Friday, August 28, 2009

Dogs in Pajamas

I learned about the Bolshevik Revolution this morning. Why you might ask? Because I was lucky enough to get a gift certificate for an amazing full-body massage by a very, strong Russian woman. My body feels GOOOOOOOD right now. After the massage I talked to a few women who were gathered in the waiting room. We talked about socialism and the cold war and the weird things we were taught about one another as children.

New York City is diverse. Walking home from my massage I walked past a tall, blonde man wearing a skin-tight camouflage tuxedo who happily leaned into one hip as he admired his reflection in a window. He gave me his most dazzling smile. Yesterday I went to the Bronx to enjoy delish Italian food on Arthur Avenue where rumor has it that mafia occasionally still axe one another in restaurants in the area. I ate the best imported parmesan and salami and brought home fantastic home-made biscotti.

This morning I nearly tripped over a small, puffy dog wearing pink and white striped pajamas. He and his owner came prancing out of a neighboring apartment building, leashes and bags flying in all directions. I admit I felt immediately impatient with the pair as I fought for real estate on the sidewalk. I love eclectic people. Oblivious people? Not so much. I know I have no right to judge. I am often oblivious to the world around me, but dogs in pajamas?

It's a rainy day in New York. A perfect day to curl up with a book. Such strange weather we are having this August. But I'll take it. Good excuse for a nap.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Clean Getaway

I love that when I get off at the 77th Street Subway stop I can move toward the correct exit alongside all the other scrambling mice as we find our way up the stairs and set off in a hundred different directions. I finally KNOW my neighborhood and am becoming quite the expert at the New York City transit system. And just when New York was beginning to feel like home... snap... my time here is coming to an end.

Tonight it dawned on me, really dawned on me, that I will be leaving the city in less than 3 weeks. Last night I loved traipsing through Central Park with a group of friends to see a Greek tragedy at the Delacorte Theater. The play was a bit of a disaster... an insular production that was so preoccupied with talking that I found myself listening more to the wind in the willows (literally) and the cricket opera that hung thick in the air. But, what a treat. I loved walking past the lonely Metropolitan Museum of Art last night, which is so very rarely lonely. It is a gift to live just 10 blocks from this mammoth house of art and see its empty stairs in the wee hours of the morning.

I have been so busy with work that I have not taken the time to truly consider an "exit strategy." Tonight I had dinner in SoHo with the Obaditch family, one of my favorite fam's from New Jersey, and ate divine frozen yogurt at a trendy little place called Pinkberry. I was telling them about my gig in Philadelphia and as I spoke the reality of the move began to set in. A new adventure awaits, but that means that there are many goodbyes ahead of me. Bleh.

I am preaching on Sunday on the Song of Songs, which is full of beauty and full of love (not to mention plum full of explicit erotic poetry). Kind of a fun way to say adios to my friends here at Madison Ave. Presb Church-- spend some time dwelling on the goodness of love and creation and sensual delights. Don't fret my pets, I do not plan to scandalize anyone. It's the end of August. Who has room for scandal at the end of August?

I plan to do many "lasts" in the coming weeks. I have already come up with a number of good ways to say goodbye, for now, to this wonderful city. I plan to put a black Sharpie pen in my bag and add a few notes to special places. An occasional "I was here" and "We were here" seems important. I want to seal some memories as I go.

But, I am always open to suggestions. Ideas for a "clean getaway"?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Sanskrit Envy

I was annoyed at yoga tonight. People were making jokes in sanskrit. SANSKRIT! I have been doing this Vinyasa class, a type of yoga that focuses on breath and movement, but to my surprise, tonight we had a substitute that had us do loads of hand stands and head stands and told jokes in sanskrit. What?!?! I like her, though. And I like that we did work with a partner. I had my hands on my partner's inner thighs and gripped around her waste at various times and I really wanted to burst out laughing at the awkwardness of this!

Needless to say, there was no meditating for me tonight. Sorry Norbert!

It crossed my mind that this is probably the way that many people feel when they walk into church on a Sunday morning if they aren't regular church-goers. "What is going on? What are these weirdos talking about?"

There are things that I cannot write about on a public blog site because one of my responsibilities as a pastor is to hold sacred certain intimate events and stories that people share with me.

This is a bummer because there are some beautiful things I wish I could tell you about today. It was hot in New York. I wore a dark suit and I could feel sweat bead up on my lower back as I took part in a funeral service. Young one's lost their mother and once again I was reminded that life can come to a close so unexpectedly, so quickly. And death brings such stillness. Even to those that are still living. I am glad that a small thread of the life of this family is now woven into my own story.

I am going to drink a coke and spend some time writing, waiting for the summer storm that is supposed to arrive later this evening. Here's to you and here's to yours. Love to you from New York. Life would be spectacularly drab without you.

