Tuesday, February 28, 2006


I have now, as of 29 minutes ago, gotten through to the other side of all of my responsibilities that had piled up into about a 48 hour period. Phew! It's been great, but insanely busy. And I'm glad to be done with it all and able to breathe a little bit again. Able to write.

The Whirlwind Tour of History went really very well. I believe we managed to accomplish it in about the thirty minutes we had been allotted. Somehow, I think we were able to present the highlights (we called it the framework or the touchstones) of the history of worship in a way that would really help to serve the rest of the semester together. When we get to talking about eucharist or baptism, we'll be able to say--remember when we mentioned Justin Martyr's order of worship and how he talked about the sending out of the gifts to the widows and the poor? When we get to the pieces we will want them to learn, they will have heard about it once before. I think that's going to be invaluable.

I think a huge part of the success of the lecture was being able to use powerpoint to do it. The ability to highlight (literally, on the screen before the students), the most important phrases or idea made it all the more salient. More than that, though, the art work and images that were associated with the narrative gave the presentation a depth that it would not have had otherwise. To talk about the marvel of Hagia Sophia as the 'eighth wonder of the world' is one thing--but to read the quote: "We knew not whether we were on heaven or on earth," while displaying a glorious image of the apse with the sunlight streaming streaming through in golden beams, well, that's quite another. Also, to then talk about the way the space affected the performance of worship--that scripture started to be chanted in order for the words to be carried through the vast expanse of the building, while showing a picture with the people in it utterly dwarfed by the structure, it drives the point home. Suddenly it possible to see that the space itself affects our relationships with each other and our very conception of God.

In the afternoon I led my workshop on liturgical writing. And it occured to me at the end of it that my handout for the workshop would be a great start to a book proposal on this particular method I teach. So that's kind of an interesting thing to tuck away for future consideration.

This afternoon, then, I co-led in our Course Design class a session on bell hooks's Teaching to Transgress. That went pretty well, I think. Everyone seemed to be pretty happy with it. So, good. I was a bit dissatisfied, but that's a good thing, too.

Hmmm. This is a newsy entry. Can you sense the busy-ness of it all? I have more to write, but I need to getter dinner along!

Life is good.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

'round and 'round we go

Things seem to be moving along at breakneck pace these days. Remember those merry-go-'round things on kids' playgrounds back in the seventies? We would pile on to them, some in the center, some around the edges, and one or more kids would grab hold of one of the bars and start pushing it as they ran around the circle as fast as possible? If you were one of the runners, you'd have to jump on as soon as you got it up to top speed. Then feel the centrifugal force trying to pull you right off again. Wow, I loved those things. I'd ride 'em so much, especially if they had one at a playground where we were camping, that I'd lie in my bed at night and still feel the spinning going on and on and on.

That's about how things are feeling now, too.

Today I got to go see Sweet Honey in the Rock with E's class! They had a field trip on to the campus of our University to see the concert which was especially for children. After the mile-long walk through the city to get to campus, we waited out in front of the theater for a bit. I think the whole city was there, all elementary-aged kids! We had arrived a good bit early, so sat in the theater full of the hum, okay, the cacophony of kids' voices.

I am still lucky enough that my kid enjoys sitting next to me in public. After sitting for ten or fifteen minutes in this hugely loud space, I felt like I could see him begin to fade. And I think I was doing so myself after a bit. What I think I noticed is that we both ended up getting completely full-up with sound before the event even began! We live in such a quiet home, the three of us. And E and I take so much in, all the time. It was all just a little too much.

Not in any terrible way. And we did enjoy the performance. Of course. But it was an interesting thing to notice, getting all full up.

Tonight, another noisy event. The kids at E's school are performing to celebrate Black History Month. E's class has co-written a song about Rosa Parks! Should be great fun.

Monday, February 20, 2006


Oh! How could I have forgotten?! E just smiled at me and I was reminded--he lost a tooth yesterday!!! His third lost tooth, but his first one in over a year! Wihoo!

