21 September 2008

Friday Five: Autumnal Equinox

Songbird scripsit:

It's that time of year, at least north of the equator. The windows are still open, but the darned furnace comes on early in the morning. My husband went out for a walk after an early supper and came home in full darkness. And yes, where we live, leaves are beginning to turn. As this vivid season begins, tell us five favorite things about fall:

Oh, I love fall. I start waking up when fall hits. :) I wonder if that's true for everyone born in the autumnal part of the year, and if it translates to other times of year too... Let me see now:

1) A fragrance: the smell of pumpkin pie fresh out of the oven. Or pumpkin muffins slathered with butter while still hot. I love pumpkin and always associate it with fall!

2) A color: deep, orange-y brown, the ultimate autumnal colour for me... :)

3) An item of clothing: sweaters. I know I'll need them eventually, but I have always liked cooler-to-cold weather better than warm or hot.

4) An activity: scuffing along through downed leaves. You are just plain NEVER too old to scuff through crackly, crunchy leaves! :)

5) A special day: My son's birth. I have been pregnant many times, but Brian was the only one to survive to birth; he was born on October 13 in a very good year, and he is the light of my life. October is a good month for me. My birthday falls within that month; Brian was born; I was married in that month. A number of people I love also have birthdays and anniversaries in October. October Rocks!! :)

12 September 2008

Friday Five Goes Back to School...

Mother Laura writes:

It's time for a Back-To-School Friday Five!

1. Is anyone going back to school, as a student or teacher, at your house? How's it going so far? No, we're all as graduated as we can handle being for now, though I am considering a distance-learners Masters. Can't handle the money yet, but it's fun to dream! :) Of course the usual learning of life goes on, and there's been a LOT of that lately....

2. Were you glad or sad when back-to-school time came as a kid? Always happy, myself. :) It meant that for several hours a day I was safe and cared about because I was smart and funny. I loved school.

3. Did your family of origin have any rituals to mark this time of year? How about now? My grandparents, some of them, were German--so when we were littlies we got those cornucopia things full of candy and school supplies. And of course going back to school meant it was almost Oktoberfest, so we ate a lot of sausage and kraut as Oma practiced for the amazing feed everyone got each year. :)

4. Favorite memories of back-to-school outfits, lunchboxes, etc? This sounds so silly... but when Rev Sharon was still a size 6x, she had a little sleeveless blouse of white linen with yellow buttons shaped like chicks... and the ruffled peplum on the thing had a printed farmyard scene all the way around of barns, fences, scarecrows, and little chickies--and the chickies were flocked and fuzzy. I wore that thing to RAGS and wish sometimes that I could find a pic of me in it. I think my fave lunch box was a Monkees one, though I was never much of a Davy Jones kinda gal... I always liked Mickey Dolenz best. :)

5. What was your best year of school? I think 6th grade. I had a wonderful teacher, Mrs. Dickerson, who was the first to twig that I was being abused at home--and did what she could to mitigate it. She asked me to come to her apartment, where she did the adjustments on some clothing donated to me by other teachers because my wardrobe was... umm... awful... and while she was pinning. measuring, and taking in seams, she basically helped me understand that what was happening at home wasn't normal. Then she helped me find ways to fix it in a fashion that turned out to be healing for all of us, those at least who wanted to BE healed. I think in the end, she taught me the real meaning of pastoral counseling; I've kind of used that as a model ever since.

05 September 2008

Friday Five: Vulnerability

This week's F5, with prayers and love to GG and her family...

I have recently been reading a book entitled Jesus wept, it is all about vulnerability in leadership. The authors speak of how Jesus shared his earthly frustrations and vulnerabilities with a select group of people. To some he was the charismatic leader and teacher, to others words of wisdom were opened and explained and some frustrations shared, to his "inner circle of friends: Peter, James and John, he was most fully himself, and in all of these things he was open to God. So I bring you this weeks Friday 5:

1. Is vulnerability something that comes easily to you, or are you a private person?
It comes to me fairly easily, but it's harder to share it. I was raised to believe my only purpose in life was to be of service to others, and that others really didn't want to hear when I wasn't "there" and "strong" for them. Fortunately this has changed over the years, but I still find the confessing to be hard.

2.How important is it to keep up a professional persona in work/ ministry?
Well... I'm of two minds here. I think it is important to people in general that their leader be strong, collected, together--speed of the leader, speed of the team, and all that. However. I have also been most profoundly touched in my life during times when people broke a public face to show their deepest heart. The first example that comes to mind (because I have a great deal of respect and affection for him) is Ted Kennedy. I was in grade school when Bobby Kennedy was killed; I have never forgotten listening to the break in his voice, seeing the tears in his eyes, when he eulogized his brother and spoke the words "Love is not an easy feeling to put into words." All the stoicism in the world couldn't overcome the unique shared-grief-ness of that moment. When someone shows their congregation true grief, true pain, true joy, even true anger--I feel more connected. I am comforted by the familiarity of their "usual persona"--but I am touched when they share.

3. Masks, a form of self protection? discuss...
Oh yes, of course they are. But they are also a way of hiding. And from time to time we need them in both of those roles. We could go on for hours and days about when/whether masks are appropriate...

4. Who knows you warts and all?
My sister Jo; a close-knit circle of very beloved friends; my horse. Everyone else probably knows pieces of various sizes. And no, I don't want to list the friends. :) They know who they are.

5. Share a book, a prayer, a piece of music, a poem or a person that touches the deep place in your soul, and calls you to be who you are most authentically.
Oh... not easy. The Rosary in its current form, especially in Latin, speaks to the deep, still places in my soul; there's also a poem about the resurrection that has always touched me very deeply. It is by Jonathan Brooks of Mississippi (1905-1945) and it never, ever fails to make me weep--leaving a sense of joy and peace behind. I get shivers thinking of it now, and happily share it with you all now.

The Resurrection
by Jonathan Brooks

His friends went off and left Him dead

In Joseph's subterranean bed,
Embalmed with myrrh and sweet aloes,
And wrapped in snow-white burial clothes.

Then shrewd men came and set a seal
Upon His grave, lest thieves should steal
His lifeless form away and claim
For Him an undeserving fame.

"There is no use," the soldiers said,
"Of standing sentries by the dead."
Wherefore, they drew their cloaks around
Themselves, and fell upon the ground;
And slept like dead men, all night through,
In the pale moonlight and chilling dew.

