21 December 2008

Life Is What Happens...

It's after 11 on a Sunday morning and I'm in the office. At home. I am not at the prison having finished two services and taking a break before two more. I am home. In nine and a half years, this has happened fewer times than the fingers on one hand.

The reason? Snow. A big wallop of it.

I was in Tacoma when it began, planning to head to Shelton on Saturday afternoon, back to the place where I'm housesitting and taking care of a couple of cats. I was all set to walk out the door about one when I couldn't find my keys.

My keys. My nemesis. The keyring holds: my front door and mailbox keys, the key to my brother's house (he's in California right now, but asked me to check on the birds), the keys to the place I'm housesitting, and the keys to the church where I pick up communion every week. A big clunky set of keys. I couldn't find them.

I checked the desk where I'd plunked down the mail. That was the last action I'd taken with the keys. I tore the sofa apart. I cleared off the dining room table. I went through my pokets.

I called my sister. "I can't find my keys and I feel like I'm losing my mind." My sister brought her psychic powers to bear and made me walk through all 834 square feet of my place. No keys. Our Mom has Alzheimer's and this fact is always lurking in the back of my mind, "Maybe this is it, maybe my time has come." Not helpful. I told my sister I'd call her back when I found the keys.

I took a break. I read a paper. I checked my dresser where I'd picked up a few more socks. No keys. I went back to the living room, looked at the two boxes of recycling that I'd already gone through. I looked at the wicker trash basket and picked it up. I shook it. Keys.

I called my sister.

At this point, it was after four and there was no way I was going to drive in the snow and the dark. So I stayed home another night.

We had a big fall of snow on Thursday and I'd exchanged emails with one of our volunteer groups who had decided to not attempt the trip on Sunday morning. I listened to a few weather reports and called the Catholic volunteers. We were staying home on Sunday.

So that's why I'm home. The roads are too slick to be fussing with. And I couldn't find my keys. I get it. Take it slow. And go feed the cats.

Back at the prison, the only defense against the cold are heavy jackets that absorb moisture and never really get dry again. The guys are wearing cotton jumpsuits. No thermal underwear. Their shoes have plastic soles. Not good for navigating the cleared walkways.

Have a good Christmas. We'll be celebrating it next Sunday.

05 December 2008

Advent in Prison

I begin the Sunday Word and Communion service with, "Happy New Year!" Some of the guys look startled. Those who have been around a few years already know the joke. It's one of those "teaching moments" that work well.

I get to talk about Advent, the start of the new church year. I say a bit about the gospel of Mark that we'll be listening to this year, with good chunks of John thrown in because Mark is so darn short. Someone notices that last week we had the sparkly red spandex table cloth and this week we have the shiny purple, to say nothing of my matching blouses...

We all gather around the Advent candles, four dark purplish fist-sized things that I found at the Dollar Store (no pink...I'll keep on looking). We bless the candles and ask God to bless the time.

For the homily, Mark's "Be alert!" draws me back to a neighbor's bumper sticker, "Jesus is coming. Look busy!" and because we had the reading from Matthew recently, I ask what kind of busy work Jesus might be looking for. The guys are great. They remember: Feed the hungry. Clothe the naked. Visit the prisoners.

Today I did a good bit of spiritual accompaniment (can't call it direction--I never know where God is going!) and found myself saying again and again, "Do what is right in front of you." And so I am.

It's Advent. I get it. Really. I do.

and PS: you really should go back and read the post from December 9, 2007 for the fun that happens during Advent. (One of these days, I'll learn how to make a link!)