With the COVID-19 shut down, I decided to take home the big bin from the sewing room full of liners labeled, “need to be checked before surging”. I took home the “oops” pile and my seem ripper too. Running the Pittsburgh Chapter of Days for Girls is part of my job as Associate Pastor which makes me the only paid person on our team, so I figured it was better for me to take home the mistakes and fix them than to put that suffering onto a volunteer. The reason for the large “oops” pile; none of us really wanted to tackle it. We had sort of hit seem ripping burn out. I put the rubber maid bin next to my computer and figured I would tackle some of it during zoom meetings as a way to keep my hands busy. It worked. It worked entirely too well.
Today is my “day off” or Sabbath. I’m not sure when the last time I took the entire day off was but let’s say its been a while. Today, I drank coffee and read two chapters of a book and then I thought, I should seem rip. So I did. I lit a candle, took a few deep breaths, searched itunes for “Hildegard” and checked, seem ripped, and pinned liners for a few hours. I stopped for lunch and to run errands with my husband but other than that, I’ve been listening, ripping and communing with the divine feminine. I saw two cardinals fly past my window and decided it was time to write.
I have a strange habit of reading multiple books at once. I picked up “Wild Mercy: Living the Fierce and Tender Wisdom of the Women Mystics” by Mirabai Starr again today. I’m about half way through. I don’t want to read it too fast; it’s too good, like peach Chardonnay (My COVID-19 book list has wine pairings). I’m out of peach Chardonnay so I read it with my morning coffee. Coffee and reading reminds me of my maternal grandmother, I was feeling particularly close to her this morning, that happens sometimes, I don’t know why. The two cardinals flew past again as I typed that. My Dad says cardinals appear when a deceased loved one is visiting; it feels real today.
Anyway, somewhere in what I read today, Mirabai mentioned Hildegard. Even though chant had a resurgence in the 1990s, I didn’t know of Hildegard until I met her in my college music history book. When I taught music, she was a footnote in the curriculum. I took that footnote and made her the main lesson on chant and let the Gregorian men be the footnote. Out in the world today is 5 years worth of Catholic music appreciation students who know her name. I pray they get a chance to rediscover her as I am. Her music has always called to me, but I am learning that she was so much more than a composer of spiritual unmetered chant. I wanted some space to think about her, so I went to my office/sewing room and looked her up on iTunes and started seem ripping.
An hour went by before I knew it, and then the next. I can only describe where I was as my paternal grandmother’s sewing room. She died when I was little and I only have a few memories of her, most of them in her earthly sewing room. When she died, my mom would help me make up stories about what her sewing room in heaven is like. In her heavenly sewing room, you don’t have to wear shoes or worry about stepping on a pin. Pins turn into soft clouds when she drops them. That was my favorite part. I remember my mom telling me that Grandma didn’t have to seem rip in heaven either, not unless she wanted to, because sometimes she liked it. I didn’t understand that as a kid so its one of those very sticky memories that keeps coming back. I think about her when I seem rip now, and somehow today, it felt like she was with me, I don’t know why. Sometimes when I’m connecting with God other spirits come too, I don’t know how or why, but I can sort them out by what I call feelings. I need a better word because its not the same as feelings like emotions, although they are sort of connected. Spirituality is weird but sometimes it makes sense. Two cardinals; two grandmas.
My other strong memory of my maternal grandmother is when the Felician Sisters came to visit her while she was dying. I had picked flowers or weeded depending on what you consider a flower and gathered them into a bowl to bring to my grandma. Someone may have noticed that I had also pulled a few blossoms of the tree I was already told not too, but the sisters paid no notice. It is my first memory of seeing a sister I don’t remember her face only her clothes. She looked at the flowers and me and looked at my grandmother and told her she was blessed. I thought she was crazy, my grandma was dying, how is that a blessing? Holy women are so mysterious. Another sticky memory. Fast forward twenty years and I am the music teacher at the High School the Felician Sisters founded and the principal who interviewed me for the job knew my grandmother.
I was raised Presbyterian but haunted by Catholic spirituality. For a long time, I believed I could only be one type of Christian. But I’ve been repenting of that for the better part of a decade. I still choose to be Presbyterian every day. Most of what keeps me PCUSA is my love of committees. Seriously, I love discerning with a group and hearing all of the voices and opinions and moving together as a team. I love some of the more subtle things too, like the emphasis on education, the empowerment of women, the affirming of LGBTQ+, and the encouragement to be ecumenical. The encouragement to be ecumenical has recently lead me to be more involved with mult-faith networks. Which has given me what Barbara Brown Taylor would call Holy Envy. And it has made me long for the Divine Feminine as described by the women mystics in a variety of faith traditions. I have no idea what that means exactly, but it has something to do with the Holy Spirit, seem ripping, grandmothers, and cardinals.