Thursday, September 23, 2004

On typing and learning

I'm a good typist. The one thing that slows me down from being a great typist is that I was out sick in high school on the days when they learned how to type numbers. I never got the practice for that, so it never became a natural part of my finger-mind connection.

So, 20 years later, I still have to look to make sure I'm typing the correct number.

I wonder how many other things are like that. You miss out on two days of information and it affects you the next 20 years ... or rest of your life.

Granted, if it were that important, I could have taught myself how to type numbers. But at some point I learned to 10-key, and with a computer keyboard, that usually works just fine.

A "work around" -- that's what we call it in the computer world, where rather than fixing something, you simply find a way to work around it; an alternate way to take care of it.


Monday, September 20, 2004

Emotionally hurricaned

This -- going to divinity school -- is much more emotionally charged than I expected. I feel stripped raw, and completely alone, which I am. I know it's for a reason, the being alone. It's following the pattern set by me going to GA completely alone, not even meeting anyone I knew for dinner. I know that it's part of the process, for me to have no one whom I can turn to for guidance ... heck, the fact that we lost our minister the month I started school -- obviously, I need to be completely and utterly alone, with no support, so that I can find what I need within me.

It's damn hard.

Okay, so here's the deal ... imagine that there is this one thing that you feel so strongly, passionately about ... so much so, that you get called to make it your mission in life.

BUT ... in order to make it your mission in life, you have to enter a world where all the inhabitants not only negate this one thing you believe in so strongly, they vilify it. Most of them without even realizing that it is *your* religion. AND, you have to learn to speak as they do, seeing what you believe in so strongly through their eyes, justifying their beliefs.

It's exhausting, draining, all those words.

Oh, and you feel that the leader of this little world is hoping that you will change, turn away from what got you here in the first place. So he drops hints about how what you believe is mortally and morally wrong. All said with compassion, and in a gentle voice. He wants you to be Saved.

I know, I know, I know that this is good for me and part of the plan ... strip away, God. Strip away. Oh, and thanks for my copy of InterConnections arriving today. It was a nice sign to pick that up from the mailbox on my way in the house.

Oh, a bit of levity. As I was driving home, I thought with some exasperation, "Can you believe it? I actually feel physically ill from all this!" Then the rational part of me pointed out that, No, it's morning sickness. You haven't eaten in 5 hours.


Saturday, September 18, 2004

Fourth and Goal!

Am pregnant with fourth and last.

(B, if you're reading this, I haven't told anyone. Please don't share.)

Even though it was planned for, hoped for, still had an hour or two of shock. Reminded myself that it's all part of the plan, I'm in a marathon, not a sprint ... and it is part of the plan. Figured from the get-go that I'd be graduating in about 6 years, which is when It will begin kindergarten. Not that I'm a control freak or anything.

Have only shared it with The Husband and the adopted grandma. Both happy, of course, although the latter appeared to levitate. So good having nice friends.

Morning sickness has kicked in a bit, but am hoping it won't be too bad. Am telling It that I simply don't have time for such things. Just ordered three bags of preggie pops, which may only be a placebo, but if it works, or convinces me it works, it's all the same.

Am a little concerned that preggo-brain has kicked in so ferociously. Major aphasia. Now what's that word ...

Will probably let the kids know after this weekend. Wanted another weekend at church before announcing, and there's no way they could keep it a secret. How in the world do people keep it secret for three months?

Monday, September 13, 2004

Defending beliefs/being quiet

I was happy to meet the director of my school's library yesterday, who coincidentally showed up at my church as speaker. Turns out, he's a Unitarian Christian.

We had a bit of discussion about the conservativeness of The School. He encouraged me to ask my professor if I could do a short presentation on items I feel strongly about (that aren't covered) such as Michael Servetus.

Um ... maybe later.

I feel I would be remiss if I did not educate my fellow students on Unitarian Universalism -- if they have an understanding of this faith, it will serve both of us well as we each begin our ministerial work. Perhaps they will be the voice that speaks out at an interfaith meeting and says, "Of course we will let a Unitarian Universalist church in."

But I feel it would be premature and inappropriate at this time. Perhaps I'm justifying my reluctance to confront this issue; but it seems that I need more experience with this school before I begin making my voice heard.

After all, I've only had one class. Maybe on Day 2.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Candlelight Vigil, 1000 soldiers

"Oh peace train take this country, come take me home again"

Joined with a couple hundred other people tonight at a candlelight vigil for the 1000 US soldiers killed in Iraq. And tomorrow is Sept. 11. How ironic.

Saw UU's from other churches, including two ministers. How hard it would be, to be in a faith supporting Bush, and the war. To feel I had to hide my feelings about this from my friends.

Can't write much. I feel sad, and hurt, and dismayed because it seems like precious few others are paying attention. Or care. What's a thousand soldiers, more or less? And if they do pay attention, it is to say, "we must stay in this war, to do otherwise would mean their deaths were in vain!" or the apparently ageless, "You can't support the troops if you don't support the war!"

Oh, but a bright spot. Told The Son tonight where I'd been ... his eyes lit up and he looked delighted. "Really? You were holding up a sign and a candle?" I think he'll be old enough for the next one.

