Monday, October 08, 2007

Even the fat parts?

The other day in meeting, someone quoted a t-shirt -- "God loves everybody -- no exceptions." Which is a really good concept to keep in mind...lest we fall prey to the seductive belief that "God hates all the same people we do" (to paraphrase Anne Lamott). The person speaking went a few steps further, saying that not only is God in everyone, no exceptions, but that all parts of each of us is God. Not that we are God, but that all of us is God. (I'm not sure this is making sense, but I'll keep going.)

So today I was sitting on my bench (not technically mine, but I like it a lot) and considering this idea -- that all of me is God -- when the thought popped into my head -- "wow, even the fat parts?"

And then I started laughing out loud -- by myself, on my bench -- well, because I thought it was funny. And then, I heard/thought:

"Yes, even the fat parts."

And then I laughed and also got choked up, and I felt good.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

my first pinch pot

pinch pot: roll clay in ball. stick in thumb. pinch sides between thumb and fingers. make pot.

That's the basic idea, anyway. And the assignment this week for my clay class: make seven pinch pots. Show up in the art studio every day. Show up. SHOW UP!

Those are my italics, my bold, my all-caps. Just, you know, working on some issues around the whole showing up thing...

So I'm sitting on the porch behind the art studio, gorgeous day, with my ball of clay. And I know you are going to be completely shocked by this, but the first pinch pot I made wasn't very good.*

Anyway, I got all icky and judgmental about it.

It was good though -- to be able to observe how icky and judgmental I felt. I mean, I've never made a pinch pot before, not that I remember. So legally, technically, it is unreasonable to expect that I'll make a fabulous pinch pot. There have been people making pinch pots for decades -- or even, say, for a week or so -- who might wonder why I think my pinch pot should be so fabulous after only making, um, one.

Anyway, it was good to watch those feelings come up, good to say, "oh, hello, you" and then good to go an lay in a hammock with a small ball of clay and stick pieces of it on my thumb and pinch a few more pots. It was helpful, because when I sit down to do something it's reasonable to expect I'm pretty good at (say, writing), those same feelings come up. Nice to know how unspecific these ugly thoughts are -- how context is almost nothing to the scared kiddo who wants to make art and yet doesn't want to make art, unless she can be certain ahead of time that it will be um, perfect.

Maybe not perfect, but at least pretty good. At least not horribly embarrassing.

And before, when I said I'm "pretty good at (say, writing)," I hope you don't think, I was, you know, bragging.
*I actually am not qualified to say what is and is not a good pinch pot. I may be a pinch pot prodigy. I'll let you know.

more thoughts on work

I like the dishwashing job at Pendle Hill -- there is a good rhythm to it, if you're working with the right person, and you don't have to be too perfect. One person stacks the plates and cups on racks, rinses them with a spray-thingy, and then sends the racks through the washing/sanitizing machine. The second person stands on the other side of the machine and unloads the racks of plates and bowls, and puts away the cups, silverware, etc. The second person also provides quality control -- there are certain seeds and grains, for example, that are fairly persistent in clinging to cereal bowls. (When you work dishes, you start seeing certain sticky foodstuffs -- like oatmeal, for example -- in a whole new way.)

On this particular day, I was working with the right person -- L., who I have experienced in the past as a very helpful and nonjudgmental individual. I was unloading the dishes, and was having trouble fitting all the bowls into the proper sorting area -- there were t00 many to fit. So I just placed some bowls on top of the bread plates, and continued onward.

When I went to roll the dish cart into its place at the head of the buffet line, I realized that there was another slot for bowls. So I moved the bowls to the right place.

Writing this down, it is such a non-story. But I had this huge moment, because I was so glad that L. had just let me figure out where the bowls should go. Now, he might just not have noticed that I had the bowls in the wrong place. He might have noticed, and decided it wasn't a big deal if the bowls were in the wrong place. He might have noticed, and figured that I'd figure it out.

What I noticed is just how relieved I felt that I'd been allowed to find out where the rest of the bowls went. It felt great. There you go, that's where they fit. Look at that. Great. I'll do it!

It's not like if he had said, Dawn, there's more room for bowls on the other side, there, I would have minded. And again, this seems like such a non-story that I feel like I might start over explaining. So I'll stop. Tell me if it makes sense to you.

good morning mary sunshine

Gentle Readers: If you don't know me very well, what you need to know to understand this entry is that I am not so much "a morning person." If you know me at all, you know that my first name, "Dawn," is nothing more than a cruel joke. But maybe not for long!

