Faith from the Edges

Faith and life from the perspective of me.

Archive for the month “February, 2014”

Deep Sorrow

I wrote this recently as a status update on my Facebook page : There are moments when deep, deep sorrow wells up and all you can do is embrace it, let it flow over and through you, and then find a way to stitch around the edges of that particular grief. Working on that today. Will probably need to work on it again.

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Just about two years ago I got word that my job with a national church organization was coming to an end. It sent me into a virtual emotional tailspin. I recently saw a friend’s post about this organization and how their parish was going to support it through Lent and it hit me again. I felt tears welling up in my eyes and I realized that it still hurts. That I am still working on processing this loss. That I am still angry for the way I was treated. That I have never received any acknowledgement from those in senior positions that I was treated badly. That it could have been different.

I have written a lot about grief and loss during the two years that I have been blogging and I suspect that I will write more. It is part of the human condition to have losses and figure out how to move through them and come out reasonably healthy on the other side. I suspect that I write a lot about sorrow and loss because I have had my fair share and I have witnessed much from my life as a clergy spouse. You can’t be that close to a priest like the dear one and not hear from time to time how someone died, how the family is dealing with it. the latest sorrow in someone’s life or be asked to pray for a situation that involves grief. Most situations that I get asked to pray about involve grief  or loss of some kind.

I have learned over the years that it is better for me to let the tears roll down my face, to rant at God, to lament loudly and then quietly, to be all emotion rather than to try and contain it and then find the calm. For when I do try to contain my sorrows I become a not nice person. It seems that I have been created to be the feeling one. The one who shares sorrow as well as joy. Here is what I have also learned about deep sorrows that one can’t wish them away or pray them away, that one has to learn to live with them and hold them and make them part of oneself. My sorrows as much as my joys have made me the person I am today. They have deepened my faith and strengthened my relationships. They have allowed me to love better and to serve better. They have opened me up to the injustices in the world and made me want to do something about them. In the end they have become blessings and not curses.

As a person of faith, even when my faith is sometimes ragged and lived out on the edges, I will continue to embrace my sorrows and my joys for the make me who God needs me to be in the world. A person who cares deeply and well. A person who lives life and doesn’t shy away from it. A person who has deep sorrows and deep joys.

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Inclusion/Exclusion

communityI have been thinking a lot about who is out and who is in, who is them and who is us, about who is included and who is excluded. Some of my thinking is coming from my own experiences of being outside of the church and then back in the church and how it has felt on both sides of that spectrum. It is also coming out of personal experiences of not quite getting how to be part of an ‘in’ group. Something I think many of us have experienced in our lifetimes. As some of you may remember the dear one and I have also been reading the Bible in a Year (a challenge set for the Diocese of Edmonton by our bishop) and a whole bunch of my thinking is coming out of that as well.

A lot of the Hebrew scriptures, that part of the Bible that most Christians call Old Testament, but I don’t out of respect for my Jewish ancestors and again this is about inclusion or exclusion of experience and the right to name something, have to do with how to stay in community, in right relationship with God, how to maintain covenant. In other words about how to stay in with God and not be on the outs with God. We have also read who is able to be part of this community and who can’t – who is in and who is out. In the Jewish tradition it became, and in some cases still is, important to figure out who is part of the covenant community and who isn’t. Even though I have Jewish ancestors I am not considered to be part of that community because my descent comes through my biological father’s side of the family and not my mother’s and to be considered Jewish your mother has to have been a Jew as well. Again inclusion or exclusion.

We in the church like to talk a lot about inclusion. That we welcome everyone to be part of our community. That we act like Jesus, we don’t put up any barriers. That like Jesus we welcome those who are on the outside, who live on the edges, that we don’t push away those we disagree with, that we have room in our hearts for those who are different from us. If we dig deep, we know that this is a lie we all tell ourselves. We all know that ‘certain’ people would not be welcome in our community. You will be able to name who those ‘certain’ people are for your own church community, just I can name who my church community would not feel comfortable welcoming to be part of their circle

My question is what do we do when we see someone or a group of someones being excluded from our community? Do we stand up for them? Do we reach out and offer them a way in? Do we listen to their story and make it our story? Those are questions that each of us who are followers of Jesus need to think about. Those are some of the questions that I am going to ponder as I get ready for another Lent.

