Sunday, September 25, 2011

To Die...and Perchance, To Live

It's hard to let a thing die...especially when that something is the product of your hands, your heart, a product of you. This perfectionist wants to just make it better, do it over, fix it. But there is a time when you stand at a crossroads and imagine the knock-off version of the thing that would come from fixing it or the truly authentic yet hard and start from nothing (again) process that comes with letting the first thing go and starting the new. Whatever the thing is, I am sure you have stood at this place I am standing, and probably with much greater, more profound somethings than mine. What I am dreaming of is a new voice, a new space to write and to fill with words and life. What I must let die is this space, this season of writing, this blog. It served its purpose, but I am on to something new, I think, I hope, I dream. I am grateful for the readers who have popped by for a visit and glad to have shared this space for a while.

Thanks for sharing this time with me, and all the best to you on your journey.

Rev. Mommy aka Pastor Robin

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

An Unusual Discipline

When I was preparing for Ash Wednesday, I came across an article "Seize the Day: Reimagining Ash Wednesday" by Bruce Epperly.
In the article, Epperly invites the reader to observe Lent as a time of living in each moment. I interpreted this for my own life and work a little more specifically: finding the joy in each moment. For many years, I have practiced the discipline of fasting during Lent--giving up a food or behavior or activity. Theologically, I had interpreted Lent as a time that would be hard and dreary and not fun. That was the point. Getting to Holy Week should not be a pleasant experience. A couple of years ago, a church member confessed to me, "I just love Lent. It is my favorite time." And I thought she was: A. nuts B. brown-nosing C. one of those people who gets pleasure from self-denial. Because Lent just isn't fun.
Well, I can say that this year's observance of Lent has not been fun, but it has been filled with good things. And an unusual discipline. Finding the joy in each moment. This has been a good and fitting discipline for me to search for green poking through the barren limbs of this season.
At the more than halfway point, I must say that it has been an experience of God unlike any other. It has been a good Lent. It has been a holy Lent.
I have engaged in aspects of my work that I typically avoid and dislike--because they make this introvert uncomfortable-- on a more regular basis--and I have found joy here .
I have used my hands to create something--another task I avoid for fear that spending this time doing this is frivolous. I have found satisfaction here .
I have reorganized parts of my life--a task I avoid because it all feels overwhelming--and I have found peace here.
I have purged my living and working spaces of the excess--a task I avoid because having the stuff and clutter around me feels less vulnerable--and I have found contentment here.
Seizing the Day, and loving Lent.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Feeding and Being Fed

When I was nursing littlest baby girl, I was having trouble producing enough food to supply her hungry little demands. So, I went into research fiend mode and found every scrap of info I could on how to solve this problem and fill my little one's belly. The most helpful piece of advice I found was to take a "nursing vacation." Basically, I needed to stay at home for an entire weekend, lose the distractions, and focus on feeding baby girl as much as possible. The more she ate, they said, the more she would want, and my body would respond accordingly. Well, I do focus on that, I thought. Hello, that's why I am doing so much research--because of my focus on feeding her. But, I wasn't tuning out all of the distractions. I wasn't setting aside extra time when she wasn't crying and upset and well past "hungry."
I am unapologetic about my hiatus from blogging recently. Because, my cyber friends, I have been taking a nursing vacation. Not in the literal sense, but rather, in the spiritual sense. I have been getting away from some distractions in my relationship with God. I was well past hungry. And I was waiting far too long to get my nourishment. And as the baby literature promised, the more I fed on God, the more I wanted to spend time with him. Here's to more regular blogging...and with a full heart.
"That you may nurse and be satisfied
from her consoling breast;
that you may drink deeply with delight
from her glorious bosom." Isaiah 66:11

