Inaugural launch of the River Rat Gang

As expected; I mustered, got up, got dressed, and walked out the door.  Down the street and to the church. The sermon started out with a congratulations that we had come to church on such a beautiful day.  A recognition that we could all be home reading the Sunday paper, getting ahead of the neighbors with yard work or taking the day to be outside, but we didn’t. We came to church. Which according to the priest, was the correct decision.  Why?  Because God graces us with the holy spirit when we worship Him.

Now theologically I am not so sure I stand on the same page, however the priest’s next few lines addressed that too.  Roughly paraphrasing he said, “Now people who are intellectual, well read, analytical have a difficult time with this.” He nailed it. ” People like me who need the grace will take it.”  Boom, shut it down.

I over think, almost everything, I am pretty sure.  Wait, let me think about that.  Yup, I think I over think. I am such an alcoholic.  My silly little dyslexic, addicted brain likes to go to the default of over thinking almost everything.  However I am learning how to let that all go.

Best thing to do on a hugely nice day is to kayak.  Get outside and out of my head. Phone rings and it is a peep from the program.  “What are you doing today?” they asked.

“Going kayaking” I say.

” I wanna go too” ……well now I am in a jam, I have two boats, two paddles and two life jackets.

“Ok, well have you ever kayaked? ”  Total stall.

“No, but I have canoed”   I am thinking, not the same thing.  This is the Charles river, dirty and spring level high, someone new in a boat could get into trouble.  Plus I am still grumpy and not wanting to give a lesson.

“Well the river is high and I haven’t checked it out yet” truth ” So not today but maybe later in the spring when the water warms up.

“OK… well, have a good time. ”

So I got one of the boats ready and not having roof racks that fit my leased car and not wanting to scratch the top of the car trying to get the boat on top, I decide to put the boat in the car and tie it down.  It almost fits the full way in, then I give it another slight push and crack the inside of the windshield.   It splinters out like a spiderweb the size of a dinner plate.

I call my peep back and offer to meet up and go over to the different spots on the river to see how it is flowing. We meet  up and drive along to where the put in sites are.  A few trees down, one by the Bridge Street bridge which would cause trouble if you don’t know how to read the river.  The current is fast and the tree is pushed up against the bridge right where one would paddle.  I am thinking I made a good decision on not  bringing a new-bee out on a first run.

Then around the bend comes a group of paddlers, all having a blast.  Another put in point and more paddlers.   And my peep really wants to go.   Starts pleading.  Says we can scratch up the top of their car to go.  Deep breath.  Ok, let’s do it.

30 minutes later both boats are strapped down and we roll to the put in point.  Quick lesson on dry land on getting in and out of the boat, and we shove off.  It is the inaugural  outing of the River Rat Gang. They get the hang of it and we travel for about an hour up-stream and then  back.  The water is dark and swift in some areas, but no white water to get nervous about.  They have a great time and it is a new world to them.  Service 101.

To get out of your head, do something nice for someone else.  Be a friend.  It took a busted windshield to get my head out of my ass and  do the next right thing.  God works like that.  I sometimes need a sermon launched in my general direction.  I need the confession and absolution and sometimes, when that doesn’t get me all the way, I need to be stopped in my tracks and redirected.

Thanks be to God.


Getting ready for church, maybe


I should be getting ready to head to church.  But as I look at the clock next to my bed, I still can jump the shower and get dressed and get out…maybe a few more minutes musing. I have a love hate relationship with going to church. It is perfectly sunny and warm out today, something that we have been waiting for all winter.  And I have my kayak and paddle within reach.  The river is close by and high enough that I can do the loop.  I can very easily justify that I am having my worship time in the wilderness of the water with turtles and bank beavers as my fellow congregants. Why waste a morning inside sitting in a pew reciting creeds that are hundreds of years old.  I am not preaching, or teaching Sunday school, so today could be a good skip day.

This past year I was busy during the week visiting patients in the hospital as a chaplain intern.  To translate that, as an intern I was not paid rather I was enrolled in a Clinical Pastoral Education -CPE- unit that was extended over the course of the fall and winter.  I need 4 of these units, plus my M.Div to be board certified as a chaplain. There are a few other bells and whistles that I need as well, but the point of this ramble is that I was working as a chaplain in a hospital.   I had overnight on-calls and 24 hour shifts where I could be paged to respond to some horrific situation.   Death and dying, that is why a chaplain gets paged, for the most part.

So Sundays for me was the place that I refilled my cup so that I could then give to others in need.  That is the thing about our cup, it is more than half empty or half filled.  Cups are refillable.  I didn’t enjoy having to preach on Sundays when I was also being a chaplain.  I wanted to limit my pouring out and keep a balance for my own self care.   I agreed to teaching a unit of Sunday School for April and May because I am in between CPE units and there are several off weeks when I don’t have to teach.  I can handle 6 classes.  Kinda.