A muffled whiff of sudden breath
Ruffled the passive air of Death.

He woke, and raised Himself in bed;
Recalled how He was crucified;
Touched both hands' fingers to His head,
And lightly felt His fresh-healed side.
Then with a deep, triumphant sigh,
He coolly put His grave-clothes by--
Folded the sweet, white winding-sheet,
The toweling, the linen bands,
The napkins, all with careful hands--
And left the borrowed chamber neat.

His steps were like the breaking day:
So soft across the watch He stole,
He did not wake a single soul,
Nor spill one dewdrop by the way.

Now Calvary was loveliness;
Lilies that flowered thereupon
Pulled off the white moon's pallid dress
And put the morning's vesture on.

"Why seek the living among the dead?
He is not here," the angel said.

The early winds took up the words,
And bore them to the lilting birds,
The leafing trees, and everything
That breathed the living breath of spring.

27 June 2008

Friday Five: Summer Reading

Songbird sez:

Back in the day, before I went to seminary, I worked in the Children's Room at the Public Library, and every year we geared up for Summer Reading. Children would come in and record the books read over the summer, and the season included numerous special and celebratory events. As a lifelong book lover and enthusiastic summer reader, I find I still accumulate a pile of books for the summer.

This week, then, a Summer Reading Friday Five.

My responses below:

1) Do you think of summer as a particularly good season for reading? Why or why not?

Surprisingly... under normal circumstances, no. Mind you, I'm unemployed so far this year--but I have had no time for reading. Too much else is going on... but realistically speaking, I haven't thought of summer as "reading time" since I graduated from High School. Winter is when I usually catch up, unless one of my favourite authors puts out a book--or a new volume comes out of a manga I'm reading. :)

2) Have you ever fallen asleep reading on the beach?

Yes. Sunburn is not the friend of people with ancestors from Northern Europe. Oww...

3) Can you recall a favorite childhood book read in the summertime?

Probably something by Tolkien... though I had a habit, even back then, of reading and re-reading favourite books--among them Rumer Godden's China Court. What a luminous piece of work....

4) Do you have a favorite genre for light or relaxing reading?

What is this "relaxing" of which you speak?? :)

If it's light reading, it's Manga. Right now I'm breathlessly awaiting Volume 5 of
Le Chevalier D'Eon.

5) What is the next book on your reading list?

Besides the above? Hmmm... probably something in German or Icelandic, as I am trying to learn those languages.

23 June 2008

Friday Five: Word Association

Playing Late, because Other Stuff (tm) happened this weekend...

This post is loosely based on previous "wordy" Friday Fives from Reverend Mother and Songbird. I liked the results, and so we are doing another word association. Theirs were based on words from a lectionary text. Mine comes from the Lovin' Spoonful song, "Summer in the City."

Think summer......are you there? Below you will find five words or phrases. Tell us the first thing you think of on reading each one. Your response might be simply another word, or it might be a sentence, a poem, a memory, a recipe, or a story. You get the idea:

1. rooftop
2. gritty
3. hot town (yeah, I know, it's two words)
4. night
5. dance

Welll.... I'm not quite "at" summer yet, though Lord knows Northern Virginia has been of late. Back toward the tail end of May we began getting summer weather long before normal, and it got... Virginia-ish. Hot humid afternoons; thunderstorms darn' near every day... that heavy, high-temp, icky sort of weather that just wears you right down to a frazzle. All the severe weather warnings had an extra codicil: "because residents of the region have not yet had time to become accustomed to this sort of weather, temperature-related illness is expected..." or words to that effect.

Umm... yeah... *wry smile*

So here's my words:

1) Rooftop: First thing I thought of was a sight that made me smile recently: I was driving home and passed through the nearest large town, quite an old area, where the houses are now a little closer to the road than they were before the highway department stepped in, if you catch my drift. I saw a young woman sitting outside a dormer window on the roof of her home; she had on her bathing suit and sunglasses, and had a laptop in, well, her lap. :) I smiled at the novel concept of catching rays AND catching peace and quiet... then had a flashback to when I was much younger. I was at a church picnic, and took my plate of BBQ out onto the deck to soak up some sun while I ate. Stretched out on a chaise... put the plate in my lap... and ended up with a sunburn over most of my thighs... except for the half-circle on each thigh, from where the plate had been and protected my VERY pale Irish/German skin from the sun. :)

2) Gritty: The way my mucking boots feel when I balance on one foot, putting the other on the ground, when donning said boots... and inevitably sand gets on my sock, then into the boots. Scrunch, scrunch, scrunch... Once a horse steps on you, though, you tend to forget the grit.

3. hot town: Umm... pretty much everywhere lately. And people wonder why Summer is fourth on my list of favourite seasons... ;)

4) Night: Night, in Virginia during the summer, tends at its best to be when the temperature drops, the dew point rises, and I can shut off the AC--until July, that is, at which point it becomes the time when I can turn DOWN the AC. But on average... night is when I can think, dream, and weep without anyone seeing me. It is that space where I meet my Lord face to face without pretense and (for the most part) interruption. I like Night, most of the time...

5) Dance: I don't dance well, and when I do I tend to want to lead--oh, the unlooked-for ramifications of growing up as a Civil War Re-enactor, where I dressed as a boy. :) I was taught to dance from the "male position" and don't seem able to make the shift--but I can still waltz a girl in a hoopskirt with precision and éclat! I can even reverse her so the hoop does that scandalous, daring flip thing occasionally mentioned in well-researched historical romance novels... it's the sort of thing Rhett Butler would have done. *grin* I do like dancing, and wish most of all that I could swing dance--and that I had someone to share that with.

So that's Sharon's brain today, I'm sorry I've been so out of it lately--I'll post my sermon soon.

17 June 2008

A Soul Goes Home

I am Resurrection and I am Life, says the Lord.
Whoever has faith in me shall have life,
even though he die.
And everyone who has life,
and has committed himself to me in faith,
shall not die for ever.

Saturday afternoon, a little before 2 PM, my friend Rick S. stepped out of this life and into the next after a long battle with cancer. When we saw him last at church on the last Sunday in May, he was so tired, so weak… and then the e-mail notes from the Rector began.

As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives
and that at the last he will stand upon the earth.
After my awaking, he will raise me up;
and in my body I shall see God.
I myself shall see, and my eyes behold him
who is my friend and not a stranger.

