Author: Betsy Rosenblatt Rosso

I had the privilege of serving as a member of the worship team at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington, Virginia for three years. One of my favorite elements of being a worship associate was the opportunity to compose words to open the service--an invitation for people to bring their whole selves to the shared communal experience. An invocation. Because I am moving into a different leadership role at church this fall, I will no longer be helping to lead worship on Sunday mornings. I realized, however, that I would enjoy and benefit from the spiritual discipline of writing invocations every week anyway. I will share them here. I've already posted here words I wrote and shared at UUCA worship services throughout the past three years. My intention is to post something new every week or two. I would love to hear from you about what these invocations invite in your life. Betsy Rosenblatt Rosso September 6, 2018

Bus Stops and Blood Tests

I feel like about half
of my parenting challenges
are deciding when to
say to my children

Sometimes you have to be
tough and
brave and
stick it out
do hard things
be independent
you can do this
you got this

and when to say

It’s ok
you can take it easy
sit this one out
relax
skip this one
don’t worry about it
rest and
you can snuggle with me

There is
no formula
no equation
no guidebook

that tells me
which way to lean

I just have to
figure it out
over and over again
every
single
day

~Betsy Rosenblatt Rosso
August 2019

Arriving at the EconoLodge

Arriving at the EconoLodge slightly shy of midnight despite our moderately good but not well communicated intentions

we find it tucked familiarly between the Days Inn and the Red Roof Inn, shouting distance from the Holiday Inn and the Country Inn & Suites.

A colony of strangers whose existence intersected on Route 29.

Our final 30 miles was fueled by sugar supplied by Scheetz, in the form of chocolate milk and some soft and gooey chocolate thing suggestively offered in the checkout line.

In the gas station bathroom I walked in on a woman in a hot pink tank top who was taking a selfie in the full-length mirror. When I opened the door, she said, “OH!” and ran out as if she’d heard someone calling her name.

We left our house in disarray, which is unacceptable to me before a trip–even a short one–but I had no choice but to accept it. An intruder would be alarmed by the piles of unfolded laundry blanketing the furniture and the dirty dishes stacked in the sink and the section of uprooted floorboards awaiting the handyman’s return and the three unridden bicycles in the front hall. Or perhaps they would feel right at home.

Maybe an archeologist would be intrigued. Or maybe they would just say, “these people seemed to enjoy take-out tacos.”

The Man Who Stole Our TV

One night I let a man in the house
where I was living with a dozen
other students because he said he was a friend
of someone’s and I didn’t know any differently

Then he stole the TV

Twenty-five years later
I still tend to believe everyone is
telling the truth
about who they are

even though I should know better
by now

And when I find out what’s real
I wonder who I am
and why I never learn
because I know I would
open the door again today
and let anyone
take what they wanted

~Betsy Rosenblatt Rosso
July 2019

Crowded Out

No room left in my brain for
completing a task
even a simple one like
editing an article
or making a salad
or sorting out an insurance claim
(ok that’s never simple)

All my constructive, purposeful thoughts
are crowded out, shoved to the side
or hiding under benches
as the what ifs and the worst case scenarios
jockey for position
shouting above the already deafening decibel level

The what ifs and worst cases are bullies
of the worst kind because they are subtle
not resorting to physical violence, but mostly
trafficking in intimidation
knowing the good thoughts will slink away in fear
with a sour taste in their mouths
because of too many hours and days deprived
of fresh air and healthy food
all that’s left to do is sleep
when they aren’t allowed to exercise or
even move about freely

Meanwhile, the what ifs and worst cases gain strength
feeding on scraps of news, looming unanswered questions
and every hour they wait to find out more

~Betsy Rosenblatt Rosso
July 2019

Saltines

Woke up

head heavy and pounding

as if I’d drunk something stronger than seven glasses of ice water

during a heat wave

disoriented and guilty about

sins I committed in my sleep–

stealing the keys to their boat

(and then stealing the boat)

facing the reproachful glare of the father whose children I babysat in 1993

scrambling through snowy woods using dark magic to turn small Ferraris into piles of blue and orange wigs, curly

(don’t ask questions)

Stumbled downstairs eager to

eat the saltines left over from the

video game breakfast of two little boys

“You should try them, Mommy, they’re delicious.”

as if they would calm my nerves like they calmed my stomach when I was a kid

Yet Another Question I Cannot Answer

He asked me in the car,
“What is sand made of?”

And I said I didn’t know.

I said I thought it was just part of the earth,
like dirt, and trees, and mountains.

He asked me if it came out of the ocean
and I said no, I didn’t think so.

He said he thought it was made of
tiny pieces of smashed-up seashells.

Maybe some of the sand is tiny seashells,
I conceded.

“That’s definitely what it is,” he said firmly.

This place seems as good as any to see a ghost

This place seems as good as any to see a ghost
this tantalizing space between vulnerable and safe
the constant creaking of wood
wind shaking the tops of trees
the insistent clank of boats knocking against their moorings
lapping of the dark water on the banks of the invisible canal
distant chorus of frogs
I can see no one 
but I am surrounded by the night

All evening while everyone else was 
playing and eating and swimming and reading bedtime stories
I was plastered to the bed by a migraine
only vaguely aware of anything else
Still more hours lost to pain

And now, while everyone else sleeps
I keep watch from the screened porch
of someone else’s house
who I have never met

Betsy Rosenblatt Rosso
July 2019