Saturday, February 25, 2012

Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY 2/25/12
Outside My Window... the wind is blowing like crazy. Scott has taken the curtains down from the living room windows to wash them, so I have a great view of the bare branches bobbing around in this crazy wind. New neighbors are moving in upstairs, so I can hear them chatting and bumping things around. Under the leaves that cover our little gardens, I know there are green shoots coming up- and there are some nice buds on our lilac tree. Spring is battling it out with Winter, and my vote is with Spring. Go Spring!
I am thinking... about the Church- Today John Moe tweeted this: "I know I love public radio: I often find it infuriating, I'm often deeply fond, I always want to change it. I'm never indifferent." I can relate! I find this Church so frustrating and discouraging, and full of hope. I love it and I hate it, and want to stay and want to go. It's a tortured love affair.
I am thankful for... my spiritual director! This woman, who I found through a dear friend, has helped me hang in there for several years now. She points me back to prayer, to conversation with God. She has great insights into my spiritual nature that can pull me back from the brink of real despair. She is a cheerleader and comforter, and I can't help but wonder where my faith would be without her after all this time.
From the kitchen... I'm simmering chili in the crockpot! Yum!
I am wearing... pa-jamas. Natch. But to be fair, I'm fighting off a little cold, so you know what they say: swaddle a cold.
I am creating... not much. I'm between drafts of my grad project, and in the meantime, I'm journaling a lot, after a long time of not writing about things that were going on, since I couldn't blog about it all. But last night I worked with the rest of our staff to create some delicious soup and a good night of fellowship at the parish. We started Soup and Stations as a way to bring people together during Lent, and encourage participation in the stations of the cross, and to help parish ministry groups promote their work. Each year since we've started, the staff has kicked off the first night, and it's always fun. This year we were without our dear friend Anna, who used to bring the "pickies" (snacks) that we'd eat while we cook, along with some good wine. And our pastor, who usually stirs and entertains us, is away on sabbatical. I love this program, and our staff, and the people who came to eat and pray. And the soup we made (Scott and me, that is) was the best. Here's the recipe.
I am going... ton a silent retreat. I've never been on one before (silent, that is) and I'm both looking forward to it, and dreading it. I've been doing a pretty strong job at not listening to God very closely, so I'm a little worried about a whole weekend of silence. At the same time, I feel a lot like it's an island I'm swimming to. I imagine that as soon as I get there, I'll sit down and take a deep breath, and really revel in the solitude (all the while missing Scotty). It's hard to know how it will be, but I'm game.
I am reading... I'm between books! I just finished the Hunger Games series, and that last book is a tough one- really brutal. I actually put it down for a few weeks, but wanted to finish it and get it over with. I am looking forward to the movie, but am wondering if/how they'll portray the third. Wow. I'm ready for some lighter reading. I did just buy Still by Lauren Winner. Might be good retreat reading...
I am hoping... this cold wears off quickly. Maybe I should do another dose of emergen-c. I slept about 12 hours last night, was in bed at 9:30. This is very unusual for me, but I needed it, bad. And I could use a nap.
I am hearing... wind. Lots and lots of wind.
Around the house... Scott is preparing to paint the living room. He has self-diagnosed cabin fever. I'll be sequestered to the bedroom once he starts, which is okay, because... I need a nap.
One of my favorite things... is the pair of slippers I'm wearing right now. Scott and I bought them for each other, matching pairs in different colors, the year we got married. They have our initials on them! And the bottoms are so worn that they're shiny. I've gone to and through new pairs of slippers since these came into my life, (including a yummy warm fleecy pair my sisters gave me and I wore out) but I love these slippers.
A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: archdiocesan pastoral planning stuff, meetings, and lots of lenten stuff. Tis the season.
Here is picture thought I am sharing:
the aforementioned shoots! Hooray for Spring!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Let's go!

Well, here I am crying at my desk. It has been a stressful time, but I just ran across this video of Mike Yaconelli, and it's given me goosebumps. Remember this stuff? Remember this feeling? When I started in youth ministry, we were all so brave, and full of excitement. We were on fire for kids, and for God and for the Church and we were so ready to make things happen. At that time, we hadn't even imagined anything like the sex abuse scandal, and the time of paranoia that has followed. We hadn't tasted the kind of fear we know today, and we were able to say "I love teenagers!!!" without some tiny percent of ourselves whispering "oh, does that sound wrong? Creepy? Can I say that? What will people think?"
I wonder what Mike would say about the state we find ourselves in today, suddenly facing a time when we'll be competing with the far to few of us that there are for the jobs in this archdiocese that only ever paid enough for someone to live very simply, or be married to someone with a "real job" anyway. We're looking ahead at a time of taking on the difficult task of trying to hang on to people, forget reaching out to people. We're starting to see a future of traveling between three or four church buildings to try and bring unity among three or four communities, even while realizing that we left our laptop at the other church. Our pensions may be gone, and that matters. Our diocesan offices are decimated, and limping. There is competitiveness and suspicion between the employees of this organization. We are in survival mode.
So when I stumbled across this video today it stirred something inside my too afraid, too academic, too safe, too lazy soul. I want this energy again. I want to say the things Mike says here, I want to go full tilt bore into brave, courageous ministry that begets brave, courageous future ministers. Who's with me?

