Friday, October 15, 2010

I do exist.

There's some Descartes for you. Do I exist because I'm blogging? Nope...I exist otherwise, but some of you might not know it as I haven't updated this thing in a while. Why, you might ask?

Because I'm a busy-ass woman. Crazy busy. PhDing, teaching, churching...these things take up most of my time, and the few moments I have to spare are spent hanging out with my husband or sleeping. *Le sigh* If only I had more time to blog! I have thought of many things I want to blog about, and would love to devote whole posts to, but due to lack of time at the moment, I'll just post them as brief points.

The alternate title for this is "random things I've been doing lately that by no means are representative of what I've been doing lately."

1. Running "barefoot." I use quotation marks because I bought some Vibram Fivefingers (KSO Treks, for those interested in the model) and have been running in them. They're those crazy tow/foot shoes you may have seen around. It's been so much fun! I already had a short running stride, so I haven't had to do quite as much of the form work many folks have to do when they start running in these things, but there's still been some adjusting. But it's actually fun. I was running through the wildlife sanctuary by the house the other day, in golden woods (gorgeous doesn't even begin to capture it), listening to some U2, and it hit me. This is fun. Really fun. I don't think I ever would have said that about running before, but there you go. Something about running in quasi-bare feet, in gorgeous woods, in 50 degree weather, with awesome music was sublime. I think I've found my favorite running weather (although admittedly the leaves on the ground make it hard to see the acorns I'm trying not to step on). I am especially looking forward to hiking in my Fivefingers, as they give me so much more control in my movements. I can feel where my foot is being placed and how good of a grip I've got. They rock my world.

2. Librivox.org. Best. Thing. Ever. As I've written about before, I drive. Alot. And I'd been getting bored with my music (even my new music) so I decided to try these audio books. Now, I didn't think I would like audiobooks, as I was afraid I would start thinking as I tend to do when driving and lose track. That hasn't happened at all, and my drives feel so much shorter! Librivox has podcasts that are free, and there's a ton of free public domain books. Right now I'm working through various Jane Austen works (I'm a sucker for parlour intrigue!). Check out the site if you get a chance. I'd love to volunteer for them, but don't have time at the moment.

3. Ummm what else? Reading. Writing. Reading. Reading. Driving. Reading.

4. Oh I've kept up my "don't take the interstate" as much as possible. There's a 20 mile stretch I have to take on the way to school, but it's not a toll road. Mileage is better. My stress level while driving is better. Aside from about 15 extra minutes in driving time, it's win-win!

So there you go. That's all I can think of at the moment. The Hubs and I are about to watch a movie, and then I have to get back to reading this ridiculously boring book for class. I'll be glad when this particular class is over...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Weeks 2,3, and Random Update

Well weeks 2 and 3 flew by without an update from me. So far I'm up to -7.5 lbs officially (although when I cheated and checked yesterday I was more at 12 lbs-hooray!). They went pretty well, actually, and I feel like I've been staying "on plan." The real challenge will be once school starts and things get more stressful and hectic, although on the plus side my life will be more structured, which personally makes eating right sometimes an easier task. R has been going right along with me (although he's not officially doing Weight Watchers). We've been eating well-but I've noticed it's not much different from what we would eat before. It's less potatoes and more attention to portion sizes. But for the most part it's the same foods as before, with the exception of my oatmeal addition. I discovered Trader Joe's has a quick cooking steel cut oatmeal and it's fantastic! I was finally able to get my hands on some good peaches, and have been having those in my oatmeal this week. So good.

In random news, things are about the get started-as in TOMORROW! I have orientation all day tomorrow and most of the day on Friday. I'm excited about meeting the other members of my "cohort" (as they for whatever reason call an incoming class of PhD students). Ours is apparently pretty small-only eight, I think, and I'm the only early modern Britain person among the group. I don't know if there's anyone doing renaissance on the Continent, though. It would be cool if there were, but since UConn is such a powerhouse for American history, they may be all from that side of things! But there may be a medievalist in there as well, which would be cool. I'm going to bust out with my brand new Nutcase helmet (it's so much fun!) and folding bike (a Dahon) tomorrow, as I'm sure I'll have to park a million miles away. And why wait for the shuttle when I can ride my bike over to the building?

It's been cold and rainy for the past few days. We need the rain badly, but I could live without the temps in the low 60s. Luckily tomorrow it's supposed to be 81, and then up in the upper 80s over the weekend, so that will be great. We're hoping to make another trip to Six Flags for the water park before it closes for the season. The downside of the warm weather is that I will get sweaty biking to class, but whatever. I'd be sweaty walking too, so what are you going to do? Nothing I guess.

Other than that...I bought new glasses today. I bought a $99 pair from Sears last year and after about a month came to hate them. I mean, I loathe these glasses. It's not that they look bad (because they don't), there's just something about them...so anyway, this time I decided that I was going to spend money on my glasses, as they'll probably be getting more use than usual (I want to be really conscientious about taking them out when I get home at night before I study). I remember the last pair of glasses I spent more money on, and I loved them. I like these ones too...they're Ray-Bans (only got that brand because at LensCrafters there's some sort of thin laser lens you can get if you've got stupid bad vision like myself that only costs 10 bucks more than a regular lens but you have to buy Ray-ban frames). I like the look, and I can't wait until they come in! Maybe I'll post a picture then. It was admittedly weird going to the eye doctor today, as I've gone to the same guy since I was in 3rd grade, and needless to say he's out of my insurance network now. So I had to find a new optometrist : ( But she was nice, so it's all good. The big surprise was she said I didn't need the astigmatism correction in my contacts-that it wasn't severe enough to warrant it. I was a bit taken aback by this because I've had at least one toric lens since I started wearing contacts...so she gave me a pair without them and told me to try them out for a week or two and see how I liked them. So far so good...I hope they work, because they're much cheaper!

And my garden is still going strong. The tomato crop has been fantastic this year. I think next year I'm only going to plant tomatoes-big ones in one bed, cherries in another. Then we can make sauces and salsas with our maters! This year we've been able to have BLTs and caprese salad, which has been awesome. I love me some home grown maters. Now if I could only find some fried green tomatoes up here, I'd be all set. I've been craving them for some reason.

Oh well. Anyway here's to the beginning of exciting things!!!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Fab Five Friday

So I've seen on a few blogs people doing these things called "fab five Fridays" or whatever cutesy name you'd like to insert. Technically it's Thursday, but I will just wait to post this until tomorrow. Tricksy, eh? Yes... But R is still sick and Futurama isn't on until 10 and I have nothing else I feel like doing, so here are my five fabulous things for this Friday, not because I'm doing them but because I felt like writing about them.

1. My garden. Except for the squash.


(The above are obviously not squash, but rather tomatoes). I love my garden-this year we did raised beds, and they've done pretty well! I have 5 cobs of corn coming along (the most exciting part, in my opinion...unfortunately I'm not exactly sure when to pick them so that could raise problems), tons of maters-both small and large, cucumbers, strawberries, and watermelon (I have 3 baby melons!). So far the tomatoes have gotten the most use-the cukes have been smaller than usual, and the corn's not ready yet. Nor are the baby melons. I planted some bell peppers later in the summer and they just now seem to be blossoming, so we'll see what happens there. But the tomatoes-oh man. That's the main reason to have a summer garden in the first place! We've had caprese salad twice, blt's once, stuffed peppers (using homegrown tomato puree) once, and tonight we had a tomato on our burgers. So. Friggin. Good.

Except for the squash. For whatever reason squash hates growing for me. I can't grow it in Massachusetts. I couldn't grow it in Kentucky. I don't know why.

2. Vermont. This is a picture taken near Smuggler's Notch State Park in Vermont.


R and I went here on our staycation/New England sampler vacation. Let me say, it was awesome! The park itself was really small-only 20 campsites I think, and hiking and camping is all that particular park has. BUT...they were really low key, had firewood for 4 bucks and a fire starter (which meant we didn't have to dig around for kindling), and we had a nice site near the bathroom, which kept me from having to sneak a pee behind a tree in the middle of the night when I don't want to walk to the bathroom by myself because it's cold and I don't feel like being attacked by bears thank you very much.

Anyway the park was awesome. Ben and Jerry's was cool. Stowe was cute, though I would never ever want to go near there in the winter. I imagine it's a mad house. Smuggler's Notch itself was awesome. We hiked up a mountain to a mountain top lake, looked at said lake, and then hiked down. On the way down a group wouldn't move and I proceeded to fall and scrape the crap out of my knee, but that was the worst of it. Got some good pictures of the lake, though.

Oh and they let you have beer in Vermont State Parks. I just have to remind myself of what that place must be like in the winter to keep me from wanting to move there. I don't mind winter, when it's 2.5 months like it is in Kentucky. When it's November-Aprilish like it is in New England I tend to be a little...disenchanted. So I just kept imagining that I was hiking up that mountain in 3 feet of snow a la Lord of the Rings. That helped temper my Vermont enthusiasm a bit.

3. Beer. This will be a constant. I just thought it was a convenient time to update you all on a few things of note in my beer world:

-The Hefeweizen should be ready to drink early next week, though it will improve in taste even more in a few more weeks.

-There's a Pale Ale in the carboy just waiting to be bottled next week. That means we'll have about 100 bottles of homebrew at once. Woohoo!

-R saw a post on Facebook that I was craving a hoppy Pale Ale, and stopped to get me some despite his growing illness. I love him.

