Sunday, August 29, 2010

Mom to the Screaming Masses: Onions, Parfaits and People Have Layers in Common

Mom to the Screaming Masses: Onions, Parfaits and People Have Layers in Common

I totally identify with Carmen's post. I don't usually do memes anymore, but I thought this one was kind of fun. I have come a looong way in overcoming my judgmentalism, and in trying to figure out people's intentions, and the more I work on it, the more it drives me batty when people do it to me. (Yes, dear, I am aware that I will be dealing with a lot of transference as a minister, and countertransference, and all that good stuff!)

Anyway, Carmen's meme is kind of fun. I won't reproduce it here, but it reminds me that we're all working on becoming more authentically ourselves, and that helps us to be in right relation with others.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Odds and Ends

I seldom comment on political topics, because others are so much more eloquent than I, but I am increasingly frustrated with the political furor over the Mosque "on" Ground Zero, and even on Obama's comments. I am constantly amazed at disinformation and how easily "herd" mentality takes over, as Dowd says. When are Americans going to stop being so narrow-minded and gullible? When are they going to act like educated adults instead of the boys in Lord of the Flies?

I am also really enjoying the 12 part (so far) conversation over at East of Midnight on RE for kids and adults. I added a few comments, fwiw.

I am struggling to finish some reading and writing for the start of school's convocation. Whoever thought it would be a good idea to give summer homework while were all in CPE?

Our last week of vacation is starting with rain, which is putting a crimp in my plans to go to the Finger Lakes, as is the falling through of a house sitter, which I had hoped would buy us a few days at Lake George, or even the Eastern Shore. :::sigh::: I guess that buys me extra time to do the aforementioned homework.

I have been slowly getting the house uncluttered from the summer, and trying to figure out how to manage 6 people's schedules in the measly amount of hours allotted to a day. Seminary + work + community college for the teen + homeschooling programs and academia for the other 2 + plus keeping the preschooler alive seems like a gargantuan task. Thank the heavens for Google Calendar!

I also need to plan the Boy's birthday party. How did that happen so fast? Ideas for cheap and fun presents for a six year old would be appreciated. So far he's getting a plasma car, which he's super excited about.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Adventures in Parenting

I have enjoyed being with my children as they have grown up. I have made choices I thought were caring and sustainable - homebirth, cloth diapering, breastfeeding, homeschooling, encouraging feelings and closeness.

This has all been well and good but now my youngest child has punished me, but good ;). She weaned from breastfeeding quite some time ago, and at the same time, took up "rubbing" our skin as a form of connection. She has kept up with this habit for quite a long time and even likes to fall asleep while rubbing my tummy or my arm.

Yesterday we went to a friend's to play and at the end of the day, I picked up Lucy and she, true to form, rubbed my bare back (I was wearing a tank top). I now am sporting a lovely case of poison ivy, right where she rubbed my back. I can't reach it, I can't see it, and I can't put lotion on it without help. Thankfully, my family and friends have been willing to help put cortisone cream on it but ow!

Who knew that all this loving parenting would end up like this ;) . One gratitude is that neither child developed poison ivy. I myself was immune to it until I had my own children. 

Thank goodness for a spiritual practice. Meditation actually helps a bit. de

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Why Live?

UU Salon's question of the month is Why Live?

This is one of those deep existential questions, along with "Why are we here?" that I always kind of scoff at, because it doesn't have a clear answer. I also have dealt with my own and others' severe depression, both organic and situational, which puts this question into stark relief.

There are a lot of facets to this question - biological, existential, purpose, and more.

In working with ill and dying people this summer, I saw that we live out of a biological need to exist. There are those who are clear about how far they want technology to extend this biological imperative. Some want a no-holds-barred, claws dug in, approach to sustaining life. Others define life by function and ability. Living while hooked up to tubes and medicines is not how they would define "life," so it's about quality. So they live for that quality - the time they can enjoy with family and friends, doing things they love. Others live because they are afraid of what's on the other side.

