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Postmodern Friday 5 April 25, 2008

Posted by introspectreangel in Friday Fives.


Singing Owl writes:


“Yesterday I had two separate conversations in which people were musing about how much change is occurring. The WW II generation, of which my mom is a part, went from horse and buggy to automobiles, saw the lessening, or even the end of many diseases, went from widespread use of kerosene lamps and outhouses (in the country, and most folks were rural)) to a totally electrified and plumbed society. The fastest means of communication was a telegraph. The second conversation–gulp–was about MY generation and how much change occurred in the last half of the 20th century. The person said his 13 year old had not seen a vinyl record album until a few days before, couldn’t remember a time without cell phones, and on and on.

As for the questions!

1. What modern convenience/invention could you absolutely, positively not live without?


Initially I was going to say the Internets, but I’m going to go with my cell phone for right now.  I just moved and haven’t had the cable folks out yet to get my Internets hooked up, and I’m still walking around breathing… but I make no promises I would be doing that if you took away my ability to call, text message, take pictures, or listen to my mp3’s, all of which I do on my phone. 


I’ve read some other responses to this Friday Five already, and I’ve seen several that answered question #2 with “cell phones”, wishing they had never seen the light of day.  I think that I’ve had a different experience with them altogether.  I remember when cell phones first began to appear on the landscape, and I remember hearing people say things like, “Well, this is her cell phone number and I tried her at home already and she wasn’t there, so I don’t know WHY she doesn’t pick up!”  There was an expectation that if you had a cell phone, you were available anytime, anywhere.  But as more and more people are replacing their land lines with cell phones, I think that expectation is going away.  My cell phone is my only phone, and I do not feel the slightest bit obligated to answer it if I don’t feel like talking to anyone, regardless of whether or not they think I should answer.  I think it’s awesome that the only calls I miss are the ones I WANT to miss, and I don’t have to give out my work number to anyone, which is wonderful.  I hate, hate, hate it when collections people call for my coworkers.  I think it’s incredibly rude to bother people at work with that stuff.  And the brevity of text messaging has given me a glimpse into the interior lives of my friends, both near and far, that I might not get if I had to sit down and write letters to them.  For example, I was sitting out on my porch the other night watching a thunderstorm roll in, musing about what it meant to be in the first place that is really MY OWN following the demise of my marriage, and I was sharing it with a good friend in real time via text message.  If I had waited until later, to write an email or a letter, I might not remember what I was feeling.  Being able to tell someone that I’m lonely, or that I’m confused, or that I feel elated, or that I really need to talk at the very moment that I am feeling those emotions keeps me sane and connected in what has been a very trying time.  Even if the person I’m reaching out to can’t talk right then, knowing that I put it out into the universe that I needed contact helps immeasurably.

2. What modern convenience/invention do you wish had never seen the light of day? Why?

I may love cell phones, but some of the accessories are seriously annoying.  Bluetooth headsets anyone?  Or maybe it’s the fact that people persist in wearing them when they’re not on the phone?  I love how technology has improved and streamlined our lives, but seriously, you’re just not important enough to walk around with the damn thing on all the time.  Or perhaps you’re just living out your childhood fantasy of becoming a robot?

3. Do you own a music-playing device older than a CD player? More than one? If so, do you use it (them)?


I don’t own the devices for playing, but I do own a few records and a few cassette tapes.  I was occasionally listening to them on my parents’ old stereo when I had to move back in with them temporarily, but I’ve been thinking I may look into what would be necessary to convert them to mp3.  However, I can’t really explain to anyone in words the sentimental value of these items in their original format.  The Route 66 remix of Depeche Mode’s “Behind the Wheel”…the “Interview with the Vampire” soundtrack…a Human Drama EP called “Hopes Prayers Dreams Heart Soul Mind Love Life Death”…Guns ‘n’ Roses “Appetite for Destruction”…this was music that changed my life and even if cassette tapes and records become completely unplayable, I’m sure I’ll keep them.

4. Do you find the rapid change in our world exciting, scary, a mix…or something else?


Definitely exciting.  I wish I had the money to keep up with more of the latest toys.  Here’s the thing, though – I don’t want the stuff just to have it, you know?  I’m not interested in possessions per se, and I’ve always been more interested in how technology is used as opposed to the existence of the technology itself.  GPS technology is super cool, but the coolest thing is not ever getting lost and the new friends you can make geocaching.  Digital music is awesome indeed, but sharing it with people is even better.  Not having to hike to find the nearest pay phone when your car breaks down and being able to call roadside assistance is simply divine.