Friday, February 10, 2012

I had a fight on facebook.

Long ago, I was a social worker for the state. It was, without exaggerating, the most awful job ever. I worked with amazing, dedicated people who tried so hard, despite their enormous, impossible workloads. But as hard and discouraging as it was, I did okay for the most part, and I kept my cool, almost always. One worker told me that I was "human prozac" and I really have taken pride in that, as weird as it may seem. I want to be even-keel, and I don't want to fly off the handle unnecessarily, and I don't want to tilt at windmills.
But I've been growing a little uncomfortable with my closed-mouthness. As much as I don't want to be a screaming mimi, I also don't want to be the kind of person who doesn't speak up against injustices.
Meanwhile, along comes facebook and I have read plenty of arguments and debates since joining up. Some of them are intelligent and persuasive, but mostly it's people who are sure of their opinions, becoming only more sure. And I have been, to my best effort, inscrutable in my facebook postings. I stay out of arguments, I very rarely even hint at my political proclivities, and I don't leave slam comments on even the stupidest statuses.
This week though, I posted an article about the Cardinal's threat against our health insurance (see, even "threat" is not a word I would have used before this week, I know it is inflammatory), and a little debate opened up on my status' comments. Because I couldn't hold back, I answered their comments, stood my ground, and at one point, got a pretty cranky. Finally, after concluding that this would go nowhere I was comfortable with, I ended the conversation.
I'm not a fighter, and I don't debate, but very very verrrrrry rarely. But if I were to fight, then my weapon of choice would be words. So I'm careful not to get into any sqabbles. I remember working at a residential school with teenage boys, talking in group about fights. One boy said "what would you do?? What would you do if they challenged you like that??" I said "I'd run like hell." (Truth is, I can't run either. I'd probably just curl up and hope they wouldn't pull out my hair.)
Anyway, so here I am with a less-than pristine facebook wall, and I'm wondering... should I delete the whole thing? Lots of people have already seen it. I stand by what I said (if not my crankiness) and feel good about standing up for something, even if it finally took something bad coming to me personally for me to finally speak... I do feel conflicted about that.
Well, we shall see. I'm not sure that I want this black mark on my facebook timeline, but I want to be sure about the message behind taking it down. Yeah, I think I'm going to take it down. But I'm not sure why...
photo credit

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

At the Crossroads

I am in a tricky spot these days. Our diocese is about to undertake a huge reorganization of parishes (still in the consultant phase) which is meant to cut the number of pastors in half, reduce the number of extraneous pieces of real estate, join parishes together in fundraising and Mass attendance, and reduce redundancies (aka... STAFF!). Suddenly a large part of my job is getting the word out about these plans (much more to it than I'm listing here) to our parishioners and gather feedback. So I find myself in this weird position of trying to communicate the possible future to people, all the while knowing that possible future might mean that my job is gone.
On top of that, last night in a meeting at the parish someone mentioned the conscience laws that are being challenged by the president, which would insist that all companies (except church/parishes) would have to provide insurance coverage for contraception. Already the law change would not apply to me or my fellow co-workers, and honestly I don't even know anyone who would want that kind of coverage from the parish for whom they work. But this week, the Cardinal published a letter with a threat included that if the law passes, the Church will be forced to either go against their own conscience or to STOP PROVIDING HEALTH INSURANCE TO ITS EMPLOYEES.
Remember, this rule already doesn't apply to me and my colleagues. In Fact, Cardinal Sean's threat is empty: it's against the law for Massachusetts citizens to go without health insurance, so if the Church doesn't provide it, its employees will have to turn to another source. By law, of course, any alternative source will have to cover things like contraception. Far from barring his employees from contraceptive coverage, Cardinal Sean will be forcing it upon us.
To me, it's a clear sign that the Cardinal doesn't trust that his employees, even if offered this benefit, wouldn't necessarily use it. (Of course, he's probably right about that!) And it's also a sign that he doesn't have any confidence in his ability to persuade his employees to do the right thing through teaching the Truth of the faith. He doesn't believe that what the Church teaches about contraception will bear any weight, and he doesn't believe that his word has any weight. He is only able to find persuasive power in threats. If he's right about that, then we are indeed in bad shape.
My husband and I will not be able to pay for our own health insurance, and will have to end our ministries in the Church. In fact, I don't know anyone who works for a parish who could pay for their own insurance for the rest of their ministerial careers.
So last night, there I was leading a parish meeting when this bill was brought up, and the parishioner who mentioned it urged us all to contact our representatives. Was it wrong for me to mention the Cardinal's threat? Or to urge them that while they're contacting the government, they might also call the Cardinal's office and remind him how wrong it would be to cancel the insurance and therefore the ministries of the employees who sat before them?
I don't know. I am not sure what my right response is to all this. And I do want to do what's right. If I'm going to lose this job, I want to leave it having fought for justice. I don't want to bite my tongue to keep my job, like I have done in varying degrees for so long. I want to do the Lord's work. I know that in this archdiocese, it's risky even blogging about this, exposing my own opinions. I guess we'll (pray) what happens.