One of my jobs at Pendle Hill is to take a few shifts running "the Bubble," which is basically the front desk of the kitchen/hospitality area. Two days a week, I work the morning shift, which requires that I show up one-hour before breakfast (6:30 a.m. on weekdays, 7 a.m. on weekends).

This morning was my orientation shift, and I got there early -- I was the first one in the kitchen (gooooo me!). Part of being "the Bubble" (I'm not sure if I am the Bubble, or if I'm working the Bubble) is helping to setup for breakfast. And ringing the morning bell.

So at 7:30 a.m., I walked into the food-storage closet and pulled down the wooden handle that attaches to a thick rope, that attaches to the bell.

I rang the bell about a dozen times; the ringing can be heard across campus. The bell signals that it's time to wake up, at least if you want to eat breakfast. The bell also rings 10 minutes before mealtimes, and I think, before worship.

Let me say that again. I was the one who rang the Pendle Hill wake-up bell.

Though I was in the midst of running around, brewing coffee and washing fruit, I did take a moment to breathe in this amazing fact: not only have I shown up every morning this week for breakfast and morning meeting, not only have I risen to the bell, but I am the bell.

p.s. People who are "keeping silence" can be really cranky when they want their caffiene. Like, I saw you gesture the first time...I can't make it brew any faster...

Thursday, October 04, 2007


Working with a team weeding the asparagus patch yesterday (an asparagus patch! how amazing!) I once again became aware of how important it is to me that the people around me think I'm doing a good job. Not just a good job, but that I am trying my hardest and not acting lazy.

The shame, or more correctly, the fear of shame and judgment, made the first bit of the weeding quite unpleasant, even though the actual weeding was fun, because the grasses were huge and easy to tear out of the ground, and the company was good. I was able to observe my misery, and to notice that I wasn't judging anyone else's performance (being far to busy judging myself). And I thought, well, if I did come out of my self-involved weedy haze long enough to observe how anyone was working, or not working, would I really be inclined to judge? Probably not.

So I did, then, try to just weed and be in the moment with the weeding. And though it was hot and humid, it was a satisfying experience -- both the doing of the work, and seeing a whole piece of ground cleared.

To do a good job is not a bad goal to have, but I think I have to let it go for now. I don't see how it helps my experience here, quite frankly. Perhaps I will try to trust that my best effort in a given moment is enough, and that enough best efforts will sum up a decent life.

I have to acknowledge that I don't know what the edge of good enough feels like. I do know that a fear of not being good enough no longer serves me.

wherever you go...

I did not sign on to my time at Pendle Hill expecting ease. I expected moments of grace, which have certainly appearred. I expected to be challenged; I desire change, a letting go of old, less than helpful patterns. In seeking to be more present, closer to God, I expected some -- lots -- of internal resistance.

In a sad, worn-out way, the behaviors I seek to shed offered their own comfort. And the very real leaving behind of my community of friends and family is its own kind of pain.

It helps to see that being here is an intense, breaking down experience for many of the other resident students. I am not the only one crying, or the only one who is finding it necessary to take long naps. The itching of the poison ivy rash that covers much of my body adds a small element of hysteria to my emotional make-up.

I'm afraid of sounding ungrateful, but I also want to honor the complexity of my experience here at Pendle Hill.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

here's how goes it...

at least with the blog, for the time being. I don't have internet access, as yet, so below are a few posts from the last five days or so at Pendle Hill...

I had only a few minutes to post things, so keep in mind, these are the pieces of the whole, not the whole, even more than usual.

love y'all,

The Poison Ivy Index: October 3


On a scale of one to ten, please rate your current discomfort: 6

Please list the areas of your body that demonstrate the effects of poison ivy:

* behind right ear
* under chin
* on neck, right side
* my left arm (healing)
* the undersides of my right and left arms
* right breast
* belly
* left thigh
* top of left knee
* behind right knee
* behind left knee
* right ankle
Plan of action: Started taking oral steroid today. Warned community to be alert for intense outbursts of rage. Continuing with cream, Benadryl spray, and magic Lavender water (thanks, Mary).