Seeking Intimacy

Apparently, Little Mary and I have some of the same goals. She is trying to be more intimate. I refuse to have a roommate -- but I have the same goal. I have been taking risks with what I share with church people and even friends about my own personal life. I've been thinking about this since my colleague often preaches about his family life. Lots of preachers do this. I don't. I don't know why. I'm not sure I'm ready to do that in the pulpit. But, there are certainly small moments I can share things with the people I serve -- like admitting that I'm having a bad day or saying that something bugged me (because it did).

At out Pastor Parish Relations Committee meeting, the committee teased me for how I begin worship. I stole something I really liked from Rev. Ez who invited the community to begin by finding their breath. So, I do this every week. I paused to pray before the meeting began -- and the whole group started exaggerating their breath. I laughed. It was rather wonderful.

This idea of intimacy is particularly interesting given my thoughts about preaching next week on Genesis 12:1-9. To me, this is a story not only about beginnings -- but how we create family. I read this text and instantly thought about what is happening in California and that article that appeared in the New York Times Magazine a few weeks ago. So, I'm thinking about preaching about marriage -- which has become a bad word in my mind.

However, to do this, I have to talk about my own stuff. I will talk about my strange family and how that forms my understanding of marriage. That's not so intimate to me. The part that will be hard not to prevent from creeping into the sermon is my own forlorn anxiety that I will never get to have that family I celebrate in the union of others. This has no business if my sermon. It shouldn't be there. It won't be there. But, it will be hard. I think I will do it anyhow, but it will be hard.


Never Gonna Get It

Yesterday I hiked over this little town with a friend. This is a friend that did the Peace Corps. She is incredibly talented and intelligent -- and rooted in Maine. We agreed we could both never live in this little town. That's it. That's the whole town. There isn't even a local store to pick up milk. It's been converted to an antique shop. My hiking said she could live there if she knew there was a definite end. This is how she survived the Peace Corps. It was only 2 years. I have heard this from other Peace Corps friends. And then, she stopped and turned around to face me. "Is that what you think of Portland?"

My answer didn't satisfy her. It wasn't exactly what I had thought of my time here -- but I don't see this as forever. I don't know that there will ever be a place where I settle forever as clergy. (Do we do that?)

While I was running today and thinking about this conversation, I remembered something that Sara Miles had written. She talked about Ezekiel's story and that strange command to eat the scroll. This is how I feel sometimes. I want to eat God's words. Not only in a feast. I want to dig into text. I want to swim into it. I want to be lost in it. But, I also want to eat my own words. I want to swallow my own pride and surrender to the fact that this is (actually) in God's hands. Not mine. And so, I turn to the Book of Ezekiel.


Reading Challenge X

I just finished the book that is the hot topic of conversation for the Rev Gal Pals.

Sara Miles' Take this Bread is a quick read and indulgent story about conversion. It's indulgent because she manages to write in a way that invites the reader to wonder about their own journey of faith. Ok, maybe that's just me.

Miles tells a story about her call to justice that is as simple as feeding the hungry. And in doing so, she invites us all to wonder about our own calling to meet others in their hunger. Whether or not you are called to ordained ministry or even call yourself a Christian, this is a great story about what it means to be with people in those hungry places.

Happy Email

My dear friend Kweerspirit sent an email today. His email was simple -- and it said in that simple tone:

Two years ago today, we became UTS grads...
isn't that fabulous.
I miss those hallowed halls; and I miss you.

I miss him and many others. I can't believe it has been two years that we have been apart. We have done so much. We have seen so much. We have lived into our calls in true and profound ways. It is truly divine.



Tribal Church wrote about mentors yesterday. She names something about young clergy that I think is true -- and I fall into a very particular camp. I don't want a mentor. I have had them. They were all wonderful but somewhere during my discernment and call, they became peers. I won't call them my mentors. They are Tim and Melanie. I call them as friends as much as I call them to beg "Uh, I haven't a clue here. Help."

This morning, I read The Ones We Love. Kate names her mother as her mentor which is so poignant and powerful. Lovely -- except that I'm a motherless daughter. I hate the liturgical celebration of Mother's Day. It is one of those days that I feel like an outsider. No matter what. I call my wonderful stepmother and can celebrate her -- but I still feel left out because I missed exactly what Kate names in her article in Fidelia's Sisters. I did have my stepmother. She filled this role. But, somehow, it's not the same. I think this may be why I resist mentors.

This is an "AHA!" moment for me. Now, I shall go to work.


Excuse Me.

I've struggled to point to examples of why my relationship with my colleague isn't ideal. In some ways, I am blessed that I can't conjure up a list upon request. I cannot cite all of the wrongs. I can only share that these moments hurt. The emotional impact lingers more than the details of the would-be crime.