Were to God there wasn't a need for a next one.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Time for a Renaissance!

Just found something very encouraging:

"Our Audience.....

The fastest growing, religiously identifiable group in the United States is not the pentecostals or fundamentalists. Rather, it is those who identify themselves as “non-affiliated” (one person called this group the church’s alumni association). In the past half-century, their numbers have grown from 2 percent of the population to 15 percent today. They are people who have spiritual interests and longings, but who cannot accept the dogma and literalism they associate with Christianity.

People who value openness to truth, wherever it may be found
People who give priority to the search over certainty in the life of faith
People who resent Christianity’s claims of superiority over other religious traditions
People who want to be engaged in the struggle for justice and peace"

Lest you think this is so self-serving ... guess what? It wasn't from a Unitarian Universalist website. It came off of the site for the Foundation for Contemporary Theology, a Christian group.

I absolutely believe, with every fiber of my being, that our country is ripe for a Unitarian Universalist renaissance. We have become a church that welcomes humanists, deists, spiritualists, etc. This is the church that so many people want, need ... but don't know it exists.

Why can't we run one ad during the Super Bowl?

No need to hire an ad agency, we wouldn't want anything flashy or wildly creative. Something very simple.

Like a 30-something man, sitting in front of a white background. Just talking.

"I knew I wanted ... something. Spiritually, there was something missing in my life. I wanted a community where I could lead my own spiritual journey, supported by other people doing the same thing. A place where they didn't try and tell me what to believe. A place that valued ethics but didn't say there was only 'one true way.' Because I believe there is wisdom in all the world's religions and I know that the more I learn, the richer my own search for truth and meaning will be. A place that believed in the inherent worth and dignity of all people, welcoming people of all colors, beliefs, ages, orientations ...

Guess what? This religion already exists. It's called Unitarian Universalism and it's one of the oldest religions in our country. How cool is that? Thomas Jefferson was a Unitarian. And Susan B. Anthony. Benjamin Franklin and e.e. cummings. And Paul Newman. Christopher Reeve. And me.

Unitarian Universalism. Your religion, that you never knew existed. Find a congregation near you. UUA.ORG."

Yeah. That's the ad.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Preachin' Day

Yesterday, drove up to see my godparents. The previous day, I had told my 5 y.o. that we were going to see them. Her eyes grew round. "YOU have fairy godparents???" Explained that, no, they were just plain godparents. "I still want to make a wish!" Well, okay, but they can't make it come true. She thought and thought about that. Finally ... "Because they don't have wands?"

Love it.

Preached today at my kissin-cousin church. Love them. They have had a wealth of bad luck, completely not their fault, but they keep persevering, seem to keep positive, and keep growing. Gee, think the latter has anything to do with the two former?

The Godfather of our District came to see me preach, which was great. I call him that, because he seems to know everything that's going on in the district, and seems to know of many connections. For instance, when J-- was 5, we wanted to take him to meet a paleontologist. Emailed The Godfather, who sent an email to a person, who sent it to another, who knew another ... low and behold, we got an appointment with a paleontologist at the state university. On top of all that, he's just one of the nicest guys around. It's like being around a sunbeam. Completely besotted with his minister wife; he said he'd take The Husband under his wing to tell him what it's like to be spouse-to-a-minister. (He reiterated the selling point that hey, The Husband will never have be on a Finance committee again!)

Well, this was the first sermon for me to preach under the description of "a seminary student." Felt great! Not because it lended me any stature -- I think I'm in the wrong religion for that! -- but just because it feels so right. I did a reading by Gary Zukav about "Sacred Tasks" ... it's exactly how I feel right now, for myself.

Have begun saying a little prayer, unabashedly cribbed from an analyst friend of mine who does public speaking. "Please help me to say what someone in this group needs to hear."

Will never know, but can hope ...

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Covenant Groups and Small Group Ministry

I just gave a short answer to someone on Coffee Hour inquiring about small group ministry. I've been a big proponent of covenant groups for quite a while, but at General Assembly this year, I got to experience another layer to them.

Thandeka was one of the leaders of the GA covenant groups and in my group, her influence was definitely felt. The goal of "truly listening" was set up to succeed by following a model of quiet voices, silence between each person's comments, no cross talk, and speaking from one's own experience and feelings. ("I feel ..." as opposed to "I think ...")

At first, it was a little foreign and uncomfortable. I was used to lively covenant groups, tons of interrupting and cross talk. Invigorating, but occasionally a bit overwhelming.

This model led to a level of intimacy that could be felt by the second day. People opened up and bonded ... and you walked away feeling refreshed.

We've been integrating that into our covenant groups here at home. For some groups, that method works best just for check in and check out -- the cooking cov group for example. But in other groups, it really helps. There is less of an opportunity for the big mouths in the group (speaking of myself) to overtake the conversation from the quieter folks.

It's definitely a conversion experience, being in a covenant group. There needs to be a time and place at some of these things for ministers to be a part of a covenant group -- not a facilitator, but just an equal member of the group.