Friday, March 14, 2014

Inward Ho for Lent, 2014


So what if I've spent years writing about the salutatory benefits of self-care, holistic health, and spiritual practices? I've been moving forward with everything I think I'm supposed to be doing -- writing, speaking, training, consulting -- by sheer force of will, neatly wrapped in near-complete denial about how I'm feeling.

Here's the simple truth: I'm core-level exhausted.

If I had to guess, I'd say that I passed from being merely tired during October 2013 to serious depletion by the end of January 2014. Now, I'm a living breathing flat-liner...who ordered a live-streaming package from Xfinity to support the semi-vegetative state I'm embracing for Lent.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Church-based Passover Seders: Another year, another fight? Please just buy my book.

Although Lent doesn't begin for another couple of weeks, it's not too early to plan a church-based Seder, so here's my annual pitch for Come to the Table: A Passover Seder for Parish Use.

First published in 2004, this labor of love and scholarship has been adopted and used by dozens of parishes over the years. One year I had the honor of leading a Seder at a church that used my haggadah and was deeply moved by how it enhanced participants' appreciation of their Jewish roots. It's available as a paperback and on Kindle.

So what's with the fight reference? {insert Big Exhausted Sigh here}

Every year I get caught up in a near-endless loop of conversations about whether it's appropriate for churches to hold a parish-based Seder. One of my written responses was posted to the Ignatian Spirituality blog, dotMagis. For The Rev. Ann Fontaine's interview at Episcopal Cafe, click here.

I have nothing new to add to my well-documented explanation for why these events have theological and spiritual value for Christians.

But I will reiterate this: Please read those posts and read my book, Why Is There a Menorah on the Altar? Jewish Roots of Christian Worship  before picking this fight with me. Again. You do know that I was raised Jewish, right?

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Adventures with Health: Dental E-patient! My $5,000 Toothbrush

This toothbrush was free...
or was it?

Two (right) quadrants down, two more to go and as awful as it was, if I had the insurance coverage and/or money I'd get the left two quadrants operated on sooner rather than later. Never mind that I was flattened for days and looked like an entire obese groundhog had been stuffed into the right side of my mouth.

Having emerged from the fog I can see the surgical work is gorgeous. (I should know, since I've already had this done twice already.) Also, I'd just like to get this over with, preferably before teeth on the left side fall out of my skull. #drama

Our dental insurance provides less coverage than my pre-surgical gums and we'll probably shell out more than $5k out-of-pocket for this round, so it's unlikely I'll be going back under the perio scalpel anytime soon.

Yesterday I got the rest of the stitches removed. Healing seems to be going miraculously well and it hurts only when I succumb to rueful laughter about getting a "free" post-operation toothbrush.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Settling into 2014: What's New and What's Next?

This is me, according to Lumosity

With February on the near horizon, I've officially turned the page on January. Ever keen on real symbolism, this means I've dramatically ripped up the paper calendar sheet on which January was printed. I ripped up the January page and tore it into itty bitty pieces I then tossed, responsibly, into recycling.

What a weird month this has been; weirder than usual, thanks to a powerful mix of public adventures and semi-private woes.

Public adventures included the delight of delivering onsite workshops and online webinars about using social media strategically and tactically. During January I romped with people from the Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the United Methodist Church, and the United Church of Canada, thus reinforcing my commitment to working ecumenically as well as my reasons for doing do.

Public adventures have also included getting accepted into this March's Narrative Medicine Workshop at the Columbia University School of Medicine, and applying for an e-patient scholarship to attend Stanford MedX in September. Stay tuned for more about all that.

Semi-private woes included periodontal surgery that plunged me into a murky pit of anesthesia-induced depression and anxiety, the likes of which I've not experienced for a very long time. I'm determined to write more clearly about this experience after the fog lifts. Meanwhile, I'm very busy removing sutures with my tongue and manicure scissors.

Mostly I am feeling, as we say in the world of Twelve Step Recovery, "restless, irritable, and discontent" as January comes to an end.

When I look at my jam-packed calendar, I can easily answer the questions, "What's new and what's next?"

