Saturday, November 25, 2006

Friday Five - Shopping? Christmas??

So this is a "Black Friday" Five (aka Buy Nothing Day) in honor of the busiest shopping day of the year:

1. Would you ever/have you ever stood in line for something--tickets, good deals on electronics, Tickle Me Elmo?
I stood in line to get in to the Vatican one very rainy January day. Got run over by elderly Italian ladies with large purses and larger umbrellas. Worth it, though.

2. Do you enjoy shopping as a recreational activity?
Shopping has its moments. I prefer to think of it as occasional retail therapy, rather than a recreational activity. But for shopping to be therapeutic, one needs to distinguish between "shopping" and "buying." Shopping is an exercise in imagination and a displacement of anger, irritation and angst upon an inanimate object. Buying exercises the credit cards - in my case, they're already buff.

3. Your favorite place to browse without necessarily buying anything.
I love Pier 1, Williams-Sonoma, Trader Joe's.

4. Gift cards: handy gifts for the loved one who has everything, or cold impersonal symbol of all that is wrong in our culture?
Neither (please - do gift cards have to be symbolic of laziness or lack of caring?) How about this - gift cards are a supplement so that teenagers can get what they want from the store where you want them to buy.

5. Discuss the spiritual and theological issues inherent in people coming to blows over a
Playstation 3.
No clue. The closest I ever came was a five day crawl through the malls of Los Angeles looking for the right Cabbage Patch doll (that dates me :)) In the end, we settled for a different doll and years of therapy.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Friday Five - Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving this year will be different. My dad died last week. Not that we've always had Thanksgiving together - far from it. But I always knew that somewhere, Dad was eating turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie - no giblets, that would be gross. So I'm taking seriously this year the biblical admonition to give thanks in all things, even in the death of a much loved and loving parent. What am I thankful for this year? Here goes -

1. I'm thankful for my dad, for all the years of his life, for his love, for his care, for his bad jokes, for his sweaters worn for way too many years, for his daily 7am phone calls, for his self-appointed family position as first responder.

2. I'm thankful for the gift of life, made more precious by the presence of death.

3. I'm thankful for the gift of my family - even when they drive me nuts.

4. I'm thankful for the gift of my family of faith - even when they drive me nuts.

5. I'm thankful for the gift of faith. I'm thankful that even such faith as mine, too often the size of mustard seed - was enough that I could stand at my father's casket and say with truth - I believe.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Friday Five 11-10

Those of us who are in the United States have just been through quite a topsy-turvy election. During the campaign we heard a fair amount about red states and blue states, when in fact most of us live in some shade of purple. And so... a lighter look at those confounding colors:

1. Favorite red food
strawberry shortcake - hands down

2. Tell us about the bluest body of water you've ever seen in person.
the Pacific Ocean off Point Dume - the sky and the sea are so blue it almost hurts

3. It's movie rental time: Blue Planet, The Color Purple, or Crimson Tide?
Crimson Tide - very, very hot (can I say red-hot?)

4. What has you seeing red these days?
must remain calm, must remain calm

5. What or who picks you up when you're feeling blue?
a good brainless novel
a great walk on the towpaths
my handsome, irresistible world's nicest guy
and not necessarily - or even possibly - in that order

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

pastoral care from the other side of the bed

Have been absent from the blogosphere due to a blessed wedding - our gorgeous daughter was married to the world's second nicest guy (in line right after her handsome and irresistable father.) What a wonderful, glorious day - worth every effort and every penny expended.

Have been absent also due to the great sadness of my father's very slow and labored passing. He made it to the wedding through an effort of sheer will, but it took pretty much everything he had. His breath is barely there now, and we are in prayer that God will carry him home soon and very soon.

How odd it has been to experience pastoral care from the other side of the bed. I've been doing this for a lot of years now - I had forgotten what it was to receive care rather than give it. Staunch Reformed theologian that I am, lifelong Presbyterian, child of two Presbyterian elders, and Scots to boot, my father is dying in a wonderful, lovely Catholic-to-the-core hospital, tended by a Catholic hospice organization and a core of Catholic doctors. He has been anointed, incensed (the smelly kind, not the emotional sort), blessed and re-blessed, and prayed for well and thoroughly. It's been good overall - wonderful caring people who are sincere and humble in their prayer ministry to my father.

I just wish the nuns wouldn't talk so much. I appreciate now more than ever the wisdom of all those pastoral care books that said "less is definitely more" when standing by the bed of a dying person. To listen to his breath coming more slowly all the time is to experience the blessing of God's own breath, the Holy Spirit present and softly weaving my father into the fabric of the church triumphant. To sit and be anointed by the Spirit of peace and comfort in that room in the silence is enough, at least for me now in this time and place.

To all those who will sit this day, this week, this year, with a family like mine, I give my heartfelt thanks and blessing and one tiny whisper of a thought - "Shhhh....."