Monday, June 29, 2009

Two Days, Tomorrow the Movers

In the last two days, I have had a hundred people I love give me a hug, tell me they love me and shower me with so many blessings it makes me blush.

So, why is it that the only thing I can think of is that the movers arrive in a few hours. The move dominates everything now. Today was like a wedding. So many details and special things that one must trust their memory and keep moving. Moving. The ritual must be powerful enough to last after the craziness passes. Will it pass? Tomorrow a huge truck will park in front of the house and a couple of guys (probably guys) we don't know will walk into our house, take everything we have, and drive off to someplace we don't know. They said 18,000 pounds which I have lifted at least twice over the last three weeks (how is that for pumping iron, 36,000 pounds), and they will do in about five hours.

I have liked how there has been a constant stream of friends in for Livy and Jen. They haven't done this before and I can't imagine how scary it must be. It will hurt them to lose these friends, and the more they are here, the more it will hurt. But I am glad for the friendship they are experiencing.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Saying Goodbye or Disappearing into the Night

Do I really need an excuse for not writing?

I can understand the temptation to slink away into the night and not have to face not only the feelings but who I have been for the past 13 years. I have spent a lot of my life untangling my inner twists and knots in order to feel and process like a "normal person". Yet I am constantly surprised at how much I don't want to feel anything these days. And we are on a goodbye merrygoround.

Lunch with some of my Intero friends was very sweet. When you work that hard and 'go through the fire with people' you really get close. Our office has had so many good people who understand community and how to bring it together. One of the reasons I was able to take being a realtor to a higher level was due to their good role modeling. And so many good good people not only in our office but in the real estate community in town.

Dinner with Congregation Emeth last night was also poignant. This was my first time I had ever joined a congregation. I also remember how welcomed Rabbi Jerry made us feel and how I loved his rambling sermons which I'm not sure I ever fully understood. And how welcome everyone made us feel. I know we confused people at first (how often does a Methodist Minister join a temple?) but before too long there was always a friendly 'hey Reverend' to Ted and lots of entry points for me and the girls. Rabbi Yitzi was very good at bringing us into the congregation in meaningful ways and enriched my experience of being Jewish far beyond my expectations. I have a greater love of Judaism due to him. I feel blessed that I was able to use my skills and work as a Realtor to play my part in helping the Congregation buy a building. But that's a whole other story!

Tonight we have a party at the Church where we celebrate another round of deep friendships. I don't know how exactly to tell my story of how I fell in love with everyone at Church, with the Christian walk and how that has enriched my life. I believe we have our own spiritual paths. I know mine is a Jewish one and at the same time I feel honored to have been able to participate in so many different ways at the Methodist Church, stumbing around trying to find my way. If joining a temple was new to me, well, being a part of church was way out of anything I understood. Yet I was also warmly welcomed and accepted here and allowed to find my place.

People have been dropping by to say hello, to say goodbye. Bringing offerings of strawberries, cookies and friendship. But how do you package friendships for the road? I am heartbroken to leave so many people I love. I have had the gift of so many opportunities to grow as a Jew, as a Christian, as a mother and a wife, as a Realtor, as a member of community and larger communities, as a friend and as a person.

Friday, June 26, 2009


Fits into the category of One of the Odder Things I Have Done in My Life.

When you and I moved to Morgan Hill, we joined the local temple. I have had association with Judaism for most of my adult life, falling in love with Jewish mysticism in college, but never actually joined a temple. Never did figure out if it makes sense for a United Methodist minister to belong to a Jewish community, but I liked it. The Rabbi at the time, Jerry Levi, was odd and wonderful and I learned a lot from him. He talked to me about his brilliant meandering sermons and said sermons presented doorways to the divine. So he jumped from doorway to doorway while my style stuck with exploring one at a time. He opened up a place for my family to be more fully Jewish and more fully Christian. A great gift. But there was a double gift because Alisa Fineman was cantor and her voice was a open doorway every time she sang.

Rabbi Yitzak Miller was just getting started, a more fiery passion, intent on congregational growth and we talked and talked. Yitz and I also worked together, events for religious tolerance, a class we did with Burt Jacobsen on the Baal Shem Tov and Jesus. He began to teach me a bit about Torah Cantillation. But more important, he opened a door for you into the faith of your heritage and I will always be grateful for that.

In the last years I have pulled away from the Jewish community, needing a more simple focus in my own spiritual life for a while --- turned out to be years. I watched the kids go to two very different Sunday Schools while I became more separated from the life of the Jewish community. I have only had a couple of conversations with Debbie Israel, but appreciate her spark.

I hope to find a community as open in Eureka. I miss the liturgy, miss singing in Hebrew. I will miss Emeth, her people, and an educated dialogue that is much deeper than anything I have done in church.

