“What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? / The world would split open.”
Poet Muriel Rukeyser

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Interview Questions from Mary Beth...another meme

1) How did you become an Episcopalian? I found the Episcopal Church through the woman minister who married my husband and me. She was a UCC minister at the time, 1985. I went to her church for the wedding of a friend of mine and really liked the service. So, when we decided to get married we went to see that minister. My husband was a divorced Roman Catholic and did not want to go through the hassle of an annulment. I thought the whole annulment stuff was silly, so was happy to go to the UCC church. Anyway, over the course of 6 months of premarital counseling (she was also a social worker)she got to know us well. In the end she suggested that if we ever wanted to become members of a church we ought to consider the Episcopal Church. She had been raised in that church (and is now an Episcopal Priest having left the UCC church, actually having been wooed back to the ECUSA by the Bishop of this diocese). So, the short story is, the woman minister who married us recommended the Episcopal Church and before long we were active members...I laugh when I see that minister now, I say, "Molly, look what you did! Not only did you marry me but you brought me into the church which ultimately lead me to ordained ministry...who would have thought!" She laughs and says, "it wasn't me, it was the Holy Spirit..." Years later I tended to her mother as she lay dying in a nursing home. This home was close to me while Molly had moved a few hours away. They called me and I was able to stay with the mother for quite awhile, until Molly came. I felt honored to return the favor, if you will.

2) What was the most important thing you learned from your refugee visitors? This family of five from Rwanda came with barely a suitcase per person, their entire life in a few bags. They were shell shocked and unable to speak the language, tired. But on their last day with us we exchanged gifts. I gave them scooters and soccer balls left over from my kids. They gave me a small hand made picture of multi-colored wheat glued to a small wood board. The bread of life. They came with nothing but they came bearing gifts of gratitude. It taught me to grateful and that the smallest thing can be a gift of joy. It was a lesson in humility - of mutual sharing and giving. They were a strong family with much to share despite the little they had. We should do as much with all that we have!

3) What book or movie has changed or shaped your life most profoundly (besides The Bible) This is a difficult question. I read a lot and I watch a lot of movies....and many good ones. A book I read a long time ago began a process of change in me: Gloria Steinhem's "Revolution from Within"... it's a book about finding one's self, one's voice. I have also been deeply shaped by Elaine Pagels "The Origin of Satan" which takes a good hard look at how Christianity has shaped the sad tendency to demonize the "other". And I think movies like, "As Good as it Gets" and "Freedom Writers" have influenced me. One because it speaks to the desperation we feel and our inability to connect with what we want and finally our ability to realize that this is as good as it gets, and that's ok. The other because it speaks about sticking with a passion and seeing it through.

4) What was your favorite pastime as a child? I moved a lot so my past times changed from place to place. In Salt Lake City I had an apricot tree in the back yard. I loved to climb the tree with a good book, read the book and eat fresh apricots. In Idaho I loved to run in the alfalfa fields and play in the barns. In Wisconsin I wandered the small stretch of woods and tall grasses at the edge of my backyard.

5) Where would you go for your dream vacation? Money no object. I'd tour the Cathedrals of England, go to Iona, Ireland, and Scotland. Then I'd head down through France and into Italy. I'd also like to go to Egypt and tour the pyramids.

Have fun! :) Ok, this was fun!

1. If you are interested in being interviewed, leave me a comment saying “Interview me.”
2. I will respond by posting five questions for you. I get to pick the questions.
3. You will update your blog with a post containing your answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

So, c'mon! Who's in!?

When one cannot pray at least read about prayer

Continuing to read, slowly, "Listening for God" by Renita Weems, she says something to the effect of, when on cannot pray, at least read about prayer. One of my laments over the last two years is my inability to pray. Oh sure, I've railed, lamented, yelled, cried - all forms of communication with God. some of my attempts have found their voice in poetry: More Praying. That is me attempting to communicate with God. On my end, God has been as silent as a hot summer night with no wind, when even the crickets are quiet. Weems likens these times when God is silent and when God is very present as "seasons." I have used that same imagery, aware that like all seasons this one will pass. What makes this book particularly helpful is how she voices what it is like to be a minister, called to bring the Good News to people, and be this one struggling in the silence. She says: "TO admit that in the spiritual journey, highs are brief, sporadic and rare and that the human heart experiences far longer periods of dullness, emptiness, and silence can be threatening....what is there to look forward to, if all we can expect is to stumble in the dark? To admit that it's all a stumble seems like an admission of failure - and Protestant ministers have a particularly difficult time admitting their defeats. Blame it on...our works-righteousness...being told that if prayers are met with silence, then the fault lay with...ourselves. Or blame it on the hardy dosage of homilies we've endured (and have given) that have insisted upon viewing God as readily available...When this is your spiritual legacy, it's difficult to admit aloud to feeling adrift. It's even more difficult to admit to the times when praying feels like a hollow ritual and the closest you can bring yourself to praying is to read about prayer."

"The truth is that this journey is best characterizes as periods of ecstasy and periods of melancholy; seasons when I can feel the presence of the sacred in my life and seasons when the perception and even the memory of the sacred have all but evaporated from the soul; moments of deep, abiding faith and moments of quiet despair; times of calm and times of clutter; moments when prayer is music and moments when I cannot abide the sound of prayer. Stumbling, staggering, slouching, and crawling forward is not the whole story, to be sure. But stumbling, staggering, slouching, and crawling feel as though they've been the largest part of my journey..."

Weems has such a wonderful way of describing how I have experienced these last few years of my life. I am grateful to have found someone so adept with language and imagery to help me articulate this season. She reminds me to continue doing what I am doing and have been doing. Get up every morning and keep doing. Go about my life preparing sermons and liturgy, caring for people in my family and my congregation, investing time in the refugee ministry I've begun, read books and poetry. In other words just keep going.

I have a card that reads: "When you're going through hell, just keep going." Somewhere in all of this I will see and know God again. Some day the season will change, the darkness will lift, and I will know God in a new way. I am living in the mean time. Not exactly the depth lost and darkness because at least now I have hope again.