Saturday, March 16, 2013


Unfortunately, it is the word on the tip of my tongue this week. I don't believe for a minute that Lent or life with Jesus is about guilt. Guilt is stifling. And yet, it creeps into me and sits there. And taunts me. And, for the most part, I let it. Until I say, that's enough. Something needs to come in its place.

The week started for me with the birth of a baby. A long expected baby whose arrival I was very excited about. Immediately, I wanted to hold the baby, care for the baby, shower the parents with care and meals and love. Or what I equated with love at the time. It's Saturday, and I have not seen the baby.

Then, I went to a PTA meeting, my second of the year. Why? Because I believe I need to be there, helping, supporting. And I have been doing none of those things. Not only that, I am clueless. I don't know what's going on, and so I'm not much help. But I try.

Then comes an email from Paul's baseball coach. The league has cancelled their game because we (as a team) have failed to produce enough volunteers to run the concession on Saturday morning. It's our responsibility. As a team. Even so, I feel individual guilt. It's a stretch for all of us. But why can't I stretch more and make it possible? I offer help. I try. There is lots of saying, "it's ok" and "you do what you can". It gets covered by someone else. I know that if I don't help in some way by the end of the season, I'll feel more guilt. And I know too that it's not just in my head. Someone will say too, you needed to do this. We needed your help.

And the blog! I'm supposed to post on the blog!

This is hard for me. I know guilt is not the answer.

What good am I doing anyone if I do too much? Something will get dropped. And yet, there is the other voice that says, "you could do more".  Right?

Even now, I am at home while my seven-year old plays his second baseball game of the season. I haven't seen any of any game yet, and I won't today because someone needs to be home with the baby while he naps. Logical, right? I mean I can't be in two places at once. But, couldn't I have figured out a way to make it work? Apparently not.

Reading Noelle's two previous posts, I am reminded of all the life that has gone on while I have felt guilt. Life continues. Things happen. Big things and small things. Changes and moments that I knew nothing about, until now. I am forever grateful and expressing gratitude that in this moment, I got to read those stories and know about them. They remind me of all the things that we all have going on, and how much we are all trying to live into what God has promised: love, grace, mercy, forgiveness.

Where can I go from here? I say, "I'm sorry". Amazingly, that's enough. People accept my apologies! Even my kids, in their wild emotions, accept my apologies when I can't do for them all that they wanted. And then what? I listen. I pray. (thank you Noelle). I listen to what God has to say. I listen to what you have to say. God is working in you and in me and I have much to learn.

Some days, our amazingness will pull off many things at once, with God's help. And other days, I will try and I will fail.  I will lean a little harder on you. I will give thanks for you and I will accept me as I am and what God has enabled me to do today. These are easy words to type. Harder words to live. I welcome all your thoughts because I know that alone, I am guilty. With you, I am forgiven and made new.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


It was 10:36 when the announcement came over the intercom speaker on the phone on my desk. I knew it was coming. It is just a drill. I know it is just a drill.

Childcare lockdown.

For about 6 minutes, my daughter's preschool (whose phone system is tied in with ours) was practicing what they would do if someone came into their school to do them harm. And for about 6 minutes, and for a full 15 after the "all clear" signal came through, I've been sitting at my desk crying.

I had the same reaction to the email I got from my son's kindergarten teachers back in January. They did a similar drill, though in their infinite creativity, they called it a "giant bunny drill", you know, in case the class was put upon by a herd of giant bunnies. Each kid was given a special hiding place int he classroom, safe from the giant bunnies. They were just letting parents know that if our kids came home talking about attacking rabbits, this was why.

They were also letting us know that they were thinking about my child's safety, and even in thinking of that, they were also protecting his 6-year-old psyche, one that--so-far-- believes that bad guys only exist on Lego Ninjago and Star Wars.

I am grateful that my kids go to schools where the teachers are trained in "lockdown". I trust those teachers every day with little beings more precious to me than my own life. But I am so sad for the world they live in. I am deeply grieved that my three-year-old is learning how to hide from bad guys during her school day and something inside me permanently broke when my kindergartener laughingly told me about his giant bunny hiding place.

This is the part of parenting that no one can quite articulate: this feeling of total helplessness in the face of obvious evil. And that evil might be anything or anywhere: drunk driver, cancer, man with a gun in an elementary school. There is absolutely nothing practical we can do to escape either the evil or the helplessness, so we do nothing practical.

Instead, I do the impractical, the lavish, the ridiculous, the first stop and last resort: I pray. I have to. For non-believers, this sounds pointless, I get that. But at least feels like more than sobbing with my head down on my desk. And I believe that it is more than sobbing. It is admitting that, while I'm doing my best at taking care of what I've been given, there is a point after which control is no longer mine. There is terror and comfort in that. It's the best I've got in times like this.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Liturgy, in a mirror

I have presided over a funeral with military involvement before, but the one this morning was different. Maybe because it was so big, maybe because I knew the honoree so much better, maybe because it was on my home turf. In any case I was reminded how really beautiful the "liturgy" of the military can be.

The whole things started with an unexpected fly-by in the middle of downtown Atlanta. Three huge jets came screaming down low over our church yard. (We learned later that the unannounced nature of it terrified the occupants of the nearby office towers.) But it set the tone for the rest of the service. Not in grandeur or terror, but in importance. This time and space was set aside for something of utmost importance. After the Word, Eucharist, Commendation and Committal, the Marine Corps Honor Guard presented the Colors to the honoree's grandson. It was simple, clean and very moving. Throughout the service, I was struck by both the contrast and similarity of our purposes and presentation.

This funeral had nine clergy vested and processing.  It also had a multitude of military personnel: a bagpipe, trumpeter, honor guard, arms presentation, family escort.

I was moved by the beautiful balance of fluidity and rigidity that the military contingent struck as they moved through their paces.  Not a movement was wasted, there was nothing extemporaneous or loose. This had been done thousands of times.

But so had our part, and for hundreds of years.  Our movements are not perfect, but they were smooth.  Our words are full of comfort and a message of grace.  I think the liturgy of military honors speaks volumes about a person's dedicated service to those things which are important here on earth: honor, pride, protection, duty.  But for my part, I believe immeasurably in the Christian burial (especially the Episcopal one!) and what it says about life eternal, and about those things which are important to God: love, mercy, grace, forgiveness.

We are people in the world for a time, so it makes perfect sense to honor those things that we held dear by those who held us dear.  Bill deserved every inch of those military honors and then some. They were beautifully executed and appropriately offered.  I appreciate that such as this is available to God's beloved who spend their lives in so great a calling.  But I am even more grateful that our burial liturgy is available to anyone and everyone who live on this earth at all, reminding us that we are all called into greatness, whether in this life or the next.