5. What did our forebears have that we have lost and you’d like to regain? Bonus points if you have a suggestion of how to begin that process.


I honestly cannot think of one single thing.  No bonus points for me, I guess.


Look Before You Leap, It’s the Friday Five! February 29, 2008

Posted by introspectreangel in Friday Fives.


It’s Leap Day!! Whether you’re one of the special few who have a birthday only once every four years, or simply confused by the extra day on the calendar, everyone is welcome to join in and play our Leap Year Friday Five.Tell us about a time you:

1. Leapt before looked – It would be fair to say this is more of my modus operandi than the exception to the rule.  I’ll tell you what, though – I hate, hate, HATE team-building exercises, especially the ones that involve “trust falls” and “blind walks”.  You know what I’m talking about, where you fall backwards into your coworkers’ arms, or partner up with a coworker, put on a blindfold, and trust them to lead you around and not hurt you?  Perhaps it’s the contrived nature of the setting – you know you won’t get hurt, in which case it’s not *really* leaping without looking, is it?

2. Leapt to a conclusion – I assumed that because my then-fiance, soon to be ex-husband, didn’t actively tell me to go away that he was as much in love with me as I thought myself to be with him.  I wish I would have paid more attention, and I wish that I would have taken the time to grieve the loss that had occurred just prior to meeting him… maybe then I would have had the confidence to be true to myself instead of hoping he would complete me.  On the other hand, I wouldn’t trade my “lovely parting gift” of Gabe or my insanely pathetic crush on David Tennant of television’s “Dr. Who” – a show I never would have watched if not for my ex!

3. Took a Leap of faith – Teenage hitchiking.  Damn, that was stupid.

4. Took a literal Leap – At my handfasting I jumped the broom.  Does that count? (It wasn’t easy in that drapy gown with the bell sleeves and all the ribbons I was wearing, either!)  I’m also remembering summers spent at the enormous pool at the Lockheed Martin Recreation Area here in Fort Worth.  They have the regular diving boards, as well as the Olympic standard 10 meter platforms – you can hit the water at up to 55 mph off one of those – and I did, many times!

5. And finally, what might you be faced with Leaping in the coming year? – Some of my long-held ideas about worship communities and the place they hold/have held in my life have been gradually changing over the last 2 years, and I think this year I may come to peace with that.  I hope to tackle my procrastinating ways as well and get myself back into school to take on another bachelor’s degree.

Friday 5: Baptism edition February 18, 2008

Posted by introspectreangel in Friday Fives, theology.
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This is so very, very late, and I haven’t played Friday 5 in so very, very long… but this is a topic I just couldn’t pass up!

From the RevGals:

In this Sunday’s gospel Nicodemus asks Jesus, “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?” Poor old Nicodemus! He was so confused about the whole “water and Spirit” business of baptism. For today’s five, tell us about your baptismal experiences.

When and where were you baptized? Do you remember it? Know any interesting tidbits?
I was baptized at the tender age of 15 days old at the Benjamin Franklin Village Chapel in Mannheim, Germany. Benjamin Franklin Village is a U.S. Army installation made up of several smaller military posts. Anyway, no, I don’t remember it, but my mom has my Baptism candle, which is all messed up because as a kid, I loved the way wax felt under my fingernails when I scratched candles, so the decorative Chi Ro symbol on the candle is all scratched off. Whoops! Interesting tidbits, huh? Let’s see… well, my dad began studying the Roman Catholic faith when he joined the Army. Then he met my Roman Catholic mom, and they had a whirlwind courtship and quickie civil wedding in front of a JP. They decided to make everything sacramentally legit after I came along, but my dad’s childhood Southern Baptist church would not cough up the proof of his baptism when a Catholic church requested it. So on August 10, 1975, the day that I received my first sacrament, Baptism, my dad received FIVE: Baptism, Reconciliation, Eucharist, Confirmation, and Matrimony.

What’s the most unexpected thing you’ve ever witnessed at a baptism?
I can’t say I’ve ever witnessed anything unexpected. As a child, the one I remember best is my younger brother’s baptism. His godmother, my aunt from Texas, couldn’t make the blessed event in Ohio, so another aunt who was local stood in proxy for her. And his godfather, my uncle who is always late to things, was actually early… but that may have been because we told him it started an hour earlier than it did!