Rick has been my friend for around eight years. He is a man of wisdom, charm, and a delightfully wry sense of humour. He is a superlative musician with a real sense of how to make a choir a family as much as a functional worship unit. He is from the deep South and it shows… his manners, his wry delivery, his innate kindness. He is a Christian, a deep-faith believer, and he knows by whom he is saved. Now, he has met that saviour in person and been welcomed home.

For none of us has life in himself,
and none becomes his own master when he dies.
For if we have life, we are alive in the Lord,
and if we die, we die in the Lord.
So, then, whether we live or die,
we are the Lord’s possession.

When he told us about his cancer, he was very matter-of-fact. There was no real announcement to the group of us at large; when he ended rehearsal as he always did—with prayer, giving us a moment or two to mention things we felt needed attention—he simply said “I’m starting chemo this week and would appreciate some prayer.” We sat there nodding, yes, yes, that’s what we do when someone undergoes—wait, what, CHEMO?? Frissons of terror, determination, fear… but always a sense that it would get better, that if anyone could beat cancer, it would be Rick. He was a fighter, determined, strong. Right up to the end he was planning a trip to Hawaii.

Happy from now on
are those who die in the Lord!
So it is, says the Spirit,
for they rest from their labors.

For a while it seemed to go away… but when it came back, it came back with a vengeance. Sometimes when you see someone who’s been blindsided by the midnight freight like that, you just know.

I knew. I knew that would be the last time I saw him.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord,
And let light perpetual shine upon him.

If I have any regrets, it is that I didn’t spend more time with him as the days wore down. We weren’t in the same social circle; we only saw each other at church, where he was the organist and I the chorister. But at church… Oh, at church we had our own partnership. I occasionally was privileged to sing solos under his direction. He could play circles around many organists I have known, and if I flubbed a phrase he just played around it. If he wanted to slip in a change, he would look at me and raise his eyebrow and I knew to tell my fellow sopranos, “let’s do the descant!” If he felt he wanted a solo suddenly, he would look at me and just twinkle… and I would go to his side, get the hymnal number, and off we’d go… it was like we shared a brain sometimes.

I will miss that.

Christ is risen from the dead,
trampling down death by death,
and giving life to those in the tomb.

Rick knew how to motivate people. He was kind, and his sense of humour was incisively wry; he didn’t exactly poke fun, he just kind of… prodded. Gently. He could tell a section they had screwed up very badly without making them FEEL badly. He could make them laugh, then play the part correctly, and cause more laughter with the “ahem, see??” expression he would give them. He was our dad and our brother and our uncle all rolled into one drill sergeant, and we adored him. He knew how to get the best out of all of us, particularly my autistic, musically-gifted son. I will always remember watching them work together…

The Sun of Righteousness is gloriously risen, giving light to
those who sat in darkness and in the shadow of death.
The Lord will guide our feet into the way of peace, having
taken away the sin of the world.

The e-mails began early last week: Rick had received communion but hadn’t been able to speak; he had been visited by Hospice to receive a different blessing, that which would deaden the pain and allow him to remain at home until he passed. His partner Shaun was with him, and Shaun’s parents; they did what they could to keep Rick comfortable, those many things big and little that make it possible for us to stay occupied while walking the holy road of departure with someone we love—stay occupied and hold the tears at bay for just a little longer. It wasn’t a matter of whether Rick would leave us, but when.

Christ will open the kingdom of heaven to all who believe in
his Name, saying, Come, O blessed of my Father; inherit the
kingdom prepared for you.

It happened on Saturday: a bright sunny day, full of late spring, turning toward the long heat of summer. Choir was over for the season; we were into Summer Choir, where we would meet on Sunday to “pull something together.” Only when we met on Sunday he was already gone, flown free of his body and dancing with the Lord until we are all reunited in the afterlife. It was a hard morning full of tears and memory, but it was a good morning, too. We pulled it together somehow, because even at the grave we make our song. There is life beyond life, more happens after the transition known as death. We will sorrow—but not as those who have no hope. He is not so much gone as simply not here….

Into paradise may the angels lead you. At your coming may
the martyrs receive you, and bring you into the holy city

Welcome home, dear, dear Rick. Keep a light on for the rest of us; we’ll see you in time. Until then we'll miss you so very much....

12 June 2008

I Have Decided...

... that 2008 is way too full of challenges. And most of them have been... horrid.

I am fighting an uphill battle to keep before my eyes the long list of blessings I have been given: a loving son; a return to relative health; a roof over my head despite being still unemployed... that sort of thing. There are also the lists of hopes: good interview recently, stuff of that sort. But I've discovered, much to my chagrin, that I am only human... and that sorrow is beginning to weigh me down.

I feel unloved, unwanted... cast aside by a thirty-year marriage partner, not really much needed in the life of a 26-year-old son... and now a beloved friend seems to not need me any more, either. On top of everything else--someone very dear to me is in the process of checking out of this life.

In the face of a life ending, a holy and fraught time... all my little sorrows seem to be so petty. Needless to say, between the self-recrimination, the depression, the grief and the loneliness--I am decidedly NOT in my happy space.

So I am trying to come out of my Wallow just there on the left as you enter the Slough of Despond, long enough to ask if anyone reading this could please take a moment and do whatever your religion recommends at a time like this: say a prayer, light a candle, ask for good spirits to guide him home... as my dear friend R. prepares for the step out of one life into the next one. Musician, mentor, friend... not nearly old enough to go, and too much of a bright, beautiful light for us to be able to afford his loss, however temporary...

For R., for his partner S., and for all those who love them both... may the parting be swift and painless, the path to peace and Heaven short, and the Way lined with waiting loved ones to welcome him home.

I'll try to be better later. Right now I just need to curl up in a ball somewhere and howl for a while... fortunately I am still coherent enough to remember that the Lord "gets" that, and will never leave me.

30 May 2008

Radio Show Tonight!

Good afternoon all! Just wanted to let you know that tonight on "Another Loose Canon" we have a very special guest calling in. Rev. Corbie of Fire Through Spirit will be joining us for the first of (at least!) two shows, during which she will share her experiences in the realm of healing and how to approach illness from a spiritual perspective. You can see her website (which contains contact info and a list of her upcoming in-person appearances at various conventions and fairs) here: www.firethroughspirit.com

So please join us tonight at 6 PM Eastern US time; Corbie will speak with us about health, healing, and the interesting concept that "Being a Co-Conspirator is Better than Being a Patient!" She's a riveting, charming speaker--with much personal experience with the things of which she speaks. Following the interview, we'll open the phones so people can ask questions and share stories with Corbie.

