Tuesday, June 30, 2009

something else which we talked about

A friend was missing on that porch last Friday. She was out of state visiting family and witnessing what will happen to most of us. Her mom's body was growing old and having a hard time keeping up with the fight to keep life's flow of energy inside of her.
We talked about aging parents. Some on the porch had gone through the death of their parents, others had parents in fine health.
Fine health. I guess that is what I have said about my parents for the most part of my adult life. They both turned 76 this spring. I went to see them on Sunday. And while they were both strong enough to walk up the hill to the place we had brunch...
Sunday night I prayed with the sadness of seeing my parent's age and for some glitches in my dad's body which has led to finding more glitches and thus going to see more doctors. Eventually I needed a distraction, so I picked up the Bible and read chapter 5 of Genesis (I recently decided to read Genesis). I found a genealogy of Father's giving birth to sons and then dying. It went from Adam to Noah. A long list of Fathers dying. Not sure if that was the distraction I was looking for...
Last night I returned to the sadness when I sat to pray and thoughts went back to when I was 5 and my dad held my hand when I was facing medical woes. The hand has been there for me ever since. Where is my hand in what is happening now?

and then there is my friend who is with her mom...
peace be with you.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Last night gathered with some good folk on a friend's porch, I listened to two talk about doing good work with the Be The Change organization.
I am always glad to hear about what they are doing, but have not leapt into action myself. Nothing unusual there, I have not done a lot of volunteer work in my life. I reason or rationalize that my work is where I put forth direct contact with those in need, then support people who are doing good deeds through donations.
But today it appears I may end up doing two bits (who knows maybe even more) of action for my town. This morning out on a walk, Mosaic Woman and I found ourselves walking the Lansdale Labyrinth. As I walked, I was impressed that some effort had been made to maintain this living labyrinth. You walk on mown grass while ornamental grasses keep you from straying. But weeds did persist. I spoke of doing some weeding as we sat on the big rock in the center. So as I wound my way out, I did some weeding along with my mindful walking. Mosaic Woman joined in as she walked many feet ahead of me. I can do this for my town.
Tonight, I will suffer through a jazz concert for my community. Lansdale has recently opened a cultural center and this is our first opportunity to act out our appreciation. Those who imagined this project, those who worked on it, and the musicians coming to play in it are all people I want to support. So tonight, I will be at the Lansdale Center for The Performing Arts listening to the Jim Holton Trio.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

jazz and anti-lake effect rain patterns

Mosaic Woman and I looked at my work schedule and the Rochester Jazz festival schedule, and said no to jazz for this year. But as quantum physics explains the world, if you are the observer, you will observe different things, if you look again.
A friend in Rochester invites us to stay with her if we ever come to the festival. The schedule is observed again. This time a possibility is seen.
At which point did we see a festival schedule that became our vacation.
As I pack, I observe a forecast filled with great probability of rain. An hour or two later I see words written by my friend...
"Hopefully, it will do the reverse lake effect thing that it's been doing for over a month now and there will be little if any rain. I'll explain it when you're here."
On Wednesday, heavy rains hit our car as we drive to Rochester... at the same time my friend observes heavy radar on her computer screen. We park the car and soon observe a wet cat flee from a door step.
With Thursday night jazz schedule in one hand, I use an umbrella with the other. There are forces greater than the lake. We enjoy Friday's weather. Then it rains all day on Saturday. Saturday night for the festival the lake will send a long thin line of steady rain onto Rochester.
The lake says, "if you look, then it may rain, or maybe it won't." It did.

Mosaic Woman had come down with "Herman Flu" (the wet cat) and we were satisfied with the quantity and quality of jazz, so instead of going to see one more act we stop by to hear a couple more at the second set of Antonio Ciacca, who had amazed us earlier in the evening.

I put on my jacket and picked up my umbrella, then Antonio named the next tune. When an observer glances at his world, sometimes things look different. Six minutes later, we left the building.
This is how Antonio once recorded a jazz standard which delayed us heading back to our friend's house where a Cd playing by Stevie Ray Vaughn brought up some memories and I once again observed my past. It probably wasn't exactly the same, but I told stories anyway.
I am glad my friend had us take a second look at that schedule.

