Thursday, July 30, 2009

I go home in 3 days. Unbelievable.

I've gotten to see SO many of my favorite people in the last couple of weeks... many of them during my weekend in DC! It was great. I rode the train (it was very weird riding a train in America after so many in England! And this was actually my first American train ride-- it was an hour late getting in, not as much like British trains... although when those are late they are LATE) which was fun, and met Carrie at Union Station. Then we took the metro back to her apartment at GW. On Friday we went to the National Cathedral for their noon Eucharist service-- it was beautiful! I felt like I was back in England. It's so random how the cathedral is just up on a hill in the middle of a neighborhood, not really downtown or on the Mall or anything... but it's gorgeous. Then we went to a yummy crepe place for lunch (and dessert!) and stopped by Church of the Pilgrim to see John. It was great to see a fellow intern and he showed us around the sanctuary and the hostel downstairs. Later, Carrie and I walked around the Mall, from her apartment to Lincoln to WW2 to Washington Monument to the Capitol! Phew. It was a beautiful afternoon for walking, and not very helpful for my camera battery to die on me. Sigh, oh well. Then we went to dinner with Mike! Really fun. I love seeing Davidson people in the real world, it's so refreshing. On Saturday, Carrie and I went to breakfast at Ben's Chili Bowl, the place where Obama ate right after the Inauguration (on our way to the metro, though, we ran into Mike and TORY!). Very good food (no chili for breakfast... eggs and grits and pancakes though). Then Mike took Tory and me on a tour of the Pentagon, which was extremely cool; I was so glad to spend some time with them. Made me really excited for the year to start. I got back to GW after that, and went to sit in the garden next to GW Hospital, where I ended up hanging out with Joe!! for awhile after we figured out that we were only about 5 minutes apart. That worked out well. So happy to see him and catch up. Yay yay yay so many favorite people in one weekend. I went back to Carrie's and packed, we grabbed a late lunch, and I took the metro to the train station. (and this time my train was prompt!)

The next day, Sunday, I took another quick trip-- Carla was dropping off the kids in Williamsburg with her parents for a week of camp, so I decided to go with her and got to walk around some of William & Mary and Williamsburg itself (Elijah was very excited to go to DOG-- Duke of Gloucester-- Street). Also went to a "crystal concert" that they have there; there's a guy who plays the glass armonica, an instrument invented by Ben Franklin, as well as glass bells, a glass violin, and another couple of fairly new glass instruments. Really impressive, and beautiful music.

Then I set about trying to write my sermon for the 19th, focusing on Ephesians 2:11-22... it felt like a big English paper hanging over my head, and I treated it as such-- aka, I finished it completely at 2:30 AM the day of. Oh Davidson work habits, you follow me everywhere. I worked on it for almost the whole week before, but didn't feel like I was getting much of anywhere until closer to the end, after I had Carla read what I had and make some suggestions. Even then, I still work best when I have the pressure on and I know I HAVE to get something done. And by midnight on Saturday... well, I had to. Also met with Doug in the middle of the week to figure out hymns that might go well with what I was talking about (at that point, I had a very vague idea... but the hymns worked well, I thought).

Backing up though-- the Friday before my sermon, I went to see Half-Blood Prince with Carla, Brint, Deborah, and Elijah! I thought it was a great movie-- HILARIOUS, and the trio just gets better and better with each movie (it's so weird to think of them at 11 now)-- up until the end, and THE scene. I loved the scene in the cave, but after that it just really lacked the intensity that I always pictured in my head. Plus, they skipped Dumbledore's funeral and added some kind of weird Burrow-catching-on-fire scene... whaaaat? It will be interesting to see how they do the last two movies. The Battle of Hogwarts better be effing awesome.

On Saturday, about 10 of us from GPPC went over to Boaz and Ruth (a block of stores and transitional housing for people who have recently gotten out of jail, to help reintegrate them into society and give them skills to enter the workforce-- a really impressive organization) and worked on painting the porch, fences, and lattice for a couple of their houses. This was one of the events that I had had to organize, so I was happy and grateful that it went well and that people participated. We also ate at their restaurant in a converted old firehouse-- REALLY good food. Richmond folks, Fire House 15 restaurant-- go there!

