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Monday, March 30, 2015

Christ is risen - how about you?

Except for a haphazard egg hunt and the occasional brunch at W.A. Frost, no one in my family celebrates Easter. 


My grown daughters are self-confessed atheists.  My ex-husband spends  Sunday at Caribou with the New York Times.  My brothers and most of my cousins believe this life -  this  insignificant flirtation with eternity - this is it.  
And I have a hard time talking anyone into anything anymore.

Church people don’t make my work easier.   Congregations are populated with adorable couples chatting  about gluten-free recipes, the best Door County bed and breakfast or their last siting of Garrison and his darling wife.  Remind me - her name?
I kid you not. This is what Presbyterians do for fun.
A gluten-free ham dinner anyone? 
So, here am I, facing the Big One again.  On my own.

The Resurrection. The Sunday for which all other Sundays were made.
Christ is risen  ( the Anglicans tell us he is risen “indeed.” I always giggle when I hear it)  and those of us who still believe in the power of  faith and the strength of the eternal metaphor want to be in the front row.

The empty tomb.  Christ has risen!  Indeed. 
This year, were I less cynical, I might find the task easier.

In June the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. agreed to acknowledge the legitimacy of gay marriage by permitting clergy to perform weddings where allowed by the state.

I snorted when I heard the news.   Leave it to my church to be the last of the "main line" Protestants to join the 21st Century.

We're a denomination of followers.  Presbyterians discovered pacifism after the fall of Saigon.  We were the last to open our denominational seminaries to large populations of women.  We discovered "world hunger" in 1979 and formed a task force to chat about it. 
Even so - God help me - when the Presbyterians serve up the sunrise alleluia on Easter Sunday,  if they let me in,  I'll be there.

My faith in all of us brings me through the door.   My hope for some of us keeps me in my seat. 

If you see me on Sunday, do me a favor.  Please - come sit beside me.  I'll be the one wearing a bonnet with all the frills upon it -  and a smile. 

Because I am glad he is risen  - because I believe I might yet live to see the church rise as well.  

Indeed. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

GOD GIRL challenges and inspires!

Meet Summer Hagen and Sean Dooley, the lead actors in my new show, GOD GIRL.

In this video they share their impressions of the play, and their experiences traveling back in time.

GOD GIRL runs through March 1, 2015 at the History Theatre in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Tickets are still available.  Click here for more information. 


video




Sunday, November 30, 2014

A Christmas miracle


I was sixteen when my father left.

That year there was no Christmas tree, no turkey dinner, no presents.  My mother worked two jobs as a cleaning lady.  I sold hats at the Emporium in downtown Saint Paul.

It was Christmas Eve, 1965. The store was closed.  The streetlights were decorated with the tinsel of the season.  Somewhere a church bell tolled "Silent Night."

I stood alone on the corner and waited for the bus to take me home.

The wind whipped my thin coat and threatened to tear off my hand-knit hat.  My mother had sewn a pair of corduroy pants to pull up under my dress, but I carried them.  It was better to freeze than look ridiculous.

It was a snowless night, bitter and empty.  I shivered against the wind and considered how one year had changed everything.

My parents' marriage was over.  My home and heart were broken.

The divorce did not surprise anyone but me.  My father's fierce anger had exhausted my mother's forbearance years ago.  But he had never gone away before - never abandoned us.

It was because of him there would be no holiday.  I resented him for the destruction of my family.  These were the things I pondered as I lumbered into the freezing-cold bus.

I found a seat next to the bus heater and placed my feet on the perfect spot. Hugging my corduroy pants I cherished the small comfort as the heat blew around my legs.

That is when it happened.

A man - perhaps in his sixties - appeared from somewhere in the back of the bus. He smelled of English Leather and Pepsodent and wore a hat like Frank Sinatra used to wear. A fine Pendleton wool muffler hid half his face and he held a large shopping bag.

"May I?" he asked as he prepared to sit.

I looked away.  I didn't speak to strangers - especially men.

He sat beside me and placed the shopping bag between us. I noticed the bus driver watching him in the mirror.  Everything would be all right, I thought as I closed my eyes and hugged my mother-made pants.

