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More or Less Church

Joanna Depue "DJ/Deacon J" writes original songs and liturgies, does daily Farm office work and records Barbara's eMos on The Geranium Farm. A singer and dog trainer she utilizes healing touch in her private massage practice. PLEASE share YOUR original ideas for worship, special liturgies, prayers, songs, sermons and noteworthy blogs right here.
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Wednesday, June 07, 2006

A Call to Prayer

It's an old tradition. Before making any changes in policy - or ordaining anyone - there was a period of prayer to ask for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to guide us in making holy decisions.

Do you have a prayerr for Convention that you have written and would like to share?

Please send it on to me here at I'll read them and post them in time for convention.. dj

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The Wedding..... a tale in several acts

The Wedding.

This whole process between Matt and Jenn had taken six years from the time they met at a party. Over time they found out things - besides scuba diving and physical activity and some music - that they both enjoyed. They learned many of each other's quirks and tendencies..knew each other and had taken a ride of ups and downs for quite some time. Their friends supported them and didn't understand why they hadn't gotten married sooner.

Matt's family loves Jenn and even likes her family. Jenn's family loves Matt and likes his family as well. No picture is ever 100% perfection, but as relationships go, this one is on solid ground.

That's the background.

They live on Long Island. Matt was hired by Barbara, sight unseen, to be the IT force behind the Geranium Farm.... and he has done a marvelous job. We all met face to face last autumn at the Farm under the dogwood(?) tree on the patio. Neither Jenn nor Matt had done the specifics when it came to a minister - Barbara volunteered and I said I would pitch in too.

I dropped Barbara a line in March some time.... was everything on course. Oh, yes. They-all had set up a meeting. Not too formal, not too churchy.... there would be a sense of spirituality and God-ness about it.

About 2 weeks ago I checked in again - maybe I should just drop in for the ceremony. No, Barbara wrote back last week.... come on along. I volunteered to drive us if she could get into NYC and we could drive from there. Fine. Coordinates were set and the plan was in motion.

We spoke on Thursday - and a fly was in the ointment...she had been sick on the train and was feeling weak. But she would keep me in the loop. Friday and no improvement. DJ, it's not better. Thank goodness you're going. I'm so disappointed, what a shame.... I'll call Matt. You do the wedding. It will be fine.

Then she was off the phone and I'm somewhat numb sitting at my computer @ work. I had done several memorial services, assisted in baptisms, preached at a union.... but never a wedding. I'm just the sidekick, not the seasoned veteran that knows the service and is aware of the expectations and duties..... groan.

On the Long Island Expressway Barbara and I exchange several calls. Make sure to get the license tonight. Be available and pastoral. Follow the BCP. I usually keep the homily short. If there is someone attached to the Inn, let them run most of it. Gotcha.

Plugging along I am again trying to follow written directions and have never been this route. Off the LIE to a couple of other smaller roads. It is drizzling, then raining. To the ferry and on to the other side. Finally to the Inn. A big hello and 7 minutes to the rehearsal. The innkeeper, wedding party, family, couple. OK. Up to the room, read the book. Deep breaths. Showtime.

It went fine. The rehearsal dinner went fine. Other than the air conditioning on during a chilly night, that was fine (and gave me a chance to write 3 different sermons to choose from). It had rained overnight but pretty much held off for all the photos in the morning. The diligent innkeeper moved everything under cover, the chairs were set up and dried off and fine. Jenn looked stunning, Matt very handsome, the families were excited and positive.... and behold, it was very good. Music, entrances, promises, readings, homily, candles, rings, vows, kisses, tears of joy.... all very fine. Good food, moving/funny speeches, rockin' dj. All fine.

Everyone wished this amazing couple well. Love is many things, but seldom logical- that being said, the union of these two people made such perfect sense. They smiled, paid great attention to each other, were not lost when each had to go in a different direction to attend to a relative or personal friend. It was all good. All fine.

God works in mysterious ways. We humans try to manage, try to define- try as hard as we might, we cannot limit or confine or define change, life, family/relationships, love. All remain mysteries, wonder-full mysteries. Thanks be to God!

Prayer by any Other Name

It has to be 90 in the shade.... but then that's not in Celsius. In my inner demon USA brain an insidious whisper is hissing....'but this is supposed to be CANADA! Isn't it supposed to be cooler in the North?????' Ah, but an east coast heatwave has us all sweltering. It was the long Memorial Day weekend and we were on the road.

Liz has got to be the most shopping-est woman I know, have ever known (and that's saying something). One of my colleagues from the UN, she is 1st generation Chinese - he mother is from Hong Kong and speaks little English. Liz has traveled all over the world, thrives on travel and new places, but never been to Canada. She has graciously invited me to Canada for this trip in around November last year - paid for the room and the parking and I'm providing the gas and the transportation. Although gas has spiraled upward in the last year beyond anything I could have envisioned, it's still a bargain - Liz enjoys staying at fine hotels. The one we're headed toward is in downtown Montreal.