But, here I am on my colleague's day off working on the church newsletter and wondering about the summer. I learned yesterday that there was a woman near death. She's not a member. She's beloved by one of our members. He wanted to know if he or I would do the service. Of course. The call came today. She died last night. The funeral home called my colleague at home and he agreed that one of us would do it. My colleague then called me and asked me to do it for a particular time on Saturday.

I was in Bible Study when he left the message. I had gotten a similar message last week, which I consider to be rude. I know that people die and these events interrupt our lives as clergy. We are called to be there. I'm ususally happy to be there -- but not when I don't get the first call. Not when I don't get to talk to the funeral home or the family to agree on a time. Not when it's dictated to me when and where I should offer the blessings of God. It just rubs the wrong way. Tell me I'm overreacting, if you must. Tell me that's what I'm called to do. I know. I just want to feel like I'm actually part of a team rather than waiting in the wings for someone that doesn't want to go on stage. You can also tell me that was a bad metaphor for what we do. This isn't a stage -- but I'm feeling dramatic.



Instead of writing my Statement on Ministry, I could daydream.

Instead of getting it in gear and applying to that job that sounds kinda nice, I could re-write my job description.

Instead of insisting that I'm restless, I could involve my colleague in a conversation about what it would mean to shift the entire staff dynamic at the church.

Instead of change, I could be like every elder member of the church. I shall insist that I'm not ready and change their world instead.

The Grandmother's Bicycle

Over the weekend, I bought a bicycle. I've never owned a bicycle that I didn't acquire after someone else outgrew it or it was discovered a the used bike shop. This is a big deal for me. It's one of those strange moments that I spend a lot of money on sports equipment and feel more like a Mainer (which I will never really be).

I went on a long, long bike ride on Sunday through the neighborhoods I serve. If I actually knew where everyone lived in our 800 member church, I could have waved -- but I still don't know where most people live. I just enjoyed the sights and the grind of my muscles trying to remember how to move again. I felt like a grandmother on a bicycle.

My father used to quip about grandmother's bicycles. He had an uncanny ability to find them for everyone in the family. We never needed it -- but he was pleased as punch that he got it for us. It was around then that he taught us this term -- the grandmother's bicycle. And shortly after, we corrected him and these bad gifts no longer appeared. There was something kinda loving about them. My father has somehow gotten really, really good at gift giving since the days of the grandmother's bicycle. I admit that I miss them.

Yesterday, I greeted one of our more dower grandmothers. She lost her husband only a few weeks ago. He died the same week that my grandfather died. I gave her a huge before worship began and wished her 'Happy Mothers Day.' She embraced me warmly. I don't know what I said then but I remember what she said. She said to me: "We need you here." I was so confused. I didn't know what prompted this comment and I wondered where it came from. It wasn't a grandmother's bicycle. It was just the opposite. And yet, I'm still confused.



The Polar Bear is wearing a discounted item from a certain store she found while shopping. I'm impressed that she found this item for $13.99. If it were not for the spread, I might rush to the store too. Instead, I'm about to make a bean layer dip and drink margaritas. We'll call that dinner. That might explain things.

And while I go, I've got this Catie Curtis song stuck in my head. It's the last verse that is actually repeating in my mind.

And when you go to California
They want to know why you'd live back East
When the weather there is cold and the people there are cold
I say the people are why I'll never leave

I can't decide if it's the people that will make me stay. I'm trying to figure that out.


Reading Challenge IX

While in the middle of my amazing writing class that has me soaring into the wonder of words, I decided that I would spend my Sabbath with the words of another -- instead of my own. I mean, I have some brilliant things happening in my writing (thanks to the surreal job that I have) but I really needed to get lost in someone else's story.

So I finished God is Dead by Ron Currie Jr. Currie is a local writer which is kinda fun for me (but maybe not for you). I admit that this was one of those books that ends and you turn the page wondering how it could have ended there. I mean, the concept is enough to get you thinking. God manifests Godself in a refugee woman in Darfur -- and dies. Sets your mind running, doesn't it?

I started this book in the bar where I often have dinner. The bartender is wonderful and the clientele will probably appear somewhere in my novel. The woman that was seated next to me asked about the image on the cover (won't tell) and then insisted that this was some kind of heresy. I was befuddled. She knew my vocation. She's a little strange, but ... um, God's revelation on Earth did die in Christianity. We're still acting out the story, right? So, this is an interesting telling of that story (and there is even a resurrection). I actually wonder how this story can be so Christian while trying not to be. Anyhow, I would love to talk about this so please read it.