Monday, June 15, 2009

herding cats

Inside I have to laugh at my friends who think it would be so hard to guide them through a Bible Study. They think they are unherdable (I like this new word), but considering the group I herd at work everyday, they are nothing (actually they are everything). No, this is not what I need. I do not desire keeping them "on topic" for I learn so much more to let them flow freely. Would I have learned as much about science fiction writers and their books on theology if I had spent the energy reigning them in to the topic? I don't think so or as one would say... Hell to the no! Is that what you say?
The topic was the Lord's Prayer. So I look at the clock and skip to the end, for I want to get their take on avoiding evil and/or the evil one. Since they want brief statements about the prayer---- an earlier reading annoyed two of the three greatly for being too long of an extensive to the Lord's prayer, and ironically sent both into much longer ramblings both on and off topic.
... so I tell them this, which the retreat leader had said last week at Wernersville,
"The goal of the evil one is to make us doubt that God loves us, and/or that we love God. It is that simple."
I think about all those years of not believing and how those thoughts keep flowing back.... "Only fools and stupid people could believe in God," the evil one whispers into my head many a week at church. Thank God for hymns and friends passing peace to fill me with the spirit to fight it off. But I want to be rid of these thoughts so I linger and ramble on when I pray these days.

Yes, I will take that opening to the prayer and sit with it and pray for God's kingdom to flow onto the Earth. I want to demand that the world is filled with peace and joy and hope and justice and love. I don't want to fly into the daily bread. I want to linger with my hope that I can be part of helping God's kingdom prosper. I want to be awed by a God that is capable of this and praise the God of all of us for it. I am in no hurry to get to the forgiveness bit. I will stop there too. But first, I want God and myself be real clear why I want to be fed, why I want to be forgiven, why I want to forgive others, and why I do not want to be led away from God. I need this and so I sit and shout silently to the Lord. "I want to be part of your unfolding creation, please, please give me the wisdom to see it and respond in a way that creates your Kingdom..."
I let my friend's ramble on and that is OK because... for until they comment here, but only until then... I have the final word.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

award giving... giving thanks

One of the saddest things in the world is hearing a teacher, who at the end of a school year, claims that he/she has no student who they feel deserve an award. I hear it every year.
Friday I gave out a record for me, three.
Horticulture went to a rookie, something I have never done before. His parents were there so he knew he was getting an award, so I was glad that he won another before I hit the stage otherwise he may have not been as surprised. I spoke of his greatest strength, but also of something he could improve upon, then spoke my blessing... of being able to look forward to seeing him improve over the next few years.
Science went to a student who is graduating, even though he could stick around for another year or two before age would kick him into the world. He has more science stored in his memory cells than I, so I spoke of what he adds to class discussions. I also spoke of the joy he glows with when I do introduce him to a new concept. His good nature and love of science has had him become a main character in "my creative stories" which I make up to explain a concept. It won't be as much fun with him gone. Who now will I draw under a frozen lake being shot up into the air by an ice volcano?
Then I was the last teacher to give an award before the big wigs took over. There I was presenting an award for citizenship and giving another speech, which I wrapped about this quote...
"One good teacher in a lifetime may sometimes change a delinquent into a solid citizen" by Philip Wylie
I spoke of how if he had ever been a delinquent it was another teacher who transformed him, of how a friend told me delinquents lack empathy, of how the young man witnessed the world and responded with compassion, of how the world would be a grand place if all citizens acted the same way, and of how given the charge to be his teacher, that I hoped that in some way I had helped him to be yet a better citizen.
Later he told me I had.
Later a friend driving myself and 8 students to a beautiful garden told me that I deserved to be "teacher of the year."
Later many colleagues told me I gave good speeches.
It all flows out of being grateful of my students' willingness to spend time with me and respecting the basic fact that I am paid to serve them, not for them to serve me.
It was a good day to give praise and to accept praise.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

some school thoughts...

a break from retreat thoughts...

