Children, Family

I didn’t like my haircut.

On Wednesday, I didn't like my haircut. 

I got it on Tuesday. I love my hairdresser. LP and I go together, and she cuts LP's hair while I "process," so to speak. We discussed length, and how women my age all want to grow their hair out one last time, and how I need layers to avoid looking like a Cocker Spaniel. We discussed various minutiae and finally I said, "Just do whatever you think will be best," and she said, "I always get my way, no matter what we say."

And I didn't like my haircut. 

I spent a whole day, Wednesday, not liking it. Maybe it didn't curl enough that day, or maybe I regretted the last few haircuts, at which we let a few layers grow out further, obviously unsuccessfully, or maybe I wished I still had the longer hair of the haircut before that. 

Seriously, I don't know. Because by Thursday, haircuts seemed like the least important thing in the world. I moved around in shock; I didn't cry much, only with LP, in fact, the one person I would have liked to reassure by *not* crying in her presence.

"Snowman is okay, but…" I said these words over and over again. I'm grateful that The Father of My Children told his side of the family. I never even told my people far away, because what could they do? He's fine. Bruised, but fine. 

Thursday afternoon, the Host Mama, the mother of the friend the boys called after the late night accident, worried that he seemed lethargic, and I had a bad couple of hours until he woke up again and I could talk to him and determine that really it was the medicine he had taken making him dopey, not some hidden injury. 

I found that some people assumed I felt traumatized and others figured I was fine because he wasn't dead or in the hospital.

Do we know these things are coming, somehow? On Wednesday morning, I made sure he had his health insurance card. As we were leaving, Pure Luck said, "Be careful out there among the English," a movie reference the young one did not understand. It's not something he says often. But I gave a normal goodbye at the bus station, affectionate without being overly emotional. We've put him on that bus to Boston, whether to South Station or to Logan, many times over the past three years. There have been weather anomalies and flight delays, even a night spent stranded at O'Hare, but never a real problem. In the afternoon he sent a text–another delay, somewhere. He booked his own ticket this time, so I didn't even have the itinerary. 

He'll be 20 in a few more months.

Thank God, he will be 20.

The day unfolded as expected, and every time I looked in the mirror, I thought, "I don't like my haircut." People could tell you, I said it out loud. In the evening, I waited for the call announcing a safe arrival, figured he was having fun and had forgotten. At 8:50, I left him a voice mail. They were probably having dinner. At 10, I posted a Facebook status saying I missed him. Shortly after that the car went off the road. 

In the hospital, his friends said, "Your hair looks fine." He wears it straight up, on purpose, and although he had to pick dirt out of it until he was able to shower, the hair stood on end, just the way he likes it.

Mine, too, after those late night phone calls and two worrying days. But knowing that he is okay, I don't care anymore about my haircut.

Chez Songbird, Children, Family

In the Nest

Tonight, all the birds will be in the nest.

#1 Son arrived yesterday. He’s involved in a production of Henry V, and for some reason the theater company decided to come to City By the Sea for a weekend. Needless to say, this is delightful! If you live in Greater City By the Sea, click the picture in the sidebar to find out more about getting tickets. And if you live in Greater Big Apple, they’ll be back there next weekend. He’s staying with us until — actually, I don’t know how long he’s staying, but I’m hoping he’ll be here Sunday night for the Lost finale. We’ll see.

Later today we’ll drive to Beantown and collect Snowman from Hot and Cool Conservatory. He’s had a great second semester and will be home for several weeks before heading to Land o’Lakes Arts Academy/Camp, where he has a job on the stage crew for the summer concert series. We’ll miss him, but he is eager to get back to the lake and the trees and the music, and who can blame him. We’ll have three or four more weeks to listen to him practice in August.

In the midst of this, I have a very busy week at church. My colleague is away on a trip with the choir (they left on a bus for Quebec at 6 a.m.!), and this is the week of Confirmation, so I have a service to finish planning. The 12 8th graders who have been my weekly charge since September have finished their work. We meet tomorrow night to rehearse for the service and have a party. Then they get another party with the congregation on Sunday!

And meanwhile, I’m in a full-on job search, receiving gratifying phone calls, letters and emails that I hope will lead to a settled call. (There have been a few “no” letters, too, but more of the other, for which I am grateful.) This throws life into minor turmoil as we wonder whether this will remain *the* nest. I can only hope that where the Mama Songbird goes, the little birds will follow, as their increasingly grown-up schedules allow.

But for today, there’s worship planning to do, and a rehearsal for #1 Son, and a long car trip in the late afternoon, and packing for Snowman I’m guessing, and a chamber group re-audition for LP tonight, and the high likelihood of a very happy dog when he has both his boys home later.

I hope there is happiness in your nest today, however it looks, wherever it is.