See you then! The profile URL is: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/Rev_Sharon/ and you will see a link for tonight's show.

03 May 2008

Whew, What a Week....

Wow, what a week.

I got a call the other week from the cardiologist and neurologist who have been monitoring my recent medical difficulties; they asked me to stop driving and come to their office for a discussion "best had face to face" (two mutually exclusive things, since I live in The Sticks (tm) and cannot get anywhere without driving unless it's close enough to walk to...) I tend to assume the worst, being Only Human, so I presumed they were going to tell me they'd found something quite dreadful and needed to operate or whatever. Turned out I had been having "pre-epileptic seizure-like events" something that everyone has about 2 or three times a day. If you suddenly cannot think of a word you wanted to say--you're having one. If you put your keys down in the same place as always and suddenly cannot remember where they are--you're having one. Problem was, I was having them about every half hour all day every day--and they turned up on my ambulatory EEG. The worst turned out to actually be pretty OK: by viewing the events and prescribing to unseat them, the docs were helping prevent me from becoming epileptic and having actual seizures. So that was good!

I had to take a few days off from work to take the meds and get used to them before being allowed to drive again. I was sleepy and had double-vision for a while, then it all evened out. Yay!

However... while I was home recuperating, a friend called from the office to warn me that there was a reduction in force (RIF) coming--and that I would be let go when I returned to the office. So it turned out to be... and after taking a perfectly human tendency to work myself into fits and swivets over it, I did a lot of praying and then went back as soon as the doctor said I could. I did get let go, but I got an excellent severance package and I do have some good interviews lined up already. So it all worked out as well as it could--and I'm sure God has more good changes coming for me. This all has the feel of a Thing Meant to Happen, and I'm more excited than scared. :)

The radio show did indeed debut; there were a number of technical glitches (including dead air for about ten minutes when the site had a server re-set right in the middle of my show!) and no one called in, but by and large it came off well. I want to thank everyone who stuck with it for the whole hour; I'm going to try editing the archived file, so that if you decide to go give it a listen you won't have to hear the dead air. :) I will be doing a show every Friday evening at 6 PM eastern time, hopefully with more music and with LOTS more people calling in. :)

Thank you God for getting me through all this....

02 May 2008

Internet Radio Adventures....

Sorry I haven't posted in a while! Life has been interesting in the sense of the Chinese proverb.... ;) Anyway, just a quick note to let you know that if you're interested, my show on http://www.blogtalkradio.com debuts tonight at 6 PM eastern US time.

I've activated the chat room early in case anyone wants to come by and schmooze. :) If you are a registered member of the site you can log in, then get to the chat room from my profile, which can be reached by adding a forward slash and Rev_Sharon to the URL once you're there. The site is free to register, listen, AND host, so if you think you might be interested, it's an idea! :)

The show is called Another Loose Canon, just like my blog; there will be a link on the profile page. Tonight's topic, after some general spiritual rambling by the host, will be the Efficacy of Prayer; I'll be inviting people to call in and talk about the times prayer has worked for them--and the times it hasn't.

Very Nervous Now (tm)

08 April 2008

Borrowed from Singing Owl:

Your Score: Rabbit

You scored 14 Ego, 15 Anxiety, and 17 Agency!

IT was going to be one of Rabbit's busy days. As soon as he
woke up he felt important, as if everything depended upon him.
It was just the day for Organizing Something, or for Writing a
Notice Signed Rabbit, or for Seeing What Everybody Else Thought
About It. It was a perfect morning for hurrying round to Pooh,
and saying, "Very well, then, I'll tell Piglet," and then going
to Piglet, and saying, "Pooh thinks--but perhaps I'd better see
Owl first." It was a Captainish sort of day, when everybody
said, "Yes, Rabbit " and "No, Rabbit," and waited until he had
told them.

You scored as Rabbit!

ABOUT RABBIT: Rabbit is generally considered Clever by his many friends and relations. He is actually a much better reader and writer than Owl, but he doesn't consider it worth mentioning. Instead, Rabbit's real talent lies in Organizing Plans. He organizes rescue parties, makes schemes to reduce Tigger's bounciness, and goes on missions to find out what Christopher Robin does when he's not at the Hundred Acre Woods. Sometimes, however, his Plans do not always go as Planned.

WHAT THIS SAYS ABOUT YOU: You are smart, practical and you plan ahead. People sometimes think that you don't stress or worry, but this is not the case. You are the kind of person who worries in a practical way. You think a) What are my anxieties about and b)what can be done about them? No useless fretting for you. You don't see the point in sitting around and waiting for things to work out, when you could actually work them out today and save yourself a lot of time and worry. Your friends tend to rely on you, because they know that they can trust you help them work things out.

You sometimes tend to be impatient with people who are less practical in their ways. You don't have much patience for idiots who moan about things but never actually DO anything about them. You have high expectations of everyone, including yourself. When you don't succeed at something, or when something goes wrong despite your best efforts to prevent it, you can get quite hard on yourself. You need to cut yourself some slack and accept that everyone has their faults, even you, and THAT IS OKAY. Let yourself be faulty, every now and then, for the sake of your own sanity.

Link: The Deep and Meaningful Winnie-The-Pooh Character Test written by wolfcaroling on OkCupid, home of the The Dating Persona Test
View My Profile(wolfcaroling)

28 March 2008

Sometimes You've Just Gotta Rant...

Every so often in the midst of the bureaucracy to which our liturgical lives can occasionally sink, there comes a moment of grace--perhaps slightly panicky, but laden with blessing. Something like this happened to me during Holy Week. Holy Week was different for me this year; what a surprise! Everything's been different for me in the last year. I did not have to preach this year, not even once; our little church has become very little indeed of late, and there haven't been meetings in a while. But I suspect Spirit will begin doing something about that soon.

So, at a time when I would otherwise have been preparing sermons and attending services at the Episcopal Church where I sing, I was actually packing for a trip to Boston to spend the Holy Weekend with someone I love very much, in the city where I was raised. In the middle of the confusion that packing always brings for me, I received an e-mail from a friend: her infant nephew was in hospital very sick, with two frantic parents talking a need for emergency baptism lest the little fellow shuffle off the mortal coil at a painfully early age. I sent her a note back saying I was headed out of town, but that she could call me if she needed prayer at any point; then I sent news of little Chris's difficulty to every prayer list I know of, and hoped for the best.

