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Monday, April 25, 2016

I have appreciated the Irish Jesuit's Sacred Space site over the years and I think that is what introduced me to "Pray as you go."  I started using the site during Lent and have continued to do so through Eastertide.  An app on my iphone makes it very easy to log on.

First there are chimes calling you to prayer.  Then there is music.  Maybe it will be from Taize or Ladysmith Black Mambazo or a monastery choir.  It might be in Latin or it might be in Swahili! Usually it is lovely.

 There are a few statements leading you into the lectionary reading for the day.  "As I enter into prayer now, can I put aside for a moment my pride, ...and place myself humbly into the hands of my God, who knows all my faults and failings and loves me still?"

There is more music and a few more statements guiding your thinking about the passage which was from the First Letter of Peter today.  There is more music and then you listen to the passage a second time.  You are asked  to focus on what is on your mind and how you relate to the passage.  Often it is very personal.  "What particular anxieties are troubling you now, that you can place in God's hands? Why not do that, now?"

All of this is done in a wonderful British or Irish accent.  The post ends with a single voice leading to a chorus of voices: "Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen."

My favorite place to do this ten minute prayer is outside on our deck looking up at the trees and listening to the birds.  I recommend giving it a try!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

A Birthday Gift

My birthday cake as seen on Nixplay
My birthday is tomorrow.  70 years old.  I need to be grateful and I am--for good health, for Jim and the kids and grand-kids, for friends, for things to do.  But 70 just sounds so old to me!

Yesterday however I had a moment of absolute delight in connection with my birthday.  A cousin at my step-mother's funeral put me in touch with my childhood best friend Judy.  We  had lost touch from maybe age 12 on even though we were in college at the same time and the same place.  I contacted her by email and we have exchanged emails twice now.  I mentioned that I remembered the date of her birthday because that was always a fun day for me.  And to my amazement she sent me birthday greetings this week too.  She remembered my date as well.  It made me happy to renew our friendship--but also to know that date was important to her also!

Jim and I are going out to eat tonight to celebrate--a day early.  I slept well last night and feel great.  That is not always the case and it might not be true tomorrow.  Seize the day!  Carpe diem!  Plus Jim wants to do some demo day for golf tomorrow.  Maybe we'll go out again tomorrow.  We're going to Ruth's Chris tonight--far too expensive but we have a $50 gift certificate for donating to our public radio station.  However, the expiration date said 4/1/16.  Oops.  I called the restaurant and they will honor it--maybe not happily however.  Hope we still get treated well. $50 will only be a start on their menu prices.

What will the next year bring?  Or the next decade?  Will there be big changes in our lives?  Or will we just little by little give up some things--like driving at night or traveling overseas--both of which we are avoiding even now.

Enough pondering.  I will enjoy the celebration today and not think about tomorrow or next year or ten years from now.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Grandma Takes a Drug Test

To volunteer at the St. Joseph County Public Library, you need a police check and a drug test.   I came very close this afternoon to deciding that it wasn't worth the hassle.

Last week I was interviewed by the head librarian and an assistant.  My references were called to see if I worked well with others.  They were taking no chances!   Today I went downtown and signed permission for a police check and a drug test.  The drug test had to be done within 24 hours so I headed out to the Clinic for Occupational Medicine immediately, drinking warmish water out of my water bottle all the way.

The sign on the door of the clinic gave me a clue about what was to come.   " If you are here for a drug test, once you enter, you cannot leave the clinic."  I signed another form and had to relinquish my ID.  I sat in a very spartan waiting room with a noisy TV.  I was definitely the oldest client.   After about 15 minutes,  I was called in, given my ID after they made sure I matched the photo, and was told  to put my purse in a locker and take the key with me.

After all of that, I was a bit intimidated and found it impossible to comply--even for 1/2 inch in a little cup.   I tried to get  psychological help from running water in the sink but the sink was turned off.  Were they worried I would dilute the speciman?

I told the aides that I was ready to forget it.  They said to try again in ten minutes and they would put a basin in the toilet that time.  After another wait, success!

I understand that there are many ways to beat the system with drug testing and that safeguards are necessary.   I will try to take the attitude that it was an interesting experience and a glimpse into another way of life.

 Now to see if I pass!

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Making Choices as a Volunteer

The other day Jim was pondering about how he might volunteer his time when he retires.  He will continue to do his research and will spend plenty of hours in the office he will keep at Notre Dame.  He  agreed to teach a seminar in the spring.  But he was thinking about what else would be good to do with more time available.

Since retiring, I have volunteered as a docent at the South Bend Museum of Art and the Snite Museum at Notre Dame and as a tutor at Hope Ministries (a homeless shelter.)  I volunteered as an organist for years before retiring so that doesn't really count in these musings about choices.

5th Graders at SBMA
I have fulfilled my contract with the museums at this point.  Their curators trained the new docents over a four month period and in turn, we actually signed a contract committing to two years of leading tours with a minimum of ten tours each year.  My goal of learning more about our local museums and about art in general has been met.   Do I want to commit to another year?  I don't know.  I don't really look forward to the continued bi-weekly training sessions and I haven't looked forward to taking groups of 5th graders through their Museum Morning tours or 3rd graders through their Jump Start sculpture tours.   However, when the tours are finished, I have satisfaction knowing that the kids were very responsive and the sessions went well.

Tutoring at Hope Ministries is like an extension of my working years but it so much easier with just one student at a time and no paperwork or meetings.   I am using my skills and experience and feel comfortable with the students who have been very responsive and appreciative.   So I will continue to work with the students I have now and when they move on, agree to others.

Playing the organ for church services is a challenge for me.  I enjoy preparing the music but I often lie awake on Saturday night  knowing how much energy and concentration it takes to lead worship. I don't actually worship much on those Sundays when I play.   I know that it is important to lead congregational singing well.  So for now, I need to continue to serve in this way.  There are no other musicians standing in line to take my place!

So if I give up the docent work, what else should I do?  What would be good activities for Jim to do?   It would be nice to do something together.  At one point, we were both "readers" at a local elementary school.  That is an option.  Maybe delivering "Meals on Wheels" or library books to the Homebound.  We don't have handyman skills or much desire to travel for service projects.

Please suggest any ideas in the comments!