-Summer ales are disappearing for the year. WTF? It's AUGUST folks, and the middle of August at that. I realize Oktoberfest is technically in September, but do we really have to pull out the Oktoberfest beers in the middle of August? I'm still in summer mode. I only gripe about this because my local brewery is done with growler fills of their summer for this year, and has Oktoberfest. I like Oktoberfest as much as the next person, and I LOVE fall beers (Shipyard's Pumkinhead being my absolute favorite of the fall selection), but I'm not ready for that. I'm still in my cloudy-wheat-ale phase of summer. Why do I have to settle for bottles for the next month? Sigh.

4. This blog: http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com You need to read it. Now.

5. Jesus. I guess he should be number one, really, seeing as he's Jesus and all. We're buds, as you can tell from this picture. Anyway, Jesus really is awesome. Not joking about that one. Seriously.


So there you have it. What's not awesome? One of my best friends is moving away to Chicago. And R is sick. Boo.

But dogs are cute, right? So we'll end on a happy note. The dog on the left is Poppie, my mom's (she's...5 now?) and the dog on the left is my nephew's, SkippyJon (named after the oh so awesome SkippyJon Jones books). My mom took this the other morning and sent it to me with the caption: BFF.



There. Don't say I never gave you anything.


In Which R is Sick...Or How I Learned My Cats Aren't Cuddly

I don't have too much of a history with cats. We had one when I was a kid. I remember my brother, sister, and I finding a stray as it wandered into our backyard. We wanted to keep it badly, so we wrote some ridiculous song and sang it to my parents, convincing them about how much fun having a cat would be! what we could name it! how creative we were to boot! I don't know how Mom and Dad sat there and listened without falling onto the floor and rolling about in cramp-inducing laughter. I think that's what parenting must be about, really-not laughing at your kids for being ridiculous. Needless to say, they took pity on our attempts at melodic greatness, and let us keep the cat. We named it Doodles. Doodles...well, I don't remember much about her. She eventually lived in the basement (which was part of the house and didn't have to be entered from the outside, lest someone think us cruel), until she decided to pee on everything in sight. So she "Went to a farm," which I found out only 2 years ago meant she had to be put down. Why my parents felt they had to resort to a "code" about this I have no idea. They evade the question when I ask it.

Then we got dogs. Or rather, my brother and sister got a dog (and eventually my mom, and my nephew). I, unfortunately, never got a dog, though I hold out hopes of one day fulfilling this dream. Our oldest dog was Peachie (rest her soul, she had to be put down last September). She was a canine trash compacter-her favorite food was turnip peels, and she also ate chocolate chip cookies and a whole tube of neosporin. The only thing that almost killed her-as a puppy, no less-was some sample dog food. Go figure.

Peachie had an amazing knack for taking up room on the bed. When my brother, N, would have to be out of town or at a friend's house or whatever, she'd sleep with me because my room was right next to his and her whining kept me up all night. She'd proceed to get in my bed, position herself between my body and the wall, and stick her legs straight out, thereby reducing the space on my twin bed for me to about 6 inches. And she smelled. But she was a nice dog.

What I'm trying to get at is that Peachie was cuddly, as much as a beagle-mutt who smells bad and eventually had bad joints could be. Doodles I never got the chance to find out. And our other dogs (until the recent SkippyJon addition-a chihuahua who I'm convinced is secretly a parrot who sits on our shoulders because we're all pirates though we don't know it yet) are too big to snuggle. Lesson-dogs kind of cuddly. Cats, until this point, I had no clue, though I did house-sit one summer and that cat spent every night attacking my feet, until I figured out a way to fling the sheets and send said cat flying. It was pretty righteous.

Which brings me to Gizmo and Leela. Giz used to be incredibly cuddly, but he's not so much anymore. He does enjoy being picked up and held on his back, getting his belly rubbed, but he's not the biggest fan of sitting in my lap (though R is his BFF so he'll sit there every now and then). Leela, on the other hand, is a maniac for sitting on my lap or laying on my stomach and kneading my chest and generally getting in the way of whatever it is I'm trying to do, which is usually read a book for school. I'd call her decently cuddly, on her own terms.

Which brings me, in a rather round about way, to last night. R is sick with who knows what (fever and aching and fatigue). He was going to sleep in our spare room, but I was gallant and told him the sick person should get to sleep in our own bed. I actually do believe this, and when I'm sick he can sleep in the other room, although this is the first time in our life we've had to do this. Anyway I'm sleeping in the spare room and I think, "Hey, the cats aren't allowed in our room, but why not let them sleep in the spare room with me? the sheets will get washed, so no cat hair issues!" I thought "this will be fun! awesome! adorable!" not to mention they would provide some heat as well as white noise with their oh so peaceful purring. This is what I had in mind, or some variation on this (and I'm too lazy to rotate the pic, so deal):

These are my actual kittens on the day we brought them home. Gizmo takes up that entire bed now, by the way, when he chooses to sleep in it. Which is never. He prefers the weight bench.

The night started OK. The cats were intrigued by these things called "sheets" and "blankets." Luckily they didn't give a damn about the pillow, lest I have to go spritzing them. I read for a while, and turned off the light. They walked around a bit but then left the room and generally ignored me. Gizmo came in a few hours later and laid down on part of the bed, but there was no cute cuddling action going on. There was nothing going on, really.

Until 4:30 AM.

I should say that I have no idea where my cats sleep at night. Whenever I get up for my inevitable middle of the night pee, Gizmo might be sleeping on the bathroom floor, but usually neither cat is anywhere to be found. But it's always quiet. We get up on weekdays around 6:30ish, so that's when they eat. And they sometimes stir before that, but we've never been woken up by the cats before 5 something, I'd say.

Until this morning. At 4:30 AM.

My cats became this:



Only with the curtains. And really only Leela (who's a black cat). But I thought this picture captured the mood (the picture itself, if you click on it, will take you to the site where I got it. See? Not plagiarizing is awesome!)

Leela thought this would be the most awesomest time to attack the curtain above my head. Not the other curtains in the house. That particular one. And did she ever show that curtain who was boss (imagine said gun pointed at a curtain).



So then I had to show her who was boss, and I kicked them both out of my guest room (figuratively) and went back to sleep.

Lesson: Hilary's cats do not equal cuddly sleeping at night cats, but are rather curtain attack cats after 4 AM. Especially Leela. Gizmo just orders the hit.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Week 1

I realize this isn't a weightloss blog...I don't know what kind of blog this is, to be honest. However, I figure I would at least update my admiring public once a week on how things are going on each weigh-in day, which for me is a Monday (by the way, I've noticed lately that several people are showing up on this blog who I don't know. Welcome! ).

So. Week 1: 1.5 lbs. Not too bad really. I should feel more excited about it than I actually do. I cheated and got on the scale yesterday, and was down 2 lbs from last Monday, but I guess dinner last night had an effect. It wasn't a bad dinner either-I just probably ate a little more than I should have. The week got thrown off by a KISS concert on Saturday night. I have to be better about not letting those things get in my way. I also had a cookie at coffee hour yesterday, which isn't usual for me. For the most part I never have anything at coffee hour because there's nothing left by the time I'm free! Probably a good thing, I think.

For the most part, the week went well. I mentioned to R that I noticed we really didn't have to change our menu all that much-just portions. We have removed potatoes-not that potatoes are bad for us, they're actually low in points, but we've been filling out meals with 0-point veggies. For example, we're having stuffed peppers tonight and I'm making squash as a side to fill things out a bit. It's made a big difference-if you eat lots and lots of 0-point veggies, having 3-6 oz. of chicken doesn't seem so small. So much of this is psychology, but there you go.

As I wrote last week, having the fresh cut veggies on hand has also been a huge help. And the oatmeal. I think I tripped up last night because I went on a 45 minute run and then we didn't have dinner for almost 3 hours. Raw veggies don't help when you've bonked after a run. Oh well. I ate a little more than I should have but no biggie.

So 1.5 lbs. Not bad. My goal weight for the short-term (as in, the next few months) is 21 lbs from where I am now-definitely do-able as long as I stay on track! I have noticed a big difference though, even with these few lbs. I'm closer to where I was at the beginning of the summer. It just goes to show how much of a difference a few lbs of weight-loss can make in the way you feel!

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Here We Go Again

Well, I jumped back on Weight Watchers. Not that I every really dropped out because I wanted to-it was really a financial thing more than anything else (when you only have a part time job, 18.00 a month can be a mega hit). I did OK-my running speed has definitely improved and for the most part I've maintained my weight. Until vacation, when I started to gain a little back. I think I've gained about 10-15 from my low point that I was in last fall, and I could feel it. I was feeling bad about it too-I'd worked really hard to lose the 36-37 lbs that I had lost between February and October 2009, and I didn't want all of that to fall by the wayside. So, I joined back up. Luckily the mechanics of it are already familiar to me, so I don't have to go through all of that. Now is just the 1-2 week "detox" period, where my body's metabolism gets back on track and I'm hungry all of the time. I have done a few things differently this time, though, and they're working (so far). I thought I'd share, for those who are interested:

1. Have a huge supply of pre-cut raw vegetables for snacking. We've got carrots, peppers, and cucumbers in the fridge and I've noticed that it's made a big difference. I can pack a bag for lunch, and when I get home I can munch on some if I feel the need. R has taken to having a pre-dinner veggie snack, which is good for him because it keeps him from eating more at dinner (he's not officially doing WW, but since I am, he's going along in a way). It's so much easier for me to make good decisions when they're ready and sitting in the fridge, staring me in the face. There's no excuse, basically, for me to have something else when there are fresh-cut vegetables available...