For me, I think I live because, as I have been described several times now, I am a force of nature. I am a more diplomatic force of nature than I was 20 years ago, but still, I can be a sort of forceful tide, that is impelled towards my call, and pulls people along in my wake. I never thought much about my own life force until this summer. I like what Rachel Naomi Remen says in Kitchen Table Wisdom. She says that life is not fragile, but rather impermanent. At times during CPE, I thought that life was fragile, when I considered my own mortality, but I think that Remen is right. Our bodies try to live within their abilities; they are not fragile, but they can only withstand so much abuse from the world we have created.

So I live because my biology compels me to. As I get older, I continue to be in tune with my own physical processes. My ebbing fertility makes me want more children before it's too late. My shifting weight and strength makes me aware of the need to exercise and care for the temple my consciousness resides in. My spiritual awareness grows and accepts the known and unknown that lay before me.

I live because I have overcome great emotional and spiritual pain. I feel called to use those experiences to serve my greater community of fellow humans and the universe. We all have forks in the road, but I have never felt that the choice to not serve was an option. That fork was short and dark. Every step, every job, every choice, has been a step on the road to acknowledging the call to serve. Looking back, it's amazing to me that it took me so long to become aware of it. I don't believe in predestination, except in my most superstitious moments, but I do feel that I have been imbued with purpose, perhaps accidentally.

I don't know why I live, in the existential sense. I am not a theist, but I am religious. I sense that there is more to this life than we know and I have experienced the deep and unseen connections that bind us to each other and to the cosmos. As a humanist, I feel a responsibility to live in a certain way, and in a certain type of relationship to everything that my life touches.

I live because I am called to live; physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I hope that when it is time for my physical body to let go, that I will be ready to embrace whatever comes next.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Saying Goodbyes

Today was our last CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) group. We present our final service tomorrow and then we are off to new destinations. We had an amazing group of interns. I never doubted we would, but the reality, after 11 weeks together, is stunning.

I feel so blessed to have an interfaith group of ministerial colleagues to have as friends going forward. We may head in different directions, theologically and geographically, but we have sat in the presence of grief, joy, and God together.

I am filled with gratitude, loss, and excitement as we move forward in our lives and ministries. We are standing together, at the edge of the unknown, and we are ready to fly.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The feminist voice

I presented my final evaluation for CPE today. It was very affirming, and I feel gratitude for the experiences I have shared with my internship group this summer. I bid farewell to the staff on my floors and a few patients that have been long term in the hospital. I did my final paperwork. Tomorrow night I work my final on-call shift.

I cannot imagine what next week will be like without chaplaincy in my life. This is somewhat how I felt when my internship at the shelter was over in May, except that this has been all-consuming ministry. I am also excited to dive into my congregational internship in just three weeks, but it will be a very different experience than this. 

It is interesting to me how entering ministry has changed my discernment process. I foresee it being much longer and more deliberate than I had thought, and this growth and maturity is a wonderful thing.

In any event, one thing that I was surprised to find myself focusing on in my final evaluation was my voice as a woman. My group has 5 men and 2 women, and it has been shocking to discover things about myself in that experience - how I inadvertently defer to men - checking in, for one. I have worked on these observations over the last three months, and have been fascinated to be a participant of and observer of my experience.

One of my questions for feedback was about my direct style. I have been labeled "aggressive," and a "bitch" for being direct and clear in my communications. But this was not the perception of the men in my group. I didn't get much feedback from the woman today, but at mid-unit, there was a desire to see some of my softer side. (Some would assert that I don't have one ). My supervisor was delighted to find out that I am an 8 on the Ennegram, which healthily integrates to a 2, which has become obvious to me as I work to attain a balance of diplomacy and prophetic voice.

I am anxious to see how this plays out in a congregration. I think a strong prophetic voice is an asset in preaching and justice work; it might be perceived as challenging in a board meeting, but it remains to be seen. I'd be interested to hear about other women's experience with their ministerial presence and voice.