Motor Mouth

Liam only stops talking to read books - and to sleep. Otherwise, he pretty much narrates his whole day, except when he stops to sing, and then he's singing. It can be a bit of a sensory overload for the rest of us. But it's also pretty cute.

Heard this morning (2 hour school delay):

I'm so happy! Dada, I'm so happy, so happy Dada. I'm tired. Dada I'm so tired. (You can lie down.) No, I can't. I'm still playing. I'm making the puzzle. I'm playing. I need to do the puzzle. Can I get that other puzzle? The funny faces up there? Dada? ...

This morning's church

Sometimes church is two brothers waking up at their normal weekend time, regardless of the fact that the time on the clock should feel an hour earlier to their bodies, and then playing together for hours without fighting, quietly singing worship tunes under their breath between lego battles and dance parties.

Making Space for Ashes

I have never been able to wrap my head around Ashes To Go - the practice of clearing providing ashes to folks walking by. I always imagined it as a priest on the street corner, in front of their church, offering the ashes of last year's palms to anyone who can't be bothered to come in. It felt lazy to me - not the clergy, but the folks getting the ashes. The church is here, open to you, inviting you - come, taste, see, hear the words and get let in on the little secret that this is not the end, death and resurrection, dust and eucharist - and it doesn't even take that long!

And then Facebook stepped in and suggested I might The Episcopal Church's latest video - The Rev. Stephanie Spellers and her colleagues walking around New York City, offering not just ashes, but talking, praying, laughing, bringing church to the city. And it was amazing. Such a short little video, but I thought, if THAT is was Ashes To Go looks like, I get it. "If you wanted to call time out, and say that I wanted to remember that I am dust and that God loves me, you can do that with us right now."

In then end, after all this dust and ash thinking, I didn't go to church at all. Our church had a noontime service in Cambridge, which I didn't manage to get to, and I thought about bringing the boys to a family oriented service at the Episcopal church just down the street from us, but even the timing for that was going to be challenging. So I was already thinking I might not make it to church when a friend asked if there would be childcare at Highrock so that he could go and hear a long ago friend preach. Well no, but I can provide childcare. So I joined myself with my new understanding of ashes to go, and made space for someone else to go and hear the Word and receive some ashes.

<iframe src="" width="560" height="315" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowTransparency="true" allowFullScreen="true"></iframe>

Ash Wednesday Pockets

One Ash Wednesday in college I attended service on campus instead of heading off to the Episcopal church, and a piece of the message from that service has stuck with me ever since. The preacher shared the teaching of a Rabbi who was said to have carried a piece of paper in each pocket as a reminder to himself. In the one "I am but dust and ash" - so similar to our Ash Wednesday reminder "Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return." In the other "For my sake the world was created." It makes me imagine everyone walking through the world with these two realities in their pockets. Seeing each person as humble dust, just like me, profoundly loved, just like me. So then, the gift of a God who says 'I love you so deeply that I will overcome death to show you that no mistake you can make will separate you from me' is not just for me, is not a reason to feel superior, but is a reason to rejoice and walk humbly.

I know he died, but how is he?

"Hi Mama. How's Grandpa Sr.? I mean, I know he died, but how is he?"

Such a simple sweet question from six year old Nathan. Caught somewhere in the middle of not really understanding what it means when someone dies, and having a sense that death is not the end. And totally heart breaking. Death is even harder when you have a six year old.

Grandpa Vogele is the first person to die who Nathan will remember, does remember. On Saturday night when I told Nathan I was going down to Maryland on my own, instead of my trip with the boys planned for Monday, because Grandpa might die tonight, he asked "but how? how can someone die at home?" Because our bodies are done, but we are lucky enough to be comfortable in our own space; that is where we all hope to die sweet boy. Still, Nathan got out of bed in his pokeman pjs, crying, putting on his socks and snow boots and jacket, determined to come with me.

And then Sunday night, "I know he died, but how is he?" So we talked about what death means, that the next time Nathan comes to Maryland we will remember Grandpa Sr. and celebrate his life and miss him, but we won't see him. That when I see him this week, I am just sitting with his body, remembering him and missing him, that we do these things because his body is all that is left here on earth, but we know his spirit is not changed, and we miss being able to see him and hug him and talk to him, but he is not completely lost. We talked about what his body looked like - calm and peaceful and comfortable. Nathan was so mad and sad that he didn't get to even just see Grandpa Sr. one more time. He handed the phone to Tim, crying, "I just can't take anymore." Then he wanted to talk some more.

Nathan asked if I would send him a photo. I said I'd take one and we'd look at it together. I told him I would bring the picture he'd drawn so that his picture could sit with Grandpa Sr.'s body too. I told him how much is Grandpa Sr loved him. And then Nathan said "You know Mama, if you want to take a break, and not talk about Grandpa Sr. for a little while, and then talk about him more when you're home, that's okay." "Do you need a break buddy?" "Yah." "Okay. If you want, we can talk about him more when I come home."

Nathan is the sweetest boy. And death is even harder when you have a six year old.