driving into the parking lot I was quite shocked to find a few men walking though my garden with weed wackers. however, it turns out the school has contracted out lawn care and I was blessed to not have to find the time or energy to mow around the vegetable beds. They did a marvelous job of going around all the beds. This lifted my spirits immensely.
five school days left, of which three are gardening days. Tomorrow may or may not be a rain out. The ground is already saturated (that technically may be an exaggeration). However, I stood back and checked out the garden today and I was well pleased. I would like to get some zucchini, patty pans, hot peppers, and more cucumbers planted by graduation.
science fair dude fell into a funk but has emerged... after a few days I forced him to talk to me. I surely am not going to listen to the blatant lie, "nothing's wrong," for too many days. The last few days he is back to his old self and we have been chatting more about science than cleaning my tables when he comes in for his after school job. He finally finished his essay on the golden ratio.
I meditated again today. My theory is correct... I am much more likely to begin to nod off when my mind wonders away from my breath. I end up leaving work a bit later when I do this but it feels right, so I am going to keep going.
My Biology class has been suffering through having a teacher whose energy is focused on gardening. For a week or more I have been bombarding them with (Sir David) Attenborough's Life of Birds. They have been amazed, but today they had the nerve to ask me to do some teaching. I said, "Sure." We will look at how human fishing practices has affected the evolution of fish.
I love this time of year, not because the school year is ending, but because the garden is beginning and the students are coming through yet again. I could keep going. However, I would take January off with no problem at all.

Monday, June 8, 2009

retreat... 2- the night before, the day after

So there it was the night before the retreat and it was getting a bit late when Mosaic Woman pondered if I planned to pack art supplies. It had not occurred to me, just as it had not occurred to me to pack before it got a bit late. So I grabbed my blue and my violet and my green prisma color pencils and sharpened them. I started the doodle Friday night, thought "sea slug." and by Saturday night it was finished. It is my first "serious" doodle in a long time. Stained glass work will do that. But it felt good and right. The same feelings as returning to prayer. I am sure a good friend or Jesuit would want me to take notice of these feelings...

A while back an email came forth at work about interest in a meditation group. I either ignored it or forgot about it. Then an e-mail came out announcing the times. Today I made it for the third time. It was just myself and one of the leaders, a new therapist with whom I had yet to converse with at the school.
Now we have. I told her I had been a lot less groggy today even though I had spent 200 minutes gardening in the humidity that has entered our region. She asked, "Did you have a good weekend?"
I told her about Wernersville. We talked.


Sunday, June 7, 2009

Jesuit retreat on prayer 1

Friday night at the Jesuit Center, I am listening to the presenter, Nina Pension, when she says something about being helped by her sister. I then recognize them from a retreat they had led in the past. I think of those who did not recognize Jesus on the road to Emmaus. She tells me her hair color has changed. Maybe that is how those walkers were fooled. I will resonate all weekend with the words that come forth from her, again making me think of those who walked with Jesus.

Friday night, she spoke of Daniel sitting before the Lord and being amazed at how blessed he was. Thus directed, I sat before the Lord and started thinking of the good folk I have known in my life. My brain did not go year by year but from this time period to that time period. and I felt blessed. Names keep flowing into my brain...


A morning and afternoon session on what we can learn from Jesus on the essence of prayer. Nina Pension blends scripture, theologians, saints, and her own life. And I resonate with so much.

I meet with a spiritual director who knows me well. She says I look tired. I believe her. She asks me why I came this weekend. I tell her about how I recently returned to prayer. I tell her about a desire to get reconnected with God and not just that, but to stop and spend some quality time with God. To come to where she has given her life work so the rest of us can retreat with God.

Then I walk to I meet with the woman who sat by me during the two Saturday sessions. I never met her before but she makes that kind of first impression that makes you want to know a person. She asks me what the retreat leader had asked... if we were to bring our greatest desire to God, what would it sound like. Can we pray this?

Sunday, I woke and remembered my desire. I took a seat in front of God and told him all about it.

The last session on Sunday morning is intense. This time I sit next to the woman who directed me to pray my great desire. I turn to her and say, I can't imagine those 60 days away from my prayer practice did not affect me. She smiles and taps my arm.

The leader is real and honest and full of the spirit, but I want it to come in smaller chunks with great expanses of silence. When it is over I pack my bag. There is no time or energy to reflect on what she has told us. But I have my notes next to my doodles.

Twenty minutes till mass so I walk outside. Nina Pension is sitting in the sun. I grab a lavender blossom and walk away leaving her alone with God. There are bluebirds and chipping sparrows ignoring the call for silence. I walk and sniff the flower. I am drawn to shade provided by two large trees. A dead catbird is on the ground. I toss the flower on the bird and walk in to praise and worship God.


Thursday, June 4, 2009

Stratoz gets political... support the arts in PA

well what is one to do when The Pennsylvania State Senate declares that they have located exactly zero dollars for The Pennsylvania Council for The Arts.

what can you do?

Go to the website of the Citizens For The Arts in PA. They make it easy to contact the good folk in Harrisburg, who serve us.

So much , so much depends upon these grants.