Wednesday, January 31, 2007

South Georgia Connections

I've got a new link to recommend,
over there to the right, listed with other blogs...
"Snippets, Songs and Sacred Spaces."

A friend from church,
here in the mountains of North Carolina,
who understands my South Georgia roots.

Before I was born,
our daddies worked in the same paper mill,
the one still chugging along in Clyattville.

It has been nice this week,
talking to someone who knows the culture
and the people of one of the places I call home.

She knows how to cook and eat your way through grief,
and the miracle of snow in a land that rarely sees it.

**We may get that miracle of snow here tonight and tomorrow.
**It should be more common here,
**but these have been uncommon years lately.

**I've filled the birdfeeders,
**stocked up on poptarts and peanutbutter
**(and milk and bread...why do folks around here
**always buy milk and bread before a snow storm?)
**and the gas logs are ready to fire up
**if the power goes out.

But I digress...
check out the Snippets and Songs page.
You'll find some of the secrets of my soul there.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Weird, Like My Brother

Brother Steve has tagged me to participate in a weirdness game.

Here are the rules:

THE RULES: Each player of this game starts with the 6 weird things about you. People who get tagged need to write a blog of their own 6 weird things as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose 6 people to be tagged and list their names. Don't forget to leave a comment that says you are tagged in their comments and tell them to read your blog.

1. I have a strange addiction to church meetings. I like committees. Even though I know that church people are, if anything, more disfunctional than the average bear, I just keep signing up to go to meeting after meeting, year after year.

2. I love spending time with dementia patients in nursing homes. I wasn't born knowing how to enjoy either the confused folks or the setting...both are an aquired taste. On an average day, though, some of my best time is spent with people and places the rest of the world is avoiding like the plague.

3. I have a secret fear that there will not be enough food. Despite my place in middle class America, where I've never, ever had to deal with lack like most of the people of the world, I get a twitchy, persistent feeling that I won't get enough. Thank God I got Dad's metabolism.

4. Ha. Brother Steve will relate to this. When it gets dark, I MUST CLOSE THE BLINDS IMMEDIATELY. We think this compulsion came from Mom, who was always afraid the neighbors on our suburban street would see us...well, not doing anything interesting at all. If we had anything to hide, this would not be such a weird compulsion.

5. Okay, I don't know if this is weird, or just a strong interest...but I love musical instruments. I hate going to restaurants that decorate with antique instruments hanging on the walls...because it pains me that I can't get my hands on them to see if I can play them. I love trying to make sounds/music on any instrument I encounter. Why, just today, I blew on a trumpet. Very disappointing...too many years since my brief time as a brass player. I spent much of my weekend thus far playing the fiddle (badly) and the mandolin (better every day).

6. I see dead people. Okay, not literally, but sometimes as I'm sitting at the bedsides of hospice patients I imaging others present in the room, providing companionship. Ghosts? Angels? Not sure. I think some of this comes from the movie "City of Angels" with Nicholas Cage and Meg Ryan. A mediocre plot, but really interesting visuals of the angels benevolently lurking about. Oh, and a great soundtrack..."City of Angels," that is.

And here I depart from following the rules. If any of my friends who blog would like to play...or even email, would love to hear about your weirdness as well. Thanks for tagging me, Steve.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Is that Darth Vader?

'Tis not the leader of the evil empire.
"Tis rather a very happy ten year old,
wearing the full catcher's gear
he received for Christmas...
and playing his beloved trombone.

I've been wavering between impressions
of darkness and light this past month.
Sometimes I can't see the difference
between disaster and opportunity.
My perception flickers back and forth,
as do my emotional reactions.

My church abandoned plans to build,
and instead bought a historic downtown sanctuary.
Since our move a little over a year ago,
we've had more than 100 visitors.
We've had growth in membership.
Giving is up...and if all other things were equal,
we'd be well in the financial black.

we're still paying two morgages.
The land we bought for building has not sold.
We're out of building funds,
and suddenly our budget contains
these two mortgages,
and we're short $100,000
in underwriting 2007's budget.

I lose sleep, I hyperventilate,
I calm down.

If we cut the budget by $100,000,
we cut all our giving to the larger community and world,
we cut all our program monies,
we cut staff.
We cut almost everything
except the power bill and the preacher.

It is an uncomfortable time,
not knowing how much the congregation can rise
to the occasion financially...
not knowing what will happen if we can't sell the land soon...
not knowing what to do to make the situation better.

I also wonder
if every growing congregation
doesn't need an experience like this...
to keep them humble,
to increase their generosity,
to bring them together in a common cause,
to teach them compassion for churches and individuals
who likewise stare into the abyss,
only without the backing of a movable asset
or a sense that this crisis is only temporary.

Was it only last January that
I was resolving to spend less than I made
and trying to figure out how to make that possible?

A lot of positive things can happen in a year.

Especially when there is a community facing
their problems together.