Thursday, August 31, 2006
Going to a community worship service with long-time friends helped. The preacher, an Episcopalian, preached a powerful and appropriate sermon. As Rev. Hound Dawg said, "I know I can count on the Episcopalians to get it right". He meant that we would'nt be forced to listen to an explanation of WHY the Hurricane destroyed our land, homes and people.
Sitting with my brothers and sisters, I felt nascent hope for our future along with joy that we shared faith through the year past.
After all the sorrows, I want to thank you, RevGalBlogPals.
You prayed for us, sent books, wrote emails, made phone calls and Songbird came to see us. Cheesehead offered to room with me for a week at the G.A. You wrote devotions for Advent and dedicated the book to me then gave the sale proceeds to disaster relief. Others of you came to tear out damaged sheet rock, move debris and hold our hands at work camps around the Coast. You are the power of friendship in my life.
Life goes on in a sweet way. Consider yourself hugged and smooched.
I thank God for all of you. I feel your prayers on bad days. I enjoy your humor all the time and I know I can call on you if I need you.
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Dear Pastor of Many Colors,
You are our new Best Friend for sending us the great Birthday Gifts! However, I do have a question for you. Aren't these breff mints for my brother? I do not think I have bad breff but I am SURE that Fish the Cat has terrible Cat Breff. I ate one of the Pit'r Pat candies and would like another but our Mom says we can only have "one at a time".
You meant these for Fish didn't you?
Whistle the Cat
We drove over to N.O. for a building expo thing to see what is offered for re-building after Katrina. With so much commercial, civic and private property destroyed, now is a good time to use new tech building materials.
Nagin was standing on the curb of the exhibit hall waiting to be picked up by a big black vehicle. We passed so quickly I couldn't identify his ride and thought it might be a mighty Hummer. We saw several Hummers decked out with satellite equiptment and other big stuff.
In the exhibit, I spoke with an interesting German engineer to explained that the Hamburg area floods, gets hurricane-like storms and that his firm designs barriers, etc. to protect the ports and river areas. Every time I speak with a European, I get angry because I'm limited by my English. It doesn't matter that over my life I've studied French, Spanish and German. I'm still a Southern English speaker with no bi-lingual skills.
Many exhibitors displayed wood built home proto-types. Who wants to build stick construction in an area with monstrous wind? Who wants to cope with mold, mildew and the Formosan termite when newer materials can solve all of these problems? I don't want wood anything except as decorative material . I looked at crown molding done in some form of plastic so I don't even want wood crown molding anymore. We have the wood molding in our home now but if I build a home, I'll be gluing plastic molding up.
Seeing the big exhibit hall filled with bright displays reminded me that re-building is Big Bidness and that everyone from everywhere wants a piece of the action.
The Australian Government had a display area in hopes of attracting bidness.
Everyone comes to the Disaster Area wanting to sell or do something. We'll see.
I filled my exhibit bag with free pens, compasses, candy, note pads and a flashlight. My children taught me how to grab freebies at conventions.
One of my favorite conversations happened with an exhibitor from San Diego who launched into a speech about how fabulous Mississippians are with our resilience, hard work and great attitudes. We inspired those who came to help us. The entire country thinks we are the greatest. I thanked him profusely and tried to move him away from comparisons with New Orleans people. Our situations are different, no need to be stinky about it.
Eventually, I dragged LH away from the excitement and we had dinner with charming people from Vermont and Alabama at a very good restaurant. I ate dessert to keep my strength up for the Anniversary.
The Anniversary is today.
Monday, August 28, 2006
Look! We Have Gifts Presents Treats Toys! It's OUR BIRTHDAY!!!
Many Colors Pastor and OK by Us sent us presents!!!! First picture is us looking at a thing like a mouse that moves by itself, makes noises and we-don't-know-exactly-what! Second and third pictures are Fish who said, "What is it???" He's wearing his blue collar with the sterling fish charm. Our Mom does this kind of thing to us, makes us wear bells, collars and sterling.....
Fourth picture is of a BOX WITH CRINKLY PAPER AND BALLS TO CARRY AROUND.
Our party is this afternoon! We get cat treats! The P.P. Puppy and Andy get presents, too!
Our Mom is rather impressed we received gifts. Our Aunt K. over the water sent our Mom something about us, too.