When I set my calendar aside and ask these questions at a deeper level, I come up with, "God only knows." Clearly it's time to embrace "curiosity" as my primary spiritual practice. And just as clearly, it's a good God thing that I know this.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Quote(s) du Jour (Pope Francis Department): "Communication is ultimately a human rather than technological achievement."

As you might imagine, this week's periodontal surgery fog rendered me...foggy, but that didn't stop me from seeing all the tweets and articles about Pope Francis calling the Internet, "a gift from God."

This statement, crafted for the 48th World Communications Day titled, "Communication at the Service of an Authentic Culture of Encounter," was issued from the Vatican on January 24, 2014 (Memorial of St. Francis de Sales).

Trust me, the "gift from God" pull quote is the least of the many extraordinary observations you'll find in this document. 

Here are a couple that made me sigh deeply with relief, hoping that having the pope comes down on the side of church communications that embrace rather then vilifies digital technology will hasten its acceptance. Acceptance has been slow-going so far; painfully so for those of us in the ministry of church communications. 

And now, without further whinging about the wild world of church, more quotes worth pondering:

The world of communications can help us either to expand our knowledge or to lose our bearings. The desire for digital connectivity can have the effect of isolating us from our neighbours, from those closest to us. We should not overlook the fact that those who for whatever reason lack access to social media run the risk of being left behind. 

While these drawbacks are real, they do not justify rejecting social media; rather, they remind us that communication is ultimately a human rather than technological achievement.

Let us boldly become citizens of the digital world. The Church needs to be concerned for, and present in, the world of communication, in order to dialogue with people today and to help them encounter Christ. She needs to be a Church at the side of others, capable of accompanying everyone along the way. The revolution taking place in communications media and in information technologies represents a great and thrilling challenge; may we respond to that challenge with fresh energy and imagination as we seek to share with others the beauty of God.

─  Pope Francis

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

DIY and Economical Greek Yogurt

No need to spend lots of money on fancy-pants "Greek" yogurt. Here's how to create the same creamy thick yogurt for significantly le$$ money from whatever plain yogurt happens to be on sale. I also use this for dips and any other recipe calling for sour cream.

You'll need:
  • 32-ounce container of yogurt
  • small mesh sieve
  • container for the sieve

Put sieve on container and fill with yogurt.

Let moisture (whey) drip out. Empty
container as needed until yogurt
reaches thickness you want.

When whey is removed, yogurt
will shrink. Dump whey and enjoy
 your low-cost "Greek" yogurt!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Life as a Clergy Wife: Sunday, Sunday, So Fraught for Me

Every other day, every other day,
Every other day of the week is fine, yeah
But whenever Monday Sunday comes, but whenever Monday Sunday comes
You can find me cryin' all of the time*

Actually, I'm lyin' because I'm not cryin' all of the time on Sunday because I'm blessed to be married to a priest who is on his diocese's Sunday Supply rota and not the official rector of a church. Since this means I'm not the official rector's spouse, I'm therefore exempt from congregational expectations about spouse attendance.

Sundays are, however, somewhat fraught for me because he does end up preaching and/or presiding most Sundays.

Do I attend where my husband is preaching and/or presiding? Do I worship where I'd prefer to worship? Do I stay home in my pajamas, drink coffee, and blog? Am I even ambulatory?

Of course I'll attend if he really wants or needs me to, but absent a powerful request, I'll only consider showing up if and when:
  • there's only one service and it begins at or later than 10:30 AM,
  • getting to the church involves driving less than 24.5 minutes, and
  • my husband is not expected to meet with church leadership before or after worship.
There are a few other conditions that I've never had to trot out explicitly because my husband knew (pretty much) what he was getting into when married me.

In fact, you absolutely do not have to go through pre-nuptial discernment with me to suss what these "other conditions" might be, so imagine my surprise to find this scrawled on scrap paper earlier this week:

"In exchange, you can come to [church] Sunday to hear me preach and preside at liturgy w/kids doing the readings, singing."

So stunned was I that I didn't even see the smiley face embedded in the OXO sign-off. It took two days for me to muster enough calm strength to ask:

"You're f'ng kidding, right?


*With a h/t to The Mamas & The Papas