But that's a conversation for either a committee or a bottle of wine. Because every person I talk to about this thinks this is a bad idea, and I need either The Contrarian of your committee to run with this or the wine to deflect your disapproval.
I decided instead to write about quilting, which I don't know very much about. My mother's mother made a quilt when my sister and I were born. It was green and white with a bunny for every month of the year embroidered into the squares. My mother put the quilt away for many years so we wouldn't destroy it, and in the process we forgot whether the quilt was made for my sister or for me. It is a point of some contention. At this moment I have possession. If you have a sister, you probably know what I mean.
I've spent a fair amount of time snuggled under this quilt the last few winters. My grandmother has Alzheimer's and has lost the memory of grandchildren. This quilt is most of what I have left of her tangible presence in my life as we live very far apart.
I thought when I left my PhD program and my church these last few months that I was closing doors. But as I have been piecing together new plans the last two weeks, I realized that I had completed a patchwork quilt made up of the last five years. It was not a perfect quilt, not even particularly symmetrical. But it was finished, and it was time to set it down.
I've begun the piecework for a new project, cutting the fabric and lining up the pieces. Nothing is set or sewn in yet, and there are several more pieces I need to find. But I begin to see the shape of what is to come next. This quilt, it seems, will be made up of many small pieces of fabric in odd shapes. My prayer is that my stitches will be even and careful.
I've had some of the same rotten days I often have with parenting, job searching, cleaning (which seems endless), and worrying about what I can't change. But I have a sense of peace tonight after explaining to some folks what I'm trying to do--this staying in place, sinking in to this town, finding ministry where I can and doing whatever else to pay the bills. It made sense when I spoke it out loud, and I could breathe a bit easier.
A passage from Philippians came to mind. My youth pastor used to read it from time to time, Philippians 3:12-16. Paul is writing about resurrection from the dead:
Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on towards the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us then who are mature be of the same mind; and if you think differently about anything, this too God will reveal to you. Only let us hold fast to what we have attained.Pressing on. Holding fast to what has been attained. The heavenly call of God in Jesus Christ. I choose carefully not to foist Christianity on those who do not desire it, but that is the path I have chosen, for ill or for good. And tonight I have found a deep peace in that.
An old friend of mine, a Mr. Warren Takaya, use to give a talk at the youth retreat I worked with called "Living in the Love of God." At the end of the talk he and his co-speaker would present a song to bring the point home. One year he chose this one, and it has made me smile lately to think of it.
"In every life we have some trouble, when you worry you make it double...don't worry, be happy...Ain't got no place to lay your head, somebody took your bed...The landlord said the rent is late, he may have to litigate...don't worry be happy...hey I give you my phone number, when you're worried, call me, I'll make you happy..."
I can still see Warren sitting on the back of the couch singing along. That image is a part of how I am able to press on, and part of another quilt I made in what seems like another lifetime. My gratitude to all who were part of that.
Now isn't that better than a post on the excruciating intricacies of the PC (USA) call and ordination process?