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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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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The Mothering Experience

Let me be perfectly clear up front. I have never borne a child. When growing up I did not do the dog thing..... nothing more than a parakeet or a turtle crossed our experience as being a caretaker. The lone exception would be when one or other set of our aunts/uncles would call the house to see whether Janet or I could come over to babysit the younger cousins. Later on we would get hired for feeding and cleaning up after dogs or casts after school. Later on yet it was 'freelance' (read lucrative) babysitting jobs which might pony up a few extra coins if the toys were picked up, the dinner made, fed, cleaned up.

Having said all this, a kind of motherhood emerged with the arrival Emmy Lou and her needs and training.

The mose recently, in the last year, I have become involved in a mothering experiment/experience that I could never have predicted.

First came Stephanie - just 22, still in college. She is equal parts conventional 'good kid' and multipierced rebel; a bundle of energy and a three toed sloth. Stephanie has been renting a room in my home for a year now while she finishes college. I met her in the grocery store, having heard from the head cashier that she was going to have to move back home and daily make a harrowing commute from Staten Island to St. Thomas Aquinas College about 1.5 miles from my home. I had a room.... and I can remember being that age: I would have been grateful if someone had showed me this kind of generosity and kindness. So we did it. Put down a few ground rules in order not to create chaos. This being my first up close and personal long-term 24/7 exposure to a young adult I am periodically mysified by Stephanie's thought process or sense of logic..... I'm beginning to believe that no young person will automatically leave a bathroom sink and faucet as they found it... without toothpaste, hair, hair "product" or shave cream. Even after written notes and verbal reminders. Perhaps there is an age-specific short term memory deficit for these types of things... ah, well. File it under the mysteries. She has in the last year fallen in and out of love three times with two individuals. I had forgotten what a fierce roller coaster of emotions and hormones a young person contains. I have rubbed her shoulders, fixed her soup and listened. Do I have the 'mommy gene' after all?

Fast forward to 2 weeks ago. I'm doing my scant late night shopping at the grocery store. Stephanie uncharacteristically offers to carry my bags to the car. How is that retirement thing going? Well, no response yet. Oh, well.... see I was wondering... my class president has a friend and the friend needs a place to stay and you could use the money and he would really appreciate it and can he like stay in the basement 'cause you have a bed down there?

I decide to meet the cast of characters in a local diner after returning from all Sunday services. In the booth is Stephanie, her friend Andrea, Jonathan (Johnny) the class president.... and Johnny's boyfriend Julian (JuJu). As it turns out, JuJu is looking to be my second boarder. He is only 19 and from California. Slowly but surely the story is unfolding why JuJu is here, his family is there and he needs somewhere to live. It's a story that has been told many times over the years. Julian is 19, a high school graduate, estranged from his family and living in an environment completely foreign to him. More house rules, more rules of conduct, the respect I will pay to him and the respect for my home and belongings I expect from him. I was moved by moral obligation to have the safe sex talk.... including abstinence. It all unfolded and, with the exception of an errant sock on the 1st floor, is going along quite well.

As a baptized Christian I have promised to reach out to the homeless, the outcast, the rejected. As an ordained deacon, I have been ordained by the church to minister to these same people. It would never had occurred to me that later in life I would be providing shelter and compassion and words of wisdom to a 22 and 19 year old. Just goes to show you, God will provide us with opportunities to grow, be challenged, show what we believe in....

....... and now I have a new nickname, courtesy of JuJu............ Mama Muffin. Who knew!


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