Friday, September 20, 2013

Friday Five: If it Ain't Broke....

Martha is bemoaning the loss of a favorite app format in the new iOS 7 update, and asks, in this F5 a reflection on things that need no improvement. This little reflection comes at a good time.  I have already been in one of those spaces where life puts your sometimes. You know, where things happen that make you stop and take a deep breath? A little stunned by the absolute fragility of it all, by just how quickly it all can turn, by how good my life is, by how little I take time to notice and be grateful...yeah all that this week.

So, what needs no fixing?
My beloved husband and all that comes with the gift of the marriage I never dare dream of, and was and is pure gift and blessing. Every day.

A career that feeds me. Yes I grouse about it. The execution in the current job is not perfect. What is? But I get to do something vocationally that matters, that I seem to be good at and that offers us enough income that Rick can go to school to create a future that he, too, will enjoy.

My sweet new car. No fixes for a LOOONG time!

Praise God, I seem to not need fixing, physically at this time.

Really, when I stop and think about it....there is nothing, right here, right now in my life that is broke that needs fixing. So perhaps I ought to get my attention back on the broken places elsewhere, where I might be of some use.








Saturday, July 06, 2013

To Cruise or Not to Cruise

I am really not a very decisive person. Ask my husband. Ask my friends. Ask the voice of waver and waffle that wakes me in the night and makes the butterflies in my stomach do the macarena. And in the last few years, there have been WAY too many of those little buggers for this decision-averse person.  Decisions of significance such as "Shall we stay or shall we go?" That one has been asked and answered more than a few times since the big one that brought us across the state from life as we knew it, and has led to other ones like..."keep the job that seemed like fit but after a year is clearly not, or take a chance on something that might be better?" Move house (again) as this town is so clearly not a fit and we seem to be always going somewhere else for pretty much everything of significance?" Yes, no, yes, no....decisions, decisions, decisions! We made them, well some of them, anyway, and they seem to be working out. We are settled in a new place, finding community at church and discovering places and things that "work" for fun and the practical stuff of daily life. The job stuff is still kind of hanging, but I am trying to be patient (which is right up there with "decisive" as "things Kate is not so good at") and see if I can find what is good there, at least for a time.

So, having said all that, I'm looking at my flyer and thinking about a BE. The deadline is approaching FAST. Who knows, maybe it's already too late. I haven't checked, perhaps it's full and this is a moot point. It's a funny thing, me and this cruise.  Ever since the first one, I have yet to sign on early in the game.  Sometimes it's been deliberate, as now, but mostly it's been due to life and its uncertainties making me unsure if I can go. This time, though, it seems to be simply about not being able to decide. The last cruise was hard for me in some ways. I did not enjoy the motion of the ocean! It was a little more than I was comfortable with, and the fact that our cabin window leaked some of those waves right in on my bed didn't ramp up my comfort level much. Not functioning as clergy in any significant fashion also had something to do with my feeling a little meh, too, I think. Being with people who were doing what I often long to, and am pretty sure for all sorts of complicated reasons, don't believe I will be, is hard and sad, and stirs up the grief that most of the time I keep neatly tucked away.

So I haven't sent in my form and my deposit. And I don't have a cabin mate. Some friends are already bunked in with other folks, some are not going this year. A new local clergy friend who is thinking about going would only want a single cabin. So I don't even have the "slumber party factor" as motivation at this point.

It feels sort of weird to be blogging this back-to-back with the "Galship" post about the amazing and wonderful connections of BE 1. But, as all experiences are, that was its own moment, never to come again. And to say I do or don't want to go on the next cruise has less to do with prior experiences than just where I am today in this place in my life personally and professionally. But tick, tick, tick. Must. Decide. And I HATE making decisions! 