No longer kittens,
Whistle and Fish
Sunday, August 27, 2006
Monday, August 21, 2006
Sunday, August 20, 2006
Sunday morning before sunrise here in the Pine Grove. Only the pets and I are awake. Kitty kibbles served, water lapped up and sounds of purring begin the morning. I'm drinking coffee while staring out the french doors of my study. I'd like to be thinking deep thoughts about the worship service later in the morning but instead I'm counting my blessings.
My recent post upset some and made the rest of you worry about me. What I meant to tell you is that my pastoral "wall" is damaged. I've had this happen before but never had my sensitivities to other's sorrows last as long as this time. God will help me heal and renew the "wall"
Pouring ourselves out without boundaries sounds good and loving but isn't as far as I can tell.
People come to me for help for themselves, not to hear my stuff or watch me get overwhelmed.
Quiet time alone in prayer and reflection helps. I've spent time with LH talking. I cleaned out the pantry. I read several Psalms over and over again. I talked with LLS. All these things help and because I told you, I'll pay more attention to my healing.
Grace is what God does for us that we cannot do for ourselves. Peace is hearing God in the stillness despite the situation around us. (I know grace and peace are larger concepts than one sentence! I'm saving my world-shattering insights for the book...)
Light is breaking slowly outside. I'm waking up. The kittens ran back to our bedroom to stare at LH. P.P. Puppy snorted. I'm thinking about worship and the ordination I'll attend this afternoon. I pray for the young ordinand and recall my ordination years ago.
Grace and Peace to you,
Thursday, August 17, 2006
When I think about the one year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, it's easier for me to write blog entries about the kittens. I dread the anniversary date. I don't think I'm healed "enough" so I wonder if something is wrong with me.
This is how I feel:
"Grief, pain, misery, torture, trauma, anybody's became as real for her as her own. Her suffering was boundless and so was everyone else's , and it merged and melded like a torrent without clear origin but with immeasurable power. To hear about suffering no longer meant merely bearing witness to it, but literally bearing it, and she found herself physically incapable of bearing too much of it on any one day."
---The Passion of Reverend Nash, Rachel Basch. 2003. Norton
I'm tired of being like this. I wish I had the inner strength I felt before the Storm. Assuming I get the "inner strength feeling thing" back, it will be different, I know.
I want a familiar interior life again.
The word on the street is NBC's renting of 81 hotel rooms at the IP for the Anniversary.
We will be covered in national and international media on and around August 29.
People died. Homes were blown away. Business stopped. Schools closed.
In hot, sticky weather, people came out of their shelter to clean up fallen trees, building debris and the drowned dead.
Mr. C grew up here. He remembers walking from his home to his Aunt's home crawling over piles of storm rubble. As he approached her street, he saw that her home was gone. He climbed over piles in the road and, looking up, saw a man high in the branches of a lone tree. The man lashed himself to the tree to keep from being pulled by the storm surge. When he saw Mr. C, he hollered out, "Do you have a cigarette?"
My former Garden Club holds a service remembering Faith, Hope and Charity, the three unnamed, unclaimed still, women found after the storm. Our former Civil Defense Director, Wade Guice, placed a headstone on the grave. The service is held under a green funeral tent in the swelter of an August day. Members of the Garden Club attend along with a reporter and perhaps the television station. After so many years, the service got smaller and smaller.
I haven't heard about this year's service.
Camille set the standard for which homes were safe in a storm. If your home survived Camille, you were doing great. Camille was the worst storm anyone knew.
Then August 29th came to the Gulf of Mexico. People who felt safe in a Camille-surviving-home perished when Katrina blew in.
People say Camille killed again in 2005 by giving people a sense of safety. Who knew? The human mind can hold only so much imagination for where water can go. We live in a 100 Year Flood area and our neighborhood lost home after home to wind and water.
Still unclaimed are the identities of Faith, Hope and Love, the Camille symbols of death. Unclaimed, too, are the dead of Katrina whose real names and families are not yet found.
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
Thank you for letting me understand homelessness,
living without power, without television ,
without cool air in the heat.
Thank you for letting me understand hunger,
the pleasure of dry clean clothes
and the relief of place to sleep.
Thank you for letting me understand
the deep and overwhelming sadness when forces,
beyond our personal control,
take the loved, the familiar, the usual.