Does your congregation have any special traditions surrounding baptisms?
I just joined my current parish a few weeks ago, so I don’t know if they have any special traditions particular to that congregation. I’ve always liked it when the kids are invited to sit up front to see what is going on, though. And I knew a priest once who always walked the aisle with the newly baptized baby and asked everyone to say hello to the newest member of our family. It took a long time, because you could hear people singing little lullabies as they reached over to touch the kiddo, but they baby was usually either laughing or asleep by the end of it.

Are you a godparent or baptismal sponsor? Have a story to tell?
I’m not, but I would very much like to be. I agonized over the choices of godparents for my children, because I wanted people who would take the promises seriously. It makes me sad that I’m not in touch with The Princess’ godmother anymore. I thought we would be friends forever when I was 17, but it was not to be. Boy-o’s godparents are relatives, so I know where to find them, but they are also of a different faith tradition that practices believer’s baptism, not infant baptism, and they don’t use godparents, so they didn’t quite get what they big deal was or what exactly the role was I was hoping they would play in his spiritual formation. Oh well…

Do you have a favorite baptismal song or hymn?
Not a hymn, but I’m more of a liturgy person. I can find something to love about the music I’m worshiping to no matter if it’s a guitar Mass with 15 people present or Evensong in a majestic cathedral. So, I’ll give you my favorite words of the Baptismal liturgy instead, the words of Thanksgiving over the Water (Book of Common prayer, p.306):

“We thank you, Almighty God, for the gift of water. Over it the Holy Spirit moved in the beginning of creation. Through it you led the children of Israel out of their bondage in Egypt into the land of promise. In it your Son Jesus received the baptism of John and was anointed by the Holy Spirit as the Messiah, the Christ, to lead us, through his death and resurrection, from the bondage of sin into everlasting life.

We thank you, Father, for the water of Baptism. In it we are buried with Christ in his death. By it we share in his resurrection. Through it we are reborn by the Holy Spirit. Therefore in joyful obedience to your Son, we bring into his fellowship those who come to him in faith, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

RevGalBlogPals Friday5: Think About These Things Edition November 16, 2007

Posted by introspectreangel in Friday Fives.

Songbird writes:

Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8, NRSV)

Friends, it’s nearly Thanksgiving in the U.S. and it’s the time of year when we are pressed to name things for which we are thankful. I want to offer a twist on the usual lists and use Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi as a model. Name five things that are true, honorable, just, pure, pleasing, commendable, excellent or worthy of praise. These could be people, organizations, acts, ideas, works of art, pieces of music–whatever comes to mind for you.


True: “I will keep faith – in God, in God’s faith in me, and in all the companions whom God has given me to help see the world as God sees it – so that together we may find a way to help realize the divine vision. If some of us do not yet know who we are going to be tomorrow, then it is enough for us to give thanks for today while we treat each other as well as we know how. “Be kind,” wrote Philo of Alexandria, “for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.”

-Barbara Brown Taylor, Leaving Church

Honorable: My parents

Just: Sojourners, the ONE Campaign, the Millennium Development Goals, Episcopal Relief and Development, Matthew 25 Mission


Pleasing: pedicures, the beach, tattoos, down comforters, pink lemonade, cigarettes, home cooked meals, intense conversations, cocktails with friends, filthunlimited, “synthpop, new wave, darkwave, futurepop, electropop, electroclash, industrial, EBM and Goth” (even though they. are. all. dead.)

Commendable: this letter

Excellent: a snarky retort, a sick joke, back rubs, Dave Gahan’s new album “Hourglass”

Worthy of Praise: “El Shaddai, El Shaddai, El Elyon-na Adonai”

RevGalBlogPasl Friday Five: extravagent unbusyness November 9, 2007

Posted by introspectreangel in Friday Fives.

Sally from RevGalBlogPals writes:

I am writing in my official capacity of grump!!! No seriously, with the shops and stores around us filling with Christmas gifts and decorations, the holiday season moving up on us quickly for many the time from Thanksgiving onwards will be spent in a headlong rush towards Christmas with hardly a time to breathe…. I am looking at the possibility of finding little gaps in the day or the week to spend in extravagant unbusyness (a wonderful phrase coined by fellow revgal Michelle)…

So given those little gaps, name 5 things you would do to;

1. to care for your body: I plan to continue my daily 5:30 AM appointments with the jogging trampoline, and to continue to limit my food intake to lean meat, seafood, eggs, fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, berries, and water. (Oil, vinegar, and spices are okay, too!)  And I need to get a checkup, SOON.