Late on Wednesday I got a note back: would I stop at the hospital on the way out of town to baptize Chris? And could I use the RC rites? Well... one answers a pastoral call however one must, it goes with the collar, so I sent a note back to say yes. Then I re-arranged my plans, printed out the appropriate liturgy, and off I went. I feared the worst because my friend told me Chris’s parents were pretty desperate to have the baptism accomplished. The father, a non-practicing Catholic, wanted me to use the RC rite as much as possible. The mother is a non-churched Protestant, and they were both VERY unhappy because the local RC diocesan response to their urgent request had been… *breathes deeply* …less than helpful or loving.

Now, I do not about the world at large, but I know how I would react if a frantic parent called me and said their child was VERY sick and possibly in mortal danger. I spent about an hour counseling the family as we waited for a practicing Catholic in the family who was to serve as godmother. I played with Chris, who is a beautiful little man, and he seemed to take to me very well. He was pale and thin and looked like he’d been through a wringer—and every few moments he gave out with gut-wrenching, deep, hacking, whooping coughs that rattled his poor little form. We spent a nice hour, if somewhat sad and nervous. God-mom-to-be showed up; I told the family what would happen, we went over a few things, then we made a Christian out of Chris. Afterwards I anointed him for healing, then left them with the promise of prayer and a copy of my cell number in case they needed me during the weekend. They didn’t. In fact, by the time I hit ground back at home following my trip, healing blessings had flocked all around Chris like angels: he was much better, the dire diagnosis he had initially received proved to be incorrect, and while he's still sick, he's not dying--and they have found what they needed to know in order to treat him. He's out of the hospital now and recovering nicely, with happy parents. Happy ending, thank you God!

Except that I was still very unhappy (OK, I was livid, when you're Irish, German, Welsh and English you do NOTHING by halves...) at the way they were brushed off by the Institution of the Church. It took a while to calm down--lots of prayer, lots of pep-talking, but eventually I reached a more philosophical state of mind.

Now that I'm calmer and more relieved at how swiftly and happily God moved to alleviate little Chris' suffering and that of his family, I can't help but turn my thoughts to the priests and Diocesan functionaries who have to give these hurtful, bureaucratic responses to human need. I tried putting myself in the shoes of the man who had to look the father in the eyes and basically say look, I understand that your child might be dying, and I get that even though you no longer go to church, we inculcated into your being the idea that a child would go to Purgatory if unbaptised... but the rules state that I must tell you: if you want a proper Catholic baptism for Chris, you're going to have to jump through hoops AND it will take a couple of months, during which we'll hope the little one survives. But hey, know that I'm praying for you all... *slaps forehead* I feel so bad for these folks. I would not be able to do it. I could not look people in the eyes and say these cruel things! And I am constantly reminded to pray for those who must say them... and for the people responsible for making it necessary. :(

I can only imagine how horrible it must have been for that priest, and for the people in the Bishop's office that Chris's dad also called and begged to. And there's little any of them CAN do, save parrot the answers... dear GOD what is wrong with the Church!! How can someone make a rule like this, then call themselves an Alter Christus?? Jesus cut ACROSS hidebound rules like this! He hung out with sinners, let his disciples pull grain off the ear on the Sabbath, and generally did what was needful to meet the needs of people AT the moment, not tell them to jump through a bunch of hoops and hope to heck that everything stays copacetic until such time as the requirements are met! THAT is a bureaucracy, not a Church!

*breathes deeply*

But I do take hope and peace from thinking in the mode of wise friends who have commented on this: thank God there are saner heads out there. Thank God there are sacramental ways to get one's child baptized at the hour of need, and receive a loving response with God's resounding, life-affirming YES! rather than just a list of 'thou must'. But Oh, the pain involved for everyone... How can they not see that anything other that God's response causes people to look away from the Church? Where is the love in telling a father whose child may be dying that they'll baptize his son IF the kid survives while Daddy jumps through hoops?

Thanks for letting me rant. May the God of peace be with us all... and help us to see through the pain to those places of grace He gives us when we need them. And may God have mercy on us all...

18 March 2008

Living Lent in the Fast Lane...

OK, hands please: who else has noticed that Lent skated past like Counsel for the Opposition on greased roller skates down a frozen pathway??

Hnh. Thought as much. :)

As my son might say: Like, OMG, it's TUESDAY already and that means it's darn' near EASTER!!! So... how exactly did this happen???

I swear it was New Year's Eve only a few days ago. Then MUCH to my eternal surprise, suddenly I was back home and the choir director (the adorable and wonderful Rick!) at the Episcopal Church where I sing, handed out music one rehearsal evening and said "This is for Ash Wednesday; sorry it's so late, but this is a good one we've done before and can sing in our sleep." (And he was right... it was Mozart's "Ave Verum Corpus", which is known colloquially among our good-humoured choir as the Motorcycle Anthem [ahem... ave VROOOOOM!!... *grins*], which we have done many times and always to excellent reviews.)

Ash Wednesday. Huh?? Already??? But... but...

2007 was a rough year. I'm talking butt-ugly, hidden-blessings, ever-lovin' ROUGH. So as 2008 dawned I needed time, peace, stability... in short, by the time Ash Wednesday rolled inexorably downtown, I was SO not prepared to entomb my alleluias. I still needed them. Wanted them. Clung to the hope they offer. Off they went anyway... and now we hover on the brink of Easter. Wow.

God, my dears, is in the details. Whether you see Deity as male or female, neither, or even as everything, God is in the details. We'll get through it... I know that I hope, that as Virginia warms toward Spring this week and the days get longer with sweeter breezes before the heat hits, I will have a chance to sit down and reflect at the sleepless, painful, more-than-likely-necessary blur that was Lent. I hope, in short, that I will find the details I missed along the way, and be instructed concerning the blessings therein.

May it be so for you and yours--and may your Easter be especially blessed!

14 March 2008

Friday Five: Time and Transitions

here's a Friday Five about time and transitions....

1. If you could travel to any historical time period, which would it be, and why?

Probably Tudor England, so I could learn once and for all everything I want to know about women's upper-class clothing.