Monday, September 27, 2010

Procrastinating the Project

There's a story in the bible that makes me uncomfortable, though it's not the only one to do that. This particular story is that of Jacob wrestling with an angel, presumed to be God. That story makes me uncomfortable because it makes me think of all the times I have wrestled with God in my life, and to be honest, it creates this feeling of panic for the time that I will surely wrestle with God...and lose...not that that hasn't happened already. What I mean is that it creates in me this intense anxiety of God wrapping me in a full nelson, much like my older brothers used to practice on me, and getting me to cry "mercy" before doing what God is trying to coerce me to do. I don't think it really happens like that--the wrestling with God bit. I really don't. And my reading of Jacob's experience reinforces that it doesn't happen like that, but still, I can't let go of that eensy weensy suspicion that in my case it all might go down with a 10 second count. God 1. Me 0. Total Knockout. I realize I may be mixing sport lingo here, so to my one male reader (aka hubby): forgive me. Reluctant Pilgrim says that this passage might really be about wrestling with love. (
I'm saying all of this to really say that I've been wrestling with love on something--procrastinating out of anxiety and a host of other reasons and issues. A book. Okay, that's a big aim. The project I have finally agreed to begin is most likely not going to be a publishable work, but nevertheless, it is my dream to be a published writer. For so long, I have had this dream, but it has been more of a I wanna be a writer though I really don't know about what I would write kind of dream. I have no ideas.
I can remember being about 13 and asking my dad how to get started on a book. He said, "Well, you write what's called a synopsis, a summary of what your book is going to be about, and you send that to the publisher." So there I was in my teenage ambition with my purple feather-boa-tipped pen and my 3 pieces of torn out notebook paper, "Synopsis" scrawled across the top. And I had nothing to say.
Years later, I mentioned to a friend of mine, in passing, in one random conversation that I can't even recall now, that perhaps I would like to write a book.
A few weeks ago over lunch, her first question to me, "So how is your book coming?" "What book?" I asked, looking at her as if she had four heads.
"The book you said you would write. How is it coming?"
"Oh that," I said, even though I knew exactly what she was talking about. "I haven't started it yet. I don't have anything to write about."
"Why not write your story? You know sort-of like Richard Lischer's Open Secrets? A story about you and your journey. I can totally see you doing that."
"Who would want to read my story? It's not that interesting."
And then it occurred to me that I should tell my story, and not for other people, for me.
Not too long after that lunch came a breakfast with a church member who asked me about my writing. She occasionally reads this blog, and she said she'd like to read more of something from a book. And I said to her, "It's my dream to write a book. But I'm not sure I have anything to write about."
The following Sunday at church, she handed me a copy of the movie, Julie and Julia. A woman who writes about her life. And not only that...she takes on a project--something she does for herself.
I could do that, I thought. I could take on the project of telling me story...for me. Not because anyone will read it. But because it could mean something to me. And it would get me writing.
A few months ago, I met my heroine in writing, Lauren Winner. I love Lauren Winner. Her witty, insightful, and profound works make me wish I could be her for a day. So, when she came to speak at the conference I was attending, I was beyond thrilled. Imagine my surprise to hear her talk about all the people who had written to her saying that they wanted to be writers and were looking for her advice. Drat. I thought that was just my idea. Well, I was actually going to make an appointment and meet with her in person. But I can't believe all these other people had the same idea. So, she said in her lecture, that those of us who really want to write should just get started writing. Just do it. Write. But not for a book or magazine. Not to get published. But write. For writing's sake.
So, here goes. I'm starting the project. For me. For writing's sake. From time to time, I might post some things on here, but mostly, it will just be between me and my laptop and Jacob's God and love. Wish me luck, or love, or something like that.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

"Young Lady"

