Friday, August 19, 2011

These last sweet days of summer

They are winding down and each day is bittersweet. Today is a perfect example. 83F, sunny and clear. But what to do? We have an appointment at 2pm, smack dab in the middle of the day. It seems like such an effort to get out and do something, if only to be interrupted by the call of obligation.

We met a couple of neighbors out walking their dogs yesterday. They were friendly, but it made me realize that I feel like this rental house is just a bigger, nicer, extended hotel stay. I know we won't be in this neighborhood through the winter. We won't spend another summer here. We won't see what flowers appear in the spring, or see the whole flow of a year pass us by. It is difficult to remain in the present moment here; to commit to even liking it, let alone loving it.

In chaplaincy, I learned to try to stay in the present moment with people. Not to obsess about the future - to allow a contextual discussion of what brought people to where they were, and then to focus on how are things now, how are you feeling in the here and now.

This is a difficult practice, but my feeble attempts at maintaining it seem to be the best coping skill I own for dealing with insurance companies, car purchases, rental houses, selling our home, preparing for the MFC and for my last year of seminary.

Adding 4 children to the mix, who are in their last days of summer vacation, who don't have their "stuff" and toys and books and knick knacks; who complain about the cereal I forgot to buy at the store, and yet who snuggle on my lap and practice reading while I peruse - they are both hugely present...and hugely distracting. If my priority is to be present in thinking about closing words for the board retreat, or in crafting a grocery list that will dispel the complaints about the larder, but their present priority is the complaint itself, or that they can't reach the toilet paper, or that they want to show me the unicorn that they have drawn so beautifully... our "being in the present" modalities are sure to clash. What would Buddha say?

Ahh, the spiritual and theological conundrums of the student/working mother. The very crux of combining *anything* with parenting any age child, let alone a range of ages, is that being in the moment is like the worst ADHD experience ever sometimes, and sometimes all you can do is give yourself over to it, and laugh. There is that an intense moment of joy in giving up any pretension of being in my own moment.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

I Breathe in Peace

I went to see my massage therapist today. I am very particular about massage therapists. There is a sacred trust about allowing someone to work intimately with one's body. She starts her sessions off with a short intention meditation, which I find helpful to use throughout the session.

When I do my walking meditation, my transition points mantra is "When I breathe in, I breathe in peace; when I breathe out, I breathe out love." This is an intention for myself and for what I give back to the universe. Today, during my massage I used "I breathe in trust, I breathe out fear."

I was hesitant about breathing fear out into the universe, but the massage room seems a rather safe and purposeful place to do such a thing. It requires a great deal of trust for me to relax my limbs into another's hands. To breathe into pain and pleasure, to have the courage to ask for what I need, and to communicate clearly about where I need the most work done.

I think this is good practice for the rest of life. My minister asked me what I most need, as I attempt to enter into my third and final year of seminary and internship. She warned me about maintaining my boundaries and seeking support from the appropriate venues. I have already thought about that a lot and am grateful that the major difficulties of the last year have occurred over my summer break. It has allowed my internship congregation to be concerned about me, but sheltered them from too much of a desire and chance of caring for me. Congregations are caring places, and they want to take care of people. But in a ministerial role, it is our job to care for them, and to seek our support, within reason, from outside resources - colleagues, friends, family, therapists, etc.

I have a lot of anxiety about being away from my children, and they from me. But now that we are living close to my husband's work, he will always be a short drive away. I am thinking of ways I can have longer days, make better use of my time in Rochester doing pastoral care and volunteering for Connect & Breathe, and am anxious to look over my curriculum for the year and what sorts of projects I will be doing.

Getting back into the work of ministry will be good - it will balance the stressors of day to day life - and I *am* being well taken care of, which allows me to provide the kind of ministry a congregation should expect from its intern. I am excited to perform a wedding this weekend and one in October. I look forward to getting back into the workings of the church, the meetings, the small groups, the worship services. I have missed those things as I've dealt with the minutae of crisis.

Besides, who doesn't know that being a stay-at-home-mom is the hardest job of all?! It will be a break to do other work :)