I spent last summer in New Orleans, where the aftermath of hurricane Katrina is still keenly felt, even seven years later. Now they’re getting pounded again, this time by hurricane Isaac. Watching the footage, my heart is breaking for these people who have already been through so much, and worked so hard to rebuild. It is so frustrating to feel like you’re finally getting somewhere, just to be smacked down again.
I can think of lots of analogies. Bicycling up a hill, seeing the top, but once you reach it you discover that it isn’t the top after all. It’s just not as steep anymore. This is why I don’t like cycling. Another analogy: A babysitter I once had was a neighbor lady with two kids a little younger than me. By the end of the day, I could tell she was getting tired, but she was always sweet and loving and wonderful. I knew she was counting down the hours until her husband got home from work, because the kids always ran to him and she could finally have a moment of peace. Every once in a while, he’d call and say that something came up and he was going to be late. Even then, she was a sweet lady, but those were the times she was more likely to let us all just watch cartoons or something. I didn’t fully understand until I was an adult just how she must have felt, anticipating relief and then having it yanked away.
I tried thinking up a biblical analogy for hurricane Isaac, but I just can’t. Isaac was the middle of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God made the promise to Abraham that he’d be the father of nations, but it was Jacob who had twelve sons who founded the twelve tribes. Isaac’s main claim to fame was that his father was willing to sacrifice him if that was what the Lord wanted him to do.
If you’re trying to make an analogy between that story and a hurricane hitting the gulf coast, you’re really stretching it.
Lord, watch over my friends in New Orleans as they deal with this devastating hurricane.
Give them comfort and hope as they struggle to rebuild.
This is for Julie, who gave me crap about my profile picture.
Yes, I look like a shepherd.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters.
3 He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
Psalm 23, King James version
Yes, my avatar looks like a shepherd. It’s a scene from Shakespeare’s As You Like It . The scene is The Mock Marriage of Orlando and Rosalind by artist Walter Deverell. I love the term “Pastor” because it comes from the Latin for herdsman. One who feeds. One who watches over. The pastoral aspect was what attracted me to the clergy in the first place. I am called to serve.
Yeah, I know it was a few weeks ago, but it goes well with the Batman quote.
Holy Oreo Cookies, Batman, this church has a HUGE youth program!
I survived Sunday, but it was actually pretty normal for many churches. Just bigger, and a lot of the families are very well off. (OK… Really well off.) They have two services, with Sunday School in between. My extended host family took me out to Sunday dinner, then Jordan and Maria showed me all around the church before Senior High youth on Sunday night.
But the Junior High youth meet on Wednesday night. I was really confused when I saw just how many tables they were setting up… I was sure they didn’t have that many kids in Junior High… Well, it turns out that the Wednesday night meetings aren’t just the youth of our church, they’re from all over the community. Apparently, it’s the thing to do on Wednesday nights if you’re fourteen! They have dinner together, then play games and have a Bible lesson and stuff.
The selection of cookies for these guys blew me away. Someone actually made the rainbow Oreos with six layers of creme! I think the ladies of the church have a little bit of one-upmanship going with whose cookies are the most popular. Since most of the cookies are gone by the end of the night, I have no idea how they know who wins. But I think I saw someone in the kitchen taking notes on which cookies were gone from the plates first…
So… down to basics. A brick of cream cheese, an egg, and some sugar. Whatever crust you want, or no crust at all. Actually, your average 9″ cheesecake needs twice this basic recipe. And then there’s all the extra stuff… a little vanilla (the real stuff, never fake. You’re better off using none at all rather than using the fake stuff.) Chocolate or other flavorings. And you can get really creative with all kinds of chunky mix-ins.
Ford insists that cheesecake be “pure.” He wants just a plain slice that he can decide how to decorate. Today, he put a piece in a bowl and covered it with, I kid you not, Captain Crunch and milk.
Yes, he did eat the whole thing.