Monday, August 17, 2009

A day in the life

Putting on the collar changes everything, even when you are wearing a hot pink tank top and running shorts. My friend Sarah and I competed in this fantastic ‘Urban Adventure Race’ over the weekend and we decided to enter the costume competition. Every team has to wear matching attire, so we decided to wear our Sunday “uniform.” We got all kinds of reactions. Two women burst out laughing and immediately wanted to know where on earth we ever found “those things.” Sarah and I laughed in return and said, “We actually own them. We are Presbyterian ministers.”

They could hardly believe it. We clergy-girls definitely raised some eyebrows.

In my last semester at Princeton I was flying back to Newark and although I was engrossed in a fabulous novel, the gentleman sitting next to me was eager for conversation. The normal barrage of questions ensued. Here were my general answers: “I am in graduate school... studying theology... training to be a minister. Yes, clergy. No, Presbyterian ministers do not have to be celibate, but thanks for sharing your concern...”

He paused for a long time. And just as I turned back to my novel he looked at me and exclaimed, face full of compassion, “Do men EVER ask you out?!”

“You would be surprised” I sneered. But, of course, he tapped into some deep insecurity.

Ministers carry a whole lot of baggage in their vocation and it is amazing the range of reactions I get from people. The collar represents power and the abuse of power. It is plumb full of status, for better or worse. The barista who served me coffee on the morning of the race looked at me and said very seriously, “Jesus loves me too.” Then came my favorite part. She furrowed her brow and said, “But sometimes he is a little late. God can be late.” These are the times that I love being a minister: when people, perfect strangers, choose to open the window of their soul and share a bit of it with me.

I'm tired tonight. Worn out. Maybe it is because I have lots going on. Maybe it is because it was still 85 degrees at 11 o'clock this evening. Walking home from yoga tonight, the trees were thick with the sound of singing secadas and bats waking up for their nightly rumpus. It has been hot and sultry the last few days and it is hard not to succumb to lethargy, but I only have one more month in New York City, so I... must... enjoy... every... second.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Welcome baby girl!

Want to meet my pretty, little niece?! Here she is....

Alyssa Lynn Driver finally arrived last night after hanging out in her mama's belly for more than a week over her due date. She is a round little thing and my sister, although tired, is very happy to finally meet her and very happy NOT to be pregnant anymore!

My oldest nephew, Tate, is excited and so very proud of his tiny sister, but the next in line, four-year-old Tyson isn't so sure. He finds Alyssa satisfactory, but the first thing he asked my sister, gently patting her tummy, was, "Where is the boy baby?" He has been certain from day one that they would be bringing a baby brother home. Poor guy. Hopefully this won't traumatize him too much.

I guess Alyssa is hungry all the time and most happy when she is eating. A girl after my own heart. I will not be able to go home to meet her until October, which is a bummer, but I could not be happier to be the Auntie of this little girl!

Alyssa Lynn, tiny girl who has known this world just two days, may the God of all grace hold you and keep you. May faith always sustain you and bring you peace. May you know deep joy and laughter as you grow and learn and may you always know you are loved, dear girl. Welcome to this family!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

A few thoughts on a Thursday

Happiness looks good on people. So does love.

In New York city there are literally millions of people that are simultaneously sad and happy and afraid and angry. No wonder people don't believe in God. In a world so intensely complex, it is pretty darn difficult to imagine anything or anyone can hold all of this.

Tonight I made it to the store in time to buy a pint of chocolate and peanut butter Haagan Dazs ice cream before they closed their doors for the night. I will not eat the whole thing tonight. Promise. But that is a side note. I was feeling pretty darn good about my timely trip in and out of the store when I came upon an eclectic collection of human beings preparing to sleep on the steps of the church where I work. Propping up card board boxes, passing cigarettes around, some laughing, some devastatingly sober, I nearly stopped in my tracks as I thought to myself, "There are a million worlds and a million lives I know nothing about." Strange. Even that is an understatement.

I am going to eat ice cream tonight. Eat ice cream and write a sermon on one of those epic tragedies in the Bible... David and Absalom. Fascinating that Michelangelo chose to sculpt David with Herculean strength and perfect features. I suppose it is appropriately paradoxical that he is carved in stone. Dead on the inside. David, in his legacy of strength and power and beauty, also embodies treachery and cowardice and fear.

I like this portrait of Michelangelo (Jacopino del Conte). Full of melancholy.

I am convinced that, any day now, I am going to be happy again. Any day now.

I am ready to look like the girl in my pictures-- the one that looks really, really happy. I like her.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Gotham Nights

There have been some beautiful moons these last few nights here in New York. Cloudy and rainy days have paid off and the moon has been playing a fantastic game of hide and seek. If I was a poet I would write a few lines. But I am not a poet.

Instead I will listen to Billy Collins read some of his own poetry on YouTube tonight before I go to sleep. Because we can do that now-a-days. Poetry at our fingertips. The internet is wonderful (thanks Al Gore) but If I had my way, I would crawl into bed with a book and someone to read it with because there are some things that have no substitute. And delighting in shared words and marveling at the slippery, milky moon is one of them.