Thank you for my needfulness
andThank you for my newfound empathy
for those were homeless before the storm and homeless now,
for those hungry anywhere,
for those in need everywhere.
Thank you for the opportunity
you provided to help my neighbor,
to be my brother’s keeper,
to serve food, to patch roofs, to clear yards,
and to start mending that which was broken.
Thank you for the chance to change ourselves,
from a reprieve from the normal commercial day,
for teaching us to make do, to get by, to improvise,
for drowning our conceit, complacency, callousness
for silencing the noise ,
for stopping the clock,
and for the chance to act our best when the worst occurred.
Thank you for the people who reached in pulled out the living,
cradled the dead, comforted the broken and torn apart,
wept for the splintered and uprooted.
Thank you for the people who didn’t wait
who came right away, who opened their homes,
who emptied their shelves, their closets,
who cleaned, fed , healed, held us,
who told us our spirit was amazing,and who keep on coming.
Thank you for people who measure
their faith by their actions,
and measure their action
by its consistency with their faith.
Thank you for all the people we have met,
who are new friends, new loved ones,
new brothers and sisters, new neighbors.
Thank you Katrina.
Not for wind,not for water, but for the appreciation
of the things no storm can shatter,
no water can wash away,
no wind can move.
---Written by R. and Mr. C
If you wish the correct attribution, email me and I will respond.
Monday, August 14, 2006
My wee church is moving forward step by step into the community. Our ties with presbytery grow. Our new presbytery ex. asked if he could come preach for the congregation. We are thrilled. The previous ex. didn't know we existed despite our proximity to his home. Elders are attending presbytery events and discussing the issues there.
I enjoy church redevelopment very much. I love the work I'm called to do. I've seen my preaching change because I'm settled into a congregation instead of changing weekly as a "roving evangelist". I'll begin my fifth year soon.
Our hurricane repairs continue. We have new decking for the front porch, new columns to support the roof and new windows (Lord have mercy! This is expensive!). The repairs look good for the historic building which makes me very happy. I cannot stand cheap windows in a building, especially one with historic interest.
It's Monday morning and time for me to check the lectionary texts again for Sunday's worship.
See you later, Alligator
Sunday, August 13, 2006
Saturday, August 12, 2006
Monday, August 07, 2006
Sunday, August 06, 2006
It is just 6 a.m. ish here. I should be touching up the rough edges of my Communion meditation for this morning's worship service. I should be in prayer for my people as Sunday, the Lord's Day dawns. I should be thinking deep theological thoughts.
Nope, not me. I've been blog browsing and spent time over at Peacebangs http://beautytipsforministers.blogspot.com reading her essays on pastoral dowdiness. As one who prides herself on "fixin up", I stand convicted that I have descended into slumpiness.
Peacebag is correct that wearing only flat-soled birkies (even if the leather is smooth and dyed silver), baggy clothing (even if it is pressed) and caring more about being cool (as in not a sweaty lump) is NOT the way to appear to one's congregants and general public.
I confess that I have run to the grocery store this summer looking like road debris. I wear linen big shirts which could be used as roof shade for a beach cottage. My hands, right this minute, are stained with jeweler's polish from cleaning sterling last night while LD and I watched "Legally Blonde" for the umpteenth time. My nails need a filing. My polish is chipped.
I looked down at my hands and thought, "I'm serving the sacrament in a few hours! These hands look as if they've been out hand-weeding in the front yard, polishing sterling and standing at the kitchen stove over a hot burner blindfolded." Yeech.
So, I will do the following:
1) manicure before worship.
2) return the big linen shirts to the thrift shop from whence they came.
3) search for an outfit which fits and looks like I want to look pretty.
4) continue to laugh at Peacebangs' expressions. See "jungle pouch" for flubby stomach hang.
Really. I am going to do better.
Friday, August 04, 2006
Here is a picture of Whistle the Kitten on the bath mat outside the shower. Often he drops off for a long snooze right here. He's dreaming of his birthday party. ONLY 21 MORE DAYS. He says "Don't get ME a present! Give a BIG gift to Fish!".
I'm telling ya, he said that.
Fish the Kitten
PS. We are registered at Kittens and Beyond, Cat Stuff Inc., Mice, Birds and Bugs, Catnip Corners and Tiffany's. Just thought you should know...