Rev. Mark and I had a long discussion about churches in general today while I was baking. I think he was trying to get a feel for where I might finally find a placement. Most sojourners are single, and free of other commitments other than calling their moms on Mother’s Day.
My situation is slightly more complicated.
Anywho, just like some people like to add a little ricotta or condensed milk to their cheesecakes, Christian churches have a plethora of traditions and policies they can add to the mix. One service each week? Two? Maybe a midweek service? Or Mass several times a day? Do you keep any of the archaic language like Thee and Thou, or do you change all your hymns to modern English whether or not it rhymes? And don’t get me started on all the options surrounding holy communion.
I’ve seen dozens of sojourners come through training and move on to placements. I’m hopeful that Rev. Mark will find a place for me and Ford (and the dog) soon, but honestly, I really like it here. I don’t mind if we end up sticking around through the winter, although I have heard that the snow can fall pretty deep and heavy here in the Springs…
I’ll keep you posted.
Thank God for air conditioning.
I mean it! The airports, the plane, the car, and the house once I got here.
After spending most of the summer in New Orleans, I am so very happy to be in a place where my clothes aren’t sticking to my sweat all the time. I actually put on a sweatshirt by the time I got to NYC.
Actually, I’m being spoiled completely rotten. I was met at the airport by Jordan, the youth pastor, and Maria, my host family’s grand-daughter. Jordan had actually looked up how to spell “Katriel” in Hebrew, and Maria…
Oh, Maria. She took one look at my towel and asked me if I was expecting a Vogon construction fleet! I see this as a good omen.
Maria’s grandparents are my hosts. Their house isn’t huge, but I have the upstairs all to myself. It has all kinds of closets and built-in storage, as well as a flat screen TV and internet and cable and Netflix and air conditioning and all kinds of amenities I never even dreamed of.
Tomorrow, I get to meet everyone at church. Exciting day!
Last night the world took a short break from watching the Olympics to witness NASA make history yet again. The Mars Curiosity Rover arrived safely and started transmitting images of the Martian surface back to Earth.
But Curiosity was not the first. Spirit and Opportunity began exploring Mars in 2004. And don’t forget the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter which was launched in 2005 and is still sending us images from its orbit around the Red Planet.
Before all those, there was Pathfinder. The lander, formally named the Carl Sagan Memorial Station following its successful touchdown, and the rover, named Sojourner after American civil rights crusader Sojourner Truth, both outlived their design lives — the lander by nearly three times, and the rover by 12 times. It stopped transmitting in 1997.
A sojourner might be described as “One Who Wanders With Purpose.” Like me, and Kat, and Julie, and Jake. We’re all with the Sojourner program. Although the director takes our own talents and needs into consideration before making a placement, we’re all willing and ready to go wherever The Holy Spirit leads.
Heh… well, on Mars, Sojourner came before Spirit, but Spirit and Opportunity definitely led the way for Curiosity!
I know that NASA had lots of very well-informed people discuss the heck out of where exactly each of these missions should land, and where they should go from there. But think about it… there’s an entire planet to explore! A planet where man has yet to set foot. Any way it turns, any way it goes, could lead to fantastic new knowledge that will take humanity just that much closer to the stars.
Us sojourners on Earth are the same. There is no one path that we must follow in order to spread God’s love. No matter where we turn on this planet, there will be someone who has something for us; maybe they need us to lend an ear or a hand; maybe they have a story to tell that leads us to a deeper understanding of ourselves. The enrichment is mutual.
JPL goes nuts when the Curiosity started sending back images just minutes after safely landing on Mars.
We’ve gone back to Mars!
I went to a landing party last night night so I could watch this happening live. We ate dry roasted peanuts, Mars bars, and generally just shared the excitement and triumph that the entire world shared as this mini-cooper-sized rover successfully endured not just a trip through the darkness of space for many months, but then seven minutes of terror as several systems all had to work exactly as they were designed, all by themselves, in order for it to land.
I’ll be leaving soon for CT. At least it won’t take me eight months to get there. Here’s hoping seven minutes of terror aren’t waiting for me when I do!