2. ...unless I'm really hungry. I love veggies, but raw vegetables don't always do the trick for me in terms of hunger. They might, but if I'm getting ready for a run they don't do much. Then I have to turn to a snack that actually has a points value (for those who don't know, in WW you track points-derived from a combo of calories, fat, and fiber). This could be a sandwich thin with some peanut butter, or some cottage cheese, or just something with a little protein. Or grapes, which I've found so really well for me before a workout, for whatever reason.

3. Oatmeal is my friend. This is HUGE for me. If there is one healthy food I have never been able to eat in the past, it's cooked oatmeal. Don't get me wrong-I love oatmeal cookies, granola, and things with oatmeal in it. But cooked breakfast oatmeal? Gag me with a spoon. I've tried to like it, I really have, but to no avail. Until I discovered steel cut oats. These have made all the difference in the world-I think I'm addicted to the stuff! And it fills me up better than my usual cheerios (which I love), so I'm not hungry at 10 am. It's also worked as an afternoon snack for a pre-workout, although then I make it with water instead of milk. I have a couple of ways I make it, and I love both. So tasty.

4. Smaller cutlery makes a difference. In the morning, I don't use the giant spoons we have (I would like to point out that R already had these when we got married, so I played no role in the purchasing of our cutlery :) ), but smaller spoons. It makes me eat slower, and it feels like I'm eating more as I'm taking more bites. I know that sounds weird, but I'll take whatever psychological edge I can get. At dinner, I use a small fork for the same reason. When cooking oven fries, I use the smaller pizza pan as it makes one serving look like more than when it's dwarfed on a huge pan. For folks who don't have weight issues, this may sound ridiculous. But I promise, it makes a huge difference when regulating portion size!

5. Black coffee tastes good. Enough said, really, although I do like a little half and half in the morning, but as I lose weight and my daily points allotment drops, that may have to go. We'll see.

So there you go. Just a few things that have worked for me. I recently discovered a couple of cool blogs as well that provide some interesting views on weight loss.
All the Weigh (a young woman in NYC chronicles her weight loss-which is over 100 lbs!)
Man Meets Scale (the CEO of WW, who is also a member, has a really down to earth and personable blog)

Hope you're having a good summer. The south is baking. It's humid up here. We went on a staycation, but more on that later. For now, I've got to get back to reading about medieval women brewers.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Awesome (albeit potentially dangerous) Find

Today I found something awesome. I tried to find a similar one yesterday, and followed my Google maps directions to get there. During rush hour. In 93 degree heat. In a car with no AC. The directions took me to a gravel road in the middle of Worcester (which actually isn't as rare as one might think it would be) that turned out to be an alley behind some people's houses. Not what I was looking for. Frustration reigned, so I got some water at a Shaw's and drove home.

But today I found it. What might it be? A used book store. Not a "rare-and-out-of-print-collect-books-here store, but an honest to goodness used fun-books-to-read bookstore.

I haven't been to a real used bookstore in a long time. I remember in 4th grade having to do a project where we opened and ran an imaginary business. I based mine on a used book store near my parents' house, I think it was called "Twice Read Consignment" or something of that sort. I don't remember learning much from that project, save how to spell "business." I do remember that bookstore though-it was near the big park. I didn't have any sense of book prices, however, as I was 9 and didn't pay attention to such things. My mom would buy me a book if I asked her to (she still will, as a matter of fact!), as we're a reading family and it's always encouraged. I'm guessing a good deal of my Babysitter's Club books were found there.

I've been really good about not buying books this year, only because I couldn't afford to do so. I joined the local library and have gone there when I was looking for a new read (as opposed to a reread). However, I stopped in Barnes and Noble yesterday to check out their clearance sale and was reminded of what I love in a book store. Looking around, reading covers, wondering what the insides hold...I usually just have to pick up a book, walk around with it for a while, and then I can put it back and walk out of the store. I didn't really have time for that yesterday, so I left feeling dissatisfied. I didn't want to spend a good deal of money on a book, as I just ordered most of my books for the fall semester, and spending another 20 bucks wasn't exactly something I should do.

But. I'm going on vacation this week. I don't want to take a library book because I'm going to the beach, and I'd rather not water damage public property. A cheap paperback would be perfect for this week, so that's what I looked for. Wal-Mart didn't really have anything good (lots of romance serials and Nicholas Sparks books *puke-o-rama*. Although I was pleased to see a smattering of more classical fare-The Lord of the Flies, Catcher in the Rye, Animal Farm, 1984, Of Mice and Men). I was going to have to search elsewhere.

Looking online, I found this "chain" of used bookstores in the region. They're not a chain, or even a franchise really. I think it's an association-locally owned used bookstores that join this group and can use the name.

Annie's Book Stop.

I went to the one in Grafton after my unsuccessful hunt yesterday and let me say-this place is great! It's small, but there was a large sign on the side of the road saying the book store was open (hooray!). It's a no-frills place-clean, bright, cheery, and shelves stuffed with books. About the size of my living room, or maybe a bit bigger. I walked in and the woman behind the counter greeted me. I started looking around and a fellow reading the paper int he back asked me if I'd ever been there before. I said no, he got up and gave me a personal tour of the store. That was definitely a nice touch.

I roamed about and finally selected 3 books-two John Irving novels (The Cider House Rules, which I've wanted to read for years, and A Prayer for Owen Meany, which I've read before but wanted to own and reread) and Bleak House by Dickens, who I happen to love. This store is 50% the publisher's price on used books. So an already under $10 paperback can be quite cheap! My books totaled $9.51. Three books for less than 3.25 a piece. AMAZING.

And quite possibly dangerous. I don't have space for more books, and school starts soon. However, I am a firm believer in night time reading-it allows me to decompress before going to sleep and think about fictional characters and things, instead of theological controversies concerning the nature of the Eucharist in the 1640s. While interesting, it's not the type of thing that helps me sleep well. Go figure.

So yeah. AND it's a locally owned place. I don't have any sort of moral or philosophical hang ups about chain stores, but it's nice to support local businesses when I can. And this is one I can definitely get behind.

Right. Well, I'm off to start reading one of my new books in the backyard. The only question is which one...

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Scripture and Sermon

At church this summer, we're doing a series of "instructed Eucharists" to explain why we do what we do in an Episcopal liturgy. Normally an instructed Eucharist happens all in one service (we did these when I was a kid...seemed to go on forever), but we've decided this summer to use each Sunday's homily to reflect on how the Gospel is preached in our liturgy. And, just so we don't overlook the Gospel lesson, we're including reflections in the bulletin for folks to read on the scripture readings for that particular Sunday.

Anyway, this past Sunday was the second in our series, and I was up to preach. The official topic was The Liturgy of the Word, but I point out that the entire liturgy could be considered as such, since Jesus is the Word. So, this sermon is specifically about the portion of our service when we hear lessons from the Bible and then on the sermon itself.

“Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(Collect for Proper 28, BCP 236)

This week we embark upon the second in our series of sermons about different parts of the Eucharist. I think the official title of today is “Liturgy of the Word,” but to be more specific we’ll be looking at the scripture readings and the sermon—the wordiest part of the service, so to speak. I’ve been wondering for a while how to start this reflection, and then it occurred to me that there may be some questions about the basics-why do we have this number of readings? Who picks them out? So I thought we’d start with these to get a grasp of what we’re working with, and then move on to some reflections.

The Episcopal Church uses what is called a lectionary, or a set plan of readings. If you were to look in the back of the Book of Common Prayer (around page 888) you’d find “The Lectionary.” We actually don’t use this one anymore, but I’ll get to that in a moment. For now the one in the Prayer Book will work as an example as it functions in a similar way to the lectionary we use now. If you flip to page 889 you’ll see the heading “Year A.” Keep thumbing through and you’ll eventually encounter “Year B” and “Year C.” Our lectionary is on a 3-year cycle, so that every 3 years we’ve gone through basically the entire Bible. In 2006 the General Convention of the Episcopal Church required that all churches switch to the Revised Common Lectionary—one that is used by many Protestant denominations. This lectionary incorporates a greater diversity of readings from the Old Testament, as well as more material dealing with the witness of women in the Bible. During the season after Pentecost, commonly known as “Ordinary Time,” we actually have the option of 2 Old Testament readings—one “track” is thematically linked with the Gospel, while the other provides semi-continuous lessons from the Old Testament. The reflection printed in your bulletin is from the “continuous lesson” track.

So that’s how we pick our lessons—in other words, we don’t really. They’re already chosen for us, and we could look at the correct chart and see what lesson we’ll have on the first Sunday in Advent in, say, 2012. It’s all laid out for us. This has its merits—the lessons we hear on Sunday aren’t subject to the whims of the preacher—but it can also be hard. Sometimes the lectionary gives us a set of lessons that may not at first speak to where we are on that Sunday as a faith community. That challenges us to open our hearts to the Spirit a little more than we might usually do.

Another basic feature of this portion of our liturgy is that it involves a lot of Scripture. Episcopalians sometimes have a funny relationship with the Bible. For example, if I asked an Episcopalian to quote for me 1 Corinthians 11:23-26, chances are this person would look at me as if I had lost my mind. If, however, I asked said person to quote for me what we call the words of institution from our Prayer Book, chances are this person could easily do so. I’ll quote for you the Corinthians passage right now, just to drive this point home: “For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, 24and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ 25In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ 26For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” Sound familiar? There’s an old joke that says an Episcopalian heard someone reading the Bible, and wondered what that thing quoting the Book of Common Prayer was.