Friday, July 05, 2013

Thoughts on Galship (on ship and off)

Once upon an April, long, long ago (or so it feels from five plus years and much life later), there was a boat, and on the boat there were some very special people. That is how a very important chapter in the story of my galship life begins.  I had come to blogging and RevGals by way of Celeste (at that time known to all only as C) who was one of my Soul Sisters and life savers in small town ministry. Ordained less than a year at the time, I was struggling to figure it all out, to balance my bivocational life as a priest and therapist in a small town. C suggested that this "blogring" she encountered might be something I'd enjoy.  The first time I read it, I have to admit being a bit scandalized. It was FoH weekend, and the remnant was going on during the Preacher Party about pedis and drinks from handsome hunks. I was still rather in the flush of righteous prigishness that seemed to accompany my ordination (gotten over it nicely, thanks), and I thought y'all were just a tad unseemly for clergy women). Fortunately I got over myself and stayed on! I blogged my three months and was so excited when I, too could qualify to belong to the ring!

I'd been part of RevGals for about a year when my relationship, which had been floundering for a long while began its final descent, and was doing so in the full view of our congregation and community.It was during one of those dark days when one morning, as I sat blogging at my desk before work, that  little sidebar caught my eye. I sighed. The BE 1. How lovely it would be to join them, I thought. To take a cruise with these lovely women whom I had come to know over the last year or so; who had already been so sweet and supportive, so wise and funny. But, no, I thought. It was happening practically tomorrow! It would cost too much. It was not practical, I did not deserve it, I did not have it arranged....blah, blah, blah.  But suddenly, some small voice in my head spoke out loud and clear and said, YOU NEED TO GO ON THIS TRIP! YOU CAN MAKE IT HAPPEN! Huh? Wha? It was almost as if God had just interrupted the usual programming. And fo a change I listened up.  The next thing I knew I was e-mailing Martha, checking flights, talking to my boss (begging a bit) and  tentatively arranging for a sitter for Maggie - just in case it worked out. And as these things go sometimes, it did. Someone had just cancelled, there was a space at this last moment on the cruise, the flights were reasonable, the dog could be managed, and my lovely boss said, yes, she thought maybe I needed a break. So before I could change my mind, I was on my way to NOLA.

Then of course,I was fraught with anxiety! Would they like me? Could I STAND being out there in that vast ocean with water on all sides and below? Would I get seasick and disgrace myself? Could I manage sharing a room with a stranger? And most of all, could I be real....really, really, really real?  Tell the whole truth?  Tell my honest  story and find acceptance from these women? The answer to all of my anxious questions was yes! They did and I could and did! Not only acceptance but warmth and love. Resonance. They got it.  They got me. And responded with laughter. Tears. Hugs. A quiet conversation...."You know, I wanted to make sure to tell you...." "Kate, just so you know, you are not the only one who...." "Yes, there was a time when I, too...."

I came back to the stuff I left. It was still there, it was still hard. We ended the relationship. It was public. It was painful. And after that there was the potentially career-ending charge against my practice (spurious though it was) that put me through another year and a half of hell, known on the blog as the "falling shoes." And there was the grace and love and pain that was my ministry with L, now MIA from my life.  And of course there was the meeting and falling in love with my sweet Rick, shared with Revgals via blog, and by some, IRL on the Great Honeymoon Roadtrip meetup! More recently, though less blogged, have been the seemingly unending transitions of location and job, as well as adjusting to not being in a regular church ministry presently (or knowing if that is ever going to be part of my future).

And through all of it I was prayed for and supported, sent hugs and encouragement. The comments, e-mails, phone calls, texts, and now and then IRL meet-ups have been and continue to be such blessing in my life.

So that, in a nutshell is the Galship bond for me. People who have been there in the good times and bad times. A blessing and answer to prayer. People who make God and God's love real and tangible.


Friday, May 24, 2013

Friday Five: Dogs or Cats or What?

1. Are you a DOG or a CAT person? Or OTHER?
As in most things I would have to say that in this, too, I am a both/and.  In the past I have been a keeper of cats.  At some points there were many cats, even too many cats when the fostering life got a little out of hand, and there was a "number that could not be named." But eventually the cats went on to new homes and off to be with Jesus until there was only my Bridget cat. When she was gone, I officially became a dog-only person.  My sweet husband has pet allergies, and while he is allergic to all of them, the cats set him off worse than the dog, and so we compromise.