No really, I mean it... :)

OK, I'd also want to go to learn about the stirrings of the Reformation first-hand. Then I would like to travel to the American Civil War, to meet Robert E. Lee in person. He is one of my favourite people ever....

A side-trip to some point in the Wars of the Roses, to meet Jasper Tudor, would kinda rock too. :)

2. What futuristic/science fiction development would you most like to see?

The ending of certain diseases: cancer, AIDS, cystic fibrosis, kidney disease...

3. Which do you enjoy more: remembering the past, or dreaming for the future?

Remembering the past, I guess. There are too many times when hope is painful. *attempts a smile; finds it... not as hard as I thought*

4. What do you find most memorable about this year's Lent?

Two things, actually: how short it seemed by comparison, and how much it hurt. The Good Lord decided this would be a truly sucky Lent for me. But as usually happens, that means it will probably turn out to have been a truly important one as well...

5. How will you spend your time during this upcoming Holy Week? What part do you look forward to most?

I'm singing a solo on Palm Sunday; during the week I have three proposals due out at my tentmaker job, so I will be praying even harder than usual. :) I generally look forward the most to Holy Saturday because I adore the ceremony of the Easter Vigil--but this year, I'm on sabbatical. I'm going to Boston to spend time with a dear friend and am leaving on the morning of Maundy Thursday; no preaching, no ceremony, but I will go to church in My Most Favoritist City EVAH, and it's maybe even possible my friend will come along. :) But I have to tell you... the Easter Vigil, beginning in darkness and that long, slow, exhilarating walk down the aisle with the Paschal Candle, intoning "The Light of Christ!", is one of the times of the liturgical year that give me strength to go on through all the others.... :)

25 January 2008

Friday Five: Yay, It's Winter!!

Brrrr! Baby, it’s COLD outside! At least that is the case where I am this morning. We are in a January deep freeze. Have a cup of hot tea and tackle five easy seasonal questions.

1. What is the thermometer reading at your house this morning?

Was 7 degrees F when I awakened at 0730; now at 1615 it's 39 and falling, with a forecast of a balmy 18 degrees overnight. :)

2. Snow—love it or hate it?

Love it--so long as I don't have to drive in it. My pickup will take me many places; it's the other folks on the road, who didn't have the benefit of growing up in a heavy snow area as I did, that I fear.

3. What is winter like where you are?

Usually cold and rather harsh in terms of temps, wind, and all, because we're so open around here (on a glacial plain east of the Blue Ridge Mountains and west of the Atlantic Ocean). Things freeze hard fairly early on, then we have bleakness until a good snow covers everything in fluff. Another reason to love snow... :)

4. Do you like winter sports? Any good stories?

I like to watch football, does that count? Go Patriots!!! :) I have always wanted to ice skate but my ankles are too weak. Did you know it's now less than a month until the Red Sox pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training in Ft. Myer, FL??? :)

5. What is your favorite season, and why?

That's a tough call. I like Winter and feel an affinity for it, but I love Spring. Winter allows me to "be fallow" for a while; I tend to nest and plan toward the coming of March and the sap beginning to run again. Mostly I love Spring because of Easter.

Bonus: Share a favorite winter pick-me-up. A recipe, an activity, or whatever.

Thick lamb stew with barley, carrots, celery, some onion, and potatoes. Spoon it up and serve forth with fresh-baked bread slathered with butter and honey; consume in front of the fireplace. Yum!

18 January 2008

Friday Five: It's All About Books!

Well, pish posh! I think that some books ARE better than others! How about you?

1. What book have you read in the last six months that has really stayed with you? Why?

Susan Richards' Chosen By a Horse: How a Broken Horse Fixed a Broken Heart. It's about a rescue horse that ended up being the rescuer of the person who rescued the horse. A lot less complicated than it sounds--and yet a whole lot MORE complicated. It is a wonderful book. It caught my eye because of the horse on the cover; I bought the book because of this line in the cover blurb: "Then fate brought her into Susan's paddock, where she taught this brokenhearted woman how to embrace the joys of life despite the dangers of living." I've had my heart repeatedly broken over the last few months, so I truly needed this book. :)

2. What is one of your favorite childhood books?

Lady of Arlington, Harnett Kane's biographical novel of Mary Custis Lee, wife of Robert E. Lee. It is very well written, mostly accurate, and very sweet. An interesting look at history through the eyes of a woman who helped make it. General Lee is one of my heroes; after reading that book as a young'un, his wife became my hero too.

3. Do you have a favorite book of the Bible? Do tell!

Oh, Isaiah by a country mile... I adore the poetry and drama and hope, and OH the language....

4. What is one book you could read again and again?

Anything by Katherine Kurtz, and J.R.R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. (OK, I know that's a lot more than one--but I read a LOT.) I got the trilogy and The Hobbit for my tenth birthday (many years ago now... *grins*) and have read them about once a year every year since. Now ask me how I felt about the movies. G'wan, I double-dog-dare you. :)

5. Is there a book you would suggest for Lenten reading? What is it and why?

Phyllis Tickle's Eastertide: Prayers for Lent through Easter from The Divine Hours. It introduced me all over again to the concept of fixed-hour prayer, and it is so beautifully done that I highly recommend it. The introduction alone is worth the price of admission. She has a whole series of similar books for the whole Church Year.

And because we all love bonus questions, if you were going to publish a book what would it be? Who would you want to write the jacket cover blurb expounding on your talent?

Heh... loaded question, that--I've been writing since I was a kid. :) I have a number of historical fiction novels squirreled away, along with a lot of fantasy fiction. I'm currently working on a haunted romance (not my usual fare, admittedly, but this one won't let me go!) and a modern-day mythological thing that somewhat defies description. *grin* I would want my bishop to write the cover blurb--because she knows me better than I know myself. :)

11 January 2008

Friday Five: Las Mañanitas

Éstas son las mañanitas (These are the morning verses)
Que cantaba el Rey David, (That King David used to sing,)
A las muchachas bonitas (To the beautiful young ladies,)
Se las cantaba así. (He would sing them like this.)
(The Mexican birthday song, sometimes sung as a dawn serenade).

Mother Laura penned this birthday-inspired Friday Five (my answers below):

1. When is your birthday? Does anyone else (famous and/or in your own life) share it?

My birthday is October 1; I share it with Mrs. Robert E. Lee (Mary Custis), Julie Andrews, and President Carter. :) We be Libraz! (parenthetical note: my sister-in-law and best friend from HS, Amy, has General Lee's birthday. How cool is that??)