The point I’m trying to make is that even if we don’t know it, our worship is full of scripture. In fact, I’d venture to guess it’s mostly scripture. Not only are the words of the Prayer Book largely derived from the Bible, but we hear no less than 4 passages from the Bible every Sunday: a reading from the Old Testament, a Psalm or Canticle, a reading from the New Testament epistles (or Acts or Revelation), and finally a reading from the Gospels. That’s a lot of scripture! Probably more than most people hear at church on a Sunday. But what are we to do with all of these Words? They can be overwhelming at times—trying to sink our teeth into one reading can be difficult enough, much less into four. So why do we hear so much of the Bible every Sunday?

The answer is historical, as the practice of hearing this much scripture actually dates back to the fourth century. It was lost by the time of the Reformation, and it wasn’t until the liturgical renewal of the 20th century that the Episcopal Church regained this tradition. It used to be that there would be a reading from an epistle and a Gospel—the Old Testament was rather left out. But now it’s back, and we once more hear the Old Testament witness.

I’ve been thinking about this issue for a while—why do we hear so much Scripture, and what are we to do with it? It’s even a challenge for preachers to work with one text, much less four. I did some reading to try and help me with this question, and time and again came upon the same thing. We read the Bible because it is our story. As one of my favorite writers, Frederich Buechner puts it, “just because the Bible is a book about both the sublime and the unspeakable, it is a book also about life the way it really is. It is a book about people who at one and the same time can be both believing and unbelieving, innocent and guilty, crusaders and crooks, full of hope and full of despair. In other words, it is a book about us…One way or another, the story we find in the Bible is our own story” (Wishful Thinking, 9). Or, as George Herbert puts it when speaking of the Bible, “Such are thy secrets, which my life makes good,/ And comments on thee: for in ev’rything/Thy words do find me out, and parallels bring,/ And in another make me understood” (“The Holy Scriptures 2”).

The Bible has all things in it: it’s a story about people. Us. Think of the psalms: they go from joy at God’s creation, to hatred of our enemies, to feelings of abandonment and salvation. They’re all over the place. Or think of the characters in there: Moses, who stuttered and had to have his brother speak for him. Joseph’s betrayal and eventual reunion with his family. Job’s heartache and faith. Jonah’s indignation at God’s mercy, even after being in the belly of a whale. The youthful David turned old, followed by his sins. A teenage girl finding out she was pregnant before marrying her husband, and it wasn’t Joseph’s child, but the Lord. A poor fisherman named Peter who never seems to understand fully what he hears, but follows Christ to his own cross. The flip flop of Paul—from persecutor to proclaimer of the Good News. And Jesus—our salvation.

What’s more, the Bible isn’t just the story of us, it’s the story of how our story has everything to do with God. It’s a holy story—a story about God’s actions in the lives of so many. We say the Collect for Purity before we hear the scripture readings, asking God to “cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit”—we ask, in other words, to be opened to the Spirit before we hear these readings. And, as liturgical scholars Louis Weil and Charles Price note, because the Bible “is one of the means that God uses to give Godself to us continually…[i]n reading or hearing it, one may always expect an encounter with the ultimate. This experience of transcendence, of height, is an incomparable aspect of hearing and reading the Word of God in the Scripture” (Liturgy for Living 100). On Sunday mornings, we get the chance to hear these holy stories among holy people in this holy place.

After hearing all of those words, we then listen to more words in the sermon. In their book Liturgy for Living, Weil and Price point out that there are three forms of God’s Word encountered in the liturgy. There’s Jesus as the Word—the ultimate Word by which all other words are judged (this is why we could, to a certain extent, call our entire liturgy a Liturgy of the Word). There’s God’s Word in scripture. And then there’s the word of the preacher. Price and Weil write, “God continues to be shown forth in the words as well as in the deeds of human beings whom God commissions to act and speak” (94). In other words, the job of the preacher is to try and help us reflect on how God’s Word—both the Word of Jesus and the words of the Bible—function in our own lives. Very often, at least in my experience, the sermon is given as much to the preacher him/herself as it is to the congregation. This isn’t to say that every sermon is going to impact every single person every single week. If only. Rob recently likened sermons to getting a letter in the mail—it’s not a bill, it’s not a credit card application, it’s not the weekly coupon mailing—but a letter that is hand-addressed to you. I personally might be suspicious of such a letter, as no one but my grandfather and occasionally my mom actually writes those things, so I like to think of it as an email that’s not spam, or business, or a one-line communication about what time to meet a friend at the coffee shop tomorrow—but a long email written just for me from a friend with whom I haven’t spoken in a while. Or, to use another metaphor, the sermon is like someone trying to interpret a map we’ve been given. The symbols may be slightly out of date, but with some training and inspiration from the Holy Spirit, we can see how this map will guide us today in our lives as Christians.

One of the most interesting things I’ve read lately about scripture comes from Old Testament scholar Ellen Davis. In an essay about teaching the Bible in church, Davis—an Episcopalian who teaches at Duke Divinity School—notes that “teaching the Bible confessionally is not primarily a matter of conveying historical information…[but] means enabling people to wonder wisely and deeply. Wondering is the business of scholars and preachers, just as it is of Sunday School children” (“Teaching the Bible Confessionally in the Church,” The Art of Reading Scripture, 11). I would add, just as it is of every single person in the church. She then goes on to quote Garrett Green, another Old Testament scholar who has argued that “in many instances the biblical term ‘heart’ refers to what we call imagination” (11). I find that to be amazing—If we go back to the Collect for Purity, we ask the Holy Spirit to “Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts”—or our imaginations. And in the Eucharist we “lift up our hearts,” think about lifting up your imagination (both example taken from Davis’s essay). In the baptism service we pray that the person being baptized may be given an inquiring and discerning heart—what if that also means an inquiring and discerning imagination?

Preaching allows us to engage our imagining hearts in the work of the Spirit as we hear it in Scripture, and how that work is carried into our own lives. The Godly Play Sunday School curriculum uses the phrase “I wonder” as part of every class session. The teacher and children sit and literally wonder about the Bible story they’re hearing. I wonder how it felt to walk on water as Peter did? I wonder what it felt like to walk across the bottom of the Red Sea, with towering walls of water at your side? I wonder what Abraham thought when Sarah laughed at the news that she would bear a child? I wonder what Mary felt like when Jesus asked who his mother was? I wonder… This wondering opens up new doors into scripture.

The Word of God, in Jesus, in the scripture, in the sermon—is an essential part of our liturgy. It forms the core of all of the words we say when we come together and worship. It provides food for our imagining hearts. It tells our story, and reminds us that we always have been and always will be about God. Grant us, gracious Lord, to hear your Words, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, and proclaim their Good News in all that we do. Amen."

Side note: The opening collect, from the Book of Common Prayer, is one I like. I can't help but think of the following passage from Revelation (there's a similar passage in Ezekiel 3:3, but the scroll tastes only of honey and doesn't turn sour):

"Then the voice that I had heard from heaven spoke to me again, saying, ‘Go, take the scroll that is open in the hand of the angel who is standing on the sea and on the land.’ So I went to the angel and told him to give me the little scroll; and he said to me, ‘Take it, and eat; it will be bitter to your stomach, but sweet as honey in your mouth.’ So I took the little scroll from the hand of the angel and ate it; it was sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it, my stomach was made bitter. " Revelation 10:8-10

My boss called this "scriptural indigestion."

Friday, July 09, 2010

No Poo Deux

I thought that I should update you all on my no poo experiment, as it's been about three weeks since I started. I'm not posting pictures, though, as I personally don't see much of a difference and the lighting's not good in here anyway. So, without further delays on my part, my thoughts thus far:

I haven't really noticed much of a change. I know that's slightly underwhelming for most of my adoring public, but there you have it. To be honest, I had to check the date of my previous blog post on this matter to remember when I'd even started this experiment-it's been that normal to me.

The good:
-I haven't had to buy hair products at all in the past few weeks. This makes my wallet (or R's wallet) happy. And my corner of the shower, as it's less crowded.
-My showers are uber short, which is not only great for time but also for water conservation (which is important at the moment as we haven't had rain in weeks-although we're not under a water restriction it still seems like a good thing to do). I only have to do the baking soda-vinegar wash a couple of times a week, so the lack of hair washing means shorter showers.
-I don't feel like I'm constantly washing my hair. If I take a shower in the morning and then work out in the evening and shower again afterward, I don't feel like I'm over shampooing or conditioning, because I'm just rinsing.
-My hair is less tangled. This was a huge surprise to me-for whatever reason I thought that by not conditioning my hair every day it would be a huge tangled mess. This however is not the case. In fact-it's the opposite! I have so few tangles. It's great!

The bad:
-I miss the good smells of my shampoo. I don't mind the smell of vinegar, but mint is nicer.
-When I get to the wash day, it's pretty obvious my hair needs to be washed (at least to me), but not in a horrific way, just a kind of "she should wash her hair" way. But it's not too bad.
-My wet hair doesn't feel as soft as it did when I was conditioning, but there you go.
-I can't figure out the washcloth thing. Am I supposed to do this when my hair is dry or wet? The tip was to "brush" your hair with a damp washcloth 100 times, but I don't know if that's wet or dry hair. I don't know if it even makes a different. So I haven't been doing it.

All in all it's not been too bad. Every now and then when I'm running I get a whiff of vinegar, but it's not very strong or anything. The baking soda/vinegar rinse has worked surprisingly well and I definitely notice a difference after I wash my hair with this stuff. I'll probably keep this up for now. The real test will be if I get my hair cut short in late August before school (I usually get my hair cut chin-length once a year before school starts--then it's long enough to pull back by the spring but is down in the winter to keep me warm). I don't know how the frizz has really compared because I don't wear my hair down in the summer. I guess I'll have to figure that out...

