Spring Semester Begins

February 19th

It’s been over 2 weeks but Spring semester has sprung! My break is over and I’ve got one semester under my belt. I’m thrilled with these classes I’ve got… only 2, but I’m working so that will probably be enough. How People Pray is on Mondays and that is proving interesting indeed. We have covered Judaism, Christian and Celtic already and I have found some wonderful prayers to read. Spirituality and Non-violent Transformation is on Tuesdays, centering on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Cesar Chavez and Mahatma Gandhi…. Oh to read Gandhi and get credit for it! How lucky am I! We’ve started reading The Essential Gandhi already and the book list also includes The Moral Vision of Cesar Chavez, Dorothy Day’s Loaves and Fishes, Thoreau on Civil Disobedience, W.E.B. DuBois The Souls of Black Folk…. Plus others, but how cool of a reading list is that! I’ve only got 8 books plus readings to read this semester so that feels pretty light. Some are small, that’s a good thing, some are long; James Washington’s A Testament of Hope –all of King’s speeches and writings is 700 pages long. I enjoy reading though so this is not a punishment by any means.
It’s been inspiring to hear the introductions of the students in my classes, where they’ve come from, what they’ve done, why they’re here. Ministers seem to come from every walk of life, literally, so the diversity that is brought to our classes is positively delicious. How can I NOT learn? Already many classmates have opened their hearts to allow us to see the pain and grief that they’ve experienced which brings new dimension and meaning to their personalities and souls. In my prayer class I’ve discovered forms of prayer that I didn’t realize were prayer. I have kept a gratitude journal every night for the past 8 years and discovered that was a form of prayer. My running jaunts, especially when I was running long miles, felt like meditation and I’ve realized that is a form of prayer. Many of us I think pray and don’t realize we’re praying. I wasn’t a fan of prayer in the past, believing in the medieval definitions of many organized religions. But I do believe there is a God, or spirit, or universal energy, call it what you will, that exists and there has been many a time when I have pleaded, begged, cajoled and bargained with this spirit guidance, promised to never do it again if only they …… you know the rest. So to delve into the analysis and breakdown of prayer is fascinating. Every religion or non-religion has a form and to discover how they do it actually helps me to define how I do it. We will be constructing prayers, for as I’ve been informed, I will be asked to pray on the fly… I may very well be somewhere where someone wants or needs a prayer and I will need to create one. I’ve never thought of that before. Sometimes I think to myself, WHAT have I gotten myself into? When I think of ministering I think of performing weddings, pushing back to the corner of my mind the fact that I will also perform funerals. Preaching at a pulpit seems easy, but what about when I’m in a hospital – what do I say to the patient or the family to comfort them? Or I’m involved in social action or a rally, what do I say to the masses? This is where fear could tangle my legs and pull me down if I don’t lasso it first myself. And I know I have years yet of learning to go before I will truly be ready. So I study and I do my “own” praying and hopefully step by step, I’ll learn what I need to learn and do what I need to do. It can be quite intimidating to see the role models of Gandhi, Chavez, or King and think that is my pinnacle… that is where I need to reach. That may never happen, but at least that’s my goal!

So Spring has sprung – theoretically – (it’s pouring down deluges at the moment, so it doesn’t feel very Spring-like) and I’m off and running. I feel like this semester will be easier than the first, as I’ve gotten my sea legs and feel a tiny bit more seasoned. I even attended a Student Body meeting this week and volunteered for a committee – egad! I need to have student activities though don’t I? If I’m to get some fellowships and grants, I need to check as many boxes as I can. Ugh… it feels like High School and I’m on Student Council, in the National Honor Society and in the pep club, all over again! 🙂

I hope you’re Spring is off to a good start even though technically it’s not Spring yet. I just got an early start myself.

From my little piece of Mayberry,
Jo

Break

January 30, 2011

I’ve been on break.  I looked the word up on dictionary.com and it was interesting to see the definitions.