How to Tell the History of Worship (in Thirty Minutes or Less!)

There was a certain meanness to the spirit of E's cold last week, expressed most tangibly in his bout with croup on Tuesday night. I felt pretty sure I'd be coming down with it, too. It just had that character about it--not satisfied 'til it made as many people miserable as possible. :) I was right.

I laid low on Friday and Saturday and thought it would be a pretty mild case, but all I needed was the busyness of Sunday to cause the cold to rear up in all its ugliness. And now, I'm spent. Damn.

D's parents arrive tonight and we're all really looking forward to the visit. I'm hoping if I drink lots and lots of water through my day, then I'll drown the cold right out of me. They're stopping off here only for a couple days, on their way to Hawaii, and I desperately do not want to pass this miserable thing off to them, too.

For the past few days, as I've been laying low, I have been working on putting together my part of a Whirlwind Tour of the History of Christian Worship for our Intro to Worship Course. What a project! I have about six segments that I'm working on, and my colleague is working on another six or so. We have thirty minutes to do the entire presentation, which we plan to do using powerpoint. If you break it down in to minutes per segment, you can see we have to be extremely efficient.

There is always some violence, in some ways, to doing history. So much gets lopped off, in order to present some continuous narrative of events. The question is always--who is included? who is excluded? (I think that's a singular question, as both are asked simulataneously.)

Most often the history of worship is told from a) the perspective of a "liturgical" tradition, whether Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, or Lutheran and b) a Euro-centric persopective.

Our challenge, in our thirty minutes whirlwind tour, is to give a comprehensible sweep of the history of Christian worship that a) extends into the development of free-church, frontier, evangelical, revivalist worshiping traditions and b) includes the telling of segments of history of Christian worship in India (traditionally going back to Saint Thomas in 52!), Korea, and the Pacific Islands (both 19th century missionary sites).

So, no problem, right? :) In fact, I find it very exciting, if challenging. And we'll see if we can pull it off. I'll let you know . . .

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Home Life

It hardly seems possible, but E is home again with another bad cold. He managed to drag himself off to school on Valentines Day. (I would have been so sad for him to miss the fun at school that day!) But we've kept him home since then.

Tuesday night he woke up with a bout of croup of all things! He's nearly eight years old, but every now and then he still gets that awful dry bark and wheeze. We ended up taking him out on the porch at 3 am to breathe in the cool, damp air.

So now a day of being Mom and student again. :) Attempting to make progress on comps while Looney Tunes drones on in the background.

I think I can. I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Getting Out of the Way

"What we teachers can finally give to our students is to show them that we are not what they are seeking, nor what they need. As we resist their desires, we can best enable them to reach for something different from what we have, or something else that might even be something more."
Stephen H. Webb, "The Voice of Theology: Rethinking the Personal and the Objective in Christian Pedagogy" in Journal of the American Academy of Religion 65.4 (Fall 1997): 779.

I read this just a little while ago as I prepare for my class this afternoon on pedagogy. I am fascinated by the quote, by its almost shimmering quality, and by its implied critique of many pedagogical practices.

I read Webb's article in the midst of several in the same issue of that journal, all reflecting in various ways on pedagogy in religious studies, especially interacting with various commitments of feminist pedagogy (or pedagogies, why should we ever refer to multiple things in the singular?). It's evident to me that the authors were struggling with redefining concepts of personal versus public space: Is the classroom, and perhaps the religious studies (or humanities) classroom a personal or a public space?

The conclusion, for the most part, seemed to be that it is a unique merger of the two. And the pedagogical task, from feminist perspectives, seems to be to draw on that merger rather than seek to suppress it in favor of some "objective" ideal. Students will and must bring the fullness of their personal experiences to the subject in order for them to engage with it. At the same time, teachers must cultivate the space to allow for these personal experiences to be given voice. More, the teacher must be willing to share her own personal experience as one way of cultivating space.