In the meantime, the garden continues to grow (we have several cucumbers and strawberries and tomatoes in the works!), the cats just turned one, and I'm getting more and more excited about school. I found the backpack I want (finally-after thinking of several I found an Osprey that looks like it will be perfect) and yeah. That's about it. It's summer. And we have beer to bottle soon. And the World Cup final is Sunday. Woohoo!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

From the Interstates to the Highways

I'm a big consumer of the country's interstate system...I think it's officially the Dwight D. Eisenhower Interstate System, recognizing that president's role in its creation. Regardless of its name, I've tended to use the interstate. Alot. Not only is it the most reasonable way to drive 1000 miles to Kentucky when visiting family, it's also one of the fastest ways for both R and I to get to work, albeit it in opposite directions. The tough part is that here in Massachusetts, the interstate we need to use has a toll on it in both directions. Incidentally, R and I both pay the same toll rate at different exits in different directions. But whatever.

The other day I was looking up some information on the automated toll system you can use (instead of paying cash you have a transponder and it automatically deducts from your account...and then deducts from your bank account when the balance gets low). Neither R nor I use this system, partially because we've never gotten around to getting the transponder, but I don't really like the idea of the state of Massachusetts taking money out of my bank account when the balance gets low...given my current financial situation (which plays into this post alot), that could have some overdraft consequences that I don't really want to think about.

What I found most interesting is that there is a state commuter tax deduction for those who use this transponder and commute to work, which both R and I do. As I was reading through the information on the deduction, I stopped and asked R how much he spends on tolls per year. He said about 550. Not five dollars and fifty cents, mind you, but five hundred and fifty dollars. I realized that by the end of this year I would have spent roughly the same. Whoa.

Let's do the math. My toll, if I take the interstate (which actually only takes me halfway to work, as the other half is on state highways), I pay 1.10 each way. If I'm going to UConn, it's .65 each way. Let's say I go to UConn 4 days a week, and Amherst 2...that comes to 9.60/week in tolls. Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that I make this drive 52 weeks a year (which takes into account the fact that during school vacation I'll probably head into Amherst more often, where the toll is higher), I'd be paying 499.20 in tolls. Per year. Or to put it in a monthly perspective, that's 38.40/month. I don't know about you all, but for me that's a huge impact on my budget. I'm sure once school starts the impact would be less huge, but regardless of how much it hurts to pay that amount (or not, if you have a lot of money), 38.40/month, or 499.20 a year is a huge amount of money! That's part of a vacation right there! Or lots of good beer! Or many other things!

With that in mind, I've decided to stop taking the MassPike as much as possible. I don't want to spend that money on road improvements I never see (I will hand it to the state of New York, though, when I had to drive through the thruway crazy snow to my grandmother's funeral, those roads were incredibly clear and well-maintained. I didn't feel bad paying the money then).

But then I got to thinking of the other benefits to staying off the interstate. I don't have to deal with crazy numbers of semis-this is especially great considering the time I was run off the road by a semi into the emergency lane during the rain. This doesn't mean they're not on the state highways (they are), but chances that they'll be passing me and such are much more slim. Also, Massachusetts is a beautiful state. The state highways to work take me through really gorgeous scenery, and I can breathe in the summer air and just think. Not to mention that going slower is better on gas. I felt less harried when I get to work having taken a state highway route this morning, and it was nice. I hate trucks passing me mostly because I don't have AC so all four windows are rolled down and the trucks are so loud I have to cover that ear when they pass. This isn't really a problem on the state roads. I also get to experience seeing all sorts of random places along the road, such as new ice cream stands or farms or trails. I wouldn't see these things on the interstate. Oh and in the summer, traffic on Sundays heading home from work is pretty awful, usually slowing down to a standstill at points due to all of the folks coming back from their summer homes or whatever. The state highways tend to be less clogged.

The downsides are there, to be sure. It takes a bit longer-about 25 minutes more each way, which turns into 50 minutes total. That's a pretty decent chunk of time, but it's time I can spend in prayer, or just thinking, or singing along to the music, and enjoying God's creation. I'm less likely to do that when I'm dealing with interstate traffic.

So yeah. I'm sure there will be times when it's hard not to take the interstate, or times when I can't avoid it (I'll likely take the state highway halfway to UConn and then pickup the non-toll interstate when it begins), but for the most part I'm going to try to make a conscientious effort to stick to the highways, and bypass the interstate.

It's more interesting anyway.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Strangers

I've been thinking about strangers lately, in large part due to two recent experiences. The first involved my nephew. My sister, brother and I had taken B to the doctor for his 4 year check up, which included his various vaccinations and such as he's starting preschool in the fall (!!!). I have to admit it was a pretty fun to watch B interact with someone who's not family. I don't get to see this very often, and aside from the part where the nurse and my sister (who also happens to be a nurse) were holding B down so he'd actually get his shots, it was nice just to watch what happened. The doctor came in and started asking him questions, one of which was a series of questions about colors (I'm guessing to see if he's color blind), and other just general things. Then came the following conversation:

Doctor: If a stranger came up to you and wanted you to go with him, would you go?
B: (shakes his head no)
Doc: What if that stranger said he had some puppies to show you?
B: (shakes his head yes)
Doc: (Goes on to explain why we don't go with strangers even if they have puppies). So, would you go with the stranger who had puppies?
B: (shakes head no)
Doc: Good!

Now, to be fair, B just got a puppy for his birthday and puppies are pretty enticing. So that afternoon, while walking to the barber shop for a hair cut (for B), my brother and I talked with him about strangers and posed different scenarios-candy, puppies, etc.-and this time B had gotten the gist and said no every time.

That was experience one.

The second was on my way to work. The town in which I work tends to attract all sorts of folks, and I've found a much larger number of hitch hikers there than I would ever have expected. On the interstate heading in, I passed two women who looked to be about my age and a massive dog, with backpacks on hitchhiking down the interstate. I didn't stop. This struck me, though, because while you might see these folks on state highways around the town where I work, rarely does one see a couple of folks like this on the interstate (rarely do I see women hitchhiking at all, for that matter).

And it got me to thinking-where do we draw the line about strangers? These women needed a ride, and while I couldn't have fit all of them and their giant dog into my car, if I could have, would I have stopped? No. I wouldn't have. There are too many red flags that go up when I see a hitchhiker, regardless of who they are, all of which surround my own personal safety.

This in turn got me to thinking about the role of hospitality in our society, and how it compares to the role in earlier societies. In Jesus's time, for example, it was an essential part of the way things were. Or you could look at medieval England. Or any earlier place that didn't have our "modern conveniences" or whatever. Welcoming the stranger was essential to how society worked, and breaches of that hospitality (either on the part of the guest or host) were a huge deal.

So what would happen, I wonder, if Jesus were walking down the highway today? Do angels still function in the roles of hospitality in earlier times, or would they function in the ways we're more used to? If you could afford to put a stranger up in a hotel, would you do that or welcome them into your home? My guess is go for the hotel option. I'm not saying that in a judging way-I'd probably do the same thing-but there you go.

Sorry this post seems rather scattered. I haven't fully developed my thoughts on the matter, but I wanted to go ahead and write before I let them go away. And I have an allergy headache. And I need to do Welsh. And there's more World Cup football to watch.

So yeah. Hmm.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

No Poo

No poo. That's right. And I'm not talking about irregularities, as Maggie used to call that discussion at camp. I'm talking about redefining normal and getting rid of the shampoo. Here are my reasons:

1. Shampoo and conditioner are expensive, and it's money that's literally going down the drain.
2. These are full of chemicals that I would be putting on my skin. To find the stuff without chemicals you spend more money. Said money goes down the drain.
3. I try to work out every day, and usually do. However, I tend to sweat a lot when I work out and like to shower after said exercises. I felt like washing my hair twice a day was just too much-I didn't notice changes in my hair itself, but it just felt wrong.
4. In my reading up on this, I found out that shampoo wasn't really common until the early 20th century. That's right folks, it's only about 100 years old, and the shampoo most like what we use today didn't come around until 1930, meaning there are folks out there who predate shampoo.
5. Washing your hair strips it of natural oils. Then your body goes into overdrive to reproduce the oils that were taken out. So then your hair looks greasy and you wash it again.

This isn't some sort of crazy hippie routine (not that I have anything against crazy hippies). It's become more and more common from what I can tell. I tried making my own deodorant, but that didn't work out so well. I'm hoping to make my own laundry detergent once my current batch runs out. And I'm going to try the no poo routine now.

I've read what feels like a ton on this, and they pretty much seem to advocate similar methods, involving a baking soda wash for your scalp and an apple cider vinegar rinse for the rest of your hair (which you don't even have to do every day). Another method is to "comb" through your hair with a washcloth. I'm not sure how that works in a practical way, but it's supposed to spread the oils throughout your hair.

So I've started my experiment. I'll probably do the baking soda/vinegar thing tomorrow night, as I'm going to an ordination on Saturday and have church on Sunday (having a job that requires personal grooming skills and all), so we'll see how that turns out. I thought I'd include a few pictures in this post as well for your viewing pleasure.

Oh and apparently this is supposed to work even better on curly hair. I have curly hair that often turns frizzy, but this should get rid of the frizz (making me exponentially more likely to wear my hair down if it's less than 70 degrees outside) and maybe even make it curlier (a la what my hair looks like in the morning if I go to bed with it wet, i.e. fabulously curly until the frizz sets in). So here are the pics.