When I got back to the church from painting, Mom, Dad, and Mason were waiting for me! So glad to see them. We went back to Ann and Bob's house and they settled in (for the night-- not a long stay), and a little while later Jessica (one of my good friends, and recently promoted to our associate pastor) came! I was so grateful for all of them to be there for my sermon. We went to Bottoms Up Pizza in downtown Richmond for dinner and then went to see Harry Potter-- yes, I saw it twice in 24 hours. Trying to make up for not seeing going to the midnight premiere. (When the random Burrow on fire scene came up, Mason whispered, "Uhhh, I don't remember this." I said, "That's cause it didn't happen.") Got back to the house and Mason relished the tennis channel, Mom and Dad visited with Ann and Bob, and I got a wonderfully unexpected phone call from ZACH in Berlin, 3 hours before he was leaving for home! Great to hear from him. I've also gotten to talk to Rachel, Emily P, Louis, and Ann in the last week or so (can you tell I miss everyone?).

My sermon went well on Sunday; it was so nice to look out and see my GPPC friends, and my family, and Jessica, and Carrie and her brother who also came from Ashland. It meant a lot to me that they would all be there. Family + Glenn + Davidson contingent! I wasn't nervous about the speaking part as long as I had the words in front of me but it was still nice to have it done, since it had been in my mind so long. Ahhhh. After church, I helped with a quick training for a couple of kids who are interested in ushering during services in the fall. Then we went to Eleanor's house for a "Claire's done with her sermon!" lunch so my family got to meet a lot of my Richmond friends. Mom, Dad, and Mason left for home later that afternoon, and I spent the rest of the day lounging around. Phew! Busy weekend.

As far as my other church activities go, in the last couple of weeks I've gone with a group to sort food at the Central Virginia Food Bank (Elijah, Carla's 7-year-old, loved it-- "Mom, can I do this instead of going to school?" Haha), done one other offering training session for some kids, attended two elder training sessions (fabulous people and really interesting questions), attended a 500th birthday party for John Calvin, sung at a graveside memorial service, helped scoop ice cream for the kids' Vacation Bible School presentation, visited with a really wonderful 94-year-old church member, and led a book discussion (well, it honestly didn't require much leading... questions and comments just kept jumping out!).

The book we've been discussing at GPPC is called "Take This Bread," by Sara Miles. It's a really thought-provoking book about a woman who was raised atheist and became a Christian in her mid-forties, after walking into a church and taking Communion and beginning her journey of faith (one of my favorite things that she says: "conversion is a process"). She took the concept of Communion to heart--feeding people, "feed my sheep"-- and decided to start a food pantry in her church for the MANY people who go hungry in her San Francisco neighborhood. She describes herself as "a blue-state, secular intellectual; a lesbian; a left-wing journalist with a habit of skepticism... I'm hardly the person George Bush had in mind to be running a 'faith-based charity.'" And that's what makes the story so fascinating, inspiring, and frustrating when I think about the political and religious divides that have become so rampant in our country. It's an extremely worthwhile book. You should read it.

Outside of the office I've been writing and compiling old pieces (exciting things on the horizon...), gotten to have dinner with more great GPPC families, gone to the pool with Carla and her family (hallelujah water), visited Carrie and her wonderful family in Ashland, eaten lunch with Rob Ukrop (Davidson '93, Hall of Fame soccer player, active Richmond fixture-- thanks Kruse, thanks Rob), gone to the delicious church ice cream social, had a lovely dinner out with Heather... and last week I drove up to Springfield VA to see DAVID, who was visiting his sister! Got to have lunch with them at Springfield UMC (where his sister works), and we caught up more at Starbucks (pretend it's Summit) after that. I was SO glad to see him before he leaves for Peru. Made me miss MCF Mondays and Dessert Wednesdays and basketball games!!

On Sunday I sang in my last Compline service, which is one of the things I am going to miss most about my time here. I'm making Doug give me the music, and I think I might just slip into Lingle every night and sing it to myself. Or get more people to come. I'm also going to miss happy and hilarious staff lunches with Doug and Carla SO much... ok, I'm not going to get started on the missing stuff yet. It's an extremely long list!

Guiii-iiide us waaa-aaaaakiiii-iiing O-o Lo-oorrrd
and guaaa-aaaaaard us sleee-eeee-eeping
that awake we may watch with Chriii-iiiist
and asleep we may ree-eest innn-nnn peeee-eeace.

(I can't write it without writing it how it sounds when you sing it. Just can't. But it's much more beautiful to hear it. Trust me.)

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