Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year

Oh, I am so happy to say goodbye to 2010, although there were many moments of transformation.

January I got all fired up about people who call Unitarian Universalism a "movement" rather than a religion. Found a teaching minister (at my current teaching congregation, May Memorial UU Society of Syracuse). Applied and interviewed for summer Clinical Pastoral Education at Strong Hospital. My mother had a stroke. I attended my first intensive classes at Meadville Lombard and had a wonderful experience with coursework, collegiality, family visits, and worship. I was also involved in a Flash Mob at my home congregation! I embraced prayer and daily spiritual practice in a meaningful way.

February I dealt with sick children, tried unsuccessfully to plan regular dates with my husband, and enjoyed Teen Soul Matters. I spent quite a bit of time reflecting on the Catholicism of my youth and my enjoyment of ritual and finding a way to make Lent meaningful in my current theology. I got riled up about class and oppression through a lens of theology and my work at the homeless teen center.

March I got accepted to CPE! I managed to make it through half a semester of New Testament studies. I began seriously preparing for my RSCC interview. I thought about righteous indignation and prophetic voice vs. anger. I got new sneakers for the first time in many years, and my aged cat decided to crawl under our porch as his last resting place.

April My RSCC interview ended in a postponement and excruciating disappointment, though there were no red flags. We got a new puppy, whom is still causing me no end of angst.  I had wrist surgery (which incidentially is still not healed completely). I started coming to closure at my community placement site, where I was working as a counselor at a homeless shelter for inner city kids. I attended my first District Assembly and had a great time, and then got to play DRE and run children's worship at my home congregation, where I was still working as RE assistant. FUN! I was approved as the ministerial intern at MMUUS! We had three cats die in one month, and the new puppy had to have major xrays to figure out what was wrong with her hip.

May I finished my first entire year of graduate school, then watched my older kids perform in two plays, and visited the Lilac Festival with my whole family. I tackle the idea of what I think the soul is, thanks to a post over at UU Salon. I took on city hall about keeping my chickens and WON! I mulled on the aging of my parents and the difficulties of being in the sandwich generation. My friend lost her teenager to drug abuse, and I started CPE at a Trauma One hospital.

June Death and i come to an uneasy arrangement. I become transformed by working in hospital chaplaincy, and I find God in my everyday life. I embrace prayer in my own UU way, and make it my own. I explore race and privilege, as well as dignity and end of life issues. I explore ministerial authority, right relation, experiencing God, and becoming.

July I continued immersed in chaplaincy and my first infant death. I focus on who I am, who I'm with, and who we become together. I wrestled with my womanhood and gender issues in ministry. I begin to offer loving-kindness to myself during meditation each day - something I hadn't realized was missing.

August In which I finish my chaplaincy internship and miss it desperately. I ruminate on my forceful nature, and why we live, which after a summer of death and illness, seems appropriate. I begin to sport a lovely case of poison ivy, passed to me by my loving four year old daughter. I prepare to become the mom of a six year old son, and work on my own authenticity.

September I head back to Chicago with joy in my heart! I stay with my friend Karen and her amazing family. I soak up all the collegiality I can stand before I come home again. I preached at my internship congregation for the first time and got lovely feedback, my 14 year old daughter started community college, my family delved into my new internship congregation and got to go to Unirondack and kayak, create, sing and worship;  I ruminate on the different hats I wear: parent, friend, minister, student, colleague...; and the importance of silence in my daily life.

October October was the month of conferences and trainings! I went to the SLD Leadership Workout and got a shot in the arm about Systems theory by Steinke, which I was already studying at Meadville. I helped Rebecca Parker, President of Starr King, with her book sales after she preached and lectured at First Unitarian Church of Rochester; I went to a training for Connect & Breathe, a post-abortion talkline; and I did the closing service at the SLD's social justice conference. My dreams tell me to Choose Life and read to me from Hafiz and Rumi; my oldest half-brother died suddenly, necessitating hard decisions about informing my father, who had dementia; and then served in a wedding the next day. I reflect further on the complications of family and dementia.