2. to care for your spirit: I need to forgive myself for the fact that I loved my husband for who I thought he had the potential to be, not for who he actually was.  I feel a lot of guilt over the fact that I miss being married, but I don’t miss the person I was married TO (not even a little bit).

3. to care for your mind: Ask more questions, and don’t automatically believe the answers I am given.  Watch more Daily Show. 🙂

4. to bring a sparkle to your eye: Plaster my car with “Dennis Kucinich for President” stickers before I move home…watch chaos ensue when I try to actually park it in the driveway of my staunchly Republican, staunchly pro-war parents’ house.

5. to place a spring in your step: Read more silly poetry.  Seek out people who can make me laugh instead of cry.  Maybe dust off my old pogo stick?  Plant a tree.

Enjoy the time to indulge and dream…. and then for a bonus which one on the list are you determined to put into action?

The determination bank balance is pretty low at the moment.  I can dream, I can wish, I can pray, but it took every ounce of determination I had to recognize that I was involved in an irreparably sick situation and I needed to start my life over.  There’s really not much left to draw on right now.  Honestly, I don’t know if there ever will be again.  Maybe the old me, the one who was determined to be in control, needed to die so I could learn some lessons about surrender.

RevGalBlogPals Friday 5: de-cluttering edition September 20, 2007

Posted by introspectreangel in Friday Fives.
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Sally writes: 

With Jo, Jon and Chris all moving to college and University accommodation there has been a big clear up going on in the Coleman household. We have been sorting and trying hard not just to junk stuff, but actually to get it to where it can be useful. On a brighter note we have used Freecycle ( check it out) to provide the twins with pots and pans etc that other folk were clearing out.Making the most of our resources is important, I have been challenged this week by the amount of stuff we accumulate, I’d love to live a simpler lifestyle, it would be good for me, and for the environment I think…With that in mind I bring you this Friday 5.

1. Are you a hoarder or a minimalist?

Neither.  I’m definitely NOT a packrat and packratty behavior drives me freakin’ insane!  I mean, what do you NEED that stuff for?  But I’m not a minimalist, either.  I have plenty of things, but I can tell you a story behind each one – where and when I got it, and why I still have it today.

2. Name one important object ( could be an heirloom) that you will never part with. 

I honestly can’t think of any.  I love my stuff and I have stories about my stuff, but in the end, it’s all just stuff.

3. What is the oldest item in your closet? Does it still fit??? 

Probably the beautiful eggplant colored formal dress I bought back in college for a winter ball.  I was skinnier then.  I keep hoping I’ll get back into it.  Either that, or my 11 year old pair of Doc Martens.  Everything else has been bought in the last two years.  However, you asked about my closet, not my chest of drawers. 🙂  THAT contains many, many band t-shirts that have been collected over the years! 

4.Yard sales- love ’em or hate ’em ?

Hate ‘em.  I was raised having been taught that it is deplorable for people to want to make money off of the things they no longer use when said items could be donated to someone who genuinely needs them and cannot afford them.  Then again, I know there are many people who cannot afford the new things I have always taken for granted and would be lost without yard sales to shop at…personally, I give my old things away to the Salvation Army rather than selling them.

5. Name a recycling habit you really want to get into.

Recycling, period.  At bare minimum, I need to get two more trash cans and start separating out plastics and paper.

RevGalBlogPals Friday 5: on overcoming September 7, 2007

Posted by introspectreangel in Friday Fives.
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Sally writes:

I am preparing this Friday 5 just before I take Chris into hospital for a cardioversion, right now we are all a little apprehensive. But this whole thing has got me thinking, so many of us are overcomers in one way or anoither, so many have amazing stories to tell of God’s faithfulness in adversity. And so I bring you this Friday 5:

1.Have you experienced God’s faithfulness at a difficult time? Tell as much or as little as you like…

Right now.

2. Have you experienced a dark night of the soul, if so, what brought you through?

Time. It’s not profound, but there it is.

3. Share a Bible verse, song, poem that has brought you comfort?

The psalms do it for me. Here’s a small selection, plus a song lyric.

Psalm 23 – yeah, I know everyone’s heard it. But have you HEARD it?

1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,

3 he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.

4 Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.

6 Surely goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD


Psalm 27:4

4 One thing I ask of the LORD,

this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to seek him in his temple.


“Mother, can’t you see I’ve got to live my life the way I feel is right for me…it might not be right for you but it’s right for me…I believe this is heaven to no one else but me, and I’ll defend it long as I can breathe, left here to linger in silence if I choose to…” -Sarah McLachlan

4. Is “why suffering” a valid question?

There’s no such thing as an invalid question. That doesn’t mean you always get answers.