Break  as a noun:  a brief rest, as from work.   That’s what it feels like right now; I’ve rested from school.  I had forgotten when I was in school in the past that we got breaks.  I was so engrossed in studying and finals that when Christmas came I went straight into that mode.  And I’ve had this whole month to have some extra time.  Time to do things like normal people.  Time to vacuum and go to the grocery store and pet the cat.  Give medicine to the cat.  Walk to the Nirvana shopping center.  All good things I let go to the wayside.  I almost don’t know what to do now.  I would come home from work or school, make and eat dinner and study.  I didn’t do much else.  Now I come home ….. or not… 🙂  I actually have time for a movie or to watch the 100 hours of TV on my DVR (you think I’m joking???)  And I have had 4 weeks off to rest.  I’ve started some projects that I’m excited to do before the next semester begins.  Although the list of what I wanted to accomplish is still soooo long.  I always think I can get more done than I actually can do.  That’s a bit disappointing.  As now that school will be starting again, I feel like I don’t have the time.  Ugh… it’s always about time isn’t it?

(v)  to destroy or interrupt the regularity, uniformity, continuity, or arrangement of; interrupt.  So I did that too.  I interrupted so much of my schedule.  I thought I would get an exercise schedule going, like actually going to the gym with the membership I got such a deal on.  I have been walking, and for two weekends I painted at work and moved furniture and that’s exercise in a way.  I’ve learned to broaden my definitions.  If I’m burning calories and using muscles, it counts.  Somewhat unorthodox for me, as I’ve always thought of exercise as running or lifting weights, but this counts.  And the results have been dramatic!   I instigated repainting the office where I work and it looks gorgeous!  I’m so pleased and I believe so are many members of the congregation.  Placid peach and ginger root, the accent wall is in ginger and the door is chocolate brown.  Doesn’t that sound yummy?  I’m not sure why they choose such sensuous names for paint.  It’s not like we’re going to eat it.  But it must be a marketing ploy, maybe it works for some.  I just use my knowledge of the color wheel, of which I used to teach to 7th graders as an art teacher, and it actually serves me very well.

(v) to shatter, burst, or become broken; separate into parts or fragments, to become suddenly discontinuous or interrupted;  This occurred many times over my school break.  Other breaks.  My answering machine stopped working – broken – but I McGyver’d it and it’s working again!  Sequel just had to have the tiger lilies between his canines and tipped the vase holding the water over onto my TV and “broke” that forever.  It is toast and at the electronic recycling place now.  My tenant called to say that there was a leak coming from the upstairs bathroom into the kitchen below in my condo down south, so hence, another break… the insurance company is working on that one as I type.  Sigh… so many breaks, so many shatters.  But I used to have a co-worker who stated that metaphysically when something broke in your life, it represented a breakthrough.  I must be going through some kind of spiritual awakening!  Oh and I’ve also broken 3 nails.  That in and of itself could represent a metaphysical experience!

(v) to free oneself or escape suddenly, as from restraint or dependency.  This could represent relationships.  The one break that saddens me more than anything is the break with my brother.  He has become distant, bitter, very angry and completely cut off from me.  So my job now is to let go with love and free myself of all the grief I feel and say a prayer.  This brings us back to the noun portion of the word.

(n) an abrupt or marked change; a suspension of or sudden rupture in friendly relations.  It’s a very strange feeling to not have immediate family.  Since both of my parents are deceased and now my brother so distant emotionally, I am it for my family.  I have discovered though with this break that there is a freeing of my spirit that is unexpected.  In the back of my mind in the past, I always expected to fall back on someone if I needed to, financially or emotionally.  And there has come a certain strength I didn’t know I had, to know that I truly am on my own.  It’s me, myself and I.  It feels peaceful.  Oh and one other important entity.  My god I believe in, Higher Power, Yahweh, Spirit, Universe, it’s known by many names.  There is a closeness that I feel that shores me up when I feel unsure or afraid or incapable.  So I’m not alone.  I have all I need.  And I’ve even had a break… in more ways than one.

From my little piece of Mayberry,

Jo