She must be fully present, in other words. And yet, somehow, not there at all. This is how Webb's quote shimmers for me.

Now I suddenly see teaching and liturgical leadership related in ways I never noticed before. Two things come to mind immediately.

The summer prior to entering seminary, I attended a conference as a ministry fellow of The Fund for Theological Education. The acclaimed preacher Barbara Brown Taylor spoke at the opening convocation, developing the idea of the preacher as icon--the window through which others are opened into the Divine. The icon is never the thing itself. And yet it matters, inasmuch as it reveals the thing itself. In order to live into becoming an icon, the preacher must be fully present. Fully there. And yet, somehow, not there at all.

While in seminary, I had the utmost privilege of being trained as a liturgical leader by Gordon Lathrop. I have no single quote that sums up what I learned from him in connection to this idea, but I know it has something to do with wearing the alb as a liturgical leader. Gordon describes the alb as being the baptismal garb that one wears on behalf of the baptized assembly. It is not a distinguishing mark, not one announcing status (as the academic robe worn by ministers in my own free-church tradition tends now to be). Rather, it is the ultimate equalizer. It is the clothing of "neither slave nor free, male nor female." It is the alb that assists the liturgical leader in being fully present. And yet, somehow, not there at all.

Because there is someone wearing the alb, after all.

Gordon had us read Robert W. Hovda's book Strong, Loving and Wise: Presiding in Liturgy. Here, Hovda reflects on the notion of presence and how it requires the spiritual art of being oneself. He writes: "At one time--a time this author remembers well--it was popularly considered desirable for the one presiding to be as anonymous as possible. The less oneself that showed through, the better. The ideal was pretty much an obliteration of self in liturgical celebration, if that isn't putting it too crudely."

Hovda acknowledges the impossibility (and futility and even costliness) of anonymity. "We can't escape ourselves at any time, especially when we are exercising a function of leadership. Only the one who recognizes the futility of the effort to be anonymous and is without illusions will be effective in minimizing individual idiosyncracies and peculiarities for the sake of the social event."

Finally, I'll quote generously from Hovda's conclusion regarding liturgical leadership and presence:

Part of one's service to the assembly as presider is to be willing to present oneself to the whole group, consenting to be a focal point in the action being in constant communication with the other ministers and the entire assembly through eye contact, gesture, body posture and movement, as well as word. The self-centered person, the ecclesiastical prince, the person who is out for privileges and status is opaque in this role. If, however, the presider is close to and part of the lives of all in the faith comunity, one of the people, clearly the servant of all, there there is the possibility of being transparent to the presence and action of [the Divine]. But it is a transparency that is accomplished, not with an anonymous persona, but with oneself.

So, when one functions as a presider or other minister, it is the whole person, the real person, the true person, the full and complete person who functions. It is you God calls through the church. God wants no sacred alias, no pulpit tone, nor does the church.

It is rather a pardox, isn't it? Being fully present in order to be tansparent to the presence and action of the Divine.

I am delighted with this connection that I see now between teaching and liturgical leadership. And even as I write this, I begin to suspect that the connections might be made all over the place. My spiritual director often told me it was his purpose to "get out of the way" when we met, in order for me to see my relationship with the Divine more clearly. And what of parenting? And being in love?

Which is to say, I suppose, Happy Valentine's Day.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Home is Where You're Going

I guess it's just the oddity of being me, (we're all quite odd, you know?), but the same day I received my delightful little package from Method, I also received another pretty amazing package in the mail. It was a banner day for mail call, I suppose. Now, why I chose to write about the Method package first, I don't know exactly. Except that it's the oddity of being me. Anyway, I'll write about it now.

On Friday, I received in the mail a copy of a book which contains an essay that I wrote. It's called Home is Where You're Going: Crossing Borders and Risking Solidarity through Women's Studies. And my little essay was adapted from a sermon I preached while serving as a chaplain at the Oregon Extension Women's Studies May Term a few years ago. (The book emerged from this program.)

