Thursday, December 30, 2010


recipe for vacation:

sleep-in each day, well past normal waking hours

rise before the sun at least once

read a book until the sun sets

bake chocolate chip cookies from scratch and eat every one of them

walk on the beach at least a hour a day, mindfully

journal when muse shows up

pray silently on balcony overlooking the waves

follow training plan and run along sand prescribed (but estimated) distance, stepping in rivers and scaring seagulls out of the way

stay up late watching movies online

play scrabble. lose. have fun anyway.

stare at the beach area for minutes at a time. watch the waves, the birds, the (few) people. notice the dolphins.

dip or float in the over-heated pool

do nothing

breathe in

breathe out

pray without ceasing

show up to this moment

I hate the two-faced, but I love your clear-cut revelation. You're my place of quiet retreat; I wait for your Word to renew me. Ps 119:113 (The Message)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Cone of Silence

The idea of the "cone of silence" originated in the 60's TV series Get Smart. In the show, it was a source of great humor as this amazing device could keep private conversations private. However, it rarely worked well and so any leakage created funny anecdotes for comedy.

This week is the last week of Advent. What I call my cone of silence sources from reverence and, as E. Peterson calls it, Fear-of-the-Lord. Its a source of wonder, amazement, joy and surprise.

As I approached the meeting with the Bishop, I placed a cone of silence over me. How shall I respond? How will he respond? In the end, amidst all my anxieties, I just showed up.

Our conversation was enlivening, infuriating, imaginative, and thought-provoking. I will continue to pray about this and when I'm ready, release my cone of silence. That's what my vacation is for.

Thanks for holding me in prayer during this time, in this moment.

Friday, December 17, 2010

3. Don't Wait

As a chaplain at a level-one trauma center, we were called to be present at every death. I used, quite frequently, an approach provided by Zen Hospice Project (Frank Ostaseski) about being at the bedside of dying people.

Here are the Five Precepts:
1. Welcome everything. Push away nothing. Create an environment of fearless receptivity.
2. Bring your whole self to the experience.
3. Don't wait. Patience is different from waiting. When we wait, we are full of expectations. When we are waiting, we miss what this moment hs to offer. Worryingi or strategizing about what the future holds for us, we miss the opportunities that are right in front of us.
4. Find a place of rest in the middle of things. You can't just stop the experience but rather bring attention fully to whatever you are doing.
5. Cultivate a "don't know mind." Stay really close to the situation and allow it to inform your actions.
I'm not a chaplain at a trauma center at this point and I am still finding these precepts to be very helpful in my "regular" life. As I move through Advent this year, I find tension between what I learned as precept #3 "Don't Wait" and the meaning of Advent to "Wait." Wait-Don't Wait. Wait-Don't Wait. So, I am practicing holding both.

As in the name of my blog, I'm NOT WAITING. I'm trying to just show up to every moment. That's all I can do. I'm working on being present - now, in living or now, in dying. Now. Now. Now, again, now.

As in the name of this season, I am WAITing. I'm waiting and pondering in my heart what it will mean for that particular presence of Light and Love in our midst - the incarnation of God among us. I'm waiting and knowing that God is not "out there." Joy is just around the corner, hidden in every cell, in the hear and the now. Back to “Don’t wait,” because God’s joy need not be waited for. God’s joy is waiting for us.

How are you NOT waiting in this moment? :)

Wait, Israel, for God. Wait with hope. Hope now; hope always! Psalm 131:3 (The Message)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


I know better.

The other day one of my colleagues did "that thing" again that really bugged me. Being at the top of the hierarchy, he got away with it and being at the bottom of the hierarchy, I felt like I couldn't say anything. So I stewed about it all afternoon and evening. Woke me up middle of the night.

Realized, hey! Use Your Voice.

Next day, shared with my supervisor about what happened and how I wanted to talk to "him" about what he did. She encouraged me.

She asked, spontaneously, for a meeting with "him" as well as "her" (another higher-up who does "that thing" as well). Why was I so nervous!? (rhetorical question)

Talk talk talk we did. I shared how I felt. He shared why he did "that." She said she didn't even realize the impact. I was relieved!

I know better. Confront as soon as possible. At least I did it within 24 hours!

Christ Jesus, help me to be a good steward of my own soul. Guide me to say what I need and hold me in your arms as I become vulnerable, even with petty things. May I see Your face in all that I meet this day.

How are you talking through this moment?

Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, with integrity and godly sincerity. We have done so, relying not on worldly wisdom but on God’s grace. 2 Corinthians 1:12

Friday, December 10, 2010

Needle's Eye

Issue 6 of CONSP!RE magazine deals with the economy of God.

One article in particular caught my attention. A family who lives in India realizes that most of the friends they have live on about $2.20 per day. Inspired by their seven-year-old, they embarked on the challenge to live on just $110 for the month, which was very low for them and still 50 times more than their neighbors.

I include here a few of their realizations:
  • Hospitality often involves significant cost to the poor: providing simple tea and biscuits blew the family budget for a few days
  • It's harder to be generous when budget is tight: they found themselves becoming stingier
  • Frustration when others don't pay their way: they learned humility to ask others for repayment
  • Medical visit would have meant not paying the rent: period.
  • The poor spend more to live: buying smaller volumes and lower quality meant higher per-item cost and more frequent replacements
  • Minimal budget takes more time: Deciding how to spend money is a pre-occupation.
Living on less, working in an under-employed job, staying aware of cultural pressures... this article fueled my desire to be "in solidarity" with people who are poor. Which is why my current role as receptionist at a non-profit agency keeps me grounded.