"Young lady," he said, and I knew immediately where this conversation was going to go. I have had this conversation before. I waited for the first in the series of veiled insults (in the form of questions and snide remarks), and I didn't have to wait long.
"I hear you're a woman . . . of the cloth (that last word he whispered as if ashamed to say it in the same sentence with "woman."
I thought about bolting at that moment, not wanting to have this predictable dialogue again, but instead, something like God whispered to me, "stay." "Yes, you could say that I am a woman of the cloth" I said.
"Well, I don't see how that's possible seeing as you're clearly only about 19. You must have just decided to take up preaching and made yourself a minister, because there's no way you've been to seminary....And who's your District Superintendent? Ah, that's a girl, too....You got a husband? Is he any good? The only good preacher is the one who has a pretty wife who blends in with the congregation, sings in the choir, plays the piano, you know, makes the preacher better....You're so young, you probably got about 50 more years before you retire, right?....Oh, you went to THAT seminary--ain't nothing but a bunch of liberals down there....stupid liberals who want us to help the poor, but the poor just want my money--they're deadbeats. You don't want any more cake? What's a matter--afraid of losing your figure? You the only preacher at that church? So, you preach every week? By yourself? You ever need a week off--call me and I'll come preach."
I've had this conversation before, but in the past, my responses would be tentative, brief, and above all--polite. I wouldn't make the other feel uncomfortable. Basically, I would take all the shots, and then say, "Nice talking to you."
But not this time. That voice inside me that whispered, "stay" powered my too often silenced self, and something different happened this time. I responded. As me. Without being defensive. Just calmly, and confidently, I let him know that I knew his game, and I wasn't going to sit quietly as little young lady. Dare I say it, I even (*gasp*) evangelized a little when he began taking pot shots at the poor and preaching his prosperity gospel.
I can't believe I am saying this, but I am glad for this conversation. Because the real me finally opened her mouth--the me that is called, affirmed, loved, and empowered to be who I am made to be--a pastor. An unapologetically young and female pastor.
"Let's just go ahead and be what we were made to be."--Paul, the former Christian-hating Jew who followed Jesus

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Eat, Pray, Love

That's the new movie out, and it's the latest on Oprah's and New York Times' lists. I read it before it was the thing to read. I remember being in the store and being drawn in by the title. Simple, I thought. I like to eat. Praying's my business. And romance is the third charm. I loved the book. I loved the idea of the journey. Lately, it has occurred to me, though, that life isn't finding the right journey--it's more about life being the culmination of detours on the way of the journey, which all add up, in the end, to a life well-lived. In the 2nd year of my "next 30 years," I realize that in the last decade or so, I have spent way too much time stressing about finding the right journey, or the right stops along the way of the journey. Like those I hold dear in my heart, I have developed habits and patterns of living that strive to create an ordered world around me--a predictable place that I can control. This has brought me nothing but stress and frustration since you probably already learned at a much earlier age than I that life cannot be measured or controlled or ordered--if it is to meaningful and lovely, that is. So, I'm trying to learn to love life in a different way these days. I am looking for beauty in non-obvious places. I am finding contentment in the plentiful chaos of everyday. And I am discovering that this non-ordered, messy world is, in fact, as the Creator said, GOOD.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Do Over

Have you ever found yourself wondering what life would be like if...? Have you ever wanted a new life? I posed that question to the hubby recently and quickly had to clarify what I meant. First, I wasn't suicidal...wondering about offing this life. Second, I wasn't contemplating leaving him or the children. The new life would absolutely include them. What I was dreaming of was a new place, a new setting in which to live the life we already have. I know it might not make much sense, but when you are a dreamer, like I am, you dream of going places and doing things that are exciting and fresh and new. Staying in the same place is comfortable, but it gets old. A blog I follow talked about the lure of looking for life somewhere else. She has some great thoughts on Eat, Pray, Love, too. That's why I wonder and wander around asking myself...what would I do if...? What would life be like in Seattle? What would life be like if instead of being a preacher I were the owner of a small bookshop in England (it's very Nottinghill of me, I note)? Why am I constantly looking for do-over? I'm not sure, but I think I like it because it helps me escape a little from reality and reminds me to never stop dreaming...because though I am content with the present state and place of my life...someday one of those dreams just might be my reality.