These are my materials. And no, I'm not washing my hair with ketchup (or catsup) and mustard, but I couldn't find clear bottles at the grocery store and forgot about the dollar store nearby until I'd already checked out. They were only 2.99 anyway. But I needed something to use for the baking soda wash and for the vinegar rinse. How much did this cost, you might ask? .99 for the baking soda (I splurged and got Arm & Hammer), 1.69 for the vinegar, and 2.99 for the bottles. That's it, folks. And this should last me for quite a while-longer than a .99 bottle of conditioner, that's for sure (considering that the ratio I've seen most often is only 1 tbsp of each to a cup of water). So this is what I have to start with.


Me in my glory. The shirt was tie dyed by R in college but he didn't like it. I think it's an amazing tie dye job and it's one of my favorite t shirts. It was in the Vanagon for a while as a spare until I came along and rescued it. But I digress...

This is me with my hair in it's usual longer state-up and in a pony tail because the frizziness makes me look like a triangle head and invites innumerable and infinite taunts from my brother and sister about it. So I throw it in a pony tail and get on with my day. I washed my hair yesterday morning, so I guess this is day 1 of no poo, with the hair up. I stuck my head in R's face and asked him to smell it. He said it smells like hair, so that's good. And I don't think it looks greasy, but I could be in denial. R had no comment on that one, so I'm suspicious...

And here's the hair down, having gone one day without shampoo. It's still a little damp from my shower earlier (I have really thick hair that some days never dries completely so this isn't a total surprise). Sorry the lighting's not better. I didn't even think to take these pics when it was still light outside, but I tried to get my desk lamp to shine on the hair so y'all could see it. It's definitely less frizzy and it feels a little dirty, but I think that's because I'm not used to not washing it. Anyway, here we go. This should be an adventure, but if it works (and I really hope it will) I imagine getting rid of shampoo will be so liberating!

These are a few of the many websites I looked at in this process, if you're interested:
One Green Generation (this is the website I found the homemade deodorant recipe on too)
This article in the Boston Phoenix
Naturally Curly (this one involves using conditioner and hair product, but I read it anyway)
Google (just search "no poo" and you're off!)

If any of you out there already do this and have tips, feel free to share! I'll keep y'all updated as this comes along.

I've been remiss...

...about keeping this blog up to date. Sigh. One of these days I'll actually be good at this whole blogging thing, but in the mean time I thank you faithful readers who keep up with me anyway (namely, my Mom). I feel like I have lots to write about and nothing to write about at the same time...so we'll see how this goes. I'm going to save my garden for another post, hopefully one that I'll get up this afternoon (I want to take a few pictures of the garden today before I do that post though). So maybe we'll have 2 posts in one day!

Anyway here are a few random musings from my direction:

1. I realized that I never updated you all on the homemade deodorant campaign. It was a complete flop. The baking soda/cornstarch mix did keep the smell at bay, but it didn't last as long as my Tom's does and, to make matters worse, it dried out my underarms and made them irritated on top of the initial irritation. So I went back to my Tom's the minute I retrieved it from my office. I still haven't been able to find it in stores anymore (it seems to have been replaced by a roll on) but I'm going to Maine on Saturday for a friend's ordination and plan on stopping by the factory outlet store and stocking up on deodorant and toothpaste. Woot.

2. Medieval Welsh. I think I may have mentioned somewhere that I'm taking a medieval welsh reading course this summer. Well, it's not so much of a course as it is a bunch of people getting together to translate. It's going pretty well so far (I think). It involves lots of flipping through the vocabulary section, but such is life. It's also been a good way to get to know some people in the UConn community before school actually starts. I'm the only student in there who's straight up history (although my advisor is in the group as well), but still. Meeting people is good.

3. R and I got season passes to Six Flags. It's not too far from church and it's our entertainment budget for the summer. We've only been able to make it once so far, but we plan on going again this Sunday. It's not a huge theme park, but it's not bad. And for 50 bucks each we can go anytime we want through the end of October, so that's all good.

4. I'm currently starting some summer reading that's more school-oriented. There are a few books I'd like to get through before class starts, and on top of that I'm experimenting with a new way to read, so to speak. When I take generals in 2 years I don't want to have to reread everything, so I'm taking notes on each chapter as I read. It's more time consuming but I think it will pay off in the end when I'm researching for the orals and for the dissertation. This way I'll know where to flip when I need particular information. The only downside is that I have to have my computer with me when I'm reading (I can take the notes by hand but that's even more time consuming). This method is similar to what I did in the fall while I was applying to programs-I'd read books by the folks with whom I wanted to study and take notes along the way. So we'll see how this goes.

5. I'm seriously considering going "no poo," which is the short term for not using shampoo. The more I read about the chemicals in that stuff, the more ridiculous it seems to me that we put it on our scalp, mere inches away from our brains. Not to mention that cosmetics are expensive. The no poo method will take a little getting used to and experimentation (some folks use a baking soda wash and apple cider vinegar rinse, others use nothing), but I'll keep everyone updated. It seems that it works best for the folks with curly hair, so there's a win! I just hope it doesn't look overly greasy, particularly for church on Sunday. I have to look presentable and all that...but it would be great not to have the extra expense of shampoo. And apparently when you stop using it and your hair has started to reproduce the natural oils that protect it, you have softer hair that's less frizzy (oh I can't wait!). So woot. Not to mention that people didn't actually start shampooing their hair until the 20th century. Before that it was just rinsing.

It sounds weird, I realize, but I did find a phrase that captured this for me. It's called "redefining normal." Today, not using shampoo is not normal because that's what society tells us is not normal (even though it didn't become normal until the early 20th century). So I just have to redefine my own normal and off we go.

6. R and I went to a local farm last Saturday and picked some strawberries, as well as bought some veggies. I swear these are the best strawberries I've ever had-absolutely amazing! I hope the ones in our garden bear fruit, literally. I hope next summer we can do CSA at a local farm. I think the cost ends up being about the same in basic how much we spend terms, but the environmental cost is so much lower that if we can afford it, I hope we can do it. That will have to wait until next year though.

OK well, that's enough randomness for now. I'll get some pics of the garden and update you all on that later, especially as we've tried something new this year (well, a couple of new things).

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Grand Canyon and Other Things


These are just a couple of pictures from my recent trip to the Grand Canyon with Team in Training. It was an amazing experience--one that I can't fully put in to words. The hike was awesome-having done it I can't imagine visiting the Grand Canyon and not going below the rim, but people do it. 99% of visitors do that, as a matter of fact. So there you go. Oh and there are no color filters on these pictures-I just snapped and went. So the blues really are that blue, etc.

In other news, I'm taking Middle Welsh this summer. It's a reading group of some students and professors at UConn, and my advisor emailed asking if I'd like to join in. So I figured, why not? It's a chance to meet some new people and get my head in the game for the fall. This last Monday was the first meeting, and it went pretty well on my end, I though. The main hang-up is that most everyone there, from what I can tell, has had some sort of Irish and they keep comparing the Welsh to that. This is all fine and dandy, but as I haven't had Irish I end up tuning out a bit on those points.

R and I worked on the garden last weekend. I'm hoping to upload some photos of that at a later date. We're doing raised bed gardening this year, and he and I built the beds together. It was a lot of fun. Unfortunately, I got poison ivy YET AGAIN. I don't know why they don't call it Satan's weed, as that's what it is. It's all over my arms and my face this time. Ugh. And I got some sort of crazy bug bite-infection thing that requires 10 days of antibiotics. Ugh again.

Oh well. Gizmo just fell on an old flourescent light in the office in a place he can get in but not out. He was freaking out, but luckily he's ok and I'm ok and everything's cleaned up. Woot.

That's all for now. I've got to preach Trinity Sunday, so I need to solidify my thoughts about this one. And do some Welsh. And try not to scratch.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Awesome. Awesome to the Max.

I don't usually cry at news articles. I'll cry at movies no problem, and usually cry at books as well (I'm a huge cry-baby, it's just that most people don't know it). But this article had me all misty-eyed. People are amazing. Read it and weep. Literally.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Pardon the Smell...

I'm a sweat-er. No, not a warm woolly jumper, but a person who sweats. Part of it may be that I grew up in a humid climate where the summer weather report is consistently "hazy, hot, and humid." Part of it is also that I'm just made that way. Sweaty Betty, as my brother likes to say. There was a time when this might have embarrassed me, and I'll admit that I avoid certain color long sleeve Oxford button downs because I know it will be apparent I'm sweating, but for the most part I'm over it. Whatever. It's how God made me, and that's that.

Anti-perspirant would seem to be the obvious answer to sweating, and from about ages 12-21 that's what I used. I found out later my brother and dad couldn't use it because they're allergic, but I never had a problem, until my senior year of college. I broke out under my arms and it suuuccckkked. It's bad enough having a rash anywhere, but under your arms is ridiculously painful and annoying. Knowing the men in my family were allergic to anti-perspirants, I figured the same was true for me. I looked for women's plain deodorant, and it was impossible to find! I'm not sure what companies even make it. I did wear men's deoderant for a while (Speed Stick, usually), but to be honest I don't like walking around smelling like a man. The first time I said this to R, his response was "What, you don't like smelling like sweat and engine oil?" Ha. No dear, I don't.

Anyway I switched to Tom's of Maine. Then Tom's changed their formula to this long lasting protection thing, so I switched to Arm and Hammer, which caused me to break out as well. Then I found Tom's sensitive skin deodorant, and that has been my solution thus far. However, I'm finding it increasingly hard to find (for example, the Tom's website says that my local Target carries it-which they usually have in the past-but when I stopped by today it's been replaced by the new Tom's roll-on deodorants). I hate that it's harder to find, because the stuff really works for me. I broke out last summer before the wedding (about a month before-luckily it was gone by wedding time!) because I couldn't find it. And like a doofus, I left my workout bag at work last night, in which I had put my brush and deodorant, not realizing until I got home that it was in my office (1.5 hours away) and not in my car, so I didn't have it at home. I had an old stick of Tom's I'd never used, but it was the long lasting stuff. I put it on, not wanting to be smelly, and within 10 minutes it was burning. LAME. As I won't be in the office again until Sunday, I went to Target to look for some more, and well, I just talked about that.