Saying goodbye

I met with Susie to say goodbye today.  I told her I was stressing about the last sermon this Sunday.  In her direct way she wondered what was such a big deal about saying goodbye.  Great conversation.  Life is good here, life will be good there, or not.  There really isn't a lot to say.  Just say goodbye, don't talk about it, and get on with it already.  This rings true to me because she and I are a lot alike.  We like starting things, love the excitement and new possibilities of beginnings, and get bored easily once things get chugging along, chomping at the bit to build something else.  That is one of the surprising things about this appointment, me at age 56 (just about), and us, Harriet and I, at 15 (just about).  I'm not bored at all -- I am engaged in the questions lived with folks I've know a long time, more curious about how to get through long term issues.

Susie is a remarkable human being, one of the best I have known in my life, though if she reads this I risk getting skewered on a spit.  She is an inseparable blend of being perfectly devout and incurably  heretical.  Most of my good friends probably fall somewhere in that territory, now that I think about it.  

And this is probably an answer to why saying goodbye is so hard for me.  There are remarkable human beings all around me.  All different, all loved.  No single goodbye could possibly work because each honoring is unique.   Impossible.  Time doesn't allow for all the goodbyes.  It is not like the boxes which somehow or another all have to get on the truck and go.  At some point, I just have to leave every unspoken goodbye scattered on the floor and move on.  

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

God's Eye

Seven Days.  Down to the wire.  Will all of our stuff fit into a truck?  Into the next house?  Gandhi keeps whispering from our emptying rooms, "Simplify.  Simplify."

Harriet, where are you?  You aren't writing.  I talked to Mom today and she said she was thinking to herself, "Why don't you just talk to each other?"  I laughed.  It's a game.  Write to me what you are thinking and feeling.  

The days are intensifying with difficult goodbyes.  My staff got together last night at Rosie's where most of Morgan Hill walked through for Taco night.  You were there too with your friends outside saying goodbye.  Today your office said goodbye, my last night of choir.  Friends are acting weird around us -- people we love and who love us are angry, not saying goodbye at all.  Others are straight forward, refreshing.  Janet gave us a prayer afghan, she said 19,000 prayers.  I can see each one of them.  

My office mirrors some of the weirdness.  I am almost done, the rooms are a mess, but the art is still up on the wall giving a strange normalcy to a world gone crazy.  I have been looking at the God's eyes that I did for Lent.  Everything swirling around, but in the center, simplicity, simplicity.  

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Hospitality or Me Me Me

I can't believe the relief I felt today when I heard the movers say the billing was all settled -- she talked to Chuck, thank you Chuck and everyone else that had to be involved -- and our dates were set.

Take care of others (my kid's friends, people from the church or neighborhood, even the at-this-point-fictional new tennants) or do what I/we need. That is the decision point that keeps coming up for me. There is so much need in moving. The boxes to be packed, we must gather supplies, take care of a fraying family, or perhaps look for a moment at my own bruised self. I put my own needs on the shelf too much as it is. Turn off, shut down, keep moving -- that is my motto. Feel later. But, the middle path of course leads to enlightenment.

However, I am finding that doing for others is a helpful friend in this process. Dad taught me to make sure a campsite was spotless for the next camper. (Hi, Dad.) I keep thinking what would be a nice touch for the next person, and a solution to one of my own needs arises. If I stop and really say goodbye to someone, the move goes better -- so far. Finally, as many needs as we have, this move isn't about me or my family. It is a work move, and part of my calling. The whole thing is for others. How do I move in such a way that it prepares ground for where I'm going? Can I pack boxes in such a way as to preach better when I arrive in Fortuna?

Gandhi speaks, every time you make a move, simplifiy! The pile of boxes in my garage say, yes yes yes.

Monday, June 22, 2009

A Day with Best Friends

Nine Days, Oh My!

David and John braved the garage to help me sort, pack and weed out my tools. hardest job yet and a good one for Father's Day -- real guy stuff. A whole floor full of stuff and I think we threw out one old stripped screw driver. Of course there was a lot of junk, bits of wood and saw dust, plastic bags left over from buying screws, tin cans I used to put bolts in. Surprisingly little I didn't think I needed. Oh My! again.

I am remembering a few years back and my therapist helping me organize the messes I make. She gave me one of the most helpful exercises I have ever done. She had me take pictures of all the messes or places of clutter in my life -- from little ones, like a corner of a box with a mass of paperclips, to big ones, like one whole side of the garage. I mounted the pictures in the middle of pieces of paper and my exercise was to determine ask myself what meaning I gave to the messes or what value in my life I placed on them. That may seem like an simple exercise until one considers how much energy it takes to actually clean up clutter. One insight back then: the shelves and shelves and shelves of books tell me and others that I am smart, have a good education and was well rounded. But as I thought about it, I realized that that was an old me (or a young me). The me now didn't really care about that much anymore, or didn't care to be seen that way. I would much rather be seen in my office as someone you could tell anything to. So, 2/3rds of the books went out, and rather complicate art came in.