2. Do you prefer a big party or an intimate celebration for the chosen few?

Probably the latter; I have a hard time with the noise level at huge gatherings.

3. Describe your most memorable birthday(s)--good, bad, or both.

October 1, 1967: We partied quietly, like people around an open grave, because the Red Sox had won their game that afternoon--and our winning of the Pennant depended on the outcome of the Tigers game, which would not be concluded until that evening. I remember nothing birthday related, except that it was the day... until evening. I was sitting in the living room watching Walt Disney ("Fighting Prince of Donegal", not sure what episode...) and Daddy and Hutch were in the kitchen listening to the Tigers on the radio. I couldn't listen because, fanatic that I am, I hadn't been there for the first pitch--and superstition says one must NOT listen to or watch the game unless you're there from the start (unless your team is winning AND at bat when you tune in, then you MUST watch or listen because you'll jinx it if you walk away... LOL!). Suddenly two things happened exactly simultaneously: the scene on TV showed the Irish chieftains swearing to fight for Prince Hugh O'Donnell and all threw their cups into the fireplace while shouting for freedom--and Daddy and Hutch began screaming in the kitchen because the Tigers won. :) True story, I swear it. Now every Sox victory seems to bring that memory back. (Yeah, I know, religion and baseball YET again... *g*)

4. What is your favorite cake and ice cream? (Bonus points if you share the cake recipe). Or would you rather have a different treat altogether?

Green tea ice cream with raisins, and Simnel Cake (Yum marzipan...), a British tradition either for Easter or Mothering Sunday in Lent (depending on tradition),

Here's the recipe: 1 c. butter (room temperature), 1 c. sugar, 3 eggs, 1 c. dark raisins, 1 c. golden raisins, 1 c. currants, 1/2 c. chopped red candied cherries, 1/2 c. chopped mixed candied fruit, 2 (7 oz.) loaves of baking marzipan, 1 beaten egg yolk, 1 tbsp. milk for glaze. 3 tbsp. dark rum or sherry, 3 tbsp. orange juice, 2 c. sifted all-purpose flour, 1 tsp. baking powder, 1 tsp. ground cinnamon, 1 tsp. ground allspice

Preheat oven to 325 degrees; grease an 8-inch spring form pan. Line bottom and sides of pan with waxed paper and then grease the paper too. In a large bowl beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy (at least 5 minutes). Beat in eggs one at a time; beat well after each addition. Stir in raisins, currents, cherries, mixed fruit, rum (or sherry) and orange juice until combined. Sift flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and all spice over fruit mixture. Fold into the batter. Place 1 package of marzipan between 2 sheets of waxed paper, roll out to an 8-inch circle (this is NOT easy, the stuff tends to be hard...). Spoon half of the cake batter into your prepared pan, then place the marzipan circle over the batter. Spoon the remaining cake batter over marzipan and smoothe down the top. Bake in a preheated 325-degree oven for 2 hours and 30 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly pressed. Remove from oven; cool completely in pan or a wire rack.

Increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees. Remove *cooled* cake from the pan and peel off the lining paper. Place the cake on a small baking sheet; roll out the remaining loaf of marzipan to an 8-inch circle. Brush the top of cake with an egg-yolk glaze; place the second marzipan circle on top of cake. For a decorative touch, flute the edge. Score marzipan in a decorative pattern (a lattice seems to be traditional) with blunt knife. Brush the top lightly with egg-yolk glaze.

Bake in preheated oven 10-12 minutes until marzipan is lightly browned. Remove cake from baking sheet; cool completely on wire rack. Serve with lots of green ice cream and go into carb/sugar overload paradise. :)

5. Surprise parties: love 'em or hate 'em?

Absolutely hate them. I'm not good with surprises of any sort. *grins*

Bonus: Describe your ideal birthday--the sky's the limit.

Oh my... OK, you DID say sky's the limit. My ideal birthday would take place at one of the skyboxes at Fenway Park, DURING a playoff run with the Red Sox so seriously in the lead that nothing could stop them. The above-requested cake and ice cream are present in abundance, and jokes are freely made about green ice cream/Green Monster wall in the Pahk (local dialect, you know...). Dinner is shrimp cocktail followed by prime rib (rare for me with lots of whipped horseradish creme!), steamed lobster tails, baked potatoes with everything, and sugar snap peas in butter. If Johnny Pesky, Carl Yaztrzemski, Rico Petrocelli, Curt Shilling, and Jonathan Papelbon (and their spouses of course!) are in attendance, RevSharon is in heaven. :) All my friends are there of course, and we have live music by the Dropkick Murphys. The beer is Irish and German, the wine is Chateauneuf du Pape, I get lots of presents, and the Red Sox win, of course. :) Paps probably will have to leave early to secure the win as Closer, but that's OK. I love watching him pitch. :) Afterwards we all go across the street to the Cask 'n Flagon for more celebrating. We take any leftover cake and wine with us of course. *grins*

08 January 2008

So, Where WERE You??

I came across this beautiful portion of Psalm 139 today while reading:

"I will give thanks to You,
for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well."

Had a bit of a surprising reaction to it: tears. OK, now, anyone who knows me even slightly knows that one of the powers I was given at birth was the ability to cry at the drop of a hat... but this usually happens for good reasons. :) I am easily moved, and wouldn't have it any other way. However.... In choir not long ago we did a piece that was Psalm 139 set to glorious music--the sort of music that sticks in your head. And thereby hangs a tale.

Several folks have noticed, and sent me notes offline concerning, the fact that I didn't post pretty much from the end of October until now. There's a bizarre reason for that. On Hallowe'en morning I toddled off to work (60 miles away; I live in the rural sticks, don'tcha know), with a cheesecake sitting in the front passenger-side foot well of my beloved little sedan. Not just ANY cheesecake, mind you: it was Frankenstein-green, and featured pistachios. It was glorious and (as was later discovered) tasted Pretty Darn Good (tm). It was for the Hallowe'en party at my office in the Infamous Tentmaker Job (tm), since we've established a tradition of shedding our seriousness a couple days a year and having parties. I was going to dress up as a Red Sox player (I know, mixing fun and religion again... *snork*...) and had my costume in the back seat, along with the paper plates, plastic cutlery, and divers decorations, since I was one of the Party Instigators.