Christmas, Family, Photos

Little Christmas Eve

Little Christmas Eve 008

We're all under one roof tonight. Here they are listening to their grandfather telling the history of our annual extended family extravaganza, an evening of music and readings and delicious food, including dishes with roots in my late mother-in-law's Swedish family. We heard Luke's story of the shepherds overtaken by angels, and The Night Before Christmas, and "Christmas is Coming, the Goose is Getting Fat" and Bach and Good King Wenceslas and, of course, The Grinch.

"It came without ribbons! It came without tags! It came without packages, boxes, or bags!"

Don't forget that. It's coming whether or not we get it all bought and wrapped.

It will be Christmas, soon.

Faith, Family

Yes, I’m a Spong

It's not hard to find out who I really am, since I link to my newspaper columns and have been none-too-secretive over the past couple of years. I still use a nickname simply because I *enjoy* using a pseudonym. My kids have a different last name, so I'd like to think they are somewhat shielded.

But one thing from which I cannot be shielded despite pseudonymity is the way other bloggers talk about someone I love a lot, my Cousin Jack (Bishop Spong). I don't agree with everything he's written–I'm a solidly Trinitarian Christian, but I find his post-theistic understanding of the Divine not only informative but inspirational. I admire the way he continues his lifelong spiritual practices, such as the reading of scripture and prayer, even though he has long since left behind the childhood faith experiences in which they were based. I have been the recipient of his hospitality, eaten meals he has prepared with his own hands, hands which have held mine and my children's as grace has been spoken around a family table.

Anyway, it's a popular thing to give him crap. I hope you won't mind if I skip those discussions at your blogs. In fact, I'm likely to stay away for a while. I find the hostility people feel toward him mysterious and troubling. I'm reminded of the death threats issued against my dad, Jack's first cousin, when he did not toe the white, conservative line in his political career, when he fought the people who thought closing the public schools in Virginia and opening "private" white schools would be the best way to fight integration and when he voted against a Supreme Court nominee who belonged to an all-white country club.

We need people who push the edges of how we think and what we believe, or we grow stagnant. We may not agree with all of their conclusions, but they stretch us. Without such people, we wouldn't be voting to affirm the new law allowing same sex marriage here in Maine. We wouldn't think twice about the Louisiana Justice of the Peace who recently refused to issue a marriage license to an interracial couple.

We need prophets.

I believe the world needs Cousin Jack. I believe God works through him, even if my understandings, some of them, differ from his. I hope you can understand. He poured the water of baptism on the head of my oldest child. In my home he is beloved.

Emerging, Family, Living in This World, Preaching

The way we talk about things

In between coffee and oatmeal, I heard something fascinating, an examination of how many times the President and Mrs. Obama used the personal pronoun in their remarks to the Olympic Committee a few days ago. This bothered someone (George Will?), and it seemed to irritate the cast of characters at Morning Joe, even though they on the whole supported the President's trip to promote Chicago bid to host the Olympics.

And it occurred to me, this is another example of the break-points between modern and post-modern culture. My experience of post-modern culture and church is that it's more about narrative and depth and that, by necessity, includes telling our personal stories.

Not that people haven't told their stories. Listen to any young/new pastor trying to make the adjustment to visiting elderly parishioners, shocked that they repeat their stories. (As if younger people don't…) But we haven't typically told them in political speeches or sermons. This is new.

Not too long ago I watched a short video from in which the presenter insisted that sermons ought not include personal stories.


If that's the standard, I may as well hang up the preaching shoes and get a job at Starbucks. I mean, I *can* write a sermon without a personal story, but that is simply not the way the Spirit works in and through me. If you are friends with me on Facebook and noted the conversation I had on this topic, you'll know it really left me questioning what I do and how I do it.

But last week, I got some feedback that helped a lot, in a meeting with the Pastoral Relations Committee, where a lay person told me that when I preach at Y1P there are many people who speak to her and say how much they like the way I do it, particularly the way everyday things are woven together with the word of God to create a whole.

Thank you, Jesus. That was helpful.

And it occurs to me that there is a difference between narcissism or testimony and putting things in context. We don't live in a world anymore where we can assume shared experiences. If a pastor of 40 years talks about the movies or the music that meant something to him, without setting up the context, his sermon may well feel irrelevant to people who don't share his cultural understandings.

I do agree that testimony is tricky if only the pastor employs it. If I've had a spectacular spiritual experience, and you haven't, and I preach about it, I'm not necessarily encouraging you to believe you'll have one or to seek one (as if most of us can). More likely I'm creating a two-tiered system in which I am the "holy" person with the mystical experiences and the people in the pews are the audience.

To go back to the Obamas, I love the way they employ their life stories in their interpretation of where we are today and where we hope to be. We don't live in a world comprised only of intact, white Protestant families. But those of us who grew up in those families need to hear stories other than our own.

