Thursday, June 25, 2009

Nose Rings, Brow Waxing, and Memory

I have lived in Houston for 13 months now and still have not taken the time to find an asthma guy/girl. I have, however, found a FABULOUS brow wax person. I know what you're thinking..."give me her name"! OK, maybe that's not what you're thinking. I still have the proverbial boatload of...we'll call them "samples" from my doctor's office back in Austin so I'm coasting on that. One day I know I will have to bite the bullet, fill out 100 pages of forms, sit in an unfamiliar office for 2 hours and introduce myself and my lungs to some new doc,but I'm just not up for that yet. In the meantime, my brows have never looked better and seriously, I can't preach if my brows look awful. Some might say I can't preach anyway, but imagine if my brows were shaggy!

So my brow wax lady (no, I'm never giving you her name) is hilarious. Like full on stand up comedy hilarious. It's not many people that can make you laugh until you need one of those "sample" inhalers while putting hot wax on your face, but she can. Last week she brought in some pictures from the late 80s and early 90s. She's so pretty that even big 80s hair and shoulder pads couldn't do much to detract, but the pictures were hysterical. We laughed and laughed, and I recounted the days of my naturally curly hair with a perm! And of course, my fabulous leg warmers. Cue the "Flash Dance" music!

The very young and cute receptionist then came into the room and said, "I wonder what people will say about this era of clothes and style? I mean, there's nothing to make fun of." Brow lady and I both agreed...for a moment...and remembered that back in the 80s we didn't think anything we were wearing would EVER go out of style. Then it hit me!

The young woman who raised that question was wearing one of those o so popular blouses where your bra straps show (on purpose!) and a nose ring!!! Yeah. Nothing to make fun of there for future generations.

It's funny how in our lives we are always embroiled in past, present, and future. That must be why we are so tired! In the immediate moment it's hard to believe that the shoes (super cute) that I have on will ever be "out of style" and it's hard to believe that anything...good or bad...will change, and yet my memory tells me that shoes I HAD to have in the 8th grade are now out of style and the same fate will await these. My memory (and my mirror) tell me that I am getting older (gulp) that my precious mother will indeed die one day even though it feels to me like she's still 50 and I'm still 20.

Time and memory are fascinating. We can remember exactly where we were on certain days...days that feel like they were yesterday and 100 years ago all at the same time. I can remember my freshman college dorm room like I was just in there yesterday, and at the same time it feels like it was a lifetime ago. In the moment sometimes days feel so long and yet the years go so fast.

All of this curious mix of fast and slow, long ago and present, future and past are constructs that we need to divide our days and lives I guess. We have to create the language of day to describe a twenty four hour period of time. Humans had to develop the ability to categorize to get our bearings, I think. Isn't this the work of metaphysics? I don't know! Some of you smart kids and weigh on that.

I know that our human finite minds have to have these sorts of bearings but that sometimes that gets in the way when we think about God. God, who is infinite is not time bound. And I can't wrap my little human mind around that because I am indeed so time bound. I have to work to remember that God is as present with me as God was with Deborah or Esther or Ruth or Mary or whomever! And God will be present with the kids unborn who will one day look back at pictures of my from the early 21st century and laugh at my shoes....and my brows. God is present in our generation, and as our friends of the United Church of Christ say, "God is still speaking". And I would add even though it doesn't always feel like it.

Shoes and nose rings may come and go in and out of fashion, but the God who created is the God who still creates and who will create. God is present now, and always.

Take care, Rhoda

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Broken Janie

My stay-put Janie broke last week. I cried. What, you ask, is a stay-put Janie? It's a very useful clergy girl garment made by the wonderful people at Women's Spirit. It's this generation of clergy's answer to the "dickey" (which makes me want to make all sorts of bad jokes, but I won't). It's a simple, yet terribly clever, sort of half shirt that clips together on each side. The Janie makes it possible for the words "fashionable" and "clergy shirt" to go together. You can wear a Janie under most scoop neck blouses or v-neck sweaters and still have your completely appropriate Anglican collar and black shirt on, but not be tied to wearing only black shirts. Fashion can still happen people...even in the priesthood! And Lord knows black shirts in Houston are a barrel of fun. It's enough to have a plastic collar around your neck!

I cried because this particular Janie I have had since I was ordained in 2001. It's seen me through an awful lot of priestly work. It has had a lot of people's tears on it, tears of joy and tears of deep anguish. It's carried mine own joyful and anguished tears too. (And yes I've washed it a lot, but I'm going for a metaphor here). It broke the week that our Diocesan bishop retired, the week I cancelled the subscription to the newsletter from my former church, the week I didn't stumble (finally) when someone asked me where I lived. And for all those reasons I cried.

It's a funny thing about symbols and metaphors. They are all around us, which it's both quite comforting and quite annoying! You can over symboli-gize something...what's that old line? Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. But as a person who lives in the world of Sacraments, I am deeply grateful for the daily symbols that are all around us.

Sacraments are symbols of God's love of us, outward and visible signs of an inward and spiritual grace, the catechism tells us. They are tangible things for an intangible truth. And they are everywhere. I don't know that God speaks through the kind of exciting, dramatic instruments the Sacred Scriptures tell us about. I haven't seen a lot of burning bushes lately. That does not mean of course that God can't! You'll hear me say many many times, God can do whatever God wants to do!

Nor do I think that God broke my Janie! But I do think that if we chose to, we can move through life in a way that allows for the possibility that God is fully present all the time and still interested in speaking to us through myriad ways...most of which for me, at least, don't make good television, but do make good reflection fodder.

My broken Janie brought me to tears which brought me to some time of deep prayer and reflection...which is always a good thing. Not always a fun thing...but always a good thing. The tears also brought me to a lot of chocolate, but that's a story for another day. The Janie sits crumpled on a shelf in my closet reminding me that there's a next chapter, that it's time to let go of some things and open up to the new things. Reminding me that God is present in our past and our future and of course in this very moment. And that connection, unlike the little clips that have to strain against the chubby sides of my body, will never break.