Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Home Around the Corner

It's good to be back on the blog.  Thanks for the kind comments, I do appreciate my RevGal friends! As I re-read yesterday's post  I think I sound a lot wistful, and maybe more than a little whingey as my Brit friends say.  It's all  really all right...and yes, it is about making room for the new by letting go of the old.  That's kind of been the theme this year.  We moved in June from my seven room, two porch, two and a half garage house out in Little Town on the Prairie to the Big City, where we rented a lovely, but small, four-room townhouse with one garage.  Period. 

 Ah yes, the move.  It was a necessary relocation in many ways.  I needed to leave a work situation that had become a source of daily frustration, as I disagreed on a fundamental level with the direction our clinic was moving.  In order to continue to be employed in my field, by a signed agreement, I needed to move farther than the five counties that surrounded us and that the clinic served. Out there in the hinters, that pretty much meant to move away. At first we thought about a cross-country move, but that did not prove feasible, so we decided across the state would do. R was up for the adventure.  Twenty years in the same job had left him ready for something new, and for me it was a kind of coming home.  So I job-searched,  the house got sorted out, packed up, pared down and put on the market.  I was faced during the packing phase with the reality of just how much stuff I had somehow acquired in my almost seven years in that house.  We knew we were downsizing, and so much had to go. At first felt the loss of each pickup load that we carted off to the thrift store.  After a while, I found I cared a little less that something was leaving my life, as it was one less thing to pack, to move, to simply deal with!

Along with parting with my stuff, I also had to face the loss of my church home and my role there as part of the ministry team.  Because of the nature of my licensure to a local church rather than the diocese, there was some uncertainty about just what the future would hold for me as a priest. But we knew that it was time to go, and so I sadly preached my last sermon and said goodbye to my little congregation.

Finally the day came that we hauled ourselves and what was left of our belongings (LOTS!) to our new home.  Wonder of wonders, it really did all fit! Well except for that last pickup load that went to the new thrift store we found!  I had found a new job as a therapist and an old church community where I could settle in as a congregant, and where the priest was welcoming to me as a homeless cleric.  She offered supply as available and whatever else I might find a good fit.  The was at least a twenty mile trip to get there.  Not a bad commute in our new urban life, but a daunting thought as far as really getting involved in the life of a community where we worshipped but did not reside.  Our new life has an interesting schedule that complicates things as well. R is off to bed at 8 or so as he rises at 3 am to be at work by 4.  This means that I needed to be self-reliant if I wanted to engage in the evening activities that constitute so much of church life....and I knew that navigating those twenty plus miles of freeway in the dark  was going to be a challenge for my little astigmatic night-vision reluctant eyes.  I thought that things would be ok, though, given the CPE "priest-self" would find a home there and I would be settled. Well, once again, those best laid plans didn't prove to be so.  A couple months into CPE it became sadly apparent that this was not the place I needed to be, and after prayer and tears, I withdrew from the unit and went back to being, as one of my friends said recently, a "feral priest."

Fast forward to three Sundays ago.  We decided (on a whim...ha) to visit the next closest Episcopal church to our house.  Before we went I decided to peruse the church website, where I learned that several months ago the leadership had expressed a hope for another priest who could spell the vicar and assistant (both "retired" priests who seemed to find themselves working full-time again) and who would not need to be paid, as the budget would not support what the community so obviously needed. We went that Sunday. We met some folks, I talked to the priest,  had some e-mail conversation with the Bishop, and assuming the consent of the parish and leadership, it looks like on the 4th Sunday of Advent, I will once again have a place to celebrate and preach.  We are looking at once a month to start....but it feels like potential and possibility for more.  The church of my heart, where we have been attending still has a hold on me, and we will go there as we can. But as R pointed out, as far as we are from there, it's less likely that we would ever be a deep part of the community. At our potential home, we will church where we live...or close to it, and we can be part of the rather impressive local (and larger) mission efforts that come from the small but committed group of folks in the congregation.

So finally, at almost six months into the adventure, things are starting to settle.  Not all things, not even some important things about which I cannot blog right now....but at least for me one of the most important things is finding I live out my call and vocation. It appears it will be with my two hats firmly in place again, thank God!  Once again I will have cause to do more than lurk at the preacher party,  and skulk over to Tuesday Lectionary Leanings.  I will have real reasons to hang out in Textweek, immersing myself in the weekly texts as only preaching prompts me. I will find a home on a new altar, share bread and wine with new people who I will come to care for as my own. Once again, there will be too many things in the week at times, meetings that will push my patience and church politics that will make me need to hold my goat close! I can't wait.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Pining a LItle in November

It's November...mid actually, and I am waxing nostalgic.  We went to a concert the other night at one of the local Lutheran churches.  The sanctuary reminded me of the church where we frequently held our community Thanksgiving service in my former life in Little Town on the Prairie.  That service will, I think, be held this year in the newly renovated Catholic church.  (We alternated between the two as they had the larger of the town's sanctuaries.)  For the first time in nine years,I don't know where I will be on the night before Thanksgiving. I will not be there, I know that for sure, and I am feeling more than a little sad about it.  That service was a benchmark of sorts for me in my gradually becoming a part of that community.  The first year I remember sitting alone in the big Catholic church, wondering if I would ever belong to this place.  In subsequent years I sang with the choir, and in the years after I was ordained processed in with the clergy, gave the blessing, did a reading, planned the service. I will not be there for the Thanksgiving service this year, nor will I be driving myself crazy over getting all the robing of the choristers accomplished for Lessons and Carols, serving turkey dinner with  the Presbyterians on Christmas Eve, or celebrating the Midnight service in my little jewel box church.   Each year as I participated in these traditions, I felt a part of something bigger than myself.  I miss that. Our life here that in so many ways is a more private one, a smaller one.  Sometimes I have felt a little cast adrift, without a role, a place in the community.

We are still finding our way here.  I know that there will be new traditions in a new home, new things that will capture my spirit and imagination and that will help me find my sense of place here.  The potential is there. There may be new possibilities for ministry just over the horizon. That makes me hopeful. But right now I am just a little melancholy, just a little homesick for the life that was.

I know that part of the sadness and feelings of displacement is over the ending of CPE.  Yes, already, I am done.  It was simply....not right.  I knew it very quickly, and I knew it very profoundly.  Perhaps it was a timing error, perhaps an underestimation of the impact and the energy it would take to do this alongside a full time and demanding in its own right "day job."  But I knew that I could not go on.  And the input of the man I love and trust utterly validated and reinforced my need to let go.  As he could see even more than I the toll this was taking, he offered the strength I needed to make the hard and final decision.  There are surely things I will miss.  I had a great supervisor and peer group.  And there were moments of pure grace.  I can hold them as I let go of the thought that this might be a call for me, as clearly it is not.

So that is settled, though other things are not.  That is known while others remain in the realm of "not yet."  Patience has never been my strong suit.  But as my wise beloved says, "we must live with what is not what if." And for me right, that also includes the "what if" of what may be.  I can't live there any more than I can live in "if only" looking backward.

I once said to a friend that I missed my life.  She told me that really, I can't as I am living today the only life there is.  So I am living here, now, though I still find myself wondering a lot about what might be in store next.  One day at time I am living this life, the one that is now....but I can't help missing a little of what was while I wait, in hope for what will be.