Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Popkale and Potato Day

I love the farm. We keep having quintessential farm-type gatherings lately...

Children were interpretive dancing in the living room with plastic hard hats to piano, flute, and violin celtic music played by our incredible musicians

2-year old Benjamin was helping 97-year old Roma with her breakfast

"Popkale" (kale baked in oil and salt) is a delicious way to eat the obligatory kale... it ends up very crispy and tasty... and many people congregated around eating it straight from the bowl

Potato day is Friday -- the whole farm (staff, guests, admin, resis, farmers... everyone) goes to the field to dig potatoes and, evidently, get prizes

Come visit. I think you'll fall in love with it like I have over and over again!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Liminal spaces

One farewell
One application to a new job
One engagement
Three deaths (one funeral)
Three birthdays
All in one week

No wonder I feel a bit like I'm reeling.

It's been a liminal week (look it up... it's one of my favorite words).

Sunday I stood by the bed of a saint (Mary) who was actively dying. (I have a wise friend who worked at a hospice for a while and noted that the reality of "actively dying" made her consider what it means to "actively live". I found that to be true for me this week.) Mary's daughter and son-in-law (two foundational and incredibly faithful members of my church), three women from my church (including our pastor), and I encircled her, sang to her, prayed with her, massaged her feet, wrapped her in love. It was one of the most humbling and sacred experiences of my life.

Also on Sunday I heard about the engagement of two lovely people. Tizzy and Joel, in a story that is funny in its foiled attempts at romantic-ness, got engaged in Cape Cod on Saturday. We all knew it was going to happen -- we were simply wondering when. We don't have to wonder anymore. They are a great couple!

Monday morning Mary died. She had been an incredibly wise and admired woman -- a pastor's wife, a co-director of Gould Farm, a matriarch of the town and the church -- for a total of more than ninety years. She was ready to go, and her death was dignified and a blessed release. It will be hard for her daughter and son-in-law, who have devoted the last many years to caring for her. Prayers for Sally and Steve would be much appreciated.

Tuesday I found out that Monster Librarian's (a former farmer) father died suddenly and tragically. I don't know her father, and I am only beginning to know Monster Librarian, but I can only imagine a piece of what it must feel like to lose a father as a young adult. Prayers for her would be much appreciated.

Wednesday I said farewell to a good friend at the farm -- TSOldtimer is headed off to magnificent adventures. Kudos to him for having the courage to journey onward and the faith that it'll turn out alright (heck, maybe even splendidly!). And fooey on him for leaving. (And his birthday is coming -- one of the birthdays I mentioned because I picked out his present this week.)

Today, after I got home from sending two birthday presents (one to my dad, one to a dear friend (part of my college brown box sisterhood) in Chicago), I applied for a different job on the farm that would put me assisting our nurse, essentially working second shift (perfect for me right now), working a more sustainable job and schedule, and joining the clinical team while still working side-by-side with my beloved resis. It's a good change, but it's also been a lot of domino-effect-type-stuff to think about -- this will affect several people (not least of which being myself) in several ways, and I feel like I don't even know the half of it yet.

Also today, I got an e-mail that said that one of the influential people of my childhood died at the age of 91. Brother John, another saint in my book, was a minister by personality who never stopped ministering (it simply wasn't in his constitution not to minister). He was one of the people who knew of my sense of call to ministry early on. He was a respected leader in the district, known for speaking the truth in love. He will be missed.

Saturday is the funeral for Mary. I'll play for it, and I find it an honor to be able to serve her and her loved ones in that way.

And I pray that next week will be a little more normal... I love the word "liminal" because I love liminal spaces... but, boy, do they take a lot of energy sometimes!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Congratulate me...

I'm officially finished with my first paper of my grad school career. And I'd forgotten how gratifying it is to say "yes, that's good" and hand over your very own creation. I love writing... why don't I do it more often?

fall's exhibitionism

I love fall around here. It's not necessarily that the colors are better (though they might be... I'm not sure). But we certainly have more trees.

