Friday, May 31, 2013

Friday Five: Transformations

Mary Beth has posted a toughie.  

I'm looking forward to a good husband feels well, I am taking on some new challenges, I have a new church home, and overall I feel like I am moving in some new directions. When I saw this picture, I felt a kinship with this woman (though I cannot to a lotus pose like that...not yet, anyway). 

Sculpture is called "Expansion" by Paige Bradley. 
You can read more about it and its creation here.

For today's Friday Five, share five occasions or events in your life that have been turning points...when you have felt like a new thing was being born. You can refer to the birth of children, career, your kitchen garden, or whatever moves you.  

1.  First of all, transformation is an every day occurrence for me.  Some days are more transforming than others... but all in all, it is being aware that life is constantly changing no matter how much I want it to stay the same.  That said, I have been remembering the events that brought me to conversion the past few days simply because the person who brought me to the place of prayer was in town.  It was so good to see her after almost 25 years apart  The conversation picked up where we left off.   Conversion--or transformation-- is the work of God working through humans.  Incarnation at its finest.  Then it was all about ideas.  Now it is all about being present to the humans.

2.  The transformation into a priest:  I have been trying to verbalize lately what it means to be a priest without it sounding like I am in a different plain than others.  I am well aware that priesthood is just the Church's Good Housekeeping seal of approval that I can celebrate and absolve in the name of the
organization.  BUT there is something much more about it to me.  I don't know if this is true for lay folks understanding the priesthood of all believers or not, but I do know that this priestly ministry is the most important thing in the world for me because it has allowed me to put Christ first.  And I have been transformed by this ministry to be a much better and healthier person because I am unwilling to just stand in the stream of life and let the waters flow around me.  And while I do not quite stand on the 'ontological change' that catholic traditions have always touted, I do believe that I have grown into the priesthood that I bear.  It did not come with the laying on of hands, but slowly in the privacy of my own prayer closet.  Please God I can live it with the respect that comes with it.

3.  Transformation into a celibate LTGB person:  For most of my life I tried to ignore my sexual identity by just saying I was celibate, as if there was a third alternative to sexual identity.  I have always been fairly masculine in the way I present myself.  Since the convent I couldn't be bothered with make up and the like.  But finally when +Gene Robinson, the first gay bishop in our tradition was consecrated, I finally realized I could be 'out'  and honest for the first time in my life.  I came out and of course, lost my parish and had to experience the reality of all my fears.  I went through a very angry time.  I have never been part of the 'l-g' world.  I have been in the Church all that time, for God's sake!  So I neither fit in the lgbt community nor the Church for a while.  Then I found in another denomination a bishop who would work with me.  It was a personal transformation of easing out of the anger and back into loving a little ELCA congregation to remind me who and Whose I was.  Painful, but good.

4.Transformation into a retired person:  The idea of retirement always looms rosy when you are up to your a** in alligators.  And I don't know what cleric is NOT up to their a** in alligators while in full-time ministry.  But to just quit being in that terribly quixotic environment of parish ministry is not really easy.  And this transformation is still going on.  When one stops doing parish ministry full-time, one's whole life is thrown into confusion.  Where does one go for worship?  How does one who has grown into priesthood find a way to celebrate that priesthood without an altar?  etc.  I am not sure that I have completed this transformation.  I am still in the middle of the river.  I do enjoy having the time to gather all the ideas that I have had to put on a shelf because I was too busy to think about them.  But no one wants to hear them now.  How do I speak of the experience of faith with integrity to a people who do not value thought-over experience?  And of course, the problem of anyone who is growing older:  Was there anything of value that I did in my life-time that is not being thrown over or ignored by the next generation?  

5.  Transformation into a mellower person:  This is also an 'in the process'
transformation.  I have always been a challenging person.  Life has always been something to be confronted, challenged and overcome.  It is a very active way to live.  And there is nothing wrong about that.  It has made me a good advocate for those who do not have a voice.  It has always made me a good teacher.  But I am tired.  I don't have the energy for this kind of activism any more.  I finally had to quit LGBT activism because after Black/White civil rights, Women's civil rights and Latino civil rights, and liberal Christianity supporter, I am pooped.  In addition I am finding that it is important less to 'stand for something' to learning how to listen to those who are different.  Slowly I am trying to listen to what we have in common rather than what is wrong with the other side.  This does not mean that I have changed my opinion about most things.  It does mean that I am more concerned that I can have a loving relationship with others no matter what they believe.  That is what Christ's message is about.       


Anonymous said...

There's so much worthy of comment in this fine post: your living your priesthood in a different way, listening for the shared commonalities, the primacy of relationship. You are one fine teacher! Thank you.

Sally said...

lovely reflections Lauren, thank you for sharing this, in far to much of a vulnerable place to play myself but this has helped a lot :-)

Ruth said...

I really resonated with your #4, even though I am not retired. I just stopped doing parish ministry full time. I find that it consumes me, and I feel called to other forms of ministry. Or it could be that I'm just lazy. Either way, it is definitely a change in the rhythm of days, and the answer to the question: Who am I now?

Mary Beth said...

I love your description of these changes in your life, and how you are standing in the river.

Purple said...

"In the middle of the river"...I resonate with that. Not from being retired but in other areas.

Terri said...

I hear you on the activism part - I still care about the many causes near and dear to my heart - but I just can't get all worked up about them - at least not in the angry about the issues way. I consistently try to do my part.

Anyway, I also agree with the priestly vocation awareness. I feel it too, and not in a "I am better than" way - but in a, "this is how God is working in me and how God is transforming me" way, which means God is also using me to convey God's desire to others. If I had not become a priest I would not be doing the level of deep work, integrity work, that I do all the time. I could most certainly slide a lot more, and probably would.

Thanks for the though-provoking play.

Anita Coleman said...

"Was there anything of value that I did in my life-time that is not being thrown over or ignored by the next generation?" My older friends tell me about this question all the time and I remember the TV show stories about the Dust Bowl. This little baby girl who died not even grown up. Yet, here she is her name enshrined in archival history, teaching and reminding us powerfully of some of the lessons of the worst man made disaster in American history.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Nicely said, Muthah. I guess it's mostly not for us to judge how we make a difference in the world, whether for good or for ill.

I'm wearing out for the many causes I care about, too. The energy is just not there to be as active as I once was.

Your final words are a lesson for me to learn how to listen more attentively and try to form better relationships with those with whom I have deep disagreements. You are correct. Christ's message is about how we relate to real people, the many faces of Jesus we meet every day of our lives.

Muthah+ said...

This was truly a though provoking FF. Thanks, MB. Trying to get peaceful with just blogging is hard when you have always found that the interaction with others was the way to keep the juices flowing.

Anonymous said...

So thankful for you and your witness! Thank you for this post.