Thursday, August 03, 2006
We aren't ready for another storm. People aren't back into their homes yet. The grant money promised to arrive last week hasn't. Insurance companies are playing out their satanic rituals with people's lives and one hears horror stories of incompetence and cruelty often.
I visited in a FEMA trailer on Sunday and noticed that when the mid-sized dog walked from the tiny "living area/kitchen" into the "miniature bedroom" the trailer shook. How can families live with shaking trailers, noise, no privacy, little protection from enemies or weather and a bathtub the size of a footbath? How?
We have one shelter in Harrison County. One place for the homeless to go. Nothing else.
Dillard's, our best department store, closed with storm damage. We lost our McRae's (ok, but not all that great) when it became a Belk (most ordinary of stuff, makes me depressed to even go into a Belk). If one is going for retail, can't the retail at least be well-made with some style?
So, Dillard's is closed still. Do you think that Big Dillard's writes to all of us charge customers telling us when they will re-open and offering us coupons for internet shopping or for going to a Dillard's in Mobile, Hattiesburg or Jackson? Nope. Nothing. I'm not sure I will ever feel the same about Dillard's.
A few more stores re-opened in the neighborhood shopping area. Each time I see a repaired store I feel pleased.
The advocates for the poor down here are exhausted. I wish a fresh group of advocates would come down here and give the non-profits and community groups a break.
The pendulum of depression and post traumatic stress syndrome is rolling over the communities again. I hear stories everyday of new divorces, deaths from storm stress and suicides. Lord, have mercy! I ate at the lunch counter at the pharmacy today. I greeted the woman sitting to my left and spent my lunch hearing her sad story of post-storm life. I felt like crying. She's brave but things are not going well. Another stranger, this time in the Post Office line, told me about losing her home then 4 weeks later her husband dropped deadfrom a heart attack.
Granted I have one of those faces that invites people to tell me everything but the sad stories down here are endless. God bless us.
The evildoers (hey! I'm a preacher and I talk like this!) are assailing us by working behind the scenes with our voting districts. What do you do when a district is empty because there is no housing and most of the residents are poor?
The thieving contractors preying on the desperate should rot in hell. If anyone asks you how I feel about this, tell them.
School started today. No one knows who will show up. Who begins school on a Thursday? Only us because it will take until Monday or Tuesday to see who will be in class. What a waste of time for the LD! She wore a hoodie sweatshirt to school today. Temps are in the '90's. What's with this lack of body fat? A hoodie with long sleeves? Oh my!
Want to see a physician down here? Sure hope you don't need to see a specialist. And, the doctors want to be paid some kind of bonus or compensation for staying down here because their usual amenities are gone. Oh, puleeze. Isn't medicine about healing or is it about Hummers?
I'm reading a new book about returning "delight" to the crafting of sermons. Sounds like just the book for my crabby self.
Spared from T.S. Chris and grateful,
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
"The Peaceable Kingdom exists! Picture Proves it!"
Dateline: Diminished Pine Grove. For Immediate Release.
Whistle the Kitten and P.P. Puppy take nap within five feet of each other.
P.S. Yes, the messy area is in my house but I'm sure this is unusual. Or something like that.
Dazed by a Glimpse O' Glory,
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
*Public school begins on Thursday. LD has her high school schedule, school supplies and new backpack.
*You know how cats have little or no facial affect? I realized today that LD reminds me of the cats. I'll be glad when she loses the "too cool for this life" face and looks like herself.
*Rain came for several days so the frogs are celebrating by singing love songs. Last night, we thought the frogs were indoors with us but we know the Mighty Kittens wouldn't allow even one frog to survive. The singing got so loud it reminded me of a dog barking in the night. Really. The crickets are in love, too.
*This Cuba business is very interesting. My knowledge of Raoul Castro might fill a thimble so I'll be studying up him. The radio pundits wonder if Fidel is dead. I wonder how the U.S. will respond to what may be a big change in our relationship with Cuba.
*I heard about T.S. Chris today. Damn.
*Have any of you read the book with Rev. Jordanna Nash? Can't recall the title. It's been on my bedside table two months at least. So far, so good.
*No matter what Peacebang of "Beauty Tips of Ministers" says, I'm not going to wear neutral polish on my toes. I'm back to a vibrant color and much happier. I tried to follow her suggestion about quiet color when wearing sandals and bare feet in the pulpit area but I failed.