We spent time in the car getting to Montreal in the first place - it took much longer than expected over Memorial Day Saturday. Not that we were being terrible inefficient or scattered; it just seems to take me much longer driving to somewhere I've never been. We made a slew of stops along the way. Then it took more than an hour to get through customs into Canada proper.

Once we had crossed the border, things changed - - if only for the simple reason that we were now in the province of Quebec where French is the official language. Green signs for tourist attractions with white outlines of circle-headed people 1/2 submerged in white multiple peaks served as notice of swimming hereby, stretched out circle head outlines with the thin line was sure sign of a golf course. "If the signs looked different, this could be New Jersey" said Liz in a deadpan. Most metropolitan areas are similar when it comes to highways - inner cities, in particular, still use concrete and asphalt.

I had brought my golf clubs along and we carried both US and Canadian dollars to spend on meals and odds and ends. There was hazy sun mingled with patches of showers. When we finally made it to the Sheraton and heard a hearty 'Bonjour!' we were quite tired and hungry and settled on a dinner @ the hotel. By the time we had finished the meal and were 1/2 way through the Tarte aux pommes avec glace vanille most of our traveling stress had melted away.

Sunday Liz was heart-set on going to a gourmet spice company that features pesticide-free organic dried spices, vinegars, syrops to the north of Montreal in the foothills and mountains known as the Laurentides. While on the major highway the scenery was standard suburban with car dealerships, shopping malls and signs for new condominium developments. We turned off after St. Jerome and made it to the store. The shop owner, an ex patriot, told us to venture a bit farther north, just up the road, to Mont Saint-Sauveur a quaint ski resort town. Off we went. Liz found a fur hat she could not resist, I found something of a more modest scale to bring to C for a present on my next visit. Lord, it was sunny and hot. We found cool refuge in the local RCatholic church and sat in quiet meditation. Liz wondered how so many churches could be named the same thing..... Notre Dame. Trying to explain the extraordinary place for Roman Catholics of St. Mary the Virgin was more difficult than I imagined. It boiled down to the concept that it was widely held that because Jesus had a human mother that stood by Him we are also her adopted children under her love and care. She was "Our Lady", too. Oh. OK.

Heading back to the hotel was much quicker. We would go to Old Montreal - a section of the village to the south, along the river - tomorrow.

It was still hot and hazy when we set out. We walked, using a map provided by the Chamber of Commerce. It was not a holiday in Montreal so the city was buzzing, people on all manner of cell phones speaking in French and English. Tourists dressed in traditional short sleeves, shorts, flip flops and backpacks craned their necks to take in the architecture - some of which was remarkable and old. We, too, chose to take it easy and embrace our tourist status by popping into one of the open, horse-drawn carriages that populate Old Montreal. Our spirited guide, Roger, had been in construction prior to his retirement. Our brave steed was named Charlotte - she knew the route sight unseen and seemed to move automatically with little prodding from the intrepid Roger - who spoke the nasal French of the quebecois plus some accent-laden English. This had been a port town, settled by some men and two nuns (whose statues can be found rather prominently throughout the old town). The cobblestones that paved a few of the streets had been the ballast in the bottom of each of the ships that had arrived - nothing went to waste.

Our tour ended in front of Notre Dame de Montreal and we decided to seek refuge from the heat once again. The exterior of the building is not very flashy - not resplendent with statues or fine stone work.... it is plain and speaks eloquently of the steadfastness it must have taken to settle a rugged land. Coming up to the door there was a booth. One must pay to enter.

Something in me bristled..... I have to pay to pray??? I approached one of the guides and spoke to her in French - my friend and I want only to pray, please - she replied dryly in French ' if that is all, you may come with me, but not that one who does not believe. You may go into the glass enclosure and pay your respect near the reserved sacrament. You have a maximum of 15 minutes then I will come for you and you will leave' she paused and then said 'welcome to the house of God' and opened a side door, giving Liz the stiff arm and palm in a stop position.

Merci I replied, took Liz by the hand, turned and got on the line for a ticket. She took over at the ticket booth and said, upon taking my payment for 2 tickets, 'ah, you chose to pay after all'. I gave Liz her ticket and showed her in front of me. Turning to the guide I said - He has already paid for us all, but I will be happy to make sure that my friend is welcomed here as well'. Her face fell. 'I am so sorry, I did not know. She is Chinese.' 'Yes, Chinese and a child of God'.

Perhaps I should have held my tongue, but I don't regret for having challenged her prejudice.

As it turns out, the interior of the basilica is magnificent with blues that cannot be described. The structure had undergone significant fire damage some years ago and it had taken a massive campaign to rebuild and make repairs. In back of the main altar there is another chapel, very modern in style, with skylights above. Liz took pictures and cooled off from the heat. I finally calmed down enough to pray.

'This is beautiful' said Liz as she looked at the stained glass work depicting angels in the ceiling. Yes, it is. It was beautiful and built in the name of Our Lady, a mother to us all. I was welcome, Liz was welcome. And we each took in all the beauty with appreciation, giving thanks for divine inspiration and the human hand. .... a prayer by any other name .

Monday, June 05, 2006

The Web Dude and Dudette go live!

Matt and Jenn Gai on their wedding day, June 3, 2006 Posted by Picasa

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