In between

I have to believe that some of you keep coming back to this site just to see if I’m dead.  I’m not dead, yet, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

So, since I last posted, we’ve experienced Holy Week.  Now, for those of you who don’t know me, or haven’t been reading the blog for a while, I have a job at a church.  I don’t mind blogging about this job, even though several church members know about the blog and probably read it on a fairly regular basis.  Most of the stuff I write probably wouldn’t get me fired.  I usually just complain about having to go…but I go anyway, because they continue to pay me.  So, yeah, Holy Week.  It’s a week of church services, basically.  I go on Palm Sunday (twice this year), Wednesday for rehearsal, Maundy Thursday (which I just learned this year why it’s called Maundy, it’s from the Latin mandatum, for “command” or commandment), fortunately, I’m off work on Good Friday (which is why it’s good), Easter Vigil on Saturday night, and then Easter Sunday (three services this year!).  All of this leads to me being very tired come Easter Monday.

Ordinarily, it’s not a big deal.  However, this year…I started getting sick on Wednesday and it has slowly progressed.  I really thought it was just an allergy, but it has continued to linger.  And, in previous years, I would’ve just taken a day off to rest and dealt with it.  However, with my new job (that I don’t blog about), I didn’t really have the option of taking the day off.  You see, we were involved with bringing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to my hometown and because of the way the scheduling worked we had very little time to prepare.  Unfortunately, all of that preparation came the week after Holy Week.  So, you see my dilemma.  In addition to the exhaustion of church I had now added the visit/lecture of a government dignitary.

She was here Friday.  I hope to add a couple of pictures soon.  It was a wonderful event and everything went very smoothly from our point of view.  It was also very exciting to be in the mix for the planning and coordination with her advance team.  I really enjoyed the experience.  I would’ve enjoyed it even more had my illness not progressed.  By the time of the event, I was basically just a husk of a man, swaying in the wind, trying not to cough too loudly as she spoke.

In addition to this, I had already agreed to take a group of students to New Harmony, IN for a scholastic retreat for the weekend.  New Harmony is the site of a failed utopian society and fit well with their studies for the semester.  I wheezed and gasped my way through a walking tour of the town and a lovely dinner.

Since everything went well, I decided to finally take Monday off and go to the doctor.  Seconds after hearing me cough, he pronounced the diagnosis of bronchitis and prescribed a wonderful little antibiotic, doxycycline.  So, I lay in bed on Monday and Tuesday attempting to rest, trying not to move my torso because this seemed to aggravate the coughing condition.  I’m back at work today…still coughing, but feeling better.  As previously stated, I’m not dead, yet.  I’m feeling better.  I think I’ll go for a walk.

See you in the funny papers!

O Come All Ye Faithful

When I started dating my wife, I acclimated to a tradition of her family by venturing out into the wilds of Indiana and selecting a fresh Christmas tree, cutting it down and dragging it home to decorate.  Previous to this, I had merely pulled out the dusty tree from a box in the closet and placed it in the corner, but now, here was a new exciting part of the holiday that felt exotic and exhilarating.  There is truly something invigorating about wandering in a field in the cold, crisp weather and breathing in that beautiful pine scent; the sharp odor of fresh cut wood.  I really enjoy the moments outdoors selecting our tree.

All of this is to say that yesterday, we went out again into the cold with our daughter and C.’s mom and dad and we chose our tree and it was, yet again, a serene experience to be in the company of family, participating in an old-fashioned tradition, and enjoying the beginnings of our holiday season.  Also, part of this tradition is the listening to Christmas music, particularly John Denver and the Muppets, but several other Christmas CDs as well, which leads me to my minor “conversion” moment this morning on the way to church. Notre Dame Cathedral

Now, one would think if I were already headed to church, I wouldn’t have needed a conversion moment.  And, I don’t want to alienate anyone who thinks I’ve jumped on the “crazy Christian” bandwagon, because that wouldn’t be an accurate account either.  Truth is, I attend church for a lot of reasons…one is that it’s a job, I get paid to sing.  Second, the community that is shared among the group of friends at our church is really second to none.  We, my wife and I, really enjoy the friendships we’ve made at church.  But, the main reason I attend church is that I don’t have all the answers and, honestly, there’s quite a bit of doubt.  I AM the “Thomas the Apostle” for my generation.  Still, there are clear and shining moments wherein the voice of God breaks through the cloud of mystery and doubt and floods my heart and mind.  This morning, I was going to change the cd in the stereo because we’d listened to it at least 3 or 4 times yesterday during various trips across the county, but I left it in because I wanted to hear Earl Scruggs play “Jingle Bells” on the banjo.  Well, a few songs later, Patty Loveless began her version of “O Come All Ye Faithful” and that is the moment that it made sense to me:

O Come, All Ye Faithful

It was an invitation; an invitation to be a part of a season, a tradition.  Sure, it specifies the faithful, but also the joyful and the triumphant.  I would venture to say that it was also an invitation to the doubtful, the disheartened and the downtrodden.  I felt a part of the faithful, not necessarily the believers, but those who have faith, however shaky it might be, that there is good and purpose in the world.  And, we’re invited to share in a community with other faithful.  I’d like to propose that the comma in that opening line is maybe premature.  Maybe, instead, it should read:

O Come All, Ye Faithful

So, during this season of Advent Aside: for those of you who didn’t go to church this morning, Advent is the season of preparation that precedes Christmas.  You won’t find it in the Hallmark card section as it goes largely unnoticed by the general populace. as we prepare for our Christmas traditions with fresh or dusty trees, fresh or dusty faiths, I’d like to believe that we’ve all been invited to attend, to celebrate in the joy of this season.