2. Who were the pets of your childhood and what were they like?
My mother was not a lover of pets. But being a child, I begged and begged, and being a mom, she eventually gave in, to a point.  I got a little bowl of goldfish.  Sadly, they did not live very long. One died of unknown causes and was found very soon in his life with us floating belly up in the bowl.  The second one did the fish leap out of the bowl, slid across the kitchen floor and under the stove where he even could not be reached for a decent burial at sea.

3. What pets do you have now?
We are still the proud parents of Maggie the Peke, contemplative Episcopuppy.  

4. Have you ever had any unusual pets in your household or visit your home?
Only if you count the one eyed, tailless, three-legged cat whom we sat for now and again in our former home.  He had the bad fortune of having a close encounter with a car fanbelt, but the good fortune to have it happen where someone cared enough to save him and give him a good home.

5. What have you learned from your pets? Give one recent example, if possible.
We used to foster some pretty abused and beat up little critters that life  (and humans)had not treated very well. And yet, with time, patience and gentleness, almost all of them would come around to trust again at least at some level. It seemed as if they were willing to give a second chance to these big and powerful creatures who had been so hurtful, to try again for love. Not a bad plan, maybe?

BONUS: Pictures or anything else related to animals you love.
Top: The Late and Lovely Bridget Cat and Below: The very much alive Maggie the Peke

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Who Am I?

Ever since I was ordained, I have happily claimed my status as the Reverend Dr. Kate, a happily bivocational person, who, at least in a previous life balanced the two hats of priest and psychologist in some sort of equilibrium.  I had a church life and a day job life and the two intersected at times. Mostly that was good thing, at times it was challenging, but it was all part of a whole that made a life I realize in retrospect that I simply took for granted, and assumed would just always be part of my reality.

Well, life moves forward and times change, and the transitions and shifts of the last two years have shown me that my assumptions and "taken for gran teds" just ain't necessarily so When we first moved back I had "just assumed" that of course it would all work out.  Kind of like true love....there would be a church with a Kate-sized need and we would find each other and live happily ever after. And for a while it looked like that might be happening.  There was a short assisting gig that never quite got off the ground. And then there was another plan that sounded promising enough for a relocation to a town down the road. We "met and dated" for a while, but somehow I guess the spark was just not there. The little frission of interest fizzled, we stopped seeing one another. I moved on.

So today, my "professional" church life and my day job life are, for the most part, non-intersecting. Rev. Kate and Dr. Kate do not travel in the same circles at all. Sometimes that leaves me feeling a little dis-integrated, a little sad. Clergywise, I am doing some supply and some writing. I am seeing a spiritual director and trying to discern if there is something else I might/could/should do now in that realm. We are part of a lovely congregation where we are feeling more and more at home.  The rector is welcoming and inclusive and I know if I came up with something I thought I might want to do there, she would very likely be open and encouraging.

I am also trying to consciously vision my day job as ministry. To see this as my little altar in the world where the congregation comes and sits before me in the chairs in my office and I am given the chance to bring into their lives the compassion of God's healing love.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Remembering Who You Are


This is a blog post from Ash Wednesday 2008. As we come around once more to Lent, I am remembering again the power of that night....

I had the privilege of being the one to "impose" the ashes as the prayer book says. I had to go look the word impose up to see if there was something I was missing here, but all the definitions had the same sense of the word that I am familiar with, that of bringing something on someone with force or at the very least authority, pushing it at them. I did not feel that! I felt instead that I was giving them a splendid gift. The opportunity to remember by word and symbol the fragile and brief nature of this earthly life. How precious it and we are before God. And how God holds us in that life...and that we can indeed trust God to do that.

As I spoke each person's name and said those sacred, sacred words, "remember that you are dust and to dust you will return," I kept thinking about something that was said in our prayer workshop on Sunday, that essentially the "dust" that we are is the stuff of the universe, the same matter as supernovas and stars, glaciers and canyons, the very ground we stand on and air we breathe...the stuff, could it be....of God? "

Remember that you are of God, and to God you will return." It was all I could do to hold back the tears as I looked into each face in this wonderful quirky bunch and traced on their heads a cross of ash to carry with them into the night as a reminder of how very much they are loved.

