Category Archives: musings

12 Days of Christmas: Day 4

Merry Christmas!

Last evening Best Dude & watched the second part of Christiane Amanpour’s special_ Back To The Beginning_ This two-hour program took viewers through the highlights of the Book Of Exodus in Hebrew Scriptures…from Moses all the way to King Solomon.

I loved the videography— there were some incredible video shots of Mount Sinai during the ” Moses” segment. I did not realize how arduous climbing Sinai really is for the average person. The revelation of the challenging course that is Sinai does not deter me from wanting to climb it, as I’ve wanted to do so since reading Bruce Feiler’s book _Walking The Bible_.

Since I’ve completed three of the four years of the Edation for Ministry program tha is offered by the Episcopal church, watching this program brought back much of the knowledge I had gleaned from Year One of EfM . I remember studying about all those places that the progrm covered , including the misdeeds of King David. Maybe i is because I learn best using my sene fsight, but seeing such imges at the Wailin Wall & watchng Ms Amanpour, her 12-yea-old son & e camera crew actuallyalk up Mount Sinai fascinated me.

Well done ABC News! :O)

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” In the Beginning…..

Anyone who knows me at all knows that I am both a Biblical history buff and a HUGE fan of Ms Christiane Amanpour’s work. So, when found out that ABC News will air a two-part documentary on the Biblical history of Genesis, I internally shouted ” BOOYAH”.

The photography was amazing & Best Dude & I learned a lot.

I know a lot of people think Christiane Amanpour is an anti-American Muslim. This is not the case, she even stated that she is a Christian { Roman Catholic} with persian heritage on her father’s side who ALSO happens to be married to an American Jew{ Jamie Rubin} I’ve been a fan of her work for years { actually it is her work as an international correspondent that inspired me to study journalism in college} & generally watch all of her special reports.

Another interesting aspect of _In the Beginning_ is that Ms Amanpour took her 12-year-old son, Darius, along with her when she travelled around the world for this special. She hopes to , by showing people the common history that Christians, Jews & Muslims sar, that this report might spark some interfaith dialog among the three Abrahamic faith traditions.

I thought it was great how Bruce Fieler was also interviewed extensively for this report. Years ago I read Fieler’s books _ Walking The Bible_ & _Abraham_ I highly recommend both of these ooks…the author does an excellent job of writing these nonfiction tomes to read like an adventure novel. :O)

Ms Amanpour’s documentary ” flowed” like a good movie. The theme of it seems { so far, as Part Two airs next week} to be that all three faiths share much more than we realize and that we’re all People of The Book.

I am a child of interfaith parents { Christian & Jewish} & am sick of all the interfaith violence . In my opinion, all these ” holy wars” are & have ben fueled by misunderstandings among the three monotheistic faiths. My Jewish heritage has never undermine my Christin faith— in many ways it has enhanced what I believe as a Christian. I’m not too familiar wih mainline Islam, but I try not to pre-judge Muslims when I hear of acts of violence committed in tha name of God.

We are ONE IN THE SPIRIT!
Amen.

2012 According to Sarah Beth

In spite of what I’ve seen on TV, I am sure the world is NOT ending tomorrow.

In the spirit of the upcoming New Year, let me offer my reflections on ” 2012 According to Sarah Beth” .

This has been a pretty good year. Best Dude & I are healthy & very happy. Our lives are not fancy, but we are content.

In February, I traveled down to the Tampa/ St Petersburg area to meet his family{ Siblings, daughter & grandchildren} His family is wonderful & on our way home we took the ” scenic route”. He took me to Cedar Key, a tiny little island off the coast of Levy County, Florida.

This year we adopted a dog. The first part of our dog-seeking journey occurred in April when we tried to adopt a two-year old female Springer Spaniel. The poor little girl had been rescued from a puppy mill & was NOT socialized. when she bit Best Dude we had to surrender her back to Springer rescue.

In October one of my friends in the neighboring county posted photos of a very uniquely colored male Springer . Best Dude & I met the dog & immediately ” took to” him{ he ” took to ” us as well. We named our dog Seamus { after the classmate of Harry’s in _Harry Potter_}

So, in 2012 we added a canine to our family.

My fitness quest is coming along well. My fitness partner & I meet on Monday,Wednesday & Friday to either swim in the pool { said pool is heated & covered in the cooler months} or strength-training in the gym. Although I’ve decided that I am not quite muscle-bound enough to enter the 2013 Panhandle Showdown, I am continuing to work on building lean muscle.

This past summer I spent two weeks up North. Most of the time there was spent with my godparents at their lake. It was wonderful….I hiked, kayaked & even attempted to water-ski. { That attempt could have gone better} I also went to a County Fair wit my godsister & her husband….something I had not done since childhood. I also attnded worship at th smll Presbyterian Church where I had been baptzed { at thetender age of 20}.

It has been a great year.

Blue blue Christmas

According to the liturgical calendar:today was supposed to be a Sunday of rejoicing.