Never made it.

Came awfully close to never making it anywhere, ever again, had my guardian spirits not been really, really watchful.

For reasons still unknown, I blacked out at the wheel on a back street near my former home. A number of things conspired to keep me alive and keep those I almost hit in the same shape: it was rush hour, yet there were no other cars nearby. It was near an elementary school, yet all the kids were safely in class by a few minute's timing. I had been going uphill about the time I blacked out, so I wasn't going fast when the car went off the road (only about 5 feet in, mind!), struck a tree and divested it of about a foot of bark, then car, me, and pieces of tree ended up on a retaining wall. I did not hit the woman who was about to leave her driveway, because something knocked a piece of paper off her front seat--and she braked to catch it. I did not hit her neighbor who was taking out his trash--because he paused at the astonishing sight of an unconscious woman in an auto that was slowly moving toward his neighbor lady's tree.

Somehow I had gone about half a mile from where I last remembered being, and come to rest in their yard. The two neighbors were kind, helpful, and compassionate. The police and the EMTs were thorough and considerate. And I found myself in hospital, with nothing worse than a lump on the side of my head. Go figure...

In the ER, the first thing they found turned out to be the dealie: I had everything else as normal as normal could be, except the electrolyte potassium was "oddly low" according to the nice man who took my blood and did the tests. They explained as to how this could cause muscles like the heart to temporarily take a rest, thus lowering blood to the brain and causing unconsciousness... but no one could tell me how the drop occurred. We all pretty much agreed that I have superb guardian angels....

So where does Psalm 139 come in? Well, my doctors ordered every test they could think of, including MRIs, 24-hour monitoring, and all that. They told me I had the brain of a 30-year-old (I'm 51) and didn't get the joke when I said very seriously, "Hmm, she'll probably be wanting it back sooner or later then, you think??" :) And they ordered an ultrasound of my heart.

Now mind... I've seen ultrasound before. Watched my son wave at me from within my womb, watched friends' soon-to-be kids do likewise. And yes, I cried at the very sight of it, for it is indeed an astonishing thing. But somehow, laying there in that awful hospital gown, watching my very own heart beat on TV, seeing how wonderfully regular and strong it was... the music came into my head: "I am fearfully and wonderfully made... my soul knoweth that full well...." And to the dismay of the young man doing the test, I started to cry. Tears of thanksgiving... tears of grateful joy, tears of delayed reaction to everything that had happened. Took a while to explain, but then he told me quite seriously: "Happens fairly often, I just wanted to be sure you weren't squicked or something." *grins* Kids these days...

That and some basic fallout from same contributed to my absence from the blogosphere. My beloved little sedan is gone, alas, for it cost more than it was worth to fix it up; I am now the proud owner of a green pickup truck and 72 months of vehicle payments. But I was reminded in my reading today that it had been a rather close run--and the grateful tears came rushing back. I'm glad to be here!

And I'm glad you're all here too. Prayers forthcoming for all the concerns expressed in various places; may God walk with you always!

07 January 2008

How Did It Get to Be 2008 Already???

Wow, where did that year go?? I feel as if it should still be June of 2007 or something, not January of 2008. The holidays hastened past before I could even get a handle on them, and now here we are in the long oddity that is the pre-Lent downtime. Wooo....

I guess the question we usually ask one another is this: did you make resolutions? Wellll.... here's the deal. Remember back a couple of entries ago I was talking about intentional living? Well... I like the comments from several fellow Revs that intentions are better than resolutions. :) So here are my intentions for 2008:

1) I absolutely WILL do more things for myself. Is that selfish? My poor little Libra gut wants to say so, but then I start thinking: when they run the "welcome to the flight" spiel on airlines, what do they say? If you're traveling with someone who needs assistance, put on your own oxygen mask first, THEN help them with theirs. Why? Because if you can't breathe, you can't help anyone. It isn't selfish, it's survival. In order to be there for the people you serve, love, live with, need, whatever--you have to survive. You must care for yourself. Sometimes thinking of yourself first is the best way to be there for others.

2) What will I do for myself? Ah... I have a little list. OK, it's a bloody great BIG list. :) Things I've put off for years. Things I've ignored. Clothing I want to make for myself... foods I want to try... riding time and general horse fun time that I never seem to have enough of because there are so many other things going on that "MUST be done..." Oh yes, a LONG list.

3) I will intentionally release fear. Whenever I feel it nibbling at my edges I will bless it and breathe through it. I will NOT fight it, because it is a part of me. I will instead very intentionally honour it, then let it go. Fear is a nervous sibling of excitement: it helps us define situations. Before I take the big leaps of life, I feel fear: it helps me remember that I am alive, that I have senses and sensations. And after I take the leap, the adrenaline flows through and helps me say WOW! where before I was saying OMIGOSH.... So fear will not be banished, it will be released.

4) I will intentionally believe that I deserve good things in my life. OH how my generation has battled this, men and women alike. We were raised to serve, brought up to question and volunteer and DO... but it was always in terms of doing for others, serving others, saving something for someone else. Then right around the same time, major cultural change happened--and the pendulum went toward hedonism for a good long while. Now that I am in my 50s I will find the balance: I will continue to serve because I love doing so and am called, but I will intentionally enjoy it more--and enjoy the good things that come my way as well.

5) I will intentionally look for good. I have spent far too many years on guard against bad things; now I will actively search out good ones. Be they brief, like enjoying the last rays of sun before the glory of sunset, or lengthy like the chance to sit and enjoy your lunch or dinner, I will seek them out and enjoy.

So there they are: my intentions, for better or worse. :)

I actually took a vacation this holiday season. A day or so after Christmas I drove up to Massachusetts to spend time with a very dear friend. We hung out, watched anime, talked; we hung out with horses, we hung out with family, we laughed a lot, and even cried a little. It was a surreal experience because I haven't taken a real vacation in AGES. I didn't check my work e-mail for the Tentmaker Job even once while I was gone, though I wasn't cold turkey enough to leave the laptop home. *grins* It wasn't quite intentional overall; I intentionally took the vacation, but left it all up to circumstance to see what we would end up doing. We had a wonderful time and I came home refreshed. I could get used to this. :)

So happy new year everyone, whatever your resolutions or intentions! May 2008 intentionally be a good one for you and yours!