More time has passed between the writing of this essay and it's publication in the book than any other piece I've published before. That means, to some degree, that it feels less mine. I wouldn't write it today exactly the way it's published now. (And I have this inescapable fear that mine will be the essay where everyone writes vociferously in the margins: "No!" and "Wrong!")

Nonetheless, the book exists. And there I sit in the table of contents along with some amazing women, including bell hooks, Denise Levertov, Carter Heyward, and others. I guess that's pretty cool.

Friday, February 10, 2006

People Against Dirty Unite!

Apparently I've finally discovered something I can be unabashedly evangelical about. And, in a funny little way, I have RevGalBlogPal's to thank! Some weeks ago, the Friday Meme was on the subject of housecleaning. While I didn't participate in this particular meme, it did get me to thinking about one of my most joyous recent discoveries - Method! While I was still considering if I'd play the meme on housecleaning, I wandered over to the Method website. And I saw there an invitation to consider being a Method Advocate.

Given that I'd already turned one friend on to Method, and sung Method's glories to several others, I figured why not?!! So I filled out a little form with my contact info, and wrote my testimony about how great a thing Method is. A few days later I received a note back from their "marketing influencer" (Her actual title. I love it.) thanking me for my interest and passion for Method. But then I never heard anything else.

Until, dear Reader, today! Today I received a little package in the mail with five samplers of Method products for me to hand out to my neighbors and friends. And. . . ready? . . . a t-shirt! On the front it says "method" and on the back, "people against dirty." It's the cute, girly cut t-shirt where the size "large" is, hmm, form-fitting, shall we say? But I love it! A gift!

So what is Method? It's a series of cleaning products for the home that completely re-imagines what cleaning products can be. All of the products are "green"--you know, not the color (though some are also that) but environmentally green. So when you use them, you are not toxifying your home! (Why is this so revolutionary?) They also use natural scents, not the smells of bleach or "pine" or "lemon" (which I guess used to be natural). Rather, Method's scents are cucumber, lavendar, grapefruit, mandarin orange, mint, eucalyptus, and others.

All of these things are great, but don't amount to anything if they don't do what they say they will, namely, clean! But they do! My first test for Method was to use it to tackle the grime that had worked itself into the grout of my kitchen table. It worked fabulously. And I've never been disappointed since.

We use Method products to clean the kitchen, the bathroom, and to do our laundry. And there are more products coming out all the time. We haven't gotten to all of them yet. Everything from hand soap to stainless steel cleaner.

One last thing I love about Method is their advertising copy. It's hilarious. Maybe it's because I grew up with a Dad who worked in commercial art, but I have a huge appreciation for great marketing and well-written copy. Here's an example--this is on the back of the eucalyptus-mint scented bathroom surface flushable wipes:
"Ever feel like certain people using your toilet could use a litte . . . coaching? Practice? Aim? What about some handy-dandy toilet wipes? That's where method comes in . Set this hardworking little package of wipes near the bowl, and you (or, ahem, he) can wipe and flush at any moment for an instant clean. Even better, these wipes are biodegradable, without toxins or toxic fumes to pollute your bathroom. . . . And with the eucalyptus mint scent, they smell like spa. Yes, like spa."
Oh, and did I mention, Method is available at Target and drugstore.com? Or you can order this nifty starter set directly from their website.


I am giving thanks for LutheranChik today. I was scrolling through her abundant links this morning and came across one that I used to visit regularly. Somewhere along the way I stopped, then forgot the correct address. The site is called Sacred Space. It's produced by the Irish Jesuits and uses Ignatian spiritual practices to guide you through a time of daily prayer based on the Scripture for the day.

For those of you who are interested in children and worship, I noticed they have a version available for kids, too.

