Sunday, August 19, 2007

Taking Stock

Every once in a while, I have nothing in particular to write but feel a compulsion to set pen to paper, or fingers to keys. By the time I'm finished and the urge satisfied, I can sit back and see whether the act produced anything or whether it was an act for the sake of the act.

A certain member of my household, now some six weeks pregnant, is beginning to discover the downside of such a state. I'm hearing about aches and pains and queasiness and other things that my RevGal colleagues can write about with it seeming slightly less weird to share with all of existence. I wouldn't be able to pull it off very well. Suffice to say, she settled down for a "nap" around 6:00 and has been there ever since.

It's been a different sort of evening that way. I must say that the feeling around the house tonight seems to be one of silence...the type of silence that is brought about by change. It's not a "calm before the storm" sort of silence, but it is a silence marked by the knowledge that something is ending and something vastly different is beginning. It will upset our lives, but really it will enrich our lives in ways that we may not always or immediately appreciate. We're formulating a game plan while deep down admitting to ourselves and each other that we're much more certain of learning as we go.

I switched my schedule around a little this past week. For close to two years I've counted Saturday as a workday...really an act of surrender brought about by all the stuff that happens here on Saturdays anyway. Other people with normal jobs work during the week and then "do church stuff" on the weekends, so it was out of necessity that I'd made that change in order to assure myself of adequate rejuvenation time.

All this is to say that yesterday was the first Saturday off that I've had in quite a while. We traveled to the closest Einstein Bros. in the area for breakfast, and I was struck by two things: the change in the weather already taking place, a cooler fall morning following us into the eatery. Second, all the other people enjoying their rest day, their in-between day, their "give me a good reason to come to your program instead of sitting here with breakfast and friends" day. It made me think of college football in the afternoons and the days I used to spend in places like this with other aspiring preacher types as we shared our dreams of ministry with one another. Strangely, the possibility of having the opposite schedule of everyone else didn't factor into those conversations that much. But we did have the fall breeze and coffee and bagels and each other and that was plenty. I felt incredibly human in that moment yesterday, and had to be pried away from it in order to run our other errands.

I'm re-reading Barbara Brown Taylor's Leaving Church. The first time around, I read it with a cynicism that probably stifled the message for me, because I'd known that so many would be fawning over her story when I'd already read so many others' around the blogosphere that perhaps weren't put with as much style or with as big of a built-in audience. This time I'm reading it more for the substance of her particular journey.

I can't fully name the felt-need behind wanting to pick this book up again, at least not the initial one. I can now say, however, that it has helped clarify that I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be. I was told by a colleague this afternoon how much this church will love our newborn, and I completely agree. I think about the snippets of stories that I'd heard and experienced just since I walked into the building this morning. People flocked to Mrs. Coffeepastor to ask questions both about the new life forming inside her and the new career path she's undertaken. People loved that I wore Nike sandals with my robe today, and a young couple shared with me some of the details of their honeymoon in Europe.

Taylor's story is one of trying to claim her full humanity and not have it wrapped up so tightly in an identity bestowed by the church. It is a hard balancing act that has led to burnout and alternate career paths, or to failed marriages and absentee parenting. I suppose that the experiences of the weekend coupled with her shared struggle have made it clear to me this life and call that I've accepted with its shared stories and the comfort of fall mornings and anticipating a little one and struggling to be human in this role - human with others rather than in my spare time - is still possible in this time and place. Whether it always will be for me is a worthwhile question, but right now the answer is yes.