So. What to do? I could order it online, or make a trip 2 hours north to the outlet store in Maine. It may end up coming to that, but it's not cheap. Running around 4.50 a stick, buying in bulk isn't really an option. My solution? I'm going to enter the world of make your own deodorant. I've found one simple recipe that's 1 part baking soda to 6 parts corn starch, and I'm going to start with that. I've recently developed a sensitivity to some natural fragrances (like lavender, which is too bad because I love the smell of lavender! The Trader Joe's laundry detergent made my clothes smell sooooo good. Oh well), and have been using unscented Tom's for a while, so I'm not worried about the lack of fragrance. Besides, no one's sticking their nose in my armpit so there's nothing to worry about that. I'll let you know how it goes. If it works, this will be awesome, as baking soda and corn starch are super cheap and super natural-not containing the crazy chemicals in so many deodorants.

I'm also contemplating making my own shampoo. I'm just tired of paying so much for something that literally goes down the drain. So far I haven't found anything that seems like it will work on thick, curly hair. If you know of anything good, point me in that direction!

In the mean time, pardon me if I smell a little funny. I'm trying to figure this whole home-made thing out...

Saturday, April 24, 2010

9 Months Later.


No, I'm not talking about a pregnancy. And no, I'm not talking about 9 months since our wedding, although that was 9 months ago, which is hard to believe. I'm talking about our kittens. I was scrolling through some old blog posts recently, and came upon these two pictures:








I found the post particularly funny because in the comments, my mom pointed out how big they had gotten. I agreed, noting they were twice as big as they had been after their first vet appointment. Talk about perspective, though, as the kittens look much more like cats now. R was home recently and has a better sense of their size relative to full grown cats (his parents have two), but I keep looking at our little ones and realizing they've gotten so big! Case in point:


This is our "little" kitten Leela. I only call her little because she's so much smaller than her brother, Gizmo. Sometimes I wonder if she was the runt of the litter or if it's just that she's female and is therefore smaller. Personality-wise, she's much the same as she was as a small kitten, with a few surprises. She still doesn't like to be picked up and held, usually only standing such treatment for mere seconds before she vaults out of your arms and runs off. She's also much more of a hunter than Gizmo, who still attacks his toys right away while Leela waits and watches before going in. She's the acrobat of the two-we got a new weight machine recently and Leela climbs to the top "with the greatest of ease," seeming to pay no mind to the fact that she's eight feet in the air and balancing on a wire. I'm telling you, this kitten has a pair! She's fearless-turn on the vacuum and she still doesn't run off. I was cleaning house a couple of weeks ago and was cleaning the floor after having vacuumed. Gizmo was hiding under my desk for the entire morning, while Leela came to see what was going on in the cleaning department.

The big surprise with Leela, at least for me, is how much of a cuddlebug she is. This wasn't the case when she was smaller-she would often be off doing her own thing and maybe come sit with us, but Giz was the one doing all of the purring and snuggling. I'm not sure when this happened, but now Leela is the cat more likely to come snuggle-she's particularly fond of sitting on my lap (or R's) when we're watching TV and falling asleep. It's the sweetest thing (well, that and her yawns and stretches). She's also the shedder of the two. I expected Gizmo to be the one shedding hair everywhere, but it turns out I was wrong. No matter how many times I brush my girl, she always has several brushes full of hair to offer.

The biggest surprise, however, has been her recent decision to start rolling over on her back. I didn't know this, but R tells me that when cats do this it's a sign of trust. Leela has often been the "kneader" of the two-coming up to me when I'm lying on the couch reading and kneading my stomach while she purrs. I read online this is something kittens do with their mothers, so I guess that's good. But turning on their backs is supposed to be a big sign of trust, because it puts the cat in a completely vulnerable position. Gizmo has always been ok with this-I have pictures of the day we brought him home when I've got him lying on his back on my lap while I scratched his belly. He's recently started doing this funny flip-turn-upside-down thing and lying on his back while curling into an apostrophe for me to scratch his belly. But Leela has never let us do anything like this-when I hold her, it's never on her back. She hates that. But in the past couple of weeks she's started coming over to me on the couch, lying on her back, and waiting for tummy scratches. It makes my heart melt, for serious. The picture above is from one such tummy session (you can also kind of see the white patch on her stomach that she and her brother share). I would never have expected Leela to come and lay down for some tummy rubs, but she's full of surprises. She's the sweetie of the two.

Then there's our handsome boy Gizmo, who has started sitting like this lately. I guess it's a boy cat thing, but I think it's absolutely hilarious. I think he's actually much more similar to his little kitten self than his sister. He's very want-y, as R likes to put it (that's a reference to The Tick, for those who don't know). He's often found sitting by my side, jumping up and nipping at my elbow because he wants attention. This would be a whole lot cuter if his teeth weren't so sharp! He's also the loudest cat I've ever known-he still purrs often and loudly (again, Diesel would have been a good name). You just have to say his name and he's off. I guess this is a good thing, because it means he's happy. He's also a meow-er. Leela just chirps-I think I've only heard her meow once. But Gizmo will meow all of the time-and not at birds or things he sees outside of the window, but at his people. If I get home from work and go in the bedroom (where the kittens are not allowed), he'll sit outside of the door and meow until I come out to keep him company. He's also taken to meowing around 5:30 in the evenings, which is a full hour before they get their dinner. R thinks he picked this up from his parents' male cat, and Gizmo seems to think that being annoying for an hour is going to get him fed sooner. I don't know if he'll ever figure out that this method is not going to work. Probably not, but hope springs eternal, as the saying goes (in this case for Giz, that he'll get fed earlier, for me that he'll stop nipping at my elbows and crying for food for an hour). What's especially funny about his food begging is that he still has dry food in his bowl. We give them wet food in the evening, and so it's not that he's hungry really, just that he wants the good stuff.

The big change with Gizmo is that lately he's taken to snuggling with us less when we're watching TV or just sitting in the living room. He's content to be in the same room and sitting close by, he just doesn't necessarily want to be a lap cat. He'll literally follow R around when he gets home, and when R goes into his office to do some work, Gizmo will curl up on the floor and just sit near him. He's also extremely fond of a shoebox that sits in front of the window in the office, and I'll pull up the shade for the kittens to look out. Gizmo will curl up and sleep on the box. It's friggin' adorable (he's doing it right now, actually!).

They're both window cats. Leela has torn off bits of one of the blinds where they've gotten in her way. We'll replace those eventually, but she'll probably just tear them up again. They don't snuggle together as much anymore, but R thinks this is teenage angst and they'll go back to it (right now when they're in the bed together they start wrestling).

They're great pets, and we're both smitten with them. I've found myself at times really looking forward to getting home so that I can sit on the couch, read, and hang out with the kittens. They love it when I play the Wii, although Leela always tries to sit on my lap at those moments, which is particularly awkward when trying to wield a light saber. But such is life.

Anyway I just thought I'd post an update on our babies. They're awesome and hilarious and cute. Now it's time to do car/yard/house work before the rain sets in for several days.









Friday, April 23, 2010

Movie Review: The Young Victoria

I'm a sucker for a few things in life, one of which is romance and the other is history as its presented in popular culture. For example, I once wrote a paper examining the historicity of "The Archbishop" episode of Blackadder. Needless to say, it was a fun paper to write (and it got an A). I'm tickled when I watch The Tudors. So when I found myself walking past Redbox today at the grocery store and seeing that The Young Victoria was out on DVD, I jumped at the chance to see it (I had wanted to see it in theaters in the fall, but never got the chance). Knowing that R would most likely not want to watch this movie, Friday afternoon seemed like the perfect time to delve into the past.

I should be up front and say, however, that I haven't studied too much of Victorian Britain. My study of British history goes until about 1689--I can go to 1700 if you push it, but after that I'm lost. Between Henry VIII and James II I can rattle off monarchs and their reigns, etc., but before and after that things get a little hairy for me. Such is specialization. I was interested in seeing this movie, though, because I don't know much about Victoria and what little I do know involves her deep love for Prince Albert. Indeed, my popular culture knowledge of Victoria and Albert has been limited to their portrayal by Jim Broadbent (who, incidentally, portrays William IV in The Young Victoria) and Miriam Margolyes as Queen Victoria (another interesting tidbit-Miranda Richardson who plays Queenie in Blackadder Season 2 is the Duchess of Kent in The Young Victoria). So what did I think?

I loved this movie. I found it engaging and visually stunning (and I don't usually get excited about walking around old Victorian houses to look at couches). I think most folks think of Victoria as an older woman dressed in black, and of a society steeped in the Victorian "morality code," so to speak. This movie shows Victoria as a young woman as she steps into her role as Queen of England. The "bad guy" of the movie, John Clayborn, is made out to be positively evil. I mean, I really loathed this guy as I watched the movie, and he never does anything to redeem himself. The mother (Miranda Richardson) shows a more complex figure, one who seems to be in the pocket of Clayborn but at other times looks for reconciliation with her daughter. The Baroness and Victoria's relationship with her could, I think, have been brought out more, particularly as her eventual dismissal is a pivotal point in the early marriage of Victoria and Albert. What's very intriguing about Victoria in this movie, now that I think about it, is her isolation. We see her growing relationship with Albert, but she has no friends to speak of.
The story of the love between Albert and Victoria serves as the focal point of the film and is so beautiful. I had a smile on my face every time they were together. Rupert Friend and Emily Blunt did an amazing job portraying the young couple, and I was entranced as I watched the independent, headstrong young queen fall for the soft spoken prince.