The other day I was wondering to myself--why have I not found another spiritual director????

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Obscenity and the Cross

I received a letter from my friend R the other day. In his letter, R was reflecting on a number of things that really sparked my interest. R is a writer and he was raising questions about morality, especially as it weighs on his work as a writer. He wrote to me:
My writing is irreverent, and at times that I feel are necessary, it is what some would call obscene or even pornographic. The moral question comes up often as I go through the manuscript now, but I feel the rest of the weight fall from me when I decide to let it stand as it is. The simple explanation is that I write about people and how they interact, and to explore this fully, no stone can be left unturned.
Part of R's questions were arising from interacting with me as a person of faith, who lives much of her life in the world of the Church. R grew up Catholic, he wrote, and realized long ago "that my rejection of the Catholic Church should never be misplaced on Jesus himself, nor should my rejection of the common misuse of Jesus." The universe of R's concerns seemed to revolve around the following words: Christianity, morality, ethics, obscenity or pornography, the individual, and writing. I am interested in these words as well. And found myself weaving them into the following reflections which I wrote in my response to R. I share them with you now with R's generous blessing . . .

I think I see the concern about morality to be more individualistic and ethics to be more communally oriented. I think the concern about morality is overrated and a cop-out, especially among religiously-minded folks who cannot face the larger issues of dealing with social injustices. Too many Christians (way, way too many) are so deeply concerned about their own sins (moral questions) that they are blinded to systemic Sin that keeps the poor, poor; the hungry, hungry; the uneducated, uneducated; women, silent; and suffering, invisible.

As a writer, the occasional necessity to include scenes that may be deemed obscene or pornographic reminds me of Milan Kundera's Unbearable Lightness of Being. In this novel, there is a character named Sabina who is a painter. Living in communist Czechoslovakia, Sabina is forbidden from painting anything abstractly. Only realism is allowed. ("Art that was not realistic was said to sap the foundations of socialism.") But she subverts this in a series of paintings she calls "Behind the Scenes." It happened quite by accident the first time. Sabina says:
'Here is a painting I happened to drip red paint on. At first, I was terribly upset, but then I started enjoying it. The trickle looked like a crack; it turned the building site into a battered old backdrop, a backdrop with a building site painted on it. I began playing with the crack, filling it out, wondering what might be visible behind it. And that's how I began my first cycle of paintings. I called it, "Behind the Scenes." Of course, I couldn't show them to anybody. I'd have been kicked out of the Academy. On the surface, there was always an impeccably realistic world, but underneath, behind the backdrop's cracked canvas, lurked something different, something mysterious or abstract.'

After pausing for a moment, she added, 'On the surface, an intelligible lie; underneath, the unintelligible truth.'

For me, morality is the intelligible lie. It is the depiction of the world as an ordered world. A place for everything and everything in its place. Nothing more intelligible than that.

And this is why obscenity becomes like the splash of red paint on the ordered world. it is the unintelligible truth.

I see the cross of Jesus in much the same way. What is more obscene, even pornographic, than the murder of the God-Human set out like a spectacle on the hill, with people jeering all around? All in an attempt by an imperialist government to show its power and might. Nothing ran quite so efficiently as the Roman Death Machine. Crucifixions were a dime a dozen. It was all quite well-ordered. It was the most intelligible lie.

But the God-Human's spectacular death was the splash of red that made the ordered world only a backdrop. The God-Human's refusal to meet violence with violence, order with order, is the utterly unintelligible truth.

Christians have been trying to tame that truth nearly since the beginning. Mel Gibson's Passion is one of the latest, most obvious attempts. His depiction of the cross is pure pornography in its most unredemptive sense. He focuses on the red paint out of context of the rest of the painting. And this suggests a wholly different intelligible lie in which violence itself seems to be redemptive. Personal morality once again reigns supreme. God submits to murder because violent sacrifice is the way to restore order.