Looking at all the tools I remember all the furniture I've made in the last years and the guitars, and I can't throw away tools. So, sorted and stowed for another day far away from here.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day

Silly Salmon Sunday

Guys have a different way of parenting, nurturing than women. They just don't care about some of the fine tuning we spend our lives on. But they sure know how to be playful, mischievous, silly, chaotic and get us out of ourselves. We spent years celebrating 'silly salmon sunday' at our house, a tradition evolved from a very tired dad who can be very silly, especially sunday afternoons, at end of his work week.

So hopefully we will carry our silliness and playfulness up to Fortuna where we go in 9 days! Jenn was just saying that it didn't seem real to her that we would be gone in such a short time from the home they have known for most of their lives. So we spend our time packing up and saying goodbye to Morgan Hill, our friends and our memories, not knowing what we will find in our new home. And we give thanks for a dad who can not only do all that 'guy stuff' like lift heavy boxes, deal with electrical equipment and take apart our furniture. But can also do the equally and more important guy stuff like ground us, keep us laughing, remain playful and continue to love us as the stress of this move brings out our not so attractive sides. We know that no matter where we go our real home is together with you.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Ten and Counting

I have been away at the United Methodist Annual Conference this week. No packing till I got home and I gifted myself a room alone at Conference. This is partly escape but partly to grieve. I don't grieve easily with other people around, though I did too much stomping around this week with friends. I was probably not easy to be around. The sadness of this move just gets deeper and deeper.

On the receiving side, however, I met with joy a couple of people I will be getting to know in Fortuna in the next months. I found it odd that they seemed more real, like I had connected with Fortuna, than the people in the interview with whom I had much more time. I don't think this was about the people, but the context. Interviews are skewed somehow. But Jean with a huge smile, Steve and Pat who were so gracious were met without all the decisions attached, more cautious and direct than probing. Interview demands decision -- now. All the emails and phone calls with leaders in the last two weeks are bent on preparing the ground, getting set, getting done. But friendship, and most good ministry, occurs in that tentative place where we wait for trust and let first impressions settle a bit before we come to conclusions. It is perhaps the difference between packing to go, and unpacking to settle in.

Harriet, we still have no idea where we are going. We pack and label boxes for an unknown destination, rooms we can't envision, a home that is still an empty box. The mystery continues.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Living in a Beautiful Place

Harriet, I love your entry about the beautiful setting we are moving to. The United Methodist system, which I actually like, is still very odd. Nearly all we were told about Fortuna before going up for the interview by the Cabinet was that it was a beautiful place. A lot of homework, two hours driving around, and two hours of interview and we are off.

But, I know what it is like to live in a beautiful place, where God is the gardener and landscape artist. I lived in Boulder Creek and Mendocino County where I walked out of the house in the middle of the night to bump into a redwood tree, and where I did yard work with a chain saw instead of a lawn mower. People go to live in these places, do whatever work they can, to make just enough money to live there. I found that also. The land heals my spirit, calls out my emotions, and slows me down. In the rhythm of the forest and the ocean, I discovered my own rhythms that are lost in a city. I pay attention to sunset and heart beat and the slow easy conversation. Magic has always made sense to me when I am in the woods. I can always sense God's presence in a moment of quiet anywhere, but in the woods or ocean, that Presence dances.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Ted -- The importance of pause, paws,

We are taking a few moments away from packing to rest in Monterey.

I am rediscovering that saying goodbye is so difficult because I can't just say goodbye. Telling people I love them and I may never see them again is hard enough, but I have to do it with bruised knees, a sore back, bashed fingers and a mountain of details all screaming to not be one of the ones I just end up not doing at the end. Each Sunday for the past couple of weeks, a dear friend has come up to tell me they are off and this is goodbye -- right now. I am spending last moments with someone together stuffing newspaper and a cup into a box. People I have grown with and helped grow want a few moments and I know it will happen with some and not with others. For some, there will just be goodbye.

In the mean time, dishes still wait to be washed, we get up, brush our teeth, bump into each other getting up, negotiate the daily fights, and collapse at the end of the day. The cat and the Guinea pig know something is up, but they just go on playing in the dirt or wood chips, eating and sleeping. For me, like them, each moment asserting itself as ordinary while my spirit readies itself for the mysterious leap.

Fifteen days and counting

There but for fortune...

I remember reading someone saying their regrets were based on what they didn't do, not on what they did do. Well, my family and myself are about to embark on another adventure. I've had plenty so what is one more? This one feels bigger, since my husband, myself, our two daughters, one cat and one guinea pig are about to make a new home for ourselves in Fortuna, California. A brief trip up north took Ted and I past beautiful vistas, abundant forests, gorgeous rivers and giant redwoods. Yet at the same time, I find myself savoring our mountains and rolling hills with our California Oaks and being an absolute snob about where to buy the best strawberries. But at the same time i find myself curious about what we will find up north, seen some mention of upcoming Rodeo and Apple Festivals which reminds me that every area has its points of pride and pretty soon i'll be very opinionated about where to buy the best apples.