Palm branches

I am getting ready to burn last year's palm branches for this week's ashes.

After the bloom fades

The amaryllis, my first of the season, has faded. It still has some beauty to share.


Wallking in the neighborhood - 3

A lemon slice of a moon fades in the southern sky while color leaks from the east.
Crows and chickadees begin the conversation.
Stumps of snowmen and a still waving Santa greet me.
A taxi honks lightly.
Three houses in a row post placards of peace.
A shelf of Americana birdhouses wait.
I remember to fill my bird feeder.


Walking in the neighborhood - 2

Two frozen mittens, unmatched, on opposite sides of the street.
A glove in the intersection nearby.
A single mattress, leaning.
A bluejay's throaty call.
Patchy blue, ghostly sun, a few flakes.
A window, fallen, from the second story.
A golden ginkgo leaf, frosted.


Walking in the neighborhood

An east orange-pink swells beneath the gray clouds. The cardinal is singing again in Mary's backyard. Buckets of newspaper and pop cans stake out the houses. A white squirrel eats under the bird feeder.

It is colder than it was yesterday. The sidewalks are a little clearer. Gray-haired women are getting their hair done, early. Sandwich bread is delivered to the deli. The air smells like cinnamon rolls and roasting coffee.

The dogs are barking. A Volvo stops to let me pass. A note is stuck to the icy ground, directions with "I love you" at the bottom. I think I know whose it is.



I have been waiting for my second amaryllis to bloom so I can take macro photos of it. Thursday afternoon inbetween staff coming in to ask me questions (I had been out of the office all week) I took photos with my camera on the tripod of the beautiful amarylli in the bright afternoon sunlight. I downloaded the pictures into my computer, and they were lovely -- except for the distinct hair marring each one.

So Friday afternoon Theo and I headed to National Camera Exchange. They sold me my camera and someone from church works there so we went to get my camera cleaned. While the errant hair was being removed Mike gave me a tour through all the lenses I might really like to have. Sigh.

Then a guy who works there wandered over and started talking macro lenses with me. I quickly discovered he likes to do the same odd little thing that I do -- take macro shots of flowers. We talked about Como Conservatory and how great it is to shoot there. I complained, though, of the no-tripod rule, and the breeze that is always running through there. "I can't get the camera to hold still enough to make it work," I said.

"You need a speedlight!" he insisted. I protested that I hate flash. "What flash do you use?" he asked. I pointed to the little dowitchit on the top of my camera. "No, no, no!" he said, and off he went, rummaging through the store. He came back with a cord, a diffuser, and a SB-600 Speedlight. "Now you have the sun in your hand," he said. I attached it to my camera and looked around for something to shoot. I turned around and there was Theo, doing the pretty-good-little-boy-waiting-for-mom-to-finish-to-go-buy-the-promised-cookie routine. "Here, Theo, I said."

Sold. I bought the flash on the spot.

So here is the amaryllis, with the speedlight held at different angles. I have a whole new variable to play with now.

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Curling up with a book after BOOM

I'm back from my first Board of Ordained Ministry interview retreat, at least from the perspective of being the interviewer. I sat in the hotseat myself in 1990 and 1993 and remembered, all these last few days, what I was like then and what it meant to move ahead in my ordination process.

I spent last week reading more than 350 pages of theological and autobiographical statements, sermons and Bible studies. And then the last 3 days interviewing those who wrote those statements as part of their process to move to ordination. It was, as I expected, delightful and difficult work.

Our Board process now divides our interviews into three sections: the pastor as Leader, as Person, and as Theologian. I didn't ask to be on a specific group, but I thought about all the work I've done in the last several years around leadership, spiritual development, and healthy habits and I thought for sure I'd be on the Person or Leader groups. So then I was surprised to see I was chairing a Theology committee.

Not that my theology is inadequate, I'd say, but I haven't read as much of it in the last several years as all the other stuff. Now, however, after these few days, of talking with those who came to interview, of hours of working with my interview team, I come back home hungry to browse my shelf again and read and reread some theology. After days of asking about grace and sin and evil and the redemption of creation I'm ready to do some serious reflecting about it, myself, to reinvigorate my vocabulary and explore once again, with some of the giants, what this all means.

But where to start? I could stand to brush up on process, liberation, feminist, creation, or something written before 1970. Barth, Tillich, Moltmann, Bonhoeffer? I even heard Augustine mentioned a few times this week. There's a lot on my shelf that has faded in my mind and books I've never gotten to. Someone handed me a copy of Rita Nakashima Brock's newest book, Saving Paradise, and she is coming to town next month.

And this morning I got another 15% coupon from Barnes and Noble. Hmmm.

I really gotta catch up from all my days away (I've had 4 weeks in a row with 2 nights/3 days away) and now all I can think about it curling up with a book.