Every day, people walk in with little to nothing. They seek assistance. They seek someone to hear their story. They just left an abusive relationship. They don't have any heat. They want to organize someone to give their kid a gift this holiday season. While I am pulled into their story, I am relieved that I can point them to our referral service. I am honored to be close to these folks, even while I am repulsed by the systems that exist that influenced their being in this situation to begin with.

Working at the low end of the organizational hierarchy, I have had a few realizations myself about having less privilege:
  • Privacy and personal space is little to none: Those higher in the organization have their own, lockable offices and personal space. I am learning to be more public.
  • What's "mine" is "yours": The stationary supplies belong to everyone in the office. Just because I have a preferred black pen that I keep near my keyboard doesn't mean that someone might walk by and "like" it. I am learning to use what is nearby and not make favorites, since it will probably disappear during the day.
  • It's harder to say what I need: Most everyone else's priorities come first. When faced with an envelope-stuffing deadline, I found it hard to ask for help. I know better - I must ask when I need assistance and not think "oh, it's just this simple task, I can do it" when there are so many competing priorities.
I'm finding that yes, it's a strain on my spirit to live into a sense of abundance and the YES of God, with power and privilege all around. How blessed I am to be reminded and to practice possibilities. Tough lessons. I pray for God to keep reminding me.

What is your needle's eye like, in this moment?

Looking at his disciples, Jesus said, "Do you have any idea how difficult it is for people who 'have it all' to enter God's kingdom?" The disciples couldn't believe what they were hearing, but Jesus kept on: "You can't imagine how difficult. I'd say it's easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye than for the rich to get into God's kingdom."That set the disciples back on their heels. "Then who has any chance at all?" they asked. Jesus was blunt: "No chance at all if you think you can pull it off by yourself. Every chance in the world if you let God do it." Mark:10:23-27 (The Message)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


I work in the reception area lobby.

My workspace looks out towards the entry door. To the left and to the right of my space are two long hallways that lead down to the offices. Just above my work area, above the desk level, are large, inviting, open window-like spaces on either side. Behind me is the entry/exit from my work area into the office work room, with the copier, postage machine and my friend, Legion.

Basically, I have no walls in my space, except for the building pillars at the four corners to hold up the second floor. Working in a fishbowl like this, I am learning something about myself:

I'm visible from all sides but I only have eyes in front. This means that my head is constantly turning to see who is coming in the door, which employee is standing on the side by the newspaper talking to me about the daily news, or listening for cries for help from the fabulous but complicated Xerox machine we just received. I'm learning about myself that I spend energy tracking the origin of noises.

This also means that when I am looking one way, someone can approach from the other. This is a bit unnerving, to me. I am taking the time to explain to each person to please not approach me from "the back" but it sounds so petty. I'm learning about myself that alas, I only have eyes in front. When others surprise me, I need to pause and take a breath. It's not their fault I'm a bit edgy.

This also means that anyone can see me when I am on line looking up something personal. Or they walk by when I am putting on my lipstick, or blowing my nose, or checking my cell phone text messages. I'm learning about myself to be more public about personal stuff and to keep the really personal stuff for some other time.

The (not "my") space is public-use. I have exactly one drawer to call "mine" since all the office supplies really belong to everyone in the agency. What's mine is yours! So why does it irritate me when they walk into the (not "my") work space (usually from behind me), reach in the (not "my") top drawer and pull out a pen? I'm praying about this; it's all God's stuff anyway so why do I feel a need to claim it as mine? I'm learning about my lack of capacity to let stuff go.

I'm learning about grace. I'm learning about saying what I need to others, before they become a thorn in my side. I'm learning about humility. I am praying to be respectful.

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Philippians 2:1-4

Monday, December 6, 2010

Sometimes You Feel Like A Nut

In my current position, I get to be the last step in the postal mailings. Once the letters are formatted, merged with the 300+ names to whom they will go, printed out and ready-for-stuffing, then it's my role to fold the letters and stuff.

"Folder is my name. Making you humble is my game," this folder cries.

Click here to see a YouTube video of said folding machine. [Notice how at the 1minute5second mark, where it shows how nicely the paper is folded, that several pieces of folded paper are folded into themselves. This does not make for easy stuffing, especially when the letters need to be in the same order as the personalized envelopes into which they go.]

One day, my role was to fold about 150 double-sided, stapled letters announcing that we would be honoring requests for money. It was due to go out the next day and so time was important. The envelopes were ready, I just needed to fold and stuff. For every ONE set that was folded, TWO jammed in the machine or folded into the next letter. Grrrr.

Another day, the letters were personalized by the manager and address to the leadership givers with personal notations. "Handle with care!" that manager told me. Gingerly, I approached the folder and pleaded my best prayer, "may it be according to your will." This time, only about 10% were diagonally folded or crunched and required tender loving re-folding. Grrrr.

Just when I think that perhaps I have a solution to some strategic problem announced by the marketing director, I have the opportunity to interact with this monster.

I'm trying to make peace with this monster. I decided to rename it Legion. Now where are the pigs when I need them?

Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” “Legion,” he replied, because many demons had gone into him. And they begged Jesus repeatedly not to order them to go into the Abyss. A large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside. The demons begged Jesus to let them go into the pigs, and he gave them permission.

Lord, help me learn patience. There is enough time.