Monday, December 10, 2012

A Little more Advent


 My reflection on Luke 3:1-6 cross posted from Feminist Theology in an Age of Fear and Hope
Even more than usual, the themes of Advent are striking a particular resonance with me this year. This time of waiting, of the in-between and the “not-yet” has become very familiar. The wilderness too, that wild and unfamiliar place that takes us to our edges and, if we let it, to places of transformation and new beginnings, has started to map its landscape onto my heart.

John’s familiar message strikes a ringing chord as well. While it’s true, as always, that I cannot hear the passage from Isaiah without hearing Handel’s beautiful melody … “Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God, every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill made low, the crooked straight, and the rough places plain,” this year I am hearing the words themselves anew, with sharp and clear images about just how much difference we are talking about in this altered landscape, as well as the amount of effort, movement and, yes, probably pain, would be involved in such change.

I’ve been watching the building of a new bridge in my town. It started a few years before we moved here and it won’t be all done until December of 2014. It has involved the moving of tons of earth, the removal of buildings, the rerouting of lanes of traffic, and actual changes in where roads come and go. Places that were once flat are now sloped and places that were steeper have been graded down. Men spend days just grinding on pieces of cement to make them smooth and precise so that things will fit together in just the way they need to for safety and endurance on the new structure. When the new bridge is all done, the old one, which has been a staple of the town landscape for almost a century, will be demolished, and a new pathway with four wide, smooth lanes of traffic will take us back and forth across the river. The bridge builders are very proud of the fact that there have been no fatalities during the very daunting task of constructing this bridge, but certainly there have been people injured, and there have been accidents as drivers have not adapted to the changes caused by the construction. Traffic has been slow and congested at times and it’s been difficult, irritating, and a general source of frustration for many people for several years as we wait for a new bridge to come.

Personally, too, in the last few years, there have been a lot of changes in the landscape of my life. Since 2010, there has been a wedding, with its combining of households, two more complete moves of house and town, the ends and beginnings between my husband and I of six jobs, and a return to school for him, the aborted attempt to sell a house, and recently the re-start of that effort, the beginning and premature end of a CPE program, a small stint in a parish begun in hope that did not work out, and one that seemed to have much promise that never even got off the ground. Of late, there have been some of those “close calls” with medical tests. You know the ones, where you get the call-back, “something is there, and we want another look.” So you go, and they look, and you wait, and you worry, you hope and you pray. And, even though, thanks be to God, all has been well in the end, during the waiting, at least if you are me, you go to that wilderness of worst-case scenario, every single time. It seems like it’s been the Advent of my life for quite a while now, and I’m finding myself trying to make some sense of it, and to answer the “God questions” in the midst of it.

Change and transformation do not usually happen without effort and, most often, not without some level of pain and discomfort. Being in the wilderness, by chance or by choice, often pushes our limits and taxes our endurance. Sometimes we take it on by choice because we want to grow or change and we know somehow that we need to be in an environment that will enable this. Sometimes the wilderness seems to find us, and the choice becomes what we will do while we are there. Because there is always a choice for us. Unlike the mute dirt and rock of the valleys and mountains, we get to choose whether we will listen to the message of the journey, whether we will allow ourselves to be changed by it. We decide whether we will let the wilderness do its work upon us to straighten out the kinks in our thinking, open our hearts to encompass a wider scope of emotion, smooth the rough places in our souls. We can turn and choose to see how God is present in this time, this moment, or we can hide under a rock, lost in the fear. We can open ourselves up to a new vision of things, a changed landscape, a different path, or we can cling stubbornly to “how it was, is, or should be.” We can stretch ourselves a bit to allow space for whatever new thing God might be doing in our corner of the world, or we can curl in and remain small. We can participate and co-create in the process of things being made new, or we can refuse, the choice is ours.

We are invited into the ongoing process of preparing for the coming always and again into our own wilderness of the One who is ever here/ever new. Sometimes, as my husband reminded me recently, I have to be “encouraged” to do things for my own benefit. I need to be reminded sometimes that just a little effort on that landscape will likely pay off, and might even bring joy! Prepare the way of the Lord, he is coming!