No one at Small Parish felt like rejoicing this morning. :o/

Due to the recent events happening in the nation, today was not a day to celebrate. At Small Parish, we grieved & remembered the victims of the Newtown school shooting. We started the Mass with reading responsively the Great Litany. After the Lessons were read, our priest helped us address the sadness that we collectively feel about what happened on Friday morning.

We also prayed for the victims by name . That was really hard for me, as I’ve spent some time working in a public school system & many years working with and among children & youth of the Church. I noticed that the fellow & sister educators of m parish are especially affected by this tragedy. We never thought about a scenario such as this when I was working at an elementary school.

As I’ve already said, these things just should not happen.

I keep thinking about the families of the slain kids & the Christmas that won’t happen for so many people in & around the Newtown, Connecticut area. :O(

Years ago, my Presbyterian minister offered a ” Blue Christmas” service in December for anyone & everyone who might be grieving during this ” most wonderful time of the year”. I’d lost my beloved paternal grandfather that August, so I went to church on that designated Sunday evening. It was a time for we Christians to grieve in community & it was very cathartic.

This morning’s Mass at Small Parish had the same cathartic effect for me{ and probably for others in attendance , too} Grieving in community is healthy , both for the mind & soul.

Today I am grateful for the Church Universal’s gift of ” presence” & community.

Amen.

In the wake of the school shootings….

madonna

My heart breaks tonight. Words cannot suffice regarding how I feel about the most recent school shootings. I ache for all of the victims’ families & the entire town of Newtown.

This should NOT have happened.

A priest-friend of mine asked on Facebook” Where is God in all this?”

Where is God indeed?

I am glad I am not the only person who wants an answer to that question. How can a loving God ” allow” such slaughter of innocence?

Yet I am comforted { at last a wee bit} by the image of The Blessed Mother holding the Infant Christ on her lap. On my desk in our home office is an icon card of the Blessed Mother holding the Christ Child. Although I am not sure of the name of this particular rendition of ” Madonna & Child” I’ve always been comforted by the image of a tiny, vulnerable Jesus of Nazareth wrapped safe in His mother’s arms. I imagine that this very Jesus welcomed each of the innocent victims of yesterday’s school shooting tenderly & gently.

Scripture tells us that our loving God will not & has not given up on humanity. Humans can be evil creatures & I am sure these acts of evil sadden our Creator. No matter what Israel did, God was steadfast in God’s love. No matter how many times God’s People screwed up, God never reneged on God’s love.

It is times such as these that my Catholic faith really anchors me. I do not know WHY this happened to these families in that town in New England. But I do know that God has NOT forsaken humanity— regardless of what ” the culture ” might try to show us. Somewhere & somehow, love & Shalom will prevail .

Amen.

being a gracious loser

The results are in…and I was not elected to vestry this year.

As expected, I feel a mix of sadness & relief.

I am relieved because, as anyone who knows me can attest, I’m not a ” meetings” sort of person. I also do not ” politic” very well nor  am I gifted with the ability to blarney.  I am, however, very creative & a ” can-do” person . But, it was not God’s Will for me to serve on vestry this year & that is fine with me.

I am sad because I lost. Losing is not something I do well—as I come from a long line of athletic, competitive people.

Yet tonight I keep reminding myself that serving the Church is not at all about ME. I know that but at the same time it *REALLY* sucks for this ” can-do” personality to lose anything. I know it isn’t a competition & I shouldn’t feel at all like I just lost a bid for Student Government President.

I received a nice private note via Facebook from a parishioner who said she’d voted for me  because she felt honestly that i would be a good vestryperson. THAT meant a lot to me, especially coming from a parishioner whom I respect.

So yeah— I lost.  Maybe God is saying to me” You are not ready for vestry just yet.” Or maybe not.

We learned about the concept of ” karios” during my Cursillio weekend.  Karios=God’s Time.

Gloria en excelsis Deo!

Annual Meeting

Tomorrow is 2 Advent.

Per tradition at Small Parish, it is also the Sunday that we’ll hold the Annual Parish Meeting. We’ll all gather for ONE Mass at 9 A.M. followed by the meeting & then the monthly potluck luncheon.

Anyhow, we elect two new vestry members  at this meeting. I’m on the ballot as a possible new vestryperson.  We have two other fabulous people who are also on the ballot for the vestry election, so there is a good chance that I might not be elected.   Although I am a bit nervous about the election tomorrow I’m a bit reserved about serving on vestry for three years. 

 For many reasons, I feel called to at least put my name on the ballot for vestry at this time in my ” walk with God” & I will do my best if elected.  But if I am not elected I will not feel too sad.  Honestly, I am not the ” board meeting” sort of person & I would much rather be active in ministries such as EYC & assisting at the altar as an acolyte. If it is God’s will that I serve my parish as a vestryperson, I can only promise to do my best if elected.  And with the spiritual  growth that I’ve experienced this year, I am ready to move a bit out of my ” comfort zone” if I am called to do so.

When God calls…

God has been loudly knocking on the window of my mind for about 6 months.  God is calling me to a ministry that I’ve vehemently denied answering  since I was confirmed into The Episcopal Church.

