Monday, August 29, 2005

prague in the 90's

i was visiting with some friends from my days in prague yesterday. we all live in the u.s. now but we all lived in prague in the mid 1990's. one of my friends referred to me as an artist. i think a few people thought of me that way, although i never created art in any form like painting, music, photographs, sculpture, etc. i didn't even write. but, i did live life to the absolute f'ing fullest and told stories from my own life and from the lives of my family on my mother's side, which was a matriarchy - all strong, independent, entrepreneurial women.
in some ways i am completely different from that woman. i started out bold and brash but spinned towards frenetic energy, vampiric energy. i was scared but not sure of what exactly, because it was too scary to even go there. but, there are aspects of that jen in prague in her 20's that i really respect. i was totally fearless. i still am. i am, however, more private now about certain aspects of my life, i have boundaries.
i believe we are all called to become the man or woman that god has in store for us. i strive on a day to day basis to become that jen that god sees when she looks at me.
living life fully, humbly, the way it's meant to be lived, is an art. i want to live that way, turning my will over as often as i can remember and submitting to the infinitely more intelligent will of the god of my understanding.

Monday, August 22, 2005

if you want to see if god has a sense of humor ...

i am living in the apt. i grew up in here in manhattan's upper east side (for those not familiar with nyc, i live near carrie bradshaw of sex and the city).
when i was growing up, everyone in my family was an alcoholic. this made for a slightly grim childhood - actually, i was pretty adult with adult responsibilities from my earliest memories. but, i did get along well with most of my family and esp. my mother.
when i would get annoyed with her drinking and morose behavior i would think about how happy i would be without her. i was waiting for her to die so i could start my own life. i moved halfway around the world to get away but that didn't make me a grown up - quite the opposite really. while she sat passed out in her chair i would imagine having the apt. all to myself and mentally redecorate!
fortunately, i was able to go to al-anon , a 12 step program for families and friends of alcoholics, and get some clarity on the disease of alcoholism and have compassion and love for my mom before she did indeed die of drinking this year.
i miss my mom but i sure don't miss that disease.
now i do have the apt. all to myself and i must say it's very peaceful here without alcoholism hanging over everything. i am redecorating ... and i wish my mom was here to see it, she would like some of the changes i'm making. maybe even a lot of the changes. oh, who am i kidding. she hated change!
one of the things i wanted to do was repaint. a lot of the apt. was painted yellow and there's not a lot of sunlight (typical nyc) so, i felt like i was living in a yellow submarine. i decided to change the color. the landlord is supposed to pay for painters to paint your apt. every 7 years. it's been that long and i arranged with the management office for the painters to come. then the office wanted the paint chips to approve my colors! then i had to sign a waiver saying that when i move out they will be able to paint the apt. white because the colors i'm choosing will be so soft. whatever. then, the painters came and took one look at the size of this place (1800 sq. ft. which by nyc standards is ginormous) and told the office it would cost $1600 to do two coats. cut to the part where i am now painting myself. i have never painted an apt. before. i am crap at it. i started with the guest room b/c if i screw that up, well, i don't have to sleep there.
i am thinking of this as the universe testing my desire to change the apt. and make it my own. do i really want this? yes! this does remind me of my favorite expression, if you want to see if god has a sense of humor, make plans.
painting myself also gave me an opportunity to grieve my mother a little more. mostly i feel relieved, which doesn't leave a lot of room to grieve. while i was painting the master bedroom i realized, my god, she's really gone. b/c the only way i could ever paint what was her bedroom the color that i chose would be over her dead body! that sounds funny, but i did really cry.
i truly believe god is calling me right now to simply live my life. go to work, come home, play with the dog, cook my meals, see my boyfriend (yes, sister mary alternative has a boyfriend because i'm not a nun yet!), see my friends, live my new life without mom. i did become a grown-up through grace before my mother died, but now i'm entering a new phase of grown-up life. it's very difficult to lose one's mother. i do see that it's much more difficult when you're not married and have no children. i feel lonely at times, and that's where god is calling me - to sit and be in that lonliness, in that grief. it's a true and honest feeling and that is how god really communicates with me, through my feelings.
sitting in my garden or my apt. alone, letting my feelings work through me rather than denying them or running away from them or simply tuning them out, that is the tension of the cross for me. and, of course, i'm not alone. christ is with me. although it's hard to feel that some of the time.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

st. hilda' abbey ruins, whitby Posted by Picasa

Saturday, August 13, 2005

order of the holy paraclete

ohp whitby Posted by Picasa

i went to visit ohp in whitby, england as an enquirer for a week. i was so excited to go and the trip there, though long, was incredibly beautiful. the bus from york went through the moors - very dramatic, barren looking landscape that lies flat and suddenly falls down in large, steep hills when you're least expecting it. sheep all over the land and in the road. low clouds - they look as though you could get up on a very tall ladder and brush them with your fingertips. it reminded me of connemara in ireland.

as soon as i walked in the doors of the convent, a voice in my head shrieked, "Aaaahhhh!!!!! i don't want to be here!!!! run away, run away right now!!!!" i decided to ignore that voice. it was not the still, small voice of god but the childish tantrum of my ego.

the sisters have 4 prayers of the daily office (lauds, mid-day office, vespers, compline) and the eucharist every day. their chapel (to the left of the photo, next to the CASTLE!) had kick-a$$ accoustics and their sung office sounded so beautiful.

i'd really like to go to africa and work with aids orphans which is how i came to this order. their mother house is in england, but they have houses in africa and one, in swaziland, works with abused girls. i met with the prioress who had lived and worked in swaziland and she told me about the work they are doing there and showed me pictures and articles. every molecule in my body jumped up and down for joy at that. but, as the week went on and i listened to my heart about this order and me i realized this just was not the place for me. there's no specific thing i could put my finger on. i mean, it's really fabulous there. i've heard some sisters say that when they walked into their convent for the first time, they felt like they were home. when i thought about leaving my beautiful garden apartment in nyc and my life here i couldn't see it. i would have to live at whitby for years during novitiate and who knows if i would indeed go to africa? actually, i'm wondering more and more how the schism between african theology and western theology in the anglican communion is going to work out. is there room for an alternative anglican in africa?

i was disappointed at first. i really wanted this to be home. my mother died in january of this year and once i discerned i would not be joining this order i realized that i felt even more alone, even more "homeless". but i feel better now - because it's so not up to me. i just remember that i'm not in charge here and more shall be revealed. and perhaps god is calling me right now to just sit in that lonliness and missing my mom and feeling like a 36 year old "orphan" instead of running to a new home and family. one of my favorite expressions is - when god closes one door, god opens another ... but it's hell in the hallway. i think i'm about to enter the hallway for a bit. i used to hate the hallway ( i've had really long stretches in the hallway, years at a time and that really is hellacious). but, i've come to appreciate the hallway more and more. it's a place of rest, whether i think i want a rest or not!