November I have wrist surgery on my other hand, and have a cast for 10 days.  I fall in love with my new Wellspring group, I struggle with conflict resolution as a faith-based practice of right relation; my 2nd child turns 12, and my father dies of a sudden heart attack, leaving my life in disarray and a gaping hole. I preached soon thereafter and got through it with flying colors somehow. Thanksgiving is a bit of a drab affair, but we manage. I have all of my father's things to go through but am not ready yet.

December I have a birthday. We celebrate a scaled down Christmas, except my MIL goes crazy and buys a million gifts! My youngest daughter turns four and I reflect on her wonderful homebirth. We go home to visit friends and my mother, who offloads all the jewelry that my dad has given her over the years. I cry. I am tired. My children all act insane while we are traveling. They miss their grandfather, they miss home, they are hormonal and wired and crazed. We are home and ready to welcome in the New Year. We will all be asleep when it arrives, so PARTY ON FOLKs!!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Lucy Lucy

Lucy Lucy

Lucy is Four today, and I was inspired to repost her birth story, since this is my last baby, and she's not a baby anymore ::sigh::. Oh, I miss the rush of pregnancy, birth, newborns, breastfeeding, holding, snuggling....

Sunday, December 5, 2010


I was approached by the Director of Lay Ministries and the Associate Minister at my home congregation in Rochester to become part of the Pastoral Care Team, along with many other people. A final group of about 9 of us went through training, and this weekend were commissioned by the congregation at all three services.

I cannot even tell you what an honor it was, and how humbling it was, to stand before the congregation that I love so much, that has supported every step of my ministerial preparation so far, and to enter into covenant with them to serve their pastoral needs the best way I can. My heart was full to overflowing and I am so grateful to be standing with such an amazing team of people.

My friend Michael, who I served my chaplaincy internship with last summer, came last evening to support me, which was such a wonderful gift. My son came today, and sat in the back, smiling, winking and mouthing "I love you" and blowing me kisses the whole time I was on stage. I'm sure the congregation must have wondered why I was grinning like an idiot, but that's why. My own son was so proud to have me up there. That's my mom! I was sad not to have my other family members there, but circumstances prevented it.

I am so grateful to be asked to continue my learning of pastoral ministry at Rochester Unitarian, and to serve my congregation in this way. It will also be a continuing asset to my internship at May Memorial UU, as I maintain and add to my pastoral care skills.

Honestly, the best I can say is that my heart was full. I wish my dad could have been there.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

About 25%

I am coming up on being about 1/4 of the way into my congregational internship. I did my mid-term evaluation with my teaching minister today, and have my second meeting with my lay committee on Monday. I'm feeling more serious about formation, as the real work of taking criticism and working through it begins. I'm also about 1/2 way through the whole seminary experience - more than 1/2 in terms of credits, or at least I will be, at the end of January.

I had a lengthy meeting with my minister today, which was a great conversation about theology and beliefs, which believe it or not, can be difficult to have with one's congregation. The faculty at Meadville Lombard asked us, at this point, to reflect on what we have learned about congregational life, and about ourselves as ministers, as well as what we use as theological resources.

I am still waffling back and forth about how much I loved chaplaincy, and what I should do with that desire. Should I go and do a one year residency after I graduate, and take that time to meet with the Ministerial Fellowship Committee? The difference between chaplaincy and congregational ministry for me is that I love the intensity of chaplaincy. I love what it is, I love being there, I love the intentionality of it. I love the diversity of congregational life, I love the long-term knowledge of people's lives and stories, I love preaching, I love small group ministry. If I could find a way to do both, I would. And maybe there is a way to do that, but I just don't know yet. And I jump right into more training (though paid) as a resident chaplain in another 18 months? God, I'm waiting for a sign ;).

I'm also feeling just about 25% right now. I am so unmotivated to finish the three assignments I have left for my church history class that I can barely stand it. I have SO much prep to do for January and have not been able to do almost any of it. I have a lot going on in my personal life that is taking a lot of energy, yet I have been spending more time with the kids than ever, doing homeschooling, and fun stuff, and it is SO great! It is the one thing that is truly energizing right now.

Maybe if I can convince the girls to decorate for Christmas, it will cheer up the house and have a positive effect on me!