Sunday, December 26, 2010

Meet Addie

I have a new housemate. She's a year old 40 lb pit bull mix (probably some boxer and from the way she springs, some kangaroo too). I got her at the Washington Animal Rescue League one week ago.

I'd toyed with the idea of getting a dog for a while, but never thought I could hack it. I dog-sat for a few dogs over the last three years, including a 3 month stint with a pit bull who I loved. I learned that not only could I handle a dog, I was much happier with a little furry friend to pal around with. I also learned that pit bulls get a bad rap and they can be the most loving, loyal, affectionate dogs alive if you treat them well and discipline them right.

So, I went with a friend who used to work at WARL to look at dogs a month or so ago. Turns out little Addie (full name Advent) was there at the time with a different name of course. I was only looking though and didn't even notice her. I wasn't ready to commit then, but I pledged to myself I'd get a dog during the liturgical season of Advent.

Fast forward to Friday a week ago. I realized that was the last day before Christmas that I'd be able to get to the shelter. I went there in the late afternoon and told them I was looking for a playful, energetic, affectionate dog who would be good with kids. I played with a few, including a cool guy named Oz who had a face that was half white, half tan. I liked him even though he was a barker.

I was drawn to him more than any others so I went back to his pen. I interacted with him for a few more minutes and there was just something about him. I said to the helper - well, I think I just fell in love with Oz, to which she replied...uh, that's not Oz. I was one pen over playing with a different tan and white dog.

It was Addie! We went outside to play and it was immediate. In a rare moment of decisiveness I said - well, I guess this is my dog.

It confirmed my decision when everyone at the shelter said how much they loved her. One guy said that there wasn't even a choice - she was the best dog there. Maybe they just say that? But so far it's proving to be true. She is perfect for me. Likes to go on runs but is fairly easy to handle. She's a total cuddler, and doesn't like more than an inch or two between her and her person, though as she gets more comfortable she's striking out on her own. Now she's sitting 2 whole feet away - a record!

I couldn't be happier with a pet and if anyone's looking for a little friend of their own, check out WARL as a place to adopt.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Hot chocolate and doughnuts / frankenscence and myrrh

Our church does a living nativity every year. For 4 nights, we dress up and stand in a makeshift stable and wave at the cars going by on the busy road. I dressed up tonight as one of the magi and did my time in the cold with others from the church. A mom and son team were a great Mary and Joseph, pictured above.

As we were putting away our costumes and warming up, a dad and his two kids came in with a box of hot chocolate and 12 doughnuts. They'd seen us standing in the cold and wanted to do something nice.

We exchanged only brief conversation. They said they knew of our church because of the Yard Sale and we said that we were there for them if they ever needed anything. The dad said maybe what they needed was to get back to church. Then they left.

We were stunned and surprised that some strangers would do us such a favor. We also noted what great modeling it was for a dad to show his kids such spontaneous generosity.

I was reminded of the other Christmas strangers in the night - angels, shepherds, wise men - who brought their gifts and their friendship to Jesus.

If you are out there reading this - thank you! Your hot chocolate warmed our hearts.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Advent - catching my breath.

When I was a kid, someone in the family would always lobby to open a present on Christmas Eve. It was usually my dad. My mom was the stickler - no presents till Christmas, but we'd always get to open at least one.

My mom was probably trying to insulate us from Christmas creep. Even if Target starts Christmas in October, she would remind us all that Christmas starts on the 25th. Before then, you're in Advent.

I've had my tree for a week and I'm listening to Christmas music on Pandora right now. That's partly because there isn't that much good Advent music. I heard the National Symphony Orchestra's Messiah last night, and the beginning of that is some fine Advent music. My favorite Advent hymn right now is "Each Winter as The Year Grows Older" by William and Annabeth Gay. (can't find a good link).

I'm clearly not an Advent purist but I am avoiding too much Christmas creep right now because I'm not ready for Christmas.

Oh, gifts are more or less purchased and sent, my house is cozy and Christmas-y, and though I won't send cards at least I've made peace with that instead of wasting energy on guilt for days and then not sending them anyway.

My to-do-list is done. That's not the problem. The problem is that I've been loving Advent. It has felt like a time apart - like a good hiking trip or a week of vacation. I want this time to last.

The 3rd verse of "Each Winter..." sings:
"Yet I believe beyond believing that life can spring from death. That growth can flower from our grieving , that we can catch our breath and turn transfixed by faith."

I love that. I really needed to catch my breath. This Advent, maybe for the first time in my life, I found that I am doing it. Pausing. I've become good at waiting. The patience, the not-yet, and the calm that Advent calls for has become integrated into my soul and it feels great.

I have no desire to tear into the gifts. Potentiality seems blessed. Sitting peacefully feels just right. I want to stay waiting.

And at the same time, I anticipate new realities will make themselves known soon enough and so I trust that when the waiting time is over, Christmas will come with its own surprises.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

If Mark Twain were on facebook what would his status be?

This morning as I was listening to NPR, I was struck by the similarities between two apparently unrelated stories.

In the first story, a class on Social Media at Stanford gave students pause as they discovered just how much of their lives they've hung out there via Facebook. From unfortunate wall posts to mom seeing the party the night before to grad schools looking up years of status updates, students connected their nearly limitless public exposure via Facebook to a level of vulnerability they didn't want.

The prediction is that the new wave in social media will make it easier to dramatically limit who has access to your info. You will give more detail to fewer people.

In the second story, the editors of Mark Twain's autobiography talked about why he required publishers to wait a full 100 years after his death before making his autobiography public. Apparently, he didn't want to damage his reputation, influence readers of his books, or make his family open to attack.

Just imagine what he would think of Facebook, (much less reality TV). I'm guessing he would use it, but very judiciously. He would keep a clear line between his writing for the public and his personal life. After all, the man loved his privacy so much he had a pen name.

Twain's 100 year wait is an extreme, but so is the approximately five seconds it takes to make the running autobiography that is a Facebook status. Bottom line, none of us actually wants all our laundry - dirty or clean - aired all the time to everyone.

Ten for Ten. Ten reasons it's great to be a pastor, in celebration of my 10 year anniversary of ordination.

I'm in there somewhere. I was ordained at Luther Place Memorial Church in Washington DC on November 10, 2007, ten years ago today. ...