My children grew up, are growing up, in what we used to call a broken home. They would be considered at risk, according to various studies, for early sexual acting out and truancy and academic failure and all sorts of things you would never want your kids to face. After the divorce, #1 Son did not want anyone to identify him as a kid whose parents had divorced. (Chime in if you read this and think that's wrong, #1 Son, but I believe that's an accurate telling.) He was able to maintain that sort of Twilight Zone because we kept things calm and reasonable, The Father of My Children and I, and because when Pure Luck came into the family, he took his time with the kids and did not try to be someone he was not in relationship to them.

We've defied statistics. I'm thankful for that.

But a speech that is just about that ends up sounding like a major case of hubris, dangerously so, and I would rather normalize my family's experience for others by referring to it slant-wise, not making a report about it.

I'm in favor of telling our stories, of broadening our collective understanding of how people live, of testifying to our practical reality and our spiritual hopes and our social dreams.


Crazy Busy, Family, Ministry

Where is My Calendar?

Bernese_calendarFor the past several years, *every* year someone in the family gave me a Bernese Mountain Dog calendar for Christmas. This year, though, no calendar appeared. I meant to get one, but I kept forgetting. Now it’s March, and I have finally recycled the old one (not an easy thing to do; those dogs are cute!).

On our refrigerator there is a big, blank rectangle where beautiful dogs ought to be on display, but if there were a calendar hanging, it would look something like this:

March 8 — #1 Son due home, rehearsal for tomorrow’s worship drama

March 9 — Spring ahead, darn it! Also afternoon meeting of advisory group for Rock and Roll Church

March 10 — Give the Opening Prayer for the State Senate; anticipate Pure Luck’s arrival home late in the day. (!!!!!)

March 11 — Take Molly to specialty vet for consultation about acupuncture.

March 12 — Take Molly to orthopedic surgeon for consult; Interim Ministers meeting to the north, Mission Committee meeting to the South; lots of driving all day long.

March 13 — Appointment to have hair "conditioned," as a friend puts it, because despite all this effort to grow out my hair, I find I’m depressed by being grey. (Maybe we ought to file this one under midlife crisis.)

March 14 — Blogger Meet-Up of Major Importance to Me!! One of the bloggers has already become a real-life friend, but the other, Oh! I’ve wanted to meet her for at least two years now.

March 16 — Palm Sunday — need I say more?  #1 Son goes back to school; Snowman arrives home for his break.

March 17 — Another blogger meet-up, this one with Christine from Abbey of the Arts!

March 18 — Final meeting with Main Street Church’s Council

March 20 — Maundy Thursday; 2nd appointment with new Massage Therapist who is trying to sort out my back issues.

March 21 — Good Friday

March 22 — Desperate attempt to vault from Good Friday to getting the guy out of the tomb

March 23 — Utter disbelief that Easter is so early. Desperate attempt to avoid Easter Candy and cakes in shape of eggs.

March 24 — Pedicure

March 25 — Pack up office and move books to new church (no nickname yet, give me time)

March 26 — Fly to New Orleans!!! Convince will smama there is no reason to be afraid!

March 27 — Embark on RevGalBlogPals’ Big Event cruise! Meet up with friends old and new! Room with childhood friend, Ruby!

March 29 — Pure Luck leaves for next job, while I visit Cancun. I hope he won’t be thinking about that.

March 31 — Snowman leaves for school, I return home.


There’s a chance we’ll be adding a surgery for Molly to this schedule, and I can’t even think about that right now. Lots to look forward to, lots to celebrate and lots to complete on this list of dates.  Somewhere in here hope to get some exercise…maybe it will finally thaw enough for long walks to be on the list while Pure Luck is home. I am off the weight-lifting temporarily until the numbness in my hands resolves or at least improves, though I’m pretty sure I hurt myself lifting Molly, not lifting the weights.

I’m sitting on a ledge (hopefully not as lasting as a plateau) where weight is concerned, despite drinking massive quantities of water and tracking faithfully. But I will not let that drop off my calendar, even in all this busy-ness.

I have some knitting deadlines, but those projects are coming slowly due to the hand numbness. I did about two inches on a second mitten for The Princess yesterday, and I have a sock to finish for a church member at Main Street Church as well as hat(s) for a Ravelry knit-along.

I’m not sure why I’ve written all this down. I’m busy. I bet you are, too. Let’s wave to each other as we pass!

Family, Whimsy

After the Piano Lesson

During The Princess’ piano lesson, Pure Luck and I tromped around some woods on the other side of town, running through the snow with Molly and Sam. After we picked up The Princess and loaded everyone into the car, we had the following conversation.

Pure Luck: If you have a minute, we can drive by that house with the nightmare Christmas display.

The Princess (from the back seat): What?

Songbird: We’re going to drive by the Nightmare Before Christmas.

The Princess: You mean the LIGHTmare?

Songbird (to Pure Luck): You are a bad influence on her.

Pure Luck: On the contrary, I think I’m a very good influence.

(I’ll try to get a picture of the LIGHTmare to post another day.)