Finally, in keeping with Gwen Bell’s Best of 2009 challenge, today’s “Best of” is workshop or conference.  I don’t attend many workshops or conferences.  My job is not such that it’s necessary, however, this year I did attend a marriage retreat that might fall into this category.  My wife and I, as part of the aforementioned church, journeyed down to the All Saints Conference Center in Leitchfield, KY for a short marriage retreat.  We truly enjoyed the retreat and were able to further solidify our marriage by recognizing that we share many of the same constructs for making our marriage work smoothly and joyfully with a minimum of distraction and discord.  It was a very nice weekend and I feel like it strengthened our marriage.  So, even though it’s the only one, I’d say it was the best one of 2009.

See you in the funny papers!

NaBloPoMo 2009 – SEA

NaBloPoMo2009 Once more into the fray of that wild and crazy event known as NaBloPoMo, or National Blog Posting Month.  This year, I’m starting out just under the wire as it has been a full day here.  This morning, our daughter was baptized in the Episcopalian church that C. and I joined a couple of years back.  Several years ago, I couldn’t have imagined this moment…the daughter or the church.  I had sort of drifted away from the idea of needing a church community and I’m still on the faith journey as I reconcile it with the ever constant presence of rational scientific evidence.  But, I’ve come to realize that I don’t necessarily need to reconcile the two…and at times, that has made the two distinct disciplines seem to go hand in hand with each other.  Still and all, I truly enjoy the community of this particular church and regardless of your beliefs Aside: or non-beliefs…we’re all inclusive here at the Conspiracy of Happiness! finding a community in which you can share your thoughts, doubts, trials, and thanksgivings with a caring, concerned group of individuals without fear of repercussion or ostracization is truly a joy in life.

Also, this weekend, I was given a treadmill by my parents.  They had an old treadmill that they weren’t using anymore, since they’re at the YMCA about 6 days a week now, and I became the beneficiary of this piece of exercise equipment.  I have my reasons for wanting it, but you’ll have to wait until later to hear about the new goal!  I need to finish the latest goal first.  This morning EARLY I was able toHalloween Cowgirl put in a few kilometers on the old horse and even though I think it made the day even longer, it felt good to be able to go down to the basement and simply run.  I’m looking forward to using it more often.

I hope everyone had a great Halloween.  We didn’t go trick-or-treating, we simply stayed home and handed out candy.  IvyCat was a cowgirl for the holiday event and by all accounts was adorable.  Judge for yourself though in the picture to the right.  However, let me ask this…when did it become kosher for people with babies to go out into the night air and beg other people’s candy for children who aren’t old enough to eat it?  We had at least 3 people last night with kids just barely older than our own trying to snag some chocolate.  Buy your own candy for pete’s sake!  Fortunately, C. has the cojones to turn those folks away at the steps.  I tend to avoid conflict all together and spent the evening watching television.

Okay…I need to wrap this up so that I can get it posted in time to meet the deadline.  I’d hate to start this year’s NaBloPoMo off with ZERO days in a row.  For more NaBloPoMo fun, I’m labeling each entry with a code.  The person who cracks the code wins…something.  I haven’t decided yet.  But, it’ll be smaller than a breadbox…so put your thinking caps on and see if you can’t figure it out.  This first one may not be very helpful, but as the week continues, I’m betting some of you will see a pattern.

See you in the funny papers!

NaBloPoMo – Post 4

Sunday is generally a church day for me. I get paid to sing, so it’s a pretty sweet deal…but you have to be there every Sunday. Sometimes twice. Anyway, today is one of those days and this morning was not half bad. The bad half was the organist who, on more than one occasion, was at least a measure ahead of the rest of the instrumentalists and choir. It provided for some interesting moments.

The decent half was the sermon which all in all was pretty good. There was a discussion of saints and how they’re just ordinary people really. I began to think of all the people who’ve gone before me and how they may have been viewed as saints in some way or another.

Saint Clark, Saint Iva, Saint James, Saint Henry, Saint Evelyn

Saint Martin, Saint William, Saint Jill, Saint Winifredo, Saint Robin

Saint Daniel, Saint Melisa, Saint Giselle

And these are just the saints from my own life and family. Each of these people had their faults because they were human, but each one also had an element of good in them that shone forth in the world through their actions or words. They may not have been necessarily saints to everyone, but there are some who would certainly revere them in that way.

I can only hope that at some point in my life, I will do something worthy of being called a saint.

See you in the funny papers!