Now that I have the day off of teaching, I am wanting to ditch.   Or even go and visit the Mormons, I miss them a bit.  I miss the inclusiveness they practice when you show up to church*.  The protestants of New England could learn a lot about hospitality from them. I like being able to walk to church and I like that many of my neighbors attend the same church so there is a community feel.  What I am reluctant about is … well… I don’t exactly know.  I am just wanting to blow it off.  Perhaps once I get up, shower and dress, eat some breakfast, put one foot in front of the other, I will get there.   Put your body in the place and the mind then the heart will follow.  Perhaps my cup is so low I just don’t realize how much it needs to be filled.   Not sure.

I do know that this whole Easter tide of Christ coming out of the grave has not been felt. I actually skipped Easter service this year.  Was at the end of my unit and was moving back and forth between Boston and East Charlotte.  I  felt crappy and stayed home.  Perhaps I am still burnt out.

But this is what I know to be true.  Even chaplains and those in ministry sometimes what to ditch church.  And I know that this to will pass and most likely now that I have bitched about ditching I will pull myself together and get up, make the bed, get dressed and eat breakfast.  Most likely I will walk out the door and head down to church.  Most likely I will feel good about the decision.



*I am so very aware that the Latter Day Saints have some regressive stances of women in the priesthood and same-sex marriage/families/ children of same sex parents.   No church body is perfect.




Upgraded to a flip phone


Mum, your reception sucks.  You keep dropping the call.

I thought it was the iPhone.   It was time to swap it up and the price difference between the new android edge and the iPhone was pretty close, so I went with the edge.  I have been more google than I-anything; cloud, music, you name it.  So I got the phone that had a better camera.

The problem was that the smart phone was smarter than me.

Over the past year I found that I was feeling lost without my phone. As if the instant connections through text and Facebook posts were actual interactions with live people. I started to watch when I was using the phone and what I was using the phone for.  Sometimes people would call, but more often it was a text.  I took tons of photos and hyper-documented  who I was with, what I was eating, where I was going.  I became my own paparazzi and saw that instead of checking in with my higher power at the beginning of the day I was checking to see if someone had pinged me or I was looking for the newest post on stupid cat videos.   At the end of the day I would unplug by making sure my phone was plugged in.  I was plugging the phone into my car to use the audiobooks, or to use the music, or to be able to use hands free calling when I drove.  I would look at other drivers using their phones while driving and would feel superior that I was “hands free” regardless of diverting my attention to the hands free dash while I selected the next call or the next song.  And my calls would drop.

“Can you hear me?”  “I can’t..he…ca… ter…” Click.  Out of range. Out of service. Out of control.

So off to the Verizon store to get a different brand, and I went in with the resolve that what I needed was just a phone.  After a 30 minute wait for the solutions specialist Abe, I went into a deep consumer spiral, the one where feelings of inadequacy  and the need to be like all the hippy hipsters overshadowed logic and resolve  and I ended up getting the Edge.  I will admit that I liked that there was a better camera.  I liked that the phone quality was better, sometimes. I thought I liked all the apps.

But the phone is smarter than me.

Too many options and apps.  I was swiping at the thing trying to find the right screen which would mute the volume, then I would forget to turn it back up.  It pinged at me with notifications from faceplant.  And then I realized that I was getting ads.  Like pop up ads from google called “promotions” and options to have my voice mails translated into texts so I could read the phone call reminder from CVS to pick up my scripts.  Those options came with a cost that was automatically billed to my Verizon account.

I assumed the pose with my head down and attention on the screen and forgot about what or who was around me.  I had become one of those annoying people who are consumed with their digital reality instead of engaging in life.  I had bought into the trend of connecting with minimal emogies to express my feelings.  And the new phone dropped calls too.

The enchantment was over.  I was standing right next to the router and the calls kept cutting out.  Time to old school and go back to a flip phone.   I might actually get a land line too.  I know that I have not been writing or reading much lately, so perhaps this will bring me back to a place where I wrote letters to friends and scheduled time to meet up over a cup of tea.  At the end of the day I want to be the old woman who looks up to see and be in life rather than then looking at my phone trying to take a photo of it.


Time to write again

alex and brutus

It has been a while since I have blogged. The farm seems like it was so long ago and lifetimes away.  What started as a way to market my sheep and wool ended up as a way for me to find myself.   My routine of writing either in the morning or at night came to a halt this past year.  At first I thought that it was due to  being burned out from writing in seminary.  Then I realized that I was a bit burnt with self-reflection.  Too much of it being done in CPE.  Too much of it being done while discerning my call to head back to Vermont and to see if I was called to ordination as a parish minister.

I am not. I am neither called to ministry in a parish nor to Vermont, though I did give it my best shot.  I really did try.

And blogging while in the process would have been a total fluster cluck.   I was in a town that was too small, in  a state where everybody knows everybody else, while  also knowing what you happened to buy at Lantman’s for supper.  I lost my fearlessness for writing freely and started monitoring and censoring myself.

But I have missed it,  writing freely as if no one is watching.  And perhaps with this blog it will be like that, like no one  is watching.  At least that is the stance I am going to take.  My best writing is done when I don’t think to much about the reader.  I think only about what needs to be told.  Often I have no idea until I am done with the writing.  Then I sit back and I read my words and I write things that sometimes I wish I had the courage to actually say.

It feels good to write again.  I am glad to be back.

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