Despite Gibson's massive failure, I believe the artist/writer and the theologian have very similar tasks: to be willing to drip the red paint on the ordered world. This means opening oneself up to the reality of the obscene, the pornographic. And, no less so, to the beautiful.

The beautiful is as much the splash of red paint as the obscene. The beautiful disrupts, disturbs into meaning. I don't quite understand it yet, (may never), but I think it's for this reason that the cross, in all its obscenity, is also beautiful.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Children & Worship, Part 2

Thank you to the wonderful people who have responded, in comments and some friends by email, to my questions about kids in worship.

Right now I see two things that are really standing out for me about this. One is the importance of having a rich, multilayered, symbolic worship service that engages people on many levels. One friend pointed out to me how verbal White, protestant, free-church worship tends to be. So many words flying over the heads of kids. While our service on Sunday certainly offered a variety of musical pieces, it was nonetheless extremely verbal. I suddenly have in my head the droning wah-wah-wah of the adult voices in Charlie Brown cartoons. Is that how worship sounds to our kids?

The other thing that stands out currently is the importance of having adults model for children the worship behavior they expect. I thought of this after writing my last entry--as I considered how moving it was to see parents lifting their children to kiss the icons in the Russian Orthodox Church. How do parents lift up children, metaphorically speaking, in our church?

For a couple years, when E was quite small, I used to set him up on top of the pew seat when it came time to stand for prayers, singing, and eucharist (in my Lutheran Seminary worship services). This gave him a much better vantage point than being huddled behind the back of another pew.

I think what I'm dancing around here has to do with participatory worship altogether. I've been reading bell hooks "Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom" and see some correlation between the academic, classroom environment and the church environment. At one point she writes: "Nowadays, there are times when students resist sitting in a circle. They devalue that shift, because fundamentally, they don't want to be participants." I immediately connected this to my church context where many folks protest worshipping in a round (though we have the flexibility to do so).

I think what I'm asking is--how do adults' and/or parents' own expectations about participation (or nonparticipation) in worship ineluctably shape the children's expectations as well? Do we care enough about worship in our own lives to even ask that our children care, too?

Finally, I am struggling with one more piece. A couple folks commented in my last post about children serving as leaders in worship--and what a powerful and inclusive experience this is for them. Recently, I have started to face another question about this: in a tradition that practices adult or believers' baptism, what is the proper role of children as liturgical leaders? That is, we do not have the expectation that children believe any of this stuff yet. Occasionally I think, well, yes, but they're our catachumens. But are they really? I'm not sure. Even catechumens are enrolled.

Do you see where my struggle lies? If a child has not yet been baptized and has not expressed any interest to be baptized, then are we making them to say and do things that are not yet theirs? Does this essentially amount to being a form of ritual coercion? (I want to be clear that I do not believe there is even a little sense of coercion for traditions that do baptize infants and children. This is really a tradition-specific question.)

Monday, February 06, 2006

Children & Worship

Yesterday was a frustrating morning for me at church. One of my roles at church is teaching "worship skills" to kids in our congregation as part of our Wednesday evening program. This is the first year that I've been doing this and I've really had to grow into the role.

The kids range in age from six to nearly thirteen. Quite a range, too, in attention span, energy level, and ability (or desire) to engage in conversation. It's been a huge challenge for me (perhaps too much of one) trying to teach to children what I'm also studying on a PhD level (as well as teaching on an MDiv level, too)!

I've tried numerous approaches. Everything from talking about worship, to doing worship together, to learning songs, to preparing for leadership roles in the service, to taking a 'tour' of the sanctuary and identifying different 'artifacts' of worship. While the Fall Semester was really focused on preparing the kids for various leadership roles (participating as leaders in litanies or singing as a choir), I thought for this semester I would concentrate more on actually worshipping together. Experiential learning.