5. And on a lighter note- you have reached the end of a dark and difficult time- how are you going to celebrate?

I’m sure it involves a a pickup truck with the tailgate down, the beach, some alcohol, and a bonfire. Of course, I can do that even in the midst of the difficult time, but I’ll enjoy it more when the dust has finally settled. Mary Beth, you’re gonna come with, right?

RevGalBlogPals Friday Five: Word Association, Redux August 17, 2007

Posted by introspectreangel in Friday Fives.
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reverendmother writes:

This one is patterned off an old Friday Five written by Songbird, our Friday Five Creator Emerita:

Below you will find five words. 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 or a story.

1. vineyard – I think of the Eucharist, and I remember specifically the words of the Mass during the Preparation of the Gifts that left me in such awe…I think they are beautifully poetic, and I miss them.

“Blessed are you, Lord, God of all creation. Through your goodness we have this wine to offer, fruit of the vine and work of human hands. It will become our spiritual drink.” The people respond, “Blessed be God forever!”

2. root – I’m re-reading one of my favorite books, “Shampoo Planet” by Douglas Coupland, and I just read these words from the main character, Tyler:

“I am walking across a turnip field, a baseball cap guarding my eyes from the sun. Underfoot are root vegetables – cool, nutritious, and silent – awaiting either Thanksgiving or scavenging by ravenous radioactive mutants.”

3. rescue – I am planning a trip to my beloved beach this weekend. My best friend S was supposed to go with me, but now doesn’t know if she can get one of her work shifts covered. I think of her because she worked as a veterinary assistant for many, many years and was always talking about different dog breeds’ rescue groups and the work they did. Our family had a dog that we simply could not take care of they way he needed to be, and we sadly turned him over to the city shelter when we were unable to find a friend or relative to care for him. My friend, unbeknownst to me, went right behind us and picked him up. She tried to get him into Golden Retriever Rescue, but they wouldn’t take him because he was a mix. So her boss at the time agreed to keep him at the clinic until they could find an adoptive home, which they did not too long after. She told me about all this after it was over and done, and showed me pictures of our dog pulling his family’s other dog around their swimming pool on a raft! I am so happy he was adopted, because even though we weren’t a good family for him, I cried when I took him to the shelter.

4. perseverance – Oh, I just think of my life! It has required an extraordinary amount of this stuff not to just cash in my chips and become an inmate at the state mental hospital.

5. divided – “‘A house divided against itself cannot stand.’ I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved – I do not expect the house to fall – but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing, or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction, or its advocates will push it forward till it till it shall become alike lawful in all the States, old as well as new, North as well as South.” -Abraham Lincoln


(Each of these appears in one of the readings from this Sunday’s lectionary.)

RevGalBlogPals Friday Five: Stress busting edition August 10, 2007

Posted by introspectreangel in Friday Fives, life.
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Sally writes:

I am off to spend a few days at the beach chilling out after a hectic few weeks and before I head off for Summer School…

So with that in mind this week’s questions are looking at how you deal with the stress monster!!!???

1. First, and before we start busting stress, what causes you the most stress, is it big things or the small stuff ?

I’m a big believer in the concept of “choose your battles”, and this definitely applies to what you choose to stress about. Granted, I worry about lots of things…but I only worry myself into a spiral if I mull it over and decide it’s really worth it, and that it is going to involve some genuine problem solving. I have found the little things tend to work themselves out, but if I am going to have to make a decision about a new direction, then it is definitely worth my “worry time”.

2. Exercise or chocolate for stress busting ( or maybe something else) ?

I should exercise. I know from experience that it really, really helps. But I usually opt for chocolate (or better yet, wine) instead.

3.What is your favourite music to chill out to?

trip-hop…especially Massive Attack.

4. Where do you go to chill?

I need some serious “chill time” right now, so next weekend, I’m making the 9 hour drive to the beach. The older I get, the more convinced I become that living so far from it is the reason I’ve always been so tied up in knots. I’ve just about reached the point where I’m just not willing to feel this way anymore. I’m at a place in my relationship (broken beyond repair) and my career (nonexistent) that I recognize my geography would be very simple to change, if I just have the courage.

5. Extrovert or introvert, do you relax at a party, or do you prefer a solitary walk?

Very introverted. I can have a fantastic time at a party if I know everyone, which is why I like family parties. At other kinds of parties though, you are more likely to find me hanging out in the corner with the one or two other people I know…and you are even MORE likely not to find me there at all. I do love going for walks. I also like to find a place to sit where I can watch people but they can’t watch me. I used to love climbing trees for this very purpose.

