Saturday, October 24, 2009

a new hobby

A couple of weeks ago, in conversation with another church nerd type friend, I decided I was going to try a new hobby. So, under her guidance (as she's a pretty great player) I picked out a new ukulele and, since then, I have been practicing and recording videos about once a week. Here is my latest one, for your viewing pleasure!!!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Whatever you did to the least of these, you did to me...

I don't remember how I got introduced to the writing of Henri Nouwen. I think, being a church person and friends with other church nerd types, I just sort of fell into it. But at once I was drawn to his openness. Especially in the book Wounded Healer he talks about the need to embrace our own weaknesses, our own wounds and hurts, and in so doing we are able to reach out to others in healing. It is in embracing our own places of hurt that we are able to minister to others in their places of hurt.

I am not a perfect person. Far from it, in fact. I have never been very good at pretending to be something I'm not. I've not been very good at pretending to have it all together, or to be perfect or to be extremely self-confident. These things are not always who I am, and I have tried to be honest about that as much as I could. So to read Henri Nouwen, who is honest about his own faults and issues, was refreshing.

In his writings he often speaks of his time spent living at L'Arche Daybreak in Ontario. L'Arche is a community centered around people with developmental disabilities. These people are at the heart of the communities of L'Arche, and so they are called core members. Then there are assistants who live in the communities, as well. They don't just come and spend 8 hours a day, or overnight, at the house. But they strive to make a life in the communities, living and working with the core members and helping them to live a full and meaningful life. I was particularly touched by Nouwen's book Adam: God's Beloved, which chronicled his time spent with Adam, a young man who was a core member at Daybreak.

Since then I've expanded my reading on L'Arche, and I've started reading some of the works of Jean Vanier, who is the founder of the L'Arche movement. I don't know that he was planning on starting something that would someday include 135 member communities in 36 countries and include 5,000 people with and without developmental disabilities who would be sharing their lives together. I think he was just reaching out to two men with developmental disabilities in the town where he lived in France, hoping to offer them a better life than the one they had previously been living in an institutional setting.

But, regardless of what his intentions were, that is what L'Arche is today. It's an international community of people who believe that people with developmental disabilities are exactly that - people. They aren't just a burden, or just people that we need to take care of, but they are people with gifts and wisdom and love to offer.

To me, the more I read about it, L'Arche seems to be an embodiment of the Gospel as Jesus preached it and lived it. The broken, the sick, the weak and lowly ones, are blessed. They are where we meet Jesus face to face. It is in the places and among the people that society often ignores or despises where we will interact with Jesus. It is in reaching out to these people where our own hearts will be transformed.

"Every child, every person, needs to know they are a source of joy; every child, every person, needs to be celebrated." -- Jean Vanier

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Watch my head spin!

The other day I pulled down the old Occasional Services book from my shelf. That's the book that has various services that we don't do as often in the church, so we do them occasionally... hence the title. You can find the service for a Funeral in there, or blessings for various occasions. I didn't need it for any of those things. No, my friends. I needed it for something far more dire.

An exorcism.

Unfortunately, I did not find what I needed. So, I'm afraid that my house is still being tormented by an evil spirit. An evil spirit with fangs and claws and yellow eyes that seem to glow in the dark. An evil spirit in the form of...

a kitten.

You see, several months ago I decided to adopt a kitten. So I got this furry little guy, and I named him Winston, and he was a little crazy but he soon mellowed out (I think after his most recent visit to the vet, where they did a little snip, was what really did it). But a couple months ago I decided I needed to get Winston a friend, and a family from church just happened to have a cat that had kittens. So I went over to their house and met the three kittens and picked out the one I wanted, and a few weeks later she showed up at my door. When she was born, the family thought she might be a boy so they named her Stewart. Then they found out she was, in fact, a girl but the name stuck. I thought it was cute, so I kept it.

For the first few days she was adorable. She was still checking out the place, and she was a little afraid, so I'd find her huddled under blankets or in little nooks and crannies. But she soon adjusted to me and the house and Winston.

And that, my friends, is when all hell broke loose.

She is constantly knocking things off of shelves and off of the table. If there is one place she shouldn't be, that is where I will find her. I was emptying the dishwasher the other day, I opened it up turned my back for a second and when I turned around she was already trying to climb in. She spends most of her time hanging from the curtains and when she's not doing that she's trying to shred the couch or devour my shoes. She mercilessly chases Winston through the house. I have a scratches on my arm from her that look like they could have come from a mountain lion. For a while she refused to use the litter box and decided to relieve herself in as many places that weren't her litter box as she could. I woke up one morning to see that she had knocked a houseplant off of a shelf and proceeded to spread the dirt all over the dining room floor. I mean all over. It was like wall to wall carpeting but with dirt. And if that wasn't enough, that same morning I went to put on the sweater I had laid out and she apparently had decided that was the best place to pee that morning. Friends told me that to discourage her bad behavior I should use a spray bottle full of water. So I tried that. It didn't really seem to deter her much, no matter how many times I would spray her. She'd be climbing the curtain, I'd spray her with the bottle and she would jump down and run away. Not two seconds later she would be back on the curtain, thrashing around as if she were in the fight of her life. So I would spray her again, this time twice rather than just once, and she'd retreat again. But just as soon as I sat back down she'd be back up on that curtain. Eventually, I'd have a soaking wet kitten who was still attacking the curtains. One of her worst offenses, however, is when she tore into a bag of my powdered sugar donuts and ate some of them. I know it was her because Winston refuses to eat anything that isn't his cat food. Stewart will eat just about anything. I've had to stop her from eating styrofoam peanuts.

The thing that really makes me believe she might be the devil is that she's so darn cute. Her little grey, fuzzy body and her cute white, fuzzy face. Her big eyes that look up at you and her cute little meow. You'd look at her and wonder how something that cute could ever do anything bad.

But that's just what she wants you to think.