My favorite is the vine that, after six months or so of living quietly and camouflaged on whatever trees and posts it can find, bursts into the brightest red I've ever seen in leaves. Suddenly, as if it's tired of being anonymous and wants a new identity, it pops out everywhere -- it quickly becomes the most prominent (and, in my opinion, beautiful) thing along the road.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Red Barn Tag Sale

The red barn has essentially been condemned. So it's a good thing that it's stacked to the rafters on the second floor with rotting furniture. It's the Walmart of junk (and every once in a while, a few treasures), so come to the Columbus day tag sale where we hope that some suckers will come and give us some money to take away our stuff. It should be a cultural experience. Now Candy doesn't have to threaten to burn it down anymore. ;)

Best quote in the last couple of days...

"Blanket generalizations are always bad."

The guy who was saying this was pissed at me and essentially yelling it... so I didn't bother to point out the obvious problem with this statement... But it did make me suppress a chuckle.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Backing up a couple steps...

I just realized that I've made a couple references to my class but I haven't "set the stage" for them yet...

I'm dipping my toes in the balmy (if a little labor-intensive) waters of seminary by taking an online class through Andover Newton Theological Seminary in Boston. It's a UCC seminary that I'm looking at as a possibility for the future.

The class is called "Shame, Guilt, and Forgiveness," it combines theology and psychology, and its four major papers are all literary analysis with emphasis on the topic of the course. The books / stories for our papers are "Revelation" (Flannery O'Connor), "The Death of Ivan Ilych", A Touch of the Poet (Eugene O'Neill), and The Scarlett Letter.

In short, it's a perfect class for me right now! I'm loving it so far, and I'm teaching anyone who is interested all about the things I'm coming across.

For example -- some defenses against shame are the following: rage, assertion of power, righteousness, perfectionism, envy, withdrawal, defeatism, and transfer of blame. One author says that shame, when confronted without resorting to these defenses, can actually be very redemptive -- so, though it's an inevitable part of being human (a result of having an infinite spirit and a finite body), it doesn't always have to be destructive, and, in fact, most religious conversion experiences have an element of resolution / redemption of shame.

Interesting, eh?

Whimsy-poem, courtesy of TSOldtimer

"Your teeth are like the stars," he said
And pressed her hand, so white.
He spoke the truth, for like the stars
Her teeth came out each night.

August and September Reading List

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (JK Rowling): A very worthy (if a tad bit cheesy) ending. I was having a hard time imagining an ending that would be true to the themes / points she was developing -- but she did it well (in my opinion). Worth reading, lots of action (sometimes too much).

"Revelation" (Flannery O'Connor): I'm hooked -- I'd been told to read stuff by her before, told that I'd like her. I just got around to it, and I loved this story! She draws great characters that end up looking ridiculous but not so ridiculous that the reader can let herself off the hook. Great, fun, hard-hitting social commentary.

Wild at Heart (John Eldredge): A book about Christian masculinity with good themes and ultimate points. I had a hard time with the battle imagery, though. That language softened as the book went on.

Shame and Guilt (Tangney and Dearing): Book one for my class. Excellent book. It ends up saying that shame (blanket judgement of the whole self) is much harder on a person than guilt (judgement of the action)... among many other interesting studies and topics.

The Death of Ivan Ilych (Leo Tolstoy): Very dark, very good. My first paper for my class is on this book. When you read it, notice the dynamics of shame -- it's quite fascinating. Don't ever read this book in January or February.

Books on Tape:
A Short History of Nearly Everything (Bill Bryson): Started out great, but I have limited tolerance for history / science books, and he ended up getting wordy and dry by the end. He does have lots of ideas of ways the world's going to end, though... And he's pretty amusing, on the whole.

Message in a Bottle (Nicholas Sparks): sappy romance, sad, not terrible writing, though nothing earth shattering.

Ethan Frome (Edith Wharton): Excellent, sad, dark, lots of stuff about shame in there... Set in a town about 20 minutes away from me. Another book not to read in January or February.

House of Mirth (Edith Wharton): I'm glad I listened to it rather than read it -- some of the descriptions got long. But on the whole, I really like her books. I'm becoming more and more of an Edith Wharton fan (I've also read Custom of the Country and Age of Innocence). More about shame and guilt in this book, too... I tell you, it's everywhere!