In the middle of things. Still. Always.
I was tempted not to write a “year in review” this year, because it’s been challenging and many of the things that came up are as yet unresolved and uncertain.
My car spent most of last January in the body shop after an encounter with a patch of ice last New Year’s Eve. And I spent most of the month in Chicago for my first winter intensives. Three weeks of full-time, full-tilt immersion in academic and spiritual community. Intensives are… intense.
In February I preached outside my home congregation for the first time, at a wonderful little lay led church in rural Maine.
March was busy with preparation for spring intensives and waiting for the end of winter.
In retrospect it must have been about April that I started into the reflective process that intensified over the summer in a major way. Some thoughts around Easter turned into a series of reflections on my thorny, tangled relationship with Christianity.
At the beginning of May I had the privilege of leading music at the ordination of the Reverend Sharon Piantedosi, who served last year as intern in my home congregation. Then I preached two Sundays in a row and started CPE at the end of the month.
I was pretty silent on the blog in June save for a quick post responding to a news story about a disfigured kid and dishonest adults. It wasn’t until the end of July that I posted about withdrawing from CPE and reconfiguring my program of study to make time and space for the personal healing and growth work that was necessary.
Minister’s orders, before she left on vacation: Go. Do the things that feed your soul. Do them now.
Yes, ma’am. So, I spent most of the summer making goofy art – painting, making beaded wire jewelry, braiding a rag rug – but I didn’t blog about that. From that inner work – which is ongoing – came a reflection on trust in August.
I returned to my studies in September – academic only, no praxis classes this year – but took time away to attend the People’s Climate March in New York City with a bus full of folks from southern and central Maine organized by the Maine UU State Advocacy Network. And it didn’t make it onto the blog, but my teaching congregation dedicated their gorgeous new accessible church building just after Labor Day.
October was a tough month for inner work, dominated by the deaths of two ministers associated with my home congregation: the Reverend Lee Devoe and the Reverend Bill DeWolfe.
November began with a reflection on the complexities of the formation process, posted the day before I drove six hours through a snowstorm to attend Rev Lee’s memorial service. The next day I drove three hours back to the airport and flew to Oklahoma for a six-day intensive class in Multicultural Congregations and Faith Formation (offered by my seminary in conjunction with All Souls Unitarian Church of Tulsa.) Rich, full, intense – as intensives always are. I wanted to blog about that, but I am still processing. The world has been like drinking from a fire hose lately. I tried, a little bit, to touch on the intersection of these things in the context of the ongoing demonstrations against police brutality and systemic racism here.
And so it is December again, already. I was late to the conversation with a response to the Anonymous Seminarian conversation – I’d elected to prioritize meeting a couple of deadlines instead of blogging on that earlier. The rest of the month has been full of family holiday gatherings and a couple of personal setbacks, and I am cycling between continuing to prepare for January intensives and making more amateur art.
Linearity is overrated anyway. I am in the middle of at least three books for my upcoming theology class, reading one chapter from each at a time. They feed on each other in interesting ways. I liked the way they were playing with the texts for my other classes, too, this fall. I am starting to feel the motivation that comes with looming deadlines. I need to finish some drafts of written things, soon.
When it’s time. Today it was time to start – but not finish – a painting in the basement studio, and to compile this blog post. It is – as I commented on facebook earlier today – rather like preparing a multi-course meal: stir this, season that, start one thing then attend to another, in the hope that everything will turn out just right, just when it is needed: neither half-raw nor wilted from over-cooking.
I don’t know what’s cooking in my soul, but it smells delicious, and I look forward to the table.