Friday, October 21, 2011

Friday Five: Stages of Life

Jan has stung me again—we must both be Scorpios! She has gotten to me with stages of life! I am not willing to do 7yr increments, however—it would take me all week!

Jan says:

Since it is almost my birthday and because my spiritual direction peer group is reading Living Fully, Dying Well by Edward W. Bastian and Tina L. Staley, I am thinking of my life in stages. For the latter group, we filled out a form dividing our life into 7-year increments, documenting "significant moments," then "people who guided and influenced me," and ending with the question, "What did this phase contribute to the continuum of my life?" This was a life Review Exercise devised by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi.

For today's Friday Five, I am suggesting that we each divide our age into 5 sections. You don't have to say your age or ages for the different parts, unless you want to. In each of the 5 points, please describe a memorable and/or significant event, either good or unpleasant.

1. Chilli Days—Ages 1-4 I lived in Chillicothe, IL (affectionately called ‘Chilli’). I don’t remember much about that time, of course but I remember snow and I remember my sandbox out under the little cherry tree and most of all I remember the train ride to TX when we moved in 1949. (you do the math, I am too sleepy!)

2. French Horn Days—I started playing the trumpet in 5th grade but I really wanted to play the French horn. Then in 7th grade I switched to Fr. Horn.  It was too heavy to carry and bulky but I carried it back and forth every day to play in the band and orchestra all through school and undergraduate school. I started as a music major but added a history degree ‘in order to make a living’—as if a teaching career could make a living. I played well enough to get a scholarship to one of the largest music schools in the country and then went on to play professionally with various music organizations in and around the Dallas-Ft. Worth area. Music was my soul until I met a French horn playing RC nun who changed my life by teaching me to pray.

3. Teaching Days—Some of my teaching days and my French horn days over-lap. I began teaching in the little town where I now am on non-stype staff of the church I serve. I taught music my first year and had every child in the single elementary school in the little ranch community it served. Now it is one of the fastest growing cities in the US and has 23 elementary schools. Then I went to Dallas and taught History and English in the public schools. This was right in the middle of forced integration in Dallas and was a difficult time for me and for the kids. I had been raised with an open mind about Blacks and to watch how they were treated by other whites made my blood boil. The Jr. High I taught in was predominately Black with some Hispanics and only a few White kids. The halls were often a war zone because the principal was redneck. I finally left public school to teach in parochial schools where I finally got to teach religion. It saved my life and my mind.

4. Jesus Days—I came to know Christ while teaching at that Jr. High in Dallas. Here in Ft. Worth I tell people I “came to Jesus by teaching in Dallas public schools during integration” (There is a big rivalry between FTW and Dallas. And everyone laughs.) But I did. It has led me to parochial schools, to the convent, out of the RCC to the Episcopal Church and finally to the priesthood. These days have led me from FTW to Galveston-Houston, Mexico, New Orleans and St. Louis. I have been called to Syracuse, Bainbridge in NY, Suburban Washington, DC, Berkeley and Watsonville, CA, Binghamton, NY and even into the ELCA Lutheran community.

5. Sitting Days—Now I am retired from parish ministry but I still serve a middle-sized parish as non-stype and get to do the priestly work that I love—teaching Scripture and sometimes preach and celebrate. My calling at the moment is to take care of J and I am not doing a very good job. I find myself grumpy and footloose. I would rather be doing parish work than helping her with the burns from radiation, cooking meals ( I generally love to cook), and driving her to daily therapy. It is much harder to take care of a loved one who is sick than it is to be sick, I think. Her illness scares me. I read and sleep and blog and feel lifeless. But she will be finished next week on my birthday. But it has been so costly! What the recession hasn’t taken, chemo has. I am now definitely a part of the 99% and wish I could be sitting in Zucchetti Square protesting the unfairness of the greed of Wall Street.


Robin said...

So many commonalities in these posts, especially in the Civil Rights arena and in struggles with cancer. Glad this stage of the latter will be over soon.

Purple said...

Love the names of your stages. Perfect. French horn...lovely instrument and quite difficult to master. I'm impressed.

Quite a challenge...the stage with J...grace and peace to both of you.

Muthah+ said...

Thanks, P. We are going to the Opera tonight--I think I need the 'mad scene' from Lucia de Lammermore. I believe it will allow me a bit of vicarious participation.

Jan said...

Great stages. How wonderful that you learned to play the French horn. Which day is your birthday? (Mine is on this Tuesday.) Happy Birthday. Wishing you strength and courage as you help J through this period.

Holly said...

Praying for J.