I am running for vestry. Unless  two other people runs with or against me I’ll sit on vestry for three years.  Since I already told my priest of my intentions , I cannot back out of this now. { even if I’d wanted to, which I do not}

I am apolitical & until now have *NEVER* seriously considered vestry.  But now is the time.  Although I do not wish to sound arrogant: I feel that someof my gifts will be useful on a parish { any parish} vestry.

I am— comparatively speaking– younger than the average vestryperson. Younger people tend to be more open to what the Spirit might be saying at any time. I have taught Sunday School & I work with youth currently & some of my biggest ” aha moments” have come from conversation with younger people.  Some of the children with whom I worked are much more spiritually-mature than some adults I know.

I care. I care  A LOT.

Although there is nothing wrong with ” pew sitters”{You know– people who attend church almost every Sunday but are otherwise not involved in parish life.} I’ve never been a pew sitter in my life.  The Church is my community, my OHANA. {Hawaiian for ” family”}I want to help her be the best example of Christ’s ” hands & feet” that she can be.

While I am not a ” numbers person” I feel strongly that doing God’s work & measuring how well we do ministry should NOT be calculated only by numbers on a spreadsheet.

My entire church-going life has been with small churches & it is here that I’ve felt God’s Hands at work within me the most.  Although I left the Presbyterian church, I’ve gleaned examples of what does & does not work in a small congregation.

The little church where I was baptized taught me much about doing much to BE Christ in the world regardless of limited human & monetary resources.  The Holy Spirit is working within my Small Parish now & I firmly believe that I am the sort of vestryperson needed to help her grow numerically & { much more importantly} spiritually.

Shalom.

Black Friday…

Happy Thanksgiving!

Best Dude & I had a nice day. We went over to the beach & had our Thanksgiving meal of…fried Gulf seafood! YUM.

I am saddened by all the media frenzy over ” Black Friday” Shopping. I know that many retail outlets are either opening late tonight or super-early tomorrow morning in order to accomodate shoppers.

I grew up in a retailing family–and I am totally aware of how important the holiday shopping season is to retailers’ fiscal year. Inasmuch as I do NOT & never have gone shopping on the Friday after Thanksgiving  can understand{ sort of} why hardcore shoppers might enjoy doing so. But what I fail to comprehend is how much RETAIL has encroached on a day that is suppose to be all about family, friends & thankfulness.  To me, celebrating a day of ” thankfulness” by wrangling  more THINGS at stores is counter-productive. It is just another symptom of society’s consumerism.

Cannot people wait ONE more day until the official holiday madness begins?  I mean, if people want deals, isn’t it much less-stressful to shop all year for Christmas? I do this & I’ve gotten *great* gifts for my loved ones.  Actually, most of my holiday shopping was done online. I hate shopping: even doing weekly grocery runs is hard for me. 

I am NOT a Grinch. Christmas is one of my favorite times of year. I love the music, the food, the Advent Scriptures read at mass & the fellowship with loved ones.  While I like getting gifts , to me this is much more than a mere commercialized ” season” that it has become in recent years. It is sad to me that even a day of corporate thanksgiving has seeminly turned into another comsumers’ feeding frenzy.

This non-shopper is staying HOME on Black Friday.

Amen.

” required” post-election thoughts…..

I am sad about the results of the Presidential election. But, no matter which of the candidates from the two major parties won, I’d still be sad. However, I am thankful that I was able to vote for someone whom I feel IS qualified to be President. Although he didn’t win{ as a matter of fact, he did not even make a dent in the general electorate}  I am grateful that I had the option to vote for someone who DID NOT have the {D} or {R} behind his or her name. :O)

No, I did not ” waste” my vote. In my opinion, the only wasted vote is the vote that is not cast.

I am sad that  US politics is so partisan.  During the course of this election season, I saw & heard such negativity from supporters of both Republicans & Democrats. never in my 36 years have I witnessed an election that brought out the worst in people. There was so much negativity that I felt weary of the whole election process by May of this year.

I did not watch either convention nor any of the debates.  I read the commentary from both CNN & Fox News & both major cable networks left out Gary Johnson. If Gov. Johnson had been invited to debate, I would have watched every debate. But Big Media gets their ratings  in part from partisanship– so it would defeat their purpose to encourage independent thinking & critical analysis of facts. This political season reminded me of a heated Super Bowl rivalry instead of a serious part of history.  It seemed that these hardcore Democrats & Republicans seemed to act like cheerleaders { either for Team Obama or Team Romney}

Although I live in an area of the country that is heavily Republican, I saw much of the same ugliness among the Democratic minority here in Northwest Florida. Most of my family are die-hard Democrats who were baffled that I could not support Obama. Many of my friends here are Republicans & of course they wanted me to vote for Mitt Romney. It was hard, but I maintained my Independence & rejected the candidates of the two-party political ” machine” in favor of someone who has strength & courage to step outside a mainstream political label.

I declared my Independence. I am free from partisanship. Alleluia.