the header: may revert to her low-tech ways without warning.

What? Did you think I was kidding?

My lack of postings has not been due to my innate luddite inclinations, however. It is for a more reasonable cause.

I am now a minister in TWO churches. "How did that happen?!", you may be asking yourself. You are not alone in that questioning. The members of both congregations, my family, and I are all asking that same question.
The short version: the minister of the Unitarian Universalist Community Church of Glen Allen resigned at a time when it would be difficult and perhaps impossible to get an interim. I was asked if I could help until they get an interim. (I was asked realllllllllllly nicely.) My regular place of employment (First UU Richmond) felt that this was a good idea and encouraged me to help out. And one month and no blogging later, I am the minister of two churches.

This will not be an easy year as I try to give faithful service to both.
This will be a great year because I get to meet 150 more Unitarian Universalists.

This will be a challenging year as I try to help UUCC through their transition quickly.
This will be a wonderful year because the congregation at First Church is reaching out to support their sister congregation in their time of need. (And because I have a great colleague in ministry at First who reminds me what day it is, helps in any way she can, and points me in a westerly direction when I need to head to UUCC.)

This will be a rough year because I am always getting lost in the West End where UUCC is located.
This will be the best year ever because First Church is near Can Can, Smoothie King, and Plan 9. AND UUCC is near Bottoms Up Pizza, a sushi spot, and Tropical Smoothie.

Two smoothie joints? Aw yeahhhhhhhh!!!!!

So, that's what I'm up to. It would make for some great blogging if I had the time. I'll do my best, but with two smoothie joints I'll be very busy.