I spent the last week of Winter enjoying spring-like temperatures and being hyper-social. I've had a tendency to just hang out with my grandparents when I am down there for school. Sure, I talk to friends at school, but after hours I have just been sticking close to the homestead. I adore my grandies and have so much fun talking to them that it just doesn't even occur to me to make other plans. However, I had run into some friends from my last church. Mike and Tammy are really cool and I realized it had been forever since I'd had any catch-up conversations with them. So, we met for dinner at Meadowlark in Centerville. The food (garlic chicken served with rice, limas and goat cheese) was terrific and the conversation even better. Afterward, I couldn't resist going into Half-Price Books to look for the Analytical Concordance of the New Testament. Not only did I find it for a third of the usual cost, but I ran into Evvi and Keith, too! What a great surprise! We had a wonderful visit over books and agreed to stay in better touch. I miss them and I missed getting to see Garnet. It breaks my heart that we aren't near enough for me to see her growing up, up-close and personal. She is the dearest little girl, smart & creative like her mama & dad.
Thursday after class, I killed some time running errands, then went to Laurel's house. I like being there because it is always so full of life and feels so real, just like Laurel does. She says what she is thinking, which is refreshing and a good example. We are so often encouraged, especially women, to be polite and "nice" and behave ourselves. Sometimes we are so busy behaving ourselves that we start to lose track of who we really are. Laurel and I were both hungry, so we popped over to Jeet India for a great dinner and lots of talk about theology and inner work. It's always so good to talk to her. She started out as almost a mother figure for me, the mother of friends & leader of the Quaker youth group I attended. Now, she is a very good friend to me and to my Beloved, too.
I had to stay in town for a Friday/Saturday class, so I booked a facial for Friday morning, taking advantage of a long-unused gift certificate. I was going to get a manicure, too, but then I saw that the manicurist was the same one who had hurt my toenail another time, so I backed out. I spent the manicure money on some really good Aveda tea instead. After my facial, I took myself to The Winds for mushroom soup and Tuscan bread salad. Then, I picked up some of Current Cuisine's hummus & sundried tomato dip to take home to my sweet girl. I was almost late to class due to that stop, but it was well worth it to see the delight on J's face when I presented her with them.
The class was in preparation for our transcultural trips coming up this summer. At seminary, we are required to spend 2 weeks doing immersion in another culture. We got to hear presentations by students who had just returned from Appalachia (North Carolina & Kentucky...the Kentucky group had spent time visiting J's dad's home stomping grounds of Harlan's coal mines & the Pine Mountain Settlement School), Chicago (SCUPE's urban ministry program), Cambodia, Bolivia (where the group's bus was stoned in riots...very scary) and the Bahamas (no, she was not lounging on the beach the whole time...we asked). This summer, students will be going to Chicago, Kentucky, Costa Rica, New Mexico and South Africa. There is a Holy Land trip planned for January, too. I will be spending 2 weeks in June at Ghost Ranch in Santa Fe. I wish J could go along, but Pie has school one of the weeks. I hope to take the train down. I have never taken any train trips beyond an hour ride on a tourist steam train and various subway trips.
After class on Saturday, I had to go check on the house (I am ready to quit praying to St. Joseph & start praying to St. Jude on that one), then I got to go home to my sweetie's corned beef & cabbage for St. Patrick's Day. She was ever so glad to see me, after the extended time away, and has been mopey about my commute ever since. I am not real thrilled with being away from her, either, let me tell you! I love her so much and could cheerfully spend every waking moment with her...every sleeping one, too.
Sunday, we had Sunday school & church. In Sunday school, we talked about the spiritual practice of care of the body. It was interesting to see how much the other class members discounted body care like bathing and adornment, which the chapter advocated, in favor of things like healthy eating and exercise. Those things are also important, but it is good to be gentle with ourselves and treat ourselves to long, lush baths and fun clothing, too. The church service didn't sit right with my liturgically conservative nature. My wife & mom, as well as some of my classmates, think I was being a bit uptight. However, my liturgy professor is right there with me, as are a couple of other profs and my grandparents. When we walked into the sanctuary, the communion table had been cleared of the candles, Bible and flowers. In their place were things like a child's tent (pitched), a teddy bear wearing camp clothes and other camp paraphernalia. It was Camp Sunday & I guess these were set decoration. I found it wildly inappropriate to use the communion table for these things, but other folks have said that it's not a big deal, it's just a table, camp can be lifted up to God, too. I just think the tent should have been pitched on the floor in front rather than on the communion table. The other thing that disturbed me was that the sermon had been ditched altogether in favor of a skit, jokes by the "Hee Haw" clad pastors, a camp song singalong (including purely secular, just for fun songs) and a talk by one of the youth about how much fun camp is. I think these kinds of things have an important place in the church, even in the service. However, to replace the sermon with them seems unconscionable. Maybe I am just too rigid, but I was amazed by the whole thing.
After church was an Open and Affirming gathering, with a pizza lunch, a video called "When a Kid is Gay" and a discussion of the video. We had some very good discussion at our table. Every single person at the table seems to be for going ONA and has personal experience with a gay loved one. One couple has a gay nephew, another man had a gay brother who died of AIDS before he ever came out to his brother, the AP has had kids in the youth group come out to her, J & I talked about our own experiences. I felt awful for one of the kids in the video, who is a fundamentalist Christian and is convinced he will go to hell for being gay. It was very sad. Another boy seriously considered suicide because his dad was very emotionally and verbally abusive to him because of his orientation. I am so blessed to have had the kind of upbringing and to have the kind of family I have.
After the gathering, we went home and picked up Boot for some Crocker Park prowling. The boys had been fighting all weekend, so Pie did not want to come along. Boot was perfectly pleasant, though, toward us. I understand that they really got into it Friday night and Pie ended up saying to J, enraged with his brother, "There is no room for diversity in this world!!! I am just trying to make some space for myself!!! I don't want to be like him!!!" So, I suspect that Boot was coming down on Pie for not being into boxing and other such manly, American pursuits. He needs to learn to be himself and let Pie be his own self. I'm glad I missed that part of the weekend and was simply able to enjoy Boot shopping for clothes at places like Hollister and for weight lifting equipment at Dick's. He is such a guy. Not at all a little boy anymore. I spent the rest of the afternoon working on the seasons swap tip-in pages that were due the following weekend, while the rest of the family vegged out in front of various screens. After Boot left, we tucked in to split pea soup and good bread and got ready to start a new week.