Saturday, April 14, 2007

6 Weird Things About Me and Why I Don't Know how to "tag" Anyone to Continue This

Greetings from the recently returned! A job change happened since I last posted. God blessed me richly by getting me out of a law firm which was rapidly morphing into Hades, and gave me a great job as an Assistant Director at a medical library at a major medical center. Great stuff but, in the interim, I lost all my blogging know-how, so bear with me.

Hey, first thanks to Catherine+ for not losing faith in me during my period of silence. Thanks, C! And she's the one who tagged me for 6 weird things, so here they are:
1. I have nicknames for my Yorkie like "Mommy's Monster" and "Tutters."
2. I have bought him 11 identical hedgehogs (He loves them and the original one, Hortense, is in great danger of giving up the ghost after 9 years, so he needs back ups.)
3. I have a 1" plastic sheep named Eleanor (She prefers the spelling ELUNOR, with the R backwards, and the whole works in caps) who has a real smart mouth and channels through me.
4. I have recurring dreams in which Yvonne DeCarlo is in love with me.
5. I have recurring nightmares about combination locks.
6. I have a phobia about turtles.

Ok, there's my 6. The reason I can't tag anyone is I didn't seem to have bookmarked the blog or whatever the network thingy is that has links to many of us that had Catherine's and others names in it, so I could link them

Happy Spring!

ps. My lovely lady pastor is just as great as ever.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Ministry Outside the Pulpit and Angst In Me

Today yielded blessings. Besides being New Member Sunday (so I am now "officially" a member of St P--bring on the offering envelopes), I met some really nice people at the reception after worship. Best was an older lady who, I noticed in the course of your basic ordinary "Hi, I'm new and delighted to be a member" conversation, was wearing a PFLAG logo on a necklace. I asked her about it and was blessed with meeting a new friend! (Now I wish I could remember her name--argghhh!) Turns out she was instrumental in getting St P to be open and affirming 8 years ago and establishing a local chapter of PFLAG. We clicked immediately and start jabbering about getting together to exchange strategies for making the place even more welcoming and affirming. Very cool. Very, very cool. Kingdom of God stuff.

I'm continuing to try to "get a read" on Pastor M. Great gal, but there seem to be walls or something. (My Stephen Minister commented that M has "very tightly drawn boundaires.") Not that M isn't perfectly pleasant and all that. I guess after that great and instant rapport I had with my last pastor at the Church of the Implosion, I had hoped for the same with Pr M. She is far and away the best preacher I have ever heard, and she cares deeply about inclusion, but I feel like she's kind of distant or something. Maybe because right now she is the sole pastor for a church with 3 services on Sunday, average attendance of 265, membership in the 400's. Could that be? I like her a lot but I just feel like she thinks I'm needy, or dorky or a dufus or something--probably the first since I met with her solo twice in the first two months I was there. Is that too much?? I have emailed her a couple times--mostly with thoughts; but she had already said she is usually too swamped to answer emails unless there's a critical need. I think this may be true since she did answer when I emailed about a health crisis my partner's mom had.

I don't want to have an "emotional temperature check" pattern going with her here, and I don't want to come across as needy or neurotic. (Although I probably am.) I want to come across as intelligent, affable, and adult. Help!

She is off for the next two weeks and my partner and I are on vacation this week, so nothing is going to happen at this point, but I'd love your feedback, including those of you who are ordained and can give some perspective on this from the pastor's chair. Thanks!

October 13 Friday five: Comforts

Friday Five: Creature Comforts

1. Comfort beverage
Icy cold Coke or C2, chamomile tea

2. Comfort chair
corner of the couch near the window where dog can perch on my head and look out the window

3. Comfort read
Laurie Colwin's books on cooking, Erma Bombeck

4. Comfort television/DVD/music
Vicar of Dibley, A Christmas Story, Adam's Rib, MythBusters

5. Comfort companion(s)
My partner, my Yorkie Jake

Monday, October 09, 2006

Totally Disillusioned

Hello Blogreaders--

This morning I sent this email to Pastor M. Unfortunately, I haven't received a response. Don't know if it's because she's busy (like all other pastors) or just doing the usual thing of not responding to most emails (which frustrates me), or both. Anyway, here's what I wrote:

Dear Pastor, I'm having a tough time trying to reconcile my sense of call vs. the ELCA's policy on partnered gays. (Trying to be careful to use only "I statements" here.) You know, it's like gay people are being thrown a tidbit: "Here. You can be one of us, but only some of you. Sorry about the rest of you. That's life." I keep wondering if my originally planned course of going through all the prep for Associate in Ministry, Deacon, Pastor (whatever) and then standing outside the locked gate and passively waiting isn't a form of (pardon the expression--not sure what else to use)Uncle Tom-ism. Would it be better to work hard toward getting the ELCA to change its policy and/or doing some sort of ecclesiastical disobedience, as opposed to caving in, compromising one's principles, and going quietly into that good night? It's hard to believe that the ELCA, et al, will go so far and then dig in their heels against further inclusion due to what--fear of losing members, of being too radical?? To paraphrase Rhett Butler, "Frankly, my dear, it stinks."
I think one of the reasons I historically back away from pursuing a true sense of call is that I always hit this wall of exclusion, and the spiritual and emotional pain is devastating. I am greatly struggling with disillusionment and exclusion right now. I don't feel that Jesus excludes me/us, but it sure seems that the Church does. I start wondering if things like hunger strikes would work. (Yeah, right.) Frankly, I don't know what would work, short of a real miracle. But there is still injustice out there in an ugly form, and I don't know what to do about it, personally or as a follower of Jesus. And, at this point, my friend, I no longer feel it's just about me. (Quelle surprise . . .); this shouldn't be allowed to happen to anyone in the same life situation. It's just wrong. Help . . .