RevGalBlogPals Friday Five: Post-Pilgrimage Edition August 2, 2007

Posted by introspectreangel in Episcopal, faith, Friday Fives.


reverendmother writes:

Hello friends, I am just back from a lovely time of pilgrimage in the isle of Iona, “cradle of Scottish Christianity.” It has provided much food for thought, to say the least, and so, to keep the pilgrim mojo going:

1. Have you ever been on a pilgrimage? (however you choose to define the term) Share a bit about it. If not, what’s your reaction to the idea of pilgrimage?

WOW. My first inclination was to say that I have never been on a pilgrimage, and though I have certainly been on many a meandering journey, all of my journeys have seemed to miss that element of intentionality that I think is part of a pilgrimage. THEN, I went to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary just to find out if there was something special about a pilgrimage that is not included/involved in an ordinary trip, and I found out that the second definition of pilgrimage (after “a journey of a pilgrim, especially: one to a shrine or sacred place”) is “the course of life on earth”. Way to talk about the profound in such a simple way…the course of life on earth as pilgrimage. I’ve been blogging a lot lately about the fact that my marriage is ending…perhaps my desire to seek and reclaim the holy in myself, the part that has been covered up by the horrible and deadening distractions of conflict and sinful behavior (on both sides) is a form of pilgrimage…in which case, I am still on this particular trip.

2. Share a place you’ve always wanted to visit on pilgrimage.

Well, being both Episcopalian and a Chaucer fan, naturally I would like to go to Canterbury.  The history of Christianity in the British Isles fascinates me, but I haven’t really done any in-depth study on it. That’s mostly because I already really, really like the version of the story I’ve heard about what St. Augustine of Canterbury found when he was sent to Britain in 597 – it goes something like this:

“Hello there…Pope Gregory sent me to convert you.”

“Convert us? Whaddya mean, mate?”

“I’m here to teach you about Jesus of Nazareth, who died for your sins.”

“Oh yeah, we know about that bloke already.”

“Erm…you do?”

“Oh yeah, mate, that Amphibalus fellow baptized my great-great-great-great-great-great granddad. We’re all Christian ‘ere.”

*Augustine scratches his head*

“Well now…Pope Gregory didn’t tell me there were already Christians here.”

“Who’s Pope Gregory?”

“Well…the pope is the head of the Church.”

“What, Jesus doesn’t do a good enough job for you?”

“Well, Jesus went to heaven and left the pope in charge.”

“Huh. Is that a fact, mate? Wow, you really do learn something new every day, don’t you?”

3. What would you make sure to pack in your suitcase or backpack to make the pilgrimage more meaningful? Or does “stuff” just distract from the experience?

I can’t think of a single material thing that I would just HAVE to have for the trip. Hmmm…let me try this again.

Nope, still nothing. Sorry.

4. If you could make a pilgrimage with someone (living, dead or fictional) as your guide, who would it be? (I’m about thisclose to saying “Besides Jesus.” Yes, we all know he was indispensable to those chaps heading to Emmaus, but it’s too easy an answer)

Laughter is the best medicine, even on sacred journeys. I would want to be guided by Thomas Becket, but it would have to be after he died…so, I guess he would be Zombie Thomas Becket. I would keep elbowing him and saying, “Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?” He’d be sighing and trying to get me to agree to a scourging, you know, for the spiritually cleansing aspect of it all, but I would have to refuse.

5. Eventually the pilgrim must return home, but can you suggest any strategies for keeping that deep “mountaintop” perspective in the midst of everyday life? (don’t mind me, I’ll be over here taking notes)

I’m too much of a realist and therefore not good at the whole “mountaintop” thing – see answer to above question if you have any doubts! So, I think I’d find a place close to home, perhaps a park or a particular church or whatever suits you, declare it to be your holy place, and physically go there as often as possible. I cannot overemphasize for me how important it is to remove myself from the stage where my daily life takes place – my house, my place of employment, the grocery store and bank and doctors’ office. Even if it’s just to go stand under a tree at the end of my street and to take deep breaths for a few minutes. I used to feel so guilty about needing to run away for a few minutes to do this, but it helps me keep my sanity. And remember what pilgrimage is – it’s “the course of life on earth.” Sometimes it’s smooth, and sometimes it’s choppy sailing…but God is with you through the whole of it.