Yesterday morning, though, I sat in a row with four of the kids who are a part of the group I teach on Wednesdays. One of these kids was my own. Three of the four (including my own) occupied themselves by either drawing, working on the puzzles in the children's bulletin, or knitting (or, more accurately, untangling and rolling a ball of yarn) for the entire hour. Near the back of the sanctuary, there were a number of other kids who were rambunctious and generally doing their own thing.

It was clear to me that the kids were seeing worship as a time they needed to endure--not something that required their presence and participation in order for the Body of Christ to be complete. The worship service was full of different experiences--not a flat service, but one that offered various musical 'styles', prayers, a children's sermon, and communion.

I felt really discouraged yesterday. I don't know how to help kids see worship as something they can engage. I feel as though we've been kidding ourselves by thinking we include kids in worship because we put them up front and ask them to perform as leaders once a month. While I see the value in providing leadership opportunities for children, it simply can't be enough. There has to be something more.

A couple years ago I visited a Russian Orthodox Church. I was deeply moved to see the way children were integrated seamlessly into the worshipping experience there. As is typical in Orthodox worship, people arrive throughout the duration of the service. When someone arrives, there is a series of ritual activities that s/he performs, like moving about the space kissing icons. It was beautiful to me to watch parents arrive with their children and lift their children up to kiss each icon. The children also knew their responses to litanies (as they're repeated each week). And during communion, there were a boy and a girl, both no older than ten years old, who were stationed by the wine (warmed with water) and the blessed bread (different from the consecrated bread). The presence of these children mattered. Not one was given a bulletin of Bible-based puzzles, or shuffled off to make crafts in the middle of the service. Nor were they given their own mini-sermon/object lesson. And each one of them was communed.

In such a ritually complex environment, it seems children are drawn inexorably into the experience. But in the more spare, familial, and informal environment of our free-church worship, what do we have to draw kids in?

I'd love your comments, insights or commiserations on this topic.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Seeing Mom

I took Mom to the airport yesterday morning while E was still watching morning cartoons. Goodbyes are hard for him. (Who finds them easy?) I think he wanted to pretend, in some way, like nothing was different. But he'll miss Mommom a lot. And I'll miss her, too. [E just said, "Saying goodbye to Mommom sure does leave a stain in the hankie of life."]

Mom really just stepped into the rhythm of things here--which was great because there was lots going on. Monday morning she came to the first day of class with me. Although I didn't have a large role in the beginning session, it felt like such a privilege to have her there. She's seen me in my church role, preaching and leading worship. But never in my academic role. I was really glad to be able to share that piece with her.

I grew up in a house where we teased my Mom a lot. (Until the day she finally put her foot down about it. Though it was pretty late in the game.) I remember one of the more common things we'd say was that Mom couldn't 'walk and chew gum at the same time.' We used to laugh at how she'd get distracted, or lose focus if too many things were going on around the house.

Mom didn't start working full-time outside of the house until I was older. (Don't know how old.) One day I went to work with her. She was working as a school secretary for an Alternative High School--the last stop for kids before they were institutionalized or sent to prison.

I'll never forget how blown away I was by the millions of things my Mom was doing all at once. I felt ashamed that, although I thought we'd only ever been teasing, somehow I'd come to believe that Mom couldn't walk and chew gum at the same time. Up until that point as a child, I hadn't realized just how destructive this kind of teasing was. I woke up that day to see my Mom was the most competent, strong, professional, amazing woman I'd ever known.

Growing up through the seventies, I feel like I was a part of a generation who saw their moms go through the turbulent experience of coming into their own. This was an incredible privilege for me to see in my own family. And I'll always be proud of my mother's journey.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

On the go

My mom's visit and the start of the new semester have kept me quite occupied these last few days. Today, Mom's last day with us, we're heading out for a little day trip. Should be a great time.

The semester is starting off wonderfully. Should be a good year. I'm hoping the fullness of it will somehow help to focus me more, so the exams happen smoothly in the midst of it.

Will write more in a day or so when things slow down here a bit.