The only real downside I found to the movie was a slight emptiness after the wedding. We do see the couple start to figure out how this marriage thing is going to work, but at that point there's only about 20 minutes left in the movie and I was left wondering where they were going to go. I think this movie could have done with another 30 minutes or more of post-wedding development. Then we could see how Albert figured out what his role would be, and how they emerged as the power couple they would be. Apparently the assassination attempt at the end is historically inaccurate, but as I didn't really know about it beforehand that didn't bother me too much. I guess now that I know, I would prefer that it had been more truthful but I'm not going to raise a stink about it.

One hint: read the Wikipedia entry for Victoria (or some other easy access short overview of her) before watching the movie. I paused a couple of times to read through the entry so that I would know who was who. Maybe that's just because I'm an American so I don't have all of this royalty business figured out (for example, Victoria was heiress to the crown after her uncle William IV, as opposed to her father). It helped me just get a general overview of things so that I could focus on the story.

Overall? Watch it if you love history, or if you love love stories (or both). It's a great film and definitely worth your time. The score is also wonderful-any excuse to listen to Handel's Zadok the Priest several times is a good one in my opinion!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Resurrectional Realities

I was finally able to figure out how to cut and paste from Word into the blog (I used to be able to do it, and then something changed to prevent me from doing so. Tip: if you're a Mac user and want to cut and paste from Word, paste into the "Edit HTML" option on your dashboard and that should solve the problem). So here's my sermon from this past Sunday. Revised Common Lectionary Year C, Easter 3.


“God of Glory, by the raising of your Son you have broken the chains of death and hell; fill your Church with faith and hope; for a new day has dawned and the way of life stands open in our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.” Common Worship collect for Easter Day

Things were definitely different. This is the feeling I get when reading today’s Gospel lesson from John. Things were different—but how different was still to be figured out. In the resurrection appearances from Jesus that John describes, we get curious details about time that I hadn’t really noticed before these past few weeks. Jesus’s first appearance is to Mary Magdalene “early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark” (20:1). He then appears to the disciples “when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week” (20:19). As we heard last week, Thomas isn’t around and when he comes back to the group and they tell him Jesus has shown up, he won’t believe them. Then we are told “A week later the disciples were again in the house” (20:26). And finally, today we begin the Gospel reading with “After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias” (also known as the Sea of Galilee) (21:1).

So we have a full day between when Mary sees Jesus and when the disciples see him, a full week after that before Thomas sees Jesus (a week in which we assume the disciples were still in Jerusalem), and then “after these things,” an unknown amount of time when the disciples returned to Galilee. If you look at a map of the area, you would see that Bethsaida (where Peter, Andrew, and Philip were from) is not close to Jerusalem—in the geography of John’s Gospel, Jerusalem is about as far south as Jesus goes, while Bethsaida is about as far north. We’re encompassing the whole area Jesus travels in this Gospel by going from Jerusalem to Galilee. If we go back to the beginning of John’s Gospel, we find that the disciples were from areas around the Sea of Galilee (1:44). This means that at some point they decided it was time to return home.

I’m fascinated by these gaps in time—the gospel writer felt it was important to record them, yet we have no idea what goes on during these breaks. When Jesus was around, I imagine they were spending time with their teacher, learning and praying and talking and doing a lot of walking. But after Jesus’s horrific death and wondrous resurrection, the conversation must have changed. However, Jesus wasn’t around for these gaps in time—the details in the story come when Jesus is interacting with his disciples, and then he disappears again and we get the time gaps.

Here’s the question I’ve been pondering: what made the disciples decide it was time to go back to Galilee? They knew Jesus was resurrected—Thomas even believed by this point in time. We don’t have a record of Jesus telling the disciples to go home. At the end of last week’s reading, we get a short message from Jesus: “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe” and then the gospel writer tells us “Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book” (20:29-30). So maybe he did tell them to go home, but my guess is that this was a decision the disciples came to on their own.

Most likely they weren’t really sure what else to do so they went home—but they continued to stay together as a group. Peter decides to go fishing—a fairly normal activity, it seems, even though John’s gospel never actually calls the disciples fishermen. They know enough, though, to go fishing at night, which I found out was actually the best time to fish on that part of the Sea of Galilee. They don’t have much luck, until Jesus shows up. New Testament scholar Raymond Brown points out that the disciples never catch a fish in the Gospels without Jesus’s help. Apparently some things have stayed the same.

So here are these disciples who know that Jesus is resurrected, yet they don’t know what to do with that information so they go back home and take up a normal activity. I’m not sure if they knew Jesus was even going to show up again, as Peter is extremely excited when they figure out it’s Jesus on the shore, and he swims 100 yards in to see him. And, as our collect for today says, Jesus makes himself known in the breaking of bread—in sharing a meal, which is something the disciples did quite often with their teacher.

All of this seems to be building up to something, but what? I’d never thought about it before, but there’s a real sense of being lost on the part of the disciples. They have no idea how life as we know it has changed now that Jesus is resurrected. Everything looks the same, tastes the same, sounds the same, and maybe even feels the same. But the fundamental underpinning of life—namely, death—had been completely overturned. Jesus defeated death. Death does not have the ultimate hold on our lives anymore. But what does this even mean?

We begin to get a glimpse of what it might mean for us in Jesus’s conversation with Peter. This is the only one-on-one conversation we get between these two in John after Peter’s denial of Christ. Jesus approaches Peter and calls him “Simon, son of John,” the exact same title he used when meeting Peter for the first time. Raymond Brown says this return to a formal address signals a possible challenge to the friendship between Jesus and Peter. And then Jesus goes a step further—he says Peter, do you love me? I can only imagine the incredible pain, sadness, and longing that took over this apostle as the one he denied looks him in the face and says, “do you love me?” This is the point of Peter’s deepest shame. His past actions would make the answer seem that it was no. He claimed he would lay down his life for Jesus and would follow him, and when the moment to do so came, he turned away and denied him (13:36-38). And now Jesus has to bring it back up again—there’s no “forgive and forget” here. To make things even worse Jesus asks the question three times, not only mirroring the three denials of Peter but also frustrating Peter as he tries to make Jesus know that he does indeed love him.

This conversation can show us how the resurrection changes everything in our lives. Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams writes in his book, Resurrection: Interpreting the Easter Gospel, about how our normal interactions are based on the relationship of oppressor and oppressed. For all of us, we are a complex mix of people who oppress others and people who are oppressed by others and ourselves. This model of persecutor/victim or oppressor/oppressed is with us from the very beginning—before we even have a chance to understand it fully. There has only been one pure victim in history, one person who could make the choice to oppress and did not, one victim who fully understood the system—one who was not an oppressor but was only oppressed. That person is Jesus. In the conversation with Peter, we see the pure victim facing one of his closest friends, and one who oppressed him through denial. Peter is ashamed, and understandably so. I’m ashamed of myself when I hurt my friends and family—the thought of having to face that shame with Christ is almost agonizing. The reason for this is that I’m stuck in that idea of oppressor/oppressed. I’m functioning in an out-dated model, because the resurrection allows us to transcend the victim/persecutor relationship! It has been completely transformed. This does not mean that we “forgive and forget.” Rather, Williams writes that the transformation of our relationships is built upon our histories—even those that involve oppression, shame, and guilt (12). The real beauty of this is that our pasts and presents are not final. They are not the last word. The resurrection-JESUS-is the last Word!

Let’s think about this for a moment. Peter is the oppressor, and in today’s Gospel we see him speaking with Jesus one-on-one after his Resurrection. He faces his victim head on as Jesus ask,s “do you love me?” Peter is upset; Jesus has brought up the lowest thing he’s ever done, the most violent oppression he’s likely ever committed, and Peter has to answer. He doesn’t know how the resurrection has changed everything yet, and is stuck in the model of victim/persecutor, and all that comes with those relationships. Will Jesus be angry? Get even? Judge him? Berate him? But the resurrection transcends all of that—Jesus builds from Peter’s past and opens a place for the Gospel to take hold. What I find even more marvelous about this is that it’s not a one and done thing—it’s a process. “Feed.” “Tend.” “Follow.” These are verbs requiring continuous action.

The resurrection is for us a transformative process as it was for Peter, and as we heard today it would be for Paul as well. Jesus’s defeat of death in the resurrection changed everything about human existence—we are no longer tied to relationships based on oppression and a desperate struggle for life. Rather, we can transcend that and recognize the face of the risen Christ in one another and treat each other as such. We don’t have to fight against death anymore-Jesus already did that and won. We are called, instead, to live out a resurrectional reality in which we uphold Christ in one another, and overcome the bonds of this world that seek to drag us down, instead recognizing our bonds as brothers and sisters in Christ. This is part of the reason we renew our baptismal vows at the Great Vigil of Easter—to remind us that in the resurrection of Jesus “we are sealed by the Holy Spirit in baptism and marked as Christ’s own forever,” and what that commitment means. That mark that is put on our foreheads in baptism is something that no one can take away—even those with whom we disagree deeply. The mark of baptism overcomes our human fickleness, anxieties, and jealousies, and instead is a mark of the resurrection. We are sealed as people of the resurrection. The challenge for us now is to live that way. For Peter and Paul, their resurrectional realities would take them throughout the Mediterranean world, proclaiming the Good News. Where will it take us?