Who do you want to include and who do you want to exclude?

My Sister is a Survivor

My sister is a survivor, a survivor and not a victim. She writes about her journey away from domestic violence and living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) on her own blog, which you should go check out. She also has a Facebook page which chronicles the more day to day to stuff of her journey. I am so proud of her. I am amazed by her and what she has overcome and what she overcomes everyday.

A while ago she brought sexual assault charges against her abuser and recently spent the day in a preliminary trial sharing her story with the court. Now we wait to hear if the judge says there is enough evidence to go to trial. This was a hard decision for her to make. Who wants to bring charges against the person you thought loved you? She did this, not only for herself, but for her daughters and her son, her nieces and nephews, for all the other women out there who have suffered  and are suffering similarly and so that other women won’t have to suffer in this way. She is my hero. She is a survivor.

On Friday, I will be rising in my living room, in my kitchen, in my study, on Facebook and on Twitter to take a stand against domestic and sexual violence wherever it happens. I will be rising for those who are still suffering, I will be rising as an ally, I will be rising for the survivors and most especially I will be rising in gratitude for my sister the survivor and for her strength.

Will you join me, my sister, the dear one and the one billion rising as we rise for justice? Will you break the chain of sexual violence? Will you dance?

What’s next?

Have you ever felt stuck? Like you are not sure what is next in your life? That is how I am feeling at the moment. Stuck. Not sure what is next.

I have applied for several jobs since we moved to central Alberta but I haven’t had one interview. Frustrating to say the least, as I know I can do a good interview. I have tried to figure out what I am doing wrong in my resume and in my cover letters. I have come up with a couple of things. All of my recent work is church related and when applying for jobs in the secular world they have no idea what to make of that.  They have no idea how to assess the skill set that I have developed from those years of work. I know I need to figure out how to put the skill set first and the work experience second. Still working out how to make that happen.

What to do? What to do?

What to do? What to do?

I am aware that I have many talents that I can bring to an organization that is willing to look beyond the church connection. I would really like those organizations to know that the church is a great training ground for doing a multitude of tasks – be they large or small.

So at the moment, I am feeling stuck. I want to work. I want work that has some meaning to it. I want work that contributes rather than takes away. I want work that is healthy, for me, for those I work with and for. But I am feeling stuck and not sure where to go next in this hunt for good work.

I am not asking you dear readers for solutions, just letting you know what has been going on with me lately, other than being sick of course. I am going to keep plugging away at this job search thing. I can’t believe I am done in the work world yet.

What have you done when you felt stuck? What has been your ‘what’s next’ time?

Being sick sucks!

I have been quite sick since my last posting. I mean really sick. Spent a month feeling quite awful – darn influenza! and darn secondary infections and then darn pneumonia! It has meant that my new year has gotten off to a bit of a rough start. I have never been so glad to see the back of a month as I have this past January.

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I was not been out of the house, except to go to the doctor’s office – 3 times, for this past month. I have relied on the dear one to make sure that we had regular meals, that I got to the doctor’s office, to pick up my antibiotics and puffer, to get comforted. It has been a long time since I was that reliant on him in that way. The last time I was this ill was back in 1995 and I couldn’t pay attention to much of it as the rest of the family was also ill.

Now that I am in recovery mode, I have realized that I need to pace myself, that my energy is just not back and I must admit that I am worried that my rheumatoid arthritis will be back with a bang when my immune system tries to overcompensate and go on high alert. It is a hard place for me to be. I really don’t do well, doing hardly anything at all.

I had hoped by this point to have several blog posts done on a number of issues that have been rattling around in my head, but until the last couple of days I haven’t had the energy to put more than a few thoughts together for a Facebook status update. That was just to let my family and friends know that I hadn’t completely deserted them. My hope is that the writing energy will come back and that there will be more ideas and thoughts to share with you all soon.

For all of you who are still suffering through the flu season you have my complete sympathy, for those of you who are taking care of your loved ones while they are ill thank you from the bottom of my heart, for those of you who have taken time to visit, bring food, flowers and your presence to a sick person you have my utmost gratitude, and for those of you who have managed to get through it all without getting sick congratulations.

What is your strategy for getting through sick times?

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