So there's what's on my mind these days. I find it truly offensive that the ELCA can pride itself on being justice-seeking, reforming, inclusive, etc., etc., and still banish any partnered gay (lgbt) person. This is not justice. This is blatant discrimination. This is being afraid to be Christlike for fear the synods and congregations could lose members and--most importantly--MONEY. It's always about money when you get down to it.

I know that some people might encourage people like me to leave the ELCA and go to a more liberal church (UCC, UU, etc.) if I don't like it. That's not just. That's discrimination. That's dodging the issue.

I find my anger is getting to me more and more. I wish I could get some time with Pr M to talk about it, but I feel like I can't take up her time unless it's something "real." I mean, I probably will never go to seminary anyway given my debt load, work schedule, etc., so some people might ask "What's the big deal? Shut up and sit down." But that, too, skirts the issue: just because I may never get to be ordained due to life circumstances and bad choices, doesn't justify closing the door to all other partnered gay people who are being called by God to rostered ministry.

It hurts. It hurts a hell of a lot.

I am considering some sort of "ecclesiastical disobedience" Perhaps no longer taking communion, but getting a blessing instead. Would that mean anything? Would anyone care?

Or should I just say "screw it" and bail out of organized religion altogether? Maybe non-church people are more accepting of gays anyway.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

My First Friday Five

Ok--here's my first contribution to Friday Five, which I have truly enjoyed lurking in. (Pardon bad grammar, please!)

Tell us about any group(s) you currently belong to. (e.g. book club, knitting circle, walking buddies, etc.)

Book Club, Cinema Group and Adult Choir at St P. I love them all.

2. Do you feel energized or drained by being in a group situation? If the answer is "it depends," on what does it depend?

Most often energized. It depends on the energy of the group: if there is infighting going on and negativity, then I feel drained. (Haven't run into this at St P). At my last church, sometimes referred to by me as the Church of the Implosion, Council was notorious for its draining capacity, as was choir. I don't miss it! You can tell when the Spirit "has left the building."

3. Is there a role you naturally find yourself playing in group situations? That is, do you naturally fall into the leader role, or the one who always makes sure the new person feels welcome, or the quiet one who sits back and lets others shine, or the host?

I tend to do some comic relief. But if no one is functioning in a leadership role and the situation seems to need one in order to focus and get on with things, then I will jump in. But I do worry about being intrusive, so I tend to really sit back and wait to see.

4. Handshakes vs. hugs: discuss.

Usually handshakes. Hugs when I know the person well and/or it is a sincere gesture, rather than merely expected.

5. Ice breakers: a playful way to build community in a lighthearted manner, or a complete and utter hell of forced fun and awkwardness?Bonus: If you answered "playful and lighthearted," share your favorite ice breaker.

Boy howdy, that's a mixed bag. Like others, I don't care for the name tag pinned on the back and having to guess who I am. But on the other hand, at things like retreats, an ice breaker can be a great way to get things rolling on a casual note.

Had a marvelous conversation with Pastor M this week. After a thoughtful talk about my partner's mother's recently-diagnosed cancer (at age 87) and how Jesus walks to the cross with us and supports us, I told Pastor M how I continue to feel God tugging at my sleeve. (This tugging has been going on for over 10 years . . .) She has agreed to walk with me in my discernment process. the good thing is that this time I don't feel rushed and as anxious as I have in the past. Given that I don't seem to have resources and the job flexibility to pursue ordination as a pastor or deacon, I am prayerfully considering the ELCA's Associates in Ministry program. (And would I love to carry it out at St P, or what?) I could use my law degree and public speaking ability to minister in the areas of public policy/advocacy and worship leadership/preaching. Frankly, it would be a dream come true. I told Pastor M that, for once, I am in no hurry. Since I just got to St P, I am going to spend a year getting to know people and being known as I continue the discernment process with M. Then we'll go from there.

In the mean time, I am also starting in on a calling that I have had for a long time as well. I am starting to do research and compile documents for the book I've always wanted to write on why society scapegoats LGBT people and what can be done in Jesus' name, following his examples of radical love, compassion and inclusion. The whole outline of the book popped into my head the other morning at 4:00 a.m. (thank you, God, I wrote it down) and I am feeling very energized about taking it on.


Monday, September 25, 2006

God may be opening a window

It's strange how sometimes things plop in your lap. I have spent years--yes, years--struggling hard to discern whether or not God is calling me to the ordained ministry. I have a passion for preaching, for advocacy, for walking to the cross with others. But being in a same-sex relationship and not being able to relocate due to my partner's needs seem to be huge barriers to ordination. Also the fact that my debt structure is nothing short of ghastly (but I am working to pay those &*#$*# cards off--good spiritual discipline) and my need to be self-supporting keep me from attending seminary, including the year in practicum that the ELCA demands. Not do-able. I have grieved over doors slamming shut right and left.

Every time I feel God pestering me again, I bash my head against the mental walls until it's bloody. Nothing so far has worked. But today, searching the internet while should be working, I came across information about the ELCA's Associates in Ministry program. Looks like this possibly could work for me. I think I would be able to focus in preaching and prublic policy. Too cool. And the educational requirements don't seem onerous.

How do other pieces of the puzzle fit in? Due to the political implosion of my last congregation, I left and was blessed to have the Spirit lead me to another suburban Chicago congregation, this one expressly open and affirming. St P is a warm, embracing congregation and "Pastor M" is a dream: articulate, caring, challenging. This could be good. If anyone reads this, please pray for me.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Soon to Come

Hello blogreaders--

I had just created a fairly decent first post, only to have destroyed it by pushing a wrong button somewhere. God has a sense of humor, truly. More later.