Then - the man touched my arm.

"Excuse me," he said.  "I couldn't help notice you're shivering.  Are you okay?"

He peeked at me from behind his muffler and when his eyes met mine, I saw something I hadn't seen in a long, long time.  It was the gaze of kindness. For a moment, I felt the chill of the bus dissipate.

"You look tired," she said. "Had a rough day?"

When he spoke,  I realized he was worried about me; truly worried.  The sensation was foreign.  My father's face never filled with concern for me or anyone else.  Anger, frustration and fear were the foundations of his personality.

Perhaps being a dad burdened some men more than others.  I wondered if this man had kids.

The bus made a gassy sound as it stopped, and he rose to leave.  He held the handrail of the seat before him and looked back at me for the last time.

"I get off here," he said.  "Merry Christmas.  Hang in there!"

I said, "thank you," and heard my voice break.

He was in the bus doorway when I realized he left his package.

"Wait" I called, lifting the bag.

He turned, pulled down his scarf to flash a smile.

"Keep it,"  he said.  And he was gone.

The bus driver insisted I take the package home - so I did.

The house was dark when I arrived.  My mother was asleep in her living room chair.  At first she didn't believe me when I told her what happened.  But my story was so marvelous that she came to accept it.

We opened the shopping bag and found three packages wrapped with red ribbon and gold paper.

A box of Fanny Farmer white chocolate - a bright red cashmere scarf - and the smallest of the three; a tiny mother-of-pearl music box.

My mother wrapped the scarf around her shoulders and marveled at the large almonds in the white candy.

"Maybe things will work out after all," she said. "Maybe next year will be a better year."

She handed me the music box.  The tune it played was "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas."

As the tune circled our cold little house, it occurred to me; there was one kind man left in my world.  If there was one, there might be others.  If there were others, the world was not an ugly place - and the lyrics of the song are true.

"Next year all our troubles will be miles away."

I treasure the tiny box to this day.  It holds a gold ring from  my husband, an old cameo my mother wore, and the memory of my Christmas miracle.




Thursday, November 27, 2014

A crazy little thing called Holiday Spirit. . . .

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Thanks, but no Thanksgiving for me



Thanksgiving is a holiday without a heart.  A feast without a focus.

Forget the hoopla about "gratitude" for good health, good fortune, good families, good jobs.

Let's get real.

We're together for two reasons;  to watch football and eat turkey.

Too much turkey.

Never eat food with a face.  


"Turkeys have faces. Sweet, sad little faces."
Not at my house, however.

My daughter was only in second grade when her teacher organized a field trip to a local turkey producer.

The experience changed her life.

"Turkeys have faces," she said when she came home.   "Sweet, sad little faces."

She couldn't spell "vegetarian."

But she was one.

Bad mommy.  Bad, bad mommy. 

I was a single mother, and not that good at it.

While other mothers relied on family recipes for turkey dressing, I roasted a bland, milky brown tofurkey, stewed wild rice, baked gluten free pumpkin pie.
I was determined to seduce my daughter into a wild love for Thanksgiving.
No dice.
“I refuse to celebrate the exploitation of Native Americans,” she said. “Why do we participate in a tradition that elevates Euro-Americans over indigenous people?”
Huh?
This is what happens when you push a child to think for herself.

Teach your parents well


According to the Calorie Control Council, the average American will consume more than 4500 calories and 229 grams of fat on Thanksgiving day.
Left to our national traditions of greed and overeating, most of us will gain an additional ten pounds by the close of 2014.

The legacy of mommy guilt


Every parent knows that the old adage is dead wrong.
You can bend the twig — but the tree doesn't care about your soy-based mushroom dressing. The damn twig will grow as it chooses.
Today, my daughter and her husband celebrate their own traditions.
Instead of using the Thanksgiving weekend to overeat, they ski Lutsen, hike the Sawbill, travel to Chicago and catch a show.
My grandchildren are destined to grow up strong, healthy and light — never knowing the sleepy consequences of consuming massive quantities of L-tryptophan and carbohydrates.
I guess that's something to be thankful for.
Maybe I wasn't such a bad mommy after all.